In today's On the News segment: Republicans fought it out last night in a CNN-hosted debate in Las Vegas, Occupy Wall Street may be close to releasing its demands, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg has a new proposal – bring back Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, the Supreme Court considers giving corporations the right to commit genocide, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Republicans fought it out last night in a CNN hosted debate in Las Vegas. Before the debate – about 100 Occupy Las Vegas demonstrators surrounded the Sands Expo Center where the debate was being held to protest corporate corruption in our politics. But their message didn’t make it inside the debate – where all the candidates on stage battled each other to see who supports the 1% the most. It was a lot of the same – a debate over who will cut taxes more for the wealthy and for corporations – who will cut more regulations that keep our air, water, and food safe – and who would repeal Obamacare first. Some of the most heated exchanges of any debate so far took place between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry over illegal immigration and whether or not Romney hired illegal immigrants for yard work at his home. And of course – no Republican debate is complete anymore without the Conservative crowd stepping in to boo the downtrodden and discriminated. That happened when Herman Cain – referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement – again said unemployed people should blame themselves for not having a job – leading the audience to cheer wildly. I hope the million people who applied for a job at McDonalds earlier this year – when there were only 60,000 positions – were listening to Herman Cain tell them it was their own fault they're out of work. There are five unemployed people for every one job opening in America today. So – no matter how much Republicans insist it is – it’s not the fault of the jobless that big corporations moved their jobs overseas – it’s the politicians who’ve pushed Reaganomics and so-called Free Trade over the last 30 years – and sabotaged economic stimulus over the last 3 years. And many of those politicians were on the stage in last night’s Republican debate.
Occupy Wall Street may be close to releasing its demands. Last weekend – as tens of thousands of people marched on Times Square – the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly created a working list of demands including banning private contributions to politicians – putting in place publicly financed elections – overturning Citizens United with a constitutional amendment – and passing a national single-payer healthcare system. The working list has yet to be adopted by the full General Assembly in New York City – but plans are underway to hold a national assembly meeting next year – on July 4th – in the city of Philadelphia. According to the group’s website – one male and one female delegate from each Congressional district will be elected by local occupy movements – and will converge on Philadelphia to join others in creating a “petition of grievances” to be submitted to all Members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President ahead of the 2012 elections. It’s unclear if other cities – besides New York – have agreed on this plan of action yet.
In the best of the rest of the news…
A week after Republicans in the Senate blocked President Obama’s American Jobs Act with another filibuster – Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg has a new proposal – bring back Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. The new WPA envisioned by Senator Lautenberg would put millions of Americans back to work building schools, fire houses, highways, water treatment plants, weatherizing homes, and whatever else needs to be built or renovated in America. The program would also fund programs to train unemployed and unskilled workers. The new WPA is completely paid for by levying a 5.6% surtax on individuals who make more than a million bucks – many of whom currently pay lower tax rates than middle class Americans. So will Republicans get behind creating millions of jobs? Or will they get behind protecting tax breaks for the top 1%?
Is the Supreme Court about to give corporations the right to commit genocide? The High Court has agreed to hear the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum which could give corporations immunity from any lawsuits for their employees murdering, raping, or torturing people in the areas where they're drilling oil if they're carrying out corporate policies. According to the Alien Tort Act law – private parties are responsible – and can be sued – for violations of international law. However – a recent Second Circuit court decision – ruled that corporations are not considered “private parties” and thus cannot be sued or held liable for breaking international law. If the Supreme Court decides to uphold this ruling – then the consequences could be disastrous. As dissenting Second Circuit court judge Pierre Leval wrote, “The new rule offers to unscrupulous businesses, advantages of incorporation never before dreamed of. So, as long as they incorporate, businesses will now be free to trade in or exploit slaves, employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocide or operate torture prisoners for a local dictator, or engage in piracy – all without civil liability to victims.” Needless to say – the corporation formerly known as Blackwater is salivating. I'm expecting Clarence Thomas to be wined and dined again.
A common theme in last night’s Republicans debate was bashing President Obama for not doing enough when it comes to illegal immigration. It’s the same message echoed by several right-wing Governors who’ve recently passed radical anti-immigration legislation. But according to new numbers released yesterday – President Obama has been more aggressive about enforcing laws against illegal immigration than any other president in history! In the last year – 400,000 people were deported – the most ever recorded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. But of course that won’t stop Republicans from their illegal immigration fearmongering – even if it does mean kids in Alabama are too afraid to go to school because of the state’s harsh new anti-immigration law.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 19th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.