On the News With Thom Hartmann: Senate to Vote on Bill That Allows the US Military to Capture Civilians Anywhere in the World Without Charges or Trial, and More

In today's On the News segment: Occupy Los Angeles is still camped outside of City Hall, the Senate is getting closer to giving the president more powers to detain people without any charges or trial, Fitch downgraded America's credit outlook from “stable” to “negative,” an Atlanta businesswoman came forward claiming that she's had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news….

You need to know this. Now more than 24 hours past their eviction deadline – Occupy L.A. is still camped outside of City Hall – and patriots are turning to the courts to keep it that way. According to the Los Angeles Times, Occupy L.A. filed a court complaint yesterday arguing that the city’s looming crackdown represents an “unconstitutional deprivation of access to [the] traditional public forum…for first amendment activity.” Occupy L.A. is also attacking “anti-camping” laws – claiming that police are selectively enforcing the law – arresting people with the Occupy movement for camping – but letting more than 500 people camp out without a permit just weeks ago while they waited for the new “Twilight” movie to open. After the NYPD raided Zuccotti Park two weeks ago – a judge ruled that camping gear is not an expression of free speech – thus allowing the city to ban people from bringing sleeping bags and tarps into public parks – effectively killing any chance of rebuilding the Occupy Wall Street community. Apparently we live in a nation where the courts have ruled that little green pieces of fabric – money – is a form of free speech, but big green pieces of fabric – tents – are not.

The Senate is getting closer to giving the President more powers to detain people without any charges or trial. On Wednesday – the Senate will likely vote on and pass the Defense Authorization bill – that includes a provision allowing the military to capture civilians anywhere in the world – including U.S. citizens right here at home – and detain them indefinitely if they’re suspected of being a terrorist. The authors of the provision – Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain – defended it by saying it gives the government, “the clear authority, tools and flexibility of action it needs to defend us against the threat posed by al-Qaeda.” It’s a sad day when the only time Democrats and Republicans can come together is to subvert the constitution and lay the groundwork for endless war. Luckily – one Senator – Mark Udall from Colorado – has introduced an amendment to strip out this dangerous provision. Time to call your Member of Congress and tell them to support the Udall Amendment in the Defense Authorization bill.

In the best of the rest of the news…

More credit woes for the United States. Yesterday – Fitch downgraded our nation’s credit outlook from “stable” to “negative” on the heels of the Gang of 12’s failure to find at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings last week. Fitch cited “declining confidence” in our nation’s ability to get our finances in order as a result for the downgrade. The agency also noted that, “further deficit reduction will not be credible” without reform to taxation. Unfortunately, since nearly every single Republican has signed on to Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, tax reform is off the table. Just like the first credit downgrade back in August by S&P that came just days after Speaker of the House John Boehner bragged he got 98% of what he wanted in the debt-limit deal – this downgrade is ALSO a Republican downgrade.

India is dealing with a parliamentary revolt in the wake of new economic reform that allows transnational corporations like Wal Mart and Ikea to expand operations in Asia’s third largest economy. Allies of the coalition government are threatening to drop their support for the Prime Minister – claiming these new economic reforms will wipe out small business and lead to millions of job losses. As one coalition party leader said, “It is dangerous to allow foreign direct investment in retail trade as it will affect hundreds of thousands of small traders as well as the poor and middle-class consumers. It will also be a cause for economic decline for our country.” Also – a group representing Indian small businesses known as the Confederation of All India Teachers in planning a nationwide strike on Thursday. What these small business and politicians in India see is what’s happened in the United States over the last few decades as a result of giving transnational corporations to much power in our economy – and that’s a steady rate of economic decline. We’ll see if India falls into the same trap.

After more than a week of violent rioting that killed 40 people, there are reports of high voter turnout in Egypt – as Egyptians take to the polls for the first time since ousting Hosni Mubarak. It’s the first free and fair election in most people’s memory in Egypt – and is an important first step in what will likely be a long and messy road to a self-governing democracy. And not one U.S. troop had to be sacrificed to bring democracy to Egypt. Unfortunately – the same can’t be said elsewhere in the Middle East. As Dick Gregory once told me – if democracy is so good – it doesn’t need to be forced on people by the barrel of a gun…they’ll just steal it. Right now – the Egyptians are stealing it.

Yesterday – an Atlanta businesswoman came forward claiming that she’s had a thirteen-year long affair with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Ginger White claims that Cain frequently flew her across the country, took her out to expensive dinners, and bought her high-priced gifts. She also provided a local Fox affiliate with phone records showing dozens of late-night phone calls and text messages between Cain and herself. Like all the previous allegations that have come out against Herman Cain recently – he is denying this latest one as well. It's starting to seem like Herman Cain has now denied more sexual encounters than most men have had in their lifetimes.

Crazy Alert! The very, very frosty Snowman. A Christmas parade in Chestertown, Maryland turned ugly over the weekend – when Frosty the Snowman was arrested for allegedly scuffling with police and kicking a police dog. According to reports – 52-year-old Kevin Michael Walsh – who’s dressed up as Frosty in the parade for the last 10 years – became enraged when a police officer tried to escort him away from the crowd. It's unclear if police subdued Frosty by removing his magic hat. But one thing is clear – with Frosty out of the picture – the Bill O'Reilly's war on Christmas has officially begun.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, November 29th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.