In today's On the News segment: Rick Perry uses violent rhetoric in his campaign for president, World Bank warns of another food crisis, Democratic Congressmen Kucinich and Michaud try to rally members of Congress against a Free Trade deal with South Korea, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz boycotts political contributions to set an example for businesses to boost the economy, Republicans are ditching open town hall meetings with constituents for ones that charge for attendance, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Rick Perry is wasting no time resorting to violent rhetoric in his campaign for President. While speaking to a crowd in Iowa – Perry weighed in on the Federal Reserve – and Chairman Ben Bernanke’s monetary policy saying, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” Perry went on to say, “Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.” Of course – people can be put to death if convicted of treason. So here we have a guy running for President who just hinted at dragging the Federal Reserve Chairman down to Texas to be executed. Economist Nouriel Roubini tweeted about the comment saying, “The Texan thug is making murder threats on the Fed Chairman.” Looks like Rick Perry is really running for America's executioner-in-chief, and he's already there as the Governor who has killed more prisoners – at least one who was innocent – than any other Governor in history. Rick Perry apparently loves killing people as much as he loves threatening it.
The world is descending into another food crisis. A new report by the World Bank warns that food prices are reaching highs not seen since 2008 – the last time a food crisis swept the planet and forced millions to the brink of starvation. We know now there was no shortage of food in 2008 – and that Goldman Sachs banksters were largely responsible for the soaring prices since they were the ones who artificially jacked up the prices of wheat – corn – and oil. Now – it appears they’re doing it again. Global food prices have increased 33% since last year – and oil prices have gone up 45%. As a result – 29,000 children died of starvation in Somalia just over the last 3 months. Another 12 million people around the planet are in danger of suffering the same fate. Meanwhile – Wall Street is making enormous profits.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Take your Free Trade agreements and shove them. Democratic Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Michael Michaud are trying to rally Members of Congress against a new so-called Free Trade deal with South Korea that will likely be considered when lawmakers return from their vacation next month. In a letter to colleagues – Kucinich and Michaud write, “As the U.S. continues to struggle and recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is unconscionable that we would consider passing an FTA that puts the rights of investors and multinational corporations over the rights of American workers.” The letter goes on to cite that since 2001 – 5.3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in American thanks to so-called Free Trade – and this deal will only make the problem worse. Democrats need to claim the anti-Free Trade position soon – it’s the best way to win elections.
Here’s an idea for American corporations sitting on over $2 trillion in cash. Instead of using that money to elect politicians – why not use it to hire American workers? That’s what Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is calling for. Schultz hopes his boycott on political contributions will wake up a gridlocked Washington – and empower business to take matters into their own hands to boost the economy. “Record levels of cash are piling up in corporate treasuries, idling,” Schultz said. “The only way to break this cycle of fear – is to break it.” So far this year – Schultz has hired 36,000 American workers – and it’s time for other executives to put aside the greed – and do what’s best for the country.
Students are slipping deeper and deeper into debt. According to the Wall Street Journal – student loan debt is up 25% just since 2008. In just the second quarter of this year – there was $550 billion in outstanding student loan debt. And while other forms of debt – like credit card debt and auto loans – are on the decline as Americans tighten their wallets in the recession – student loan debt is climbing – and surpassing credit card debt now – as students decide to stay in school longer since they can't find jobs. To make matters worse, Republicans put federal Pell Grants on the chopping block. The most critical piece of infrastructure a nation can invest in is intellectual infrastructure – educating its young people. Unfortunately – that – like the rest of our crumbling infrastructure – is being blocked by Republicans as part of their 2012 strategy to hurt America and thus make Obama look bad.
Republican don’t mind listening to their constituents – as long as the price is right. More and more Republicans are ditching the open town hall meetings with constituents – you know, the ones at the foundation of our democracy for more than 200 years – and are instead closing the doors of town hall meetings, charging for attendance, and only taking scripted questions. Republican Budget Chairman – and Medicare privatizer – Paul Ryan’s is requiring constituents to pay $15 just to ask him a question during the August recess. Several other Republicans – like Ben Quayle who is charging 35 bucks – are adopting the same “pay-to-play” strategy to constituent feedback. This is taking the idea of running government like a business to extreme lengths. Government is not a business – it's We The People. And we shouldn't have to pay to talk with our members of Congress.
The UK may have found the smoking gun in Rupert-gate. Former Murdoch reporter Clive Goodman wrote a letter back in 2007 that points to top executives having full knowledge of the phone hacking scandal – and routinely talking about it in meetings with their staff. The letter names Andy Coulson – who later took a job as Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director – as one of the executives with prior knowledge. They'll rob you with a sixgun or rob you with a pen, the old saying goes. Let's see if the white-collar criminals are held to the same account as blue-collars ones would be.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, August 16th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.