On the News With Thom Hartmann: Transit Strike in Greece Brings Athens to a Halt, and More

In today's On the News segment: Troy Davis was executed last night and died at 11:08 PM Eastern time, oil oligarchs Charles and David Koch are now worth $50 billion, John Boehner has lost control of his caucus, the Tax Policy Center confirms millionaires and billionaires aren't paying their share, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Troy Davis died last night at 11:08pm – and dying with him was the legitimacy of our criminal justice system. Just minutes after the United States Supreme Court unanimously denied a last minute appeal for a stay of execution – Davis was strapped into a gurney and wheeled into the death chambers. With his final words – he once again proclaimed his innocence – telling the family of slain officer Mark McPhail – that he was innocent and he urged them to keep seeking the truth. He told his family to keep praying and keep fighting – and then he turned to his executioners and said, “May God have mercy on your souls.” And with that – the lethal drug cocktail was pumped into his arm – and Davis was dead fifteen minutes later. Davis’s attorney Jason Ewert witnessed the execution and said afterward, “I had the unfortunate opportunity tonight to witness a tragedy, to witness Georgia execute an innocent man.” Now the entire nation has to live with it. Time for some soul-searching in American – do we really want to be a nation that executes the innocent?

Oil oligarchs Charles and David Koch are now worth $50 billion – more than five times what it was ten years ago – making their combined wealth second only to Bill Gates. And it looks like they made a large chunk of their money screwing the rest of us over at the gas pump. According to the Center for American Progress – for the last several years – the Kochs have engaged in rampant oil speculation – meaning they place bets that the price of oil will go up – and when it does go up – they make a ton of money – while the rest of us have to deal with paying more at the pump to keep our cars running. According to Goldman Sachs – thanks to banksters and the Kochs manipulating oil prices – each barrel of oil is roughly $27 more expensive because of speculation. Between 2004 and 2008, when the price of oil surged from around 30 bucks a barrel to well over 100 bucks a barrel – the Kochs also saw their fortunes surge – from $5 billion to well over $35 billion. And back in 2009 – ThinkProgress reports that the Kochs admitted they are one of the top 5 oil speculators in the world. These guys aren’t “job creators” – they are apparently among the hucksters who are running up the price of gas and ruining our economy.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Speaker of the House John Boehner has lost control of his caucus. Last night – in a desperate bid to prevent a government shutdown – Republican leadership brought to the floor a temporary spending bill to keep the government funded through November. But 48 Republicans voted “no” on the measure because they were unhappy with spending levels in it – and the bill failed. That brings the nation one step closer to a government shutdown – and it also keeps victims of Hurricane Irene still in need of help – as Republicans hold much-needed disaster relief aid hostage until their demands of more job-killing spending cuts are met. Back in April – Republicans nearly shut the government down over Planned Parenthood funding – now it looks like they are doing it again over disaster relief funding.

The Tax Policy Center is affirming the fact that millionaires and billionaires aren’t paying their fair share in America. According to their research – one out of every four millionaires pay a lower tax rate that the average middle class household. The super-rich in this country use our roads and bridges – our courts and law enforcement – and our education system – many of them just don’t think they have to pay for it. So who are the REAL freeloaders in America?

Despite a guaranteed veto by the United States – the Palestinian Authority is pushing full steam ahead with a vote in the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state – and permanent member of the United Nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Obama yesterday for taking a stand against Palestinian statehood – saying the President deserved a “badge of honor.” Meanwhile – a new poll in the Jerusalem Post today – shows a huge disconnect between the Israeli people and their hard-line government. According to the poll – 69% of Israelis say their nation should support UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state. There will certainly be no easy solutions to this stand-off.

In Greece – a public transit strike in response to a new round of austerity measures brought Athens to a grinding halt today. The government in Athens is resorting to desperate measures to get more money from the European Union and IMF – and by desperate measures I mean screwing over working people so they can use that borrowed money to pay off the banksters. The government is cutting public workers’ pensions and tax breaks – and furloughing 30,000 government workers. That move led to taxi drivers, air traffic controllers, teachers and municipal workers walking out on their jobs today. As the head of the Athens chamber of commerce – Constantinos Michalos – said, “Greece is being turned into a poverty house…There is no compass, this government doesn't know where it's going.” Greece has pursued cuts in government services all year to meet the demands of the IMF and EU – and so far all it’s done is further cripple their economy and bring the nation closer and closer to default. As the UK – and now the United States is finding out – spending cuts kill economic growth – which in turn causes bigger deficits. Will the REAL economists in Europe – and the United States – please take over and stop this cutting insanity?

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, September 22nd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.