On the News With Thom Hartmann: UN to Weigh In on American Voter ID Laws, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for all NATO troops to be pulled out of rural areas, United Nations will weigh in on American voter ID laws, the crusade against gays and lesbians in Uganda has ties to the United States, Republicans have lost the Hispanic vote, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. More setbacks in the war strategy in Afghanistan. After a U.S. soldier snapped, and massacred 16 Afghan civilians – including nine children – Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for all NATO troops to be pulled out of rural areas. That could throw a wrench in the US exit strategy, which depends on handing Afghanistan over to NATO and Afghan Security Forces by 2014. Another blow to the US exit strategy came when the Taliban suspend negotiations with US diplomats. In order to end the civil war in Afghanistan – a power-sharing deal with the Taliban must be worked out – but Taliban leaders walked away from the table, claiming that the US keeps changing the terms of the negotiations. Clearly – after a decade of war – the Afghans want us out of their country. And recent polls show that the American people – who are watching this nation go bankrupt from war and our young soldiers deteriorate mentally and physically – want the war to end as well. In fact – 50% of Americans want the United States to speed up its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Time to pull a Saigon – and just get the hell out of there.

Women in Wisconsin are screwed. Ripping a page out of the Puritan’s handbook, Republicans in the State Assembly passed a new law banning private insurance coverage for abortions – and they also passed a law mandating abstinence-only sex education in school. Wisconsin Democratic State Representative Donna Seidel blasted Republicans for not focusing on jobs and the economy, saying, “What are we doing in these last hours to get that important work done? We are arguing about advancing an extreme social agenda.” Governor Walker is expected to sign the legislation. Republicans in the state Assembly are showing why the Badger state needs more recall elections.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Somewhere Grover Norquist is freaking out. The millionaire lobbyist and anti-tax master of the Republican Party may be losing his grip on power. Today – Freshman Republican Representative Rick Crawford is introducing legislation in the Tea Party-controlled House to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Crawford’s legislation mirrors what Democrats in the Senate have been trying to do for months – add a small surtax on anyone who makes more than $2 million a year. One aide close to Representative Crawford said about the legislation, “If we’re going to make any progress in addressing the deficit and the debt eventually, then we need to find compromise.” So it looks like at least one voice in the Republican Party is waking up to the reality of the situation – that Republicans can’t ride a rich-people-only agenda to an election victory in 2012 – although they seem eager to try. As Vice President Joe Biden said in Ohio today – Republicans are about, “protecting the privileged.”

The banksters at Goldman Sachs are hemorrhaging cash. On the day that a former Goldman executive blasted the bank’s “toxic and destructive” environment in a New York Times op-ed – blowing the whistle on a culture of screwing over their customers – Goldman Sach’s stock tumbled on Wednesday, falling 3.4% for the third-largest stock decline on the S&P 500. In just one day – Goldman lost more than $2 billion of its total market value. After the bailouts, the bonuses, the fees, and the screw jobs – the American people are waking up to the danger of banksters like Goldman Sachs running our economy. We need to bring back Glass-Steagall – make Dodd-Frank stronger – and bring manufacturing back to America so our economy can start producing real wealth again – and not just move around money for the top 1%.

After two Wisconsin federal judges struck down a controversial Voter ID law in the state – and the Department of Justice struck down a similar Voter ID law in Texas – the United Nations will weigh in on American Voter ID laws. The NAACP is appearing before the UN Human Rights Council to argue that Voter ID laws suppress the minority vote. As the Senior Vice President of the NAACP, Hillary Shelton, said, “This really is a tactic that undercuts the growth of our democracy.” The UN, of course, has no say on domestic law in the United States – and the UN Human Rights council is chock-full of nations that also have habits of suppressing minority votes, like Saudi Arabia and China. But as elected leaders are increasingly replaced by technocrats in Europe and in Michigan – the death of democracy around the world should be a real concern for the International body.

The crusade against gays and lesbians in Uganda has ties to the United States. As radical lawmakers in Uganda push for legislation that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death, the Center for Constitutional Rights is bringing a lawsuit against American Christian evangelical leader Scott Lively for his role in the ongoing persecution. They say that Lively has contacts within the Ugandan government – including with Parliamentarian David Bahati – who introduced the legislation to sentence gays to death. They also allege that Lively helped write the brutal legislation. Lively denies the allegations, but as Pamela Spees – the lead attorney in the case against Lively said, referring to his role, “He is not just involved in it as somebody who comes in and talks. He’s somebody who has the plan for how to do this, and assists people with implementing it.” Bigotry in America has gone global.

Forget about the female vote – Republicans have lost the Hispanic vote too. A Fox News Latino poll released this week shows a huge majority of Latino voters breaking for President Obama. In a hypothetical match-up with Mitt Romney – President Obama wins 70% to 14% among Latino voters. And 73% of Latinos approve of President Obama’s job performance. Mitt Romney has touted his “Self-deportation” plan in recent debates – and thrown his support behind Arizona’s radical “paper, please” anti-immigration law, so it’s not a big surprise that Latinos don’t want to vote for a Party – and a candidate – who considers them second class citizens.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, March 15th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.