Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. 8 votes. Just 8 votes. Mitt Romney took the Iowa Caucuses last night by a mere 8 votes. But considering Mitt once again couldn’t crack 25% and that he didn’t get as many votes as he did last year in the Hawkeye state – Mitt Romney is not the real winner last night. Rick Santorum is, who was outspent by virtually every other candidate in the state – yet nearly pulled off a victory last night. Santorum now heads to New Hampshire as the new “anti-Romney” candidate hoping to capitalize on the populist support he received in Iowa – despite not having any genuinely “populist” policies. Meanwhile – the dream is over for Ron Paul supporters – in what was his best shot to win any state in the primary season – Paul could only muster a third-place finish – but don’t expect him to drop out of the race soon. The same can’t be said for Rick Perry though – who after a disappointing fifth place last night – is putting his campaign on hold – and going back to Texas to “reassess” – as in, Governor Good Hair is pretty much out of the race. Michele Bachmann is also out as her campaign ran out of support and money after finishing sixth in Iowa. And then there’s Newt Gingrich – who, after looking like he might win the thing just a few weeks ago – was decimated by a barrage of negative ads by pro-Romney corporate front-groups and slipped all the way back to a fourth place finish. In his speech last night – Gingrich pledged to seek revenge against Romney’s negative ads – and it appears the only reason he’s staying in the race is to make sure Mitt Romney doesn’t win the nomination. The notorious Newtster, like when President Clinton sent him to the back of the plane, now has a blood feud.
Our democracy is screwed. The 8-vote victory for Romney marked the closest caucus in the history – but we might never know who won for sure. That’s because there will be no recount. It’s solely up to the Republican Party to pick last night’s winner – which they did in the middle of the night – with the establishment candidate Romney winning. But more troubling is just how much money was spent in Iowa thanks to the new wild west of democracy created in the wake of Citizens United. Rick Perry spent over $6 million in the state – about $480 per vote he received. Romney spent over $4.5 million – about 156 bucks for each vote. Ron Paul spent nearly three million and Gingrich nearly a million and a half. Together – the candidates and their corporate front groups threw more than 12 million bucks into Iowa to nab 25 delegates in the nation’s first primary contest. This doesn’t bode well for those of us who don’t have a lot of money to spend in the upcoming general election.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Despite the massive corporate spending campaign in Iowa – the fight against corporate personhood continues. A vote is expected today in New York's City Council on a resolution calling on Congress to amend the Constitutions to strip out corporate personhood. Once it passes – the biggest city in the nation – New York City – will join several other cities America that have demanded an end to corporate personhood – like Los Angeles, Oakland, Albany, Missoula, Boulder, and several other cities. Go to movetoamend.org to make sure your city joins the fight.
Even though a debt crisis is gripping the European continent – the German economy is surging. According to the latest economic data – German unemployment fell in the month of December – bringing the average number of unemployed people in that nation to a two-decade low. Economists are now openly wondering just how long the German economy can be immune from the chaos surrounding it in places like Greece where unemployment is at 18% and Spain where unemployment just topped 23%. But the better question is why their economy is doing so well. The answer is they do what we used to do. They protect domestic manufacturing with high barriers to imports, and they encourage labor unions. In fact, nearly the entire German auto industry is unionized, allowing the nation to produce twice as many cars as the United States – while at the same time paying their workers more than $60 on average and still make healthy profits. On top of that – the German government has recession-proof programs like the “short-week” that pays businesses to cut back on the hours of workers rather than lay them off during economic downturns. Plus, Germany's constitution gives the labor force a say in everything from pay to working conditions in the factories they work for. All in all – Germany has given more power and protection to workers in their economy – and as a result their economy is growing. We should be taking some notes over here.
Tension are rising in the Gulf – and so too are gas prices. The price of oil jumped 4% yesterday – as Iran continues its saber-rattling. Within the last week – Iran has tested new missiles – touted leaps forward in their nuclear program – threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz – through which 40% of the world’s oil travels every day – and vowed to take out a U.S. aircraft carrier if it returns to the Persian Gulf waters. President Obama signed into law new sanctions against Iran this week – which may further destabilizes the Iranian economy – and fuel more unrest in the area. Forty years of failure on our part to adopt a some sort of alternative energy strategy has now put us in this precarious situation on the brink of what could be another world war.
And finally – President Obama is in Ohio today to deliver a speech on the economy. And many progressives are hoping he’ll work around the Senate and appoint former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Senate is technically still in session for the sole purpose of preventing any recess appointment by the White House – but there is some wiggle room for the President to get around it. If he does – expect Republicans to return to Washington from their winter vacation in a few weeks particularly enraged.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, January 4th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.