In today’s On the News segment: The Florida Department of Justice ignores a federal notice that Gov. Rick Scott’s purge of the voting roles violates the Voting Rights Act, Republicans consider raising taxes to prevent military cuts, crucial Greek election is less than two weeks away, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The state of Florida told the Justice Department they intend to ignore its demand that Governor Rick Scott end his illegal purge of Democratic voters in the Sunshine State. Despite being informed via a DOJ letter they were in violation of the Voting rights Act last week – officials in Governor Scott’s government are pressing forward with a massive effort to kick mostly Democratic-leaning and poor people off the voting rolls. The Florida Secretary of State’s office responded to the DOJ letter saying, “We are going to continue forward and do everything that we can legally do to make sure that ineligible voters cannot vote.” However, there’s overwhelming evidence that legal residents are having their voting rights stripped away in this voter purge. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has called for an end to the voter purge – as has the Democratic Party Chairman in Broward County – and the Miami Herald newspaper, which uncovered evidence that most of the voters to be removed from the roles were minorities and Democrats – and very few were Republicans. Now – investigative reporter Lee Fang has uncovered a possible connection between the Florida voter purge and major right-wing political donors. As Fang reports – Former Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning – who began the voter purge – previously led a Conservative group called “Protect Your Vote Inc.” – which received a $100,000 check from another organization that receives much of it’s funding from the billionaire oligarchs the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers are also behind funding to the American Legislative Exchange Council – which has churned out numerous statewide Voter ID laws to make it harder for Democratic voters to vote. So, it’s pretty obvious why Governor Rick Scott is refusing to end his illegal voter purge. It’s because he no longer thinks he has to answer to the nation’s democratically-elected federal government. Instead – he – and other Republican Governors around the nation – now answer to the new Oligarchy of the United States – billionaires headed up by people like the Koch brothers.
In screwed news…how do you convince a Republican to raise taxes on the rich? Tell them it’s needed to bail out defense contractors. With $600 billion in cuts to the Pentagon – including cuts to lucrative defense contracts – coming down the pike because Congress failed to come up with a deal to cut the deficit last year – Republicans are scrambling to prevent the cuts from taking effect. They’re even considering something they pledged to their anti-tax overlord, multimillionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist, that they’d never do – and that’s raise taxes. In the Senate – Lindsey Graham is openly talking about closing tax loopholes and increasing taxes on oil companies, to prevent defense cuts. And in the House – the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee – Representative Buck McKeon, has said he’d support tax hikes to prevent the defense cuts as well. So here’s another glimpse into the morality of today’s Republican Party. They’re willing to raise taxes to keep the American war machine going – but not to keep tens of millions of American children out of poverty.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Greece may be headed for a “revolution” – with a crucial election less than two weeks away. Greek election law prohibits polls from being released two weeks before a vote – and the last poll released before the ban takes effect shows the far-left anti-austerity SYRIZA party with a comfortable of 5-point lead heading into the June 16th contest. On Friday, SYRIZA leader – Alex TSipras – unveiled the party’s agenda should they win control of parliament – which includes: an immediate end to the spending cuts and austerity agenda that Greece agreed to earlier this year in exchange for a bailout, an increase in the minimum wage, a tax hike on the rich, the repeal of a privatization drive, and the nationalization of Greek banks. This agenda will likely mean an end to Greece’s membership in the Eurozone – but a new chance at rebuilding an economy ravaged by austerity-pushing technocrats and banksters.
George Zimmerman – the man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin – is back in Sanford police custody in Florida after his bond was revoked last week. Zimmerman was able to elude any charges in the case for 44 days after the shooting thanks to Florida’s “Shoot First” law. And a new report by the Tampa Bay Times suggests that Zimmerman will more than likely walk free, once all is said and done. As the Times points out, nearly 70% of shooters who claim the “stand your ground” defense end up walking free after trial. This defense has also grown five-fold between 2008 and 2011. And just like in the Zimmerman case – there’s a racial bias in the law. Seventy-three percent of those who claimed “stand your ground” while shooting a black person walked free, whereas, only 59% of those who claimed “stand your ground” while shooting a white person walked free. This law is making our communities less safe, and handcuffing our criminal justice system. That’s what happens when we let corporations and the NRA – working with groups like ALEC – write our laws.
And finally…the Romney campaign is going to have a tougher time making untruthful Solyndra attacks now, thanks to a new revelation that, as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney ALSO invested taxpayer dollars into a green company that went belly-up. In 2003 – Romney appeared outside solar company Konarka Technologies – calling for more grants for the renewable energy sector. But after a $1.5 million investment by the state – Konarka filed for bankruptcy – laying off its entire staff – and liquidating all of its assets. So when Romney attacks President Obama far a similarly failed investment at Solyndra – he’s also attacking himself. And somehow right-wingers – and even the mainstream corporate press – alwasy fail to mention, when reporting on Republican attacks on Solyndra – that the program that financed Solyndra was started in 2005 during the Bush Administration, and Bush’s same federal employees recommended Solyndra’s funding.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, June 04, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.