On the News With Thom Hartmann: Jon Huntsman Drops Out of the Presidential Race, and More

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. “So long” Jon Huntsman. The so-called moderate in the Republican race is dropping out today – after a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire last week – and polls showing he’s headed for a resounding defeat in South Carolina this week. What's most interesting is that Huntsman wouldn't even be in the race if his billionaire father hadn't used Citizen United loopholes to fund his son “independently” via a superPAC. Huntsman is expected to endorse Mitt Romney – someone he previously called, “unelectable.” That decision won’t sit too well with hard-right Conservatives who this weekend chose to rally behind Rick Santorum as their anti-Romney candidate. Meanwhile – Newt Gingrich – who’s gone into full on attack mode against Romney, is predicting a victory in South Carolina – despite polls showing him way behind. If the Republican Party hopes to find a nominee other than Wall Street’s favorite politician and colleague – Mitt Romney – then they’re running out of time.

Homeowners are screwed in 2012. Despite foreclosure rates hitting a 4-year low in 2011, this year may be a very bad story. Looking at a massive backlog of home foreclosures due to the ongoing mortgage fraud scandals – the New York Federal Reserve is projecting that more than 3.6 million homeowners will be foreclosed on over the next two years. That’s 3.6 million more people who’ll find themselves on the streets as a result of what the banksters did since Phil Gramm deregulated them in 1999 – banksters who’ve since been bailed out several times over. Our nation is long overdue in helping homeowners who were conned into exploding sup-prime mortgages – and we’re just as long overdue in throwing the banksters who caused this mess into jail.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Comedian Stephen Colbert is taking the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to its logical conclusion. As Colbert flirts with the idea of running for President in South Carolina – his SuperPAC just launched it’s first negative attack ad – going after front-runner Mitt Romney. Noting that Romney believes corporations are people and that Romney made a living slicing up and killing off corporations – Colbert’s SuperPAC called Romney a “serial killer.” Colbert is actually registering – albeit in the single-digits – in South Carolina Republican polls. Similar SuperPACs are outspending candidate campaign in South Carolina by a 2-to-1 margin. Citizens United has made a mockery out of our democracy – even before Stephen Colbert highlighted it – and the only way to prevent our democracy from being sold to the highest secret, billionaire or corporate bidder is to pass a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not speech. Go to movetoamend.org.

If the United States won’t prosecute war criminals – then Spain will. On Friday – a Spanish judge in Madrid re-opened an investigation into whether or not United States officials broke international law by torturing detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, are named in the complaint – though the judge warned they have not have been directly connected to any particular criminal act. President Obama has promised not to “look backwards” and investigate past war crimes here in the United States – and has even continued the very same controversial Bush-era indefinite detention programs. But when it comes to torture, that is not something we as Americans can just forget. We must hold war criminals accountable if we want to reclaim our soul as a nation.

Why is the Department of Homeland Security interested in the Drudge Report? Last week – DHS confirmed that it is monitoring several websites including popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook – as well as news aggregator sites like Huffington Post and Drudge Report. The agency claimed the purpose of the monitoring program was simply to keep tabs on major, developing events – like the Haiti earthquake and the Winter Olympics – to help the DHS command center better respond to them. But according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center – which filed a FOIA request with DHS – the monitoring program may have other motives – like monitoring political dissent online. Based on newly collected documents – DHS is paying millions of dollars to General Dynamics to survey websites and look for “reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government, DHS, or prevent, protect, or respond to government activities.” As in – the Department of Homeland Security is reading any critical posts you make online. Now is a good time to re-read George Orwell's novel “1984.”

On the heels of a massive European credit downgrade, France is making their banksters pay up. President Nicholas Sarkozy announced he would push forward with a financial transaction tax – or FTT – on banking institutions in France – charging a tiny one-tenth of one-percent tax on all stock trades. Not only will this tax – also known as a “Robin Hood tax” because it affects only the wealthiest people in the nation – raise some much needed revenue – about 12 billion euros a year – but it will also discourage high-frequency trading robots – and excessive speculation. The IMF estimates that a continental Robin Hood tax could raise $50 billion a year for debt-ridden Europe. Time to bring the Robin Hood tax to the United States – and put an end to our banksters financial manipulations.

Crazy Alert! And the wheels stop turning. A Massachusetts man made quite a contribution to a local animal shelter – giving away 94 hamsters last week. The man had been collecting hamsters for the last five years – and had finally gotten to a point where there was no room left in his apartment to house the dozens and dozens of hamsters. Unclear how many hamster wheels he had in operation – but in a related story Rick Perry's brain appears to have been slowing down recently.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, January 16th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.