In today’s On the News segment: students in Montreal are fed up, the amendment to ban indefinite detention was defeated, voters want President Obama to pick the next Supreme Court justices, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. All eyes are on Chicago this weekend – where an annual NATO Summit is going up against the Occupy Movement. Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected to attend this weekend’s marches and rallies, calling for peace and economic fairness. Chicago police have already spent more than a million dollars on riot gear and high-tech crowd dispersal technology like long-range acoustic devices to use against the peaceful Occupy demonstrators. Already – in the lead up to this weekend’s actions – twenty people have been arrested – including some for protesting outside President Obama’s re-election headquarters on Monday. So keep an eye on Chicago where the big question is: Will First Amendment rights be honored – or will we see another violent crackdown by law enforcement against patriotic Americans?
In screwed news…students in Montreal are fed up. After weeks of demonstrations in the streets against college tuition hikes – the Premier of Quebec announced a new emergency law that would end classes early – and restart them again in August in an effort to “restore calm” to the campuses. After the announcement – thousands of students poured into the streets – where they were confronted with police. As many as 122 students were arrested in the demonstrations. Meanwhile, here in the United States, students have if far worse than in Montreal – college tuition here has increased 500% since Reagan – and outstanding student loan debt is over one trillion dollars. Which is why the Occupy Movement and other progressive organizations that are fighting so hard for the rights of students.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Two days after a Federal judge ruled that indefinite detention without charges is unconstitutional; Congress had a chance to correct its mistake today and vote to repeal indefinite detention. Unfortunately – the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted down the repeal. Despite being sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats – the amendment to ban indefinite detention was defeated 231-182 – with all but 19 Republicans voting to keep indefinite detention. Nineteen Democrats also sided with indefinite detention – meaning most Republcans and a handful Democrats in Congress are still so scared that they’re willing to sacrifice our most prized civil liberties – all in the name of the so-called war on terror. Ben Franklin was right – these cowards are now willing to throw away both safety and liberty.
Facing a recall election – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is dealing with more economic bad news. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin lost more than 6,000 private sector jobs in April. That adds to the total number of jobs lost in Wisconsin under Scott Walker’s watch – making Wisconsin the national leader in job losses. These latest numbers shouldn’t bode well for Walker as he fights for his job in a recall election next month. Then again – over $25 million in out-of-state cash from Wall Street banksters and Texas oil barons might be just enough to distract voters and gloss over Walker’s destructive economic policies.
This year’s Presidential election isn’t just about which Party will control the White House – it’s also about which direction the Supreme Court will go. With four Justices on the High Court over 70-years-old, it’s likely the next President will have a chance to change the makeup of the court. And according to a recent poll – more people trust President Obama than Mitt Romney to pick future justices. The poll – released by Fox so-called News – showed that by a margin of 46 to 38% – voters want President Obama to pick the next Supreme Court justices. Romney has already come forward saying his model justices are the current Republican-appointees on the court – like Roberts, Scalia, and Alito – all of whom sided with corporations buying our elections in the court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.
While Republicans across the country clamp down on voting rights – Democrats in Congress are trying to make it easier for Americans to vote. On Thursday, Representative John Lewis introduced the Voter Empowerment Act – which would allow Americans to register to vote online, promote same-day voter registration, and assist voters with disabilities. As one of the co-sponsors of the bill – Representative Robert Brady, said, “It makes registering to vote simpler, faster, and more secure for each and every American. The Voter Empowerment Act reaffirms the basic principle of our democracy: one person, one vote.” Unfortunately, Republicans in more than thirty states have passed laws making it more difficult to vote – which will lead to millions of eligible voters getting kicked off the rolls come November. American democracy depends on people voting – but Republicans’ electoral victories depend on fewer people voting.
It’s time for JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to face the American people. On Thursday – the Senate Banking Committee called on Dimon to testify about his bank’s recent $3 billion gambling loss. Bloomberg news is reporting that Dimon will accept the invitation. Let’s hope the Senate doesn’t make a charade of this hearing – and actually puts Dimon on the spot after he’s proven that Wall Street clearly isn’t capable of policing itself.
And finally…just when you thought Republicans in Arizona couldn’t get any crazier – enter Secretary of State Ken Bennett. In an interview Thursday night – Bennett went full-tilt birther – saying he’s not convinced President Obama was born in the United States and he threatened to keep the President’s name off the Arizona ballot come November. As Bennett said, “My responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking.” Bennett said he’s also sent requests to the state of Hawaii to uncover more information regarding the President’s birth. Between Sheriff Joe Arpaio using taxpayer dollars to launch his own investigation into the President’s place of birth – and now the Secretary of State doing the same things – you have to wonder…what the heck is in the water in Arizona?
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, May 18, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.