In today's On the News segment: The RNC wrapped up this week, but Mitt Romney was overshadowed by Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair for ten minutes; austerity in Europe gets worse and worse with each passing day; on Thursday, a federal court struck down a repressive voter ID law in Texas; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The RNC wrapped up last night – with Mitt Romney taking the stage. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by actor Clint Eastwood who gave a bizarre speech talking to an empty chair for ten minutes. But Romney had a clear goal for his speech: stay away from specifics. He focused on his biography, his family, how he started Bain Capital, and he attacked President Obama. But when it comes to what Romney would do to fix things – there was nothing. No talk about tough decisions, no policy proposals, nothing. That's becoming a common theme for the Romney campaign – stay away from specifics; otherwise, the American people might realize he's pushing the same agenda George W. Bush pushed back in 2008 that crashed our economy eight years later. As the Center for American Progress pointed out, Romney made no mention of financial reform, no mention of climate change, no mention of immigration, no mention of Afghanistan or Syria, no mention of Social Security, no mention of Veterans, and of course no mention of Romneycare. But Romney did say that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he hoped he would succeed. If he's telling the truth – and I doubt it – that makes one in the Republican Party that was rooting for President Obama. As we know now, Republicans plotted on inauguration night to sabotage the Obama presidency from the get-go by obstructing every agenda item they could. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell let the cat out of the bad when he said shortly after Obama took office that the number one goal of the Republican Party is to make President Obama a one-term President. Well, Mitt Romney and the Republicans have two more months to try to accomplish that goal. And with the oligarchs pledging to spend billions, and Republicans state legislators doing their part passing Voter ID laws to kick Democrats off the voting rolls – they have a good chance at succeeding. Make no mistake about it – a Republican win in November is a win for the corporatocracy.
In screwed news...each month that goes by in Europe, the continent's economy gets worse and worse thanks to crippling austerity measures. The number of unemployed people in the 17-nation Eurozone hit a record high after the month of July – with new data showing 88,000 more people lost their jobs that month. That brings the total amount of unemployed to over 18 million people – the highest ever recorded. The unemployment rate in the Eurozone remained at 11.3% - more than three points higher than the United States. Unlike in Europe – the United States passed a stimulus package in 2009 – that according to the CBO created as many as 2 million jobs. Republicans say the stimulus is a failure and it never should have been passed. They also say austerity is the solution to our economic woes. But clearly, they're not paying attention to what's happening in Europe.
In the best of the rest of the news...
On Thursday, a federal court struck down a restrictive Voter Suppression ID law in Texas. The ruling comes after the Department of Justice blocked the law arguing that it violated the Voting Rights Act. All three judges on the court agreed with the Department of Justice – saying the law would suppress minority voting. As the opinion read, "[the law] imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor...[and] a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty." While several states with Republican legislatures have passed similar Voter ID laws – Texas' take the cake in absurdity. For example, under the Texas law – expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid ID – but student IDs and Social Security cards are not. After the ruling, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said his state will lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court – where he may find a more favorable audience. The High Court has repeatedly ruled that Americans do not have a federal right to vote. Stay tuned.
Tragically, there was another mass shooting in America today – one week after last Friday's shooting outside the Empire State building in New York City. Early this morning, a gunman walked into a central New Jersey supermarket and opened fire – killing at least two people. The shooter was also killed. Mass shootings are now becoming a weekly occurrence in America – despite rarely occurring anywhere else in the developed world. American has a gun problem. Unfortunately the gun lobby has spent enough money in Washington, DC so that the rights of gun owners always trump the rights of those of us who don't own guns and don't want to be shopping with other people armed to the teeth.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is suggesting that the Fed will act in the next few weeks to stimulate the economy. In a speech this morning, Bernanke said, "the stagnation of the labor market in particular is a grave concern." There's only so much the Fed can do to stimulate an economy through monetary police. What our economy really needs is a massive government investment in infrastructure to put millions of jobless Americans back to work. Democrats have proposed just that – but Republicans voted it down.
And finally...Multi-millionaire K Street lobbyist Grover Norquist and the Republican Party were just left in the lurch by one of their biggest donors – David Koch. In a speech on Thursday, David Koch worried that the Republican Party may have actually moved to far to the right and urged for troop withdrawal from the Middle East and defense spending cuts. He also said he's in favor of marriage equality. But here's the real kicker – David Koch even suggested raising taxes, saying, "I think it's essential to be able to achieve spending reductions and maybe it's going to require some tax increases." So now David Koch and lobbyist Grover Norquist are at odds on taxes. This could get interesting.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, August 31, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.