In today's On the News segment: Mitt Romney may have thought he was writing off President Obama's electorate - but in reality, he was writing off his own when he derided 47 percent of Americans who he claims are dependent upon government for everything; Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison introduced the "Inclusive Prosperity Act" - which would levy a half-percent tax on all Wall Street transactions; the ACLU wants to know about President Obama's drone wars; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Teachers and students are back at school today in the Windy City, as the Chicago Teachers Union voted to call off their strike on Tuesday. In the coming weeks, the union will approve a new contract that will guarantee a double-digit pay increase for teachers and roll back a new teacher evaluation system. On the other side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel got a lot of what he wanted, too, including longer school days, more authority for principals to hire teachers, and a new evaluation system based on student performances. Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis, said the union feels, "very positive moving forward." But the big winner in this whole dispute is none other than...Fox so-called News! As MediaMatters reveals, Fox News devoted 89 segments to the teachers strike in the last week – mostly criticizing the union. But, what was not revealed in any of those 89 segments are the financial ties that Fox News' parent company – Newscorp - has to the Chicago public school system. In 2010, Newscorp acquired the company Wireless Generation, which just last May contracted its services to the Chicago public schools to the tune of $4.7 million. Those services, which assess student performance, were a sticking point for striking teachers who were upset with a new, heavily weighted standardized testing system. You would think a news channel would disclose its financial ties to a story its covering. But Fox isn't news – it's really just GOP TV.
In screwed news ... the Mitt Romney campaign is still in crisis after a leaked video showed Romney deriding 47% of Americans who he claims are victims who don't pay taxes, and who are dependent upon government for everything. Romney argued that he doesn't need to worry about these people – and they represent the President's base. But a new study by the Tax Foundation shows that those Americans Romney was referring to who don't pay federal income taxes aren't from Blue states – they're mostly from Red states. The top ten states with the highest percentage of residents who pay no federal income taxes are all in the South, plus Idaho. And each one of those states – with the exception of Florida – has consistently voted for Republicans. Mitt Romney may have thought he was writing off President Obama's electorate – but in reality, he was writing off his own. Amazingly, Republicans have succeeded in using racist dog-whistle politics in the South ever since Richard Nixon called it his "Southern Strategy" to convince tens of millions of Americans to vote against their best interests. And they're trying to do the same thing today to convince poor and working class white Americans that priority number one is to get that Black President out of the White House.
In the best of the rest of the news...
This week, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one-year anniversary. And now, one of the movement's main demands is getting some attention on Capitol Hill. Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison introduced the "Inclusive Prosperity Act" – which would levy a half-percent tax on all Wall Street transactions. Forty countries around the planet already have a similar tax in place. Not only will such a tax raise hundreds of billions of dollars in much-needed revenue, but it will also curb risky behavior on Wall Street, particularly the very dangerous and destabilizing high-frequency trading robots. This is a no-brainer – it makes our financial system safer and forces those who can afford it the most to contribute a little more to the prosperity of our nation. Let's put pressure on our lawmakers to get this bill passed.
Voting rights advocates are calling Tuesday's decision by the Pennsylvania state supreme court, "a big step in the right direction." Despite a lower court upholding the state's radical Voter Suppression ID law last month, the state Supreme Court yesterday sent the case back to that lower court to determine whether or not the law allows voters to easily obtain the necessary identification. It's now up to the state to prove that it does, or else the lower court will have to strike down the law. While this ruling isn't a death blow for the Pennsylvania Voter Suppression ID law, it could be the first step in taking the law off the books before the November elections. Stay tuned.
The ACLU wants to know about President Obama's drone wars. After the CIA refused to comply with several Freedom of Information Act requests regarding President Obama's "targeted killings" drone program, the American Civil Liberties Union is taking the issue to court on Wednesday, arguing that the CIA can no longer deny the existence of a program that's been widely report on in the media and in official briefings by the Obama administration. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed more than 3,000 people – including nearly 900 innocent civilians – since 2002. Drone strikes have also occurred in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other nations.
And finally ... Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is losing it – and needs to be impeached. In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Scalia claimed he was "enraged" by charges that the high court has become too politicized. Scalia said, "Neither I nor any one of my colleagues votes a certain way because he or she likes this president." But then thirty seconds after saying that, Scalia went unhinged in a partisan rant, accusing Democrats, naming the Party, of trying to appoint judicial activists for years. This is just the latest bizarre and self-contradictory rant from Scalia. Most recently, he openly criticized the President during his dissent in the Arizona immigration law case, earlier this year. So, from politicizing the Court to routinely ruling in favor of his hunting buddies like Dick Cheney and the Koch brothers, Scalia has proven himself to be an unethical judge. It's time for Congress to assert its constitution-mandated power – and impeach him.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, September 19, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.