In today's On the News segment: Mitt Romney falsely accuses President Obama of not calling the events in Libya a terrorist act; the United States Postal Service has met it credit limit with the Treasury Department; an appeal to end early voting in Ohio was denied by the Supreme Court; Green Party Candidate Jill Stein was arrested outside of last night's presidential debate, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. In last night's Presidential debate, Mitt Romney told 31 lies and half-truths during just 41 minutes of speaking time. That's according to a report out this morning from the Center for American Progress. Romney managed to beat his previous mark of telling 27 lies and half-truths during the first debate. The only difference this time though...was that President Obama called out those lies. Unlike the first debate, President Obama took the fight to Mitt Romney – successfully painting Romney as an out-of-touch corporate plutocrat who made a living "harvesting" American businesses and sending U.S. jobs off to China. According to three snap polls after the debate – one from CBS News, one from CNN, and one from PPP – President Obama was the unanimous winner Tuesday night. The President blasted Romney's so-called 5-point economic plan, calling it a one-point plan aimed at giving the super wealthy more tax breaks. Also unlike the first debate, the President tied Mitt Romney to those now infamous 47% comments – and tied Romney to former President George W. Bush. And in one of the more tense moments of the debate, Romney was caught in a Fox News lie when he accused the President of not calling the attacks in Libya an act of terrorism the day after they occurred. President Obama did actually refer to the attacks as terrorism, and debate moderator Candy Crowley immediately fact-checked Romney. President Obama looked Presidential last night and did what he needed to do to take back control of this race. Still, voters have lost out. With two debates down, there's been no talk about global climate change, drone warfare, domestic surveillance, and the billionaire and corporate corruption of our government. These are the really big issues facing our nation and the world – and they deserve top billing in these debates.
In screwed news...for the first time in its history, the United States Postal Service has maxed out its credit card with the Department of Treasury – meaning its financial situation is growing considerably worse. While most point to declining mail volume as the reason for the Post Office's money problems – the real reason is poison pill legislation passed by Republicans in 2006 to force the Post Office to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in the future – an obligation no other private business or government agency has ever had to comply with. That legislation has sucked $5 billion of revenue out of the Post Office every single year. And unfortunately Congress has no plans to save this institution, which is as old as the nation itself. That's mainly because the Post Office is the largest unionized employer in America – and Republicans have targeted it as part of their war on unions. Call your Member of Congress and tell him or her to save the Post Office.
In the best of the rest of the news...
For once, the Supreme Court stood up for the rights of voters. On Tuesday, the highest court in the land refused to hear an appeal from Ohio's Republican Secretary of State John Husted to shut down early voting within three days of the election. Husted and Republicans in the Ohio State legislature had tried to cut end early voting the weekend before the election – which in the past has been used by hundreds of thousands of voters – many of whom are the working poor who can't take Tuesdays off. The Republican voter suppression efforts were stopped by a lawsuit from the DNC contending that such a law violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause by disproportionately affecting minority voters. Apparently, the Supreme Court agreed. But, this battle over voting rights has just begun, as the Supreme Court is more than likely to hear arguments over Voter Suppression ID laws at some point during this term. Stay tuned.
Protests against Transcanada's toxic Keystone XL pipeline are growing. Members of the Tar Sands Blockade have been camped out in East Texas, engaging in civil disobedience to stop Transcanada's bulldozers from clearing trees to make room for the pipeline. Those protests received a big boost earlier this week, when more than 50 new protesters risked arrest to bring supplies, food, and water to the demonstrators. With the approval of this new pipeline, a foreign corporation will make huge profits running toxic tar sands oil across our nation – leaving us with the asthma and cancer-inducing pollution. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges called the Keystone pipeline, "part of the final phase of extreme exploitation by the corporate state." And climate scientists James Hansen warned that completion of the pipeline would be, "game over for the climate." This isn't hyperbole – but our childrens' future is at stake. It's time to get active – go to TarSandsBlockade.org.
Speaking of the climate – new data from NOAA shows that the world just experienced its hottest month of September...ever! Average temperatures during the month were 1.21 degrees above the normal average – and it continues a disturbing streak of warm temperatures. The first nine months of this year have recorded the eighth hottest average temperatures in the history of the world. September also saw Arctic ice reach is smallest levels ever recorded. Climate change is happening – and it's speeding up. And, unfortunately for the world – political leaders in the United States and Canada are beholden to big oil instead of future generations.
And finally...in more debate news, the two-party duopoly was on full display Tuesday night with only two candidates on stage debating. But that doesn't mean that a prominent third party voice didn't try to attend the debate. Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested outside Hofstra University alongside her running mate as they both tried to walk into the debate hall. According to debate rules set by both major parties – third party candidates need to be receiving at least 15% support in the polls, however Stein's name is not even included in most major polls. With Citizens United forcing both parties into the arms of corporate America, our nation needs third party voices. Unfortunately, those third party voices are literally being silenced and arrested in our democracy. It's time for Instant Runoff Voting - like they have in Australia and New Zealand - to open up our political process!
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, October 17, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.