In today's On the News segment: President Barack and Mitt Romney square off tonight in a pivotal third and final debate in Florida; foreign election observers will be on hand to make sure the voting rights of minorities are protected on election day; corporate CEO's aren't just pushing their employees to vote for Mitt Romney – they're also pushing their employees to give money to Mitt Romney; America was home to another mass shooting over the weekend, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. President Barack and Mitt Romney square off tonight in a pivotal third and final debate in Florida. The focus of the debate will be foreign policy. On the table are the recent attacks in Benghazi, nuclear capabilities of Iran, the withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan, and the implications of the Arab Spring. For the most part – there isn't too much difference between the two candidates when it comes to foreign policy in the Middle East – aside from the fact that Mitt Romney has the same advisers who encouraged George W. Bush to drag our nation into this decade of war to begin with. Also on the table tonight is foreign trade and the rise of China. Romney has been touting himself as the candidate who will be toughest in China – but what he doesn't want you to know is what's happening in Freeport, Illinois – where Bain Capital is in the process of deconstructing a very profitable American manufacturing plant run by Sensata Technologies – and shipping the equipment and all 170 American jobs overseas to China. This would be a slam-dunk line of attack for President Obama in tonight's debate. Unfortunately, he's also drinking the free trade Kool-Aid and negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which is reported to be NAFTA on steroids, and will also result in an exodus of American jobs to low-wage nations. Both parties have failed us when it comes to war and foreign trade. Where's Ross Perot when we need him?
In screwed news...this is what Republicans have done to American democracy: foreign election observers will be on hand to make sure the voting rights of minorities are protected on election day. More than 44 observers with the UN-affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be deployed at polling stations around the nation to monitor the election and potential disputes at polling stations. These observers were asked for by civil rights groups in the United States who've raised concerns over systematic efforts to restrict the votes of minorities ahead of the election – including Voter Suppression ID laws. A Conservative organization, True the Vote, which is filing lawsuits in swing states to purge minority voters from the rolls, blasted the UN observers saying, "The United Nations has no jurisdiction over an American election." Apparently, according to these guys – only the Koch brothers and other millionaires and billionaires should have jurisdiction over our elections. Thanks to Citizens United and a thirty-year effort on the Right to reduce the voting population – the United States no longer is the model democracy for the world.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Corporate CEO's aren't just pushing their employees to vote for Mitt Romney – they're also pushing their employees to give money to Mitt Romney. As reported by Chris Hayes on MSNBC – Arthur Allen – the CEO of ASG Software Solutions – shot off an email to his employees before the RNC earlier this year, telling them to give $2,500 to the Romney campaign for the sake of their company and their jobs. Allen previously sent an email telling his employees their jobs could be at stake if President Obama wins a second-term. We now know that Mitt Romney, who told N-FIB employers in a conference call in June to instruct their employees who they should vote for, started a lot of this workplace politicking. Corporate America is turning their underpaid, desperate workers into political foot soldiers for the oligarchs. This, too, is another consequence of Citizens United.
Tragically – America was home to another mass shooting over the weekend. A gunman walked into a Wisconsin hair salon on Sunday and opened fire – killing his wife and two other women, along with wounding four others before killing himself. The shooter had a history of domestic abuse charges and was recently arrested for slashing his wife's tires. This marks the second mass shooting of the year in Wisconsin – where in August a man walked into a Sikh Temple and killed 7 people including himself. Guns falling easily into the hands of the mentally disturbed is a uniquely-American problem that our politicians aren't doing nearly enough to solve.
The Brits are fed up with austerity! More than 100,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, unemployed teens, anti-war activists, and citizens rallied in London on Saturday to protest their Conservative government's austerity measures. The leader of the UK's largest trade union said, about this weekend's rally, "We are fighting for a better future. We are not here today for the millionaires - we are here for the millions of people who don't have a voice. We just can't take any more." British union leaders are also calling for a nation-wide general strike to put even more pressure on the embattled Conservative government in the UK. Stay tuned – austerity in the UK might be reaching a breaking point.
And finally...as corporations seize control of more and more of our Constitution, thanks to the Supreme Court – the people of Iceland are rising up to take back their own Constitution. Over the weekend, voters took to the polls in Iceland to approve a national referendum calling for a new Constitution to be approved in the wake of Iceland's financial crisis in 2008. That new Constitution was drawn up by a special panel of 25 citizens who took suggestions from Facebook and Twitter to draft the world's first ever "crowd-sourced" constitution. According to the results – 66% of the nation approved the new Constitution, which includes reforms such as nationalizing more resources, giving voters more power to call for their own referendums, and enacting term limits on the presidential office. The vote was non-binding, but sends a strong message to Iceland's Parliament that the Constitution must be rewritten. It's probably time we do a little housekeeping with our own Constitution here in the US. Or at least just re-read it to show that nowhere in it are corporations given the same rights as people.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, October 22nd, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.