In today's On the News segment: Los Angeles Port Workers are declaring victory after their eight-day long strike ended last night; a group of Republican Senators blocked ratification of a UN treaty to help disabled people around the planet; the Institute for Economics and Peace's new "Global Terrorism Index" has discovered a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Paranoid delusions swept the floor of the United States Senate on Tuesday, as a group of Republican Senators blocked ratification of a UN treaty to help disabled people around the planet. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires signatory nations to provide for disabled populations in the same way the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act does. The treaty would require absolutely no changes to current U.S. law. It was originally signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, and then re-signed by President Obama in 2009. It was championed by former Republican Senator Bob Dole and supported by Republicans John McCain, Dick Lugar, and John Barrasso. It received 61 votes in the Senate – a clear majority – however treaty ratification requires a two-thirds majority, 66 votes, and 38 Republicans, including Senators Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio, joined together to block it out of fear that it threatens the sovereignty of the United States even though – again – the treaty would require no changes to U.S. law since our nation has already passed laws to assist the disabled. Rather than doing what's right for the nation and the entire world, Republicans in the Senate used this treaty to scare the hell out of their base and warn of a nameless, faceless global UN that they say is trying to take over the United States. Nothing could be farther from the truth – and even more ironic is that these same Republicans support free trade agreements like NAFTA, the WTO, and the TPP, which actually do threaten our sovereignty on the behalf of transnational corporations.
In screwed news ... Republicans just won't quit their efforts to rig our elections. The Republican Majority leader in the Pennsylvania State Senate, Dominic Pileggi, is floating a new way for his state to allocate Electoral College votes. Rather than winner-take-all, Pileggi wants his state's votes to be allocated based on the national popular vote, meaning Republicans will pick up for more Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania than they normally do. Had Pileggi's scheme been in place this election, President Obama would have only won 12 Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania rather than the 20 he won this year. While our nation gets into the electoral spirit every two years when we hold elections, Republicans get into the rig-elections spirit year-round.
In the best of the rest of the news ...
Los Angeles Port Workers are declaring victory after their eight-day long strike ended last night. The strike began last month when the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's local clerical workers walked out of the port out of fear that their jobs might be outsourced to low-wage foreign nations. More than 10,000 dockworkers refused to cross the picket lines, which closed down 10 of the port's 14 terminals, slowing the delivery of billions of dollars of cargo and threatening corporate America's profits. Shippers at the port are promising that clerical workers will not lose their jobs to foreign nations. Once again, organized labor protects American jobs! What happened in Los Angeles should serve as a model for future labor action nationwide to crack down on corporate outsourcers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once again promised to reform the filibuster – and asked Republicans to work with him on it. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Reid said, "We're going to change the rules. We cannot continue in this way. I hope we can get something that the Republicans will work with us on." Reid and Senate Democrat Jeff Merkley are spearheading an effort that will require Senators to physically stand on the floor of the Senate and talk for the entire time they want to filibuster. There will be a short moment next year at the beginning of the new Senate session for Democrats to reform the filibuster with a simple majority vote. Reid has received the support of the White House and he claims a number of Republicans have approached expressing similar support. Let's hope Reid is successful, and we can get the Senate back working on the side of the people, rather than blocking the peoples' will.
Just like the "War on Drugs," the "War on Terror" has been an utter failure. The Institute for Economics and Peace's new "Global Terrorism Index" has discovered a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11. This increase is a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as our drone wars in Pakistan and other nearby nations. Following a drop-off in terror after 9/11, there was a quick upsurge following the invasion of Iraq. And today, the nations we're most actively engaged in – Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – account for more than 50% of worldwide terrorism-related fatalities. One of the lead authors of the report warned that military interventions clearly lead to increases in terrorism among enraged local populations. While the United States has avoided another 9/11, our military misadventures and drone strikes in the Middle East have radicalized populations and spawned the equivalent of multiple 9/11s all around the world, killing thousands of innocent civilians. "Wars on abstractions" like drugs or terror never work. Time to create a new future in which we're not at constant war against vague threats.
And finally ... beware of ACORN. The community organizing group that was the victim of a vicious smear campaign by Conservative hack journalist James O'Keefe in 2009, and subsequently went bankrupt and out of business after Congress pulled all federal funding for it, is still haunting the minds of Conservatives. A new poll by Public Polling finds that 49% of registered Republicans – nearly half – believe that ACORN stole the election for President Obama this year. Again, ACORN no longer exists. It used to register low-income voters in minority areas, but closed its doors after it was discovered that paid canvassers working for ACORN forged names on voter registration forms - and ACORN themselves busted them! - which is the exact same thing that Republican voter registration organizations were caught doing this year. But, unlike ACORN, the Republican Party still exists – and is still whipping up fear and paranoia within its base over non-existent things.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, December 05, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.