In today's On the News Segment: The 99 percent movement marched through the streets of Washington, DC, yesterday, demanding an end to the wars; the economy added 103,000 jobs as the unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent; today is the tenth anniversary of starting the war in Afghanistan; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped Republicans of the power to introduce endless amendments; 46 lawmakers called for an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The 99% movement marched through the streets of Washington, DC yesterday – demanding an end to the wars and end to Wall Street’s chokehold on our economy. Hundreds of protestors gathered in Freedom Plaza – and then marched passed the US Treasury building – the White House – and the US Chamber of Commerce. Demonstrators have been “occupying” Washington, DC’s McPherson Square since October 1. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden were forced to weigh in on the movement that is now sweeping the nation – saying in two separate press conferences that they empathize with the demonstrators. But it was former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that gave one of the most impassioned defenses of the 99% movement yesterday saying, “The message of the protestors is a message to the establishment everyplace.” She said, “No longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street. God bless them.” But ultimately – this isn’t about politics – it’s about a fundamental change needed in our economy – change that’s long overdue. And change that will happen if young people keep taking to the streets.
New job numbers released today show that our economy added 103,000 jobs last month – however the unemployment rate remains at 9.1% largely because 34,000 government jobs were lost thanks to Republicans in Congress and in states around the country pushing job-killing spending cuts. This is the 19th straight month of private sector job creation under President Obama – but as long as Republicans keep cutting government jobs – like they’ve done for the last three years cutting over a half million since President Obama took office – then our economy will continue to stall. Then Republicans will get exactly what they want – 9% unemployment heading into the 2012 elections.
In the best of the rest of the news...
In 2001 we started a war in Afghanistan – and today on the 10th year anniversary of starting the war, we’ve achieved just barely 50% of our military goals in that nation. So says the former top commander in Afghanistan – Retired General Stanley McChrystal. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations – McChrystal blasted the planning and effort that went into the Afghanistan war – now the longest war in American history – saying, "We didn't know enough and we still don't know enough. Most of us – me included – had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years." McChrystal also said the decision to start a war in Iraq clearly made this situation in Afghanistan more difficult. That’s yet another condemnation of the Bush-Cheney War Crime presidency that our nation is still reeling from. It’s time to cut our losses – end the wars and bring our men and women back home.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said enough is enough yesterday. After the Republican minority in the Senate purposefully bogged down and stalled legislation to impose tariffs on China – legislation that could create 3 million jobs in the US - Reid brought out the big guns and changed the rules of the Senate. By a party-line vote of 51-48 – Reid stripped Republicans of their power to introduce endless amendments after a filibuster has been defeated – a tactic Republicans had been using since Tuesday to stop the legislation and embarrass Democrats. The move by Reid prompted outrage by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who took to the floor to say, “We are fundamentally turning the Senate into the House. The rules of the Senate will be effectively changed to lock out the minority party even more.” However – the new rule change does nothing to address the traditional filibuster – which Republicans have used for three years now to sabotage real progressive change in America.
What started as just 20 lawmakers calling or an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has now swelled to 46 lawmakers. House Democrats Earl Blumenaur and Louise Slaughter are leading the dozens of legislators who wrote a letter to the Judiciary Committee expressing concern that Justice Thomas has violated ethics rules and calling for investigations and hearings into the “outstanding ethical questions surrounding the court.” Unfortunately – Republicans are busy now investigating the financial records of Planned Parenthood rather than the clear corruption on the nation’s highest court.
The White House is reversing course and targeting medical marijuana dispensaries around the nation. 16 pot shops that offer medicinal marijuana – and are completely legal under California law – were issued notices by federal prosecutors to shut down their businesses within 45 days or face criminal charges. This is a clear reversal in policy from the Obama Administration – which in its first two years in office pledged NOT to crack down on medicinal marijuana facilities that were operating in compliance with state law. It looks like the old hardline anti-drug idiots leftover from the Bush White House have been drinking too much coffee - another drug that comes from a plant that was once outlawed but is now legal.
Yesterday – Democrats in the Senate Banking Committee approved nominee Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the critical agency now in charge of making sure average Americans are not swindled by banksters with hidden fees and fine print. Unfortunately – Republicans in the Senate are still pledging to block his nomination when it comes before the full Senate for a vote. When it comes to fighting for consumers or banksters – Republicans always choose the banksters. As Harry Truman famously said in 1948, “The Republican Party is the Party of special interest – always has been – always will be.” Some things never change.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, October 7th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.