In today's On the News segment: Common Cause files suit against the US Senate over filibuster rules, all signs now point to a Greek default and exit from the euro, the Virginia House of Delegates is guilty of blatant discrimination, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Could a lawsuit put an end to the Republican's perpetual Senate filibuster? The organization Common Cause filed suit today against the United States Senate, claiming current filibuster rules are unconstitutional. In a statement released today – Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the abuse of the filibuster by minorities on both sides of the aisle – especially Republicans since Obama became President – is, "an affront to our democracy, and not the way the Senate was supposed to work." Citing a previous Supreme Court decision ruling that the Senate's rules cannot conflict with the Constitution – Common Cause's lawsuit alleges that the Constitution ONLY calls for a super-majority requirement in special cases like overriding a Presidential veto or ratifying a treaty – and does not require a super-majority to begin debate, approve judges, or pass routine legislation - as it's used today. Several Members of Congress are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. For the last few years, Republicans in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell – who boasted that his number one goal is NOT to create jobs for Americans but instead to put President Obama out of a job – have shut down an entire branch of government by abusing the filibuster. This is not what democracy what looks like.
In screwed news...all signs now point to a Greek default and exit from the Euro. Greece's President announced today that parties have failed to create a coalition government – and he has called for new elections in June. When Greek voters hit the polls again – the far-left SYRIZA party is expected to win big – and will likely be able to form a coalition government opposed to more trickle-down austerity – putting it at odds with the bailout deal reached with EU officials back in March. Greece could run out of money within the next month – and without a bailout – will almost certainly default and be forced out of the Euro. Now it's just a question of how messy this situation might get in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
In the best of the rest of the news...
If asked what's more important – being rich or being an America – Conservatives choose being rich...even when they could be both. The right-wing is showering praise on Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin after he renounced his U.S. citizenship last week just to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the fortune he'll make when Facebook goes public this week. Despite capital gains taxes being at historically low levels, and despite Saverin having no intention of investing any of his enormous wealth in the nation that made his success possible – Forbes Magazine calls Saverin an "American Hero." And columnist John Tammy suggests that Saverin's decision will lead to other successful businessmen following suit, writing: "Assuming nosebleed rates of taxation were a driver of Saverin's decision, politicians will hopefully see that if [they're] too greedy about collecting the money of others, they'll eventually collect nothing." So it's OK to be anti-American, as long as you're pro-money. What the Right doesn't understand is that many 1%ers in America have already abandoned our nation – even though they're still technically U.S. citizens. Living in their own gated communities, attending their own private schools, flying in their own private jets, paying their own lower capital gains tax rate, and vacationing year-round in their own McMansions around the world – today's Romney super-rich don't have any idea what life is like for the typical working American. Like Saverin – they've already abandoned our nation.
The Virginia House of Delegates is guilty of blatant discrimination. On Monday night, Virginia delegates fell 18 votes shy of appointing Tracy Thorne-Begland to be a judge on the District Court. Thorne-Begland served in the NAVY year for 20-years, was one of Richmond's top prosecutors, was sponsored for the job, and is supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. But Thorne-Begland is also gay – which according to Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, disqualified him from being a judge. As Marshall said, "I don't even think it's proper to put his name forward because of his behavior." This is a sad day in Virginia – and a reminder that despite how far we've come since the Civil Rights Movement – we still have a long way to go.
According to a new report out of the Columbia Law School – execution-happy Texas put an innocent man to death back in 1989 under Republican governor Bill Clements. The report concludes that Carlos DeLuna was innocent – andt wrongfully executed for a murder that happened back in 1983. The police investigation was – according to the report – was filled with "numerous missteps, missed clues, and missed opportunities that let authorities prosecute Carlos DeLuna for the crime of murder, despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual, Carlos Hernandez, did." With the controversial execution of Troy Davis still fresh in our mind - one has to wonder just how many more innocent inmates suffered the same fate as Carlos DeLuna – and how many innocent men are currently on death row. The death penalty must be abolished today – before we as a society commit another irreversible and tragic murder.
And finally...the Americans Elect experiment in democracy is a failure. The non-profit group – funded by hedge fund managers and a cadre of unknown donors – which called on Americans to use the Internet to select a third-party Presidential candidate to appear on the ballot in all fifty states, announced today that its nominating process has failed – and no candidate received the threshold of support needed to win. While Americans Elect said they were giving Americans a voice outside the restrictions of Party lines – it did all along reserve the right to pick the final nominee in backroom negotiations among its board members. Now it looks like that's exactly what's going to happen. Americans Elect CEO – Kahlil Byrd – announced today that the organization will meet with its "community" on what the next course of action is – and announce the results later this week. With oligarchs supporting the group – then expect an oligarch to come out on top.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, May 15, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.