In today's On the News segment: Obama is drinking the free trade Kool-Aid, a new right-wing group is trying to get other states on board with their own mass voter purges, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon faced off with the Senate Banking Committee today, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news.
You need to know this. Just as the Department of Justice prepares to take the state of Florida to court to put a stop to Governor Rick Scott's illegal purge of Democratic voters – right-wing group are trying to get other states on board with their own mass voter purges. Meet the Tea Party organization known as "True the Vote" – which has just filed a lawsuit against Indiana – alleging the state is not properly maintaining tis voter rolls – and demanding state officials get to work cleaning the lists of ineligible voters. But Indiana is just the first step. "True the Vote" is teaming up with the right-wing group "Judicial Watch" to file similar lawsuits in key battlegrounds ahead of the 2012 elections. The states threatened with lawsuit include: Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and California – as well as several others. Conservatives know that voter roll clean-up efforts always lead to a disproportionate amount of legal voters – mostly minorities – getting kicked off the rolls, too. As we've seen in Florida – in some cases – more than 99% of the voters targeted on Governor Rick Scott's purge lists – are actually legal voters. This all comes back to what Paul Weyrich – the founder of the Heritage Foundation and ALEC – and one of the most prominent Republican strategist in recent years said more than 30 years ago, "I don't want everyone to vote...Our leverage in the elections go up as the voting populous goes down." Weyrich would be pleased to see what's going on in America today.
In screwed news...President Obama is drinking the Thomas Friedman, one world, so-called Free Trade Kool-Aid. Currently – the President is working on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact to open up trading markets with eight Pacific nations. This morning – a critical document outlining new provisions in this trade deal was leaked – revealing the President stands behind giving foreign transnational corporations unprecedented power to abuse American workers, pollute our environment, and destabilize our markets. Under the agreement – American companies would have to comply with American law and any labor, banking, and environmental regulations. But foreign companies operating on U.S. soil wouldn't have to. Instead, they can appeal to an international tribunal that has the power to overturn laws passed by our Congress – and levy trade sanctions on the United States. In other words – if this trade deal passed then Americans laws would no longer apply to foreign business tycoons setting up shop in the United States. This is yet another blow to American sovereignty – and the power of "we the people" to protect our commons and our workers. We're headed toward a nationless world where only transnational corporations rule – and they aren't exactly big fans of democracy or the middle class.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Every so often Republican Senator Rand Paul is right. This is one of those times – as the Senator from Kentucky introduced legislation on Tuesday to restrict the use of drones in American skies. Earlier this year – Congress gave the FAA broad new powers to open up our domestic airspace to surveillance drones – a move that concerned the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the new law would begin the "era of aerial surveillance" in America. Now – Senator Rand Paul is pushing back with a new bill that would require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before using any domestic surveillance drones. As Senator Paul told CNN, "I'm not against technology per se...What I am for are the constitutional processes that protect our civil liberties." Well said – we're the home of the brave. We're not a nation that gives up our civil liberties out of fear of terrorists or to support the profitability of the military industrial complex within the United States.
JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon faced off with the Senate Banking Committee today – where he was grilled over his banks' $3 billion in losses earlier this year. But Dimon didn't get most of the heat from the Senators – many of whom have received generous campaign donation from Dimon's bank – instead he got heat from average American who showed up at the hearing to speak their mind. Even before the hearing started – protestors shouted down Dimon asking him to, "face the people [he's] foreclosed on," and to "stop the foreclosures now." Tragically – we can't rely on our bought-out Members of Congress to hold the banksters accountable anymore. Instead – "we the people" have to do it – and one of the best ways to do it is to move your money out of Wall Street banks like JP Morgan Chase and into local credit unions.
With an election looming at the end of the week – Greeks are preparing for the worst-case scenario: an exit from the euro and an ensuing economic crisis. Polls show that the leftist SYRIZA Party, which is against austerity and wants to cancel the Greek bailout, is winning by a slim margin heading into Sunday's election. A SYRIZA Party victory could mean the end of Greece and the Eurozone. Bankers in Greece say that as many as one billion euros a day are being withdrawn from Greek banks and used to stock up on food like pasta and canned goods. Whatever the pain a Eurozone exist might bring to Greece – it can be worse than five years of recession and austerity that has pushed the Greek people to the brink and forced many to literally commit suicide. It's time to just rip the band aid off.
And finally...NASA is ready to launch a sophisticated new telescope into orbit today that will use x-ray vision to hunt for black holes in the universe. The telescope will be able to produce images that are 100 times more sensitive than any other telescope – and scientists hope it will give them a much clearer view of the working of black holes. Of course – this ambitious NASA mission depends on one thing: and that's not getting intercepted by the robotic pigeons of Plant Zenu on the way.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, June 13, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.