In today's On the News segment: Obama will submit his American Jobs Act to Congress today, a major bridge over the Ohio River was shut down Friday, explosion reported at a French nuclear power plant today, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The nation collectively remembered the victims of 9/11 yesterday – holding memorials in New York City – Washington, DC, - and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But what was left out of those memorials, perhaps rightfully so, and what needs to be talked about in America moving forward – is what our nation has given up in the ten years since 9/11 because of our misguided wars. The National Priorities Project estimates our nation has spent over $1.2 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade – and according to the Washington Post – by the time these wars wind down – if they ever do – we’ll have spent more than $3 trillion in total. Over the weekend – the Center for American Progress examined in what ways we could have spent that money besides bombing the Middle East and killing or displacing millions of people – including over 6,000 American soldiers – and the numbers are shocking. With our war money – we could have instead given 59 million children health insurance every year for ten years. Or, we could have sent 63 million people to college for free every year for ten years. Or, we could have hired 1.6 million elementary school teachers every year for ten years. Or we could have upgraded 26 million homes with solar panels every year for ten years. Any one of those alternatives would have made our nation far wealthier – and safer – than the endless wars that George W. Bush opted for in the wake of 9/11. So let’s hope this anniversary – the tenth one – will be more than just about remembering the victims – but it will also be about correcting the course. With the wars, the Islamophobia, the massive security state, and an economy faltering under the weight of war and bankster crimes – the United States is on a road to ruin – which is exactly what Bin Laden hoped for. After ten years – it’s time to ditch Bush’s 9/11 roadmap of endless war and begin a genuine recovery.
Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. The Sherman Minton Bridge that spans the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky was shut down last Friday due to safety concerns after cracks were discovered in the bridge’s load-bearing parts. The Sherman Minton Bridge is just one of several bridges in danger of collapsing –- As the American Society of Civil Engineers points out, 34% of all the bridges in Kentucky are considered “structurally deficient.” Of course – Kentucky is the home state of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – who opposed increased infrastructure spending in the 2009 stimulus bill – opposed it again when Republicans blocked a jobs bill in 2010 – and threw cold water last week on President Obama’s “American Jobs Act” that includes billions in transportation infrastructure products. According to a study by the Urban Land Institute – our nation’s infrastructure needs $2 trillion worth of repairs. And America’s infrastructure now ranks 16th in the world according to the World Economic Forum. Yet another consequence of 30 years of Ronald Reagan’s “starve the beast” economics.
In the best of the rest of the news…
An explosion ripped through a French nuclear power plant today – killing one person and injuring three others. So far – French authorities claims no radioactive material has been released into the atmosphere. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile – to Japan’s nuclear crisis – there are more mistruths coming from TEPCO. Turns out – the corporation that runs the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan – once again underestimated just how much radiation leaked out of the plant during the nuclear crisis that is still ongoing more than 6 months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that triggered it. Early estimates by TEPCO put the amount of radiation seeping to the seawater around Fukushima at about 4,700 trillion Becquerels – but according to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency – the number is actually closer to 15 trillion becquerels. To put just how damaging 15,000 trillion Becquerels of contamination is – government regulations ban the shipment of food than contains more than 500 Becquerels of radiation. Again – we’re talking 15,000 trillion Becquerels though. Clearly – this is still an environmental disaster on a tragically epic scale.
President Obama will submit his American Jobs Act to Congress today – though most Republicans will likely be focused instead on the sideshow known as tonight’s CNN Tea Party Republican debate instead of jobs. Expect more of the same Obama bashing, global warming denying, death penalty cheering, and social security lying that has come to characterize Republican debates so far.
During President Obama’s jobs speech last week – Republican Congressman Jeff Landry from Louisiana held up a “drilling equals jobs” sign in the House chamber. Despite the obvious disrespect of holding up a sign while the President addressed a joint-session of Congress – it’s also clear – Landry doesn’t know what he’s talking about. According to a new report from Democrats in the House Natural Resources Committee – giant oil corporations that are obsessed with drilling are actually killing American jobs. Over the last five years – ExxonMobile, Chevron, Shell, and BP made $546 billion in profits yet laid off more than 11,000 American workers. So the question is why are we giving these oil barons tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer-paid corporate welfare? Not only are they NOT hiring people with the handouts – but they're making a fortune keeping gasoline well above $3.50 in the US by exporting much of their domestic refinery production.
Americans love football – which means they also love Socialism! The NFL season kicked off this weekend – and as ThinkProgress pointed out – Americans flocked to their televisions to watch just how successful progressive policies in action can be. Over the years – the NFL has adopted a series of “socialist” rules to ensure the sport remains enjoyable to its fans – and stays open for business. Among these include revenue sharing – all the money the NFL makes is divided evenly among all 32 teams no matter if a team in New York generates far more money than a team in Tennessee. Also, the NFL has a salary cap to make sure wealthier owners can’t just buy a winning team. It also has strong labor unions – and practices affirmative action. Not to mention that last year’s Super Bowl champions were the “socialist” Green Bay Packers – the only team that’s owned by everyone living in its home city – as opposed to just one rich guy. So instead of just rooting for our favorite NFL teams – we should start acting like them – and supporting a progressive agenda for more industries across the nation.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, September 12th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.