In today's On the News segment: The fallout from an anti-Islam film made here in the United States continues, as anti-western protests sweep across the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa – including Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Iraq; a new report reveals just how damaging the financial crisis perpetrated by banksters on Wall Street was to our economy; Labor unions in Greece have had enough of austerity – and are calling for a general strike, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The fallout from an anti-Islam film made here in the United States continues, as anti-western protests sweep across the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa – including Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Iraq. More than a dozen nations have now seen protests against Western diplomatic buildings – including British and German embassies. Reuters is reporting this morning that an angry mob has breached the walls and rushed the American embassy in Tunisia – another nation that's undergone revolution during the Arab Spring. And while our nation tries to contain what could be a major foreign policy crisis, the Romney campaign continues to exploit it for political gain. Romney's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Williamson, told the Washington Post, "There's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation...For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we've had an American ambassador assassinated." He's right – With a Romney presidency, we would be in a different situation - we'd likely be at war with a dozen other nations. Romney has employed the same Neo-Cons who worked under the Bush Administration, which brought us two illegal wars and enflamed the Middle East. This is not about a movie. This is not about Islam. This is about a twisted foreign policy that has been pushed by the far right for decades – and perpetuated today – that America can bring democracy to the rest of the world down the barrel of a gun. It can't – and we're learning that harsh lesson now.
In screwed news...a new report reveals just how damaging the financial crisis perpetrated by banksters on Wall Street was to our economy. The organization, Better Markets, calculated that our economy lost as much as $12.8 trillion as a result of the financial crisis. But beyond the numbers, there's a human toll, too. As the report says, "There are millions of Americans and perhaps tens of millions of Americans, who will never regain their earnings, educations, skills, and trainings that they lost during and as a result of the crises." We know this crisis was caused by rampant fraud on Wall Street, yet not a single bankster has gone to jail for their involvement in the meltdown. In fact, they got bailed out – and are doing just fine today. Meanwhile the Middle Class continues to suffer – and they can't expect any help from multimillionaire Mitt Romney, who said in an interview today on ABC that he believes the Middle Class is defined by those making between $200,000 and $250,000 a year. No wonder he's Wall Street's favorite candidate.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Labor unions in Greece have had enough of austerity – and are calling for a general strike. As Greece's Conservative government negotiates another round of bailouts and austerity measures that will slash public spending on the poor, layoff government workers, and further shrink the economy – the nation's largest labor unions have called for a nationwide general strike on September 26th. Currently, the unemployment rate in Greece has risen to 23.6% - and with another $15 billion in austerity cuts coming down the pike – it's likely that that number will increase quickly. In Greece, we're seeing what happens when working people are pushed to the brink and have no other choice but to take to the streets. Here in the United States we should be paying close attention, because a Mitt Romney administration wants to use the same economy-crashing austerity measures on Americans.
President Obama is starting to pull away from Mitt Romney in crucial swing states. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Obama leading Romney 50% to 43% in the battleground state of Ohio. According to the same poll, President Obama also has at least a five point lead in several other battleground states including Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire. If Romney isn't able to close the gap in these states, then it's virtually impossible for him to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency on Election Day. But, there's still a long way to go until November. And Karl Rove and his oligarchs will make sure this race tightens up with their billion-dollar campaign war chests. This election is increasingly all about organized money versus organized people. And as we've seen in the first two elections since Citizens United – the 2010 midterms and the Wisconsin recall – organized money has been winning. "We the people" have our work cut out for us.
Women still can't get some respect in the workplace. New census data shows that the wage gap between men and women remained unchanged last year, with women still earning only 77-cents for every dollar a man earns. Progressives in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to insure equal pay for equal work – and given women the tools they need to go after employers who are discriminating against them. In fact, one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by President Obama was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, giving women access to the courts to sue employers for discrimination. On the flip side, Republicans are united in their efforts to block any further equal pay for equal work legislation. As Governor of Ohio John Kasich implied yesterday, men should be working on policy and campaigning, while women should be doing laundry.
And finally...Mitt Romney wants to confiscate your porn. The Center for American Progress is reporting that the Romney campaign's top political director, Alex Wong, has given assurances that Mitt Romney will "pursue prosecutions" of pornography. Wong made those promises to the organization Morality In Media, which is self-described as one of the leading national organizations against pornography. Between banning pornography, limiting access to contraceptives, and rejecting marriage equality – a vote for Mitt Romney is essentially a vote for the American Taliban.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, September 14, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news...