Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. If Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States, he plans to only represent about half the nation. That's the gist of some off the cuff remarks Romney made at a millionaire fundraiser, according to a recently leaked video. In the video, Romney can be heard saying, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what...There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it...These are people who pay no taxes...My job is not to worry about these people." When the tape leaked yesterday, the Romney campaign went into full damage-control mode – immediately holding a press conference, in which Romney doubled down and stood by his statement, though conceding that it was "inelegantly" said. Romney's facts are wrong here – even if 47% of the nation doesn't pay federal income taxes, all of them do pay state taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes, or a variety of other taxes. And if there's one person who shouldn't criticize other for not paying their taxes – it's quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney, who pays a lower taxes rate that most working class Americans. The Obama administration fired back saying, "It's hard to serve as president when you've disdainfully written off half the nation." Yes, this is a gaffe of epic proportions by Mitt Romney. But it's also bigger than that – it's a reflection of the sort of nation Mitt Romney and the Republican Party want to create. One in which we're all alone – a "me" society and not a "we" society. In the richest nation on earth, Americans SHOULD feel entitled to the basic necessities of health care, food, and housing. That was the message of Franklin Roosevelt who tried to pass a second bill of rights in 1944 to guarantee a right to all of those things Romney mentioned. What Roosevelt understood is what we all need to understand today, that "necessitous men are not free men." Freedom requires that your basic essentials are met: only then are you free to chase down your dreams, open a business, or raise a family. Mitt Romney thinks 47% of Americans can't take care of themselves. In reality, many of these are the working people this nation depends on, but who've been screwed over by the last three decades by Reaganomics and the breaking of the social contract that if you do what you're supposed to do in America and keep your nose clean, then you can achieve the American Dream. We need a president willing to uphold that social contract, and not ridicule it like Mitt Romney did.
In screwed news...Occupy is back...and so is the police repression of the movement. Yesterday, Occupy celebrated its one-year anniversary with demonstrations in New York City and more than 30 other cities nationwide. But in New York, the police were in full force to crack down on the movement. More than 180 people were arrested by the NYPD on Monday – including some journalists – mostly for disorderly conduct or behavior that used to be allowed under the 1st Amendment. Coincidentally, this police crackdown against free speech and free association also occurred on Constitution Day – the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who understood the importance of dissent and periodic revolution, would be horrified at the way peaceful Americans have been treated since the Occupy Movement began a year ago. It's time to throw banksters in jail, not activists.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Environmental activism works! In a statement released on Monday, Shell Oil announced it is abandoning its drilling efforts in the Arctic for the remainder of the year. That announcement comes after weeks of demonstrations by environmental activists around the planet, plus evidence proving that Shell Oil is incapable of preventing a massive spill in the Arctic. Greenpeace responded to Shell's announcement, saying it is "vindication" for the millions who've joined in on this effort to keep the Arctic free from drilling. Shell plans to resume drilling next year, so let's stay organized and keep pressure on the oil barons.
Speaking of the planet – we could be just a few years from a "global disaster." That's the warning coming from one of the world's leading ice experts, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University. Wadhams is predicting that by 2015 or 2016 – all the world's Arctic sea ice will completely disappear in the summer months, triggering massive methane leaks into the atmosphere and rapidly accelerating global climate change. In a statement to the Guardian newspaper, Wadhams warned, "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward." In other words, oil-funded scientists and politicians have pushed us past the tipping point, and now it's time to start preparing for a new planet.
And finally...meet the new oligarch who wants to buy our elections. Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, is planning to spend millions this election season to defeat President Obama and progressives around the nation. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ricketts is using his own super PAC that he created to funnel ten million dollars to the Romney campaign and another 2 million to Republicans in Congress. But these aren't campaign contributions. Ricketts knows what fellow oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson know: A Mitt Romney presidency means huge tax breaks for rich guys like them. So giving 10 million bucks to Republicans to make hundreds of millions of bucks in future tax cuts isn't a contribution, it's an investment. Thank you, Citizens United.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, September 18, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.