In today's On the News segment: New documents confirm warrantless surveillance of phone and email communications has increased dramatically since 9/11, Elizabeth Warren pulls further ahead of Scott Brown in Massachusetts US Senate race, at least ten Florida counties have now discovered the fraudulent registration forms falsified by a Republican-hired firm to block Democratic votes, and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the news...
You need to know this. The Republican National Committee has been caught red-handed trying to sabotage the Democratic vote ahead of this year's election. As Brad Friedman at BradBlog.com reported, the Florida Republican Party cut ties with a political firm known as Strategic Allied Consulting after it was discovered that firm changed addresses on numerous voter registration forms to block newly-registered Democrats from voting in November. The scandal is now spreading, as at least ten counties in Florida have discovered these fraudulent registration forms. And law enforcement authorities are getting involved in the matter. And the National Republican Committee has also cut ties with the firm, which it gave 3.1 million to register voters in swing states like Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia. It's unclear how much damage this election fraud may have on the elections in those states. This is the latest blatant election fraud committed by the Republican Party, which has been focused on non-existent voter fraud the last two years, as an excuse to rig the elections with voter suppression ID laws.
In screwed news...the police are being taken off the streets in America's most dangerous city – Camden, New Jersey. Despite murders on track to break all-time records this year, the city is moving to lay off its remaining 273 police officers to save money and instead hire non-unionized police officers to handle the streets. The police union is suing the city claiming the move will risk public safety. From schools to prisons to police forces, public unions are being decimated and our commons are being privatized. It's a race to the bottom for cheap labor and fewer public services. In the end, the millionaires, billionaires, and banksters who have bankrupted state governments with tax cuts and risky financial bets win - while the rest of us lose.
In the best of the rest of the news...
It's the drones, stupid! As the mainstream media asks silly questions about the Muslim world, like "why do they hate us?" it's becoming increasingly obvious that drone warfare is the real problem. On the heels of a new report by Stanford and New York University law professors that exposed the thousands of people killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and the link between these strikes and anti-American sentiment, a foreign leader is coming out and drawing the same conclusions. In a recent speech in New York, the Pakistani Foreign Minister blamed the drones for anti-American sentiment in her country. She said, "The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal. It is illegal and it is unlawful...As the drones fly over the territory of Pakistan, it becomes an American war..." It's not difficult to understand that if you're trying to win a hearts and minds struggle in the Middle East, incessantly hovering lethal drones above those same hearts and minds is a bad idea...and a war crime, too.
Be careful what you say in email. Thanks to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Justice handed over startling new documents showing that warrantless surveillance on Americans has increased dramatically since 9/11. What are called "pen register, and trap and trace" surveillance methods allow law enforcement to collect information on cell phone and email networks. In the old days, that required physical hardware, today it doesn't and law enforcement taking advantage of new technology without warrants and with very little oversight. This sort of surveillance on phone lines has increased 60% since 2009 – and on email it's increased by 361%. In fact, more people were subjected to this sort of surveillance in just the last two years than the entire previous decade combined. Anonymity and privacy are key ingredients for successful mass movements, and without them "we the people" will find it very difficult in the near future to participate in the activist movement politics this nation needs.
Last week a Virginia man murdered his wife and two sons before killing himself, reportedly out of fear that President Obama might be re-elected. As a family friend told the Daily Mail, "[Albert Peterson] felt that our God-given rights were being taken away... He didn't like where the country was going." Peterson had a history of mental illness and he had been behaving erratically leading up the murders. Clearly, this is the tragic case of a very disturbed individual. But it's worth nothing that his delusional anti-Obama narrative is legitimized over the airwaves every single day at Fox so-called News and other right-wing outlets in a desperate attempt to make the President out to be a dangerous "other." Claims that Obama is a Muslim, or a socialist, or a bigger threat than Hitler have little effect on clear-minded individuals who write off such notions as absurd. But when those words fall on to the ears of the disturbed, bad things can happen.
With one debate down in Massachusetts, progressive Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has opened up a clear lead over Republican incumbent Scott Brown. A new Boston Globe poll shows Warren with a 43% to 38% lead in the Senate race. But there's still a lot of work to for Warren. As Brown and the Republicans get desperate, expect Karl Rove and his oligarch-funded political war machine to set up shop in Massachusetts and try to buy the election in the coming weeks. This Senate race will be a true test of organized people facing off against organized money.
And finally ... Happy Birthday Occupy DC. Demonstrations are planned all across the nation's capital today, as Occupy participants mark the one-year anniversary of the occupation of Washington, DC. Targeting the corruptive influence of lobbyists on our government, demonstrators are planning to "shut down K Street." The corporate capture of our democracy is more evident than ever today – which is why we need grassroots movements in the streets to push back against it. It's our only hope. God bless the Occupy Movement.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, October 1st, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.