In today's On the News segment: More than seven million Americans are without power, Mitt Romney campaign is trying to deceive voters in swing-state Wisconsin, The Spanish economy continues to whither away under austerity, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. More than seven million Americans are without power, the streets of lower Manhattan are underwater, and there are 16 reported deaths after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Northeastern United States. Bloomberg is estimating that the storm damage could top $20 billion. Before making landfall – Sandy recorded the lowest barometric pressure of any Atlantic storm to hit the area in history. This suggests that just like all the other freak weather we've seen in recent years – this, too, is climate change related - now that there's 5% more moisture in the atmosphere than at any other time in human history. Storms will only get bigger, wetter, and windier moving forward – which makes how we, as a nation, respond to these disasters all the more important. Over the last few years, had Mitt Romney and Republicans been successful in what they wanted to do to federal disaster relief programs like FEMA, which is to privatize or drastically cut them, then the citizens of New York and New Jersey and other areas affected by Sandy would be all on their own today to clean up. We are a "we" society, not a "me" society – and that's all the more important during times of crisis like today.
In screwed news...the Mitt Romney campaign is trying to deceive voters in swing-state Wisconsin. As documents obtained by ThinkProgress reveal, the Romney campaign is training poll watchers to mislead voters on Election Day by disseminating false information about voting rights. A training packet handed off to potential poll workers by the Romney campaign argues that the only form of ID acceptable to vote is a photo ID, even though the state's Voter ID laws was struck down earlier this year by the courts. The packet also tells poll watchers that a voter convicted of a felony isn't eligible to vote, even though under Wisconsin law, once someone has completed their sentence, they are eligible to vote. The point of all of this is clear – to create mass confusion at polling places in Wisconsin in hopes of creating long lines and suppressing the vote. This election will be decided in a handful of states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia. So keep an eye on Election Day shenanigans in those states.
In the best of the rest of the news...
As climate-changed induced "Super Storms" kill Americans – those corporate forces accelerating climate change are rolling in the dough. This morning – oil giant BP announced its quarterly earnings of $5.4 billion. So far this year – BP has racked up $9.7 billion in profits in just nine months. And guess what BP is doing with all that money? Buying our government. According to FEC filings, since 2011 – BP has spent nearly $15 million lobbying Congress. Also – this election cycle – BP has donated $300,000 to federal campaigns – mostly benefiting Republicans. Just two years removed from causing the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history in the Gulf of Mexico – everything is back to normal at BP. The question for the rest of us is – how much longer are we going to let transnational oil corporations destroy our environment to enrich themselves.
Illegal government surveillance is the issue once again before the Supreme Court. In the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International, several lawyers, human rights activists, and journalists allege that federal government illegally wiretapped their communications with foreign contacts. The problem is – these plaintiffs have to prove that they were indeed harmed by the government's surveillance in order to have "standing" in front of the court. But thanks to laws passed by Congress in 2008 that amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – the government doesn't have to reveal anything about it's post-9/11 surveillance programs and which Americans were spied on. That means the plaintiffs in this case – just like many previous cases – will have a difficult time proving that any crimes were actually committed. Once again, the surveillance state wins – and our Constitution loses.
The Spanish economy continues to whither away under austerity. New numbers shows that for the fifth straight quarter – Spain's economy contracted – and inflation is now at a 17-month high. On top of that – Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the Eurozone – at 25%. This is what austerity does to economies. And if weren't for President Obama's modest stimulus package in 2009 that created two to three millions jobs – and which Republicans nearly unanimously opposed – we'd be in the same sinking ship as Europe. The answer is more government spending – not austerity to pay back the banksters' gambling losses.
And finally...For more than a month, Republicans have been trying to exploit last month's tragedy in Benghazi for their own political gain. Fox so-called News has been home to some of the wildest theories alleging that President Obama knew the compound was about to be attacked but did nothing about it. The New York Times reported on Monday that the facts simply don't back up these claims on the Right. According to the Times, "Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack's aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials." Unfortunately, facts like these don't seem to make their way onto GOP TV. For four years, Republicans have been trying to take down the Obama administration with wild conspiracy theories – first was the birth certificate, then the "czars," then Solyndra, and then Fast and Furious. And each time, Republicans have failed. But that doesn't mean they won't try it again with Benghazi. Trying to sabotage the President of the United States during a national crisis isn't patriotic – it's treasonous.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, October 30, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.