In today's On the News segment: "Stand Your Ground" strikes again in Florida this past weekend, as 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot and killed for yelling back at 45-year-old Michael David Dunn; 71 CEOs have joined together as part of a "Fix the Debt" coalition to call for cuts to social safety net programs, instead of higher taxes on rich people like themselves; an audit of the Kabul Bank in Afghanistan finds rampant fraud and crony capitalism; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The race-baiting and hyper paranoid conspiracy theories continue from the "three amigos" in the Republican Party. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte continued their attacks against our UN Ambassador Susan Rice on Tuesday after the three met with her in a closed-door meeting. Republicans are accusing Rice of purposefully misleading the American people in the days after the Benghazi attack when she gave several interviews based on CIA intelligence that's now been proven to be untrue. Senator McCain and others contend that Rice was involved in a White House conspiracy to cover up the fact that the Benghazi attacks may have been an act of terrorism. In reality though, the "fog of war" is most likely responsible for the CIA getting intelligence wrong in the days after the attack. But just like they've done with the President, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Van Jones – all African Americans – Republicans are smearing the reputation of Susan Rice to scuttle her potential nomination as Secretary of State. Curiously, McCain and Graham were nowhere to be found with Colin Powell and Condi Rice lid to Congress and the UN about weapons of mass destruction in the lead up to war in Iraq. This is all manufactured hyperventilation. Republicans want John Kerry to be Secretary of State instead of Susan Rice, so that Kerry will have to leave his Massachusetts Senate seat, and Republican oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers can buy it back for Scott Brown. This is nothing more than machine politics by Republicans who have no problem exploiting a tragedy overseas that killed a U.S. ambassador.
In screwed news..."Stand Your Ground" strikes again in Florida. This past weekend, 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot and killed as he sat in a sport-utility vehicle after yelling back at 45-year-old Michael David Dunn. According to the Orlando Sentinel – Davis was sitting in the vehicle with several other friends when Dunn pulled up and asked Davis to turn down the music. Word were exchanged, and Dunn pulled out a gun and fired nine shots into the vehicle, killing Davis. Dunn was arrested and charged with murder, however he is claiming self-defense meaning Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law could play a factor in the case. As was the case nine months ago in Florida when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as a result of the Stand Your Ground law, Davis is also an African American. The shooter, Dunn, is white. In Florida, 70% of those who invoke "Stand Your Ground" end up walking away scot-free. And 73% of those who kill a black person and invoke "Stand Your Ground" end up walking free. These laws were written by the American Legislative Exchange Council – known as ALEC – which receives its funding from the Koch brothers. And the law's intended purpose is to give legal cover to gun retailers like Walmart when their weapons are used to kill people. But, as we've seen in Florida twice now in the last nine months, when corporations write our laws, public safety is the loser. We must repeal these laws which legalize race-related murders.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Have you noticed the large number of CEOs going on TV to give their opinions on how to fix the debt? Last week it was Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein who suggested raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare. AETNA CEO Mark Bertolini also argued for raising the retirement age and means-testing Social Security and Medicare benefits. In fact 71 CEOs have joined together as part of a "Fix the Debt" coalition to call for cuts to social safety net programs, instead of higher taxes on rich people like themselves. And, as the Institute for Policy Studies discovered, there's good reason why these CEOs want to target social safety nets like Social Security...it's because they don't need them. They're all sitting on massive retirement assets, averaging over $9 million each. Lloyd Blankfein himself has nearly $12 million in retirement assets. It's easy to call for cuts to Social Security when you know you won't need it. Yes, it's true we don't have an arrogant and effete royal family in America like they do in Britain. But the British Royal Family are paupers compared to America's billionaires - and they're now pushing to further cut retirement income and healthcare for working-class Americans, while sitting on hundreds of millions for themselves. Sometime soon, Americans will begin to revolt against this Reaganomics-created Billionaire/Republican Royalty!
Leave it up to the Republican Party to put a climate-change denier in charge of the House Science and Technology Committee. On Tuesday, the Republican House leadership unveiled their recommendations for Committee Chairmen, and Representative Lamar Smith is set to take the gavel and handle all things science-related. Smith is a consistent denier of man-made climate change, and has attacked the media for reporting on climate change. This isn't a huge change in the House, as Smith replaces the previous Chairman of the Science Committee, Ralph Hall, who was also a climate change denier. It also shouldn't surprise us that Lamar Smith is set to join 11 other Republicans who will head up the major Committees in the House – and every single one of them is a man. No word yet if Smith agrees that the world is 6000 years old and flat.
And finally...an audit of the Kabul Bank in Afghanistan finds rampant fraud and crony capitalism. The audit reveals that, since 2001, as much as $900 million were funneled out of the bank and into the hands of a small political elite with close ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. As the New York Times reports, "For many Afghans, the scandal surrounding Kabul Bank, a linchpin of the economic order established here by Americans and their allies, has cemented the opinion that the United States brought crony capitalism, not free markets, to Afghanistan." And we wonder why the Middle East is so wary of Western style politics and capitalism? Looking at the corrupt global financial system that unregulated capitalism has created, who would want to be a part of it other than corrupt politicians and banksters?
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, November 28, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.