On the News With Thom Hartmann: Fox News Gives Alleged Hate Group a Platform in Republican Debate, and More

In today's On the News segment: Fox so-called News gives a platform to alleged hate group The Federation for American Immigration Reform, Boehner musters up enough support in his party to pass a short-term funding bill, one in four children in America live in poverty, Ohio is the first state to sell a public prison to a private corporation, there may be a particle that moves faster than the speed of light, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. For the third Republican debate in the row – it’s not what the candidates on stage said that was so troubling – but instead what the audience did. Last night’s Fox News/Google Republican debate featured many of the same barbs against President Obama – calls for lower taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations – and blasts against so-called government health care. Curiously – Fox so-called News also allowed an alleged hate group to participate in the debate. The Federation for American Immigration Reform – an organization that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is a “hate group” – was given a platform to ask the first question on immigration last night. But it was when a now-openly gay soldier posed a question to Rick Santorum about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – that the debate provided it’s most jaw-dropping moment. After this soldier wrapped up his question – members of the audience wildly booed him – seemingly just because he was gay. No candidate on stage repudiated the boos – but afterward Jon Huntsman called the incident “unfortunate” – as did a representative for Rick Perry. So in three debates – we’ve seen Conservative audiences applaud the deaths of 234 people who were executed in Texas – we’ve seen them shout that when a sick American is without health insurance we should just “let him die” – and now we’ve seen them enthusiastically boo a soldier who is putting his life at risk to defend this nation – because he is gay. Over and over again – I’ve called this Republican primary a race to the bottom – only now do I realize the far-right Conservative base in the audience is also competing in the race…and in the words of Charlie Sheen – they’re winning. It's a sad glimpse into the bigotry and fear that have infected America since the days of the KKK and apparently is still alive and well.

Two days after being embarrassed by his own caucus – Speaker of the House John Boehner finally mustered up enough support in his own Party to pass a short-term funding bill last night to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month. Unfortunately – to get enough far-right Republicans on board – Boehner had to include even deeper spending cuts targeting renewable energy programs to offset disaster relief aid for victims of Hurricane Irene. Republicans once again think cutting programs that pay for disasters caused by global warming is a great idea. But this new spending bill has no chance of passing the Senate now. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last night, “The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise…It will be rejected by the Senate.” Without a spending bill approved by Congress – the government will shut down on September 30th. So Republicans have a choice now – they can go on vacation next week as they have planned, and let the government shut down – or work with Democrats in the Senate on a funding bill that doesn’t cripple our economy – or hold victims of natural disasters hostage. Who knows what they’ll choose – but I have a feeling John Boehner is eager to work on his tan.

In the best of the rest of the news…

One in four children in America are now living in poverty. According to research from the University of New Hampshire based on the latest census data – there are 15.7 million poor children in the nation – that’s 2.6 million more children than in 2007 – prior to the Bush recession. Researchers also noted the consequences of child poverty saying, “Children who are poor before age 6 have been shown to experience educational deficits, and health problems, with effects that span the life course.” The red state of Mississippi has the highest rate of child poverty in the country – at nearly one in three. This is a national tragedy – and one that was conveniently left out of the Republican debate last night – as not one person on that stage has an answer to address poverty in America.

It’s official – Ohio is now the first state in the nation to sell a public prison to a private corporation. A state-owned facility along Lake Erie was bought for $72 million by the largest private-prison company in the nation – the Correction Corporation of America – or CCA. Using huge amounts of lobbying money – CCA has been successful in creating a very lucrative private prison business by pushing politicians for harsher drug laws that translate into more and more people being thrown in jail. And for every person thrown in jail – CCA makes a nice little profit. And thanks to Republican Governors like John Kasich in Ohio – soon CCA may gobble up all the prisons in America – turning our criminal justice system into a corporate get-rich quick scheme. The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population – yet incarcerates 25% of the world’s prison population. California, for example, spends 11 percent of their annual budget on prisons and only 7.5 percent on the state-run college system. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world – and it’s only going to get worse now that the profit-motive is running our prison systems.

Was Einstein wrong? The most advanced laboratory in the world – the European Organization for Nuclear Research – also known as CERN – claims it clocked a sub-atomic particle moving faster than the speed of light. According to Einstein’s “E=MC squared” theory of relativity – which has served as a basis for modern physics for more than 100 years – nothing can move faster than the speed of light. But in a recent experiment – a particle known as neutrino was sent on a 454-mile journey in an underground particle accelerator – and CERN scientists say the particle went 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second. A physicist at the University of Indiana called it a, “revolutionary discovery if confirmed.” Other physicists around the world are reacting with skepticism until the results are verified at another lab. Or until Rick Santorum finally exits the Republican race – which he’ll likely do faster than the speed of light as well.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, September 23rd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.