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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Number of American Voters Identifying as Independents Hits Highest Mark in 60 Years, and More

In today's On the News segment: Tensions continue to rise between the US and Iran

In today's On the News segment: Tensions continue to rise between the US and Iran, a new IRS report shows American citizens and businesses cheated the US government out of $450 billion in tax dollars in 2006, the number of voters identifying as Independents hits highest mark in 60 years, and more.

I'm Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Over the weekend, Mitt Romney had just two hurdles to jump before he cruises to a victory in tomorrow night’s New Hampshire Primary – and those were back-to-back debates on Saturday night and Sunday morning. After escaping the first debate completely unscathed – Romney was attacked in the second debate for being a career politician, making a living killing jobs, and being far too moderate to represent the Republican Party. Romney himself fueled criticism when he seemed to suggest that only rich people should run for office, quoting advice that his dad gave him saying, “never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage.” But despite the attacks in Sunday’s debate – polls out of New Hampshire show Romney with a sizeable lead. According to the latest poll out of the University of New Hampshire – Romney is sitting pretty at 41% – with Ron Paul in second at 17%. Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman are tied at 11%. A win for Romney in New Hampshire will be historic – making him the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney is also leading in South Carolina and in Florida – two primaries that will be held later this month. So, there’s a good chance this race could be wrapped up fairly early if he pulls off the January sweep.

According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal – Mitt Romney may want to tone down his private sector business experience at investment firm Bain Capital. Looking at 77 companies that Bain Capital took over under Mitt Romney’s watch between 1984 and 1999 – the Wall Street Journal found that more than a fifth of all those businesses – 22% – went under after Bain’s involvement – leading to bankruptcy and massive layoffs. But Romney’s firm still walked away from the destruction with a lot of cash – roughly $1.4 billion in gains for investors during that time. The guy made a living laying off working Americans – and now he thinks he’d be the best guy to create jobs. Good luck making that argument in a general election.

In the best of the rest of the news…

There were more reports of police brutality out of Oakland this weekend. More than a hundred people marched through the streets Saturday night against the “brutal campaign of repression” carried out by Oakland police against the local Occupy movement. Videos posted online show a young girl get thrown off her bike by a police officer – and get clubbed by at least another officer while she was on the ground. Six people were arrested altogether in the day of action.

Tensions continue to rise between Iran and the United States. With new sanctions coming down on the Iranian economy – and the European Union debating an embargo on Iranian oil – Iran is sticking to its threats to block the Strait of Hormuz – out of which 40% of the world’s oil travels. On Sunday – Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned Iran that such an action would cross a “red line” and that the United States would “take action and reopen” the critical supply route. Maybe Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have torn down Jimmy Carter’s solar panels on the roof of the White House 30 years ago – because our nation’s addiction to foreign oil has put us in this tense situation on the brink of a worldwide incident.

The I.R.S. is out with a new study showing that tax dodging is rampant in America. In 2006 – the year in which the latest data is available – American citizens and businesses cheated the federal government out of $450 billion. That year – the federal deficit was just $248 billion – meaning that if Americans paid what they owed in taxes – the government would have actually run a surplus. Then again – that was back when President George W. Bush wasn’t putting the costs of our foreign wars on the ledger either.

We are quickly becoming a nation of Independents. Gallup is reporting that 40 percent of voters now identify as “Independents” – the highest number in 60 years. It’s even higher than when Ross Perot launched his near-successful third party candidacy back in 1992 – suggesting that the 2012 election could be ripe for a third-party candidate. Considering Congress – which chock full of Republicans and Democrats and very few Independents – has an approval rating lower than pornography and polygamy – it’s no wonder why more and more Americans choose to be Independents.

And finally – police in Wisconsin arrested a man last week for possession of a concealed weapon and marijuana. But the routine arrest was anything but normal once the man revealed his name, which was Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. That’s right – the man – originally born Jeffrey Drew Wilschke had just recently changed his name to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop back in October just in time for the name to find it’s way on a mug shot. According to Zoppitybop-Bop-Bop’s Facebook account – he enjoys such activities as “eating”, “standing”, “walking” and even “thinking.” In the squad car – Zoppitbop-Bop-Bop told police that he will “get even with them.” Unclear how he plans to do that exactly – maybe by making the officers spell his name.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, January 9th, 2011. I’m Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.