On the News With Thom Hartmann: Bill Gates Is Latest Donor to ALEC to Jump Ship, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Republicans are lying to keep more Americans out of a job, Americans want to know if Mitt Romney is stashing money in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes, Bill Gates is the latest donor to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to jump ship, kelp off the coast of California was found to contain levels of radioactive iodine – stemming from last year’s ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Republicans are lying to keep more Americans out of a job. Back in 2010 – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie axed plans to build a new train tunnel across the Hudson River that could have put thousands of Americans to work building one of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation. Governor Christie said New Jersey couldn’t afford the project – and cited the potential for cost overruns as a reason for killing it. But a new report out by the independent Government Accountability Office shows that Christie was lying. While Christie claimed the tunnel would cost $14 billion to build and that his state would have to share 70% of the costs – the new GAO report shows that the tunnel was only going to cost $10 billion and that New Jersey only had to cover 14% of the costs – not 70%. Of course the real reason why Governor Christie claimed his state couldn’t spend money to put more Americans back to work is he because he had already promised billions of dollars in state tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

In screwed news – had George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on a battlefield in Iraq – he would have been punished. But on the streets of Florida – Zimmerman walks free. The organization VoteVets.org points out today that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law gives more leeway to shooters on the streets than our armed forces have to deal with hostile insurgents in Iraq. According to the Rules of Engagement – which all our soldiers must follow – when confronted with a threat – the soldier is required to shout a verbal warning first, then show their weapon, then try to physically restrain the threat, then fire a warning shot, and then – if nothing else works – they are allowed to shoot the threat. But according to Florida’s Shoot First law – which was written by Wal Mart and the NRA with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council – a person only needs to feel threatened and then they can jump right to shooting people. More than 20 states have passed similar ALEC-written shoot first laws since 2005 – leading to a 25% increase in justifiable homicides across the nation. When on the rules of engagement on the streets of America are more lenient than on the streets of Baghdad – then something is rotten in America.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Does Mitt Romney stash off shore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes? That’s the question Americans want to know about the presumed Republican nominee for President. Earlier this year – Romney released his tax return from 2010 – showing that he paid a tax rate of just 13.9% on over $21 million of income – that’s far lower than what a teacher in Wisconsin pays in taxes. Romney also released an estimate of his tax return for 2011. But now – people want Romney to go further back – and release tax returns from before 2010. The Democratic National Committee is arguing that Romney likely even less than 13.9% in taxes in 2009 thanks to some creative accounting. Also – Romney’s 2010 tax return revealed a Swiss bank account – though the Romney camp claims it was just a bank account and nothing more – and the account has since closed. But a review of prior tax returns could shed more light on this issue. It remains to be seen whether Mitt Romney will release prior tax returns – but the American people have a right to know if their potential president is a tax cheat.

Bill Gates is the latest donor to the American Legislative Exchange Council to jump ship. Joining Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Intuit – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is responding to boycott threats from the organizations Color of Change and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and cutting ties to ALEC. Over the past two years – the Gates Foundation gave ALEC more than $375,000 primarily to push for education reform. Let’s hope more corporations – like AT&T and Wal Mart that are sticking by ALEC – bow to pressure and drop their memberships. We need to starve the ALEC beast.

We all just lived through the hottest March in the history of the nation. Across the country – more than 15,000 high temperature records were set last month – making it the hottest March ever recorded in 117 years since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association began keeping temperature records. We also witnessed another string if massive tornados tear across the American Midwest. Climate Change is no longer something to fear in the FUTURE – it’s happening right now. And we the people need to kick the oil barons and their phony climate scientists out of the halls of government so that we can finally get to work addressing mankind’s most serious problem today: a plant that is turning on us.

Kelp off the coast of California was found to contain levels of radioactive iodine – stemming from last year’s ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. A team of biologists at California State University Long Beach discovered the contaminated kelp – though claimed that the levels of radiation were too low to be harmful. Then again – no amount of radiation is good. But this study does prove that what happens environmentally on the other side of the world DOES drastically affect the United States. That’s why we need a worldwide ban on nuclear power – the most dangerous and expensive form of energy on the planet.

And finally…if you’re homophobic – you might be gay. A string of new physiological studies from several universities including the University of Essex in England and the University of Rochester find that, “Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex.” This latest study confirms a previous study done a few years back showing that men who harbored strong homophobic attitudes were also the ones most turned on by watching homosexual porn. One of the co-authors of the new study – Richard Ryan – concludes, “These are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward.” Are you listening, Rick Santorum?

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, April 10, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.