On the News With Thom Hartmann: Court Rules in Favor of Allowing Political Ads on Public Television, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Multinational firms’ tax loopholes are hurting small businesses, freak wildfires are resulting from our unseasonably warm spring weather, Pakistan demands end to US drone strikes, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news …

You need to know this. The public airwaves are about to get inundated by corporate political ads. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an FCC ban on political advertising on public TV and radio stations – arguing that the ban violates the First Amendment. Originally the ban was imposed to protect the educational nature of public broadcasting stations – keeping the airwaves free from advertising for goods and services and issue advocacy. But as Judge Carlos Bea wrote in his ruling, “Public issue and political speech in particular are at the very core of the First Amendment’s protection.” This is essentially the same reasoning that the Supreme Court used to give corporations unlimited power to spend as much money as they’d like in our elections. So now – when you listen to NPR expect a wave of corporate ads pushing to repeal Obamacare, expand fracking, and cut down Wall Street regulations. The public airwaves are about to become Karl Rove’s litter box. This could also mean the death of investigative journalism – as more and more public media outlets become beholden to corporate sponsors and decide not to bite the hand that feeds them. Our public TV and radio airwaves are just the latest portion of our commons to be hijacked by corporations that are solely interested in boosting their profits rather than providing for the common good. Stay tuned.

Small businesses are screwed. Giant transnational corporate tax dodgers are costing small businesses thousands of dollars. Not only have 26 major American corporations used tax loopholes to avoid paying any federal taxes over the last four years, but roughly $60 billion in revenue is lost every single year thanks to corporations stashing cash in offshore bank accounts. And guess where that money has to be recouped from – working people and small businesses. According to a new report by the U.S. PIRG – corporate tax dodgers cost every small business more than $2,000 each every year. As the PIRG report says, “Instead of competing on a level playing field, small businesses and those without offshore tax havens must pick up the extra tax tab and compete against the artificially lower costs of multinational companies using tax havens.” You can see the effect of this unfair competition in Main Streets across America – where small businesses have shuttered – and massive corporate chains have set up shop. These giants are eating our towns.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The National Rifle Association is meeting today in St. Louis for its annual conference. This year’s gathering of gun supporters takes place amid national outrage over the Shoot First laws that have increased violence all across the nation – and given legal cover to people like George Zimmerman. The NRA – with the help of Wal Mart and the American Legislative Exchange Council – was instrumental in getting Shoot First laws passed in 25 states across American since 2005 – nearly tripling the rate of so-called “justifiable homicides” in the state of Florida. But despite the backlash against the NRA – Mitt Romney will be on hand at this year’s conference to appeal to an important Republican constituency – gun owners. Expect a lot of lies about how President Obama is trying to take away everyone’s guns – despite the fact that gun rights have expanded considerably under President Obama’s watch.

Republicans LOVE big government. Building off laws in Florida and other states to force welfare recipients to submit to drug testing – Republicans in Iowa want to go a step further. Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgrin introduced legislation to require people who receive child support payments to be drug tested too. Chelgrin said he’s introducing the legislation on behalf of an anonymous constituent who believes their ex is using child support money for drugs. Once again – Republicans hate the idea of big government when it comes to keeping pollution levels down, making sure our food is safe, and providing seniors with healthcare. But they just adore big government when it comes to analyzing the body fluids of the rest of us.

Get ready for a scorching wildfire season. Even though the wildfire season doesn’t officially start until late spring – as many as 20 states have already battled freak unseasonal wildfires in the last week. These fires come on the heels of the hottest March in American history – and are coupled with droughts and high winds. As Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel said, the environment in America right now is a “perfect recipe for fire.” Yet more evidence of a planet turning on us as oil barons continue coating the skies with dangerous fossil fuels.

Now to America’s wars abroad … Pakistan is telling the United States to stop with the drone strikes. On Thursday – Pakistan’s parliament unanimously approved a series of measures related to the United States’ military involvement in the area – including demanding an end to drone strikes in the country. Late last year – an errant U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers – and soured diplomatic relations with a so-called ally in the so-called war on terror. That strike prompted the Pakistani government to close U.S. supply routes into Afghanistan. Just when you thought the never-ending war on terror couldn’t get any messier – it just did. Time to bring our troops home and end this senseless fear-driven crusade against terrorism around the world.

And finally … Vermont nearly lost their governor. In an interview with the Valley News editorial board – Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said he was chased by four bears outside his rented Montpelier home on Wednesday night – and came within three feet of being “arrrh’ed”. Governor Shumlin is currently trying to make his state the first to adopt a single-payer statewide health care system. So someone better check out those bears and see if they’re under the employment of Blue Cross, Blue Shield or United Healthcare.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, April 13, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.