House could arrest Holder with inherent contempt power– Despite voting to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress, there’s little House Republicans can do in the short term to compel him to turn over documents — unless it wanted to revisit a long-dormant power and arrest him.The thought is shocking, and conjures up a Hollywood-ready standoff scene between House police and the FBI agents who protect the attorney general. It’s a dramatic and unlikely possibility not least because Congress doesn’t even have a jail any longer. But in theory it could happen.Republicans say it’s not even under consideration, with House Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman flatly ruling it out.But the process, known as inherent contempt, is well-established by precedent, has been confirmed by multiple Supreme Court rulings, and is available to any Congress willing to force such a confrontation.
Holder controversies could weigh on Obama in 2012 race– The contempt vote Thursday against Attorney General Eric Holder could spell trouble for President Obama — not just for his administration’s efforts to lock down Fast and Furious documents, but also for his re-election campaign.Holder over the past three-and-a-half years has become, according to one polling outfit, the most unpopular member of Obama’s Cabinet. The attorney general is associated with a string of controversial decisions — from his response to the Fast and Furious probe to his department’s suits against state immigration laws to the campaign to halt GOP-led voter ID laws in Florida and elsewhere — that have riled conservatives, even some Democrats.The contempt vote, for his critics, is one more notch against Holder. And it could fuel his becoming a divisive figure during the presidential campaign as opponents try to cast him as an albatross around Obama’s neck.”I think that it’s the biggest non-economic story (in 2012),” GOP pollster Adam Geller said of Fast and Furious. “You can bet that it’s going to certainly get some mention, as it should, as a political issue.”
It’s Up to the Voters Now – The last chance to stop ObamaCare is in November– If there is a modicum of hope in Chief Justice John Roberts’s inglorious one-man opinion Thursday, it is that Americans were reminded again that they cannot count on others to protect their liberty. Certainly judges aren’t reliable. They can be turned by the pressure of the media and the whims of vanity. If Americans want to repeal ObamaCare, their only recourse is to demand it at the ballot box in November.The Affordable Care Act is more unpopular now than when it passed, yet it will grind on toward implementation in a second Obama term. The President made that clear in his remarks Thursday, deploying the usual half-truths he used to jam the law through Congress. He continued to claim that no one will lose his current health insurance, though millions are sure to do so as they are dropped from business coverage and tossed into Medicaid or government exchanges.
GOP 12: Halperin: “Real possibility” tea party could now prove decisive– On MSNBC this morning, Mark Halperin called yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling a “substantive win” for Barack Obama, but nevertheless, a political wildcard.”I’m not sure it’s a long-term political win for him. He lost the midterms largely over this.If you look at Republicans who aren’t focused on Roberts as much as they are on what the political implications are, and they say the tea party giant which had kind of been slumbering is now going to be awakened, and will be that decisive force in this election.I’m not predicting that, but I think it’s a real possibility.”
Krauthammer: Why Roberts Did It– It’s the judiciary’s Nixon-to-China: Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare. How? By pulling off one of the great constitutional finesses of all time. He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against Obamacare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law —and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.Why did he do it? Because he carries two identities. Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature.
Did Republicans lose the health care battle but win the health care war?– But, even as Democrats celebrated, Republicans insisted that their rivals — and members of the media — couldn’t see the forest through the trees.Jonathan Collegio, communications director for American Crossroads, a leading conservative outside group, called the ruling a “millstone” around the neck of any Democrat running for federal office this fall.“The Supreme Court’s decision forces Obamacare to be litigated in the 2012 elections, and in virtually every case where Obamacare has been litigated by voters in an election, the law and its supporters lose,” added Collegio.“This ruling is the kiss of death for the Democrat majority in the U.S . Senate as health care just became a tax increase on the middle class in one of the worst economies Americans have ever faced,” added longtime Republican strategist Chris LaCivita
High court gives GOP new weapon on taxes– Republicans have seized on the Supreme Court’s decision that the health insurance mandate is a tax, believing it will help them argue a second term for President Obama would be devastating for the economy.Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney employed the line of attack shortly after the ruling came down, asserting “Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion.”Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a top contender to be Romney’s running mate, drove home the point, arguing Obama has been freed to unleash an army of tax collectors on the public.“If you do not buy health insurance, the IRS is going to be on your back and chasing you,” Rubio said.
The tactic of hitting Obama as tax-raising liberal was used in the wake of an otherwise stinging defeat for conservatives at the hands of Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s liberal wing.
In a 5-4 decision, Roberts ruled the mandate is a permissible use of Congress’ taxing powers, upholding a law that
conservatives fought as a breathtaking expansion of the federal government.
But the ruling on the mandate also provided support for Republicans who had long argued that the mandate was a tax increase in disguise
Dems grapple with feelings about Roberts court after health decision– Congressional Democrats who had feared the worst from the Supreme Court were left grappling with a new reality Thursday after Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote to uphold President Obama’s landmark healthcare law.Democrats for years have charged that the Roberts Court has made decisions guided more by partisan politics than the Constitution, most notably by ruling in Citizens United that corporations could spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns.After Roberts sided with them on the even more high-profile and politically contentious healthcare ruling, some liberals felt more charitable both about Roberts and the Supreme Court in general.Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who was holding a sign that read “Obama-Roberts 2012″ as he left a Democratic caucus meeting, said Roberts has “rebranded himself” with Thursday’s healthcare ruling.
“We certainly agree with his, in this case, very principled position. In one fell swoop he’s burnished his legacy,” Ackerman said. “This is almost a revocation of the Bush v. Gore decision, where [conservative justices] went completely the opposite way.
‘Fast and Furious’: honesty vs. hypocrisy– The House of Representatives is expected to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday for his refusal – backed by President Barack Obama – to provide documents that might explain why Holder’s Justice Department chose to lie to Congress in February 2011 about high-level officials’ involvement in the “Fast and Furious” fiasco, and why it stood by those lies for most of the year.If ever a scandal illustrated political hypocrisy, it is this.We start with the president’s baffling decision to assert executive privilege in denying the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, access to the documents. The White House says it and top Justice Department officials had nothing to do with the “gun-walking” program in which weapons were allowed to be sold to Mexican cartels to try to gain insight into how drug and arms traffickers operate. Then the White House says top administration officials’ deliberative processes need to be kept private on a matter in which they weren’t involved. Huh?
How to end the Holder stand-off: Fire him– If he were a first-year law student asked to explain how the president could refuse to allow House oversight on a botched operation in which Americans and Mexicans died and the administration has twice had to cop to providing erroneous information to Congress, Eric Holder’s letter would get an “F.” He doesn’t set out the nature of the document being withheld, the type of privilege being asserted, or the argument as to why it supersedes the right of Congress to oversee executive branch misconduct.Congress is certainly within it rights to hold him in contempt. But really the president should can Holder. He’s a lousy lawyer.
Uncertainty crippling the struggling economy– Uncertainties are crippling the U.S. economy, and there’s a good chance Thursday’s Supreme Court decision will add to the problem.U.S. businesses are stacking up profits on their balance sheets, but they’re not investing in new workers and plants.The No. 1 reason is that executives just don’t see the demand, but this is compounded by policymakers in Washington and Brussels dithering over taxes and government spending, according to Wall Street analysts.None of this is good news for President Obama, who has had a good fortnight in the presidential race as the topic of discussion has switched to immigration.
As the subject moves back to the economy and jobs, which it surely will do next week with the release of a June jobs report, the weakness of the underlying economy will retake center stage. And fingers will be pointed at both the White House and Congress.
Democrats defect on AG Holder– Several Democrats on Wednesday said they would vote to place Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, giving Republicans an opportunity to tout bipartisan support for the effort against President Obama’s attorney general.At least four Democrats in GOP-leaning districts said they’d side with Republicans and back the contempt measure in the wake of the National Rifle Association’s decision to score the vote.The support from Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) is key for Republicans as they try to defend the legitimacy of the contempt measure to voters and parry counterattacks from Democrats stating that they are leading a “witch hunt.”The contempt measure is expected to pass mostly along partisan lines, but there is intense pressure on Democrats in conservative-leaning districts to side with the NRA against Obama’s chief law enforcement officer.
Why the Whole Health Care Law Is in Jeopardy– The real Supreme Court news on Tuesday wasn’t the Arizona immigration decision or even the summary reversal of the Supreme Court of Montana in the “Citizens United 2″ case. It was that the chief justice of the United States didn’t write any of these opinions.This is critically important, because we can now deduce with a reasonably high degree of certainty that John Roberts is writing the lead health care opinion. If we are right about this, then the law is in even deeper trouble that most observers imagined.
2012 Michigan Republican Primary – Romney 38%, Gingrich 23%, Santorum 17%, Paul 14% – Mitt Romney, coming off his big win in the Florida Primary on Tuesday, is the clear front-runner in the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Republican presidential race in his home state of Michigan. Voters in this hard hit state see Romney as the much better choice to manage the economy. The Michigan Republican Primary is on February 28.
Romney earns 38% support from Likely Republican Primary Voters in Michigan, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second with 23% of the vote. Seventeen percent (17%) prefer former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, and nearly as many (14%) favor Texas Congressman Ron Paul. One percent (1%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided
Coulter’s shameful defense of Romneycare – Ann Coulter’s support for Mitt Romney entered a new stage today with a column offering an all out embrace of Romneycare. In the process, she insults the intelligence of conservative critics of the law and doesn’t address their actual arguments against it.
Her first defense of the law is to name other conservatives who supported it at the time. So what? Many of us were opposed to it all along. For instance, in August 2006, before Barack Obama even announced he was seeking the presidency, I fretted that Romney’s support for universal health care made him the natural heir to President Bush’s big government “compassionate conservatism.” In July 2007, I wrote that, “It is hard to imagine anything representing a greater affront to conservative principles than using government to coerce private citizens into purchasing healthcare.” David Hogberg was another early critic, among many others.
Have Democrats Succeeded in Pre-Destroying Romney? – – Tuesday’s installment of the left’s crusade to destroy Mitt Romney began like this: an operator chirping, “I’d like to welcome you today to the Mitt Romney Would Destroy Social Security and Medicare Conference Call.”
A few moments later, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was on the line. “Thanks, everybody, for joining the call today,” she began. Within minutes, she had accused Romney of “political pandering,” supporting “the extreme tea party agenda,” and lying to senior citizens, Hispanics and supporters of the space program.
Just another day in the life of the vast left-wing conspiracy.
Practically every day for months, Democrats and their allies have been hammering Romney like this. Unions, party committees at the national and state levels, independent groups such as American Bridge and Americans United for Change, and the Obama campaign itself have undertaken an unprecedented effort to tarnish the front-runner while virtually ignoring the rest of the GOP candidates. And it appears to be working.
Even as he finds increasing success in the Republican primary, negative views of Romney have skyrocketed, particularly among independents, according to recent polls. An ABC News/Washington Post survey released last week, for example, found Romney viewed unfavorably by 49 percent of voters and favorably by just 31 percent. Among independents, just 23 percent viewed Romney favorably, compared to 51 percent who felt that way about President Obama.
One emerging strain of the conventional wisdom holds that it’s the harsh attacks on Romney from Newt Gingrich — and blowback from Romney’s own brutally negative campaign — that’s causing this to happen. Democrats have been pushing this line, in fact, arguing that Romney is winning at a steep cost and will limp into the general election bruised beyond repair.
Having told us only Romney was viable (with half-nods to Huntsman and Santorum) and having trotted out Elliot Abrams to smear Newt Gingrich with out of context quotes, even National Review is having trouble defending their candidate today.
This morning Mitt Romney said he wasn’t concerned about the poor. The poor, after all, have food stamps and Medicaid. But don’t worry. If the safety net is broken, Patrician Mitt Romney will fix it so the poor can stay comfortably poor. After all, just look what he did in Massachusetts. The poor can now wait 44 days to get in to see a doctor. Excelsior!
After making sure we all understood the poor were for the Democrats to be worried about, Romney decided to keep digging his hole even bigger. By the end of the day, Jim DeMint had to rebuke him.
Romney derangement syndrome (on the right) – So what gives? Perhaps it is frustration, especially among talk-show hosts, at not being able to derail Romney. Maybe some shrill bloggers understand that Romney threatens to prove that they are less in tune with Republicans than the “squishy” Republican candidates and officeholders. And maybe conservative political journalists have more in common with their mainstream counterparts than they’d like to admit — a suspicion of wealth, ignorance of the business world and a fixation on the candidates’ interaction with them. After all, Romney never really courted and flattered conservative pundits the way Newt Gingrich did (especially by bashing the mainstream media competition).
None of this is to say there isn’t strong and valid opposition to Romney in the conservative press. (Michelle Malkin, who recently endorsed Santorum, and staunch critics of Romneycare certainly fit this description.) But it’s hard to ignore the conclusion that for some in the conservative press there is an element of anti-Romney animosity that is not quite grounded in reason or ideological consistency — it is personal. And other than Romney’s being “handsome, rich and successful,” as Kathleen put it, it’s really hard to fathom where it comes from.
Romney Poised for Blowout Win in Nevada – A new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll in Nevada finds Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential race with 45%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25%, Rick Santorum at 11% and Ron Paul at 9%.
However, Carl Bunce, the Nevada chairman of the Paul campaign, “dismissed the poll results, saying most Paul supporters refuse to participate or lie in surveys because of a bad experience in Nevada four years ago. He said Sen. John McCain’s campaign did robocalls to identify Paul supporters and then sidelined them at the state party convention.”
U.S. military commanders had said in recent weeks they would begin a transition this year toward taking more of an advisory role as Afghanistan’s national army and police take greater responsibility for fighting the insurgency. But Panetta’s remarks were the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular U.S. and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year.
Figures on government spending and debt – Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.
Total public debt subject to limit Jan. 30 15,313,699
Statutory debt limit 16,394,000
Total public debt outstanding Jan. 30 15,356,140
Operating balance Jan. 30 158,596
Interest fiscal year 2012 through December 62,662
Interest same period 2011 56,780
Deficit fiscal year 2012 through December 321,735
Deficit same period 2011 368,960
Receipts fiscal year 2012 through December 555,437
Receipts same period 2011 531,797
Outlays fiscal year 2012 through December 877,173
Outlays same period 2011 900,757
Gold assets in January 11,041
The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.
“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News.
Officials say the radiation leak likely occurred in the steam generator tubes of San Onofre’s reactor #3. The steam system, which is supposed to be shielded from exposure to radiation, was replaced in December 2010. Alexander said plant officials will be conducting an investigation into why the new steam tubes leaked.
Cities with highest and lowest unemployment rates – Nearly 90 percent of major U.S. cities had lower unemployment rates in December than the same month a year earlier, a reflection of stronger hiring nationwide.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates fell in 329 cities last year. They rose in 37 cities and were unchanged in seven.
The national unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent – the lowest level in nearly three years. Employers added 200,000 net jobs, the sixth straight month of solid hiring.
Unemployment rates rose from November to December in a majority of U.S. cities. However monthly metro area unemployment data can be volatile because they aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, such as holiday hiring.
The government will report Friday on U.S. hiring and unemployment in January.
Below are the cities with the highest and lowest rates:
Best and Worst Metro areas
Figures are in percentages
Highest unemployment rates December 2011
El Centro, Calif. 26.8
Yuma, Ariz. 23.1
Merced, Calif. 18.7
Yuba City, Calif. 18.1
Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 16.2
Fresno, Calif. 16.2
Modesto, Calif. 16.1
Stockton, Calif. 15.9
Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. 15.3
Ocean City, N.J. 15.1
Lowest unemployment rates December 2011
Bismarck, N.D. 3.2
Lincoln, Neb. 3.6
Fargo, N.D. 3.7
Burlington, Vt. 3.8
Logan, Utah 3.9
Midland, Texas 3.9
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La. 4.3
Sioux Falls, S.D. 4.3
Ames, Iowa 4.3
Iowa City, Iowa 4.3
Romney supports automatic hikes in minimum wage – epublican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed his support Wednesday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, a position sharply at odds with traditional GOP business allies, conservatives and the party’s senior lawmakers.
“I haven’t changed my thoughts on that,” the former Massachusetts governor told reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane, referring to a stand he has held for a decade.
He did not say if he would ask Congress to approve the change if he wins the White House this fall.
Congress first enacted federal minimum wage legislation in 1938 and has raised it sporadically in the years since. The last increase, approved in 2007, took effect in three installments and reached $7.25 an hour for covered workers effective July 24, 2009.
It has never been allowed to rise automatically, as Romney envisions.
As the housing market enters its fourth year of high foreclosures and sluggish sales, the president said his proposal — targeted at the middle class — would help homeowners save about $3,000 a year, without “red tape” or a “runaround” from banks.
Theodore Olson: Obama’s Enemies List – How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president’s re-election campaign as an enemy of the people?
What would you do if the White House engaged in derogatory speculative innuendo about the integrity of your tax returns? Suppose also that the president’s surrogates and allies in the media regularly attacked you, sullied your reputation and questioned your integrity. On top of all of that, what if a leading member of the president’s party in Congress demanded your appearance before a congressional committee this week so that you could be interrogated about the Keystone XL oil pipeline project in which you have repeatedly—and accurately—stated that you have no involvement?
Consider that all this is happening because you have been selected as an attractive political punching bag by the president’s re-election team. This is precisely what has happened to Charles and David Koch, even though they are private citizens, and neither is a candidate for the president’s or anyone else’s office.
Gingrich 2012? Going, Going, Gone – Last week, New York magazine’s John Heilemann pointed out a deep truth about Newt Gingrich’s peculiar presidential campaign: The very media elite that Gingrich delights in hammering has actually been in his corner all along. The press likes a horse race; the press likes outsize personalities; the press favors an underdog; and the press even takes a strange sort of delight in being ruthlessly attacked.
Of course most political reporters don’t want Gingrich in the White House. But they’ve had every incentive to keep him in the headlines and overrate his odds of defeating Mitt Romney for the nomination.
Tuesday night’s Floridian drubbing won’t change those incentives, so we can expect a last burst of media chatter about how Gingrich could still recover, ride a wilderness campaign to a Super Tuesday comeback and fight Romney tooth and nail all the way to the convention. But chatter is all it will be. For Gingrich and his media enablers alike, the dream died in Florida – and here are four reasons why.
If Gingrich can’t compete in Florida, he can’t compete nationally.
These are my links for October 3rd from 08:00 to 12:42:
The Bloomberg Hit Piece on the Koch Brothers – Bloomberg Markets has a print cover story on “The SECRET SINS of KOCH INDUSTRIES” (unusual capitalization and italicization choices theirs), which is plugged heavily in a long (nigh interminable) web item headlined:
“Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales”
The nut of it is that, in 2008, a newly-hired Koch ethics officer discovered evidence of improper bribes paid by a French subsidiary to secure six different deals in Africa, India, and the Middle East. (I know, I know. But try to contain your shock that doing business in Africa could be anything but above-the-board.) Koch HQ then dispatched a larger investigative team that confirmed the findings and the parties responsible were terminated.
Fast-forward to over a year later: The ethics officer who first discovered the impropriety, having since been promoted, is let go for emerging performance issues. She files suit against Koch for wrongful termination, and not only loses, but is ordered to pay Koch’s legal fees. Now she’s giving quotes to Bloomberg. Unrelatedly, and this is crucial, the Koch subsidiary also had some business (which has since completely desisted) with Iran at a time when — both Bloomberg and Koch reps seem to agree — that business was perfectly legal under U.S. law. Again, the Iran business was entirely separate from the alleged bribes. But go back and look at that headline. Would you ever know?
I reached out to the Koch Industries and got this statement from general counsel Mark Holden:
Read it all
Koch responds to Bloomberg – In an exclusive interview with Right Turn, Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden responded to a lengthy investigative piece by Bloomberg news citing various legal incidents and allegations of wrongdoing by the industrial conglomerate owned by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have become the target, if not the obsession, of left-wing groups who take issue with their libertarian politics and political activity.
The two issues featured most prominently by the Bloomberg report, according to Holden, are rife with errors and/or are old, long-since resolved matters.
Social media giving small firms a boost – Laid off after 23 years in the mortgage lending business, Dede Parise couldn't find a job. So she took a marketing class to reinvent her career, and before long she turned an assignment into a company.
Parise invented the Bandee, a headband women wear while playing golf and other sports. She sells her product mostly on the Internet, working from home.
Her audience is big, and growing. In a year, using Facebook, she has parlayed her reach into 15,000 fans.
For small businesses such as Parise's, social media has become a portal to success.
"It's really important," said Parise, 49, of Weston, Fla. "It's just the way the market has gone."
No question, the use of social media by businesses is booming.
According to a recent study by EMarketers, 80% of leading companies will participate in social media marketing in 2011, nearly double the number from three years ago.
And a 2011 Social Media Marketing report by SocialMediaExaminer.com found that 90% of marketers said social media was important for their business. Eighty-eight percent said it generated more business exposure, and 72% said it increased traffic to their site.
The most commonly used social media tools, the 2011 report found, are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs, in that order.
These are my links for September 23rd through September 26th:
Here comes another Koch/Tea Party smear – Evidence was found four years ago that other KGF employees had paid bribes to obtain business. An investigation was begun, and Egorova-Farines was one of the investigators. Ultimately, more than two dozen people were either terminated or allowed to resign.
Koch USA officials say they were as surprised and angered as anybody else when they were first apprised of the bribery allegations, and moved as quickly as possible to get to the bottom of the situation and fix it.
But, during this period, Egorova-Farines grew progressively unhappy with KGF, allegations of discrimination were lodged, and her case went to the Employment Tribunal of Paris.
All of Egorova-Farines' claims were dismissed. She appealed and the decision was overturned on a technicality. KGF and Egorova-Farines then settled out of court.
I spent a lot of my reporting years working with whistleblowers, mainly within the government, and generally find them admirable. But, like the rest of us, they're just human and can have very mixed motives, of which careful journalists must always be aware.
A former U.S. government official of my acquaintance was approached recently by one of the Bloomberg reporters working on a Koch investigative piece. After some conversation about the French case, the reporter said, "the other interesting thing here is Koch has strong ties to the Tea Party."
When the official asked what the Tea Party had to do with French bribery allegations, the reporter dropped the topic.
I've also had occasion to meet a lot of Bloomberg journalists over the years and have been unfailingly impressed by their professionalism. But they're human, too, and can make mistakes.
Joining the rampant Koch-bashing would be a mistake.
Koch addicts seek another hit – As The Washington Examiner reported last week, Bloomberg Markets appears to be on the verge of dropping a lengthy treatise on the Kansas-based energy conglomerate Koch Industries.
According to an individual interviewed by Bloomberg (who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity), much of the focus will likely be devoted to re-litigating past legal peccadilloes. But the piece may also reveal at least one previously unreported controversy: Koch Industries’ connection to the sale of petroleum industry equipment in Iran in the early-to-mid 2000s.
Koch currently has a policy prohibiting its subsidiaries from doing business in Iran, and the past sales (some of which likely involved state-owned Iranian companies) appear to have been conducted by a foreign subsidiary of a subsidiary of Koch.
Still, this comes on the heels of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN General Assembly — and at a time when Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are receiving increased attention.
All of this, of course, means the story could provide political fodder to Koch’s political enemies — which are legion. (In 2005, you might recall, Halliburton, the company once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, also came under fire for doing business in Iran.)
In reality, the revelation isn’t terribly newsworthy. While U.S. law bans American companies from making direct sales in Iran, foreign subsidiaries of multinational corporations may do so under certain circumstances. And many of them do.
Dozens of multinational companies — including household names like General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, and Honeywell — conducted business in Iran during the time period. For example, a 2010 New York Times analysis identified 74 corporations — many of whom received government contracts — that have conducted business in Iran over the last decade.
Regardless of whether or not one finds this troubling, the fact that the practice was ubiquitous raises an obvious question: Why is Bloomberg singling out Koch?
43% of Twitter Users Access Twitter From a Mobile Phone – The latest data on mobile phone usage is out, and the numbers show that mobile isn't slowing down. And where inbound marketing is concerned, some of the key mobile data centers around how people are using their phones to access content and social media.
MarketingCharts' mobile research has found that people are increasingly using their mobile phones to access content on browsers, apps, and social networks:
In March 2011, nearly 39% of US mobile subscribers were browsing the internet using their mobile device. That's up by 2.2 percentage points from just 3 months prior.
Mobile apps are almost as popular as browsers; 37% of subscribers used downloaded apps.
Subscribers are also increasingly using social networks on their phones. In March, 27.3% indicated they used a social network on their mobile phone, up from 24.7% just 3 months prior.
These are my links for September 7th through September 8th:
Older GOP voters – Or Why Social Security Matters – After the theatrics last night on Social Security I wondered how big a deal this could be with the Republican electorate. The Post’s polling director Peyton Craighill told me that “the GOP has significantly fewer young voters.” In the general registered voting population about 17 percent are 18- to 29-year-olds; only 12 percent of Republicans are in that age bracket. For 30- to 39-year-olds the difference is 15 percent (for all registered voters) vs. 19 percent for Republicans and Republican leaners. Put differently, in the GOP electorate that is likely to be selecting the next GOP nominee, 69 percent are 40 or older. Forty-eight percent are 50 or older.
No wonder the Mitt Romney campaign is recirculating its e-mail from the debate, entitled (all in caps) “RICK PERRY: RECKLESS, WRONG ON SOCIAL SECURITY.” It reads:
“Our nominee has to be someone who isn’t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security.” – Mitt Romney
Governor Perry Believes Social Security Should Not Exist:
Perry Does Not Believe Social Security Should Exist, Asking: “Why Is The Federal Government Even In The Pension Program. . .?” PERRY: “When you look at Social Security, it’s broke. . . . Get it back to the states. Why is the federal government even in the pension program or the health care delivery program? Let the states do it. . . . That, I will suggest to you, is one of the ways this federal government can get out of our business, save a lot of money and get back to that Constitutional way of doing business in those enumerated powers that they’re supposed to have.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 11/5/10)
Read it all
On Disclosure – Writing about the Koch confab referenced in today’s morning links, my friend Dave Weigel points out that Mother Jones has published profiles of some top donors to various Koch organizations. Dave comments:
And it’s just a disgrace that this information is smuggled out of a meeting like a heroin shipment, instead of being disclosed. The Tea Party movement, the GOP, etc — no one who benefits from this disagrees with the goals of these people in making more money. Why hide it?
First, I wouldn’t assume that everyone who donates to these causes does so to enact policies that will make them more money. The Kochs themselves, for example, spend money advocating for an end to ethanol subsidies, even though their business benefits from those subsidies. You could certainly call that hypocrisy. But it doesn’t fit the narrative that their political activism is all about enriching themselves. The easier explanation is simply that they’re free market ideologues. And if you’re not a free market ideologue, that’s a fine reason to criticize them.
But I also want to address Dave’s point about disclosure. I can think of lots of reasons why someone wouldn’t want their donations to political causes to be made public. For example, there’s a bi-partisan history in this country of using the IRS to target the political opponents of the party in the White House. I could also see a business executive not necessarily wanting a regulatory agency to know that he’s donating money to groups that would like to dismantle or diminish that agency’s power.
I suppose those two examples aren’t going to win much sympathy from Koch critics. So let me offer a couple more: I could also see why a progressive-minded businessman in, say, Salt Lake City, would want to keep secret his donation to a group advocating for gay marriage in California. Or why the trust fund kid of a Raytheon executive may not want his family to know he gives to anti-war organizations.
But the best example of what I’m getting at here may come from Mother Jones itself. Mother Jones is published by a non-profit organization called the Foundation for National Progress, which “exists to publish and support Mother Jones.” Which means that the magazine is mostly funded by donors. So who donates to Mother Jones? Good question. They won’t say!