Does AFL-CIO owe $14m in backtaxes from 2006?

One of the branches of the Department of Labor that provides a real services to all Americans is the Office of Labor-Management Standards. These are the guys who make sure that labor unions are being transparent about their finances. Or they try, when the Democrats don’t cut their budget. But, for now, you get to see how unions spend their money.

For example, this spreadsheet shows 2006 disbursements by unions. It is in descending order by political disbursements. In 2006, AFL-CIO spent $41,620,583 on political activities, according to their filings with the Department of Labor.

However, in the fiscal year July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, they reported to the IRS on their 990 form (bottom of page 6 in the original PDF here, but you have to log into GuideStar), "direct or indirect political expenditures" of $0.00. Zero. Nothing. Now… Perhaps all the money was spent in the second half of the year. Unfortunately, I only have a free account on Guidestar, so I don’t have all the years to check the numbers.

So what? Well. IRS regs (PDF, page 8) indicate that political expenditures are taxed at, I think, the corporate rate (35%):

IRC 527(e)(2) defines "exempt function" as "the function of influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any federal, state or local public office or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential or Vice-Presidential electors, whether or not such individual or electors are selected, nominated, elected or appointed." The term also includes payment of an incumbent’s office expenses.

An IRC 501(c) organization that makes expenditures for such exempt function
activities is subject to tax under IRC 527(b)

So does that mean that AFL-CIO owes Uncle Sam $14m from 2006? Do you really believe that AFL-CIO did not engage in any political activities between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006?

Eric Holder: “Not ethically qualified”, and Obama once thought something was wrong

The National Legal and Policy Center has called for Eric Holder to be fired by the Obama campaign. Holder is the co-chair of Obama's campaign and the co-chair of his VP selection committee. According to NLPC:

According to NLPC President Peter Flaherty, Holder is not ethically qualified to serve on the Vice-Presidential selection committee. His track record is not one of independence or objectivity. Instead, he has been guided by politics and self-interest.

That Holder is ethically unfit is not news to Redstate readers. I have written on Holder before. Read on for a recap of old stories, and some shocking new ones.

For example, I noted last week that:

So this future AG and current national security advisor sherpaed the pardon of the husband of a big donor, argued for clemency for terrorists, and overlooked the commutation of other terrorists.

And I had written previously:

So this is the change Obama brings. Warmed-over shady operators from the Clinton administration. These guys do favors for each other for jobs. They give favored access to donors. They skirt around ethics rules. And they don't do their jobs. Oh yeah. And he argued that members of a terrorist organization should get clemency.

NLPC notes that Holder and his boss, Janet Reno, refused to investigate when ordered to by a federal district judge

On December 21, 1994, federal Judge Royce Lamberth, who presided over the litigation to open the health care task force, asked Holder, who at the time was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to investigate Ira Magaziner for possible perjury and criminal contempt of court. He also suggested that Attorney General Janet Reno should appoint an independent counsel to investigate.

Reno announced on March 3, 1995 that she would not appoint an independent prosecutor. On August 3, 1995 Eric Holder announced that he too would not prosecute Magaziner.

So now we know that he encouraged his friends to get jobs that they weren't eligible for, he refused to investigate friends when ordered to by courts, he gave privileged access to donors, and he actively worked to get terrorists off easy.

Is that the change that Barack Obama will bring? If so, then the American people are going to reject bringing Chicago crony corruption to Washington.

But Obama knows this. He is not an ignorant man (it is just that what he knows is wrong). Obama knows that Holder's decisions are garbage. Jim Geraghty notes this. Excuse my quoting at length:

I'm reminded of the final Democratic debate, when Hillary went after Obama over his ties to William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground. The Illinois senator had pretty tough comeback for Hillary:

"President Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, which I think is a slightly more significant act than me serving on a board with somebody for actions that he did 40 years ago."

From the comment, it would seem that Obama believes that the decision to pardon those members was either wrong, or at the very least, of greater concern than his relationship with Ayers.

Holder was one of the officials who signed off on Rich's pardon, although there's an argument to be made that the rest of the Clinton Administration gave Holder little time or opportunity to give Rich's case a proper review. No one has found the recommendation of Eric Holder on the pardons of the Weather Underground members. Lanny Davis, a Holder friend, argued that Holder had no role in the pardons of those members, a curious explanation. The Deputy Attorney General assigned to oversee pardon recommendations to the President never had an opinion on this one?

So Obama thinks that this guy didn't do his job when his job was to vet. So why does Obama think that he can do it now?

Obama campaign blocks and tackles so well

While I think that technology is very important, I generally take the position that the basics of electoral politics aren’t that different today than they used to be. You build volunteer organizations, you communicate with them, and you do direct voter contact, etc.

But today at PDF, I was really struck by something that Joe Respars from Barack Obama’s campaign said. He said that they are currently surveying their volunteers to figure out what practices worked in developing the best relationships between field staff and volunteers.

This is one of the things that having an existing volunteer organization from a 50-state primary. This stuff terrifies me.

Is Drill Now the conservative MoveOn?

Matt Lewis checks the data and finds something startling:

Newt must be on to something big with his petition to increase energy exploration.  In the past 30 days American Solutions has surpassed MoveOn in terms of traffic.  This is especially impressive, considering all the free media MoveOn had received recently with their anti-McCain mom/baby ad …

Check the picture, where MoveOn is, ironically, the red line and American Solutions is the blue line.

I think that there are several important things here:

  1. Drill Now is a positive agenda, even if it is a response to a current pain like high oil/gas prices.
  2. High oil and gas prices could well be a permanent feature of the political environment until the private sector delivers real fuel-efficiency and/or some real alternative energy technology becomes viable.
  3. This will be tied to national security forever.

Furthermore, Newt is a futurist. He will have forward looking ideas on so many other issues. Thank god he has the list rather than the Minutemen or someone similar.

 

 

When you make foreign policy in Hyde Park salons

When you make foreign policy in Hyde Park salons you make it in a vacuum of ignorance. Take, for example, Barack Obama's Iran policy. Today, European leaders savage it Obama's Iran policy in the Washington Post. The problem is simple: Obama's promises to meet with Iran's leaders are at odds with a well-coordinated strategy with our European allies and the United Nations. And, yet again, our allies object. Read on after the jump.

European officials are increasingly concerned that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign pledge to begin direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program without preconditions could potentially rupture U.S. relations with key European allies early in a potential Obama administration.

The U.N. Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding that Iran stop enriching uranium, each time highlighting the offer of financial and diplomatic incentives from a European-led coalition if Tehran suspends enrichment, a route to producing fuel for nuclear weapons. But Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he would make such suspension a topic for discussion with Iran, rather than a precondition for any negotiations to take place.

Naive Obamaphiles will be outraged, but this is hardly the first time that we have heard this. The British Foreign Secretary said the same thing a month ago when he met Obama face-to-face. He found Obama so alarming that he was willing to be quoted:

We know Obama wants to engage more, but we don’t know what route he will take or what he means by ‘no pre-conditions’. It has not unravelled yet and, when it does, we will be able to see where it converges or conflicts with what we’re doing.

While European political leaders may be unwilling to be quoted on the record, think tankers seem quite willing:

"Dropping a unanimous Security Council condition would simply be interpreted by Iran and America's allies as unconditional surrender, and America's friends would view this as confirmation of America's basic unreliability," said François Heisbourg, a Paris-based military analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "A hell of a way to start a presidential term."

Even an Obama campaign official recognizes that the problem with Obama's policy is "the lies and dissembling by the Iranians":

Still, Philip H. Gordon, a Europe expert at the Brookings Institution who has advised the Obama campaign, acknowledged that European officials "are uncomfortable with giving up the precondition of uranium enrichment right now." Gordon, who emphasized he was not speaking for the campaign, said the dynamic has changed in recent years, so that "after all the lies and dissembling by the Iranians, the European negotiators have become pretty hard-line" on Iran.

In John McCain, we have perhaps the most genuinely internationalist candidate for President since Eisenhower who has travelled to multiple foreign countries during his campaign and plans more. Or we can have a naive, protectionist who won't meet our troops and attack's our allies interests, especially on trade, where the EU's trade commissioner has also attacked Obama.

Not too hard a choice.

Lefty blogs, tech blogs, and coalition politics 101

The meltdown of the lefty blogs on FISA allows us to point out something: there were two significant online communities that were tracking the FISA bill: lefty blogs and tech blogs. The tech blogs were more wrapped up in other things, like the fight between AP and TechCrunch. (kind of astonishing that more political blogs didn’t track this), the release of Firefox 3, etc. But there was real attention at Ars Technica, Wired, CNet, etc.

Similarly with another issue that is far more obscure: net neutrality. TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington was interviewed by the LA Times about his politics. The response is quite stunning:

Arrington said he had a harder time endorsing a Republican candidate because he felt each of their positions on technology was flawed. Even though Paul won the TechCrunch reader primary, Arrington said Paul’s opposition to net neutrality, for example, disqualified him.

Eventually, he settled on McCain:

Though McCain is "standoffish" on net neutrality, mobile spectrum rules and the digital divide, and has voted against some bills to fund renewable energy research, Arrington blogged that he was swayed by McCain’s willingness to address "inequities that arise from his hands-off policies on net neutrality and mobile allocations, which other Republican candidates refuse to do. And his positions on Internet taxes, H1-B visas, China/human rights violations and other issues are strongly pro-technology."

Is net neutrality really a voting issue for anyone? Looking at the tech blogs, you get a sense that for some people it might be. Maybe not an insignificant number of people. MyDD even hosted a debate on spectrum allocation, one of the other issues that Arrington mentions. And OpenLeft has a front-page tag and video about net neutality. (my understanding is that Matt Stoller does some work for one of the groups in this space, but still)

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Here’s another data point. Recently, I had a conversation with a Democratic new media operative. This person told me that the three most important issues to get net roots support were:

We all understand the rallying effect of the war clearly. Net neutrality is an obscure and poorly understood regulatory issue that seems to energize the online gaming community, high-bandwidth users, and others. And telco-immunity gets lots of coverage from civil libertarians and technology people.

The upshot is that the success of the Democratic netroots may be as much or more about basic coalition politics than any great technological or political innovation. Afluent, socially moderate-to-liberal, tech-saavy people were attracted to the Democratic coalition through these arguments, anger at the war, a message about the GOP becoming too socially conservative, They were given a series of tools with which they could organize, and they developed more, like Act Blue.

Again, on a certain level, there is nothing new here. Direct mail provided a way for older people with checkbooks to participate in a process that they couldn’t participate in before. Door knocking is out of the question and phone calls required going to a central location. The left just found a really important sweet spot that linked technology to issues to create good activism.

On a political level, there may be larger warnings for the GOP here about how we get the support of an emerging creative class and information workers, etc. There is a very good chance that the lifestyle, if not the issues, of the modern creative worker is better suited to the current organizing strategies of the left. What does the GOP start to offer those people?

On a political technology level, we should be asking ourselves what transaction costs are dropping enough to bring new constituencies online. And it might not be the same online. The next big technological innovation will probably be mobility. How could we tap mobile people more effectively with technology?

Eric Holder: The Vetter who tries to get terrorists out of prison

Earlier, I wrote about Eric Holder, Barack Obama's Veep Vetter. That is after the previous Veep Vetter, Jim Johnson, resigned under shame and later was found to be at the center of a corruption scandal involving the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee who got under-market loans from Countrywide, which the Senate is voting to give several billion dollars.

At the time, I noted that Holder, who some think would be Obama's Attorney General and is one of Obama's national security advisors -- even though he doesn't attend meetings in public --, argued for clemency for members of a Puerto Rican terrorist organization.

Well, while Holder was getting a pardon for the husband of a big donor to Bill Clinton (we are talking about Marc Rich), he missed that another set of terrorists, two convicted members of the domestic terror group, the Weather Underground, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, were getting commuted sentences. Now, Obama doesn't think that the commutations of these guys were acceptable. When his connection to Bill Ayers was raised by Hillary Clinton, he said:

"By Senator Clinton's own vetting standards, I don't think she'd make it since President Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, which I think is a slightly more significant act than me serving on a board with someone for actions that he did 40 years ago."

So this future AG and current national security advisor sherpaed the pardon of the husband of a big donor, argued for clemency for terrorists, and overlooked the commutation of other terrorists.

And this guy is supposed to vet Obama's VP choices? Are you kidding me? Is this a circus? Are these guys the freak show?

Interviewing SC GOP Chair Katon Dawson

Earlier this week, I got the opportunity to talk to Katon Dawson, the SC GOP Chairman. Dawson’s name has been circulating as a potential RNC chair for quite a while, and his regular statements on national issues suggests that that discussion isn’t going away. (although, one suspects that if John McCain wins the White House, someone who openly worked for him would have a greater chance than someone who quietly worked against him like Saul Anuzis)

Dawson is also coming from a very red state. Republicans have 8 of 9 statewide offices and the last 7 special elections. While Dawson is quite confident that John McCain will carry his state in November, he offers a warning:

Early presidential states got to see the power of [Barack Obama’s] grassroots network. We are well prepared to defeat him soundly. … But any state that does not prepare does so at their own peril.

I asked if increased African-American turnout would create a problem for some legislative seats, and he responded, again, quite confidently, "we should win some seats we would not win normally," due to "partial birth abortion, gay marriage, which are the pillars of the Democratic platform."

I asked about divisions in the state party. Governor Mark Sanford, loved by national conservatives, has a very rough relationship with the state legislature. And there was a brief and decisive primary between Senator Lindsay Graham and Buddy Witherspoon. (Graham won by more than 2-1) Dawson repsonded that "tension has made for a healthy party" and pointed to agreement on issues like tort reform, medical malpractice, taxes, and other issues.

Witherspoon had been the state’s Republican National Committeeman, and he stood down to challenge Graham, focusing on judges, immigration, and similar issues. Witherspoon’s RNC spot was eventually taken by Glenn McCall who I previously interviewed.

Interestingly, the Gang of 14, for which many conservatives have attacked Graham — and John McCain — was seen as a strength in the primary by Dawson:

Lindsay has tacked some really big issues. The really big factor was two Supreme Court Justices. … Now that we are in the minority, I can say that Lindsay was right.

I had remembered Beltway conservatives explain that this was going to be the decisive issue in the primary. I guess not so much. The other issue was, of course, immigration, but Dawson noted that Governor Mark Sanford and the legislature "fixed the immigration problem in South Carolina."

Lastly, Dawson expressed a lot of excitement over Tim Scott, who will likely be the first post-Reconstruction Republican African American to serve in the state house. Dawson said that with conservatives like Scott and McCall, Republicans are showing that we can make inroads in the African-American community without giving up our principles.

Thad McCotter on “speaking Democrat”

This is hysterical. Go Thad McCotter

Transcript below the fold

“PROGRESSIVE” = “REGRESSIVE”

“Democrats are progressive.”

Translation:  “Democrats are regressive.”

“CHANGE” = “THE 1970s”

“Democrats will bring you change.”

Translation:  “Democrats will bring you the 1970s.”

“GOVERNMENT” = “SOCIALISM”

“Democrats support proactive government.”

Translation:  “Democrats support proactive socialism.”

“ENHANCE REVENUES” = “RAISE TAXES”

“Democrats will enhance revenues.”

Translation:  “Democrats will raise taxes.”

“THE RICH” = “YOU”

“Democrats will only tax the rich.”

Translation:  “Democrats will only tax you.”

“INVEST” = “WASTE”

“Democrats will invest your money.”

Translation:  “Democrats will waste your money.”

“ENERGY” = “LETHARGY”

“Democrats have an energy policy.”

Translation:  “Democrats have a lethargy policy.”

“GREEN COLLAR JOBS” = “UNEMPLOYMENT”

“Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with green collar jobs.”

Translation:  “Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with unemployment.”

 

Speaking “Global Democrat”

 

“DIPLOMACY” = “MAGIC”

“Democrats will protect America from Iranian nukes through tough, principled diplomacy.”

Translation:  “Democrats will protect America from Iranian nukes through tough, principled magic.”

 “ENGAGE” = “APPEASE”

“Democrats will engage America’ enemies.”

Translation: “Democrats will appease America’s enemies.”

“END” = “LOSE”

“Democrats will end the Iraq War.”

Translation:  “Democrats will lose the Iraq War.”

 

Thad McCotter explains how to “speak Democrat”

This is hysterical. Go Thad McCotter

Transcript below the fold

<!–break–>

“PROGRESSIVE” = “REGRESSIVE”

“Democrats are progressive.”

Translation:  “Democrats are regressive.”

“CHANGE” = “THE 1970s”

“Democrats will bring you change.”

Translation:  “Democrats will bring you the 1970s.”

“GOVERNMENT” = “SOCIALISM”

“Democrats support proactive government.”

Translation:  “Democrats support proactive socialism.”

“ENHANCE REVENUES” = “RAISE TAXES”

“Democrats will enhance revenues.”

Translation:  “Democrats will raise taxes.”

“THE RICH” = “YOU”

“Democrats will only tax the rich.”

Translation:  “Democrats will only tax you.”

“INVEST” = “WASTE”

“Democrats will invest your money.”

Translation:  “Democrats will waste your money.”

“ENERGY” = “LETHARGY”

“Democrats have an energy policy.”

Translation:  “Democrats have a lethargy policy.”

“GREEN COLLAR JOBS” = “UNEMPLOYMENT”

“Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with green collar jobs.”

Translation:  “Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with unemployment.”

 

Speaking “Global Democrat”

 

“DIPLOMACY” = “MAGIC”

“Democrats will protect America from Iranian nukes through tough, principled diplomacy.”

Translation:  “Democrats will protect America from Iranian nukes through tough, principled magic.”

 “ENGAGE” = “APPEASE”

“Democrats will engage America’ enemies.”

Translation: “Democrats will appease America’s enemies.”

“END” = “LOSE”

“Democrats will end the Iraq War.”

Translation:  “Democrats will lose the Iraq War.”