Here’s a quiz:

Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi: Good or bad? How about GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt?

Here are your answers, straight from the top: Qaddafi, way bad. And Immelt? Good guy, business and civic leader. Should be a key adviser to the president.

On Qaddafi, we already knew he was a bad guy. But now we find out what he’s been up to that really distresses business leaders. The very same business leaders who profoundly influence the American political process and the foreign policy decisions this country makes. According to a report in the New York Times,

In 2009, top aides to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi called together 15 executives from global energy companies operating in Libya’s oil fields and issued an extraordinary demand: Shell out the money for his country’s $1.5 billion bill for its role in the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist attacks.

If the companies did not comply, the Libyan officials warned, there would be “serious consequences” for their oil leases, according to a State Department summary of the meeting.

…The episode and others like it, the officials said, reflect a Libyan culture rife with corruption, kickbacks, strong-arm tactics and political patronage since the United States reopened trade with Colonel Qaddafi’s government in 2004. As American and international oil companies, telecommunications firms and contractors moved into the Libyan market, they discovered that Colonel Qaddafi or his loyalists often sought to extract millions of dollars in “signing bonuses” and “consultancy contracts” — or insisted that the strongman’s sons get a piece of the action through shotgun partnerships.

Who wants to pay such bribes? Get rid of the guy.

Now, let’s turn to Immelt. First, you need to know that he’s a darling of the political and media establishment. The president is extremely high on him. President Obama has chosen Immelt for a super-crucial position for him and his re-election fundraising apparatus, as the White House’s “business community liaison.” That’s shorthand for the kind of people who intercede with big companies that might or might not help fund the campaign. A bit like those Qaddafi “signing bonuses” cited above.

Even more importantly, Obama has named him chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  Keep this in mind when you consider the following….

How is Immelt helping this country out? For one thing, he is a king of the job exporters, a pillar of the Indian economy. But that’s not all. As the New York Times noted the other day, Immelt’s company pays no U.S. taxes. That’s right. No taxes.

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

Immelt’s got the situation wired from top to bottom, all of his options hedged. That’s why he’s a “good guy”, unlike Qaddafi, whose brutality was never enough of a problem until he began shaking down American and other oil companies.

Why is Immelt Obama’s guy? Good question. He was a political donor to George W. Bush. In July, 2004, during Bush’s re-election campaign, Immelt was quoted by the Bush campaign saying that “this is the best economy we’ve seen in years.”

Then he started getting the group hug from the Dems and the liberal media. Pretty soon, the hagiographies were pouring out. In 2005, Bill Clinton rolled out his “Clinton Global Initiative,” with Immelt as one of the attending big names. In February, 2006, while touting his book “Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future” on Meet the Press, former Clinton operative Paul Begala described Immelt as  “the greenest guy…that is to say, environmentally correct and profit-making.”

Here’s Immelt on Charlie Rose in 2007: [Bold added for emphasis]

JEFFREY IMMELT: We`ve got to compete. We`ve got to be smart, we`ve got to use our entrepreneurial ability. We`ve got to get more kids studying engineering….

CHARLIE ROSE: … you know all these candidates. Are they talking about it? Are they aware of it? Is it part of their conscious as they think about leading this country?

JEFFREY IMMELT: I think in varying degrees, it is. You know, I think Senator Clinton understands it. I`ve talked to her. I think Governor Romney clearly gets it.

JEFFREY IMMELT: I think Rudy has always gotten it. I think he`s been able to do that. But it`s.

CHARLIE ROSE: Senator Obama get it?

JEFFREY IMMELT: I think they all do. But.

CHARLIE ROSE: They get the idea that the U.S. has to be competitive around the world?

CHARLIE ROSE: Not only competitive, though, in terms of..


CHARLIE ROSE: Hard work, yes. And also competitive — where do you think we have to be competitive in terms of values and what we stand for and who we are? Or does that matter?

JEFFREY IMMELT:  I think as an American, it clearly matters, right? I mean, values are a part of the bedrock of a successful country….I think values count, Charlie. I don`t want to pass judgment on anybody here tonight, but values are important for this country, values are important.

There you have it. Values count.

And politicians can count, too. Somehow, guys like Immelt count for more than millions of us. Strange, strange math in this country.

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0 responses to “Take the Quiz: Qaddafi & Immelt–Good or Bad?”

  1. margsview says:

    If you agree with making those corporations that have systematically robbed you thru tax evasion schemes and political con games then you have to stand up and take back the real democracy denied to you under legal avarice—thru banking changes and tax movements —after all they (corporations and banks) can’t survive without tax paid by the little guy they have shown total HATE for…

  2. margsview says:

    This article points to the exact scenario that tax payers should learn from—how to make those who benefit beyond believe give a tax lesson to those who end up footing his corporate tax bill—or a absolute tax movement that turns away from those who work so hard not to pay any taxes.

  3. Pat Tibbs says:

    I’m just outraged that POTUS put Jeffery Imelt in charge of his Jobs & Competition Council. The optics be damned, we need some truly SMALL business owners, and labor experts running that show.

    In what world does a thoughtful president think it’s appropriate to invite the CEO of G.E. to run the jobs creation show? Remember that GE had $14.2B in profits last year ($5.2B in the U.S.), paid $00 taxes & got a $3.2B tax rebate in the U.S., and paid Imelt $7.3M + stock options. All while outsourcing U.S. jobs to other countries.

    And conservatives call him socialist? I don’t think so.

  4. Oldblevins says:

    Regarding Qaddafi, it has seemed for a long time that our measure of a foreign ruler’s brutality, craziness, as well as his potential for possessing dangerous weapons seems inversely linked to his friendliness to oil and energy companies.It was true in Iraq, Iran (both in 1952 and now), Central and South America, and now in Libya. As far as Immelt and his “goodness’, I was concerned as soon as I heard his name mentioned in his new capacity. when he says “this is the best economy we’ve seen in years”, whose economy and who is “we”? What is good for GE may be terrible policy for 90 pct of the nation. One man’s effieciency is another mans layoff. We should deal with the fact that we do not have one economy, but many, and the biggest players are also the biggest predators. Outsourcing and driving wages down may help his stock options, but are his goals and our goals compatible? Does he represent the few, or the many? How does he view the business climate in the Mariana Islands?

    • Russ Baker says:

      Thanks very much for this ON-TOPIC, focused post. Note to others posting comments–please see this as an example of the tone and context that is helpful to others visiting the site.

    • Larrypayne says:


      I agree that Oldblevins comment is well thought out and on-topic.

      I totally agree with everything he says.

      But I know all that. When I go to the comment section I want to be challenged to investigate things I don’t already know.

      If things get a bit off-topic it doesn’t bother me if it is information that should be considered, researched and decided upon.

      I read your book “Family Secrets” and was extremely impressed by your research on the Bush family. As far as I know you were the first to come up with proof that Poppy Bush was in Dallas the weekend of the JFK assassination.
      Connecting Bush to De Mohrenschildt was also very incriminating.

      It takes courage to expose Bush’s connections to the JFK assassination. Especially because of his background in the CIA.

      If you have that kind of courage it would be a great service to humanity if you investigated 9/11 with the same intensity.

  5. Brian Mcgee says:

    Excellent post Russ!
    We have a monotheistic economic policy, little changes from R’s & D’s with the big deal makers. We really just need to get the money out of politics. If we had publicly funded elections, also a 10 year hold on any politician going into any business they’ve regulated while in the government, we would have much less corporate influence on politics. How we can talk about “shared pain” while companies like GE pay NOTHING in taxes is beyond intellectual laziness, it just a lie. We truly need to embrace the energy of WI nation wide, its time for the people and have a workers rights movement. It won’t be much longer until we have no middle class(what ever that means anymore).

    If i was president for a day, i would ONLY be president for one day for by the end of the day i’m sure i would be dead.

    *although some of these comments were off topic. Please don’t censor.

  6. whole2th says:

    Qaddafi’s speech which accuses Israel of being involved in the assassination of JFK and of connections to 9-11 makes him a voice to silence.

    Mossad’s motto: By way of deception, thou shalt make war.

    Israel’s fingerprints are all over 9-11. An Israeli company funded African mercenaries to go into Libya–stir things up, and justify UN intervention. Why hasn’t UN intervened in the killing of Palestinians?

    We should ReDiscover911. COM It wasn’t muslims (Google these three words)

    • Russ Baker says:

      911-and-israel obsessives have the habit of harping exclusively on their pet topic, irrespective of what is actually being discussed. This article is about Immelt, GE, and Obama, as well as oil company views of Qaddafi.

      Also, there is a tendency by some commenters to make blanket assertions without documentation: ie the one above about Israel trying to “stir things up” in Libya. The truth is that Israel would not necessarily benefit from the removal of Qaddafi and possible rise of a far more extreme Islamist regime there, so this is simply conjecture on the part of this person.

      If comments are not directly on-topic, we may have to consider going to selective posting, as many news sites do. Also, this is an appeal for thoughtful comments, ON-TOPIC. thanks.

    • Larrypayne says:

      Great post!

      Here is an article that will back up Ed Kendrick’s
      comment about Israel funding African Mercenaries
      in Libya. What Ed failed to mention is that the mercenaries are there to fight the protestors.
      According to the article, Israel does not want Qaddafi defeated for fear Libya will become more anti-Israel under new leadership.

  7. Larrypayne says:

    Qaddafi may not have been justified in demanding the oil companies pay the bill for the Lockerbie bombing.

    He should have sent the bill to Israel.

    Mossad is the master of false-flag terrorist operations and Israel has been trying to get rid of Qaddafi from the time he gained power.

    After enduring 9 years of cover-up for the false-flag 9/11 attacks it is now obvious that things rarely happen as our politicians and the media report.

    It is much easier now for me to form my opinion based on who benefits from terrorist attacks. Israel is usually the country who benefits the most.

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