David Cote, head honcho of Honeywell International, is actually being deployed to tomorrow's lunch with the Dems by his buddy Barack Obama, just as he was deployed to the Cable TV news circuit to talk up the president's accomplishments this week, just as he was deployed to sit on the infamous Cat Food Commission to slash the social safety net, just as he was deployed to quell the rumblings from the United States Chamber of Commerce over health insurance reform, just as he was deployed to work with Health and Human Services to run a PR campaign on Medicare waste, just as he was deployed to travel with the president to India last year to help ship even more American jobs overseas. Cote has been described as one of the President's closest business advisors.
(You can read my previous posts on the Obama-Cote connection here and here.)
Honeywell is the number one political contributor in the country. According to labor journalist Mike Elk, it has increased its contributions by 400 percent since Obama took office in 2008. It has received $13 billion in government contracts, mainly in defense, in the past 10 years. Honeywell also has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of "Superfund" toxic waste sites in the country.
The company was convicted of a felony this spring for improperly storing radioactive waste at its Metropolis, IL uranium processing plant, and was ordered to pay a multimillion dollar fine. No humans were convicted. But if you thought this would have made them clean up their act, or have made even the slightest dent in their bottom line, you would be wrong.
Just two weeks ago, OSHA slapped the plant with still another fine stemming from a release of dangerous gas from the plant. To add insult to injury, Honeywell further broke the law by barring federal investigators from inspecting the plant.
Also about two weeks ago, Honeywell settled with environmental officials over its role in contaminating a large swath of Northern New Jersey with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. Along with Occidental Chemical and PPG Industries, Honeywell also agreed to accept responsibility for 42 other "orphan" sites contaminated with the pollutant.
The Obama White House, from all indications or lack therof, has not addressed the criminal convictions, the flaunting of the law, the pollution. But, according to Mike Elk, it has vehemently refused all comment on the union lockout in Metropolis, which just marked its first anniversary. The national mainstream corporate media have not covered the Honeywell abuses, neither the labor aspect nor the pollution aspect.
And you might think that Obama critic, pollution victim, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be all over this Cote Connection with the White House. Again, you would be wrong. Honeywell contributes to the GOP coffers too, hedging its bets like any good monolithic corporate person. And let's face it, the Republicans are simply not that into the environment. Just ask Rick Perry of Toxic Texas. Deep in the heart of Texas is a lot like deep in the heart of Jersey, where as the old song goes "even the flies can't breathe in the skies." So what's a little more chemical crud.
But there has been plenty of happy-talk news about how phenomenally well Honeywell is doing from an investment standpoint. Wall Street cheerleader Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" today projected a big increase in profits for the company, which with all its many parts resembles a "beautiful mosaic". (my thought is a writhing mass of slimy snakes, but what do I know?) Zacks.com, a Forbes blog, is also waxing rhapsodic about Honeywell's skyrocketing and surprising growth and earnings. Look at the Honeywell charts, compare with the unemployment charts, and then ask yourself where on earth Cote will find the chutzpah to ask the Senate for more concessions, even as his government contracts continue pouring in during this Age of Contrived Austerity.
Besides profiting mightily from the ongoing Forever Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and parts unknown, Honeywell was recently awarded a $213 million government contract to expand the energy infrastructure at the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration outside of D.C. The irony is literally dripping like the nuclear sludge leaching from those cheap containers in Metropolis into the ground and toward the Ohio River.
|Cote Calls Shots from Presidential Podium as Obama Looks On|