Monday, January 30, 2012

Salt Lake Olympics: Mitt as Product, Theater of the Absurd

The one thing that has made Mitt Romney "presidential" in the minds of the people is the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.  The story is that he rescued them from scandal. The reality is the opposite: the Olympics rescued Romney from obscurity and a failed political career, and he was installed only in 1999 when the Mormons already knew the Games would be a success.  Mitt was the product that was sold to the public, the "white knight" riding to the rescue of something that needed no rescue.  So ambitious was Mitt Romney that he actually made public comments asking for the conviction of the Salt Lake organizers for bribery. A corrupt Mormon judge threw the case out.  The Mormons were not about to be the fall guys for the bribery system that was prevalent under the old IOC dictator Juan Samaranch, intimate of Franco.  Why would the organizers allow Mitt Romney to take credit for their Olympics? In Mormondom, you do what the church tells you, and what the church wanted was credit for the inner circle of powerful Mormons...and in the future, a Mormon president.

Does that sound paranoid? Do the Mormons do such advance planning? Yes.  One example: in 1937 they bought land on an Oakland hilltop for $4,000.  Almost thirty years later, they built a temple there. They have been trying to get the Winter Olympics for decades, but because God's Church can never be seen to fail, they couldn't take over public responsibility until the Olympics were won, and likely to be a success, before they booted the expendable committee and could use the Olympics to promote  their own power and success.   

 The story was that the Games were mired in bribery scandal, sponsorship was off, and they were expecting a $400 million shortfall.   Two months after he was "hired," Mitt Romney fired the CFO for making "mistakes" on the budget.

Really? If  the SLOC had such a bad CFO why was his next job CFO of Mrs. Field's Cookies, one of Utah's premier companies?  Mitt fired him for overestimating federal funding, but federal funding was showered on the Salt Lake games, as one would expect under any administration, and in such great quantities that they grandstanded in announcing they would give $10 million back in April, 2002, none of that fundraising due to Romney but to Orrin Hatch and the rest of their Washington politicians.  As for the $25 million more needed in IT, expectations were rising rapidly at the time for sporting events, but on the other hand, IT prices were falling dramatically.  It is not clear they needed that much extra money.  Romney's contribution to budget cutting? $5 million to be taken from the costs for the bobsled and other facilities.  A cheaper hotel in Switzerland. Not exactly big bucks.  As for the $300 million "sponsor shortfall," this was so much nonsense as indicated in this article, which mentions US West "temporarily withheld" $5 million of the $60 million it had pledged to the Games.  The Games never had a real shortfall, it was just part of creating the bogus legend of Romney's "overcoming obstacles."

Federal money? For a much smaller winter games, Salt Lake got far more than Atlanta had received in '96.

They got $342 million in federal earmarks, and another $320 million in federal "security" after 9-11 (probably more like a billion, which would have been amounted to half the overall Games spending as noted in this article)

Few personnel were changed and Romney's role was mainly to publicize himself as uniquely honest and above board.  Such was Mitt-mania that they even made lapel pins with his photo on them, indicating that it was Mitt Romney, not just Gateway Computers, that was being sold by association with the Games.  He didn't accept the position of CEO of Bain Capital until he was given an "out" back to Bain Consulting if the venture failed.  Can anyone believe he accepted the position of Olympics CEO without first demanding some guarantees?   He did line up corporate sponsors, but they were mostly companies that had been "lined up" all along.  The IOC has been saying that they had more money from  fewer sponsors at Salt Lake than for any other Olympics, indicating that Romney was not the outreach wizard some would like to claim.   In the end he claimed he brought in $180 million in "new sponsors" but that hardly would have closed the shortfall if true and it included companies like Visa, which would not have conceivably sat out an Olympics. Conclusion: there was never a real shortfall and Utahns continued to give to the Olympics after they were done, which makes their "profit" figures highly suspect.

In April 2002, the Olympic Committee, having sloughed off many costs on government and private groups, announced a $40 million surplus, but by September they claimed $100 million because of "gifts organizers make or plan to make," probably meaning that Romney pledged his own money to make the Games seem profitable.  The question then becomes, how much of the $40 million original "profit" was Romney's money or money raised after the Closing Ceremonies to make the Games "profit" story?  Is that another reason he won't be releasing his tax returns for this period?

In short, the idea that the Games "made money" is almost certainly a bit of fakery.  Tax support for the Games was much higher than in any previous U.S. Olympics and the profit was ex post donations intended to boost Mitt Romney's career and the reputation of Salt Lake City and its signature church.

The Games cost more than the Atlanta Summer games, which had five times as many athletes.  And Clean Mitt or not, judging and other IOC scandals continued.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Damon Corp: More dirty dealing

When Mitt Romney was in charge of Damon Corp., it engaged in systematic Medicare Fraud, billing the government for millions of unnecessary tests.

The more you look at Romney's business, the more it reminds you of what they used to say about the robber barons: behind every great fortune is a great crime. Or in today's world, a fathomless well of crimes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dade International Deal: dirty dirty dirty

The description of the Dade International deal in the "The Real Romney" didn't make any sense, so I found another description in the business press:

The account still isn't clear, but it does clear up some points.  First of all, Bain contributed $27 million to a $442 million Goldman Sachs set up of Dade International.  Then the new company went on an acquisition binge, paid for with new debt.  Bain took almost $100 million in "management fees," including Mitt Romney himself, who fined people who were late for meetings and otherwise micromanaged.  After an acquisition and a merger, Bain wanted the company sold, presumably to a competitor.  But some shareholders wouldn't bite, so Bain had Dade borrow the money to buy back Bain's shares to the tune of $240 million. Other shareholders and Dade's management also took millions. The company then declared bankruptcy because it had taken on too much debt.  Romney was accused of "unjust enrichment" by the creditors because essentially the money went from the lenders' pockets into his.

After it emerged from bankruptcy, the company went public and was eventually sold for $7 billion to  Siemens, but in truth the company was only in 2007 reaching the sales it had as three separate companies before Romney merged them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Romney's hidden money and the attempt to minimize its significance

Having finally released his tax returns for the last year, which show income of $21 million per year and tax payments of $3 million, a very low rate, Mitt Romney now has to refile his campaign finance paperwork because his taxes show income from foreign accounts that did not make it into his financial disclosure forms.  His people have tried to minimize this and point at Gingrich, who missed some income.  But Romney's unreported foreign accounts held millions, and any foreign accounts that he did not derive U.S. income from are not included and probably still out there as yet unrevealed.

Today, it become clear that Republicans nationally do not want Romney as their candidate in preference to Gingrich. That doesn't mean Romney will lose, however, because some of the establishment and media are behind him, although Jeb Bush has conspicuously held back.  More than that, the Pentagon and CIA are behind Romney. Apparently they remember when Newt cut their budgets in the 1990s. Also, they probably think they can manage the whole "rich" thing over time with the usual complaints about minor Democratic foibles and intellectual elitism.  Romney also has a better chance in Florida than nationally because the Cuban community in Miami seems behind him, including Univision.  Still, the only real way they can win Florida is to steal it, so this will demonstrate or fail to demonstrate their power to manage the vote.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kranish and Helman reveal new dirt on Romney in Vanity Fair excerpt

Two Boston Globe reporters, Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, have released a bio of Romney called “The Real Romney,”   This is not a tell-all, but continues the softball approach of Kranish’s previous work on figures like John Kerry and Wesley Clark. 

The Daily Beast has some Highlights:

And the New York Times a review:

Vanity Fair has an actual excerpt that deserves some attention, as much for what the authors did not understand as for what they did.

They start with a tribute to his family life: his courtship of Ann, his loyalty to her, and his  “pedestal” treatment of her, all presented positively without comment, but the picture is not one of average Americans. He proposed to her at his high school prom, when he was newly 18 and she was newly 16 (16 was the age of consent in Michigan, except for “authority figures.”  If Romney had a teaching position in the local LDS ward, it is not covered).  They note that Romney “ran out of gas” on the way home, suggesting he started a physical relationship with her in an overly coy way. That his relationship with her was sexual was also suggested by his sneaking back to see her without his parents’ knowledge when he was at Stanford. The real suggestion is that Ann has almost no experience with men, and Romney only limited experience with women.

They don’t delve into the comments of the children that Romney wouldn’t allow them to criticize their mother, and that he always  makes a show of submitting to her desire to stop the car while the children were not allowed to have to go to the bathroom or make unscheduled stops.  In short, that there was a formal, theatrical role-play within the family as seen by the kids, and Romney “submission” to his wife may bely the amount of control he really exercises.  The Mormon church is  famous for organizing family time and its rigid family roles, and it appears that the Romneys are  fully engaged in very formal and ritualized interactions.  Thus, their testimony about each other has to be seen in that regard, as less a presentation of opinion  than a presentation of roles.

They also don’t go into Romney's failure to finish at Stanford after his French mission and car accident, which was followed by his transfer to Brigham Young.  To hear them tell it, his church activities began in the Boston stake when he was near 30.  Given the prominence of his family in the church, that is highly unlikely.  They mention that LDS has an amateur church hierarchy that makes heavy demands on the members.  What Kranish and Helman don’t speculate on is how the amateur nature of the clergy changes the nature of spiritual authority.  Since there are no theological givens with an untrained, amateur clergy, personal relationship is the name of the game, and one reason so many Mormon stakes are run by the wealthy and relations  is that money and position are powerful assets to bring a personal relationship with authority.  It also means, however, that there is some theological flexibility, but they give plentiful examples that Mitt Romney was not flexible on theological matters, which referred to Salt Lake City rather than his immediate Boston environs.

When the women of the Boston stake created a feminist organization to call for change, Ann Romney did not join.  Mitt listened to and tried to satisfy some of their complaints, but ultimately he viewed them negatively.  One feminist married a non-Mormon and so was barred from the Temple, one of those old Mormon customs that has CultWatch classify them still as a cult since the church is isolating people from non-Mormon relations.  When the Church  changed the rule to allow people in mixed marriages  to enter the temple with a proper bishop’s approval, Bishop Romney signed a temple recommend for one of the feminists who was married to a non-Mormon, but told her “You’re not my kind of Mormon.”   Remember, the Bishop controls access to the Temple and therefore salvation and social status for individual Mormons, so even though he gave into the request, there was an implied threat in his criticism.  I don’t think the authors understand the fear a leader can command among a people who are encouraged to interact mostly with each other.

When one woman in the ward, who was single, got pregnant, the Romneys gave her odd jobs so she could earn cash.  However, Romney told her the church expected her give up her child for adoption so her child could be raised by a two-parent family, and threatened her with excommunication if she did not.  She did not give up her child, and when he needed surgery, she asked for Romney’s blessing lest he die, but Romney  wouldn’t come to give it, sending underlings instead.  She left the church.  She said she was grateful for the Romneys’ generosity, but the reporters make too little of the threat.  It is unlikely that a priest or minister in another American religion would excommunicate a single mother for not giving up her child.  They might deny her a sacrament, but probably would not, and they would not cut her off from her community, as Romney threatened to do.  In addition, they would not prevail on the community to shun her or deny her employment, as would likely have happened if she had been excommunicated.  Indeed, her crediting the Romneys with generosity even today might reflect a fear that her son, an electrician in Salt Lake City, is still within their power to harm. 

Another woman who had been counseled by her doctors to have an abortion received a visit from Romney, who cared only for the fetus and did not believe the doctors, one of them the Mormon stake president, had recommended an abortion. Romney indicated he would call the stake president to argue against this course, suggesting that Romney may have believed he could intervene with the stake president to enforce Utahn orthodoxy due to his privileged family position in the church despite his supposed inferior official church position to the stake president at that time.

Some things the authors of the article revealed without seeming to realize it.  For example, Bill Bain, the leader of Bain Co., commented on how much Mitt was like his father, indicating Bain had some knowledge of George Romney and that was probably why Romney was hired.   He made Mitt head of Bain Capital, which Mitt initially turned down but agreed to after the risks were removed from his participation.  Romney was involved in around 100 deals during his 15 years with Bain Capital.  Of 68 reviewed in a private Deutche Bank review, 33 had lost money or broke even, and 35 made money.   His big success trumpeted today  was the $650,000 Bain gave to help Staples open its first store. Ultimately, Bain gave $2.5 million to Staples, reaping $13 million when they went public, at which time they had 1,100 employees.  Later, of course, Staples became really big, with 89,000 employees, but Bain never managed the company and its claim to having created the jobs is due to the seed money for that first store and early support.  In his 2004 book “Turnaround,” Romney said, “I never actually ran one of our investments. That was left to management.”  This is a curious phrase for someone who wants to be thought a job creator, and suggesting there is something he would not want to take credit for in the record.   

 Indeed, Romney advocated “creative destruction” in another book of his, “No Apology”  that the economy thrives when weak companies are driven out or pushed under and presenting the social pain of those failures as inevitable, forgetting that the corporate limited liability form was created specifically to prevent entrepreneurs from bearing the costs of their failures, and so it hardly fair to ask workers to shoulder the entire social cost.  As we have seen in my previous entry on corporate raider culture, the actual intent of buying and stripping companies is to reduce competition and raise prices, not to enhance competition. Indeed, Bain went so far as to partner with junk bond king and convicted inside trader Michael Millken.   In 2008, Romney opposed a bailout for auto companies, something that Obama will hammer him with if Romney is the nominee.

However, the article also hints at possible fraud under Romney.  Bain invested $27 million in buying Dade International from Baxter Travenol.  Under Bain’s control, the company piled up $1.6 billion in debt while paying $230 million to Bain to buy back shares and $100 million to Bain in fees.  The company  filed for bankruptcy, reorganized, and succeeded.  However there were layoffs during the Bain periods and it ended in 2002 when the creditors were stiffed close to a billion dollars.

I look forward to reviewing the whole book.

Romney loses South Carolina. Has he miscalculated Florida too?.

Mitt Romney lost badly in South Carolina, winning only three counties: Charleston, Beaufort, and Richland (Columbia).  These are slightly more Catholic, slightly richer, rather more educated, and much more military than most South Carolina counties.  Apparently, some military people still remember Newt Gingrich’s role in downsizing defense spending as Speaker of the House in the 1990s.

Newt’s slick half hour indictment of Bain Capital started the snowball, but most South Carolinian voters probably never saw it.  They heard about it, but it was Mitt’s combative debate performance and response to incessant anti-Gingrich advertising that made him the preferred conservative alternative.  That is, it was Romney’s hysterical response to being attacked that sank him.  Romney's defensive over-reaction to being challenged sinks him every time.  After all, it was no surprise that evangelicals were looking for an alternative.

While Newt cut Romney’s support 10 percentage points in ten days, he also took five percentage points from Santorum, indicating that his combativeness raised public confidence in him compared to Santorum.

Florida, Romney thinks, is a different ballgame. The size and urban nature of the state make it inaccessible to retail politics and give a big advantage to budget.  However, Gingrich has already grabbed the lead there and Romney will have to win with the local powers, and organize some electoral trickery to win there.  People in the South are fond of telling Yankees that “Florida is not the South.”  In reality, Florida is the South, only more so.  

Even Romney's reversal of historic unwillingness to release taxes now looks not principled but duplicitous.  Why not release all the years if you are going to release any?  It greatly reinforces the idea that he is hiding something, such as some years he has probably paid no tax because of astute management of share losses.  That would lead people to be outraged with him.  The only way he could have finessed this was to hold to his position that he won't release his taxes ever, that's his view of the matter, and he sticking to it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Death behind the wheel: Romney in fatal car crash in 1968

Mitt Romney was seriously injured in a car crash in 1968, when a car he was driving slammed head on into another car in France.  Since that time Mormons have been at pains to spread the idea that it was the other guy, a Catholic priest,  who was at fault, or even drunk.  But there was no official indication of that.  Romney was driving an unfamiliar overloaded car on unfamiliar roads.  Romney was later in another car crash in France. Ann also sent  him a 'Dear John' letter in France at some point, which may have resulted in stress.

This kind of accident is not rare in the United States. Laura W. Bush killed her ex-boyfriend in a car crash, for one.  But you only usually hear about it when it is someone on the left, such as Ted Kennedy's disastrous accident at Chappaquiddick.   When a Republican is behind the wheel, it is only a tragedy.

However, the seriousness of Romney's injuries make one wonder if he sustained brain damage or personality changes from the head injury - perhaps this explains his antisocial seeming personality; and if he is at risk for early death from CTE.

These are the symptoms to watch for:

• Deterioration in attention, concentration, memory
• Disorientation
• Confusion
• Dizziness
• Headaches
• Lack of insight
• Poor judgment
• Overt dementia
• Slowed muscular movements
• Staggered gait
• Impeded speech
• Tremors
• Vertigo
• Deafness

 Well, "lack of insight" and "poor judgment" are clearly Romney's but most other politicians' as well.

It's Official: We'll "Never Know" who won the Iowa Caucus

The last  count had Santorum up by 34 votes but the Iowa Republican party claims results from 8 precincts are "missing": ancient codespeak for vote fraud; and that they will never certify the result for 8 precincts (which Santorum won). It was the Iowa Republican party which proclaimed Romney as the winner after misrecording at least one precinct's results to give Romney additional votes.  This is the United States today: no election result, no problem!  Romney said it was a "virtual tie" and so he still can claim victory.

Meanwhile, the blatant fraud continues, as they had awarded Romney 13 delegates and Santorum 12 based on the initial result.  Instead of giving Santorum 13 now, they are giving them 12 each with 1 "unassigned" (read: still Romney).  And they are doing this in the blatant sunshine.

Meanwhile, the press has been filled with stories about Romney stashing millions in Grand Cayman where his company Bain Capital has 138 accounts. The question is, how much wealth does Romney have stashed abroad, and is any of it included in his stated $85-$264 million wealth?


Certainly he has been tithing to the Mormon church, although so far nobody has indicated anything that would add up to the 10% that most Mormons give.  He gives the church shares in companies.

Now at first it seems like an ungenerous gift.  Domino's Pizza was founded by a highly religious Catholic, and Burger King is hardly in line with Mormon teachings about healthy lifestyle.  AMC Movies hardly seems like a go-getter stock, either. Indeed, they all look like dogs.  Lack of conformance to the mission in itself wouldn't prevent LDS profiting.  The church doesn't publish its holdings, and after all, Mormon banker Parry Thomas was chief financier of the Las Vegas Strip, allowing the Teamsters and the mob to move money through his bank, later consulting with Howard Hughes and then lending to Steve Wynne.  LDS had no qualms about profiting from that source.

However, Mitt's shares do have something in common: they are big employers of youth, and in our current economic downturn, the church can better provide employment, particularly to its youth, if it has a say in the policies of major employers.  Does LDS exercise such an authority? Do they call up Domino's and Burger King and say, you'd better hire Mormons or else? Do they tell these employers, well, don't offer gay rights; or tell AMC, don't show gay movies, or else we'll start a big stink? We have no way of knowing.  What we do know is that every time you order a Domino's pizza your actions help the Mormons, shareholders in Domino's thanks to Mitt Romney.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Romney Campaign: hiding riches and playing dirty

In Jan 1994, when he was running against Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate, Mitt Romney said  “The blind trust is an age-old ruse.” The blind trust is an instrument where a candidate puts all his wealth in a trust operated an independent third party so that he cannot be accused of conflict of interest because of his investments. The trust operator is supposed to make investment decisions without consulting the candidate on issues of risk and expected returns.  Romney subsequently put his own money into a blind trust and refuses to answer questions about his own investments, even when they appeared to be unpatriotic, like his investment in Chinese and Russian oil companies doing business with Iran in 2006, contrary to his stated position on Iran in the presidential campaign of 2007-2008.  But it appears that his “blind trust” may be nothing more than a ruse after all.  This independent body by some miracle managed to invest in his son’s charity, which means his trust isn’t really blind at all and he can be held responsible for all its investments and possible conflicts of interest they involve.

The question remains, how rich is Romney? In 2007, Money magazine estimated his wealth at $202 million, with an INCOME of $37.6 million, a very unusual income level for a man who was not working and in an era of very low interest rates, an abnormally high “return” on his money. His election filings say he is worth $85-$264 million, which means either he has lost most of his money since 2007 (no great businessman there!), or he has only made a little on it, or his election filings are not comprehensive.   Most likely the $200 million figure is ridiculously low, and his personal fortune is more accurately measured in billions, not millions. 

Romney does have billionaire friends, like his advisor Paul Singer, who has darkly warned the BBC that he “has a file” on investigative reporter Greg Palast, who is doing a Wall Street expose called “Vulture’s Picnic” naming Singer and Romney and highlighting things like Singer’s rape of the Peruvian economy.

Meanwhile, the Romney team has pulled off a p.r. dream.  Polls show the race in South Carolina tightening as a result of Gingrich’s attack ads on Romney.  So the Romney team got Reuters to publish a story about a poll that predated those attacks claiming his lead had actually widened and Gingrich’s attacks had no effect. You have to read most the way through the article to find that the poll was actually taken January 10, before the Gingrich ad. The idea is to confuse Republican voters into voting for Romney by thinking that the whole “destroying jobs” thing has somehow gone away.  In the meantime Romney is running email trees and so on claiming “factual inaccuracies” in the report, basically claiming Romney hasn’t worked with Bain since 1999 and has no responsibility for anything that has happened (although of course his wealth is still derived from their profits).  The Gingrich people are frustrated about responding to since Romney signed many of the documents and he derives personal income from Bain Capital's operations.    There is one certainty in all this: Romney has learned to play hardball politics and this will be the dirtiest and most dishonest campaign in history.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Romney campaign faces new trouble

Today, the Romney campaign is running into heavy weather.   Having lost a third of his likely New Hampshire votes to his cousin, an even richer and more entitled Mormon businessman named Jon Huntsman, Romney thought he had an insurmountable lead in South Carolina.  But then New Gingrich’s PAC released this video about corporate raiding activity by Bain Capital, and it changed the equation.

This video takes you through four examples of job losses from Bain Capital’s control of some companies, and classifies Bain Capital as a corporate raider.  Corporate raiders were a feature of 1980s capitalism in the US, founded on one idea: that markets are NOT efficient, and that therefore old mature companies with entrenched management can be profitably looted. The raiders would buy the companies, lay off people to improve their profitability and to generate cash for new raider acquisitions and as collateral for  borrowing by the raider (which was stashed on the acquisition’s books so that the raider would never have to pay it back), and then either flip the companies and sell them or shut them down and cash in their assets; or at worst case, put them into receivership in order to get out from under the raider's debts.   For the raiders to make a profit, they had to find end buyers and lenders who would cheerfully take a bath, yet their stripping of companies and pyramiding debt damaged what they were selling.  So who was buying and cementing in these profits for the raiders? 

The answer was, the companies’ competitors.  Typically the original management would not sell to competitors; or they had a number of business lines competitors did not want to deal with.  So the raider would strip away the businesses the buyers didn’t want, and deliver what they did want, which was market share.  Since the competitors were just as happy with shuttering their competition as with buying it, they didn’t care that the raiders stripped them.  Often, when the competitors did buy raider assets, they ended up closing up the whole operations, which is why the people in the video took a double hit:  first the layoffs from the raider, and then closure by the ultimate buyer.  And since what they were buying from the raider was monopoly, they were willing to pay more than these companies traded originally, on the assumption they could raise prices after closing them, or imagining they could better manage their competitors' assets.  This guaranteed the raider a profit.  The whole point of the raider industry, then , was to reduce competition in the corporate world and to reduce the role of markets.  This was "sold" to MBAs and the public as "cutting the dead wood" but really it was an attempt to manipulate markets to reduce competition and raise prices, just as similar operations that were undertaken in robber baron days.

So was Bain a corporate raider,  rather than the passive investor I have referred to in previous posts?

Romney says he was a builder not a raider, and has already been planting stories suggesting the whole business is overblown.  That the video mentions only cases of recent vintage, when he had long since given up day to day management of Bain Capital, is not too much  in the video's favor, although it must be said that he is profiting from every deal since Bain Capital is his company, whether he chooses to manage it or not.  His big financial successes were from passive investments, not from management, which reinforces the notion that he is no kind  of business manager, but even this pro-Romney article admits that the leveraged buyouts Bain was involved with had a high "failure" rate to the target companies, though as we have seen, the failure was others', not Bain's.

The press is willing to help him  overcome these problems, but the shock in South Carolina is strong, because the images of Romney  kicking back at the airport having his shoes shined, and reveling in the misfortune of others with a nasty cheshire grin  creates an indelible impression of a bully in action.

People can forgive someone who got caught up in the greed moment of the 1980s.  They can’t forgive someone who remains a sneering pompous ass to this day.  That’s why an attempt on “The View” today to defend him against the “I like firing people” comment that he made, stripped of context, appearing in anti-Romney ads,  has failed to help him.  The ads themselves were payback for his anti-Obama ads in New Hampshire.  The Obama ads had Obama saying, “If we talk about the economy, we lose.”  Obama was quoting McCain staffers, so to put it  in the ad was misleading since Obama was not talking of his own campaign.  But Romney refused to pull the ads because the full context – McCain was being blamed for a poor economy, which could be just as easily applied four years later to Obama.  Likewise, however, Mitt’s gleeful claim that he likes to fire people, a non sequitur when speaking of insurance choice,  is a revealing portrait of a man with zero empathy and too great a delight in winning.

In short, it now appears that Romney's insistence that he is a business manager will probably haunt him the way Kerry's claim to being  a war hero ended up doing very little for him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romney is a psychopath AND a sociopath

Is Romney a psychopath? Let’s check the criteria:
  • Glibness/superficial charm
This is not  a Romney failing, although they are trying to coach it in to him.  The lack should not be taken for evidence against psychopathy, however, due to his unusual background.
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
There are few men on earth with a sense of grandiosity equal to that of Mitt Romney, but all candidates for president tend to share this fault.
  • Need for stimulation, with a proneness to boredom
It is hard to measure because of Romney's non-traditional lifestyle.  He doesn’t work at a paying job, but he does put in many hours as a Mormon bishop.  He is running for president, but his knowledge of issues seems poor, and his evaluation of places like Europe quite wrong, suggesting he has done no particular research for the role.  However, these could be focus group tested opinions and not his real mind. 
  • Pathological lying
Yes. One of the stories about Mitt that most liberals remember is the time he strapped his dog to the roof for a long-distance trip.

Here he is lying about the incident, but he lied from the first.  In the original story, the Boston Globe reporter took at face value the claim that Romney had “built” a “windscreen” for the dog kennel, something a busy professional like Romney would never have done. Indeed, the only reason for thinking a very large dog would “enjoy” riding on the roof is if he sticks his head out of the window to catch the wind on normal rides.  Most likely, Romney simply turned the kennel backward where it was still subject to some wind.  On this video, he claims the container was “airtight.”  We know this is a lie because it was confirmed by his son that they saw diarrhea running down the back of the car –  if diarrhea can get out, wind can get in.  Romney took the dog out, hosed down him and his kennel, and put him back inside for the remainder of a long ride.  In the linked video version, Romney has the dog climbing onto the roof by himself!  In an expressway ride, the wind is violent and unrelenting and comes with small objects as projectiles.  In addition, the kennel might move around and is likely to be thrown off the car.  This transport mode was illegal in Massachusetts, but Romney says it’s okay because he wasn’t familiar with the law!  The smartest thing to do here would be for Romney to admit he made a mistake, but Romney can’t do it because he doesn’t feel mistaken and it is more comfortable to him to lie than to admit error. And that is a big red flag.
  • Conning and manipulating behaviors

In this video, Romney has been confronted by a reporter after he claimed that he would be free from lobbyist influence as demonstrated by his campaign. The reporter pointed out he had a registered federal lobbyist advising him, and Romney in outrage immediately reframes the issue to be one where a lobbyist who advises him could not be said to be with the campaign since he isn’t paid (and of course that might be a new lie).  Then Romney comes over to the offending reporter and demands he stand up, where the larger Romney might attack him, and then a Romney flunky comes over to accuse the reporter of unprofessional conduct.  In short, Romney's response to being caught in a lie is to attempt to deflect public attention and try to intimidate the accuser, an example of conning and manipulative behavior.
  • No sense of remorse or guilt
Romney has never admitted he was wrong, even when he told Michigan they were in a “one state recession” during the 2008 campaign, when the whole country was in recession.
  • A  very shallow emotional affect - they display emotions they don't really feel
Everyone, even his supporters, has noted his lack of emotion when speaking, his “robotic” delivery.  Some might say that means he is not a psychopath in that he hasn’t learned to mimic emotion for his own gain, but I would respond that he was raised in an environment so privileged that he never had to learn to be ingratiating and if he had, it would have made people view him as less powerful.  The Detroit he grew up in was a vertical auto dictatorship where the politics of the auto companies were followed with the fervor of kremlin watchers in the old USSR. Romney's father was the Governor and an Auto CEO.  In addition, Romney was prominent in the Mormon Church, where a cousin was a high official.  The church has no professional clergy outside the top levels, and rich businessmen run it at the local levels.  Deference in Mormondom is so extreme that Romney’s dad named him after wealthy Mormon J. Willard Marriott, who lived a thousand miles away.  Romney also attended a small private school for "arty" rich kids called Cranbrook.  

Thus, he would have been used to deference in school, in church, and everywhere he went because of his family.  In this situation, distance=power and he would have learned to be less than charming with people.  In this he is different than both Clinton and Bush, who did feel a need to ingratiate themselves with people.  Bush was a privileged psychopath and acted it, but he also knew that politics involves ingratiation.  Of course, both Bush and Clinton were raised in the South, where bonhomie and bullshit is a high status activity. In the Midwest, where Romney grew up, nobody cares about the well told yarn, but rather where you stand in the power structure.   Romney instead went into management consulting, where he bluffed his way into making people think he had expertise by arrogance, not smarm.
  • A lack of empathy for others
Romney has made repeated gaffes, from telling some unemployed workers he too was unemployed, to making a $10,000 bet during a debate, to saying that enjoys firing people. He clearly has no empathy for anyone.
  • They are parasitic - they live off of others
Romney has his own wealth, but it was made through the corporate parasitism of Bain Capital. He did not create a product or service, he merely supplied the money.  Nonetheless, he may be more energetic than Bush, who was infamously lazy.
  • They are impulsive, and show poor control over their behaviors
This is not clear.  He does not seem to be impulsive, although undertaking a long drive with the dog on the roof might indicate impulsiveness, as might his spontaneous $10,000 bet offer in one of the debates.   His frequent gaffes may also be a crazy kind of risk taking,a  rebellion at being held to script.  In one sense he doesn't really want the public to like him, but to win in spite of their not liking him. 
  • They tend to be promiscuous
Romney was highly promiscuous as a teenager.  Where his inclinations have led him since we do not yet know.  When he was a freshman at Stanford, his wife was still in high school.  He would sneak home to see Ann without his parents’ knowledge, which may indicate a sexual relationship.It may not have been statutory rape, since the age of consent in Michigan is 16.  On the other hand, it may have been, since the age of consent in Michigan is 18 for "authority figures" and he may have held a teaching position in the church by that age.

sneaking home to see high schooler Ann:
  • Their behavior problems start early in life.
We don’t know if Romney was a problem child, but that he worked one summer as a security guard at a Chrysler plant may suggest he had some issues. Security guard is not the sort of job that someone being trained for high positions in an auto business would ever hold.  They might have put him in accounting, or sales, or production, or legal; or even give him a line job to learn the business.  A security guard at an auto plant does not necessarily learn anything about the business.  We also know that he was an unfocused child who had at least one semester at school with no A’s and was called “irresponsible” by a teacher.  We also know he got his girlfriend arrested for trespassing on a golf course, and held a “dinner party” in the median of an intersection.

  • They cannot form long-term plans that are realistic
Romney is singularly vague in his plans for his presidency.
  • They are impulsive, and irresponsible
He was irresponsible enough to have it noted by teachers, and impulsive enough to sneak home to see his high school girlfriend repeatedly.
  • They do not accept responsibility for their actions - another caused it
This is a big red flag about Romney.  He has never been at fault about anything ever.  Even the dog story which threatens his presidential aspirations was the fault of the dog!
  • Marital relationships are short, and many
This does not apply to Romney, but may say more about his wife than about him.
  • They display juvenile delinquency
He had at least one juvenile arrest, but we may not know the whole story.
  • They violate probation often
Not apparently a Romney problem.
  • Their criminality is diverse
Yes.  He once counseled a woman who might die of childbirth not to get an abortion even to save her own life.

In short, Romney meets most of the criteria for psychopath, and even where he doesn’t, it appears to be more the result of being raised in a sociopath environment where antisocial conduct is the norm.   That is to say, Romney is a psychopath in having no empathy for others and seeing others only as tools to be used; but he is also a sociopath in that he inhabits a gangster world where being on top means controlling every aspect of others’ lives, a power he is keen to exercise.  Most people who run for president are high on the psychopath spectrum.  But being  high on both the psychopath and sociopath spectrum not only explains Romney’s lack of charm, but why his presidency would be frightening to so many.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Romney Iowa win a fake

This year promises to be the worst ever for the United States and vote fraud, partly thanks the enthusiastic participation of the Romney troops in it.  And now we have our first example.  An Iowa precinct official noticed that his precinct was listed in the party's official result as showing 22 votes for Romney, when in fact there were only 2 votes for Romney.  Since Romney only won by eight votes, that effectively transferred the state from Santorum to Romney.

When Yahoo News linked the article, they managed to "switch" the identity of the vote beneficiary to Santorum, similar to the way Fox News has reported Republican Congressmen as Democrats when they are caught doing something wrong.  It is this second article, which mistakenly says Santorum was the beneficiary, which Yahoo links to from the front page.;_ylt=Anp84ZW.nmao5mJXimzkKmTzWed_;_ylu=X3oDMTRvZGoxYzBwBGNjb2RlA2dtcHRvcDEwMDBwb29sd2lraXVwcmVzdARtaXQDTmV3cyBmb3IgeW91BHBrZwNiZjVhMzk0NC1jMT

Aside from demonstrating the media's urgent desire to mislead the public, and hide Romney vote fraud,
it points out the "win at any cost" mentality of the Romney supporters.  If he does get into a one on one contest with Obama. you will see vote fraud on an industrial scale never seen before on earth. Even Putin will blush to see what will happen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Romney "wins" Iowa; the Mexican connection

The Iowa caucus is over and although Romney’s “win” was not stellar, what is stellar is that he is considered the most “electable” Republican candidate, so much so that as many as 30% of those who voted for him may disagree (to the right) with what they perceive to be his values.

They are wrong on this issue. His leftist  achievements were conditioned by the Massachusetts liberal legislature. He is himself likely far to the right of what we have seen.  Nonetheless, he finds it useful to pick up the “centrist” mantle left by John McCain.    One of the aspects of this “electability” he likes to push is the notion that he can win Hispanic votes because his father was born in Mexico.

To that end, the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff published a puff piece on July 23, giving the Romney story in dramatic, heroic and frankly racist detail (e.g.,  the Mormon colony are said to have “some of the greenest and tidiest lawns in Mexico”).  But the article has clues in it which suggest that the Romney family may be closer to the drug problem than the article suggests.  Much closer.

The article notes that the Romneys were British converts to Mormonism who came to this country not long before the Mormon trek to Utah.  Miles Park Romney was born in Nauvoo, Illinois and in Utah he founded St. George, where he was Chief of Police, newspaper editor, and architect.  What they don’t mention is that St. George was the Utah “winter capital” and resort of Brigham Young, Mormonism’s leader, and that it was famous for its hardline against gentiles, and the Mountain Meadows massacre of a wagon train by Mormons happened not far away. Miles Romney, it can be inferred, was close to Brigham Young.  In the 1880’s the polygamist Miles Romney was arrested and had his property seized so he fled to Mexico. This is rather less than it appears in that the Romneys maintained their close relationships to the church hierarchy in Salt Lake City and their Mexican offspring continued to move back and forth to Utah.  They were not truly destitute as long as they could maintain these relationships.  True, Miles had four wives and 30 children.   

Polygamy today is a system of economic exploitation.  Multiple wives file for single mother welfare and the checks are all remitted to the patriarch, who lives in comfort and style while managing the household to minimize their cost to him. It was the same in olden times with labor rather than welfare, so it is believable that Gaskell Romney, Miles' son, was exploited for his labor, and that when he returned to America, his son George W. Romney, Mitt's father, grew up poor, as the article states. George  may well have been teased as “Mexican” although he had no Mexican blood. 

However, we should not exaggerate.  Gaskell Romney married a Pratt descendant, part of the Mormon oligarchy, and George W. Romney’s cousin Marion Romney eventually served as one of the three top officials of the Mormon church.  Romneys were already in leadership positions in Montana, Utah, and New Mexico when Gaskell returned to the United States.  George W. Romney, Mitt’s father and Gaskell's son, married the daughter of an important Michigan Republican, and his Mitt married the daughter of the Mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, one of the wealthiest towns in the United States at the time.  Thus, like the Habsburgs, the Romneys have tried to make advantageous marriages and any “rags to riches” story among them has a hollow, false ring, because the family has always been important in Mormondom, with access to Mormon capital.

The article dramatically talks of the Mexican Romney family’s struggles with the drug cartels, but some of the details don’t fit that picture.   In “God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre” Richard Grant mentions that one feared narco gang in Mexico is run by Mormons.  Keeping that in mind, the following detail leaps out from the article:

Meredith Romney was kidnapped but not killed as is customary in cartel violence.

The  poor struggling colony with just a few hundred souls got a gleaming new Mormon temple in 1999, suggesting a very large investment of money. It would have suggested a lot of money to the cartels as well, just 25 miles from Juarez, Mexico, which has the highest murder rate in the world,  yet the colony is still there and relatively unmolested.

They were rich enough that “the family” hired a security expert from Colombia to advise them. It is doubtful that a Colombian security expert would have any technologies their U.S. relatives could not have obtained. Colombia is a source of narcotics and therefore perhaps protection.  Furthermore, some of the original investors in Mitt Romney’s 1984 start up Bain Capital came from Colombia, which was awash with new cocaine wealth at the time.

So are the Romneys in Mexico “struggling” against the Mexican drug cartels, or are they competing with them?  Is the real source of Mitt Romney’s fortune narcotics?  How is it that a colony of rich Yankees near the one of the most violent cities in the world would have escaped destruction? Are the cartels out to destroy the Mexican Romneys as they claim, or are the Romneys helping run cartels?

What is clear is that Mormon mythology has a certain propaganda “pattern.”  Thus we are told that Miles Romney was an ideal polygamist (much like southerners are all descended from ideal slaveowners). We are told that prayer and the miracle of a broken aquifer saved their Mexican colony (although typically aquifers are diverted through human action, but water piracy has a less romantic ring to it).  We are told that “honesty” is one of the family virtues along with a square jaw and blue eyes (despite the fact that every criminal likes to point to his own integrity).  You could read similar things in any Mormon history, and thus longtime Mormon watchers have developed a talent for reading between the lines, and in the case of the Romneys, there is a shocking possibility between the lines.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Romney rejects European "socialism"; Germany reports highest employment ever

In his republican debates, Mitt Romney has been very clear that we don't want to be like nasty old failed Europe.

But today, Germany announced that its employment has reached a record 41 million, 50% of its population of 82 million. In contrast, United States employment remains around 142 million, 45% of our population of 313 million.  We would need 15 million more jobs to employ people at the level currently enjoyed in Canada and Germany.

In truth, both the president and Romney are wrong in their beliefs. The president thinks we need more education, more global trade, and more competitiveness.  Germany has an indifferent higher education sector, rampant protectionism, and yet they consistently run a big trade surplus.  What they do have is higher pay, shorter hours, affordable medical care, civil rights in employment,  and worker representation on every board of directors.

Romney would be far worse than the president, as would any Republican.  Romney says he will force China to revalue its currency, but President Bush treated China with kid gloves, claiming they were models of fair trade as late as 2008, and Romney's former management consulting employer, Bain & Co., was one of the biggest firms recommending offshoring jobs to China in the 1990s, second only to Accenture (the former Andersen Consulting).  Now Bain has done a study of 2,000 and clients and said, whoops, only 10% were successful in offshoring.  The U.S. lost jobs and didn't gain any profits from it (reference in the below article).  Romney has yet to get that memo and probably won't, even with focus groups telling him people don't want one-way trade with China.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Romney ties to Utah child torture camps tarnished last campaign

We know that Idaho Senator Larry Craig, arrested for gay solicitation at the Minneapolis airport,  was one of Romney's biggest supporters until the ambition mad Romney tossed him under the bus on national television.  But Romney may need to be in full-bore flight from other supporters, who make Obama's problems with William Ayres seem trivial by comparison.

Romney's 2008 campaign finance chair in Utah, the most important position on the Romney campaign one would think, given his need for support there, was heavily involved in a children's charity entangled in accusations of torture, kidnapping, and abuse, including allegations of sexual abuse not unlike Second Mile.  Since these allegations mostly occurred before Robert Lichfield was Romney's finance chairman, one must assume Romney approved of the torture and "tough love" reformation of teens.

The accusations were apparently not unfounded as Lichfield's business partner was convicted of false imprisonment and assault on a child.

Lichfield, like Jerry Sandusky calling his autobiography "Touched", had some curious naming conventions for his troubled teen charity, calling the camp's transport service the "Teen Escort Service."  The charity still exists in form, although it is not in business anymore.

What Mitt Romney tells us is that he is a brilliant manager.  Yet, here he hired someone as Utah finance chairman who was accused of multiple crimes against children.  When the business partner was convicted, Lichfield resigned from the Romney campaign, but the question is what sort of hiring manager Mitt Romney would be as president, and the indications are not encouraging.