Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Santorum wins in Louisiana, but it means nothing; spending nothing in Wisconsin

Santorum won big in Louisiana, but it didn't profit him at all.  He picked up only 5 delegates over Romney.
How is that possible?

First, only 20 delegates were at stake, less than half Louisiana's total allotment. The rest will be chosen by the party after a caucus April 28.  This procedure seems designed to thwart  the popular will of the primary.

Another thwarting was that in the primary, only candidates receiving 25% or more could win delegates, meaning Santorum and Romney were the only ones who qualified - and Romney barely did, making one wonder what electronic legerdemain managed the few extra votes Romney needed.   Santorum won 10 delegates; Romney 5, and the 5 that would have gone to Gingrich and Paul had their totals been counted, will go Uncommitted, which means that Romney has a chance at them, thus wiping out the effect of a huge double digit loss to Santorum.

It is not clear how the rest of the delegates will be chosen. Louisiana might choose them proportionally to the primary vote - but if the Uncommitteds are Romney voters, it will thwart the will of the voters of Louisiana.


Meanwhile, Romney is outspending Santorum by more than 50 to 1 in Wisconsin.  Santorum's campaign increasingly looks like a bit of theater.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Romney's Lies and the Naked Intimidation Style

The blogs are all aflame with Rachel Maddow's verbal assault on the Mitt Romney the liar.  Her strong words so jazzed Gingrich and Santorum that the latter made certain he will not be the nominee by saying it would be better to vote for Obama than Romney.   Romney is a fearful liar, as noted many times in this blog

However, Rachel Maddow missed the real story.

People with long memories remember that lying is characteristic of people who run for President. Ronald Reagan lied about having a $90 billion plan to cut government waste when he ran against Ford in 1976 and by 1984 he was confusing his real life with characters he played in movies.  George H.W. Bush was a liar, too, although he preferred underlings to do his lying for him.  Bill Clinton was notorious as a liar and only a primary loss prevented Hillary Clinton (I babysat for Mexican migrant farm workers!) from achieving the same reputation.  George W. Bush was such a liar that David Corn wrote a whole thick book about his lies.   Barack Obama told many lies, symbolized by his embrace of deregulating economists, predatory anti-American free trade, and the PATRIOT act.  Guantanamo Bay, his first promise as president, remains open.  Romney has boosted his own campaign by noting Santorum votes that don't match Santorum's political views.

For all that, Romney remains a worse liar because his lies are of a different nature.  Romney lies to himself, so that he is always the hero or white knight in the story, regardless of what really happened. Second, his reflexive attitude to any challenge is to lie, even when it shows him in a worse light. Third, a lot of times, he lies because he knows he can: that he has power to lie and get away with it, and those challenging him do not. I call this the intimidation style, and it is this combination of somebody who rationalizes any behavior to himself as good; and someone who feels no need to win the approval of others, which marks Romney out as particularly dangerous.  Remember, as president he would have the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world at his disposal, and unlike any other president in the nuclear age,  Romney could easily justify using them over quite trivial provocations.

The intimidation style is something most white Americans have little experience with.  Politicians, even the worst, pretend to desire their good opinion. For most, their first exposure was during George W. Bush's first term, when there was a kind of hysteria about patriotism and the war. The government's failure to even bother fabricating evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction after the invasion was the first time most people realized that the government actually enhanced its power by showing contempt for the feelings of the public on this issue.  Comedian Lewis Black said it best, "Why did they stop lying? I could handle lying." Indeed, we could. It was not the lying that was so terrible, but the lack of remorse when caught. It highlighted how much power the president had, and how little ordinary Americans did.

Now we have a republican candidate who is wildly unpopular and knows it, and yet is almost certain to win the primaries anyway.   He smirks when he denies something he knows they already have on tape. He laughs when he talks about knowing sports team owners when people question his sports loyalties to try to humanize him.   It's all about keeping his distance from us, which enhances his image of power. 
Anyone who challenges Mitt Romney will be vindictively pursued well beyond the bounds of reason.
He holds grudges forever and he intends to indulge them if elected.  Mitt Romney is not about creating a false persona.  He is about making us dislike him and ruling us with an iron fist anyway through the levers of power that we have lost control of.

To this end, it is well to look at the progress of the elections. In 2000 and 2004 George Bush usurped an office he was not elected to by various electoral schemes such as disenfranchising black voters, taking and throwing away voter registrations, making poor people wait 7 hours to vote, and so on.  But behind it all were three private companies that were counting all the votes in his election: Sequoia Systems of Florida, run by republican ex-Unisys execs; Diebold Systems of Ohio, whose CEO was Bush's campaign chair in Ohio; and Election Systems and Software, previously owned by Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and part owned by all manner of Bush-connected families.  Nobody could be sure that they were counting the votes correctly.  When Sequoia was bought by a Venezuelan group, Republicans screamed bloody murder because some of those investors were connected to Hugo Chavez.  Since that time the Republicans have been trying over and over to buy Sequoia back.  Diebold was so damaged by publicity it changed its name to Premier Election Systems.

In 2012 the Republicans have upped their game. They have passed laws in dozens of states with onerous photo ID requirements, typically based on false claims of voter fraud - indeed almost no cases of forged identity voter fraud have been happening.  They have increased their assault on voting records, purging people who just moved, and targeting minority neighborhoods as well as left action groups like ACORN that registered so many people in 2008.  In every state with a caucus, Romney supporters have engaged in some procedural trickery.  It's less about actually affecting the vote, almost, then about establishing a record of intimidation, of making people believe Romney will win no matter what.

In the last few years, in preparation for Mitt Romney's run, parts of all three major electronic voting companies changed hands.  Election Systems and Software sold part of their operation to a Barcelona company partly owned by the Spanish government. That is the sort of thing to make liberals purr...except that Spain now has a conservative government, and this Barcelona Company is actually partnered with a venture capital firm from Boston (Romney's venture capital stomping grounds) called Nauta Capital, with one Dominic Endicott sitting on the board.  Furthermore, they kept one of the Urosevich brothers as a sales rep. The ownership changed, but the people didn't.  ES&S further invited Chuck Hagel back as a consultant in 2009 after he retired from the Senate.

Premier and Sequoia might have been caught up in the monopoly, but thanks to antitrust pressure from the Obama administration, they  have been purchased by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada.  Two Canadian programmers run Dominion. They met as employees of Israeli owned Xydex in Palo Alto, a chemical firm. Their CFO used to run GE Capital's office in Toronto and has a small company CastleHill which gives start up money to Ontario technology start ups.  They use CT Corporation (of the Payless Shoe empire) as registered agent.   Before these big purchases, Dominion was a small-time affair running its US office out of Jamestown, New York.  Obviously, the money to buy Sequoia and Premier did not come from any of the sources publicly associated with small-time Dominion.   Dominion has moved to Colorado, presumably to be closer to its backers.  And maybe that's why Mitt Romney can't stop himself from insulting people with lies.  The scariest possibility of all is not his attempts of puffing himself up.  It is that he may really have some reason to believe himself untouchable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gaming the Illinois vote: and apparently Santorum is also a sock puppet

I  saw the Romney machine up close and personal when the circus came to Illinois where I live.
Two weeks ago polls showed Santorum pulling even with Romney, but last week the polls suddenly seemed to reverse to show a large Romney edge.

What happened?

Romney's PAC broadcast anti-Santorum ads, but there were no pro-Gingrich or pro-Santorum or pro-Paul ads, nor any anti-Romney ads on television.  The Romney ads weren't persuasive, but the entire absence of any countering message made it clear to the public that the others can not or will not challenge Romney in any meaningful way.

Election day came, and it turns out Santorum does not even have a slate of delegates in many districts, so voters could choose him as a preference and still be forced to choose between Romney, Paul, and Gingrich delegate slates. Since Ron Paul's campaign already made a deal with Romney to sabotage the Missouri caucus, and since libertarians are more likely to side with a non-evangelical, that means that any vote for the Paul slate was a vote for Romney.   The ballots had a write-in space for president, but not for delegate, so there was no chance to write-in Santorum delegate choices.  Moreover, Santorum was listed the lowest of any candidate for president, even below those who had withdrawn.

In short, both Gingrich and Santorum are sock puppets. They have both ended their negative attacks on Romney,  probably under threat; and they are both probably being paid to stay in the race to prevent an anti-Romney coalition from forming.   The 1% really believe they can put over an unpopular candidate simply by manipulating the election process.  The question is, how does that play out in the general election? Can they find a popular semi-progressive to run a third party campaign to take votes from Obama?  Or are saturation advertising and election manipulation the only tricks in their book?

Romney's influence in Illinois did not mean that he didn't take time out to mess with the vote.  In some less affluent suburban areas of Santorum strength like Downers Grove, it was reported that some ballots were too wide by 1/16th of an inch to fit in the voting machines and could not be counted. This was blamed on a printer, but the reaction of the poll workers was to take the ballots, put them in the box with the ballots that were counted by the machine and assure the voters they would be "hand counted."  Apparently, problems with the voting were found in 26 counties, including a late reshuffling of polling places in DuPage County, the biggest Republican county in Illinois, which is less affluent than Lake, McHenry, and northern Cook counties, and that will reduce turnout.  What's more, the main commuting artery in the south suburbs, a place of evangelical strength, was shut down by a hydrochloric acid truck going sideways across the freeway.  The truck was not destroyed, but a new truck had to be brought to transfer the hydrochloric acid from one truck to the other. The highway was shut down at noon and will be shut down until after the polls close, so any south suburban voters who did not vote in the morning will be unable to vote in the evening.  In the end turnout was almost exactly the same as 2008.  Romney did increase his share by 170,000 votes from his 2008 showing, but that was not a lot considering the amounts spent.  Romney was held to under 50% of the total vote, but he is likely to pick up more than half the delegates. It is difficult to see how they can stop him from a first ballot victory if they don't have full delegate slates in every primary.

On the television news at 5 p.m., even though the polls were still open,  the anchors were openly suggesting that Romney would win decisively and interviewed him saying, "hopefully this will put Santorum in the rear view mirror."  Romney's arrogance and anger were palpable, but that makes sense.  Since Santorum is only still in the race as a sock puppet, it is exceptionally humiliating for Romney that Santorum still has electoral strength.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Romney forces try to steal Missouri; Marriott gives up Porn for Mitt

In Missouri, the Romney campaign used more hardball tactics, just it had use them to fix caucuses in Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and anywhere else rules made it possible to thwart the popular will.  At the state's largest caucus, the Romney forces agreed to support the Ron Paul slate in order to contest a likely win for Santorum.  The meeting degenerated into a fracas and police were called. A couple Ron Paul supporters were arrested.  The fact that the leading Republican candidate for president has repeatedly tried to fix the election should make his campaign vulnerable to a RICO prosecution.  However, in this case they used the Ron Paul campaign as their sock puppets.


Meanwhile, Romney won easily in Puerto Rico, which will not vote in the general election.  His vote total will likely surpass 100,000.  If so,  Romney is the front runner with just 3.5 million votes to his credit; v. 5.1 million for his remaining three challengers, but giving him more than half the delegates committed thus far, regardless of how they are counted.


Romney claims to have spent little of his own money on his campaign, compared to the $42 million he spent in a losing effort in 2008 (or "lent" to his campaign), but it is likely that much of the money has come from him in a roundabout way.   Certainly this campaign has been more expensive, and may have cost $150 million to date.

 Not all Romney's contributions are actually measured though.  Apparently, the Marriott Corporation has foregone as much as $100 million in revenue by agreeing to stop offering paid adult movies.  Romney served on the Marriott board and is named after the entrepreneur who created Marriott.  Conservatives called him a purveyor of pornography because of the money Marriott earned from this source.  However, this violates their fiduciary duty to stockholders to maximize profit.  Will someone challenge them on this issue?

 What this really shows of course is that American business cares nothing for the shareholders and will spend an unlimited amount to put their candidate in office because they know the public would like to reform the governance of U.S. corporations, which they would not like.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Romney failure in Mississippi, Alabama actually a huge win

Mitt Romney continued to punk the electorate with comments reinforcing the notion that his circle is only the very rich. The strategy seems to work. He didn't win Alabama and Mississippi, losing to both Santorum and Gingrich.  However, his vote in Alabama was almost double the numbers he had in 2008 in a slightly increased turnout and his Mississippi numbers were enormously improved in a primary that had double the participation of 2008. 

In a word, money tells, and Republicans are starting to think that Romney's opponents cannot seem to pull off the kind of financial muscle they will need to face Obama.

The question then becomes what will Gingrich be allowed to do.  He has successfully prevented Santorum from being the default anti-Romney candidate, but his candidacy is looking more and more like a paid component of the Romney campaign, despite the waspish criticisms he makes of the candidate.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Romney and Gingrich

Mitt Romney won the biggest states on Super Tuesday after Santorum led all night when a late flurry of returns suddenly handed him the victory.  One wonders if the programmers had to burn the late night oil at Dominion Voting to bring that about.  Cynically, Newt Gingrich vows to stay in the race now that he has won Georgia.

Really? Santorum proved he could win in the South in Tennessee and Oklahoma, and Gingrich has not won any support outside the South.  It's looking more and more like Gingrich is staying in the race specifically to keep Santorum from uniting the conservatives.    Remember, Adelson gave Gingrich $11 million through January, but Romney is Adelson's second choice, so any money that he is now giving to Gingrich is likely intended to help Romney.  We will have to see if this is confirmed by noting whether Gingrich continues to air anti-Romney ads, or whether these get cut off.  Adelson gave Gingrich $1 million February 28, and Gingrich planned to make pro-Gingrich ads.  It would be interesting to note if any anti-Romney ads were run by Gingrich, or if any more are planned.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Comeback Kid says Romney's Media Empire

It seems that every time there is an election, Mitt Romney makes a comeback. How can this be? He runs ads, but none of them are very convincing, and new dirt emerges on him almost every day.

It turns out there is another reason why Mitt Romney is able to "come back" time after time.
It is by now well known that Bain Capital, the company he headed for many years, owns Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest radio chain with 850 stations and purveyor of talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and (Mormon) Glenn Beck (see link).


Less well known is that until last August, when it went private, Bain Capital also owned  - Atlanta's Cumulus Media, the nation's second biggest radio empire, after Clear Channel, with 570 stations.

So, can one turn to the Newspapers in order to avoid Mitt mania?

Well, the largest US chain is Gannett.  The largest shareholder in Gannett is Integrity Asset Management, a hedge fund.  Integrity is owned by Munder Capital Management of Birmingham, Michigan and Boston.  Lee Munder was Romney's Florida campaign co-finance chair




Romney with Munder


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Self-righteousness and the Lie Reflex

On Jan. 28, I posted an old story about Damon Corp.  Bain Capital took a position in Damon Corp. and put Mitt Romney on the board of directors. They liquidated their position at a $12 million profit in 1993.  Damon Corp. was found to have submitted millions of fraudulent Medicare claims while Romney was a director and was assessed the largest fine in Massachusetts history.   The story can be found here.


Now I want to direct your attention to the end of the article, because this became an issue when Romney ran for Governor of Massachusetts.

"According to The Deseret News, when his Democratic opponent for the governorship, Shannon O’Brien, accused him of lax oversight at Damon and failing to report the fraud, Romney defended that he had helped uncover the illegal activity at Damon, asking the board’s lawyers to investigate. As a result, he said, the board took corrective action before selling the company in 1993 to Corning Inc.

"However, according to the court records, the Damon scheme continued throughout Bain’s ownership, and prosecutors credited Corning, not Romney, with taking corrective action.

"According to a Boston Globe report, then Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney, while insisting that he and fellow board members at Damon Corp. uncovered what was later determined to be a criminal scheme to defraud Medicare in 1993, acknowledged that the directors did not turn over their findings to federal authorities then investigating the medical testing industry.

"While the medical testing company went bankrupt, with thousands losing their jobs, Bain Capital captured a $12 million profit— over $450,000 of that money going to Romney personally."

In other words, Romney, when challenged made another lie: that he had uncovered the fraud.
This was a special kind of lie in that it was so obvious.  If Corning knew about the fraud, Bain could not have pocketed $12 million from its sale. If Romney knew and didn't tell Corning, he was still guilty of fraud in the sale. If he was part of the fraud, then he is a criminal. The best thing for Romney to do was to plead ignorance of the fraud.

Romney, however, could not do that. Indeed, he is so addicted seeing himself as the self-righteous "savior" that he invented a self-defeating lie that anybody could see through to justify his actions.  This tends to indicate he is lying to himself, not just to others.  That's a dangerous tendency.  He believes he is good no matter what he does, and to put that kind of mentality in charge of nuclear weapons is virtually a guarantee that they will be used somewhere.