Friday, September 28, 2012

Romney 1985 video: "Harvest" companies for profit

Those who still believe Romney believes he was doing good for companies at Bain Capital should take a look this video where he nakedly explains that his business investments are to harvest profit and value (aka loot)  from target companies.

Romney knew what he was doing, and understood from the very beginning that he was a predator not a manager, a consumer of wealth, abd not a producer of wealth except for his investors.  Bain Capital also turned companies over much faster than the 5-8 years he foresees, but he probably couldn't sell a shorter time frame to investors in 1985.  Remember that Bain's consulting model was that they only worked for one company in an industry.  In order to not hurt that business, they would need to invest in the competitors of their clients, which would give them an ultimate customer for the companies they were flipping, that is to say, their consulting clients.  That's why Bain had a "proprietary" edge in identifying targets.

Romney Apologists turn purple explaining "Transaction Man" but all I am hearing is "Fishwife"

Given the cascade of Romney statements shocking the public with Mitt's obvious belief that the public are not worthy of him, what can the Romney campaign do to shore up his image?  The answer came in a lengthy, and ridiculous apology for Romney in the "New Yorker" magazine (Oct. 1 issue) by Nicholas Lemann, entitled "Transaction Man."

One of the longest articles ever published on Romney, occupying a full thirteen pages of the magazine, the story is also very revealing for the biased ways Lemann has tried to explain and justify Romney, the missed linkages in his story that practically leap off the page to the non-Mormon reader, and ultimately for his failure to understand what he is reporting while unintentionally revealing it.  In the end, Lemann is negative, blaming Romney for not talking about himself and not trying harder to sell the public his worldview. In fact, the obvious conclusion for the reader is that Romney is more self-aware than that, and knows his election is not in the best interests of most voters.

Never has there been so tortured an attempt to put over a character on the public.  Lemann is dedicated to explaining Romney's campaign by explaining his small worlds of elite Mormonism and management consulting, reporting without comment obvious lies from the lips of the candidate himself, and then, seeing the candidate is not going over, subtly twists the story to draw the wrong conclusions. "He combines an utter confidence in his ability to fix anything," says Lemann, "with an utter lack of confidence in his ability to explain to people what he intends to do, which is why he appears so stiff and unspecific in talking about his prospective presidency."

This is a non-starter.  Lemann has already had people testify to Mitt as the man who could "sell used bubblegum" and pointed out that Mormons are trained in selling their religion from a very young age, given rather than earning responsibilities from the age of three. Indeed, one might take a Freudian view of Mitt's business career, of trying to punish companies with debt to motivate them the same way he was saddled with non-working wife, children, church, and the expectations of an entire religious community of millions before he was even out of college.  If Mormons and private-equity types are subject to "hostility" from the public, whose fault is it?  Mormons who are constantly proselytizing and even removing negative references to Mormons from the public libraries? Business school professors who cannot sell the public on the primacy of the deal?  What are these people if not salesmen?  What are politicians if not communicators?  If Mitt Romney can't make his case, isn't he just bad at his job? Romney doesn't think so: he blames the public, citing his dad's example. Lemann seems to think Romney could put the message over better.

In the end, Lemann falls back on seeing the "transaction" economy as inevitable "It's not clear," he says, "what will reverse the rise in economic inequality and uncertainty."  Yeah, it is clear, Mr. Lemann.  Re-establishing corporate governance to prevent Romney style raiding would help.  The corporation did not evolve to advance market economics but to fix the negatives caused by markets.  The first corporations were medieval workers' guilds who combined to fix prices, restrain competition, and protect and pass on trade secrets. They also handed employment from father to sons and strictly regulated their own numbers.   The modern corporation created by government's legal fictions  is not so terribly different.  It lets the investor risk no more than his investment, spreading the risk for failed businesses to the public instead. It creates permanence which cannot be achieved with partnerships, enabling technology to be retained and advanced, protected by patents and contracts, while letting costs like pollution and dangerous products be picked up by society.  It removes the uncertainty of the transactional labor market, enabling people to learn and improve skills that were unachievable when they had to sell their labor by the road every morning, days which have returned for much of the public under the dictatorship of the Deal and effectively cap future productivity growth in the U.S.

Bain Capital and the business school leaders of the 1970s were trying to reverse all those anti-market benefits of the corporation. They said it was to bring the "virtues" of competition to the firm by creating competition within the firm per Jack Welch (always "won" by the CEO and an inefficient use of labor),  by stressing the firm with debt per Michael Jensen (the primary virtue being that loans are not taxed as income and interest payments are charged against other income before tax, making tax avoidance rather than discipline a primary aim), and by maximizing cash flow per Bruce Henderson (depleting the firm's credit to pay off the raiders).

In truth, all these theories were driven by an arbitrage opportunity: there was a mismatch between the billions dollars of assets and billions of dollars in annual sales controlled by organization man within the corporation after years of continuous operational improvement and success, and the corporation's capitalization on the stock market, which typically was a few billion (representing discounted expected future profits net of expense) among diverse owners.  For a small investment of a few million, or better yet a borrowed investment of a few million, someone could buy enough shares to control an organization with billions of assets and billions in income, and all that had to happen to make a profit was to sell the assets or stop the expenditures, as long as you could skim the money before the assets dropped in value or the future profits were affected.  The result was organized looting of corporations, defrauding of the lending banks, and all the justifications that could be offered by  Romney could not be other than snake oil.  CEO's don't make 500 times what the worker does because they deserve it, as Romney partner Conard says, but because corporate governance has broken down in a welter of secrecy, bad laws, and the rise of corruption in business made possible by Romney and his friends. CEO pay=theft, and it is even more true of what Bain Capital was doing when Romney ran it.

It is interesting that Lemann mentioned Bain's Vanderbilt roots, since Bruce Henderson taught there after leaving Boston Consulting Group. One of the people Henderson taught was me.  In his "Introduction to Strategy" class, he took us through all those brilliant BCG management innovations week by week, and explained the theory and also why the theory wasn't really true. By the mid-eighties Henderson was highly aware of the double edged nature of management consulting in the realm of "fixing" things.  Is it really believable that Mitt Romney is not aware of it more than ten years after he left Bain in charge of fellow Mormon Bob Gay?

Looting corporations and defrauding banks for greedy CEOs and for "transaction" shops like Bain Capital turned the theory of the firm inside out, destroying corporate organizations and creating this "global capitalism" force Lemann claims is Unstoppable. If it were unstoppable, Mormon business leaders would not have spent so much time, money, and effort trying to put it over on the public, still less showing their hand by making Romney president.

Lemann's description of Romney's privileged milieu does make it clear that Romney was never outside the bubble of Mormon privilege.  A business school professor visited Mitt's family once a month to make sure they were okay under the Mormon system of letting people know the church is watching them, and Mitt visited the future Harvard Business School dean's family once a month, and furthermore Lemann viewed this as "charity" and or even as getting first hand knowledge of all life's troubles in a way inaccessible to liberals! The fact that the stories about Mitt that Lemann gained from this circle were so odd should have made Lemann question them.  Christensen told him, with tears in his eyes, about how Mitt had passed by his house, saw him working through the window, went home and duct-taped brushes and a pole together and came back to present him with a helpful homemade tool.  Lemann didn't point out what an invasion of privacy it was that Romney was spying on Christensen through his window, "peeping tom" style.  Lemann didn't point out that Christensen didn't ask for Romney's help.  He didn't point out the obvious fact that Romney's tool wouldn't have worked (who over 50 has never tried to duct tape brushes together? What sort of "specialized expertise" is this?).  He didn't point out that even if it had worked, it could not give material help. He certainly didn't point out that this was a poor use of time for a man with a job and big family.  In short, this story meant to exemplify Mitt's helpfulness was fake and creepy at the same time, and revealing in that the example was so trivial that it reinforces the fact that Mitt's charity never amounted to anything much but supporting the Mormons with time and money....but with the expectation of a reward for it.  Indeed, Lemann's wonderment that Mormons go into business is more than explained by the presence of Mormons in business.  Romney left a Mormon in charge of Bain Capital.  The Marriotts left Mormons in charge of their hotel chain. Mormons take care of each other, and there is no doubt Mormons would do well from a Romney presidency.    What is not clear how is many jobs would go to non-Mormons in a Romney presidency.

In putting his case, Lemann has been forced to make damning admissions about Mitt. One is that "most people" have not benefited from the financialization of the economy, although Lemann has carefully avoided saying that on balance it has been negative by saying "a study" found trivial impact.  Whose study and who paid for it? I have no such scruples, being an MBA myself.  It has been a terrible thing for U.S. economy. Second, Lemann admits that the Salt Lake games were not in "quite so dire" a condition when took them over as Romney says, and that Romney sought the job. Indeed, Lemann notes that when Romney bought a car supplier, Romney met with their biggest customer before making his investment.  Surely, Romney would have been just as careful not to compete to handle the Olympics unless he knew they were going to succeed.  There were less than three years left before the Opening Ceremony, so it was already too late to move them anywhere else. Lemann also neglects to mention that it was Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, Romney's transition leader, who was responsible for getting his fellow governor and old friend Mitt Romney that job, and that Romney has apparently supported Leavitt in return.

Leavitt's description of the great things he expects Romney to do to "fix" America are also ridiculous, trivial, and organized around communication. "Job one, it's a disheartened country," says Leavitt. "Give people confidence again. Two, bring things into balance.  Give the speech about sizing our response to our resources. Three, build a team that can execute the plan."  Romney has been a national figure since 2002.  Why does he need to be president to give the nation a pep talk? How can he "build a team" when his campaign has been so lackluster? And what exactly is meant by "sizing our response to our resources"? Isn't this really just a threat to do even less than Obama, except in the military arena, where Romney wants to do more?

Anderson's claim that his first knowledge of Romney was a stranger at Stanford running up to tell him "Mitt Romney is the finest person I have ever known!" is similarly lacking verisimilitude, as was Christensen's claim "He had a beautiful wife. His father was famous, he was handsome. Everybody wanted to be what Mitt was," as though teenage Mormons in the sixties would not have ridiculed this very portrait. Lemann admits this hagiography is all the product of Mormon society, but he doesn't go into the ritualized groupthink, very hierarchical nature of it.  When you are in a company, you always hear the CEO lauded as a "genius" and a "self-made" man. You are expected to parrot the company line, true or not. The reason is that people who don't say such things tend to disappear.  The fact that retired business professors who have no obvious claim on Romney's wealth say similar things about him tells you that the Mormon church is a hierarchy that can punish any apostates, even wealthy retirees, as effectively as a CEO can fire a worker.  That the unpaid Mormon hierarchy has such carrots and sticks suggests they make the whole church dependent on validating  leaders like Romney in a way that would be unthinkable to most Americans.   Truly, Romney has not risked much to gain much. He has not risked anything but exposure, exposure he dreaded and thought he could minimize in this campaign.

And that highlights the biggest weakness of Lemann's article, his failure to critically interview the candidate himself.  Lemann's interview with Romney is buried in part 3 of the article, and he mostly reports Romney's responses without comment, other than to imply Romney is more persuasive in person than in front of crowds or on television.  One problem, he suggests, is his "voice," and the other his unwillingness to talk about himself.  I would argue, on the contrary, it's what he says that is Romney's problem.  When Lemann asks what Obama did wrong, Romney gives a ridiculous answer.  He says Obama "did not make the economy his first priority." Obama's first achievement was the stimulus, and it came with a public warning from Congress that nothing more would be forthcoming.  Nonetheless, he got financial reform passed, and then health care reform.  In what sense is financial regulation not part of dealing with the economy? In what sense is dealing with health care not dealing with the economy?  If Obama didn't understand the gravity of the economic situation as well as many on the left or libertarians, would Mitt Romney have understood it any better? On the contrary, we know from his taped remarks to donors that he expects the economy to improve without his doing anything as president, just from the fact of his election.  In 2009, Romney would have done far less than Obama, and that in the wrong direction of deregulation.  It is simply not believable he would have done more or better.

Romney says that GM made a mistake in offering too much to union workers. He said a consultant estimated that it cost GM "two thousand dollars" more to build a car than its foreign competitors.   As a former GM employee in the mid eighties, I can relate that the manufacturing advantage was estimated at $1,500 per car and that labor cost was far from being the major part of it.  That disadvantage was not considered as important to GM's problems as its dealer network, whose inefficiency and need for service work to be profitable undermined GM's efforts to promote quality; the inefficient and far flung supply chain; and the inherently misleading issue of transfer prices in a vertically integrated company.  It is naked class warfare for Romney to blame unions for GM's trouble.  There is no GM retiree in history who lives as well as Romney's underemployed sons.  Romney's arrogance is still more evident when he blames immigrants for being unskilled and talks about offering every PhD in the world a green card.

What it shows is that it is Romney, not Obama, who doesn't understand how economies work.  Neither China nor India has ever been able to employ all its PhD's although we are told Education is the whole answer to making America work again.  All Romney really desires from education reform is more tax money diverted to private pockets.  He says we mustn't follow Europe's example, but isn't universal testing following Europe's example? Isn't the large scale social engineering of  "school choice" really mass conservative social engineering that so far has never improved conditions in any material way?  Oh yes, test scores have gone up, along with an explosion of cheating scandals.  But American performance compared to other countries has not improved.  We are falling further behind.

Both Romney and Obama give lip service to the crazy idea that American industry has 3 million job openings that cannot be filled for lack of skills; yet most job seekers find that most of the advertised positions in the listings aren't real, that they were placed by recruiters or resume writing companies to generate business.  Employers have been claiming since time began they cannot find good workers, but never hire any even when they are given a budget for it. Corporate training programs have never been so widespread, but what they are teaching is usually more propaganda than skill.

I am once again reminded of GM days I mentioned in my last blog entry, when we all had to take a class called "The Business of GM."  In that class, they explained the presence of imports in the U.S. auto industry as something that happened when GM had retooled to help the nation fight World War II.  I guess those German, Japanese, and Italian automakers had nothing better to do while GM was making tanks and airplanes than sneak cars into the U.S.!  Such is the integrity of corporate propaganda and training. In short, that whole "skilled labor shortage" is and has always been a scam.  There is no field in which the United States has any real labor shortage today, unless supply is being artificially held down such as in medicine.

What skills did Mitt Romney bring to the table as a JD-MBA, other than the miraculous ability to duct tape brushes together?  Isn't the common thread to missionary work, business, and politics the art of persuasion? And if he needs Nicholas Lemann to do his persuading for him, hasn't he already lost?  Nicholas Lemann calls Romney the "Transaction Man," the fast-moving, fast-talking deal maker.  Romney doesn't seem so fast moving to me.  All I hear from Romney is the cry of the fishwife in the market (I mean fishperson of course), complaining so loud that you might forget she is selling something that has been around too long and smells bad.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Romney Campaign develops money trouble

That may be the headline you least expected from the Moneybags campaign, but it appears to be true.

Part of it may be a whingeing effort to appear the underdog or victim.  In August, before the convention, Romney had to borrow money from his general election campaign fund for his primary campaign fund.

Note several things. The first is that the explanation is nonsensical.  There was no "tilted playing field." Obama had the same rules, and in fact because his convention was later, had to use primary funds longer than Romney.  It's true that Obama had no effective primary opposition, but it was also correspondingly much harder for him to raise primary funds than it was for Romney.  Romney has blanketed the airwaves with negative ads, and he certainly didn't wait for Obama's initiative in that regard.

The corporate leaders of the Romney campaign don't expect anything they say to be scrutinized or challenged. I am reminded of when I started work for General Motors back in the 1980s.  We all had to take a class called "The Business of General Motors."  It started with a history of the company, in which they made a startling claim: that imports first got a foothold in the American auto market when General Motors had to retool to fight World War II.

I said I guess those German, Japanese, and Italian car companies had nothing better to do while GM was fighting the good fight.  The teachers were bewildered that anyone would bother pointing out the absurdity, and why it mattered.  Romney's people have the same blankness about them.  It matters because lying always matters, because the legality of the funding move is open to question, and because they mismanaged their money, the candidate's sole claim to special competence; and because they are the party of the rich, who should never have money problems by definition. 

Here's the next issue: $11 million of the loan has still not been paid back.  Remember, in American politics the politicians demand money, and the rich fork it over.  Romney was unable to make that happen in the weeks since the convention, which means the rich are deciding how much Romney can spend instead of vice versa.  Rove would have been all over the captains of industry, threatening them into submission.  Today, the rich expect Romney to do the submitting, a curious reversal considering he is one of their own.

Third, having been given the freedom to be dilatory, the rich are slow to fulfill their pledges.  Anybody who has done business with the Fortune 500 knows this.  They will start to think about paying your invoice after 90 days, and send the money to a lockbox in Bora Bora for the check to be cut in the hopes that another three months will go by before the cash leaves the account.  They are trained to do this in business school, and the entire lockbox industry is organized around the idea of fast cash in, slow cash out, and skim interest off the float.  Probably a million jobs have been lost to small business over the years, waiting on checks from big business who can't be threatened with credit downgrades.  When Romney hitched his campaign to big business, he had to expect delays.  After all, at the Salt Lake Olympics, the reason for the "shortfall" Romney said he found when he arrived was due to companies being dilatory in paying their pledges.  Why then has corporate sluggishness surprised his campaign?  Maybe because he didn't "fix" Salt Lake's finances after all, but the companies paid up because they realized the Olympics would soon be over.  They have no need to rush contributions to someone like Romney who can cover his campaign from his own pocket plus Bain Capital if he needs to and doesn't need to be bribed to take their side. In 2008, Romney pumped over $40 million of his own money into his campaign. This year he has used other people's money, and the lack of personal contribution is starting to look like lack of confidence.  It may not be: as noted previously on this blog, Bain Capital has put enormous resources into buying media companies.  But it's enough to make business nervous.

That did not stop Romney from paying out big bonuses to campaign staff, in a way redolent of Hillary Clinton's showering money on undeserving staff in 2008.

It didn't help her avoid infighting, and it won't help him either.  Remember, Romney won fewer votes in the Republican primaries than John McCain did in 2008, despite a vastly larger spending program.  So his largesse with an undeserving staff smells of aristocracy.

But there are other stories too, of Romney pulling back ad spending in swing states.,0,3631939.story

Granted, their ads have not worked so far, despite being stuffed with lies, so some retooling is in order.  After a certain level of ad buys by Romney and his PACS, any further spending simply goes to increase the price of time (still worth it to Romney when his pals own the stations and Obama has to pay the same prices).  Perhaps the truth is television advertising has become so saturated it no longer has much  value to the campaigns.

Nonetheless, this blog has speculated before that Romney may be exaggerating his campaign fundraising, and this may be an indicator that this was true.  Maybe even the rich don't really see a future for Romney as president.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney and the Atlas Shrugged Conspiracy

In all the hoo-hah about Mitt Romney dissing the 47% of Americans who don't owe any federal income tax, the more terrifying and damning part of his speech almost slipped by unnoticed.  The New York Times barely mentioned it in this excellent piece accusing Romney of being a cynical class warrior.

Of course, since Romney was speaking to the rich, that is his best defense, to say he was just playing to his rich audience, and that he is not seriously contemptuous of real America, even though he seems to be whenever he is in the presence of ordinary Americans.

But this line really stood out.

"If he is elected, he said, capital will come back and 'we’ll see, without actually doing anything, we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.'"

It stands out because 1) he expects the economy to grow without intervention, which means he doesn't really believe Obama has been the disaster president his campaign has been framing and therefore there is no reason at all to choose him over Obama on economic grounds; 2) he believes business is deliberately withholding capital and jobs from the economy in order to bring about a conservative government.  Both views are dangerous.

In the first case, it means that he really wouldn't waste any time on the economy, his central campaign platform, and would be free to follow his interests in starting new wars with Iran, and conflicts with Russia and China; and he can pursue the culture war on behalf of his church. It implies that whatever "plans" he has released about the economy are not important to him, nor would he fight a Republican Congress on behalf of the people.  He doesn't believe the American system is broken and with further tax cuts, more debt, and more centralization, the elimination of the middle class would accelerate.

The second opinion should receive a lot more attention than it has been getting.  Paul Ryan said "we are living in an Ayn Rand novel," and this was the first indication that Romney believes it too.  In the novel "Atlas Shrugged," the wealthy entrepreneurs, angry at regulation and taxes, go on strike to withhold their talents from the public.  Society deteriorates and the mastermind of the plan, John Galt, comes forward to tell the public that the entrepreneurs don't need them, but they need the entrepreneurs and they will only get the entrepreneurs to return and save them if they give up their dreams of an equal or just society.

Romney and Ryan are admitting it right to our faces: business is withholding capital and jobs from the economy until they get conservative government, that is to say, more tax breaks and an end to any threat that their taxes will be raised in the future.  If it's truly being done in a systematic way, then corporations should be taxed at 90% with capital controls to take away their ability to ever run the economy into the ground as a political manipulation again.  The rich in this scenario are enemies of the state and traitors to government of the people.  And if it's not true, if it's just wishful thinking on the part of Romney and Ryan, then they are dangerous magical thinkers who believe that if they wish something to be true, it is true.  If that is the case, they should not be given control over nuclear weapons, for they are dangerous men.

In the meantime, what will our history books say thirty years from now? Will they say Criminal Rich hijacked the nation from 2000 on, and were eventually exposed and brought to justice?  Or will we have stopped teaching history in thirty years because "the slaves don't need to know such things"?

Romney has a Dependency Crisis; the U.S. does not

Mitt Romney, partying with a crowd of decadent "private equity" rich in Boca Raton, made the novel excuse for his difficulty carrying the election on the fact that "47%" of Americans get some form of government assistance.  Or maybe he was referring to the people who don't pay federal income tax.  Neither oft-quoted 47% number was intelligently derived or factual.  Romney implied that dependency on government would make them vote for Obama and that's why the best he could hope for in an election is 53%.

In fact, Republicans are the clear winners in government largesse, with 40 million seniors receiving social security and Medicare.  It is highly likely more Republicans than Democrats are in that 47% figure.

The political damage will be small, because elderly who live on Social Security and Medicare and also account for the vast majority of Medicaid spending, don't view themselves as government dependents.  How they manage this crazy belief, when it is their entitlements the Republicans have wanted to get rid of for seventy years is a topic for a good psychiatric study, but it appears to be true.  Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan wants to eliminate Medicare and replace it with a voucher system, and Romney has promised to freeze Medicaid payments to the states, which would force them to curtail nursing home services to the elderly.  Yet none of that has alienated the elderly.  It is unlikely they will manage to figure out that Romney was talking about them when he mentioned this dependency crisis.  When they do figure it out, it will be when they have been left abandoned and unassisted in a rat-infested alley to die, and then it will be too late.

To the extent the U.S. is non-taxpaying freeloading nation, it is largely due to Republican policies.  While Reagan tripled the debt, he had time to improve social security benefits and index them to inflation.  While George W. Bush doubled the debt again, he had time to add an entitlement for prescription drugs for the elderly.  However, he let drug companies raise prices at will, so within three years they were back to getting full dollar from the elderly plus the government subsidy. It is only Obama who has moderated their greed.

Meanwhile, relentless Republican tax cutting left much of the country too poor to pay income tax, but they were hammered with payroll tax increases.  Meanwhile, Reagan and Bush made reducing wages through unchecked immigration, union-busting, deregulation, outsourcing, and pension elimination key elements of their regimes.  David Stockman, Reagan's budget director, boldly laid it out: debt service transfers wealth from the taxpaying workers to the rich and banks who lent the government money, and the cost of debt service will make it impossible for the government to keep its entitlements forever.  The Republican objective for three decades has been to bankrupt the government in order that social security and Medicare be removed.

Conservative columnist David Brooks was aghast at this political flub.

Like most conservatives, Brooks had an insane and disgusting view of Unemployment Insurance as a bad thing. Unlike most conservatives, and unlike Romney, Brooks still pays lip service to America's penchant for hard work. But he still pretends there is a dependency crisis.  In fact, the US employs about the same percentage of its people as it did in 1947.  The difference is not in dependency, but in who pays for it.  Back then, families carried the burden.  Today, it is the government.   Partly that is demographic.  Then, as now, parents pay for children but are not legally responsible for the elderly.  Now, however, there are fewer children and many more elderly.  But there are other changes as well.

For thirty years after World War II, wages rose and people got used to living in smaller families.  Then wages fell, and wages no longer enable the worker to care for a crowd of dependents.

We don't have a "dependency crisis" in the United States, we have a crisis of "wages are too low."
Other countries have managed this crisis by raising the percent employed, like in Canada and Scandinavia.  It works for those countries because they have strong middle class consumption to generate demand for goods and services and therefore employment. They have also tried to maintain wage levels. It helps that these countries are aggressive on trade policy, using currency manipulation, tariffs, non-tariff barriers, government support, local content laws, and semi-public ownership to support vital industries and promote foreign investment.

The American fascination for free trade, a nonsense shared by Romney and Obama, has an antique smell of snuff tobacco about it, the arrogance and foolishness of Imperial Britain during the last decades of the nineteenth century, when they were losing their economic position to Germany, which favored the welfare state, and the U.S., which was aggressively protectionist.  British economists back then swore up and down that Free Trade was the future and the nation's greatest security, and justification enough for bloated naval establishment and worldwide empire.  In World War I one third of Britain's foreign investments were confiscated or lost, and her position as the world's leading economic power ended permanently.  It was all the foreseeable result of a brainless ideology of free trade, and the natural progress of the pound sterling as the world's reserve currency.  It's tragic that America's leaders today are just as arrogant and and far more stupid than Palmerston, Disraeli, Gladstone, and their ilk, knowing of their example but not learning from it.

For most of U.S. history, everything the government did was financed by taxing foreign goods.  How unbelievable  it is to pretend that free trade is either a core American value or a prop to American prosperity.  Since all trade is carried on in currency and all currency prices are government determined, whether fixed by governments or traded in markets where governments and central banks are the primary movers, none is free of political influence or economic warfare, and there is no such thing as free trade in the world today. Indeed, there is less of it today than there was in the day Victorian Britain, when it so markedly failed to help British prosperity.  Yes, the economics profession is profoundly sold on the idea of trade at any price as a profound moral good.  No, they are completely wrong about trade. There can be too much trade, and there can be prices that are wrong and coercive.  As with competition, another presumed good that Romney and the rich attack and try to restrict for their private profit while pretending to uphold, manipulating trade barriers for private gain while pretending to support free trade in theory has made many fortunes but has fooled nobody but the American public, who would be picked clean by the vultures Romney would release on us.  For Romney is most emphatically not a good or decent man, as readers of this blog will recognize.

Romney wants more free trade agreements. Obama has signed three.

Romney was not referring to trade or wages in his dependency remark, but his belief that the nation is filled with freeloaders, that half of it is nothing short of evil, requiring a good kick in the pants to get to work and stop malingering.  He defines them as so morally depraved that it would be useless to even try to persuade them of his point of view. This curious belief is so familiar to everyone from decades of Republican propaganda, that it is actually stranger than it first appears.  Romney, after all, says he has not worked at any job except running for president since 2006, so who is he to call anyone in poverty a slacker or "dependent"?

He also has a wife who is not employed and children and grandchildren who are dependent on him for jobs and income.  He is on record as saying that Ann Romney's job as a mother was more important than his even though it paid nothing and yet he would prohibit mothers from getting welfare while not working at this most important job.  As always with Romney, the rules are for other people.  The Romney children have never been kicked out of the nest on their own; indeed, one understands that would not be permitted in the Romney household.   That is where there is a true dependency crisis, and it is one entirely of Romney's own making in his own family.  He must let those boys loose, and let Ann go to work.  That would be the best problem-solving Romney could do.  But he should keep his hands off the United States of America.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney on Jobs: Surrender your Democracy!

Romney thinks the public are stupid.  He knows the public want money from the government.  He also is strongly attracted to the nonsense libertarian notion that government by its nature is the uncreative sector of society, always the drag and never the engine.  He doesn't believe it, just as he doesn't believe that markets are efficient and competition good for everybody.  But he believes in upholding the theory.  In this case,  the theory is that because income taxes go to feed the government, which necessarily come mainly from the private sector, only the private sector can create an economy.  Funny, he does not feel that way about the fact that taxes on imported foreign goods financed the U.S. government for most of its history.  He does not say that Protectionism made America great, even though that would be the equivalent argument from American history since before the income tax came along, tariffs financed everything the U.S. government did.  Tariffs built the Panama Canal. Tariffs won the Civil War.  Tariffs built the railroads and won the West.

That government is by nature different than private initiative is  trivial nonsense of course, and Romney, Michigan born and bred, knows it.  The reason a great city grew up at Detroit was because the taxpayers of the State of New York hired tens of thousands of laborers on a little make work project called the Erie Canal.  No private finance created the canal and sped the development of the Great Lakes region.  Without that, Michigan would have been developed later and at the mercy of earlier centers of production.

Instead, Romney's taken a two prong attack on the president.  One is to misrepresent various parts of the government as though they are not government, trusting that people can be confused into thinking the military is not the government.  Romney puts all his proposed make work jobs, a stimulus, which he said did not work when Obama did it, in the military sector.  He also tries this from time to time with Medicare, trying to make people believe that Medicare is not the same as a government program, but with limited success.

The second is to take Republican obstruction of Obama's job creation strategies, and claim that this demonstrates Obama's incompetence.  Fortunately  for the American people, we have Paul Krugman to point out what it going on.   The Republicans actually got what they wanted during Obama's first term: reduced government sector employment of 571,000, albeit mainly at the state and local level. If the jobs and economy didn't grow like they said,  it was their ideology which failed, not the president's.

The question then becomes, under what scenario could the Republicans improve on jobs growth.  If they cut more jobs from government and offer more tax cuts to the rich, the middle class will never develop the spending necessary to create demand.  So Romney plans a stimulus of military money, and military jobs, but he is not talking millions of jobs.  As a stimulus, his plan is less than what the President offered in 2009.

So what can they do?  Pretty much only thing they can do, if they won't embrace protectionism, is to find a way to get business to start hiring again.  To believe that the Republicans can succeed in creating more jobs than Obama, you have to concede that the Republicans have sabotaged the economy by withholding jobs under Obama.  In short, you have ask the public to surrender politically to the rich, to acknowledge that the public no longer has the right to govern themselves, but only to accept the dictates of corporate power.  And that's a bleak vision for America.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hysteria on the Right: They've Lost Control

When news came that the American consulate in Benghazi was attacked, Romney rushed to the podium to exploit this gotcha moment to the full. He proceeded to show himself ignorant, uninformed, and a violent partisan with no thought for America's future, no thought indeed except about his own election.

He was smirking and looking smug as he left the podium.

First of all, it was the consulate in Benghazi that was attacked, not the U.S. embassy, which is in Tripoli because Tripoli is the capital of Libya and Benghazi is not.   He then contradicted himself by staying the administration "stood by" and then "distanced" themselves from an Egyptian demonstration at the U.S. embassy in Cairo Sep. 11, apparently attributing to Obama a statement the U.S. ambassador to Egypt made during yesterday's protest, as though Romney better understood the situation than the ambassador at the embassy.  Romney also said Obama had "apologized" for free speech, which is nonsense. The U.S. embassy in Egypt merely stated they don't condone religious bigotry, and didn't apologize for American free speech. Indeed, the embassy complimented free speech rights in Egypt these days.  Romney is essentially implying he only supports free speech if it is what he wants to hear.,0,7608102.story

He doesn't seem to recognize that under dictatorship, the only conceivable opposition to power in the Arab world was Islamist, so that the collapse in authority of these corrupt and brutal regimes necessarily invited Islamist power.  For the U.S. to oppose the Arab Spring, as many Republicans wanted, would have meant trying to prop up unpopular corrupt machines forever, at great cost to U.S. prestige.  Even George W. Bush would not have tried that.  Romney then said the U.S. must prevent "extremism" as though the president could wave a magic wand to influence within months movements that had been born of necessity in anti-western ideology.

The article points out that the demonstrators were not actually clear on which movie was being protested, which could mean they were being paid.  It was not mentioned that the obvious reason for protesting is that it was September 11.

The Libya attack was an organized assault.  A group of protesters went to the consulate, the ambassador and a couple others came to evacuate the building, and it was then they were attacked with rockets. The film the protesters were attacking has apparently been distributed in the Arab world, although it is completely unknown in the US, where it was produced by an Egyptian national with a long criminal record, suggesting it may have been paid for by some foreign agency trying to stir up trouble.  Apparently there have been a number of attacks on westerners in Benghazi in recent months, raising the question of how well the government of Libya really controls the area.

The Libyan government apologized immediately.

Nonetheless, Romney thinks he has won a point in the "game" of the election and he rushed to capitalize.  Why the rush, and why the lack of reflection?  Polls are beginning to show a gap between Obama and Romney, after millions more watched the Democratic convention than the Republican, so Romney is now fully engaged in his election game, where the president is uniquely evil and everything that happens is proof that Romney is good.  He clearly had no thought about the ambassador, no thoughts about Libya, and indeed no thoughts about anything but the election.

The bad polls have caused a hysterical reaction on the part of other Republicans and their allies too.

Lockheed Martin's wealthy republican CEO (who also supports right wing Democrat Bill Nelson) threatened to lay off 123,000 workers before the election if  Obama and Congress don't stop military budget cuts scheduled for January.  The idea of the military as a make-work employment project is a Romney theme, revealed at the GOP convention.   Republicans, you see, don't dislike bureaucracy, only liberal bureaucracy.  They don't dislike "economic stimulus" either, only stimulus that provides roads, bridges or education. They prefer stimulus that gives bombs and predator drones.  That's why they attack schoolteacher unions on the state and local level, but never state troopers, even though the troopers are better paid with better pensions.  Ditto on the local scene. Police and fire continue to get what they want, even as teachers and "bureaucrats" are cut to the bone.

his political contributions (Potomac, Maryland, Lockheed exec)

It is just the latest economic sabotage by Republicans, probably the worst politically motivated sabotage this nation has ever seen.  In addition, as pointed out on this blog, Republicans have engaged in a campaign to stop small business hiring before the election, to withhold $2 trillion in cash overseas unless corporate taxes are reduced, and in general to create an "Atlas Shrugged" capital strike unless they get government by and for the corporations.  Will the public punish them for this political presumption? The dreamlike denial of the public about the treason of corporate political rule seems well entrenched and hard to move.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh, not the least deterred by calls by right-wing lunatics for armed revolt in the right if Obama wins, fanned the flames of apocalypse by predicting the end of the Republican party forever if Obama defeats Romney.

Expect a lot of hysteria in the next sixty days, numerous attempts at economic sabotage by the corporations and rich, and foreign governments and intelligence agencies attempting to influence events. It will be a dramatic two months, so take a deep sigh, buckle up and be prepared for anything.  Romney and the GOP have no moral or emotional limits and will do anything including intimidation, sabotage, and massive fraud if they think it will help them win.  There are even worse things they might and probably will attempt than these.  Their extremity is no longer hidden or controlled.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The real reason Romney has been hiding this week: Taibbi nailed him

Rachel Maddow has been confused as to why Mitt Romney took time off after the GOP  convention instead of trying to capitalize on it.  Was it because the convention was difficult, and the results a bit disappointing? Was it because the Democrats held center stage this week? On the contrary, all the more reason to be in the news jeering at them.

No, the reason Mitt Romney probably took off this week is a new article by Matt Taibbi in the September 13 issue of "Rolling Stone," which hit the newsstands around August 29.   Readers of this blog have known for months that MR's business model at Bain Capital was based on fraud, not finance, making companies take loans and then looting the money while forcing them to pay it back, a scenario honest lenders would never have allowed had they suspected.

But Mitt Romney wasn't worried about this blog.  It's a different story when a professional author and investigative reporter like Matt Taibbi is able to blow the whistle with ample illustrations and laser-like focus on all that borrowed money in a national circulation magazine like "Rolling Stone."  It means that all Obama has to do to win the election, is to find a way for everybody in America to read the story and understand what is in it.  Come to think of it, that's an almost impossible task; but having been caught red-handed, Romney had to take time off to think how he can remove this obvious stumbling block to his heroic life story, one that will clearly have more power to define him to historians than anything written about him before.

Remember where Romney is coming from.  He belongs to the same generation of arrogant entitled baby boomers who made sex and free love cornerstones of the sixties.  Romney opposed the specifics as a conservative, but he is the same generation and has been told since he was young that it was a divine prophecy that he serve as the first Mormon president.  Making money honestly is hard.  Making money fast means using leverage, and there were lots of greedy entitled baby boomers who thought history and the USA and their parents owed them fame and fortune,  and had no qualms about stealing to make that happen.  This country raised an entire generation of spoiled white men who were allowed to loot its business and then its political culture.  In this case, Romney stole the credit and reputation of the companies he bought with borrowed money, which means his victims were the banks which lent to these companies on their good names as well as the workers whose jobs he took.  But the Mormon God threw the dust in the eyes of all the dummies who let him get away with it so that he could advance the cause of God on earth.

That's why doesn't believe he did anything wrong, or even unethical. It was his destiny, you see.  He's a spoiled brat who should not be trusted with any responsibilities by anyone.

Democrats Day Three: Finally Some Backbone

Finally, we had a rousing speech that laid Mitt Romney bare.  Unfortunately, it was John Kerry's speech on foreign policy, one watched by millions, not by tens of millions.  It exploited the weird and inappropriate Republican theme of American Exceptionalism, mocked Romney with the lack of respect and dignity he so well deserves, and gave everyone a reason to hope for this election.

There was also a rousing speech by Jennifer Granholm, who probably would have been the party's nominee in 2008 if she had been American born,  although it was better suited to the live audience, and exciting the crowd state delegation by state delegation,  than it was for the television audience.

There's a lot more she could have said about the auto bailout, if she or any of the speakers at the Dem convention could have talked about Romney's logic in calling for letting Detroit go bankrupt.  Romaney aimed at breaking the United Auto Workers union, and inviting Indian and Chinese car companies here, and reducing the overcapacity in the North American auto industry in general.  American Spectator, the conservative magazine, talked all about overcapacity at the time.  America had factories to build 16 million cars and trucks a year but only a market for 11-12 million or even less.
Don't forget, Romney thought he had special insight into autos because of his dad, and his buddies over at Carlyle Group had been involved in Chrysler for some time.  In his mind, somebody has to lose to rationalize the industry, and it might as well be the American companies with their older plants and older workers.  

Indeed, wipe out the pension obligations of GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy, and you have something with some economic the expense of millions of ordinary folks. How do I know he thought these things? Well his first management consulting job was at Boston Consulting Group, which at that time was pushing a little square with boxes.  You wanted your company to be in the "Cash cows" square, but nothing much could be done with companies that were the "dogs" square except break them apart in case there was some hidden value inside.  Detroit was the "Dogs" square. And we all know how Mitt Romney treats dogs.

To be fair, when Mitt Romney said "Let Detroit go bankrupt" he wasn't thinking that all the jobs would go.  But he was thinking that unionized workers and retirees were preventing the companies from operating profitably, and that foreign owners from India and China would not only help, but their presence would give American companies more leverage in India and China.  That is to say, he has more faith in the business sense of the Communist Government of China or the bureaucratic culture of India than he does in the auto workers who built General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the last of which contains the remnants of his dad's American Motors.  

Romney is one cold and stupid SOB, and post-patriotic in the best traditions of the Criminal Oligarchy who run Wall Street (where the president of the NYSE in 1999 made a trip to Colombia to beg cash from narcotics traffickers and terrorists, something that even the Republicans of that era couldn't stomach, see link).,7404317

Unfortunately, the two marquee speeches of last night's convention were not so good.  Biden lost his place countless times, and managed to seem even more the sycophant than his natural gifts make Paul Ryan.
His message, that bin Laden was dead and GM alive, was delivered in such a serpentine way that one trembles for the vice-presidential debate.  

The president too, was not his best.  His makeup made him look like he hadn't slept in four days, and though he gave the speech with speed and seeming passion, none of it was reflected on his face, as though it were a supreme effort of athleticism to give the speech, rather than a joy.  His speech was better than Romney's, but too general, too full of "bon mots" instead of concrete plans, and what he said sometimes missed connecting with what Romney said.  Romney, for example, promised energy independence by 2020.  Obama promised less and failed to indicate why Romney couldn't get there (such as the likelihood that gas prices would have to double again to give companies enough incentive to frantically exploit shale oil, even presuming it were technically possible to achieve in five years, which I doubt).   Obama repeated his call for higher taxes on the rich, but he didn't go into the long history of American taxation, and how growth was typically highest when the rich were most taxed and why.  In short, it was a good speech but a disappointing performance from someone who is capable of great speeches.

The biggest fault? He didn't plead with the public to elect a democratic Congress, to prevent another four years of obstructionist agendas.  There was a slight undercurrent of distrust in the speech, as though he no longer trusts the public to behave wisely.  He sort of drew attention to it by asserting the opposite at the end, that he trusted the American people now more than ever.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Democrats Day Two: Speeches improved, coverage curtailed

The Democratic speeches became much more hard-hitting last night, and the Republican owned media reduced its coverage.  NBC covered a football game and dispensed with the speeches.  CBS dispensed with the former Chairman of Costco but carried Elizabeth Warren. ABC covered only one speech: Bill Clinton's.

That's because the entrepreneur who built Costco into the country's fifth largest retailer made a strong case that Obama is a better business president than Romney.  Speeches before primetime had been heavily weighted by auto industry and union executives highlighting the president's rescue of that industry, but the Costco Chairman took a broader view of all business.  Then Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senate candidate, spoke and said the one thing Democrats have been afraid to say about the economy all along: the Game is Rigged, which is obvious to all Americans. They know CEO's don't earn 500 times what the workers do because they are "risk takers," or "brilliant entrepreneurs,"  but because corporate governance has broken down. They know that hedge fund operators and traders don't earn billion dollar salaries because Wall Street is an efficient market but because it is inefficient, corrupt, and manipulated.  For the crime of saying this truth, Elizabeth Warren is facing the biggest tide of corporate cash in the country other than Obama; and ABC and NBC did not carry her speech.

Finally, the Democrats brought in Bill Clinton, whose long rambling speech had plenty of meaty specifics about how the Republicans were wrong and Obama right.  However,  there were a few problems with Clinton's speech, problems that highlight why the country has moved so far right over the last thirty years.  
The first was his lengthy spiel about how he never learned to hate Republicans.  Only a privileged white heterosexual could have made this speech, because minorities and gays and many women have been taught to hate Republicans over the years by receiving unsolicited personal attacks by hysterics under the influence of Republican rhetoric.  Clinton has received personal attacks too, but apparently treated them in the spirit of a game as a defense mechanism. More than that, it is clear by what he said and what he didn't say that he fears Democrats' fighting Republican fire with fire more than he fears anything the Republicans would do to this country. In essence, he fears for his privilege more than he fears for the general good.  And that, in a nutshell, is why the country keeps moving right.  The GOP has been in full-blown civil war against the  nation since the 1970s, and the Democrats have not been willing to fight back with the intensity the situation requires.

This requires some explanation.  Factionalism was indeed the greatest threat our Founding Fathers recognized to our political system.  Both Paul Ryan, the Republican vp nominee, and Bill Clinton quoted James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, in their speeches.  But they ignored his message, elucidated in the National Gazette January 23, 1792:  "In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them.  The great objects should be to combat the evil (of parties) by 1. Establishing political equality among all 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest, at the expense of another. 5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated.  If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism...."  Madison, in short, favored taxing the rich to reduce their political mischief, and operating the economy to prevent unmerited wealth accumulation,  and said the best way to keep one party under control was to oppose it with another party.  He was also against a permanent military.  As for lobbyists, "A government operating by corrupt influence; substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty; converting its pecuniary dispensations into bounties of favorites, or bribes to opponents; accommodating its measures to the avidity of a part of the nation instead of the benefit of the whole; in a word, enlisting an army of interested partisans, whose tongues, whose pens, whose intrigues, and whose active combinations, by supplying the terror of the sword, any support a real domination of the few, under an apparent liberty of the many.  Such a government, wherever to be found, is an imposter."  In short, Madison would have predicted the factionalism of the last thirty years and viewed our government as an imposter, not a Republic.

Why? Because the Democrats have not been mounting an effective opposition.  Civil War can and did result from factionalism within America.  But there were plenty of hot issues like the War of 1812, the split over the Bank of the U.S., the argument over bimetallism, and the New Deal government expansion, that were hotly contested on both sides, and the country benefited from it and did not deteriorate into Civil War.  To accomplish that, we need politicians who are not afraid to take on the Republican faction, whose behavior Madison foresaw.

With regard to "Free trade," which Romney, Clinton, and apparently Obama all support and which the Republicans would have you believe is an ancient American value.  It is not. It is well to remember that none of our Founding Fathers favored free trade and unregulated prices; and that the government was financed by tariffs until less than 100 years ago, so protectionism funded and sustained the United States of America for more than 100 years.  Indeed protectionism was the essence of the United States government, the big difference between our federal government and the weak Articles of Confederation, and the most opulent public building in all the country is the New York City Customs House, which is where the government derived most of its revenue before the income tax.

Let me repeat that one more time so it sinks in.  James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, recommended using the government to prevent the accumulation of extraordinary and unearned riches.  That's a fact of history they don't want you to know and they don't want taught in schools.

 The second problem with the speech was  that some of Clinton's explanations were confusing, like his statement that Obama's medicare cut was just payment to insurance companies, not to benefits.  What does that mean?  Don't all benefit payments go to insurance companies?  Clinton didn't explain that insurance companies were getting a special additional subsidy, and he didn't explain that, because it was his policy.  He also didn't say it was partly his doing to deregulate the banks.  He did mention that he reduced poverty, but didn't mention that the biggest part of this effort was to change the way poverty was surveyed, to move the number rather than the people.  He did say he had huge job growth, but did not mention the trending rise in layoffs throughout his two terms, so that there was no gain to median incomes, since wage rises were offset by higher employment turnover as the rich got richer under his watch. Clinton also didn't mention the corruption that was a hallmark of his era.  Why? Well, from 1994-2000 he worked with a Republican Congress, and so only a little of what he did was progressive.  From 1993-1994 his liberal projects like gays in the military and health care reform were stopped, and only conservative causes like NAFTA and welfare reform sailed through.  In short, Clinton helped to create the system which failed in 2008, so his eagerness to work with Republicans should be seen in that light.  It's great he's on our side, but at the same time, he's a double edged sword who gave as much or more help to Republicans as to Democrats.

Clinton also implemented many of the economic statistical fallacies recommended by Bush I and elaborated by Bush II that minimize unemployment and inflation and over-report GDP growth.  Thus in 2004 when Bush was running for re-election, the economy did not loom that large as an issue, because Bush had hidden rising unemployment by cutting the "labor force" by more than 2%, something Obama has not done.  And Bush hid a 10% plus drop in median household income by under-reporting inflation with fallacious tricks like hedonic pricing as a non-cash adjustment to prices, thus over-reporting "real" growth (total growth minus inflation);  and by eliminating reporting of mass layoffs and money supply growth.  All this trickery had been recommended by the first Bush as a way to stop rising social security costs, but was first implemented in a smaller way under Bill Clinton.  That Obama can point to growth and job growth and still have a bad economy is more a tribute to the way our economic statistics no longer reflect the true underlying position of things.  So Obama is a "success" by the standards of Bush and Clinton, especially on employment where Bush cheated every which way; but the public no longer believes in the statistics, although they did when Clinton and Bush were in office. Therefore the public has an excessive nostalgia for those earlier times not justified by what was actually happening.  The real need is for policies far to the left of anything Obama has even proposed, and yet even what he has proposed and accomplished is under attack.

The Republicans had a burning hate of Bill Clinton, impeaching him and nearly removing him from office, but they didn't frame their response to his remarks with the usual run of angry rhetoric. Instead, they held back an hour and then contrasted Clinton's "success" presidency against Obama's "failure" presidency.  This move to "own" Clinton was a 180 turn after years of hysterical opposition to him that started long before Clinton was president.  In the 1980s, Republican strategist Lee Atwater identified Governor Clinton as someone who could be a strong leader on the national stage, and so interfered in the Arkansas' governor's race, replacing a weak republican with a stronger Democrat  as Republican standard bearer in an effort to check Clinton's career. The effort failed, as did the impeachment gambit of the 1990s.  This year, to woo "independents," they have now taken the position that Clinton was a huge success, which polls tell them the public feels, and instead of fighting him are trying to contrast him with President Obama.   There could be no better proof that 1. It's all a game to the Republicans; and 2. That Clinton has time and again played into their hands.

Both Republicans and Democrats tended to view Clinton's speech as a masterful success.  To me, it was only a slight success in promoting Obama for re-election and it is doubtful the president will derive much benefit from it.

In the meantime, the convention voting turned problematic when the Democrats had their own voting scandal.  For all of Israel's existence, Israel has asserted that Jerusalem is its capital, but the U.S. has never found it necessary or convenient to recognize it, since Jerusalem is a contested city.  Suddenly, in this campaign, Romney has insisted on making it official Republican policy, so Democrats decided to do so also.  However, Arab-American lobbyists and diplomats who understood that this would be a major shift in policy managed to get it removed from the platform.  A floor vote was taken to add it back. The embarrassment came when the first voice vote clearly went against the proposal.  A second voice vote was done which sounded for the proposal, but not unequivocally by two-thirds.  The speaker turned to his adviser who told them, "Let them do what they're going to do."  Instead, he asked for a third voice vote and then gavelled the resolution as passed to the outrage of much of the audience.  This was better than the Republican case in that there were no explicit instructions to ignore the voice vote results, but it was clearly contestable and will be contested.  Israel's supporters have been wringing their hands all morning that the Democrats may be turning against them after all these years.  On the surface that seems absurd, since both parties have now more extreme positions on behalf of Israel than they ever had before.  But there is an element of truth to it in that  Israel's position would have been sustained by both parties any time during the last sixty years had the issue been raised publicly.  However, I think  this fear is greatly overstated.  Most who opposed it simply didn't want to interfere with longstanding U.S. professional diplomatic policy.  The number voting "for" an Arab position were likely very few.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democratic Convention Day One: Democrats pursue failed strategy toward Romney

You might think now the campaign is in full swing, and the professionals are swinging into action: that I could shut my little blog down now.

Unfortunately, the first night of speakers at the Democratic National Convention proved that Mitt's competition still really doesn't understand whom they are dealing with.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick delivered one of the most fiery speeches of the night, but he said  of Romney "He's a fine fellow and a great salesman."  Keynote speaker Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio said "I think Mitt Romney is a decent guy, he just has no idea how good he's had it."

They don't get it.  Mitt Romney is not a "fine fellow" or a "decent guy."  Was he a fine fellow when he held down a fellow student at his high school and cut his hair, because that student was perceived as gay?  Was he a "decent guy" when he got in two car wrecks in France presumably after his girlfriend sent him a letter saying she was seeing someone else? One person died in one of those wrecks, and although we are told none of it was Mitt's Fault, the fact that there were two accidents makes one wonder.  Was Mitt Romney "fine and decent" when he defamed his predecessors at the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and had little pins manufactured with his own likeness, because he cared more about selling Mitt Romney than the Games?  Was he "fine and decent" at Bain Capital, when as a matter of course he took 30% of the new money he had his target companies raise as fees for himself and his investors?  Was he "fine and decent" at Bain & Co., when he used a poison pill to blackmail banks and the government into forgiving a loan to one of the nation's wealthiest consulting firms?  Was he "fine and decent" when he set that firm on the path to masterminding the Outsourcing of American jobs to China even though he knew China to be engaged in slave labor? Was he a "fine and decent" Governor of Massachusetts when the legislature overrode his veto 260 times in one legislative session? Was he "fine and decent" when as Mormon bishop he tried to bully a woman into an abortion at risk of her life and when he refused to speak to an old friend who had opposed him politically? Was he fine and decent when he supported child discipline camps that have been accused of abuse, even enrolling several of their advocates in high campaign positions?  Was he :"fine and decent" when he let accountants and lawyers talk him into bizarre tax avoidance schemes? Has he been "fine and decent" on the campaign trail, with a volume of lies which is unprecedented in American political history, trying to buy control of the media and engage in an unprecedented campaign of vote suppression?

At the Republican convention, the Romney forces demanded rule changes to prevent non front-runner candidates from using the complex delegate selection process to win an advantage.  The goal was to make the original front runner, the one with the most money, the presumptive nominee.  In short, to give the wealthy control of the Republican party.  Many conservative old-timers, as well as the Ron Paul gang, vowed to oppose the plan and fight it on the convention floor.  This youtube of the teleprompter shows what happened. John Bohner was supposed to conduct a voice vote, but the teleprompter written before his speech told him what the result of that vote would be.  There was no option for his finding the other way.

The vote was fixed at the Republican convention, and they will fix the November election if they can.  Given that the main vote counting companies all have their roots in Republican politics, that is a cause for worry; and still the Democrats' leading figures are fantasizing about Mitt being a good guy.  It's true there were a couple speakers at the Republican convention who called Obama "a good guy...but" like Paul Ryan.  They were lonely voices in a wilderness of abuse, much of it over the top and dishonest like Clint Eastwood.  Remember that a number of republicans have called for armed revolution should Obama win and that some of their speakers including Romney have predicted extremely dire consequences like a nuclear armed Iran if Obama wins.

We all know where this Democratic permissive  language is coming from.  The Democrats want to condescend to an out of touch rich guy, to damn him with faint praise because it makes him seen ineffectual somehow and they think it shows them as somehow "nicer" to independents.   Ann Richards and Molly Ivins taught them to do that.   It didn't work on George W. Bush and it's not working on Romney either.

Bush was a dangerous liar whose wealth was based on white collar crime and who had never paid for bad behavior.  He did his best in eight years to destroy America's freedoms and America's economy.  Romney is even worse, and still they keep channeling Ann Richards in their speeches.  Republicans fail because they won't give up their wrong ideology or put limits on their looting.  Democrats fail because they refuse to tell the American people how bad the Republicans really are.  For forty years the Republicans have treated Democrats as their biggest enemy in the world, worse than Soviet Russia and Islamic terrorism combined. Indeed, the Bush junta were great friends of the Communist Chinese and the financiers of Islamic terror, Moammar Qaddafi, and the Sauds. The "glue" that holds our society together, the limits to patriotic opposition, were wiped away the day George H.W. Bush hired Karl Rove after Karl Rove had been disgraced by rigging a College Republicans election.  It was at that moment the Republicans went from being a political party, to being a gang whose only desire was winning and looting.

Yes, Nixon was bad, but at least he had some idea of the public welfare. The Bushes and Romneys have none.

Ann Richards famously said of George W. Bush, "Poor George. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."  Democrats love that line but Richards lost to Bush, badly, mainly because they had the dirt on Bush but treated him like a well-meaning buffoon when he was a bold criminal who apparently managed to have his own driving record illegally destroyed, managed to go AWOL from  the national guard without consequence, likely masterminded an accounting fraud which overstated his company's profit by 300%,  and ignored laws he didn't want to enforce, like the Presidential Records Acts, starting January 21, 2001.  He stole the presidential election twice. As president he showed his contempt for the country by setting up a male escort as a "reporter" to lob softball questions at him during press conferences.  The result of all this Democratic permissiveness was wars undertaken under false pretenses and managed so as to enrich corrupt contractors, the PATRIOT Act to end civil liberties in America, failed education social engineering, spiraling debt, eroded environment, corruption enshrined in high places, and financial criminality boosted.  Such is the echo chamber of politics that Democrats continue to use that failed strategy on Romney and if they keep at it, they will continue to fail.

To understand why, imagine you are a prosecutor in a court of law.  You think some of the jury are undecided.  Do you say, "The defendant was a nice guy who was misled into his crimes" in order to cater to their tender feelings?  You do not. You'd be an idiot to say something like that.  You say what your real view of the defendant is, the one that got you to prosecute him in the first place.  That's the way you win over the jury.

 It's time to say enough.  Mitt Romney is not a decent man, and he's not somebody who should be running for public office of any kind, let alone president.