Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mitt Romney: The biggest liar in American history

Mitt Romney has told more lies in the last year and a half than any American candidate for any office in history.  He is quite simply the most dishonest person ever to run for any office of any kind in America. You could not find a compulsive liar who has told more lies than Mitt Romney in the last eighteen months.
Every single day he goes out and tells whoppers, and very often the inspiration for the whopper is to misrepresent his immediate environment or to lie about what he said yesterday, when he was lying about the day before.


The result, if he is elected, will be national calamity.  Our Founding Fathers understood that bad people can go into politics, which is why they tried to limit power.  We have survived many self-serving demagogues, crooks, and liars, and even people with delusions, although we are remarkably lucky that our presidents before have had at least an idea of a public good apart from what they could steal.  But we have never tested the system with such a thoroughgoing evil before. Even George W. Bush had the saving grace of sloth, and an unwillingness to use WMD except in depleted uranium weapons.  Romney has a lot more energy than Bush, and no moral limits at all.

Here's the danger part: our Republic used to be so large that people could do unspeakable things in one section (slavery, Jim Crow, genocide, corporate corruption), but countervailing centers of power would contest and (eventually) neutralize them. That's not happening anymore.   The U.S. has never been larger in population and diversity, but it has never been smaller in concentration of political, economic, and communications power.  All Americans are getting the news from the Associated Press, controlled by Republicans, and from a limited number of television outlets, controlled by Republicans. Their credit is being controlled by a few companies and their creditors are a few banks.  Their votes are being counted by a small number of companies, all Republican. There is no foreseeable rebellion that could take on the U.S. military, and no sense that organization would split into different factions.  Wealth has never been more concentrated, or more concentrated in fewer locations.  There are no rich guys in Alabama or Nevada who could organize to launch a populist assault on Wall Street.  If the New Yorkers don't do it, nobody will, which is why Occupy Wall Street has caused such an extreme vindictive response.

The result is that in power centers our BIG republic has become a small one.  Our Founding Fathers rightly saw that small republics had a harder time remaining republics, and that, conversely, Republics could be too big.. James Madison used the former as a principal reason for abandoning the Articles of Confederation for a stronger Federal Union. When Republics grow too big, he said on the other hand, "The larger a country, the less easy for its real opinion to be ascertained, and the less difficult to be counterfeited." National Gazette Dec. 19, 1791.  We see that peril every day when we are told to take on faith news reporters' assertions about the true beliefs of 300 million Americans.

If Romney is elected, domestic enemies will likely be assassinated, since Congress gave Bush that power and never repealed it.  Nuclear weapons will possibly be used under trivial pretexts, since only the moral character of the president has prevented that happening since 1945. The economy will sputter and fail.  You cannot elect Mitt Romney president without consequences. There have been bad liars as president, and one reason the system is so broken today is that the American people have had such a high tolerance for them.  Mitt Romney, though, is not like any other politician in American history, even George W. Bush.  Mitt Romney can justify anything to himself.  He's a perfect storm of magical thinking, manic energy, and the challenged masculinity and bullying nature of the spoiled rich kid.

Every day, new dirt on Romney emerges.

He set up a trust with a million dollars of shares that would go to the Mormon church on his death.  When that trust buys and sell shares under his management they pay no taxes.  Meanwhile, every year the trust pays Romney 8% of its assets. Since he is not managing the trust to make money, Romney is running it down, effectively taking back his "charitable donation."  Essentially, it was a way to trade shares but avoid tax.  Lots of rich people  did it, which is why the loophole was tightened by Congress, but not for trusts already created, like Romney's.  It was always and obviously unethical, though, especially as Romney probably included the original deferred gift as satisfying his church tithe.  Romney probably doesn't do his own taxes, but he certainly agrees with principle of going to any length to cut taxes.


An accountant has found pretty strong smelling evidence that Romney actually had a Net Loss, not Net Income, in tax year 2009, and that his statement about paying 14% tax is either 1) a lie; or 2) including other taxes such as foreign income taxes; or 3) likeliest of all, Romney is saying paying negative tax on negative income is still positive 14%, even though the public would interpret that as a man worth at least $250 million paying no tax in 2009.

Moreover, admitting a Net Loss in 2009 would puncture his supposed business genius. He might have had losses related to some Madoff  type investment, which would make him look gullible.  If, in contrast, he got there by writing off the money he loaned his 2008 campaign, people would say, you know it shouldn't reduce your taxes that you wanted to be president so badly that you spent $40 million on it.

It also raises the question of Romney's reason for running for president.  Perhaps his plans are so vague and his lying is so obvious because he never intended to be president, and all along he's just done it so he can write off what he spent against taxes. I don't think that's true: I think he's been burning all his life with a desire to be president.  But you can't prove it by his actions, and still less by his tax returns.

Romney received exactly $1 back on his federal return for 2010 for creating American jobs, and his tax returns show he has substantially more overseas investments than has been admitted to in his campaign disclosure forms.


I don't think the public care if Romney is a tax cheat.   What they should care about is that he can't tell the truth about anything, which means he has no respect for the public's opinion of him.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Endorsement Derby: Romney camp newspaper endorses Obama

The Des Moines Register endorsed Romney, reportedly their first Republican endorsement since Richard Nixon.  The Romney camp were ecstatic...but why?


The Des Moines Register is part of the Gannett chain, and as reported here in March, their largest shareholder is Integrity Asset Management, a hedge fund owned by Munder Capital Management of Boston and Birmingham, Michigan (Romney's adult and boyhood homes), whose former CEO Lee Munder is a Romney campaign finance co-chair in Florida.  Is it really a big story to get endorsements from a company controlled by your campaign?  Gannett's CEO was formerly with Brysam Global Partners, a private equity firm which invested in consumer credit companies in Mexico and Russia.  There are other private equity types on the Gannett board as well.

What would be more newsworthy is if any Gannett papers DO NOT endorse Romney.  Could this happen?

The Detroit Free Press has endorsed Barack Obama.


The Detroit Free Press is the tenth largest circulation newspaper in the country. However, the Detroit News retains the right to publish its editorial page (the News endorsed Mitt Romney) in the Sunday Free Press.  The very fact such a condition was made when the two papers were un-merged demonstrates the importance conservatives place on media control, since the Detroit News is historically the conservative paper in the Detroit area, and the Free Press the liberal paper. Nonetheless, the Free Press staff showed a rare courage in taking on their own employers. I hope they were clever enough to make it a collective responsibility, or some (all) of them may be losing their jobs!

Friday, October 26, 2012

NSA analyst demonstrates GOP systematically stealing votes in the larger precincts


A retired national security analyst working on Arizona, then national, results; and another researcher looking into South Carolina Republican primary results, found a startling and ominous correlation between precinct size and Romney votes.

What are these analysts saying? They are saying that all across the country, Republicans get more votes from larger precincts. This is counterintuitive, right? Rural areas are supposed to be more conservative, but more populous precincts are more likely to vote for Republicans in general and Romney (but not Santorum) in particular.  Even more amazing, in the South Carolina Republican primary, there was no trendline on Gingrich votes, which did not depend on precinct size, but Santorum and Paul votes both dropped in the larger precincts, and Romney votes rose. When that researcher tried to control for income level, rural percent, population density, etc. there was no correlation. There was only correlation around precinct size, nothing else.

Why does that indicate fraud? If you steal in smaller precincts, it is more likely you will end up with negative votes, or there will be few enough people so they can all compare votes and note that the final totals do not match.  It therefore makes sense to steal votes from larger precincts in order to hide what you are doing and also to reduce the number of results you are touching.  Different voting results for larger precincts is exactly what you would expect to find when elections are being systematically stolen.

 What can be done? I'm not sure, but I think these systems still use phone lines for reporting.  Maybe the Dems (or the Feds) could jam electronic signals at every Secretary of State's office to prevent remote vote tampering.  There has to be a technical way to foil whatever is planned, even if it's in the proprietary software of the voting machine companies.

In the meantime, when you hear of polls showing the presidential race neck and neck, all of which presume a white landslide for Mitt Romney, remember that they are already factoring in Republican election stealing to get these numbers.  Also pay attention on election night to clues they are manipulating the exit polls.

Right now, for instance, we are hearing that Obama leads 53-45 in early voting.  How would we know that, why would anyone publish that, and isn't that just an instruction to steal more than 10%? Obviously, if you only steal 8-10% in the larger precincts, that wouldn't be enough to overcome an 8% Obama lead among voters.  Therefore, you would have to steal more than that to be sure of victory.

Think of what this all means.  Americans have probably not voted for a Republican for president since 1988.  Republicans probably lost Congress probably in 2004, not 2006; and they never regained it.  Imagine how much better life would be today in the US without the hard right turn it has taken since 1994.  We pretend we would fight for freedom, but all future generations are going to think is that we didn't care enough to do anything about an obvious usurpation.

Romney's proudest boast was Staples, except in court

Mitt Romney the great businessman testified in court in 1988 that Staples, whose success he claims justifies all the frauds of his business career,  had no future.


"Romney testified on record that Staples stock was 'over-valued,' and that he 'didn’t place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company’s future. Willard went on to testify that Stemberg spoke about the probability of success as if it was today and that 'he minimized the risk and maximized the high probability of success, and the dream went on.'"

Why? One possible reason  is he perjured himself to help the Staples CEO minimize losses to his wife in divorce proceedings.  Alternatively, Mitt Romney really didn't believe in Staples, and they succeeded in spite of him, not because of him.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Racism is going to be the excuse for Republican Fraud, apparently

In case you're wondering how the Republicans could possibly explain a victory for an unpopular compulsive liar, unpatriotic enough to park his money overseas, who has the personality of a serial killer - in short, how Mitt Romney could be elected president, the Dallas News has already staked out the fake explanation:  racial polarization.


According to this obvious nonsense, whites are showing their disdain for the black candidate, favoring Romney nationwide by 60% to 37%, more than a landslide.  Do you believe that?  Think of your friends and family. Think of your co-workers. Think of all the whites who live in liberal enclaves like college towns and central cities.  Do you believe they favor someone who hasn't studied for the job, who openly lies and changes positions, and who is a high official of an unusual religion  that believes itself morally superior to average Americans? I don't know personally any whites who are for Mitt Romney. I only know of one man I met in a restaurant, and he was motivated by jealousy because he knew teachers he thought made a few thousand dollars too much money. I pointed out how the rich like Romney were stealing our jobs and pensions on a daily basis, but he didn't believe me.  Not one person hearing this exchange in a restaurant rose to his defense.

Even within the article, we find that whites are 2% less of the electorate than they were 4 years ago.  We also find out that inexplicably in Ohio, white women favor Obama by 6 even when white men are solid for Romney by 20, a gender gap unlike anything ever seen before in any American election.

The real story is the polls are faked.  Not one person in 100 wants Mitt Romney to be president.  Of course, being Americans 35% will vote for him anyway, to spite the egos of the majority, but there is no chance he could win this election without fraud.  For Romney to lead among white males in Ohio by twenty points is to pretend that white males in Ohio have no ears to hear and eyes to see....and that this is a change from four years ago, when they did.

They picked this explanation because they think Ivy League liberals will buy it, when you won't find a pickup truck driving, tobacco chewing, beer swilling redneck in the entire state of Ohio who would want to get within 2 miles of Willard Mitt Romney.

Be smart, don't fall for it.  It's a nonsense explanation.  But it is the meme.  Right now the web is circulating another story from AP claiming antiblack and anti-Hispanic attitudes have gotten worse since 2008.


Is it true? Of course not. They also said Hispanics are viewed more negatively than blacks, which is something I don't think any black person would believe.  It is true when times are hard people turn on minorities, but it certainly does not follow they would disdain Obama, who has not done a single one of the terrible things his enemies predicted he would do.  AP is the lynchpin of Republican control of the media.

You are being manipulated.  Mitt Romney cannot be elected president without massive and pervasive vote fraud.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Electronic Voting: the nation's Achilles' heel

Many Republicans were utterly convinced that Democrats controlled Congress from 1958 to 1994 because  lever voting machines were rigged to give it to them. Nobody called these Republicans "tinhats" or  "conspiracy nuts."  It has become conventional wisdom in much of the nation that Nixon won the 1960 election and it was stolen by Kennedy, Daley and LBJ.  Try pointing out that flipping Illinois in 1960 would not have changed the election result, and that Democrats had no ability to steal enough either in Chicago or Texas to flip these states.  Try pointing out that Nixon won in 1968 by a far smaller margin and there were numerous instances of fraud.
That's a part of history that had slipped GOP minds by 2000 and 2004, when their response to Bush stealing the election was, well, Kennedy did it too.

You can always tell what Republicans are up to by what they accuse the Democrats of doing.  When they were buying control of the media in the 1980s, documented in Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent," they were hysterically conjecturing a "liberal media" conspiracy.  When they argued that liberals were attacking religion, the Republican-connected law firm Greenberg Traurig was making a mint suing the Vatican for child abuse.  Is it any wonder the Vatican has given up its social justice agenda when it knows only Republicans can keep a lid on lawsuits?   When the Republicans said Jesse Jackson and George Ball were traitors, it's probably because Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were breaking U.S. laws doing business with enemies like Libya and North Korea.  When they said Islam was at war with us, Prince "Bandar Bush" of Saudi Arabia had free access to the White House, meeting with the president alone just 48 hours after 15 Saudi citizens had apparently conducted a terror attack on our nation.  When they said Clinton sold military secrets to China, it was because the Bush family actually had and would continue to give away our strategic advantage.  In 2004 they accused Kerry of faking his war hero record because Bush was a deserter. In 2008 they said Obama was not born in the USA, probably because McCain wasn't born in the USA.   What is frightening is the amount effort and attention they have put into accusing the Democrats of vote fraud in the last few years.

They are going to steal this election if they can.  This is nothing new.  Abraham Lincoln was not elected by secret ballot. The "Australian" or secret ballot only came into wide use in the 1880's in the United States, and its immediate results were fraud and Jim Crow.


We are told that we need the secret ballot to prevent people from discriminating against us for our political views, but in reality we get that anyway based on what people think our views are, without benefit of legal redress (except in California, where the Unruh Act specifically forbids it).   Indeed, a number of Republican employers have threatened layoffs if Obama wins.  No prize for guessing which people (female, black, gay) would be targeted in this little purge. If the unthinkable did happen and all the votes were published, maybe people would take more care with their vote.  I'm not suggesting we publish anything. I am suggesting that vote secrecy has enabled fraud.

Already, with the move from lever voting to punch cards, it was clear something was going terribly wrong with our nation's voting.  Here's a New Yorker article warning about computerized voting in 1988.  In 1977 a Republican bigwig named Prentis Hale bought the nation's biggest vote tabulating firm.  Problems began to mount.  Perhaps the "Reagan revolution" wasn't a real revolution in public attitudes at all, just a change in voting company ownership.


Computerized touch screens further consolidated the industry, behind a mandate in the Orwellian misnamed "Help America Vote Act" of 2002. The move to touch screens pushed the voting results far to the right, and then Republican controlled media began to "fix" exit polls to hide the evidence of fraud.  Today, most American votes are counted by ES&S of Omaha and Dominion Voting Systems of Denver, with SCYTL of Spain providing critical software.

In 1996, there was a bit of a controversy in a U.S. Senate race. Ben Nelson was a popular governor in Nebraska, re-elected in 1994 with 74% of the vote.  His Republican challenger, Chuck Hagel, was new to politics. Hagel was a career military man who was inexplicably made a telecommunications corporate executive.  Having made a pile of money, he went into politics in his native Nebraska. He went about it the same way Romney has, first investing in a voting machine company (American Information Systems, father of ES&S and Diebold).  He resigned from being Chairman of AIS just two weeks before announcing for Senate. His campaign treasurer and investment partner maintained a $5 million investment for him in AIS throughout the election.  He won in a surprise, 15 points better than the polls announced in the paper,  far ahead of what one would have expected given Nelson's popularity just two years before.  Six years later he was re-elected by the one of the highest vote margins ever in any contested Senate race.  Nebraska, Hagel would have you believe, has no liberals left at all.


If you are not a subscriber to Harpers, you should go to the newsstand and pick up the November, 2012 issue.  It punctures once and for all the myth that Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 mean that votes are not being stolen.  Statistically there is still blatant evidence of fraud. It's just that in 2006 and 2008 they miscalculated how much they had to steal.  Elections are being stolen in an ever more brazen and open manner. Rick Scott was almost certainly never elected Governor of Florida.  Jim DeMint apparently won his office by choosing his opponents in a blatantly fraudulent miscounting of the South Carolina Democratic primary.  It all goes back to George H.W. Bush, who hired Karl Rove after the latter fixed a Young Republicans election. 

We can probably add Romney to that list of fixers, as noted in this blog.  In addition to trying to buy strategic media for this campaign,  the Romneyites have tried to tie up voting companies. Bain Capital employees formed a company called H.I.G. to invest in Hart Intercivic, the biggest of the election companies outside the big three previously mentioned.


Republicans, of course, would have you believe Obama has tried to fix the election.  The right wing echo chamber says Soros has ties to SCYTL, one of the companies involved in American voting companies.  Not only is this not true, it is the opposite of the truth.  Conservatives, not socialists, run the Spanish government which owns a big stake. Another stake is owned by Nauta Capital of Boston, whose director on the SCYTL board came from Booz Allen, owned by the Bush era's corporate darling, the Carlyle Group.


ES&S is still the biggest vote counting firm and still works with Chuck Hagel.  The Obama administration did prevent them from buying Sequoia and Diebold, but the stooge they picked to buy Sequoia and Diebold,  Dominion Voting Systems of Canada, still employs the same people who have been running these companies throughout the Bush era, as does SCYTL.

Elections don't just happen to be fixed.  Quite a lot of effort goes into fixing them, and that's why in 2006 and 2008, the GOP screwed up.  That's actually an opportunity this year, in that Romney may think the other companies besides the one he controls are manipulating results, but if he doesn't organize to control the process personally, he may lose anyway.  The negative is that Mormons have specialized in computer software for years, so if anybody could rig an election, it's the Mormons. The Proposition 8 results in California in 2008 were likely rigged.  It is easier, though, to rig ballot propositions than elections where jobs are on the line.  It is also easier to rig votes by a challenger. An incumbent president has lots of tools to fight back that challengers do not.

Do not despair, go out and vote. They've miscalculated before. The important thing is the more awareness of this issue is advanced, the more the public will be likely to get off their butts and do something about it.
For years, leading left commentators reacted to this circumstance of increasing Republican control over voting by shrill denials, under the false theories that 1) to point it out it would discourage Democrats from voting (my vote won't count), making the situation worse; and 2) that it would give too much credit to Republican organization.  I disagree with this thinking.  They should be able to communicate the necessity of voting quite clearly.  Romney is so  personally unlikeable that there is no chance he can win the present election without fraud. They will never have a better chance to prove fraud on the other side than if Romney wins this election. It cannot even be imagined unless turnout were to drop some huge number like 25 million from 2008.  Remember, Romney got fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008 in the Republican primary season. Second, Republicans are idiots, but that doesn't mean everyone who profits from Republicanism is, and the military and the rich are quite capable of organizing fraud: competently, but not intelligently.  Finally, if vote theft is the truth, it needs to be exposed regardless of whether it is politically convenient for this election.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Obama ends with clear win on foreign policy

President Obama turned in his best debate performance tonight, and Mitt Romney his worst.  The moderator tried to help Romney by focusing attention on Libya and by cutting Obama off right after Mitt Romney changed focus to jobs.  However, it was still abundantly clear the president was the master of  his subject.

Obama did make mistakes. He went off message on Libya and Syria to bring up domestic concerns, which played into Romney's hands, since he could smirkingly talk about the how bad the economy is.  It smelled of desperation, of Obama trying to get back that first debate, and was clearly far away from foreign policy, where he was easily winning and making Romney look foolish.

Romney, however, more than returned the favor with mistakes galore. Romney started out with a  memorized speech on the middle east, "We can't kill our way out of this mess," presumably intended to damp down expectations he would go to war with Iran, more or less undercutting his own bellicose position. He then had trouble sticking to this theme, and seemed overly proud of himself for memorizing the names of countries like Qatar. He admitted the president was right to go into Libya, and his insistence that we "take the leadership role" in Syria and funding Egyptian moderates seemed juvenile, as though America could just snap its fingers and make everybody jump.  The president handled all this masterfully, talking about how America had won respect in the region.  He didn't point out that Romney's claim that "We all had great hopes for the Arab Spring, for more moderation and wide participation of women and others in political and economic life" was a childish fantasy when under dictatorship, the only effective opposition in all these countries was necessarily Islamist. Indeed, Obama could have contrasted what he did in Libya with what the Republicans had done in Iran supporting the Shah, but did not.

In one respect, the focus on Libya helped Obama because Romney completely forgot to dwell on Poland and Russia, important to Ohio and Pennsylvania voters, and that has to count as a big (and rather foolish) mistake for him since he had a much better prospect of success in making Russia the bogeyman.

Romney's second big mistake was to talk about friendly relations with China when his whole campaign has been trying to China bash.  The two positions don't  mesh, and there was an air of unreality about his claiming he would get tough with China when he seems to view them so favorably from a geopolitical stance. The president probably erred when he made positive remarks about China himself, although it was probably long after the average person's attention span expired.  It was as though Romney were conceding that issue to the president, and failling to promise anything different.

Romney's third big mistake was to try to claim the U.S. had bungled relations with Pakistan, that we should be friendlier to them.  Pakistan, of course, harbored Osama bin Laden for years.  The president didn't point that out, but when the moderator asked Romney to expand on this question, Romney's answer made it sound like he didn't know his own mind on Pakistan, since he portrayed it as a failed state run by the ISI, so it wasn't clear why the U.S. should be friendlier to them.  Romney looked unsure, and he remained unsure until his next to last statement, when he went on a rant about jobs.

That was his fourth big mistake, since that clearly wasn't about foreign policy and was intended solely to hit the president when he had no time to respond.  Both closing statements from both candidates were smarmy and forgettable.

The president clearly won by having command of his facts, by sounding more measured and balanced, and by not having anything he could be called out on.  Imagine any other time in U.S. history when the big story for foreign policy in a presidential campaign was the death of four diplomats.  The very fact that the Republicans didn't have anything more to hit Obama with showed how well the nation's foreign policy has gone since Obama has been in charge (and also reinforces the question of who exactly organized the attack).
Romney did not confront the president because he wanted to come off as peaceable and close that gap with women voters, but not offering a fundamentally different view than Obama made his candidacy seem rather pointless.

If people vote on foreign policy, then Obama has won the election. Unfortunately, nobody seems to believe that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Obama talks about Romnesia

Great little video.


Is it too extreme to say Mitt Romney's business was fraud?

No it is not too extreme.  And you would hardly be among the first to say it.

Here is a class action lawsuit against Bain for fraud and unjust enrichment. Bain apparently schemed to avoid French legal regulations requiring it to assist downsized workers.  Bain sold a factory it wanted to close to a failing small business, apparently to get around French regulations on big business.  The complaint  was dismissed because the Statute of Limitations expired, not because it lacked merit.  Bain didn't want to pay for worker retraining, which shows the petty and devious mindset of these ideologues.


Granted that was 2007, after Romney "retired."

Let's back up  a year.  HCA  people accuse Bain Capital of price fixing.


Back up a few years.  More fraud.  Big Lots sold KB Toys to Bain in 2000, when Romney was still Bain chairman, accepting a note payable from Bain-KB.  KB took on debt and paid Bain off 2002, which left it unable to pay its note to Big Lots 2004.  Remember the parties involved here.  Big Lots thinks it sold KB Toys to Bain for money, but negligently allows Bain to structure a note promising their new KB acquisition will pay Big Lots the money promised, and Bain then sells its KB interest, clearing so much in fees that KB has no money and stiffs Big Lots, which means that Bain never paid Big Lots most of the money that it promised and walked away cash in hand after looting the company. Big Lots' lawsuit was dismissed because all such legal actions go through the bankruptcy court, which is why Bain was not formally convicted of fraud.


Bain, of course, had competitors. It neither invented nor perfected this bit of corporate chicanery.  Here a company called Caxton-Iseman does the same thing to Old Country Buffets.


But let us back up still more, to what happened to a company Romney himself managed.

Let's look look at the defense Romney's people have made of Dade International.  Mitt Romney managed this deal personally until he left for the Olympics. In 2002 Dade declared bankruptcy.  As part of the settlement, Bain Capital was cut out of any role because it was clear they caused the bankruptcy. At least 1,700 workers lost their jobs and 100 creditors and bond holders lost $900 million.


Romney defenders claim this deal was a big success because Dade went from being a company Bain Capital bought for $442 million in 1994 to one worth $7 billion when sold to Germany's Siemens in 2007 as reported in the pro-business, pro-GOP Forbes.   


We aren't comparing apples to apples in Forbes' article or in the Romney claims.  Dade International was a medical testing division of Baxter Labs, sold off after the company experienced losses.  Baxter had losses because the U.S. government temporarily banned it from bidding on government work because the company had cooperated with an Arab boycott of Israel.  I'm sure Romney didn't highlight this deal, his deal to manage one of Baxter's business lines, in his talks with Benjamin Netanyahu.


Of course, a quick change in name to Dade International was necessary.

Dade had 4,000 employees and $625 million annual sales.  In 1995, under Romney management, they announced they were buying DuPont Medical Diagnostics with 1,800 people and $375 million annual sales for "an undisclosed sum."


In 1997 Bain under Romney merged Dade International with German company Hoechst Behring.  Hoechst Behring had 3,200 employees and $650 million in sales.


So when they say Romney "grew" the business to $1.5 billion and 7.400 employees when Romney was in charge, what they mean is he took 3 businesses which independently had  $1.65 billion in annual sales and 9,000 employees and merged them to become one company with $1.5 billion in annual sales and 7,400 employees, furthermore favoring German products over the American product line, meaning it was the US that provided the layoffs.  Thus, during a time of explosive annual growth in medical diagnostic equipment markets and prices in the USA,  Mitt Romney managed to shrink 3 large medical diagnostic equipment companies. Dade International paid Romney $100 million dollars in management fees for that "service," more than covering Bain's $30 million investment, but not yet paying off Bain's loans.
In 1998, Bain Capital decided to cash out.  KKR offered $1.9 billion for the combined company, but the company did not like that price.  Bain made Dade borrow $420 million to pay off Bain and other investors who wanted to leave.  Dade could no longer meet its obligations with that debt and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few years down the road (after Romney had left Bain Capital).  The 100 creditors and bondholders accused Bain Capital of "unjust enrichment," causing the bankruptcy judge to eliminate any Bain Capital claims from the settlement, which left the creditors who lent money to Dade for its expansion with a $900 million loss.  

When Siemens came in and paid $7 billion for Dade International, where was the company at?  Ah, it was at $1.7 billion in sales, barely more than pre-Bain Capital years, and 6,400 employees. Profits were around $200 million per year, which is probably about the same as all three major business that were part of Dade were earning in 1994.  That is to say it had the same level of sales it had in 1994, before Bain interfered, but employed 2,600 fewer people, but probably without making any more money.


So why did Siemens pay so much for it?  Well Siemens paid $7 billion in cash for a company the market
only valued at $5 billion, and which had only been valued at $3.5 billion earlier that year.  Why would they do that? Siemens is a giant global competitor of General Electric.  GE had tried to buy Abbott Labs' similar medical diagnostics business for $8 billion. The deal fell through, but Siemens rushed to block GE's position by grabbing Dade.  In other words, it was GE and Abbott Labs whose merger talk created half the value for which Dade International was sold.  As for the rest of the $3.5 billion value, quite a healthy P/E ratio for $200 million in profit: we don't know what Bain paid for DuPont Diagnostics and what considerations were part of the Behringer deal, but we do know you can't compare Dade in 2007 to $442 million Dade  in 1994 without putting a value on DuPont and Behringer. Dade International was likely no more profitable in 2007 than its three independent businesses were in 1994, despite the magic of Mitt Romney and Bain.  1,700 employees who were downsized by Bain were worse off; as were any creditors who lent money to Dade, not realizing it would be stolen by Bain Capital, and if they couldn't stick around for the Siemens pay day.

There is no magic, still less any "management skill" in Mitt Romney.  Was it profitable to Bain? Yes. The $420 million payout to the ownership group didn't perhaps quite meet their $442 million initial investment, and since Bain borrowed most of its share, some interest as well; but the $100 million management fee covered all and then some. 

It is not too extreme to say the business of Bain Capital was destruction and deceit.  Bain's profits came directly from the workers it laid off and the lenders who had mistakenly lent to Dade in good faith.  Some of them probably made it back from Siemens, but that hardly makes Bain Capital a positive change agent.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama wins debate but still needs to work on persuasion

A combative President Obama did much better as dispelling the atmosphere of unreality Romney projects on stage tonight, causing Romney to engage in a self-pitying moment near the end, that the "president has a problem with who I am" personally.  Romney felt it is okay to slam Obama's record but that Romney's business record should be off the table.  That self-pity should have lost him the election, along with his non-answers on women's issues, his fumbling on immigration, tax cuts, Libya, etc.  The problem is that if you don't understand anything about the issues, which includes the majority of voters, you won't necessarily understand that Romney was fumbling these issues.

The first question was about jobs for college grads, and Romney claimed he's for expanding Pell Grants and student loans, which the Republicans have been fighting for years.  Obama stuck to script and said we should support manufacturing, education, energy independence, and invest war savings.  Romney claimed fewer people are employed than when Obama took office and Romney's plan would create 12 million jobs.  He also claimed he had wanted Detroit to go through a managed bankruptcy that would make them stronger, which Obama asserted wasn't true. It wasn't, but the public didn't have enough recollection of those 2009 events to remember who was telling the truth.   Obama said Romney didn't have a real plan, which is true, and that Obama created 5 million jobs: well that's a question of duelling facts and no way for the public to understand that Obama's numbers are right.  Obama should have explained that if you go to May, 2009 as your starting point, that's where his job creation numbers came from and that Romney was in effect blaming him for losses caused by the Bush recession in the first months of 2009.   Neither question really answered the college kid who needs a job in three years, although Romney claimed to.  The general point went to Obama because he was more specific about his plans, although the right wing commentators at Fox tried to attack Obama for saying "I, I, I, I" all the time.

The second question was about gas prices and Obama made a clever quip, but fumbled the question badly.  In effect, Romney says we can have energy independence in 5 years and lower gas prices, but this isn't true.  In order to make shale oil profitable enough to fulfill all our energy needs, and get production on line that quickly, gas prices have to be much higher than they are today, and if prices were high enough to do that, then OPEC could hold or lower prices and the energy companies could make hundreds of billions by getting their oil abroad.  In that scenario, you could only get energy independence if you could force the oil companies not to buy foreign oil.  Obama said Romney would turn energy policy over to oil, gas, and coal companies, which was perhaps too much of an accusation.  He will be attacked by the fact-checkers for saying it.  What could Obama have said?  When Romney blamed Obama for oil prices going up, Obama should have responded that we want energy independence, lower carbon emissions, and reasonable gas prices, but that it's a balancing act to get there. Romney says we can have lower prices and energy independence together, and that's not going to happen.  People in America aren't stupid.  If we can create jobs at home instead of sending billions to Saudi Arabia, they will be willing to pay some more, but not so much more that we lose more jobs in other sectors than we gain in the energy sector.  That should have been the response.  On the other hand, Romney didn't really "win" in the sense that his goal of energy independence in five years with little sense it can even be done and with no coercion of the oil companies has to sound like a wild fantasy.  Recommendation to Obama: focus on the price Romney's energy independence in five years would send gas to, the harm it would do to employment, and the need to coerce oil companies not to import cheaper oil to satisfy that demand, which Romney would have get from Congress.  Romney has no real plan, but Obama still fails to get that message across.

The third question was about taxes.  Here Obama really shined in pointing out that Romney's tax proposals don't add up.  Romney repeated his lie that he doesn't want to reduce the proportion of total taxes paid by the rich even though all his proposals (like ending inheritance tax, which Obama consistently fails to mention) have that effect.   Obama got a little shrill, but he had to, Romney is selling snake oil. I think that a real undecided voter watching this debate would have found this a compelling point for Obama, but I don't think Romney leaning voters would have been swayed at all.

Then they talked women's issues, and here Obama had a clear advantage, but it was kind of  a negative for Obama that he seemed more comfortable talking about this issue than about taxes and the economy.  Romney's improved election prospects in this election since the first debate were largely based on his better standing with women.  Instead of answering this question, Romney went back to repeat his lies about taxes and the economy, which was a missed opportunity. He then said he employed equal numbers of women in his Massachusetts cabinet, but that may have sounded like a quota to some of his male supporters. He certainly can't defend his tenure at Bain Capital in similar terms.  His attempt to claim he did not want employers to have the right to refuse health plans offering contraception to women was an entirely and startlingly new position.  Again, Obama failed to congratulate him for his change of heart, but at least he showed irritation for the lie.

Next, the candidates were asked to be more specific on jobs plans.  Romney said he would crack down on China, and that was the heart of his plan, to call them out on Day 1 as a currency manipulator.  What he did not say is how that would work, would he put tariffs on Chinese goods? Would he ban Chinese imports? He won't say these things because he doesn't really intend to do them, and the president should have pointed that out.

Obama did a great job in defending his record: mentioning he doubled unfair trade complaints and won them all, that he got the Chinese currency to appreciate 11% during his term, that he got several new trade agreements, and that exports had increased significantly (they have almost doubled) under his presidency. He also said Romney was involved with pioneers in outsourcing and would be the last one to get tough on China.  It was a good point, but it really should have been reinforced by stating that Romney attacks my record, but he says his business record is irrelevant and that we should only talk about his plans, but I think his record id relevant in evaluating whether or not he will follow his plans.  That would have been a nice little extra "oomph," but Obama did get in some good points.

On immigration Romney suddenly announced he was for the DREAM Act, which the Republicans have fought for years.  Obama did an excellent job of handling this issue, but it's not one Romney would have really cared to win.  It was clear that the longer the debate went on, the more fluent and tough Obama became.

Next came a softball Republican oriented question saying that the State Department refused extra security in Libya and that's why we were attacked. Obama got testy and said those were his friends who got killed that they were talking about.  He slammed Romney's early criticism, which elicited a denial.  Obama actually came off worse from this exchange than necessary by making it a personal insult when he could have also pointed out Republican Congresses cut funding requests for security and that the Bush administration had coddled Qadaffi while pretending to oppose him, when it turned out Qaddafi did have weapons of mass destruction when he was overthrown.  That said, Romney did not "win" the question because he had nothing to offer but the usual Republican nonsense about "apologizing for America."  Certainly, Obama's base got fired up by this answer when Romney lied and said Obama waited 14 days to call it a terror attack and Obama quoted his words the morning after the attack, when he said it was a terror attack.

There was a question about gun control.  Obama tried to avoid the trap of saying he is against guns, which the right has been trying to put him in, but he wasn't entirely successful.  He wasn't going to get any of those votes anyway.  Romney's blaming gun violence on single parent families was laughable and insulting.

On the subject of Outsourcing, Obama slammed Romney personally, but forgot to mention that Romney also offshores his money.  Romney probably lost the debate by whining that the president had some personal hate of  "who I am" which was not about policy.  He did not do a good job of denying his past in this area or explaining how his "getting tough on China" would actually work.

Both candidates made appeals about education in their closing remarks, with Obama talking about giving everybody a chance, and Romney outrageously promising the U.S. would be #1 in education if only he were elected president.

Obama came off much better on this debate, but unfortunately, did not entirely slam the door by persuading the average voter who hasn't been following any of these issues (does the average voter have any idea what Romney meant by self-deportation?).  Obama did enough to sway some voters, and Romney definitely sounded like a bully and then a grouchy victim, losing some but not all of the style points he picked up in the previous debate.  I think Obama is back in the game, but it will still require a massive effort and some  intense persuasion to sway the voters between now and November 6.  Unfortunately, all that's left is a foreign policy debate.

I am gratified that the president did not throw away the opportunity of the second debate. I don't find it likely that he put the election out of reach of the Republican propaganda storm that is coming. Indeed, Romney still got a few of his bogus points across without adequate rebuttal.  I guess that makes me cautiously pessimistic about the results of the debate, but I think Obama can win and right now has a better than even chance of doing so if a titanic effort is waged these next three weeks.

A Real Libyan Timeline:Cheney, GOP was Qaddafi's Hidden Ally

Republicans in Congress are now in hysteria mode blaming Obama for the attack on the U.S. Benghazi consulate. These were the same Republicans who cut the requested increases for worldwide embassy security.  They were the same Republicans who resisted Obama's giving help to the rebels who overthrew Qaddafi.  They were successors to the Republicans who claimed Libya's abandonment of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in 2003 as a foreign policy success, believing Qaddafi when they did not believe Saddam Hussein, only to have WMD stockpiles found by the rebels in 2011. It was also revealed a week before the attack that the US had rendered opponents of Qaddafi to Libya for torture by the dictator during the Bush administration. Cheney's Halliburton helped construct Qaddafi's bunker and supplied him with WMD materiel in violation of U.S. law in the 1990s, giving the ex-vice president a profit motive for preferring Libya to Iraq.  Bush left Qaddafi off the Axis of Evil even before Qaddafi renounced WMD, despite Qaddafi's support for terrorism, and seeking and using WMD.  Republicans don't want you to see the real timeline of Libya, which reveals their extensive collaboration with Qaddafi.  It raises the question of who wanted to attack the Libyan consulate Sep. 11.  Al Qaeda or Libyans disgusted by US support for Qaddafi...or, possibly, the kind of Libyan elements who supported Qaddafi and were supported by his American ally, Dick Cheney.

1968 King Idris of Libya signs nuclear non-proliferation treaty
1968 King Idris supports rebels in Chad civil war
1969 King Idris overthrown by army coup from Benghazi. Civilian government installed but Qaddafi made head of the army and the real government
1969 Qaddafi claims strip of Chad. Army defeated by French.
1970 Qaddafi asks Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to sell him nuclear weapons
1972 Qaddafi buys strip of land in Chad for Libya
1974 Libya and Pakistan agree to share nuclear secrets. 
1975 Qaddafi ratifies the nuclear non-proliferation treaty
1977  Pakistan president assassinated. Libyan nuclear techs sent home.
1978 Libya asks India to sell it nuclear technologies
1978 Libya uses proxies to invade Chad, but proxies defeated
1979: Rebels take power in Chad but cut Qaddafi ties
1980 Libya obtains uranium from Niger
1980 Swiss engineer Tinner begins trying to construct centrifuges for Libya to enrich uranium for bombs
1981 Soviet Union agrees to build nuclear facility in Libya
1981 Libya sends 200 students to U.S. to study nuclear technology
1981 Libya invades Chad, seeks unification of the two countries. OAU and France say no. Libya retreats
1981: US shoots down two Libyan planes
1982 Libya tries to buy nuclear plant in Belgium
1982 Libya supports new revolution in Chad. USA supplies government of Chad.
1982 French troops arrive in Chad
1983 Libyan students sent home. U.S. bans training Libyan students in nuclear technology
1984 Libya contracts to buy uranium conversion plant from Japan
1984: French and Libyans withdraw from Chad
1986 American planes bomb Libyan ships after Libyan planes shoot at them. Libya says it will support terrorism as long as west supports anti-Qaddafi Libyans
1986: Libyans bomb nightclub in Berlin frequented by U.S. soldiers; U.S. bombs Libya
1986: Libya invades Chad again
1986 Soviet nuclear plant construction in Libya suspended
1987: Libya uses mustard gas in latest Chad intervention.  Still defeated.
1987: Libya crushes internal revolt it says was organized by U.S.
1988: Libyan terrorist undertakes Lockerbie bombing of a civilian jet
1993: Halliburton, under the direction of Richard Cheney, sends six neutron generators  to Libya
1993: Halliburton helps build Qaddafi’s bunker
1995: Libya recruits South Africa’s disbanded apartheid era Chemical Warfare unit
1997: Libya buys centrifuge components
2000: Libya succeeds in getting a centrifuge working
2002: Axis of Evil published. Libya not included despite 1) support for terrorists; 2) use of WMD; 3) seeking WMD
2003: US intercepts ship with centrifuge parts for Libya from Malaysia
2003: Just before US attack on Iraq, Libya says willing to dismantle nuclear program
2003: Dec. 19 Libya announced it is done with WMD programs
2003: Libya admits responsibility for Lockerbie bombing
2004: Libya joins chemical weapons treaty
2004: U.S. arrests Tinner
2004: Libya ships nuclear materials to US but some not included. US claims Libyan compliance. Bush and Cheney say Libya's stand down a major victory for Bush foreign policy.
2011: Qaddafi overthrown with US, NATO assistance.  Republicans resisted Libyan “quagmire”
2011: Radioactive materials found in warehouse in Libya; chemical weapons also found despite Republican assertions of Libyan stand down of WMD

Yellow cake uranium:


nerve gasses:

2012: Republican Congress cuts funding for embassy security


2012: Libyans discover USA rendered enemies of Qaddafi to Libya for torture, acting as an ally of the Libyan dictator despite his enmity for the US and possession of WMD.


2012: Benghazi U.S. consulate attacked; Republicans start “investigation” of Obama security failure

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Biden Rides to the Rescue

The vice-president had a lot to overcome in this debate.  Paul Ryan is smooth, well-informed, a competent liar, and doesn't sound crazy.  The crowd at Center College, Kentucky was heavily Republican.  The moderator asked biased questions intended to help Ryan, saying "we all agree Medicare and Social Security are going broke," "nobody wants defense cuts" after winding down two wars, and implying that Biden may not be a good Catholic if he is pro-abortion.  Given this scenario, Biden did a superlative job.  He couldn't counter every lie, most notably Ryan's riff at the end when he misquoted Obama repeatedly trying to make it seem like Obama is as bad a liar as Romney.  There were also issues Biden could have handled better.  In general, though, he got across the reality of the cold heartless mean core of the Republican party on domestic issues and their failures on foreign policy.  His riff on the 47% didn't quite hit home as well as it should have, but the policy discussions on taxes made it clear that Biden was giving the facts and Ryan was obfuscating. Overall, I'd say a big win for the Democrats,  The press tried to make it a "tie," with Republican Anderson Cooper, a gay Quisling, trying to smash Biden for "interrupting" Ryan, which he had to do because of the sheer weight of Ryan's lies and because Romney had done that to the president.

The main problem was the odd discussion of the elephant in the room, Romney's defense buildup.  The reason why it's an elephant in the room is that the Republicans probably don't really intend any kind of defense buildup. It is a political calculation, and it runs thusly.  The Pentagon since World War II has protected its budget by spreading its facilities across the United States with a view to giving Congress a vested interest in the military budget. Romney and Ryan know as well as anyone that people want stuff from the government.  They say Obama's "stimulus" didn't work and "government can't create jobs," but they also say they want to stop defense cuts and build the defense budget to an arbitrary 4% of GDP, making no cuts in the wake of the Iraq withdrawal.  (Actually, Romney says this.  Ryan assents, but he has voted for defense reductions and would do so again). Their reasoning must be strictly electoral.  They believe the Pentagon knows how to win elections by spreading jobs across the land, and if vaguely promising a buildup will get them those votes that the Pentagon has already mapped, they will win too.That's the game. It is strictly an effort to leverage the Pentagon's political expertise. They probably have no intention at all of maintaining or increasing military spending.  I don't how the president should respond to this particular theme of Romney's but I suspect pointing out its political aim would be more helpful than just shaking the head in wonderment of why they are doing it.  It takes away the "we have a secret plan" kind of argument.

It's the same for Romney's lies about not giving tax cuts to the rich.  Why would he come out in a debate on October 3 and change the positions he's been running on? Calculation. The president is calm and collected and knows his facts. The only way to throw him in the debate is to present new positions, and unless he has been doing nothing but campaigning, an impossibility for the president, he will wonder if his staff has given him accurate briefings on Romney and that hesitation will lose the debate.  It worked.  That was it. It was a clever idea about how to win a debate. It had nothing to do with moving to the center, still less of changing Romney's mind.  It was a tactic with one aim: winning.  Winning is not policy, and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have no fixed policies beyond the success of their gang and the failure of Obama, but their cynicism about things like the Pentagon's political expertise do not bode well for the future.

Ryan's rant at the end about Obama's lies was itself a lie: Obama's plans weren't lies  but promises. They couldn't be kept, in general, because of Republican opposition.  For example, the deficit would have been cut in half if the Bush tax cuts had been rescinded as Obama wanted in 2008.  Taxes have gone down on the middle class during his time in office (and the claim of 21 new "hidden" taxes in Obamacare is a silly, easily tossed off lie, the kind that says Romney made "18 tax cuts" as Massachusetts governor when his main contribution to fiscal policy was raising 750 fees that fell mainly on the poorer end of the public).  Unemployment would have gone down if Obama could have gotten a bigger stimulus and adjustments to the tax code to stop outsourcing.   The 7% per year medical cost growth curve has stalled.  True, insurance costs are too high, but again it was the Republicans who blocked the public option, for the simple reason that Medicare Advantage proved that private companies cannot compete with government on cost because they are not more efficient. They don't have the economies of scale, they have marketing and executive costs and profits to price in, as well as political contributions to their Republican politicians, all of which the government does not have... It shouldn't be any surprise to anyone that Medicare Advantage is 12% more expensive per person than Medicare but offers no more benefits, and that's even with "preventive care."  Republicans do not believe in privatization because they want to reduce costs. They just want opportunities to turn tax dollars to private profit.  That is their only "rhyme and reason."

Ryan's efforts at "sounding stupefied" failed.  When Biden pointed out that 97% of small businesspeople make less than $250K per year, Ryan said 3% is one million people! Of course it's not.  3% of 2 million small businesspeople is 60,000 people.