Friday, July 13, 2012

Lightning Round - 071312

Haven't done one of these in a while and since a thunderstorm is rolling through here as I write, it seems appropriate:

  • There's not much to say about the report on the Penn State sex abuse scandal other than to call it what it was -- a comprehensive failure at all levels. Joe Paterno isn't here to defend himself, but perhaps that's just as well, because there's really no defense for him. Or for anyone else at the university.
  • The Obama campaign and its allies in the media, specifically the Boston Globe and the Associated Press, continue to recycle canards about the timing of Mitt Romney's departure from Bain Capital. It doesn't matter that it's been "fact-checked" before and found to be crap, apparently. I guess if I had to run on Obama's record, I'd be doing everything I can to tear down my opponent, too.
  • Tim Droogsma has been bird-dogging the coverage of the death of Clarisse Grime, a Harding High School student who died when an out-of-control driver crashed into her. Much like the case of the driver who crashed into a school bus in Cottonwood, MN a few years back, the identity of the driver is something that the media apparently would rather not discuss. He also notices something that regularly drives me nuts:
Clarisse's death is an uncomfortable story for the Star Tribune. As we've written before, the man charged with her killing - Carlos Viveros-Colorado - was an illegal immigrant who had no driver's license and a series of traffic violations - including a 2001 DWI - in his past. He went through a "voluntary deportation" a few years ago but quickly returned to the United States.  The Star Tribune's "reporters" have done their very best to minimize these facts, and the headline writers have chosen instead to focus on the vehicle, as if the type of vehicle were relevant to the story.

A search for "Clarisse Grime" on the Strib's web site reveals three stories, one photo gallery and one video about Clarisse's death. Here are the five headlines:

Out-of-control SUV kills 16-year-old St. Paul girl
Students mourn girl killed by SUV
Teenager killed by SUV
Driver of SUV that killed teen in St. Paul had no license
SUV driver is charged in St. Paul student's death

Got it? Clarisse wasn't killed by an illegal immigrant who shouldn't have been driving, she was killed by one of those evil SUV's! It's a good thing Carlos wasn't driving a Prius or the story might not even have made the paper.
          SUVs -- the shame of a nation.
  • Walter Russell Mead is always worth reading and his thoughts on the developing LIBOR scandal are spot-on, especially his takeaway:
We need a new generation of religious, spiritual and personal leaders. Otherwise we will see a cycle of decline. Weak, immoral and greedy business leaders will make bad choices. Society will pass stricter and stricter laws in the effort to control this behavior. The laws will become less and less effective as the influence of money grows and people lose self restraint.

This vicious cycle has already begun. The only question is, how far down the spiral will it take us? Much of our national business elite is losing its morality. A generation ago, it lost its faith. Unless something changes, loss of freedom will follow.
         Yep. Read the whole thing.


Anonymous said...

As a supporter, of course you believe Romney's accounts of his tenure at Bain. But which one of his stories do you believe?

Huffington Post asks some pretty interesting questions this morning, and uses Romney's own sworn testimony, signed 13Ds and sworn statements issues by him and BAIN to back up their questions. What is very clear is that somebody is full of bull.

According to sworn and signed 13Ds, Romney has declared himself the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of Bain in the same period that Bain is claiming that he had "absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies."
This is really convnient for him, since it is during this period Bain purchased Stericycle - a medical waste disposal firm that participated in abortion waste disposal. (Do you think Rick Santorum would have liked to have known that about 3 months ago?) But wait: during this same period, it turns out that Romney attended board meetings of Bain companies and made several business trips back to Boston. Here is his sworn testimony from a hearing to determine whether he met residency requirements to run for Gov. of Mass. :

"There were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth."

And this:

"I remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the LifeLike Corporation." and "I returned for most of those meetings. Others I attended by telephone if I could not return." And he collected a six-figure salary during this period too.

Lifelike and Staples were, of course, Bain companies. Yet he and Bain are claiming that he had "absolutely no involvement." Let's not forget that this was all under oath. Something doesn't smell right.

So who is lying? Is it Romney, under oath 12 years ago? Or is it Bain execs lying for him now? Should Romney admit that he was responsible for what Bain did in the period in question, (BTW, it is already established that legally, he is responsible), or should he pony up to having perjured himself? Inquiring minds want to know. Personally, I think he should release his tax returns for 1999-2001, so he can prove he had no income from Bain and was focused solely on the Olympics;)

Here's what I do know: This story won't go away quickly. And it reinforces all the narratives that make this guy seem, in the words of Robert Penn Warren, like "one sub-cutaneous son of a bitch".

Willard's got some 'splaining to do!


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Guess I'll have to vote for Obama now.

W.B. Picklesworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. D said...


I'm less worried about what Mitt Romney did twelve years ago than I am with what Barack Obama is doing right now. A lot more germane, frankly.

And most of the stuff you bring up is either meaningless innuendo, or bullshit, to wit:

Personally, I think he should release his tax returns for 1999-2001, so he can prove he had no income from Bain and was focused solely on the Olympics.

No one is claiming he had no income from Bain, least of all Mitt Romney. That's a complete strawman argument. He was a principal in the company, with an ownership stake. Of course he made money from Bain operations, just as John Kennedy made money from his family's many businesses, or any number of other politicians who make a crapload of money from their businesses.

Where it's an issue is if a politician does something that benefits his own company. And in the period in question, Mitt Romney wasn't even a politician. He was a private businessman.

The question is whether he was running the day-to-day operations at Bain. Clearly he wasn't. And if he attended meetings, so what? It wasn't as if he was forced by law to remain in Utah at all times when he was running the Olympics, or that he couldn't take a peek into what was happening. The question is whether or not he was running the day-to-day operations at Bain. And no one is suggesting he did.

Of course, the upshot of all this is that the Obama campaign is suggesting that Mitt Romney committed a felony. If they are serious about that, they should put up or shut up. They won't of course, because they have folks like you to spread their poison for them. But no sale here.


Exactly. Because whenever the Huffington Post publishes something, everyone should just surrender.

Mr. D said...

Oh, and Rich?, hardly a Republican shop, calls bullshit on this stuff, too. As does Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post and the Columbia Journalism Review. All right-wing propaganda, I'm sure.

Or maybe you'd prefer the right-wing punditry of the the Guardian, which said of another Obama campaign claim:

Barack Obama has used a tour of the swing state of Ohio to renew his claim that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, led the outsourcing of American jobs to India and China.

The assertion is controversial and has been largely discredited by independent fact-checking groups.

The desperation is palpable, dude.

Brian said...

The fact remains that Romney told one story to the SEC and another to the elections commission. They cannot both be true, except perhaps in a strictly Clintonian sense.

Anonymous said...

I just read Kessler's laughable defense of his prior fact-checking on this story. What a hoot. Apparently, Mister Kessler takes the title fact-checker about as seriously as Mister Romney would like us to take the term CEO! There are a lot of whoppers her, but this one might be the best: "We consulted with securities law experts, with many years of experience with these forms. One expert examined this document at our request. He suspected that someone had simply duplicated a filing that had been made many times before, though he acknowledged, “it looks inartful in retrospect.” He pointed out that the titles are basically meaningless, that someone can be listed as a chief executive and actually have no responsibilities whatsoever."

Yah, that's right...CEO is a meaningless term. So Why, then, are companies required to list a CEO in their SEC filings? I naively thought it was so investors could have an idea of who bore responsibility for ultimate decisions made by the companies they invested in. Maybe a good way to get lunch for the homeles would be to show up on Wall Street with a "Will be CEO for food" poster.

Then there is Kessler's incredibly charitable assumption that someone was just copying old forms - and inaccurately to boot. This holds very little water given that these forms were being filed until 2002. And are we to believe that Bain is really that sloppy? Kessler certainly is, but was Bain too?

But what may top all of it is that Kessler readily concedes that Romney did, in fact, participate in Bain operations during this period. He accepts that Romney attended board meetings of Bain acquisitions, and, from Kessler's article: "We have identified at least six filings that Romney did sign during this period: a April 13,, 1999 13D filing by Pirod Holdings regarding an investment in Rohn Industries; a Jan. 3, 2000 13D filing by VMM Merger Corp. regarding an investment in VDI MultiMedia; a Feb. 14, 2000 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund IV regarding Wesley Jessen Visioncare; a Feb. 13, 2001 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding Integrated Circuit Systems; a Feb. 14, 2001 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding ChipPAC; and a November 12, 1999 13G filing by Bain Capital Fund VI regarding Stericycle."

So again, I ask: How does Romney attend board meetings of Bain acquisitions, sign six filings on Bain acquisitions, get a six figure salary as an executive, list himself as sole owner and CEO with the SEC in these years, and insist he was not "involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way"?

It's clear to me that Kessler's article is a long and poor attempt to hide the author's shame for the shoddy work he did in his first attempt at this. The real point is staring him in the face. He just refuses to see it.

Romney had full control and authority over this firm through 2002, and was making millions off every company they drove into bankruptcy and every job they outsourced. Even if he was not running the "day to day" operations, as you sais, do you really expect me to believe that he was utterly and steadfastly unaware of them?

You want to believe this is true because you know how damaging this is for Romney. Watching his emergency interviews today, I could see that he knew too. There are a lot of holes in this story. I'd imagine there will be more.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

"...was making millions off every company they drove into bankruptcy and every job they outsourced."

Wait a second, are we still talking about Romney or are we talking about the administration now?

For the record, I think the questions you are raising are important (at least theoretically) if there was some other option than Obama. But you had better find a whole crap load of stuff proving corruption, incompetence, fraud, and generally being a dick to people because that's what the president has going for him. And avoiding Romney's supposed trouble only saddles us with Obama. And good Lord, do you seriously not notice the stink all around him?

Mr. D said...

The real point is staring him in the face. He just refuses to see it.

No, the real point is controlling the news cycle. And I'll give the Obama campaign credit for that. Every day Romney has to talk about Bain is a day he can't talk about the dismal performance of the Obama administration.

This sort of thing will work until the next set of economic numbers hits. Enjoy it while you can, Rich.

Gino said...

ya'll need to get that this story is too complicated for the average voter's attention span.

it won't sway any votes.

Anonymous said...

"Enjoy it while you can, Rich."

Well, as long as Romney wants to run on his record at Bain, without giving any details about how he will actually fix anything, I will enjoy it. Romney wants to have his cake and eat it too: He created wealth and was incredibly successfull at Bain, except for when it doesn't fit his narrative. Please! So I am not gonna wring my hands over Obama's attention to detail. Obama isn't a journalist, he is a politician. And politucs ain't bean bag. If Romney is gonna leave his flank exposed this much...that's his problem and our advantage. So I am guessing I will be enjoying the Bain atacks till the first week of November. You guys are just upset because Obama isn't following the "Democrats are wimps" narrative. This Pres ain't Gore, Kerry or Dukakis.

Moreover, Obama's attacks are legit. And contra Gino, this is not too complicated for your average voter to understand. Romney retainined his titles of owner and CEO at Bain through 2002. This means that he is legally and morally responsible for what happened there during this period. In spite of his practical level of day-to-day involvement, he is accountable. (I thought Republicans were big on personal accountability). Do we really want a guy who refuses to take responsibility for his own company while he was sole owner and CEO as President?

You may, I don't. And judging by Romney's 4 or 5 emergency interviews and his flailing responses so far, I am guessing others are feeling the same way.


Mr. D said...

So I am not gonna wring my hands over Obama's attention to detail. Obama isn't a journalist, he is a politician.

These days, that's increasingly a distinction without a difference, but I get your point. Obama can misrepresent things and he can count on the MSM not to explain things and instead play "he said/he said." So he'll keep leveling bullshit charges as long as he can get by with it. And you're probably right that he'll get by with it all the way to November on this issue.

It won't be the only issue, however. And the economic numbers are going to matter a lot more in the end.

And I suspect Romney will turn this "you're responsible for everything that happens during your tenure" argument around on Obama, too. If Romney was responsible for things that happened at Bain when he was gone, then it's hardly going to work for Obama to claim he's not responsible for things that have happened on his watch, e.g., Fast and Furious, Solyndra, etc. He can't hold Romney accountable and not be held accountable himself.

You guys are just upset because Obama isn't following the "Democrats are wimps" narrative.

I've never believed that, Rich. It's a false narrative. Every Democratic politician I've ever encountered has been a ruthless bastard whenever he (or she) felt like he (or she) could get by with it. And most of the time they can.

Kerry, Gore and Dukakis weren't wimps. Stuffed shirts and empty suits, yes, but hardly wimps.

Mr. D said...

Do we really want a guy who refuses to take responsibility for his own company while he was sole owner and CEO as President?

Although I kinda mentioned it in the last comment, this little bon mot deserves a special swat. We already have a guy who refuses to take responsibility for his own presidency in the office. Anyone who spends 3 1/2 years blaming George W. Bush won't get by with lecturing his opponent about taking responsibility. Or are only Republicans accountable for things?

Sorry for asking that last part; I already know the answer. Democrats aren't ever accountable for anything, which is of course why they should have power. It's axiomatic.