Friday, July 20, 2012

Last Call

The Boston Globe drops yet another expose' on Mitt Romney:  The Bain Capital Years as the paper reports Romney was not only firmly in charge of the company during the 1999-2002 period, but used the fact he was the man in charge as leverage to negotiate a severance package from the company.  Because, you know, he was still in charge.

Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him, according to his former associates.
Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates.
“The elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions but Mitt’s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,” said one former associate, who, like some other Romney associates, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the company.

So yes, he was clearly in charge of the company at the time it made money for its sole shareholder off of sending tens of thousands of jobs to China, Malaysia and Singapore.  And yes, it was all about making Mitt Romney fat, fat loot.

Romney had a lot at stake because Bain had become hugely valuable under his leadership. Romney established Bain Capital in 1984, and in the 15 years that followed, the company had invested $260 million in its 10 largest deals (out of more than 100 during that period) and had reaped a nearly $3 billion return.
On one deal alone, involving an Italian phone directory company, Bain had invested $51 million and reaped more than $1 billion, with Romney’s personal profit being as much as $40 million, according to a former partner. Bain’s funds nearly doubled investors’ money annually during Romney’s tenure.
Romney had expected to remain at Bain Capital for years. He initially rejected the idea of running the Olympics, recounting in his memoir, “Turnaround,” that “after fifteen years of effort, Bain Capital had become extraordinarily lucrative. How could I walk away from the golden goose, especially now that it was laying even more golden eggs?” To do so, Romney wrote, meant “I would walk away from my leadership at Bain Capital at the height of its profitability.
Filthy lucre at the expense of US jobs.  That's how Romney made his money in the private sector.
Imagine what he'll do as President.

Libor, Damn Libor, And Statistics, Part 2

The Libor manipulation scandal surrounding some of the world's biggest banks is obviously pretty huge, and the banks are now scrambling for a settlement, much cheaper than the tens of billions or more it would cost them to go to court.

Such discussions are preliminary, and it is unclear if regulators will enter these talks, aimed at resolving allegations that banks attempted to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, a benchmark that underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars in contracts.

Still, there are powerful incentives for the banks to enter joint negotiations.

Barclays Plc was the first to settle with U.S. and British regulators, paying a $453 million penalty and admitting to its role in a deal announced June 27. Its chief executive, Bob Diamond, abruptly quit the next week, bowing to public pressure and erosion of the bank's reputation.

The sources told Reuters that none of the banks involved now want to be second in line for fear that they will get similarly hostile treatment from politicians and the public. Bank discussions about a group settlement initially took place before the Barclays agreement, and picked back up in the aftermath.

It is unclear which banks are involved in the potential settlement talks. More than a dozen banks are being investigated in the scandal, including Citigroup, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. They all declined to comment.

Of course they declined to comment.  Nobody likes to speak ill of the dead when you're on death row yourself.

Very few banks came out of the financial crisis looking good. But JPMorgan and Barclays were in that elite club. Their apparent rectitude raised the possibility — as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said over and over again — that what we’d had were a few bad banks, not a hopelessly corrupted financial system. Fast forward a couple of years, and JPMorgan and Barclays are not looking so good anymore. And the particular way in which they’re not looking so good points to the fact that we did, indeed, have a hopelessly corrupted financial system.

If you haven’t been following the Libor scandal, read Dylan Matthews’ great primer. But if you refuse to do even that, here it is in a few sentences: Libor is the rate at which banks lend to each other. It’s considered a measure of how safe the financial system is. As such, many banks use it as a benchmark to set the rate on the consumer debt you and I buy — they start with the Libor rate and then they add on whatever they think our risk is. But there’s something odd about Libor: It’s a rate the banks report themselves. And, in recent weeks, we’ve found out Barclays was lying about it.
Going to go fast from here, I suspect.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Everything Kevin Drum says here.

Earlier this morning, ABC's Brian Ross reported that some guy named Jim Holmes who belonged to the Colorado Tea Party might be the same James Holmes who murdered a dozen people in a theater in Aurora last night. "Now, we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes," Ross said "but it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado."

Needless to say, it turned out that this wasn't the guy. I don't normally call for people's heads for making a mistake, even a bad one, but this is really beyond the pale. What kind of reporter says something like this on national TV despite knowing full well that he has no idea if he's pegging the right person? Is there really any good reason Ross should still be employed by ABC News by the close of business today?

An asshole, and no, in that order.

Bye, Brian.

Sarah Steelman Exposes Stupidity

... her own.

Keep in mind, this is the woman who doesn't know what our minimum wage is, though she sure has a strong opinion about keeping it there.  This is the woman who said she would vote "no" on increasing help for families who needed help during a time when the best financial planning wasn't enough to save homes. Now she's at it again.

The bill reinstates three emergency livestock programs that could help farmers in Missouri recover from the drought. Steelman said Wednesday she is still opposed to the bill because it spends too much money on special projects and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps.
“I would have voted against the farm bill because it’s too much waste,” Steelman said during a campaign event Wednesday at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center.
Looks like hungry folks who can't afford food are a waste.  This drought will send food prices soaring, putting folks who are just barely making it into not having enough.  Cut aid for people who are already on the brink and what's that spell?  H-U-N-G-E-R.  There's a lot of those hungry people in Missouri, where every single county has been declared a natural disaster by the USDA.  You know, those guys who know a hell of a lot about how farming and agriculture.

Steelman is so clueless she points to the soaring rise of food aid without realizing it's the number of people who are forced to rely on food stamps to eat enough to be productive at work.

Still think it's a good idea to vote unanimously to prevent fair pay for women?  To deprive half of our workers of the right to fair pay is criminal, yet the GOP was more worried about businesses suffering from the burden than they were for the women who work their asses off for less.  Steelman is against raising minimum wage for the same reason.  Businesses are people, too.  Real people can just suck it up and take one for the team.

I'd laugh if I didn't want to beat my head against a wall.

Bill Nye The Pundit Guy

President Obama wraps up the all-important "kids' science show host" endorsement.  And considering how openly hostile the GOP is to pretty much all science they want to go away, I can't say I blame the guy.

Appearing at a press conference this week with Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) at the Seacoast Science Center, Nye told a reporter for Foster’s Daily Democrat that the 2012 presidential election is “the most important election of my life,” and emphasized the president’s commitment to not cut public education budgets.

“I believe we’re at a crossroads, a turning point,” he said. “We can either move forward, especially in education, or backward. I think voters have a clear choice, so I’m supporting the president.”

That’s opposed to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who supports the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). An analysis by The National Education Association predicted the Ryan budget would trigger tens of thousands of job losses and push over 200,000 kids out of the Head Start program, a community welfare initiative that helps young students living in poverty — vital to keeping the dropout rate down in poor communities.

“If you fund public education, your society will innovate better and faster,” Nye said. “Scientific discoveries will create technologies that will improve the quality of life. People want those technologies, so money will come in to the U.S. rather than out.”
And he's right on all counts here.  Republicans want to make it so that the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich, and that's all that matters here.  They're destroying us one anti-science pogrom at a time.  Glad to see science is starting to fight back.

Yelling "Firing" In A Crowded Movie Theater

Police in Aurora, Colorado say at least 14 are dead and 50 are wounded as a gunman opened fire on a crowd of movie-goers attending the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises early this morning.

All of the wounded suffered from gunshot wounds, which ranged from minor to critical, said Jacque Montgomery, a spokeswoman at the University of Colorado Hospital.

"They're arriving by police, by ambulance. Some are walking in," she said.

Police were responding to a "shooting incident" at the theater, a dispatcher told CNN. The dispatcher did not provide any additional details.

The shooting incident reportedly occurred during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," witnesses told CNN affiliate KUSA.

"We saw people running around and screaming," a man, who was not identified, told KUSA.

President Obama was informed this morning and made this statement:

"Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come. "

More on this as it comes in. 


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