Romney Campaign, Spoiled Billionaire Donors Actually Believed They Would Win

Mitt Romney with billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson

I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!

While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.

At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.

In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:

Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.

“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.

Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.

That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.

At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:

Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.

Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.

As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.

Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!

 Take a look at what happened in Philadelphia:

In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.

Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.

Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.

“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.

No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.

And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:

Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.

“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.

Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.

According to Roose,

Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….

Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.

What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,

the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama's reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].

In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”

Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.

Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:

Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12

Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.


Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

There are a couple of finance stories that I’ve been following that I’m getting ready to write more bout.  One is the story about the manipulation of LIBOR by Barclays with possible involvement of JPM and others.  Here’s an article from The Economist to get us started on the topic. Its title includes the word “banksters”.  That should be telling.

At present, the scandal rages in one country and around one bank. Barclays has been fined $450m by American and British regulators for its attempts to manipulate LIBOR. The bank’s first attempt to ride out the storm failed miserably; Bob Diamond, Barclays’ chief executive, resigned this week. The British government has ordered a parliamentary review into its banks. The reputation of the City of London, where LIBOR is set by collating estimates of their own borrowing costs from a panel of banks, has been further dented.

But this story stretches far beyond Britain. Barclays is the first bank in the spotlight because it offered to co-operate fully with regulators. It will not be the last. Investigations into the fixing of LIBOR and other rates are also under way in America, Canada and the EU. Between them, these probes cover many of the biggest names in finance: the likes of Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. Employees, from New York to Tokyo, are implicated (see article).

I’m just delving into the details now.  It will take me awhile to get to the point of being able to describe it nontechnically so please be patient.  This is huge.  It will likely show us why the moves to remove Dodd-Frank and the Volker Rule are as criminal as the intent.

Well, I certainly wouldn’t wish Bobby Jindal on the country but it appears that our Governor has made the short list in the Romney VP stake.  Frankly, anything he does is only to further his professional political career having done nothing else.  Judging from my LA twitter feed, he might just have fled the state because every one is mad at him over his move to end public education as we know it. The man has a weird personality and he excels at ambition and lying.  He’d be perfect for the job, frankly.  Romney and Jindal are a matched set of amoral liars.  Unfortunately, he won’t quit even if he gets the nod which only puts my state in worse condition than it is since he took over. Ask me about our more than double unemployment rate since he took over. He’s got his eye on 4 years from now.

On readiness for office, conversations with Romney insiders and allies suggest that they have no qualms about Portman or Pawlenty. One of Romney’s biggest complaints about President Obama is that he is in over his head and had “never run anything before.” Pawlenty governed the state of Minnesota for two terms; Portman ran the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Jindal is in his second term as governor of Louisiana. Paul Ryan, however, falls short in this regard; he was a Capitol Hill staffer and a marketing consultant before becoming a congressman at age 28.

As for chemistry with the candidate, Pawlenty, Portman and Ryan have all campaigned alongside him multiple times. Each endorsed him at critical moments in the primary process and appeared with him on the stump when they did. And each got a turn as his key surrogate on Romney’s June bus tour, which ran through their states. Jindal has not yet campaigned with the presumptive nominee, so look for that to happen soon in a swing state near you.

Does this picture remind you of something from the John Kerry Files?  Notice the dressage horses are missing.  Romney going one way on the lake.  Then, the other way on the lake … then back again the other way on the lake …

I’ll just say it: I don’t think the political pundit class understands just how toxic the Swiss/Caymans/Bermuda accounts issue is for Romney. Not that they don’t know it’s a liability at all. But I don’t think they realize the extent of it.

Here’s a report just out from ABC News on how Ted Strickland introduced Obama in Ohio …

“Oh, what a contrast, my friends, between these two men who would be president!” Strickland said, standing outside the Wolcott House Museum. “President Obama is betting on America and American workers, and Mitt Romney is betting his resources in the Cayman Islands, in Bermuda, in Switzerland and God only knows where else he is putting his resources.”Fair or not, it just rolls off the tongue. Immediately understandable. And assuming you’re not talking to the deeply ideological committed or hyper-partisans, how exactly do you understand that a man running for president has parked a lot of his money in offshore tax havens?

Whatever harsh message you’re trying to prove — out of touch with lives of ordinary Americans, plays by a different set of rules, isn’t focused on America and American workers — it fits right in.

Set aside all questions of legality. And I think Romney’s probably too smart and close to the vest to break any laws. But how do you explain it? What’s the good explanation?

Do you seek the safe harbor of Romney’s 15% tax rate?

How many of you know any one that hides assets in off shore banking havens? Better yet, how many savvy politicians would do it?

The attacks on Mississipi’s sole abortion clinic seem to be aimed at sending a court case to SCOTUS to test Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. WadeCreeping theocracy threatens the health of American women.

Earlier this week a district court issued an eleventh-hour stay to block a Mississippi law designed to shut down the state’s last surviving abortion clinic. It’s the only one that has muscled through a spate of regulations aimed at making Mississippi “abortion-free,” in the words of Gov. Phil Bryant (R).

“The Court has considered the parties’ arguments and finds Plaintiffs satisfy the requirements for temporary injunctive relief to maintain the status quo until the newly framed issues can be more thoroughly examined,” wrote U.S. district judge Daniel P. Jordan III.

Bryant’s intentions are clear: make Mississippi the first state without access to abortion. But that’s a tricky legal proposition as a result of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two key Supreme Court rulings that protect abortion rights.

The question before the courts is whether the new state law is legitimate under Roe and Casey. If so, pro-choice advocates fear it would threaten abortion rights protections nationwide

“In this case, Plaintiffs have offered evidence — including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers — that the Act’s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi,” wrote Jordan. “They likewise submitted evidence that no safety or health concerns motivated its passage. This evidence has not yet been rebutted.”

A hearing is scheduled for July 11 to determine if a preliminary injunction should follow. That’s a reasonably likely scenario since the Bush-appointed Judge Jordan issued the stay on the basis that the plaintiffs have “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

Whether or not the case climbs up to the Supreme Court and puts Roe at risk of being overturned depends on the breadth of the lower courts’ ruling. But neither side is particularly keen on going down that road — at least for now.

“From a pro-choice perspective, the less the current Court does to define Casey, the better. From a pro-life perspective, they want to wait until there’s a clear shot at Roe v. Wade,” said Scott Lemieux, a political science professor at the College of Saint Rose.

Meanwhile, back in Rush Limbaugh’s warped reality, ALL the problems of the country are due to women getting the vote.

Rush Limbaugh has a major problem when it comes to women. In the past, the conservative talk radio host has accused them of being sluts for using birth control and called those who support feminism “feminazis.” (Media Matters has compiled a pretty good list of Limbaugh’s sexist and misogynistic remarks over the years.) Now, the caustic commentator has come up with a new calumny: “When women got the right to vote is when it all went down hill.”

He made the remark on his radio program Tuesday, adding: “Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts. …”

That’s right. According to Limbaugh, America messed up big-time when it allowed all of its citizens—not just men—to vote.

I have no idea what makes people vote Republican any more but I don’t think it has anything to do with sanity.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Greed is Good Redux

The real life Gordon Gekko set went to an investor’s conference in Gotham City to defend wealth this month.  I dare you to find much difference between some of the quotes I read in this Bloomberg article and the Greed is Good speech.  Remember most of these are guys are bankers.  These aren’t guys that make cars, produce wheat, or build houses.  These are functionaries of overhead and gambling.  They still don’t seem to get that people don’t hate rich people that come by their money without manipulation of laws, favorable tax treatment, and government subsidies and bailouts.  It’s people that get wealthy by gaming the system, raiding the US treasury, and extracting huge salaries for running failed casino operations that are the targets of anger these days.  I guess all that money doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually be able to use your brain or your common sense to solve a problem.

Here’s a pretty good example of some whining that deserves no sympathy.

The organization assisted John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp. (BBT), the ninth-largest U.S. bank, and Staples Inc. co- founder Thomas Stemberg with media appearances this month.

“It still feels lonely, but the chorus is definitely increased,” Allison, 63, a former CEO of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank and now a professor at Wake Forest University’s business school, said in an interview.

At a lunch in New York, Stemberg and Allison shared their disdain for Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires public companies to disclose the ratio between the compensation of their CEOs and employee medians, according to Allison. The rule, still being fine-tuned by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is “incredibly wasteful” because it takes up time and resources, he said. Stemberg called the rule “insane” in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.

“Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive,” Allison said. “This attack is destructive.”

Oh, wait.  There’s more.

Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP (BX) CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.

“You have to have skin in the game,” said Schwarzman, 64. “I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

Some of Schwarzman’s capital gains at Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, are taxed at 15 percent, not the 35 percent top marginal income-tax rate. Attacking the banking system is a mistake because it contributes to “a healthier economy,” he said in the interview.

Paulson, the New York hedge-fund manager who became a billionaire by betting against the U.S. housing market, has also said the rich benefit society.

“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes,” Paulson & Co. said in an e-mailed statement on Oct. 11, the day Occupy Wall Street protesters left a mock tax-refund check at its president’s Upper East Side townhouse.

I’ll quote just one more and then you can read the others on your own.

Tom Golisano, billionaire founder of payroll processer Paychex Inc. (PAYX) and a former New York gubernatorial candidate, said in an interview this month that while there are examples of excess, it’s “ridiculous” to blame everyone who is rich.

“If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit,” said Golisano, who turned 70 last month, celebrating the birthday with girlfriend Monica Seles, the former tennis star who won nine Grand Slam singles titles.

There’s an entire rogue’s list of the persecuted 1 percent there along with some eye popping quotes.  I can’t decide if I should close with a reference to the Julio-Claudian period in Rome or the Bourbon monarchy in France.  Do these guys really think their contributions to civilization are all that?  Since when did destroying the savings and home values of most of the country become something to brag about?

Pitchforks or Guillotines?


Free markets are for losers

You don’t have to believe me. The S&P says so. At the very heart of the supposedly free market, right there on Wall St., they’ve got no use for it. Standard & Poors announced a mass of ratings cuts for the biggest names in banking.

Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, … Barclays, HSBC, … Citigroup, … Morgan Stanley, Commerzbank, and UBS, [all] had ratings cut by one notch. …

But. But, but, but, and however,

it upgraded ratings on two Chinese banks, Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. …

The upgrade for the Chinese banks has come at a time when there have been increased concerns about the health of the country’s banking sector. …

Analysts said while the Chinese banks were prone to the risk of accumulating bad debt, they still remain a safe bet.

“The key factor is that they are largely government owned, that means the risk to shareholders of these banks is quite low.”

Too funny. The joke is on me, thinking they believed all that free market eyewash.


Can Banksters be Shamed–or at Least Influenced–by Public Opinion?

It sure looks that way. From the Wall Street Journal:

Bank of America Corp. is dropping its plan to charge customers $5 a month for making purchases with their debit cards, a person familiar with the situation said.

The move is a dramatic retreat following decisions by several rivals in recent days to drop customer tests of the new fees. SunTrust Banks Inc. and Regions Financial Corp. also said Monday that they will stop charging customers for debit-card transactions.

Bank of America decided against the fees due to negative customer feedback on the plan and the moves by rivals, which left the Charlotte, N.C., lender as the only big bank planning to levy the fee on some customers next year.

According to Bloomberg, BofA CEO David Darnell claims the bank just “listened” to customers.

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, said in a statement from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender today. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

Darnell wants us to believe that he had no clue that customers would be angry at being charged for accessing their own money. But actually, he apparently paid more attention to what his competitors were doing.

Bank of America reversed course after competitors including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the No. 2 debit-card issuer, decided not to charge similar fees. Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) and Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Alabama, said yesterday they will eliminate their check-card fees after customers rebelled.

At least it’s a small win for the 99%. And I’m sure the banks were paying close attention to the Occupy Movement too, even if they’ll never admit it.