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The Big Theme: LIES

I spent another pleasant night not watching the Republican National Convention, but I did follow the live-blogging on ThinkProgress. It’s the best way to do it, because apparently they’ve organized a team of fact-checkers, and everytime a Republican opened their mouth, someone scurried off and looked up whether they were lying or not. It must have been a busy night, scurry, scurry, scurry, and I imagine at the end everyone was lying on the floor, panting like exhausted gerbils. Because it turned out that that was what everyone at the RNC was doing: lying.

The New Republic called Ryan’s big moment in the spotlight the Most Dishonest Convention Speech…Ever?. Charles Pierce compared Ryan to Nixon…only not as honest. New York Magazine said Ryan was betting on American ignorance (scary thing is, that’s a fairly safe bet).

Romney is on tonight. I’ll have the TV on, watching petty, vicious infighting among a mob of amoral cannibals in a devastated world. Same difference, I know.

Comments

  1. hypatiasdaughter says

    And some whipped cream to top the RNC lie sundae – I saw an ad last night for a movie about Obama that “travels to four continents” to tell you the things you “don’t know” about Obama, hosted by D’Souza. Hmmm, with D’Souza as host, are you wondering if it will be an honest look at the man or a lot of insinuation and outright B.S.?

  2. d cwilson says

    And the true beauty of it all (from the GOP’s perspective)? 99% of those lies will never be challenged in our “liberal media”.

  3. says

    Thanks for the TPM link.. that’s a nice summary of the lies.

    For more fun–you can also go to littlegreenfootballs.com and watch Charles Johnson and his crew of commenters SNARK LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW! about the convention speeches… (and really, if the Republicans win–there won’t be a tomorrow…but I don’t think that will happen…).

    It’s hilarious.

  4. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    I’m kind of a passenger on this bus ride. I’m not a citizen of the US, just living here because the person I married was here. Considering how disgusting I find the GOP, I can’t imagine the nausea and ‘I threw up in my mouth…A LOT!’ feeling that a person would have who was born here and doesn’t have the escape pod to Tatooine option of a foreigner. You have my genuine sympathies.

    The GOP are pathological truth twisters, and enough of the population is stupid enough to believe their bullshit to make them the official government. I never thought it could happen in a post-Orwell era. And now the Jesus freaks may be exempt from having to read Orwell in some places and reinforce the moron voting bloc. How fucked up can things get? I hope there’s enough sane people on voting day so we don’t have to find out. Especially so if as some of the bloggers are saying this is the ‘extinction burst’ of GOP stupidity and last chance they ever have of being ‘relevant’ (or the pretense of it).

  5. says

    Not only have the speeches been full of lies, it seems as though other Republicans don’t even know what Gov. HairgelMitt Romney stands for. For eexample, from the Think Progress link:

    8:11: McCain is attacking Obama for not doing enough in Syria. Yet Mitt Romney’s Syria policy isn’t any different from Obama’s.

    *facepalm!*

  6. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    I needed the laffs from the Borowitz article. Thanks for that, irisvanderpluym.

  7. chrisv says

    I too refuse to watch this pretense of a convention – but when I see clips and see the attendees, I am reminded that this is a group of people who “want small government” – until it is their ox being gored! And then there isn’t enough the government can do! Blatant hypocrisy! BTW, who in hell voted Grover Norquist to the position of power he apparently has…at least in the eyes of the RC.

  8. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    BTW, who in hell voted Grover Norquist to the position of power he apparently has…at least in the eyes of the RC.

    Norquist.

  9. Quinn Martindale says

    The GOP followed its recent tradition of creating an alternate reality for its members. It’s actually kind of brilliant when you think about it. Convince people that there is a liberal media out to get Republicans, and then say things so profoundly untrue that the media has to attack you for them. Your base is thus both primed to disbelieve corrections from nonpartisan sources and made to feel attacked which causes them to retreat further into your own partisan media.

    Even worse, when you lie more than your opponents, the media looks like its spends more time picking on you than them. Giving more evidence of a liberal bias and reinforcing the base’s persecution complex. This effort has been going on for a generation and is starting to pay off real dividends for the Republican Party.

  10. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    BTW, who in hell voted Grover Norquist to the position of power he apparently has…at least in the eyes of the RC.

    Norquist.

    Actually let me add to that

    Norquist and whoever is funding ATR, which we don’t know for sure.

  11. says

    Hey, it’s like they say, “Go Big or Go Home!” And Ryan is literally doing that, going big lie so he doesn’t have to go home and be a mere politician, instead of VP and potentially Pres.

  12. portia says

    I haven’t brought myself to watch. The stuff I get through the news is enough to make me homicidal. It’s astonishing to me how effective the GOP propaganda machine is. The things that people believe…

  13. portia says

    Yet Mitt Romney’s Syria policy isn’t any different from Obama’s.

    Wait wait wait. You mean to tell me that Rmoney let a policy position slip?! I thought they were all “I’m white not Obama!”

  14. David Marjanović says

    The GOP followed its recent tradition of creating an alternate reality for its members. It’s actually kind of brilliant when you think about it. Convince people that there is a liberal media out to get Republicans, and then say things so profoundly untrue that the media has to attack you for them. Your base is thus both primed to disbelieve corrections from nonpartisan sources and made to feel attacked which causes them to retreat further into your own partisan media.

    Even worse, when you lie more than your opponents, the media looks like its spends more time picking on you than them. Giving more evidence of a liberal bias and reinforcing the base’s persecution complex. This effort has been going on for a generation and is starting to pay off real dividends for the Republican Party.

    Entire comment quoted for truth.

  15. says

    The Maddow Blog also covered Paul Ryan’s lie. The article contains embedded links to sources that back up each conclusion. I did not include all those links in this excerpt.

    …Ryan lied about President Obama’s auto-industry rescue, blaming the administration for a plant closing orchestrated by President Bush. Ryan lied about Medicare, falsely accusing Obama of undermining the system. Ryan lied about the debt downgrade, falsely blaming the president for a downgrade caused by Ryan and congressional Republicans.

    Ryan lied about the Simpson-Bowles commission, falsely accusing Obama of walking away from debt reduction, and ignoring the fact that Ryan himself fought to ensure the Simpson-Bowles commission never even released a report. Ryan lied about his plans for the safety net, saying he intends to “protect the weak” when he budget plan intends to gut public investments that benefit the poor.

    Ryan lied about the debt, saying Obama “has added more debt than any other president before him,” when the truth is, that was George W. Bush — who added over $5 trillion to the debt thanks in large part to congressional votes cast by Paul Ryan.

    Ryan lied about the Recovery Act, calling the stimulus “a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst,” when reality shows the exact opposite. Ryan lied about small businesses, accusing Obama of raising their taxes, when he actually cut their taxes….

  16. says

    Talking Points Memo seems to have found the source for the lie about the plant closing in Janesville.

    This story is instructive in that it shows the lengths to which Republicans will go to wring an insult to Obama out of thin air.

  17. Quinn Martindale says

    Lynna:

    More substance than the entire Republican convention.

    Come on, he could have copy/pasted all of his AMA responses from his campaign website.

  18. says

    CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said he counted “seven or eight” claims that “fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute,” but concluded the lies didn’t matter because it was “a powerful speech” that gave Republicans what they “were hoping for.”

    CNN’s Erin Burnett added, “There will be issues with some of the facts, but it motivated people.”

    Okay. Enough. Can we please stop saying that it is okay for Paul Ryan and for Mitt Romney to lie as long as it pleases their audience?

  19. yoav says

    …someone scurried off and looked up whether they were lying or not.

    You mean this is still a question? I thought it was well established by now that any time a republican open his mouth they’re lying, the only question is what are they currently lying about.

  20. sundiver says

    Lyin’ brown-nosin’ Ryan. Is, was and always will be an asswipe. Lying about who’s responsible for the Janesville GM plant closing, lying about the “Climategate ” non-story. Then again you can always tell when this cheeseturd’s lying, his lips move. Just bizarre. I’d love to have an escape route out of this place in case Rmoney wins but at 56 aint too many options open, especially w/out a BSc. Some great articles at Slate on the lies this doucheULCC spewed last night, if y’all can stand to wade through bullshit.

  21. says

    Salon posted what they call Paul Ryan: The definitive fact check.
    Excerpts:

    Paul Ryan delivered a blistering assessment of President Obama aided by a casual disregard for facts. Many, including Salon’s Joan Walsh and Steve Kornacki, have already pointed out the speech’s mendacity, but here is a comprehensive guide of every single lie, misrepresentation, or omission from the speech, in the order they were delivered:

    [GM plant details omitted]

    Stimulus — Ryan: “The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.” Truth: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the stimulus created 3.3 million jobs. Four out of five economists agree. Ryan himself wrote letters requesting stimulus money, then lied about it.

    [Medicare details omitted]

    Jobs — Ryan: “We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.” Truth: An almost impossible goal.

    Debt — Ryan: “ The choice is whether to put hard limits on economic growth, or hard limits on the size of government, and we choose to limit government.” Truth: A false choice. There is no evidence suggesting that decreasing the size of government would grow the economy, in fact, it may hurt by killing government and contractor jobs. And much of the debt is due to Bush policies that Ryan voted for, like the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Simpson-Bowles commission — Ryan: “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” Truth: Ryan sat on that commission, and, as chairman of the Budget Committee was a leader on it. He voted against the commission’s recommendations, bringing all the other Republicans along with him.

    Credit downgrade — Ryan: Obama “began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.” When Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating in 2011, they said that it was because Republican lawmakers had taken the nation’s debt ceiling hostage…

    Poor — Ryan: “We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Truth: About two-thirds of the cuts in Ryan’s budget proposal come from programs the benefit poor people, such as food stamps. Meanwhile, he calls for tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Everyone lies. Ryan takes it to new levels.

    I don’t think that level of lying is new. Romney already set the bar for casual, unashamed lying so high that Ryan will have to continue to lie for months just to get close.

    I wonder if these two guys like each other so much because they share a common trait: they don’t know when they are lying.

  22. markd555 says

    You know it’s bad when:

    FOX NEWS:
    “to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/

    Even Fox can’t take this level of BS.

  23. says

    More people giving Ryan a pass. Hey, it’s okay to lie:

    [from Journalist Steve Benen]

    Howard Kurtz said last night’s speech included “distortions,” but it didn’t matter, because the speech “worked.” Similarly, Charles Mahtesian noted some of Ryan’s more obvious falsehoods, but said the dishonesty was irrelevant — “This was a political speech, not a policy seminar, and style, tone and rhetoric mattered as much as anything else. By those measures, Ryan scored big.”

    Chris Cillizza named Ryan one of the night’s “winners,” for “eloquently” delivering a well-written speech “packed with great lines.” What about all of the claims in the speech that were obviously untrue? Cillizza didn’t mention it. Evaluating “delivery” matters; evaluating the truth is someone else’s job.

  24. hotshoe says

    Charles Pierce’s magnificent must-read column about US national unity (and the Reckless Right attempt to destroy it)

    [writing about the approach of Isaac]

    We saw three more of them on Saturday in the daylight, entire convoys of wood-chippers, power wagons, and bucket trucks …There were electrical workers from Pennsylvania, and from North Carolina, and from Indiana and New York. There were tree workers from Indiana and Illinois and Michigan. They were from the parts of this country where there is electrical work and tree work to be done at all times of the year … This week, though, they piled into their trucks and headed south, to this place, where there is weather and work for them to do only in a small sliver of time at the end of every summer, when the storms come.
    They came rattling down Dwight Eisenhower’s great national highway system because the National Weather Service, which is itself part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, relying on satellite technology and the National Hurricane Center, told them that a storm named Isaac was going to slam into this country somewhere along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

    … In 2009, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by the zombie-eyed granny-starver who is their presumptive vice-presidential nominee, took a meat-ax to all of those programs, cutting over $450 million from NOAA’s budget alone.

    … The influential conservatives in this country are now dedicated to nothing less than the ultimate delegitimization of the concept of a national self-government.

    … If our self-government fails us, it is because we have listened to the fundamental heresy that our national government is something alien to us. The people in those trucks, pulling off the highway to grab a burger or a nap, were not moving through the American night as Indianans or Pennsylvanians or New Yorkers. They were Americans, come south to help other Americans. I was proud to share our highway with them.

    I have nothing to add.

  25. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    I happened upon ‘1984’ on netflix and skimmed through it to remind myself what it was like. The 5 minute hate scene could be swapped with footage of a republican speech with little chance of anyone noticing.

  26. says

    Reason behind Blitzers idiocy is obvious: all the press is afraid that if Romny wins they’ll be the press who shat on their speech rather than sucked them off…they’re protecting future interveiw

  27. kevinalexander says

    The media aren’t afraid of them. They just accept Rupert Murdoch’s characterization of their product as, well, just another product on the market. The truth just doesn’t sell as well as the lower priced spread.

    We’ve long know that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, it’s Murdoch’s genius to realize that you can do better with shit than with sugar.

  28. says

    I watched the video in the link on the salon article (comment #26), and this is the first time I heard a woman say that it’s impossible to get pregnant from rape. So I was wondering as I heard her say that if she only started believing this when it was recently announced. Did she believe before that rape could result in pregnancy? Also, if she seems to believe this lie so completely, would she (and other Republican women) agree to being experimented on to show that rape really does not result in pregnancy? And then if they got pregnant, would they say it was not really rape? I know that they must have a lot of cognitive dissonance going on, but I really wonder if they believe this.

  29. kagekiri says

    @39 Jamie:

    Wouldn’t consenting to be raped….make it not rape, but more like S&M role-playing?

    But yeah, the fact they still have women in their party forces me to expand my theoretical limits of the depths of self-delusion.

  30. says

    @kagekiri #40: obviously I did not think that experiment through. I guess a better idea would be to survey Republican women who have been raped and see if a child resulted. (Or they could do twisted experiments on unsuspecting Republican women, but that would be cruel. Or would they think not since they don’t think that they’ll get pregnant or it isn’t *really* rape? I don’t know; I can’t sort out what in the world they think.)

  31. kagekiri says

    @42 Jamie:

    Yeah, it’d have be a pretty horribly unethical experiment to test on people, and I suspect even a survey would just end with victim-blaming or rejection of the surveyed, even if it was only for Republican women.

  32. unclefrogy says

    jamie
    I don’t know; I can’t sort out what in the world they think.

    there is your first mistake no thinking is taking place.

    uncle frogy

  33. w00dview says

    Definitivly shows to the GOP that the media is sufficiently cowed that they can blatantly lie now and be praised by the liberal media for it

    Indeed. As Quinn Martindale @ 12 noted above it is a great little scam they are running.

    1) Spout lies and bigotry, when media reports said lies and bigotry convince your base that the media has a liberal bias and just wants to persecute conservative viewpoints.
    2) Media then gets blasted by Republican politicians and pundits everytime the media has the temerity to question them.
    3) The media noticing this tries to be more balanced to avoid the charge of bias.
    4) Their bullshit goes unchallenged.

    It is one of the most ingenious silencing tactics I have ever seen. The ultimate tone trolling.

  34. Gregory Greenwood says

    It really does seem to have reached a point where the likes of Ryan don’t even bother to make much effort to conceal the fact that they are lying any more.

    The Ryans and Romneys of the American political Right seems to have correctly assessed contemporary American politics as a system that favours style over substance at every turn – a speech that bears scant resemblance to reality, but that is calculated to cover the right ‘hot button’ topics in such a fashion as to induce as much faux-righteous indignation as possible, will be hailed as a triumph irrespective of how many equivocations, distortions and outright lies it contains. We are seeing the final transition from any kind of susbtantive, measured, credible political process to a system consisting purely of empty political theatre.

    And Ryan knows that, even should he be caught red handed in an unequivocal lie about a major issue, it would make little difference. This about mobilising core party support. He is throwing out red meat to his base, and he is safe in the knowledge that those dyed-in-the-wool Republicans would respond to any revelation of the sheer extent of his lies by constructing some kind of deliberately vague yet elaborate conspiracy on the part of the liberal media/GLBT groups/ethnic minorities/immigrants/feminists/atheists/muslim fundamentalist terror groups (delete as appropriate) to discredit Ryan.

    It is the same mechanism that those who promote creationism and climate change ‘scepticism’ rely on – the people they are primarily talking to are already true believers. When such people are confronted with the fact that the evidence is against their cherished beliefs, they don’t change their stance; instead they try to attack the evidence. They are quite happy to set their faces aganst reality itself rather than admit they are wrong.

    Sadly, such delusional people form a very large demographic, and as kevinalexander pointed out @ 38, the media is rather more concerned with what sells copy than with anything so unprofitable as championing the truth. As a result, the actual facts of the political issues get drowned out under a tide of glib sound bites as the media scrambles to give the viewing public what they want, rather than what they need.

  35. NitricAcid says

    @40

    If the experimenters slip the woman a roofie, then she’s no longer capable of consent, so it’s still rape regardless of what forms she’s signed beforehand.

  36. w00dview says

    The media noticing this tries to be more balanced to avoid the charge of bias.

    Meant to put quotation marks around balanced in the previous comment.

  37. Randomfactor says

    To paraphrase another, earlier writer: “Every word in Ryan’s speech is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”

  38. kevinalexander says

    This just in! Scientists have discovered that hurricane Isaac has torn a rift in the interdimentional fabric and thousands of denizens of Bizzarro World have poured into Miami.

    It takes some sensitive instruments though, with the Republicans in town, it’s hard to tell.

  39. says

    They had a close up of a guy with a single tear running down his face while Paul Ryan was speaking.

    Another shot revealed that, behind the single tear man of abject awe, there was a large black delegate.

    Further, nearly ever time I saw a black person in a crowd shot, they were well centralized in the frame.

    My cynicism sense was tingling.

  40. says

    Another shot revealed that, behind the single tear man of abject awe, there was a large black delegate.

    Further, nearly ever time I saw a black person in a crowd shot, they were well centralized in the frame.

    Republican organizers moved the delegate blocks from the Northern Marianas and Puerto Rico down front so that more people with darker skin would appear in TV coverage.

    Delegates from Rand Paul-supporting states were moved into the nosebleed sections so they would not be seen.

    The LA Times has more coverage on the attempt to put a brown face on a white party.
    Link.

  41. says

    More coverage on the Janesville falsehood.

    There’s a photo at the link of Janesville plant workers holding a banner commemorating the last vehicle off the Janesville line in December, 2008 … when George Bush was President.

    GM’s press release announcing the closing of the plant was issued in June 2008. One of the local papers ran this headline in December 2008, the month before Obama’s inauguration: “Hugs, tears as GM workers leave Janesville plant for last time.”

    Republicans are going to great lengths to argue that Ryan didn’t actually mislead the country. They’re wrong; Ryan’s argument was obviously and deliberately deceptive. The truth matters, and Ryan’s version of reality isn’t it.

  42. David Marjanović says

    Okay. Enough. Can we please stop saying that it is okay for Paul Ryan and for Mitt Romney to lie as long as it pleases their audience?

    QFFT!

    You know it’s bad when:

    FOX NEWS:

    …Apparently I’m awake. The world is remarkably constant, and my perception isn’t almost limited to sight.

    what is this I don’t even

    I followed the link. Here’s the paragraph after the one you quoted:

    The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

    And then follows a list of 4 lies and refutations, 2 with 1 link each, 1 with 2.

    Sally Kohn is my new heroine: speaking truth in the heart of power.

    “And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.” ♥

    “These aspects of Ryan’s resume and ideology are sticky to say the least. He would have been wise to tackle them head on and try and explain them away in his first real introduction to voters. But instead of Ryan airing his own dirty laundry, Democrats will get the chance.

    At the end of his speech, Ryan quoted his dad, who used to say to him, ‘Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.’ [Or part of the precipitate. </obligatory>]

    Ryan may have helped solve some of the likeability problems facing Romney, but ultimately by trying to deceive voters about basic facts and trying to distract voters from his own record, Ryan’s speech caused a much larger problem for himself and his running mate.”

    How did she get into Fox… and how much longer will she stay there…

    We’re living in interesting times!

    We’ve long know that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

    Depends on the kind of fly! Drosophila and the like will go for the vinegar.

  43. hexidecima says

    rather amazing that the gal on Faux Noise called Ryan and Romney liars. I wonder how long she’ll have a job there. It does amaze me that lies have become all the GOP/TP has left, and that their religion is so very clear that its god hates lies and liars.

  44. says

    A more nuanced look at the closing of the Janesville plant, a look that further condemns Ryan. Even a greatly stretched and distorted version of the story, one in which one assumes that Obama should have made it possible to reopen the plant, is wrong.
    Link.

    …The official, John Beckord, who heads the pro-business group Forward Janesville, makes two key points. First, that the market for the GM product in question [large SUVs] collapsed much faster than anyone expected it would at the time of Obama’s speech. Second, that there is no telling whether the plant would have reopened, even if the economy had recovered faster….

  45. says

    rather amazing that the gal on Faux Noise called Ryan and Romney liars

    Fox News will restrict that info to online opinion pages. It will not be allowed during prime time commentary.

  46. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    I caught a few minutes of a Fox News panel, and the projection was so strong that I could smell popcorn. They were babbling about people in a closed information loop (not their words), folks who just cannot realize that Obama can do anything wrong, and how Ryan was going to get attacked because the media is prejudiced.

    They were very actively discussing how to filter information to arrive at their version of reality.

    Is Fox owned by the Republican party’s disinformation campaign?

  47. says

    Frustrations are simmering over Ann Romney’s speech as well. She doesn’t exactly lie, she just ignores a lot of salient facts.

    …Take, for example, her empathy with the (married) couple who “would like to have another child, but wonder how they’ll afford it.” But Ann! How will this couple prevent having another child they can’t afford unless they use birth control? And how will they pay for birth control if they don’t have insurance? Or if they have insurance, what if their insurance doesn’t cover it, because they work for an organization that prohibits coverage of birth control? And if they forgo birth control and have a child anyway (because choosing to end the pregnancy is also illegal) how will they support the child? Or pay for his/her education? Will they “shop around” for a bargain on tuition, as her husband suggests?

    In acknowledging the blessings that her husband’s success has afforded her family, “good education” was repeated twice. She praised her husband for founding a program in Massachusetts that gives full tuition to the top 25% of high school graduates. What she did not mention is that these scholarships come in the form of state supported undergraduate tuition waivers. Clearly, her husband’s actions show that the government has a role in offering a boost up the ladder….

    http://open.salon.com/blog/geekate/2012/08/29/ann_romney_may_love_me_but_i_dont_love_her

  48. says

    The Bain Capital story and how it proves Romney has business sense, how it illustrates his bold ideas in turning around difficult financial situations, is also about nine tenths false.

    Matt Taibbi wrote a new article for Rolling Stone that reveals the falsehoods behind the myth.

    Excerpts:

    The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney’s run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he’s somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist there’s no more soup left. …

    Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

    By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you’ll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie….

  49. says

    Another excerpt from Matt Taibbi’s article in Rolling Stone — a good section that neatly explains how Romney ran Bain Capital after he stopped creating companies like Staples and started power fucking existing companies.

    Romney and Bain avoided the hostile approach, preferring to secure the cooperation of their takeover targets by buying off a company’s management with lucrative bonuses. Once management is on board, the rest is just math. So if the target company is worth $500 million, Bain might put down $20 million of its own cash, then borrow $350 million from an investment bank to take over a controlling stake.

    But here’s the catch. When Bain borrows all of that money from the bank, it’s the target company that ends up on the hook for all of the debt.

    Now your troubled firm – let’s say you make tricycles in Alabama – has been taken over by a bunch of slick Wall Street dudes who kicked in as little as five percent as a down payment. So in addition to whatever problems you had before, Tricycle Inc. now owes Goldman or Citigroup $350 million. With all that new debt service to pay, the company’s bottom line is suddenly untenable: You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level.

    “That interest,” says Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, “just sucks the profit out of the company.”
    Fortunately, the geniuses at Bain who now run the place are there to help tell you whom to fire. And for the service it performs cutting your company’s costs to help you pay off the massive debt that it, Bain, saddled your company with in the first place, Bain naturally charges a management fee, typically millions of dollars a year. So Tricycle Inc. now has two gigantic new burdens it never had before Bain Capital stepped into the picture: tens of millions in annual debt service, and millions more in “management fees.” Since the initial acquisition of Tricycle Inc. was probably greased by promising the company’s upper management lucrative bonuses, all that pain inevitably comes out of just one place: the benefits and payroll of the hourly workforce.

    Once all that debt is added, one of two things can happen. The company can fire workers and slash benefits to pay off all its new obligations to Goldman Sachs and Bain, leaving it ripe to be resold by Bain at a huge profit. Or it can go bankrupt – this happens after about seven percent of all private equity buyouts – leaving behind one or more shuttered factory towns. Either way, Bain wins. By power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up.

  50. says

    I have to wonder why Ryan et al don’t at any point take a look in the mirror and realise that they are horrible, horrible human beings. I’m no paragon of morality, but I simply wouldn’t have it in me to be that dishonest. It’s a talent, I guess.

  51. says

    Metz @68

    Speaking of which, finance is not my strong suit. So how do the readers here assess the accuracy of this explanation of how Mitt amassed his fortune…

    I hope ‘Tis Himself drops in to this discussion. He can explain better than I can.

    Paul Krugman and Matt Taibbi seem to have sorted Romney’s finances fairly well. One can quibble, but “mostly right” is far better than the lies coming from the Romney campaign.

    I would compare Robert Reich’s take to several of Krugman’s posts.

  52. 'Tis Himself says

    I agree with Reich’s explanation of how Romney bet against the American economy and won. The one thing you have to remember is that Romney was a modern day, legal pirate. He took profitable companies, stripped them of anything salable, and left a carcass loaded with debt. He enriched nobody but himself and his associates.

  53. says

    I (like a few others here) am a resident alien in the US. As in previous elections cycles, it will soon be time for a self imposed media black out of election coverage or I will be either grumpy, sad, or downright angry until November. I do make sure my husbands votes every time, and as a somewhat mad scientist he is likely to forget on his own.

  54. MetzO'Magic says

    Thanks for the affirmation, ‘Tis Himself:

    He took profitable companies, stripped them of anything salable, and left a carcass loaded with debt. He enriched nobody but himself and his associates.

    Ah, the Rethuglican version of The American Dream™

  55. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    He took profitable companies, stripped them of anything salable, and left a carcass loaded with debt. He enriched nobody but himself and his associates.

    Makes me nervous as there is a solid rumor my division is up for sale. Gotta keep the Redhead in health insurance until we are both on Medicare (democrat style, not rethuglican).

  56. cm's changeable moniker says

    *sigh*

    If you really want to know, ask an actual investment banker:

    Now the first value creation method—increase in the selling multiple [to earnings]—is almost entirely outside the control of the financial sponsor. It depends on market conditions at the time of sale, many years distant, and demand among buyers for [the acquired company]. Sometimes the sponsor [i.e., PE firm] can tilt the field in its favor by buying the asset particularly cheaply, but the growth in the private equity industry itself and the increased competition among rival sponsors has made this opportunity increasingly scarce. In addition, sell-side advisors and investment bankers like Yours Truly do everything in our power to prevent any buyer, financial sponsor included, from buying companies cheaply. Much to private equity’s chagrin, we have gotten pretty good at it.

    The second method requires the sponsor to use excess cash flow generated by the business (after it pays suppliers, employees, interest expense, and the like and invests required money in maintaining or improving capital assets and financing the company’s working capital needs) to repay the debt used to buy it. But given that financial sponsors typically try to minimize the amount of equity they put up in the first place (remember: their return on investment depends on having as small a denominator as possible), they usually load the business up with as much debt as prudently possible at the outset. This means, after accounting for cash operating expenses and required capital and working capital expenditures, the typical private equity investment has very little free cash flow to direct toward debt. Unless the company’s earnings and free cash flow increase, the only way to direct more cash toward debt repayment would be to starve capital expenditures, cut operations to the bone, and generally milk the property dry. This is the caricature of private equity as “vulture capitalism” which so many commenters condemn.

    But this rarely happens, and almost never intentionally. Because remember: the private equity firm and its investors only make money if they take more money out than they put in. And starving a company of resources it needs to sustain and grow future earnings destroys value. Think about it: the next buyer of the company is almost certain to be a sophisticated buyer itself, and they will figure out pretty quickly if Big Bucks has permanently weakened [the acquired company]’s earnings power. If so, it will pay less, and the reduced debt balance will likely be more than offset by the lower value it offers for the entire business. Levering up businesses with huge amounts of debt and making your equity returns primarily from the paydown of debt with excess cash flow was the old model of the leveraged buyouts of the 1980s. It only worked then because private equity firms could get businesses cheaper than they can now. Fierce competition has shut this sort of financial engineering down.

    My emphasis. Anyone who wants to talk about deregulation and competition needs to think this point through …

    So the only reliable model for private equity to make the returns it promises to its LPs is to increase the earnings of its portfolio companies. And that is what they all try to do. Sure, a lot of this involves cutting costs, and labor costs are often one of the biggest line items in company income statements which can be trimmed. But private equity also looks to improve the sales and margins of its companies, and this often entails increased investment in productive assets, company infrastructure, and, yes, employees. Many financial sponsors invest additional cash in their portfolio companies over the life of their investment, in order to support increasing sales, improved productivity and margins, and occasionally add-on acquisitions. Their objective is to make the company stronger and healthier than it was when they first bought it, and hence more valuable. Financial sponsors frankly don’t care whether increasing EBITDA and free cash flow comes from cost-cutting or revenue and margin increases—a dollar is a dollar is a dollar, after all—but most of them are fully aware that the latter is normally sustainable in a way the former is not.

  57. cm's changeable moniker says

    (That said, Romney and Ryan are both lying like [something], which is scary. See Brad DeLong for details.)

  58. DLC says

    I so want to stand in front of Romney and Ryan and demand the truth from them. But I want to be able to tazer them every time they lie. Unfortunately for me, both of them now have secret service protection, and had private security goons before that.
    You don’t get near one of these liars without careful screening.

    It’s not just the lies. It’s that they lie and expect you to believe it and throw lies and insults at you when you call them on their lies. Jebby Bush is up their lying now. (Al Gore is on Current TV doing play-by-play with a twitter-stream next to it)

  59. kreativekaos says

    Romney’s acceptance speech?

    The usual: business, faith, prayer equals ‘American Dream’, that smoke-and-mirrors approach to obscure the destructive agendas of conservatives and Republicans. No answers deeply addressing the poor, middle class, disaffected, health care for all, etc.

    And punctuating it with a swipe at addressing climate change, that got a few laughs from the peanut gallery attending? Disgusting.

  60. StevoR says

    Saw Romney’s Republican Convention speech today on the news. There was a moment where Mitt said something like that “Obama promised to stop the seas rise and heal the planet .. “ There was a long awkward pause and some uncomfortable laughter then Romney continued with something like “.. I’ll focus on your family and jobs instead.” (Implied : Forget the environment and do nothing to fight the HIRGO* “hoax” / reality.) The audience’s seemingly flat and awkward reaction to this apparent appeal to selfishness over environmental action I found interesting.

    I got a vibe that they (These committed Republicans even!) were distinctly uneasy and uncomfortable about Romneys words. Maybe more of them really know that Global Overheating is a reality that needs to be tackled than they let on? Maybe bashing the supposed “Hoax” isn’t a vote winner given that surveys now say more of the US public accept the scientific consensus and that the trend in accepting the science is growing. Maybe they’re wondering about that Hurricane Isaac that took away their conventions first day, those serious midwest USA fires and droughts and the recent record low in Arctic sea ice? Maybe those observed and alarming facts and measured phenomena were at the backs of their minds?

    Maybe.

    Maybe I’m being too optimistic and seeing what I want to see rather than what’s really there like martian canals in the eyes of the observers like Lowell over a century ago. But still ..

    Anyone else here know the moment I’m talking about and get that same sense I’ve described here?

    &&&&&&&&&&

    Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating

  61. Q.E.D says

    Quinn Martindale @ 12

    May I quote you on this and would you prefer attribution or not? I have some Republican friends who desperately need to read this.

    The GOP followed its recent tradition of creating an alternate reality for its members. It’s actually kind of brilliant when you think about it. Convince people that there is a liberal media out to get Republicans, and then say things so profoundly untrue that the media has to attack you for them. Your base is thus both primed to disbelieve corrections from nonpartisan sources and made to feel attacked which causes them to retreat further into your own partisan media.

    Even worse, when you lie more than your opponents, the media looks like its spends more time picking on you than them. Giving more evidence of a liberal bias and reinforcing the base’s persecution complex. This effort has been going on for a generation and is starting to pay off real dividends for the Republican Party.

  62. Quinn Martindale says

    Sure, you can quote me. I don’t care whether you give me attribution or not.

  63. says

    StevoR #80

    Anyone else here know the moment I’m talking about and get that same sense I’ve described here?

    Yeah. I ranted about it in the thunderdome.

    I didn’t read it the same as you *at all*.

    It seemed to me that a number of people didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about: “ocean rising? what the hell does that refer to?” And those that did understand that he meant climate change laughed condescendingly at the stupid Nigra Muslim President promising to stop this big bad hoax of liberal conspiracy.

    I’d bet dollars to donuts the semi-lukewarm response wasn’t due to any awkwardness concerning acceptance of climate change, but rather that so many of them are so ignorant that “oceans rising” is a confusing reference to god-knows-what.