Daily Archives: March 5, 2012

From The American Dream

Bain Capital Owns Clear Channel (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Etc.)

Wouldn’t it be great if a Republican presidential candidate could just buy the support of just about every major conservative talk show host in America?  Well, it may not be as far-fetched as you may think.  Clear Channel owns more radio stations (850) than anyone else in the United States.  They also own Premiere Radio Networks, the company that syndicates the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, among others.  Needless to say, Clear Channel basically owns conservative talk radio in the United States.  So who owns Clear Channel?  Well, it turns out that Bain Capital is one of the primary owners of Clear Channel.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The company that Mitt Romney ran for so long is one of the “big bosses” over virtually all conservative talk radio in America.  Of course Mitt Romney is not running Bain Capital anymore.  He is a “retired partner”, but he still has a huge financial stake in Bain Capital.  We’re talking about millions upon millions of dollars.  If you doubt this, just check out page 34 of this public financial disclosure report.  So if you have been wondering why so many conservative talk show hosts are being so incredibly kind to Mitt Romney, this just might be the answer.

In the media world, there is a clear understanding that you simply do not bite the hand that feeds you.  Some of the most prominent conservative talk radio hosts are earning tens of millions of dollars a year.

If you were making tens of millions of dollars a year, wouldn’t you be very careful to avoid offending your boss?

The deal in which Bain Capital became one of the owners of Clear Channel was initiated just a short time before Mitt Romney’s first run for president.  The following comes from Wikipedia….

On November 16, 2006, Clear Channel announced plans to go private, being bought out by two private-equity firms, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners for $18.7 billion, which is just under a 10 percent premium above its closing price of $35.36 a share on November 16 (the deal values Clear Channel at $37.60 per share).

The deal was finalized in 2008.  Today, Bain Capital is still one of the primary owners of Clear Channel.

One of the subsidiaries of Clear Channel is Premiere Radio Networks.

Premiere Radio Networks distributes a whole host of conservative talk radio shows.  Everyone in the conservative world knows names such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.  Clear Channel also controls some other conservative talk radio hosts (such as Michael Savage and Mark Levin) that are not part of the Premiere Radio family.

The power that Premiere Radio Networks has is absolutely staggering.  The following is directly from the official Clear Channel website….

Premiere Radio Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, syndicates 90 radio programs and services to more than 5,000 radio affiliations and reaches over 190 million listeners weekly.  Premiere Radio is the number one radio network in the country and features the following personalities:  Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Casey Kasem, Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Bob (Kevoian) & Tom (Griswold), Delilah, Steve Harvey, Blair Garner, George Noory, John Boy and Billy, Big Tigger, Dr. Dean Edell, Bob Costas, Sean Hannity and others. Premiere is based in Sherman Oaks, California, with 13 offices nationwide.

So do you think that any of those hosts is going to risk viciously attacking Mitt Romney and Bain Capital during this election season?

Not likely.

One of the controversies that has plagued Premiere Radio Networks in recent years has been the uproar over their use of paid actors to call in to their radio shows.

The following comes from Wikipedia….

Clear Channel, through its subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks, auditions and hires actors to call in to talk radio shows and pose as listeners in order to provide shows, carried by Clear Channel and other broadcasters, with planned content in the form of stories and opinions. The custom caller service provided by Premiere Radio ensures its clients they won’t hear the same actor’s voice for at least two months in order to appear authentic to listeners who might otherwise catch on.

So perhaps that explains where some of the “Romney callers” come from.

There is nothing illegal about what Romney and Bain Capital have done, but it sure does not pass the “smell test”.

Conservative talk radio has the potential to sway millions of conservative voters in one direction or another, and it is just not proper for Bain Capital and Romney to have such an overpowering financial interest in conservative talk radio.

And yes, Mitt Romney is still bringing in lots of money from Bain Capital.  The following comes from a Wikipedia article about Mitt Romney….

At the time of his departure, Romney negotiated an agreement with Bain Capital that allowed him to receive a passive profit share as a retired partner in some Bain Capital entities, including buyout and investment funds.[62][57] With the private equity business continuing to thrive, this deal would bring him millions of dollars in income each year.[57] As a result of his business career, by 2007 Romney and his wife had a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, most of it held in blind trusts.[62] An additional blind trust existed in the name of the Romneys’ children and grandchildren that was valued at between $70 and $100 million as of 2007.[63] The couple’s net worth remained in the same range as of 2011, and was still held in blind trusts.

In addition, Bain Capital and Bain & Company continue to pour huge amounts of money into Romney’s campaign coffers.

Just check out the following list of the biggest donors to the Romney campaign.  These numbers come from opensecrets.org….

Goldman Sachs $367,200
Credit Suisse Group $203,750
Morgan Stanley $199,800
HIG Capital $186,500
Barclays $157,750
Kirkland & Ellis $132,100
Bank of America $126,500
PriceWaterhouseCoopers $118,250
EMC Corp $117,300
JPMorgan Chase & Co $112,250
The Villages $97,500
Vivint Inc $80,750
Marriott International $79,837
Sullivan & Cromwell $79,250
Bain Capital $74,500
UBS AG $73,750
Wells Fargo $61,500
Blackstone Group $59,800
Citigroup Inc $57,050
Bain & Co $52,500

As with anything, whenever you want to get to the real truth you just need to follow the money.

Earlier this week, Sean Hannity told Rick Perry that his attacks on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital sounded like something that “Occupy Wall Street” would say.

Just the other day, Rush Limbaugh compared Rick Perry to Fidel Castro and rabidly defended Mitt Romney on his radio program….

“There’s no way you can try to dress that up,” Limbaugh fumed. “I don’t understand it. Well, politically I understand it, but that’s just absurd. It’s sad. ‘Cause I really, really, really like Rick Perry! I really do. I had such hopes! I did. I’ll tell you, I did, but all of this talk about “corporate raiders,” and as I listen to politicians start talking about capitalism, lights are going off in my head. “Maybe they don’t really know what it is. Maybe they’re under some misconception about what capitalism is, because this characterization of it? A distinction with venture capitalism and vulture capitalism? This bite from Perry doesn’t compute.”

Michael Savage has been one of the worst offenders of all.  He made national headlines when he offered Newt Gingrich one millions dollars to drop out of the race so that Mitt Romney would have a clear path to the nomination.

When he announced this offer, Savage wrote the following on his own website….

“Mitt Romney is the only candidate with a chance of defeating Barack Obama, and there is nothing more important than that for future health, safety, and security of the United States of America”

So why are these conservative talk show hosts defending Mitt Romney so furiously?

I think now we know.

It is all about the money.

When you have enough money, you can get conservative talk show hosts to promote an extremely liberal candidate.

Yes, of course Bain Capital does not “control” what these talk show hosts say.

Yes, of course some of the talk show hosts toss some light criticism at Romney from time to time.

But they simply do not go after Romney like they should be.

The truth is that Mitt Romney is really a Democrat that is masquerading as a Republican.  When you closely examine his record, he is very similar to Obama.

There is no way in the world that any self-respecting conservative should ever cast a single vote for him.

But right now Mitt Romney is running away with the race for the Republican nomination.

If Republicans can be fooled this badly, is there any hope for the future of the Republican Party?

Mario Piperni on Reelection

On Obama, Second Terms and Polls

March 5, 2012 By

A piece in the Washington Post looks at what President Obama’s friends and foes envision emerging in a second Obama term. For friends it’s a projection of their “brightest hopes” while foes of the President are convinced that four more years of Marxist rule will bring about their “deepest nightmares.”

If President Obama wins a second term, he will finally endorse same-sex marriage. Gay rights groups are almost certain. He will also make a new, historic effort to fight climate change — environmentalists are pretty sure.

And Obama will finally do just what the Congressional Black Caucus wants. According to some members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Conservative groups are equally confident that Obama, freed from the fear of losing his reelection bid, would deliver on far-reaching left-wing dreams. GOP candidate Mitt Romney forecasts a runaway spending spree. Newt Gingrich envisions a “war” on the Catholic Church. The National Rifle Association predicts a crackdown on gun owners.

The funny thing about all this is: Obama himself hasn’t said he’ll do any of it.

Is it still too early to speculate long and hard on an Obama second term? Well, perhaps so, but not according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll which is nothing but bad news for Republicans. Not only has the President’s approval rating hit the 50% mark (highest since bin Laden took a bullet in the head) but it also shows voters favoring Obama over Romney (50% and 44% respectively) and a Democratic controlled congress favored over a Republican one by a 5% margin.

Romney’s favorable/unfavorable ratings have also taken a hit in the last month – 31/36 in January to 28/39 in this latest poll. Among independents, only 22% view Mitt Romney favorably. Ouch.

This is what happens when a political party and its leaders have no new ideas to offer aside from the same stale, unworkable policies which brought the economy to a standstill and worse. Add to this a year of Republicans beating up on themselves in the race to pick a nominee. Particularly damaging has been the last few months of Republicans focused on social issues and in the process frightening off women, conservatives and independent alike. It’s no wonder that liberals and Democrats hope the Republican race runs all the way to the GOP’s national convention in Tampa in late August.

How damaging has the primary season – with all of its debates, attack ads and scrutiny — been for the Republican Party?

Forty percent of all adults say the GOP contest so far has made them feel less favorable about the party, while 12 percent say they now have a more favorable impression. Forty-seven percent say it’s had no impact.

Even among Republicans, 23 percent maintain the primary season has given them a less favorable opinion of the party, versus 16 percent who say it’s been positive.

It’s only March so much can still change but at this point there is a clear message being sent out to Republicans. The majority of Americans like neither them nor the message they’ve been conveying. And with eight months until November and Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee, there does not appear to be anyone or anything that is going to change that message.

So while the President’s supporters and detractors debate and speculate on whom the real Obama is and what his true intentions might be, the Republican party currently finds itself in the midst of an internal, ugly struggle on defining who they are.

As for voters, it appears they’re quickly coming to their own conclusions.

The Borowitz Report

In Positive Economic Sign, Republicans Starting to Say Obama Wasn’t Born in US Again

S & P Birther Index Posts Big Gains

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In what some experts are calling a strong indicator of improvement in the economy, Republicans in recent weeks have begun renewing their claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

While most economists agree that any significant improvement in the US economy is generally accompanied by an uptick in GOP questions about Mr. Obama’s place of birth, there is now an econometric tool for measuring the increase in those claims: the so-called S & P Birther Index.

The Birther Index, established in 2008, measures the occurrences of such words as “birth certificate,” “Kenya,” and “wasn’t born here” in Republican statements about the President, and has proven to be a surprisingly reliable tool for tracking improvements in the economy.

Harland Dorinson, the economist who devised the S & P Birther Index, said that as the economy recovers the index also shows a  strong surge in statements questioning the President’s Christianity.

“As unemployment started going down, we saw an increase in references to Mr. Obama being a Muslim,” he said.  “This is generally a very bullish sign for the economy.”

But Mr. Dorinson was quick to add that while the surge in references to Mr. Obama being “an Islamic socialist born in a mud-hut in Nairobi” is encouraging, the economy is not out of the woods yet.

“We won’t be fully in a recovery until the Republicans start calling him a Wiccan,” he said.  “And if they start saying he’s a Satanist who practices human sacrifice and drinks the blood of children, then it’ll be time to pop open the champagne.”

Hairball Fever

Helping Romney Win the All-Important Confederate Constituency

via Political Animal by Adele Stan on 3/3/12

So Mitt Romney has an important new celebrity endorser: none other than Ted Nugent, of “Cat Scratch Fever” fame (and not any other hit song kind of fame).

Nugent conveyed his endorsement yesterday via Twitter, reports Politico’s Burns & Haberman Caitlin McDevitt, after having what Nugent tweeted was “a long heart&soul (sic) conversation” with Romney.

In endorsing Romney, the Motor City Madman, as Nugent likes to be known, parts company with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom Nugent endorsed for governor in 2006. (Perry now belongs to the Gingrich camp.)

Nugent made waves at the governor’s 2007 inaugural ball, according to a report that appeared at the time in the Houston Chronicle:

Nugent appeared onstage wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned with the sure-to-draw-headlines Confederate flag and shouting some unflattering remarks about non-English speakers, according to people who were in attendance. His props were machine guns.

UPDATE: And it gets better. That same year, Nugent referred to Barack Obama as “a piece of sh*t” who should “suck on my machine gun.” In a 1994 interview, Nugent referred to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton as “a toxic c–t,” a “bitch” and a “two-bit whore.”

Nice get, Mitt. (Is this what “severely conservative” means?)

For the record, Nugent says he would have preferred Perry if the Lone Star Tenther hadn’t flunked the debates. From the Texas Tribune:

“Whatever occurred at those early debates that caused the real Rick Perry to take a back seat to whoever that was literally caused my wife to cry,” Nugent said. “We thought, ‘Has he been advised by idiots?’ To this day, we still don’t know what happened.”

Greg Palast on the BP Payoff

BP Settlement Sells Out Victims

Deal buries evidence of oil company willful negligence

by Greg Palast for TheMudflats
Sunday, March 4, 2012

Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Greg Palast led a four-continent investigation of BP PLC for Britain’s television series Dispatches. From 1989-91, Palast directed the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding for Alaska Native villages.

Some deal. BP gets the gold mine and its victims get the shaft. And a few lawyers will get vacation homes—though they won’t be so stupid as to build them on the Gulf Coast.

On Friday night, the judge-picked lawyers for 120,000 victims of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out cut a back-room deal with oil company BP PLC which will save the lawyers the hard work of a trial and save the oil giant billions of dollars. It will also save the company the threat of exposing the true and very ugly story of the Gulf of Mexico oil platform blow-out.

I have been to the Gulf and seen the damage — and the oil that BP says is gone.  Miles of it.  As an economist who calculated damages for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, I can tell you right now that there is no way, no how, that the $7.8 billion BP says it will spend on this settlement will cover that damage, the lost incomes, homes, businesses and boats, let alone the lost lives — from cancers, fetal deformities, miscarriages, and lung and skin diseases.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama forced BP to set aside at least $20 billion for the oil spill’s victims.  This week’s settlement will add exactly ZERO to that fund.  Indeed, BP is crowing that, adding in the sums already paid out, the company will still have spent less than the amount committed to the Obama fund.

There’s so much corrosion, mendacity and evil here in this settlement deal that I hardly know where to begin.

So, let’s start with punitive damages.

I was stunned that there is no provision, as expected, for a punishment fee to by paid by BP for it’s willful negligence. In the Exxon Valdez trial, a jury awarded us $5 billion in punitives – and BP’s action, and the damage caused in the Gulf, is far, far worse.

BP now has to pay no more than proven damages. It’s like telling a bank robber, “Hey, just put back the money in the vault and all’s forgiven.”

This case screamed for punitive damages. Here’s just a couple of facts that should have been presented to a jury:

For example, the only reason six hundred miles of Gulf coastline has been slimed by oil was that BP failed to have emergency oil spill containment equipment ready to roll when the Deepwater Horizon blew out. BP had promised the equipment’s readiness in writing and under oath.

And here’s the sick, sick part. This is exactly the same thing BP did in the Exxon Valdez case. It was BP, not Exxon, that was responsible for stopping the spread of oil in Alaska in 1989. In Alaska, decades ago, BP told federal regulators it would have oil spill “boom” (the rubber that corrals the spreading stuff) ready to roll out if a tanker hit. When the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef, BP’s promised equipment wasn’t there: BP had lied.

And in 2010, BP did it again. Instead of getting the oil contained in five hours as promised as a condition of drilling, it took five days to get the equipment in place (and that was done by the US Navy on orders of the President).

This was more than negligence: it was fraud, and by a repeat offender. Now BP is laughing all the way to the bank.

And there’s more. BP mixed nitrogen into the cement which capped the well-head below the Deepwater Horizon. BP claimed to be shocked and horrified when the cement failed, releasing methane gas that blew apart the rig. BP accused the cement’s seller, Halliburton, of hiding the fact that this “quick-set” cement can blow out in deep water.

But, in an investigation that took me to Central Asia, I discovered that BP knew the quick-set cement could fail – because it had failed already in an earlier blow-out which BP covered up with the help of an Asian dictatorship.

The lack of promised equipment, the prior blow-out — it all could have, should have, come out in trial.

Think about it: BP knew the cement could fail but continued to use it to save money. Over time, the savings to BP of its life-threatening methods added up to billions of dollars worldwide. BP will get to keep that savings bought at the cost of eleven men’s lives.

Other investigators have uncovered more penny-pinching, life-threatening failures by BP and its drilling buck-buddies, Halliburton and TransOcean. These include bogus “blow-out preventers” and a managerial system that could be called, “We-Don’t-Care Chaos.”

As BP had no choice but to pay proven damages and conceded as much, what exactly are the lawyers getting paid for? (Don’t be surprised if the fee requests hit a billion dollars.)

How could these lawyers let BP walk away on the cheap? The judge picked the lawyers that would settle or try the case for the 120,000 plaintiffs. His Honor side-lined the legal “A-Team,” like Cajun trial lawyer Daniel Becnel, guys with the guts, experience and financial wherewithal to go eyeball-to-eyeball with BP and not blink. Welcome to Louisiana, oil colony.

So BP walks without the civil punishment that tort law and justice demand, grinning and ready to do it again: drill on the cheap with the price paid by its workers and the public.

But stopping a trial denies the public more than the full payment due: it denies us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The President has just opened up the arctic waters of Alaska for drilling, has reopened the Gulf to deepwater platforms, and is fiddling with the idea of allowing the XL Pipeline to slice America in half.

So we need to know: Can we trust this industry?

Without a trial in the Deepwater Horizon case, we may never get the answer, never get the the full story of the prior blow-outs, the fakery in the spill response system, and other profits-first kill-later trickery that bloats the bottom line of BP and the entire drill-baby-drill industry.