Monday, August 10, 2015

Carly Fiorina Takes A Page From The Herman Cain Playbook on Taxes

Earlier today, Carly Fiorina, former failed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and perceived champion of the second tier train wreck that was the first Republican primary debate, sat down for an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace.

During the interview, the Fox News host played a clip of DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticizing Fiorina for her disastrous tenure at HP.  Fiorina defended herself by prattling on the same inane and mundane talking points that she's been saying for months every time this subject came up:

Yes. And you know, I'm flattered that the head of DNC would come after me. I guess that means we're gaining traction here.

But here's the facts: I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time, the dotcom bust post-9/11, the worst technology recession in 25 years. I would remind Debbie Wasserman Schultz that it has taken the NASDAQ 15 years to recover.

Sometimes in tough times, tough calls are necessary. However, we also took a company from $44 billion to almost $90 million. We quadrupled its growth rate, quadrupled its cash flow, tripled its innovation to 11 patents a day, and went from lagging behind to leading in every product category in every market segment.
Okay, I'm tired of hearing Fiorina spew the same misleading figures over and over again, so let's set the record straight.

Did HP nearly double its revenue while Fiorina was in charge? Yes, but it's missing some very important context. As Andy Serwer and Tae Kim point out at Yahoo! Finance:

Yes, Fiorina did double HP’s revenues by buying Compaq, but at what cost? Let’s take a look at the numbers. In 1999 when she arrived at the company, HP had $42 billion in sales and $3.1 billion in net earnings. When she left in 2005, HP had $87 billion in sales but only $2.4 billion in earnings. 
So although revenues doubled (mainly due to adding Compaq's revenues), net earnings (i.e. profits) went down. Why did that happen?

In subsequent years HP would become more profitable—to a large degree due to cost cutting by her successor as CEO, Mark Hurd—but the company would never become the moneymaking juggernaut Fiorina promised. Why is that? To a large degree it’s because HP basically traded a slice of its high-margin printer business for a larger share of the lower-margin PC business. For example, in 2004, after the merger and before Fiorina left the company, HP’s printer business produced $24 billion in sales and $3.8 billion in profits, while PCs produced $25 billion in sales, but only $210 million in profits.

Boy that sure is some savvy business acumen! And if that's not amusing enough, as Matt Krantz from USA Today points out, Fiorina financed the acquisition of Compaq by piling on massive amounts of debt:

That’s right. She created a larger company — with more debt. Wonder how that would work in government?

For the rest of Fiorina's dubious statistics, you can check out Glenn Kessler's and's posts on the subject here and here.

But there was one line Fiorina said during the interview that I really wanted to highlight. Wallace asked her about her tax policy and if she would cut rates for the wealthy. This was her response:

Yes. So, we have a 75,000-page tax code today. And that complexity favors the wealthy and the big and the well-connected because they can hire the accountants and the lawyers and the lobbyists to figure out how to make all that complexly work for them. We've got to get it down to three.
Some of you may find this proposal sounding familiar. That's because this ingenious idea was first advocated by a previous Republican frontrunner (and this blog's favorite Republican candidate from the last election), Herman Cain:

Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill — and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live — send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table.
I don't know about you guys, but I for one am quite impressed that the tax policy from a former CEO of a major tech company has an equal level of sophistication as one that came from the brilliant mind of the Cain Train.

The primaries are off to a fantastic start.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thoughts On The First Republican Debate/Train Wreck

So here are my (very belated) thoughts and opinions on the first of hopefully many Republican primary debates.

 Donald Trump:

The Donald was definitely the winner of the night. He did what was about expected, came on stage, acted like a douchebag, provided the base with a lot of red meat, etc. I've read some people say that he might have some trouble getting Republicans to trust him due to his previous support for Democratic positions, but I don't think that really matters much. Republicans don't give a shit whether someone might have been a Democrat at one point as long as they demonstrate themselves to be 1) totally and utterly repentant for their past crimes and 2) promise to do anything and everything in their power to fuck up Democrat supported initiatives.

Trump can say that he was young and naive (5 years ago) and that he's grown up/seen the light, and the teatards will eat it all up. Evangelicals in particular, love the idea of people seeking forgiveness for past transgressions (with the caveat that you vow to join the right team, of course). And as Trump himself pointed out, the greatest Republican of all time, St. Ronnie himself used to be a Democrat, so why would it be such a stretch to think someone like Trump couldn't make a similar conversion?

But there is one thing that Trump said that makes me think he may have pissed off a few loyal Republicans that night. And no, it's not his misogynistic attacks on Megyn Kelly.

Nay, rather it dealt with one of the most talked about exchanges of the night, when Chris Wallace asked everyone on stage whether they would run as a third party candidate if they didn't get the nomination. Trump was the only one to raise his hand, after which, he was immediately booed by the audience. The teabaggers might not be smart enough to realize that medicare is a government program, but they're just smart enough to realize that a third party run would split Republican votes and gift wrap the presidency for Hillary. For as much as the tea folk despise the idea of RINOs and "squishes", they despise any democrat (especially a Clinton) infinitely more. Trump should tread carefully.

Jeb Bush:

Jeb was pretty boring overall, but there was one moment where I feel he seemed to screw himself up pretty badly, I thought. When he was asked about his past comments about treating undocumented immigrants as actual humans, he had the gall to defend himself! He didn't back down and said he still stands by those remarks. Jeb was already in hot water on this issue before the debate, and considering the Republican base won't tolerate anything short of shooting the illegals out of a canon back into Mexico, Jeb really didn't do himself any favors that night. I figure he'll pull a Mitt Romney and go hard right on immigration at some point in the next few debates. Should be fun to watch.

Marco Rubio:

Aside from the hilarious jab at Hillary with his "resume" remarks, Rubio was doing decent, if a bit boring for the most part. At least until he made certain that he would never win the general with his insane stance on abortion. Yes, the water boy made it clear that he would oppose abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. And he even doubled down on that position since! Furthermore, because Rubio said this, it means that the other candidates would have to veer just as far on this issue. Only the first debate so far and it already feels like Christmas.

I have to make an abrupt stop here for reasons. I'll finish up this post soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Allen West Politely Suggests Government May Have to Be Overthrown If Obama Attempts More Gun Control

About a week ago, President Obama gave an interview with the BBC, and was asked what the biggest regret of his presidency was:

“The issue of guns, that is an area where if you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws.”

As you would probably expect, like with everything else Obama says, conservatives were none too pleased. Among those who voiced their displeasure at the President's comments, was former congressman, and current war criminal, Allen West. 

In a not-at-all-ominous-sounding article titled "Obama needs to remember what happens when you push law-abiding people TOO FAR", West offers Obama a friendly warning if he attempts to somehow pursue any further gun control policies:

President Obama and the liberal progressive left must never forget the reason why Americans stood at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge. A tyrant wanted gun control – the answer was the “shot heard ‘round the world.”

I'm pretty sure that the folks who "stood at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge" had other motivations to do so, but whatever.

But it's nice that West wrote an article whining about how gun control isn't necessary, because the people committing most of the gun violence aren't patriotic conservatives like West, which is why if Obama pursues more gun control, said patriotic people like West will have no choice but to commit lots of gun violence themselves. Nothing unreasonable about that at all.