Partners Forever (or close to it)

Mitt Romney is taking some flack for continuing to have ongoing involvement in Bain Capital well after he supposedly left the firm for good in 1999. I am not supporting Romney for President as I can't get comfortable with his party's views on social issues that matter a lot to me. But I have a fair bit of empathy for him on this specific issue.

I am still technically a partner in a venture capital firm (Euclid Partners) that I left in early 1996. I still get K1s from them as there remain a few illiquid investments in the last fund I was a partner in.

We stopped investing at Flatiron Partners in the summer of 2000, twelve years ago. I still sit on several boards from that portfolio. One of my partners sits on another board. We have three funds that remain active. We send out annual reports and K1s on all of them. I sign things all the time for Flatiron. And I haven't been "active" in that business for a decade.

Venture Capital and Private Equity are "long latency" businesses. You can leave a firm, you can start a new career, a new business, or go into politics. But you aren't going to be completely done with the investments you made and the partnerships you set up or were partners in for a long time.

I suppose there are ways to have a clean break, but they would not be simple to accomplish. You would need to be bought out and who is going to establish fair value for highly illiquid investments? Who is going to put up the money to buy you out? And getting all the investors to sign off on these changes is another hurdle. And allocating your equity to others is another challenge. That's why I am still a partner in two businesses that I have not been active in for a long time. It's a lot easier to just let things run off and have a departed partner be a "silent partner" with no operating role or responsibility. But even if you are a silent partner, you still need to sign stuff from time to time.

I think the Obama team is beating up Romney for something that makes great headlines and might look bad to an unsophisticated voter. But to me this looks petty and cheap. I don't like petty and cheap. I wish the Obama team would talk about important stuff instead of beating up a guy over nonsense.

#Politics#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. NYMarKon

    perfect Post Fred – thanks for your reasoned approach.

  2. Anne Libby

    Naive question: would a blind trust (Bloomberg’s solution) accomplish this effective separation?

    1. fredwilson

      Its a common solutionBut if you think mike bloomberg doesn’t have a say in how Blomberg LP is operated, I think you would be mistaken

      1. Anne Libby

        Whether Romney should have felt, or been, compelled to claim separation is moot…he did. Now it’s on him to clarify.”When you play the game of thrones…”

  3. Miss Outlier

    The incorrect allegations about Romney being involved in Bain post-1999 have been thoroughly exposed – see here at CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/… where even Democrats say he wasn’t at Bain, and here at two trusted fact-checking organizations: http://www.washingtonpost.c… and here: http://factcheck.org/2012/0…. So not only are the attacks petty and cheap, they are lies.Obama should indeed stick to debating more important issues, this is not worth the voter’s time.

    1. fredwilson

      I guess my point is I don’t care about all of that, it is noise to me

      1. Dale Allyn

        It really is an unfortunate distraction, isn’t, Fred? We have real issues worth discussing and governing.

      2. JLM

        .Quite so and though you and I may disagree on some issues — really fewer and fewer as time passes — this we can agree on:This has nothing to do with creating jobs, righting the economy or making the world better.Let’s work together on those things we agree upon and make the world just a bit better and then we can negotiate the small differences.Let’s (not JLM and FW but the whole damn world) try to be adults and statesman.We have a great Nation, let’s fix things and move on..

  4. falicon

    It’s not just investing that has this issue…as a dev I still have strong ties to all the companies and people I have worked for…long after the money has been spent and the ‘contract’ has ended…simply put “if I built it, I will support it”. Which means at least on some level I am always connected to those I have done business with…but I think that is the right way to build a reputation (and part of why I think reputation is so important)

    1. fredwilson

      Great point

    2. Dan Goldin

      Unfortunately a company’s reputation may change and then you’re left defending the work. People have a pretty short memory and as soon as you bring politics into it it gets even worse..

      1. falicon

        True…yet another reason I really don’t like politics…

        1. Dan Goldin

          Yea – too bad their decisions affect us and it’s not just a game of pretend.

          1. falicon

            Yep. I vote (unfort. By picking the lesser of all evils)…and I try to do what I can by example on a local level…but beyond that I generally feel it’s out of my power and more drain than it’s worth…so as much as possible I minize the amount of time, attention, and (limited in my case) brain power I dedicate to Politics…so far it’s been a pretty happy solution (I guess ignorance can actually be bliss at times!)

    3. raycote

      If Mitt is so proud of his reputation and accomplishments at Bain why is he so desperate to separate himself from Bain’s behaviours ofter 1999?Does this not imply that Mitt too agrees that those behaviours are at least to some degree socially/morally/financially suspect behaviours?And if Mitt feels that those behaviours were that suspect why as owner and CEO did he choose, at that time, not to exercise the control at his disposal to intercede.Sure he was not managing day to day affairs but are we to believe he was not even globally aware of the thrust of key initiatives by a company that he still owned and at which he was still the CEO?The real problem for Mitt is that he like so many others in the financial/political industry would like to maintain the fallacy that there is a firewall between corporate behaviours/interests and democratic community responsibilities.Like Fred I agree that Mitt is getting more of a beating here than he deserves.When you strip away the party spin-narratives there seems to be a very strong lobby-financed bio-partisan support for that fallacy driven firewall.Both parties need to start elucidating their leadership vision, their new political fabric of narratives and metaphors for taming the emerging organic interdependencies inherent in a network driven social/political/commerce integrative reality.That fallacy driven corporate vs community-responsibilities firewall is now existentially dead dead dead!Political-dinosaur road kill on our way to a network based economy.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        political-dinosaur road killGreat wordsmithing.

  5. bob

    Are you still the CEO, Chairman, and sole owner at Euclid and Flatiron? Have you publicly stated on numerous occasions that you left all those organizations save for separation benefits? Have your defenders (or you, in the case of those investments where you sit on the board) said that you have no responsibility for decisions made by those organization after the date on which you (claim to have) left?Yes, VC and PE are long latency, and it can take a long time for investments and partnerships to work out. Being a silent (or limited) partner is one thing. Being the sole owner, CEO, etc. and saying you have no involvement is different, and I disagree that pointing this out is either petty or cheap.

    1. JLM

      .As a guy who has run a public company, been a GP in hundreds of LPs (some of which will never be terminated for legitimate business reasons) and who has routinely dealt with the SEC for decades, I can only say that your lack of knowledge as to how this all works in reality is breathtaking in its ignorance.To suggest that the fill in the box filings of a SEC form are the mechanism by which a company is actually run is just raw ignorance.The term CEO is a term which is driven by such things as ByLaws while the term Managing Director is an undefined term which has to do with whom is actually running the show.This is just camouflage for a President who has the most abysmal record of RUNNING THE COUNTRY in history.This is really not about jobs in any manner.Record spending, record deficits, record national debt, record unemployment, record foodstamp explosion — not a record anyone would want to run on, so let’s talk about BAIN which was, in fact, hugely profitable..

      1. NYMarKon

        not a bad description of a common perspective.. I liked it (except for the breathtakingly ignorant comments…. – come on man really? you disagree and the other person is ignorant?)

        1. JamesHRH

          The usage is correct. Ignorant means without knowledge, which is supported by JLM’s statements.

        2. JLM

          .I do agree that it could be taken that way and for that I will gladly apologize. It was not intended in a hurtful way.I personally am ignorant about many, many things and view it as simply a void of knowledge not that I am stupid.Though I have received pointed counsel to reconsider that possibility from time to time..

      2. Aaron Klein

        You know what is really breathtaking in its ignorance?10 downvotes on this comment.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          With a post like this, it’s going to be that kind of day.I’m expecting a few downvotes today and I’m not even that [email protected]:disqus still has well over 1000 more “likes” than he does comments. He can handle it. 🙂

          1. Aaron Klein

            Oh, I know he can handle it. But he listed facts and a coherent opinion. I don’t get people who just go through and downvote opinions they don’t agree with.That’s not the purpose for the button. 🙂

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I’m not sure I have quite yet figured out the purpose of that button. I think I heard somewhere that the less explanation needed, the better the UX design. Love the Disqus crew and think they are amazing (especially after finding out how young Daniel is — genius material) but possible fail on this one. I say “possible” because I know there are things I don’t know or understand.Although I admit (shhhh) that as much as I am not a proponent of the downvote button, on days like this I appreciate it. I am such a hypocrite at times. But, still, trying to be judicious in the application of said button.

          3. Aaron Klein

            Yes, if I were Disqus, I would have had a heart, star or “Like” button and no down vote.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            I know you didn’t mean it that way, but it would be cool to be able to favorite comments in addition to liking them. Then you would have a collection somewhere of your favorite comments.I want the moon.

          5. JLM

            .That is a brilliant and fabulous idea..

          6. Aaron Klein

            Yes, that’s a really interesting distinction.Facebook Likes and Twitter Favorites are very different actions for me. FB Likes mean “good for you” and “that’s cool.”Twitter Favorites are a curated collection of my favorite tweets. I won’t favorite something just to say “good for you” – only stuff that makes me laugh or think.I find myself liking posts on Facebook that I declined to favorite on Twitter.If I were Disqus, up and down would be replaced by thumbs-up and star.

          7. Dale Allyn

            @aaronklein:disqus , @donnawhite:disqus , @JLM:disqusI applaud the Disqus gang for the evolving process and experimentation. Your comments here are great, and I have strong opinions on the topic as well (as I’ve frequently mentioned). Rather than following HN or other services, there is opportunity to combine gestures and add new ones that really sets Disqus apart.A “favorite” element adds another advantage in that it can increase direct engagement with the Disqus dashboard. I spend a lot of time on the dashboard, but I image that many do not. Improving the gestures and curation opportunities can fuel more engagement as well as cross-community exploration.Enormous opportunity here…

          8. JLM

            .I agree with you more than you agree with yourself..

          9. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            @JLM . I would want you for an advocate even if you despised me ! But 1000 more likes than comments requires explanation ! – There is a tawdry travesty of truth going on – so as I know that you do not fear the truth and rather like that, I may say my piece….I posit that if you were a Middle-Eastern Islamicist with identical command of English (or less favourably American) to express your views and absent pro-American stances – you might have less likes – (probably). It seems “likes” are neither product of respect nor agreement, but some messy admixture .I try to vote likes on the basis of how well expressed comments are, how insightful, novel or compelling or how well argued they are, rather than expressing my degree of accord with underlying sentiment. In this I may not be alone, but I am relatively lonely.So I propose that there should be four flags – They can carry Stars and Stripes if you choose, but let their meaning be clear … “agree + respect”, “respectfully disagree”, “I hate everything about you and the way you explain it” and finally “While thinking your argument utter crap – I can nonetheless agree with your proposition”.If for the Avc community it is better to argue well from an unpopular position (we all respect an underdog who keeps trying) , is it yet better to be popular but worthy of no respect. This as I understand, is known as Politic. http://www.thefreedictionar… – and I wash my hands of it !Having conducted this exercise we could then ask political administrations to pander to our well-being and not our likes ! And rather than politicians we could raise them up as public servants !

          10. JLM

            .Who could ever imagine a couple of Kipling devotees despising each other? Blasphemy, really..

        2. ShanaC

          welcome to politics

          1. Aaron Klein

            10 years ago, I probably got that worked up about politics.Not any more.Who leads our country is important, but there are a lot more productive ways to interact with fellow humans who disagree. 🙂

        3. LE

          I think many of the downvotes came because of this:”I can only say that your lack of knowledge as to how this all works in reality is breathtaking in its ignorance.””To suggest that the fill in the box filings of a SEC form are the mechanism by which a company is actually run is just raw ignorance.”

          1. Aaron Klein

            This is a community of entrepreneurs, and if they don’t understand those two basic points, they are coming to the wrong bar.Just my opinion.

          2. LE

            (I didn’t downvote). I just believe that it was the use of the word “ignorance” was objectionable to some as it sounds patronizing and parental and not appropriate.Now there are times when you need to be patronizing and it is appropriate.Here is a quote from one of the “Air bosses” on the USS Enterprise CVN-65 aircraft carrier that I liked:”I’m really not concerned about someone’s precious little feelings. I’d much rather have their precious little life”.

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Whoops – I may be in the wrong bar ! You see I visit all the way from Switzerland and I am not clear “exactly” what the role of the SEC is. I bet if you changed SEC to FRC it would throw a few AVC readers, but not all. (Financial Reporting Council in the UK)Do the SEC keep track of stuff like Companies House does in the UK or the BernerHandelsregisteramt does where I live ? – Do you know ?So “willing to learn” – call it “ignorance” is a prerequisite for Bar entry as I see it. I am / we are happy to learn even though it can sting a bit.However understanding is a different matter – I bet many, many AVC readers (eg the startup entrepreneurs, students) understand very little about corporate governance.When I first came here – ten years after founding my first company – which is still trading – it took me a long time to begin to understand all sorts of jargon, especially with a US slant. Things are different (eg tax on assessable stock options are paid up front in Switzerland – making subsequent gains tax free)So if understanding is a pre-requisite – Does that put me in the wrong bar ? Perhaps, but I have got kind of used to drinking here, and Fred will need to get Jackson back if he wants to push me out 🙂

          4. Aaron Klein

            Jargon is not the point, nor is arcane stuff about corporate governance. I think any entrepreneur understands that you’re never completely separated from a business you started or led, even after you leave. It’s cute to watch people play dumb on this issue, but I’m glad Fred called bullshit on it.

          5. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            So Aaron you think (and confidently it appears) that I must understand what happens after I leave a company that I have founded.As I have never done so, nor had reason to, I have not enjoyed the experience for which you give me such credit.People in business leave things that bore them, that fail, if they are unwanted, or when they see greater opportunity elsewhere. An entrepreneur may follow his or her dreams and never see those circumstances. I love what we do, I am still wanted (currently), we are thriving, and this is huge,So, I have founded companies that continue to trade – one has been trading for fifteen years but was not scalable, the second most definitely is but is young. I have some European Languages, an Oxford Engineering degree and 31 years of mixed commercial experience after graduating.I am probably not stupid, but I AM almost entirely ignorant of US company legal procedures especially post-partum.So, I am not playing dumb – rather I am indeed *by your definition* quite definitely so. I also have no political axe to grind.Understand this – I simply did not spot what you and Fred saw.This was because as I was ignorant of it – You may think me a liar, but you would be mistaken on this.I do, however, absolutely take your point that Fred called this correctly, because I now suppose all political campaigners DO know this.The reason they do abuse their positions (the essence of this post) , is precisely because the public in general DO NOT know this. Otherwise campaigners would need to be as dumb as you suspect me to be.Given that campaigners are nothing like as dumb as me – the true categorisation about who knows about this must fall somewhere between “most of the public” and a “reasonably seasoned businessman – as I will categorise myself without blushes” – but perhaps I am an outlier.In my opinion (only) to think that you know the state of my knowledge better than I am aware of my ignorance belies belief – either you are thumping a tub with transparent rhetoric on your part and you are now hoisted by your own petard alongside Obama or it is very poor thinking indeed.So did I need to call you on this – or would ANY AVC reader know it ? !

          6. JLM

            .In the US they call it the 83B election which allows you to pay the tax liability on your assets (options as an example) up front and then get capital gains treatment in the future.There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ignorant. I am woefully ignorant about more than my little sliver of knowledge might shadow.Just don’t opine on how to fly an airplane or how it should be flown if your only experience is as an airplane PASSENGER.We all are on a journey of discovery..

          7. JLM

            .Some folks engaged in this discussion have no real sense that Bain Capital — owned by the Mittster — is not the same entity as the investments that were made by BC with OPM and which were run by independent Boards of Directors.If those Boards — upon which Mitt did not sit — made policy decisions and their management executed them, that is not the perfectly manicured hands of the Mittster making those decisions.Every person on this blog knows how to fly from place to place but not everyone is a commercial pilot capable of flying the plane..

        4. Guest

          I downvoted JLM’s comment for this reason:”This is just camouflage for a President who has the most abysmal record of RUNNING THE COUNTRY in history.”If you find my downvote “breathtaking in its ignorance” then I apologize, but honestly, I am not going to swallow JLM’s points hook line and sinker regardless of how in awe I am of his business success.We all know that the Republicans have done everything they could to ensure that our country under Obama did not run and since 2008 they have been focused on one thing: Making sure that Obama is a one term President. So, in regards to “running” this country the Republicans can, after GW Bush, stand shoulder to shoulder with Barack Obama in regards to who should be given the record….As far as BAIN, Romney, and the comment about “hugely profitable” well, this country has created a whole bunch of wealth over the last 20 to 30 years, but the reality was it was not self sustaining wealth but rather extractive wealth and I seriously doubt and nothing about Romney’s background tells me that he has a clue what the difference is.But my criticism of Romney should not be viewed as a sign of my support of Obama.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            ASSUME OTHER PERSON DISAGREE BECAUSE NOT UNDERSTAND IS MOST IGNORANT THING OF ALL.

          2. JLM

            .JLM could not GAS less about whether anyone agrees or disagrees with him. He is not playing to the expensive or cheap seats.In a certain way, a good discussion is like hustling a pick up basketball game.it is the most fun when everyone breaks a sweat, there is a bit of pushing and shoving and the game is hotly contested.In the end, when ideas wrestle better ideas result. I am all about ideas and outcomes and not personalities. I respect every man’s opinion.Life is not T ball..

          3. Guest

            “…when ideas wrestle better ideas result…”I couldn’t agree more, BUT where I differ from you is that I believe for ideas to wrestle there needs to be competition and there needs to be consequences to being wrong.With our financial capitalism economic system and our political system life has become “T Ball” for a few and I know that Barack Obama is not going to change that reality anytime soon and nothing Mitt Romney has done in his past and nothing that he has said makes me believe that he will be any different.After WWII England found themselves in the same situation we are in today and we are making the same decisions now that they made then and why we have been doing that since the mid 1990’s knowing full well what the outcome would be is beyond my ability to comprehend…But then again, if your basic belief is in your own exceptionalism I guess the lessons of history don’t really apply to those who believe themselves exceptional.

          4. JLM

            .Post WWII England was out of gas and broke. They had been eating Brussel Sprouts for half a decade.We are an exceptional nation and even the huge economic issues we face today are easily — easily — overcome with the right policies.One can look at the difference between California and Texas and get a real and palpable sense of what impact governing philosophy can have on outcomes.If one wants the Texas outcomes, then one should experiment with the Texas governing philosophy..

          5. JLM

            .It is difficult to conjure up any sympathy for the Republicans’ treatment of Pres Obama given his complete control for 2 years of both WH and Congress.The guy had after all been a US Senator and should have been savvy. He took too long to get his track shoes laced up.The wholesale rejection of his performance by the electorate in 2010 (which for some very strange reason folks seem to have forgotten) was the result of his having squandered his opportunity.A golden opportunity really. Squandered.When he did finally get suited up, he failed to live up to any of his promises delivering instead a monstrosity of a health care bill which was beyond any honest person’s capability to read, ponder, analyze and support — it was a party hack job from start to finish.The Obamacare bill will be one of the most important drivers of the next election result and he has nobody other than himself to blame..

          6. Guest

            Historically Senators have always made disappointing Presidents; and Barack Obama is not breaking that proven historical trend any.Further, the democratic party has one fundamental flaw and that is that it takes its money from the same sources the Republicans do but then they go out and project themselves as representatives of interests that are opposite of those whom provide the funding.As they say, “…don’t bite the hand that feeds you…” which is the position that the democrats find themselves in every time they come to power. At the same time the Republicans, like Paul Ryan, can project themselves as fiscal conservatives everytime a Democrat comes to office but if you look at their voting record you realize that when a Republican is in office they are anything but fiscally conservative.I think that Obamacare represents the best of what we can expect from our political system; which obviously expresses my disgust with the system as a whole.You want to believe that 2010 represents an indictment of Obama, but I see 2010 as nothing more than a trend of 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 where the dissatisfaction with the system as a whole is obvious.

          7. JLM

            .In 2010 incumbent Democrats did not want their President to campaign with them because he was viewed as a toxic liability.The election results validate this premise.The 2012 election is likely to be more of the same.We have a tendency to overlook pervasive trends because we become anesthetized to them while looking for the next shiny penny.Democratic Senators who were not on the ballot in 2010 will get their first chance to be weighed and measured. They no more want the toxic President to campaign with them today than their brethren did in 2010.Bad Senators make bad Presidents. If one looks at the public utterances of Sen Obama it would be hard to believe that he is the same man today.Guess what? He is not..

          8. JamesHRH

            Agree here – inability to hit the first 100 days hard was calamitous. Election momentum out the window.And holding your own party to heel (a hallmark of all great parliamentary leaders) is the key to executive political success.Play hard ball internally, much more than internally.

      3. Tom Bakalis

        Exactly! If one cannot run on their own record then all that’s left is attack your opponent on any front. Unfortunately there is a large disconnect between what a candidate says when running for office and what he or she does once elected. President Obama did not deliver on his promises and no one is calling him on it. What happened to using the internet to have a more transparent government? It when out the window when Democrats went into back rooms to negotiate health care. Please note I am not suggesting Romney would be any different if elected. To restate Fred’s earlier comment: “They both suck”

      4. ErikSchwartz

        Bain was incredibly profitable.But profitable and successful are two different things. I believe Mitt Romney can run a very profitable business.Being profitable is about making your shareholders money. Profitability is about being accountable to a single stakeholder. Being successful is about making the entire ecosystem grow so all stakeholders (shareholders, employees, customers, and suppliers) benefit.Bain was incredibly profitable. I’m not sure how successful it was.

        1. JLM

          .Well if one is going to tip toe up on “success” a pair of slippers marked “incredibly profitable” is not a bad start.It shows that something positive was done.It shows experience in managing money.Mitt Romney is a guy with a “To Do List” that is driven by real business experience.Again, not a bad starting point..

        2. Aaron Klein

          Profitability is the score of success in business. You are certainly right that the definition of success as President is different.I hoped the President would be successful. And now I’m hoping – and betting – that a President Romney, will be successful for a new set of 300 million “shareholders” across this country.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Few of us are the shareholders in this scenario, most Americans are the employees at the companies that get liquidated who get laid off.

          2. Aaron Klein

            We all have a stake in America doing well and succeeding.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            SOME HUMANS ONLY HAVE STAKE IN THEMSELVES SUCCEEDING.THOSE NOT ONES US NEED MORE OF.

          4. Aaron Klein

            They may think that’s true, but it actually isn’t.(And I agree with your latter point.)

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            ME NOT SAYING THEM RIGHT.

          6. JamesHRH

            @JLM this is the stink that sticks to Mitt….and gets Obama re-elected.

        3. jason wright

          profitable and meaningful.

        4. raycote

          Without serious election finance reform both parties can be painted with the same John Dewey brush:” As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance”

      5. Guest

        JLM,I remember watching Obama walk to the podium to take the oath of office and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “…turn around Barack its not too late to change your mind….”The reality is “Record spending, record deficits, record national debt, record unemployment, record foodstamp explosion…” were all results that even a simpleton such as myself saw coming way back in 1996 because honestly, if you take the basic premise of supply side economics, add in the concepts of free markets, and throw in the logic behind less regulation of the banking/finance industry and what do you have?You have our nation today…..You just forgot record levels of income/wealth inequality…..I have yet to figure out exactly what everyone expected when they championed supply side economics, free markets and less regulations all at the same time…..

        1. chrisdorr

          A very smart comment.

        2. Robert Anderson

          I think this point gets at something crucial. Our current problems were not created by Barack Obama. However, he is not making the structural changes needed. Universal healthcare is a noble goal, but Obamcare entrenches current interests (insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare), contributes to the deficit, and does not meaningful address the lost term cost problems. As noted above, we have an education system that was built and is intended for the 1950’s yet he continues policies contributing cheap money inflating the education. He missed his one chance, immediately post 2008 crisis, to impose needed financial reforms in order to encourage our human capital to leave finance and break up a financial sector that is once again a ticking time bomb.The problems we have were not created by Obama, but he is not addressing them either.

          1. Guest

            Structural changes? Robert, a system, and particularly our system, is incapable of structural changes. A system of government where funding and policy is derived from special interests is one that is incapable of structural changes. To change the system would require healthcare interests, education interests, and or financial interests to fund it, to promote it, and to champion it and that goes against their best interests.That is akin to expecting defense contractors and the Pentagon to promote the idea of a drastic reduction in the size of our military.Systems of government only change from outside threats….

          2. thinkdisruptive

            Every system is capable of structural changes. Unless the people have given up and won’t demand it. The alternative is moral, economic and social bankruptcy. We must change. We owe it to our children even more than we owe it to ourselves.The outside threat is us.

          3. Guest

            We are on the verge of being morally, economically and socially bankrupt and I totally agree that the outside threat to our political system are the citizens.All systems are capable of change no doubt, or they are changed by being replaced (revolution).

          4. JLM

            .On all the subjects you enumerate we are way past the creditors meeting and deep into Ch 11 hopefully..

          5. Guest

            JLM,When you talk about our nations debt, you must add personal debt of individuals, corporate debt, and the debt of state and local government…When you, like I have since 1996 added those numbers up twice a year and watched the total go up, and up, and up at an astounding rate time after time…Then when you think, gee, debt, its an obligation of one person to pay back to another person you cannot help but realize that one person (or entities) debt is someone elses asset then you cannot help but wander if there is really any wealth at all in the USA!

          6. JLM

            .Agree with you that structural changes are very, very, very difficult.I do not however despair having watched the Army transform itself from a conscript army to an all-volunteer army.The experiment went well and our current Army is the best we have ever fielded.We can make structural changes, if we have the right leadership and will..

          7. Guest

            JLM,In the aftermath of the Vietnam War the defense department found its self threatened from external forces (Congress, President, and citizens) and internally (morale and command structure).Its very existence was threatened and thus it had no other option but to adapt and change.The fundamental difference between the changes the military had to enact and the structural changes that our government is facing is that there was no one who benefited from the military NOT changing while our government has interests that do benefit from not enacting political change.If everyone would just back off of their partisanship and just look at government you would realize that the President only controls a very small portion of government; you have a huge bureaucracy that basically goes about its business regardless of who is President. This bureacracy has its own support base both within Congress and within the clients that it serves.Our political system is incapable of structural changes currently because of all of the competing interests who benefit from the current dysfunction.I have no doubt that our system can change and will change; in fact I think we are on the verge of monumental change BUT the change will come from outside the system (that’s why whether the next President is Obama or Romney is irrelevant in my opinion) and it is going to involve marches in the streets.Don’t misunderstand me, I know we can make the necessary changes, but I also know that they will be very painful and that the changes made will not come about from either one of the current political parties.But we will end up being a better nation for it.

          8. JLM

            .Now we are just a couple of guys chatting over a cup of coffee and our words will change nothing but nonetheless they are important to us.At the end of the VN War, we had a military that had to shrink. It was on a wartime footing and budgets were going to be cut just because we did not need to buy so many armaments or to make up battlefield losses — in both materiel and men.Simultaneously we had a very real possibility of going to war on the northern German plains against the Russians and our plans were not really consistent with the field force.We had fought a war of limited maneuver on a piece of terrain that did not lend itself to holding ground and now we were going to fight a war of maneuver — we were prepared to give the Russians over 500 miles to extend their supply lines and then cut them off and kill them when their supply lines faltered — with armor.The reason I tell you this is that the transformation to a volunteer force had next to nothing to do with outside forces. It was driven by the recognition that the next war would not be a VN style war but a more traditional WWII style war.It was fairly easy to teach a draftee to hump an M-16 but it was technically much more challenging to teach him to maintain a tank or a ground surveillance radar set.Within the Army ten 4-stars were responsible for saving what was a very, very demoralized and incompetent Army.From these ashes were built the Army of today. It was internally driven not externally driven and it had to do with the technical challenge not the changes in society.In much the same way, special operations — the driver of todays’ wars — has been elevated to a career path. In those days, you went for a tour or two with SF and then returned to your branch.Now SF and all Spec Ops are career pathways and when Hugh Shelton was made Chmn of the Joint Chiefs it was legitimized because he had been SF for most of his career.How do I know this? I was there.I think the best hope for change in America is from guys like Paul Ryan who become not just legislators but also subject matter experts and thus can drive the legislative debate..

          9. Guest

            My father finished his final tour of duty in Vietnam and we were then transferred to Germany and we were there until 1975 so I know very well what you say.All of it is true except two parts; first, the budget cutting was actually an outside threat because the president proposes the budget and congress approves and the military knew they were going to be cut and cut drastically. They did not want the budget cuts but they knew what reality was. Secondly, they knew after the Vietnam War that we would never be able to implement a draft and successfully maintain a fighting force. They knew that a draft would never happen ever again because Congress would never approve it.Like the late 60’s when the Army was dealing with “race relations” which changed quite frequently from one extreme to another it was quite obvious that change was a brewing.In the aftermath of the Vietnam War morale was low and the chain of command broke down in lots of places. Like my Dad would say, you got the “Old Guard” and you got the “Young Turks” and we better pray that the old guard retire so the young turks can get to work….Yes, the young turks won, but it was not easy and it definitely was not painless; lots of the old guard, the guys that could not adapt or who could not change got cashiered.The military came out of the process very well and were better for it. Yes, the change occurred from within but the catalyst of the change, the threat was external, both the budget and the draft are external forces.As far as Paul Ryan goes, he is not a leader and only a mouthpiece. His voting record during the GWB years really proves that point…a leader has to not only talk the talk but walk the walk and Paul only talks.

          10. JLM

            .I think you may be getting strangled in your semantic underwear.The changes that the Army made, including the transformation to an all volunteer force, were absolutely driven from within.I know I was there including serving as aide de camp to a 4-star.The Army was fed up with a draft which failed to produce quality soldiers and as soon as the VN was winding down and there was no requirement for recruits, the Army began to rely only on volunteers.This reliance on volunteers initially was not a “plan” but the reality that the Army did not need conscripts. The draft died of its own success not because it was terminated.The Volunteer Army began to take shape when the pay for soldiers was dramatically increased. I made $277/month as a butter bar and $35K per year as a Capt w 5. That was very good pay for mid-1970s.When you use the terms “Old Guard” and “Young Turks”, I am not completely sure what you mean.The Old Guard, in my use of the term, won when units that had been paper tigers — low levels of soldiers, inexperienced company grade officers, equipment not available (tanks, artillery) — were transformed by the vigor with which a handful of Generals approached their duties.You must remember that 15 years later, the units that fought so well in the first Iraq War were old line traditional units — big Marine divisions (1st Mar Div, 2nd Mar Div) with organic air power, 101st Abn, 82nd Abn, 1st Cav, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Armor, 24th Inf, Big Red One — which had been rebuilt by the Old Guard of the Army.These were units on a WWII scale of operations and unit cohesion, discipline, esprit de corps and fighting capability had been raised from the near dead of the mid to late 1970s.So, in my book the Old Guard prevailed.The current leadership of the Army is in many ways untainted by the VN experience. Petraeus missed it by a year or so. I think it has helped rather than hurt as they have none of the scars of the end of that war..

          11. JLM

            .You come upon a fire down to very hot embers.You can pour water on it and douse the embers.You can pour gasoline on it and it roars to life and consumes you.If you pour gasoline on it, you now own the fire; or, the fire really owns you.Obama had complete control of the WH and Congress and missed the chance to pour water on the fire.He owns the fire and it will consume him..

      6. JamesHRH

        Interestingly, Richard Koo would tell you that, based on Nomura’s exposure to Japan’s ‘Balance Sheet’ recession, your list of record ‘worsts’ is, in fact, the best path forward.Every round of government austerity, in Japan, contracted the economy. Private sector was balancing the books……

        1. JLM

          .Any example which is based upon the Japanese couple of Lost Decades is akin to chemotherapy — an effort to kill the “bad” before killing the “good”.Our economy is much more robust and vital to require such treatment..

          1. thinkdisruptive

            Our economy isn’t as robust as you believe. We don’t make anything any more. We don’t own the means of production. Collectively, we are in debt to our eyeballs, lack moral fibre, and have the backbones of jellyfish. The capacity to recover is still there, but it is being stretched to the limit and may not survive this round of elections.

          2. JLM

            .You may well be right.I personally am confident that with just a few fairly small policy pivots, we can regain our footing and head off in the right direction.Fully fund the SBA. These are loan ‘guaranties” at the end of the day and not real $$$ from the government.Rekindle small business lending within the existing banking system. Banks should be 85% loaned up and not holding their capital in Treasuries.Reduce capital gains tax rates to zero.Reduce corporate tax rates to the lowest rate among our international competitors — 10%.Eliminate double taxation of dividends.Reduce spending amongst the sacred cows particularly including defense. Most of this can be done through eliminating or delaying weapons system projects which are several generations ahead of the current real world threat.Incentivize the return of manufacturing and manufacturing jobs to the USA.Invigorate an energy policy that is an “all of the above” policy with immediate and extensive drilling, build Keystone and give every state a free nuclear power plant.The common denominator of all of the above is to harness American ingenuity by slapping it with a checkbook, focusing on job creation and reducing pervasive costs (defense and energy).In less than 4 years America would be on the top of the heap again..

          3. JamesHRH

            Add health care and education to the cost control list, and you have a platform that is a nonstop express.The PM of Canada ended up in the job because he felt he had the solution but the party he was involved with had no capable leadership. So he went the DIY route……Just saying JLM…..

          4. JLM

            .I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.As to healthcare, make a series of 80 page, 5 feature bills starting with tort reform, nationwide form contracts, the development of 25% more doctors, transportability of insurance contracts and 25 year olds staying on their parents insurance.As each bill is passed, begin work on the next one.In about 6 months all the good things that folks can agree readily on would have been accomplished and then you could begin to work that same magic on the contentious issues.Big advantage — everyone would have learned how to play nice together.Or, you could make a 3K secret bill, vote on it before a speed reader could read the headings and ram it through on a party line vote and then have a sack dance resulting in the most unpopular legislation of all time.Process builds trust and trust let’s folks reason together. It takes leadership, principled leadership, to get folks out of their foxholes and to the bargaining table..

          5. Dale Allyn

            Very well said, Jeff.

          6. JamesHRH

            @fredwilson:disqus ‘process builds trust’ – now there is a keeper.

    2. fredwilson

      I think you are focused on something that is irrelevant to the question of who should lead our country for the next four yearsMaybe we should discuss what Romney plans to do to deal with the fact that our country has too much debt, needs to get its budget balanced, and get the economy moving and we are in a box with no obvious ways out of itSeems like a more fruitful discussion to me

      1. Dale Allyn

        Sadly, real specifics are lacking from each campaign, but I completely agree that the fruitful discussion is the one addressing the issues you list.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a candidate to itemize what middle class taxes he’ll raise and what popular spending programs he’ll cut during a campaign; rather than offer his own itemized list in response, the opposing candidate would just demagogue the issue. So you have to vote based on what you know of each candidate’s history and their respective policy views.

          1. Dale Allyn

            I agree, Dave. Although that then means there’s no need to campaign at all (which would be wonderful to me). Just provide a historical record of past tasks completed. ;)To clarify, I don’t expect specifics of a granular nature, but I do like to see some outlines of a mission and vision. Of course, the more details provided, the more fodder for the opposition. We agree on this.Unfortunately, many voters are not prepared to look beyond the sound bites and rhetoric.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            If no one campaigned, the media companies would lose a fortune in selling airtime for political ads. Lots of pollsters and campaign consultants would be out of work too.

          3. Dale Allyn

            Yes, I know. I’ve given this a lot of thought as campaign finance reform is a big issue to me. I’d like to see limits imposed so that big money has less power. (I’m partly referring to a somewhat utopian concept and recognize the issues associated just so you don’t think I’m completely naïve.)I’d like to see spending limits on campaigns, and I don’t really care if the media companies lose money from one sector. Besides watching candidates budget their funds would be telling.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            There should be a Hippocratic oath when it comes to policy (including campaign finance policy): first do no harm. Don’t assume that major changes won’t lead to unanticipated, negative consequences.

          5. Dale Allyn

            We agree on that, Dave.

          6. JLM

            .True.We are dealing with a third characterization: fiscally COMPETENT.Fiscally liberal.Fiscally conservative.Fiscally COMPETENT.Pick any two..

          7. thinkdisruptive

            Fiscally liberal and fiscally conservative don’t go well together, yet that is the closest description of what we’ve done to ourselves for the past 50 years — trying to accommodate both, without fiscal competency. In truth, you have to pick any two, except those two.

          8. JLM

            .Of course, you are absolutely correct.I did not mean to imply that they were good outcomes.I agree completely that we have lurched from one to another but never have we been fiscally competent since perhaps Eisenhower..

        2. pointsnfigures

          Agree, that Romney needs to be more specific, but we have Obama’s record. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s their actions that speak loudest.

          1. JLM

            .Presidential campaigns do not really start until after Labor Day..

          2. fredwilson

            but the swift boating is apparently done in the summer. and if it is effective, it will impact what happens after labor day.

          3. JLM

            .You and I live in states that are really not “in play” from the perspective of Presidential politics.I am therefore amazed when I travel and see the non-stop political ads. We get no such ads in Texas.I think the public is becoming totally anesthetized to the non-stop baloney.With the advent of the Internet, there is an entirely new medium which is also non-stop baloney.While there are a lot of folks who are interested in this stuff for years before the next Presidential election, they are not folks whose votes are particularly mobile. They already know for whom they are going to vote FOR or AGAINST.There is a lot of data out there that says those voters whose votes are up for grabs are not even focused until a very short term before the election.Our abysmal voter turnout percentage speaks to how unimportant all of this is to a MAJORITY of Americans. Sad in some ways..

          4. fredwilson

            yup

      2. D.

        Sure, what Romney’s plans are would be a more fruitful discussion. And when he actually starts to give specifics we can finally have that discussion. Til then, you would you have to acknowledge that is off topic with respect to the question of his claims re: his tenure at Bain.

      3. Dave Pinsen

        That would be a more fruitful discussion to have, but as I mentioned in my response to @daleallyn:disqus below, there are reasons why it’s unlikely to happen in great detail during a campaign.Although I’m impressed with his background, I can’t say for sure that Romney would be able to solve our fiscal and economic problems. But I am pretty sure, based on the last three years, that Obama doesn’t get it. Either that, or he is too beholden to his party’s interest groups to break with bad policy and make the necessary changes. A couple of specific examples: – On higher education, Obama tells college students that more federal loans are needed to help them afford college. Can he not connect the dots between the explosion in cheap, government-backed college loans and the explosion in college costs? Or is he too beholden to the Democrats who work as college professors and administrators and benefit from that orgy of spending?- On his green jobs initiatives, he doesn’t seem to be sufficiently chastened by the dismal results to try a different tack. This is one area where I figure Romney’s investing experience would help him: I’m sure he’d make mistakes too, but I think he’d be more willing to learn from those mistakes and try something different, instead of dogmatically clinging to the same approach.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Well said on both fronts.I was recently in DC meeting with Obama administration officials at the Department of Education, and one of the people in the meeting said that the “measure of success for the Pell Grant” was that “42% of the students at X university have taken the Pell Grant.”Like really, you measure success by how many people you can get to take free money? And you were only able to give free money to 42% of people and you call that a success?The whole way we measure success and try to develop solutions in government is utterly broken. I’m hopeful the “venture capital” approach might pay some (small) benefits.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            That’s disturbing, but similar to the government’s approach to food stamps.

          2. Aaron Klein

            In California, we pass competing free health care programs, who spend tax dollars running television ads trying to “steal” market share from each other.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            I agree, we could use some “VC thinking” in government.As a general rule, I have a bias toward political candidates with business success. We have elected people to run our country that most Boards of Directors would not hire to run a business.Business experience alone doesn’t get my vote, but it gets my attention.

          4. Aaron Klein

            “Business experience alone doesn’t get my vote, but it gets my attention.” Totally agree…

        2. matthughes

          Agreed on college loans – tuition costs are a direct result of the loans themselves.Housing is probably similarly affected.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Definitely, it’s the same phenomenon. There was a housing bubble, and there’s a continuing higher ed bubble.

          2. pointsnfigures

            check out alltuition.com if you want to have transparency in the loan process. The more you stimulate, the higher tuition will go. I am paying two of them right now. It’s painful.

    3. PhilipSugar

      That was me giving my first downvote ever and I must admit it felt good. Haters gonna hate!

      1. thinkdisruptive

        You sound like my 15 year old son.

    4. chris jones

      Bob, what’s the point of discussing this issue. It is a non issue. A punching bag issue that pols use to hit and draw the attention of the press and the electorate. Frankly, it may resonate with Mr. Obama’s base and inside the beltway but it is a loosing issue that won’t resonate with the vast majority of people.Is this really how Mr. Obama wants to frame the election….”you can’t trust him because of some questions about when he left PE firm?” I think this message uses up vital resources, political capital and will boomerang.

  6. bradsvrluga

    Like you, Fred, I’m not voting for Romney. But I’m similarly tired of the Bain Capital arguments. You make some good points here. And I’ll add one that I think is even more significant. As the founder of the firm, why should he be required or expected to effectively renounce any relationship with it? Why should we treat a PE executive differently than we would treat an operating company founder. If Steve Case were running for President right now, would we be holding him accountable for everything that AOL has done in the years since he left just because he was the founder and might remains a shareholder? I hardly think so.We don’t hesitate to allow operators to maintain economic relationships with and benefit financially from the companies they founded. Why should PE/VC execs be any different?I had dinner last week with the managing partner of a large Valley firm – one of the ones whose name is the name of the folks who founded the place. He was talking about one of the named founders, who is now in his 70s and has next to no actual involvement in the firm anymore. And he said “that guy is going to continue to get paid by this firm until he dies, and I feel great about that. He built the place. His great work is the only reason I have the opportunity to run it today. He deserves to remain an equity partner forever.”So does Mitt. Let’s put this one to bed.

    1. fredwilson

      WORD

    2. Rob G

      Because *politically* that firm supported companies whose strategies: a) won’t go over well with his core base of support (disposing of dead fetuses); b) won’t go over well with independent voters in swing states (outsourced jobs routinely). Of course these issues are a distractions, but it’s one that only Romney could put to bed with his Rev Wright moment. Embrace the role of Bain and how companies operate within private equity. Instead he (typically) wants it both ways – to claim credit (and compensation) for the success *and* draw a bright line with companies whose policies don’t line up with his politics. Let’s be clear: This “scandal” is one of Romney’s own making because time and time again he wanted both of the above in each of his political races. He’s never defended Bain the way you want and stuck to it.

  7. JLM

    .At the end of the day, the candidate is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen with his campaign pointedly so when he starts or ends each campaign video with an approval — “My name is Barack Obama and I APPROVE this message.” — that is required by law.In this instance, this is not just a hateful lie but also belies a meaningful misunderstanding of basic business knowledge and securities law and the state of the art when dealing with the SEC.It is perfectly possible to be a “controlling person” and have absolutely nothing to do with the management of an enterprise.What this does reveal is the incipient nastiness of the Obama administration and its reckless disregard for the truth. They are tricking America as they have on so many things.I am tired of this type of political ruthlessness as it demeans the character of our great Nation and cheapens the sacrifices that good men and women have made to fashion our country.At this time in particular we need men and women of character to lead us and this kind of chicken shit lying does not meet that standard.I suggest that candidates who are subjected to such misbehavior should just call the scoundrels out and stop asking for an apology. It looks weak to ask for an apology.Call bullshit and move on in a positive manner..

    1. Dale Allyn

      Couldn’t agree more, JLM.And especially this: “At this time in particular we need men and women of character to lead us…”

      1. raycote

        No one with that kind of character/integrity would ever be able to corral the financing required to become leader of either party.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Perhaps, but I’m willing to work towards the goal. 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      I plan to vote for Obama but I totally agree with you on this one JLM

      1. pointsnfigures

        So Fred, the more people I interact with the more I think we tend to think alike. There are some people here in Chicago that vote Dem but really don’t like what they stand for. They cite social issues as one concern. On the other hand, everyone I know says they are a “fiscal conservative”. Maybe it’s time for a true third party that is more lenient on social issues, and is really libertarian when it comes to all the government programs and spending. The Dems certainly aren’t that in the way they do business today-and many big govt. Reps aren’t either. Although it looks like a lot of the Dem freshman in the House are in fact true libertarians-when it comes to spending.

    3. ErikSchwartz

      If you replace “business” with “military” you could have written this exact comment in 2004 regarding the GOP messaging around John Kerry’s military record. In fact “as it demeans the character of our great Nation and cheapens the sacrifices that good men and women have made to fashion our country.”is more appropriate in regards to the attacks on Kerry’s military service than attacks on Romeny’s record at Bain. Did you write such a comment? Were you outraged to the point of not voting GOP?

      1. JLM

        .First, let me say that in the brotherhood of arms, a day in combat counts with me as much as a year. You don’t screw with a guy who wears a Silver Star.Having said that, the Navy’s award of a Purple Heart for wounds that would not even rate a “big” bandaid in an Infantry unit summons up an outcry of bullshit.Veterans do not like civilians criticisizing other veterans, so on that score I would not join in a chorus finding fault with Kerry.The guy volunteered for the Navy and combat and seemingly did his duty.He took a film camera to war with him, OK, a bit strange but not the weirdest thing I ever heard.The fact that the Navy let him go home after three seemingly tiny wounds after 3 months in country is a Navy problem. Having said that the BEST Spec Ops units in the world are the SEALS, so you just can’t say the Navy is a bunch of pussies. Doesn’t compute.Interestingly enough I know a guy who served w Kerry personally in the Swift Boats and he says that Kerry was a damn good officer. I would never even think of challenging this guy’s views as he is as solid as a rock.He cannot fathom the almost universal peer disapproval of Kerry but does not doubt it a bit. Very strange calculus.Kerry’s Winter Soldier nonsense and pretending to throw his medals over the WH wall — bit silly and theatrical for my taste.Bottom line, Veterans do not like civilians peeing on other Vets. That’s an inside the military issue. I respect his service.Last point — you know that the military did not really think well of McCain. While everyone’s heart breaks for his horrific torture, the military does not think that future leadership should be sought amongst folks whose claim to fame is that they got shot down.The military is pretty tough on its own but doesn’t like to hear the same things from civilians..

        1. ErikSchwartz

          I do not disagree that Kerry totally overplayed his military service. He should have just said “I know from personal experience what we are asking of our service members” and left it at that.By the same token, that’s exactly what Romney is doing with his Bain experience. Being responsible to one stakeholder is not the same as being responsible to all stakeholders.Both Kerry and Romney are puffing their chests in the same way and both are being attacked in the same way for their bravado.

          1. JLM

            .I have a very difficult time not giving credence to Romney’s experience and expertise as a business man.The guy started a business from scratch, raised a ton of money, took some brass balled risks and made it to the pay window time and time and time again.What’s not to like?Spot of out sourcing — don’t agree that is so — take your lumps and move on.Used the bankruptcy laws to his advantage — hell, some of his investments were DIP from the get go — take your lumps and move on.No doubt that he gave his heart and soul to the Olympics — physically, mentally, energetically — and the outcome was world class. Bell ringer.Someone wants to say this was a part time gig because he was still running Bain — let’s see the evidence and even if so, so what.The guy is an achiever. Make a great President? We shall see..

          2. ErikSchwartz

            I give credence to it I just think it is largely irrelevant and there’s not much transferable to being President in what you learn in private equity. You don’t get to liquidate the states that are struggling and pull all the cash out of them to get them off your books like you do with underperforming companies.

          3. JLM

            .I think the combo of having been a Gov and a PE success should stand him in good stead. I hope so for our sake.Are you sure we can’t just forcibly reject California like a bad organ or something? Are you sure?.

          4. ErikSchwartz

            A governor who raised taxes (although called them fees) and instituted “socialized” medicine.You’d lose money if you booted California. They pay more in federal taxes than they get back.

          5. JLM

            .Tax point well made..

          6. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            YOU SURE? THAT SOUND PRETTY CLOSE TO WHAT GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

          7. JLM

            .At the end of the day any executive must exercise judgment. Hopefully they have good judgment. The relevance of any life experience is judged, in part, by the notion — did he exercise good judgment and thereby develop good judgment?.

          8. matthughes

            I was living in SLC during the 2002 Olympics and I can attest to terrific job that Romney did leading the charge.He turned a huge mess into a a world-class success.

          9. matthughes

            Unfortunately that is not surprising.Still, the 2002 Olympics were near catastrophe due to the corruption of the OC.Romney came in and cleaned house – it was a good thing for the US and the Olympics.

        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          JLM did you ever get to read” Who dares, wins;: The story of the Phantom Major – David Stirling and his desert command” about the founding of the SAS – I suspect you might enjoy it if you can find a copy

          1. JLM

            .I know his history from a course on Spec Ops taken decades ago. I will start digging into the Who Dares Wins series. It looks very interesting.I am a huge SAS fan.Thanks for the insight..

    4. TedS

      “It is perfectly possible to be a “controlling person” and have absolutely nothing to do with the management of an enterprise.”This is exactly the point.

    5. TedS

      “At the end of the day, the candidate is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen with his campaign pointedly so when he starts or ends each campaign video with an approval — “My name is Barack Obama and I APPROVE this message.” — that is required by law.””It is perfectly possible to be a “controlling person” and have absolutely nothing to do with the management of an enterprise.’Doesn’t this strike you as just a bit ironic? Same point, just a paragraph apart – one negative, one dismissive. WTF?

      1. JLM

        .Please read my longer post on this issue.The Mittster is the “controlling person” — an SEC term of art — of Bain Capital.Bain Capital was a RIA which triggers an SEC reporting requirement when they manage more than $100MM. Bain Capital sponsored funds.The funds invested OPM (insurance, pension funds) in enterprises — bought stock. A young Bain stud ran these investments and they were ultimately controlled by an independent Board of Directors.The Board set policy for the enterprise management (CEO, CFO, et al). Management executed the policies.These enterprises (Staples as an example) were SEC reporting companies for a myriad of reasons.Mitt was the controlling person of Bain Capital but had nothing to do with the management of the enterprises.Mitt Romney owned the shit out of Bain Capital but had nothing to do with the management of Staples.Their SEC filings were all correct. Believe me, if they were not, the SEC would be on them both of them like white on rice..

        1. TedS

          You may be technically and legally correct.But why not then let go of the CEO, Chairman, President title? Who was responsible if not the CEO, Chairman and the President.

          1. JLM

            .You are missing the point. Mitt Romney was the CEO, Chairman and President of Bain Capital not the enterprises that Bain Capital invested OPM in.Since he owned Bain Capital, there was literally nobody to whom to turn over the shop while he was running the Olympics.A couple of years later, he sold Bain Capital..

          2. TedS

            Again, you are technically and legally correct.But the fact that Bain Capital was invested means that there was some ongoing financial oversight, management, etc. required. Someone has to watch the chicken coop while the eggs are being hatched. Was Bain Capital magically self-sustaining and without maintenance. Even the most trivial of responsibility flowed up somewhere? So, who had the responsibility the coop if not the person who signed as CEO?Even I don’t regularly look at my investments – and sometimes for too long of a time – but ultimately, and sometimes regrettably, it’s my retirement money and I have responsibility for it.Also, if there were employees, who did they ultimately report to?

        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          “Like white on rice” -Never heard that before, – Iove it.

          1. JLM

            .It is the polite version of “…like stink on shit…”Sorry to all..

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I see a different context for each statement in terms of the reference being made.

    6. Donna Brewington White

      A person’s response to petty accusations is just as telling the making of the accusations.The words of Kipling come to mind. You will know what I mean.

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        This for JLM If – only :)IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,’ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

        1. JLM

          .I can recite this poem by memory and have tested its elasticity up to and through 7 beers.I am facing my 40th college reunion in April and I have been called upon to make such a recital. I am practicing.We count Generals and serious warriors amongst our little band. Two of our classmates have overthrown the leadership of a sovereign nation — try to top that, friend. More than a handful of “spooky” persons.A lovely band of boys who served the Nation well. The single association in my life of which I am the most proud. A group of boys to men for whom I would do any favor within my power without asking why. My Brother Rats.More importantly, I have tried to live it. With mixed results.At instants of what I thought to be dark moments, it has guided me, comforted me and inspired me. It has never failed me.Thank you, Rudyard Kipling, you beautiful bastard.Ahh, The Young British Soldier is another favorite.Thank you, friend..

    7. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      ME, GRIMLOCK, THINK NASTINESS NOT IN SHORT SUPPLY ON EITHER SIDE.

      1. Anne Libby

        Response from a Romney staffer that the President mocked “America The Beautiful” strikes me twice: as very 6th grade, and also as insidious codespeak.http://www.washingtonpost.c

  8. Seth Godin

    If voters were willing to actively engage about important stuff, I have no doubt that important stuff would be precisely what both sides would spend all their time on.Leadership sometimes involves spending time on things that don’t play well in the polls, which is why an enlightened monarchy works so well. Alas, that’s hard to scale.And so we’re left with marketing as the dominant driver of governance, and, unfortunately, short-term, data-driven, direct-response marketing at that. Claim, counterclaim, argument, spin, innuendo, fundraising, lobbying, repeat.Tribes are powerful things, and we’re discovering just how easily a well-funded operation (on each, both and all sides) can work to turn them into short-term stepping stones that might belie the very reason someone set out to do this for a living in the first place.

    1. josephcohen

      What’s the answer?

    2. William Mougayar

      Indeed. You described politics at its best.

    3. fredwilson

      Well said Seth. Can an authentic grass roots style honest person succeed in national politics in this day and age?

      1. Rohan

        They’ll start that way.By the time they get to the top, the system will have changed them

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Not if voters like you continue to support a candidate who is “beating up a guy over nonsense”. Imagine if you and thousands of other donors announced that you were cutting off your campaign donations until your candidate stopped using these tactics. That might change things.

        1. fredwilson

          They both suck. Give me a better option and I would take it

          1. chernevik

            They’re both addicted to unsustainable models, and neither could win proposing a sustainable model. We won’t get a better option until we all start calling B.S. on the particular untruths of each party — but we’d get it faster if each of us did so to the party of our own. Get enough posts like this, and some similar but on topics further from the writer’s particular interests, and the parties will start to get more honest.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Elections are about voting for the better candidate, not a perfect one, which never exists. If you don’t like the status quo, don’t support it.

          3. chrisdorr

            Actually Fred, here you are dead wrong. Neither one sucks, they simply represent different versions of America. It should be very easy to choose the America you want.

          4. matthughes

            I think the point is neither candidate represents the integrity or compelling leadership America needs.

          5. fredwilson

            yup

          6. chrisdorr

            I actually think both of you are too critical of Obama. Is he a smart politician–yes, does he have ideals that he aspires to that would benefit most Americans–yes. Has he done much of what he promised to do–yes. Has he done everything right–no. Are we better off with him than we would have been with John McCain–yes. It is easy to dismiss the man who is president. Yet his job is much harder than any job in the US, harder than any CEOs of any company. Is Romney up for it? He may be competent, but his vision for America is a retreat both socially and economically. But to claim that they both suck, is simplistic in the extreme, and is the refuge of simplistic naysayers, which I at least with Fred, (I don’t know Matthew), is simply not the case.

          7. JLM

            .Boring evening, waiting for the rain to stop — which in Texas these days is an occasion for great celebration. Lakes filling up as they always do. Not picking on you.Folks conveniently forget — Gitmo, KSM, posting every bill for review for a week, etc., give me a trillion and I will keep UE below 8% — gratuitous, shallow and unnecessary promises.Why?Because he is an inveterate liar? Maybe so.Barack will not be getting an invite to PromiseKeepers any time soon..

          8. JamesHRH

            Inveterate liar? Drought getting to you JLM!Naive. unfamiliar with rudiments of leadership. Those are within range.BTW, your To Do list theme is gaining traction on me. The Mittster is as shallow as the footprint of a fox on your sun parched Texas dirt…..but he would likely get stuff done.What is the right stuff to do is actually the real debate.

          9. JLM

            .Getting outside all the political bull shit, how can one ignore the fact that this guy has a Harvard Law and Biz degree — Baker Scholar no less, top 5% grad in a pretty tough fish tank?The guy goes out and forms a new company and makes a jillion dollars while only owning 10% of the deal.Oh, in his spare time he saved Bain & Company, the consulting business and ran the only profitable Olympics in history.And, really, the other guy is a “community organizer” who was smoking a whole lot of weed while Mitt was standing at the pay window.If you could tap into only one gene pool, which one would it be?I fear few things but I would probably be getting up pretty damn early if I were going toe to toe with the Mittster. He is a doer.Not even close. But you gotta get beyond the political bull shit as I said..

          10. JamesHRH

            The other guy was HLS Law Review and reputed to be #1 in his class by other classmates (isn’t the internet cool?).He wanted to make a difference IN OTHER PEOPLE’S lives, so he passed up the bucks to help people who needed his help.That motivation runs a long race with a certain type of voter….

          11. JLM

            .Nobody with a brain thinks he was ever #1 in his class. Citation?Can you imagine if he were #1 it would be a secret? Really?The guy is a phony. He has a $10MM net worth crafted by leveraging his political power.He got a $3MM advance on a future book the day before he took the oath of office.Would you get such an advance if you were not the President Elect? Hahaha. Come on.Yeah, he’s trying to make a big difference in other people’s lives but not until he gets a chance to feed at the trough.This guy is a poseur, a fakir and a naif of the first order..

          12. JamesHRH

            No names to cite. Can’t argue Law Review or magna, IMO though.Interestingly, he has clearly seen the power of ‘ the first black __- ‘ achievement – HLR election covered by NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/1990…I noted that in nailing the publishing deals he front loaded his payoff for public service!!!!!I was hopeful that would let him shift fully into ” I do not give a Firetruck ” mode when he hit office, with the result being that he would hold an all out weasel roast on Capital Hill.With the internet / social media capability of his campaign, he could have used those tools to kill the trolls at the trough in DC.Not so much.Still can’t get to where you are on him, despite our shared agreement in his first term being a huge opportunity wasted.

          13. JLM

            .I don’t doubt his intelligence but one has to remember that economics professors live in ratty houses. Knowing and doing are not the same thing. Fabulous campaigner — not my style — totally incompetent executive.When do you lose your soul at the first $$$ taken or the first $1MM?He demonstrated his broken ethics when he did that deal.He is an inveterate liar of the first order and he is incompetent. A very bad combo.Transparency — Obamacare bill posting, executive privilege — not so much..

          14. JamesHRH

            Isn’t the Weasel Roast pipe dream the allue of Bloomberg?Its just that so many people – even ridiculously successfully people – prefer to be liked over respected.

          15. JLM

            .I think Bloomberg is a good leader and politician. His results speak for themselves.Having been a Democrat, a Republican and now an Independent, he has fashioned for himself a challenge that will not travel well beyond Manhattan.Mayor of NYC is the last stop on that subway.Perhaps unfortunately..

          16. JamesHRH

            Agree totally with your assessment.He also has too much to lose, at this point.

          17. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            DEMOCRACY ONLY SYSTEM WHERE PUBLIC GETS EXACTLY WHAT IT DESERVE.

          18. fredwilson

            they are politicians. they are cynical and poltical and calculating. they suck

          19. LE

            I think you have to look at the way that water flows.It has been this way with politics since the beginning of time. And there really hasn’t been a case where someone has been able to depart from that behavior at least not with any lasting consistency. Consequently I would say that by the law of low hanging fruit it would be practically impossible for someone to break that mold. And even if someone did get elected, being that power corrupts it would quickly change them.I’ll give you an example. I am on a board for the building that I am in. I made up this rule (it was my rule) and got it agreed to by the other board members with respect to signage that is allowed. Because I want things to be nice and I care about my investment and see and know things that others are clueless about.A doctor in the complex is upset and asked to meet with a board member to plead their case as to why they should be able to have the sign they want (which my rule doesn’t allow). So I agreed to meet with them.They pleaded their case with me and acted all nice. They didn’t promise anything in return, didn’t try to bribe me, didn’t do anything other than act nice. (They also didn’t know I’m the SOB that is the reason they can’t do what they want.). At the end of the meeting I asked if they wanted me to take a video of them that I could show to the rest of the board members knowing full well that I could easily get them what they wanted just by my word.Anyway, after meeting with them I realize, hey, this is pretty cool look at the power that I have with this small issue. Hmm, maybe I can get something out of this?Now I won’t do that obviously for various reasons.But I have to say the thought did cross my mind. How can I benefit from this? It crossed my mind. It didn’t cross my mind to steal a stick of gum from the store. Or to put the cat in the microwave. But this did cross my mind.So my point is this is the temptation that power dangles in front of you. And I have phenomenal will power (never smoked, never tried pot, never tried drugs, never cheated). Most others have a more difficult time with temptation.Now let’s pretend this doctor could get my kid into medical school for something I could grant them that is more significant or favorable.What would I do then?It’s easy to say that someone would be a certain way. But power corrupts because that’s human nature.

          20. Robert Anderson

            But I have to say the thought did cross my mind. How can I benefit from this? It crossed my mind. It didn’t cross my mind to steal a stick of gum from the store. Or to put the cat in the microwave. But this did cross my mind.So my point is this is the temptation that power dangles in front of you. And I have phenomenal will power (never smoked, never tried pot, never tried drugs, never cheated). Most others have a more difficult time with temptation.incredible explanation of the root of the problem.

          21. fredwilson

            true

          22. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            ME, GRIMLOCK, SUGGEST READ MORE HISTORY.ELECTIONS FARTHER BACK MUCH DIRTIER.

          23. Donna Brewington White

            Neither represents “this” version of America, i.e., me. However, I will vote for one of them. Too high a price was paid for that right for me to voluntarily relinquish it.

          24. Dave Pinsen

            You’ve expressed your admiration for Bloomberg on a number of occasions (including elsewhere in this thread). It seems like there is a good number of folks who share your and Bloomberg’s combination of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism in the tech industry. Is Bloomberg the only one who decided to run for public office?If so, why haven’t others? You (collectively, not just you individually) have the financial resources, connections, and tech-savvy to run effective campaigns. Why not be the better option you seek?

          25. fredwilson

            i don’t believe i have the skills

          26. Dave Pinsen

            I believe you’re being too modest.

          27. chris jones

            Mr. Bloomberg is no social liberal in the classic sense. Social liberalism is usually defined as increasing the range of personal choice and individual freedom. Instead, Mr. Bloomberg aspires to extend the reach (intrusion) of a paternalistic state. No system is perfect, however a more libertarian approach affords the most individual freedom and economic dynamism / opportunity for a society to thrive.

          28. Dave Pinsen

            I get your point, Chris, but Bloomberg is liberal on the social issues Fred and other social liberals care most about (e.g., gay marriage, abortion).Bloomberg is paternalistic — and I don’t agree with the specifics of some of his policies, such as limiting soda cup sizes — but some elements of paternalism are a necessary complement to a welfare state.I can anticipate the libertarian objection that we shouldn’t have a welfare state, but we do have one.

          29. chris jones

            Dave, honestly in the big scheme of things I think social issues are best handled at the state level. But if one makes the argument that gay marriage and access to abortions are important freedom of choice issues…..how can we also say that something as simple as the ability to buy a large cup of soda or for a chef to season food as he deems appropriate is somehow less worthy of individual choice? How can we argue that someone has the right to terminate a pregnancy but can’t smoke a cigarette or consume more sodium than a government agency suggests? We embrace individual freedoms pet issues but have no qualms in limiting person choice for others in other areas.If we stipulate that the highest and best good is to find happiness in this world so long as it doesn’t hurt others, then the most basic freedom is the ability to benefit from own’s own labor. We all agree that some level of government is required but its existence is made possible only through the confiscation of the fruits of other’s labor. The government doesn’t create wealth it consumes it. As the government gets larger individual freedom and liberty shrink.But more on point, we have an extremely weak economy that is likely headed back into a double dip recession. More government regulation, higher taxes and uncertainly are not stimulative to economies. We are in dire straits and expanding government will only stymie economic activity. Pimco’s Bill Gross believes we are looking at GDP growth rates in the 1.5% range for a decade or so. http://www.bloomberg.com/ne…A growing number of municipalities are like miniature versions of Greece. We’re starting to see rating agencies downgrading debt, not just in Europe but in US cities. What happens to muni bonds and the pension funds that hold them when bankruptcies occur? What happens when states can’t meet their obligations? These are the first areas in which we are seeing the depth of the looming crisis. Chaos theory can be explained in part by what is commonly called the butterfly effect….in complex systems, small perturbations can have disproportionate and complex implications in other areas. I would suggest that social issues need to take a back seat on both sides of the aisle as we focus on the most pressing fiscal and economic crisis we have had in generations. I’m sorry to say, this will play out in years and we are just finishing the opening act in Europe.

          30. Drew Meyers

            I would vote for Fred if he ran 🙂

          31. JamesHRH

            Every election has a pretermined, limited number of election events, publicly funded.Political advertising also criminalized.

        2. raycote

          Elections are about the financing required to run the biggest branding propaganda operations.

      3. philhayford

        This is one of my biggest concerns about politics for the next generation — with all the mud-slinging tactics required to be successful, I think the best people will stay away. I don’t hear honest young people aspiring to be politicians very much anymore.

        1. matthughes

          I question how much worse the mudslinging is today than in generations past.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Less worse.

          2. matthughes

            Exactly.On a related note, the Obama campaign is making fun of Romney’s singing:http://www.nytimes.com/2012…Ridiculous.

          3. ShanaC

            great cartoon!

          4. Luke Chamberlin

            I love how everything in those old political cartoons is clearly labeled for the reader.

        2. Drew Meyers

          You’re absolutely right. It’s because of all the bullsh*t involved. No one I know in my age group wants to be a politician…

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Makes me wonder if crowdfunding could stand a chance in helping change the political order.

      5. Rob G

        Did we get as close to that with Obama ’08 as we’re likely to get? How’d that work out? Or Carter in ’76? How about then?National politics is too varied, with too many interests, to ever break free. Even if we got Pres. Bartlett, don’t you think he’d still get rolled by Congress? Isn’t that what we saw with Obama in 2009 then 2010-2011? The office of the President is not powerful enough to exact real change. Dude had the entire Congress for an entire year and what did he accomplish?

      6. JLM

        .No. Because of the state by state nominating primary process.It is impossible..

        1. William Mougayar

          Can that process be changed eventually? That would unlock more options probably.

          1. Matt Zagaja

            The DNC and RNC set the nominating processes for their parties. If people want to change it they certainly have the option. Third parties can (and even do, see http://www.americanselect.org/ have a completely different process that looks nothing like the current process. Lengthening or shortening the process can change the dynamic but I don’t think it’d unlock more options. At least I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest it would.

          2. William Mougayar

            I think the outcome would be to make it easier to get a 3rd person on the ballot.

          3. Matt Zagaja

            Are you referring to a third person on the general election ballot or letting more people into a party primary? Two very different problems.

      7. Deji

        How about finally waking up, getting the money out of politics, and enacting some term limits? All my congressman wants from me is my vote, as soon as they win victory they priorities shift to raising money from special interests and being reelected.

        1. JLM

          .We should get the money out of politics and sponsor a series of two hour presentations from each candidate — not phony “gotcha” questions — but a real chance to layout programs complete with slide presentations and spreadsheets and names and faces.Why not?Oh, OK, I get the First Amendment. But it is something to think about..

          1. LE

            “series of two hour presentations from each candidate”I think that’s fine but of course then it’s to easy to promise things that you don’t even have the ability to deliver as president so you can say you support something and get favorable votes.As a local politician or a member of congress you can sponsor a bill that you know won’t pass. So you get credit for taking up a cause and basically paying lip service to constituents.

          2. JamesHRH

            Add a debate or two to the mix, w the debate limited to the topics put forward in the presentations!

          3. William Mougayar

            And get a panel of real people to ask them the questions, not TV anchors and professional news spinners.

          4. JLM

            .Be able to answer questions on the fly is not a Presidential skill.I would much prefer giving each candidate 4 subjects and 15 minutes per subject and let them make a full blown presentation and then ask them questions about their presentation.We have to start communicating more effectively and a series of gotcha questions and sound bite answers is not effective communication..

          5. Dale Allyn

            @JLMThis is something that I’ve been ranting for awhile, and I found myself “barking” at the tv during the early GOP “debates”.Hmm… ranting and barking… maybe I need to up my meds.

          6. JLM

            .Only if the TV barks back, friend..

          7. William Mougayar

            I think we agree pretty much. But I do think that a presidential candidate should be articulate enough to answer any good or bad question. Clarity of communications is a key trait & it’s typically followed by a clarity in actions.

          8. JLM

            .Rhetorical question:Do we want real answers or do we want slogans? Do we want S Baptist sermons or do we want truth? Do we want to be lead or bullshitted?Have a real conversation not a bunch of gotcha questions. Charlie Rose style not George Stephanopoulas style.I recently went to a very small group meeting at UT at which Newton and Huntsman spoke about China.It took my breath away to hear Huntsman describe the Chinese leadership — 90 years old at the top — and how it would pass the torch along.I would gladly have paid tuition.This is the kind of intelligent dialogue we desperately need..

          9. William Mougayar

            I would love to hear that. I’m a big fan of Charlie Rose & his style of interviewing.

          10. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I like @JLM:disqus idea.It is a clear advantage if you can think and communicate clearly on the fly but @wmoug:disqus – I don’t think it is as important of a metric when judging a candidates qualifications. There are people out there who are very effective in Q/A setting and there are those who are slow thinkers who tend to compute things more carefully and still produce a clear plan in the end. Obviously, the media and public usually lean towards the latter group.

          11. Cam MacRae

            Something from my Tumblr: Here is a modest proposal from the perspective of a slightly less dysfunctional (but nonetheless entirely dysfunctional) democracy:a) Implement compulsory voting.b) Allocate a $100m campaign budget to each candidate.c) Require all owners of government granted broadcast licenses to carry live a series of debates (say a minimum of 3).d) Require all advertising to be fact checked and approved by the electoral commission.(Compulsory voting is quite interesting in implementation — because of the secret ballot it turns out that it is attendance at a polling booth that is compulsory, not the voting.)

          12. JLM

            .I am looking for the execution docs.Great ideas all. Well played..

          13. Dale Allyn

            This is quite similar to something I have described, Cam. I’m especially keen on items b, c, and d. I like item a, but cautious of compulsory anything, so still thinking about it.And as for the debates, I’d like to see them as focused, in-depth discussions, not a ping-pong event of two minute sound bites with 30 second responses.

          14. Cam MacRae

            @daleallyn:disqus @JLM:disqus I was born under a constitution which defines voting (or more correctly, having your name recorded against the electoral roll as having shown up on election day) as an obligation of citizenship, so for me compulsory voting is completely uncontroversial. My citizenship isn’t a free ride; I’m obligated to vote, pay my taxes, obey a few laws, and hold a rifle as required. In return I’m (nearly) free as a bird — this includes the freedom to leave if I’d rather shirk my obligations. What a country![Also interesting: We get 95% voter turnout, and only 5% vote informally (not always intentionally — navigating the senate ballot paper requires you majored in cryptic crosswords), which implies the vast majority of citizens have their say.]

          15. Dale Allyn

            Cam, I like your conditions very much.To be clear, in my household and circle of contacts I have said that voting should be compulsory. I spend a fair bit of time in Thailand and find certain requirements there, which are contrary to U.S. practices, quite reasonable and appropriate. When it comes to the U.S. I tend to be a bit conservative regarding support for requiring certain actions because such things can break other mechanisms. On the surface, as I understand your citizens’ obligations, it seems simple and reasonable.Sadly, in the U.S. I find many citizens intellectually very lazy when it comes to understanding issues on the ballots. Participating in each election is an important responsibility worthy of study, inquiry, research and contemplation. Sadly, too many citizens don’t see it that way.

          16. JLM

            .This is a good system..

          17. thinkdisruptive

            a) Only if abstain is one of the options, and there are legitimate reasons accepted for those who can’t make it to the polls (e.g. if someone was held hostage in Iran, they shouldn’t have to go through a special appeal process not to be criminalized.)b) Why? Why not a 0$ budget? You don’t learn anything in an election campaign that wasn’t knowable before it started. Why not put policy positions on the internet and campaign using free social tools, and let people look up for themselves what they want to read?c) Owners of government granted broadcast licenses used to be relevant, but many other better sources of info now. Many people today don’t even have TVs, for example.d) Facts are often in the eye of the beholder, and colored by their frame of reference. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. And, at what level do you stop fact-checking — do you parse every sentence for grammar errors, or unintended misstatements? Do you check Obama’s birth records because some crazies think he isn’t American? There are plenty of natural sources for fact-checking — after that, it’s best to use your own judgment to assess what’s true.Reality is, elections are completely unnecessary. Can anyone honestly say that they produce a better result than randomly picking citizens and requiring them to serve for a limited term? Party politics are what create results (on both sides) that no one agrees with. Many here have lamented that they are fiscally conservative but socially liberal — who represents that point of view, which from my experience is about how 60% of the population describes itself? Politics and parties are what create the incentives to abuse power. Imagine this scenario: a) everyone randomly appointed to Congress has a seven year termb) the selection is random by state, but uses the same allocation rules as todayc) appointments are staggered — 1/7 of seats change every year, preventing long term coalitions that have too much power. Changes focus to getting things done together.d) obviously, it completely eliminates campaigninge) there are a very small set of reasons why you can request to decline your term if selected, and it is treated a lot more seriously than jury dutyf) require a balanced budgetg) all bills presented must cover exactly one subject, and cannot be padded with amendments to fund agricultural projects in Iowa when the original purpose was to allow gay marriage or not h) all bills must have a sunset date not longer than 25 years when they are automatically revoked or brought up for reconsideration of relevance, usefulness, social context or improvementi) you get paid at the average of your W-2 over the past 5 years, up to a maximum of 500K, with an inflation index built in so that no one is hurt by serving. Perhaps also set a minimum (50k?).The thing that is most infuriating about the system we have is when decisions are made for political/ideological reasons that the members voting for them don’t even agree with, yet they do it to tow the party line to have a shot at moving up the party hierarchy. This power that higher level party functionaries have is part of the reason that the current system is so dysfunctional. Party loyalty is more important than “does this make sense”. People don’t so much consider the merits of anything presented to them as decide based on what side of the aisle they sit on, and what their prospects are for reelection. If there is no potential for reelection, and no parties, and no power motivations, we go back to using the brains we were given for good.There are no “modest proposals” that achieve the goal you desire. First, you have to look at what attributes of the system we have cause the problems that we have. Endless tweaking to try to compensate for things that are perceived as wrong with the status quo is what has given us a tax code so complex that no one understands it, that no human could even read in their lifetime, and which is loaded with distortions and all kinds of unintended results, such as many wealthy individuals paying lower taxes than those whose incomes are orders of magnitude less. The only thing that fixes the system is a new system that has more desirable attributes.

          18. Cam MacRae

            I don’t mind your proposals, actually. The chief benefit of mine is that they are for the most part currently implemented in at least one slightly more modern democracy than that defined by the Founders so are probably achievable sans revolution.

      8. Matt Zagaja

        Hi Fred,I worked for the current Governor of Connecticut and have managed several local races in Connecticut. Politics is hard work, the scrutiny and amount of work endured by candidates even for local office is huge. From a purely rational standpoint if someone has a choice between running for office and not running for office, they are usually better off not running unless they enjoy it. People with families have to decide if they want to attend the little league game or meet with voters. Choosing the former can lead to losing.Grassroots style and honest are two characteristics that tend to be subjective. Grassroots in the political profession usually means a person to person style campaign. Obama, Romney, and others do this through various ways (fundraisers, canvassing). Conducting a grassroots style campaign is not only simple, but tends to be the only viable way for people without much money to get elected. Even those with money will engage in grassroots style campaigning because its good strategy.Honesty is harder to pin down. Different people have different standards for what is honest. Some people believe in “full adverse disclosure” whereby if you do not talk about your own negatives constantly, then you are not honest. Others are fine with a neutral tone and find that honest. Some would say if you avoid talking about your negatives when confronted with them that’s dishonest. In those cases I’d say that for the most part those people will never be satisfied. You cannot win a campaign by beating yourself up. You have to toot your own horn.More fair questions of honesty come when candidates make what lawyer types would call a material misstatement of fact. Again these statements all depend. Obama or whoever is President certainly cannot spill national security secrets. It is certainly not honest to say “we are not planning to invade X country” when we are yet you would not say such things for national security purposes. Clinton’s statements about his scandals were certainly false but people might excuse that as under privacy. Less excusable are things like “I support abortion” when you really do not. We see examples of these position changes and it is often up to the voter to ascertain the sincerity of the politician with regard to the change. They cannot know until after the fact. But even then, is it still a lie if you say you have one position but change your mind when new facts come to light? Even straight shooters can end up looking like liars. Does that make them dishonest?In spite of that I think its fair to scrutinize and put position changes or evidence that refutes claims by candidates up for public debate, including the Romney records because they are facts. Romney signed the documents and appeared to have some measure of control over Bain. He is free to respond as you did by explaining why and what the customs of the industry are. Neither side is being dishonest, they are just laying out their arguments (as a matter of custom and practice Romney wasn’t involved, but as a matter of law he was).All that out of the way, an honest person can succeed by grassroots style campaigning. It involves lots of hard work. You do still need lots of money, but you can get that from donors. Most important you need a message that resonates with the electorate. There are lots of extrinsic factors that impact whether you succeed, but in politics like any other field success is where preparation meets opportunity.

        1. fredwilson

          are there any models of it working at a national level that we can look at?

          1. Matt Zagaja

            For grassroots campaigns? I think the Howard Dean campaign and Barack Obama campaign (2008) are both considered among the best in leveraging grassroots support. Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, wrote a book “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” about how meetup.com really launched the Dean campaign from nothing to something without work by the campaign. Obama professionalized and better integrated the kinds of things Dean did into his campaign. (David Plouffe, his manager, also wrote a book: “Audacity to Win”)If you want models for campaigns with less money beating campaigns with more money you can take a look at my home state of CT. Blumenthal v. Linda McMahon for US Senate Blumenthal beat McMahon in spite of all the money she spent. Gov. Malloy beat Tom Foley while spending less money than him. Both were established political leaders here, though.If your question is more along the lines of “well what about average joe, can he run for POTUS and win?” my answer is probably not right away. At least not without money to balance it out. You need to build the networks of support and also your own credibility. That takes time and patience. You can’t just mail a flier or e-mail a link to someone in Iowa and have them vote for you. They want to meet you. They want to know their friends trust you.

          2. JLM

            .Connecticut is half the size of Dallas-Worth.Obama — Perfect Storm — election of 2008 was a triumph of using the Internet for voter contact, community building and fundraising.That storm has passed and everybody owns a GPS these days.Perfect. Storm. Over..

          3. fredwilson

            thanks Matthew, this has been a very helpful conversation. i appreciate it.

      9. JamesHRH

        Only if they have the will to win.You have to get elected to govern.

      10. FAKE GRIMLOCK

        ONLY IF CREATE NEW WAY TO REACH VOTERS.

      11. sdefor01

        Fred, I think it’s possible, but that fight needs to change battlefields. I think that most Americans tend toward the moderate side of things. Problem is, the media, and therefore the politicians (incumbents and wanna-bees alike) need to punch through to voters using traditional media and by being polarizing and noisy. Congress has made it a habit of taking sides and being binary. Most voters aren’t like that. Lately there have been many recent examples of how many voices can move information and ideas, at a low cost, through social media word of mouth for real change (SOPA). Bottom up vs. top down. I don’t know what the tipping point will be, but when it happens, that will be America’s new revolution.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      We get what we pay for. Substitute “vote” for “pay”.

      1. JamesHRH

        Have you read Boomerang by Micheal Lewis?Its really good on this topic.

    5. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      As an outside observer, it seems to me that US campaigns take too long and are too frequent. For example it seems like Obama has been campaigning for past year already and even longer for Romney! How about one longer term for president and implementing policy of shorter campaigns OR is there too much of an industry dependant on long drawn campaigns for this to work.

    6. Guest

      Seth,When you say, “if voters were willing to actively engage about important stuff…” and then in the next sentence you say, “leadership sometimes involves…”I can only ask, which comes first? Do we lack leadership because voters are unwilling to actively engage or are voters unwilling to actively engage because we have no leadership?I think that the Occupy Movement was a fine example of a grass roots movement of citizens/voters who were actively engaged about important stuff…Sadly, they were criticized for being leaderless…The partisanship that we are witnessing today is tribal in nature but what makes the partisanship today so different than that before is the stranglehold that the two existing parties have over our political system at the state and local level; it is almost impossible to start a third party.What is interesting, especially in light of the 2008 election and how everyone marveled over the voter turnout is the fact that the years where we had the most “engaged” voters were 1960, 1964, and 1968 (which 2 of 3 were pre voting rights legislation and all three were pre 18 year olds can vote).http://www.infoplease.com/i…The years with the greatest voter turnout occurred when voters wanted the greatest change from “the system.” Engaged voters are a threat to the system….

      1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

        ME SUGGEST READ GEORGE LACKOFF, OR OTHER COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGISTS.PRESENT POLITCS DUE TO ONLY ONE THING: US KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT HOW TO HACK MIND OF PUBLIC HONESTY NEVER, EVER COME BACK.

        1. Guest

          You know FG, lots of times when you make decisions, whether consciously or unconsciously you find yourself in a situation where you can never go back to where you started and start all over….So everyone wants to “reform” the political process, take money out of politics, and on and on….As they say, “…you can never go home again….”

          1. fredwilson

            we read lakoff in my mgmt class a wharton

    7. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      GREAT LEADER SHOULD BE GREAT PERSON.BUT ALSO NEED TO WIN.SOMETIMES FIRST SACRIFICED TO SECOND.

      1. Robert Anderson

        ALL THE TIME FIRST SACRIFICED TO SECOND

  9. John Minnihan

    His specific claim that, while CEO, president + 100% shareholder [through 2002], he “…had no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital after February of 1999” is simply illogical.

  10. Rick

    Enjoy your blog but the “nothing to see hear, move on” post causes some concern. i see this as Mitt wanting to have it both ways. I’m great business man and I saved the Olympics but don’t hold me accountable for my firms actions during 99-2003 because I wasn’t involved. I simply profited from my holding.Is it normal practice to sign legally binding “stuff” when one only has nominal control? Did you attend or claim to attend board meetings from boards that you left decades ago? I think Obama is right to ask questions and proof for when Romney stopped participating, attending and influencing Bain strategy & influence. The rubber-stamp, passive investor excuse doesn’t pass muster.

    1. fredwilson

      It reminds me of trump digging into Obama’s birth certificateIts a witch hunt and its ugly and makes me dislike the man I plan to vote forHe’s a cynical pol just like all of themYuck

      1. Sameer

        Not even close. One is cynical race/religion bating a la ‘we need to take our country back from the Kenyan socialist’. The other is attack that points out conflicting statements from the candidate about something that the candidate says is his main qualification for the job.BIG DIFFERENCE

        1. Deji

          Thank you SR, exactly right.

        2. thinkdisruptive

          Why assume anything as outlandish as race and religion baiting to “take back the country from the Kenyan socialist”? Your assessment of motivation without really knowing anything of the person inserts and exhibits your prejudices quite loudly. It’s just as likely you are simply dealing with an irrational self-promoting grandstander who thinks all publicity is good publicity (e.g. Trump). I don’t pretend to understand why crazy people do crazy things, but asserting the negative racist overtones into this is certainly unnecessary.

      2. Rob G

        You’re showing your biases here.This problem for Romney is of his own making. He’s tried to distance himself from Bain after 1999 because it was politically convenient to do so in his runs for Senate, Governor, and now President. Notice that’s key if you also want to point to Bain as *the* reason people should vote for you (especially since he can’t claim credit for innovation in health care policy). Where is Romney standing up and defending Bain and explaining its role in our economy. Our saying like you do that he’ll always be connected to them. To do so is *politically* inconvenient. So he doesn’t. It for the same reason why he’ll get pummeled on his tax returns. He’s too cowardly to defend the tax breaks he took advantage of.By contrast, what has Obama done to encourage Trump’s behavior? Have a foreign name? An African father? Not release his birth certificate? What could Obama do to shut Trump and his ilk up?Be careful, Fred. This point is where you sound tone deaf and naive to what resonates politically. and why.

        1. fredwilson

          i understand it. i just dont like it.

      3. LE

        “trump digging into Obama’s birth certificate”Trump uses the press. This was a way for him to get some attention. That’s what he does.Trump made a comment about the Ralph Lauren chinese made suits that the US Olympic team is wearing. Obviously he uses foreign products (like where did Harry Reid’s suit come from for that matter??) and knows all about costs and the way the world works. So obviously he in no way believes what he is even saying. He just knows it’s free publicity for him.I’ve been watching Trump operate since the late 70’s. While he could mean what he says, my guess is that that’s not what’s going on here.

  11. Jeff Jenkins

    I totally agree with this, and what you posted Fred seems like a pretty obvious possibility. What I don’t understand, and perhaps someone here can explain, is why he would still be chairman/ceo/president. If the business is ongoing, who was running it and why weren’t they given the titles that would come with that? Is it just more logistical headaches like Fred’s position, or Romney was too busy to deal with that because of the Olympics?

  12. Thomas Burke

    Politics ain’t beanbag.Campaigns are about communication, you have to use the techniques that will break through the media to hundreds of millions of voters. If the Obama campaign spent their time dissecting Romney’s claim to economic competence based on a careful analysis of his time at Bain, no one would ever know, the media wouldn’t report it and people don’t have the time to listen to a dissertation. These attacks work because they are short, easy to understand, and they get at real issues underlying Romney’s stated policies.

  13. ErikSchwartz

    It is interesting that this is being called within the GOP as the “swift boating” of Mitt Romney’s Bain record.What they fail to see is the irony of their defining the term of “swift boating” as as misleading voters about the strength of an opponents record implies that the GOP was misleading about John Kerry’s record.They can’t have it both ways.

    1. fredwilson

      True. Chickens coming home to roost. I get it but I don’t like it

      1. LE

        “Chickens coming home to roost.”As I’ve said before many times. You can only be as honest as your competition is in any business.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Which in my book makes you unemployable.Our team seek to ‘out-honest’ competition – sure it loses battles but it wins wars !

    2. PhilipSugar

      I too Erik was really struck by that….a colleague at work who just loves to program was asking me about the details of signing stuff, and we went over it. (I ask him a bunch about programming so turnabout is fair play) He told me the GOP was saying this was “swift boating” and I got totally confused.

  14. Skeptic

    Isn’t it negligence for a CEO not to be actively involved in their business. Isn’t it negligence for a CEO to sign things without agreeing with them?How can one claim to retain overall authority (by being CEO) and not any responsibility

  15. ErikSchwartz

    The other weird disconnect is that now that ACA is seen as a tax by SCOTUS then Romneycare is also pretty much a tax in Massachusetts which makes Romney’s already semantic claims to having lowered taxes (because he offset the tax cuts with fee increases) as utterly specious.Romney raised taxes in Massachusetts, provided universal health insurance and the state thrived.

  16. David Repas

    It’s really unfortunate how dirty the game of politics is and probably always has been in one way or another. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anyone truly respectable wanting to run for office and at the same time play that game. That’s sad.

  17. Tom Labus

    Whenever the admin attempts to speak with congress about the economy, earlier in 2012, they get stiff armed and attacked. There is no dialog.I have no sympathy for Mitt. This is the same guy who denied evolution was science in order to pander to the lowest common denominator of the right.The same guy who didn’t bother to move his money back into the country before he ran.The same guy who wants to unleash Glenn Hubbard back on the economy to finish the job he started under W.

  18. johnmac

    Always perplexes me to see credible business/thought leaders with such naive political perspective. Fred you act as if you’re surprised by the tactics Obama and his cronies are taking to ensure they stay in power….wake up! Such hypocrisy in this posts on so many levels.

    1. fredwilson

      No hypocrisy that I see. Pls point it out

  19. William Mougayar

    Both political sides could benefit from more substance, but does the American voter want substance? I hope they do this year more than in previous years.Substance requires analysis and patience to fully understand it. You almost need a Bullshit Detection Neutral Organization that lays out the facts, not the hot air. But then, are votes based on objectivity or emotions?

    1. Max Yoder

      As Dan Ariely says, we’re predictably irrational. I wouldn’t bet on objectivity winning the day. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, though, if you ask me.I’m worried that the majority of people are just too tired, dejected, or confused by all of the political garbage that they’re tuning out and turning their apathetic switches ON.I don’t care if a candidate did stupid things in the past. I don’t want a person with a clean record. If you had marital issues, fine; that doesn’t mean you can’t be a good president. If you had drug issues, fine; you’re probably a better person for it, because you learned some of your limitations and weaknesses. If you once punched a guy in the face in a bar, fine; we’ve all let emotions go to our heads, and sometimes a guy deserves to be punched in the face for being an asshole.What I’m saying is this: give me a person who is not an imitation Jesus. I don’t want someone who has apparently never made a mistake or been forced to learn a lesson running this county. I want a person who obviously sucks at a few things, who knows where their strengths and weaknesses are. I want a human who doesn’t have all the answers, but has ways of logically testing his or her hypotheses and using other smart people to fill the gaps. I want a human who admits when they’ve totally screwed up, and doesn’t spin it as some one-of-a-kind misunderstanding.Give me reality—not punditry, not politicking, not bullshit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that my ideal candidate would ever stand a chance against the media and his or her opposing party, because he or she would not be faux-perfect enough.And, for that reason, I mentally weep.

      1. ShanaC

        actually, I think Imitation Jesus might actually be more interesting at this point.Part of the problem is we live in a 24/7 cycle of lives. we live in public now, and our mistakes are so magnified that it has become hard to say, eha culpa, without some sort of fast moving system in place. Politics still is conservative enough to move like molasses.So I rather have jesus, thanks.

        1. Max Yoder

          I was trying to say that all we ever get are imitation-Jesus politicians. Guys who are cut from another cloth of moral and mental standard—or so they’d have us believe. In reality, it’s often phony. I want a political climate where people can be open about what they’ve learned and how they’ve learned it.

          1. ShanaC

            not going to happen, so I’ll take imitation jesus and imitation shock until that does.

          2. Max Yoder

            I know it’s not likely to happen, but that doesn’t make reality any less frustrating.

    2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      AMERICANS WANT SUBSTANCE IN POLITICS SAME WAY THEM WANT ORGANIC VEGETABLES.NO ONE IN POLITICS OR MCDONALDS WORRIED ABOUT IT.

      1. William Mougayar

        True, but it hurts.

      2. ShanaC

        exception: lady obama

  20. Gus Fuldner

    When people started talking about high velocity angel/seed investing strategy (50+ deals per year in really early stage companies either as an independent fund or part of a “seed fund” within a major VC) this issue came to mind.How many signatures, tax filings, etc. will be required for those funds 15-20 years from now? It is hard enough to wind down a traditional VC firm where the investor is on the board of most investments and the investments and their residual values are big enough to pay for the future administrative costs. It not only affects the funds but also the companies that are trying to gather the signatures to get something done (e.g., sell the company). Higher velocity investing at an earlier stage seems set up for very, very long fund lives.

    1. fredwilson

      Nightmares!

  21. William Gadea

    I’m skeptical that you can create a firm like Bain and cut yourself off completely from it, while your life work and the better part of your wealth is still tied up with it. I suspect he had at least an advisory role, and moreover, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with that! By litigating the dates issue so fiercely, Romney is implicitly admitting that there is something there to disown, and it’s never been shown to me that there is something to be ashamed of there. He painted himself into this corner.Now he’s disarmed himself from countering the ‘vulture capitalism’ allegations, AND he’s raised issues about his honesty, AND he’s seemed weak by asking for an apology. Instead of Truman’s muscular “the buck stops here”, it’s been “the buck stops with those people I delegated this to.” it’s self-inflicted wound, and it would be political malpractice for the Obama people not to take advantage of it.

    1. JLM

      .When the International Olympic Committee was getting ready to pull the plug on the SLC Olympics for corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, America called one guy to try to fix it — MITT ROMNEY.Sounds like a full time job, no?He didn’t just save our national reputation, he banked a profit — first time in the history of the Olympics.I suspect it took all of his concentration and if it did not, then well, I salute the Mittster. Well done.The guy is hell on wheels with a To Do List.You don’t go out and grab the PE business by the ear and make a big chunk of a billion dollars, save America’s ass on the Olympics and not be good at managing things.I think this guy might be just what we need right now..

  22. Angela Wilson Gyetvan

    Seth Godin is quite right – tribes are powerful things, and our emphasis on candidates “marketing” their way to power (exacerbated by Citizens United) creates these situations. This particular message is not aimed at your tribe, Mr. Wilson – it’s aimed at the tribe who is going to have a hard time understanding how someone can still earn six or seven figures annually from a company he no longer “works” for. Boil it down to a bumper sticker, and it becomes a powerful meme. We’d have to overhaul the system to get to the conversation you’d like to have, but things seem to be moving in exactly the opposite direction, unfortunately.

    1. fredwilson

      Correct

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Well said, Angela.On the point you made about comprehension of someone earning that kind of income beyond actually working for a company, I imagine that this is even harder to comprehend in a more consumeristic culture, rather than an investment minded culture.We must get investment thinking into our culture.

  23. Glen Coates

    Completely agree that this isn’t the most important topic that needs to be discussed right now, but Obama spent years trying to be the adult in the room and talk about real issues and look where it got him – an absolute ass-kicking from a congress full of petulant children who would rather burn the country to the ground (e.g. filibusters, debt ceiling fiasco etc) than allow anything to happen that might make the president look like he’s actually doing a decent job.Trying to take the high-road in a political conversation against the 2012 GOP is like trying to discuss Nietzsche with a monkey who is wiping his feces on your shirt.Writing a blog post accusing the Dems of derailing the political conversation in an irrelevant direction ignores the fact that it was driven off the rails and into a canyon a long time ago.

    1. fredwilson

      That may well be true. It still annoys me

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Sorry, but an “adult in the room” wouldn’t have treated the results of his own deficit commission like he had been handed a bundle of snakes. Obama had a real opportunity to forge a bipartisan consensus on that issue and he punted.

    3. JLM

      .The Simpson Bowles Commission did some damn good work. It pissed everyone off, an indicator of its evenhandedness.If someone had put a yellow sticky on it and said: “Make it so.” the Nation would have been a whole lot better off today.The President had complete control over the Congress for two years and one could arguably find that he squandered that opportunity.We do not really need to explore why this was not done but we do need to agree that it was not.Opportunity waits for no man and the opportunity was blown.Only results count..

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Debating room temperature comfort, a contemporary of mine commented on his very expensive building management system that scored him zero because nobody was happy.He was delighted – half the people were too cold and half too hot.He had found the elusive optimum where no group of people were most unhappy.

        1. thinkdisruptive

          This is a suboptimal solution. You need to also consider what the remedy/workaround is for those who aren’t happy or able to tolerate the outcome. If the building is too cool for me, I can put a sweater on. If it is too hot for me, there is a limit to what I can shed, metaphorically speaking. It is a widely-perpetrated myth that the best solution is one where everyone is equally pissed off. Even in your example, there are two groups who are most unhappy — those who like it the coolest and those who like it the hottest.This turns out to be true in many business and political cases — the best solution is usually one that is skewed in favor of one side or the other. If I set the temperature to the coolest that anyone likes, there are the same number of people pissed off as there would be if a mid-point that no one likes was picked — they’re just pissed off for different reasons.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Most buildings are inherently sub-optimal. I think your statement : ” If the building is too cool for me, I can put a sweater on. If it is too hot for me, there is a limit to what I can shed, metaphorically speaking”Is an absolute truth and there should be more of it – but discomfort is not complaint – let us consider what happens when each individual has done what they can to look after themselves (eg the cold have wrapped up and the hot have “shed” )Uou are mistaken with : “If I set the temperature to the coolest that anyone likes, there are the same number of people pissed off as there would be if a mid-point that no one likes was picked — they’re just pissed off for different reasons.”The nobody likes the mid-point is unlikely or (in the case of my colleague ironic) – people are fussy.Consider that people are comfortable within a range (we cannot even sense closer than +/- one degree F). If the building is at any particular temperature the “comfortable people” will be those within this range.The range approximates a simple-normal distribution so you fit most people into ” comfortable ” by choosing a mid-range. This if perfectly chosen has equal numbers of people “too hot” as “too cold”. If set an extreme, not only will you have less happy people (they are the outliers), but also the “maximum” unhappiness is double the range if it where linear – but actually it is not linear and your solution would provoke a riot in most office buildings :Simple example – some people fit people (well fed with excellent carido-vascular performance – think skiers) can tolerate extremely low temperatures relatively long term – if you chose this limit and sustained it others will begin to die (it will begin to happen in about three-four hours at freezing temperatures) – The very old and very young, the small and the underweight females will go first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wik… -is a very well researched resource.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            Actually, I think you are mistaken if you believe there is any universal truth. It doesn’t matter how well researched an idea is if one starts from the wrong premise (e.g. earth is flat and at center of universe). Engineers tend to believe that there is a single midpoint or median solution that satisfies most people. There are actually multiple “best” points, each with their own distribution and tolerance range. This is true whether you’re talking about temperature, food saltiness, or politics. (Or tomato sauce, according to Malcolm Gladwell.)In your building temperature example, it’s actually more of a threshold curve than a too hot, too cool curve. Using myself as an example, I have a preferred set temperature (and I can tell if it is one degree warmer or cooler — ask my wife). If the temperature is 2 degrees or more warmer than that, I fall asleep — i.e. become completely non-functional. I can comfortably tolerate up to 12 degrees cooler than that. And, I can survive in street clothes another 15-20 degrees below that as long as I’m active. What I would call extreme cold starts another 30 degrees below that — but that’s irrelevant anyway, since no one is “comfortable” or able to work at that temperature, and it’s absurd to discuss buildings that are “heated” below the freezing level.For me, the threshold is too hot (within a range that many would consider comfortable). For others, it is possible to live with heat, but they become non-functional if it is too cold (relatively speaking, within the narrow range of that we consider acceptable.) Women have a median set point that is 4 to 6 degrees warmer than men. Old people prefer it warmer still, to the point that if I’m visiting elderly relatives, I have to leave within 5 minutes or my brain will cook. The set points for these different groups to feel “comfortable” are not compatible. None will be happy at a midpoint, and most will not be functional.I believe that most real systems have lumpy distribution curves like this, not the smooth normal distribution curve that you imagine. And, that’s true in politics too. Those who believe in redistributive social policy will never agree with libertarians. Those whose central focus is conservative religious dogma will never agree with those who think we should each decide what is best for ourselves. Those who believe that fiscal responsibility is not just morally right, but a fiduciary responsibility of public office will never agree with those who think it’s OK to keep borrowing more and never budget to pay it off. The values of freedom are likewise incompatible with “risk-free” security. Within each value set, there is a median, and a small range around it, but there is no way that the medians of one side will overlap with the other.

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Well no ! – I think we need some rigour.The median of any well-defined monotonic function is as well-defined as is the statistical mean – there is and can be only one for any population. So are we discussing a well-defined monotonic function? – I think you assert this is not the case – but…Since any one dimensional function is trivially sortable – it can be made monotonic (never decreasing or never increasing). E.g. rank children in a class by height ), each child in one direction is higher or equal to his/her neighbour. This is true of any scalar property.If we assume that at any point in time (this is key) humans each have a single preferred temperature range (temperature is scalar), the mid-point each of this is well-defined (top + bottom) / 2 and is a function of the individual (a single preference property – but which may change as you point out).Then any population have a single mean and median mid-preferred temperature. The result will change with time , but the singular nature will not.So either you are wrong or you are in effect arguing that you (or at least one other person) could be individually both too hot and too cold.Humans are fickle enough and the math complicated enough for optimisations without introducing such scary notions.However disruptively you think – (which is great and I welcome you challenging my thinking), we must choose to adopt conventions to communicate, or fail to do so effectively. If propose we adopt the same axioms of mathematics and physics, as is conventional in society. If we do, then your position is untenable.And that my friend is an unequivocal universal truth – which addresses your first error :)Universal truth is I confess an axiom – but all knowledge of society, all maths science and language supposes it. We simply take it that truth is “what IS” whereas falsehood is what “IS NOT”. It is a convention that allows us to make sense. To tear it up is futile and indeed would make it nihilist to discuss anything !If you want to talk “alternative truths” rather than alternative explanations, you enter the realm of science fiction – which though fun IS fiction, and usually in science fiction only one or two “normalcies are broken” because otherwise its just silly.

          4. thinkdisruptive

            No, you’ve completely missed what I said. There is a set of preferred values, not a single one. e.g. one group of people clusters around 68, another around 74, another around 78, etc. The group that is happy at any one of these points will find the other unbearable.If you prefer a food example, look at tomato sauce (Gladwell’s example). Some people will only eat sauce that is a plain puree. Others strongly prefer spicy. A third cluster prefers extra chunky. Will they eat other kinds? It depends — many will not, but many others will eat what’s put in front of them, although without relish. Many will not eat spicy anything, while others crave it. Similarly with chunky sauce — many believe a sauce isn’t finished if it’s chunky, while fans believe it’s healthier and prefer the texture. And for some, if you only have plain sauce, they will choose to abstain.Most choices do not resolve to a single median acceptable value, and temperature, like politics, is one of those things. Rather the data spikes around multiple preferences. The key is not whether or not there is a single mean or median — of course there is. The point is whether that is meaningful, and whether it achieves a “best” solution for everyone. My contention is that it isn’t and doesn’t.I’ve seen this in real life, in an office where the boss’s admin sat near to the thermostat, and found a way to get around the lock box with her ruler and push the temperature setting up when she was chilled. The office became too hot to work in for all but those sitting next to cold windows, and after a day or two of fighting, many simply refused to come to the office. In the end, the boss was forced to set the temperature even lower than it had been before the arguments escalated, and the admin and a few other women who found it too cold were told to put on sweaters. it turned out that the one temperature compromise everyone could live with was lower than what most preferred.

          5. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Now I understand -We agree there are different groups with different preferences – Yes.I agree that given the possibility to control only a single “zone of heat” (building fabric and plant determines this largely), and if these different groups co-habit that zone – it will be that most are not optimally happy for much of the time.The question is how do we act to be “ethically responsible” to the inhabitants.This reduces to a rights vs utilitarianism argument.We can in principle minimise greatest discomfort (the approach I suggest and a “rights view” to comfort) , or we can maximize comfort (disregarding minorities – “utilitarianism” – which requires totalitarianism to be sustained).Philosophy has it that people would be preferred to suffer somewhat to have their views considered equitably. They will as classes of peoples even die for a vote (suffrage).Thus the former (ie a rights view) is “right”, however if you assume discomfort worsens with distance from preference, it does not make the other position wrong. Why? – because the mean target (which will usually be extremely close to the median in any randomly varying normal distribution) will be chosen in the latter case.Happily the mean, the median and with time averaging even modal clusters centre around the same value for randomly chosen populations.So the mean and median are inseparably similar in any large enough group of people or over a long enough period of time (your distribution clusters smooth out on average).So in effect engineers whether from chinese utilitarian regimes, capitalist systems, benevolent dictatorships or any common-sense or pragmatic position in between say “Put the temperature somewhere near the middle “.And you cannot beat common sense in this situation.Or can you ? – over to you 🙂

      2. fredwilson

        i would vote for full implementation of simpson bowles asap

      3. ErikSchwartz

        Totally agree on Simpson/Bowles.

  24. Dan Goldin

    The pressure to focus on “soundbite” issues causes the real issues to be left unexplored. Politicians are forced to do the “30 second pitches” nearly every time they speak so they have to focus on issues that can get a quick response and sound good. There should be avenues for more sophisticated discussions but even debates have turned into soundbites.

  25. William Wagner

    I am a fan of burger king but now i realize every whopper probably puts an extra $0.10 in romney’s account. My biggest internal conflict in this election is whether to cold turkey whopper w/ cheese and bacon

  26. Dave Pinsen

    “I wish the Obama team would talk about important stuff instead of beating up a guy over nonsense.”It’s a cynical strategy, no doubt, but so far it seems to be effective: unsophisticated voters don’t get that it’s nonsense, and sophisticated, socially liberal voters like you are still supporting Obama, even though there are good reasons to consider doing otherwise.

    1. fredwilson

      if you are socially liberal, there is no choice in this election other than Obamaif Bloomberg was on the ballot, id be on the campaign trail with him

      1. Dale Allyn

        Fred, is now the time to put social issues above fiscal ones?(In the interest of transparency, I’m fiscally conservative and socially moderate, however I evaluate issues on individual merit not group ideology.)

        1. fredwilson

          That’s each and everyone’s choice. For me I am focused on social issues because I think the economic issues are not going to solved by either candidate

          1. Dale Allyn

            I understand. In my case, I’m quite interested in social issues (perhaps more weighted to humanitarian issues) but have more confidence in non-governmental solutions provided there’s private funds available via a robust economy. It’s easy to understand the notion that “the economic issues are not going to be solved by either candidate”, but I do feel that chances are somewhat better with one over the other.Quite frankly, I’d like to see some social issues removed from national politics entirely at this time: to me, abortion and gay marriage should be off the table entirely (as in “oh shut up already”). Employment is an urgent issue, education is a big issue, environment is always important. I’d like to see the two parties shut up about emotional hot buttons which have little bearing on our current rather dire condition.

          2. ShanaC

            why do you think economic issues won’t be solved by either candidate?

          3. fredwilson

            because it is like an alcoholic. the first thing you need to admit is you are an addict. and i don’t think our country has hit rock bottom. sadly i think we will have to do that before we can rid ourselves of our addiction to debt and deficits.

          4. JLM

            .Brilliant comment. We are addicts. We have not admitted it..

          5. thinkdisruptive

            Perhaps not, but they are very likely to be made much worse by one than the other. We don’t have the luxury of living that high on Maslov’s scale of needs at the moment, and frankly I’d be pretty angry (as I think most would be) if any on the right put social issues ahead of economic ones right now (I don’t think you have a lot to worry about vis a vis backsliding socially). That’s a discussion we can have when we’re solvent.

      2. William Mougayar

        If Bloomberg became a candidate, that would be a great thing not just for the US, but for the world. He is so pragmatic and action oriented. Since the US’ biggest ailment today is economic, get a real business person in there. The US is great not just because of its freedom, liberties & equalities, but because it’s the most entrepreneurial nation. The US needs to be jolted, and neither candidates have that jolting moment in their bag. It’s a perfect opportunity for Bloomberg to steal the show.

        1. Dale Allyn

          “Since the US’ biggest ailment today is economic, get a real business person in there.”This is my feeling, too, William. A lot of good work can be done when the economy is robust. We need to make economic recovery the priority with actions which are actually effective so that we have the means to address our broad range of needs. A full purse provides for much repair.

        2. Dan Epstein

          I think Bloomberg could have won had he started earlier, but it might be too late for him this cycle.I hope he runs in 4 years, but we could use him sooner.

        3. thinkdisruptive

          Bloomberg could not be accepted by middle America. Banning 42 oz drinks would be seen by most as fiddling while Rome burns, and not something that a top leader should be concerning himself with, even at the best of times. It’s also contrary (in a very petty way) to the ideas of freedom of choice, self-determination, and the proper role of government. Although many see him as pragmatic, this seems to me the ultimate in non-pragmatism. If he had any aspirations to national leadership, this single, dopey, paternalistic idea killled them. He totally killed his credibility with the average joe.

      3. Dave Pinsen

        As a social liberal, what exactly scares you about the prospect of a President Romney? Two things to consider:1) How socially conservative do you think Romney could be and still get elected governor in the most socially liberal state in the union?2) What’s the worst case scenario if Romney gets elected — that he might nominate another Justice in the mold of John Roberts to the Supreme Court?

        1. fredwilson

          Yes. The court is already way right of the country

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Maybe not such a bad thing in our system of checks and balances.Well, given the present political situation.

          2. JLM

            .I think that the SCOTUS is a funny thing.If you personally had complete control, would you want the Court to reflect your views or would you want it to be a reflection of the complexion of the entire US?If it were the reflection of the entire US would it be the average or a cross section of every view?Bit of nonsense by me, but I think I would want it to reflect every view possible and then sell tickets to watch them deliberate.I think that as I get older I get fairer..

          3. Dale Allyn

            I would like it to reflect simply a very conservative view of the U.S. Constitution and nothing else. I say “conservative” not in terms of politicization, but in terms of interpretation of law and its relationship to our Constitutional document – not whatever the current crop of citizens may want as is all too often based on pop culture and trends of the period. Want to sway the court? Write better law for its evaluation.

          4. JLM

            .Of course, you are completely correct. Thanks for bringing me to my senses. Well played!.

          5. Dale Allyn

            😉

      4. Dan Epstein

        I’m a Bloomberg fan as well.Any thoughts on why he’s not running?

        1. fredwilson

          He has concluded he can’t get elected

      5. Dale Allyn

        I believe that I would support Bloomberg as well, but I’d first want to hear his views on certain national issues. Like any leader, he’s had some missteps, but he’s obviously been very effective.

      6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        The Bloomberg candidacy would have offered a good alternative. I recently heard the London mayor, Boris Johnson, speak highly of Bloomberg and wishing that he did run for presidency. The pattern of mayors of big successful cities running for top office is become more prominent outside of the US. One such example is Erdogan of Turkey who used to be mayor of Istanbul. I think if you can prove yourself as a mayor there is a lot of transferable skills to other top offices

        1. ShanaC

          why do you think mayors for president hasn’t picked up steam in the US? The closest was guiliani, and that didn’t quite work since he was a personal mess.

          1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I don’t have a clear answer to this but it is a very interesting question. Personally, It seems that the requirements needed to become mayor is very different than those to become president in the US. In other words, the type of campaigns you run are very different and voters seem to be less extreme when voting for Mayor and are instead focused on who can deliver real results.Still, being a mayor of a city the size and stature of New York provides a terrific platform for implementing real change.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          That makes good sense. Seems like good succession planning would include a stint in local government, state government, senate and then the oval office. The only problem is that this doesn’t leave much room or time for business experience which I believe would be part of the ideal profile. That is part of Bloomberg’s appeal, among other things.

  27. Sameer

    Most of the above is sensible but I think a key point is missing. Romney wants it both ways. In the past, when running for Gov he wanted to prove residency in Mass. he testified under oath that he regularly came home for business. Now that he doesn’t want to be associated with outsourcing related investments during that time period, he says he had no involvement. Once again, Romney has more than one position on something.It’s not a discussion about debt or jobs, but it does speak to the pattern that Gov Romney will say anything to anybody depending on what he perceives to be most politically beneficial at the moment, truth be damned. This wouldn’t be a discussion if there wasn’t a discrepancy in the record.

  28. graubart

    Valid point to some extent, Fred. But the fact that Mitt wants to take credit for the 100,000 supposed jobs that Bain investments created after he left makes this fair game IMO.In reality, a discussion of private equity shouldn’t be about jobs created or jobs lost; that’s not the metric by which success in private equity is measured.At the same time, Mitt was the one who decided to shift the Bain Capital business from more early stage investments (e.g. Staples) to later stage private equity.We all get to choose what we do for a living. Some business people are motivated to create and build; others to maximize profits. While others choose careers in health care, community development and other fields where money is not the ultimate goal.Mitt has tried to have it both ways – for proof of Massachusetts residency, he claimed the fact that he was running Bain was evidence. Now, he wants to reverse that.Whether or not Romney was involved in decision making for Bain in the 1999-2002 period is irrelevant to me. The fact that he consistently changes the stories that he tells to suit his needs is much more important.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree that hes a flip flopper

      1. JLM

        .No doubt the Mittster is a flip flopper and so am I.I was in favor of the death penalty and now I am vehemently opposed to it.I was moderately supportive on the issue of subsidized public education and now I am wildly liberal just as long as we curtail the production of poets.Learn stuff that can actually get one a job.I love all you poets, but really how many can the Nation support? There is nothing sadder than an unemployed poet.I am supportive of universal health care but I do not want a government run program.I am in favor of immigration amnesty but only after we secure the borders iron clad.I was supportive of military adventurism and now I am against extended wars of all kinds though I am in favor of short violent inexpensive WalMart wars. No boots on the ground and no nation building.So, I am in favor of developing and evolving thought. And if that makes me a flip flopper, then so be it..

        1. fredwilson

          i am a flip flopper too. i was against vouchers, now i am very much in favor of them. i was in favor of public service worker unions. now i am opposed to them.i’ve always been opposed to the death penalty. the idea that we would get one single call wrong is too much for me on that one.

          1. JLM

            .3 out of 3, we agree.

  29. Rohan

    Woh. Quite a topic.So, on a completely different note, my bet is 500+ comments on this one. And given it’s a weekend, we may even have 700. Any other wagers?

    1. ShanaC

      god help me if that happens. seriously.We do get posts with huge numbers. We’ve been getting more and more. I feel bad, I want to take the time to pay attention to everyone, and I can’t anymore#frustrated.

      1. Rohan

        We do the best we can… 🙂

        1. ShanaC

          🙂

    2. JLM

      .The over-under is set at 500.I take the under..

      1. fredwilson

        yeah. we had more comments on the “upload you home screen”this community is too polite to fight too much about politics

    3. kidmercury

      i’ll take the under. no one cares, the most popular political party is apathy. people are more passionate about their right to be apathetic than anything else.

      1. JLM

        .Haha, agree completely. Nobody will even remember this nonsense when their hand is on the lever..

      2. Rohan

        @JLM:disqus and yourself are deserved winners. I overestimated the reaction! I thought this would be another occupy wall street

  30. Aaron Klein

    Thanks, Fred. One of the things I’ve always appreciated is your intellectual honesty. I have deep respect for people who embrace that kind of honesty, even when we have political differences.I’m in the same boat. I still sign things for old businesses that are trailing off. I think I’m technically still “Chairman” of the advisory board for one that I sold. Signing documents for old companies is part of life in business, and especially so in venture capital and private equity.

  31. Scott Barnett

    Politics has seemed to devolve into a least common denominator style of communication – sound bites and stories that will leave people “angry” with the other guy, rather than inspired or intrigued by what you have to say. Obama had a bit of that 4 years ago with his HOPE message, but I’m afraid that is being lost in this election.I’d love to see them focus on the issues, but as Seth Godin mentioned, I don’t think the tribe responds to that. I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I’m pretty frustrated with politics and the campaigning process.

  32. pointsnfigures

    I think the social issues argument doesn’t hold water this time around. I agree, the Republicans are backward on a lot of social views, but if we don’t get our government under control and spending under control, we won’t have much “social” to worry about.

    1. fredwilson

      Do you really think the GOP will get our govt under control? They didn’t under Reagan Bush 1 or Bush 2Clinton did better than all three of themThe idea that the GOP is the party of smaller govt is specious

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Thanks to the GOP Congress’s brinksmanship last summer (much-maligned at the time), there are automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to hit on January 1st of next year unless new legislation on deficit restraint is enacted before then. That’s the first measure with teeth in it toward getting our deficits controlled in years.Neither party is perfect, but Clinton isn’t running and today’s Republicans are clearly more fiscally conservative than today’s Democrats.

      2. Aaron Klein

        I would take Bill Clinton back IN A HEARTBEAT.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Haha, I know, right? Hillary is also very smart, especially now with her global experience. I’m not a fan of the Clinton political machine, but I, too, would prefer Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.

          1. Aaron Klein

            They both understand how the economy works.When the President was elected four years ago, I disagreed with his politics, but I was proud of my country and I felt like we’d elected a really smart guy, and at least the country would be well run.Within a year, it was clear that he had professorial smarts but zero clue how to make things work in the real world. I hate to say that, but the President is just in over his head.That’s why I’m going to enthusiastically vote for Mitt Romney. Put Bill Clinton on the ballot against Mitt, and I’d probably still vote for Romney, but the intensity of my support wouldn’t be quite as great.

          2. Dale Allyn

            Well said, Aaron.

      3. ShanaC

        would the constitution allow us to bring us back billary?

      4. JLM

        .Holding the WH is only one part of a multi-variable equation of which one other important element is the Congress.Almost everything that was accomplished during the Clinton years was the result of the preceding years’ tax policies (enhanced revenue as a result of tax rate reductions) coupled with the then current Congressional stance on spending.If revenue is growing and expenses are controlled, then the NOI will be better.”The era of big government is over…” because, in part, Gingrich’s Congress would not approve any more spending.Do folks not recall all the mischief that started with the infamous government shutdown?One could argue that a chubby cheeked intern delivered the final blow which made history and all because the Newt closed down the government.Truly sorry..

        1. fredwilson

          and the current setup, obama plus the GOP in congress, is more likely to get things under control, than the GOP in total control. they will cut spending and taxes and we will still be bleeding. with obama and the GOP having to work together, we are more likely to solve the problem.

          1. JLM

            .I would normally agree with you but I just think that the animosity toward Obama will not allow anyone to work together.When Clinton had the WH and Newt had the Congress, they worked together to fashion useful legislation.But there was not the personal animosity that has made the toxic mix we have today.Both parties are full owners of the causation..

          2. fredwilson

            if obama gets re-elected the GOP will have been sent a message that they will not be able to ignore

          3. JLM

            .I am not the best spokesman for any political party as I am a guy who votes based solely on performance, the man, policy and leadership. This year I am voting only for fiscal competence. For anyone who starts with revenues first rather than spending first.A student of the recent GOP would make the observation that they are picking off the Statehouses in America handily — 29 Rs and 21 Ds.This, in turn, is changing the governing philosophy of the individual states. In my lifetime, Texas has been transformed from overwhelmingly Democratic to every statewide office being held by a Republican.But it is not really party affiliation, it is governing philosophy. They made their bets and the results speak for themselves. The Texas job creation performance is a symphony.The R governors must balance budgets. This requires challenging long held presumptions — such as the recent Wisconsin recall election demonstrated.These fights are being held all across the country. It is illuminating that as soon as Wisconsin state workers did not have to be union members to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining, over 60% quit the union.Bush was a profligate spender the second he did not have the pressure of a State Constitution which mandated a balanced budget. He damaged the GOP brand immeasurably though one might be tempted to give him a bit of a pass given the exigencies of 9-11.I don’t.What is more important in the long run will be the composition of the House and Senate. This is why the observation of 29 R Governors is so relevant. Individual states are likely to send their message through their Congressional delegation. The folks they know personally. The Electoral College is really an afterthought.While I do not want Obama to be re-elected, I would be the first to admit that the Nation is probably best served by neither party having control of the WH, House and Senate.I think it likely that the GOP will retain and grow their majority in the House, will get within a gnat’s eyelash of gaining control of the Senate and has a decent chance of knocking Obama out of the White House.At the end of the day, the problems are still the same — create jobs, create taxpayers, reduce spending, spur revenue, make the lines cross such that revenue exceeds spending. It is really not that hard, we almost got it right during Clinton-Gingrich.This is the message all of us have to get and act upon.Eisenhower did it for 8 straight years.We can do it…

          4. pointsnfigures

            Not with the way Obama rules by fiat. Clinton didn’t do that. He worked with Congress-just like Reagan worked with Tip O Neill. Obama is a Chicago Machine politician. They don’t make good Presidents.

      5. pointsnfigures

        There is a new breed of GOP. But, no political party can get govt under control by itself.

    2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

      IF YOU ONE TARGETED BY THOSE SOCIAL ISSUES, OPINION PROBABLY DIFFERENT.

  33. matthughes

    The petty nonsense on both sides is so disheartening.We desperately need integrity from our political leaders right now and it just doesn’t feel like either side has the gumption.Sadly, voting for Romney (which I will) feels like having a really bad limp.Voting for Obama would feel like amputating – I’ll pass on that.

    1. JLM

      .I sincerely hope you do not have either a bad limp or an amputation.You deserve better — how about a hip replacement surgery?.

      1. matthughes

        A harsh analogy for harsh conditions.Thankfully I’m healthy & happy. But our country could use some state-of-the-art rehab.

        1. JLM

          .I was just joshing you and would never wish anything bad on you or anyone else.The US needs a good talking to about what it means to be free. A resurgence of the American dream.Every once in a while I give myself a damn good talking to. It works..

          1. matthughes

            Of course, that’s exactly how I read it.A good talking to – tough love never hurt anyone.

  34. jason wright

    Isn’t it possible for a candidate to assign business interests/ investments to a power of attorney instrument/ blind trust for the duration of a campaign and any subsequent term of office?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. But do you really think they are blind?

      1. jason wright

        I guess it depends on how they’re structured. I think they can be made to be blind.What do you think?

  35. skanga

    Your logic is correct but your conclusion is WRONG.If the answer to Obama’s accusation is complex and nuanced then Romney needs to provide such an answer. If he was still involved with Bain in some capacity for WHATEVER reason then he needs to explain that to the public too. But he won’t do that. He does not want ANY association with Bain so he cannot be tied to outsourcing, etc.If you are on some board due to Flatiron (12 years ago) and in that capacity you make some decision then you are still responsible for that decision.

  36. Agent Vanilla

    I suppose you have a perspective on MR’s capitalist ventures that the “typical” voter does not. I don’t have the same perspective and I’m not nearly put off by the Obama team’s attack on this point. Here is how I see it…1) Obama is a Chicago politician at heart. There’s a reason he won in the primaries against the Clinton political machine 2007-2008 and he will not pass up an easy opportunity to hit his opponent now. “He send one of yours to the hospital, you send one his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.”2) If Bain Capital was in the sweet & innocent business of unicorns farts and bottling baby smells, there would be nothing to hit MR on. Bain Capital isn’t / wasn’t a 100% socially responsible company and, at the very least, MR profited from it.3) Obama is not able to compete against MR in fund raising. You’d expect him to pass over such an easy target and go head to head on the issues? He doesn’t have the money really to do that, hence the opportunist attack on MR’s position within Bain.4) When you are signing the plethora of documents and see something materially wrong, do you not have the obligation to correct it? Or do you just robo-sign with disregard? I’m guessing you fix it. While enjoying the fruits of your labor, relaxing on the beach, you find your company is doing something unethical or immoral, do you robo-sign and go back to the banana daiquiri or do you ask WTF is going on here? The political attack angle is that MR had the opportunity to see things that were not in the best interest of the country, and did nothing except profit from it. A failure to care… is that what you want in your presidential candidate?

    1. JLM

      .Obama is a mean operative who has surrounded himself with a bunch of Chicago thugs who were able to unseal the divorce records of his first two opponents.This being a felony, of course.This is his MO both as a candidate and as an elected official.It is not an inspiring saga..

      1. JamesHRH

        Details?

        1. JLM

          .Look at the Jack Ryan candidacy v Obama wherein the Obama campaign was able to successfully unseal what was a very nasty divorce file — court sealed.Same thing in his State Senate race.Only Bobby Rush has defeated Obama. Of course, Bobby Rush was one of the original founders of the Black Panthers. That’s Congressman Bobby Rush, BTW..

          1. JamesHRH

            I read his book – never did pre polling against Rush. Never failed to do it after that, is what the book claimed.Sadly, I stick by my view that the President’s biggest shortcoming is his need for a campaign. He does not wield power with 1% of the effectiveness that he wields campaigns tactics.

          2. JLM

            .Bobby Rush beat him like a red headed step child with a lisp because he was not black enough for that Southside Chicago constituency.There is a great video of a debate between these two which I would not quote from because of its offensiveness. It is a classic.Bobby Rush ripped him a new one.Barack Obama is half white and was raised by a white parent and white grandparents. He has not a drop of American slave blood or the imprint of that experience on his life.And, yet, he has prospered through affirmative action as if he were a rightful heir to the American slave experience.He is a poseur, a fakir and a naif. But he has tricked a lot of people.Luckily the Perfect Storm has passed..

          3. JamesHRH

            I have long agreed with you that Barack is no where near the first black President, for the first set of reasons you have listed (the last half is even stronger, as it is not technical but culturally true).I took from the book that ‘blackness’ was the stick that Bobby Rush used in the beat down (Columbia / Harvard parachute candidate elist probably got a workout too).Where is the debate video? I mean, really, that’s a tease.

  37. Max Yoder

    Thanks for covering this, @fredwilson:disqus. My hope is that prominent news organizations pick it up. People need to know when it’s fair mudslinging and when it’s not.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Ditto. Thanks, Fred.

  38. jason wright

    The Current TV gal – like a prosecuting attorney presenting ‘evidence’ to a jury. Typical modern journalism. Poisonous.

    1. fredwilson

      Exactly

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit.

  39. SL Clark

    Umm, apparently McCain saw Mitt’s taxes, decided on Palin. The Bain attack is about transparency and that is something worth every petty sound bite attack on any politician. Show us *all* the cards, let us decide who should lead.

  40. Deji

    Wait a minute, Fred I really respect your opinions about a lot of things. I even respect you being brave enough to state your opinion about how you feel about the Bain attacks while stating that you essentially support Obama for other reasons.But Romney’s tenure at Bain is fair game. First and foremost this is politics. Let’s remember Romney is quick to talk about all of Bain’s successful investments and how they helped create thousands of jobs. In particular, he often claims credit for his firm’s investment in Home Depot, which Bain invested in after Romney supposedly disengaged from all mangerial duties at Bain Capital.If anyone ever had raised a question about whether it was legitimate for Romney to claim credit for Bain’s investment in Home Depot and the subsequent jobs that were created, the Romney campaign would march all of their surrogates out on the Fox News Channel and they’d go on and on about how Romney deserves credit for creating jobs. Yet the opposition doesn’t have the right to point out some deals that weren’t so great?He can’t have it both ways. Yes, I wish that people spent more time talking about the what their plans are for the future. But it’s important to look at the past as well, and for good reason.Mitt Romeny is a smart guy, who’s accomplished a lot. But isn’t odd as to how little he talks about his accomplishments? He was CEO of Bain Capital, and if he feels that he has the right to claim credit for jobs created during and after his tenure at Bain, it’s incredibly fair to question that narrative, particularly the idea that he has a selective memory and narrative that gives him all credit in the world for being this brilliant man who created jobs and knows how to fix the economy. But is that true?This is a man who as Governor of Massachusetts created the law that “Obamacare” is modeled on today, instead of standing up and stating that while it’s a flawed law, the Affordable Care Act seeks to help people through some decent initiatives like making some guy who can actually afford healthcare but chooses instead to free ride on the system should actually take personal responsibility and cover their own healthcare costs, or that parents can actually insure their children up to to the age of 26. What does this guy do, the guy who was so proud of his own healthcare law that he passed in Massachusetts that that is actually is shown sitting next to him in his Governors portrait. Now he goes running the other way. In a few weeks he’ll only be talking about the Olympics, and how he swooped in and saved everything. He’ll all over the place. First he was for a woman’s right to choose, now he’s pro-life, first he said he would be a friend to the gay community, now he won’t stand up for gay marriage. The list goes on and on.But let’s get back to Bain, Fred, I’m sure that you find yourself signing documents regarding entities that you have long ceased having any managerial or operational decisions in, and I guarantee that you have never signed a legal document to the SEC stating that you were the sole Sharholder, CEO, and President. Romney is also trying to have it both ways. When it supposedly really mattered in terms of sworn testimony to election officials when he was being challenged on his eligibility to participate in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, Romney was eager to state that he often traveled back to the state on in order to conduct business as it related to Bain. Yesterday, he goes on air and states he unequivocally didn’t have anything to do with anything related to Bain. No surprise, what else would he say? But we don’t deserve to point out the contradiction.Questioning Romney’s Bain background makes you feel uncomfortable, really? Even before Obama was sworn in, there has been an unrelenting assault, he’s a socialist, he wants to take away your guns, death panel, naive on foreign policy, bill ayers, tony resko, he’s in bed with the black panthers, he put guns in the hands of mexicans and aimed the guns at americans, he raised taxes, he studied under radical professors, he didn’t really write his autobiography, there was a diabolical plan to sneak him into the country in order to make him eligible to run for the presidency, he invites rappers to the hizzouse (nice one Eric Bolling), he hates white people.Raising valid questions regarding Romney’s tenure at Bain is below the belt? Give me break. I’m glad the Democrats seem to be actually showing a spine. It’s about time. Remember what’s at stake here. If you think this is ugly, wait until the Republicans trot out their attacks on the President.

    1. LE

      Romney was eager to state that he often traveled back to the state on in order to conduct business as it related to Bain. Yesterday, he goes on air and states he unequivocally didn’t have anything to do with anything related to Bain. No surprise, what else would he say? But we don’t deserve to point out the contradiction.Contradiction?I happened to catch a few minutes of “The Ed Show” on MSNBC where Ed Schultz called out Romney for saying something that contradicted his statement of no involvement with Bain similar to what you are saying.But the clip that Schultz showed (which is what I believe you are referring to), well, in that clip Romney didn’t say he traveled back to Mass to participate in Bain board meetings (thereby contradicting himself). He said he traveled back to Mass to attend “board meetings”.I think we can assume that it is entirely possible that a man like Romney is on boards of companies that are not related to Bain capital. Or not even a business board but possibly a non-profit board. Something that Schultz’s audience is not knowledgeable enough to understand but is making hay out of.

      1. Deji

        I love how you conveniently use the term “I think we can assume that it is entirely possible”. I’m going to use it in a sentence as well. Here goes. I think we can assume and that it is entirely possible that Mitt Romney is going to take a significant shellacking over his secrecy over his financial holdings and tenure at Bain. How that?

        1. Aaron Klein

          I think it’s entirely possible that voters won’t care and will vote for the guy who has half a chance of turning this economy around.Rather than the guy who is still holding press conferences that begin with “45 months ago, I inherited this economy from President Bush…”

          1. Deji

            Same message you’ve been repeating for 44 months. People having hearing your stale attack line forever. But people haven’t heard enough about Mitt. You are kidding yourself if you think this is going to blow over Romney is getting killed on this issue. Plain and simple.

          2. JLM

            .Shortly the Olympics will be upon us. America will remember and be forced to remember that when the IOC was ready to pull the plug — for corruption, mismanagement and incompetence — America called one guy to fix it.He did fix it and produced the first profitable Olympics — EVER.That guy, Mitt Romney.Corruption, mismanagement and incompetence — no, not the Obama administration but it could have been.This is such small ball as to be nothing by Labor Day when the campaign starts in earnest..

          3. Deji

            Hmm, so this is all going to blow over because Americans are going to remember that Mitt Romney saved the luge? You really dug down deep on that one. I can tell must you’ve had a really hard weekend, for you to come up with that.In the next two weeks, your candidate is going to get absolutely creamed on this one, mostly because he is to arrogant to realize how damaging this will be, and that it will just blow over. Seems familiar.It’s the same level of arrogance that I’ve seen rear its head in the last few years. The other day, I almost fell out of my chair when a commenter on the BI board said that the Libor wasn’t a big deal, any knowledgeable person would know that, and it would blow over. That is the essential underlying current that people are sick of, people are tired of being told that, “you don’t get it” or “any knowledgeable person would understand”. People are fed up of being treated with such disdain. People are tired of being told that they don’t get it.Here’s what I do get, people don’t like the idea of a rigged game, and whether it’s fair or not, Romney has unequivocally opened himself up to attacks that frame him as someone with something hide and, more importantly, as someone who utilized every trick in the book to come out ahead. I won’t be disingenuous and say that the things that he did were illegal, but the fact is that we live in times when people are beginning to question if things are really fair. It’s great to be a great businessman, doing your best to discover inefficiencies in business practices and stepping in improve those businesses and creating value. Hell, I’m not even against outsourcing per se, some times you have to improve the bottom line.But leveraging up a company, paying your company a big fee, and the company eventually going bankrupt, doesn’t look good. That doesn’t sit well with people. It doesn’t, plain and simple. You or anyone else can use the idea that people just don’t understand and it’s over there heads. Voters will say well explain it to me. Obama’s will lay out their message in regards to Bain, and Romney will provide the tortured explanations that were laid out for him by his lawyers. Which do you think will be more effective?Romney is choosing this strategy because he got absolutely hammered on the Bain issue in the Senate Race he ran against Ted Kennedy and when he ran for governor. But stonewalling is not the answer, he is going to absolutely get wrecked on these issues.Brutal attacks, and now he turns around and says the Obama campaign is out of line?You know what was more telling about the Republican primary the fact that it took so long, this amazing businessman went against Rick Santorum, a man so regressive in his stance on social issues, Newt Gingrich, a blowhard who is more in love with his own supposed intellect, Rick Perry, who I think had to half been self medicating throughout the campaign, and Ron Paul, who is a kook even though he keeps it real. And he got bloodied. Romney ran an absolutely brutal campaign in the Republican primary, he kneecapped every single person in his way. And now he’s whining about this? What a wimpI don’t deny that this will likely be a close election because after Bush got reelected in 2004, I realized how insane the American public is. But you boy Mitt should put on a helmet and a cup, because it going to get much worse.But he saved the Olympics! Awesome.

          4. JLM

            .Carter had a 22 point lead on Reagan at this time in their election.The election is just about over other than going around and bayoneting the wounded. Why do you think the Obama folks have become so desperate? Because their internal polls show them winning? They can’t , can’t, can’t run on their record. It is abysmal.The 2010 mid-term elections were not a small lesson — Democrat incumbents would not campaign with their President.The same credit that you give to Romney for having run such a “brutal” campaign and you think he has not focus grouped the crap out of this issue.Ed Gillespie handled it on David Gregory’s show like a champ.And, yes, the Olympics connection is going to be huge because there will be a million hours of free coverage all saying the same thing — Mitt Romney made this stuff work in the face of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence.He saved America’s ass and he will do it again.That refrain corruption, mismanagement and incompetence sound familiar. It’s the Obama administration.Right now the Romney is sitting on internals showing they win Florida easy, Ohio close (John Kasich Republican Gov now), Virginia (Republican Gov handily wins), North Carolina (staggering Amendment One victory 69% v 31%) and maybe Wisconsin.Game, set, match.This will not be a close election. It will be 2010 redux. Funny thing is that folks will still like Obama, they just won’t vote for him. Hell, I still like Jimmy Carter.Ooops, sorry, almost forgot, dude..

          5. Deji

            Your invoking Jimmy Carter now? I can tell your tired, it’s been a hard weekend for you. You have me laugh so hard this weekend, thank you. Is the campaign manager buyin you guys pizza this weekend at Romney HQ?In the meantime Romney is going to have his externals and internals kicked for ass long as he continues to hide and stonewall. Have good night dude, hope they let you come in late tommorow at Roney HQ.

          6. Om Kubera

            JLM, your views have earned you the respect of legendary VCs and simple readers like myself. But now you have me confused!A) I can understand that you hail from a hardcore Republican state but how can YOU support someone: 1) who has not once come up with a plan to solve the several REAL and pathetic issues that the country faces 2) who has started out – right from the outset – with a negative campaigning strategy (not about why I am good for you but why the other guy is bad. huh?)3) who’s only conviction is opportunism (he has a hard record to beat on this one!)4) who has done what he does best: raise and spend other people’s money to finally manipulate them (Over a $1B in Campaigning in a really slow economic environment! Shame on both sides! How beholden are they going to be to special interests! Esp Romney considering his $400M political mortgage to the Koch (pun unintended but fortuitous) brothers!)B) any sane person would prefer 100x over the man who tried (even if he had failed) to impact the lives of most people for the longest period of time (ref. healthcare), not the fewest people for the shortest period of time (ref. opportunism).C) what track record are you asking for from obama? if george bush jr. could get voted in a 2nd time with the record opening balance that clinton left him with, obama sure can get re-elected with the crappolla that bush left us all with!D) lastly, the economy is going to improve anyway. we are already in the 2nd half of the 7-year recession cycle. so what is the real alpha that Romney is going to bring to the table? let’s normalize riding successful currents (sorry, opportunism again).JLM, we shall pray for you…;-)

          7. JLM

            .Any comment that comes with a promise to pray for me is always going to be welcome. One thing I desperately need is a bit of prayer. Thank you.As to the rest, it is difficult to decide whether you are describing Obama or Romney.Obama had his chance, he crashed the plane. Time to change pilots.Obama is a narcissistic poseur, a fakir, a naif and one whose word is not to be trusted. He is without executive experience. It is a toxic cocktail of flaws.Worse, his actual track record only validates these judgments.I would vote against him as easily as I would draw breath. He had a chance and he blew it. After 41 months of 8%+ UE while having only had 39 in the last 60 years, enough. Time for a change, I hope.Romney on the other hand has been a very successful business man apparently able to transform the Olympics in his spare time.As he is the only alternative, I will give him a chance.On a very serious note, thank you again for the prayers, I greatly appreciate them..

          8. Deji

            John McCain picked an unprepared, intellectually lacking vice presidential candidate in Sarah Palin instead of picking the Harvard educated, extremely successful businessman, Harvard educated Willard Mittens Romney. You think it’s because he gave the McCain campaign 23 years of tax returns? They took one look and said, no way let’s go with the Sarah Palin.But he saved the Olympics! That’s all he can talk about, can’t talk about anything else, can’t talk about his time at Bain without people raising legitimate questions, and can’t talk about his time as Governor of Massachusetts.Dating as far back as January, there were articles written talking about how inauthentic, if not phony, Mitt Romney is. He doesn’t get it. The arrogance that he has shown in dealing with this issue is going to weaken his image big time primarily because the public is just learning about him.

          9. GG

            You might want actually research those polls. Five Thirty Eight has Obama winning this thing handily in the Electoral votes. And there’s no one on this planet who understands and builds better polling prediction models than Nate Silver. No one. And he’s not alone in his conclusions. So far, Obama has this thing in the bag. Things can change as the election heats up, but for now, no WAY is Romney even close to winning this thing. http://fivethirtyeight.blog

          10. JLM

            .Read his stuff religiously and I agree with your assessment that his stuff is very good.The whole election gets down to Florida, Virginia and Ohio.In every state Romney will do substantially better than McCain and Bush for a number of reasons which have been borne out.Florida will turn on economy. Economy in Florida is horrendous.Virginia showed its colors in the landslide victory of its Republican Gov McConnell. Interestingly enough a VMI classmate of mine is running for Lt Gov.Ohio has a Republican Gov and their Dem Senator has his shorts on fire. He does not want Obama to even come to Ohio.I stand by my prediction that Romney wins in a cakewalk.There is not a single interest group within which Obama is currently doing as well as he did last time around.The electorate loves him but will vote their pocketbooks in the privacy of the voting booth no differently than 60% of union members left the union in Wisconsin during and after the Walker victory.BTW, Silver got Wisconsin completely wrong as he did Amendment One in NC..

        2. LE

          “conveniently use the term”Because it accurately describes the possibility that his return to Mass didn’t involve Bain but something not related to Bain. What part of that is hard to understand?

          1. Deji

            Okay dude, let me conveniently say this and move on with my day. Let me describe the possibility that very few Americans bought Romney’s performance last night. The questions won’t stop, and the more they keep giving carefully worded answers, the more people will ask “what is he hiding?”. Mitt will keep huddling with his high paid attorneys, keep on putting out more carefully crafted statements, and the pressure will mount. More and more people, including more Republicans, will call for Romney to put this issue to simply release the returns. People will start to speculate more and more about he’s hiding. He gave 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign when he was being considered for VP, yet now he wants to be president and only release 2 years? Awesome, I’ll have my popcorn ready.

          2. SL Clark

            and then McCain picked Palin as the better heart beat away. What’s in there he can’t share? Popcorn indeed.

          3. matjen

            This campaign hasn’t even started on the GOP side until the convention. For now this is little more than sock puppetry.

  41. Elia Freedman

    Romney should respond: “Coming from a guy who has never started nor run a company? President Obama has no credibility.”I don’t care for either candidate. Both have demonstrated their inability to lead. This country doesn’t need a manager right not. We need a leader.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      We need a leader.^10

  42. JaredMermey

    Fred, you did in 418 words what Mitt has yet to attempt. A simple, concise explanation of the situation that explains that he both:a) Did not commit a felony on his tax recordsb) Did not lie to America while running for President.The lag from leaving position to end-of-association-with-fund is an acceptable explanation. The problem is until MR says this, he provides others the ability to think other things are going on — and his opposition will attack him for it.The same can be said about his tax records. If he paid a lower percentage than most Americans, but did so while totally within the rules then he should have nothing to fear. But until he makes these things public — he leaves the door open for Obama to attack and for voters to wonder. He can put the kibosh on all of this simply by being more transparent — something you did above re: Euclid and Flatiron.IMHO, the scary thing would be if he is not doing any of the above because he doesn’t believe the American public is smart enough to comprehend all of this. There seems to be a real fear from his side that his “within-the-rules” success will get misconstrued by the American public as “Rich-White-Guy-Who-Can’t-Relate.” I think he is missing a great opportunity to look good AND make the other guy look bad by doing something that you always preach — honesty and transparency. And what scares me is IF he really believes we cannot wrap our heads around his legal successes. (This is not an accusation, just one permutation that would really scare me.)

  43. chrisdorr

    Let me ask a question. Should Romney release his tax returns for at least the same number of years that Obama has or better yet, the same number of years that his father, George released? Should he be as transparent as Obama about his taxes or should he be less transparent? Surely we can all agree that transparency is a positive value that anyone running for President should exhibit. Aren’t voters worthy of an equal glimpse at both candidates in this area?

    1. Dale Allyn

      Obama (like most) is selectively transparent as it serves his needs. For me, Romney’s tax returns aren’t an issue. What matters to me for any candidate is the intellectual capital and character to lead a nation.Edit to add: Yes, I agree that transparency is a positive value.

      1. chrisdorr

        You believe transparency is a positive value, but you also believe that when it comes to tax returns, Romney does not need to be as transparent as Obama. In other words, you believe in asymmetric transparency.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Not at all. It’s easy to see that Romney’s background is different than Obama’s. I don’t care about Obama’s tax returns either. The most grave issues of this nation have little to do with the tax returns of either candidate. My point was that one can be transparent about certain things without causing political turmoil to one’s self, and yet avoid transparencies in other areas to one’s advantage. Sadly, this is common.Let us not forget, Obama is the president and financial transparency is the norm. Romney is a candidate. If the purpose of needing to see Romney’s tax returns beyond a couple of years is to further the Bain leadership argument, then it is simply for the purpose of fueling the off-topic distraction in my opinion. It’s a diversion.How many presidents have buried all college records?To be quite clear, I’m not of fan of most politicians and feel ire towards both parties. I am actually for radical transparency, but unfortunately the parties involved – including the agenda afflicted press – will not act responsibly with such material. I would love to work towards a system that allowed for such radical transparency, warts and all. No candidate is perfect and we should accept that.Having said all that, while the current administration speaks of transparency, it has been very effective at avoiding it and demonstrated behavior quite to the contrary. They’re no better than others, even if they speak to it as if they are.Edit: corrected three typos

      2. raycote

        “For me, Romney’s tax returns aren’t an issue.”Then you should not object if he releases them for those that do find them pertinent.

        1. Dale Allyn

          No problem either way. I just have bigger issues/concerns for the current state of this country and its economy. However, I’m not saying that either candidate will easily fix the woes, but my preference is for the campaign to stay with real and urgent issues over distractions.

    2. JLM

      .Pretend you were hiring a President and you personally were doing the hiring. From a macro perspective, that is what each individual voter is tasked to do.I have not a jot of interest in anyone’s income tax returns — other than I love the idea that both of our candidates are millionaires and I have a morbid curiosity about how Mitt did it. Not going to impact my voting one bit.I do have more than a bit of curiosity in how they both did in college — something you as the sole hiring agent for the rest of us would likely also want to know.I want to see those college transcripts because I want to know how smart each of these guys really is.Pick your transparency lens carefully and pick one that will actually assist in the hiring process..

      1. chrisdorr

        If I am hiring someone who is 25 I would agree with you. If I am hiring someone anyone who is north of 30 or 35 I would not care what grades you got in college, where you went to college or even IF you went to college. What have you done in life post college matters most of all, as a measure of intelligence, ability and character.I once had a woman who worked for me whose job it was to find good screenwriters I might hire for movie projects. One day she came in very excited about a writer she had met and immediately told me where he went to college (some brand name Ivy League school I am sure). I said to her, I don’t care where he went to school and I asked her one question–Can he write? If it is a yes, I will consider him, that is all. Everything else is fluff.

        1. JLM

          .There is a direct correlation between achievement and………………………………………………achievement. Funny thing.The single most telling indicator in the attainment of 4 stars in the military is Eagle Scouting.Scratch a 4-star General and you will find an Eagle Scout.I remember when George W Bush was a dumb guy and John F Kerry was a brilliant guy and then it turned out that W had done a full letter grade better than JFK lite.I freely admit to being curious. because the Emperor’s gowns are looking a bit frayed to me just now..

          1. chrisdorr

            In some narrow domains, that may be true. However, not true in general success in many fields.For example, there was a 30 year study done on Harvard graduates to see what predictors they could find in their life as undergraduates that led to success later in life. They found only two.1. You came to Harvard from a working class background.2. You scored on the lower end of the SAT scores for all people accepted at Harvard.There were no other clear predictors of success gathered from the study. If you followed from these results you would concentrate on sending acceptance letters to students from working class backgrounds who scored on the lower end of the SAT scores within the possible accepted students. Do you think Harvard started doing this? Not likely.

          2. JLM

            @chrisdorr.Too rarified a petri dish with all Harvard grads.I read a similar study that concluded that the first level of applicant rejects did just as good as Harvard grads.Not surprising given the power of the screen. Anybody seriously applying to Harvard is already prime beef.Now if you screened for financial support of alma mater, Harvard just might change its ways.Back to topic, I would love to see Obama’s college transcripts..

    3. fredwilson

      yes.

  44. Dan Bentley

    I’d be fine if Romney had stayed a partner. But he stayed CEO. I genuinely believe that he wasn’t involved with Bain during that time. But if he wasn’t, who was?Doesn’t the buck stop with the CEO? If you’re not willing to take responsibility for the actions of an entity, shouldn’t you make damn sure your name isn’t etched on the big door?And if he wasn’t CEO, who was? Was Bain Capital rudderless?

  45. Donna Brewington White

    Fred, it is posts like this that remind me of why you have among your most frequent and loyal commenters people who substantially disagree with you on certain issues. It’s not easy to create the kind of “space” that you do. A lot of it starts with intellectual honesty and a spirit of generosity. Challenges me. I like it.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks

  46. Dan Collin

    Political duopoly, reinforcedby extreme centrality of money and influence, creates a prisoner’s dilemma inour politics. Neither side will address real, tough, risky issues and real change as long asthe other side can choose obfuscation and swift-boating and win.We need to find a way touse technology to disrupt the current system. We need to decouple money fromelectoral success (and perhaps governance as well), empower people to be moreactive citizens, and change or reform the two-party system dynamic.We need to make theinnovator’s dilemma trump the prisoner’s dilemma.Big challenges. I’m optimistic about the long run. Less so short-run.

    1. fredwilson

      well said and i am totally in agreement with you

    2. raycote

      a generic social-networking-APIfor disrupting the “prisoner’s dilemma dynamic”now that’s the holy grail of reusablesbecause ultimately we all know that the transaction costs of running any prisoner’s dilemma operation are eventually unsustainable especially given our emerging network based levels of organic interdependency.I’ve often wondered whether the “prisoner’s dilemma dynamic” represents some sort of evolutionary biological hull speed for humans or whether network based memes could extend/obsolesce that individualistic fallback survival tactic.Put another way: can networked-social-synchronicities render the “every man for himself” defector driven breaking-point that characterizes the “prisoner’s dilemma dynamic” inoperable to the point of total abandonment.

  47. chrisdorr

    Remember that the Bain discussion to which you refer to is one small part of a campaign.When I read the comments I am dismayed by the quick dismissal of politics in general and a very small appreciation about the clear differences between the two parties. The president has been very clear about what he believes should be the path of the country. This vision is delineated by him in legislation that he has proposed as well as has passed.On the other side the Republican party has been pretty clear about their priorities as well, with the Ryan budget proposal and the bills the Republican house has passed and tried to get the Senate to take up. All an intelligent voter has to do is read the key documents or good summaries of the documents and see two different visions of where the country should head in the near future. It my mind it is not hard to decide which vision to pick. Anyone should be easily be able to choose, as the differences are easy to see.A discussion of campaign tactics employed by either side, as good or bad, is really immaterial in my mind.

    1. JLM

      .It really is insulting to make such a rational and intelligent argument. To reduce the entire match to simple logic denies the participants of their fun.Well played. May I please sit with the other adults?Thanks, @chrisdorr:disqus.

    2. ErikSchwartz

      The only difference between the two parties is they sold out to different groups.Both are equally corrupt, incompetent, and beholden to their financial patrons.

      1. ShanaC

        Who is the least corrupt, and how do we become less corrupt, and more caring?

      2. fredwilson

        ^10

      3. kidmercury

        this is the only comment in this entire thread that was necessary.

    3. JLM

      .The choices are clear.If one compares the fates of say California and Texas one can see a clear difference in the outcomes driven by different notions of governing philosophy.If the differences were small, the debate would be at the margin but the differences are huge.Texas has created more jobs in the last 5 years than the rest of the Nation combined. More than the rest of the country combined!The unemployment in Midland Texas is 3.5% — that is full employment. I have an operating unit in Midland and the bottom line vouchsafes that assertion.More importantly, folks are voting with their feet. You cannot swing a cat without hitting a Californian.Viva la difference!.

      1. chrisdorr

        If the “facts” you stated were correct, I would agree with you. Unfortunately they are not. Also, it useful to note that the majority of jobs created in Texas in the past 3 years were government jobs.

        1. JLM

          .Hmmm, can’t fathom what data you are looking at.Try http://texanomics.blogspot.com and see what you think.Texas has created more PRIVATE SECTOR jobs than the rest of the country combined.http://texanomics.blogspot….The performance in Texas is real as is the performance in California..

        2. JLM

          .Take a look at this.This is PRIVATE SECTOR jobs only.Maybe I am wrong?.

  48. J. Eric Wilson

    If you look at Romney’s book “Turnaround,” he talks about his decision to leave Bain and take over the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City — “I would walk away from my leadership at Bain Capital at the height of its profitability and take a position without compensation.”This decision plays a big role in how he defines himself, and he chose not to include all the implicating factors, i.e. he was still collecting an executive’s salary at Bain. Debating OFA’s tactics is worthy of debate, but Romney’s desire to portray himself as taking the high road is now deservingly coming back to haunt him.

    1. ShanaC

      But did he really take the high road – see, he cut this deal. That is what bothers me. it isn’t the f1s, it is the salary.

      1. J. Eric Wilson

        No, he didn’t take the high road as he portrayed it in his book.

        1. ShanaC

          i’m agreeing with you. sorry! internet loses tone.

    2. JLM

      .First off, there is no ROAD — high or low.The guy took a challenge to turn the disastrously under water Olympics around. He did it. He did it in spades.He left the day to day management of Bain thereby losing the ability to participate in new deals.Who cares what arrangement he made with Bain — HE OWNED THE DAMN COMPANY.He can make any deal he wanted to make. He was making the deal with himself.He lost the opportunity to identify, source, fashion and profit from new deals because all of his dealmaking energy was now consumed in running the Olympics.He lost his opportunity cost.He knocked the ball out of the park on the Olympics..

      1. J. Eric Wilson

        You’re pivoting from the point I was trying to make — Romney only offered part of the story to better portray himself. Obama is only offering part of the story to better criticize him, as Fred has pointed out. On the issue of Bain, both parties are making the same play.

        1. JLM

          .Bain was wildly successful under Romney’s stewardship.The US has been wildly unsuccessful under Obama’s leadership or lack thereof.Obama is trying to undermine the perceived success of Bain by tricking Americans into thinking that controlling Bain Capital is the same thing as managing the underlying enterprises (Staples, et al).The only folks who see it as making the same play are those who do not fundamentally understand the difference between a RIA and its investments..

          1. J. Eric Wilson

            It’s the exact same POLITICAL play. Obama is just doing it better, which was obvious after Romney’s five interviews yesterday trying to explain it. Sunday’s morning round tables should be interesting.

  49. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I’m afraid there is a simple story to how you do politics …Once in a lifetime you find someone like this …http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Who built things like this …http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…and was as disruptive as this …”His designs incorporated the necessities of hygiene: access to sanitation, ventilation, drainage, and even rudimentary temperature controls. They were feted as a great success, with some sources stating that of the approximately 1,300 patients treated in the hospital, there were only 50 deaths.[63] In the Scutari hospital it replaced, deaths were said to be as many as 10 times this number. Nightingale referred to them as “those magnificent huts”.[64] The practice of building hospitals from pre-fabricated modules survives today,[62] with hospitals such as the Bristol Royal Infirmary being created in this manner.”They find the problem and they define a solution – and then they deliver it…There are some tragedies – eggs get broken making omelettes.So then you find some dispicable politicians to make political capital from other peoples efforts.Asked – How did we get here ?- Once in a lifetime – Same as it ever was !http://www.youtube.com/watc

  50. JLM

    .I am going to vote for Mitt Romney. I am not going to contribute to his campaign. I think he is exactly what we need right now — a guy with a To Do List and experience in clearing it.Mitt Romney founded Bain Capital. He is a Harvard Law and Business grad. He is a damn good hand with a To Do List and he had big ambitions.Bain Capital is a PE firm which sponsors investment funds. They are an RIA (registered investment adviser). This registration is made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is governed by the 1940 Investor Advisers Act.Bain Capital folks would have to qualify with certain licenses in a similar way that a broker dealer would have to hold a firm license and individual licenses for its registered representatives.Once Bain Capital is up and running and appropriately licensed, then it manages funds for others — funds it has raised. The management of funds in excess of $100MM is what actually triggers the requirement to be licensed in the first place.These funds were derived from insurance companies, pension funds and other much larger investment funds who have made an allocation to private equity. VC and PE allocations are as much as 5% in big funds like UTIMCO or others.These funds are managed with a lot of “process” and internal control using investment committees, decision memoranda and formal documentation. Nothing is done by the seat of anybody’s pants.These funds are invested using a legal vehicle — perhaps a LP with a wholly owned corp sub of Bain being the GP — which in turn purchased securities in enterprises they wanted to fund.Part of this investment process mandated a modicum of control of the Board of the enterprise in which they were investing. While VCs might be content with a bit of control, PE types want absolute control and rarely fail to get it.Now you have a Board dominated by nominees selected by the investors. The Board sets policy and the management reports to the Board and management can hope to get about 10% of the upside on an “earn out” basis.In many instances, these enterprises were public companies also subject to SEC filings.Where everyone is getting strangled in their underwear is what SEC filing are being discussed.The second the investment fund (Bain sponsored) decided to go after more than 5% of a public company, they had to file a SEC Form 13D declaring their intentions. The second they got to 5%, they had a similar requirement.In addition, these public companies have to file SEC Forms 10Q (quarterly reports), Form 10K (annual reports) and Form 8K (material events).Many of these reports — the 10K in particular — require a discussion of the ownership of the company. In this instance, the Bain sponsored entity would be noted. Bain Capital would likely not be mentioned other than to note that the owner of the securities (Bain sponsored entity) is owned in some percentage by Bain Capital or some other wholly owned corporate subsidiary.Bain Capital (and Mitt Romney) would have nothing to do with the management of the company or the Board of Directors.What would happen is that some young Harvard stud would be Bain Capital’s guy to run the investment vehicle (receiving incentive comp based on performance) and to identify and nominate Directors. These Directors would be loyal to their nominators but legally they would be “independent” Directors.When Romney left Bain Capital — a few steps removed from the underlying operating companies and funds — these enterprises were still in operation. No big mystery there.These enterprises (Staples as an example) were being overseen by their Boards, run by their management and were owned by their shareholders. They were totally independent of Mitt Romney, the “controlling person” of Bain Capital.Romney continued to own a passive interest — as opposed to an active interest as he had nothing to do with actually running the companies — in much the same way that you might own a big block of stock in Exxon but they are not calling asking where they should drill a well, right?There is no inconsistency between Romney being the “controlling person” in the RIA US SEC filings pertinent to Bain Capital and his relinquishing his day to day role of managing Bain Capital.Three years later, the Bain Capital management (all those bright Harvard guys) bought Romney out. They agreed to pay him out over a long time as the underlying investments matured and were liquidated and monetized.There is a complexity to this arrangement that is not going to be readily identified by a business journalist but there is absolutely nothing inconsistent or nefarious at play here.And pissing on Romney’s leg about this will not bring a rain shower or any jobs..

    1. Tom Labus

      What’s he gonna do move the WH to the Cayman Islands.Just to be safe.If it came out Pres Obama had offshore accounts, you would be going ballistic.Mitt Romney means Glenn Hubbard economics which just about put us away in 07-09. No way does he get a second shot at us.The US GDP was -10% in 4Q 08. We’re back to +2. in 31/2 years. No badUnemployment was 17% in 1937 and is always a lagging indicator in a recovery.If Pres Obama pushed government jobs instead of getting rid of 600,000 of them that 8% would be lower.I’m voting for the President.

      1. JLM

        .A post recession recovery GDP growth rate of 2% is a recession getting ready to swallow its own tongue and choke to death.A post recession recovery GDP growth rate should be 7%.Bad news, there is really no evidence of any kind of recovery. We are limping along on the bottom.The economy took a bit of a nose dive in Q2 and continues to languish..

  51. Harry DeMott

    As usual, I’m coming to the comments late in the day, which means that most of the points are pretty well debated.Now that said, I’m always struck by the polarization of the crowd when it comes to politics. Not much middle ground – as the system which produces these candidates tends to output pretty extreme points of view.So you would end up thinking that we either have a choice between a sitting president with a highly social agenda looking to make one in two of us a government employee – or if not, a person beholden to the government. On the other hand we have an accomplished businessman who cares for nothing but making money off the backs of the middle and lower classes – who is as conservative as they get.People frame it as a choice between two very different versions of the country and its future.It is unfortunate that we can’t have a more reasoned debate about the issues at hand.Like Fred (or so it seems) I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But unlike Fred I’ll probably end up voting for Romney because the fiscal issues in my mind outweigh the social issues.And that’s the real framework in which the election will be decided. Those who are Obama apologists and not going to change their mind on their candidate of choice – just as the Romney fans are not going to change their mind.The question is, which of these candidates is going to do a better job framing the issues so that they activate people in the middle (and I believe there are a lot of us in the middle).When you see Obama go after Romney on Bain like he has it makes me sick. As Fred rightly points out, people just don’t understand this issue and so give Obama the benefit of the doubt on it – however, since the fiscal issues outweigh the social ones for me, it makes little difference.My view is that we have come to a scary point fiscally, and simply pandering to the masses for reelection is not going to fix the mess. I’m not sure Romney and his cronies are going to fix it either – I just think they will do a better job of it than has Obama – and hopefully, Romney’s more social tendencies (he did write Obamacare afterall – why isn’t he jumping on this as an example of how he’s in touch with the average guy?) come out.What always troubled me is that you end up in the voting booth choosing between two people who have spent their whole lives trying to get elected. As far as I can see, Obama has never held a real job – and Romney – while he is a pretty accomplished guy from a business standpoint, has seemed to make every decision in life depending on what was the most expedient thing for his image at the time. As much as I disagree with Obama on most issues, at least he is consistent and has shown some spine on issues.I’m waiting for the Internet to more properly organize people – so that we can effectively draft a real 3rd party candidate.I’m all for Bloomberg. Where do I sign?

    1. Lee Blaylock

      I agree with Harry and the others…I’m all for a strong 3rd or 4th party country and I think we’re going there sooner rather than later, but I’m not talking 10 years. It will take much longer and when the debt piper comes, and he will with a vengeance. The mice will then scurry to the corners of the political spectrum and facilitate more segmentation.Obama has never signed the front of a check in business, only the back and to vilify someone who has done well and to have his campaign calling Romney a possible felon makes me want to friggin’ puke. Few realize Obama made his money in a real estate deal with Tony Resko who is in jail and 4 of the past 5 IL governors are or have served time, and where did Obama cut his political roots?If you want intellectual dishonesty, calculate the time Obama, and his minions, spend talking about Obama’s ACCOMPLISHMENTS (what a sitting candidate is supposed to run on), and not trashing Romney, saying the GOP wants you you to drink dirty water, Obama’s vision for America and how he needs more time and blames you know who. He can’t. His accomplishments are unpopular, OR are so union and trial bar friendly, that only those constituents are broadly supportive and most of America is now waking up to the cancer that public unions represent.FDR himself said that there is no room for unions in the public sector – he knew the venomous cycle that union money would do to politics, then get returned as favors for higher wages and benefits and, guess what folks, the whole state of California (now $200b in debt) is in trouble and several cities are already filing BK mostly due to a spending culture and pensions and medicaid are killing our states. Hey, like Margaret Thatcher said, the problem with socialism is someday you run out of other people’s money.Obama’s signature accomplishment (the largest tax increase in history! Ha!!!) is not only hugely unpopular, and will become more so once a) more of our income is taken away in the 28 new taxes that will be implemented and b) the states push back on Medicaid b/c now the feds can’t take away federal funds if they do so that this dream of everyone having heath care is a sham without that hammer Obama tried to put in place. The Supremes gave that a 7-2 nod so it is quite clear that Obama, our first constitutional scholar president, didn’t go to class that day. Heck, even Kagan, his former employee voted against his reach of federal power and coercion there and people don’t understand how Obamacare works. The feds don’t deliver it, the states do and now states can opt out. And now that it is a tax, only 51 senators are needed to pass repeal. Justice Roberts knew what he was doing – and got TWO 9-0, that is NINE to ZERO folks votes to strengthen the commerce clause so the feds can’t overreach again on states powers. And Obama was celebrating the victory until some of his staff pointed out some of the details after reading majority opinion. I have a friend who is in Obama’s cabinet and many politicans some to my Annandale Capital office based on some work my partner does. i don’t have secrets, but I have good G2.Where was I, oh, yea…I am a fiscal hawk (surprise!) and socially just right of center. a pro choice, anti gay marriage, green leaning, welfare reform lovin’ conservative. I am a very, very compassionate individual for those in need as I have been one too. Hell, every entrepreneur worth his salt probably has been at some point in time or another, but a 3rd party that is honest about the problems entitlements are causing and his the cajones to do something about it is sorely needed. Somebody had a great idea to remove money from politics and i’m on board with that, but that is like removing government variable in an economic model – ain’t happening.Telling people to suck up, work harder and dig in is not politically convenient for a populace who has a 38% obese ratio. So populism wins a lot of voters and really, really a cancerous policy – thanks DEMs for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which took 62% of our budget last year and that doesn’t count Obamacare who he lied to us and said it cost $900b and now the CBO says $2.8 trillion and it really hasn’t even kicked in yet!.to try and run a country based on being “fair” to everyone is an insidious cancer on our society. life is not “fair” and if you want others to make your life “fair” then we remove the fire that many need under their ass to work hard and make a difference in this world. and as long as we continue to tell people the gov will take care of you (nee “nanny state”) and divide this country in to class war fare of haves and have nots and try to be “fair,” that will remove so much innovation and willpower that made America great, that we will accelerate our slide as the greatest nation there ever was.God bless the USA and God bless Fred for a great board on so many important topics and views!

    2. fredwilson

      i love this comment Harry

  52. MartinEdic

    I think this is fair but you leave out the tax return issues. He is running for President, not a corporate position. We deserve to know everything about his tax situation. We’d expect this from anyone else who wants to run our country.

  53. Anne Libby

    Off topic, I’d love to give a huge shout out to the Disqus guys. I’ve been dipping in and out of the discussion on and off today on my iPad. It’s so much easier to do this, and really follow the discussion as it flows, with new Disqus. Great job.

    1. ShanaC

      we <3 daniel and co

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Good call Anne. Let’s hear it for the band. cc: @DanielHa:disqus @Tyler:disqus and the teamBTW, did you catch @rrohan189:disqus’s interview of Daniel? http://www.alearningaday.co

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Here here Donna !But today with all this scrollin up and down on a great debate (even if we are all getting a bit hissy & swinging our handbags round the bar) I have a suggestion for @DanielHa et al.The parent button is cool for those that understand it – it helps navigate . But what about a “collapse/hide children” option at each parent hierarchy tree-level except “leaves” – so you could compress the stuff you have read or lengthy stuff of no interest like mine for instance. – maybe add a marker for hidden children with new comments.Then IMHO we would totally own our comment space !

    3. fredwilson

      i am glad to hear disqus is working better on iPad. it still needs work in the android browser.

    4. JamesHRH

      Anne – good for you! My iPad still gets into shouting matches w Disqus, much to my chagrin. I love commenting via the iPad, but it has been frustrating in the last year….

  54. ShanaC

    I know there are over 200 comments. I don’t think pandering to the parties is going to help the situation.I think we need to hold a constitution convention for amending the constitution about our fiscal situation. We need to make a deal with ourselves that we should only keep a certain percentage of debt running no matter who is in power.Doing so would take a lot of the money arguments off the table. Or at least makes them more reasonable.Anyone else?

    1. JLM

      .That does not require a Constitutional amendment. It can simply be done by operation of law..

      1. ShanaC

        the 112th congress is the most unproductive

  55. David Fleck

    I was just thinking about this exact point this morning. Then you and Krugman (http://krugman.blogs.nytime… both addressed this meme.I worked at Bain but am an obama supporter. I think the shots at Romney regarding Bain are cheap shots, but I totally understand why Obama is doing it. The average American consumes sound bites. The Bain sound bites are easily digestible and seem to be effective (eg per Nate Silver at 538).I wish Obama did not have to resort to these tactics, but I completely see why he is. I also don’t like that Obama is beating up Bain for things like off shoring…sometimes that is economically what needs to occur. But again I completely see why he does.I wish the average American was as well read and cared as much as the avc community. But they don’t. That leaves a huge opportunity (and obligation?) for those that actually care to get Involved and stir things up.

    1. fredwilson

      you worked at Bain Dave? i didn’t realize that.

      1. David Fleck

        I did. The experience taught me a lot about business and the role I want to play in it (eg i want to be a participant and decision maker, not an advisor). I use my Bain-acquired skills every day. But being a partner at Bain was not going to fulfill me.

    2. JamesHRH

      Dave – I love Fred’s passion for political change, but I firmly believe that every community gets the leadership they want. Currently, the USofA is looking for fast&easy, in every thing.I think we know how that works out.As an aside, Michael Lewis’ last book – Boomerang – ended on a hopeful note. He implied that America may be turning a cultural corner, where contribution and responsibility becomes more the measure of success.I am optimistic by nature, so I have hope for that outcome.

      1. David Fleck

        I agree that right now Americans are essentially lazy about their politics…they are looking for the easy decisions. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of easy decisions right now. When the difficult decisions are made, people feel like they’re surprised and that decisions are rammed down their throats. That’s not the case. The systemic issues we’re dealing with have been brought about by decisions made decades ago. The benefit to America vs. Europe, though, is that we have our own printing presses and also one central government.I have not yet read Boomerang but I generally do like Michael Lewis’ works. I was just thinking about what piece of non-fiction to go along with my current fiction piece, a David Foster Wallace book. Boomerang may just fit the bill. Thank you for the recommendation.

  56. William Mougayar

    As a non-US citizen, I’m restraining myself to enter this debate as passionately as many of you have, because it’s not my direct business.  But as an outsider, I will say one thing to my American friends. I think the US deserves a better political process than the current one which has become gripped with antics, gridlock and deception. Maybe that’s how it’s always been, but the increased transparency is making the sausage-making too ugly to watch. In many other countries, politics isn’t pretty either, but I think the US can do better than that. 

    1. matthughes

      I think the US would benefit from the recent example of our Canadian friends.As I understand it the Canadian economy was in considerable peril by the 90’s.Moderation & good-faith compromise between the political parties has led Canada back from the brink.Sounds like a good plan to me.

      1. JamesHRH

        Matt – this is a dilly of a narrative in CDN politics.Deficit stayed by Jean Chretien (PM) & Paul Martin ( Finance Minister ). Chretien a street smart small town guy who had been I Ottawa for 30 years before becoming PM. Martin a blue blood (second gen).Chretien sets the agenda & Martin gets it done.Teamwork, experience & leadership ( Chretien likely, in 100 years ) to be considered one of Canada’s most effective PMs.Denouement even better. Martin ousts Chretien and, in a classic ‘nice guy’ move, does not through Chretien under the bus for an emerging party scandal ( misuse of funds during Quebec separatist referendum ).Scandal swallows MARTIN ( less than 2 years in power) and Liberal party ( now nearly irrelevant ). Chretien skates.

        1. matthughes

          Wait, so how does Mario Lemiuex figure into all of this? 😉

          1. JamesHRH

            Super Mario knows that politics is the penalty box for Hockey Players.

      2. William Mougayar

        My comments weren’t intending to imply that the Canadian system was better, because it’s not about comparing one vs. the other. Each country is unique to itself and molds its own version of politics & governance. The US is a role model for so many things around the world that are admired and emulated by others. An economically strong US makes for a stronger world.

        1. matthughes

          I agree the US is a role model and will continue to lead on many fronts.I see Canada’s success, especially recently as a good example for us to follow. I spend a lot of time in Canada (mostly Vancouver & Calgary). So I have close ties and admire Canadian culture quite a bit.

          1. William Mougayar

            Cool. I used to live in Vancouver. I’ll ping you using the new Engagio feature for internal messaging.

  57. Auntie Warhol

    “It’s a lot easier to just let things run off and have a departed partner be a ‘silent partner’ with no operating role or responsibility” — but who wants a President who does whatever’s easiest? Or one who thinks “I didn’t do it, I just profited from it” is a good answer?

  58. kidmercury

    they are both losers and there is no difference. when will people wake up to this rather obvious fact. if someone gets a lot of attention from mainstream media and is endorsed by the core of both establishment political parties, they will not end war and they will not balance the budget. ergo, all they will do is perpetuate the same problems related to income inequality, centralization of power, erosion of civil liberties, and militarization of all aspects of society.i suppose if there is one difference it is that republicans tend to put forth bad liars where as democrats tend to put forth skilled liars. obama is a great deceiver, if i didn’t study history i would’ve been fooled by him. but to be fooled by romney is embarrassing…..lol those people will fall for anything, as illustrated by how many romney supporters voted for bush jr…….hahahhaa……like i said they will fall for anything9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. fredwilson

      dropping truth

  59. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

    “That’s why I am still a partner in two businesses that I have not been active in for a long time.”Hmm… That’s a red flag!

    1. Deji

      And have you signed document to the SEC stating that you were the sole stockholder, president, and CEO since you have been inactive? Doubt it. Cognitive dissonance at work. Next argument! He’s going to absolutely get hammered on this. I guess it’s cool that he’s only releasing 2 years of tax return as well. you’ll trot out the talking points of how he has met the minimum legal requirement. That will go over well. I have a bridge in New York to sell you if you’re interested.You think he’s not going to get absolutely demolished when the Democrats trot out his father and his famous words that he released 12 years of tax returns because “1 year could be a fluke”. Whether it’s a fair tactic or not, it has been used effectively against him as far back as when he first ran for Senate. The optics don’t look good. Romney knows that the backlash that will come, fair or not, he and his cabal of consultants and lawyers have told him that he should just ride it out. He’s going to get absolutely killed on this, and the more he does, the more people will say “My God! What could he be hiding?” Doesn’t mean he won’t win, but he has been bloodied on this one.

  60. vruz

    Well, Romney’s own campaign seems to have been sloppy on this issue.It doesn’t seem to be so much Obama’s fault, but Obama profitting from Romney camp’s mistakes.http://politicker.com/2012/

  61. chris jones

    When Romney was or was not actively involved at Bain is a silly argument and really misses a much larger and important and fundamental discussion about the direction of the country.What is germane to this community is that ObamaCare is a killer for innovation within the biotech and medical device industry. It is being most acutely felt among healthcare related startups who are seeking investment capital for life saving innovations and / or improve the quality of life.Investment pools are drying up. To those that support ObamaCare I would suggest that we are impacting healthcare in significant ways with long term implications which will not become evident for many years to come.The medical device tax is an excise tax. Some folks are fond of behavior modification through excise taxes. For example, part of the rationale behind sin taxes on cigarette or alcohol is that the added costs reduce demand / consumption of a good or service. Is the market for medical devices immune to the same economic logic? Do device taxes not discourage innovation and entrepreneurial activity? Of course they do and there is tangible evidence that this is already occurring. Contrary to common perception, the most innovative part of the healthcare occurs in smaller companies, not large corporations. Eric von Hippel has document this throughout his tenure at MIT and mot elegantly in his book “The Democratization of Innovation” and has been validated by others and is a standard aspect of the tech industry. Smaller companies tend to be better at innovation than large companies.However, small companies are the real losers under ObamaCare. I’ve spent a little time looking at this as well as someone who has invested in the health / biotechnology industry. I think everyone has an OBLIGATION to read the fine print and understand how ObamaCare is already negatively impacting innovation in a dynamic aspect of our economy.

    1. chris jones

      I know it is long but I sincerely believe we collectively need to dig in to the minutia so we can understand the long term quality of care costs associated with the bill.It is easy to make simple comparisons to suggest that we over pay for healthcare. A common metric is the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare. Sudan pays less for healthcare as a percentage of GDP than the US but I don’t think anyone finds that comparison instructive.What is suggested is that there is profiteering occurring and somehow we can change the market dynamics and incentives and still receive the same or greater quality of care. To substantiate this claim, folks frequently point to countries with more socialized healthcare systems, Canada, the UK etc…Collectively we pay more but we also have better access to goods and services. This is quantifiable in terms of the number of cat scanners per one thousand, number of life saving and quality of life procedures, access to new and improved drug therapies, physicians per thousand etc….We also enjoy an entrepreneurial culture that is the envy of the world and this includes healthcare and we are killing it. The cost will be born over the coming years primarily by the middle class in the form of more deaths and reduced quality care.Once you begin killing off the healthcare industry and transforming it into an arm of the government, how do you revive it once you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake?I’d be happy to provide more granularity on this critical issue.

  62. chris jones

    If you have an interest in reading my ppt with graphs, sources etc…just contact me and I’d be happy to send it. I looked at ObamaCare in some detail and assembled a ppt that I shared with a few folks in my network. No one likes to see / read large chunks of material on a message board. We avoid them like the plague and don’t want to make the time commitment. However, as a reader of Fred’s blog it is reasonable to assume you have an interest in innovation and I believe President Obama’s signature legislation is having a negative impact on innovation within a large industry segment and is likely to degrade overall healthcare overtime. I’m not a big fan of Romney but I am a huge fan of the animal spirits that have powered our economy and stoked the fires of innovation. From my ppt. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (“Obamacare”) was proposed as a way to bend the rising cost curve of healthcare and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.Health care spending is growing at about 1.5x the rate of growth of GDP projected to reach $4.6 trillion and comprise 19.8 percent of GDP by 2020. The government-sponsored share of health spending is projected to increase from 45 percent in 2010 to about 50 percent by 2020.PPACA relies on three primary mechanisms:1)Increasing the pool of insured2)Increased regulatory oversightComparative Effective Research (CER)Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)3)Raising taxesPPACA requires individuals not covered by employer- or government-sponsored insurance plans to maintain minimal essential health insurance coverage or pay a penalty unless exempted for religious beliefs or financial hardship, a provision commonly referred to as the individual mandate.

    1. JLM

      .I would love to see it. Thanks.How do we get it?.

  63. chris jones

    The health reform law established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as an independent advisory board with a $3 billion budget to support comparative effectiveness research.Per its mandate, the PCORI will be responsible for “comparing options for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for specific health problems; improving health care systems; informing patients and other stakeholders; addressing disparities among patient populations and health outcomes; and designing research to be patient-centered.”This federal body will undertake “comparative-effectiveness research” (CER) ostensibly to determine whether newer, more expensive treatments work as well as their older, cheaper counterparts.4 Ways CER Impacts Innovation1)CER will force producers to conduct internal CER trials to evaluate the efficacy of submitting their drugs or technologies for government review. All those additional tests will increase R&D costs.2)As the government pays for about half of all medical care, the government is incentivized to favor older, less expensive forms of treatment over newer and more costly methods. This raises the risk of nonapproval or limited approval, both for federal coverage programs, and generally.3)Research and development is often a lengthy process that is capital intensive and for which the benefit may not be realized for many years. The R&D process is more prone to political and budgetary pressures to deliver budget savings in the near term over long term health benefits.4)CER will lengthen the amount of time required for a drug or medical technology to achieve regulatory approval. Each additional day a new treatment spends in limbo is a day it can’t try to recapture its R&D costs through patent-protected exclusive sales.According to researchers at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the average drug takes $1.3 billion and about a decade to develop. About 30% of that cost comes during the clinical trial phase, when CER would have the greatest impact.Pacific Research Institute’s Dr. Ben Zycher indicates that the government-led CER process will depress investment in pharmaceutical and medical device research and development by 10% to 12% or about $10 billion per year

  64. chris jones

    Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the fifteen presidential appointees tasked with finding and implementing ways to control Medicare spending from the top-down. The primary mechanism available to IPAB to control spending is to make adjustments to reimbursement and incentives for providers.While IPAB is statutorily prohibited from “rationing,” the statute includes no formal definition, and the board will still have to restrict access to providers, services, reduce reimbursements and/or treatments to hold down costs.In short, IPAB opens the door to de facto rationing of care with less congressional oversight.ObamaCare relies on three powerful levers to effectively regulate the healthcare market1)A prolonged regulatory process which increases research and development process costs and uncertainty.2)A determination on the relative value of new therapies and innovations and a mechanism to put downward pressure on economic incentives to develop them.3)A medical device tax is the third lever by which government seeks to regulate the market.

  65. chris jones

    Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the fifteen presidential appointees tasked with finding and implementing ways to control Medicare spending from the top-down. The primary mechanism available to IPAB to control spending is to make adjustments to reimbursement and incentives for providers.While IPAB is statutorily prohibited from “rationing,” the statute includes no formal definition, and the board will still have to restrict access to providers, services, reduce reimbursements and/or treatments to hold down costs.In short, IPAB opens the door to de facto rationing of care with less congressional oversight.ObamaCare relies on three powerful levers to effectively regulate the healthcare market1)A prolonged regulatory process which increases research and development process costs and uncertainty.2)A determination on the relative value of new therapies and innovations and a mechanism to put downward pressure on economic incentives to develop them.3)A medical device tax is the third lever by which government seeks to regulate the market.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) imposes an excise tax of 2.3 percent on medical equipment and supply sales rather than profits. In other words, it cuts into the top line, not the bottom line.The 2.3% excise tax will be levied on all types of medical devices, from heart stents and pacemakers to MRIs and ultrasounds. Because the new tax is on revenue, not profit, a small company that is not yet in the black would bear the biggest brunt. This tax will hit medical device companies especially hard in states that are leading the way in medical innovation; states like Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, New York, and MassachusettsBecause incentives to invest in the research and development of new medical technologies are driven by perceived returns, the excise tax on durable medical equipment and medical supplies can be predicted to reduce such investment. The National Science Foundation estimates the excise tax will effectively reduce investment by about 10 percent annually, or about $2 billion during 2013 through 2020.In the wake of ObamaCare’s passage, KPMG (the auditing firm), compiled a survey of 190 financial executives from the medical devices industry. The firm found that 40% of respondents said their companies are contemplating actions such as price increases and cost reductions, including layoffs.The medical device industry employs an estimated 400,000 people. It is estimated that the device tax with reduce employment from 14,000-47,100.

  66. chris jones

    As syndicated columnist George Will observed:“Cook Medical is no longer planning to open a U.S. factory a year. Boston Scientific, planning for a more than $100 million charge against earnings in 2013, recently built a $35 million research and development facility in Ireland and is building a $150 million factory in China. (Capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well-treated.)Stryker Corp., based in Michigan, blames the tax for 1,000 layoffs. Zimmer, based in Indiana, is laying off 450 and taking a $50 million charge against earnings. Medtronic expects an annual charge against earnings of $175 million. Covidien, now based in Ireland, has cited the tax in explaining 200 layoffs and a decision to move some production to Costa Rica and Mexico. ”Venture capitalists are feeling less confident about making investments in 2012, with 58 percent of them predicting fewer investments in biopharmaceutical and medical device businesses, according to a national survey from the National Venture Capital Association.“The landscape for medical devices is almost worse than bleak,” said Todd Leonard, executive director of the Minnesota Angel Network said at the LifeScience Alley Conference earlier this month. “Traditional venture capitalists have really left the space.”Investors said they are reluctant to invest in new medical device start-ups in recent years because it’s unclear how much time and money it will take to get a device approved.Companies face an increasingly difficult regulatory and reimbursement environments, lengthy time to liquidity and the anemic IPO market.Part of the problem is there are more CEOs that want to raise money in 2012 than there are investors able to give that amount of money. angel investor Mike Swenson “There is no capital.”Venture capitalists expect more money to go toward Internet technology businesses geared toward consumers, healthcare and businesses in 2012, according to the National Venture Capital Association survey.In the past, Minnesota has ranked among the top 13 states in the amount of venture capital companies attracted, from in-state sources or not. Last year it ranked 20th, just ahead of Rhode Island.Venture capital investment in Minnesota companies fell 48 percent in 2010 to $139.5 million, the lowest amount in 15 years of record keeping, according to the MoneyTree Report from the National Venture Capital Association and PwC.Thanks for your indulgence everyone (Fred). I think this stuff is critically important to understand, develop informed opinions and debate in a serious manner. No doubt it is likely going to be front and center in this year’s election and is so much more relevant and important than debating a simple punching bag non issue of when Mitt Romney was or was not at Bain. Again, happy to share my ppt if you shoot me a note.

  67. Francesco

    It’s unlikely this would be an issue if Romney had been willing to explain things the way you just did. His choice was to claim he made a clean break and to disavow all connection to Bain activities. I think that kind of dissembling is worth pointing out to voters, especially on matters that touch upon Romney’s business background, which is the very thing he claims qualifies him for higher office. My two cents.

  68. par1

    To me the mystery is why Romney’s “partners” at Bain had not in fact negotiated some real equity for themselves by 1999, that he was still the sole stockholder of Bain Capital. What wimps!While the official line from Bain (per Conard) is that negotiating his exit was so complicated that it took three years, perhaps the truth is that Mitt was keeping his options open and hadn’t fully decided whether or not to return after the Olympics.Or maybe there were terms in Bain’s fund documents that would have given LPs rights to withdraw if Mitt formally left but not if he just took a leave of absence. So the interim period gave Bain time to raise more funds with the official understanding that Mitt wasn’t going to be involved.None of which, of course, is really relevant to the election ….

  69. Michael Beckner

    Hmm. I know I’m late to the game here, but I thought I’d add my two pennies worth & say outright that I don’t think you’re getting it. This isn’t about the intricacies of SEC filings or partnership structures or hatin’ on Wall Street or whatever.It’s about how it looks — the very visceral political optics — when someone can simultaneously claim that they were CEO and not responsible/accountable for what happened at the time (e.g. Stericycle), and yet take full credit (and materially benefit!) for the same (e.g. Staples as his jobs-creation bona fide, the SEC filings as proof of residency in MA while running the Olympics not in MA). Why? Because complex rules of business at levels too high for you to understand, Mr Nosey Citizen.It’s that this striking incoherence to practically everyone else is somehow … incoherent to Romney & kith. It’s that it smacks of gaming the system, of tinkering with highly specialized rules limited to a very few people in furtherance of accruing (more) personal wealth and power, regardless any other outcome.And that’s how you get the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

  70. chaodoze

    Fred, have a lot of respect for your views, but this post reeks of an arrogance folks often ascribe to the financial world.Your basic argument is that this is very customary in the private equity world, which has a “long latency”.Well, it is now pretty clear that it is very customary in the mortgage world for people not to read the fine print of mortgage agreements, and mortgages have very “long latencies” too! Are individuals who can’t pay their mortgages equally not culpable?Or perhaps such responsibility only applies to regular folks?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think you understand my point. you are mixing apples and oranges.

  71. Druce

    Hate to be cynical, but petty and cheap is the only way to win elections. If you’re selling any product, you have to say things in simple sound bites that are going to miss a lot of complexity.You can talk about ‘carried interest’ and tax rates and IRAs, and how Romney apparently paid less than 10% tax on his Bain income and bore people to death. Or you can talk about Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accounts, which are irrelevant but make it look like he’s hiding something.It’s a Swift-boat strategy. Take Romney’s strength as an effective, pragmatic, hands-on manager, turn into ‘tax-evading, lying downsizer who shipped jobs to China.’Kind of ironic, Romney complains about people wanting ‘free stuff’, when he was apparently paid a large salary by Bain after he apparently had nothing whatsoever to do with anything that happened there. And the private equity model is to a large extent about privatizing all the gains and making others bear the losses: the creditors, the workers, but to a large extent the government, through interest tax deductions, pension guarantees, safety net for downsized workers.

    1. fredwilson

      great points

  72. markslater

    it looks absolutely ridiculous. Coupled with the “mitt sent jobs abroad, we want to bring them back” language – it shows how unsophisticated this administration is when truly understand the macro / global job climate – the shifting tectonics and dynamics and the fundamental need for america to innovate its way to job creation – not to “bring them back”.I hate politics. this system is totally and utterly broken at this stage.

  73. Matt Convente

    But what about Romney’s sole ownership of these holding companies? Do you think a distinction should be made for true partnerships where there are multiple partners vs. sole ownership (as a 100% stock holder) of these holding companies?

  74. Jon

    Fred Wilson isn’t running for president, Romney is. And he is basing his campaign on his talent as a businessman. Obama campaign isn’t saying that Romney did something wrong, it’s saying we don’t now what Romney did at Bain. So, it is only logical that we know everything we can about how he conducted business. Romney can go a long way to clear this up by showing us his tax returns — like every candidate dating back to his father in the ’60s. Mitt showed John McCain 23 years (!!!) of tax returns when he was being considered for vice president. Why can’t he do the same for the American people?A few other points:1. I’m sorry, but Romney didn’t just “sign stuff.” He signed an SEC filing that stated that he was the CEO and sole stockholder in Bain. If this was not true, at the very least, he misrepresented who was running the company. And can it really take three years to find a new CEO?2. Regardless of whether he was running the company, sat in on a few meetings, read over documents, or whatever he did or did not do for Bain, Romney DID take home a significant sum of money—at least $100,000 he says—each year from this company. Doesn’t that make him at least partially responsible for how they make their money?3. And do you and Mr. Romney really expect us to believe that he had NO knowledge of the investments Bain was making for three years. Really? The men making these decisions are his management team, donors to his campaigns, and in some cases, his friends. The guy receiving a significant amount of money from a business that he built and he never asks, never talks about, or is never even remotely curious about what they are investing in? Really? Call me cynical, but that just stretches my imagination a bit too far.

  75. sworddance

    Romney is getting flack because Bain Capital is in the business of cash extraction from existing companies.Bain Capital really did destroy companies, communities and lives.Fred as a VC you are safe. Your business model is not about cash extraction.

  76. John Revay

    WOW – I scanned many of these comments……. Division in politics.I don’t often look for up or down votes while reading comments….this post seemed to have many comments that had several both up and down votes.#FredWilson2012 🙂

  77. Prokofy

    The reason your friend Obama is beating Romney up over Bain is because he dislikes capitalism, at root, as a “stealth socialist” — he’s a DSA regular from way back even if he didn’t formally join the organization. And that’s the problem. And that’s why he is doing this. And it will not work. Because people like me will not be voting for Obama again, and we will be voting for this evil capitalist Romney to get the pendulum swinging back from the socialism. Americans do not want a socialist system even if they want social justice in a capitalist system regulated under the rule of law.

  78. John Revay

    Jon Stewart does a nice parody of Mitt & Bainhttp://huff.to/Q23rmd

  79. JLM

    .Keeping assets in jurisdictions beyond the reach of US Courts is a legitimate asset protection strategy.Every American who has assets overseas has to pay US taxes on their income repatriated or not. Simply holding assets has no tax liability of any kind whatsoever.A ML account in NYC is within reach of US Courts. The same ML account in the Caymans is beyond the reach of US Courts.I am not aware of any credible insinuation that Romney engaged in tax EVASION of any kind. Tax evasion is illegal.Tax avoidance is perfectly legal regardless of where you keep your money. Even so, I am also not aware of any credible insinuation that Romney engaged tax avoidance of any kind. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal..

  80. Deji

    Awesome, try selling that nuanced explanation to struggling middle clas worker who’s wages have stagnated. That’s going to get them to pull the lever for Romney. Awesome.

  81. JLM

    .That is not a campaign spiel, it is intended for really smart guys like you.That middle class wrench puller is going to make his decision based on the notion of 3-4MM more illegal workers competing for his stagnating compensated job, all of whom were legitimized by the President’s recent Executive Order..

  82. Deji

    Oh you mean the humane executive order that shelters college graduates and military veterans who were brought into the United States illegally as children and requires that they never have broken law. An idea that even Republicans have long since championed as the humane thing to do? But as soon as Obama come’s into office, it’s a crazy socialist idea. Nice try there dude.

  83. JLM

    .I personally am in favor of amnesty under the notion that toothpaste sometimes cannot be put back into the tube after all. A much more liberal position than the President’s and perhaps yours.But only after we secure the borders.Nonetheless, when the “worker” is in the ballot box, he will be voting his own pocketbook no differently than the 60% of union members in Wisconsin who abandoned the union at their first opportunity.This is about voting reality not really about the wisdom of a particular specific policy initiative.Ooops, sorry, dude..

  84. Deji

    Listen dude I get it, you’re staying on message. It’s cool, what else are you going to do but double down? And I admit that I’m doing the same thing. That is what cognitive dissonance is all about. You must be tired though. The basic fact is that the Obama campaign is going to keep pounding Mitt Romney over Bain, over his tax returns, over Romney care, over his stance on illegal immigrants, over his unwillingness to stand up for women, the shredded computer hard drives, the offshore accounts, etc. Some of it will be brutal ,maybe even unfair but that’s politics.Here’s the thing, let’s both admit that the republicans are coming at the President with both barrels. Remember, that furor a few weeks ago when someone leaked research about how Republicans were considering portraying Obama as a metrosexual black Abe Lincoln? They have been attacking him for FOUR years. The message has been saturated with this stuff, and it has been effective. But here’s one thing, at some point it becomes one note, stale. What’s new about calling Obama, a socialist? A guy who hung around with terrorists, a guy who scammed his way into the white house, who didn’t really write his first book. All of this Bain stuff will pale in comparison to the attacks in store for Obama.Here’s the thing, because of these repeated attacks, going as far back as 2008, Republicans have have to dig further into the barrel to gain attention. And inevitably they will cross the line, I mean if saying that the President just isn’t American in his heart barely gets a blip of attention, imagine what Romney’s going to have to say in order to show that he’s going to “Stand up to that boy Obama and get our country back!” You know who hates that sort of thing? The very same independent who Republicans are trying to woo off the fence to help them get Obama out of office. You know what those independents like? Answers. Sure they’ve heard all that there is to say about Obama, but what about Mitt Romney. Is there something to these questions about his offshore bank accounts, his claims that he has a lot of experience in creating jobs, his carefully crafted answers about “not paying a penny more or a penny less in taxes as required by the law”. That’s really going to go over well this type of voter. The same independent who doesn’t pretend that, because a dude wants to marry another dude, it means his marriage is worth any less, yet one candidate says that the Constitution should be changed to bar that very thing from happening. That’s going to go over well. Republican could also stop with the negative campaigning fearmongering and actually offer up details as to what they want to do turn the country around, but why bother right?One thing Americans don’t like is secrets, and idea of unfairness. A lot of the reasons we get up everyday is because we believe that if you work hard enough something good will happen. And whether it is fair or not, Obama campaign is taking advantage of an valid opportunity to show that Mitt Romney has a loose relationship with the truth, appears to have something to hide. And that’s of his own doing. Two years of tax returns. I love it. He is going to be absolutely destroyed on this topic. You guys can talk about how he has satisfied the legal requirements necessary to run for office, you think this is going go away. Wait till people in his own party start telling him to release his tax returns and get it over with. More and more people will weigh in with their opinions and Mitt will continue squirm. Further increasing the perception that he has something to had.I can’t lie, I love this. JLM, I do appreciate the healthy back and forth.

  85. JLM

    .Comment too long. Cut to the chase.Obama will not be re-elected because he cannot conjure up the Perfect Storm again. Just a fact.His support continues to erode in every element of the coalition he previously assembled — independents, Jews, Hispanics, women, military, soccer Moms.Romney only has to move the dial 2% on these and it is enough to win.On top of this put the 20% U-6 unemployed and their relatives whose anger has been stirred by the Nightmare Act and you have a fatal blow to his chances.Look at the college grads since the last election who do not even consider that Obama was ever “cool”.As to the issues you raise, not much of it is going to sway anyone. As this discussion today indicates, folks are pretty well set in their mind. There are not very many moving pieces.If the election were held today, Romney would poll 5 points — the historic Republican margin of polling error — better and win handily.The Romney camp is sitting on polls showing them winning Florida handily and Ohio closely. They take Virginia, NC and Colorado.Romney will outraise Obama and Rove and his PACs will do the real dirty work.It will ultimately be the Obama record that will sink him.Not even going to be close. At this stage, Carter had 22 points on Reagan and Obama is lucky to get his name in a sentence with the word “tied”..

  86. JLM

    .Ooops, sorry, forgot, dude!.

  87. ShanaC

    they can’t without a popular vote at some point. So we could run it.

  88. David Fleck

    Not at all justified. But I understand why it’s done in today’s political environment and with today’s media and how it influences voters’ education.