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Go, Newt! In your donnybrook with Mitt, please keep informing the citizenry about the rapacity of private equity groups (essentially leveraged buyout firms). I’m neutral on the nomination but feel strongly about private equity groups: they’re predators.

Mitt Romney claims his former firm, Bain Capital, created jobs.

San Diegans have seen what’s happened to the Union-Tribune since being taken over and quickly flipped by Platinum Equity, a private equity firm. Petco Animal Supplies has gone through two dubious buyouts; some say the company has slipped noticeably, but Petco claims it is as healthy as ever.

Private equity firms buy undervalued companies, claim they have turned them around (often through accounting changes), and then take them public or dump them on a sucker. Most of the buyout money comes from debt piled on the supposedly sick company’s back. Then, the buyout bandits are likely to put the company in even more debt to pay themselves fat dividends. Worst scenario: the buyout gunslingers may put the ailing, leverage-laden company into bankruptcy to shed the debt and pension obligations.

Mitt claims that his former firm, Bain Capital, creates jobs. Nonsense. Whacking employment is a major tool used by private equity firms to fatten profits of companies they have purchased. The only objective of the private equity firm is to rake in money for its insiders and investors.

Today, the public is correctly focused on the tax breaks that Mitt and his business associates enjoy. He pays about 15 percent on $20 million–plus annual income. Financial engineers in his racket claim their income comes from capital gains, which have a lower rate. Sorry. The Bain Capitals of the world manage other people’s money; little of their own capital is at risk in these takeovers. The principals should pay ordinary income rates.

Takeover rustlers benefit because their investments are often domiciled in the offshore tax and secrecy haven of the Cayman Islands. Mitt’s handlers insist that he doesn’t benefit tax-wise from this arrangement. Tax experts say he does and that the U.S. Treasury suffers from the loot parked offshore. (In 2010, he had money in Switzerland.)

Rancho Santa Fe’s Gerald Parsky runs the equity firm Aurora.

The utilization of tax and secrecy havens around the world, including the Caymans, is all too common. There are not only tax advantages. Also, there are few disclosure requirements. Moves can be kept hush-hush longer. Gerald (Gerry) Parsky, Republican powerhouse, flies every day from his Rancho Santa Fe estate to Aurora Capital Group in Westwood, a private equity firm he founded. Aurora put together a company named Aftermarket Technology. Caymans-based entities had 4.5 million shares; Parsky had a slug of them. Similarly, Aurora took an aerospace company named K&F public; some of the shares were domiciled in the Caymans. Parsky had some of them.

The public must understand that private equity groups are fast-buck operations. Josh Kosman is the author of The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy. Says Kosman, “Because the strategy of private equity firms is to sell their businesses within several years, they focus on quick, short-term gains and give little consideration to long-term performance.”

Doug Manchester bought the U-T for twice what the sellers paid.

When Platinum Equity finalized its purchase of the Union-Tribune in May of 2009, it pledged it would make changes designed for the long term. But Platinum normally holds a purchase three to five years. Platinum sold the newspaper to local hotelier “Papa” Doug Manchester in November of last year — not even holding it three years. Platinum had continued the oft-justifiable head-chopping started by the Copley organization but cut too deeply, as the product shows. Platinum may have doubled its money or more in the deal, but San Diegans would appear to be the losers, given Manchester’s revelations about his editorial aims.

Petco Animal Supplies, the second-largest pet retail chain in the nation, has had problems through the years from excessively rapid expansion, among many things. Two private equity firms jointly bought out the company — twice. Petco’s stock was doing poorly when the buyout firms first purchased the company in 2000 for $600 million, most of which was debt plunked on Petco’s balance sheet. Two years later, Petco went public for the second time as the buyout firms amassed 600 percent profits.

Just a few years later, the largest pet retailer, PetSmart, wanted to buy Petco, but it didn’t want Petco’s top management. So Petco brass turned again to those two buyout firms. In 2006, Petco agreed to a second leveraged buyout by the predator pair at $29 a share. But PetSmart was offering $33. Nonetheless, the shareholders approved the buyout, even though Petco would be saddled with even more debt. The deal stunk, as plaintiff lawyers said in a class action suit that was settled in 2010, with Petco paying $16 million.

More than five years later, Petco has not gone public for the third time. Market research firm IBISWorld notes that since 2006, PetSmart has increased its market share to an estimated 41.8 percent from 39.2 percent. In those five years, PetSmart’s sales have grown by 7.4 percent annually while Petco’s have risen an estimated 5.9 percent. PetSmart stock has zoomed in the period, along with earnings. Because Petco is privately held, most of its numbers are a mystery.

An investment banker named Bryan, using the handle “I’m not that kind of banker,” writes knowledgeably on the web about the pet retailing business. Asking, “Has Petco lost its mojo?” he estimated last June that in the 2006–2011 period, PetSmart’s operating cash flow zoomed 45 percent while Petco’s went nowhere. As of mid-2011, Petco’s stock, if it were trading, would be 16 percent lower than the 2006 takeover price, he calculated.

Mike Foss, Petco’s chief financial officer, disputes the operating cash flow estimates on which Bryan’s estimates are based. “By virtually every single metric — sales, profit, cash — we’re better off” than in 2006, he claims. The company just hit $3 billion in annual sales.

The investment banker pointed out that Petco a year ago took out a $1.225 million loan, partly to pay a dividend to its investors (the takeover crew). The dividend: almost $700 million. Foss doesn’t argue the point but says Petco has saved $18 million yearly by rejiggering its bonds in a period of lower interest rates.

“Net net, it is clear that all is not going according to plan at Petco,” said the investment banker.

Newt Gingrich believes equity groups are capitalism gone bad.

Mitt bitches that Newt attacks capitalism. But Mitt’s form of capitalism is strictly greed-obsessed — not the kind that made America great. Keep pointing that out, Newt.

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Dennis Feb. 1, 2012 @ 4:21 p.m.

I wish someone would ask Mitt how many jobs he has created with his $21M/yr income while being unemployed. If low tax rates for income earned from dividends, carried interest etc are supposed to allow the job creators to create jobs then he should have created quite a few since he quit his last job. The focus on short term profits over long term growth is killing this country.

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Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2012 @ 8:58 p.m.

Dennis, excellent points. Decades ago, we enjoyed stakeholder capitalism, and it worked very well. Corporate boards were responsive to shareholders, employees, communities, vendors -- all kinds of constituencies. Because companies cared about employees and communities, America developed a strong middle class which became the backbone of its economy. Beginning in 1980 or thereabouts, we shifted to shareholder capitalism. In this system, the board's ONLY constituency is shareholders, particularly the big ones, as well as the overpaid top executives. You have seen what has happened to the middle class, and you have seen what is happening to the U.S. economy. Consumer spending is 70% of the U.S. economy and the middle class is disappearing. Increasingly, only those at the top have the funds for consumption, and the economy suffers. You can blame much of our problems on shareholder capitalism, which is another word for GREED. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Feb. 3, 2012 @ 4:55 a.m.

Is it your contention that boards answered to shareholders before 1980 and all of that that changed after 1980?

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2012 @ 7:21 a.m.

Basically, I am saying just the reverse. Obviously, there were exceptions, but from the end of World War II until around 1980, the country practiced stakeholder capitalism. Boards were responsive to many constituencies: communities, employees, vendors, and shareholders. Then around 1980, boards began paying attention only to shareholders. In the early period, blue chips did not spend all their time trying to run up their stocks. Accounting (other than for companies like conglomerates) was reasonably clean. After 1980, when the only constituency was the shareholder, the focus shifted to running up the stock -- thinking as far as the next quarter and not beyond, concentrating on having earnings per share beat so-called Wall St. expectations. It's a sick game, leading to a sick society. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Feb. 5, 2012 @ 3 p.m.

If you say that there's a few exceptions, I can name at least 100 off the top of my head. Corporations in the early days were quite viscous, and guys like JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Astor, Gould, and Vanderbilt had little concern for the common stockholder. Even after 1933, the concern for the common stockholder was at the bottom of any board's concerns.

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Twister Feb. 2, 2012 @ 8:48 p.m.

That business plan is unsustainable--in the long run, but who gives a shit about the long run?

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2012 @ 7:31 a.m.

Twister, you have put your finger on just what shareholder capitalism is all about: who gives a damn about the long run? Is it any wonder we are in the trouble that we are in? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:27 p.m.

Ponzi on sterioids? Naw, company-flipping makes Ponzi artists look like flippin pikers.

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Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2012 @ 10:45 a.m.

You may well be right, Twister. The only difference is -- maddeningly -- that what the company flippers do is legal and what the Ponzi schemers do is not. I believe that it should be illegal for a private equity group to buy a company that is already publicly held (that is, its stock trades), load it up with debt, take it private, suck money out of it, and then go public again with a company that is much worse off because of its heavy leverage. The economy is worse off and the company is worse off. This goes to the heart of shareholder capitalism and financial engineering. We used to be a nation that produced something; now we are a nation that churns money. And we wonder why we're ailing? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 2, 2012 @ 4:29 p.m.

Read Robin Hood. That something is legal does not mean that it isn't criminal.

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Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2012 @ 7:37 p.m.

Agree, Twister. Scams are not necessarily illegal, thanks to crooked lobbyists and members of Congress. I think the buyouts in which a publicly-traded company is bought, loaded with debt, raped of money by the buyout firm, then taken public again -- this time loaded with debt -- should be illegal. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Feb. 3, 2012 @ 4:52 a.m.

Don, so in other words, you advocate severely limiting property rights?

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Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2012 @ 11:52 a.m.

I don't see how banning certain LBOs would be severely limiting property rights. Some folks would argue that seizing Madoff's property to repay his victims is limiting his property rights. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Feb. 5, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

Madoff committed crimes, People doing LBO's are acting within the law. Suggesting Madoff's property rights would be limited is a false argument. What types of LBO's should be banned and why?

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Ponzi Feb. 2, 2012 @ 12:02 p.m.

I see the middle class disappearing. More 99 cent stores, more payday advance storefronts, more burger joints. The other day I was driving through La Mesa and noticed that the retail space that once was a fine furniture store for years is now a Goodwill store. I had to laugh because it reminded me that the first Porsche I bought was Alan Johnsons near the sports arena. That building is now a Goodwill store. Garcia’s of Scottsdale was torn down and replaced with a Carl’s Jr. A Del Taco replaced the old Victoria Station restaurant in Mission Valley. Everywhere things are being replaced by cheaper offerings because the middle class dollar is vanishing.

A very good book titled “Winner-Take-All Politics” by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson explain a lot of the behind the scenes activity in Washington that has been killing the middle class in the past 30 years. If you look at Nixon’s administration, it was downright liberal compared to Republicans and Democrats today.

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Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2012 @ 1:44 p.m.

Oh yes. The great environmental legislation of the 20th century was passed under Nixon. As to the blooming of fast food outlets: it's logical. Now, married women, even with children, are working. When I was growing up in the 1930s-1950s, few married women worked. It's an economic phenomenon: both husband and wife have to work to keep the family going. So fast food blooms; the mothers don't want to cook every night after a long day of working. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Feb. 3, 2012 @ 8:34 a.m.

While there has been an economic component to the fact of most women being in the labor force, there was one that was at least equally compelling. That was what we quaintly called "women's lib" forty years ago, a cultural sea change, wherein women were demanding access to anything/everything that had been generally off limits. One of those things demanded was equal access to work and careers, and the only way that could happen was if the woman worked out side the home all her adult life. And so it has been, much to the detriment of marriage as an institution, child rearing, neighborhood cohesiveness, and a whole lot of other social features that once were valued. The additional income did not make life better for many families that have two (or more) incomes, just different. But now society is where it is, and there's probably no going back (even if is is seen as a good thing) for most people.

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Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2012 @ 11:54 a.m.

No question that women's lib was another factor in women entering the workforce. Whether the trend hurt marriage and child rearing is still a matter of study and discussion. Best, Don Bauder

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InOmbra Feb. 5, 2012 @ 11:06 a.m.

Don, "women entering the workforce"... It was such a great thing in my family and in my neighborhood when my mom went to work in 1960, when my youngest sib started kindergarten. I personally loved it, from 5th grade on, because I got a blessed hour to myself after school, no mom-boss breathing down my throat. It gave us enough spare money that I could join Girl Scouts and my sibs joined Brownies and Cub Scouts (yeah, those things come with fees). I could afford the school field trips and events, we got to take our first family summer vacation (to Disneyland from Texas in the station wagon on Rte 66) when I was 14, and most of all, my mom was happy for a change. Her status among her church ladies and in the suburban hood went up, as a "working gal," and my dad loved it too. For any family that "mom working" ended up net negative, I'd say there were other unresolved negatives that nothing would help mend.

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InOmbra Feb. 5, 2012 @ 10:54 a.m.

Quaintly women's lib,"much to the detriment of marriage as an institution, child rearing, neighborhood cohesiveness, and a whole lot of other social features that once were valued."

What??? Really, uh, jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. How old are you?

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Visduh Feb. 5, 2012 @ 8:10 p.m.

Old enough, I suppose, to remember a stage of societal development that had plenty of positives that you just don't see today.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 3, 2012 @ 4:59 p.m.

Porsche Dealership of Alan Johnson-I remember that and it goes back a bit. How about the Jeep dealership on the corner of Midway and Rosecrans that is now a CVS or something.

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Visduh Feb. 3, 2012 @ 9:21 p.m.

Wasn't that Jeep dealership an outgrowth of the Buick dealership at that corner? I think it belonged to a family named Peck. Maybe 25-30 years ago, the Peck who owned and operated the place took a flight down in Baja with his kids (weekend visitation after divorce), all five of them and a friend. The weather went bad, and he landed at some military airfield down on the peninsula, and would have been OK if he'd stayed there. But after an hour or two, decided the weather would permit heading down to Cabo. So, he took off into the clouds and slammed into a mountain within minutes, killing himself, his buddy, and his five kids. Someone named Peck kept that car store open for a long time afterward, but it is apparently no longer there.

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2012 @ 7:36 a.m.

I don't remember that story. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2012 @ 7:35 a.m.

My memory is not clicking on this. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 3, 2012 @ 8:53 a.m.

Companies that have had their taxes cut, through CG or other means have been the ones most likely to move their manufacturing overseas.

Sorry, but the majority of our manufacturing jobs, the literal backbone of the country, have been moved overseas or across the border. It is now too late. The game is over. How else can you explain a 5 year depression with no end in sight?

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Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2012 @ 11:58 a.m.

Yes, companies enjoying special tax benefits still move manufacturing overseas in great numbers, harming the country that has cut its taxes. Although Obama is trying to lure companies back, manufacturing in the U.S. has already been slashed, and I agree that it's probably too late to bring many such jobs back. One thing that could do it would be a 90% cut in U.S. wages. I don't think many would like that. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Feb. 4, 2012 @ 4:44 p.m.

In the late 1980s GM took the Buick franchise from Peck due to low sales and transferred it to Marvin K. Brown.

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2012 @ 5:04 p.m.

I don't know how this discussion of auto dealers arose, but I assume your statement is correct, Burwell. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Feb. 5, 2012 @ 8:16 p.m.

This was, as you have pointed out several times, how discursive these comment threads can be.

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Javajoe25 Feb. 5, 2012 @ 10:07 a.m.

Touching on a point raised earlier; the effect of women entering the workforce, I suggest folks take a look at a book by Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts candidate running for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

The book is "The Two-Income Trap: why middle class mothers and fathers are going broke." The book makes several good points, one of which is how home prices went up as soon as women started bringing in a second paycheck. Seems the market moves to keep us all sufficiently in debt.

Incidentally, I think people should keep an eye on Mrs. Warren; I think I see the first female President.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 10:26 a.m.

I agree: Elizabeth Warren is great, and could be the first female president. Economists have looked at the effects (negative and positive) of the two-income family, which evolved because of need. I have not read Warren's book, but I will put it on my list. I find it fascinating that home prices began escalating when women in large numbers began bringing in a second paycheck. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 5, 2012 @ 11:10 a.m.

Some things working against Elizabeth Warren. She would be 67 by the time of the 2016 election, making her the 2nd oldest POTUS, after Reagan. Of course that means a 2020 run would make her 71 and imho, we don't ever elect anyone that old. She's divorced. The only other divorced POTUS was Reagan. She's a Methodist. The only other Methodist in the last 100 yrs was GWB. She is a former Republican. The only other POTUS that I can recall from the last 100 yrs that switched parties and was later elected President was Reagan. And while she has some governmental experience, it's not what I would call significant and to me, being Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel isn't much in the way of a leadership role. Should she win the Mass Senate seat, that would be good for her resume, but is 3 years enough time to gain the visibility and experience needed for a run for POTUS. And yes I know that Obama did the same thing, albeit a stint in the Illinois state senate. But as someone who did vote for him, I have been disappointed thus far and once again find my self in the position of possibly having to vote for the least of 2 evils.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2012 @ 2:09 p.m.

And yes I know that Obama did the same thing, albeit a stint in the Illinois state senate. But as someone who did vote for him, I have been disappointed thus far and once again find my self in the position of possibly having to vote for the least of 2 evils. == Agreed, Obama was the biggest let down there ever was-Arnold a close second.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 5 p.m.

Obama tacked to the center, as most politicians do: appeal to the base, abandon it after being elected. Romney would do that, too. Maybe even Gingrich would. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:14 a.m.

"Agreed, Obama was the biggest let down there ever was-Arnold a close second."

Guess that depends on what you expected to get. Put concisely, I thought Obama was a political neophyte who didn't have much of a chance in terms of being able to stand his ground to pressure or opposition defiance. My choice was Hillary. I thought she had, and still has, bigger balls than Obama and would have had no problem going the full 15 rounds toe to toe to get the job done.Sometimes you just need a shrew to get the job done. I had/have no such hopes for Obama. It's bad when the best remaining choice is really just the lesser of two evils. As for Arnie, as we all know, he got elected because people were pissed off enough by Grey Davis to recall him.We all know the story and it's been bandied about here in the Reader many many times. Petey's deregulation, Enron's manipulation, Grey's procrastination, etc, etc, etc. The fallout is what took Grey Davis down and like most people I voted for Arnie because I was pissed at Davis. And as we later learned, it wasn't quite so simple. I didn't have great expectations for Arnie, but I thought he would at least be better than Davis. Boy was I wrong. He started off ok, but then he started taking money from the very same people he said he wouldn't take from and things went downhill from there. When Arnie vetoed AB849 in 2005 and Ab 4 in 2007, that was pretty much it for me. And from there, well as they say , the rest is history.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 4:57 p.m.

To me, the Republican dilemma this year is Romney OR Gingrich. In the last election, it was McCain AND Palin. But I agree that Obama has been a disappointment. Elizabeth Warren would be a long shot to make the presidency at her age -- no doubt about that. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 9:27 p.m.

Come to think of it, I think Liz (I'm gonna start her campaign by calling her by the diminutive) is too good for the presidency. She just couldn't bring herself down to the level of any of the candidates. She knows what bullshit is when she hears and sees and smells it, but I don't think she's capable of the kind of dissembling required to actually achieve the office.

I would, however, like to see her as a president-in-exile, rising according to the common consent of the governed.

Twister

PS: Seems I posted my "Warren for President" thoughts here some time ago--at least once.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2012 @ 2:07 p.m.

Incidentally, I think people should keep an eye on Mrs. Warren; I think I see the first female President. == As someone who has had a prior experience with Warren (when she was at HLS) I will say this -she is all show and no go.

I tried to use her as an expert witness 6 years ago in one of the most important cases ever litigated on student loans, of which she was a leading authority. She was beyond useless and could care less about where the rubber meets the road.

I would never vote for her. She talks the talk, but she does not walk the walk when the chips are down. That is from the horses mouth.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.

Be careful referring to yourself as the horse's mouth, SurfPup. It gives an opening to some of your enemies. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 7 p.m.

You won't make that mistake again, I trust. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 8:41 a.m.

The only issue I really have with Warren is that when I saw her in an interview on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago, she claimed that she isn't a wealthy individual who owns a lot of stock. She tried to back peddle by having a spokesman say she was referring to not having a big stock portfolio like a lot of members of Congress do. I just have a problem with someone whose own financial disclosure form list her wealth at possibly more than $14 million, and then uses the phrase I'm not wealthy in any way shape or form.

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 11:55 a.m.

Warren has maturity and brains, something George III lacked. But she's too pretty, too sexy to be POTUS, and the pontificating pouters want a potentate and a plurality in a Congress which doesn't. IOTW, ugly in every dimension.

As far as age is concerned, I'd like to rob her out of the cradle.

Again, the old "German" proverb applies: "Vy iss it ve are too soon oldt und too late schmart?"

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2012 @ 2:11 p.m.

As far as age is concerned, I'd like to rob her out of the cradle.

LOL!

BTW she does have a smart daughter who has published book/s with her.

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 3:27 p.m.

You get me Liz; I'll get you the daughter.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 7:01 p.m.

Would Liz be robbing the cradle if you could pull that off? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 9:02 p.m.

Wall, in Jimmy Carter's words, the MIND that she would get might be younger than her physical (or maybe even mental) years, but she would be robbing me outa the cradle of my rockin' chair chronologically.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 6:59 p.m.

And you're young enough for her daughter, SurfPup? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 7 a.m.

Are you then a dirty old man, like me? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 6, 2012 @ 2:31 p.m.

Again, to quote Jimmy Carter, "Waal, I do lust after other wimmen in mah mahind."

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 8:24 a.m.

Oh, come on surfpuppy619. He daughter is in her mid 30's and you're what, about 50? Lots of hotshot lawyers have wives 10-15 years younger. Course there's that pesky old husband to deal with. LOL

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2012 @ 6:58 p.m.

If she can't make POTUS, she would be a great asset on SCOTUS. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2012 @ 8:54 p.m.

The biggest problem with the nominees to the SCOTUS are the radical views of the ones nominated, they are either far to the right or far to the left-ultra extremes- no one who has regular middle of the road views of the Constitution. As a result we have seen our rights chipped away little by little, and of course the Justice's can make any ruling they want by manipulating "precedent" to arrive at their own personal conclusions. Happens from the federal district court to the circuit court of appeals to the SCOTUS. Very few justices call them like they are.

Some of the opinions today are so radical, extreme and out of touch with mainstream reality that I cannot imagine the reaction our founding fathers would have (ie Citizens United, Kelo City New London etc)

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 9:14 p.m.

Precedent is fallacious "reasoning."

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 7:04 a.m.

It always tickles me to see lawyers on both sides pointing to legal precedents to make their case. You can find all kinds of precedents. The important thing is getting to the judge. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 7:03 a.m.

Citizens United and Kelo are two of the worst decisions of all time. In re Citizens United, I think it's not so much that the current court majority is conservative. It is that they are in the pockets of big business. They are bought and paid for. That's not the same as being conservative. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 5, 2012 @ 9:12 p.m.

If I recall correctly, William O. Douglas married a gal of 32 when he was in his eighties. Sounds good to me.

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 7:06 a.m.

Douglas also had dubious relationships with mobbed up Las Vegas entrepreneurs, as I recall. It was many years ago when I came across his Vegas ties, but I can't recall the details now. I'm sure it is discussed on the web. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 8:09 a.m.

Ah, come on, he wasn't quite that bad, Twister. According to Wiki, he was only 66 not in his 80's, but then again she was only 22, not 32. And only 3 yrs earlier, he had married a 23 yr old. Apparently, he had a weakness for women he worked around. His 1st wife was a HS teacher at the same school he was, his 2nd was his research asst and his 3rd was one of his law clerks. He met his 4th the old fashioned was, at a party. But at least he was able to claim the distinction of having the 1st,2nd and 3rd divorce ever but a sitting Chief Justice.

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 11:40 a.m.

At some point I will look up his Vegas/mob connection. I am hazy on the details. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 2:18 p.m.

NOTE: PARVIN FOUNDATION. I checked out the Douglas/mob connections. In a deep financial hole greatly because of settlements with past wives, Douglas became president of the Parvin Foundation, which had been financed by the sale of infamous Flamingo Hotel by casino financier Albert Parvin. It became very controversial. Then-Congressman Gerald Ford tried to have Douglas impeached because of the Parvin connection, his allegedly easy view of pornography, and other sins. But Ford's impeachment attempt gathered no momentum and was dropped. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 6, 2012 @ 2:56 p.m.

To put it in journalism terms, Douglas was a kind of SCOTUS Menken, perhaps in more ways than one. He seemed to be for preventing the underdogs (99-percenters) from being ripped to pieces by the overdogs ("We ARE the one-percent!" said the sign in the Wall Street office windows). He even stood up for other species, even plants--"Who speaks for Nature's voiceless?"

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:09 p.m.

Absolutely. He stood up for the wee folk. According to one tale, FDR liked two candidates for VP in 1944. One was Truman and the other Douglas. So Douglas could have been president. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:51 p.m.

I think that FDR actually preferred Douglas, but the party honchos talked him out of it. And by all acounts, he wanted very much to be POTUS.

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:12 a.m.

The story was that out of a long list of possible VPs, FDR passed a note to someone saying "Truman or Douglas." Supporters of Douglas claimed the note said "Douglas or Truman." But that has proved not to be true, apparently. Truman got the VP slot but FDR cut him out of the loop on information. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 4:41 p.m.

Wasn't this at least the 2nd time someone tried to impeach him. And wasn't Ford's attempt also at least partially politically motivated? Here's a speech Ford gave about the attempted impeachment. I found it pretty interesting:

http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/speeches/700415a.htm

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:11 p.m.

I don't know that there was another attempt to impeach Douglas. Ford's sure flopped. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:28 p.m.

I remember reading about one attempt while in high school. We were learning about the Rosenbergs. It seems that Douglas granted a temporary stay of execution in their case. The AG complained to the Chief Justice and at some point, someone in the House initiated impeachment proceedings that eventually fell apart. I thought there was another one in the 60's that Bob Dole tried to start, but I haven't been able to find anything on it.

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:09 a.m.

In 1953, after Douglas issued a brief stay in the Rosenberg case, Rep. William Wheeler introduced an impeachment resolution, but it was voted down in committee. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 6, 2012 @ 2:27 p.m.

I admit to a foggy memory. Thanks for Wikiing this up.

Bad? I reckon it's in the eye of the beholder. Just what is the deal with age? At what point, after the legal age of maturity (cultures vary widely on this) is a union taboo, and upon which premises doth the prohibitions rest--beyond the shade of the opinionated nose proclaiming thus and that?

What's a poor old man to do when a woman young enough to be his daughter or granddaughter comes on to him? I wuz brung up to be at a lady's service.

Signed, Twisted DOM from San Diego

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m.

Well, upon coming upon these lasses one-third his age, Douglas certainly didn't stiffen his resolve. Whether he was able to stiffen something else is a matter of conjecture. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:32 p.m.

Didn't Douglas have a stroke not too long after he married his last wife. I know that the last year or two he was on the bench he was in a wheel chair, some maybe he didn't have the capacity.

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:15 a.m.

Yes, he had a very serious stroke while vacationing in the Bahamas, but insisted on staying on the court in a wheelchair. However, the next year -- I believe it was 1975 -- his colleagues talked him into retiring after the longest stay on the court in history. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 7, 2012 @ 2:57 a.m.

I hear auditions are open for Leno's job.

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:16 a.m.

Are you applying, Twister? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 7, 2012 @ 1:05 a.m.

William O. Douglas was a very fine justice on the SCOTUS. He had many very good opinions, and I think he stands up there with the best of them.

I once interviewed famed lawyer Gerry Spence and when I asked him who he admired and was his favorite justice to sit on the SCOTUS he said it was Douglas. I would go with Earl Warren by a country mile.

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:17 a.m.

I think there is widespread agreement that Douglas was a very good SCOTUS justice. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 7, 2012 @ 8:53 a.m.

surfpuppy619, agree on Warren. Some of this country's most important rulings accured in his court. I'll admit to my ignorance of Reynolds v. Sims. I knew of the principles of the case, just not that it was during the Warren court. But Miranda v. Arizona, Brown v. Board of Education, and Gideon v. Wainwright may be 3 of the most important and influental, or perhaps more accurately, effectual, rulings that will occur in my life time. Without the right to an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination before questioning, without desegregation and integration, which led to the civil rights movement and without the requirement to be provided counsel even if you can't afford it, the landscape of our country would be vastly different, I believe. My only disappointment with Warren was of course the Warren Commission report. I realize that he didn't want to be a part of it, but I have always felt that the need he felt for the the commission to be unified in their findings and the compromises he made to get that unity weakened the report and cast doubt on the legitimacy of not just the findings but those participating. Then of course in 1978, The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that on the basis of the evidence available to it, there 2 gunmen fired at Kennedy and he was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. And then the took the Warren Commission to task Warren Commission for failing to adequately investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2012 @ 3:57 p.m.

Yes, the Warren Report was pretty weak. Was it a coverup? Maybe we will never know. Best, Don Bauder

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