“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, December 11, 2009

Harry Reid's Twisted Logic

Perhaps this week the nation has seen why Harry Reid will probably be leaving the Senate next year after an electoral defeat.

That's right. Democratic Senate majority leader equates speaking out against his health care bill with having been for slavery.

Never mind that Reid, nor his ally, Baucus, steadfastly stiff-armed Republican ideas and amendments to their bills.

Nor that many voters simply want more reasonable, reasoned, considered reform that is genuinely bipartisan.

No, to simpleton Harry Reid, if you are not backing his style of health care reform, then you're no better than someone who backed slavery.

So much for free speech and debate in America. Try that, and a Democratic Senator will accuse you of supporting slavery.

No wonder he's trailing both GOP candidates for his seat in next year's election.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Regarding Carly Fiorina & Lucent: Another Vintage Article

My prior post on this topic already attracted two comments.

"As a former HP person who worked mostly with AT&T and Lucent around the time of Carly's hiring by HP, I have heard a lot about this from many former Bell System people.

First of all, at the time I was told that Carly was quite likely about to be fired by Lucent. I was also told by numerous people - some of whom worked very closely with Carly - that she was "cooking the books" and had been caught."

"I really wish there was more solid evidence of Carly's knowledge and involvement in this scandal."

Searching on Nina Aversano, the key whistleblower in the case, I located this Fortune article from the period. The piece, by respected writer Carol Loomis, dates from a few years after the scandal- 2003, to be exact.

In it, she wrote,

"It is now 2 1/2 years later, and no one has donned stripes or even been indicted. Until the Aversano-Plunkett news came along, no one had even seemed about to be nailed by the SEC, which, though it cannot bring criminal charges against wrongdoers, can make their lives miserable with civil sanctions, such as forever barring them from big jobs in public companies. Even the matter of Aversano the Whistleblower has vaporized, culminating early this year in a settlement with deeply secret terms.

Meanwhile, Lucent's stock has been destroyed. From the peak of $258 billion, hit in December 1999, the company's market value has calamitously gone to $15.6 billion. (Included in that figure is $6.8 billion of current value for two companies that Lucent recently spun off, Avaya and Agere Systems.) And to people like Lucent's erstwhile chairman, Henry Schacht, that anemic $15.6 billion figure, reflecting a $2.13 share price for Lucent, looks almost thrilling: The company's shares got down to roughly a quarter of that in 2002."

In effect, Loomis notes that nobody really was ever held accountable for the fraud. Further, Lucent as much as admitted guilt by settling with Aversano, but on terms so strict that nobody's ever going to hear from her exactly what happened. Nor, one suspects, ever see the evidence, probably in the form of emails and memos, which Aversano held over Lucent's head.

One can muse about the potential for her to escape the terms, now that Lucent disappeared into Alcatel. But I wouldn't hold my breath, were I pursuing the truth behind this story.

For the purposes of this and the prior linked post, the question of Carly Fiorina's involvement in the scandal, these paragraphs in Loomis' article are germane,

"Chronologically, except for skullduggery not yet uncovered, the first move was Aversano's. Now 58, Aversano was a longtime Bell employee whom McGinn in May 2000 had made president of North American sales to the "service provider" companies--including the regional Bells and their many upstart competitors. In that important job, in this company that has been way above average in putting women into high-ranking spots, Aversano reported to executive vice president Patricia Russo.

Aversano, says a former Lucent financial executive, was a hard-charger who reminded him of still another woman, Carly Fiorina, who'd left Lucent in 1999 to become CEO of Hewlett-Packard. After Aversano was promoted, she oversaw about 3,000 people bringing in 25% of Lucent's revenues. Counting 100,000 options given her in early 2000, Lucent figured her pay for the year, so Aversano testified, at a handsome $4.5 million."

Loomis' timeline is what makes the second reader's comment remain true. Because Fiorina was technically out of Lucent and safely at HP when this story actually broke, it's always been assumed, I guess, that she was innocent.

Yet, from comments I've heard from a person who was on the scene before Carly beat it out of Dodge, so to speak, I believe that the entire sales mis-statement game was already underway before Aversano was promoted. The other reader's comments suggest similar sentiments from other Lucent employees at the time of the events.

But it's precisely because Fiorina was gone by 2000, and so much attention was paid to the Aversano-McGinn fracas, and the subsequent settlement sealed records, that any compelling evidence of her involvement would have to be unearthed as a result of concerted efforts.

Since this is about politics, what I'm saying is that any of Fiorina's rivals for the California Senate seat would probably have to do their own digging. They'd need to interview former Lucent employees to learn who was doing what, when, and then go find them to ascertain, independently, if there were any reason to implicate Fiorina in the earliest stages of the sales forecasting and reporting scandal.

Given the timeframe of this story being a decade ago, it's unlikely that more of the truth will ever be revealed, unless it happens during this Senate campaign. Absent that, it will probably recede into the past, forever undisturbed again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mindless Desire For Any Health Care Bill

I was watching Bill O'Reilly's program on Monday evening when I saw something that horrified me.

He had been a guest on ABC's Good Morning America program. A woman named Robin Roberts interviewed him, using an exercise in which she asked O'Reilly to grade Wonderboy's performance on various dimensions.

When she asked him about health care, and Bill understandably and correctly gave a "D," Roberts reacted in shock. Here's the video of what happens next.

O'Reilly kept focusing on the bill's incomprehensibility, length, and lack of clarity. He even asked Roberts if she understood it.

That didn't deter the hostess from continuing to simply declare, in knee-jerk liberal fashion, that getting a health care bill would be an historic accomplishment.

The woman is so stupid that she couldn't understand that what you pass is more important that passing anything under a particular name.

It evidently was beyond her feeble mental ability to understand that simply calling something a health care reform bill doesn't mean it's any good for America.

This is one of the best examples of liberal media bias and infatuation with Wonderboy that you're ever likely to see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carly Fiorina's Checkered Corporate Past

While I don't live in California, I've observed, with interest, Carly Fiorina's campaign to win the GOP nomination for the Senate seat being elected next November.

Before Fiorina can take on the vulnerable Democrat, Barbara Boxer, she has to defeat a couple of competing Republicans.

With such a ferocious primary, and, no doubt, general election underway, I'm surprised there hasn't been more mention by Fiorina's competitors of her corporate background.

Specifically, her proximity to a sales forecasting scandal at Lucent, and, of course, he mismanagement of HP while serving as CEO.

The HP situation is the more well-known. Fiorina was viewed as having bungled the Compaq acquisition, and done some damage with her reorganizations of the firm and heavy-handed approach at the legendary but weakly-performing technology icon.

Back in the late 1990s, after Lucent's spinoff from ATT, this scandal erupted regarding overly-ambitious sales forecasts. Nina Aversano became a whistle-blower and subsequently embroiled in a lawsuit with Lucent for breach of contract.

Guess who was head of the sales force at the time? Carly Fiorina.

I've always marveled at how Fiorina escaped being touched by the scandal which became rather sensational. I recently spoke with an old ATT colleague who was aware of the situation, and my suspicions were echoed. Mind you, I do not have proof that Fiorina was involved. But what I've learned is sufficient to convince me, personally, that she probably was, or, as head of sales, certainly aware.

Thus, it's hard for me to believe that some political opponent wouldn't be pursuing their own sources to unearth the truth about that two decade-old accounting scandal.

It may seem forgettable now, but, at the time, the newly-launched Lucent was depending upon information such as sales forecasts to drive its ever-increasing share price. A price which unexpectedly plummeted soon thereafter.

Perhaps memories of such distant corporate scandals have so faded that nobody will bother. But, to me, between that incident and Fiorina's HP experience, I would have a hard time understanding why I was voting for her for a Senate seat.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Max Baucus' Brand of Ethics

Have you heard the latest news concerning the ethics of Senate Democrats?

Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the driving force behind the Senate's health care bill, hid his romantic relationship with a woman whom he nominated for US attorney in Montana last year.

Baucus, who was separated, but not divorced, had taken up with Melodee Hanes. He subsequently urged her appointment as a US attorney in his home state, without, of course, making clear his personal interest in the matter.

As is now typical with these things, Baucus' office came clean over the weekend, the better to hide the ethical lapse amidst holiday-related stories.

What do these Senators, of either party, think it looks like when they play such obvious favorites in handing out politically plum jobs? Have they so totally lost perspective that they simply believe they can reward friends, donors and lovers with government jobs?

Evidently Max Baucus thinks so.

Do you want a health care bill designed by someone so ethically challenged? Would you now believe anything this guy says about anything, when he hid his behavior in the Melodee Hanes matter for so long?