the CAMP ENRON Report


CAMP ENRON:
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?

Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew's been smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.


For a brief orientation, see this
Welcome to Camp Enron

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Camp Enron Archives
01/01/2002 - 02/01/2002 02/01/2002 - 03/01/2002 03/01/2002 - 04/01/2002 04/01/2002 - 05/01/2002 05/01/2002 - 06/01/2002 06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002 07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002 08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003

NOTE to READERS:
(2) All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


OUR DEPARTMENTS:

the COGENT PROVOCATEUR:
free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading the tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.


For brief orientation, see this
Welcome to CP


CAMP ENRON:
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?

For a brief orientation, see this
Welcome to Camp Enron

OTHER GOOD STUFF:
Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Monday, February 11, 2002

 
--- Mom to Skilling: Get a Clue! ---


Skilling's Mom doesn't buy his story
:
"When you are the CEO and you are on the board of directors, you are supposed to know what’s going on with the rest of the company,” Betty Skilling, 77, told NEWSWEEK in an interview before the hearing. “You can’t get off the hook with me there ... He’s going to have to beat this the best way he can.”
Worth magazine publishes an annual list of the "50 Best CEOs".

In their scheme, "Best" has a lot to do with "the vision thing". I've been thumbing through these ranks of visionary corporate leaders (Jeff Skilling, #2 in 2001 ... Ken Lay, #36 in 2000), and finding a lot of visionary losers. At least they never bit on GX.

One sign of the times (today's NY Times) -- "flamboyant leader", i.e., Worth CEO W. Randall Jones, "struggles to keep his publication alive".

I recall this little gem from games-maven/poet/philosopher Danny Kleinman:

"Concept precedes,
Temperament conquers Technique.
Vision laughs at Counting"
Well, yeah. But good vision tells ya when to start counting.

Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling's congressional testimony last week drew mixed reviews. Some thought he played his overeager interrogators like a Stradivarius. Others thought he put himself in direct jeopardy of a perjury conviction. By my scorecard, he:
(1) lost points in the court of public opinion,
(2) failed to win even grudging adversarial respect from prosecutors,
(3) failed to gain bargaining power as the "indispensable witness" against other defendants,
(4) failed to reach the threshold level of telegenic sizzle we demand of our career celebrity villains, and
(5) screwed himself royally in the probitive legal department.

But perjury? Prosecutors won't have to fall back on anything as lame as the last-resort, sour-grapes reprisal tactic of a perjury indictment.

Skilling opened by telling us he was "devastated" and "apologetic". He closed by telling us he wouldn't change a thing. To FORTUNE magazine's Andy Serwer, Skilling has a "Nixon problem" -- either he was in it up to his eyeballs, or he was a total nincompoop ... and nobody thinks he was a nincompoop.

I think it's worse, and more transparent, on an angle I have not seen picked up anywhere else.

Skilling asserts the company was in "strong financial position" when he left in mid-August. Not only was he uninvolved, he had no knowledge of any financial sleight of hand, or corrupt conflict of interest, or sham transaction, or circumvented financial control, or make-believe SPV with make-believe revenues, or fraudulent statement to investors. He was in the dark ... in one instance, quite literally. So far so good for Skilling -- assuming this claim stands up against the inevitable drip, drip, drip of documentary evidence and testimony.

Skilling then asserts the company was brought down by outsiders -- the predations of creditors, and lawyers, and a liquidity crisis -- a "run on the bank". OK, plausibly consistent. He might reasonably have believed that on 2001-12-02, assuming he was in the dark when he left on 2002-08-14.

Skilling further asserts the company is still viable, but misunderstood. Uh-oh. Who left that in the script? That's a problem, because now he is aware of several chapters of the financial cookbook, and those disclosures don't change his opinion of ENE's financial condition. This makes no sense. Will he claim the affected transactions weren't material? That won't fly. Will he claim they were legitimate? That won't fly either, and it would obviate his reason to claim ignorance in the first place.

Maybe I'm missing a subtle turn of strategy ... is this performance the preface to an insanity plea?

Call it the "Enron Valdez Defense" -- "I wasn't on the bridge ... wasn't even on deck ... I was in my cabin ... must have dozed off ... heard shouting ... woke up with such a headache ... they should have known better than to hire a guy like me ... but the ship never ran around ... people are just saying that to make us look bad".

I figure Skilling is going down hard unless ... unless ... no ... no reason to go there. The bill of particulars on Skilling is yet to be written, but doors are closing behind him ... week by week he'll find himself with more rope and less wiggle room ... and the prosecution has all the time in the world.