Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Use at will - I did that

Mitt Romney, Vulture Capitalist. That's the way Texas Governor Rick Perry characterized Romney when Perry and the GOP's ultra conservatives thought he had a chance to snatch the nomination away from Romney.

Not that Capitalism isn't vulturistic in and of itself, but Mitt Romney has conducted his career in business in a particularly disgusting way.

The jobs Romney destroyed and the lives he's ruined as he piled up his ill gotten fortune are being tallied up, especially by the Boston Globe, where their Business and News sections have teamed up to do some stories about his vulture capitalist past, and in Rolling Stone, where rapidly rising star reporter Matt Taibbi has been taking Romney apart limb by limb. (If you're in a hurry, Business Insider sums up Taibbi's points nicely and concisely.)

The Obama campaign has also been getting the word out about Romney's predatory business practices, and don't expect the President to let up until he's won the election. As I've said before, Obama can give as good as he gets.

What's been coming out is that Romney bought companies using junk bonds, which are essentially high interest loans -- it's like buying a company with a credit card -- then he would transfer the massive debt to the company's books and make them pay him back. He then sold the company, leaving it saddled with debt, and in various ways, such as with management fees, and by forcing management to layoff workers, he sucked as much money out of the company as he could.

Some companies survived this trial by fire. They became leaner and more profitable. When that happened, Romney sold the company for a huge profit.

Sometimes the companies went bankrupt. You may have heard the stories about the steel mills in Kansas and South Carolina where workers lost their livelihoods, their pensions, everything.

In most of those cases, when the bankruptcy came, Romney had already sold out. In at least one of those instances, Stage Stores, shareholders filed a lawsuit saying Romney had lied about the company's profitability in order to inflate the share price before he sold his shares. The suit was later dropped for reasons I don't know.

Stage Stores has retail clothing stores throughout the West and does business here in New Mexico as Bealls. Romney put the company together, using junk bonds, by buying two large Houston department stores, the original Stage Stores, then two retail chains, Bealls and Palais Royale, combining them all to make one big company.

The Stage Stores deal (his $10 million investment netted him $175 million) was Romney's first really big deal. Romney had begun Bain Capital doing small, conservative, i.e. safe, venture capital deals. He found investors who put up money to help someone with a good idea get started in business.

But Romney changed suddenly in the 1980s when he met the Junk Bond King, Michael Milken. Milken, as you recall, was the superstar financier of the early Reagan years, who, when he and Romney met, was already under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud. Milken eventually went to prison for insider trading. What Milken did that was illegal, for the most part, was to do things to artificially inflate the price of a stock, then sell it.

Just like in the Stage Stores lawsuit brought against Mitt Romney a few years later.


Apology to Paul Ryan.

I've been disrespectful to Paul Ryan, the representative from Wisconsin who Mitt Romney selected as his running mate

I've been using a picture of Eddie Munster, the child star of the 1960s comedy TV program The Munsters, and labeling it Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Paul Ryan (R-WI)

I apologize to Mr Ryan and from now on will use his actual picture, starting with the one posted below.

Paul Ryan (R-WI)

 Anyone who thinks this is a picture of TV star Kristen Stewart needs to take a vacation. You owe me an apology. You owe Kristen Stewart an apology.

Electoral Vote Update

I've already predicted that Barak Obama win easily win re-election. He's a very smart guy and has no intention of losing, and he won't. Recall how the young, smart whiz kids Bill Clinton and Al Gore beat George HW Bush about the head and shoulders on their way to unseating him. Like Romney, Bush stood for nothing but his own ambition and adopted the positions he did only to get support from the conservative Republican base. Romney's a sitting duck for someone like Barak Obama.

As far as the national polling, which means nearly nothing, it's about even. Gallup has Obama one point ahead and reported today that Mitt Romney did not even get the traditional "bounce" in his poll numbers after the Republican National Convention.

In the important, state by state polls, which will determine the electoral vote count, Obama has maintained a comfortable lead since I last reported on this on August 19. CNN still has Obama at 237 electoral votes but has downgraded Romney from 206 to 191. (270 are needed to win, so the rest, in this poll 110, are still in play.) Larry Sabato has Obama leading 237 to 206, with 95 toss-ups. In this tabulation Obama slipped 10 while Romney stayed the same. Political Wire has it 332-206, with Obama ahead, whereas on the 19th they had it 284-241, so a big gain for Obama there at Romney's expense. Nate Silver at the NYT has it 308.2 to 229.8, a gain of 9.2 for Obama and a loss of 9.2 for Romney since Aug 27.


Some might think that by predicting an Obama victory I will jinx him. We should be so lucky.

Think Afghanistan. Think Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Think drones and the cold blooded murder of civilians. Think presidentially ordered assassinations. Think internment by the military forever, without charge. Think internet censorship. Think the environment, oil drilling, pipelines. Think degraded air quality standards. Think the US-backed coup in Honduras under Obama and the never ending war against any country where they try to make things better for the masses, as Chavez is trying to do in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba and Morales in Bolivia and as Lugo tried to do in Uruguay until the coup this summer organized by the Obama government put an end to that.

Think not one prosecution of any member of the Bush crime family, for all the torture, the renditions, the lies about weapons of mass destruction, the no bid multi million dollar contracts for people close to the administration, the murders by contractors, by the CIA, the murders in cold blood of civilians by US soldiers, caught on tape and exposed by Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

Think whistleblowers. Think twice as many whistle-blowers prosecuted under the Espionage Act than by all other presidents combined. Think about what that means for a free press, an open government, a free, open society.

Think not one prosecution of the bankers and Wall Street billionaires who have robbed this country blind, who continue their fraud and deceit, and their theft from you and I, even as you read this. Not one prosecution. Not a single one.



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