ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The ads shatter the candidate’s fundamental rationalethat with his business experience in
creating jobs, he’s Mr. Fix-It for the economy. It’s a thin rationale, but voters might have believed
it. Now disbelief will deepen as the Obama campaign rolls out a dishonor roll of Bain’s depredations.
Bain Is just Chapter One in the Book of Romney
By Robert Shrum
Republicans are desperate to declare Obama’s attacks on Mitt’s business background off-limits.
But in the life of Romney, vulture capitalism is an inescapable theme
21 May 2012
The real Mitt Romney is finally running for presidentbut not in his own first television spot, a superficial checklist of issues which provides no insight into who he is or what makes him tick. It’s the Obama commercial on Bain and the destruction of GST Steel that starkly reveals the real Romney as a vulture capitalist. And this is just the beginning of what we will hear about Bain, and of a narrative arc that will position Romney as the candidate of the few, by the few, and for the few.
The Obama ad is so powerful because, like the Ted Kennedy ads in Romney’s losing 1994 Senate race, the story is told not by a smoothly modulated professional narrator, but by working people whose jobs and lives were shredded so Mitt and his men could amass their millions. One of the workers voted for John McCain in 2008 and for George W. Bush before that. Now these authentic blue-collar voices, these Reagan Democrats, are talking directly to swing votersto folks who could be brothers or sisters, friends or cousinsin the battleground industrial states. It’s a different kind of political mediagritty, unslick, and therefore quite convincing.
My then-partner Tad Devine and I conceived and produced the Kennedy spots in 1994. They hit the Massachusetts airwaves with devastating force. In that landmark Republican year, Romney had a slight lead in September, but he swiftly fell in the polls and then melted down in a televised debate that outdrew the statewide audience for most Super Bowls. On Election Day, the boy from Bain lost in a landslideby 18 points.
It was fascinating to watch how Romney responded as his campaign unravelled. In fact, he mostly didn’t. He seemed paralyzeda guilty guy caught in the act. In a token push-back, his spokesman alleged that we had “put words in people’s mouths.” The Boston Globe checked and slapped down the story. The workers were spontaneous and unscripted. No political consultant could ghostwrite the rebuke of a packer laid off after 29 years, who looked into the camera and addressed Romney directly: “If you think you’d make such a good senator, come out here to Marion, Indiana, and see what your company has done to these people.”
The workers boarded a bus for Massachusetts and demanded a meeting with Romney. For days, he refusedwhich kept the episode in the headlines. When he finally sat down with them, he coldly said he’d consider their comments.
He wasn’t ready then, but that was 18 years agoand he had to know this was coming at him again in 2012. Newt Gingrich stumbled onto the issue in South Carolina, where Romney was routed. But it was never going to be as devastating in Republican primaries as in the contest with Barack Obama. And the presumptive GOP nominee once again appears unready or unwilling to answer beyond offering up ritualistic bromides about “free enterprise”.
This is the false banner under which he campaignsthe claim that he is a job-creating businessman. The total has oscillated from 10,000 jobs to 100,000, to maybe not exactly that. But the abstract number, unsubstantiated and as soulless as Mitt himself often seems, is no match for a steel worker named Jack Cobb, discarded in Romney’s profiteering deal, but sad and defiant now: “To get up on national TV and brag about making jobs he has destroyed thousands of people’s careers, lifetimes, just destroying people.”
The ads shatter the candidate’s fundamental rationalethat with his business experience in creating jobs, he’s Mr. Fix-It for the economy. It’s a thin rationale, but voters might have believed it. Now disbelief will deepen as the Obama campaign rolls out a dishonor roll of Bain’s depredations. The campaign already has a website that state by statejust coincidentally the battleground states, of coursepinpoints other companies exploited and extinguished by Bain.
I suspect that Romney will eventually have to abandon his strategy of treating the election as a referendum and not a choiceand attempt to defend his business record in paid media. The 1994 outcome suggests that any other course is a road to defeat.
I doubt he will make an ad repeating his disingenuous and dangerous claim that Obama also cut jobs while saving the auto industry. It’s disingenuous because the president saved GM and Chryslerand Romney frequently did precisely the opposite to other companies. It’s dangerous because if he hopes to compete at all in Michigan and Ohio, he shouldn’t mention the auto bailout outside a confessional. His approach would have doomed the industry.
More likely, Romney will trot out workerssay, from Staplesto highlight jobs he claims to have created. The problem here is that during his tenure, Bain had two businesses. One was venture capital investing in start-ups. The other, which Romney drove, consisted of buying out a firm, hollowing it out, loading it up with debt, cutting wagesand making millions before the firm went belly-up. The one endeavor doesn’t redeem the other: What’s at issue here is not an accounting question, some mere matter of addition and subtraction, but the crass calculation of pillaging jobs and oppressing workers as a conscious business plan while occasionally grabbing a government bailout along the way.
Moreover, the response irresistibly invites a challenge: Romney should release the records of all Bain transactions from which he profited. He probably can’t afford to because the picture could be pretty grim. Presumably, he’s about as likely to risk this kind of full disclosure as he is to release tax returns for years when he may have paid little or no taxes.
There’s a (literally) rich vein to mine in Romney’s record at Bain. But it’s just the beginning of the narrative arc because the Obama campaign will move from the vulture capitalism of his private endeavors to his failures as a public official and the unfairness of his far-right agenda. Thus the financial manipulator who decimated jobs in the private sector was a governor whose policies left his state 47th in job creation.
The takeover artist who slashed health benefits for workers would end Medicare as we know it, subject seniors to the harsh mercies of insurance companies, and raise their costs by approximately $6,500 a year. The mega-millionaire with his offshore bank accounts would slash taxes for the very wealthy, and everything from education to food safety for the middle class.
The rapacious Romney, who in business took a government bailout and then would have let the auto industry collapse, now rails against bailouts and calls for rolling back financial regulation for the Wall Street firms that benefited from them.
The list goes on. The narrative is compelling. We haven’t heard the end of Bain and we won’t until the end of the campaign despite the inexplicable comments of Newark’s “Democratic” Mayor Cory Booker, who must be spending too much time cozying up to Republican Gov. (and potential running mate) Chris Christie. On Meet the Press, Booker equated the race-baiting, anti-Obama ads about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that were recently proposed to billionaire clown Joe Ricketts with Obama’s Bain attack: “It’s nauseating.”
Well, Ricketts and his now-renounced smear job certainly was nauseating. But with Romney, what’s nauseating is what happened at his hands to ordinary hardworking Americans thrown out of work so he could rake in the bucks. And what’s worrying is Romney’s austerity agenda that would drive the U.S. into a double-dip recession, which is what such policies have already done to Great Britain.
Within hours, Booker retracted his comments and conceded the point: It is Romney who has made his business experience the centerpiece of his campaign. Bain is the spine that holds the whole Book of Romney together. As one of the workers in that Obama commercial put it, “If he’s going to run the country like the way he ran our business, I wouldn’t want him there. He would be so out of touch How could [he] care?”
Robert Shrum was a senior adviser on Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and chief strategist for John Kerry’s 2004 campaign. He has advised 30 winning U.S. Senate campaigns and eight winning campaigns for governor. Follow him on Twitter: @BobShrum.
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Don’t Be Fooled. Cory Booker, Barack Obama & the Whole Black Political Class Love Bain CapitalBruce A. Dixon22 May 2012Barack Obama, Cory Booker and the entire black political class have a problem. They must deliver the votes of their people to the campaign contributors who make their careers possible. Their voters oppose unjust wars, privatizations of public assets and services, and corporate bailouts. Once safely in office, these are exactly the measures Obama, Booker and their colleagues enact. But right now Barack Obama and other Democrats need to be re-elected, and to be re-elected they must pose at least as half-hearted opponents of the bloodsucking model of parasitic venture capital practiced by Bain Capital, J.P. Morgan and other players.
It’s not an easy act to sell, and sometimes Obama and his surrogates are caught in their own tangled webs. Romney’s Bain Capital, like other vampire capital firms like it don’t just have relations with Democrats as well as Republicans. They have deep institutional and personal ties with leading members of the nation’s black political class.
Bain’s business models, along with reams of their business advice in the forms of pro bono transition and turnaround reports recommending the mass firings of public workers, especially teachers, and the wholesale privatization of local water, government payrolls, parking meters, garbage pickup, parks and recreation departments, and everything that can or cannot be nailed down have been common staples on the desks of incoming black mayors in Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbia SC, Atlanta and other cities.
When former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin swept into office in 2005 her pro-bono transition report was the Bain Report put together by Mitt Romney’s colleagues intent on turning government services into lucrative business opportunities and pocketing the money saved by firing workers, reducing their benefits and eliminating their pensions while jacking user fees for the public to the maximum sustainable levels. Fortunately for Atlanta, the water privatization deal already done by her predecessor unraveled in spectacular fashion just as Franklin was entering office, creating a less favorable atmosphere for other immediate privatizations. Out of office, Franklin is a lobbyist and consultant to firms specializing in the privatization of education and government services of all kinds.blackagendareport
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Romneys Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseasTom Hamburger21 June 2012Mitt Romneys financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India. During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. . . . Just as Romney was ending his tenure at Bain, it reached the culmination of negotiations with Hyundai Electronics Industry of South Korea for the $550 million purchase of its U.S. subsidiary, Chippac, which manufactured, tested and packaged computer chips in Asia. The deal was announced a month after Romney left Bain. Reports filed with the SEC in late 1999 showed that Chippac had plants in South Korea and China and was responsible for marketing and supplying the companys Asian-made computer chips. An overwhelming majority of Chippacs customers were U.S. firms, including Intel, IBM and Lucent Technologies.
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Where the Money LivesNicholas ShaxsonAugust 2012 Bain Capital is the heart of Romneys fortune: it was the financial engine that created it. The mantra of his campaign is that he was a businessman who created tens of thousands of jobs, and Bain certainly did bring useful operational skills to many companies it bought. But his critics point to several cases where Bain bought companies, loaded them with debt, and paid itself extravagant fees, thereby bankrupting the companies and destroying tens of thousands of jobs.
Come August, Romney, with an estimated net worth as high as $250 million (he wont reveal the exact amount), will be one of the richest people ever to be nominated for president. Given his reticence to discuss his wealth, its only natural to wonder how he got it, how he invests it, and if he pays all his taxes on it.
Ironically, it was Mitts father, George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns, in November 1967, just ahead of his presidential campaign, thereby setting a precedent that nearly every presidential candidate since has either willingly or unwillingly been subject to. George, then the governor of Michigan, explained why he was releasing so many years worth, saying, One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.
But his son declined to release any returns through one unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate, in 1994, one successful run for Massachusetts governor, in 2002, and an aborted bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination, in 2008. Just before the Iowa caucus last December, Mitt told MSNBC, I dont intend to release the tax returns. I dont, but finally, on January 24, 2012after intense goading by fellow Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perryhe released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011.
These, plus the mandatory financial disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics and released last August, raise many questions. A full 55 pages in his 2010 return are devoted to reporting his transactions with foreign entities. What Romney does not get, says Jack Blum, a veteran Washington lawyer and offshore expert, is that this stuff is weird.
The media soon noticed Romneys familiarity with foreign tax havens. A $3 million Swiss bank account appeared in the 2010 returns, then winked out of existence in 2011 after the trustee closed it, as if to remind us of George Romneys warning that one or two tax returns can provide a misleading picture. Ed Kleinbard, a professor of tax law at the University of Southern California, says the Swiss account has political but not tax-policy resonance, since itlike many other Romney investmentsconstituted a bet against the U.S. dollar, an odd thing for a presidential candidate to do. The Obama campaign provided a helpful world map pointing to the tax havens Bermuda, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands, where Romney and his family have assets, each with the tagline Value: not disclosed in tax returns.
Romneys personal tax rate is a particular point of interest. In 2010 and 2011, Mitt and Ann paid $6.2 million in federal tax on $42.5 million in income, for an average tax rate just shy of 15 percent, substantially less than what most middle-income Americans pay. Romney manages this low rate because he takes his payments from Bain Capital as investment income, which is taxed at a maximum 15 percent, instead of the 35 percent he would pay on ordinary income, such as salaries and wages. Many tax experts argue that the form of remuneration he receives, known as carried interest, is really just a fee charged by investment managers, so it should instead be taxed at the 35 percent rate.
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George Will, Matthew Dowd Blast Romney for Not Releasing Tax Returns15 July 2012ABC News George Will slammed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for failing to fully release information on his tax returns and offshore accounts, saying Romney must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them. ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd agreed, saying theres obviously something there in Romneys returns that he doesnt want public. If somethings going to come out, get it out in a hurry, Will said this morning on the This Week roundtable. I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that [John] McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didnt get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest. Hes done nothing illegal, nothing unseemly, nothing improper, but lots thats impolitic, Will added.
And hes now in the politics business. Will said Romney is losing [the argument] at this point in a big way in the debate over his tax returns, which the Obama campaign has hammered on in the past week. The cost of not releasing the returns are clear, Will said. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them. Romney released his 2010 tax returns earlier this year during the Republican primaries, and has said he plans to release his 2011 returns later this year, after filing for an extension. But Romney has never publicly released past years of tax returns, either during his 2008 presidential run, while he was governor of Massachusetts, or during his 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. Romney did, however, reportedly provide 23 years of his tax returns to the McCain campaign when they considered him for vice president in 2008.
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The Media and BainArmando15 July 2012Despite concerted attempts by the Media and its “factcheckers” to dismiss the Bain story, Mitt Romney has blown it so badly that it is now the Media issue of the campaign. While Romney is clearly suffering badly under the Obama onslaught on Bain (mostly I submit, due to his own political incompetencehow in blazes does he expect to distance himself from Bainthe company he founded, owned and ran for 25 years? The very company that is basically his “economic” credential? Incredible political incompetence), so too are the “factcheckers”, who have become subjects of ridicule and lampooning at this point.
The tipping point was the Boston Globe story on Bain’s SEC’s filings from 1999 to 2002, which listed Romney as the CEO, Chairman of the Board and sole stockholder of the company while earning at minimum, $100,000 a year for serving as Bain CEO. Since then other articles and information have come out that pretty much point to Romney having a continuing involvement with Bain during that period. Let me say that that is as it should be given Romney’s retention of the titles mentioned above.
If he wasn’t involved, one would have to question Romney’s basic competence. But for whatever reason, Romney has chosen to lie about his role in Bain from the 1999 to 2002 period, making the story much bigger than it would have beenit now becomes about Romney’s character as well as his policies (See Krugman for why discussion of Bain by the Obama campaign makes sense in the larger political narrative regarding the GOP-Romney policy of taking from the poor and the middle class to give more to the rich.)
A somewhat surprising casualty of the Bain story is the “factcheckers”, who look like complete fools (or worse.) In particular, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, who has been bombarded with ridicule for his assertion that the Bain SEC filings describing Romney as CEO, Chairman of the Board and sole stockholder as not being relevant to whether Romney was involved with Bain. It’s gotten so bad that Kessler wrote a personal defense of his writings on the subject. . . .
Beyond being a perverse way to think about the issue, it also misses this very important pointas long as Romney remained the CEO, Chairman of the Board and sole stockholder of Bain, it was within his power to dictate what deals and actions Bain did or did not do. Being charitable, let’s assume that Romney did not formulate any policies or actions for Bain during that 3 year period. This does not mean he could not have. He clearly had the legal power to act. If he chose not to, then that is an act of control. Romney “controlled” Bain as we understand the term legally and as a matter of common sense. . . .
Kessler wrote “The years 1999-2002 are a gray period in Romneys life.” Perhaps in some ways, but not regarding the fact that Romney had the power at Bain during that period. It seems clear that Kessler consulted experts to support HIS OPINION, not to actually discover the facts: I consulted with securities law experts who have many years of experience with these particular SEC filings. One expert pointed out that the titles are basically meaningless, that someone can be listed as a chief executive and have no responsibilities whatsoever.
This is nonsense. If someone is listed as CEO and has “no responsibilities whatsoever,” then THAT FACT needs to be disclosed. It is a material issue and listing someone as CEO who has “no responsibilities whatsoever” without explaining this reality is a false and misleading statement that violates the securities laws.
Beyond that, a CEO serves at the pleasure of a Board of Directors (Romney was Chairman of the Board), who in turn serves at the pleasure of the stockholders (Romney was the sole stockholder of Bain.) It requires strains that would make political campaigns red faced to make the argument that Kessler, ostensibly a “factchecker,” makes here. The question is why did Kessler destroy his own reputation on this story? Personally, I have hard time explaining it. I predict it will get worse for Romney AND Kessler on this story.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.
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By Jamal Joseph
In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today hes chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Josephs personal odysseyfrom the streets of Harlem to Rikers Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbiais as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronxs black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Islandcharged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddienow called Jamalbecame the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers New York chapter.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 23 May 2012