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Willard "Mitt" Romney: A Song and A Quiz

Author 76232
Message Veena Trehan
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Sing to self with "8 Mile" beat, but please not in Romney's singing voice.
Listen carefully, because this won't make any sense
Listen carefully, because this won't make any sense by Gage Skidmore/flikr: Creative Commons
"Willard's Song"

Sometimes a media hit
Just ain't worth it
Oppo fire hits
Makes him seem unfit
To wear the presidenti al mitt
Maybe cause he won't admit
A speech meanly writ
Hating carpenters with a kit
Or those with a drill bit
Can't be Mormon holy writ.
Ignores hand-across-throat slit
Remarks he does recommit
Not landing a base hit
In jeans in a loose fit
Treats campaign like a skit
Take two, resubmit
Lands in the media tar pit
Staffers go a'flit.
There's too much grit
When he should acquit
This ain't no reverse stock split.

Don't throw a random fit
Maybe just quit?
Like a banana split
Go likity split.
Yeah, I said it.
My apologies to Eminem.
On to more important business. In two disastrous weeks, Romney's misled the country about an embassy's comments and Americans deaths; insulted seniors, students, and the poor; predicted the president would lie in debates; and vaguely criticized China policy and redistribution; adding to a past of major changes to policy positions and stunningly awkward moments. It's time to ask who is the real "Mitt" Romney? Is he:
a) A sociopath; (typically characterized by superficial charm, lack of remorse or guilt, pathological lying, lack of empathy, juvenile delinquency, and sometimes with a goal to rule the world) This theory was first advanced after his bullying incident came to light and again after his comments on the embassy attacks.
b) A former prep school student, cheerleader, Masters in Business Adminstration candidate, businessman, and governor running for president controlled by those around him (also see former President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq after making the case through 250 false statements, and oversaw the global economic collapse).
c) A once-popular and powerful high school student who'll do anything to take it to the next level.
d) A fighter of an imaginary opponent, willing to convert an imaginary slacker half of America to a mercenary way of life were his Mormon mission not done.
e) Voldemort.
Here are your eight pieces of evidence. It's a democracy, show proper voter ID and decide: 

1. Juvenile delinquency -- Romney organized several boys at Cranbrook prep school to grab and hold down John Lauber, a schoolmate whose long hair Romney felt wasn't right, while he cut Lauber's bleached hair. Classmates described the act as "senseless", "stupid" and "vicious" but not "forgettable". Yet while others involved who were contacted apologized or expressed remorse, Romney claims not to remember. He apologized vaguely for pranks "that might have gone too far" (perhaps also drowning out a presumably gay classmate with "atta girl" and leading a visually impaired teacher into a door). An MIT balloon inflating in the Harvard-Yale game is a crowd-pleasing prank, an assault that traumatized an individual is a crime that should have landed him in trouble with school authorities , if not the police, rather than boosting the his social status.

2. Creating a prairie fire of debt -- Romney rails against President Obama's budget, even choosing as his vice president Paul Ryan, to show he'll tackle what he's called our "prairie fire of debt". Ironically his Bain career, once touted as his major White House qualification, involved saddling companies with unnecessary debt. He's been tight lipped about Bain deals and disputes dates of his leadership despite federally filed documents. "Rolling Stone's" Matt Taibbi investigated:  
"But what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth."
Two examples: Bain purchase Ampad (American Pad & Paper) in 1992 using $5 million of its money then imposed, within three years, $60 million in annual debt payments and $7 million in management fees. When Bain took Ampad public it charged them $7 million more for IPO-related services and management fees and cashed out $50 million in stock for the private equity firm and its investors. Ampad went bankrupt and hundreds of workers lost their jobs but Bain and their investors made over $100 million on a $5 million initial investment.
Similarly, Bain put only $18 million of their money into industry up-and-comer KB Toys. Again they levered it up and power-sucked out money earning Bain at least a 370-percent return. The once promising toy firm soon went bankrupt. Taibbi concludes from this and other deals:
"[America's rich made a lot of] money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt."
3. Health -- What used to be Romney's signature policy accomplishment since entered the witness protection program of his memory where it hides with Cranbrook "hi-jinks". The Massachusetts mandate-based program that passed six years ago was, according to Romney in June 2010, a good model for the national health care reform, then not so a few months later. The Affordable Care Act needed a total repeal per Romney, then had parts that should be retained. Had this double back flip happened on an Olympic springboard, it would have been a good conversation started with those difficult Londoners.

Romney's no better on birth control and abortion. During the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race he said:
"I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe since Roe v. Wade has been law for 20 years we should sustain and support it. I sustain and support the law and the right of a woman to make that choice."
Now his position is that abortion should be legal only in the case of rape and incest. And he's put on the ticket a leader in the assault on reproductive freedom. Ryan partnered with Todd Akin, a Congressman who gained national notoriety last month for saying victims of "legitimate" rape rarely get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Earlier the two cosponsored of a bill (which later passed the House of Representatives) to prevent Medicaid funds from going to anyone but victims of the tautologically- and insidiously-named "forcible rape". Though not defined, those that appear ineligible for federal funds include victims of statutory rape, women slipped a "date rape" drug, girls incapacitated by alcohol, and females of limited mental capacity.
But that bill is only the "the second most sweeping attack on reproductive freedom" of the Akin-Ryan team. The two also cosponsored a national bill on the personhood amendment that would have made having an abortion or using of some forms of birth control equivalent to homicide. Passed earlier, this could have landed at least another 1.3 million women in jail annually. Maybe their disenfranchisement would have prevented that widening women voter gap?

4. Chris Stevens --Romney's opportunistic use of the deaths of four Americans was offensive on many levels. To start with, those of us who knew Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens are pretty sure he wouldn't have voted for Romney. For others, consider his identity: Californian, double University of Berkeley graduate, Peace Corps volunteer, foreign service officer.
But doesn't mean he and other American diplomats can't be used to create Romney foreign policy credentials. On the night of Sept. 11, Romney released comments criticizing the Egyptian Embassy's statement but got it wrong: a) suggesting it was from the Obama administration, b) that it was made after, not before, the embassies were attacked, c) that the Obama administration did not condemn the attacks (Secretary of State Clinton already had), and d) that it was not a sensible response from an American presence in a region increasingly inflamed by a hateful movie. The morning brought a smiling (?!) Romney who doubled down on his earlier comments. However several days later, as the spotlight shifted away from the event, he essentially agreed the Egyptian Embassy's statement was fine.
To gain even more traction from the horrific event, Romney adviser Richard Williamson suggested the embassy killings would not have happened under a President Romney.

5. Lies and more lies -- Romney said last week that he will be challenged in the upcoming debate because President Obama will say things that aren't true (a comment not surprisingly lost in the shuffle between the evil embassy and the irresponsible poor.) Let's check the record. Multiple Romney ads misrepresenting President Obama's record on welfare have been thoroughly debunked. Romney ads and statements slamming Obama for removing $716 billion from Medicare are pure hypocrisy; Romney, too, would remove that money. But while Medicare's outlook "substantially improves" with Obama's health care reform, seniors would have paid thousands more under Ryan's famous proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system. Perhaps Romney's difficulty with facts led Romney pollster, Neil Newhouse, to say at the Republican National Convention:
"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."
Romney's overall economic plan is infeasible also. The Tax Policy Center analyzed it and found that it would raise taxes on middle income families and Bill Clinton described it, during the Democratic National Convention, as not reflecting arithmetic. Paul Ryan's convention speech promoted more falsehoods as he:

- blamed President Obama for not using the bipartisan financial commission recommendations that weren't presented to Congress because Ryan himself and other Republicans voted against them.
- claimed that President Obama would funnel money from Medicare (again).
- faulted Obama for the downgrade of the US credit rating brought on by Republicans refusal to raise the US debt ceiling.

Ryan's also lied about his marathon time and appears to have gotten wrong his own body fat. All this may have led, a Republican-leaning web site, to ban commenters from citing fact checkers. Apparently reality really is a liberal conspiracy.
6. Tax shenanigans -- Death may be certain but having presidential candidates reveal their tax history or pay what "working" Americans do is now fantasy. Romney two years of returns contrast with 10 years he requested from some vice presidential candidates and his father's 12 years release. Ironically Romney's 800-plus-page 2011 return sent out Friday attempted to distract the public from his description of half of Americans as irresponsible victims, although most earn under 1/400th of his income and many pay more in taxes.
Romney's tax return already looks problematic. Romney expected earnings, per his January tax filings, near his adjusted 2010 gross income of $21 million but the expert businessman came in $7 million (33 percent!) short. Then he deducted only a little over half his charitable deduction to land at 14 percent versus 10 percent tax rate (were all his income classified as wages and not deducted he'd be close to 35 percent), disqualifying himself from leading the country per his comments earlier this year:
Frankly if I had paid more [taxes] than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president.
His charitable deductions are suspect too: 80 percent went to the Mormon Church which built a shopping mall, established hunting preserves, and owns radio stations and insurance companies though it donated relatively little to support the poor.
His returns also raises many questions. With a maximum contribution to one's IRA of $30,000 per year, how Romney can have filed documents that showed as much as $82 million in the account? What is the purpose of his many offshore tax haven accounts and Swiss bank accounts? Will he file an amended return to take advantage of the full value of his "charitable" contributions later? And why are we being asked to trust tax code to someone who own approach is so messed up that if they saw the light of day he might lose?
7. The 47 percent -- You thought Romney might be mounting a takeover of those to whom he's hostile, it's now confirmed. A video from a May fundraiser shows him talking about those who pay no federal income tax; rely on government services like food, health care, or housing; and vote for Obama (three different groups). He says he'll never convince them to take personal responsibility for their lives and describes them as self-perceived victims.
Actually most are victims. Massive fraud perpetrated by massively rich bankers and politicians has slammed the poor and middle class. The median family net worth dropped 40 percent after the recession but the richest 1 percent (including most bankers) still had 225 times the median American's wealth. And the great recession doubled the wealth gap between whites and Hispanics (now 15:1), and whites and African Americans (now 22:1), despite the white sea of today's crooked investment banking executives.
There's also the question why he would imply that you need to be hungry and homeless and lacking health care to become truly empowered. Presumably neither Paul Ryan's "irresponsible" Medicare-receiving mother nor his own believed this. As Lenore Romney said:
[George Romney] was a refugee from Mexico. He was on relief, welfare relief for the first years of his life. But this great country gave him opportunities.
8. Mitt's Core -- Mitt's shown us little in the way of his values, but it should come as no surprise. The man so defined by his religious faith has a moral compass that's gone haywire. Throughout his life h e's been defined by not being defined, as drilled into him through decades in rapacious business. Top consulting firms work employees hard on whatever the client wants, often business process engineering to prepare for outsourcing, or slashing US jobs at highly profitable companies. Private equity is worse. All businesses are legally required to focus only on profitability yet most businesses -- particularly those which are small or have strong mission statement -- pay attention to employees, product quality, and their impact on the world. Private equity involves takeovers that top management often fights (when not paid off) and business owners -- not to mention employees -- don't want. The PE firm then maintains a laser-like focus on extracting money quickly, firing employees and slashing research and development to show huge jumps in profitability. It's sold by soulless investment bankers who use ever-changing, misleading asset allocation models, and sheaves of paper to bury fees and exclude critical information on firm funds.
These eight things show a campaign not big enough for the moment. Romney flits between topics, spending a metaphorical minute on each. It's a minute in which he'll says anything -- contradict his earlier statements, dismiss those he seeks to govern, and use those who have dedicated their lives to true service and sacrifice.
All this is because Mitt Romney's trying to bring the private equity model to America, but one of destruction that's far from creative. His past is our prologue: an aggressive takeover, slashed costs, and an enriched very wealthy. His leadership appears lacking because an agenda to benefit a fraction of the top 1 percent -- and not even them in the long term -- is not saleable. If he wins, he will make cuts to taxes and debt that, during these recessionary times, will destroy what this country built through decades of leadership and can yet regain -- an country of smart, educated people; a good infrastructure; and ultimately opportunity for all. But, like Bain, he will leave behind devastation from a culture accountable to the very rich who will always want, as billionaire John D. Rockefeller famously put it, "just one more dollar".
Romney may appear to not stand for anything but he stands for his donors and their agenda. It is us who, if lose our moral footing and focus, will fall for an agenda that will eviscerate the promise this country.

So decide what Romney truly is or remain mystified. But tell others about him by talking, singing or writing, then go out there and vote. 
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Veena Trehan is a DC-based journalist and activist. She has written for NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg News, and local papers.
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