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The Mitt hits the fan: Gawker datadumps 950 pages of Romney’s tax-dodging schemes!
08.23.2012
01:54 pm

Topics:
Class War
Idiocracy
Politics

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God bless you Nick Denton! There is no schadenfreude quite like Republican schadenfreude and this is just…. a beautiful thing.

Gawker’s John Cook on what they’ve got:

Today, we are publishing more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested—at minimum—more than $10 million as of 2011 (that number is based on the low end of ranges he has disclosed—the true number is almost certainly significantly higher). Almost all of them are affiliated with Bain Capital, the secretive private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 and ran until his departure in 1999 (or 2002, depending on whom you ask). Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own criticisms of Obama’s fiscal approach and his money managers’ embrace of those same policies. They also show that some of the investments that Romney has always described as part of his retirement package at Bain weren’t made until years after he left the company.

Bain isn’t a company so much as an intricate suite of steadily proliferating inter-related holding companies and limited partnerships, some based in Delaware and others in the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and elsewhere, designed to collectively house roughly $66 billion in wealth in its many crevices and chambers. When Romney left in 1999, he and his wife retained significant investments in many of those Bain vehicles—he claims they are “passive investments” and that they are managed in a blind trust (though the trustee isn’t blind enough to meet federal standards of independence). But aside from disparate snippets of information contained in his federal and Massachusetts financial disclosure forms, his 2010 tax returns, and SEC filings, the nature of those investments has been obfuscated by design.

When he disclosed his finances to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics in 2007, Romney took care to publish the underlying holdings of many funds he invested with—after disclosing his $1 million-plus stake in “GS 2002 Exchange Place Fund LP,” for instance, he listed six pages of individual equities the fund held, from Panera Bread Co. to Tribune Co. But when it came to the Bain investments, he simply listed the value of his investments in odd-sounding entities like “Sankaty High Yield Partners II LP” with no indication of what was inside. In an accompanying note, he claimed that he had tried and failed to get the information: “The filer has requested information about the underlying holdings of these funds and values and income amounts for these underlying holdings. However, the fund managers have informed the filer in writing that this information is confidential and proprietary, and has declined to provide such information.”

That information—for Sankaty and 20 other funds—is now available here, in the form of 48 documents totaling more than 950 pages. They consist predominantly of confidential internal audited financial statements from 2008, 2009, and 2010, as well as investor letters from the same period, for Bain entities that Romney has previously disclosed owning an interest it. Owing to the timeframe—during and after the catastrophic economic meltdown of 2008—some of the investments show substantial losses. One limited partnership had even entered into liquidation as of October 2008 after failing to meet certain payments owed to partners. Others show astronomical gains.

The documents are exceedingly complicated. We don’t pretend to be qualified to decode them in full, which is why we are posting them here for readers to help evaluate—please leave your thoughts in the discussion below. We asked an attorney who specializes in complex offshore corporate transactions, including ones involving Cayman Island entities, to review them and help us understand them. (We also asked the Romney campaign. It hasn’t responded yet.)

The full set of Gawker’s “Bain File” documents can be read here.

Here’s what Gawker has found so far.

Equity Swaps, AIVs, and Mitt Romney’s Other Tax-Dodging Tricks
Mitt Romney’s Endless ‘Retirement’ Package
How Mitt Romney Puts His Money Where Obama’s Mouth Is
Derivatives, Short Sales, and Mitt Romney’s Other Exotic Financial Instruments
Mitt Romney Is the National Enquirer’s Banker

After THIS, how the hell is Mitt Romney going to be able to continue stonewalling on his MIA tax returns? Maybe he should just release them right now to, uh, I dunno, change the topic from how Paul Ryan wants old people to starve and die and for women who have been raped to give birth to the rapist’s baby ‘cos that’s what Jesus told him to do?

The idea that these documents are, currently, as I type this, being analyzed by crowd-sourcing is either a fortunate or very unfortunate fact of political life in 2012!

Depends on who you are, I guess. Mitt Romney must be going fucking insane right about now.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Old Fart Rants: ‘Why worry about the Taliban with Republicans right in our own backyard?’
08.23.2012
12:00 pm

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Activism
Amusing
Politics

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“Say cheese!”

The “Old Fart Rants” videos are my new favorite thing on YouTube. Old Fart is the best! A man after my own heart and a fellow resident of Hollywood, CA.

Old Fart is my new homie. How could I resist a line like:

“To call this guy [Todd Akin] a stupid fucking piece of shit is an insult to shit.”

Sounds (exactly) like something I would say!

“Why worry about the Taliban with Republicans right in our own backyard? The once proud Republican Party has become a complete clown show - all that’s missing is the seltzer bottles! No wonder they’re trying to rig the 2012 elections - they wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell otherwise! And anybody who can’t see it should be put into a mental institution. If anybody’s vote should be suppressed, it should be anybody stupid enough to vote for a Republican!”

Meanwhile Todd Akin claims to have pulled in over $100,000 in donations yesterday. How stupid would you have to be to give him your money?

Take the test: Taliban or Republican?

Subscribe to the Old Fart Rants YouTube channel.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Meatheads: Obama and Romney portraits made out of beef jerky
08.23.2012
12:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Current Events
Politics

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We always get a kick out of San Francisco artist Jason Mercier’s witty portraits of pop culture icons made out of junk, garbage and recycled materials. His creations are often the very definition of “form is an extension of content.” In this case, Mercier may be making a statement regarding the current state of politics in America - the USA is being run by jerks and meatheads and we’re all headed for the slaughterhouse. Stampede, anyone?

In this instructive video, Mercier shows us the process of turning dead flesh into art.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Dumbshit GOP Judge in Texas asks for tax increase to ‘fight back’ against Obama’s ‘U.N. army’!
08.22.2012
06:38 pm

Topics:
Idiocracy
Politics

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“Eh, what’s up, doc?”

Judge Tom Head, a Texas Republican who chairs Lubbock County’s Commissioners Court told a local talkshow on the Fox 34 station that the county needs to increase the property tax rate by 1.7 cents in coming fiscal year so that the sheriff’s department is adequately prepared to fend off the U.N. troops who will be sent to Lubbock County if President Barack Obama is re-elected and “the people” revolt. Yes that’s what he said.

A judge! An important man who makes important decisions about other people’s lives… Via Fox 34:

Head said he and the county must be prepared for many contingencies, one that he particularly fears, is if President Obama is reelected.

“He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN, and what is going to happen when that happens?” Head asked.

“I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.

“Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘you’re not coming in here’.

Ooooohhh, big man! I love how the Fox newscaster on the Lubbock station looks like he’s about to bust about laughing at Head’s “heroic” bravado. What a fucking idiot, oy vey!

Do you know how people as dumb as Judge Tom Pinhead here get into elected office?

First they decide to run.

Second, more people vote for them than voted for their opponent.

Sometimes more stupid people than smart people vote in certain parts of the country and that would explain why Tom Head is a judge.

It’s that fuckin’ simple.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Little Face Mitt Romney
08.22.2012
10:48 am

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Amusing
Politics

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Little Face Mitt is a Tumblr dedicated to “Unsettling pictures of Mitt Romney with a very tiny face.”
 

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Radical Chic: Pussy Riot tee shirts, 100% of profits go to their legal defense fund
08.21.2012
06:30 pm

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Activism
Politics
Pop Culture
Punk

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Our friends at The Voice Project charity have set up a store on Cafe Press to sell a tee-shirt based on the “NO PASARAN!” shirt seen worn by Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (and other items with the fist logo). These “Free Pussy Riot” tees and merch, it is hoped, will help to raise money and awareness of the situation these Russian refuseniks find themselves in. 100% of profits go to their legal defense fund.

(In case you are wondering, the original slogan is in Spanish and translates to “They shall not pass,” expressing determination to defend a position.)

This was all done with the blessing of the members of Pussy Riot, and in conjunction with the people behind the FreePussyRiot.org website.

Tara and I both know the people behind The Voice Project—they are friends of ours—and we can personally vouch for these do-gooders. 100% of the proceeds really will go to Pussy Riot’s legal defense fund.

Click here to see all merchandise.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hey Grandpa: Mitt Romney and his lil’ buddy Paul Ryan want to cut your Medicare NOW


Image via Billionaires for Wealthcare

Although Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans as a whole are trying to take the offense on Medicare by painting Obamacare as siphoning off funds from Medicare that will materially harm seniors—it worked like a charm in the 2010 midterm elections—an article that appeared this morning on Talking Points Memo about Romney and Ryan’s actual intentions re: Medicare is getting a lot of attention.

As has been noted repeatedly, that strategy requires Romney and Ryan to disavow Medicare reforms the GOP recently endorsed overwhelmingly as a part of the party’s budget, which Ryan authored.

[Good luck with that one, boys]

From “Mitt’s Medicare Strategy: Don’t Tell Seniors Truth”:

All along Romney has been claiming that he and Paul Ryan won’t change Medicare for existing beneficiaries — only for the people who will get old in the “future.”

[Like nearly all of us, yeah?]

Now Romney’s own advisers and campaign surrogates are saying that this ain’t so.

As outlined in a memo the campaign released Saturday, Romney plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, and thus to spend over $700 billion more on the program in the coming decade than the government would spend if the health care law stands.

That commitment would leave Medicare poised for insolvency in 2016, years before he proposes to phase in the voucher system. Which means Romney would have two options: find new Medicare cuts or taxes to extend the life of the program, or preside over its demise.

On Fox News Sunday, Romney adviser Ed Gillespie tried to address the conundrum. “There are other reforms as well. As you know Governor Romney supports increasing over time bringing the Medicare eligibility age in line with the Social Security retirement age.”

But raising the Medicare eligibility age is a benefit cut, and implementing the increase before 2016 would violate Romney’s pledge to leave the program unchanged for people between ages 55 and 65.

Avik Roy, an outside health care adviser to the Romney campaign, admits that committing to billions of dollars in higher Medicare spending in the near-term will make it difficult for Romney to achieve its separate goal of reducing overall federal spending to modern lows. But he notes that Romney could make up the difference elsewhere in the budget or, by “mak[ing] other changes to the Medicare program, such as increased means-testing, that don’t alter the program’s basic structure.”

Further means-testing of Medicare would amount to a benefit cut to current seniors.

These admissions rest on top of the fact that by repealing the Affordable Care Act, Romney would wipe out new Medicare benefits included in the law. Repeal would result in higher payments to doctors and hospitals, and the restoration of overpayments to insurers participating in Medicare advantage. But for beneficiaries, it would re-open the Medicare prescription drug donut hole and eliminate coverage for preventive services and annual checkups that the ACA created.

Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan would cost senior citizens an additional $6400 or more a year out of pocket! Did you hear that Republican retirees? Considering that Paul Ryan’s “voucher” amounts to “Here’s a coupon for your old age, go fuck yourself oldster and please hurry up and die” HOW IN THE WORLD—at a time in history where far fewer than half of the American population has anywhere NEAR the amount of savings they’ll need to retire on—-can the Republicans think running on a platform that essentially says to senior citizens: “Let them eat Advil!” is anything but a very, very bad idea?!?

A “wheelchair army” would come to Washington, DC and kill them all if Paul Ryan’s plan were put into place. Every damned one of them. You have to shake your head in amazement at people who are anywhere near retirement age who would vote Republican. It’s beyond idiocy.

I had a friend who died when he was 94 years old. How in the hell would, say, even a spry 84-year-old, just come up with another $6k a year? How the fuck would you do it at that age? Get a job as a greeter at Home Depot? Flip some burgers at McDonald’s? Slot machines? The fucking lottery? Pulling it out of your ass? INVESTING IN WALL STREET???

It’s preposterous… and it’s pretty much what the Republicans have in store for you. For YOUR old age! Nope, it’s not an abstraction, dumbshit Fox News viewers and “low information voters,” (LIV) it’s your “golden years” that Mitt is talkin’ ‘bout!

The Democrats, if they play their cards right politically (which they never, ever do, but might it happen by accident?) could inflict some major damage to the Republicans this election if they’d run a few commercials with a wheezing 90-year-old dealing with bill collectors, having to choose between food and his prescriptions and being told “We’re sorry sir, your coverage won’t pay for dialysis anymore” by a kindly-faced nurse who smiles as she shuts the door in his face.

The same actor in all of them. Maybe it’s a couple. Yes! It’s a couple, even better.

Remember those famous Taster’s Choice coffee commercials with the serialized narrative of the flirting good looking yuppie neighbors back in the 90s? Now imagine the flipside of that: That same couple is old, retired and the 83-year-old husband husband is eating Ramen noodles so they can keep the lights on in their apartment.

INT - NIGHT

An elderly man staring straight ahead has tears running down his face. CAMERA PULLS OUT, REVEALING his wife, asleep in a medical bed in their living room with IV drips and heart monitors beeping softly in the background.  He is holding his sleeping wife’s hand.

OLD MAN:

Honey, can you hear me? I don’t
know how much longer we can
keep going on like this.

The camera sees collection notices in his hands. The top one, which the camera lingers on long enough to read indicates that their gas and electricity is about to be shut off

VOICE OVER:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s plans to end
Medicare and replace it with their
“coupon” will cost you an extra $6400
a year out of pocket. $12,800 for a
married couple. Where will YOU come up
with an extra $12,000 a year in
your old age?

The man, sobbing, lays his head on sleeping wife’s body.

OLD MAN

Honey, I don’t know what to do,
I don’t know what to do, baby.

The lights in their apartment sputter and go off.

The heart monitor stops beeping.

VOICE OVER

This could be your old age. Mitt
Romney is not the solution.
Mitt Romney is the problem.

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Paul Ryan refuses Bible, runs to his SUV to avoid being asked about Ayn Rand by Catholic activist
08.21.2012
12:25 am

Topics:
Idiocracy
Politics

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A blast from the past: Last June some amusing footage made the rounds of a young Catholic activist giving a hard time to Republican Congressman Paul Ryan about his “Ayn Rand Budget.”

The viral video saw Mitt Romney’s now running mate hot-footing it to his SUV in order to avoid being handed a Bible and being pressed about his admiration for cult philosopher, Ayn Rand.

This was shot at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on June 4th, 2011. The young man who accosted Ryan, I believe is named James Salt.

As Swampland wrote at the time:

These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”

Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”

Rand’s influence on Ryan’s politics is also the subject of a new ad produced by the religious group American Values Network, which hopes to run the spot in Ryan’s district. It’s a stinging attack, and again, one that was wholly unanticipated by the Republican rising star.

You won’t hear this in the embedded video below, but in another video of the same event from a different camera, James Salt says: “He [Ryan] will have to account for the suffering he will cause.”

I don’t think James was referring to voters here, when he says Ryan will “have to account,” do you? I think he means that Paul Ryan will be answering to a “higher power.” It’s a pity that smarmy Republican bastard didn’t hear that bit…

It’s officially official now, what with the Paul Ryan Veep nod: the Republican Party is in the grips of a long-dead, fanatically anti-Christian cult leader. At a certain point, you realize, of course, that the far-right religious cultural warriors are going to be obliged to turn on the libertarian-types. Their common ground ain’t as common as it used to be! And it’s going to be really fun to watch.

Here’s how the American Values Network sees it: Christian voters must choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus :

GOP leaders and conservative pundits have brought upon themselves a crisis of values. Many who for years have been the loudest voices invoking the language of faith and moral values are now praising the atheist philosopher Ayn Rand whose teachings stand in direct contradiction to the Bible. Rand advocates a law of selfishness over love and commands her followers to think only of themselves, not others. She said her followers had to choose between Jesus and her teachings.

GOP leaders want to argue that they are defending Christian principles. But, at the same time, Rep. Paul Ryan (author of the GOP budget) is posting facebook videos praising Rand’s morality and saying hers is the “kind of thinking that is sorely needed right now.” Simply put, Paul Ryan can’t have it both ways, and neither can Christians. As conservative evangelical icon Chuck Colson recently stated, Christians can not support Rand’s philosophy and Christ’s teachings. The choice is simple: Ayn Rand or Jesus Christ. We must choose one and forsake the other.

Ayn Rand on why the Christian Message is “Monstrous” and Christ’s Teachings are “Evil” (American Values Network)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Don’t Get Lippy with GOP Rep. Paul Ryan or he’ll have you taken to the gulag
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Americans for Inequality to Endorse Mitt Romney for President
08.20.2012
12:28 pm

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Politics
They hate us for our freedom

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For Immediate Release:
August 20, 2012
Americans for Inequality
Contact: Warren Bancroft, Interim Director
AmericansforInequality@gmail.com
Phone: 603-540-3845

[Manchester, New Hampshire] The Board of Directors of Americans for Inequality, a citizens’ advocacy group which promotes the benefits of inequality, voted to endorse former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) for President. “The Board of Directors voted to emphatically endorse Governor Romney’s candidacy for President” said Warren Bancroft, interim Chair of Americans for Inequality. “Americans for Inequality is prepared to commit considerable resources to help make Mitt Romney the next President of the United States. We will join Governor Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH Monday August 20th at 8:00AM, and a press conference following shortly thereafter.”

In the 2012 Presidential campaign, Americans for Inequality has been the first organization to educate voters about the benefits of vast inequalities.  Americans for Inequality has been a pioneer in changing the narrative away from the costs and perils of inequality—-and toward a new appreciation of how inequality plays an important and beneficial role in our economy.

“For far too long the poor, unemployed, and elderly have been coddled by America’s generous welfare system and exempted from contributing their fair share in taxes, while banks and companies have suffered under an oppressive regime. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s budget plan will mostly rely on ending the era of entitlement and providing tax relief for upper-income households. That’s the beauty of the Romney/Ryan plan: the higher the income, the higher the tax break. Their budget plan will ensure that inequality will remain with us, as it should, for many years,” said Bancroft.

The Americans for Inequality endorsement was not, however, a unanimous one.  One member of the Americans for Inequality Board voted against the Romney endorsement.

Chester Prattfield noted how inequality has accelerated under President Obama, and that it could continue for another four years. “The current recovery has been the weakest and most unequal recovery since WWII, both in terms of income and wealth. The financial industry is back on its feet and corporations are making record profits.  Class mobility and opportunity are declining as inequality becomes entrenched, and that’s what we want to see. But there is room for improvement. Job creators do 100% of the work, but from 2009-2011, they only received 88% of the national income.  And companies such as Exxon Mobil pay as high as 2% in federal taxes—they need relief.”

“While I voted to endorse President Obama, and will continue to personally support his campaign, I understand and respect the decision of the Americans for Inequality Board,” said Prattfield, Americans for Inequality co-founder.  “I appreciate the thoughtfulness the Board of Directors has put into this decision.”

 

 
Thank you Mr. Glen E. Friedman of New York City, New York!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Anonymous release video statement to UK Government on Julian Assange
08.19.2012
04:09 pm

Topics:
Activism
Crime
Current Events
Media
Politics

Tags:

i_am_julian_anonymous
 
Anonymous UK’s statement to the UK Government on Julian Assange.

This Anonymous video makes a very valid comparison between the treatment of the Wikileaks founder Assange, who is still to be charged of a crime. And Shawn Sullivan a convicted pedophile, now resident in the UK, who is wanted for alleged child rape charges in America, but was spared extradition on grounds of his Human Rights.
 

 
With thanks to Marco St.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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