- POLICE PREVENT "WHITE POWER" MASSACRE OF JEWS
24 - Libyan War, Libyan Holocaust Start On Iraq Invasion
By Dr Gideon Polya
21 March, 2011
20 March 2011 marked the 8th anniversary of the illegal, war criminal invasion of Iraq by the US , UK and Australia . In post-invasion Iraq , violent deaths (1.4 million) and non-violent avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation (1.2 million) have totalled 2.6 million (so far). Yet the West ignores the carnage of the ongoing Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide and marked this dreadful anniversary by commencing a devastating high technology war on another Arab nation, Libya . A legitimate fear from the US-backed Palestinian Genocide, the Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide and the Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide is that this latest US war, the Libyan War, will likewise evolve to holocaust and genocide dimensions and to a Libyan Holocaust and Libyan Genocide.
As of 20 March 2011, the 8th anniversary of the illegal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003, the human cost the Iraq War since 2003 involves 2.6 million violent and non-violent avoidable deaths of Indigenous Iraqis (4.5 million since 1990; see:http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/9-january-2010 ). In comparison, post-2003 US Alliance deaths in the Iraq War total 4,758 (see:http://icasualties.org/oif/ ).
According to the 2006 Revision UN Population Division data, medical literature data, and other authoritative sources, the Iraqi Holocaust has been associated with 1.2 million post-invasion non-violent avoidable deaths; 1.4 million violent post-invasion deaths; and 0.8 million post-invasion under-5 infant deaths (90% avoidable and due to gross US Coalition violation of the Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which demands that an Occupier supplies food and medical requisites to “the fullest extent of the means available to it.” In addition, avoidable deaths under Sanctions (1990-2003) totalled 1.7 million, violent deaths in the Gulf War totalled 0.2 million and under-5 infant deaths under Sanctions totalled 1.2 million. Iraqi refugees (both inside and outside Iraq ) totalled 5-6 million.
The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2011) involves 1.6 million violent deaths, 2.9 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.5 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 2.0 million under-5 infant deaths, 1.8 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees – an Iraqi Holocasut and an Iraqi Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention definition of “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” (see:http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/9-january-2010 ). The Iraqi Genocide - still continuing under Nobel Peace Laureate and warmonger Obama - is of a similar magnitude to the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million killed, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) (see: Gilbert, M. (1969), “Jewish History Atlas” (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London) and Gilbert, M. (1982), “Atlas of the Holocaust” (Michael Joseph, London)).
The US Coalition invasion of Iraq was illegal and a war crime. Thus UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg told the House of Commons in 2010 that the invasion of Iraq was illegal: “I am happy to account for everything that we are doing in this coalition government, a coalition government which has brought together two parties working in the national interest to sort out the mess that he left behind. Maybe one day, and perhaps we'll have to wait for his (Jack Straw's) memoirs, he could account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all, which is the illegal invasion of Iraq .” (see “Clegg says invasion of Iraq was “illegal””, Reuters, 21 JHlu 2010: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/07/21/uk-britain-clegg-iraq-idUKTRE66K4PT20100721 .”
And in Australia , the former President of the ultra-conservative Liberal Party. John Valder, slammed his party colleague Liberal PM John Howard as a war criminal over the Iraq Invasion: “Bush, Blair, and Howard, as leaders of the three members of the coalition of the willing, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Iraq . And, as such, they are criminals. I believe the only deterrent to a repetition of the Iraq situation is punishment in some form as war criminals” (see “Howard is a war criminal says former colleague”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2004:http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/18/1090089035899.html ).
The war criminality of the Iraq invasion and occupation extends beyond the initial criminal invasion and the estimated 1.4 million Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion ( Just Foreign Policy: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/156 ). Thus Iraqi avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation (1.7 million, 1990-2003, 1.2 million, 2003-2011) also constitute evidence of a huge US Coalition war crime through imposition of sustained, deadly deprivation on a civilian population. It is worth repeating that of the 5-6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in WW2 about 1 in 6 died from deprivation.
Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War make clear the responsibility of an Occupier to provide life-sustaining food and medicine to its Conquered Subjects “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. These Articles are set out below.
Article 55. To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.
The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles or medical supplies available in the occupied territory, except for use by the occupation forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account. Subject to the provisions of other international Conventions, the Occupying Power shall make arrangements to ensure that fair value is paid for any requisitioned goods.
The Protecting Power shall, at any time, be at liberty to verify the state of the food and medical supplies in occupied territories, except where temporary restrictions are made necessary by imperative military requirements.
Article 56. To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.
If new hospitals are set up in occupied territory and if the competent organs of the occupied State are not operating there, the occupying authorities shall, if necessary, grant them the recognition provided for in Article 18. In similar circumstances, the occupying authorities shall also grant recognition to hospital personnel and transport vehicles under the provisions of Articles 20 and 21.
In adopting measures of health and hygiene and in their implementation, the Occupying Power shall take into consideration the moral and ethical susceptibilities of the population of the occupied territory.
Yet the US Alliance has grossly violated these Geneva Convention demands in both Occupied Iraq (1990-2011 non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation total 4.5 million) and in Occupied Afghanistan (2001-2011 non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation total 4.5 million). WHO (see: http://www.who.int/countries/en/ ) informs that the annual per capita total medical expenditure in Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan is US$124 and US$29, respectively, as compared to US$6,714 for the Occupier the United States. Yet under-5 year old infant deaths total 2.0 million in Iraq (1990-2011) and 2.6 million in Afghanistan (2001-2011).
The victims of cowardly Western high technology wars are mostly women and children dying from war-imposed deprivation. Thus in post-1950 US Asian wars violent deaths and non-violent deaths from war-imposed deprivation total about 23 million, the breakdown being 1 million Korea, 13 million (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) , 4.5 million (Iraq) and 4.9 million (Afghanistan).
Now the West has marked the 8th anniversary of the war criminal invasion of Iraq by commencing to bomb Libya back to the Stone Age. The ostensible reason is to “protect civilians” and to support the legitimate desire of many Libyans for democracy but the horrible reality is that Libyan civilians need protection from the genocidal French-UK-US (FUKUS) Coalition. The examples of Iraq and Afghanistan give an indication of the horrendous avoidable mortality that may come in a FUKUS-devastated bombed Libya and the sham of Western-imposed democracy.
Thus “American-installed democracy” in Afghanistan has meant a US Puppet Afghan President who was the only candidate in the recent presidential elections held under Occupier guns and the dominant but banned Taliban could field no candidates. In Occupied Iraq, as in Occupied Afghanistan, “American-installed democracy” has meant elections held after a major party the US did not like (the Ba'ath Party) was banned and its members were variously imprisoned, tortured and killed on a huge scale.
Thus annual under-5 infant deaths currently total 3,000 in Libya (population 6.4 million) but are expected to soar if the France-UK-US (FUKUS) Coalition, already bombing urban areas and killing Libyans, succeeds in doing to Libya what the genocidal, Zionist-backed US Alliance has achieved in Occupied Iraq (41,000 under-5 deaths yearly, population 30.7 million) or in Occupied Afghanistan (237,000 under-5 infant deaths yearly, population 28.2 million) (latest UNICEF data:http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/index.html ).
Libya's very low current pre-invasion infant mortality (2010) is about 16.9 deaths per 1000 live births (cf 5.7 in the US) as compared to 185 (1950, under British occupation) and 115 (in 1969 when Gaddafi took over from the UK-backed dictator King Idris). However, food, shelter, medicine and medical services cost money and with the oil-based Libyan economy already largely stopped by the already civilian-targetting, war criminal FUKUS Coalition, the Libyan infant mortality is expected to eventually soar to that in Occupied Iraq (32 deaths per 1,000 live births) or Occupied Afghanistan (152) (latest UN Population Division data: http://esa.un.org/unpp/index.asp?panel=1 ; the Iraq and Afghanistan data are probably under-estimates from the respective Puppet Quisling regimes).
The devastation of Iraq by the US Coalition under Sanctions and US, UK and Israeli no-fly zone bombing (1.7 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation, 1990-2003) and under Occupation (1.2 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation, 2003-2011) was enabled by Mainstream media non-reportage and warmongering in the Western Murdochracies. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. On this 8th anniversary of the illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq , decent people must (a) tell everyone they can about the horrendous human cost, and (b) insist that the war criminals be held accountable through sanctions, boycotts and criminal prosecutions.
All decent folk will have great sympathy for the desire of the Libyan people and indeed of all people and all Arab people for human rights and genuine democracy but they must oppose the cowardly, turkey-shoot destruction of Libya by the genocidal, war criminal US Alliance. One hopes that the Libyans themselves will find a solution through dialogue before too much damage has been done in terms of Libyan lives, infrastructure and the economy on which life depends.
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007:http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007):http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see:http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/ bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see:http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and
25 - Matt Taibbi : The Secret to Mitt Romney’s Fortune? Greed, Debt and Forcing Others to Foot the Bill
RUSH TRANSCRIPT INTERVIEW
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are broadcasting from PBS station WEDU in Tampa, Florida. This is "Breaking With Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency," Democracy Now!'s special coverage from the Republican National Convention, inside and out. I'm Amy Goodman.
We continue our coverage now by turning to an issue that’s been raised repeatedly during the campaign: the personal wealth of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. A new article by reporter Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone sheds light on the origin of his fortune, revealing how Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, used private equity to raise money to conduct corporate raids. Matt Taibbi writes, quote, "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," Taibbi writes. He goes on to say, "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."
Well, Matt Taibbi joins us now, contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine. His most recent in-depth piece called "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital," author of the book also, Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History.
Matt Taibbi, welcome to Democracy Now!
MATT TAIBBI: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Lay it out for us. Excellent piece, investigative piece, on Mitt Romney’s wealth. Where did it start?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, you know, for me, it started when I had to cover this campaign earlier this year, and I was listening to Romney’s stump speech about debt. You know, he came up with this whole image of a prairie fire of debt raging across America that was literally going to burn children alive in the future. And I kept thinking to myself, does nobody know what this guy did for a living and how he made his money? You know, Mitt Romney is unabashedly a leverage buyout artist. And a leverage buyout artist is a guy who borrows lots of money that other companies have to pay back. And that’s the simple formula.
He started out—his most famous deals, of course, are essentially venture capital deals like the Staples situation, where he built a company from the ground up. But after Staples, he switched to a different model, that he preferred for the rest of his professional career, in which he took over existing companies by putting down small amounts of his own cash, borrowing the rest from—typically from a giant investment bank, taking over controlling stakes in companies, and then forcing those companies to pay him either through management fees or through dividends. And that’s his business formula.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what private equity is.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, that is what a private equity fund does. They’re essentially—it’s a synonym for what in the '80s we called the leverage buyout business. It's a small group that raises capital and then goes and leverages takeovers of companies using borrowed money. In the '80s, these—this sort of business was glamorized through a couple of things, in particular, in pop culture. One was the movie Wall Street, where Gordon Gekko, the famous Michael Douglas character from the Oliver Stone movie, was essentially a private equity guy. He was a leverage buyout takeover artist. And the other one was a book called Barbarians at the Gate, which was a true story of the takeover of RJR Nabisco by a company called KKR, which was another Bain Capital-like takeover company. And that's what they are. They’re essentially guys who borrow money to take over companies and extract wealth from those companies to pay off their investors.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt, you say that Mitt Romney is not the flip-flopper that critics say he is.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah. I mean, this is a sort of a subtle point about Mitt Romney. It’s funny. I don’t want to stretch this comparison too much, but, you know, there’s—it’s almost like he has a kind of a religious conviction about being able to lie to people outside of the tent, so to speak. You know, there’s that tenet of some forms of extreme Muslim religions where it’s OK to lie to the infidel. And I think Mitt Romney has a little bit of that. He seems to believe that it’s OK, that there’s nothing particularly wrong with changing one’s mind about things, and he does it repeatedly in a way that I think is different from other politicians. For him, it’s just changing a business strategy, and he doesn’t see why everybody should get so upset about it.
AMY GOODMAN: You say that Mitt Romney has a vision, that he’s trying for something big. Lay out what that vision is.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, Mitt Romney is really the representative of an entire movement that’s taken over the American business world in the last couple of decades. You know, America used to be—especially the American economy was built upon this brick-and-mortar industrial economy, where we had factories, we built stuff, and we sold it here in America, and we exported it all over the world. That manufacturing economy was the foundation for our wealth and power for a couple of centuries. And then, in the '80s, we started to transform ourselves from a manufacturing economy to a financial economy. And that process, which, you know, on Wall Street we call financialization, was really led that—sort of this revolution, where instead of making products, we made transactions, we made financial products, like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. We created money through financial transactions rather than building products and selling them around the world. And that revolution was really led by people like Mitt Romney. And the advantage of financialization, from the point of view of the very rich and the people who run the American economy, is that it was extremely efficient at extracting wealth and kicking it upward, whereas the old manufacturing economy had the sort of negative effect of spreading around to the entire population. In the financialization revolution, you can take all of the money, and you don't have to spread it around with anybody. And Mitt Romney was kind of a symbol of that fundamental shift in our economy.
AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke caught up with the Texas governor, Rick Perry, and asked him about his comment about Mitt Romney, calling him a vulture capitalist. Let's take a listen.
MIKE BURKE: You described Mitt Romney, compared him to a vulture. What did you mean by that? And you said his work with Bain Capital was indefensible.
GOV. RICK PERRY: How are you?
MIKE BURKE: Those were your words during the primary season, Governor. Do you have any comment at all?
AMY GOODMAN: What you were just listening to was the silence of Governor Perry not responding to Mike’s question. Yes, Governor Perry called Mitt Romney a "vulture capitalist." Matt Taibbi, what does that mean?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, look, again, this is what—how companies like Bain made their money. And a great example was a company that I went and visited—well, the place where it used to exist—KB Toys, which used to be headquartered out in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They took over the company with like $18 million down. They financed the other $302 million. So that’s borrowed money that subsequently became the debt of KB Toys. This is an important distinction for people to understand. When they borrowed that money to take over that company, they didn’t have to pay it back, KB had to pay it back. Once they took over the company, they induced it to do a $120 million, quote-unquote, "dividend recapitalization," which essentially means that the company had to cash in a bunch of shares and pay Bain and its investors a huge sum of money. And in order to finance that, they had to take out over $60 million in bank loans. So, essentially, you take over the company, you force them to make enormous withdrawals against their credit card, essentially, and pay the new owners of the company. And that’s essentially what they did. They took over a floundering company that was sort of in between and faced with threatening changes in the industry, and they forced them to cash out entirely and pay all their money to the new owners.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, just for the record, Governor Perry’s comment about Mitt Romney was very interesting. He said, "They’re vultures that sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick, and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton."
MATT TAIBBI: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly what they do. Again, they borrow money, they take over the company, the company now has this massive new debt burden. So, if the couple was already in trouble, if it was already having trouble meeting its bottom line, suddenly, not only does it have its old problems, now it has, you know, $300 million in new debt service that it has to pay. So it might be, you know, paying millions and millions of dollars every month.
A great example is Dunkin’ Donuts, whose parent company was taken over a couple years ago by a combination of Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group. Dunkin’ was induced to do one of those dividend recapitalizations. They had to pay half-a-billion dollars to their new masters. And just to pay the debt service on the loan they took out to make that payment to Bain and Carlyle, they’re going to have to sell like two-and-a-half million cups of coffee every month just to pay the debt service. So, that’s extraordinary. They are—they’re essentially vultures who hang out waiting for companies to get sick, then they forcibly take them over, and they extract fees, commissions and dividends, by force, essentially.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this week, Democracy Now! spoke to two workers from what’s now Sensata Technologies, which Bain Capital is majority owner. A hundred seventy workers there at the Sensata plant in Freeport, Illinois, are calling on Romney to help save their jobs from being shipped to China. The plant manufactures sensors and controls that are used in aircraft and automobiles. This is Tom Gaulrapp, a former—well, he’s a Sensata worker now, talking about the response that they’ve received.
TOM GAULRAPP: We’re there trying to save our jobs, and we were called communists. For trying to save our jobs from going to China from the United States, we were called communists. They—if there hadn’t been a large police group in there, I’m sure we would have been more threatened. They started this "U.S.A." chant. It’s like, yes, we’re all for the U.S.A., too. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to keep well-paying manufacturing jobs from being moved out of this country to China. And they make it sound like we’re not patriotic. And it boggles the mind as to what they’re thinking.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Tom Gaulrapp, and he’s describing going to an Iowa Romney campaign event last week—Romney was maybe seven rows in front of him—and asking about their jobs, their company owned by Bain, being sent to China. In fact, some of them went to China, the workers, to train the workers in China, so that they could take over their jobs. Their last day will be the Friday before the elections. They’ll be on the unemployment line to apply for unemployment on Monday. On Tuesday, they vote. Can you comment on this situation, Matt?
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, no, it’s absolutely typical of a private equity transaction. I think one of the glaring misconceptions about this kind of business that’s persisted throughout Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency is that what these companies do is turn around and fix companies, that they’re in the business of helping these companies. Romney constantly uses this term, that he—that, you know, "help." "I’m either helping this firm, or I’m helping it turn around." He wrote a book called Turnaround. But they are not in the business of turning companies around and creating jobs. That is a complete mischaracterization. What they’re in the business of doing is repaying the investors who lent them the money to take over those companies. The workers are completely irrelevant in this scheme.
Romney is—you know, the old-school industrialists, like Mitt Romney’s father, they were men and women who built communities. They had factory towns. They were very anxious to leave, you know, hard legacies that people could see: hospitals, churches, schools—you know, the Hersheys of the world, the Kelloggs. But these new owners have absolutely no allegiance to American workers, American places, American communities. Their only allegiance is to the investors and to themselves. And so, it’s not at all uncharacteristic to have these situations where people are pleading for their jobs or they’re saying, you know, "We’ll tighten our belts, if you just make this concession and keep us." That’s irrelevant to the Mitt Romney-slash-Bain Capital-slash-Carlyle Groups of the world. They’re entirely about making profits. And if that means shipping jobs to China or eliminating jobs, that’s what they’re going to do. And that’s the new generation of corporate owners in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt, last month, Mitt Romney gave a series of TV interviews defending his role at Bain Capital. This is Mitt Romney speaking to CNN’s Jim Acosta.
MITT ROMNEY: There’s nothing wrong with being associated with Bain Capital, of course. But the truth is that I left any role at Bain Capital in February of '99. And that's known and said by the people at the firm. It’s said by the documents, offering documents that the firm made subsequently about people investing in the firm. And I think anybody who knows that I was out full time running the Olympics would understand that’s where I was. I spent three years running the Olympic Games. And after that was over, we worked out our retirement program, our departure official program for Bain Capital, and handed over the shares I had. But there’s a difference between being a shareholder, an owner, if you will, and being a person who’s running an entity. And I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Mitt Romney on CNN. Matt Taibbi, he’s referring to the—that time gap, 1999, when he said he left, to 2000, 2001, 2002. The significance of this?
MATT TAIBBI: You know, I don’t think it’s terribly important whether he was actively sitting at the helm during that time or whether he was just passively accepting the vast amounts of money that were sent his way as the result of the deals that were concluded at that time. Again, Mitt Romney—well, I’m sorry, Bain Capital took over KB Toys during that disputed time period and made an enormous profit. I think their profit was something like $100 million out of that deal. And Mitt Romney shared in that, in that largesse, even whether he was, you know, actively strategizing or not. You know, the groundwork for deals like that had been laid in the decades before that where he was actively involved in deals like taking over a company like Ampad, which was a very similar deal to the KB deal. So, it’s irrelevant to me, and I think it should be irrelevant to everybody, whether he was actually working there or not. He shared in the profits and clearly didn’t have a problem with any of those deals.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt Taibbi, you have said that Mitt Romney’s fortune would not have been possible without the direct assistance of the U.S. government.
MATT TAIBBI: Yes, there’s a tax deduction for all that borrowed money. So, when Mitt Romney or Bain Capital, when they want to go take over a company like KB Toys and they borrow $300 million to do it, and that new debt becomes the debt of KB Toys, when KB pays the debt service, the monthly service on that debt, that service is deductible. And if that were not true, if they did not have that deduction, these deals would not be economically feasible. They wouldn’t be possible. I spoke to one former regulator from the SEC, who worked both in the SEC and as an accountant at a Big Four accounting firm, and he reviewed a number of these deals in both a public and private capacity. And he said, without that deduction, he’s never seen a deal that would have been economically—a private equity deal that would have been economically feasible. So, this entire business model depends upon a tax break.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Romney’s role in Bealls Brothers and Palais Royal. And how is Michael Milken involved with this?
MATT TAIBBI: Sure. And just generally speaking, these private equity deals, they’re made possible by these sort of get-rich-quick, easy-money schemes that started appearing on Wall Street in the '80s. Again, in the old days, the real power in the American economy was—belonged to the industrialists, the guys who—men and women who actually made things, because they had—they were the primary sources of cash and revenue. But in the ’80s, we started to develop all these new methods of simply creating money out of thin air. And the first great one in the ’80s was Mike Milken's junk bonds. And this ability to conjure instant millions gave people, like the fictional Gordon Gekko, the power to take over, you know, mighty companies—airlines, you know, industrial companies—whereas 10, 15, 20 years ago, somebody who didn’t have his own fortune would never have been able to take over those companies.
And that’s what happened with this transaction with Bealls. Romney used Mike Milken’s junk bonds to take over a couple of department store chains, which he subsequently merged. And even after finding out that Milken was under investigation and would shortly have to go to court to defend himself on fraud charges, Romney pressed ahead with the deal anyway and ended up making, you know, another tidy profit on that deal.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt, finally, what do you feel reporters here at the Republican National Convention should be asking Mitt Romney about his time at Bain?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, I just think that the—
AMY GOODMAN: And what his plans are for the presidency?
MATT TAIBBI: Sure. I just think the one unanswered question that reporters just don’t ask either of these people is—they’re making their entire platform about debt. Paul Ryan, his entire political profile is based on this idea that he’s an enemy of debt and a, you know, budget slasher. And Mitt Romney has—again, he’s banked his entire campaign rhetoric on the sort of prairie fire of debt theme. And yet, this is a guy who spent—who made his fortune creating debt. Somehow, this question has not been asked to him. How is that not hypocritical? It hasn’t been asked of either of them, and I would like to see the mainstream press at least ask that question. I think it’s an ideal debate question that should be asked somewhere down the line.
AMY GOODMAN: Matt Taibbi, I want to thank you very much for being with us, contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine. His most recent article in Rolling Stone is "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital." Matt Taibbi is author of the book Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to the floor of the convention. Stay with us.
Greed and Debt : The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital
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