The HyperTexts

Bishop Romney

by Michael R. Burch

During his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Willard Mitt Romney, not just a devout Mormon but a missionary and bishop who oversaw a Mormon diocese for eight years, promised that if elected he would attempt to have a pornography filter installed in every new computer sold in the United Sates! 

Patrick Trueman, the head of ominous-sounding Morality in Media, told the conservative Daily Caller that he was promised that fighting porn will be a top priority for a Romney administration. Trueman said he and another anti-porn prosecutor from the 1980s Justice Department, Bob Flores, met earlier this year with Alex Wong, Romney's foreign and legal policy director. "Wong assured us that Romney is very concerned with this, and that if he’s elected these laws will be enforced. They promised to vigorously enforce federal adult obscenity laws."

Like Rick Santorum, another would-be Big Brother, Mitt Romney is a prude who doesn't trust American adults to make their own decisions about sex. Romney thinks it's a "sin" to drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, or look at racy pictures, thanks to his religion's puritanism. He has called pornography a "home invasion" of "unwanted filth." But the simple truth is that most Americans are much more relaxed about sex than the straight-laced Mormon Bishop, and we don't want a domineering overseer telling us what we can do with our free time, in the privacy of our own homes and bedrooms.

Et tu, Brute?

Classmates of Romney's say that he tackled a gay classmate, John Lauber, pinned him to the ground, then cut off his long, bleached-blonde hair. "He can't look like that," an "incensed" Romney told one of his friends, "That's wrong. Just look at him!"

Gary Hummel, a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated by Romney shouting, "Atta girl!"

Another classmate compared Romney to "The Lord of the Flies."

As you will see if you continue reading this page, Romney's behavior as an adult continues to display remarkable insensitivity, at best, and brutish boorishness at worst. He seems to be clueless when dealing with women, gays and other people who aren't rich, lily-white Grand Old Patriarchs.

Mormon Chauvinism

Mitt Romney's attempts to return women's rights to the Stone Age have been well documented. Is his male chauvinism related to his faith? Let's take a look ...

Romney was no layman, but a bishop and president of the Boston Stake (diocese) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If he wins in November, he will be the first high-ranking religious official to become president of the U.S. in modern times.

Perhaps his alpha male chauvinism is related to the Mormon church's legendary chauvinism, which includes polygamy, female submission, male-only administration, crusading to repeal gay marriage in California (Proposition 8), and working to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. Mormons who supported the ERA received threatening letters from church officials warning them about their spiritual fates; some were censured, denied church sacraments or excommunicated (which means being denied salvation). Sonia Johnson was excommunicated after she delivered a speech entitled "Patriarchal Panic: Sexual Politics in the Mormon Church" in which she denounced the church's allegedly immoral and illegal nationwide lobbying efforts to defeat the ERA. (The Mormon church seems not to believe in equality for women and gays, or in separation of church and state.)

Bishop Romney

Was Bishop Romney a male chauvinist? Here's a revealing excerpt from "The Mind of Mitt" in Vanity Fair:

As both bishop and stake president, he at times clashed with women he felt strayed too far from church beliefs and practice. To them, he lacked the empathy and courage that they had known in other leaders, putting the church first even at times of great personal vulnerability. Peggie Hayes had joined the church as a teenager along with her mother and siblings ... As a teenager, Hayes babysat for Mitt and Ann Romney and other couples in the ward. Then Hayes’s mother abruptly moved the family to Salt Lake City for Hayes’s senior year of high school. Restless and unhappy, Hayes moved to Los Angeles once she turned 18. She got married, had a daughter, and then got divorced shortly after. But she remained part of the church. By 1983, Hayes was 23 and back in the Boston area, raising a 3-year-old daughter on her own and working as a nurse’s aide. Then she got pregnant again. Single motherhood was no picnic, but Hayes said she had wanted a second child and wasn’t upset at the news. "I kind of felt like I could do it," she said. "And I wanted to." By that point Mitt Romney, the man whose kids Hayes used to watch, was, as bishop of her ward, her church leader ... Then Romney called Hayes one winter day and said he wanted to come over and talk. He arrived at her apartment in Somerville, a dense, largely working-class city just north of Boston. They chitchatted for a few minutes. Then Romney said something about the church’s adoption agency. Hayes initially thought she must have misunderstood. But Romney’s intent became apparent: he was urging her to give up her soon-to-be-born son for adoption, saying that was what the church wanted. Indeed, the church encourages adoption in cases where "a successful marriage is unlikely." Hayes was deeply insulted. She told him she would never surrender her child. Sure, her life wasn’t exactly the picture of Rockwellian harmony, but she felt she was on a path to stability. In that moment, she also felt intimidated. Here was Romney, who held great power as her church leader and was the head of a wealthy, prominent Belmont family, sitting in her gritty apartment making grave demands. "And then he says, ‘Well, this is what the church wants you to do, and if you don’t, then you could be excommunicated for failing to follow the leadership of the church,’" Hayes recalled. It was a serious threat. At that point Hayes still valued her place within the Mormon Church. "This is not playing around," she said. "This is not like ‘You don’t get to take Communion.’ This is like ‘You will not be saved. You will never see the face of God.’" Romney would later deny that he had threatened Hayes with excommunication, but Hayes said his message was crystal clear: "Give up your son or give up your God." Not long after, Hayes gave birth to a son. She named him Dane. At nine months old, Dane needed serious, and risky, surgery. The bones in his head were fused together, restricting the growth of his brain, and would need to be separated. Hayes was scared. She sought emotional and spiritual support from the church once again. Looking past their uncomfortable conversation before Dane’s birth, she called Romney and asked him to come to the hospital to confer a blessing on her baby. Hayes was expecting him. Instead, two people she didn’t know showed up. She was crushed. "I needed him," she said. "It was very significant that he didn’t come." Sitting there in the hospital, Hayes decided she was finished with the Mormon Church. The decision was easy, yet she made it with a heavy heart. To this day, she remains grateful to Romney and others in the church for all they did for her family. But she shudders at what they were asking her to do in return, especially when she pulls out pictures of Dane, now a 27-year-old electrician in Salt Lake City. "There’s my baby," she said.

Here is a disturbing excerpt from a Huffington Post article:

A 1994 article in the Boston Phoenix told the story of an anonymous woman (who has since been identified) who wrote an article in a feminist Mormon magazine claiming Romney, as bishop, discouraged her from having an abortion even though her health was at stake. Romney later said he could not remember the incident.

The episode above was also reported by Vanity Fair. Here is how the second woman, also a mother of five, described her experience with Bishop Romney after being told by her doctors that she had a serious blood clot in her pelvis and that even if she risked her life to give birth, the baby's chance of survival would be only 50 percent:

"As your bishop," she said that he told her, "my concern is with the child." The woman wrote, "Here I—a baptized, endowed, dedicated worker, and tithe-payer in the church—lay helpless, hurt, and frightened, trying to maintain my psychological equilibrium, and his concern was for the eight-week possibility in my uterus—not for me!"

Romney would later contend that he couldn’t recall the incident, saying, "I don’t have any memory of what she is referring to, although I certainly can’t say it could not have been me." Romney did however acknowledge having counseled Mormon women not to have abortions except in exceptional cases, in accordance with church rules. The woman told Romney that her stake president, a doctor, had already told her, "Of course, you should have this abortion and then recover from the blood clot and take care of the healthy children you already have." Romney, she said, fired back, "I don’t believe you. He wouldn’t say that. I’m going to call him." And then he left. The woman said that she went on to have the abortion and never regretted it. "What I do feel bad about," she wrote, "is that at a time when I would have appreciated nurturing and support from spiritual leaders and friends, I got judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice, and rejection."

That Romney claims not to remember giving advice that could have killed a woman or endangered her health, especially when she had five children to care for, is troubling. He has also claimed not to remember tackling a gay classmate, pinning him to the ground, and cutting off his hair, even though students who watched the event remember it vividly many years later. Most of us would remember such things vividly, with tremendous remorse, if we were ever capable of such callous behavior. But we don't remember ants we crushed by accident. Is that how Willard Mitt Romney thinks of females outside his family circle, and gays? Here's another revealing excerpt from the Huffington Post article:

In July 1994, during Romney's U.S. Senate campaign, the Boston Globe published a story saying that Romney, in a speech to a congregation of single Mormons, said he found homosexuality "perverse and reprehensible." The story cited one named and three unnamed sources. Romney denied the comments. "I specifically said they should avoid homosexuality and they should avoid heterosexual relations outside of marriage," Romney told the Globe then. "I did not use the words perverse or perversion. I just said it was wrong. ... That is what my church believes."

So if his church believes something, it seems Romney believes it too. But the Mormon church has any number of strange beliefs: ... that Jesus was a polygamist, that God is an exalted man who lives as a physical being with multiple wives on the planet Kolob, that only men with multiple wives can reach the highest heaven (making polygamy a prerequisite for salvation), that in heaven the wives of polygamists will remain eternally pregnant and have billions of spirit children, that there are multiple gods, that human beings can become gods, and that magical underwear required and sold by the Mormon church can protect Mormons from lust and attacks by supernatural entities.

Is it possible that some of these beliefs are incorrect and should not be used to deny women and gays fully equal rights? Has the Mormon church, perhaps, been wildly wrong before?

Until 1978 the Mormon church taught that black people were the children of Cain and were black because they had been cursed by God, making them unfit to serve as ministers. The Mormon prophet Brigham Young said that if a white man has sex with a black woman the "law of God" is "death on the spot." (This despite the fact that according to the Bible it seems that  the greatest prophet, Moses, and the wisest man, Solomon, both had black wives.) Brigham Young told the Utah Territorial Legislature that "any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him cannot hold the priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spake it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it." John Taylor a president and prophet of the Mormon church, taught that God is a segregationist who discriminates against blacks, who "represent" the Devil. Mormon apostle Mark E. Petersen said that if a child had a single drop of negro blood, he would "receive the curse" and that the best such a cursed child could hope for, if he was "faithful all his days," was to be a "servant" (slave) in heaven. But then in 1978 one of the "prophets" of the church had a "revelation" that the curse had somehow mysteriously been lifted. But in the church's official notice, the prophet went oddly unnamed, as if no one wanted to take credit for the prophecy.

When the Mormon church was so obviously wrong about racism and segregation, and attempted to correct its obvious mistake in such a contrived and clumsy manner, can it be trusted to hand down edicts on the rights (or lack of rights) of women and gays? Should a potential president like Willard Mitt Romney withhold (or attempt to withhold) basic human rights from women and gays because his church teaches that women are supposed to submit to men in all things, and that God discriminates against non-heterosexuals, the way he used to discriminate against "the children of Cain?

Or are the Mormon church's current teachings about women and gays as absurd and laughable (albeit not funny) as its former teachings about blacks?

Did Romney call homosexuality "perverse"? Isn't that a teaching of most conservative Christian churches, including the Roman Catholics, the Southern Baptists and the Mormons? Romney’s alleged comments on homosexual practices were part of a 20-minute address he delivered on November 14 to the Cambridge University Ward, which numbers about 250 to 300 single Mormons. "He said he was appalled at the incidence of homosexuals in the congregation," said Rick Rawlins, a 32-year-old Mormon who had previously served as a counselor to the ward’s bishop. "He went on to say that he found homosexuality both perverse and reprehensible." Romney denied the veracity of the comments but, as the Globe noted, the account was confirmed by three other attendees: "I believe that his general message was that sex outside of marriage is immoral, but on the other hand, I do remember that there was a specific remark that he was appalled at the incidence of homosexuality in the ward and he termed it perverse," said one. "It was specific enough that I wanted to go see Bishop [Steven] Wheelwright right after that talk." Another person present offered this account. "During the talk, President Romney began talking about families and family values, and he mentioned homosexuality as a perversity. He went on for some time." This person didn’t recall the exact term Romney used to express his dismay at report of homosexual conduct, but said: "He certainly was conveying that he was appalled." Said a fourth person: "He started going on about being upset about homosexuality in this ward. I remember him calling it a sickness and a perversion."

It seems to me that Romney and the Mormon church, like other fundamentalist sects of Christianity, are now wrestling with intolerance against homosexuality the way they once wrestled with intolerance against "the children of Cain." Obviously, the churches are wrong and their prehistoric teachings do not come from a loving, wise, just, enlightened God.

Can we afford to have a president who refuses to admit that his church's "prophets" are wrong and that their teachings are relics of a stone age past? Should millions of Americans be denied full equality because someone like Mitt Romney believes that God is a sexist and a homophobe?

Why does Mitt Romney deny gay veterans their constitutional rights?

While other American men his age were fighting and dying in Vietnam, young Willard Mitt Romney took two and a half years off to vacation in France as a Mormon missionary, receiving a deferment from military service as a "minister of religion" despite being barely out of high school. While vacationing in France, Romney encouraged his fellow missionaries to read Think and Grow Rich! by Napoleon Hill, so it seems Romney was evangelizing Mammon along with God and magical underpants. Nor did he wish to serve his country as a soldier. As a Massachusetts Senate candidate in 1994, Romney told the Boston Herald: "It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam." But when he met an American veteran of the Vietnam War recently, Romney had the audacity to deny him his constitutional rights.

"You can’t trust him," said Bob Garon, a gay 63-year-old vet, after meeting Romney, looking him in the eye, and calling him out for his bigotry.

While Garon was risking his neck in Vietnam, Mitt Romney was tooling around Le Havre and Paris. But Romney, acting in his usual cold-blooded style, had no problem telling Garon that he is a persona non grata, despite his service to his country.

Asked by reporters to assess Romney’s chances for the nomination after their encounter, Garon replied: "I did a little research on Mitt Romney and, by golly, you reporters are right. The guy ain’t going to make it. Because you can’t trust him. I just saw it in his eyes. I judge a man by his eyes."

Ironically, Romney met Garon during a campaign stop at Chez Vachon, a French cafe in Manchester, N.H. While working the room, Romney spotted Garon wearing a flannel shirt and a Vietnam Veteran hat, then slid into his booth for a quick photo op. But to his consternation, as the cameras rolled, Garon confronted Romney with a blunt question: "New Hampshire right now has some legislation kicking around about a repeal for the same-sex marriage. And all I need is a yes or a no. Do you support the repeal?"

"I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law," Romney said, confirming that he denies equality to gay Americans, even if they risked their lives in service to their country while he vacationed in France, incubating his get-rich-quick schemes.

Garon, who was eating breakfast with his male husband, pointed out correctly: "If two men get married, apparently a veteran’s spouse would not be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman has devoted his time and effort to his country, and you just don’t support equality in terms of same-sex marriage?"

Romney confirmed that he not only denies gay veterans the right to marry, but that he also denies their partners having the same rights and benefits as heterosexual partners of other veterans. This is consistent with what Romney has said about denying gays the right to marry or to enter into civil unions, thus leaving them bereft of essential human rights.

"It's good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights," Garon replied dismissively.

When Romney started to argue that the Constitution is a homophobic document, a desperate-sounding aide urged him to wrap up the conversation: "Governor, we’ve got to get on with Fox News right now!" Was Romney saved from a knockout blow by the ding-dong bell of likeminded bigots?

"Oh, I guess the question was too hot," Garon remarked.

"No, I gave you the answer," Romney replied. "You said you had a yes-or-no [question]. I gave you the answer."

"You did," Garon agreed, although quite understandably not pleased or impressed. "And I appreciate your answer. And you know, I also learned something, and New Hampshire is right: You have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer. And you know what, governor? Good luck ... You’re going to need it."

"You are right about that," Romney said, unintentionally acknowledging that his bigotry against gay vets would come back to haunt him.

As reporters swarmed around his booth, Garon, an independent, said that he would not support Romney.

"I was undecided," Garon said. But "I’m totally convinced today that he’s not going to be my president—at least in my book. At least Obama will entertain the idea. This man is ‘No way, Jose.’ Well, take that ‘No way, Jose’ back to Massachusetts."

Later, Garon spoke to MSNBC about the exchange. "Well, quite frankly I'm not a professor of the Constitution but I don't believe it says anything about a man and a woman defining marriage," he said. "I didn't expect the answer that I got—I thought he'd be a little more diplomatic in his answer. But I did ask for a yes-or-no question and I've got to respect that that he did give me a yes-or-no answer."

But shouldn't we expect a prospective president and commander-in-chief to give the right answer, the fair answer, the just answer, the equitable answer?

Garon continued, "What I didn't expect from Mr. Romney is how confrontational he was and argumentative ... my question was really hoping that if he did get into the White House that he'd be in support of the benefits entitled to veterans and their spouses. Currently, they're not ... It just makes no sense to me."

Asked by reporters after Romney left why he feels so strongly about the issue, Garon responded passionately: "Because I’m gay, all right? And I happen to love a man just like you probably love your wife. I went and fought for my country and I think my spouse should be entitled to the same benefits as if I were married to a woman. What the hell is the difference?"

A very good question, indeed.

Garon said there is one aspect of Romney’s candidacy he supports: "I kind of liked his health care plan in Massachusetts." But of course Romney now castigates President Obama for Obamacare, even though it was clearly modeled on his own Romneycare. Romney has also waffled on climate change, women's reproductive rights, gun control and other issues. Take invasions of other countries, for example. His father, George Romney, who had once supported the Vietnam war, famously claimed that he had been brainwashed, possibly costing him the presidency. Mitt Romney agreed with his father and was quoted in a 1970 Boston Globe article as saying: "We were brainwashed. If it wasn’t a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don’t know what is." But today Romney is a right-wing war hawk. He supported the invasion of Iraq and the troop surge. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan. He sealed his political marriage to Paul Ryan in the shadow of a battleship, after "America's Comeback Teamn" ran down to the podium from the battleship, laughing and waving. And in his speech to the Citadel in October 2011, Romney seemed to be the one brainwashing young American cadets to pursue wars of preemptive retaliation (i.e., offensive wars). If you continue reading this page, you can hear Romney sounding like the second coming of Hitler ...

Mitt Romney strikes me as a fascist who believes that might is right and will say or do almost anything to achieve his personal goals of acquiring money, fame and power. It seems the only position that he hasn't changed is his belief in his money, his power and his budding godhood. Like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler, this endlessly strange creature named Willard Mitt Romney seems to see the rest of us a pawns in his game of cosmic chess. He claims that his Mormon faith is very important to him, and perhaps that's part of the problem, because Mormonism teaches that human beings can become gods and rule worlds. Romney and the Romulans seem to be cold-blooded conquerors intent on ruling ours.

The 13% Solution

When asked to disclose his tax returns, Willard Mitt Romney replied, "I am not a business." But he famously (or infamously) said that "corporations are people." Mitt the Flopple changes political positions the way Imelda Marcos changes shoes. But he is remarkably consistent about his taxes. Mitt the Omitter consistently makes up excuses not to explain why he seems to be one of the biggest tax evaders in American history. Perhaps we should call him Darth Evader.

Romney claims that he paid at least 13% in taxes for the last decade, while being careful not to specify federal income taxes. And did he pay 13% of everything he made or only of the money that he didn't shelter from taxes? It seems obvious that Romney has a LOT of money in Bermuda and Cayman Island tax shelters. Major new services like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Reuters and CBS News have reported that he may have up to $100 million, or close to half his estimated net worth, in esoteric Caribbean investments. In fact, it seems he may have placed entire Bain Capital holdings in offshore "IRAs." So suppose Romney made $20 million one year, sheltered $19.9 million in offshore "IRAs," then paid taxes on only $100,000 in earnings? Yes, he might have paid 13% in taxes on the $100,000 and that might be commensurate with what other Americans pay after deducting personal exemptions, charitable contributions, etc. But his real effective tax rate might be closer to 1.3%, or zero, depending on how much money he made, and how much of that money was sheltered. The only way for anyone to know Romney's real tax rate is for him to release his tax returns. The fact that he refuses to release any of his returns prior to 2010 suggests that there are major problems with his older returns. Do we want a commander-in-chief who expects American soldiers to risk their lives in battle, when he's too cowardly to pay his fair share of taxes to help provide them with the best possible equipment and training?

The proposed Romney-Ryan budget plan would eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains, making it possible for millionaires and billionaires to reduce their effective tax rates to 1% or less. (According to Romney's 2010 tax return, under the new Romney-Ryan plan he would have paid slightly less than one percent on $21 million in earnings.) In order to fund this lavish bounty for the super-rich, less wealthy Americans will have to pay thousands more in taxes per year. Then, finally, Willard Mitt Romney can legally avoid paying taxes, since you and I will be covering for him!

Mitt Rotney's Art of "Creative Destruction"

During Romney's years as CEO of Bain Capital, he did not specialize in creating jobs, but in "creative destruction," a term he employed twelve times in his book No Apology (but which he now avoids during his race for the American presidency). Mitt Romney did not create jobs ... that was Myth Romney. Here is how Rigger Mortis's business associates described the actual process they employed: creative destruction is like a "forest fire" that "clears out the detritus even if you lose some animals [i.e., human beings] in the short run."

Or, as Romney's Bain Capital partner James McCurry put it, "When the momma bird shows up with a worm, all those little open beaks are down there sending the signal, 'Give the worm to me!'" But what vulture capitalists do in such situations is like the poppa bird greedily gulping down the worm itself, after flinging the fledglings from the nest before they're able to fly.

Mitt Romney became one of the world's wealthiest men by firing American workers, outsourcing their jobs to China and other Asian countries, then pocketing the "savings" himself. But this larceny was inconvenient for his political aspirations. When Mitt the Ripper was running against Ted Kennedy for a Massachusetts senate seat  in 1994, while Bain was closing plants and firing hundreds of workers, he was quoted as saying, "Aw, jeez, do we really need to fire these guys right away?"

The King of Bain didn't have any problem firing American workers; his only remorse was for the impact their firings had on his campaign.

Is Mitt the Omitter a sociopath unable to empathize with the suffering of people he doesn't know?

Wrong Way Romney's Aversion to Risk

Mitt Romney made his fortune by forcing other people to assume all risk for his speculations. When Bill Bain offered Romney the lead role at the then-new Bain Capital private equity firm, Romney refused the job until the salary was guaranteed and he was promised his old job back if the new venture didn't pan out. This led Bill Bain to say that "all the risk and investment was basically on my side."

Romney would go on to do something similar with the companies he "invested" in. He would put up relatively small amounts of money, then load the companies he purchased with massive debt, which he would then pay to himself and and Bain in the form of "dividends" and consulting/management fees. At that point, he had no risk. If the company failed and all its employees lost their jobs, he still profited. No wonder he's called Mittler by the LGBT community.

The Gospel according to Mitt "Rigger Mortis" Romney: Tax cheats shall inherit the earth, while the poor inherit their taxes!

As reported by Bloomberg, the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post and other reputable news services, on August 23, 2012, Willard Mitt Romney told a group of wealthy donors, "Big business is doing fine ... They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses." Romney, who has been accused of sheltering up to $100 million of his own money in Cayman Island "IRAs," obviously sees avoiding taxes as a good thing, at least when speaking to his rich cronies and benefactors. But this presents a huge problem for the 99% of Americans who are forced to pay taxes, rain or shine, through automatic payroll deductions, since we end up paying the taxes of the wealthiest Americans and corporations, while they laugh to their Cayman Island banks. Even worse, if Romney is elected president, he plans to reduce the taxes of the wealthiest 1% to less than 1%, by eliminating income taxes on the main sources of their income: capital gains, interest and dividends. If the Romney-Ryan budget plan had been in effect, Romney would have paid federal income tax of less than 1% on his 2010 income of $21 million. Who is going to make up the difference? Obviously, we the little people. Experts have calculated that when Romney cuts his taxes to almost nothing, each average American's taxes will go up by around $2,000.

So when Romney promises to "fix" our economy, what he really means that he is going to geld everyone who isn't super-rich, like himself.

Meanwhile, the Wikileaks-like website Gawker has released more than 950 pages of information about Romney's finances, which it calls a "black hole" full of "tax-dodging tricks available to the hyper-rich." Gawker describes the net effect of the documents as follows: "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." (When Romney wants to brag about his accomplishments at Bain, he ran the whole show, but after Bain became a pioneer of outsourcing American jobs to China, Romney "wasn't there" even though his name appears over and over again as the CEO of Bain Capital, years after he "left.")

The bottom line? Romney's comments above, his personal $100 million Cayman Island "IRA" and his track record as a corporate raider, vulture capitalist and outsourcer of American jobs speak for themselves. If he wants to prove me and his other critics wrong, all he has to do is disclose how he and Bain made so much money in non-parasitical ways. But he's not going to do that, because the evidence would support our claims, not his.

Here's how Romney described his business career himself: "I spent 25 years balancing budgets, eliminating waste and keeping as far away from the government as humanly possible." But by "eliminating waste" he seems to mean American jobs and workers. And his main avoidance of the government seems to have been tax avoidance.

Romney's main claim to business fame is as a bean-counting number cruncher. Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, said that the idea of saving money on paper clips "really resonated" with Romney, whom he called "one of the cheapest sons of guns I ever met in my life." But the problem for Americans is that Romney had the same attitude toward jobs. He closed factories, crushed unions and was one of the pioneers of outsourcing American jobs to low-wage countries like China. Remorseless cost cutting made Romney richer than Midas, but he was doing the opposite of creating jobs.

And of course when incredibly wealthy men like Mitt Romney choose to avoid their taxes, less-well off Americans are forced to make up the difference. His longtime Bain Capital partner Marc Wolpaw was recently quoted in TIME as saying, "I think he believed, and I do believe, that as a businessperson, you have the right to push the tax law into the gray area ..."

The TIME article concludes that Romney's unwillingness to disclose his tax returns stems from the "political reaction" he will receive if "the creativity of his accounting becomes fully known."

White House or Waffle House?

Romney has earned nicknames like Flip Flopney, Mitt the Flopple and Multiple Choice Mitt by waffling on important subjects. Today he tries to project himself as a staunch conservative, but his term as governor of Massachusetts featured state-mandated healthcare, gun control and legalized abortion. He recently had much more liberal stances on stem cell research and climate change as well.

Romney has also been called Pander Bear for being willing to say anything to anyone in search of votes. When pandering for the votes of NRA members, Romney now pretends to be a hunting enthusiast. But business associates of his say Romney wanted nothing to do with guns, which he equated with tobacco and gambling, presumably for ethical reasons. For instance, his longtime partner Marc Wolpaw was quoted in TIME as saying Romney was "adamant" about not making investments in tobacco and firearms and that there was "no way" Bain Capital could invest in weapons manufacturers. Another Bain associate, Geoffrey Rehnert, agreed that tobacco, guns and gambling had a "personal yuck factor" with the partners.

But it seems Romney's values must have been discarded when he entered the presidential race, as his biggest financial contributor is Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul who has pledged to invest a startling $100 million in what seems like a blatant attempt to buy the presidency and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thereby putting the US stamp of approval on the liquidation of any hope of a Palestinian state, which would probably result in more events like 911, and thus cost Americans thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

Adelson is under investigation by the state of Nevada, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible money laundering and bribery of Chinese officials, which would be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He has also been accused of ties to prostitution; more than 100 prostitutes were recently arrested in one of his Chinese casinos.

Adelson obviously doesn't care who gets elected president, as long as he gets what he wants, since much of the $16 million he spent on Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign was used to attack Romney. Now Adelson has made a $10 million donation to the pro-Romney "Restore Our Future" Super PAC, with the promise of more to come. When Paul Ryan was selected as Romney's running mate, one of his first official acts was as pilgrimage to Las Vegas to pay obeisance to Sheldon Adelson.

I think this except from a Democratic Underground article succinctly sums up what we know about the candidacy of Mitt the Ripper: "that Mitt Romney's qualification for the presidency consists of a career at Bain Capital about which we know essentially nothing; that his economic plan is the most massive transfer of wealth to the rich from the rest in the history of the country; that he arrogantly, petulantly and suspiciously refuses to play by the same financial disclosure rules that have applied to presidential candidates since his father ran; that his foreign policy team is a reunion of the neocon club that gave us [the invasion of] Iraq; that the health care reform he championed in Massachusetts is virtually identical to the Affordable Care Act ["Obamacare"] he promises to repeal; that he has changed sides on climate change, gun control, a woman's right to choose and so many other issues that the only consistent theme in his record is the urgency of pandering to the right, a spinelessness he is unlikely to abjure as president; and that Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout may well send him to the White House."

I, Robot

If a robot, android or space alien was running for president, just think of some of the strange things it might say in its attempts to connect with real human beings ... but these are all things actually said by Willard Mitt Romney, a man even stranger than his name and nicknames (Matinee Mitt, Mitt the Twitt, Mitt Inappropriate, the Romneybot):

I love this state. The trees are the right height. The streets are just right.
I had catfish for the second time. It was delicious, just like the first time.
I am learning to say y'all and I like grits, and ... strange things are happening to me.
Morning, ya'll. I got started this morning right with a biscuit and some cheesy grits. (No one calls them "cheesy" grits.)
I was going to suggest to you that you serve your eggs with hollandaise sauce and hubcaps. Because there's no plates like chrome for the hollandaise.
These pancakes are about as large as my win in Puerto Rico last night, I must admit. The margin is just about as good.
Look at us in here! We are all nice together, all nice and wet, you know, like a can of sardines. ("Nice"?)
That's a big lava lamp, congratulations!
Davy, Davy Crockett. King of the wild frontier!
I'm an unofficial southerner.
Please give us a big hug, that's the girls. I've been getting hugs from the Southern girls ... from 12, to well, a lot more than 12.
I never imagined I'd be up here like Larry the Cable guy!
I love the hymns of America, by the way.

The Romneybot expresses empathy for other heartless, soulless entities

Corporations are people, my friend ... of course they are ... human beings, my friend.
Banks aren't bad people. They're just overwhelmed right now ... scared to death ... feeling the same thing that you're feeling.

The Romneybot however fails miserably in its attempts to empathize with warm-blooded human beings

We should double Guantanamo!
Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.
Let Detroit go bankrupt.
I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back. (Referring to the auto industry he wanted to go bankrupt.)
I'm in this race because I care about Americans.
I'm not concerned about the very poor.
I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed. (Quite a story, indeed!)
I know what it's like to worry whether you're gonna get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.
I've got a lot of good friends, the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, both owners are friends of mine.
I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals. (Presumably when he wasn't running for office, it was okay to have illegals.)
I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. ("Like"?)

The Romneybot waxes romantic, sorta

I introduce to you the heavyweight champion of my life. Wait, that didn't come out right. (Referring to his wife Ann.)
Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. (Is that one of her alien superpowers?)
In one of his more bizarre flip-flops, Romney went from strongly supporting federal funding for stem cell research that might cure his wife's multiple sclerosis, to opposing such funding. This strange bit of waffling was pointed out by fellow Republican John McCain and his staff during the last presidential election.

The Romneybot fails to compute and emits static

[Russia] is without question our number one geopolitical foe. (Not true since the fall of the Iron Curtain and end of the Cold War.)
I must admit, I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy. (Not rape, incest, murder, infanticide, matricide or genocide?)
I like the Twilight series. I thought that was fun.(We assume he thinks the Cold Ones are comedians; well, perhaps compared to him, they are.)
Who let the dogs out? Who, who? (During an awkward photo op with a group of African American kids.)

The Romneybot's CPU cannot compute basic science

Conservatism has had from its inception vigorously positive, intellectually rigorous agenda and thinking. (Oh, really?)
I am in favor of stem-cell research. (Romney later changed his stance on federal funding of stem cell research.)
My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. (The scientific consensus is that excessive carbon dioxide is the primary cause.)

The Romneybot doing its best George W. Bush and Sarah Palin impressions

I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love.
I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was.
I'm Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that's also my first name. (Romney's first name is Willard; Mitt is his middle name.)

Mr. Doublespeak

I am a big believer in getting money where the money is. The money is in Washington.Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney would have us believe that he favors a smaller, leaner federal government. But when the Salt Lake City Olympics was on the financial rocks, what did he do? He relied on a huge taxpayer-funded bailout that exceeded all federal spending on all previous Olympics combined. John McCain called the bailout a "boondoggle" and a "ripoff" of American taxpayers" for "an incredible pork-barrel project" that was "outrageous" and a "national disgrace." Romney, however, bragged about the huge sums of money he procured from Uncle Sam. Later he flip-flopped and said that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich (not-so-coincidentally his main rivals for the Republican presidential nomination) must be "held accountable" for seeking earmarks. But when Romney addressed the New Bedford Industrial Foundation in October 2002, his advice in a Power Point presentation was to "boost federal involvement." (Romney is also obviously a big believer in telling gullible people whatever they want to hear.)

In any case, the real credit for saving the Olympics should go to the American public. Romney's main contribution, really, was that he was an effective lobbyist for federal government assistance (i.e., welfare). So when he attacks poor people for requesting government assistance and accuses the government of what he calls "crony capitalism," he's denouncing what he bragged about when he was leader of the welfare pack. And he seems especially hypocritical when he calls it "immoral" to borrow money to help flood victims, when he had no problem with the federal government borrowing billions to bail out the Olympic games and his rich Wall Street cronies. Nor does he have any problem proposing a budget that will force the federal government to borrow $8 trillion dollars over the next ten years to further increase spending on an already-bloated military.

Romney also waffles on the subject of abortion. Sometimes he claims to want to abolish abortion completely, when trying to convince pro-life conservatives that he believes life begins at conception. But when speaking to more moderate and liberal Americans, he says that he favors exemptions for rape, incest and cases where a pregnant woman's life is in danger. He also constantly waffles on gay marriage. When speaking to a group of gay Republicans, Romney promised to be a stronger advocate of gay rights than Ted Kennedy, who espoused gay marriage. When speaking to more conservative Americans, Romney claims to oppose gay marriage. But when his friends the Cathys were under fire for publicly opposing gay marriage through their management of Chick-fil-A, Romney refused to take a public stance. So he gives friends and foes alike the impression that he would rather sit on the political fence than definitively explain what he really believes.

I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe, and I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.—Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney claims to be a Christian, but his belief in human evolution completely contradicts the salvation gospel of Saint Paul, which Paul said he received directly from God. According to Paul, Adam was created perfect and immortal by God, and was only condemned to suffer and die when he disobeyed God. Thus it was Adam's disobedience that required Jesus Christ to be born, live a perfect life and die, thus atoning for and redeeming Adam and his descendents. But if Romney is correct and imperfect human beings evolved in an imperfect world where trillions of animals suffered and died before man was capable of understanding the will and word of God, there could have been no fall or original sin. That would place the onus of suffering and death on the Creator, not man. So it seems that Romney is attacking the core belief of most Christians: that man is fallen and must be redeemed by God (because if human beings evolved, it would be the other way around). During his discussion of his belief in evolution, Romney pointed out that evolution is taught at B.Y.U., the private Mormon university named after Brigham Young, a prophet of the Mormon church. On April 9, 1852 speaking before the Salt Lake Tabernacle, Brigham Young taught that Adam was "our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." He also taught that Eve was only one of Adam's wives (meaning that God is a polygamist) and that Jesus Christ "was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." Brigham Young's teachings were later confirmed in writing by major figures of the Mormon church, such as Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff. Just four years before his death, Brigham Young declared that it was God who gave him the Adam-God doctrine. And Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and its first prophet, also said that Adam was the Ancient of Days, or God. But if Adam was God, then God is responsible for all suffering and death, and thus for all evil. And it seems these sins of God are connected to polygamy, since Brigham Young said: "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses 11:269). This would mean that Jesus must have been a polygamist, even though the Bible does not mention Jesus being married. And Mormon prophets have said that human beings can become gods and "have jurisdiction over worlds" as Joseph Smith put it. So it seems this process of God sinning and creating fallen worlds where creatures have to suffer and die and evolve will continue ...?

We have a president, who I think is is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps.—Mitt Romney

But Willard Mitt Romney is a child of privilege with two Harvard degrees!

It's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.—Mitt Romney

Romney constantly speaks with a forked tongue, out of both sides of his mouth. As long as Osama bin Laden was at large, Republicans criticized President Obama for not doing enough to bring him to justice. And despite the quote above, Romney called the decision to send a team of Navy SEALs to Pakistan to kill bin Laden an easy decision that "even Jimmy Carter" would have made. While speaking to New York firefighters, he said:

Of course I would have ordered taking out Osama bin Laden.—Mitt Romney

But in 2007 he said that it was not worth spending billions of dollars to catch one person and he criticized President Obama for suggesting that such an attack might be launched in Pakistan, saying in his best imitation of George W. Bush:

I do not concur in the words [sic] of Barack Obama in a plan [sic] to enter an ally of ours.—Mitt Romney

So it seems obvious that Mitt Romney would not have launched the attack on Osama bin Laden, because (1) he thought it wasn't worth the money it would cost and (2) he didn't think the United States had the right to stage such an attack in Pakistan.

The top ten reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney

I have learned from my Olympic experience that if you have people who really understand how Washington works and have personal associations there you can get money to help build economic development opportunities.—Mitt Romney

(10) American taxpayers bailed out the Utah Olympics; Romney just took the credit for what we did.
(9) Romney was not a venture capitalist but a vulture capitalist who killed American companies and jobs in order to gorge on their remains.
(8) Despite becoming one of the world's wealthiest men, Romney apparently paid little or nothing in income taxes for more than a decade.
(7) And yet he now accuses Americans who request affordable healthcare of wanting "free stuff," when in reality he is the King of Entitlements.
(6) His budget plan would reduce taxes on the richest Americans to 1% or less, while everyone else goes broke paying higher taxes.
(5) Romney is a sociopathic bully and pathological liar; one of his classmates compared him to the "Lord of the Flies."
(4) He is leading the Republican assault on the elderly, the sick, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, gays, union workers and minorities.
(3) He is leading the Republican assault on the poor and middle classes, which means he is attacking most of the Americans we know.
(2) He is leading the assault on women's rights, which means he is attacking our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and grand-daughters.
(1) He has reassembled the same neocon advisers who plotted the invasion of Iraq, and they are now plotting to attack Iran on the same false premises. Romney and his Romulans lust after money, power and glory, and they see war as the way to achieve their goals, like other fascists of the past.

Romney, the King of Entitlements

Let Detroit go bankrupt.—Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney was in favor of letting Detroit go bankrupt, which would have cost tens of thousands of American autoworkers and suppliers their jobs. But of course Romney was in favor of much larger bailouts for his rich Wall Street cronies.

Well, the banks aren't bad people. They're just overwhelmed right now. The banks are scared to death, of course. They're feeling the same thing that you're feeling.—Mitt Romney

But as with the Olympics, Romney is more than willing to take credit for something he didn't do:

I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back.—Mitt Romney

Incredibly, Willard Mitt Romney now wants to take credit for the recovery of the American automobile manufacturing industry, despite having written a New York Times op-ed piece titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," in which he said if GM, Ford and Chrysler got a government bailout "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."

Romney seems to be more concerned about banks and Wall Street tycoons than he is about the working classes and the poor. He and other Republicans speak disparagingly of "entitlements." But the simple truth is that American taxpayers fund Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, so for anyone who has paid his/her taxes honestly, they are not entitlements but social compacts. In reality, Romney is the King of Entitlements because unlike middle-class Americans who pay their taxes rain or shine, Romney evades his taxes like the plague. Now he wants to be the commander-in-chief of courageous American soldiers, when he lacks the courage to help provide them with the equipment that would help protect their lives, health and mental well-being. Why should we elect a commander-in-chief whose cowardice endangers our soldiers' lives?

Romney's Failure to Protect the Environment

My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.—Mitt Romney

This is a not-so-artful dodge, simply to suck up more votes, while the planet goes down the tubes. Anyone with a brain understands that it doesn't matter who is responsible for climate change. All that matters is whether the earth's climate really is changing, and it obviously is. It has been documented that sea levels are rising, which means large amounts of ice are melting in glaciers and polar ice caps. Anyone who watches nature shows knows that glaciers really are receding and polar ice caps really are melting at tremendous rates. So Romney is either lying through his teeth to get votes from people who refuse to accept the truth, or he is a complete idiot. In either case, he has no business being president of the United States. The dinosaurs were not responsible for the climate change that caused their extinction, but they became extinct nonetheless. So obviously not being responsible changes nothing. Human beings have the advantage of bigger, more powerful brains, so we have the chance to survive, but we need to use them. The Romneybot either has a faulty CPU, or its CPU only computes ways to grab more money and power, never thinking about the suffering and deaths its actions will produce.

Romney's War on the Elderly, Sick and Poor

Here's economist Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan: "In the first decade, the big things are (i) conversion of Medicaid into a block grant program, with much lower funding than projected under current law and (ii) sharp cuts in top tax rates [i.e., for the wealthy] and corporate taxes. Is this a deficit-reduction program? Not on the face of it: it’s basically a tradeoff of reduced aid to the poor for reduced taxes on the rich, with the net effect of the specific proposals being to increase, not reduce, the deficit."

In other words, Romney and Ryan will sell the sick, poor and elderly (us one day, if we live long enough!) down the river, in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Many of the richest Americans will legally pay less than 1% in taxes, since the main sources of their income will be tax-free: capital gains, interest and dividends.

Romney's War on Women

Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.—Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is leading the ever-escalating Republican full-frontal assault on American women's rights. If there was an Olympics for male chauvinism, Romney and the Romulans would undoubtedly sweep gold, silver and bronze.

A recent Guttmacher Institute report reveals the startling extent of the GOP's war on women’s reproductive rights: "By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions ..."

And the GOP’s biggest stars are leading the dash to force girls and women to bear their rapists’ babies. When Todd Akin spoke of "illegitimate" rape, he was merely echoing what Ron Paul said when he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that victims of "honest rape" should be treated differently than other rape victims. Paul Ryan obviously concurs, as he and Akin were co-sponsors of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," which in its original form included an exemption only for "forcible rape." Rick Santorum has called rapists’ fetuses "gifts" from God and opposes abortion and contraceptives under all circumstances. Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann signed the "Personhood USA" pledge, which allows no exceptions for rape and incest. Mitt Romney wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood, to repeal Roe vs. Wade, and to define life as beginning at conception, meaning that a microscopic egg fertilized by a rapist against a teenage girl's will can sentence her to death. So why all the fuss about Todd Akin, really? He is no more extreme than any of the best-known conservative presidential candidates, and less extreme than the only one with a legitimate shot at becoming president.

Romney and the Romulans will sell American women down the river, returning them to the Dark Ages, the same way Romney's Bain Capital vultures sold American workers down the river, and the same way Romney intends to sell poor- and middle-income-class Americans down the river once he becomes president. In Romney's United States, unless you are rich, healthy, white and male, there is something terribly "wrong" with you—thus all you are good for is to work and pay taxes, so that rich, healthy white men don't have to pay taxes. When you can no longer work and pay taxes, you will be quickly discarded. If you ask for any help from the government you helped fund all your working career, you will be called a freeloader in search of "free stuff." But things will be even worse for girls and women. If a girl iis raped, she will have no choice but to bear her rapist's baby. If a mother has two jobs and three children, and she forgets to take a birth control pill, or a pill is defective, if she becomes pregnant she will have no choice but to bear another child. It will be illegal for her to choose not to become a mother.

A mere two days after Akin's gaffe, we learned conclusively that he is actually far less extreme than his party, when the Republican platform committee approved language seeking a constitutional amendment to ban abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to a pregnant woman's life. The wording of the GOP’s renewed call for a "human life amendment" agrees with what the party approved in 2004 and 2008. Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, noted that the absolute abortion ban "is the platform of the Republican Party." The Romney campaign declined to comment on the platform committee’s vote, but in the past Romney has endorsed identical language. In 2007, during his first White House bid, Romney told ABC News: "I support that [human life amendment language] being part of the Republican platform." During a Republican presidential debate in 2007, Romney said that he would welcome a consensus that "we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period." He added that he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning all abortions.

So Romney is obviously much more extreme than Todd Akin. And yet Romney told a New Hampshire TV station that Akin’s remarks were "deeply offensive" and that he and Ryan "can’t defend him." Ryan, seated beside Romney, nodded his head in agreement. But Akin effectively tied Ryan to his comment when he confirmed on Mike Huckabee's radio program that by "legitimate rape" he meant "forcible rape," the term that appeared in the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." bill co-sponsored by Akin and Ryan!

The bottom line is that—as stupid, evil and offensive as Akin's comments were—Paul Ryan is just as bad, and Mitt Romney is worse.

Is Mitt Romney a Sociopath?

I have studied the findings of several handwriting experts, and this one by Sheila Kurtz seems to agree with the general consensus about Mitt Romney: "... inclined to think quickly, act impulsively, dream big, and hang on to what’s his." But several of the experts pointed out real problems with his ability to empathize with and relate to other people.

Here is a graphology (handwriting) analysis by Joel Engel, the author of two books on the subject: "Mitt Romney’s capacity to relate is bleak. His signature has abrupt endings. This signifies being short with others. The two hooks reflect stubbornness. Dashes reveal a (usually subconscious) desire to be unsocial, especially when they vary from the standard (forward slashes). The disproportionately distant and disconnected T bar shows personal detachment. These combined traits produce feeling awkward in public. [Romney's] middle zone is also small. What is unique is that he connects from this area to the upper zone (instead of the routine middle zone). [By] avoiding the social (middle zone) area, this man’s thought processes are purely intellectual ... His rightward slant informs us that he can use his gifted brainpower aggressively."

Here is another graphology analysis, by Treyce Montoya, CEO of Center of Forensic Profiling: "Romney's handwriting is more separate or disconnected (mostly print) than Obama's. This indicates that he can be abrupt and impatient with others as well as not wanting to socially engage. His disconnections on his "TT"s in his name show his desire to not truly connect to [other] people ... the exit strokes are short ... which indicate stubbornness and reemphasize his 'unsocialness.' ... Romney's signature is more rightward and this shows that he is more impulsive ... Romney likes to acquire (collect) things and retain them."

Another handwriting expert, David Littman, said that to be on the same wavelength with Mitt Romney, because he is so analytical, we would have to appeal to his mind, not his emotions. Littman also said that Romney takes umbrage when people break the rules, is aggressive and would go "straight for the jugular," which could account for his warlike talk about attacking Iran.

The handwriting experts give Romney credit for high intelligence and leadership, but question his character. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, Engel rated Romney as a 2 for personality. Anyone who has watched Romney try to "connect" with other people in public should be able to confirm that Romney seems to be functioning purely or mostly on intellect. He doesn't seem to be able to empathize with the suffering of others. This would explain why he "can't remember" holding a fellow student down and cutting off his hair, and why he doesn't understand that it was inhumane to strap his dog to the roof of his car for an 11-hour road trip. A classmate of Romney's compared him to the "Lord of the Flies." I have read what many people who know him have said about Romney in my research, since I became concerned that Americans may be about to elect a sociopath to the presidency. While people have complimented his intelligence and ability to get things done, almost no one has had anything nice to say about him as a person. While none of this is conclusive proof, still his handwriting, his actions, and what people do and don't say about him, all seem to suggest that Romney may lack normal human empathy and sociability. Our greatest presidents obviously cared about other Americans: Washington, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, et al. Can we afford to elect a president who can't connect with other Americans, in these trying, dangerous times?

Mr. Flip Flop

A liberal, a conservative and a moderate walk into a bar. The barman looks up and says: "Hi Mitt!"

Is Willard Mitt Romney a liberal, a conservative, or a moderate? The simple truth is that no one really knows what Romney believes, or would do as president. We have, however, learned a few things about Romney's character, through his actions:

• Romney was not a venture capitalist, but a vulture capitalist and corporate raider.
• Romney did not "create" jobs, in sum, but fired thousands of people, outsourcing large numbers of American jobs to foreign countries.
• In fact, Romney's companies were pioneers of such job "off-shoring" according to the Washington Post and other reputable news services.
• Romney loaded American companies with massive debts, so that they could pay him massive dividends before they went under.
• Romney has called it "simply immoral" to borrow money to help flood victims, but has no problem bailing out his rich Wall Street cronies.
• Why is it "immoral" to help people who didn't create their own problems, but "moral" to help people whose greed created problems for an entire nation?
• While Romney crows about American exceptionalism, he relies on banks and shell corporations on tiny, insecure Caribbean islands.
• According to major news services, Romney may have up to $100 million sheltered in Bermuda and Cayman Island "IRAs," safe from taxes.
• And yet he now hypocritically accuses Americans who ask for affordable healthcare of wanting "free stuff," when he is the King of Free Stuff!
• Romney only "saved" the Olympics with the help of a huge bailout from U.S. taxpayers (i.e., we saved the Olympics and Romney took the credit).
• Romney then insulted all England by suggesting that only he could successfully organize an Olympics, casting the only shadow on the games.
• Romney was a bully in school (one of his classmates compared him to The Lord of the Flies). Now he wants to bully Iran, starting another war ...

Other than having a better understanding of how Romney became so fabulously wealthy and seeing what an oddly disconnected robot he seems to be, we still know very little about the man and his core beliefs. Romney has been accused of running an Etch-a-Sketch campaign, with the goal of fooling right-wing conservatives into believing that he's a fellow conservative in the early going, then picking up the votes of moderates later by pretending to be more liberal. And there seem to be valid reasons for such concerns. Take, for instance, the issue of gay marriage. When Romney ran for senator against Ted Kennedy, he told Log Cabin Republicans that he would be a stronger advocate of gay rights than his famously liberal opponent. But when Romney speaks before evangelicals, he claims to be against gay marriage and even civil unions for gays. However, when Chick-fil-A and his good friends the Cathys were being criticized and boycotted for publicly opposing gay marriage, Romney refused to speak to the larger American public at all. So who can possibly know where this political chameleon stands on many important social issues?

At least with politicians like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, we know where they're "coming from." If we want right-wing nutjobs to run the country into the ground, we can vote for them. But with Romney we remain clueless. One minute he's a life-long hunting enthusiast, because he's speaking to NRA members. The next minute, he (or one of his aides) has to admit that he only ever hunted twice in his life, because someone caught him in yet another wild exaggeration. Romney wrote a book with one of the strangest titles ever, No Apology, but now must repeatedly confess that he made things up, when the truth would have served him better. Pathological liars dissemble even when the truth would suffice, and Romney seems to fit that mold. (I can hear Richard Nixon pleading, "I am not a crook" in the background.) Romney reminds me of Nixon with his disdain for the truth and his space-alien-like detachment from average Americans. Such detachment makes Romney a hard man to "grok."

But here's what we do know: On the most important issues that Romney has addressed clearly and consistently, he is dead wrong.. He is wrong about attacking Iran for the same highly dubious reason that we attacked Iraq. He is wrong about giving the super-rich 1% more tax cuts, while raising taxes for the other 99%. He is wrong about spending $8 trillion on more military buildups, if that means ripping apart the safety nets of retirees who contributed to Social Security and Medicare all their working lives. He is wrong about giving billions to his rich cronies in Israel, so that Israelis can have universal healthcare, if that means denying affordable healthcare to Americans. He is wrong about not disclosing his tax returns to American voters, so that we can be sure that with his vast fortune, he paid substantially more taxes than we did.

Romney is wrong about so many things that it would be hard to know where to start, except that he is so wrong about the most important thing of all, that we can safely start there ...

The Single Most Important Issue

This is the only reason we must not vote for Romney: He has assembled the same team of neoconservatives (neocons) who plotted to attack Iraq on false premises, and they are now plotting to attack Iran on the same false premises. Their names and intentions will be revealed below, after I have pointed out some of the truly odd goings-on at the recent commencement party of "America's Comeback Team" ...

Battleships and Freudian Slips

When Mitt Romney revealed that his running mate would be Paul Ryan, the announcement was made in front of a battleship. When Ryan emerged from the USS Wisconsin, the music being played was from the movie Air Force One. Was this a signal to allies and enemies of the U.S. that the neocons who launched the invasion of Iraq are still firmly in control of the GOP, and now stand ready to use the immensely powerful American navy and air force to attack Iran and any other Middle Eastern nations that refuse to submit to U.S. and Israeli tyranny? (No doubt Bibi Netanyahu and other Israeli neocons were just as "deeply excited" as Paul Ryan to see this impressive show of power.)

Like Rachel Maddow, I object to two men who chose not to serve in the military running down from the battleship to the podium, laughing and waving. I was reminded of Michael Dukakis playing tank commander and George W. Bush using a jet dubbed Navy One to land on the USS Abraham Lincoln (after he had allegedly played truant from the Texas Air National Guard unit that helped keep him from seeing duty in Vietnam!).

It was hopefully a good omen that the Wisconsin is a decommissioned WWII-vintage battleship, currently in mothballs. Perhaps this is a sign that Romney's campaign will be shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.

"Join me," Romney instructed the crowd, "in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan!"

Was this a mistake, or a Freudian slip? (I suspect the latter.)

The ever-dapper, always-wooden Romney stood at the microphone sans jacket, wearing a light blue tie. Ryan wore a billowing, cloak-like black jacket that made him look like a Jedi gone over to the dark side, or perhaps a KGB agent in a Cold War film noir. Did they dress this way as a signal that Ryan is the more serious, capable and formidable leader, just as Dick Cheney was a far more serious, capable and formidable leader than George W. Bush? In any case, Ryan looked a bit spook-y to me, please pardon the pun.

As Ryan was marveling—"Wow! Hey! Man!"—that he was standing in the shadow of the mighty (if completely obsolete) Wisconsin, a distant, distraught voice could be heard—"Hold on! Hold on!"

It was Romney, returning to the stage to renounce his claim that Ryan would be the next president. (Whew, that was a close call!)

Romney probably came close to giving Ryan a heart attack when he interrupted his speech with: "Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake." For a few painful seconds, a puzzled-looking Ryan must have felt like Bain Capital worker being informed that his job had just been outsourced to China. Romney at least had the wits to recover somewhat, with: "I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this, he's gonna be the next vice-president of the United States." Romney sounded more hopeful than confident (as when he talks about his tax returns).

The marriage made in political heaven seemed to have suddenly hit the honeymoon rocks. And this was before elderly people in Florida began protesting what Romney and Ryan propose to do to Medicare, forcing Romney to cancel a speaking engagement in Orlando, presumably to regroup and think of new lies (euphemistically called "campaign promises"). In any case, Romney and Ryan will not be going to the Magic Kingdom anytime soon, except perhaps in their highly irrational dreams that they are the "saviors" of the "American way." Since when is it the American way to wage war after illegal war, while sending our children, parents and grandparents to the poorhouse? Only since the madness of King George—George W. Bush—has fighting unwinnable wars while the nation goes bankrupt been a national goal. Before, it was something we tried to avoid, not always successfully. But the battleship and triumphant strains of martial music seem to clearly indicate that Romney and Ryan are ready, willing and able to go to war (as long as they and their children don't have to risk their lives, and their super-rich patrons don't have to risk any of their money, which explains why Medicare must be gutted while the poor and middle classes shoulder even more of the tax loads and war debts).

"He’s never been content to simply curse the darkness," Romney said of Ryan later. "He’d rather light candles."

This seemed to be a reference to Eleanor Roosevelt, who once said that it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. But she was ahead of her time in demanding equal rights for everyone. Paul Ryan is no Eleanor Roosevelt, as he seems intent on denying fully equal rights to gays and, like many Republicans, also seems determined to return women's reproductive rights to the Dark Ages. To date, Ryan is best known as the author of a budget plan so radical The New York Times called it "the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times." Newt Gingrich dismissed it as "radical" and "right-wing social engineering." Ryan's budget would end Medicare as we know it and transfer huge sums of money to the super-rich by slashing their taxes—yet again!—while raising taxes for the middle class. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center's number-crunching indicates that Ryan's plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade, resulting in 2020 deficit of roughly $1.3 trillion. Ryan may talk about the deficit in "apocalyptic terms," which is easy enough to do, but his "Roadmap" would actually increase it. The TPC estimates that Ryan's plan would slash taxes on the richest 1% in half, giving them 117% of the plan’s total tax cuts! But taxes would go up for 95% of the population. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that elderly Americans would pay $6,400 more for healthcare by 2022. According to a New York Times editorial, "The Romney-Ryan Plan for America," the Ryan budget plan has other serious flaws: "Even less familiar to voters are Mr. Ryan’s plans for the rest of the federal budget, which if anything are worse than his Medicare proposal. By cutting $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, he would eliminate or slash so many programs that the federal government would be unrecognizable. That has long been a goal of the Tea Party ideologues who support Mr. Ryan fervently, but it is not one shared by anywhere near a majority of Americans."

Please excuse me for not applauding!

And yet Romney called the 42-year-old policy wonk the Republican Party's "intellectual leader." Was this another signal? Like George W. Bush, Romney is no deep thinker, but merely looks "presidential." As the book Angler makes clear, Bush was way over his head on complex issues, so Cheney ended up running the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Did the Republican party's money men inform Romney that the only way he's going to get elected is by promising to defer to Ryan on complex issues, hence the slip of the tongue? Did the neocons instruct Romney to stage the announcement in front of a battleship, to the strains of the music of Air Force One, as a way of communicating to various world leaders that the real commander in chief will be Ryan, not Romney?

Of course I have no way of knowing such things, and thus can only speculate. But it hardly matters who leads, since Romney and Ryan share the same nefarious goals. Ryan is the architect of the Republican master plan to boost U.S. military spending to $8 trillion dollars over the next decade, even if it bankrupts the nation. Romney has been even more hawkish on military spending, always a neocon priority. His plan is to spend a minimum of 4% of GDP on the Pentagon. That would increase an already-bloated military budget by more than $200 billion in 2016, a 38% hike over President Obama’s budget, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Romney’s proposal to embark on a second straight decade of escalating military spending would be the first time in American history that war preparation and defense spending had increased as a share of overall economic activity for such an extended period," wrote Merrill Goozner in the Fiscal Times. "When coupled with the 20% cut in taxes he promises, it would require shrinking domestic spending to levels not seen since the Great Depression—before programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid began." Such cuts, Goozner noted, "would likely throw the U.S. economy back into recession."

Why do Romney and the neocons want to spend so much money on the military? The main goal of the neocons (emphasis on "cons") is the establishment of an "American Century" (think "thousand year Reich") via U.S. domination of the globe through massive military superiority, which of course means massive military spending. If you doubt me, you can easily confirm that Romney subscribes to the philosophy of Hitler and the Nazis by the number of times he has voiced the same fascist ideas. Romney's goofy idea that American "exceptionalism" gives the U.S. the right to establish a global "American Century" in which it dominates all other nations is essentially the same as Hitler's goofy idea that Aryan "exceptionalism" gave Germany the right to establish a thousand year reign in which Germany would dominate all other nations.

When Romney starts ranting about the "American Century" and how he is the person who can make it happen (as in the remarks below from a speech he made at the Citadel), he sounds suspiciously like Hitler:

I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century.
In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.
I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the world.
America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers.
America must lead the world, or someone else will.
If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place.
The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic.
Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends.
The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict.
While America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital national interests.
As president of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America.
I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.
It is only American power—conceived in the broadest terms—that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies around the world.

Romney is clearly saying what Hitler and the Nazis once said: that because of their conviction and passion about German/American exceptionalism, Germany/America must fulfill its duty and destiny to lead the world, using superior military power preemptively to take out any perceived threats to German/American hegemony. Thus Germany could preemptively attack Poland and Czechoslovakia, even though they posed no immediate danger to Germany. Thus, the US can attack North Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and (soon) Iran.

This "family resemblance" should not surprise anyone, because Hitler was a fascist, and American neocons are also fascists. Fascist believe that might makes right, so if a nation has superior firepower, it has the automatic "right" to dominate other nations, or destroy them if they refuse to submit. German and American fascists have the same beliefs and the same cold-blooded, calculating methods. Here are some rather obvious similarities:

the American century = the thousand-year Reich
American exceptionalism = Deutschland uber alles (Germany over all)
"dangerous" Muslims = "dangerous" Jews
Iraq = Poland
Iran = Czechoslovakia

History really does seem to repeat itself, and Romney strikes me as a slightly spruced-up, slicked-down version of Hitler. But I digress ...

Here is Ari Berman's analysis of Romney's Citadel speech: "The cornerstone of Romney’s speech was a gauzy defense of American exceptionalism, a theme the candidate adopted from [Romney adviser] Robert Kagan. The speech and [corresponding] white paper were long on distortions—claiming that Obama believed 'there is nothing unique about the United States' and 'issued apologies for America' abroad—and short on policy proposals. The few substantive ideas were costly and bellicose: increasing the number of warships the Navy builds per year from nine to fifteen (five more than the service requested in its 2012 budget), boosting the size of the military by 100,000 troops, placing a missile defense system in Europe and stationing two aircraft carriers near Iran. 'What he articulated in the Citadel speech was one of the most inchoate, disorganized, cliché-filled foreign policy speeches that any serious candidate has ever given,' says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation."

I agree with Daniel Larison, who wrote for American Conservative: "At times, Romney’s speech sounded like a technocrat’s brief for divinely-ordained U.S. hegemony: 'God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.' It seems presumptuous at best to claim knowledge of God’s foreign policy preferences, but the most misleading statement here is that another state will assume the role of a global hegemony if the U.S. does not fill it. There is no one state or group of states aspiring to the international role that the U.S. currently has, and no other is capable of filling that role if it wished. Probably the most remarkable thing in the speech was how little [respect] Romney paid to the other major powers in the world. He poses some questions about future scenarios in the beginning of the speech, but he never answers any of them. Today’s speech lifted quite a few arguments that Romney had already made two years ago in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. The main difference is that the "nations or groups of nations" he identified as the main international threats back then have now become threatening "forces." There’s nothing the matter with recycling his own material, but it is still bad material."

American neocons like Romney want the U.S. to dominate the globe. All they need to implement their dark designs is a malleable, witless figurehead like George W. Bush or Willard M. Romney, a clever Vice President to act a a conduit (and perhaps replace the president if he gets out of line), and highly-placed advisers to make sure the war games proceed according to plan. Now the neocons have reassembled the old team, with Romney replacing Bush and Ryan replacing Cheney (although Cheney remains busy in the background, waddling around, constantly doing evil, like his alter ego the Penguin).

Romney and Ryan are calling themselves "America's Comeback Team." I think it would be more accurate to call them "America's Throwback Team." After all, they're clearly trying to return us to the kind of thinking that led to the Vietnam War.

As Vice President Joe Biden said recently in a major foreign policy speech, Romney and his chief advisers "see the world through a cold war prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the twenty-first century." We won the Cold War and Russia is no longer a major threat to our security, if it ever was. Neither Russia, China nor Iran are going to attack the U.S., unless they are attacked first. And there lies the greatest danger to the U.S., because the neocons are radical ideologues who fully intend to go on the offensive, following the dangerous philosophy of "preemptive retaliation."

Neo-con Hall of Shame

As quoted in Foreign Policy, Rep. Adam Smith pointed out that of "Romney’s 24 special advisors on foreign policy, 17 served in the Bush-Cheney administration."

According to an article by Ari Berman in The Nation, "a comprehensive review of [Romney's] statements during the primary and his choice of advisers suggests a return to the hawkish, unilateral interventionism of the George W. Bush administration should he win the White House in November."

And Romney's advisors seem to confirm such suspicions. According to an article in The Fiscal Times, Romney advisor Richard Williamson said that a Romney presidency would offer a "more aggressive" approach toward China, Russia and the Middle East. "I think our biggest single difference [with the Obama administration] is probably over Iran," Williamson said. "Put it this way: If I was the regime in Tehran I'd be much more worried about dealing with a Romney administration than with the current administration."

According to The New American, "Neoconservative domination of the Romney campaign's foreign policy advisors also caught the attention of U.S. News & World Report back in April, and the group was labeled a 'Neocon War Cabinet' by the leftist magazine The Nation in May. In addition, former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell told MSNBC in May that Romney's advisors were 'quite far to the right,' implying they were too interventionist for his taste."

Among Romney's advisors listed by reputable news services like the Wall Street Journal, The Nation and the New American are such notable neocons, hawks and warmongers as:

Henry Kissinger: Nixon's Secretary of State and a primary author of the Vietnam War on the false premises of the "Domino Theory"
Cofer Black: former CIA director, former vice president of Blackwater International and a vocal advocate of "enhanced interrogation techniques"
Michael Hayden: former NSA director who created the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping programs
George Shultz: father of the "Bush Doctrine" of preemptive retaliation
Eliot Cohen: Bush State Department counselor and a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century, a neocon think tank
Robert Kagan: foreign policy commentator and a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century
Richard Williamson: Bush Assistant Secretary of State and a hawkish Republican foreign policy specialist
Paula Dobriansky: Bush State Department official and a leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated "freedom agenda"
John Bolton: Bush's former UN ambassador and a leading advocate of an Israeli attack on Iran
John Lehman: Reagan's Secretary of the Navy and a noted war hawk
Michael Chertoff: Bush's Homeland Security Secretary
Dan Senor: a right-wing pundit and apologist for the "successes" of the Iraq war; he says "Mitt-Bibi will be the new Reagan-Thatcher"
Eric Edelman: Bush Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; he supports an attack on Iran (like 12 other Romney advisors)
Robert Joseph: NSC official who inserted the "16 words" in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium

Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, "Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected ... I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake. Two-thirds of the American people do believe the Iraq War was a mistake. So he has willingly chosen to align himself with that one-third of the population right out of the gate." On certain key issues, like Iran, Romney and his neocon advisors are to the right of Bush. Here's an example of why having such hawkish advisors is so dangerous; some of them still want to fight the Cold War:

[Russia] is without question our number one geopolitical foe.—Mitt Romney

Romney was immediately rebuked by everybody with a brain.

David C. Speedie, senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, called Romney's statement "palpably ridiculous." Colin Powell said: "Well, c’mon, Mitt; think! That isn’t the case." Senator John Kerry called the comment "naive." Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was unimpressed, telling reporters that Romney's remark seemed like a throwback to the Cold War era and "smacked of Hollywood."

Lawrence J. Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, agreed with Medvedev, saying: "Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not faced an existential threat, nor does it have any 'number one' geopolitical or nation state foes ... The rhetoric of geopolitical foes should be retired as a relic of the Cold War while the U.S. develops policies to deal with its short- and long-term challenges."

In a poll of foreign policy specialists taken by the L. A. Times, not a single expert named Russia as our "number one geopolitical foe." Two named Iran, two said "nobody" and two suggested that the U.S. may be its own worst enemy (perhaps because of politicians like Romney?). Hell, most average Americans know that other nations pose more problems for the United States today, than Russia does.

Furthermore, Romney's barrage of misstatements and comments taken as insults by our allies in Great Britain, Israel, Palestine and Poland on his first foray into international politics demonstrate how ill-informed Romney is about foreign policy matters, and how tone deaf he is to other people's concerns, aspirations and feelings. If he surrounds himself with hawks still intent on fighting the Cold War, we could miss out of the dividends of peace and go bankrupt fighting needless, unwinnable battles.

Why Floridians are not Amused

Even as the ink was still drying on the Romney-Ryan political marriage license, signs of ruptures within the larger Republican family began to appear.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, one of Romney's first decisions after the bizarre nuptials was to cancel a scheduled speaking engagement in Orlando. Why? Perhaps because the headlines of major Floridian newspapers had almost unanimously questioned Romney's selection of Ryan and what it meant for Floridians. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Romney was "too exhausted to make the trip."

Does this perhaps mean that Romney was exhausted of ideas, seeing how very difficult it was going to be to persuade Americans to vote for his plan to feed the neo-con war machine, by depriving elderly people of Medicare and raising taxes for 99% of Americans, while further reducing the taxes of the 1%?

Could Romney's "exhaustion" be the result of finally realizing that, while he can fool some of the people all of the time, the majority have grown wise to his shell games and bad parlor tricks with the truth?

Florida has a large number of retirees who are not amused by Ryan's preposterous "budget plan." The only people who see anything to like in Ryan's plan are young, incredibly naive Tea Party ideologues who are too short-sighted to realize that unless they are fabulously wealthy like Romney and his rich cronies, they and their loved ones will also need the things they currently denounce as "entitlements" one day: Medicare, Social Security, and perhaps Medicaid if they become unable to work (which does happen to millions of Americans).

In other words, the average Florida retiree is much better able to access the real impact of the Romney-Ryan plan, than the typical Tea Party type.

Romney is probably "exhausted" because the latest polls are reflecting the fact that his pro-rich, pro-war stance, when coupled with his anti-women, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-elderly, anti-sick stance, is going to make it difficult if not impossible for him to win the upcoming election. To him, that is of course a very bad thing, but would it have been a "bad thing" for the average German if Hitler had lost elections?

Romney was not too "exhausted" to keep a fundraiser in Miami on his schedule. But of course at a fundraiser where rich people pay big bucks to hobnob with Romney, he is unlikely to have to explain why the common folk increasingly hate him and his all-too-obvious plans for their demise. Of course rich people love Romney, because he is trying to further reduce their taxes, while shifting war expenses and war debt over to the 99%. But unfortunately for Romney and his rich patrons, thanks to people like them most Americans are worse off financially than they were when George W. Bush became president and started cutting taxes for the rich while invading Middle Eastern nations that were bound to see American troops as foreign conquerors. Since we live in a democracy, it should be hard for 1% of the people to dictate terms to the other 99%.

Did Romney "save" the Olympics, really?

''In fact, most of the federal money was already in place before Mitt came on,'' said Senator Bob Bennett, who served as point man for the federal funding. ''The Clinton administration was completely supportive in saying these are America's games, we will do whatever we can to make sure they are successful. The one concern I had was whether we would get the same degree of support from the Bush administration, which we did.''

David Wallechinsky, a commentator for NBC's Olympic coverage and the author of several Olympic reference books, said that Romney played an important role in budget and public relations. But beyond that, "his involvement is greatly exaggerated." Wallechinsky also told The Huffington Post: "A lot of people could have stepped in and made it work. Not to say he did anything wrong. He did what he had to do. What he did was fine. The way he portrays it, however, is absurd ... The Olympic movement had survived two world wars, a terrorist attack, and boycotts. It could have survived a bribery scandal."

According to a Daily Kos article, Romney may have breached his contract with the Olympic Committee by not severing all ties with Bain Capital: "AP news items from the time, written by Kristen Moulton, also include specific details about ethics and anti-scandal restrictions placed on the new CEO, Mitt Romney. He would have to sever ties with all corporations that did business with the Olympics. This same AP piece is found in the archives of the Laredo Morning Times and the Hurriyet Daily News." But as the article goes on to point out, Romney remained directly or indirectly involved with a number of companies that either invested in or profited from the Olympics, including companies bought by Bain, and/or for whom Romney served on the board of directors. Companies named in the article include Staples, Gateway, Marriott, Sealy and Domino's Pizza.

According to Romney, he left Bain Capital in February of 1999 and had "no role whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital" thereafter. Romney has made this assertion repeatedly and it also appears on the financial disclosure Romney filed when he formally applied to run for president. If there is anything definite that we know about Romney, it is that he "left" Bain Capital in 1999 and had "absolutely nothing" to do with running the company thereafter. But according to a number of documents that Bain and its subsidiaries filed with the SEC, Romney remained in control of Bain and its subsidiaries long after he "left." Romney was named at least 39 times in SEC filings as the sole shareholder and chief executive of Bain funds used in corporate takeovers and other investment deals, according to the AP and Fox News.

Outsourcing Pioneer

Why is the year 1999 so important to Romney? Because when the Washington Post published an article headlined "Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas," the Romney campaign was caught flatfooted. The Post disclosed that Bain had invested in companies like Modus Media, Stream International, Hi-Tech Manufacturing, SMTC and Holson Burnes, that had not only shipped thousands of American jobs overseas, but had helped pioneer the practice. It seems clear that Romney does not want to be connected to such pioneering, hence the since-disproven claims that he had "absolutely nothing" to do with Bain after early 1999.

To make matters worse, Romney even invested money in a Chinese company, Global-Tech Appliances, that specializes in taking over manufacturing from American companies like Sunbeam and Revlon. Part of Romney's GTA holdings ended up in Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors LTD, a Bermuda-based corporation that lists Romney as "the sole shareholder, a director, and President." According to an AP report, Sankaty is "is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed" and there is a "mystery surrounding" Sankaty. Vanity Fair noted that "investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in 'jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,' as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it." Another mystery is why Romney was using a Bermuda-based entity to invest in a Chinese firm that specialized in outsourcing American manufacturing jobs.

Bain first invested in GTA in 1998, before Romney "left" the firm in 1999, so it seems clear that Romney was deliberately investing in and profiting from outsourcing long before anyone else "took over," if that ever actually happened.

As reported by The Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post: "During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, the 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. While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment."

A CBS Evening News report confirms that there are accusations that "Mitt Romney's companies were pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low-wage countries." Now, if such accusations are false, all Romney and Bain have to do is provide hard evidence to the contrary. All companies with payrolls keep detailed records of hirings and firings, so why have Romney and Bain failed to provide any hard evidence of net job increases? Obviously, because there isn't any such evidence. In reality, Romney and Bain fired thousands of American workers and outsourced many other jobs to foreign countries, while Romney became one of the world's wealthiest men by sheltering most or all of his Bain wealth from taxes in offshore Bermuda and Cayman Island "IRAs."

And the claims that Romney had "no involvement" with Bain after early 1999 seem more than shaky ...

James Cox, a professor of corporate and securities law at Duke University, has pointed out that Bain’s continued reference to Romney as CEO and sole shareholder indicate that Romney remained the "final authority" and that Romney would likely have been updated regularly about Bain’s profits while negotiating his severance package. Thus, according to Cox, Romney’s insistence that he had no involvement with "any Bain Capital entity" appears "inconsistent" with his actions.

According to Stephanie Cutter, Romney was "either misrepresenting his own position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people."

According to the Boston Globe, which was able to interview Bain insiders, "Romney has said in financial disclosure statements that he 'was not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way' after Feb. 11, 1999. But he was still legally the CEO, with numerous duties and obligations that were his alone, until early 2002. Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him, according to his former associates. Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates. 'The elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions but Mitt’s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,' said one former associate, who, like some other Romney associates, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the company."

Romney continued to refer to himself as CEO. In July 1999, five months after he had "left" Bain, he provided a blurb for a press release issued by Rehnert and Wolpow, in which he was referred to as "Bain Capital CEO W. Mitt Romney, currently on a part-time leave of absence." In the release, Romney said of departing Bain partners, "While we will miss them, we wish them well and look forward to working with them as they build their firm." So Romney obviously still considered himself a part of Bain and its future. Romney’s name continued to appear as CEO and owner on dozens of Bain fund documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission until January 2002.

So it seems Romney was truthful with the SEC, but lied repeatedly to the American people ... and is still lying, even though he's been caught red-handed.

Swimming with the Sharks

Corporations are people, my friend ... of course they are ... human beings, my friend.—Mitt Romney

But as we all know, some corporations are more like cold-blooded sharks than warm-blooded human beings ... especially private equity firms like Mitt Romney's rapacious team of orca-like corporate raiders, Bain Capital.

Under Romney's direction, Bain loaded companies like GST Steel and Dade International with massive debt in order to pay Romney and other investors massive dividends, while the companies went bankrupt and their workers became jobless. Now Romney, the consummate slick pro-corporation politician, has raised large sums of campaign cash from Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley because they know he'll scratch their backs by letting them do what he did himself: profit from the elimination and outsourcing of American jobs. Romney insists that "corporations are people" and has called federal government spending to assist tornado and flood victims "simply immoral" because it increases the national budget deficit. But when has he ever called government borrowing to fund wars and Wall Street bailouts "immoral"? Romney knows where his bread is buttered, and who provides the rich cream. Like most Republican politicians these days, he seems quite happy to let the commoners go without bread, as long as his wealthy patrons and cronies can continue to have their cake and eat it too.

In his book The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy, Josh Kosman describes Bain as "notorious for its failure to plow profits back into its businesses." Bain was the first large private equity firm to derive a large percentage of its revenues from corporate dividends and other investor-gratifying distributions. Companies acquired by Bain sometimes borrowed large sums of money in order to increase their dividend payments, ultimately leading to the collapse of what had been financially stable businesses. According to Bloomberg, "Whether companies boomed or filed for bankruptcy, the Boston-based firm found profits for Romney, its other executives and investors ... Interviews with former employees and executives at Bain and companies it controlled, along with a review of Bain’s activities described in public documents and news accounts, paint a picture of an operation that wasn’t focused on expanding employment. Instead, Bain’s mission, like [that of] most private equity firms, was to generate gains for its investors."

Dade International is a good example. Dade was combined by Bain with several other companies, becoming Dade Behring. At least 1,600 employees were dismissed from 1996 to 1999, according to SEC reports. Bain and Goldman Sachs sold their Dade shares for $365.4 million, in addition to prior dividends and other distributions, before the company went bankrupt. According to Michael Rumbin, Dade's vice president of technology, "They leveraged this thing to the hilt and got out when they could. We were left holding the bag." Rumbin became one of Romney's and Bain's casualties when he too lost his job. Now we know why private equity firms are better known as "corporate raiders."

Like a reverse Robin Hood, Mitt Romney stole jobs from the poor to give dividends to the rich. Now he seems intent on sending American citizens to the poorhouse, en masse. He recently earned the sobriquet "Romney Hood" after the non-partisan Tax Policy Institute reported that Romney's tax proposals are likely to result in a net tax increase of $2,000 for middle-class wage earners while reducing the taxes of the wealthiest Americans by hundreds of thousands of dollars, each.

The Romneybot

Have people taken to calling Romney the "Romneybot" because he lacks the things that make human beings human: warmth, humor, compassion, empathy, and a sense of fair play and justice? It can be painful watching Romney when he tries to josh around with other people or connect with them emotionally. Something appears to be missing ... he really does act like an android programmed to spit out the correct answers without understanding the questions at the heart and gut level. Americans want their presidents to care about Americans who are suffering, and we have been fortunate to have had presidents who really did seem to care: Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Obama, to name a few. Even George W. Bush, for all the terrible mistakes he made, seemed to care; his problems lay in other areas, such as thinking and speaking. But Romney strikes me as being more like Nixon: something essential seems to be missing. This is evidenced in their inability to connect with average Americans.

For instance, here's what Romney said recently about less wealthy Americans who want affordable healthcare, referring to his speech to the NAACP:

When I mentioned [that] I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t happy ... That’s okay. I want people to know what I stand for, and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else; that’s just fine … But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff.

But Romney seems to be all about "free stuff" ... for himself and his super-rich friends. Even if it's somehow "wrong" for poor people to want affordable healthcare for their children and aging parents, isn't it vastly worse from someone richer than Midas to insult them while ripping apart their safety nets, so that he can become even richer? (As I wrote this paragraph, I had a vision of Ebenezer Scrooge denying raises to Bob Cratchit while Tiny Tim wasted away for want of an operation.)

How can someone who gets away with highway robbery turn around and condemn average Americans for requesting a much smaller break? For instance, Romney served on the board of Damon Clinical Laboratories, which pled guilty to charges of defrauding Medicare and agreed to pay the largest health care criminal fraud fine in history at the time, over $119 million altogether. Corporate Crime Reporter put it like this: "As manager and board member of Damon Corp, Mitt Romney sits at the center of one of the top 15 corporate crimes of the 1990’s." Romney never reported Damon's fraud to the proper authorities. When Corning bought Damon, it discovered the fraud and reported it. Bain and Romney earned millions from their investment in Damon, but conveniently never noticed that Damon was obtaining "free stuff" from our cash-strapped federal government. According to a Boston Globe report, Romney claimed that he and fellow board members uncovered what was later determined to be a criminal scheme to defraud Medicare in 1993, yet acknowledged that the directors did not turn over their findings to federal authorities who were then investigating the medical testing industry. While Damon went bankrupt, with thousands of employees losing their jobs, Bain Capital enjoyed a $12 million profit, with over $450,000 of that money going to Romney personally.

Is it fair that Romney made so much money from healthcare, then turned around and mocked less advantaged people for only wanting healthcare they can afford?

Please don't get me wrong: I don't begrudge Romney his success or his wealth. But if it's true that he paid virtually no taxes for more than a decade, while amassing a fortune estimated at $200 million or more, that seems terribly unfair to the 99% of Americans who do pay their fair share of taxes, rain or shine. When he mocks and criticizes them, that only adds insult to injury and makes him seem like a heartless, soulless android ... the Romneybot.

Romney strikes me as a hypocritical creep for three reasons: (1) he blasts Obamacare, but his Romneycare was obviously the model for Obamacare; (2) he favors bailing out Wall Street billionaires yet denies average Americans what he imperiously calls "entitlements;" and (3) he has no compunction about taking "free stuff" himself, by evading taxes despite his fabulous personal wealth.

Mr. "Free Stuff" Part II

Obviously, there is something terribly wrong when a rich, imperious tax dodger lectures hard-working American taxpayers about not asking for "free stuff" when, in reality, all they want is a fair shake.

Romney's hypocrisy about American healthcare seems to know no bounds. When he traveled to Poland, he praised Poland for its economic success, but Poland provides free medical care to all its citizens despite having less that half the per-capita income of the U.S. When Romney traveled to Israel, he praised Israel for its superior economy, which he attributed to a superior culture. But in Israel, healthcare is universal and medical insurance is compulsory. As a result, Israel has the fourth-highest life expectancy among earth's nations, at 82 years. And of course Romney has no problem giving "free stuff" to his rich friends in Israel. (He and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu are pals.) According to the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, since 1949 the U.S. government has given Israel more than $134 billion in financial aid. That's more than $23,000 per Israeli citizen. So American taxpayers who struggle to afford healthcare for themselves have probably paid for every Israeli citizen to enjoy superior healthcare, either in whole or in part.

Before Romney lectures Americans, I think he should listen for a change to a real conservative:

Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country and giving it to the rich people of a poor country.—Ron Paul

Why does Romney want to give "free stuff" to his rich friends in Israel, why denying affordable healthcare to Americans? Is it because Romney is getting "free stuff" from rich, powerful Jews, in return for Romney selling his fellow citizens down the river?

Romney's Mentors

Why do rich Republicans like Romney begrudge American citizens affordable healthcare, while helping to provide the best healthcare on the planet to Israeli citizens? It seems obvious to me that alpha males like Romney see other people as mere steppingstones on their path to money, power and personal glory. Romney doesn't give a damn about Americans not having decent healthcare, and he doesn't give a damn about Israelis having superior healthcare. He doesn't think in such terms, which would require him to empathize with other people and their suffering. No, Romney is a sociopath and the decisions he makes are based purely on self-interest. He favors giving money to Israel because that buys him Jewish votes and campaign contributions from fellow billionaires like Sheldon Adelson. Adelson wants the U.S. to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, putting the final stamp of approval on Israel's evil, unjust scheme to add the 20% of Palestinian land it doesn't currently own, to the 80% of Palestinian land it stole by force, hook and crook (thanks of course to money and weapons provided by gullible American taxpayers through their villainous politicians). Romney doesn't seem to understand or care that the constant theft of Palestinian land, and the brutal, degrading treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli Injustice Machine were the root causes of 911 and the subsequent wars, which have cost average Americans thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. Men like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler and Romney do not think in terms of the suffering their actions will produce for other people. They put grandiose visions above human lives and happiness. When Romney talks about the "American Century" and offering "No Apology" (the title of his book) for America dominating the world because American "exceptionalism" entitles Americans to dominate the world, he is repeating almost verbatim what Hitler said in his egocentric rants ...

the American century = the thousand-year Reich
American exceptionalism = Deutschland uber alles (Germany over all)
"dangerous" Muslims = "dangerous" Jews
Gaza walled ghetto = Warsaw walled ghetto
Palestinian refugee camps = Jewish concentration camps
Iraq = Poland
Iran = Czechoslovakia
"ally" Israel = "ally" Italy
fascist friend Netanyahu = fascist friend Mussolini

History really does seem to repeat itself, and Romney really does seem like a slightly spruced-up, slicked-down version of Hitler. But I digress ...

Romney's Tax Returns

Romney also derides Americans for requesting affordable healthcare out of self-interest because conservatives hate President Obama and he will win a lot of conservative votes and campaign cash by opposing Obamacare, even though it was modeled after his own Romneycare. But do we need a president who puts his interest above those of 300 million Americans? Do we want a president who cheats on his taxes, when he's richer than Midas? Do we want a president who will say anything to anyone in order to glean cash and votes?

Now, on to those troublesome tax returns ...

Joshua Green, writing in Businessweek, asked the question that's on everyone's mind: "What's Romney Hiding in His Tax Returns?" In his article, Green made the point that because Romney has released his 2010 and estimated 2011 tax returns, but won't release his 2009 return, there must be something damning in the 2009 return. But if the 2009 return was an anomaly, Romney could release his returns for the ten prior years, or at least disclose the amounts he paid in taxes each year, then explain why 2009 was the exception to the rule. So I think it is more likely that there are serious problems with many (or all) of his tax returns for years prior to 2010.

Matt Yglesias of has suggested a different 2009 scenario: that Romney may not have previously been disclosing the Swiss bank account mentioned in his 2010 return. In 2009, the IRS offered amnesty to taxpayers who had been hiding Swiss accounts: essentially, "Disclose and ante up, and we won't send you to jail." Is it possible that Romney took that deal, which might seem like the confession of a crime to the American public?

Ezra Klein, writing for The Washington Post, speculates that Romney's effective tax rate may have been so low for certain years, including 2009, that to reveal the percentages might be political suicide. My educated guess is that Klein is correct. I think, based on remarks made by "people in the know" like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that Romney's effective tax rates for the years 2009 and prior may have been closer to 0% than to his 2010 rate of 14%. Thus, Romney can't reveal his tax returns because they make him seem like a shyster. Quite probably, because he is.

Also, if Romney has sheltered half his wealth or more from income taxes, even the 14% disclosed in 2009 may be wildly overstated, since it would be based on artificially reduced base revenues. If any Romney tax return prior to 2010 showed large investments being wildly devalued to a few thousand dollars, then placed in offshore "IRAs" ... well, the jig would be up, and Romney might be in danger of huge tax liabilities, penalties and jail. From what I have gathered in my research, it seems entire Bain-owned companies may have been placed in a series of such "IRAs." If so, it would be more than just political suicide for Romney to release his returns.

This would also explain why the Romneys look and act so positively weird when the subject of tax returns is raised. Mitt's wife, Ann Romney, who has offshore accounts and a horse in the Olympics, recently told Robin Roberts imperiously, "We have given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life." She sounded like a feudal queen talking down to a bunch of serfs. Like her imperious husband, she seems to think the America public doesn't deserve full disclosure. Who the hell are we to question someone rich enough to have Swiss bank accounts, Bermuda trusts, Cayman Island IRAs, and horses in the Olympics?

Mr. "Free Stuff" Part III

In any case, it seems Mitt Romney had no compunctions about getting "free stuff" himself. Take, for example, GST Steel. Romney's company Bain Capital bought GST Steel for $75 million, but put only $8 million of its own money into the deal, borrowing the rest. Within a year, Romney and Bain had saddled GST Steel with another $125 million in debt, with $36 million of the borrowed money being paid to Romney and Bain as a dividend. So less than a year after loading the company with debt 15 times the amount they had invested, Romney and Bain gave themselves bonuses four times their investment. What tax rate did they pay on that unearned income? A measly 15 percent, thanks to the "free stuff" available to rich investors in the U.S. tax code. And at the same time Romney and Bain were pocketing $36 million in borrowed funds, they were asking Kansas City to forfeit $3 million in public money to give them tax breaks. That's even more free stuff. Furthermore, when GST Steel filed for bankruptcy and laid off 750 people, it turned out that Bain had underfunded its pension obligations to those employees. So the federal government's pension benefit guarantee corporation was stuck with a $44 million bill. Thus, Bain cost the government $44 million for the pensions, $3 million for the local tax breaks and $7 million in federal taxes. That's $54 million in "free stuff" from the government. And that was just one of Romney's and Bain's "success" stories.

"Mr. Romney’s Financial Black Hole," a July 10, 2012 editorial in the New York Times, explains why the sketchy information released by Romney to date indicates "a concerted effort to park much of his wealth in overseas tax shelters, suggesting a widespread pattern of tax avoidance unlike that of any previous [presidential] candidate."

Meanwhile, in a remarkable accusation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently said, "His father, George Romney, set the precedent that people running for president would file their tax returns ... but Mitt Romney can’t do that because he’s basically paid no taxes in the prior 12 years."

How is it possible that one of American's wealthiest men paid virtually no taxes for 12 years? If Reid's statement is false, Mitt Romney could simply produce his tax returns and disprove it. But instead Romney seems to be confirming that where there is smoke there is also fire, by adamantly refusing to release any of his returns prior to 2010. As a result, even arch-conservatives like Newt Gingrich, George Will, Bill Kristol, Matthew Dowd, Haley Barbour and Michael Steele have added their voices to those of liberals who have been upbraiding Romney in public. As Will said recently, "The cost of not releasing the returns are clear, therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them." Dowd agreed, saying, "There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it.’" Kristol called it "crazy" for Romney not to release more returns.

But perhaps he can't release his returns, without risking charges of illegal income tax evasion. Did Romney break the letter of the tax law, as well as the spirit? Has he sheltered up to $100 million of his personal fortune in offshore IRAs, as various reputable news services have suggested? If Romney protected most of his wealth from income taxes, his effective tax rate prior to 2010 may be closer to 0% than 14%, and that would explain him blinking and squirming like a fish out of water when he was asked to disclose his taxes during a Republican presidential debate. When I saw the usually-confident Romney hemming and hawing about disclosing his returns, to a chorus of boos, I knew there was something in them that he didn't want the American public to see ...

During the debate in question, Newt Gingrich pointed out that there was no rational reason to delay disclosing tax returns for prior years, and that American voters have the right to see such returns before they vote. Debate moderator John King mentioned that Mitt's father had voluntarily disclosed tax returns for 12 years, when he ran for president, pointing out that disclosing just one year's return could be seen as non-representative and/or deceptive. But it was obvious that Mitt Romney wanted people to vote before he disclosed any of his returns, and that makes no sense unless there's something in the older returns that he doesn't want American voters to see. (Multi-million dollar tax dodges, perhaps?) In any case, since 1967, presidential candidates have voluntarily disclosed multiple years of tax returns. The first to do so was George Romney. Ironically, the first since then to refuse to do so is his son, Mitt Romney.

Here's my main question: If what Romney did is on the up-and-up, why doesn't he just say, "Look, what I did was perfectly legal, but it is unfair to other American taxpayers, and we need to fix the unfair tax system and close the loopholes." But by refusing to disclose his older tax returns, he gives the strong impression that he did something wrong.

As reported by reputable news services like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Reuters, CBS News and Huffington Post, Romney may have sheltered his Bain holdings from taxes, in offshore accounts. For example, a Bermuda-based vehicle called the Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. has been described in securities filings as "a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney." Romney transferred his wife’s newly-created blind trust to Sankaty on January 1, 2003, the day before he was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts. Sankaty's director and president is R. Bradford Malt, Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list Sankaty on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely-held vehicle would seemingly not qualify as an "excepted investment fund." According to what Romney aides have said the past, some of Romney's funds may have below the $1,000 in assets that would trigger disclosure requirements. But Sankaty was used in Bain's billion-dollar takeover of Domino's Pizza and other multimillion-dollar investment deals. And yet Sankaty was only made public when Romney disclosed his 2010 tax return, after being pressured to do so during the debates. Having most or much of his wealth in offshore tax shelters could easily explain Romney's fish-out-of-water act, when pressured to disclose his returns. And it's hard to imagine that the wife of a multimillionaire has under $1,000 in her trust. Who even bothers to set up overseas trusts for a few hundred dollars? Surely the American public has the right to know why a man running for president has so many offshore accounts that give every appearance of being part of a shell game to avoid U.S. income taxes. Is there any reason to create shell companies in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, other than to avoid U.S. laws and taxes?

As Nicholas Shaxson pointed out in a recent Vanity Fair article, such investments "provided a lavish smorgasbord for Romney’s critics. Particularly jarring were the Romneys’ many offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich put it during the primary season, 'I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.' But Romney has, as well as other interests in such tax havens as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands."

To date, Romney has released a full tax filing only for 2010. Former President Bill Clinton recently told NBC's Today Show that Mitt Romney's hesitation to release more tax returns struck him as "odd," saying, "I am a little surprised he only released a year's worth of tax returns. That kind of perplexed me, because this is the first time in, I don't know, more than 30 years that anybody running for president has only done that. You know, it's typical we all release 10, 11 years; I think Senator McCain released over 20 years of tax returns." (And of course Romney's father set the precedent by voluntarily releasing 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president.)

And there is good reason to question whether Romney's "blind trusts" are really blind. For instance, one of the investments that R. Bradford Malt made with Romney's "blind" trust was to put $10 million in Solamere, a company co-founded by Romney’s son Tagg and Romney’s campaign finance chair, Spencer Zwick. The Solamere investment strongly suggests that Romney’s "blind" trust is operating under Romney's watchful eye. And if you don’t believe me, please consult an expert: in 1994, Mitt Romney explained that the "blind trust is an age old ruse!"

Mr. Infallible

I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was.—Mitt Romney

Romney is so confident that he's infallible, that he doesn't even have to know what he said to be sure that it was correct. But in reality, Romney is far from infallible. For instance, after CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced himself by saying, "I'm Wolf Blitzer and yes, that's my real name" at the beginning of a November 2011 Republican presidential debate, the Romneybot responded:

I'm Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that's also my first name. (Romney's first name is Willard; Mitt is his middle name.)

Mr. Inappropriate

Who let the dogs out? Who, who?—Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney became Mitt Inappropriate during an awkward photo op with a group of African Americans kids at a Martin Luther King Day parade in January 2008.

Mr. Etch A Sketch

These and other issues will be discussed on this page. Romney has been accused of running an "Etch A Sketch" campaign, which was recently admitted by one of his campaign advisers. The plan seems to be that Romney will appear to be ultraconservative in the Republican primaries, then "shake to reset" and appeal to moderates in the general election. Since few conservatives will vote for President Obama under any circumstances, this deceptive plan may have a chance of working. But perhaps the most troubling questions about Romney are not his personal and financial ethics, or his flip-flopping and pandering for votes, or his willingness to kowtow to the wealthiest 1% of Americans while leaving the remaining 99% in the lurch. In my opinion, the most troubling questions about the Romneybot have to do with his character. The quotes below betray a disturbing lack of empathy or compassion for anyone who isn't cruising down Easy Street in a Rolls Royce ...

Romney Quotes

We should double Guantanamo!—Mitt Romney

Should we double the size of an extraterritorial prison camp best known around the world as a symbol of torture and illegal incarceration of prisoners as young as 13 and as old as 98?

Back in high school, you know, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously, I apologize for that … You know, I don’t, I don’t remember that particular incident [laughs]… I participated in a lot of high jinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.—Mitt Romney on Fox News Radio

Romney was talking about an incident in which he and some of his high-school classmates viciously bullied a fellow student, John Joseph Lauber. Romney's classmates who participated in the bullying incident remember it, and have expressed remorse. If Romney can't even remember the incident, that suggests that he either did such things so frequently that they failed to register, or that he lacks normal human empathy and compassion, or both. His laughter while discussing the incident seems to suggest that he still doesn't "get" the seriousness of what he did. Here are the details, from a Washington Post article:

Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it. "He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!" an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled. A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be identified ... "It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me," said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was "terrified," he said. "What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do." "It was a hack job," recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. "It was vicious." "He was just easy pickin’s," said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

David Seed, an onlooker who did not participate in the bullying, later apologized to Lauber for not doing more to help prevent it. The only person involved not to express remorse, and who claims not to remember what happened, is Romney. According to his campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, "Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents."

Atta girl!—Mitt Romney taunting a closeted gay high school student, Gary Hummel

Here's what Amy Davidson wrote about the first incident for The New Yorker: "Does he [Romney] count this as a high jink or a prank? It was neither; it is hard to imagine that hurt, rather than being the byproduct, was anything other than the point of the attack on Lauber. In terms of what a gay teen-ager might encounter, and what other boys might go along with at a school like Cranbrook, 1965 was different; but memory and empathy are not qualities that have only been invented since then. As our country has changed, and the other boys became men, they seem to have turned the events of that day over in their minds, not once, but many times, and made something new out of it. That’s why it’s all the worse that Romney says he can’t remember—that he walked blithely away from the boy crying on the ground and kept going. Was there nowhere in him for that sight to lodge? ... And how far has Romney moved? This story is resonant because one can, all too easily, see Romney walking away even now, or simply failing to connect, to grasp hurt ... Who else might he walk away from?"

Josh Barro, writing for Forbes, made another very interesting point: "The story is more damning for Romney in other ways. It’s telling that the campaign seems to be having so much difficulty finding any friends from the Cranbrook School to talk to the media about what a good guy he was. The Romney camp reached out to Stuart White (who threw the party where Mitt and Ann Romney met) asking him to make supportive remarks. Instead, White contacted ABC News and expressed his ambivalence to do so, saying, "it’s been a long time since we were pals." Another old friend of Romney’s told ABC on background that Romney’s behavior in high school was "like Lord of the Flies" and that a number of people from Cranbrook have "really negative memories" of him. Is there really no one from Cranbrook that Romney can persuade to vouch for him? The whole thing gives the sense that Romney was a Regina George-like figure in high school—"popular," but mostly because other students were afraid to cross him ... But does Romney have empathy for people who are different from him? The tone of Romney’s reaction today does not look good on the empathy front. Referring to an assault on a classmate as "hijinks and pranks" is pretty tone-deaf ... Romney’s actions as governor also suggest that he doesn’t view bullying as a significant problem. In 2006, Romney threatened to dissolve the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, established by Republican Governor William Weld in 1992, and then to expand its mission to cover all youth. The legislature established a independent commission, overriding a Romney veto, in response to these threats. A key part of the commission’s mandate is the prevention of anti-LGBT bullying in schools. His administration also repeatedly delayed the publication of an anti-bullying handbook for public schools, which had been developed in 2002 by Governor Jane Swift’s Task Force on Hate Crimes. Kathleen Henry, who chaired the Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth at the time, said she thought the guidebook was held up due to its LGBT-related content, particularly content to do with transgender students. Ultimately, the handbook was published under Governor Deval Patrick, six years after it was first drafted."

Barro concluded his article by saying, "This actually goes to Romney’s greatest weakness as a candidate. Nobody knows how he really feels or what he cares about. People look at him and they can’t see evidence that he understands or cares about their needs. They’re not sure he can relate to people who are different from him. This incident, and his nonchalant reaction to being reminded about it, reinforce the impression that Romney lacks empathy."

I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.—Mitt Romney

Not concerned, when the Grand Old Pontiffs, led by men like Romney, want to slash the safety nets of what they call "entitlements" while preserving tax cuts for the super-rich and waging more trillion-dollar wars in the Middle East, the next one presumably against Iran? Who will end up dying in those unwinnable wars? The children of the very poor, of course.

I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed.—Mitt Romney

Romney, speaking to unemployed Floridians, once again demonstrated an amazing lack of empathy and concern for people who are actually down on their luck. His net worth has been estimated at $200 to $250 million.

I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much. —Mitt Romney

Romney earned $374,000 in speaking fees in a single year, according to his personal financial disclosure. Once again Romney demonstrates his extreme disconnect from average Americans, who would consider making that kind of money from a few speaking engagements a real windfall (please pardon the pun).

I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life.—Mitt Romney

Romney's campaign later said he'd been hunting twice, once when he was 15, the other time at a Republican fundraiser when he was 59. Hunting twice in 44 years hardly qualifies one as the Great White Hunter, but perhaps more unsettling than his blatant vote-pandering is Romney's desire to brag about his hunting/killing prowess.

PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.—Mitt Romney

Oh, really? Romney strapped a crate containing his Irish Setter, Seamus, to the roof of his station wagon for a twelve-hour drive from Boston to Ontario. When the terrified dog lost control of its bowels, Romney pulled over, sprayed the car and the dog down with a hose, then resumed driving. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk noted: "Any individual who does something like that may have what scientists term the absence of the mirror neuron, i.e., a pin-pointable absence in the brain of the characteristic which allows the individual to feel basic compassion. The implications are frightening ... Mr. Romney seems to hold the very old-fashioned idea that he needs to actively show he is heartless, hence the hunting claims he has made. Not subsistence hunting, but pride in killing defenseless animals for sport, for fun, for show. In the case of the dog on the roof of the car, if this is true, quite remarkably it obviously wasn't for show as only his own children were watching, a lesson in cruelty that was also wrong for them to witness. There was also the obviousness of the situation. Thinking of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that any dog who’s under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured. If you wouldn’t strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog! I don't know who would find that acceptable."

Here's a comment I found online that I believe makes germane points about Romney: "The classic definition of a sociopath is someone who can feel his own pain, but is incapable of feeling another's. Remember how desperately wounded George Bush felt when Kanye West accused him of not caring about black people? And how utterly untouched he appeared to be in the face of 1500+ such black people, dead in New Orleans? Classic sociopath. Mitt Romney suffers from exactly the same pathology—strap the dog on the roof of the car and off you go on your nice vacation. Trim the hair on the "maybe homosexual" because he shouldn't look like that, and off you go to finish your homework. There's a piece missing in Mitt, and it's an essential quality in the man or woman this country needs as its President at this time in our history. We need a Lincoln or a Franklin Roosevelt—someone with not only the necessary talents, skills, capabilities, experience, etc. to lead this nation, but someone who also possesses the capacity for empathy and the moral compass required to understand in which direction we should be headed. Mitt Romney is not the man we need—now or ever—and he would be a total disaster as President of the United States. Vote."

Here's another pertinent comment that I found online: "Like most people, I don't believe he wouldn't remember an incident like this! But for the sake of argument, if a person really did not remember holding a kid down and cutting [his] hair wouldn't the natural reaction to be horrified and indignantly deny the accusation? Just saying 'I don't remember' without expressing any outrage is alarming and emotionally backwards in and of itself. Unlike most people posting, I really was leaning towards voting for Romney but this story sounds bad any which way you look at it. Also, on a purely pragmatic level. I think that this kind of bullying shows a low level of emotional intelligence that could actually be dangerous when it comes to negotiating with enemies or dealing with truly tough, real-world situations. Regardless of political leanings, any leader who is strong and effective has to also be sensitive, quick with nuance, and have sharp instincts in order to survive and fight in hard times. All in all, a very worrying story."

And here's a third comment: "I'm sorry, but I must speak my mind on this. I think the concern over this—and a pattern of other incidents—extends far beyond whether he was a spoiled, rich boy. The real concern about Romney is that his actual behavior displays anti-social tendencies, i.e., sociopathic. Sociopaths are very, very good at concealing their real "feelings," if you can call them that, as they climb to the top of the human pyramid. They crave power over others, and see no reason for the normal humility and concerns that many of us feel when in the public's service. Here are a list of qualities for the anti-social, sociopathic person: - Glibness and Superficial Charm: Check. - Manipulative: One doctor's definition: "Fail to recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims." The story speaks for itself. Check. - Grandiose Sense of Self: Check. - Pathological Lying: No memory? At all? No problem saying so? Check. - Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: Third-person apology? Check. - Shallow Emotions: Another definition: "When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises." A politician's promises? Not genuine? The flip flopping on what should be heart-felt social issues attests to this issue. Check. - Callousness/Lack of Empathy: Well, that is what this article is about. The excitement of cruelty is one of the few, tenuous connections to true emotions they are capable of, which if emphasized, extends into psychotic behaviors. Thus, this story from Romney's past is not only revelatory, but deeply concerning. Is the Mormon persona something that he is using as a disguise, a red herring? If it is, he probably wouldn't know himself, since his brain may be disconnected from the genuine and sincere feelings the rest of us experience daily. I am very, deeply concerned. God bless America. We may be in great need of His help, very soon."

Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are ... Human beings, my friend.—Mitt Romney

Does the Romneybot confuse heartless corporations with human beings because he lacks a human heart himself?

Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.—Mitt Romney

Getting rid of Planned Parenthood and denying women access to contraceptives seem to be high on the Republican Party's agenda. But what happens to all the girls and women who aren't ready to become mothers and/or can't afford to have children? Where is there any empathy or compassion for them, or the unwanted babies? Republicans have made it clear that they have no intention of helping out people in need, so forcing girls and women to have babies they don't want or can't afford seems truly heartless. Romney says it's wrong to borrow money from China to fund Planned Parenthood, but he seems quite content to borrow trillions from China to fund new military hardware and wars in the Middle East. If it's wrong to borrow a few million dollars to fund contraceptives, family planning and healthcare for girls and women, isn't it much worse to borrow trillions of dollars to attack other nations?

I would repeal Obamacare.—Mitt Romney

But "Obamacare" is obviously modeled after Romney's own health care plan, Romneycare. As President Obama pointed out, Romney seems to be pretending that the two plans are radically different, saying: "We designed a program that actually previously had support of Republicans, including the person who may end up being the Republican standard bearer and is now pretending like he came up with something different." Romney's Massachusetts health care plan served as a model for the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). Why does he now rail against a very similar plan? Probably because the only way he can get elected is to appeal to right-wing conservatives who despises anything President Obama does, on general principle, even if he does what Republicans formerly suggested. Repealing Obamacare without coming up with something better might cause American citizens to suffer and die, but that seems to be secondary to the all-important goal of Mitt Romney becoming president, regardless of the cost.

I will never, ever apologize for America.—Mitt Romney

But obviously when the United States makes mistakes, apologies are in order. Ronald Reagan signed legislation that apologized for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. On August 10, 1988, Reagan said himself that "We admit a wrong." Also, Reagan's Justice Department issued a formal apology to France for protecting Klaus Barbie, a Nazi whom U.S. intelligence recruited and shielded in the aftermath of World War II. Reagan also expressed regret for the U.S. military shooting down an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf and offered compensation to both Iranian and non-Iranian victims.

I am big believer in getting money where the money is. The money is in Washington.—Mitt Romney

Romney is a braggart who waffles from position to position, depending on the people he's trying to impress or gain votes from. When he's appealing to conservatives for votes, he's a down-on-his-luck unemployed hunter who deplores Washington insiders and spending. But when he's trying to impress someone else, he's the consummate Washington insider who knows how the get the big bucks from the federal government. Romney called the auto industry bailouts "crony capitalism on a grand scale," but he wasn't above lobbying Congress to bail out the Salt Lake City Olympics, an intervention that ended up costing U.S. taxpayers about $1.3 billion, according to TIME (August 29, 2011).

Before I made a statement [about the Palestinians] I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: "Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?"—Mitt Romney

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times about the statement above, which seems to suggest that Romney will allow Israel to either set or direct U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East: "Romney has suggested that he would not make any significant policy decisions about Israel without consulting Mr. Netanyahu — a level of deference that could raise eyebrows given Mr. Netanyahu’s polarizing reputation, even as it appeals to the neoconservatives and evangelical Christians who are fiercely protective of Israel. In a telling exchange during a debate in December, Mr. Romney criticized Mr. Gingrich for making a disparaging remark about Palestinians, declaring: 'Before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?’' Martin S. Indyk, a United States ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration, said that whether intentional or not, Mr. Romney’s statement implied that he would "subcontract Middle East policy to Israel." "That, of course, would be inappropriate," he added.

Romney's Fiscal Insanity

Romney claims to have a plan for America's financial salvation. He confidently announces that he will put Americans back to work, end Obamacare with a wave of his magic wand, balance the budget, restore the federal government's AAA credit rating, etc. But in reality his "plan" boils down to throwing even more money at the super-rich, due to the failed thinking that making the rich richer will cause money to "trickle down" to the less affluent. Albert Einstein, a very smart cookie, once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results. By that rule of thumb, Romney is insane, and so is the GOP.

After his primary victories in Michigan and Arizona, Romney detailed a list of tax changes designed to delight wealthy Americans, while sending everyone else to the poorhouse. He promised to enact an "across-the-board, 20 percent rate cut for every American," to "repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax," and abolish the "death tax" ("death tax" is conservative-speak for the estate tax paid by by only the wealthiest Americans). He also pledged to lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, to "make the R&D tax credit permanent to foster innovation," and "end the repatriation tax to return investment back to our shores."

That's truly wonderful for the Warren Buffets and Bill Gateses of the world, but what about the rest of us?

Perhaps at first glance an across-the-board tax cut sounds nicely fair and balanced. But a recent Tax Policy Center study of the impact of a 20% across-the-board cut indicated that the wealthiest 0.1% would get an average tax reduction of $264,000. The poorest 20% would get $78, and those in the middle would get an average of $791. And the TCP predicted that the plan would add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.

Romney Betrays His Roots and Religion

"His father was a beloved governor because he was pragmatic and compassionate and moderate," former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm told The National Memo, referring to the late George Romney, who was a popular auto executive before he was elected Michigan's top official. "Mitt Romney, while he may have been some of those things while he was governor of Massachusetts, is vying to outflank Rick Santorum on the right, and he is not his father. He has morphed into something his father would not recognize."

Like many other Republicans who profess to be Christians, in his eagerness to be considered a "conservative's conservative," Mitt Romney has forgotten or ignored the teachings of Jesus, the apostles and Hebrew prophets, all of whom said that true religion is to practice chesed (mercy, compassion, lovingkindness) and social justice. Ironically, the GOP's alpha males who profess to "believe" in God are now practicing social and economic Darwinism: the survival of the strongest and most ruthless at the expense of everyone else, particularly mothers, children, the elderly, the sick, the unemployed and the poor. Just try finding a Bible verse to support that type of behavior!

Romney Waffles Because He Panders to Religious Fanatics in His Quest for Votes

When asked to define himself in a single word during a recent debate, Mitt Romney chose the word "resolute." But Romney seems to always be willing to waffle if doing so will gain him votes and campaign contributions. Take, for instance, his inconsistent stance on global warming. In his book No Apology, he wrote, "I believe that climate change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control." But if global warming is obviously real, it doesn't matter a hill of beans who is responsible. All that matters is what human beings can do to keep ice caps and glaciers from melting to such an extent that sea levels rise and people and animals living on low-lying islands and in coastal regions begin to suffer and die in large numbers.

But recently Romney altered his position, rather obviously in order to win the votes of conservative Christians whose "faith" leads them to ignore facts and science. Romney now opposes spending money to address global warming because it can't be "proven" that human beings are "responsible." Well, the dinosaurs weren't "responsible" for asteroids hitting the earth and leading to the climate change that caused their extinction, but they became extinct nonetheless. President Barack Obama has taken the much more intelligent and reasonable position that we need to do whatever we can to do to deal with a warming planet and rising sea levels. Republicans like Romney are pandering to irrational people in order to obtain their votes and campaign contributions. That is obviously a very foolish, very dangerous thing to do.

In my opinion, Mitt Romney is neither resolute, nor acting responsibly. He seems to believe that his getting elected president is vastly more important that what happens to our planet, more than eight billion human beings and trillions of animals.

The Romney-Bot Delivers Standard GOP Propaganda

Mitt Romney certainly looks "presidential," but if we tear our eyes away from his impressive figure long enough to actually heed his words, he sounds like a robot programmed to mindlessly drone the standard Republican mantras: "Everything bad that ever happened to Americans is the fault of Barack Obama, and if you elect me I will wave my magic wand and fix everything my first day in office, by repealing this, that and the other piece of socialistic legislation." He makes it sound as if jobs and money will fall magically from trees, the day he becomes president.

But like most robots, Romney seems to lack empathy for average Americans. He is certainly no Ronald Reagan. While he’s not as creepy as Richard Nixon, he seems even more implausibly remote and alien. Take, for example, his recent remark that "I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine." He seems to somehow calmly equate the pain-wracked struggles of the very poor with the mild discomforts of the very rich (who just happen to be his friends).

And there seems to be a pattern of such disconnects. Not long ago, Romney opined that his speaking fees of $374,327 for a single year were "not very much." In June of 2011, he told unemployed Florida workers that he understood their plight, saying. "I’m also unemployed. I’m networking. I have my sight on a particular job." If he was trying to be funny, the joke undoubtedly fell flat, because Romney has a personal safety net of $250 million and doesn't need the "job" he's seeking in order to feed his family. At one of the early Republican debates, he offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 — an amount that, however facetious, reminded voters just how rich Romney really is, and how carefree he is about money.

Romney’s $101 Million Cayman Island IRA

How did Mitt Romney end up with a $101 million Cayman Island IRA? It seems Romney may have sheltered all or most of his Bain Capital wealth from taxes by putting it into an offshore "IRA" and only allowing it to be valued correctly once the appreciation was protected from taxes. If there is some other reasonable explanation for how anyone's IRA can be so huge, when contributions are limited to a few thousand dollars per year, I'd like to hear it.

I first became suspicious about Romney's finances when he started squirming like a fish out of water when asked about releasing his tax returns during a Republican presidential debate. I was sure at that moment that there was something in his tax returns that he didn't want the public to see. Ironically, Romney's father, George W. Romney, had voluntarily released his tax returns for twelve years when he became a presidential candidate in 1967.

But Mitt Romney's public squirmings told me that something was obviously wrong with his tax returns. Then later something in a Huffington Post article about his tax returns caught my eye, because a single Bain fund was valued at $5 million to $25 million, and yet it was called only "part" of his total IRA. Most IRAs are relatively small because the contributions are capped at a few thousand dollars per year. Romney's IRA seemed impossibly large, and it also seemed extremely odd that it was made up of multiple offshore Bain investments in the Cayman Islands, which are world-famous for two things: beautiful beaches and hideous tax shelters. So I began trying to determine what Romney's full IRA amounted to. Here's a Reuters report that I found on the subject ...

How did Romney's IRA grow so big?
by Lynnley Browning
Monday, January 23, 2012

In the wake of news reports last week that presidential contender Mitt Romney owns an individual retirement account worth as much as $101 million, questions are growing over how it could have gotten so big when contribution limits are capped at $5,000 or $6,000 a year.

Tax lawyers and accountants suggest an answer: Romney may have made use of an Internal Revenue Service loophole that allows investors to undervalue interests in investment partnerships when first putting them into an IRA. These assets can produce returns far in excess of those that could be generated from other investments made at the capped level.

An investor could even set an initial value for a partnership interest at zero dollars, because under tax regulations an interest in a partnership represents future income, not current value, said Chris Sanchirico, co-director of the Center for Tax Law and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Whether Romney used this technique, which is legal, when he put partnership interests into his IRA is a question that won't likely be answered when he discloses his 2010 tax returns on Tuesday.

Romney's IRA, valued at between $20.7 million and $101.6 million, as reported by The Wall Street Journal last Thursday, holds stakes in 13 investment entities run by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he cofounded and led for 13 years.

"One possibility for its size is that he put his Bain partnership interests into the IRA and valued them at a very low number," said David Weisbach, a law professor who focuses on tax at the University of Chicago Law School.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, declined to respond to emails and calls.

In the wake of growing scrutiny of his personal wealth, Romney, one of the wealthiest contenders ever for the White House, told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday that on Tuesday he would release his 2010 tax returns and estimates for his 2011 return.

The release will not provide much insight into his IRA. That is because a personal income-tax return shows IRA contributions and withdrawals only for the year of the return, and not for previous years, and does not show whether any contributions were in the form of undervalued partnership interests. While an IRA investor can sometimes be required to file a separate return for the IRA, it is unclear whether Romney intends to release any such returns.

Romney's personal financial summary, disclosed last August under federal election rules, shows that his IRA holds his most lucrative investments, which are stakes in partnerships run by Bain Capital. Those stakes include Bcip Trust Associates III, a Bain fund that is his single largest investment, with assets valued at $5,000,001 to $25,000,000. Bcip Trust Associates III produced income to Romney's IRA of over $5,000,000 over 2010 and through August 12, 2011, according to the summary.

Robert Stack, head of international tax at law firm Ivins Phillips & Barker, said it is possible that Romney's IRA grew so large not only because of an increase in the value of the funds in which it invests but also through lucrative profits, typically 20 percent of investment gains per year, that funds can generate for their general partners.

It is not known whether Romney is a general partner in the Bain funds, meaning invested in the partnership responsible for managing the funds, or simply an investor in the funds. The Romney campaign has declined to comment on this issue.

The general partners' cut of the profit, known as carried interest, is taxable each year if the funds in which the IRA is invested earn certain management fees or borrow to make their investments. Tax lawyers say they want to know whether Romney's IRA holds any carried interest and whether it has paid tax on it—something not disclosed in his personal financial summary or on a federal income tax return. "In the context of a $100 million IRA, that is what we would want to know," said David Miller, a tax lawyer at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

The average IRA held by Americans holds $42,500, according to the Investment Company Institute, a trade group. While the Romney campaign has said that some of his IRA consists of retirement savings rolled over from previous plans, accountants say rollovers would not likely explain the size of his IRA.

"Even if he rolled over a 401k, with the annual caps on contributions, you're still only talking about a few million dollars," said Robert Green, an accountant who is founder of Green Trading, a tax and accounting firm that caters to the investment industry. Last year, individuals could contribute a maximum of $16,500 a year to their 401(k) plans.

Tax lawyers say it is also important to know whether Romney's IRA holds stakes in Bain funds directly, or through related, offshore entities.

These entities, commonly used by tax-exempt investors such as Romney's IRA, legally allow the investors to avoid having to pay a special tax, known as the unearned business income tax, or UBTI.

While the Wall Street Journal suggested on Thursday that avoidance of the special tax was a big reason for the size of Romney's IRA, some tax lawyers said that its size might simply reflect the extreme profitability of a carried interest held by the IRA. "The best guess is that he put the carried interest into the IRA," Miller said.

Romney's IRA produced income of $1.5 million to $8.5 million over 2010 and through August 12, 2011, according to his financial summary, but it is unknown what, if any, taxes the IRA may have paid on its carried interest. Saul, Romney's campaign spokeswoman, declined requests for comment.

(Reporting by Lynnley Browning; Additional reporting by Gregory Roumeliotis; Editing by Amy Stevens, Eddie Evans and Carol Bishopric)

The average American IRA is $42,500, so Romney’s seems outrageously large. His IRA produced income of $1.5 million to $8.5 million between 2010 and 2011, so it seems quite possible that it may be closer to the high end estimate of $101.6 million. Romney’s total wealth has been estimated at around $200 million. If he shielded half his money from all taxes, that would seem to drop his effective tax rate from around 14% to around 7%. And that would explain why he looked like a fish out of water when he was asked about disclosing his tax returns. In this case, I suspect that two plus two probably results in four ... as in four more years for President Barack Obama.

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