Vulture Capitalists Swallow A Couple Of Companies

Image (2) MITT-ROMNEY-RMONEY-300x239.jpg for post 11887

To many Americans Romney is the face of vulture capitalism

Rumors of the demise of Toys ’R’ Us have been circulating for six months or more since they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Almost as if a songbook was sent out for news readers across the land there was a chorus of “online shopping took them down.”

Online shopping is the easy target – gee look at the lazy Americans, can’t even get off their fat duffs to go to the store to buy the kids a toy. Like so many stories we get in these days of instant gratification, simple explanation, no in depth news online shopping tells only a small piece of the story. Also like so many stories the American public is more than happy to have one simple storyline to consume and regurgitate.

Therefore while the whole story of the Toys ‘R’ Us demise is only partially online shopping and more a story of greed known as vulture capitalism or leveraged buyout. Thanks to the media the villain in the story will be the amorphous “online” community including Amazon and its owner and current Trump enemy Jeff Bezos.

Also thanks to the media the damage done once again by vulture capitalist companies like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital came in, ravaged their victim and leave a carcass behind without getting any of the blame. did a story specifically on Toys ‘R’ Us shortly after they declared chapter 11 bankruptcy last September pointing out that Toys ‘R’ Us’s problems were due more to vultures. Here the article is quoting from yet another article on

“After extracting enough cash from Toys R Us and loading it up with a debilitating pile of debt, the three PE firms tried to unload it to the unsuspecting public in an IPO in 2010. They were hoping for an additional payday, the icing on the cake, so to speak. But they had to scuttle their efforts due to “challenging market conditions.”

Yet toy industry sales have been “robust,” growing by 5% in 2016, and by a compound annual rate of 5% since 2013.

Incapably managed by the PE firms, Toys R Us has been losing market share in its struggle with online retailers, particularly Amazon, and with Walmart at every level, and with other toy stores. Nevertheless, if the company weren’t overleveraged and didn’t have PE firms leeching off it, its slowly declining revenues and thinning profits turning to losses wouldn’t be the end of the world.”

The article also went on to note that Toys ‘R’ Us was very aware how the leveraged buy out (LBO) would damage their ability to respond to competition due to the nature of their financial arrangements:

  • making it more difficult for us to make payments on the debt, as our business may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows from operating activities to meet our debt service obligations;

  • increasing our vulnerability to general economic and industry conditions;

  • requiring a substantial portion of cash flow from operating activities to be dedicated to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness, and as a result reducing our ability to use our cash flow to fund our operations and capital expenditures, capitalize on future business opportunities and expand our business and execute our strategy;

  • exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings are at variable rates of interest;

  • causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;

  • limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements and general corporate or other purposes; and

  • limiting our ability to adjust to changing market conditions and to react to competitive pressure and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged.

Thursday another company filed bankruptcy yet it got little media play maybe because there wasn’t a story that could be played up as new vs. old or bad vs. good. In this case we have a couple of unlikable players who I believe most would be cheering to fail. 

On the one hand we have what was once Clear Channel Communications (CC) which was most noted for gobbling up radio stations in the 1990s after the telecommunications Act of 1996. CC turned many of those once local based stations into a major part of the right wing echo chamber. CC reincarnated into iheartradio after an LBO by Bain Capital and Thomas Lee Capital.

So here you have Romney’s former firm Bain Capital and Clear Channel, a couple of American villains facing off. Bain used Rush Limbaugh as their bargaining chip in the buyout. This was shortly before Limbaugh became the toxic asset he is today broadcasting on 100 watt stations that barely cover small towns:

“Bain Capital like every company going to a bank in this case several banks for a loan had a business plan you give us X amount of dollars and we pay you back plus interest in a certain time.

How do you plan to pay us back the bank asks? Bain replies well Rush Limbaugh is our biggest cash generating asset.

And thats where everyone who boycotted, joined FlushRush, wrote and read articles gets to take a bow. :)”

There are many lessons in these similar stories. One is that the surface stories we get from the media often hides or ignores details they don’t want us to know. Why? Could be the influence of money, could be sloppiness, could be fear of exposing the real behind the scenes movers and shakers.

A second lesson is about those behind the scene movers. The vulture capitalist companies have been wreaking havoc behind the scenes around the world for decades with little impunity. One of the reasons the Puerto Rico is broke and does not have the resources to respond to the devastating hurricanes is because of vulture capitalists. Many emerging countries have fallen victim to these firms causing eventual serious problems.

And with these bankruptcies thousands of people will be out of work, businesses will be left with unpaid bills and leasing companies and malls will be left with empty buildings and store fronts.

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Iraq Peace Vigil, Fifteen Years Later

Action alert by Ed Flaherty –

Please join Veterans For Peace and PEACE Iowa at the Clinton St/Iowa Ave entrance to the Pentacrest in Iowa City at 5:30 – 6:00 PM on Monday, March 19th for a 15-Year Peace Vigil.

The middle of the month of March is a muddle of murky memories. March 16th marks fifty years since the U.S. massacre of 500 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai. It epitomized the disgrace and shame of a war built on lies which claimed 58,272 American lives and over three million SE Asian lives. But that was more than 40 years ago, and University of Iowa students have no memory of it.

March 19th marks the beginning of another US war built on lies, 15 years ago in 2003, with Iraq the target. Most University of Iowa students were alive then, but most too young to have clear memories of it.

But, as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So it is with the Vietnam War, so it is with the Iraq War. 500,000 US veterans of the Iraq war have PTSD. We still had over 5000 troops in Iraq as of a few months ago, and how many are there now? How much educational expenses could be covered by the trillion dollars we have spent directly on the Iraq war? What about the state of affairs in Iraq today, having lost hundreds of thousands of lives in the US war and with infrastructure and social structure severely fractured? Maybe most importantly, what can we learn from these tragedies?

We must do more than mourn the past. We must learn from it and build a better present and future.

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Ankeny Legislative Forum: Constituents Laugh Out Loud At Legislators

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Action Alert: GOP Will Bring Up 6 Week Abortion Ban Thursday

Action alert from the Iowa Statehouse Progressive Network

GOP To Bring Up 6 Week Abortion Ban Thursday @ 2 pm

Yesterday, Republicans said their dangerous bill to ban abortion after 6 weeks was dead. Today, they found a new way to keep it alive.  Republican lawmakers in the House are using a procedural move in the Human Resources Committee to amend the 6 week abortion ban to a different bill (Senate File 359).

We need your help to stop it.

This dangerous bill will ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant.  It’s the worst attack on the rights of women we’ve seen from Iowa Republicans so far and it’s blatantly unconstitutional. But Republican lawmakers don’t care, they want to take this state backward. They are using this bill to advance an extreme agenda and create a vehicle to legally challenge Roe v. Wade.

Here’s what you can do to help us stop the unconstitutional ban before Thursday at 2 pm:

1. Contact all the Republican lawmakers below on the Human Resources Committee and tell them to vote NO on the 6 week ban:

Rep. Joel Fry, (Chair)
Rep. Michael Bergan, (Vice-Chair)
Rep. Rob Bacon,
Rep. Brian Best,
Rep. Cecil Dolecheck,
Rep. Dave Heaton,
Rep. Steven Holt,
Rep. Jon Jacobsen,
Rep. Kevin Koester,
Rep. Shannon Lundgren,
Rep. Tom Moore,
Rep. Sandy Salmon,
Rep. Rob Taylor,

*** You can call these Representatives at 515-281-3221 tomorrow starting at 8 am 

2. Contact your own State Representative here and ask him/her to vote NO on the 6 week ban.  You can find your representative here.

3. Come to the State Capitol tomorrow at 2 pm and wear pink to show your support for Iowa women. The Human Resources Committee will meet in the Supreme Court Chamber, Room 103.

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America Needs Paper Ballots To Ensure Safe Elections

Verified Voting is working hard to safeguard America’s elections.  Follow their work on Twitter @VerifiedVoting or on Facebook to catch more news about Verified Voting.

Verified Voting made headlines this week, weighing in on federal legislation (like the Secure Elections Act) as well as how states like Michigan are faring on election security. In case you missed it, here are some articles mentioning Verified Voting:

  • The Hill – one of the top political websites where lawmakers get their news – once again sought out Marian K. Schneider’s opinion in their latest article about federal legislation that would bolster election security.
  • On International Women’s Day, Daily Kos published a story, “Computer scientist Barbara Simons proves how easy it is to hack elections – and how it can be stopped.” In it, Barbara explains why paper is the safest voting technology out there.
  • The Bridge took a close look at Michigan’s election security, and relied on experts like Marian who told the magazine, “You have to manage the risk the best way you can…But because you can never get the risk down to zero, you have to be able to recover. That’s why you have paper ballots.” Read more here.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @VerifiedVoting or on Facebook to catch more news about Verified Voting or Donate

Verified Voting Team

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Iowa Republicans Want To Make You A Criminal For Applying For Worker’s Comp.

Forwarding this action alert:

F 2305, the Worker’s Compensation Crimes bill,  is a typical modern-day Republican attempt to rob the middle class by scaring workers who have worker’s comp claims.  It would create a class D felony for worker’s comp claimants who assert claims “without sufficient medical evidence.” It passed the Senate and is currently in the House Commerce Committee.

Because it is in committee, anybody can contact the reps to oppose this bill–you don’t have to be in their district. Their contact info is below.

Here’s the bill:

Notes from constituents in attendance:

SF 2305 passed by Senate: workers’ comp insurance.

  • Establishes a fraud unit.
  • Scrutinizes all workers comp claims.
  • Special prosecutor: the more cases they take the more money the dept makes.

What big picture are they painting? Chances of getting a lawyer to work with you is getting slimmer, facing fraud charges if you take your employer to court. Mandates that you don’t have a choice: you get hurt on the job, employer chooses course of treatment unless you take company to task. Decided by third party.

And here’s the real takeaway:

This bill is anti worker, pro employer. It leaves workers powerless.

Here is a list of those committee members:

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Election Prospects for Republicans and Democrats in the November 2018 Elections

by Ralph Scharnau

The upcoming 2018 United States elections will mainly occur on November 6. These midterm elections include races at the local, state, and federal levels. Nationwide all House seats and a third of those in the Senate will be up for election.

At the moment, Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House. What are the chances that the Republican dominated House and Senate could be flipped into the Democratic column during the 2018 fall election cycle? A number of factors come into play here, and the outcomes are far from clear.

Polling conducted in the middle of January asking respondents about their preferences in the November congressional elections showed that Democrats held leads over Republicans ranging from a few percentage points to double digits. In the highly respected Pew Research Center poll of all registered voters, 53 percent said they support or lean toward the Democratic Party as opposed to only 39 percent for the Republicans. The Democrats also did well among African Americans (88 percent), Hispanics (67 percent) and women (55 percent). Democrats also received strong support from the young, those between the ages of 18 and 49.

Mobilizing this Democratic Party base remains the key to electoral victories.

Ralph Scharnau is a retired professor of U.S. History.   He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.  His teaching career at public and private higher education institutions has spanned some fifty years.  His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque.  Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.

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Computer Scientist Barbara Simons Proves How Easy It Is To Hack Elections—And How It Can Be Stopped

barbara simonEditor’s note: I stumbled on this diary on the other day. Dailykos has a policy of allowing full reprints of their articles provided they are given full acknowledgment. This diary is a good summation of the horrible mess that HAVA and subsequent  changes have wrought.  As you well know the Republican Party will NOT do one damn thing to fix the problems:

By Leslie Salzillo

In 2016, American election systems in 39 states were reportedly hacked and/or compromised by corrupt leaders in office and by foreign and domestic entities. How that corruption affected election results is still unknown—and may remain unknown given there’s proof that hacking can be done—without leaving a trace.

So, how safe will our voting systems be in the upcoming midterm elections? Switching from electronic/paperless voting ballots back to paper ballots is being discussed more and more and may be the only way to ensure the fairest midterm elections. One computer scientist has been a longtime relentless advocate for bringing paper ballots back to all states and exposing the perils of electronic paperless ballots. That scientist is Barbara Simons. She is a former President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the nation’s largest educational and scientific computing society, and the first and only woman to have received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award from the College of Engineering of U.C. Berkeley, where she earned her Ph.D. in computer science. Jill Leovy with The Atlantic reports on the story:

For years, Barbara Simons was the loneliest of Cassandras—a technologist who feared what technology had wrought. Her cause was voting: Specifically, she believed that the electronic systems that had gained favor in the United States after the 2000 presidential election were shoddy, and eminently hackable. She spent years publishing opinion pieces in obscure journals with titles like Municipal World and sending hectoring letters to state officials, always written with the same clipped intensity.

Simons, a liberal, has written books that examined voting systems. Previously, prominent progresssive organizations like ACLU and the American League of Women Voters worked against Simons and her push for paper ballots. They believed paper ballots removed the opportunity for more people with disabilities to vote. While that is a valid point, a greater concern, Simons sees, is that paperless ballots are leaving whole elections at risk. In the past, Simons has been treated poorly. At one conference, the American League of Women Voters tried to yank the microphone from hands not wanting her to continue pointing out her views and fears.

Freely speaking her mind in public today no longer poses a problem for Simons. In July she packed a room at the annual Def Con Hacker Conference in Las Vegas. She told the audience. “I lose sleep over this. I hope you will too.” She conducted an experiment.

Four voting machines had been secured for the event, three of them types still in use. One team of hackers used radio signals to eavesdrop on a machine as it recorded votes. Another found a master password online. Within hours of getting their hands on the machines, the hackers had discovered vulnerabilities in all four.

That afternoon, Simons was surrounded by reporters. She told USA Today, “Anything that’s happening in here, you can be sure [it’s something] that those intent on undermining the integrity of our election systems have already done.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, those efforts included attempts to meddle with the electoral process in 21 states. At the same time, a series of highly publicized hacks—at Sony, Equifax, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management—has driven home the reality that very few computerized systems are truly secure.

Simons has now garnered the respect of state officials and the aforementioned progressive organizations. They are finally listening.

Considered a voting expert, Barbara Simons currently helps to run Verified Voting and says she wishes she was wrong about election hacking. She believes the databases of voter registrations were targeted by Russia in the 2016 elections adding, “Our democracy is in peril.” In her warning, she stresses that with cyber security, you have to protect against everything—but your opponent only has to find one vulnerability.

Simons relays some good news in that we have a single technology at our disposal that is invulnerable to hacking, and that is—paper,  Her goal, and that of Verified Voting, is to get paper ballots back into every state.

By Verified Voting’s count, 13 states, including populous ones such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, still have paperless voting. Given the thin majorities in Congress, that leaves more than enough machines to allow hackers tremendous power to influence American politics. And all 50 states use computerized scanners for vote counting—few of them with sufficient postelection auditing to detect manipulation. Mandatory audits, in the form of hand counts of randomized samplings of ballots, are essential to protect against invisible vote theft, Simons believes. In an unaudited system, malicious code could easily go unnoticed. “It’s not rocket science,” she said. “Any halfway-decent programmer could do it.”

For more on this subject, read Leovy’s full and extensive piece in the Atlantic, HERE—it’s well worth the time.

As said again and again— it matters not how good our candidates are or how many people show up to the polls to vote during the upcoming Midterms; if our votes are compromised, hacked and/or dis.    counted, we stand to lose and could end up with a Republican majority continuing to hold the majority in Congress. And without a Democratic House majority to start impeachment proceedings, we could end up with the re-election of Donald Trump. This is a risk that causes most Americans who voted against Trump—to shudder. This a risk that causes many around the world to shudder. Since there is not enough time to protect our upcoming elections against hacking, there is enough time for a Simon’s simple solution—switch to paper ballots. 

For more information about Verified Voting, click HERE.

Barbara Simons is a former President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the nation’s largest educational and scientific computing society. She is the only woman to have received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award from the College of Engineering of U.C. Berkeley, where she earned her Ph.D. in computer science. A fellow of ACM and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she also received the Computing Research Association Distinguished Service Award and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. An expert on electronic voting, she published Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?, a book on voting machines co-authored with Douglas Jones. She has been on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission since 2008, and she co-authored the report that led to the cancellation of Department of Defense’s Internet voting project (SERVE) in 2004 because of security concerns. She was a member of the National Workshop on Internet Voting, convened by President Clinton, that conducted one of the first studies of Internet Voting and produced a report in 2001. She co-authored the July 2015 report of the U.S. Vote Foundation entitled The Future of Voting: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting.  She is retired from IBM Research.


Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Vote Fraud, voter suppression, voting rights | Tagged | Leave a comment

America’s War On Kids

video 4 minutes, not safe for work

Seems like there has always been a war on kids in this country. However, since Nixon’s brilliant strategy of getting back at the hippies and blacks for their part in the civil rights movements and the anti-war movement there has been little doubt that kids are something to be controlled, manipulated and ignored.

Now, with friends and family dying in front of them, the kids are standing up and saying “No More!” Today’s kids are showing that unlike generations before they are not going to be ignored and manipulated into eventually following along. Showing signs that the oligarchs are not going to be able to control these kids is sending shudders through the ruling oligarchs.

Expect the ruling class to start to come down hard when these kids assert themselves this week with the mass school walkout this week followed by the mass marches across the country on Saturday, March 24th.      

Let’s get out there and back them up and help send the message loud and strong: Enough is Enough. 

We as a society can put a stop to the gun violence. 

We can put an end to the careers of politicians who march to the drums of the NRA.

We must be a civilized society, not a nation of locked doors with everyone armed to the teeth.

Not One More!

Let’s march.

Then let’s check our voting registration.

Then let’s everyone resolve to give a couple hours a week to volunteer on campaigns for candidates who support sensible gun laws this summer and fall.

Then let’s make sure we vote. Even better, let’s vote early so we will know if our registration is valid and our vote will count. Then if there is a problem there may be time to fix it.

Then let’s make sure our friends have voted.

Remember the gun sellers and the gun lobby doesn’t give a crap about your kids or their lives. They only care about selling guns. WE CAN STOP THEM!

You have the power. For the sake of your kids and grandkids, for your neighbors kids and your friends kids, this is the time to stand up and be counted.

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Sunday Funday: High Holy Days Of Basketball Are Upon Us

Image (1) girls-basketball-300x224.jpeg for post 36576

Readers of this column know that there are some things that your friendly quizmaster holds sacred. Basketball tournament time is time to shut down and bathe in the glow of some great games, some upsets and the buzzer beaters.

We know that sports is not real life, but some times real life can grind you into dust, especially with the Dear Leader and his minions robbing the common people blind. So for a couple weeks a year, the tournaments gives us a chance to escape into the games just as our ancient ancestors did.

Right now, I think Michigan looks good. Probably a kiss of death.

Meanwhile the real world continues to read like the most outrageous novel ever written.

  1. Dear Leader unilaterally imposed tariffs on what two commodities?
  1. What former aid to Dear Leader astounded TV audiences with a meltdown on air Monday claiming he would defy a subpoena?
  1. Well it is Women’s History Month. Who was the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize?
  1. The confirmation of Iowa DHS Director is being held up by Iowa senate Democrats over what issue?
  1. Seneca Falls New York has a special place in American Women’s history because what happened there?
  1. Mississippi imposed a ban on abortions after how many weeks, becoming the shortest window in the country?
  1. MSNBC commentator and former W Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter formed an exploratory senate committee in what state?
  1. Current Counselor to the President(?) Kellyanne Conway was cited Tuesday by the Office of Special Council with violations of what law by “advocation for and against candidates”?
  1. Gee our governor finally woke up to realize that a trade war would devastate what sector of the economy?
  1. Photographers may get the chance to photograph the two worst haircuts in the world in May when what two world leaders meet?
  1. Ready for another depression? Looks like congress is ready to pull back some of the restrictions on banks in what 2010 law?
  1. What supposedly red state saw a huge increase in voters on the Democratic side Tuesday?
  1. The owner of what NFL franchise declared Tuesday that “all player will be standing for the national anthem”?
  1. Canada unveiled its new $10 note on Thursday. What 2 things were different about it?
  1. The very aptly named Sally Ride was America’s first woman to do what?
  1. What state finally settled a teacher’s strike by granting a 5% wage increase?
  1. “Inclusion rider” was the ending words of what academy award winner’s speech last Sunday night?
  1. What airline replaced its bonus program for employees with a hokey big-prize lottery system for employees?
  1. The brother of what cabinet member is undergoing scrutiny for his role in a secret meeting in the Seychelles islands in January 2017?
  1. What “man of mystery” from that Seychelles islands meeting has been cooperating with the Special Counsel and is seen as a key witness?

Sam Bee – 7 minutes probably not safe for work:


  1. Steel and aluminum
  1. Sam Nunberg (a one man March Madness)
  1. Jane Addams
  1. Privatized medicaid system
  1. The first women’s convention in 1848
  1. 15 weeks
  1. Minnesota
  1. The Hatch Act
  1. Agriculture.
  1. Dear leader from PRNK and Dear Leader of the USA
  1. Dodd-Franks
  1. Texas
  1. Miami Dolphins – didn’t say what he’d do if they did though
  1. 1) first woman (Viola Desmond) to appear on a note and 2) it will be oriented lengthwise
  1. Go into space
  1. West Virginia
  1. Frances McDormand
  1. United – screws employees out of $71million a year in bonuses
  1. Eric Prince brother of Betsy DeVoss
  1. George Nader

One more Sam Bee 7 minutes- not safe for work:

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