The Two Willard Movies:
The One With A Rat And The Other One With A Rat
by Michael Maynard
December 19, 2013

If you are looking for a way to put a downer on your holiday seasonal cheer, watch Netflix’s “Mitt”, the new movie about Willard Mitt Romney, the failed GOP presidential candidate.

“There are two types of people: those who want to do something and those who want to be somebody.” – Winston Churchill

“Mitt”, the new movie about Willard Romney,  comes along just in time to put a damper on any holiday cheer, peace on earth and good will towards men people are feeling.  Unfortunately, that pathetic excuse for a human being will just not go away. What kind of man allows a documentary film maker to follow him for 6 years and then allows the movie to be screened about his failed candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2008 and failed presidential candidacy in 2012? This borders on Nixonian levels of self absorption and narcissism, which makes it all the more thankful he was not elected President.

Published on Dec 18, 2013 – A Netflix original documentary, Mitt is a rare and intimate account of one man’s quest for the presidency.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_mEdEpfPxk

Unfortunately, Netflix does not answer key questions about this movie, such as:

Who cares?
Why did you take all this trouble to film it?
What do you present in 2 hours that we don’t already know?
How much suntan lotion and pommade were used in making this movie?
Is there really an aging picture of Willard in his attic?

And finally:

Who cares?

There is a more interesting and insightful Willard movie that you could watch instead.

“A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him.”

Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

If only the fictional Willard could have done that to the semi-fictional Willard and his self-serving obnoxious, over-procreating brood.

Romney2 christmas card
At least this Willard movie has Bruce Davidson, Ernest Borgnine and Elsa Lancaster in it, so the enjoyable camp value is high, even if the special effects are not as impressive as they would be if shot today. The camp value of the Willard documentary is only for those of us, like myself, who relish any example of schadenfreude for a 1%er.

But, on the whole, there is not a lot of substantive difference in the story lines of the two movies. The non-fictional Willard and his business minions ran amok over to a lot of people, unfortunately, who were undeserving of such harsh treatment. The Willard Romney situation that particularly irks me no end, especially during the Christmas season, is the sad story of Bain Capital and the now defunct KB Toys of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

“In reality, though, Romney was unquestionably the decider at Bain. “I insisted on having almost dictatorial powers,” he bragged years after the Ampad deal. Over the years, colleagues would anonymously whisper stories about Mitt the Boss to the press, describing him as cunning, manipulative and a little bit nuts, with “an ability to identify people’s insecurities and exploit them for his own benefit.” One former Bain employee said that Romney would screw around with bonuses in small amounts, just to mess with people: He would give $3 million to one, $3.1 million to another and $2.9 million to a third, just to keep those below him on edge.

The private equity business in the early Nineties was dominated by a handful of takeover firms, from the spooky and politically connected Carlyle Group (a favorite subject of conspiracy-theory lit, with its connections to right-wingers like Donald Rumsfeld and George H.W. Bush) to the equally spooky Democrat-leaning (A/H’s) at the Blackstone Group. But even among such a colorful cast of characters, Bain had a reputation on Wall Street for secrecy and extreme weirdness – “the KGB of consulting.” Its employees, known for their Mormonish uniform of white shirts and red power ties, were dubbed “Bainies” by other Wall Streeters, a rip on the fanatical “Moonies.” The firm earned the name thanks to its idiotically adolescent Spy Kids culture, in which these glorified slumlords used code names, didn’t carry business cards and even sang “company songs” to boost morale.” ….

Then in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.

In a typical private-equity fragging, Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a “dividend recapitalization.” The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans – $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain’s owners and investors, including Romney. “The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else’s credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off,” says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO.

Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB’s former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain’s “unjustified” return on the dividend recap was actually “900 percent in a mere 16 months.” Patnode, by contrast, was fired in December 2008, after almost four decades on the job. Like other employees, he didn’t get a single day’s severance….

At the time of the KB Toys deal, Romney was a Bain investor and owner, making him a mere beneficiary of the raping and pillaging, rather than its direct organizer. Moreover, KB’s demise was hastened by a host of genuine market forces, including competition from video games and cellphones. But there’s absolutely no way to look at what Bain did at KB and see anything but a cash grab – one that followed the business model laid out by Romney. Rather than cutting costs and tightening belts, Bain added $300 million in debt to the firm’s bottom line while taking out more than $120 million in cash – an outright looting that creditors later described in a lawsuit as “breaking open the piggy bank.” What’s more, Bain smoothed the deal in typical fashion by giving huge bonuses to the company’s top managers as the firm headed toward bankruptcy. CEO Michael Glazer got an incredible $18.4 million, while CFO Robert Feldman received $4.8 million and senior VP Thomas Alfonsi took home $3.3 million.

And what did Bain bring to the table in return for its massive, outsize payout? KB Toys had built a small empire by targeting middle-class buyers with value-priced products. It succeeded mainly because the firm’s leaders had a great instinct for what they were making and selling. These were people who had been in the specialty toy business since 1922; collectively, they had millions of man-hours of knowledge about how the industry works and how toy customers behave. KB’s president in the Eighties, the late Saul Rubenstein, used to carry around a giant computer printout of the company’s inventory, and would fall asleep reading it on the weekends, the pages clasped to his chest. “He knew the name and number of all those toys,” his widow, Shirley, says proudly. “He loved toys.”

Bain’s experience in the toy industry, by contrast, was precisely bupkus.

I wonder how much of the KB Toy story will be in the documentary. Probably bupkus.

Willard Romney is lionized in Republican circles for the same reason Scrooge Cheney and Coal In Stocking Rumsfeld are: unabashed use of power to increase their wealth. After all, the rich do play by different rules.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_HrdU7WWN0

grinch rumsfeld christmas

In the movie, Willard Romney calls himself “a flawed candidate”. No, that does not go far enough, Willard. You were a fraud candidate and for someone whose primary raison d’etre to be president was his vast successful business experience, you should know that you are a fraud. You were one of those men who ran for president to be somebody, not to do the needed things to help the country’s middle class and poor. Anyone who differentiates people into “makers” and “takers” and believes that taxpayers did not underwrite the private sector through building roads and bridges, providing public education and  giving business tax breaks, has no clue about how business really works.

The most telling moment in the 2012 presidential campaign was Willard Romney’s comment about the 47%.


“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.  All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a fund raiser in May 2012″”

If Willard Romney was president today, he would have undertaken the disastrous anti-banking and financial industry deregulation, pro big business, and pro-wealthy/anti-middle class and poor policies that caused the Great (and on-going) Recession. Those policies are the staples of current Republican economic policy. Those policies have been proven to work for only the 1%ers, the upper class. The disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else is at an 90+year high.

IncomeGainsTo1Percent_HighestSince1920s

While the unemployment rate is slowly dropping the type of jobs that are being created do not help improve the standing of the middle class and the poor.
NetChangeinOccupationalEmployment

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” —Mitt Romney (January 2012)

That safety net is catching more and more people, Willard, including those formerly in the middle class. Trickle down and austerity economics have been proven not to  work, except for you and your rich friends.

povertygrowthin suburbsThe Senate and House of Representatives have just passed a 2013-2014 spending limit compromise that reverses some of the necessary spending cuts  by the sequestration process. This increase in government spending  should provide a small amount of financial stimulus.  But not for the poor. Money for food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,  SNAP, was cut by $5 billion, affecting 47 million.  Legislation to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million  was not passed. All of this was negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan right before Christmas, the same Paul Ryan that was Willard Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate.

Netflix has made some interesting and novel programming, like “House of Cards” and Orange Is The New Black”, so we can excuse a misstep in creative choice. The Willard documentary would be a lot like the “House of Cards”, if he ever was elected President. The current documentary should be more like “Orange Is The New Black” for Romney and his Bain Capital henchmen.

I was one of the middle class kids who loved going to and getting Christmas gifts from KB Toys. I regret not being able to buy their toys for my young cousins and friends children.

I will not be watching the “Mitt” movie. If you are looking for an interesting fun movie to watch during your holiday season downtime, I suggest buying or renting the one about the fictional Willard the rat, not the real life one. The fictional Willard loved his comrades and was willing to sacrifice and fight for them. The love of kin more than money is more in keeping with the true holiday spirit, and more that the semi-fictional Willard ever did.

“We make a living by what we get., but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Columnist/Journalist/Writer/Book Editor Co-Founder/CEO of Azimuth Partners, high tech consulting firm for 30+ years. Former columnist for the Washington Post/Newsweek syndicate.

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