By Jim Hightower
The Lone Ranger was a masked man who was out to bring bad guys to justice. Ed Conard is a masked man who is out to bring bad guys to power. A multimillionaire financier who was a top henchman in Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s old outfit of corporate plunderers, Conard is currently riding with the small but fearsome Citizens United Gang, which has taken over presidential politics in our country.
Unlike the James Gang, the Dalton Boys and other robbers of yore who stole from banks and railroads, these thieves are bankers and high-rolling railroaders. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s edict in the infamous Citizens United case, they are now able to use unlimited amounts of their corporate wealth to create Super PACs, which are proving to be devastating weapons against democracy.
Conard is one of the gang of financial elites who’ve put a million dollars or more into Romney’s super PAC, enabling it to whack his opponents and take the GOP nomination with an unprecedented barrage of venomously negative advertising. Conard is known as a masked robber because he tried to disguise his million-dollar involvement by using the fake name of “W Spann.” Incredibly, that’s not illegal — but it was so glaringly odd that Romney’s campaign had to compel Conard to fess up his real name.
Speaking of names, the Romney Super PAC is called “Restore Our Future.” Whose future does that mean? Not yours and mine, but theirs — the mega-donors’. This was candidly confessed by another member of the Citizens United Gang, hedge fund hustler Ken Griffin. He says he’s in Romney’s super PAC because, “I think (the ultra-wealthy) actually have insufficient influence (in Washington). Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system (must) protect the system.”
Rarely do you see such altruism on behalf of the selfish few!
These privileged ones have wielded their enormous wealth this year as cudgels to batter the election process and take the Republican presidential nomination for one of their own. Romney — who amassed his quarter-billion-dollar fortune by borrowing piles of cash from rich speculators to take over a host of corporations, then firing as many workers as possible and slashing the pay of those who remain, thus allowing him and his speculator partners to pocket the money that had gone to the employees — is a product of the system of financial iniquities that Griffin et al. holds so dear. No surprise then that he has taken a blood oath to preserve and extend that largely unregulated and tax-subsidized system. It’s both a legalized mugging and grand larceny.
Ironically, Romney claims to be the man who can “fix” America’s economy. Of course, he uses fix in the same sense that veterinarians use it. If you’re unclear on the concept, ask your dog or cat for details.
Unfortunately, the mugging by the Citizens United Gang has only begun. Not only is Restore Our Future by far the biggest presidential super PAC of them all — dwarfing Barack Obama’s, which is called Priorities USA Action — but its attacks will be supplemented by an even bigger super-super PAC, called American Crossroads. Created by campaign attack-meister Karl Rove and longtime Republican operative Ed Gillespie, this political battering ram intends to pound Obama (and America’s TV viewers) mercilessly with a staggering $200 million in bloody-ugly negative ads from now to Election Day.
Besides sharing the same candidate, the two political funds also share a list of heavy hitters. Just three Texas billionaires, for example — Bob Perry, Harold Simmons and Robert Rowling — have already put $4,400,000 into Restore Our Future and another $16,500,000 into American Crossroads. Perry and Simmons are notorious, experienced muggers, with long histories of using campaign money to win government favors for their corporations.
To the barricades, people! The Citizens United Gang’s goal is not simply to put Romney in the Oval Office, but to impose a plutocracy over our land. Here are the websites of four national groups that are organizing grass-roots people to defeat this corporate coup: freespeechforpeople.org, movetoamend.org, publiccampaign.org and democracyisforpeople.org.