If Mitt Romney is trying to shed his image as an out-of-touch banker, yesterday did not help. On the same day the GOP frontrunner revealed that he pays a much lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans, the founder and CEO of the world’s largest private equity fund hosted Romney and a select group of other financial elites for a top-dollar fundraiser and strategy session at his ultra-posh Manhattan home.
To illustrate the point, Mitt Romney was here this week at Steven Schwarzman's home, the CEO of the powerful private equity firm Blackstone Group. Romney was at Scharzman's swank apartment building at 740 Park Avenue where David Koch also happens to live. Oh, did I mention John Thain also lives there too? As well as John Paulsen? Yes...740 Park Avenue is one of the most "chock-full-o-bankers" buildings in Manhattan. It was a private equity orgy of rich bankers plotting even more diabolical schemes with Mitt Romney as their front man.
You'll remember that it was Schwarzman who said this:
“It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
That's what he said of President Obama's proposal to close the carried-interest loophole, which I wrote about in April of last year. It is that very loophole that cause Mitt Romney's tremendous wealth to be taxed at a super low 15%. Yeah...Schwarzman said that having to pay a normal rate as earned income is the same thing as being overrun by Hitler. I think there is some sort of rule on that that eludes me at the moment.
Seems like a tailor-made Occupy event, right? Here's what Occupy had to say about it:
Yet, when President Obama goes to Harlem to have a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater, we get stuff like this:
Protesters broadcast their anger with signs and jeers, including Bob Nash, who came to protest from Cold Spring Harbor with a sign criticizing Obama for his relationship with Wall Street.
“Wall Street has been bailed out and the American people have been sold out because of Obama,” he said.
Others sang, “Obama is a Nazi.”
Passersby said they were angered by the protesters’ presence. One group of four encouraged protesters with signs to “use that shit for toilet paper.”
“They have a right to protest, but not to classify him as a Hitler,” Harlem resident Wesley Ward said. “He came in when the seat was hot. He ain’t kill nobody like Hitler did.”
This is what happens when you go from being a 99% movement channeling the broadly accepted views of the American people to just another leftwing white liberal bitchfest. You start doing stupid shit.
Some Harlem residents passing by the Apollo, who hadn’t known Obama was visiting, were taken aback by what they saw.
“I never saw protests in Harlem before,” resident Benjamin Carl said. “There weren’t protests when Bush was in office. Why now? Why in Harlem?”
Diane Sare, a Congressional candidate in New Jersey’s 5th District from the fringe LaRouche Democrats group, used the event to campaign against Obama. She insisted that his policies violate the Constitution.
“Sadly, Obama is the worst president we’ve ever had,” she said. “He bombed Libya without going through Congress, he signed NDAA [the National Defense Authorization Act] on New Year’s Eve when everyone was drunk, and he’s allowing U.S. citizens to be detained without a trial.”
Now I think you all know I've been a supporter of OWS since the beginning, and I am a person who is no fan at all of street protests. And you Obama supporters know I've been as harsh as they come on the President's economic policies and political governance. But back when Occupy had a message about inequality, the bankers getting away with organized crime, and the middle class and working poor getting the shaft...well I'm just 100% down with that. That is exactly the sort of focused message that all the American people can get behind. That is a broad message that appeals to the bearded professor in Berkeley as well as the truck-driving skoal chewing NRA member in Mississippi.
But when you start going Greenwald, or getting into other issues that have little or nothing to do with that core, basic, broadly acceptable message...I think its a mistake. I think you start losing people. I think you cause people to start finding differences where once you had unity.
Certainly when you get to the point where you go up to Harlem (and I'm sure exit just as quickly) to rail against Obama, yet somehow miss Mitt Romney slopping around in a pig stuy of Wall Street money two days ago, you're off-base, unfocused, and missing the point. When you're willing to go to Harlem, but not Park Avenue...you're definitely off-base. You ignore the guy who is benefiting from the loophole, and protest the guy trying to close it.
7:10 AM PT: Some folks have mentioned that these could be a small band of kooks not representative of the OWS movement. That could very well be the case, in which I would have to apologize for me rather colorful language.
However, for the Romney Park Avenue event to go unmentioned, unprotested, and basically ignored pretty much says it all. The best contrast with a bunch of kooks would have putting the spotlight where it belongs.
Instead of Harlem residents saying "What the hell are you doing here?" they would have been saying "The real action is on Park Avenue! Get the #3 or #4 express down there."
8:04 AM PT: Kossack We Won points to illustrative, thorough coverage by Allison Kilkenny in In These Times. She was also live-tweeting: "Communication fail."