Posts Tagged ‘Paul M. Barrett’

SPRÅK | Politiker komplicerar sitt sätt att uttrycka sig av olika anledningar. En som inte alltid är lätt att förstå vad han menar är Barack Obama.

Barack Obama

Ibland handlar det om att man har något att dölja. Vid andra tillfällen vill man kanske helt enkelt undvika att vara tydlig.

Eller så vet vad man inte vad man tycker men känner att ändå måste säga något.

President Obama har en förmåga att uttrycka sig på ett sätt som får många att undra vad han egentligen menar. Många gånger låter det direkt kryptiskt.

John T. Bennet har skrivit nätartikeln “Deciphering Obama: The President’s Complicating Syntax”:

The 44th president has taken plenty of heat over his rhetorical gyrations on both sides of the very “red line” he set last year on Syria’s bloody civil war. And political pundits and those with a stake in overturning the much-maligned sequestration cuts are still scratching their heads over the the newest Obama turn-of-phrase: “permission structures.”

The problem for Obama — and by extension, stakeholders in the quest for a “grand bargain” fiscal deal that would undo the defense and domestic sequestration cuts (and by further extension, the entire country) — is his syntax has become complicated. And, as a result, it is complicating the work of getting things done, maintaining a sense of presidential authority in Washington and transmitting consistent leadership on the world stage.

For another project, I have spent the last five months closely examining the words of Candidate Obama and then President Obama. What I found was a coarsening over time of Obama’s syntax. Candidate Obama was hailed as one of the great orator’s in U.S. political history.

My examination of Obama’s rhetoric — which focused on drone strikes, covert raids and the fight against al-Qaida — reveals the longer Obama is inside the infamously insular “presidential bubble,” the more his rhetoric is becoming a double-edged sword.

For instance, since he emerged on the national — and world — stage in the mid-2000s, Obama’s style is to use bold descriptors. “Red line” is a perfect example.

But, the longer he is president, the more he wraps these bold action phrases in murky qualifiers.

Ett annat exempel är omröstningen i kongressen om striktare vapenkontroller.

Obamas sätt att uttrycka sig fick Paul M. Barrett i Bloomberg Businessweek att undra om han ens själv trodde på ett positivt utfall.

While liberal activists decried the legislative flop, the outcome should not have shocked anyone who listened to Democratic leaders’ tentative tone since the December massacre in Newtown, Conn. In the crescendo of his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, Obama said of gun-violence victims, “They deserve a vote.” Not that they deserve swift passage of curbs on assault weapons, large-capacity ammunition magazines, and so on. They deserve, the president said, a vote.


Two factors inhibited influential Democrats from engaging in a real brawl on guns: First, they fear losing their tenuous 55-45 hold on the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. Second, there’s a palpable sense in Washington that Obama’s other major social-issue priority, immigration reform, has a better chance than gun control in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner, contending with the rambunctious Tea Party wing of his party, had refused to commit to allowing a House floor vote on firearm limits. In the end, Democrats calculated that, even after Newtown, expanding immigration is a better bet than restricting guns.

Det är alltid lätt att vara visionär i en valrörelse. När man sedan skall styra räcker det inte alltid bara med fina ord.

Det är då lätt att politiker väljer att gömmer sig bakom fina fraser för att åtminstone låta som om man vet vad man gör och vart man är på väg.

Eller så uttalar man sig kryptiskt för att alla skall kunna tolka in vad man önskar höra.

Bild: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

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USA | Attack är bästa försvar. Efter alla dödsskjutningar i USA trodde många att det skulle bli lätt att införa nya vapenrestriktioner. Think again.

Istället för att dra sig tillbaka och hålla låg profil tills kritiken blåst över valde National Rifle Association (NRA) att gå till motoffensiv.

Och med fyra miljoner medlemmar har man resurser att göra bra reklamfilm.

Här är en riktigt bra från den 16 januari.  

Why is President Obama so skeptical about putting armed security in our schools? It’s okay for his kids, but not ours? We want our fair share of security, too. NRA Stand And Fight.

Läs mer: ”Why Gun Makers Fear the NRA” av Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek.

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USA | Karl Rove har kallats George W. Bushs hjärna. Han är också hjärnan bakom Crossroads som är en av valets viktigaste organisationer.

De organisationer som av skattemässiga skäl i USA har beteckningen ”527” (s.k. super-PAC:s) eller ”501(c)(4)” kommer att inta en framträdande plats när man snart skriver historien om valrörelsen 2012.

Organisationerna får lagligen inte samordna sina aktiviteter med presidentkandidaternas egna kampanjorganisationer.

Men alla utgår i realiteten ifrån att det finns tysta strategiska överrenskommelser kring vilka politiska budskap organisationerna skall driva för att det skall gagna den egna favoriten i valet.

Dessutom kan dessa organisationer attackera motståndaren på ett sätt som knappast någon av kandidaterna skulle våga för att inte riskera att stötta bort väljare.

Och i år är det de organisationer som attackerar Barack Obama – och därmed indirekt gynnar Mitt Romney – som drar in mest pengar.

Men vad som ofta glöms bort när det rapporteras om organisationerna i media (inte minst i Sverige) är att det var liberala grupper, sympatiskt inställda till demokraterna, som drog igång vad som idag har blivit en gigantisk penningslukande verksamhet.

Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek, skriver:

In the strange realm of campaign finance, the Internal Revenue Service classifies Crossroads GPS as a nonprofit, nonpolitical “social welfare” organization—a 501(c)(4) in tax code parlance—that does not have to identify its backers. Crossroads GPS channels money into “issue” advertisements, which implicitly, but not very subtly, attack Obama and other Democrats.


To maintain its supporters’ anonymity, a social welfare group like GPS must not have a “primary purpose” of a political nature, and it cannot coordinate strategy with candidates. In an election season, however, only a very naïve or obtuse viewer would miss the point of the organization’s prolific ads.

For conservative donors willing to reveal themselves, Rove designed a sister group, a “super PAC” called American Crossroads, which operates from the same offices as GPS, with some of the same executives, employees, copywriters, and consultants. It, too, is technically independent from the Romney campaign. Known as a 527, it does report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, and it can indulge less coyly in pushing Romney and other Republicans.


Back in the 2000s, Rove says in an e-mail interview, it was Democratic-leaning labor unions and liberal plutocrats such as hedge fund financier George Soros and insurance tycoon Peter Lewis who provoked the unlimited-outside-money boom. Whoever started the gonzo fundraising wars—and in 2010, the Supreme Court played an important, if misunderstood enabling role with Citizens United v. FEC—the Crossroads operation is way out in front this election cycle. Along with the billionaire Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other conservative allies, the Crossroads-led offensive is collectively poised to spend more than $1 billion on the 2012 elections, according to Republican operatives. That’s roughly twice—repeat: twice—what Democrats expect to spend by means of their super PACs and social welfare groups.


It irritates Rove that Obama has succeeded in crafting the conventional wisdom on Citizens United. According to Obama’s account, a 5-4 conservative judicial pronouncement liberated a cabal of zillionaires and corporations to launch a hostile takeover of American politics.


“The left,” Rove notes, “pioneered the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s years ago, spending millions of dollars to influence public opinion and the policy landscape, on issues spanning the environment to the Iraq War. Drawing on their example, Crossroads was being planned before Citizens United, and would exist with or without Citizens United.”


In 2004 a 527 called America Coming Together led a $200 million initiative, partly financed by Soros and Lewis, to unseat George W. Bush. One reason many forget this liberal financial surge is that it failed; Kerry, a diffident campaigner, lost by 34 electoral votes. Republicans, for their part, didn’t fully appreciate the advent of outside groups because they were lulled by Bush’s talent for gathering direct-contribution checks with the assistance of “bundlers,” the dedicated supporters and lobbyists who aggregate individual donations.

Rove and his consultant friend Ed Gillespie—now a paid senior adviser to the Romney campaign—had warned from the inception of McCain-Feingold that it would lead to problems for Republicans. Borrowing from the chorus of the classic Sonny Curtis song, Gillespie joked that as RNC chair for the 2004 election cycle, he “fought the law, but the law won.” In 2009, Rove and Gillespie decided it was time for Republicans to stop whining and turn the tables.


“It’s ironic,” he says, “that many of those who are squealing the loudest now [about Crossroads] are the same people who were mute when groups on the left were pioneering the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s. … Liberals cheered then but are now quick to try and stop conservatives from using the techniques they used in the past.”

He and his acolytes are clearly enjoying themselves. This is something that Rove’s many psychoanalysts in the media and among Democrats seem to forget: He really loves the fight.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är Bloomberg Businessweek den 30 juli-5 agusti 2012.

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USA | Mitt Romney bygger en stor del av sin image på att han som framgångsrik affärsman vet hur man skapar nya jobb.

En ständig fråga i valkampanjen är därför om Romney under sin karriär skapade fler jobb än han rationaliserade bort.

Randy Johnson, som 1995 förlorade jobbet i ett av de företag Romney omstrukturerade, bedriver en kampanj för att underminera Romneys presidentambitioner.

Naturligtvis har demokraterna välkomnat honom med öppna armar. Mer oväntat är att samma kritik har framförts av republikanen Newt Gingrich.

Paul M. Barrett har skrivit i Bloomberg Businessweek om striden. 

Randy Johnson organizes steel workers for a living. Before that he worked in a paper factory where he served as union steward. He has waved picket line placards, bellowed through bullhorns, and taken people out on strike. Along the way, he became Mitt Romney’s worst recurring nightmare.


 “Let me show you something,” Johnson says, rising to get his “Romney box,” a copier-paper carton he’s kept since 1994.


The box contains records of a long-ago chapter in the history of Bain Capital, the Boston investment firm Romney led from 1984 to 1999. Back in 1992, Bain acquired a manufacturer called American Pad & Paper, or Ampad. Bain then used Ampad as a vehicle to buy and restructure similar companies. Following standard “roll-up” strategy, Bain closed factories and laid off workers in anticipation of selling off a leaner, more profitable company via an initial public stock offering.


On and off since 1994, when the former Massachusetts businessman made his first run for public office, seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Johnson has haunted Romney. During the hard-fought Senate race, Johnson led a “truth squad” of Marion workers who drove overnight to Boston to confront Romney. Kennedy’s campaign, recognizing a gift from the political gods, made a series of television commercials starring the unhappy Marion workers. The ads helped Kennedy pull out of a temporary slump and defeat Romney. In 2002, when the Republican ran for governor of Massachusetts, Johnson popped up again to remind voters about Marion. Better prepared, Romney weathered the attack and won the statehouse, vowing to improve the Massachusetts economy based on his business expertise.

Now, as Romney battles to become the Republican Presidential nominee, Johnson is working with the Democratic National Committee to plague the politician yet again. Once an aggrieved line worker avenging what he considered an injustice, he is, many years and several campaigns later, a seasoned operative fluent in the language and tactics of political combat. Democrats, for obvious reasons, seek him out, and he seems happy to be sought. Since late last year, the DNC has shepherded Johnson around the country in a preview of President Barack Obama’s populist-tinged fall campaign. Johnson has visited Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and Florida, talking to journalists and schmoozing state Democratic chairmen. In January, when Romney told an audience in Nashua, N.H., that he “enjoy[s] firing people,” Johnson cracked to reporters: “That’s not news to me. Mitt Romney fired me and everyone at the plant.”


Romney maintains his business career generated employment on an impressive scale. “The jobs created at Bain Capital by companies that we helped start or that we helped manage, those companies today employ well over 100,000 more jobs than those that were lost,” Romney told Bloomberg TV on Jan. 7.

Asked for data to back up that claim, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul points to comments the candidate made in Greer, S.C., on Jan. 12: “There are a number of businesses that we helped start which collectively … added well over 100,000 jobs. Staples (SPLS), Bright Horizons children centers, Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics (STLD). Those four alone added well over 100,000 jobs. And then the press has also reported on businesses that lost employment and that was a few thousand jobs that were lost. In each case, where there was job loss, there was an effort on the part of the management team to try and preserve the business to have a brighter future.” To this, Saul adds: “These experiences give Mr. Romney the unique skills and capabilities to do what President Obama has failed to do: focus on job creation and turn around our nation’s faltering economy.”

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är Bloomberg Businessweek den 27 februari – 4 mars 2012.

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