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Friday, March 16, 2012

And THIS is when he's not even president; imagine what Bain Capital will get with their guy in the White House
Posted by Jill | 5:39 AM
Though the Republicans seem to have wiped George W. Bush from their memories, in their alternate universe in which the Presidency somehow went right from Saint Ronnie of Santa Barbara to the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Fascist Anti-Colonial Al-Qaeda Terrorist currently occupying the White House, those of us in the reality-based community still remember what it was like when someone in the executive branch stood to make money from American foreign policy. During the Bush years, whether it was Katrina reconstruction or the war in Iraq, it seemed that everywhere you turned, Halliburton or its then-subsidiary, KBR, was being handed piles of government cash.

A front-page story in the New York Times reveals that Bain Capital, from whence the quarter-billionaire Romney family is still gleaning the income that is allowing them to demolish a perfectly acceptable California beach house and build a brand new Xanadu for themselves, stands to make a pretty penny helping the Chinese goernment do constant surveillance of its citizenry:

As the Chinese government forges ahead on a multibillion-dollar effort to blanket the country with surveillance cameras, one American company stands to profit: Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney.

In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.

The Bain-owned company, Uniview Technologies, produces what it calls “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that enable police officials in different jurisdictions to share images in real time through the Internet. Previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.

Such surveillance systems are often used to combat crime and the manufacturer has no control over whether they are used for other purposes. But human rights advocates say in China they are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” said Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.

I realize that this is private investment, not government policy. But given that Mitt Romney stands to make money off of deals like this, I think it's relevant for someone to ask Mitt Romney whether holdings in Bain would influence his policies as president. Not that I expect him to be truthful, but someone should ask. After all, haven't we had enough of political families that believe the entire world is a private fiefdom for themselves and their friends?

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