Congress Shrugged

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Broadcast for all of Cedar Rapids, Iowa to hear on Monday and captured in the station’s archives, Iowa’s Republican relic, Senator Charles Grassley snarled, "Obviously, maybe [AIG's executives who are taking $165 million-worth of bonuses from the bail-out] ought to be removed … But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.”

By Tuesday morning, Grassley was "backtracking," as MSNBC and AP put it: “What I’m expressing here obviously is not that I want people to commit suicide.” Actually, that is precisely what you expressed there, Chuck. Word for word.

For those unwilling to deny the evidence of their senses to accommodate a politician, Chuck’s spokesman also insisted that we didn’t hear what the bum plainly said: "Senator Grassley has said for some time now that generally speaking, executives who make a mess of their companies should apologize, as Japanese executives do." Hmmm: does Chuck believe senators who’ve made a mess of the country should as well? “He says the Japanese might even go so far as to commit suicide but he doesn’t want U.S. executives to do that.” How charitable. Sorry, pal, there’s a tape. And you’re as big a liar as your boss.

These bozos remind me of a four-year-old who calls his sister "Booger-Face!"; then, when his mother barks, "What?", he bawls, "Nothing! I didn’t say it! I didn’t!"

But he’s only a little kid. How to explain such silly denials from grown men, albeit a senator and sidekick?

It’s a safe bet Chuck doesn’t plan to join the CEOs in their hari-kari, either, though his vote for AIG’s bail-out makes him every bit as culpable. That’s not to excuse the corporate robbers, who’ve fattened for decades on a fascist stew of regulations and oligopolistic privileges. But for one of their partners and enablers to damn them staggers with its immaturity, irresponsibility, and hypocrisy.

Chuck isn’t the only one who stole our money for AIG. And his accomplices are just as criminal as they scramble to outrun the tsunami they’ve unleashed. Start with the perp whose fingerprints are all over this: not only did Senator Obama vote to bail out AIG, but President Obama continues nationalizing the economy with his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Yet this pot calls the kettle black: "In the last six months, A.I.G. has received substantial sums from the U.S. Treasury," the Thief-in-Chief said. Yep, AIG just waltzed right in there and grabbed the money, didn’t they, Barry? No cooperation from you or anything. "How do they justify [these bonuses] to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?" Probably the same way you do. Barry also "declar[ed] the bonuses an u2018outrage’ that violate u2018fundamental values.’” Yeah, well, converting America to fascism violates ‘em, too.

Like the rest of the economic mess, these bonuses are Leviathan’s fault: they originated "largely because of Congress’ attempts to control soaring executive salaries. In 1993, Congress limited the tax deduction companies could take for cash payments to $1 million. The result was a cottage industry of lawyers, consultants and advisors who structure even bigger pay packages with creative legal strategies that now make the AIG bonuses difficult to rescind." Imagine the overwhelming evil of a government that dictates compensation, then seeks to void contracts.

Because that is exactly what Our Masters hope to do. But "experts in executive compensation say those contracts, written before the government stepped in to bail out AIG, would be difficult, if not impossible, to break." Yet another little detail that fell through the cracks when absurdly incompetent politicians meddled in this market.

Olshan Grundman Frome is a law firm in New York City that "provides experienced and creative counsel to public and private issuers, underwriters, venture capital firms and others…" One of its attorneys speculates that trying to annul these agreements would cost AIG — meaning the Feds since they now run the place, which means us since we fund these sociopaths — "even more money including legal fees… u2018These are contracts from a year and a half ago,’ [Aliza Herzberg] said. u2018We have to live by them.’"

Pshaw. Not when you’re Leviathan, you don’t. Barry wants the goods he stole from us back — though for now, at least, he’ll give lip service to the law. He’s ordered the Treasury Department "to…pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses…"

Others aren’t as picky. Showing the disdain for integrity that’s taken him all the way to the Senate, Chris Dodd (D-Conn, voted "yea" on AIG’s bail-out), blustered, “One way or another, we’re going to try to figure out how to get these resources back.” Taxpayers should take a lesson: let’s be equally determined "to figure out how to get our resources back" from Dodd and Co.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV, voted "yea" on AIG’s bail-out) also favors the forceful approach. “Recipients of these bonuses will not be able to keep all of their" — make that "our" — "money,” he thundered in what MSNBC described as "an unusually strong threat delivered on the Senate floor." Hey, when do any of us keep all our money? Rather than a threat, I’d say this is an unusually honest confession delivered from a den of thieves.

Any time outright thuggery impends, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY, voted "yea" on AIG’s bail-out) won’t be far from the mike. Truth to tell, this publicity hound isn’t ever far from the mike. “If you don’t return it on your own we will do it for you," he growled. Indeed, "House and Senate Democrats are currently crafting separate bills to tax up to 100 percent of generous bonuses awarded by companies rescued by taxpayer money." Careful, guys. How will execs bribe — sorry, contribute to your campaigns if you steal everything they stole?

Then there’s Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT, voted "nay" on AIG’s bail-out). He thinks the CEOs who’ve bellied up to the trough “need to understand that the only reason they even have a job is because of the taxpayers.”

Wrong. They still have jobs because of politicians.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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