Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A Damn Fine Script

Today, when we needed another fifty pounds of stupidity from Washington....we got it. This coming from our good friend....Senator for Life and Full-time Dimwit Christopher Dodd, who happens to be the awesome chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

His comment over the AIG episode? "This is another outrageous example of executives -- including those whose decisions were responsible for the problems that caused AIG's collapse -- enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayers."

Chris decided to inform CNN that he’s now considering an unusual approach for forcing a fix onto the whole bonus problem with AIG.....TAX the money back into federal hands. "One idea we're kind of thinking about is a tax provision," Chris spoke. "We have a right to tax. You could write a tax provision that's narrowly crafted only to the people receiving bonuses. That's a way maybe to deal with it."

I sat there for a while...looking over all these comments...from Chris, the White House, the Today Show....and after a while...I came to realize that this is mostly 'scripted'. Yes, its like a "Lost" episode....with the players saying the right things at the right time.

First, consider this...the AIG deal for bonuses, was written into the contract twelve months ago. We know this today. Its absolute fact. AIG management knew this, and the dimwit congressmen who did the big "we-want-to-save-you" bailout knew this.

We also know today that ole Chris Dodd actually wrote mighty fine paragraph into the AIG bailout paragraph...giving an exception for the $180 million bonus.

Heres the thing...the guys who would get the bonus...were known a year ago. The amount....known a year ago. The distribution plan...known a year ago. In this case, Chris or one of his staff members knew of this entire deal.

So the script?

The AIG organization is stuck...they already signed the contract and must pay the money. The treasury guys and congress team doing the AIG deal...knew precisely this. So an arrangement was made. Chris wrote his exception into the rules....and the guys involved...thought they were safe. So weeks have passed and here we are. So we move into phase two.

Here, everyone has a scripted response when learning that the bonus is about to be paid out. Neatly and tidily, Chris is now ready to write a new tax code....designed strictly for the $180-million guys. They can collect the money...but he'll just arrange for the tax to handle recovery of it. So the company stays clean and tidy with the contract....and the boys are totally screwed by the US government...nice and legal.

Along the way...everyone appears correct and happy to take the bonus away...making their rounds on the Today Show and MSNBC. Heck, at this point, Chris looks dopey but he's been accused of being dopey for two decades...so whats new?

Pretty neat...a tidy script...a bunch of idiots in the senate and house....and then some rich executives who made too much money. You couldn't ask for a better script unless some orphan girl appeared out of thin air, or some dwarf became president.

Just Another Idiot Republican

Its fascinating sometimes to watch Republicans who shoot themselves in the foot with stupid comments. Yesterday, we had Iowa Senator Charles Grassley suggest that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves. "I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Charlie said. "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”.

Actually, I half-way agree with this...but wonder if some senators wouldn’t mind also imitating the Japanese and just do the right thing when they’ve screwed up. Instead, we end up getting them on Sunday afternoon chat shows or on some radio station out of Iowa...spouting some stupid comments....or meeting with special friends to fix up laws to improve the status of the friend’s tax situation or company.

The Japanese have a special feeling about failure and shame. US Senators? They have no fear of failure....having done so on a daily and weekly basis for years. And they certainly have no shame in their efforts.

So as much as they’d like to really slam AIG....having been the chief supporters of saving AIG....but never writing any rules into their “SAVE AIG” plan.....then you have to wonder if they ever even asked themselves if bonuses would come up during the next twelve months. And then you can ask Charlie now....when will bonuses be acceptable....and you will get some fourteen line blast that has no rhyme or reason....but sounds good on the screen.

This sadly....is American democracy....where shame and stupidity go hand-in-hand.