The Comment Box

Be advised I have noticed the comment box is missing. I have no idea how to fix it, but I have alerted my technical support team and hope to have it back tomorrow sometime.

Congress Does Something

The House actually did something. Reuters reports,

Responding to public and political outrage to the bonuses after the insurer received a government bailout up to $180 billion, lawmakers voted 328-93 for a bill to impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses for executives whose incomes exceed $250,000.

The tax would apply to executives of any company that received at least $5 billion in government bailout money.

From the Associated Press:

In all, 243 Democrats and 85 Republicans voted “yes” on the bill. It was opposed by six Democrats and 87 Republicans. . . . although a number of Republicans cast “no” votes against the measure at first, there was a heavy GOP migration to the “yes” side in the closing moments.

The six Dems who voted “no” were Bean, Kissell, McMahon, Minnick, Mitchell and Snyder. If any of those congress critters are your’n, tell ’em what you think.

As I keyboard, the 85 Republicans who voted “yes” are drafting a letter of apology to Rush Limbaugh.

At the Washington Post, Brady Dennis writes about the bonus babies of AIG, huddling in their office building feeling misunderstood.

The handful of souls who championed the firm’s now-infamous credit-default swaps are, by nearly every account, long since departed. Those left behind to clean up the mess, the majority of whom never lost a dime for AIG, now feel they have been sold out by their Congress and their president.

“They’ve chosen to throw us under the bus,” said a Financial Products executive, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. “They have vilified us.”

They say what is missing from this week’s hysteria is perspective. The very handsome retention payments they received over the past week were set in motion early last year when the firm’s former president, Joe Cassano, was on his way out the door. Financial Products was already running into trouble on its risky credit bets, and the year ahead looked grim. People were weighing offers from other firms, and AIG executives feared that too many departures could lead to disaster.

I remember reading that Marie Antoinette had a new dress made to wear at her beheading. That may not be true, but for some reason it pops into my mind.

Listen, guys, “disaster” has already arrived. The ship has struck the iceberg. Just because the water hasn’t reached the upper decks yet doesn’t mean life can go on as usual. It’s time to put down the brandy and cigars and work with the rest of us to keep the boat afloat, or else we’re all going to end up in the water grabbing for ice floes. Is that clear?


Steve M has a great analogy in the title of a recent post — “AIG is to righties’ economic theories what George W. Bush is to their political theories.” So true.

Of course, as Steve says, to righties nothing is ever the fault of rightie ideology. In many ways George W. Bush was more Reaganite than Reagan, but as soon as he became overwhelmingly unpopular the Right suddenly discovered Bush was not a “real conservative.” Just so, in their minds the financial sector gurus who drove the economy off a cliff are traitors to free market theory, not the naturally selected consequence of it.

More fascinating — Greg Sargent reports that rightie politicians and rightie media are going separate ways on the AIG scandal.

GOP Congressional leaders have roundly condemned AIG and its executives, as part of a strategy to position themselves as heroic defenders of the taxpayers and to paint the Obama administration as weak and ineffectual. … But increasingly, leading conservative media figures are moving in a different direction: Defending AIG.

Rush Limbaugh recently said: “I am all for the AIG bonuses” and attacked the Obama administration for trying to undo them. He also blasted Dem efforts to get the names of the AIG bonus recipients as “McCarthyism.”

Fox News followed suit, also comparing Dems to “Joe McCarthy.” And Sean Hannity has now derided efforts to tax the execs by saying: “In other words, we’re going to just steal their money.”

If you were a Faux Nooz viewer, exactly how stupid would you have to be to agree with Hannity?

It gets better. Today there’s a story that the House plans to slap a 90 percent tax on the bonuses. Actual title of a Michelle Malkin post in response: “First They Came for the AIG Bonuses.” You can’t make this up.

As I said, this is fascinating; the sort of thing social psychologists ought to be studying. Put the Right under a bell jar, or better yet, on a dissecting table.