Congratulations, American taxpayer. Finally, something has roused you from the stupor, the torpor, the catatonia of lingering Obamania.
It was those bonuses. Those AIG bonuses of $165 million. Because that's your money, your millions of dollars paid out to the same incompetents who got us into this mess, right? Sure. But you're on the case now. You're on top of it. Gave your representatives in Washington a piece of your mind, too. Nobody fools the American taxpayer like that and gets away with it, right?
Sigh. Dear American Taxpayer: If only you knew how easily you have been gulled, played like a greenhorn, a rube, a Madoff mark. This $165 million scandal may have unleashed the first genuine feeding frenzy of the Obama administration, but it is a distraction, a sideshow, a smokescreen over what is really going on: namely, the Bush-initiated, Obama-Pelosi-Reid-led incursion into the private sector designed to nationalize the workings of the economy in order to take over, capture and enslave enough of the free market to transform the fundamental character of this nation. Remember what our 44th president said back in 1995: "In America," he told the Chicago Reader, "we have this strong bias toward individual action. You know, we idolize the John Wayne hero who comes in to correct things with both guns blazing. But individual actions, individual dreams are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations."
That is exactly what's going on behind the $165 million smokescreen -- truly, a masterpiece of misdirection. I have no reason to believe it was planned, although I am open to suggestion. After all, it is notable that the nearly $4 billion in Merill Lynch bonuses, doled out just before the dying firm's Jan. 1 takeover by Bank of America (which received bailout funds partly due to the takeover), failed to churn the same national waters.
But I digress. Up in arms about the AIG bonuses, the body politic remains calm, cool, practically collected about the trillions of taxpayer dollars Obama & Co. are drawing on to buy out the economy, expanding the population's dependency on Biggest Government in the process. There are simply too few of us seeing red, for example, over the surprise Federal Reserve decision (announced this week at the height of Bonus Rage) to pump another $1 trillion into the economy, money the International Herald Tribune said the Fed "will create out of thin air."
Still, there is good in Bonus Rage. It's a sign of life. As the president said this week, "I don't want to quell anger. People are right to be angry. I'm angry. What I want us to do is channel our anger in a constructive way." My sentiments exactly (this must be a first), although I'm sure we differ when it comes to what constitutes a "constructive way."
For starters, Bonus Rage should finally drive Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd from office when he runs for re-election in 2010 -- unless he peels off the blindfold and sees the error of his ways sometime sooner. Dodd, after all, is the largest recipient of AIG largesse, "most of it," as John Batchelor reports, "from a dozen AIG executives whose bonuses are protected under the legislation Dodd now admits he wrote."
Ouch. For several days this week, the influential Senate Banking chairman -- he who never met a sweetheart deal he didn't find irresistible -- lied about his role in writing legislation that protects AIG's bonuses. Repeatedly, Dodd insisted that he had had nothing to do with the bonus-protection language in the, ahem, Dodd Amendment until, mirabile dictu, he remembered that he had. As he finally told CNN on Wednesday evening, he actually wrote the provision himself with, he added, input from the administration. Did I mention President Obama was the No. 2 recipient of AIG largesse? Dodd received $103,100. Obama received $101,332. Now Dodd, after being scorched by these disclosures, says he'll give his AIG money back. Will Obama? Does it matter? The proof is already in the pudding, even if the burnt offerings go back to the kitchen.
Fume, baby, fume. But there's more. The nationalization of AIG is not just bankrupting the country by throwing billions of our dollars at AIG's toxic assets. The nationalization of AIG is forcing the American taxpayer to support a very different kind of toxic asset. I refer to AIG's promotion of Sharia (Islamic law) in its Takaful division, the Sharia-compliant insurance sector of AIG. Since we the people own 80 percent of AIG, we the people now promote Sharia, too.
Don't believe me? Takaful insurance, our very own AIG Takaful Web site explains, "avoids prohibited elements in accordance with the Sharia law," adding: "We do not invest in anything that is haram (prohibited under Sharia). We do not borrow, lend or enter into any financial transaction that is unIslamic."
At the very least -- aside from promoting from the law of the Koran, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, the mullahs of Iran, the clerics of Saudi Arabia (not to mention Afghanistan, whose Sharia-supreme "justice" system recently upheld a journalist's 20-year prison sentence for "blasphemy") -- taxpayer support for AIG is by definition sectarian and therefore in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
It is on these grounds -- that the American taxpayer is now directly funding sectarian Islamic religious activities -- that a lawsuit, conducted by the Thomas More Law Center, has been filed against the government. Recently, the Justice Department, another U.S. taxpayer-funded entity last time I checked, entered the case to defend the AIG bailout, filing a motion to dismiss, the Thomas More Law Center notes, based on this being a time of "crisis."
You better believe this is a time of crisis -- but not the crisis envisioned by Justice officials charged with safeguarding gross government fecklessness. Only two of our elected officials -- Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., and bless them for it -- have publicly decried the government's AIG Sharia-bailout; that's a crisis. Chump change bonuses arouse the wrath of the nation -- not the nefarious movement to nationalize the marketplace; that's a crisis, too. The American people are angry, good. But we need to understand there are far more important things to be angry about.