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The Angler Fish and AIG Bonuses

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The angler fish dwells at the deepest depths of the Atlantic an Antarctic Oceans, beyond the reach of light. This carnivore has been dubbed by some as the ugliest creature on earth. Its massive head contains a massive jaw that is lined with rows of needlelike translucent teeth. It's the unique fishing pole-like protuberance, an extension of dorsal spine, that leads forward of the creature that lends it its common name. At the tip of the pole is a piece of luminous flesh that lures its prey to those terrible jaws. 

The hullabaloo over the $165 million AIG paid in bonuses to 73 of its top execs was much like that angler fish's protruding dorsal spine. It lured me into the frenzied fray of rage as much as it did anyone. How dare they? The gall.

In the mid-20s in Germany, the far-Right that had lured the nation into the disaster that turned into World War II snookered the common folk into believing they'd been betrayed, stabbed in the back by those on the democratic left who were now running the government. They spat out names with unbridled vehemence: "the Jews," "the communists," "the liberals" and other undesirable, unfit refuges from the gutter--"homosexuals" who were leading the pure, Aryan German youth into a lifestyle that was sapping the motherland of its vigor.

It wasn't those on the far-Right . . . It was THEM! They did it! And the motherland must be purged of every last one.

What it was, was one marvelously skillful slight of hand trick, and it worked; all the way through the siege of Stalingrad, all the way to the suicide by der Führer in his Berlin bunker, all the way to the total economic and civil collapse of the country. The Reich of a thousand years had, in 12 years, been reduced to ashes in the crumbled ruins of every major city and country town. 

And we've been witness right here to the very same exhortations by those on the far-Right against all who are not to the same end of the political continuum. The same: just replace Joseph Goebbels' "Jews" with Ann Coulters' or Glenn Beck's, or Michael Savage's, or Rush Limbaugh's "liberals" or "Nancy Pelosi Democrats" and the message that everyone is a "victim" of one of the aforementioned "elites" and you'll find you're on the very same page, only seven decades along.

Even the bellicose sermonizing by the sycophantic clergy on the far-Right, those who charged that hurricanes Katrina and Rita were God's wrath on America, because we tolerated in our midst homosexuals, are but echoes from across the sea and the years.     

None of them genuinely love this country, certainly not its Constitution. Whether it's Rush Limbaugh, or his ilk, or Senator Jon Kyle, or Mitch McConnell, or Minority House Leader John Boehner, or Erik Cantor . . . Their sole objective is that President Obama fail. They have said as much explicitly and implicitly via their "no" votes on every piece of legislation proffered by the administration. They want the president to fail. We ought never to forget that if indeed President Obama does fail, so does not only the country, but the entire world as well. Those on the Right see that as their ticket back to power, and it is power that is their mind-numbing elixir, their Kool-Aid of choice.

One hundred sixty-five million dollars. That's quite a bit of money, especially when it's the taxpayer's money that is being doled to those who played such a dastardly and key role in the demise of the world's economies. But you know what that is? According to columnist George Will, himself by no measure a liberal--most particularly according to how George Will considers himself--that's .0001 percent of GDP. For those who may mistake the minuteness of the sum, removing the "percent", it's .000001 of GDP.

And what is at risk are the company's credit default swap liabilities that range from $10 TRILLION all the way to $45 TRILLION! No one knows either for sure or at all how much the insurance giant could be on the hook for. A credit default swap was an insurance policy to back the securitized mortgages that had been purchased by banks and other institutions around the globe. If the mortgage went bad, the credit default swap would make the lender whole, or so that was the scheme. But with every financial institution in the world getting in on the game, no one knows just how much is at risk, except to know that entire nations are. That's because AIG does not have the money to back the bets it made. No one has that kind of money.

If countries begin to fail, it will have a domino effect, and a highly explosive, violent domino effect. Already numerous nations have seen their populations take to the streets; some in relatively peaceful protest, others not the least peaceful. Governments have already fallen. Just not here. Yet. Summer is still three months off.

Those on the Right are using the American taxpayer's natural rage against AIG's paid bonuses and trying to whip it into a fury that will doom the administration's efforts to tamper the global threat that would be posed by a collapsed AIG. Do you care whether France collapses in shambles? What about Spain, or Italy, or England, or India? Think, in that kind of tumultuous environment, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific will keep us immune, will not deleteriously (VERY deleteriously!) effect YOU?

Think again. When you do, you'll either realize that your thinking is a nightmare the horrors of which your imagination cannot conjure, or you're delusional.

But those I mentioned, and all their ilk, "want Obama to fail." They are the angler fish, with all those glistening teeth. The public rage against the bonuses is to these folks nothing different from the glowing end of the fish's dorsal spine. And if they have the opportunity, they will seize it, if we permit ourselves to be tempted by the swaying bait they're dangling.

I don't know what the answer is. I doubt there is "an answer," or that anybody has one. What is beyond doubt, however, is that the Republican Right doesn't have one, and doesn't want to have one. They're just waiting for everything to fall right into their laps, just the way things did in Germany, in the 30s.

 

An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."

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Please stop!  First!  the poor angler yo... by sometimes blinded on Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 11:09:34 PM