Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Gibberish From Arlen Specter....This Time On AIG Contracts

Once upon a time, when we all lived in the forest, a man we will call Arlen Specter worked as a DA.

Since that time he has traded in this morsel of history, much as Jake Spoon in Lonesome Dove , to establish a wholly undeserved reputation as a legal thinker worthy of some deference. For those who don't recall the inglorious facts, this tendency reached it's apogee when, during the Clinton impeachment trial, Specter voted "Not Proven" as opposed to "not guilty" or "guilty"....an archaic verdict form (sometimes known as; "not guilty, and don't do it again") once prevalent in Scottish law and, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere else. If nothing else, this alone should cement Specter's already well-deserved reputation as tiresome pedant and coward.

Now, normally, I don't trash Specter - I leave that to the long-suffering Republicans. However, this afternoon, I find that he is all over the TV asserting that the AIG retention bonus contracts are not unenforceable . This is not true. This is a lie. Specter knows that it is a lie. Arlen Specter is a liar.

In support of his ludicrous position Specter claims that the contracts are void "as a matter of public policy" and cites to the Restatement Of Contracts to buttress this argument. More specifically, Specter avers that the contracts are void ab initio in the same way a contact for the sale of heroin, for the sale of a human slave, or for the personal service of prostitution would be. Of course, those contracts are void because the subject matter of the hypotyhetical contracts are in and of themselves criminal. Citing "Public Policy" and appealing to the Restatement Of Contracts is lawyerspeak for "I have no statutory or case law in support of my position".

And, in fact, the stimulus and TARP legislation in question specifically allow for these bonus payouts, provided that they accrue to the recipients for services rendered predating the passage of the legislation.

Personally, I am, for the first and hopefully last time in my life, wholly in agreement with Sen. Grassley's recommendation that the AIG crew commit ritual seppuku. But the only thing worse than letting AIG get the money is having our legislature ignore the laws that they themselves are responsible for.

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