The Snot-Boogie Rules

Gail Collins rants about the story we talked about the other day:

I am having a tough time dealing with news that the former president of Countrywide Financial, the mortgage company that did so much to dig the hole in which we all now reside, is making a killing buying up delinquent mortgage loans from the government at bargain basement rates.

“It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer selling body parts to a clinic,” sniped one of my friends.

As Eric Lipton reported in The Times, Stanford Kurland, who was president of Countrywide during the years when it was selling mortgages with temporary low “teaser” rates that later turned into permanent unaffordable ones, now leads Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company, known to its friends as PennyMac.

In what one company official said was “off-the-charts good” business, PennyMac buys troubled mortgages from the government (which got them from failed banks) at rates like 38 cents on the dollar. Then it offers the beleaguered homeowners a chance to refinance at far more favorable terms. PennyMac makes money, the homeowner gets an affordable mortgage and the government gets a share of the profit.

Everybody’s happy! Except, of course, those of us who helped come up with the other 62 cents on the dollar.

From the NY Times magazine piece on the impact of the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland:

As early as 2000, a handful of public officials led by the county treasurer, Jim Rokakis, went to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and pleaded with it to take some action. In 2002, the city passed an ordinance meant to discourage predatory lending by, among other things, requiring prospective borrowers to get premortgage counseling. In response, the banking industry threatened to stop making loans in the city and then lobbied state legislators to prohibit cities in Ohio from imposing local antipredatory lending laws.

From the opening scene of the first episode of the Wire:

Suspect: I’m sayin’, every Friday night in an alley behind the Cut Rate, we rollin’ bones, you know? I mean all them boys, we roll til late.
McNulty: Alley crap game, right?
Suspect: Like every time, Snot, he’d fade a few shooters, play it out til the pot’s deep. Snatch and run.
McNulty: What, every time?
Suspect: Couldn’t help hisself.
McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin’ craps, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait til there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that?
Suspect: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that.
McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game?
Suspect: What?
McNulty: Well, if every time, Snot Boogie stole the money, why’d you let him play?
Suspect: Got to. It’s America, man.

Snot Boogie was eventually shot and killed, so I guess, technically, the market does regulate itself. There is a lesson to be learned here.






43 replies
  1. 1
    Das Internetkommissariat says:

    This is one of the best posts ever and a shining example why I read BJ every day.

  2. 2
    Third Eye Open says:

    Who do I have to snowball-with to get that kind of insider game?

    Seriously makes me question if all that money that went into Masters classes was worth it.

    I ain’t an envious person, but is asking for just a little humbleness…I mean, even if its faked, is that too much to ask for? is being a greedy douche bag really a virtue the founders were extolling?

  3. 3
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    Relating The Wire to the financial crisis is what I call blogging genius. Its funny how that show relates to a lot that is going on right now. Good one Cole.

  4. 4
    djork says:

    Ahhh, the Wire. Probably the greatest show ever.

  5. 5
    KevOH says:

    The same NYTimes article talked about how in Cleveland these taxpayer supported banks are on the hook for millions of dollars to the city of Cleveland for demolition fees ($8000/house) for condemned foreclosed homes. The banks’ solution is to withdraw the foreclosure after the homeowner moved out. This results in the fines for the now vacant property being assessed against the foreclosed homeowner rather than the bank.

    This is a brilliant move that should save the banks millions and hasten Cleveland’s entry in to the third world.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    a fine fine post. well done.

  7. 7
    NonWonderDog says:

    PennyMac? Christ, was it these assholes who where hailed on NPR last Saturday as providing a "market" solution to the problem of defaulting subprime loans? I’d kind of picked up during the program (even though it was never stated directly) that every last cent of their business and profits came from ripping off the US government, but I didn’t know that it was this group of motherfuckers that was running the scam.

    I want to know what the fuck happened to NPR these last few years, first off.

  8. 8
    Third Eye Open says:

    I love America, truly.

    If this is what all that Invisible hand bullshit was all about, then I say, fuck Capitalism, fuck it right in the goat ass.

  9. 9
    redhand says:

    The genius of the marketplace! In the old regulated stock market, players found guilty of egregious stock fraud or insider trading were sometimes barred from the industry for life by the SEC. Thank God for unregulated real estate markets, where Countrywide Snot-Boogies can come back the the table again and again.

  10. 10
    cleek says:

    I want to know what the fuck happened to NPR these last few years, first off.

    they had Michelle Bachmann on again, this AM, ranting about how allowing the govt to restructure mortgages will lead to higher interest rates and fewer loans. … … so my response, to my dashboard, was "well DUH! and what would be so bad about that, you blithering asshole? sounds like a good way to help avoid repeating the situation we’re in now!"

  11. 11
    Napoleon says:

    By the way, living in the Cleveland area let me add two facts, the state legislature was in the hands of fairly doctrine hard right Republicans that disabled the locals from trying to head off the building predatory lenders (and as an aside on several issues when the locals did stuff they didn’t like they tried to override on the state level their professed belief in local control be damned).

    Also that piece mentions Jim Rokakis. Politicians come in for much deserved criticism for being bozos or not doing their job, but he deserves props for being out in front of this issue for a long time and a voice for sanity in lending (not that it has done much good, but someone has to start somewhere).

  12. 12
    Walker says:

    On a somewhat related note, you should read Yves’ latest rant. Obama has completely sold us out to Goldman Sacks. I no longer have any belief that he will solve the credit crisis. The best we can hope is that we can ride it through ok despite his looting of the Treasury.

  13. 13
    Napoleon says:

    This results in the fines for the now vacant property being assessed against the foreclosed homeowner rather than the bank.

    I still have to read that article, but I am almost certain the fee is accessed as a lien against the property (like a tax lien) which gets paid when the foreclosure occurs.

    BTW, that aside the whole game that lenders have played by getting the foreclosure then not filing the deed (I assume that is actually what you are referring to) has been a huge problem, and I thought they were going to remedy it by the sheriff himself recording the deed immediately to short circuit the banks gaming the system.

  14. 14
    Seanly says:

    We are so fucked.

    Ahh, we had a good run. I’ve said this before, but I wish I believed in Hell so that all these jackasses would get some comeuppance at some point.

    RE: NPR, 2 things made me quit listening a few years ago. #1 was the annoying habit of letting the Republican side go on & on and also get first & last word. #2 was all the "authentic sounds" from international reports. Early in the morning, I didn’t need to hear Arab street vendors coughing up phlegm, Budapest toilets running or the caterwauling of the werewolves of London.

  15. 15
    slaney black says:

    I have to say I don’t see any problem with this.

    The FDIC already seized these banks and their assets. Seized ; not bought for "the other 62 cents on the dollar."

    FDIC gets a kickback, debtors get some relief, and credit is flowing through private hands again. If we get more "bad" deals like this, the economy will be in pretty good shape again.

    This is no time for sqeamishness.

  16. 16
    valdivia says:

    any reference to the Wire makes my day. And a gray day it is.

  17. 17
    The Moar You Know says:

    Snot Boogie was eventually shot and killed

    Well, the way forward is now clear.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    DougJ says:

    I remember that scene well!

  20. 20

    I still can’t believe anyone could watch an entire episode of that shitty show. But ….

    It’s America, man.

    Gilligan’s Island, Petticoat Junction …. you can sell anything on The Tube.

    The Wire was a show for people who know nothing about life in a police department or on the streets to watch and think they knew something about life in a police department or on the streets. What Dick Gregory used to call "chatting with the janitor while he sweeps" by white people, to give them the feeling that they knew about the life of the janitor.

  21. 21
    Xanthippas says:

    Mr. Cole, that there is some plain genius blogging.

  22. 22
    John Cole says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: Oh, knock it off. We get it. You hate the Wire.

    Some of us though, who did spend some time working in corrections/law enforcement, like, for example, me, do think it is pretty realistic.

  23. 23
    Xanthippas says:

    The Wire was a show for people who know nothing about life in a police department or on the streets to watch and think they knew something about life in a police department or on the streets. What Dick Gregory used to call "chatting with the janitor while he sweeps" by white people, to give them the feeling that they knew about the life of the janitor.

    Well, the show was created by a man who knows something about "the life of the janitor", so to speak.

  24. 24

    @John Cole: I would guess that I have spent more time working for a law enforcement agency than you have. And a bigger one. In a bigger city. Want to have that pissing contest? I’m at something of a disadvantage since anonymity is not a concern of yours, but it is one of mine. But anyway ….

    Knock it off? Seriously, Mister Free Speech, I should knock it off?

  25. 25

    @Xanthippas:

    Yeah, but who wants to watch a show about how depressing it is to be a janitor? I myself have been a janitor, and I would prefer not to spend time watching one on tv.

    But hey, that’s just me.

  26. 26
    John Cole says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: You can say what you want, but no one gives a shit about your endless whinging about how much you hate the wire. We get it. You don’t like it. Blah blah blah.

  27. 27
    Singularity says:

    The Wire was a show for people who know nothing about life in a police department or on the streets to watch and think they knew something about life in a police department or on the streets.

    Yeah, but who wants to watch a show about how depressing it is to be a janitor? I myself have been a janitor, and I would prefer not to spend time watching one on tv.

    Please make some effort to maintain internal consistency in your arguments. Is the problem with The Wire the fact that it is too unrealistic while purporting to be realistic? Or is the problem that it is too realistic and no one wants to see depressing old reality? Having never watched more than five minutes of the show, I cannot make this evaluation myself, but based on your comments, you seem even less qualified to do so.

  28. 28
    Singularity says:

    Knock it off? Seriously, Mister Free Speech, I should knock it off?

    There is free speech, and then there is coming into someone’s home and pissing on the carpet. Being told to stop pissing on the rug does not equal having your free speech revoked.

  29. 29

    […] John Cole knocks it out of the park today connecting the first scene of the first season of The Wire to the truly maddening situation of people responsible for this mess capitalizing on said mess. Suspect: I’m sayin’, every Friday night in an alley behind the Cut Rate, we rollin’ bones, you know? I mean all them boys, we roll til late. McNulty: Alley crap game, right? Suspect: Like every time, Snot, he’d fade a few shooters, play it out til the pot’s deep. Snatch and run. McNulty: What, every time? Suspect: Couldn’t help hisself. McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin’ craps, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait til there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that? Suspect: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that. McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game? Suspect: What? McNulty: Well, if every time, Snot Boogie stole the money, why’d you let him play? Suspect: Got to. It’s America, man. […]

  30. 30
    AC says:

    This is brilliant. Double all the accolades you received above. Nice work!

  31. 31

    @John Cole:

    Really, my endless whinging? Endless?

    Fuck you, man. Seriously. You are such a fucking attention queen you can’t tolerate one guy who doesn’t like your pet tv program?

    Are you fucking kidding me? Or are you just doing that supposedly-funny John Cole thing now, where you think some people will think you are pretending to be thin-skinned and pretending not to be able to stand criticism?

    I picked this up from a Wire comment thread on another blog recently:

    I think The Wire is one of those shows that most people won’t truly get until years from now.

    That’s how good it is. You have to think about it for 20 years to really understand it. (20 years was his timeframe, not mine).

    Okay, four down, sixteen to go, I guess.

  32. 32

    @Singularity:

    Um, this is a blog, not a home, and not a carpet.

  33. 33
    John Cole says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: Yes. Endless whinging. Do a search for the Wire, and then count the number of threads you have queered with the tired old “the Wire sucks and I speak from experience” schtick. You can start with this one.

  34. 34
    mark says:

    is it possible the Government didn’t pay full market value for the properties? hence the Tax payers won’t be taking the full 62 cents on the dollar bath? Can anyone find out?

  35. 35
    Francis says:

    slow down with the guillotine; this guy is precisely what we need right now. Pennymac is competing in the marketplace to buy portfolios of troubled loans using the expertise of its executives to price the portfolio accurately, then completing workouts.

    It’s kinda like the situation with taking over big banks; the only people who know how to run a big bank are those who were there during the bubble. If we blackball everyone who contributed to the bubble, we end up cutting our own throats.

  36. 36
    Xanthippas says:

    Are you fucking kidding me? Or are you just doing that supposedly-funny John Cole thing now, where you think some people will think you are pretending to be thin-skinned and pretending not to be able to stand criticism?

    Seriously, going from "TV snob" to "ass" doesn’t help the case you’re trying to make.

  37. 37
    John Cole says:

    @Francis: We already covered this. We are just pissed it has to be these particular people…

  38. 38

    Is the problem with The Wire the fact that it is too unrealistic while purporting to be realistic? Or is the problem that it is too realistic and no one wants to see depressing old reality?

    You must be one of the people who were not here a few years ago when we already had this argument, at least twice.

    I don’t say that "the problem" with The Wire is anything, I say that I don’t like it. I am one viewer, and I have one opinion. I’d say my view of it is more mainstream than the view of its rabid followers, since it disappeared under low ratings. But that doesn’t prove much.

    Fans of the show say it’s "realistic." I don’t agree. I’ve worked in the environment portrayed on the show, and there is nothing realistic about it to me. It’s a lie, taking small gloomy segments of life and expanding them into something very unrealistic, IMO. Real police life is more about donuts than about continuous gloom and cynicism.

    As for your latter point, if we remove your dishonest "nobody" from the blurb, yes, it’s clear from the show’s history that it had basically a cult following and that a larger audience is not interested in watching gloomy, dark tv about gloomy, dark people in gloomy, dark situations. That in itself doesn’t prove all that much, any more than the fact that a few people love the show so much they cannot tolerate any other view without popping a vein, proves anything much. It’s just bloggy churn.

    The roadsides of tv are littered with the wreckage of tv shows that never attracted a large audience, some of them good, and some of them crap. What tickles me is how a cult following can decide that its favorite thing is the "best evah" and nobody is allowed to disagree with them.

    If you think this thread is funny, you should go back and visit the ones from four years ago on the same subject. Apparently the people who are qualified to declare a tv show the "best evah" are empowered to crush any opposing view with their mighty heels!

    The main value of this exercise is to collect a list of people who take the Cult of Wire seriously and then keep that in mind as you watch them in the future. You can learn a lot about people when you see them say "How dare you criticize my favorite tv show?"

    Cognitive dissonance is fascinating stuff. What do you make of a guy who writes constant self-deprecating material ("consistently wrong") and then gets all pissy when you criticize his favorite tv show? Which side is the mindfuck? Been here four years, and I have no more idea now than I did then. Some people are addicted to scenes noir on tv, some like mystery on a blog.

  39. 39

    @Xanthippas:

    Case? I am expressing dislike for a tv show, not "making a case."

    Dislike for a tv show.

    How often do you see John Cole tell somebody to "knock it off?"

    For thumbing his nose at a tv show?

    What do you think is going on here?

  40. 40
    Les Miserable Fulcanelli says:

    Great post John. I should grab the DVD’s and start watching the Wire. And I do like stories with a happy ending wherin Snot-Boogie got shot and killed.

    I have. to. resist. the temptation to throw up another angry, overwrought post on BJ, but the more I watch what’s going on in his country the more I’m convinced that some of the people responsible for this mess are gonna get hurt. Terminally hurt like your boy Snot-Boogie did. Critical Mass and all that.

    Shit is wayyyy out of balance, too many innocents getting seriously hurt, too many asshole media pundits and bobbleheads enabling too many criminals getting away with too much financial and literal fucking murder.

    Our ‘Network’ moment will be upon us soon, I fear, and we’re not even close to ‘peak wingnut’, either. Karma’s a motherfucker and doesn’t just dissipate and end when you die, so they’ll pay eventually. But that’s not much gonna be much consolation to somebody having to feed their kids out of a dumpster now.

  41. 41
    Erik says:

    The Snot Boogie story was actually real from David Simon’s (nonfiction) book about the Baltimore PD.

  42. 42
    Nellcote says:

    That Kurland guy got an onair blowjob/interview on CNBC yesterday.

  43. 43

    […] But as a Baltimorean explains to McNutty in the very first scene of the first episode of The Wire, that’s how America works. McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin’ craps, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait til there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that?Suspect: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that.McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game? […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] But as a Baltimorean explains to McNutty in the very first scene of the first episode of The Wire, that’s how America works. McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin’ craps, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait til there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that?Suspect: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that.McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game? […]

  2. […] John Cole knocks it out of the park today connecting the first scene of the first season of The Wire to the truly maddening situation of people responsible for this mess capitalizing on said mess. Suspect: I’m sayin’, every Friday night in an alley behind the Cut Rate, we rollin’ bones, you know? I mean all them boys, we roll til late. McNulty: Alley crap game, right? Suspect: Like every time, Snot, he’d fade a few shooters, play it out til the pot’s deep. Snatch and run. McNulty: What, every time? Suspect: Couldn’t help hisself. McNulty: Let me understand. Every Friday night, you and your boys are shootin’ craps, right? And every Friday night, your pal Snot Boogie… he’d wait til there’s cash on the ground and he’d grab it and run away? You let him do that? Suspect: We’d catch him and beat his ass but ain’t nobody ever go past that. McNulty: I’ve gotta ask you: if every time Snot Boogie would grab the money and run away… why’d you even let him in the game? Suspect: What? McNulty: Well, if every time, Snot Boogie stole the money, why’d you let him play? Suspect: Got to. It’s America, man. […]

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