Category Archives: Hubris

The Dastardly Bonuses: AIG, Fannie, and Freddie

Those eeevvviiilll capitalists at AIG have been taking quite a beating. Now it’s time to spread the “wealth”:

Fannie Mae plans to pay retention bonuses of at least $1 million to four key executives as part of a plan to keep hundreds of employees from leaving the government-controlled company.

Rival mortgage finance company Freddie Mac is planning similar awards, but has not yet reported on which executives will benefit.

The two companies, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults. Fannie recently requested $15 billion in federal aid, while Freddie has sought a total of almost $45 billion.

Fannie Mae disclosed its “broad-based” retention program in a recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was only required to disclose the amounts for the top-paid executives, who will pocket at least $470,000 on top of their base salaries.

The bonuses are more than double last year’s, which ranged from $200,000 to $260,000. Another round of bonuses ranging from $330,000 to $429,000 are planned for next February.


What’s the over/under on how soon Barney Frank calls for the heads of the top folks at Fannie and Freddie?

Hat Tip: Cafe Hayek

The Hubris of the National Tactical Officers Association

In my report following the live chat @ The Agitator with Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week, I made mention of some very modest reforms he was pushing in Maryland. The bill would require all police departments with SWAT teams to provide monthly reports to the state’s Attorney General, local officials and the general public.

Who would have a problem with just a little public oversight over law enforcement? Apparently, the National Tactical Officers Association’s executive director John Gnagey does:

[John Gnagey] says reporting requirements for SWAT teams should emanate from the law enforcement community, not legislators.

“Our data shows that when SWAT teams are deployed, the violence goes down,” said John Gnagey, who was a SWAT team member for 26 years in the Champaign, Ill., police department.

One question for Mr. Gnagey: That slogan that you have on your squad car that says “to serve and protect,” who exactly are you trying to serve and protect? Based on the tone from the article, it appears that you are only interested in serving and protecting law enforcement. Silly me, I was under the impression that the purpose of law enforcement was to serve and protect the general public! If you have some data that shows SWAT deployments bring the level of violence down, why are you so afraid of putting this data to the test?

The hubris of Mr. Gnagey illustrates exactly why more oversight of law enforcement is necessary. The article also points out that nationally the number of SWAT deployments rose from 2,500 annually in the 1980’s to between 50,000 and 60,000 in 2005; the War on (Some) Drugs is largely responsible for this dramatic increase. Not everyone agrees that these SWAT deployments have reduced violence.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was also interviewed in the article:

“It’s pretty clear to me that police are using SWAT teams for duties that used to be performed by ordinary police officers,” says Calvo, whose Berwyn Heights house was raided July 29 when police mistakenly thought his wife was involved in drug trafficking. “No question, there are times when SWAT teams are appropriate. What strikes me about this is that police are using SWAT teams as an initial response rather than a last resort.”

What we need is more transparency and it’s never going to happen if we depend on those who have something to hide to change the reporting requirements.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished by Government

The Rocky Mountain News reports:

He may have saved three lives, but RTD bus driver Jim Moffett got a jaywalking ticket anyway, along with broken bones and internal bleeding.

Moffett, 58, was driving an RTD bus southbound on Federal Boulevard at 62nd Avenue about 9 Friday night, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

A couple of elderly women exited the bus and tried to walk across Federal to their trailer home on the east side, Moffett’s stepson, Ken McDonald said today.

“With that light snowstorm, my stepdad didn’t think they could cross the street safely,” McDonald said. “There’s a six- or seven-block area where there’s really no place to cross.

“So he got off the bus with another passenger and they helped the ladies cross,” he said.
The four people had made it about halfway across Federal, and most of the northbound traffic had slowed to let them go the rest of the way, McDonald said.

“But one pick-up driver got impatient and passed in the left hand turn lane,” McDonald said. “He plowed right into my stepdad — but not before he pushed the old ladies and the other guy out of the way.”

Moffett is at St. Anthony Central Medical Center with bleeding in the brain, broken bones in his face, a dislocated shoulder, a broken wrist and possible ruptured spleen and liver, McDonald said. His right knee needs a complete rebuild.


Moffett can’t believe he got a jaywalking ticket for his trouble. His stepson calls it “absolutely obscene.”

McDonald said his stepfather didn’t choose the route across the road, the elderly women had already started across. “And there’s not a safe place to cross the road anyway on that whole stretch.”

I cannot tell how many times I have seen people illegally cross this very street after dark; I have never seen a police officer stop someone or issue a citation for jaywalking. But now when an individual puts himself at risk and possibly saves the lives of three people? Well obviously, this man needs to pay a fine…can’t you see he broke the law!

Octomom: A Microcosm of Democrat and Republican Policies Realized

Much to my delight and surprise, the news of Nadya Suleman (a.k.a. Octomom) giving birth to 8 children in addition to her other 6 children she could ill afford to support has not been well received by a large portion of the American public. Octomom seemed to go into this undertaking with the idea that she wouldn’t actually have to support these children herself because giving birth to so many children would make her an instant celebrity complete with book deals, TV specials, movie offer and other such ways to cash in. With the popularity of the Duggar and Gosselin families with their fame and modest fortunes derived from reality shows and book deals, it’s not too difficult to see how Octomom might come to such a conclusion (and at the end of the day, with our celebrity worship culture, her calculation might pay off).

But something unique about Octomom didn’t quite have the same charm as the Duggars and the Goslins: the ability to support the children. For all of my personal objections (which I will not get into here) I have with a family such as the Duggars cranking out 18 babies in a span of 12 years, I certainly respect the dedication of the parents to support their family themselves. While Jon and Kate Gosselin had the help of fertility science which resulted in 8 children in 2 separate pregnancies, they went into each hoping for just one child and also support the family themselves. The Duggar and Gosselin children also benefit from a two parent household.

In contrast, Octomom, an unemployed single woman on welfare, intentionally impregnates herself with the help of in vitro fertilization resulting in 14 children without any concern of how she would support these children if her celebrity scheme wasn’t realized.

What’s not to like?

This Octomom attitude seems to be that she’s entitled to have as many children as she wants because it has always been “her dream” to have lots and lots of children. Where does she get this notion that because someone has “a dream” she is entitled to force others to help her realize this dream?

One doesn’t have to look far to realize that this entitlement mentality has been fostered by the Democratic Party at least since FDR’s New Deal. The Democrats constantly demand that the most productive members of society support the “less fortunate” less productive class to help realize their dreams. According to the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, everyone has a right to a job that pays a “living wage,” “affordable” healthcare, free daycare, free education, paid family leave, and an “affordable” home.

What the Left fails to realize is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There never has and there never will be. Every one of these policies to give “free” or “affordable” service to those who do not have the wherewithal to provide these “rights” for themselves have to come from someone because they are not without cost. Whether or not Octomom paid for the birth of her 8 children, there was still a significant cost to the medical staff that provided this service. But what does she care? If she doesn’t get the multi-million dollar TV show, she can always count on the taxpayer to bail her out. No longer a single mother, Octomom will be married to the State.

While I’m sure many on the Right would nod in agreement with much of what I have said so far, I would have to ask them: where have you been the last 8 years? The Republican President Bush with Republican majorities in the House and the Senate for the majority of that time presided over the greatest expansion of government since LBJ’s Great Society programs. Yes, it was the G.O.P. that gave us No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and TARP just to name a few. This is the party of small government?

Yes, in the Chairmen’s Preamble of the 2008 Republican Party Platform there’s a very libertarian friendly line that the Republican Party has “Distrust of government’s interference in people’s lives” then the document proceeds to outline exactly how they plan to have the government interfere in people’s lives. As awful as the Democrat Platform is, at least I can say they are honest and consistent; more than what I can say about the Republicans.

When the going got tough, the Republicans abandoned free market principles and adopted the Democrat’s approach of bailing out businesses which were “too big to fail.” Now that the Democrats run the show, the Republicans hope we will forget* that they were the other party of big government.

With the Republicans failing to stand up for these principles, perhaps Octomom also believed she was “too big to fail” (both figuratively and literally).

Oh, wait…the Republicans have stayed true to one principle: the old “every sperm is sacred” (every sperm, egg, embryo) principle. When asked why she chose to implant every single one of the embryos Octomom explained that if she allowed them to expire, it would be like killing them. As she has learned from the Republicans, if ever a “life” is created existing even on a multi-cellular level, she has a duty to give these tiny clumps of cells a “chance to be born” or otherwise be accosted for “murdering the unborn.”

I can’t help but wonder whether or not the Octomom culture would exist at all if it were Libertarian policies in place over the last 70 or so years rather than Democrat and Republican policies. If such were the case, I am sure Suleman would have made certain she had the resources to take care of herself first and playing the odds of celebrity roulette would probably been too big of a risk. If the thought of the government bailing out financial institutions and the big three was considered politically unfeasible because government only stayed within its Constitutional limits, then there certainly wouldn’t be any political will to support “one woman’s dream.”

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Maybe he should have driven there in a hybrid car:

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration spent more than $123,000 to charter a private jet to fly to Bogota, Colombia, last fall instead of taking one of the agency’s 106 planes.

The DEA paid a contractor an additional $5,380 to arrange Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart’s trip last Oct. 28-30 with an outside company.

The DEA scheduled the trip as the nation was reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades and the national debt was climbing toward $10 trillion. Three weeks later, lawmakers slammed chief executive officers from three automakers for flying to Washington in private jets as Congress debated whether to bail out the auto industry.

William Brown, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s aviation division, said he’d asked DEA contractor L-3 Communications to arrange the flight because the plane that ordinarily would’ve flown the administrator was grounded for scheduled maintenance. He said he didn’t question the cost at the time.

“Was it excessive? I guess you could look at it that way, but I don’t think so,” he said.

The failures of the US automakers pale in comparison to the failure of the DEA to accomplish their mission. Yet we’re not supposed to believe this is excessive when he spends 100x more than a commercial flight to get to Colombia.

Mencken had the right idea.

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