Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Decimate or Alienate

Robert Waldmann

A good sign of a totally bogus argument is reliance on contradictory presumptions of fact. When one is simply wrong, one can often make a convincing argument by inventing facts. When one is being absurd, one can fall into the temptation to invent inconsistent facts.

In this article in the Washington Post Ceci Conolly is being absurd. She argues that progressives (such as movon) who attack Democratic Senators who don’t support a public option are endangering health care reform. For brevity only I will call the first group “leftists” and the second “centrists.” “Centrists” is not as accurate as “people who care more about the value of insurance company shares than equity or efficiency and who are willing to sell their votes for campaign contributions” would be more accurate but too long.

She presents two arguments one stated in her own name in what is supposed to be a news article and one ascribed to an anonymous source whom she does not criticize.

The first is that the centrists have the power and might destroy health care reform if their feelings are hurt. Hence her personally stated opinion that leftist pressure is a bad idea because “the intraparty rift runs the risk of alienating centrist Democrats who will be needed to pass a bill.” Now I know it was rude of me to suggest that said centrists are more or less corrupt, but at least I didn’t assert as Connolly did that they are willing to leave people without health insurance out of pique.

The second is that centrist Democrats are better than Republicans and terribly weak so that criticizing them will cause them to lose office — just look what a close call Ben Nelson had last time. Hence the anonymous source “The strategist, who asked for anonymity because he was criticizing colleagues, said: “These are friends of ours. I would much rather see a quiet call placed by [Obama chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel saying this isn’t helpful. Instead, we try to decimate them?”” So which are they people so powerful that they must not be offended or they will damage the country or people so weak that one tenth of them will die horrible deaths if they are criticized ?

One of the other Conolly and Penn or maybe Schoen .

Oh and did the strategist also ask that it not be mentioned whether or not he or she is paid by big business for helping them with public relations ?

Just reading the headline, I knew I’d be hearing about this at eschaton who linked to Adam Green.

Boy am I late on this. I’m not even the first Waldman[n] to denounce Connolly.

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Feel the heat


I found this saying over at Oildrum in the comments on a post about asset deflation and price inflation through the rise in prices for oil and some other commodities instead of money/interest rate centered thinking.

“People don’t change when they see the light; they change when they feel the heat.” (source unknown)

Add the campaign of writing to the SEC at Zero Hedge and create some heat.

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20 people killed in Peru in demonstrations


Americas Program, Center for International Policy provided a translation of news from Peru, in relation to the working of the recently signed free trade agreement (Jan. 16, 2009) and effective Feb.1, 2009.

Three MI-17 helicopters took off from the base of the National Police in El Milagro at six in the morning of Friday, June 5. They flew over Devil’s Curve, the part of the highway that joins the jungle with the northern coast, which had been occupied for the past 10 days by some 5,000 AwajĂșn and Wampi indigenous peoples. The copters launched tear gas on the crowd (other versions say that they also shot machine guns), while simultaneously a group of agents attacked the road block by ground, firing AKM rifles. A hundred people were wounded by gunshot and between 20-25 were killed.

I haven’t found anything on twitter. Why the difference in our coverage?

Update: hat tip reader juanjo for the twitter link to Bagua.

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Noted for the Record, Failed Bank edition

With today’s (well, yesterday’s) five closings, the total of failings of U.S. banks since March of last year to 69.

Of those, slightly more than 20% (14) are from the state of Georgia. Excepting the much larger California, there have been more failings in Georgia than in any two other states combined.

Also as a matter of record, the 69 failings since last March constitute more than 70% of the 97 failings since October of 2000. So, in round numbers, 15% of the time accounts for 70% of the failings.

Bubbles beget bubbles. Anyone find anything more to it than that?

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Michael Jackson


Reader Jack sends this link to Michael Jackson’s death:

This is the best commentary on Michael Jackson that you’re likely to read. That’s only because it’s not written by a member of the media, but a well educated and well intentioned person instead.

From: Informed Comment by Juan Cole:

Michael Jackson’s sad death at age 50 has provoked an outpouring of emotion around the whole world. Because of globalization, it is an event that affects fans in Asia and the Middle East, as well. In early 2007, his brother Jermaine, a Muslim, announced that Michael would embrace that religion. In November of 2008, just months before his death press reports said that Michael Jackson had formally converted to Islam.

Jackson was a man of multiple identities, which helped account for his enormous worldwide popularity. It seems clear that he was deeply traumatized by his rough show business childhood, and that things happened to him to arrest his development. Just as a stem cell can grow into any organ, Michael’s eternal boyishness made him a chameleon. Increasingly androgynous, he expressed both male and female. A boy and yet a father, he was both child and adult. In part because of his vitiligo, he interrogated his blackness and became, like some other powerful and wealthy African-Americans of his generation, racially ambiguous. Toward the end of his life he bridged his family’s Jehovah’s Witness brand of Christianity with a profound interest in Islam. He was all things to all people in part precisely because of his Peter Pan syndrome. A child can grow up to become anything, after all.

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The Economics of Michael Jackson

When I first heard that Michael Jackson died, I thought immediately of Chuck Sullivan. I met him once, probably in the early 1990s, after his sponsorship of The Jacksons’s Victory tour savaged his fortune. Unlike the other Moguls I Have Seen, it seemed his reversal of fortune impacted his mood. (More likely, I just caught him on a bad day.)

So I decided to do an AB post about the Victory tour, which was probably the beginning of the end for MJ’s claim to being “the new Elvis,” since it was the last time he toured with his family.

Fortunately, as my Loyal Reader (a loyal Patriots fan) notes, I don’t have to. Chad Finn at the Boston Globe tells the story:

[A] disastrous business venture by the Sullivan family — the founding owners of the franchise — indirectly helped Kraft fulfill his dream of owning the Patriots….Charles Sullivan had used the stadium as collateral to fund the Jackson brothers’ Victory Tour back in 1984. Over-leveraged, Sullivan went bankrupt and was forced to sell the arena.

The rest, as they say, is HIStory.

UPDATE: More discussion of the Victory tour, the Reagan Administration, and the bitter attitude of a future Supreme Court jutice at the NYT blog h/t Greg Mitchell’s Twitter feed).

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