Harold Meyerson on the Latest Pathology of Washington DC
Winston Churchill Liveblogs World War II: May 28, 1940:

links for 2010-05-27

  • JC: "I’m skeptical that, with a different set of decisions, the Democrats could have produced a substantially better law. Some of this is because of things I learned, or at least came to appreciate, only recently... the institutional constraints on legislation—the technical challenges of reconciliation, the accounting standards of the CBO, the nature of campaign finance—make the enactment of sweeping legislation nightmarishly difficult. Liberals frustrated with the Affordable Care Act’s final shape ought to concentrate on changing those facts of political life, by reforming institutions of government, starting with the filibuster, and building the kind of grassroots movement that can dilute the awesome power of money in politics.... What’s most important to remember about the Democratic leaders is that they took on health care reform when the conventional wisdom said it was too politically risky—and then stuck with it when the conventional wisdom said it was time to give up."
  • MW: "The UK should tighten fiscal and monetary policy now, in the depths of a slump. That... is what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development calls for... I wonder what John Maynard Keynes would have written in response. It would have been savage, I imagine. The OECD argues: “A weak fiscal position and the risk of significant increases in bond yields make further fiscal consolidation essential. The fragile state of the economy should be weighed against the need to maintain credibility when deciding the initial pace of consolidation, but a concrete and far-reaching consolidation plan needs to be announced upfront.” Furthermore, monetary tightening should begin no later than the fourth quarter of this year.... Let us translate this proposal into ordinary language: “If you are unwilling to starve yourself when desperately ill, nobody will believe you would adopt a sensible diet when well.” But might it not make sense to get better first?"
  • JB: "the two things I'd want to know... are economic growth from now through November, and Barack Obama's approval ratings.... The other key variable, however, is candidate quality, and we're going to learn more about that soon.... [C]ampaign effects... are small and are likely to balance out.... What does matter are the candidates... ideological moderation is a plus... experienced politicians who have successfully contested elections... do far better than inexperienced, amateur candidates.... [W]hile both of these effects are significant, they are limited: We're talking a few percentage points.... So... how many (if any) seats will be lost because primary electorates choose the weaker nominee.... I do suspect that there's a story there, that it's on the Republican side, and that the GOP will wind up losing a handful of seats as a result..."
  • PK: "The only explanation seems to be at the beginning of that passage: some people, the report claims, are starting to think there might be inflation, so even though they’re wrong according to our forecasts, see, we need to head off this phantom threat and slow the economy’s recovery … what? What’s so scary about this is that the OECD virtually defines conventional wisdom; it’s a numbered-paragraph sort of place, where a committee has to sign off on everything, policing the nuances as they say. So what we get from this is that among sensible people the idea that you should undermine recovery to appease those who think there might be inflation even though actually there isn’t has become conventional wisdom — so conventional that it’s treated as self-evident. This is really, really bad."
  • AO: "Common sense seemed to dictate that if lands were dutifully surveyed, demarcated, and adjudicated, and chiefs were given registers in which they could record allocations, they would surely avoid infringing on each other’s parcels and end these problems. So I asked Muntari... what the state was doing to help chiefs solve these distributive conflicts.... He claimed that, after working with chiefs for seventeen years, he had come to the conclusion that chiefs did not want clear boundaries, functional property registers, and an environment devoid of disputes. He argued that the chiefs would sabotage any effort to provide these features. According to Muntari, in the absence of such mechanisms, cash-strapped, land-hungry chiefs could conveniently “mistakenly” allocate the lands of neighboring chiefs or sell land that their ancestors had sold earlier. Further, where tenants engaged in subversive political behavior, chiefs could conveniently award their rights to more loyal subjects…"
  • T-NC: "It is extremely important that, while speaking the truth, we do not forget that we are talking about humans. I don't know that thinking of humans as evil is wrong--likely in some capacities it is essential. In my capacity, as someone interested in describing the world, it is borderline useless. Early in my Civil War reading I found that whenever I came across the name Nathan Bedford Forrest, a small rage flickered in me.... It isn't clarify, it's obfuscating. I have found that blanket condemnation requires little, and returns roughly the same. I have also found that understanding (something of a profane concept in our times) requires a lot, but returns much, much more. With that said, this is, by far, the coolest part of my job. Meeting actual people. Talking to actual people. I had thought I was having a hard week on the blog. That was vanity. It's a privilege. For me, especially, it is always a privilege."
  • MJ: "But I have a take on that — people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone! Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone. So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t."