Monday, February 1, 2010

My Collaboration with FireDogLake

by PEU Report

Over five years of independent blogging had taken its toll. I was ready to hang up Blogger, but continued cruising my favorite sites. EconomicPolicyJournal, an economic blog with a conservative bent, had the following request:

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake would like to get in touch with you. She emails me:

I'm interested in running some names by him regarding health care interests in a timeline we're doing, as he seems to be very familiar with the cast & crew and might be able to tell us quite a bit.

What better for an independent blogger than to be recognized by people on the left and the right? This could bea real opportunity, I thought.We connected. Jane created a series of spreadsheets with White House visitor lists by staffer. "Some names" ended up being hundreds. I researched 410 visitors, Jane did 24.

Here's the breakdown:

PEU Report

DeParle 90

E. Emanuel 126

Messina 69

Orzag 72

Rouse 53


Rahm 24

Jane worked Wednesday night on a post. She e-mailed me.

Can I say I've had the help of PEU Report?

Of course, I was honored, until I read her Thursday morning piece.

PEU Report wasn't mentioned. It focused on Rahm Emanuel's 24 visitors. I thought, "OK, I didn't research those. No big deal."The research gave me a number of posts. I did one fairly quickly. It was on a conflicted health care economist, a theme I've mined in the past:

Conflicted Health Economists Push Deform

I'd waited a few days for Jane to run other stories. After the nonmention, I ran:

White House Entertains PEU'sBlue Team's Health Care ConflagrationObama Pre-State of the Union

Over the weekend the White House released more names, 75,000 in total. Prior and new research produced:

White House March of the For-ProfiteersPEU Daschle's White House Health Reform Thread

Our collaboration could produce two more exposes, one on Jonathan Orzag's Compass Lexecon and it's $407,019 federal contract. The other could be on health care innovator Alan Solomont's private equity connections to Carlyle Group affiliate, Boston Private (a $153 million TARP recipient). Note: the Senate bill has $1 billion in capital for innovative health care companies.How many ways can Alan Solomont connected companies benefit from Uncle Sam's largess?

Given my last three e-mails to Jane received no response, I'll assume our time working together has ended. Irregardless, I benefited from the collaboration.

I blogged an extra week, thanks to FireDogLake. Thanks to all PEU Report readers. It was fun while it lasted.

Signed,Lantern Sodden(penname for Alan "not Solomont" Prest)

The above was origianlly published at PEU Report and published here in full with permission.


  1. Wenzel,

    I don't get why PEU Report describes EPJ as a "conservative" blog? Where's the warmongering, the ignorance, the hypocrisy?

    I've tried communicating with this guy in comments and asked questions about how he sees things and haven't had much luck. He seems to be a weird kind of hybrid socialist... he's against insiders and corporate cronyism and Big Biz fascism but seems to think regulation and more governmental control is the key, while ignoring that such things are always what create the conditions for the things he so despises in the first place.

    Confusing stuff! I like his coverage overall though.

  2. Taylor, I'm sorry if I haven't been communicative on Robert's blog. I don't consider economics my strong point.

    I consider myself a fiscal conservative and social progressive. I'd call it weird, but it's hard enough being politically homeless.

    I try to comment on things I have knowledge of, leadership theory and health care. Outside those arenas, I haven't much to contribute, at least publicly. My past silence was likely due to your and Robert's greater knowledge.

    All the best to you, Mr. Conant and other EPJ readers.

  3. Hi PEU,

    Thanks for the response.

    Firstly, I want to commend you for keeping your mouth shut when you feel you're not an expert. I could use some work on that.

    Secondly, I'd like to also admonish you for doing so-- I think it's okay to opinionate on things you aren't an expert on so long as you remain thoughtful, open-minded and modest when doing so. I have a problem with the current trend in politics whereby there is this Expert Fetish and people are cowed into believing they have to accept the rule of "experts" simply because they are experts.

    Basically, all I am saying is, I respect someone who doesn't say ignorant, silly things because they realize they should hold their tongue and listen, but at the same time I think it can be dangerous to not speak out against things that intuitively seem wrong because one is scared that they aren't an "expert" and therefore fear their opinion is worthless.

    I really like your writings and have shared them with other people. The only thing I don't appreciate about them is the occasional naivety whereby you clearly see that insiders and power-hungry people are manipulating things for their benefit at the cost of their victims and "society", but you seem to imply that the situation could be rectified by other insiders meting out justice. That rarely, if ever, happens and more often such populist cries (as they're referred to in the mainstream, not sure if I agree with that terminology) serve as cover for other, even more duplicitous insiders to come in and lay claim, this time with the moral high ground, which is even worse than before because at least before nobody was tricked into believing the insiders exerted control for anyone's good but their own.

    I think you've got a libertarian streak in you and you have the potential to be very good at economics. I mean, you're halfway there-- you have identified the criminals pretty well so far. You're only lacking intellectually in the area where you seem to believe that profit and self-benefit in general is a crime. It's not. Profit is only a crime when force is involved. If a transaction is voluntary, there's no reason to decry it.

    I'd say if you followed those guidelines going forward (voluntary exchange is socially beneficial, involuntary exchange is socially harmful) your analysis would become even more precise and consistent.

    Oh, and I know that Wenzel (as well as myself) would identify our ideas as that of people who support a "private property society", not a conservative one. Maybe that might give you some clues as to where we are coming from. Then again, maybe not.

    I wish you well, also, and look forward to your future blog posts, which I am subscribed to on GReader (I really thought you did great with your recent Haiti post... you've got a great memory!)

  4. Taylor, thank you for your reply. I do believe in profit, I challenge the belief that it can increase endlessly. That seems to be the mantra in many corporate organizations. I am not saying you believe this, it's what I've encountered in a number of companies.

    My aim in revealing insider relationships is to shine the light on the political muck. I don't believe either political side is capable, much less interested in holding their own accountable. I don't have a political or economic answer. I do know our country suffers from abysmal leadership.

    I know leadership isn't perfect, having made a number of mistakes in the past, but learning from them is critical. That's why I like this site. It gives me information I don't find elsewhere.

    Thanks for the "libertarian streak" comment. I worked with Dr. Ron Paul in Lake Jackson, Texas. He'd finished his Presidential run and it was prior to his House service. He was always respectful and thoughtful, two characteristics which you also have.

    My blogging days are on hiatus. Should that change, I'll let Mr. Wenzel know. All the best.

  5. PEU Report,

    He was always respectful and thoughtful, two characteristics which you also have.

    You mistake me for someone else! I tend to be rude and indignant with most people I disagree with. But that's because most people I disagree with tend to be stubbornly committed to their errors. I disagree with you on a few things but I can tell you're a person who, despite the disagreements, still has the same basic goals and viewpoint-- in other words, I'd share a foxhole with you, if we could use an absurd metric like that.

    My mantra is, "Fight criminality in all its forms, and never be beholden to it."

    I leave it to you to see what I mean in consistently applying and practicing that.

    Take care, your blogging will be missed.

  6. "Fight criminality in all its forms, and never be beholden to it."

    Amen, Taylor. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you for your kind words about my blogging.