hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, June 14, 2002
As a long-time admirer of your work (I've read THOTP,
Fools for Scandal, and the Higher Illiteracy, but not,
alas, Widow's Web), I'd like to suggest writing on two
topics I think would suit you:

1. A short piece comparing the uproar over the missing
documents in Tim Mcveigh's case with the silence over
the deliberate suppression of Jim Watt's documents by
the OIC. In the Mcveigh case, all the king's pundits
couldn't get to a camera fast enough to condemn the
FBI and apologize for it, despite the fact that the
documents were more or less junk; yet couldn't care
less about Jim Watt. I believe a good article could be
written about why the two cases were treated
differently, in regards to the decadence, political
correctness and obtuseness of the national press
corps. possible title: "The Missing McVeigh Documents.
What's the Big Deal?"

2. a long form, perhaps more substantive, sweeping
piece on the state of the federal judiciary and the
fight over the upcoming Bush appointments. I believe
what most frightens smart liberals is the prospect of
a judiciary filled with people like Pasco Bowman. We
consider it a fight for the very soul of the country,
yet we have been unable to get the mainstream to pay
attention or even to understand our point of view,
eg.. large numbers of people apparently think
Democrats opposed John Ashcroft because he was
exceptionally devout (ha!), or Ted Olson because he
argued Bush vs Gore successfully. And Hillary Clinton
was the only Democratic Senator to vote against
Michael Chertoff. The others apparently thought he was
just fine.

The kind of piece I have in mind might categorize
judges as 1) ideologically conservative, but
honorable, trustworthy people (i.e. Danforth, Fiske,
Michael McConnell, Lawrence Walsh, George Mackinnon)
2) not quite as trustworthy, but not actually
frightening (Joe Digenova, Fred Thompson, Arlen
Specter) 3) threats to fundamental American values,
(Starr, Bowman, Laurence Silberman, Sentelle, etc.)

or perhaps another way to categorize them:
1) judges who may disagree on a ruling like Roe v Wade
or who may have a broader view of the 10th amendment,
but who are basically decent people with basic
intellectual integrity, and would never knowingly use
their judicial position for partisan purposes.

2) judges who are troubling not necessarily for their
judicial philosophy, but their lack of intellectual
integrity and their record of imposing one set of
rules for Democrats, another for Republicans.

3) Judges who probably fit in category (2), but over
and above that would be conservative "judicial
activists", i.e. using their position not just to
throw the book at Democrats while letting Republicans
off the hook, but also to strike down vast swathes of
federal laws and to game the system appropriately on
redistricting, census counting, non-voting felons,

I have in mind your articles "Politics In the Woods",
"Natural Regulation", "Why Teacher's Can't Teach", The
Poison Gas story, etc.

I believe this is a very important story, and perhaps
no one is better qualified to write about it than you.

Apologies for this email being longer than I planned
it, but let me just ask two quick questions:

1. One of the most odious things about Starr's OIC was
they would insert a clause into a plea agreement
prohibiting the defendant from talking to the press
and criticizing the OIC. Are you aware of *any* other
prosecutors, anywhere, who have done this? And did any
of the mainstream journalists who carried water for
Starr find this troubling?

2. You said you might write a book with Julie
Hiatt-Steele. Are you? In general, do you have any
interesting articles/books in the pipeline?