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.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Gore in Four or Something More?: an analysis of the Democratic party candidates.

Ed Rendell
there are many excellent politicians in the CBC but none of the them have the necessary level of fame and glamorous achievement to make any one of them noticeable.
the next viable Democratic African-American candidate will be harold ford jr. and he will have to make his bones first by winning statewide office in Tenessee.

rage of a liberal class.
Many partisan Democrats believe they have been treated unfairly by the mainstream culture, mostly because partisan Republicans seem to have become enormously successful at pushing non-partisan buttons. and are therefore angry and disillusioned. the unfairness is all the more galling because the mainstream perpatrators genuinely do not believe they are doing anything wrong.
this article asserts:
1)partisan Democrats are right. They have been done wrong. (bulk of the article)

people use choice theory/ contingency analysis. and it makes a difference whether the choices are morally neutral or not.

Small changes are negligible, there is a threshold effect, and there is a small framing effect.

1a) to some extent this is due to the insanity of our age, which Republicans have been very good at manipulating.

intellectual pathologies of our age:

pointy-headed abstractions

silly correlations
the canonical silly correlation. beer and smoking versus marijuana, opium, cocaine.

post-modern disequilibrium (moral relativism) “who are we to judge?” arguably a special case of pointy-headed abstraction

physical pathologies:
a softer, potentially richer life, therefore a greater premium on delayed gratification or continence

says something significant about my education that I only learned the meaning of the word incontinence in my twenties.

a more complicated world leads to 1)anxiety & stress 2)gullibility 3) greater opportunities for rationalization. The essence of debate: keep going back and forth until someone can’t respond or going in circles. But now, when you are intellectually bested, simply assume that you could win if you tries hard enough, or that you’re opponent is missing the forest for the trees, i.e. not putting whatever point he successfully made in the proper context

intellectual pathologies

good media would look to set firm anchor, avoid 50-100 problem:
two broad impeachment groups: upset, apathetic

upset, left, right, center

apathetic was faintly pro-Clinton
center was moderately Anti-Clinon
After a wile, trying to convert the apathetic and centrist to their side.

complex world:
increased desire to pigeonhole people

very very important statement: just as a wise man can say something foolish, a fool can say something wise. Then how are we to judge ideas and the endless claims/counter-claims? bottom line. there are no shortcuts.

Oh Florida:

Reagan and Clinton: two peas in a pod. It is utterly insane to hate Clinton because he's dishonest and then extol the virtues of Reagan. Reagan was a very sweet man, and merely to hear him lisp out the simplest phrases produced all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings, but honesy was not one of his virtues.

the partisan outlook: when confronted with an unpleasant fact, argument, or assertion glide past it, and present the other side with an unpleasant argument, fact, or assertion. Pile up a long list of grievances/proofs of the other sides wrongness, and remain wilfully ignorant of the pile of evidence the other side is accumulating. Then, when you are challenged on any one argument, you can wave it away in good conscience. All right, the opposition may have scored one minor point, a few branches on a tree, but is there any doubt about who the forest belongs too?

you can have a civil conversation when you are debating about parameters and not principles. When your core principles are different, then there may not be much point arguing, and it may even be counter-productive.

2) the mainstream and many conservatives are not acting out of malice, or indeed out of any conscious intention of different treatment, and therefore will not realize the error of their ways, nor will history correct current wrongs. Nor, for those who believe in the afterlife, will the perpatrators pay grievously for their sins.

Rorschasch test: If you are conservative and do not understand the diference between Frank Keating and John Ascroft , and do not understand why Frank Keating would have sailed through confirmation while John Ashcroft did not, then congratulations: you are not part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

The Politics of Personal Destruction is a descriptive phrase, but too heavy-handed for routine use: Her is a lighter, more witty British synonym: Playing the Man, and Not the Ball.
3) democrats will have to conquer their anger with the knowledge that justice for past wrongs will never occur. They must overcome their anger and self-pity and console themselves with the belief that: 1) this world was never meant to be fair, and you only have the responsibility to do your best. 2) to keep sanity and perspective, make a careful note of where your opinions differ from the mainstream, without expecting that the mainstream will eventually come round to your way of thinking when the scales somehow fall from their eyes. Precision helps to diffuse anger. You are more likely to become angry and disilusioned when you vehemently disagree with the mainstream, you suspect their disagreement is based on disingenousness or failure to think things through or some kind of error or disingenousness, but you cannot quite prove this is the case.