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
I have just finished reading your marvelous special
report, "How Californians Got Burned". The first
newspaper article I have read which gives, a sensible,
detailed analysis of what happened.

My main previous source of information were Paul
Krugman's op-eds in the NYT, but you can't give all
the gory details in an op-ed.

I think what's best about your article is that you
clearly, and mostly fairly, lay out non-obvious heroes
and villains (maybe you were a little tough on
Wilson). "On the one hand, on the other hand. .
."-type reporting may allow a journalist to cover
their you-know-what, but it does nothing to clear up
a citizen's confusion.

The thing is, though you're article was great
journalism, it isn't necessarily that useful, because
it doesn't analyze events after the summer of 1998,
and most importantly, it doesn't give the citizens a
sensible, detailed analysis of the choices they face
at this time. In other words, you need to write
another article which brings the story to the present
day. Much as your stellar analysis of what caused the
crisis, you must analyze what are the best solutions
at this point to salvage the best of a bad situation.

I've perused other writers at the SacBee, but none of
them seem to be as good as you. And my home paper (the
San Francisco Chronicle) is basically useless.

In any case, I intend to spread your piece around, and
inform the talk shows in my area about it.


I noticed the SacBee is part of the same chain as the
Minnesota Star-Tribune, another paper whose reporting
I respect. Is it a coincidence that none of the big
conglomerate chains have provided well-written,
comprehensible accounts of the power crisis (as far as
I know)? I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect
it's because they are not allowed to identify heroes
and villains in their story. In other words, they have
to write the "On the one hand, on the other hand"
balanced crap which supposedly proves their
objectivity but which really shows that they're either
too timid to find and report uncomfortable truths or
they can't be bothered to find out what the truth is.