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
more Gene Lyons, "The Higher Illiteracy"

1. The Washington Bureau is full of people who, when
they say `we', don't mean Newsweek, but the Government

2. the danger to individual freedom posed by
self-aggrandizing bureaucracies public and private
seems to me greater every day. In putting it that way
I mean to distinguish myself from the intellectual
survivalists of the extreme right - who lampoon all
public agencies save the military, but express only
reverence for banks, insurance companies and
multi-national corporations. (Imagine the fun if
reporters could dig around, say, the Prudential
Insurance Company's files, as they can the Texas
Education Association's).

3. The Yankee Image was synonymous with Wall Street
and the new York Times, the essence of pin striped
arrogance, and if my father taught me nothing he
taught me mistrust and dislike for that crowd, as well
as the fear that, like the Yankees, they could not be

4. My father's jew hatred, like his nigger phobia,
seemed to grow more pronounced as his own feelings of
failure and my mother's barely submerged hysteria
closed in on him. In 1956, by which time it ws plain
he was not going to make his fortune with the
Prudential, he sunk his life's savings and all he
could borrow, together with what remained of his
belief in himself, nurtured by all those years of
athletic triumph and personal charm, into a Dairy
Queen franchise on a badly chosen country highway in
Wayne, twenty miles from our home. As he had been with
the Prudential, he became a Dairy Queen believer. .
.he could talk butterfat content for hours, extolling
the merits of the Dairy Queen product over all
competitors. . .Whatever, we never made it to Easy
Street. Instead of working from Easter to Halloween
and going south for the winter, my father spent the
next ten years putting in sixteen to eighteen hour
days all during the warm months, commuting home from
"The Pru", grabbing a sandwich and heading for the
D.Q. on the run, never making more than ten dollars a
day he could skim off the top. It ended only when his
cursed avaricious Kike of a landlord refused to renew
the option on his lease so he could do it for ten

Whatever he thought of the "miserable Jew bastards"
when the vapors were on him my father was unfailingly
polite and helpful towards our elderly neighbours and
became a community favorite. Sensing a soft touch,
many of them came to count on him for tasks my brother
and I were too young to do. "Meesthair Lynz," Fanny
Sachs once told me, is a good man.