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
no one in the community ever called my mother a good
woman, less because of anything she did or said, I
think, than in the discomfort that is written so
plainly on her face in the presence of anyone more
distant than a first cousin. . .she retains a
sensibility as close, I am sure, to that of a
nineteenth century Irish peasant as exists on the
North American continent.

Her stepfather Bill Connors was almost a parody of the
Gentile Barbarian one reads about in jewish novels. To
survive he wprked intermittently on the railroad. For
entertainment he drank and hit things, among them his
family. . .It was for him the bitterest of ends that
when cancer of the colon finished getting him at the
age of seventy eight three years ago he was the last
white man on Broadway in Elizabethport, wasting away
in a wretched, falling down frame house surrounded by
the "jigaboos" that he loathed as visible evidence
that his more theoretical adversaries, John Bull and
"Ikey and Sam", had won in the end.

It is said by my mother's brothers that she married my
father primarily because he was the only man she knew
that Bill Connors was afraid of.It seems that one
night in 1935 he was drinking on the front porch when
my father brought her home from a date and offered
some suggestions that were coarse. It required her
three brothers to prevent his going to work on Pop
with his fists.

I wonder if Phillip Roth is aware how badly all of us
with murky class origins wanted the archetypal young
snub-nosed cheerleader he calls Thereal McCoy? - the
kind of girl who knew the value of a good body and a
fresh face and was not about to be pawed or spurted on
by anyone who couldn't afford her. To this day the
sight of a girl like that in a tennis dress triggers
in me contradictory impulses of near homicidal desire.