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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Wednesday, November 03, 2010
I guess my reaction is the same as Krugman's: policies not heavy-handed and strong enough to produce recovery, but too heavy-handed and strong to position as a limited-government moderate. My vote for what the Dems should do is protect the gains of the 111th Congress, and pursue non-legislative Fannie/Freddie/Fed type-actions, ala Yglesias and Atrios. And if Republicans didn't move to the left after their electoral drubbing, I see no reason why Democrats should move to the right after theirs. Above all, it's time to end the wars, and prevent starting new ones.

I guess my view of Obama's attempts at bipartisanship is that I approved of the attempt, with a caveat: Allowing the Republicans to share in the success of policies was a great idea, and worth trying. Allowing the Republicans to prevent the success of policies was a horrible idea, and needed to be avoided.

I may be wronging them, but it does seem to me that the greatest tragedy for a Blue Dog is not to lose an election, it's to lose an election and not get a lobbyist job afterwards. There's no groundswell of support in moderate/conservative districts for Wall Street banks, and so there's no really valid reason for the Blue Dogs to carry water for them in the name of moderation/conservatism.

Also, this:
January Would Be a Great Time for Democrats to Eliminate the Filibuster. (via Yglesias)

The filibuster is one of the chief ways lobbyists kill legislation without leaving their fingerprints on the body. It makes it much harder for rank and file to a) hold their leaders accountable, b) be sure that what leaders say they want to do is what they actually want to do, and thus contributes to fatalism and cynicism in politics. It should go.

11/10 Addition:

The other thing I think about the last two years, is that clearly the dominant idea in American politics at the moment is "Times are tough. Households & businesses are tightening their belts. Governments should too." I think this idea is wrong, and the reason it's wrong is because we don't, in everyday life, ask questions about what money is, namely an intrinsically valueless thing that we, for many good reasons, agree to make a proxy for intrinsically valuable things, like time, space & energy, life, love & joy. To allow the the time and energy of Americans to go to waste, in order to serve the goal of saving money, is confused thinking.

The sentiment "Americans, including government, need to save more and spend less", on reflection, doesn't really make sense. What does make sense is that Americans, and everyone else, should make better use of their limited amounts of time and space and energy, to say nothing of their life, love and joy.

It's worth noting that, according to certain odd people who have cropped up from time to time, money can't buy life, or love, or joy. But at the very least it can buy very tolerably serviceable substitutes, and if those oddballs were so smart, why weren't they rich?

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