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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Saturday, August 27, 2011
Arthur Silber - Once Upon A Time. . .
Briefly: after I pay the September rent next week, I'll be close to completely broke. Some other bills need to be paid.

Also, I'm spending most of my time right now taking care of Wendy, who's dying. We're in the roller coaster of the final phase: every second or third day, I think that perhaps she's rallying, and the situation will mercifully level off for a short while. Yesterday, she ate very well, for the first time in three or four days. Today, she's back to not being interested in food at all. Her face is still very beautiful; otherwise, she's a bag of bones. I spend hours with her on the bed, gently stroking her, talking to her, singing to her. I make up little songs, about how much I love her, how much joy and fun she's brought into our lives. She raises her head and tilts it toward me, asking for her ears to be massaged and scratched. She purrs a lot.

I don't know if I'm doing her any favors by letting this go on. She doesn't seem to be in pain ... but how do I know? And she still eats, sometimes. She's still able to get on and off the bed without difficulty. And she seems to enjoy the company. How can I have her killed? I can't, not yet.

Chances are I'll need some more money to pay for a few things in these last days for her. I don't have any.

Despite this, I think I've managed to do some good writing recently. Nothing mysterious about that: it's a distraction from the awful pain of watching Wendy die, and sometimes I'm grateful for it. There's more I want to say about the London riots, about Libya, about tribalism and its many manifestations and complicated dynamics. . .

. . .Anyway, I need some money. If you have some you can spare, I'd be very grateful. . .

Wendy is dying, and she remains a great source of joy and love. . .he capacity and willingness of humans affirmatively to choose unnecessary suffering, when there's so much suffering in life that we can't avoid, try as we will, never ceases to astonish and horrify me.

I'm going to spend some more time with Wendy now. . .

Susie Madrak - Richard Trumka's message to Obama

Susie Madrak - God’s waiting room

John Amato - Update on Susie Madrak's Condition

Juan Cole - How to Avoid Bush’s Iraq Mistakes in Libya

BBC - Horror scenes at Tripoli hospital (via Atrios)

Question for economists: If the cause if this recession is the wealth effect, how much did the various forms of wealth fall during the slump, and how big was the wealth effect across various kinds of asset classes? Dean Baker frequently refers to a "8 trillion dollar housing bubble". where does this 8 trillion figure come from, and how solid is it? In general, I see a lot of discussion of income accounting, and the velocity of money, but not a lot of discussion of wealth accounting, and the velocity of wealth.

Question for politicos: What do the American people answer when asked "What is your greatest hope of what might happen with the Republicans/Democrats in power? What is your greatest fear of what night happen?" I'd guess that for most Americans, their hopes and fears are not dependent on which specific party is in power. But I have no idea what the actual hopes and fears, themselves, would be.

Krugman - Bernanke
. . .in 2000 an economist named Ben Bernanke offered a number of proposals for policy at the “zero lower bound.” True, the paper was focused on policy in Japan, not the United States. But America is now very much in a Japan-type economic trap, only more acute. So we learn a lot by asking why Ben Bernanke 2011 isn’t taking the advice of Ben Bernanke 2000. . .

Brad Delong - Some Things that Could Have Been Done--and That Could Still Be Done (quoting Mike Konczal)

A quick thought on recent blog posts on the unemployed's suboptimal job-searching skills: 1) same population, same crappy job-search skills in 2005 as in 2011, yet different levels of unemployment. 2) Those kids really suck at musical chairs. If they all showed a bit more pep & hustle, surely everyone could get a chair.

Zack Beauchamp (Daily Dish) - Keep Talking About Willingham (quoting Steve Benen)

Where is the evidence that Rick Perry is God-fearing? He executed an innocent man, then covered up the evidence of his innocence. Some claim that Perry would not have had the power to stop the execution, even if he had tried. I don't believe this (parole boards are very receptive to the opinion of the Governor on specific cases), but the fact is that he didn't try.

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