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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Monday, December 26, 2011
Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...
. . .Besides, I'm very sick right now. My major concern is trying to avoid having to call 911. For the third time. I don't want to do that. . .

Susie Madrak - Syria

There are 2 questions re: Manning. One, did he do a good or bad thing? On this, reasonable people can disagree. Second, if it was bad, how bad was it? This is the question on which the US government has lost its mind, its bearings, its morality. It has whipped itself into a hysteria, and allowed itself to become evil. Ali Soufan's recent interview with Charlie Rose exemplifies what good national security work looks like, as opposed to the chilling control-freak excesses of the Manning (and Aaron Swartz) prosecutions.

Glenn Greenwald - must-read piece comparing Manning and Ellsberg

KEVIN GOSZTOLA - Manning is charged with aiding terrorists
[Fein] Manning “knowingly gave intelligence through WikiLeaks to the enemy.” He “wantonly caused the release of this information.” It was “not just good for declared enemies” but also accessible to “all other enemies with Internet access.” . .

. . .Now, it is clear: the effect of Manning’s prosecution has the potential to criminalize national security journalism. . .

If you accept the prosecution's argument, is there any difference between "informing the enemy" and "informing the American people"?

Kevin Jon Heller - Did Bradley Manning “Aid the Enemy”? Did The New York Times? (Updated)

Paul Krugman - Springtime for Toxics
. . .mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.

. . .a lot of mercury gets into the atmosphere from old coal-burning power plants that lack modern pollution controls. From there it gets into the water, where microbes turn it into methylmercury, which builds up in fish. And what happens then? The E.P.A. explains: “Methylmercury exposure is a particular concern for women of childbearing age, unborn babies and young children, because studies have linked high levels of methylmercury to damage to the developing nervous system, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn.”

The new rules would also have the effect of reducing fine particle pollution, which is a known source of many health problems, from asthma to heart attacks. In fact, the benefits of reduced fine particle pollution account for most of the quantifiable gains from the new rules. The key word here is “quantifiable”: E.P.A.’s cost-benefit analysis only considers one benefit of mercury regulation, the reduced loss in future wages for children whose I.Q.’s are damaged by eating fish caught by freshwater anglers. There are without doubt many other benefits to cutting mercury emissions, but at this point the agency doesn’t know how to put a dollar figure on those benefits.

Even so, the payoff to the new rules is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal. . .

Diane - A Sign Of Hope

(Via Hannah Mae) I.A.R. Wylie - "The Little Woman" (November 1945)

THOMAS B. EDSALL - The Anti-Entitlement Strategy

THOMAS B. EDSALL - The Trouble With That Revolving Door

I think it was Michael Barone who called Edsall a "gloomy Irishman", a political pessimist who, because he was liberal, kept writing articles about the problems with or obstacles to liberalism. Anyway, a very good political journalist.

Matthew Yglesias - Central Banking & Humility

Scott Sumner - Central Banking & Ego

Modeled Behavior (Karl Smith) - Why Not Plutocracy: Apathy Runs Deep Edition
. . twitter was ablaze a few weeks back over the fact that Jamie Dimon objected to his taxes being raised, but thought that he was already paying what Obama proposed raising his tax rate to.

This makes perfect sense if you note that Jamie doesn’t care about his tax rate. He cares about his taxes being raised. . .

. . .Here at the state level I can safely say that virtually no one has any idea what they are doing. That is, for the most part the lobbyist do not know and indeed are not particularly interested in what is in the best interest of their clients.

Further, this seems to stem from the fact that the clients are not particularly interested in what is in their best interests.

What they are very interested in is whether legislation is pro them or anti them. However, if you begin to talk about the economy as a complex system full of unintended consequences where anti legislation could be in their best interests their eyes glaze over. . .

One example my Dad gives is when a regulated monopoly was forced to lower their rates, to their surprise, profits increased. You would have assumed they would already be maximizing profits, but you would have assumed wrong.

Noahpinion - The liberty of local bullies

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