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, February 24, 2012
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF - In Sudan, Seeing Echoes of Darfur

ROD NORDLAND and ALAN COWELL (NYT) - Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria Shelling

ROGER COHEN - Anthony Shadid’s Story

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER - Halting the killing in Syria
. . .The key condition for all such assistance, inside or outside Syria, is that it be used defensively — only to stop attacks by the Syrian military or to clear out government forces that dare to attack the no-kill zones. Although keeping intervention limited is always hard, international assistance could be curtailed if the Free Syrian Army took the offensive. The absolute priority within no-kill zones would be public safety and humanitarian aid; revenge attacks would not be tolerated. . .

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI - Peaceful Protest Can Free Palestine

Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Susie Madrak - Timoney in Bahrain

Laura Rozen - UN should weigh in on legality of Iran strike, Brazil’s foreign minister tells Yahoo News

Arthur Silber - When "Antiwar" Means "Start the Bombing!"

Peter Beinart - The Crazy Rush to Attack Iran

Diane - A Little Slice of Good News

Honestly, I'm grateful to Beinart for writing against war with Iran. But Silber's critique of Beinart is worth reading. I do think, Beinart's piece has a hidden assumption that whether to go to war in Iran is based on long chains of deductive logic, and if any of those chains break down, then war becomes an acceptable choice. I suspect the opposite is true, human use of logic and reason is sufficiently faulty that you can rationalize anything you have a mind to, even unnecessary, insane war.

I have no animus against Catholic Bishops and employers, and don't wish to aggrieve them or force them to violate their conscience. But do they believe employers who support population control should be able to take away maternity benefits from their employees? If not, how can they defend their right to take away contraceptive benefits from their employees? What the Catholic Bishops are asking us to accept is unacceptable for liberals: they are asking us to accept a society where workers have to live in fear that if their employer wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, their health benefits could be taken away from them.

Dorothy L Sayers - THE LOVE OF THE CREATURE (1941)
The resistance to creation which the writer encounters in his creature is sufficiently evident, both to himself and to others-particularly to those others who have the misfortune to live with him during the period when his Energy is engaged on a job of work. The human maker is, indeed, almost excessively vocal about the perplexities and agonies of creation and the intractability of his material. Almost equally evident, however, though perhaps less readily explained or described, is the creature's violent urge to be created. To the outsider, the spectacle of a writer "taken ill with an idea" usually presents itself as a subject for unseemly mirth; the "Spring poet" is the perennial butt of the plain man, just as, on the stage, any reference to child-birth is a signal for hoots of merriment, especially from the male members of the audience. In both cases, the ridicule is largely defensive-the nervous protest of the negative and chaotic against the mysterious and terrible energy of the creative. But that a work of creation struggles and insistently demands to be brought into being is a fact that no genuine artist would think of denying.

Often, the demand may impose itself in defiance of the author's considered interests and at the most inconvenient moments. Publisher, bank-balance, and even the conscious intellect may argue that the writer should pursue some fruitful and established undertaking; but they will argue in vain against the passionate vitality of a work that insists on manifestation. The strength of the insistence will vary from something that looks like direct inspiration to something that resembles a mere whim of the wandering mind; but whenever the creature's desire of existence is dominant, everything else will have to give way to it; the writer will push all other calls aside and get down to his task in a spirit of mingled delight and exasperation. Because of this, the artist ought, above all men, to be chary of basing his philosophy of life on the assumption that "we are brought into this world by no choice of our own". That may be so, but he has no means of proving it, and the analogy of his own creative experience offers evidence to the contrary. He knows very well that he, in his work, is for ever ground between the upper and nether millstones of the universal paradox. His creature simultaneously demands manifestation in space-time and stubbornly opposes it; the will . of his universe is to life as implacably as it is to chaos. (It is, of course, irrelevant to object that this "creature" struggling towards manifestation is "really" only a part of the maker's own ego. All creatures are a part of the Maker's mind, and have no independent existence till they attain partial independence by manifestation.)

next post: 3/2/12

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