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, March 02, 2012
Arthur Silber - Help Needed
I need some help in two areas. Once again, now that I've paid the March rent and a couple of other first of the month bills, I'm almost flat broke. And this time, I mean flat broke. In a little while, I'll go to the corner convenience store, to pick up a few staples (milk, eggs, bread, etc.). I'm posting this now because that errand will exhaust me for most of the rest of the day. Over the last several years, even that brief trip has become harder and harder for me to make. I have to rest two or three times in the course of walking a single block. That's what a worsening heart condition will do to you -- a rotten heart which steadily worsens in the complete absence of medical care, when I can't even afford basic heart medication (as I haven't been able to afford it for the last nine months, after the prescription from my last emergency hospital stay ran out). I remarked to a couple of friends earlier today that I have a particular reason for hating Andrew Breitbart: that bastard stole my heart attack. I sometimes fall into very black moods -- gee whiz, I simply can't imagine why, what with my superlative health and tens of thousands of readers eager for my every stray thought (hahaha) -- and a quick end to this extended misery seems enormously attractive. But I'm assured by mysterious powers that there is an unlimited supply of fatal heart attacks. Hope springs eternal, even for bloggers whose "significance" shades into invisibility.

After I buy those staples, I'll have about 50 bucks left. That's it. Since I'll need that 50 bucks to avoid starvation week after next, I won't be able to pay the internet bill that's due in nine days. Then, this exhilarating experience will be over. And to think I've been working on some complicated articles dealing with resistance movements, the particular factors that motivate the resister, the loss of perceived legitimacy in our government and the effects of that loss, and many related issues. I've been thinking about some of these articles for the last several years, and I briefly had been looking forward to publishing them at long last. Oh, well; sorry to disappoint the 30 of you who give half a crap. In any event, if a few of you care to make a donation, however small, perhaps my wondrous existence can be extended a bit longer. And I do offer my sincere thanks for your kindness, despite my current bleak mood. I suppose it will lift somewhat, as it has before. Or perhaps I'll be dead. Choices, choices. . .

. . .To hell with all that. Let's try to do it ourselves, or at least start the process. If this particular project fails, so what? It's not as if we're headed toward Paradise in the absence of even trying to effect desperately needed change, on however small a scale. If we do nothing, it's more than likely that events will continue to get worse, possibly much, much worse. Trying to alter that course is not a cause for condemnation or ridicule (although critics will assuredly offer both reactions). Besides, I thought that trying to change events in this way was what some of you wanted to do. Maybe I was wrong about that, too.

Okay. There are two main ways in which I need some help. Over to you. Thanks for your time.

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF - Battling Sudan’s Bombs With Videos
The region has no electricity or cellphone service, so Boyette charges his laptop and satellite phone with a solar charger. So far The Associated Press, CNN, Fox News and Al Jazeera have used his videos or photographs, and he plans to post more on a Web site, EyesAndEarsNuba.org.

To pay for operations, Boyette is hoping for foundation grants, or public donations on an account he will be setting up on Kickstarter.com. . .

. . .To its credit, the Obama administration is intensively working diplomatic channels to try to end the food blockade in the Nuba Mountains. On a visit to Washington in October, Boyette spent an hour briefing White House officials on the situation. But he’s skeptical — as am I — that the measures under consideration will be enough to avert starvation. . .

. . .Any humanitarian intervention, even the provision of food, could be seen as an act of war with uncertain consequences, and right now there’s no appetite in the United States or abroad for such a use of force. There are reasonable arguments against such steps. But the alternative may be the starvation of tens of thousands of people. If Boyette has anything to do with it, images of suffering will make it into American living rooms to soften hearts and build political will for action if famine arrives.

I’m hoping that Boyette stays safe and deluges us with images to prod our consciences.

Hamara Abate - Remember Darfur

Lindsey Hilsum (FT)- The bravest war journalist of her generation

Up with Chris Hayes - Syria

Up with Chris Hayes - Iran

Up with Chris Hayes - Whistle blowers

Violet Socks - So, are men whose Viagra is covered by insurance also prostitutes?

Susie Madrak - Mac McClelland at Mother Jones has another great piece

Juan Cole - At Oscars, Director of “A Separation” Slams War Talk

Robert Wright - The Arab Spring Comes to Israel

Robert Wright - Israel Meets the Arab Spring (Cont'd)

Robert Wright - Fadi Quran Is Freed

Robert Wright - Best Iran Idea Yet?

Megan McCardle - Home Health Care

Megan McCardle - sympathy for the rich

The Max Abelson article reminded me of Soledad O' Brien's "Almighty Debt" show, and specifically one family, realizing they were going to lose their house, but desperately trying to hang on to it until their daughter went off to college. Parents, in the appropriate circumstances, will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths not to puncture their children's dreams. Whether this is appropriate or not depends, perhaps, in part, on the nature of the dream.

RIF at work, I was perhaps foolishly surprised that some of the best, most experienced, most company-defining people were the ones let go. The sometimes-semi-vampiric corporate urge to chase after the new young thing makes me wonder, yet again, why exactly cutting Social Security is supposed to be a good idea. Also makes me wonder how many people Lieberman negatively affected when he scuttled the Medicare buy-in.

Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...
. . .Gary and I had never had much to do with each other; that day, for some reason, he decided that he had some business to conduct with me.

"Where have you been?," he asked, in a manner suggesting I'd answer if I knew what was good for me. I told him I'd been at my piano lesson. He looked at me with a puzzled expression and thought about it for a moment or two. "I don't want you going to piano lessons any more." Gary said it as a simple declaration of fact: this is what he wanted, and it would happen. I looked puzzled in my turn; I wondered what on earth he meant. Gary noted my expression, and he took a step closer to me, his face tightening with distaste and disapproval. "You aren't going to any more piano lessons. If I catch you going to one, I'm going to beat the crap out of you." . . .

. . .I loved my piano lessons. I wasn't about to give them up, but I also knew that, if he chose, Gary could definitely beat the crap out of me. So I devised a few different routes to my piano teacher's house, routes where I thought it very unlikely that Gary's path and mine would cross.

I avoided my old route to piano lessons for several weeks, and I never met Gary. Then I grew annoyed, even angry, but my anger was primarily directed at myself and at the fact that I'd made even that much of a concession. I also concluded that Gary didn't actually care a great deal whether I went to my piano lessons. I saw him at school and in other places; he never mentioned it again. . .

One of the things Swami Dayananda says, which to my surprise I'm finding to be true, is that the human heart cannot bear to live in ignorance. If you see someone poking about purposefully with a stick, you have to know what that poking is about. Or throw rocks to catch their attention, perhaps in hope they'll explain the mystery.

Perhaps a long-winded way for me to say it's long past time for me to start poking some sticks, and at least try to explain what it's all about.

Mike Nesmith post on death of David Jones

Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
. . .if you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot, no, imagine a sneaker, kicking a pebble; imagine a stick to poke at interesting things, and throw for a dog that may or may not decide to retrieve it; imagine a figure, half angel, half devil, all human. . .slouching hopefully towards Tadfield . . . .forever.

next post: 3/9/2012

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