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 16, 2012
Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...

More rif at work, this time hitting my team. Strikes me that so far in this job I've perhaps shown the type of flashy pseudo-smarts useful for saving my own skin, but not the kind of real smarts which would actually help anyone.

Partners In Health - AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM DR. PAUL FARMER (Feb. 23, 2012)
. . .We need to get the word out, and you can help. Share the news and encourage your friends and family to help us slow -- and someday stop -- the spread of cholera in Haiti.

Fred Kaplan (Slate) - American troops no longer serve a purpose in Afghanistan. It is time to get out. Now.

IMO, it is wrong to punish US personnel for mistakenly burning Korans. They did nothing wrong, and they should not be punished just as a sort of irrational appeasement ritual.

Jon Hemming and Jonathon Burch (Reuters) - Turkey considers Syria buffer zone; Annan seeks unity

Meghashyam Mali (The Hill) - Sen. Reid blasts Republican lawmakers for ‘obstructionism on steroids’
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted Republicans for what he called “obstructionism on steroids” on Sunday and said he hoped that GOP lawmakers would return to Washington willing to compromise with Democrats. . .

(Via Susie Madrak (I think)) Phil Weiss and Scott Roth - The radicalization of Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz - Friends of George

KRISHNARAJ IYENGAR (Hindu) - Bun maska at Kyani (Mumbai Iranian restaurants)

Thulasi Kakkat (Hindu) - The last Jews of Kochi

Pankaj Mishra - Iran-Israel History Suggests a Different Future

Up w/ Chris Hayes - Sunday's Show (March 11)
This morning's show focused exclusively on the intricate relationship between Israel, America, and the Palestinians. We discussed nuclear tensions between Israel and Iran, the United States' alignment with Israel, Israel's complicated internal politics, the Palestinian non-violence movement, America's role in diplomacy, and Chris' panel provided their thoughts on what "You Should Know" about the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Joining Chris were:
Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal), contributing writer at Newsweek.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder & president of The Israel Project.

Leila Hilal, Middle East analyst at the New America Foundation.

Jeremy Ben-Ami (@jeremybenami), founder & president of J Street.

Zev Chafets, founding managing editor at The Jerusalem Report and contributor at New York Times Magazine.

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Schlomo Gazit, former Israel Defense Forces intelligence head, from Tel Aviv.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and co-founder of Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People and Palestinian National Initiative, joining us from Ramallah, Palestine.

Watch the whole show here.

Nick Kristof (NYT) - Viral Video, Vicious Warlord

Dorothy L Sayers - Envy
. . . artists were debunked by disclosures of their private weaknesses; great statesmen, by attributing to them mercenary and petty motives, or by alleging that all their work was meaningless, or done for them by other people. Religion was debunked, and shown to consist of a mixture of craven superstition and greed. Courage was debunked, patriotism was debunked, learning and art were debunked, love was debunked, and with it family affection and the virtues of obedience, veneration and solidarity. Age was debunked by youth and youth by age. Psychologists stripped bare the pretensions of reason and conscience and self-control, saying that these were only the respectable disguises of unmentionable unconscious impulses. Honour was de-bunked with peculiar virulence, and good faith, and unselfishness. Everything that could possibly be held to constitute an essential superiority had the garments of honour torn from its back and was cast out into the darkness of derision. Civilisation was finally debunked till it had not a rag left to cover its nakedness.

It is well that the hypocrisies which breed like mushrooms in the shadow of great virtues should be discovered and removed; but Envy is not the right instrument for that purpose; for it tears down the whole fabric to get at the parasitic growths. Its enemy, in fact, is the virtues themselves. Envy cannot bear to admire or respect; it cannot bear to be grateful. But it is [always] very plausible . . .

Glenn Greenwald comment to Kevin Drum's post: "Is Barack Obama a Murderous Sociopath?"

Kevin Drum writes here: ". . .I really have a hard time understanding progressives who are disappointed in [The Obama Presidency]". I have a hard time understanding his hard time. Let me try to explain.

Here is what I think of as the paradigmatic Kevin Drum Post and the paradigmatic Kevin Drum Chart, at least in the pre-Obama era:

Did you know that Democratic presidents are better for the economy than Republicans? Sure you did. I pointed this out two years ago, back when my readership numbered in the dozens, and more recently Michael Kinsley ran the numbers in the LA Times and came to the same conclusion.

The results are simple: Democratic presidents have consistently higher economic growth and consistently lower unemployment than Republican presidents. If you add in a time lag, you get the same result. If you eliminate the best and worst presidents, you get the same result. If you take a look at other economic indicators, you get the same result. There's just no way around it: Democratic administrations are better for the economy than Republican administrations. . .

But Kevin Drum doesn't write posts like that anymore, and he possibly never will. Why? Because, as it turns out, the President with the worst record on creating jobs since Herbert Hoover is . . .Barack Obama.

Here is another Kevin Drum article, written just before Obama's election, which suggested to American voters what they should expect if Obama was elected:

Kevin Drum - Your Salary in 2016 (2008)
. . .There are more twists and turns to the story, but this is the gist: Democrats really are better for the economy than Republicans, and it really does seem to be related to differences in their economic programs. Given that, then, I’ll make this prediction: If Barack Obama is elected president, the economy over the next eight years will be better than if John McCain is elected. In fact, I’ll go further and put some hard numbers to that prediction. Here they are:

If Obama wins, unemployment will average about 5 percent. If McCain wins it will average about 6 percent. . .

I don't have a strong personal animus toward Obama, (though I am finding curious similarities between him and Bush - neither of them is willing to admit error, both of them are not willing to give Paul Krugman a careful hearing, and a reasoned response), and don't hold him soley responsible for the disappointments of his years in office. But so what? Am I disappointed in the Obama Presidency? Yes.

Susie Madrak - Intel working toward conflict-free chip

Violet Socks - War on Women: a treasury!

Melissa Mckewan - Today in Your Feminist Backlash

(Via Digby) MARK VANHOENACKER (NYT) - How Not to Attract Tourists

(Via everyone) Carolyn Jones (Texas Observer) - 'We Have No Choice': One Woman's Ordeal with Texas' New Sonogram Law

(Via everyone) Adam Gopnik (New Yorker) - THE CAGING OF AMERICA: Why do we lock up so many people?

Next post: 3/22/2012

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