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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Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sasha Said - Still Fighting
. . .I have been able to find a job. Not a good job, mind you. No, it’s another contract job. No benefits. Part-time. I’ll be lucky to pick up twenty hours a week and I’ll make less than $10 per hour. Before taxes. Speaking of which, we were able to get an extension on filing our tax returns.  . . 
We don’t make enough money to cover our rent, food, and bills, so there’s certainly nothing left over for taxes. Anyway, back to my new job. . . 
. . . The words “I really need this job” were uttered a lot this week. These are all bright, articulate, college-educated people and they’re desperate for a part-time job that pays $9.50 an hour and offers no benefits. . .  
. . .My beloved Balou is very, very sick. We didn’t expect him to make it through the night, but he’s still here. I don’t know how much longer. I hope he’s not in too much pain. I can’t allow myself to think about what’s happening to him or I’ll break down and start sobbing uncontrollably. Other than stay with him as much as possible, I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help him now. And I have one more test to pass. Gotta stay focused. Somehow. . .  
. . .Unfortunately not too many people read this blog anymore (can’t say I blame them, given the lack of regular posts) and I realize most of you are also hurting financially in this economy. If you’re a blogger with a more sizable audience (or, for that matter, if you’re friends with such a blogger), I’d really appreciate it if you/they would mention our situation. Whatever you feel you can do to help.
Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - Oy

Juan Cole (Informed Comment)- Israeli officers speak

NYT - Syria

(Via Digby) Joe Nocera (NYT) - My Faith-Based Retirement
comment from Charlie, Indiana: "I made my first investment 47 years ago and did well until High Frequency Trading came along. So I have invested in in gold and silver companies and expect my investments to double within three years. Stay tuned."
Randy Wray (Naked Capitalism) - The Job Guarantee and Real World Experience

Noah Smith (Noahpinion) - Particle Physics & Energy Research

Mike the Mad Biologist - Models, Prediction and Throwing a Baseball

Mathbabe - Credit Union Information (#OWS)

Dani Rodrik - Ideas over Interests
. . .Interests are not fixed or predetermined. They are themselves shaped by ideas – beliefs about who we are, what we are trying to achieve, and how the world works. Our perceptions of self-interest are always filtered through the lens of ideas . . .  
. . .imagine that you are a despotic ruler in a poor country. What is the best way to maintain your power and pre-empt domestic and foreign threats? Do you build a strong, export-oriented economy? Or do you turn inward and reward your military friends and other cronies, at the expense of almost everyone else?. . .
Robert Skidelsky - Down with Debt Weight
. . .Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono emphasized that point earlier this month, boasting to British Prime Minister David Cameron that Indonesia’s successful recovery plan after the 1998 collapse was inspired by John Maynard Keynes. “We must ensure that the people can buy; we must ensure that industries can produce…”. . .
. . .With fiscal, monetary, and exchange-rate policies blocked, is there a way out of prolonged recession? John Geanakoplos of Yale University has been arguing for big debt write-offs. . .TALF and PPIP were in effect debt-forgiveness schemes. . .but on too small a scale. . .  
. . .In 1918, Keynes urged the cancelation of inter-Allied debts arising from World War I. “We shall never be able to move again, unless we can free our limbs from these paper shackles,” he wrote. And, in 1923, his call became a warning that today’s policymakers would do well to heed: “The absolutists of contract. . .are the real parents of revolution.”
Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic) - TSA to My Mother-in-Law: 'There's an Anomaly in the Crotch Area'

What is the point of freeing yourself from religious absolutism and certainty, if you merely replace it with legal or procedural or monetary or ideological or scientific absolutism and certainty?

"We have to follow the rules" "We can't break the rules" Really? Why? Are you expecting the rules to shield you from responsibility for the consequences of your actions?

Shashi Tharoor - Peace In Kashmir?
. . .Both the uprising and the Indian security forces’ response have caused widespread casualties and destruction of property, all but wrecking Kashmir’s economy, which depends largely on tourism and handicrafts. In the process, both countries have suffered enormously. . .  
. . .Meanwhile, Pakistan’s strategy of “bleeding India to death” through insurgency and terrorism has accomplished little other than to make its military enormously powerful and disproportionately wealthy. (Largely thanks to Kashmir, the Pakistani Army controls a larger share of its country’s national budget than any other army in the world.) . . .  
. . .it could well be time for India to seize the moment to build a lasting peace.
Barry Eichengreen - Tobin & the Tobin Tax
. . .I knew James Tobin; James Tobin was a friend of mine, my mentor, and, for a brief privileged period, coauthor. . . 
. . .Though no one can say for sure what Tobin would have thought of Europe’s crisis, his priority was always the pursuit of full employment. One suspects that he would have urged European policymakers to. . .repair their broken banking systems and use all monetary and fiscal means at their disposal to jump-start economic growth.
Professor against professor

Been following the Bernanke-Krugman debate with some sorrow because I do like Bernanke, who's been a great boss at the Fed, well-liked by the staff. OTOH, this was also true of McClellan. It seems to me we need U.S. Grant. On the substantive issue I agree with Dean Baker:

Dean Baker (CEPR) - Federal Reserve Board Credibility, Plus 50 Cents, Will Get You a Cup of Coffee
. . .Other things equal, it is better to have central banks that have some credibility in fighting inflation, but how does this compare against tens of millions of people in the U.S. and euro zone being unemployed? If the latter is such a small matter, would the inflation fighters volunteer to surrender their jobs so that some of the unemployed can work?. . .
US inflation, 1913-Present

Take a look at the crooked numbers in the 40's and early 50's. If that is the price of getting out of a depression, what makes the inflation hawks so sure that it is not a price worth paying? Are they really so sure that Eccles's pragmatism is inferior to inflation-hawk certainty?

I would make one important concession to the inflation hawks: it is very important that people who have bought long-term Treasuries not be screwed by slightly higher inflation. But this, it seems to me, can be solved by giving all holders of Treasuries the option of converting their nominal bonds into TIPS.

With that one caveat, it seems to me that 15 years of 5% inflation is a very small price to pay for a ticket into economic recovery.

Scott Sumner (TheMoneyIllusion) - What to ask Bernanke

It seems to that the chart of inflation would be more useful if it had 1) the estimate of real growth 2) The estimate of inflation 3) NGDP, placed side by side.

Ezra Klein (Wonkblog) - Money & Politics for 2012

So here's what I'm thinking for political money in 2012 (and perhaps beyond):

1) 20% for the DNC
2) 20% for OFA
3) 20% for DFA (1% for ActBlue)
4) 20% for Blue America PAC (1% for Actblue)
5) 20% for the PCCC (1% for ActBlue)

Then comes the question of: How much to spend on politics? I'm thinking 1-2% of after-tax income seems about right.

Anyone have strong opinions on why this is all wrong, both in the amount of money and the distribution of it?

It seems to me that learning something that's both difficult and unfamiliar is a deeply, deeply undignified activity. This is why, after a certain age, it can become difficult for people to learn, and difficult for people to change, because people become so obsessed with their dignity, so obsessed with keeping up appearances, that real learning, and real improvement, becomes impossible.

It seems to me you could make a really good movie about the War of the Currents. One possible ending could be of a young colleague of Tesla kidnapping Edison and forcing him to listen to the logic of AC until finally, finally, he gets it. Then Edison realizes, to his horror, that on the issue of DC versus AC, he's been the blind misleading the blind, but can't bring himself to admit it publicly. The movie ends with Tesla ruined socially and financially, and Edison ruined intellectually, leaving the viewer to decide which is worse.

I guess you could make a somewhat similar movie about Oppenheimer and Teller.

C.S. Lewis - The Problem of Pain (1940)
. . .A reaction - in itself wholesome - is now going on against purely private or domestic conceptions of morality, a reawakening of the social conscience. We feel ourselves to be involved in an iniquitous social system and to share a corporate guilt. This is very true: but the enemy can exploit even truths to our deception. Beware lest you are making use of the idea of corporate guilt to distract your attention from those humdrum, old-fashioned guilts of your own which have nothing to do with 'the system' and which can be dealt with without waiting for the millennium. For corporate guilt perhaps cannot be, and certainly is not, felt with the same force as personal guilt. For most of us, as we now are, this conception is a mere excuse for evading the real issue. When we have really learned to know our individual corruption, then indeed we can go on to think of the corporate guilt and can hardly think of it too much. But we must learn to walk before we run. . . 
. . .Are we not really an increasingly cruel age? Perhaps we are: but I think we have become so in the attempt to reduce all virtues to kindness. For Plato rightly taught that virtue is one. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour's welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty. Even a good emotion, pity, if not controlled by charity and justice, leads through anger to cruelty. Most atrocities are stimulated by accounts of the enemy's atrocities; and pity for the oppressed classes, when separated from the moral law as a whole, leads by a very natural process to the unremitting brutalities of a reign of terror. . .
next post: 8/10/2012

UPDATE: Question for economists: Is it is possible that there are "shadow workers", "shadow capacity", "shadow potential output", in the same way that there is "shadow inventory" of unsold houses?

Deep Thought: Also, come to think of it, a "Shadow Banking System".

So I guess this is an appropriate song for the downturn:

U2 - Shadows and Tall Trees (1980)


Subscribe to The American Prospect ($20 per year)

They need $500K to keep the magazine going. If 25,000 people want it, perhaps fewer, it can happen. 25,000 people is less than 1 person per precinct, I think.

Probably one of my favorite blog posts:

Chris Andersen (Interesting Times) - Against Fear & Sugar Daddies (2004)
I am a supporter of Howard Dean, but I will be the first to admit that his critics are not entirely wrong in their criticism. . .Dems have been looking for a White Knight who's perfect resume will vanquish any smear campaign. . .The two things that have sold me on the Dean campaign more than anything else are that it understands that the best way to defeat the smear campaign is to confront it head on, not waste time looking for a mythical White Knight who's character is impeccable and that the fear of what might go wrong cannot stand in the way of the hope of what might go right.
UPDATE 3 (5/4/2012):

Changed the distribution of political donations to include OFA.

 next post: 8/10/2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - And it’s me and my machine
I’m sitting here with one of those “As Seen On TV” compression socks on my right arm, because the nerves are so shot in my right arm. (I cut holes in the end for my fingers.) . . .Sometimes the pain is so bad, it makes me cry. . . 
. . .I have an ergonomic mouse, an ergonomic chair. Thank God I have an articulating keyboard tray that one of you readers paid for. . . 
. . .And while you might say, “Hey, then go get a regular job,” it’s not that easy. . . 
. . .Look at some of the bloggers we’ve lost on our side – people like Steve Gilliard (The News Blog), Jim Capozzola (Rittenhouse Review), Melanie Mattson (Just A Bump In The Beltway) and Jon Swift, who just didn’t have the money to pay for medical bills and died as a result. . . 
. . .Support your favorite blogs. It’s going to be a long election season.
(Via Instapundit) Trace Sharp (Newscoma (A Two-Pack Habit And A Motel Tan)) - On Being A Progressive Blogger
Waiters and bartenders get tips. Writers and media folks don’t. It’s just true. And this is what I see because obviously Suzy is going through the same thing. . . 
. . .So help the progressive blogosphere out when you can. Buy a blogger a beer by putting a few bucks in their paypal account. Leave them a comment when you like their work or let them know about opportunities. Share their work. Not just me, I’m talking about other folks as well. . .   
I much prefer to buy bloggers beer in person. That way I can be sure you’re not squandering it on organic vegetables or healthcare.
Sasha Said - Speeding Toward Disaster

Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...

Arthur Silber (The Sacred Moment) - The Indifference and Denial that Kill (Requiem for Iris Chang) (2004)

Gary Farber (Amygdala) - TENTH BLOGIVERSARY

Swami Dayananda Saraswati (Arsha Vidya Gurukulam) - The Concept of Success

Violet Socks (Reclusive Leftist) - Doppler Dog

Reclusive Leftist (feminism, politics and space alpacas in the Spirit Smoking Lounge with your host, Violet Socks)

(Via Instapundit) Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) - In War, Truth Is The First Casualty.

(Via EchidneMONA ELTAHAWY (Foreign Policy) - Why Do They Hate Us?

Pratap Chatterjee (Informed Comment) - Was this 16-year-old Drone Victim Really a Terrorist?

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - Top 5 Stories from the Arab Revolutions Today (4/24/2012)

Paul Krugman (NYT) - The Crisis of Zionism

Paul Krugman (NYT) - End This Depression Now!

MJ Rosenberg (HuffPo) - "Israel, Yes: Occupation, No."

Hannah Mae (Blague) - Hvordan har du det? Bare bra. · 22 April 2012, 04:26
. . .I got a text from my dad as I was taking off that said “you’re a brave woman.” Of course that makes me fluff my feathers a little, but I’m not sure how brave I am, comparatively. My ancestors all went the other way across the Atlantic, in much more perilous times, and much more permanently: great-grandma Ida went back to Sweden only once, great-grandpa Carl never did. I’ve been back and forth five times now and I’m not even 35. How did they leave, knowing they’d probably never see their friends and family again? Extreme duress? A belief in reunion in the afterlife? I already miss certain people so much it feels like dying, not to be melodramatic or anything, and all I have is a piddly one-way ticket. Buck up, Freya, and get in the longship already. (of course, some of the famously brave were less nervy than we think. It only took four days for the first Norse settler of Iceland to get there, and Thoreau went to his mom’s house for dinner all the time.). . .
SHONALI MUTHALALY (Hindu) - Reluctant Gourmet - Where only taste matters
. . .It helps that the customers are unexpectedly endearing. We watch a group of old men in rose-milk pink lungis seriously demolishing a large pile of hot potato bondas. A pudgy boy trying to impress his jasmine-bedecked girlfriend with his ability to wipe out a ghee roast in ten minutes. A large family ploughing through idlis. They're here for just the food. No cell phones, no stares, no attitude. “I love them,” I beam. Robin's unimpressed. “No hot men,” she sighs. . .
(Via Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise)) William Kaminsky (Too Many Worlds) - Beat the Devil (1970) by Kris Kristofferson
. . .And thus, over the last 6 weeks or so, I wrote nothing.

Fortunately, I then had one of those bolts of inspiration that come from the direction you least expect. Namely, I heard Johnny Cash’s rendition of the following song Kris Kristofferson wrote as a tribute to him.

It’s set me straight. . .

. . .You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
And if you don’t wanna join him, well, you got to beat him.

I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil,
but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song:

“And you still can hear me singin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that I am sayin’, prayin’ someone’s gonna hear.
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, hopin’ someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickel, I won’t ever die ashamed.
‘Cause I don’t believe that no one wants to know.”
(Via Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution)Bryan Caplan (EconLog) - Why Are Donations to Government So Small?

My answer: the collective-action problem is bigger for government than for private charities. People are willing to give "something" if it will "make a difference". How many people would have to give how much in order to make the kind of difference in people's lives that government programs like Social Security and Medicare make?

(The free-riding problem is bigger, too, but this comes after the collective-action problem has been solved.)

Or to put it another way: the size of the collective-action problem increases exponentially with the size of the endeavor.

Haiti actually is a place where private charities could, in theory, replicate and replace the public sector. In practice, they don't seem to be able to.

Of course, if the Second Noble Economic Truth is that private charity & non-profits can't replace the public sector, surely the First Noble Economic Truth is that the public sector can't replace the private sector.

So conservatives shouldn't feel too sad about the Second Noble Economic Truth, nor liberals too smug. And vice-versa for the First Noble Economic Truth (also known as "looking out for number one").

Third Noble Economic Truth? Support private charity & non-profits, despite the Second Noble Economic Truth.

Fourth Noble Economic Truth? Rand smart, but Tobin is . . .smarter! Right? That's right.

UPDATE: to elaborate on the First Noble Economic Truth, there's a magic to people acting out of their own free choice, in their perceived self-interest, out of love, that cannot be captured by people sacrificing their perceived self-interest for obligation, duty, the greater good, or fear. Note, though, this sense of freedom can be interfered with by private coercion, or natural coercion, or many things, not just state coercion. And it seems to me this sense of freedom can be present in seemingly difficult circumstances, and can be absent in seemingly easy circumstances.

Dorothy L Sayers - What Do We Believe?
. . .Ask yourself: if there is something you supremely want to do, do you count as self-sacrifice the difficulties encountered or the other possible activities cast aside? You do not. The time when you deliberately say, "I must sacrifice this, that, or the other" is when you do not supremely desire the end in view. At such times you are doing your duty, and that is admirable, but it is not love. . .
Dorothy L Sayers - Why Work?
. . .There is, in fact, a paradox about working to serve the community, and it is this: that to aim directly at serving the community is to falsify the work; the only way to serve the community is to forget the community and serve the work. There are three very good reasons for this: 
The first is that you cannot do good work if you take your mind off the work to see how the community is taking it – any more than you can make a good drive from the tee if you take your eye off the ball. . .
Dorothy L Sayers - Vocation in Work
. . .At this point, of course, we come up against a really fundamental difficulty. It is all very well for the artist to talk like this, but his work is of a really creative and satisfying kind. That is why he doesn't want to get away from it. But how about the factory-hand whose work consists of endlessly and monotonously pushing a pin into a slot? How can he be expected to live for the sake of the work? Isn't it right to want to make money so as to get away from it as quickly as possible? Can you blame him for looking on work as "employment" - something to be done grudgingly, with as little exertion as possible? Doesn't it correspond to the artist's necessary "pot-boiler", which has to be ground out in order that he may get away to "his own work"? It is useless and silly to say that machines and industry ought to be abolished. We can't turn time backwards. We have to cope with things as they are and make the best of them. This is what the worker will always retort when you talk to him about the sense of vocation in work. Well, that is so, and unless and until we can achieve a radical change in our whole attitude to work and money, we shall have to allow that a great deal of necessary work is in the nature of a pot-boiler, and that it ought to be arranged so as to boil the pot as quickly as possible and in such a way that nobody's pot remains without a fire to boil it. This is the task on which those reformers are engaged who try to deal with the question in purely economic terms. And while we have to deal with it along those lines, we may take the opportunity of trying to establish two things: First, that even work done for pot-boiling should be done as well and as conscientiously as possible. Secondly, that when the pot-boiling is done, the worker should be taught and encouraged to turn to "his own work" - to some creative and satisfying hobby at least; and not merely to an idle and soul-deadening killing of time. . .
Melissa McEwan (Shakesville) - Shakespeare's Sister
. . .In this good and flawed and mostly empty room, I formed the habit of freedom, to the extent that it's been granted me, and, with some intrinsic courage and the rest conferred by anonymity, I wrote exactly what I thought. 
And I invited people in. . . 
. . .Making the room a safe space is a fight. Making the room accessible is a fight. Making the room as warm at its center as at its margins is a fight. This fight is my obligation and my muse. Its mere existence inspires and taunts me in equal measure. Work that teaspoon. . .
LATOYA PETERSON (Racialicious) - America Healing: Unconscious Bias and Race

Derrick Z. Jackson (Boston Globe) - Dean's blunt talk about race (2004)
HOWARD DEAN SAID, "I'm trying to gently call out the white population." His genteel example was a story he tells to voters about how his chief of staff as governor of Vermont was always a woman. After two or three years, Dean noticed that she had a "matriarchy" in the office. When the chief of staff was going to hire a new person, Dean said, he told her, " `I notice we have a gender imbalance in the office, and I wonder if you could find a man.' She said it's really hard to find a qualified man. I got everybody laughing about that."    
That is Dean's icebreaker to get audiences to understand institutional racism. "The punch line of the story that it's so hard to find a qualified man is everybody does it. Everybody tends to hire people like themselves. . .
This C.S. Lewis quote always makes me unreasonably happy:

  C.S. Lewis - "Answers to Questions on Christianity"
Question: Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?  
Lewis: Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? 
While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I regret to say, one of the happiest men I know. From the moral point of view it is very difficult! I am not approaching the question from that angle. As you perhaps know, I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can’t give my advice on it.
next post: 8/10/2012

Friday, April 20, 2012
Sasha Said - Speeding Toward Disaster
I was planning to write a few blog posts this week but I’m too weak, too tired, and too sad to focus on anything complex. Maybe in a few days. I’m also scared. . . 
. . .So this is where we’re at. There’s no way we can pay the May rent, but we’re going to run out of money even before then. Neither one of us has family that can help. One of the big and often unacknowledged advantages of coming from a middle class background is that if you fall, there’s someone to pick you up. Whether it’s providing financial assistance or using family connections to get you a job, if life deals you a rotten hand, you at least know you won’t end up in the street. 
We don’t have that. I’ve been on my own since I was 16, and I haven’t even told my mom I’m sick. She has a bad heart and just got out of the intensive care unit last week. The last thing she needs to hear about is my illness. And she wouldn’t be able to help anyway as she barely makes enough money to get by herself. My partner was abandoned as a baby, first by his dad and then by his mom. The grandmother who raised him now has Alzheimer’s. 
When I asked for financial assistance on this blog back in January, you guys came through for us, but how can I keep asking for help when there’s no end in sight? If you help us out this time, I can’t guarantee that we won’t be in the same mess again next month. In fact, unless we finally catch a break and my partner lands a job that pays a living wage, we *will* be in the same position again next month. Our freelancing business is practically dead. We have nothing coming in at all at this time. 
I truly don’t know what we’re going to do.
Violet Socks - Spring Bleg

Violet Socks - The pimp vanishes
I’ve just finished reading this morning’s New York Times story about the Secret Service scandal, and my head is reeling. Buried in the middle of the story is a remarkable sentence:
Eventually, she lowered her demand to $250, which she said was the amount she has to pay the man who helps find her customers.
It’s remarkable because “the man who helps find her customers” is mentioned nowhere else in the story. . . 
. . .The man in question is the pimp, of course. Contrary to popular dude imagination, pimps don’t actually contribute any value to the prostitution transaction; they’re simply parasites. They attach themselves to women and blackmail them for part (or all) of their earnings, with the penalties ranging from beatings to death. They also induct new girls into prostitution by raping them and then putting them to work on the street, appropriating the earnings for themselves. They’re like the mafia shaking down the corner store, only less benign. . .
I believe, FWIW, that the agents' actions were bad but not unforgivable, and I don't think they should lose their jobs, and I don't think they should permanently lose their clearances, though a suspension is perhaps appropriate.

(Via Drudge ) Sharon Churcher (Daily Mail) - Team of Investigators into Secret Service scandal to charge taxpayers $1.5 million

This is a scandal as well, IMO. Aren't we in an age of austerity? Do we really have to waste $1.5 million dollars investigating Secret Service behavior with this exquisite thoroughness? Couldn't we do it for $5,000 dollars? Or $10,000?

As Echidne said, these are more "don't look at the man behind the curtain" tactics, using scandals to distract us from the fact that ongoing war in Afghanistan, and drone strikes in Yemen, are doing more harm than good.

Glenn Greenwald (Salon) - America’s drone sickness
. . .In late 2009, an Obama-approved attack with Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs killed dozens of innocent Yemenis, including 21 children. In May, 2010, a U.S. drone attack killed a popular Deputy Governor of a Yemeni province. In October of last year, two weeks after Obama successfully ordered the death of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. drone strike killed his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman (today’s Post article asserted, seemingly without any basis, that that killing was “inadvertent,” even though the alleged target was apparently nowhere near the scene). It’s not hard to imagine what ordinary Yemenis think of the U.S., and whether they’d be more sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s message after all of this. 
So here we have — yet again — the U.S. doing more than anyone else could to increase the threat of Terrorism with the very policies it claims are necessary to combat Terrorism. . .
Godfather, Part II
Tom: Just consider this, Michael. Just consider it. Roth and the Rosatos are on the run. Are they worth it, are we strong enough? Is it worth it? You've won. Do you want to wipe everybody out? 
Michael: I don't feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies, that's all. Now are you with me in these things that I have to do, or what?  
Digby (Hullabaloo) - Regina Tasca, a good cop, punished for stopping unnecessary beating

Katha Pollitt (Nation) - Ann Romney, Working Woman?
. . .Bertrand Russell, in his witty essay “In Praise of Idleness,” wrote, “What is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so.” Clearly, between the houses and grounds, the five kids, the Cadillacs, the husband, the business socializing, the campaigning and, let’s not forget, that dog, Ann Romney has altered the position of much matter. Since it is not possible to run smoothly a multimillion-dollar multi-mansioned domestic establishment for seven people without at least some paid help, I’m guessing she probably instructed others in the proper positioning of matter as well. By Russell’s definition, Ann Romney has probably done a lot more work than I have. I sit at my desk and hours go by in which I seem to have hardly altered the position of anything, including myself. . .
Agatha Christie Econoblogging:

Mary Westmacott / Agatha Christie - A Daughter's a Daughter (1952)
. . ."Ah, she's got a way with her, Miss Sarah has. That you can't deny. I've often noticed as how there's young ladies who leave their things about, expect everything mended for them, run you off your feet clearing up after them - and yet there's nothing you won't do for them! There's others as gives no trouble at all, everything neat, no extra work made - and yet there you are, you don't seem to fancy them in the same way. Say what you like it's an unjust world. Only a crazy politician would talk about fair shares for all. Some has the kicks and some has the ha'pence, and that's the way it is." . . .
I'd guess this is the classical conservative view, "Some has the kicks and some has the ha'pence, and that's the way it is". It's a view that deserves respect, given the frequent failures of socialism/progressivism to make things better. The more modern or hypermodern conservative view is not "Some has the kicks and some has the ha'pence, and that's the way it is", but "Some deserve the kicks and some deserve the ha'pence, and that's the way it should be" This also, in a way, could be described as the view of meritocrats. I'm not sure, in theory and in practice, how belief in meritocracy differs from belief in Randian inequality.

What do I believe? I'm finding that I believe in neither Rawlsian equality nor in Randian inequality. What I believe in is "Don't-Die-With-Your-Music-Inside-You-Ism". I believe some patching and tinkering and duct-taping of market outcomes is just and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of everyone having what they need to do and be their best. Said patching and tinkering may have unwelcome side-effects, but so what? I believe not patching and tinkering will have even more unwelcome side-effects. And I'm open, I suppose, to the possibility that hardness might get more and better music out of people, in certain circumstances, than softness.

UPDATE: I should elaborate a little on the problem I have with "equal opportunity". The goal of equal opportunity implicitly assumes a 2-stage process: 1) achieving equal opportunity 2) taking advantage of said opportunities. The problem is that stage 1 is so difficult and time-consuming a task, perhaps even so endless and Sisyphean a task, that stage 1 can swallow up stage 2. Had we but world enough and time, pursuing equal opportunity would be no crime, but given limited resources, I think "good opportunity" or "sufficient opportunity" or "the best opportunity possible" is a better focus than "equal opportunity".

ECHIDNE (of the snakes) - The Problem of Uppity Nuns

An interesting review of Martin Gardner's last book (2009)

and 2 interesting job-search posts by the same author:

Mr. Smarty Pants (Frothygirlz) - 5 Things to Do If You Lose Your Job (Plus two things to do if you don’t.) (2010)

Mr. Smarty Pants (Frothygirlz) - 7-Steps to Finding a Job (2011)

George Orwell - The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)
. . .But there is no doubt about the deadening, debilitating effect of unemployment upon everybody, married or single, and upon men more than upon women. The best intellects will not stand up against it. Once or twice it has happened to me to meet unemployed men of genuine literary ability; there are others whom I haven't met but whose work I occasionally see in the magazines. Now and again, at long intervals, these men will produce an article or a short story which is quite obviously better than most of the stuff that gets whooped up by the blurb-reviewers. Why, then, do they make so little use of their talents? They have all the leisure in the world; why don't they sit down and write books? Because to write books you need not only comfort and solitude--and solitude is never easy to attain in a working-class home--you also need peace of mind. You can't settle to anything, you can't command the spirit of hope in which anything has got to be created, with that dull evil cloud of unemployment hanging over you. Still, an unemployed man who feels at home with books can at any rate occupy himself by reading. But what about the man who cannot read without discomfort? . . .
. . .Israel is more than its most strident supporters here seem to understand. If they understood how much more, they might be less cavalier about advancing policies that would ultimately deliver doom. . .
Randy Pausch - Time Management (UVA 11/27/2007)
. . .One of my favorite stories in the One Minute Manager is, he talks about, did you ever wonder about how they got the killer whales to jump through the hoop? If they did it like modern American office managers, they would yell at the killer whale: "Jump through the hoop!" And every time the killer whale didn't jump through the hoop they'd hit it with a stick. This is how we train people in the office place. Read the book if you want to see how they actually do it because I'm curious. I know now. But it's really cool how they get them to do it. . .
Kenneth Blanchard, Spencer Johnson - The One Minute Manager (2003)
. . .Just remember young man, people are not pigeons. People are more complicated. They are aware, they think for themselves and they certainly don't want to be manipulated by another person. Remember that and respect that. It is a key to good management. With that in mind, let us look at several simple examples . . . 
. . .For example, at some of these Sea Aquariums you see around the country, they usually end the show by having a huge whale jump over a rope which is high above the water. When the whale comes down he drenches the first ten rows. The people leave that show mumbling to themselves ”That's unbelievable. How do they teach that whale to do that?" Do you think they go out in the ocean in a boat, the manager asked, and put a rope out over the water and yell, "Up, up!" until a whale jumps out of the water over the rope? And then say, "Hey, let's hire him. He's a real winner." No, laughed the young man, but that really would be hiring a winner. The two men enjoyed the laugh they shared. You're right the manager said. When they captured the whale, he knew nothing about jumping over ropes. So when they began to train him in the large pool, where do you think they started the rope? At the bottom of the pool, answered the young man. Of course! responded the manager. Every time the whale swam over the rope which was every time he swam past he got fed. Soon, they raised the rope a little. If the whale swam under the rope, he didn't get fed during training. Whenever he swam over the rope, he got fed. So after a while the whale started swimming over the rope all of the time. Then they started raising the rope a little higher. . .Over a period of time they keep on raising the rope until they finally get it to the surface of the water. Now the great whale knows that in order to get fed, he has to jump partially out of the water and over the rope. As soon as that goal is reached, they can start raising the rope higher and higher out of the water. So that's how they do it. . .
So the media coverage of the killing of Travyon Martin seems to me to be increasingly hysterical and negative toward the prosecution, similar to their coverage of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The key facts seem to me to be that Zimmerman has a history a violence, Martin had no history of violence, and Zimmerman has told at least 4 different versions of  the killing to different people, none of which seem likely to be the truth. The fact of Martin being killed, combined with the fact of Zimmerman's history, combined with Zimmerman telling provable lies about the facts of the killing, seems to me, by itself, to warrant prosecution. Certainly, I cannot imagine an armed black man with a history of violence chasing down and shooting an unarmed white boy, and then being charged with anything less than first-degree murder. In any case, I appreciate Zimmerman showing remorse, and I believe Zimmerman should come clean, tell the truth about what happened that night, and then let the jury decide.

Optimal Blogging Analysis Opining: 5 posts a year is all we ask.

I sort of feel that a good blog post, as Stephen Fry once said in another context, "tears the arse out of three days really". Given that amount of time, how often should I blog? Once a week is obviously too much, and I sort of think once a month is too much as well. Once every two months seems about right, with one turn in the rotation skipped just to break the rhythm. So that's what I think is the right amount of blogging for me: 1 post every 2 months from August to April, adding up to 5 posts a year.

The Monte Carlo Masters is one of my favorite tennis tournaments to watch. The red clay, the blue sea, the sunshine, the extravagant clay court groundstrokes, add up to something special. Are there any other island tennis tournaments with a similar appeal?

Praveen Swami (Hindu) - In Kashmir, some hot potatoes (4/23/2012)
In the charged summer of 2010, an irate cleric from the central Kashmir town of Badgam showed me startling evidence of India's plot to destroy Islam in Kashmir: an improbably large potato. The potato, he claimed, contained pig-genes which would defile the faithful.
Last month, Usmaan Raheem Ahmad — the man behind the high-yielding potatoes which the cleric had claimed induced impiety — was denied entry to India. Mr. Ahmad's path-breaking work on rural empowerment, urban entrepreneurship and women's rights had been publicly endorsed by the Chief Minister, the Governor and even the State police. He was seen by them as representing the kind of progressive intervention needed to drain the swamps of religious chauvinism and backwardness in which the Badgam cleric thrived — opening up the prospect of a new, vibrant Kashmir. For reasons no one in the Central government is willing to explain, though, New Delhi chose to shut Mr. Ahmad's work down.
Full disclosure: I made several attempts to find out why Mr. Ahmad was denied entry and to see if the problem could be resolved. I was told, variously, that Mr. Ahmad had worked on a tourist visa (not true); that he met with secessionists (true, but so does the Home Minister); that a 50-page Intelligence Bureau report concluded his organisation, the Mercy Corps, was working too closely in coordination with the United States (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government, some critics say, also does). No one actually accused Mr. Ahmad of a crime.
In the grand scheme of things, Mr. Ahmad's fate is perhaps trivial — but his story illustrates a paralytic malaise that has gripped New Delhi's policy on Jammu and Kashmir. In recent months, this malaise has manifested itself in dogged efforts to persuade young people in the State that India is a mindless tyranny, opaque and arbitrary in its use of power.  
No one has seen fit to explain to the thousands of young people who saw hope in Mr. Ahmad's work why it was abruptly terminated. Nor has New Delhi explained its decision to stonewall the Chief Minister's repeated calls for phased demilitarisation. . .
next post: 8/10/2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Sasha Said -Sick and Desperate in the USA
One of the things you worry about when you have neither money nor health insurance is what will happen to you in the event you become seriously ill. How are you going to pay for treatment? If you have an acute condition such as appendicitis, you can go to the ER and they have to take care of you. But what if it’s something like cancer or kidney disease? Something that requires prolonged, expensive treatment? All the hospital needs to do is stabilize you. Then you’re on your own. . .

. . .I remember what happened when a friend went to the local ER with heart problems. After determining that he wasn’t having a heart attack right then and there, they told him that they’d have to run a bunch of tests to figure out why he kept having these debilitating heart pains, but they weren’t going to do that unless he had insurance or could pay upfront. . .

In California and everywhere else I’ve ever lived, non-disabled low income adults are not eligible for Medicaid unless they have dependent children living with them. . .Poor parents are covered not because they have inherent value as human beings. . .but because a sick (or dead) parent would have negative repercussions for the innocent child. . .

. . .And yes, for all its considerable flaws, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does change that by extending Medicaid to ALL individuals with incomes at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Unfortunately those changes don’t go into effect until 2014 . . .

. . .it’s possible that the free clinic situation is better in urban areas. I honestly don’t know. I was fortunate never to be seriously ill during all the years I lived in major cities. But for people in rural areas (many of whom moved out here to escape the high housing costs in the cities), there’s nothing. . .

. . .And of course my illness has made our financial situation even worse. Paying for a fresh foods diet and supplements for me and Balou (yes, our boy is still with us and continues to be happy and active) has been very difficult. We missed three weeks of work due to my illness and are nearly broke. There’s one client who owes us some money (check supposedly got lost in the mail), but we’re not sure when it will get here.

So I gotta ask for help. I hate having to do this again, but I don’t know how we’re going to get through this month without help from somewhere. My partner has been looking for a job because there currently isn’t enough freelance work for both of us, but he hasn’t had any luck yet. Given that unemployment around here is far higher than the national average, this could take a while.

If you have a little extra to spare, your donation would be extremely welcome. Also, and I realize this is a long shot, if anyone has a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix, BlendTec, Omega, L’Equip RPM, or other 1HP+ blender) they’re no longer using and would be willing to donate, I’d be forever grateful. A high-speed blender is a “must” for many recommended recipes in my nutrition plan, but these things are so expensive, I couldn’t justify the cost in our current situation even if we had the money. However, if someone has one that’s just collecting dust, I’ll gladly take it off your hands.

Other kitchen appliances I could really use but can’t afford include a Champion or GreenStar juicer (or other masticating/non-centrifugal juicer) and a food dehydrator with adjustable thermostat/temperature control (e.g., Excalibur, L’Equip, Good4U). Not really expecting anyone to let go of one of these babies, but thought I’d put it out there, just in case.

Anyway, whatever you can do to help, we’d really appreciate it.

Belle Waring (Crooked Timber) - What Sasha Said (2011)

Violet Socks - Spring Bleg
The day after Tax Day is possibly not the best time to pass the hat, but thanks to my health insurance company, I’m facing an unexpected shortfall by the end of this month. (Fun fact: insurance companies can raise your premiums by 20% with no more than a couple of weeks notice before you have to pull the money together to keep from being cancelled!)

So, here goes the hat. As ever, I am enormously grateful for any and all contributions. They’re what enable me to keep going and continue to offer this space as a progressive, radical feminist salon. I used up the last of my savings to pay for my surgery last year (and that was even with the wonderful generosity of contributors here, for which I am eternally grateful), so I’m very much on the edge. If your own situation is also precarious, then of course please ignore this. But if you can spare a few bucks and appreciate the blog, this would be a fantastic time to make a donation.

Violet Socks - In Defense of Hilary Rosen

(Via Amanda Terkel) David Wood (HuffPo) - Beyond The Battlefield (2011)
Beyond the Battlefield is a 10-part series The Huffington Post ran on consecutive weekdays starting Oct. 10, 2011. It is an exploration of the challenges, victories and problems that catastrophically wounded soldiers encounter after returning home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The series, the result of several months of reporting and scores of interviews by veteran military correspondent David Wood, is a deeply felt and wide-ranging exploration of what it means for a soldier to suffer extraordinary, disabling wounds -- and how their friends, families and hometowns, as well as the military and medical communities, adjust and respond to the struggles these wounded warriors endure.

NPR STAFF - Late Photographer Tim Hetherington Saw The Inner Lives Of Soldiers

I'm grateful to MJ Rosenberg for fighting the good fight for a sane foreign policy, at a moment when, not for the first time, elite, polite, respectable opinion has lost its mind. If we're nitpicking, I think MJ Rosenberg's use of terms like "Israeli-Firsters" & "America-Seconders" is mildly offensive. But this is small potatoes compared with what Rosenberg is fighting, the lunatic scheme to have the state of Israel initiate a war of aggression against the state of Iran.

Another thing that should be said re: Rosenberg, is that the method used to discredit him was BS. For example, should every conservative who denounces "feminism, quotas. . .transforming the church, schools" be tarnished, for using rhetoric similar to Breivik?

VAIJU NARAVANE (Hindu) - Will start all over again: Norway killer

CBS News - Travyon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton says she thinks his shooting was 'an accident'
. . .When asked what she would say if she could talk to Zimmerman face to face, Fulton said a person should apologize if they are remorseful. . .

Re: work, money & welfare, I do remember one point that Theresa Funiciello made in her book. If a mother leaves an abusive husband, or divorces a husband, she's treated one way by the law, and by society. However, if her husband dies, she's treated in a completely different way by the law, and society. Single mothers are treated not based on their objective circumstances, but based on the socially understood history of their relationship with a now-absent man.

Theresa Funiciello - Tyranny of Kindness: Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America (1994)
From Library Journal:

Funiciello writes with authority--she has been a welfare mother and has lived the horrors described in her book. . .She combines heart-wrenching anecdotes of suffering poor people with muckraking journalism that details fraud, waste, and abuse in administration. . .Her forceful recommendation to replace the existing system with a guaranteed income program (modeled on Milton Friedman's negative income tax) will generate a firestorm of protest from vested interests. Despite being overlong and poorly focused in places, the writing is snappy and grips the reader from start to finish. Similar to Charles Murray's Losing Ground ( LJ 10/1/84) and Ken Auletta's The Underclass ( LJ 5/1/82) in its disgust with the present welfare system, this author parts company in its prescription of income security. Strongly recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/93.
- Grace Franklin, Columbus Metropolitan Lib.

Andrew Sabl - Affordable Care act (2010)

I am 58 years old and without insurance for three years when my cobra coverage ran out. I immediately applied for and was declined coverage by both Blue Cross and Kaiser due to pre-existing conditions. I have been un-insurable since high school but eventually everyone becomes un-insurable.

When I called Senator Boxer's office to find out how to apply for coverage under the guaranteed issue rules just passed I almost broke down and cried when I was told that I had to wait till 2014 to buy insurance. . .

Amanda Terkel (ThinkProgress) - Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to vote for Senate Finance health bill: ‘When history calls, history calls.' (2009)

STEPHEN NESSEN (NPR) - Mohawk ironworkers

Kent Annan - After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken (2011)

Blame Canada (* A Project Gutenberg Canada Ebook *): Dorothy L Sayers - THE GREATEST DRAMA EVER STAGED (1938)

Swami Dayananda Saraswati - New Year's Message (2005)

Glenn Greenwald (Salon) - Personalizing civil liberties abuses
. . .One of the sponsors of that University of Chicago event was the school’s Muslim Students Association, and one of the undergraduate student leaders of the Student Forum on Political Thought, the umbrella group that organized the event, is Ali Al-Arian. Ali is the son of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian whose ongoing persecution by the U.S. Government is one of the most repellent and unjust of any in the post-9/11 era. I can’t begin to convey all or even most of the extreme injustices that have been imposed on him.

In 2003, while working as an engineering professor at the University of South Florida, he was indicted by the Ashcroft DOJ on multiple counts of “material support for Terrorism.” Al-Arian was an outspoken advocate for Palestinians and a steadfast opponent of the Israeli occupation. The U.S. government had been monitoring all of his telephone communications for more than a full decade, yet obtained no evidence that he was involved in any way in plotting any sort of violence. . .

. . .When his trial finally took place in 2006, the government’s evidence against him consisted almost entirely of his speeches, the list of books he read, the websites he visited, the magazines he edited, the rallies he attended: in sum, the U.S. Government — as it so often does with Muslims — tried to prosecute him as a Terrorist by virtue of his political views and activities. Even with a judge extremely hostile to his defense, the Central Florida jury acquitted him on half of the counts, and deadlocked on the other half (10 out of 12 jurors wanted to acquit him on all charges). This was one of the very, very few times a Muslim in the U.S. has been acquitted when accused of Terrorism. . .

Susie Madrak - Why John Edwards is being prosecuted
. . .Rachel Maddow did an interesting piece Friday night that said something that needs to be said, over and over: John Edwards is being singled out for special treatment in his indictment. And unfortunately, people who might otherwise support him in fighting it have decided for their own reasons that he deserves to be punished because he cheated on his dying wife.

That’s just plain crazy. And it’s no basis for a criminal prosecution, as Maddow pointed out.

Nor is our personal affection for Elizabeth Edwards a good enough reason to look the other way while he’s railroaded. . .

The John Edwards case increases my suspicion of laws that criminalize non-violent activity. Civil penalties may be appropriate, but putting people in jail for non-violent offenses seems to me almost always a bad idea. Unfortunately, prosecutors & legislators seem to have gotten intoxicated and addicted to their power.

Matthew Yglesias (Slate) - Argentina Renationalizes Its Largest Oil Company
. . .Argentina's trajectory over the past couple of years tends to highlight what I think is some of the reasoning behind insistence on policy orthodoxy even in situations where it's counterproductive. The logic is basically that a country that uses currency devaluation and debt repudiation as a policy tool risks falling into a "once you pop, you can't stop" trap. . .

. . .As a counterpoint, I would say the lessons of Argentina aren't that you should stick with orthodoxy even when it's inappropriate. The lesson is that you should do the right thing all the time. It was addiction to hard money orthodoxy that killed Argentina's neoliberal era and now it's addiction to these expedients that will ultimately kill off its populist era. . .

Dean, Mark and the staff of CEPR - Pledge to Help Beat the Press

Kevin Drum (MoJo) - Fear Keeps the Filibuster Alive

I think the best argument for eliminating the filibuster is that it would allow voters to hold politicians accountable. They would no longer be able to plead helplessness, they would have to defend their policies, and the outcomes of those policies.

Hindu (editorial) - New Compact faces old problem (Kashmir)
Four months after a tear-gas shell killed a Srinagar teenager in June 2010 — sparking off street protests and firing by the security forces which were to claim over a hundred young lives — the government appointed a team of interlocutors to “suggest a way forward that truly reflects the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Last week, The Hindu published excerpts from Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari's report, one that, in the six months since it was submitted, the Cabinet is yet to find time to discuss, let alone open up to serious political debate. . .

. . .There is no reason, though, to defer discussion on troop cuts, regional dialogue or constitutional change. The report's proposals may or may not address the issues that are driving political alienation in Jammu and Kashmir today. Not debating them, though, is certain to breed resentment and deepen scepticism about India's intentions. New Delhi, not for the first time, has responded to challenges by choosing to do nothing — a response that is outright dangerous.

I wonder what Stephen P. Cohen and the Brookings team think of the current situation in Kashmir?

Hindu (editorial) - Don't miss this opportunity (Free Khalil Chisty)

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN (Hindu) - The only package Kashmir needs is justice (2010)


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - “WE HAVE MADE HISTORY”

Art of the Title - The Impostors (1998)

next post: 6/8/2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012
BRACHA KURTZER and YOEL GOLDMAN and ILAN BEN ZION (Times of Israel) - Peres asks Obama to free Jonathan Pollard

If freeing Pollard makes some conservative Israelis happier by 0.0000000000000001%, the benefits of freeing Pollard still outweigh the costs.

Glenn Greenwald (Salon) - Peter Van Buren, Bowe Bergdahl, Bradley Manning, Bahrain

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - Washington’s Dangerous Blockade of Iran (Cole at Tomdispatch)

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - Bahrain Crisis between Hunger Strike and Grand Prix Boycott

Susie Madrak - How lobbyists jacked up your cell phone rate
this piece by Matt Stoller in the Republic Report:
. . .according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, people in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland pay on average less than $130 a year for cell phone service. Americans pay $635.85 a year. . .

Susie Madrak - Foreshadowing


Digby (Hullabaloo) - "I want Medicare"

Atrios (Eschaton) - Priorities

I think the reason for the Obama team's housing policies is that their top priority is avoiding giving money to undeserving homeowners, in order to avoid the Fox News Headline, "Obama Bails Out Deadbeats". Apparently, it's okay to give money to undeserving AIG counterparties, undeserving banks, undeserving insurance companies, but not undeserving homeowners. IMO, the top priority should be a ruthless & pragmatic Iceland-style deleveraging, not selective concerns about moral hazard.

Actually, the McCain campaign's proposal to have the government buy up mortgage debt at 100 cents on the dollar strikes me, in hindsight, as really, really good policy. It would have been a giveaway to banks, true, but it would have been a clean, transparent, 1-time giveaway, it would have produced a profit for the government in the long-term, and most importantly, it probably would have worked, accomplishing deleveraging faster than many alternatives. Of this current generation of finance-crisis firefighters, Douglas Holtz-Eakin might very well be the best of the lot - when he wants to be (lately, he doesn't seem to want to be).

In describing the value of Atrios, I think of this Michael Kinsley quote:
. . .It seems to me that humor is not only valuable for its own sake. It also efficiently makes the point that much of what goes on is perfectly ridiculous. This is a point that serious political punditry often suppresses. If that's not too pompous. . .

re: rosen-romney, it's very important that your people have the freedom to fail, to say or do less-than-optimal things, and then recover gracefully from their mistakes. Rosen, despite 1 "baking-cookies / bitterly-clinging" type-mistake, and RIAA shilling, is good people. Defend her.

LAURIE KELLMAN (AP) - Ann Romney fires back at never-worked charge

Re: Derbyshire, I wouldn't be offended if he kept his job. If the price of tolerating eccentric lefties who wear Che T-shirts (but who also help to prevent and shorten US foreign and drug wars) is that we have to tolerate eccentric righties who are racist, it seems to me a price worth paying.

Via @Beyerstein:
Seth Freed Wessler of @Colorlines talks to Maine Public Radio about winning a 2012 @SidneyHillman Prize

Kim Willsher (Guardian) - French resistance hero Raymond Aubrac dies aged 97

Saeed Kamali Dehghan (Guardian) - Iranian intellectuals raise alarm over war

Mehdi Hasan (Guardian) - Iran's nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered

RONEN BERGMAN (NYT) - Will Israel Attack Iran?
. . .a former top Mossad official told me . . ."when a scientist — one who is not a trained soldier or used to facing life-threatening situations, who has a wife and children — watches his colleagues being bumped off one after the other, he definitely begins to fear that the day will come when a man on a motorbike knocks on his car window.”. . .

Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic) - Guenter Grass and Germany's Responsibility

Ta-Nehisi Coates - Trayvon Martin's Parents Interviewed

Robert Wright (Atlantic) - Israeli Ambassador Fails Analogy Test

Jim Muir (BBC) - Syria: Annan ceasefire holds despite violent incidents

BBC - Nigerian Easter bomb kills many in Kaduna

ANITA JOSHUA (Hindu) - 117 Pakistani soldiers missing as avalanche hits Siachen Glacier

ANANTH KRISHNAN (Hindu) - China expresses condolences, considers aid for Siachen avalanche

Zofeen Ebrahim (Dawn) - Searching for answers in “avalanche country”

. . .take a look at this video from the top-rated Israeli show “Big Brother,” a television reality show in which a group of young people move into an apartment and live their lives on camera. These shows are popular worldwide, but the brilliant exposition of the evils of the occupation that one character made on the Israeli show last week is unimaginable here. (U.S. reality shows avoid politics like the plague. But this is Israel).

There is one other striking thing about this video (besides the fact not even a Jewish Community Center would dare show it in the U.S). It is that the young man making the case against the occupation is the kind of person Zionism was supposed to produce: a proud Israeli afraid of nothing. . .

Rachel Gordon, Peter Fimrite (SF Chronicle) - Concord SUV kills father, daughter riding bikes

Al Saracevic (SF Chronicle) - Talk-show host Ralph Barbieri, KNBR part ways
. . .I was told to gather my belongings and turn in my card key, at which point I was "escorted" out of the building by a KNBR management person.

The whole process took about 7 minutes. Twenty-eight years and change at KNBR they had neatly wrapped up for me in 7 minutes. . .

PETER HARTLAUB (SF Chronicle) - Two things can be equally true: Some thoughts on Ralph Barbieri

It seems to me that Larry Gonick is a national treasure. Has he been in a segment on "60 Minutes" or Charlie Rose?

Chop Bouie - the most useful apps on my ipad

re: debt, equity & wealth, I guess another question is: what would policy look like if you targeted nominal wealth, instead of NGDP?

Another question: what is the consensus view of center-left economists of the relationship between inflation and unemployment, especially at low levels? I'd imagine the choice is between a) non-linear, but no multiple equilibria b) multiple equilibria (i.e. it's possible to have stable inflation of 2% with 8% unemployment and also possible to have stable inflation of 2% with 6% unemployment.

Very good weird possibly good, certainly weird, sentences:
. . .In 1999, Donald Trump proposed a once off 14.25% wealth tax on the net worth of individuals and trusts worth $10 million or more. Trump claimed that this would generate $5.7 trillion in new taxes, which could be used to eliminate the national debt. . .

I'd imagine being a pro blogger is a bit like being Slurms MacKenzie.

Beppe Severgnini (FT) - A week without the worldwide web
. . .For five days I've been doing less but I reckon I've done it better. . .

Brad Plumer (Wonkblog) - Are there better ways to pay for college than student loans?

Free exchange Economics - Selling a piece of your future
. . .Students in California have a proposal. Rather than charging tuition, they'd like public universities in California to take 5% of their salary for the first twenty years following graduation (for incomes between $30,000 and $200,000). Essentially, rather than taking on debt students would like to sell equity in their future earnings. This means students who make more money after graduation will subsidise lower-earning peers. . .

Felix Salmon (Reuters) - Buying equity in people

I actually don't like to think of this scheme as rich subsidising poor, I prefer to think of it as giving students more freedom to attempt difficult things and delay gratification. If you have the opportunity to try something difficult which might pay off in 3 years versus something easy which might pay off in 6 months, a debt-based system seems more likely to lead to taking the easy way out (day-trading, lottery tickets, B2B E-Commerce) versus trying something hard (Down syndrome research, high-speed rail, carbon sequestration, building St. Paul's Cathedral). Recall that one of the nation's top Down syndrome researchers, Dr. Alberto Costa, ". . .lives with Tyche and Daisy in a rented apartment, having never felt he had enough job security to buy a home."

Paul Farmer and John Gershman (WaPo) - Jim Kim’s humility would serve World Bank well

Paul Krugman (NYT) - Cannibalize the Future

Matthew Yglesias (Slate) - We Save for the Future by Building Things

Including relationships. Congrats!

Oof. Just tried and utterly failed to find an article I remembered reading by an African entrepreneur on the costs of working on weekends and evenings, and the unexpected downsides of 24-hour customer service. They found that customer-service complaints actually increased when they switched to 24-hour service, and that handling business during normal business hours led to better work, and more satisfied customers. Anyway, a thought-provoking article, which I'll assume is lost in the mists of cyber-space and cyber-time.

Wikipedia - Computer Graphics
. . .A student by the name of Edwin Catmull started at the University of Utah in 1970 and signed up for Sutherland's computer graphics class. Catmull had just come from The Boeing Company and had been working on his degree in physics. Growing up on Disney, Catmull loved animation yet quickly discovered that he did not have the talent for drawing. Now Catmull (along with many others) saw computers as the natural progression of animation and they wanted to be part of the revolution. The first animation that Catmull saw was his own. He created an animation of his hand opening and closing. . .

Wikipedia - Edwin Catmull
Edwin Earl Catmull, Ph.D. (born 1945) is a computer scientist and current president of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. . .

Edwin Earl Catmull was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Early in life, Catmull found inspiration in Disney movies such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio and dreamed of becoming a feature film animator. He even made primitive animation using so-called flip-books. However, he assessed his chances realistically and decided that his talents lay elsewhere. . .

. . .After Disney acquired Pixar in January 2006, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger put Catmull and John Lasseter in charge of reinvigorating the Disney animation studios in Burbank. According to a Los Angeles Times article,[7] part of this effort was to allow directors more creative control as collaborators on their projects and to give them the creative freedom to use traditional animation techniques. . .

That's a nice journey, no? From being a child who wanted to draw, but didn't have any special talent for it, to being president of Disney Animation Studios.

George Orwell (Tribune) - What is Science? (1945)
. . .Implied in the demand for more scientific education is the claim that if one has been scientifically trained one's approach to all subjects will be more intelligent than if one had had no such training. . . And, in fact, there are already millions of people who do believe this. . .

. . .But is it really true that a ‘scientist’, in this narrower sense, is any likelier than other people to approach non-scientific problems in an objective way? There is not much reason for thinking so. . .The German scientific community, as a whole, made no resistance to Hitler. Hitler may have ruined the long-term prospects of German science, but there were still plenty of gifted men to do the necessary research on such things as synthetic oil, jet planes, rocket projectiles and the atomic bomb. Without them the German war machine could never have been built up. . .

. . . I imagine that the number of German scientists — Jews apart — who voluntarily exiled themselves or were persecuted by the règime was much smaller than the number of writers and journalists. More sinister than this, a number of German scientists swallowed the monstrosity of ‘racial science’. . .

. . .But, in slightly different forms, it is the same picture everywhere. . .those English scientists who do not simply accept the status quo are frequently Communists, which means that, however intellectually scrupulous they may be in their own line of work, they are ready to be uncritical and even dishonest on certain subjects. . .

. . .But does all this mean that the general public should not be more scientifically educated? On the contrary! All it means is that scientific education for the masses will do little good, and probably a lot of harm, if it simply boils down to more physics, more chemistry, more biology, etc., to the detriment of literature and history. Its probable effect on the average human being would be to narrow the range of his thoughts and make him more than ever contemptuous of such knowledge as he did not possess. . .

. . .A hundred years ago, Charles Kingsley described science as ‘making nasty smells in a laboratory’. A year or two ago a young industrial chemist informed me, smugly, that he ‘could not see what was the use of poetry’. So the pendulum swings to and fro, but it does not seem to me that one attitude is any better than the other. At the moment, science is on the upgrade, and so we hear, quite rightly, the claim that the masses should be scientifically educated: we do not hear, as we ought, the counter-claim that the scientists themselves would benefit by a little education. . .

Brad Delong (Semi-Daily Journal) - Notes: What Thomas Sowell Thinks of The Bell Curve (2003)
Atrios laments: "Every time I refer disparagingly to [Herrnstein and Murray's] The Bell Curve some true believer expects me to write a 50,000 word critique of the book to justify my opinion of it. Frankly, it's as if every time I spoke disparagingly of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion someone expected me to write a 50,000 word critique of it."

You don't have to write a 50,000 word critique. All you have to do is point them to Thomas Sowell's American Spectator review of The Bell Curve. . .

Ben Armbruster (ThinkProgress) - Pakistani Acid Attack Victim Commits Suicide Because ‘There Was No Justice Available To Her’

(Via Digby) Neil Shea (The American Scholar) - War in Afghanistan

Jack Serle (Informed Comment) - The Syrian Army’s outlaw Executions

Ben Armbruster (ThinkProgress) - Erdogan Suggests Invoking Article 5 Of NATO Charter To Protect Turkey’s Border With Syria

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - China hopeful Iran will compromise with the UNSC

Robert Wright (Atlantic) - Nuclear Talks With Iran: 4 Key Questions

Karam Nachar's twitter feed (@knachar)

XKCD - Lakes And Oceans (large)

Partners In Health - IHSJ Reader April 2012 Issue 21

HRC - Remarks on George Marshall and the Foundations of Smart Power (VMI, April 3, 2012)

Darius Dixon (Politico) - Mayor Booker saves woman in fire
. . .“I think that’s way over the top, honestly,” he said, when asked about the [hero label] at a press conference Friday. “There are firefighters that do this every single day. I’m a neighbor that did what most neighbors would do, which is to jump into action to help a friend.”. . .

Glenn Greenwald (Salon) - DOJ prosecutes another whistleblower, Drone activist denied visa, Charles Davis asks Jay Rockefeller tough question and people freak out, horribly cruel and unfair treatment of Tarek Mehanna, sentenced to 17 years in prison, in the United States, for political speech

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - Tens of Thousands of Syrians Protest Peacefully after Ceasefire, 6 Killed

next post: 5/11/2012 (planning to change the cadence of the blog from one post a week to one post a month)

Friday, April 06, 2012
Partners In Health - IHSJ READER, MARCH 30, 2012

Kai Wright (Colorlines) - Travyon Martin
Zimmerman has a HISTORY of violence & confronting people. Assaulting a police officer & being dis-respective to another police officer, assaulting his ex-girlfriend, someone he trailed in a store reported that he felt Zimmerman was about to get violent because he suspected him of shoplifting, on one job he threw a lady who broke her ankle.... The evidence is all over the web, just have to search for the facts. TRAYVON'S GIRLFRIEND WAS ON THE PHONE as she HEARD him being PUSHED after Trayvon asks Zimmerman WHY is he following him & Zimmerman asks what he's doing there. The phone goes dead. The CNN TIMELINE & phone records back up her statement. Only 3 of the incidents are here:


I'm praying for Zimmerman actually because he's obviously sick. Praying for the Martins that the truth wont be covered up. Trayvon was obviously defending himself... At the point where Zimmerman draws his gun he was no longer close to Trayvon so he could have fired a warning shot in the air. If Trayvon was still on top of him as he claimed , he would have had Trayvon's blood ALL over him. . .

Zimmerman seems to have been caught in a verifiable lie that the person screaming for help is him, when the audio analysis shows that it is not. Also, there are reports of the young witness who's being quoted as supporting Zimmerman's account, feeling heavily pressured / coerced to confirm Zimmerman's story.

Robert Salonga and Chris De Benedetti (Oakland Tribune) - Oakland university shooting: Family remembers San Leandro's Doris Chibuko as genuine, generous; husband said she raised alarm about accused gunman

MATTHEW ROSENBERG (NYT) - 6 Afghans and 3 G.I.’s Are Killed by Bomber

THOM SHANKER, ERIC SCHMITT and ALISSA J. RUBIN (NYT) - U.S. Sees Iran in Bids to Stir Unrest in Afghanistan


SANDEEP DIKSHIT (Hindu) - Iran to provide details of suspects in New Delhi car bomb attack

BERNARD ARONSON (NYT) - Can Brazil Stop Iran?

I do hope Brazil plays a constructive role in Israel-Iran relations. But the Aronson op-ed should not be interpreted as "Let's bribe Brazil so we can go to war with Iran".

Mike Riggs (GOOD) - Heal Thyself: Why I Promised to Donate My Kidney to a Stranger

JEFFREY GOLDBERG (Atlantic) - A Pre-Passover, Pre-Easter Analysis-and-Link Festival
. . .the CIA believes Iran is moving forward on its nuclear program at a brisk pace. . .

Would Goldberg support Iran's nuclear program, if he was Iranian? How does he react to the fact that even Iranian Green Movement leaders support the Iranian nuclear program? Does Goldberg support the US nuclear program? Does he support the Israeli nuclear program?

Amanda Marcotte - Suspect in Wisconsin terrorist attack arrested

SHIBLEY TELHAMI and STEVEN KULL (NYT) - Preventing a Nuclear Iran, Peacefully

Laura Rozen - Iran nuclear talks set to resume, diplomats say

Peter Beinart - JW Review ‘Disservice’ To Readers
I (who fled the Holocaust as a child) have been waiting more than 20 years ,ever since I saw the conditions in the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, for voices like Peter Beinart's.


Digby - The culture of smartness
. . .This segment of "Up With Chris Hayes" with Karen Ho, author of Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street examines the big question: why doesn't Wall Street care about killing their golden goose?" It's something that's befuddled me from the beginning of the financial crisis.

It turns out that it's at least partially attributable to completely skewed incentives that create an irresponsible belief system called IBGYBG: "I'll be gone, you'll be gone.". . .

I think IBGYBG, the difference between what pays off in the short term and what pays off in the long term, is one of the key reasons, though not the only one, why laissez-faire does not work, while the mixed economy does.

Andrew Sullivan (The Dish) - The Crisis Of Christianity, Ctd
Closing the chat with the story of Fr. Mychal Judge's extraordinary life was apt. (I went to that Franciscan church for most of the years I lived in NYC, and it is a place full of powerful and humble spiritual leaders.) Fr. Mychal lived the Franciscan dictum: "Proclaim the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."
Let me end with one final snapshot of what I mean by a Christian life. Father Mychal Judge went to serve the sick with AIDS at the very start of the epidemic, when no one knew what was contagious, what it was, and many patients were quarantined and abandoned by their families. When they saw him in his monastic garb, they refused to let him in their hospital rooms, they were so alienated by "the church." And this man waits outside until they are asleep, then goes in and gently lifts up the sheet and massages the feet of the sick as an act of love and deference. He was one of the last who rushed into the World Trade Center to be with the firefighters he was assigned to minister to. He came out dead in their arms. He didn't even have a bank account.

He lives as Jesus does. He - and countless others like him, unknown but faithful - is the church. Why would anyone want to leave a place where he remains?

Sarah Kliff (Wonkblog) - Reconciliation
— A powerful shot from the Military Photographer of the Year slide show.

(Via @AnnieLowrey) ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI (FP) - We're Winning This Fight

GREGORY MANN (FP) - The Mess in Mali

JIM YARDLEY (NYT) - Maid’s Cries Cast Light on Child Labor in India

Natalia Antonova (Guardian) - The deadly rape case that shocked and shamed Ukraine

Juan Cole (Informed Comment) - Rafsanjani: Iran does not Want Nukes, Should improve relations with US, Saudi

Lior Sternfeld (Informed Comment) - The Paradox of Israeli Politics

Lindsay Beyerstein (CLEAR IT WITH SIDNEY) - Announcing the 2012 Hillman Prizes

LATOYA PETERSON (Racialicious) - Requiem for Sepia Mutiny

ARTURO (Racialicious) - 4-5-12 Links Roundup

Latoya Peterson - Before The Internet…
A long running joke among my friends and coworkers is exactly how many jobs I’ve held. Once, when I was explaining the three projects I chose to work on simultaneously, a friend of mine was like, “Who do you think you are, Hey Mon?”. . .

Violet Socks - I Am Caterpillar, Hear Me Roar

Doctor Science (Obsidian Wings) - The Mind-Killer

Susie Madrak - Holy Thursday

KCET Redcat - After Dinner with Andre - Andre Gregory (2006)
Andre Gregory as he reads from his new play Bone and shares stories and digressions about his past and the world in which we live. The play is a series of love songs written in verse, read here by Gregory, Larry Pine, and Julie Haggarty.

Malcolm Gin - Caltech: The Mechanical Universe Series on Google Video (2008)

Wikipedia - The Mechanical Universe (1985)

Question for Krugman/Keen: What do you think is the appropriate monetary/fiscal/banking policy for India? China?

question for economists: any relationship between "share of total wealth in the form of debt" / "share of total wealth in the form of equity" and macroeconomically interesting events? Does the ratio of debt : equity change much over time/place?

A somewhat related question: if wealth can only take 2 forms, debt or equity, and the private-sector debt market has collapsed, and the private-sector equity market is also shaky, wouldn't the prescription to eliminate public sector debt simply result in a massive reduction in private sector wealth?

next post: 4/20/2012