hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, October 22, 2012
Arthur Silber (Once Upon A Time...) - With Apologies for the Interruption...

Arthur Silber (Once Upon A Time...) - Paths of Resistance (I): The Refusal to Identify and Reject Evil

Arthur Silber (Once Upon A Time...) - Paths of Resistance (II): Monsters and Their Sycophants

Arthur Silber (Once Upon A Time...) - Accomplices to Murder

Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - Orionid meteor shower

Sasha Said - Tax Code Insanity: Couple Living Below Poverty Line Faces Higher Tax Rate Than Romney

Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish) - The Moral Case For Obama

The progressive critiques of Obama are definitely worth reading, but are fundamentally unconvincing in their argument that before building a new politics, you must first tear the existing politics down. I think the overwhelming lesson of human experience is that it's easy to tear down, not so easy to build, and you don't reject the existing order until you have something better to put in its place.

Paul Krugman (NYT) - Pointing Toward Prosperity?
Mr. Romney’s “plan” is a sham. It’s a list of things he claims will happen, with no description of the policies he would follow to make those things happen. . .if describing what you want to see happen without providing any specific policies to get us there constitutes a “plan,” I can easily come up with a one-point plan that trumps Mr. Romney any day. Here it is: Every American will have a good job with good wages. . .Mr. Obama may not have an exciting economic plan, but, if he is re-elected, he will get to implement a health reform that is the biggest improvement in America’s safety net since Medicare. Mr. Romney doesn’t have an economic plan at all, but he is determined not just to repeal Obamacare but to impose savage cuts in Medicaid. So never mind all those bullet points. Think instead about the 45 million Americans who either will or won’t receive essential health care, depending on who wins on Nov. 6.

Freddie (L'Hôte) - arts of the possible

Freddie (L'Hôte) - you're either with us or against us
"The number of US troops in Afghanistan is twice that of when Obama took office. And his administration has dramatically expanded the breadth of our campaign of assassination and death from above, without judicial or political review." 
"I want my country to stop killing innocent people. And the innocent people we kill the most, these days, are Muslim. And the policy of the Obama administration has expanded the zone in which we kill innocent Muslims, they have shown no interest in stopping killing innocent Muslims, and in fact their campaign constantly brags about the drone program which kills innocent Muslims." 
"Now that it is the general election, some people say "you should have primaried him!" Well, back in primary season, the idea of primarying him was seen as the ultimate in unserious posturing."
My opinion is that it's perfectly legitimate to talk about these issues now, even if it increases the chances of Obama being replaced by a policymaker worse on these issues. However, in my opinion, primary season is the best time to talk about these issues. Obama won the 2012 primary with less than 7 million votes. Even in 2008, he won the primary with less than 20 million votes. That's less than 10% of the American electorate. It's not impossible that 25% of the electorate supports a dovish position, and that if 40% of those people vote, they could vote for the more dovish candidate.

I feel strongly motivated to vote for Obama in this election. Obama opposed starting a war in Iraq, and eventually ended it. Romney supported starting a war in Iraq, and criticized Obama for ending it. Obama supports ending the war in Afghanistan in 2014, Romney does not. Romney's victory would mean a triumphant return to power of the same people who misled the American people in order to start a war in Iraq.

I agree ending drone strikes are important, as is fairness for Bradley Manning, as is protesting not ending the war sooner in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are legitimate reasons not to vote for Obama. But I do not see how not voting for Obama increases the chances of ending drone strikes, or fairness for Bradley Manning, or ending the war sooner in Afghanistan.

In Indian politics, there's something called a Common Minimum Programme, "a document outlining the minimum objectives of a coalition government in India". This, for example, is the CMP for the 2004-2009 government. What I'd be interested in is what a CMP for the American left would be, and then would be interested in getting primary candidates who support the CMP in as many elections as possible. I see little reason to believe they would win or come close to winning, but IMO it's worth a try.

One comment on the aftermath of the murders in Benghazi. Please go back and listen to broadcasts the day after 9/11. You will hear government officers saying so many things that aren't true, you won't be able to count them. Among other things: It was stated as fact that the fourth plane was headed to the White House.

next post: 12/14/2012

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