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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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Arthur Silber - ONCE UPON A TIME...

Gary Farber - Amygdala

Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - Philadelphia, City of Creepy Crimes
 [re: Gosnell] Ron: . . .I’m old enough to remember when stories like this were in the paper every week. Then laws against abortion were overturned and women stopped dying. . .
SAMIR NAJI al HASAN MOQBEL (NYT) - Gitmo Is Killing Me

LAKHDAR BOUMEDIENE (NYT) - My Guantánamo Nightmare

Ray McGovern (OpEd News) - The Deepening Shame of Guantanamo

Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss) - What you need to know about Bradley Manning

Mike Koozmin (SF Examiner) - Daniel Ellsberg speaks up for Bradley Manning

Michael H. Miller (Observer) - Just a Crook? Pentagon Papers Lawyer Thinks Obama Is Worse Than Nixon
Now, the man who successfully fought Nixon says President Obama has an even more troubling record. He has indicted six leakers to Nixon’s one. . .
Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) - Attacks on Stephen Hawking, transparency for Manning

The assertion that leaking of classified information is a serious problem in Washington DC is dubious, to say the least. We're living in a period where among the worst blunders in American foreign policy history - the Iraq war and the Afghan surge - were made because of too much secrecy and too much worship of classified information, not too little. In particular, The case for Iraqi WMD rested on two Iraqi expats who happened to be liars,  but the American people were not informed of this, because the people capable of accurately analyzing the data did not have access to it. We have become a nation where powerful people can classify the evidence of their mistakes, and then prosecute whistleblowers who leak this information.

If Bradley Manning can be charged with aiding the enemy on grounds he leaked documents to the public, one can only conclude the American elite considers the public their enemy.

I'm going on a blog hiatus for the next 6 months. My main hope for this political period is that Bradley Manning receives some fairness, in consideration to the sentences given to Charles Graner, Lynndie England, and the two officers who burned Pat Tillman's uniform and diary, in an attempt to cover up the circumstances of his death.

A country where whistleblowers who reveal information with intent to expose abuses, are punished more harshly than people who commit abuses, is a country whose judicial system has lost its bearings. I hope it finds them.

a bigger IRS scandal:

Janelle Griffith (NJSL) - Lauryn Hill speaks out for first time since sentencing, thanks supporters

It would have been better if Lauryn Hill had kept on top of her finances and paid her taxes in a timely manner, but I see zero evidence that what she did was anywhere close to deserving a prison sentence. I'm appalled by the practice of the American justice system, of not enforcing a rule or regulation 999 times, but the 1000th time finding some poor sod and subjecting them to the full weight of the law, on grounds that "we believe in the rule of law" and for reasons of "deterrence".

I think the Lauryn Hill jailing is a bigger scandal that the Tea Party targeting, but I think the Tea Party targeting is a real scandal, though a fairly small one. The Tea Party groups had to live in a state of limbo for years, constantly worrying if the IRS was going to drop the hammer on them. That's a real thing to be concerned about. I think the objectively right policy is something like:
1) a group should not have a tax exemption unless its activities are 90% social welfare.
2) there should be an informal understanding that the IRS does not enforce until the social welfare component drops to 75%
3) If the IRS enforces, rules should be enforced consistently, and as leniently as possible.

As for the appropriate punishment for the IRS agents, I think they should be given a chance to explain their actions, and if their actions are defensible (and I think they probably are. The notion that Tea Party groups are social welfare organizations seems preposterous, on its face. They seem, clearly, to be political organizations, and if the political organizations I have given money to - Blue America PAC, the PCCC, DFA and the DNC - don't get a tax-exemption, why should the Tea Party?), they should be let off with a mild warning.

Bill James (Slate) - Life, Liberty, and Breaking the Rules: In defense of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, jaywalkers, and all the other scofflaws that make America great.
the question I would urge you to think about is not only "Are these people guilty?" It is also, "Is this prosecution necessary and appropriate?"
I think this is one of the most important sentence fragments ever to appear in Slate magazine.

Richard McGregor (FT) - Lunch with the FT: Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi launches into a lengthy explanation of what happened in 2010. Obamacare, the emissions trading bill, the “lies” spread by the Republicans, and then the failure of a bill to force business lobbies to disclose the source of foreign donations. “As soon as that failed, the money just poured in,” she says, into Republican coffers, although she doesn’t say where from.
I find it incredibly telling, and incredibly infuriating, that Nancy Pelosi's answer was not much simpler, and much shorter: "The jobs and income numbers were terrible, and voters held us accountable".

Arturo (Racialicious) - Voices: Roger Ebert (1942-2013)
"To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts." –Roger Ebert, book excerpt posted in Salon, 2011.
next post: 12-17-2013

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