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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Saturday, June 14, 2014


















The Utah story is good, but an uglier subtext of the story is that Americans, white but also non-white, find it much easier to give homes to the homeless, and find it much easier to disburse funds in general, when the recipients are white.


I link to the Cuba article not because I'm particularly ready for Hillary, but because it was a pleasant surprise.



From the Rajaji Reader
@Vyasa Publications 1980:

"Foreword By Jaya Prakash Narayan:

In his inimitable style Rajaji has summarized his own philosophy of patriotism in the following words:

'Do you love the common folk of our land, the men and women who swarm in town and village? Do you love the languages they speak? Do you love their ways and manners? Do you love the religion they believe in, not looking upon it as ignorance but no better wisdom than your own? All this love sums up to patriotism. . . .I see the defects among our people as well as I see their admirable qualities. Their general apathy I deplore. I would have them show more energy in many matters more than they do now, more tolerance and love towards one another, more capacity to work together for common purposes.'"

"Introduction by Nissim Ezekiel:

. . .What Rajaji's critics want of him is to shut up. And he won't shut up.

Rajaji is of course a traditionalist and this writer is not. It would be presumptuous to discuss the contrast here, as if it matters to Rajaji's readers. . .

. . .All that concerns me, for making selections for this Reader is that Rajaji spoke with the same voice when the tide was against him as he did when it carried him to the heights of power and national status. That surely is a sign of integrity."

"photograph of Rajaji and Sri Navaratna Rama Rao:

'We were each the external life of the other as Valmiki puts it in respect of Sri Lakshmana and Sri Ramachandra. All life is a mystery. But love is the greatest mystery in it. Dear young men and women, prize friendship as we did. Rama Rao and I. We were like one soul in two bodies and two lives in each body. Rama Rao's life and mine ran on different tracks. What if? This kind of friendship will help you from sin, from all kinds of meanness. It will protect you like a guardian angel, against all evil, all unhappiness, all stepping down from the ideals of romantic youth'

Rajaji on Sri Navaratna Rama Rao on his death in 1960"

"Stifling Economic Enterprise:

. . .The role of the Government should be that of a catalyst in stimulating economic development while individual initiative and enterprise are given the fullest play. The Government  can do a great deal by way of providing a network of highways and village roads, in improving waterways and developing small harbours, improving communication and transport facilities, which would all serve to boost the economy. Many important things have been neglected because the Government has forgotten them in its obsession with a `command economy'. Wise planning means Government help to foster private enterprise and self-help among individuals. Otherwise, there can be no real progress."

It seems to me that the number one thing stifling individual initiative and enterprise in America today is the fear of homelessness and healthcarelessness. When fear predominates, you have a lot of pseudo-initiative and pseudo-enterprise, as people endlessly throw out proposals they don't actually care about, but which they hope might catch the eye of some corporate sugar daddy or foundation sugar mommy. But true initiatives or enterprises? I think we're being starved of them at the moment, because fear is predominating. Tesla is an exception, but it's significant that Tesla was only envisioned and created after everyone concerned was already rich.

"Wanted a movement:

Whatever the nature or the system of government may be, the two essentials - work and compassion - make for prosperity and true happiness."


It was perhaps presumptuous on my part to have begun the task, but it was a joy to re-tell the Raamaayana. Now, when it is over, I feel like one awakening from a dream of joy. When the Prince left the city, he felt no sorrow; it was only when he lost Seeta that he knew grief. So with me too. When I had to step down from high office and heavy responsibility, I did not feel at a loss or wonder what to do next. But now, when I have come to the end of the tale of the Prince of Ayodhya, the void is like that of a shrine without a God.

Let no one look upon work as a burden. Good work is the secret that keeps life going. While one should not hanker after results, life without work would be unendurable."


When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the heart, it becomes wisdom. When that wisdom is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes devotion. Knowledge which has become mature is spoken of as devotion. If it does not get transformed into devotion, such knowledge is useless tinsel.

If Sri Adi Sankara himself who drank the ocean of knowledge as easily as one sips water from the palm of one's hand, sang hymns to develop devotion, it is enough to show that knowledge and devotion are one. No other testimony is needed."

Not much to say at the moment, except:

1) On Iraq, recent events have not changed my opinion that the US was wrong to have invaded in 2002-3, that having invaded the US should have left ASAP, by 2005 or possibly even 2004, and that the US was right to leave in 2011, and should have done so sooner. If the events of 2002-2011 have shown the US was not the solution, the events of 2012-2014 have shown the US is not the problem, or at least is not the cause of all problems. And the American I trust most to assess the current situation is Juan Cole: http://www.juancole.com/

On Ukraine, sadly enough, there's no American offhand that I trust, and I rely on a Russian, Grigory Yavlinsky.

2) I don't like it when people are killed, maimed, tortured, or jailed unnecessarily. And in my opinion, Chelsea Manning and Marissa Alexander, among others, are being jailed, or threatened with jail, unnecessarily.

". . .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?'" 
3) Regarding the 2014 Indian elections,

a) "Modi sweeps into power on wave of majoritarian Isramofascism"  seems wrong to me. The BJP got 31% of the vote. Modi seems to me the result of a passionate minority, and a divided opposition.

b) Modi, like other fascist-leaning leaders like Cheney or Netanyahu, seems  to me to have a thoroughly undeserved reputation for making the trains run on time. (Indeed, in America the hardcore conservatives seem to lack the ability to even build the trains, let alone make them run on time). I'm not the hugest fan of Jayalalithaa, but was glad she was willing to take on the notion of Modi as some kind of economic genius.


c) The main regret I have for Manmohan Singh's time in office is that he did not do more on Kashmir.


d)  "Modigambo Khush Hua". "Hail Modigambo!"

4) I am obviously the last person to criticize content aggregation and aggregators, but surely it becomes at least somewhat problematic when aggregators are paid, and creators are not? The traditional journalist or academic interview seems less exploitative than this type of aggregation, because it's not something created solely by the subject, it's created out of the interaction of two people, interviewer and interviewee. Yes, you may have the right to do it. But there are lots of things you have the right to do, which you should not do, and using someones words when they are not a public figure, and have asked you not to, seems to me to be one of them.

next post: 12/22/2014

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