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Legalize it?

[ 0 ] January 14, 2008 |

Via Matt, Radley Balko and Kerry Howley discuss some data that supports my inclination to decriminalize and regulate prostitution. Because sex workers engaged in illegal activity can’t go to the police, they face the Hobson’s Choice of violent assault from their customers or violent assault from pimps. And, worse, police with the arbitrary power to arrest prostitutes at their discretion take advantage of this by raping prostitutes with disturbing frequency. And because illegal prostitution isn’t regulated, 80% of the johns don’t use condoms. All of these problems, as Balko says, seems pretty directly tied to criminalization.

On the other hand, decriminalization isn’t a panacea. Brad Plumer points out that legalization led to increased trafficking, doesn’t stop many sex workers from feeling coerced and unsafe, and brothels proved difficult to regulate. This doesn’t fully convince me because these problem seem like they could be at least partially addressed by more careful regulatory regimes whereas the problems of criminalization seem inevitable. But as an alternative, Brad suggests the Swedish model of criminalizing the buying but not the selling of sex, which would at least eliminate many of the perverse incentives of criminalization. The Swedish model also “provided ample social service funds for helping any prostitute who wanted to get out of the business to do so, as well as funds for educating the public.” This system has its own serious flaws, although it would seem better than the American status quo. The depressing lesson here seems to be that given existing gender inequities we’re choosing among least bad policy options.



[ 0 ] January 14, 2008 |

Mithras has dug up more examples of Pat Oliphant misogynist war on Hillary Clinton. I think I need a shower. And I don’t think he’d be able to keep his job if he dealt in similar stereotypes with respect to Obama.

…maybe that last sentence was too optimistic.

"A liberal fascist is one who won’t take his own side in a putsch."

[ 2 ] January 14, 2008 |

I suppose we would be obligated to link to the post because of the title alone, but Spackerman does a good job in pointing out the feeble response of the NYT public editor to the hiring of someone who quite recently said that his new editors were traitors who belong in jail.

Although He Probably Shouldn’t Have Taken Her New Single "Don’t Get Rid of the Ball When You’re Surrounded By Four Defenders" At Face Value

[ 19 ] January 14, 2008 |

I yield in nobody in my hatred of the Cowboys, but the “why did Tony Romo go to the beach with a woman inexplicably seen as a platonic ideal of beauty by many American men during a bye week?” controversy is so stupid it could have been invented by Maureen Dowd herself. Take the normally much more astute William Rhoden:

That’s why, given everything at stake, I was puzzled by Romo’s decision to go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with Jessica Simpson during the Cowboys’ bye week.

I know, I know: on the surface this is not a big thing. Cabo isn’t all that far from Dallas. Still, the decision to make the trip sent an odd message to his teammates: I’m at least as focused, if not more focused, on celebrity than winning this playoff game. The message to the Giants was, We’ve beaten you twice already; the third meeting at our house will be a day at the beach.

Immaturity, poor decision-making and misplaced priorities.

When Romo was hatching his plans, I wonder if he stopped and asked himself: I wonder how Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are spending their bye weeks? Brady, of the Patriots, spent most of his time in New York with his girlfriend, and the Packers’ Brett Favre spent time in Mississippi.

Two of the great quarterbacks in N.F.L. history kept low profiles. I don’t know where Manning was — which is instructive in itself — but I’d be willing to wager that he wasn’t hanging out on a beach in Mexico.

Or to rephrase this without changing a single fact:

While Tony Romo spent a quiet couple of days out of the glare of the Dallas media spotlight in a remote location with his girlfriend and her family, Tom Brady spent two days carousing swank Manhattan nightclubs with supermodel Gisele Bündchen, proving that he is immature and cares more about celebrity than his team. Heavens to Betsy, what misplaced priorities! Tom Brady is Teh suxxor!

But I’m sure if Romo had decided to vacation in Branson, the Giants wouldn’t have been especially motivated to get to the NFC Championship game…


[ 0 ] January 13, 2008 |

With an enormous amount of writing to do but three sporting events of interest, I decided to use the predictive powers for which I am justly famous and take my laptop to a cafe during the crappy-looking Colts/Chargers game — bringing a radio to listen to the first half as long as it was close — then use the first half of Cowboys/Giants for a gym/dinner break and then work in front of the Flames/Oilers game on the teevee in the evening.

I suppose this was the inevitable result. Not that I’m sold on Norv Turner — the team last year was better in the regular season and would have won the playoff game in which they were the much better team if they could have just knocked down Brady’s 4th down pass rather than run with the pick — but to beat a great team on the road with his starting QB injured in the 4th quarter and his star running back also hurt, you can’t deny him his credit. (Also, TV watchers may disagree, but Marv and Fossel seemed to suggest that the Bolts were getting consistently screwed by the officiating.)

Victorian Sexist of the Day

[ 14 ] January 13, 2008 |

Caitlin Flanagan.

Or Pat Oliphant. Wow.

Update by bean: As the Germans would say, two blockheads, one thought.

"Oh, oh, oh, your "nostalgia" file. That’s swell, because I don’t have to eat this month."

[ 0 ] January 12, 2008 |

Dear Coach Holmgren,

I agree that it would really be nice if Shaun Alexander was still an NFL-caliber running back. But he’s not. What could possibly compel you to give the ball twice in a row to a guy who couldn’t break through a cardboard cutout of an NFL player in a crucial red zone possession? Seriously, has Herm Edwards secretly taken over the offense?


P.S. Speaking of cardboard cutouts standing in for defenders, I guess we now know that the apparently good Seahwaks defense was wholly a product of the feeble schedule; that was beyond embarrassing. Do these stiffs ever get a third down stop? Ever? The Irritating Narcissist could have a 3rd-and-42 with 8 guys on the field and convert.

NFL Playoff Thread

[ 17 ] January 12, 2008 |

There’s probably not much point in detailed explanations for each game, because my take mirrors the consensus so closely. I don’t see either AFC game as being competitive, and don’t think Jacksonville and (especially) the Chargers — probably without Gates and definitely with Norv Turner — will even cover the large spreads. The Giants/Cowboys game is tricky, and not only because if forces me to cheer for the Giants. If healthy, the Cowboys will win easily, but if Romo and Owens are a lot less than 100% — who knows. Given Owens’s performance after a much more serious injury in the Super Bowl and because I don’t believe in Manning (although he did play very well last week, and the Cowboys are vulnerable to his ability to hit Burress deep) I’d pick the Cowboys to cover, but I wouldn’t actually bet on the game unless you had some inside injury information.

Which leaves us with Seattle/Green Bay. While the Seahawks used to be very underrated, that’s no longer really the case; they seem to be a trendy upset pick. Based strictly on this year’s performance, that’s probably not really justified; the Packers have been better against a much tougher schedule. And Hasselbeck’s performance against the Redskins doesn’t inspire confidence. If I wanted to be optimistic, I would say that 1)the biggest difference between this Seattle team and the Super Bowl team is that the pass defense is better and the running game is worse, and in the modern game the former is a lot more important, and 2)they have a high-INT secondary against a QB prone to making low-odds throws. On the other hand, Green Bay seems to have the ability to neutralize Seattle’s pass rush, which is a serious problem. I guess I’d take the 8 points and pick Seattle, but probably expect Green Bay to win the game outright.

…can’t complain about that start!

…Except for the whole Deion Branch getting injured thing.

Matthews Misogyny

[ 9 ] January 12, 2008 |

It’s good that the severe gender issues of MSNBC’s election night anchor are finally getting some attention. The whole piece is worth reading, but I think Jamison Foer makes the key point here:

Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn’t hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs — and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.

And then there’s Matthews’ fixation on Hillary Clinton’s “ambition.” In December 1999, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hardball to discuss Clinton’s Senate campaign. Matthews asked Wolfson eight consecutive questions about whether Clinton was “ambitious.” Finally, Matthews said, “People who seek political power are ambitious by definition,” leading Wolfson to tell him: “if you say so. If it will make you happy, I’ll agree.” If Matthews has ever displayed as much interest in the “ambition” of male candidates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mike Huckabee, he has done so in private.

Right. Somehow St. McCain’s extensive adultery, benefiting from family connections, and ambition strong enough that according to Matt Welch’s new book he bought a house in an Arizona congressional district the day the incumbent retired never get Matthews’s attention, but the fact that Clinton’s husband committed adultery is supposed to be a major issue. And I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with ignoring these aspects of McCain — accusing a presidential candidate of ambition is tautological — but the double standard couldn’t be more glaring.

The Vote Fraud Fraud

[ 2 ] January 11, 2008 |

More from Amanda Terkel.

The Case Against Clinton

[ 59 ] January 11, 2008 |

Publius, while accepting the validity of grievances against the frequently sexist coverage of her campaign, tries to make it. To me, #1 remains the most persuasive. I think Obama might have a marginally more progressive domestic policy, but the differences are narrow enough that this could be mistaken. But it’s hard for me to get around the fact that Clinton completely botched the most important issue of the Bush era. (Moreover, I’m not willing to assume that her vote for the war was an “insincere political gamble;” that’s possible, but I think we have to accept the possibility that she voted for the war because she supported the war.) See also Ann Friedman on this issue.

And her pro-war vote is not merely problematic on the merits; it’s also bad politics. On the “Clinton electability” issue, as Ygelsias says Drum is narrowly right but takes on only the weakest version of the argument. I have never argued that Clinton is “unelectable,” and it’s likely that the structural conditions in November will make any Democratic candidate a favorite over any Republican. But this doesn’t mean that Clinton/McCain isn’t the worst plausible matchup for the Democrats. And even assuming that head-to-head polls aren’t useful at this point, the fact that Clinton took the Republican position on the most important issue and hence will be unable to exploit an issue that should favor the Dems will surely be a problem. And there are a variety of other areas in which Obama has more upside. Obama has the ability to mobilize voters who generally turn out in relatively smaller numbers, while Clinton’s core constituency (older women) already votes at disproportionately high levels. And while we don’t know for certain that Obama’s lower negatives and favorable media coverage will hold up, the worst that can happen is dropping to Clinton’s levels, and it’s more likely that he would be a better candidate than Clinton in those areas. (And I’m not arguing that conservatives won’t attack Obama; the question is how much right-wing critiques will penetrate the mainstream media and swing voters.)

Now, if you want to argue that given a candidate than can win a primary “electability” is just too unpredictable a factor to be meaningful, that’s fair enough; but I don’t really see a good progressive case for Clinton on the merits either.

"I’m not a Hillary supporter, but …"

[ 13 ] January 10, 2008 |

Rebecca Traister explains her one-day support for Clinton in response to her sexist trashing by the media. Violet Socks describes it in fiction form.

While it’s hard to establish definitively, it does seem likely that the egregious sexism of the media played at least some role in Clinton’s win.

…relatedly, a blogger at Swampland (via) is inventing a mythical catfight between Pelosi and Clinton because…another (male) member of Congress endorsed Obama. I’m serious. Expect her on the Times op-ed page — if it’s still in business — within the decade unless they decide to give it to Althouse or Camille Paglia instead. The first commenter: “Someday political historians will write books on the damage done to political journalism by the legacy of Maureen Dowd. This will be good for at least a footnote for somebody.” Indeed.

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