LOOK OUTWARD. I�ve admired Katha Pollitt�s work for years and was thrilled to see she took the time to respond to my essay on the lack of women opinion columnists. Pollitt makes some excellent points; indeed, Gail Collins was hardly the sole decision maker when it came to hiring and promoting New York Times columnists. That�s why I wanted to take the focus off Collins and ask some larger questions about the significance of the debate on women in journalism.


    BAD OMEN. There's a great moment near the beginning of the movie Tootsie, in which Dustin Hoffman and his agent are arguing about a play that Hoffman's roommate has written for him. In the play, Hoffman is to play a man who moves back into the toxin-poisoned neighborhood of Love Canal. The agent (played by director Sidney Pollack) finally explodes, "Nobody will pay to watch people living next to chemical waste. They can see that in New Jersey."

    This came to mind earlier this afternoon when, while listening to Al Franken's radio program, he told me to stay tuned to hear from Howard Fineman.

    Good god, Al. Howard Fineman?


    SEPERATE AND UNEQUAL. To follow up on my general concerns about federal rules intended to make single-sex education more common, Brad Plumer cites the details of the ACLU's suit against gender-based education in Louisiana, which persuasively cites evidence that this education reinforces gender sterotypes. More concerns expressed here and here.


    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BATTLESTAR GALACTICONS. Sadly, No!'s Brad Reed analyzes the pervasive and frightening phenomenon of sci-fi-influenced conservative foreign policy punditry. Galacticons, dorko-fascists, and jingonauts -- read the whole thing, it's an eye-opening assessment.

    --The Editors


    TRYING TO STEELE YOUR VOTE. They just love to distort. Michael Steele's got a new ad featuring his sister defending his position on stem cell research. "There�s something you should know about Michael Steele," she says. "He does support stem cell research, and he cares deeply for those who suffer from disease. How do I know? I�m Michael Steele�s little sister. I have MS, and I know he cares about me." Anyone remember this?


    AFGHAN WIGS. Rob, I liked your piece defending the worthy invasion of Afghanistan. If I can make one criticism: early in the piece you ask, "If we�ve come to the conclusion now that the Iraq invasion was a mistake, then how do we evaluate the disaster on the other side of Iran?" I don't see how a reevaluation of Afghanistan follows from the disaster in Iraq, except as something of an academic exercise. For the reasons that you ably explain, these are really different wars, with really different objectives and fought for really different reasons.

  • IF YOU LIKE...

    IF YOU LIKE THE WAR ON (SOME CLASSES OF PEOPLE WHO USE SOME) DRUGS, YOU'LL LOVE ABORTION CRIMINALIZATION. Jill Filipovic, while discussing the incredibly draconian new abortion ban set to be enacted in Nicaragua (which doesn't even have an exemption of the life of the mother), points us to data which reinforces a point that should be central to pro-choice discourse: abortion bans are failures even on their own terms.


    A WEBB OF LIES. A few quick points on the ostensibly grotesque sexual scenes in James Webb's fiction. The first is that it's rather remarkable how few of them there are. The guy's a war novelist -- and somehow, the testosterone pumping through those stories tends to enable no end of pornographic asides. And yet only three of the examples on George Allen's list are actually sexual in nature. One is a scene set in strip club where a stripper mounts a banana. Another has two male prisoners engaging in furtive mutual masturbation. And then there's the the real excerpt:


    WHAT WE DIDN'T DO. Rob, in your piece defending the Afghanistan war, you imply that the massive support the U.S. enjoyed both in that moment and for that mission could've been used to achieve a variety of other goals: Iran, for instance, approached us in the days following, anxious to follow up on their cooperation with a Grand Bargain that would derail their nuclear program in response for security guarantees, better relations, and possible incentives from America. That about right?


    GROW, MY MONSTERS, GROW! Yes, yes, economic growth (or possibly total collapse) is important for keeping the country relatively progressive, satisfied, and welcoming. Ben Friedman's book is genius, and we all forget it at our peril. The one thing about that thesis nobody mentions, though: The distribution of that growth matters.