Archive

  • 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 . The Latin American nations which best reflect the combination of draconian bans, miserly social services, moralistic sex "education," and reactionary gender relations favored by most American pro-life groups also have very high abortion rates, much higher than those in most countries where abortion is not only legal but state-funded. Because affluent women have access to abortion even in regimes far more serious about enforcing bans than the United States ever was , and many women without the connections to get safe abortions will seek them on the black market, abortion...
  • A WEBB OF LIES.

    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 : �A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy�s penis in his mouth.� That seemed a bit odd to me too. It's fiction, to be sure,...
  • WHAT WE DIDN'T DO.

    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? And given that our decapitation of the Taliban made us look strong (while our failed occupation in Iraq made us look weak), we could've bargained from a position of power and intimidation. In some ways, it's always seemed to me that the least forgivable aspects of the Iraq war aren't about the war itself, but the extraordinary moment and opportunities we sacrificed to pursue it. Update: Iran's overtures, I'm reminded, where in the Spring of 2003, so after we'd entered Iraq. The groundwork, as Gareth...
  • GROW, MY MONSTERS,...

    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. If we have a lot of economic growth (as we do now), but it's mostly going to the rich (as it is now), and the middle class is dissatisfied with the economy (as they are now), they're going to, among other thing, hate on the Mexicans (as they're doing now). Much as Friedman would predict. Growth matters, but it's not much without a modicum of just distribution. And right now, we don't have that. It's something the growth-boosters in the audience might want to keep an eye on. Oh, and our growth is also slowing down. So that's two problems. --Ezra Klein
  • TO COMRADE ADELE:...

    TO COMRADE ADELE: Here here ! --Ezra Klein
  • OUTTA DA MARRIAGE BIZ.

    OUTTA DA MARRIAGE BIZ. As a queer native of the Garden State, I applaud the state Supreme Court decision that orders the legislature of my native land to do the right thing and give us our rights. Like Scott , I'm down with the decision of the best damn state supreme court in the land, but perhaps for less thoughtful and realistic reasons: It gives me hope that the government might, one day, get out of the marriage business altogether. Really, folks, marriage is a religious institution in which government has no business, except for the enforcement of the contract inherent in that sacred institution. I say, civil unions for everybody -- straights, gays, transgendered, omnisexuals, whomever -- and let the religious institutions determine on which couples they will confer the blessing of marriage. --Adele M. Stan
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL THE RIGHT WAR.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL THE RIGHT WAR. As the Iraq debacle has continued to lay bare the pitfalls of occupation, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and Western forces remain bogged down there, five years after the initial U.S. invasion. Some observers are now starting to reconsider the wisdom of that war as well. Today, Rob takes up the question of Afghanistan and assesses in retrospect the case for invasion. --The Editors
  • The Economy and the Election: Housing and Stocks

    Those folks wanting to weigh the impact of the economy on the elections next month would well-advised to place more emphasis on yesterday's reported plunge in new home prices than the recent uptick in the stock market. The basic story is simple, most people have far more money in their house than in the stock market. Of course, the reson for the fall is that house prices had gotten out of line due to a speculative bubble. The drop is necessary and inevitable (just like the 2000-2002 stock crash), but it is nonetheless painful as it occurs. It cannot be good for the party in power to have more evidence of a deflating housing bubble just before the election. On a somewhat different topic, it looks like gas prices have turned the corner and may be on their way up again. While I would not anticipate a huge upswing, it wouldn't surprise me if gas prices are 5-10 cents higher by election day. If such a rise takes place, it may put an end to the conspiracy theories about the oil companies...
  • PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE.

    PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE. Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey 's recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural: My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts. Maguire is, of course, correct that the fact that a majority of New Jersey's citizens support civil unions goes only to the questions of whether the decision is "countermajoritarian," and neither here not there in terms of the merits of the opinion. But he doesn't quote the passage where I actually address his point: I would be interested in a more robust explanation of why nominal supporters of gay marriage such as Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds oppose these judicial decisions, which are based on a perfectly...
  • YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT.

    YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT. Ezra , I really, really don't like disagreeing with Peter Bergen on al-Qaeda. You generally should be extremely wary of telling a guy who interviewed bin Laden that he's off-base. But, dude, you asked . Thanks, Ez, you're a good friend. Let me start by saying that Peter is 100 percent right that bin Laden & co. want to take over Iraq. But, to expand a bit on a point that Blake made , "want" and "can" are two different things. Peter may be a bit skewed by his deep knowledge of Afghanistan here. It was pretty easy for al-Qaeda to adapt to a post-Soviet Afghanistan. From the evidence so far, that's really not the case in Iraq: not only do the Iraqi Sunnis really dislike al-Q , but Anbar province has even assembled its own anti-Qaeda death squad . There's only one thing that could stop the Sunnis from fighting al-Qaeda: their greater desire to fight us instead. There's also a Machiavellian aspect here. To be extremely callous (given that we're...

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