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  • TAKE TWO. Let...

    TAKE TWO. Let me try to explain this again. I was quoting Concerned Women for America . They and other conservative groups have, in recent years, written extensively about why even "perfectly ordinary hookers" should be considered slaves, and they have hailed President Bush for his leadership on this issue. According to Elaine McGinnis of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at CWA : President Bush has stated in several speeches �� most notably in one at the United Nations �� that �prostitution is inherently harmful to women.� There has been a growing consensus on the cultural right that prostitution is never a victimless crime, and that even in the United States, it is mainly something that depends on the exploitation of vulnerable and abused young girls and women. In their effort to redescribe prostitution as a form of human slavery, cultural conservatives are in sync with a number of feminist anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking activists. Laura Blumenfeld wrote about this effort in The...
  • IT'S ONLY CORRECT...

    IT'S ONLY CORRECT IF IT'S TRUE. Well, no, I wasn't really kidding about not seeing why commercial sex adds wrongfulness to allegations of corruption. Stipulating that taking bribes is bad; I don't see why taking bribes in the form of free hookers is worse than taking bribes in the form of money. Nor do I quite understand what Garance is saying about prostitution being "a form of slavery." There definitely is some sex slavery going on in the world. At the same time, some of the world's agricultural laborers are slaves (and, historically, this has been the primary use of slave labor), but clearly working on a farm isn't a form of slavery unless you're actually working on a farm as a slave . As far as I know, there's no evidence that the women involved in this aren't just perfectly ordinary hookers trying to engage in a voluntary exchange of sex for money. --Matthew Yglesias
  • ROZEN HEARS THINGS....

    ROZEN HEARS THINGS. Folks will want to be checking out Laura Rozen 's blog right about now for the latest on Porter Goss . She's hearing things. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • WHERE'S THE BEEF?...

    WHERE'S THE BEEF? There is a lot of good material in The New Republic 's Darfur package and I don't want to sound churlish. But one of Mark 's points deserves some emphasizing. In eight articles dedicated to the subject and collectively dedicated to building the case for armed American action in Darfur, not one of them outlines, straightforwardly and at longer length than one or two sentences, an actual plan (or possible plans) for an American armed intervention in the Sudan that the magazine would endorse. I looked twice and couldn't find such a proposal. So let's lower our standards a bit: Do any of these articles even in crude or broad terms engage any of the second-step considerations and worries about intervening? Questions about what the end game would be here (occupation? partition of the country?) and worries about backlash and how another invasion of a Muslim country might be perceived by people in the Third World -- that kind of thing? Aside from Samantha Power 's astute but...
  • THE CORRECT PHRASE...

    THE CORRECT PHRASE IS SEXUAL SLAVERY. There�s lots of talk on the liberal blogs about Porter Goss 's sudden resignation as director of the CIA and whether it has anything to due with the burgeoning investigation into the prostitution/congressional corruption/homeland security contracting scandal centered around Brent Wilkes and deposed Congressman Duke Cunningham . ThinkProgress, as usual, has rounded up the relevant details and links. Earlier this week, Matt asked , "But though the hooker angle obviously sexes the story up for media consumption, what does it matter? Commercial sex hardly seems more wrongful than public corruption." Obviously, he was joking, but there's a lot more at stake in "the hooker angle" than just a sex scandal, if you think that prostitution is not a victimless crime. And a lot of evangelical conservatives, the heart and soul of Bush 's base, have come to believe that it is not. They believe that prostitution is, in the words of Concerned Women for America, "a...
  • HOOKERGATE'S FIRST VICTIM!...

    HOOKERGATE'S FIRST VICTIM! I have absolutely no evidence to support this, other than the fact that it involves the CIA, but since everyone else is speculating that Porter Goss 's resignation has something to do with the Wade/Wilkes/Cunningham/Foggo/limos/hookers nexus, why shouldn't I join the party, too? But instead of all this unwarranted speculation, how about tossing out a downright insane idea: Maybe George W. Bush is just clearing the decks for a major address next week in which he'll come clean about the WMD issue. Ah, Friday fun. --Matthew Yglesias
  • MEDIA WARRIORS. The...

    MEDIA WARRIORS. The New York Observer media blog The Transom issues a declaration of war against Salon. Much hilarity sure to ensue. This item explaining the declaration, though, is right on: WHEREAS, Ms. Walsh cannot perceive what Observer senior editor Tom Scocca has since dubbed The Inverse Dean Scream Effect�the inverse part being that the Dean Scream made total contextual sense to those in attendance at that long-ago post-caucus rally in Iowa but only appeared ludicrous in endless media transmissions, whereas Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents Association Dinner routine was hilarious and sense-making in transcript yet not, according to attendees such as Mr. Lehmann, really at all funny in person, and; That about sums it up. Sometimes the facts really do look different on the ground. And now, thanks to Scocca, we have a name for that phenomenon. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • DEMS ARE --...

    DEMS ARE -- GASP! -- STAYING ON OFFENSE. It was refreshing to read the toughly worded statement DSCC chief Chuck Schumer put out today about the AP poll which showed far more Americans want Democrats to run Congress. Said Schumer: The chickens are coming home to roost. An administration that is incompetent on both domestic and foreign affairs, doesn�t care about the average person and puts special interests ahead of everyday families desperately needs a counterbalance in Congress. The only way to achieve that kind of balance is to elect more Democrats and the American people see that more clearly everyday. The key here is this: To the extent Dems are the ones nationalizing the midterm elections on their terms -- exactly what Schumer is doing here by saying that only electing Democrats can check the awful damage the Bush presidency is inflicting -- they will be ones playing offense, and they will be the party with the initiative. If the GOP succeeds in nationalizing the election with...
  • MORE TNR...

    MORE TNR DARFUR, FEWER KUDOS. One of my favorite public intellectuals, Samantha Power , also pens an excellent essay which raises a crucial point that will likely make some of the Iraq war hawks who roam the halls of TNR rather uncomfortable. Thanks to the war in Iraq, sending a sizable U.S. force to Darfur is not an option. Units in Iraq are already on their third tours, and the crumbling Afghan peace demands ever-more resources. Moreover, sending Americans into another Islamic country is unadvisable, given the ease with which jihadis could pour across Sudan's porous and expansive borders. Making Darfur a magnet for foreign fighters or yet another front in the global proxy war between the United States and Al Qaeda would just compound the refugees' woes. I am glad that Power was able to sneak in these lines. Because, for an issue entirely dedicated to the Darfur genocide, there is surprisingly little in the way of specific remedial policy proposals, let alone ones that recognize the...
  • KUDOS TO...

    KUDOS TO KATZ. Marisa Katz �s contribution to The New Republic �s Darfur issue stands out as the issue's must-read piece. She writes an update of a trend in the Bush administration�s Sudan policy that I identified in the Prospect a year ago. Back then, the administration was hastily working to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Accord (between the North and South) was implemented. So as not to upset these negotiations, the administration appeased Khartoum in a policy that bore the hallmarks of creeping rapprochement with the regime. Through kid-glove diplomacy and subtle winks and nods, such as upgrading Sudan�s sexual slavery status and granting a waiver to a K Street lobbyist to take Khartoum on as a client, the administration treated the regime in Khartoum as a partner in peace instead of like the criminals that they are. Katz unpacks this policy very thoroughly. To her account of diplomatic fumbles, however, I would also add Robert Zoellick �s first trip to Khartoum , where...

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