Archive

  • Lap Dances

    While I'm talking about N+1 , this critical analysis of lap dances and strip clubs they published is one of my favorite articles of all time. And I read a lot of articles. It's well-written, blisteringly intelligent, and almost annoyingly perceptive. What is being sold in the showroom of Sapphire is not a car but … what exactly? Sexual arousal? That can be had for far less with a few clicks of the remote back at the hotel. What your $20 gets you is, yes, the closer approximation of sex, the physical presence of the woman, but also, perhaps more crucially, her undivided attention. The lap dance occupies a middle ground between pornography and prostitution, and its affinity with the second lies in the fact that a kind of relationship is created, however brief and pathetic. When one of my friends was in the midst of a dance, a few feet from me, I sometimes felt I should turn away, that watching had become an indecent intrusion. I've been remiss not linking to it before -- an oversight...
  • Don't Fear the Blogs

    AO Scott, in his otherwise-impressive piece on The Believer and N+1 , offers a fairly bizarre attack, or at least characterization, of blogs: At a time when older forms of media are supposedly being swallowed up by newer ones, the impulse to start the kind of magazine Partisan Review was in the late 1930's or The Paris Review was in the 50's might look contrarian, even reactionary. If you are an overeducated (or at least a semi-overeducated) youngish person with a sleep disorder and a surfeit of opinions, the thing to do, after all, is to start a blog. There are no printing costs, no mailing lists, and the medium offers instant membership in a welcoming herd of independent minds who will put you in their links columns if you put them in yours. Blogs embody and perpetuate a discourse based on speed, topicality, cleverness and contention - all qualities very much ascendant in American media culture these days. To start a little magazine, then...is, at least in part, to lodge a protest...
  • No Good Options

    A suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowd of Shiites today, shredding more 80 people and wounding 150 others. Elsewhere, gunmen dragged 17 people out of their homes in Taji, killing them on their stoops. All this on top a few mortar blasts, some shootings, carjackings ending in gunshot deaths, and all the rest of the Hobbesian chaos "freedom" has brought. We can't win if we can't stop this. And we can't, it seems, stop this. So long as our forces fail to secure the country, we will be failed occupiers, not heralds of civic utopia. And so long as we can't secure this country, the men and woman within it will want us out, if for no other reason than because a change might, might calm the random killings. And even if our absence didn't bring peace in its vacuum, the shiites, freed from our direction, could launch war against the Sunnis, a response that'd at least erase the feeling of powerlessness in the face of constant assaults. And so President Talabani, while grinning and...
  • Yes, I Can

    Prof. Bainbridge has an interesting thought experiment for you: Can you imagine what it'll be like when a big-time blawgger like Reynolds, Althouse, or any of the Volokh Conspirators get nominated? Why yes, yes I can:
  • Tread Water

    Dahlia Lithwick on today's hearings : John Roberts is putting on a clinic. He completely understands that he needs only to sit very quietly, head cocked to signal listening-ness, while senator after senator offers long discursive rambling speeches. Only when he's perfectly certain that a question has been asked does he offer a reply; usually cogent and spare. Here's a man long accustomed to answering really hard questions from extremely smart people, suddenly faced with the almost-harder task of answering obvious questions from less-smart people. He finds himself standing in a batting cage with the pitching machine set way too slow. [...] in the end, these hearings are perfectly matched. Roberts wants to say little and literally fade to black. The senators want to give speeches and seize the limelight. It's a match made in heaven. It's just the watching it that's hell.
  • Good

    Roberts: "There's no question that there should be equal pay for equal work." After the comparative worth questions raised by his papers, I'm damn glad to hear him affirm that. Update: Jeff Sessions is now berating Roberts for being too forthcoming, begging him to promise he's not yet decided how he'd rule on Roe , is referencing polling data saying that Roe lacks widespread support and should be overturned, and is now citing law articles and periodicals saying Roe is bad precedent . He's trying to convince Roberts to overturn Roe and begging him not to assume that's it's "settled law". It's a very odd exchange and one that looks aimed at reassuring unsettled conservatives. Jeff Sessions, incidentally, strikes me as an idiot. I don't mean ideologically objectionable (though he is that), I mean dumb. Update 2: Huh, Wonkette noticed the same thing vis-a-vis Sessions' IQ. Update 3: Feingold is by far the most effective, articulate, knowledgeable, and concise questioner on the Committee...
  • Help Me Help You!

    Nobody really noticed this yesterday, but The Washington Post had an article about a major lobbyist experiencing a Jerry McGuire-style epiphany after Katrina and embarking on a crusade against his profession: Frederick L. Webber, a longtime denizen of Washington's lobbying corridor, showed up at work one day last week and found on his desk a dozen fundraising requests from members of Congress. He threw them all in the trash. In a self-described epiphany, Webber, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, drafted a large check to help families displaced by Hurricane Katrina and decided that an imperative of his vocation -- political giving -- had finally gone too far. [...] Webber told K Street colleagues that radical change is needed in election laws: Donations should be further limited, campaign seasons should be shortened and lawmakers, somehow, should be freed up to do more legislating and less soliciting. [...] "Members of Congress are trapped. They have to continue to...
  • On Opacity

    I'm hearing a lot of concern that Roberts could be lying through his hearings, saying what Senators want to hear to provoke them into confirming him. I wrote about this awhile back (it's possible), but have slightly revised my opinion. The first point, of course, is yes, he can do exactly that and there's nothing we can do to stop him. In that way, we're back at the old "elections matter" adage. When Republicans get elected, they're going to nominate judges. When we're in the minority, we can't block them all. If they want to lie during confirmation, they can. We're up a creek here. Nevertheless, there are some reasons for optimism. here are a few: • Scalia, Thomas and others faced a Democratic Senate, giving them significantly more reason to lie. Roberts would do more to assure confirmation by appealing to the Republican majority rather than the Democratic minority. His moderation on Roe has got folks concerned over at Free Republic and is certainly doing the same through the...
  • Not To Be Stingy With Credit, But...

    Mark Schmitt writes : The president's popularity dipped into the low 40s, and they passed the energy bill anyway -- what more proof do you need that the president's poll numbers hardly matter, if you control the instutions? At least a bit more. The President won reelection but couldn't pass privatization -- what more proof do you need that control of the institutions hardly matter? I've been seeing the occasional emergence of some strange conservative checklist wherein CAFTA, energy bill and highway bill means he's been an effective second term president, poll numbers and ideological failures be damned! Well, maybe. But I think not. When you control the institutions of government, I think it's basically assumed that you'll be able to ram your way to success in the more basic responsibilities of the presidency. The highway and energy bills fit that -- they're basically infrastructure adjustment acts larded with pork to attract legislator support. They're bad, sure, but not bad in the...
  • Roberts

    So far as Bush nominees go, Roberts' answer on Roe was significantly more encouraging than anything I was expecting. Further, his fairly expansive view of privacy rights within the Constitution is quite comforting. We'll see how the hearings evolve, but as of now, I'm fairly impressed.

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