Friday, March 14, 2008

Ironies in Spitzer's Legacy

In response to glib Glen G's reference to prostitution as a crime without a victim, I give you Nicholas Kristof's NYT piece which first deals with the victimless crime fallacy.

[T]he evidence is overwhelming that, in the United States, prostitution is only very rarely just another career choice. Studies suggest that up to two-thirds of prostitutes have been sexually abused as girls, a majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, one-third have been threatened with death by pimps, and almost half have attempted suicide.

Melissa Farley, a psychologist who has written extensively about the subject, says that girls typically become prostitutes at age 13 or 14. She conducted a study finding that 89 percent of prostitutes urgently wanted to escape the work, and that two-thirds have post-traumatic stress disorder — not a problem for even the most frustrated burger-flipper.

The mortality data for prostitutes is staggering. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a meticulous study finding that the “workplace homicide rate for prostitutes” is 51 times that of the next most dangerous occupation for women, working in a liquor store. The average age of death of the prostitutes in the study was 34.

34! Then he talks about what Spitzer used as a model for his crackdown which was a demand-side "bust-the-John" strategy which was implemented in Sweden.

In contrast, Sweden experimented in 1999 with a radically different approach that many now regard as much more successful: it decriminalized the sale of sex but made it a crime to buy sex. In effect, the policy was to arrest customers, but not the prostitutes.

Some Swedish prostitutes have complained that the policy reduced demand and thus lowered prices, while forcing sex work underground. But the evidence is strong that the new approach reduced trafficking in Sweden, and opinion polls show that Swedes regard the experiment as a considerable success. And the bottom line is that if you want to rape a 13-year-old girl imported from Eastern Europe, you’ll have a much easier time in Amsterdam than in Stockholm.

I love the fact that Kristof sees prostitution for what it is: a form of rape. Maybe I'll send him a Travis Bickle action figure.

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Pi Day

Not July 22, bloke.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Jesus taught me how to love the HELL out of my enemies"

Sooooooo... do you think Obama will say "all my skinfolk ain't my kinfolk" about this guy, his former minister for years?

And question: who called Obama a [N-word]? Answer: his black friends. Maybe even his minister.

My bro lives in Chicago, and he told me that everyone over there knows the radical racist nature of this church.


"The call girl at the center of the prostitution scandal that prompted Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign in disgrace has been identified as a 22-year-old aspiring musician who struggled in a broken home as a child."

From a broken home? I'm shocked.

Dennis Hurley as "Sam"

This is every bit as funny as For Your Consideration.

Response to Esquire and Everybody

Obama "floats like a butterfly"

Here's David Davenport's Townhall commentary email:

I recently realized that Barack Obama is the Muhammad Ali of presidential politics.

You remember when traditional fighters stood in the middle of the ring and tried to hit Ali, they rarely could because, as he put it, he floated like a butterfly. Ali said he was too pretty to be hit, that your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see.

That captures Barack Obama who, so far, has floated like Ali above the fray of traditional politics. We don't know where he stands, which has been part of his appeal. Amazingly, Obama himself wrote that he serves "as a blank screen on which people of vastly different stripes project their own views."

With Hillary Clinton's and Obama's views so similar, the Democratic primary has not forced him to stand and fight on policies and positions. Perhaps when he meets a Republican contender in the fall, he will have to come down to earth and actually tell us what he stands for.

I'm wary of saying that his magic is simply going to dissipate overnight if he gets nominated. He'll definitely have to change tactics, but the campaign will have gained incredible prestige and momentum at that point, having defeated Clinton. He does sound less confident to me when the teleprompter is off, and I'm hoping that his vacuous rhetoric is more widely recognized as such. But I'm not betting the bank on it. I had no idea he'd be ahead at this point -- maybe I misoverestimated Hillary's powers.

By the way, Muhammad Ali is a Muslim. As far as I know.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You're not doing anything, look this up for me please

Hey, I'm too lazy to look this up right now, but I know that Chesterton wrote a Father Brown mystery where there was a 14-step program guy who freaks out because he's secretly an alcoholic. What's the name of that mystery? I'm pretty sure it's Father Brown and not the Hardy Boys.

Thanks in advance.

Caption Contest for Chimpy McSpitzer

Also regarding the "Client #9" jokes, remember that at the height of the Beatles' drug experimentation they recorded the song "Revolution Number 9" which, when you played it backwards said "Turn me on, Dead Man". It turns out that Spitzer is the "dead man", not Paul McCartney, who looks as if he might outlive all the rest of the Liverpool lads. BTW, Ringo has a new album out.

2006 Spitzer ad: "Responsibility Road"


Here's a clever comment from the youtube page: ""I began my journey on Scumbag Street... made a left down Abuse of Power Avenue.... turned onto the Hooker Highway... and eventually, once I walked down the wrong way, ended up on Resignation Road."

"Is Julie there?"

This three word sentence has Rod in an absolute tizzy. I honestly don't know what the hell he is talking about.

Geraldine Ferraro's comments: "If Obama was a white man..."

Wowwwwww... I guess GF can say this because she's not a white man. It still seems risky to me, but what do I know? The Clintons are accurate calculators.

Clinton campaign finance committee member, former vice presidential candidate, and former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-NY, told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Ca., that, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Of Clinton, Ferraro said that the press "has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign."

"I was reading an article that said young Republicans are out there campaigning for Obama because they believe he's going to be able to put an end to partisanship. Dear God! Anyone that has worked in the Congress knows that for over 200 years this country has had partisanship - that's the way our country is."

I suppose that this rings true with most people, especially the first sentence. The line about "He happens to be very lucky to be who he is," is absolutely silly and plays on envy, but it probably elicits mindless head-nods from the mindless audience.

Maybe Hillary is playing a game of "I-dare-you-cross-this-line" and she is hoping he hops into a gender-bait tank and drives straight toward her race-bait tank. I must admit that the ensuing game of chicken would be satisfying to watch and I would route for neither one to swerve.

Hat Tip: the Snob.

Glenn Greenwald: Prostitution is a victimless crime

I didn't realize that! But here it is in his defense of Eliot Spitzer:

Hiring a prostitute is "reprehensible"? I wonder what adjective Sloan would use for a crime with an actual victim.

Hey everybody, these girls like their jobs. They're not victims!

Later in the article, Greenwald describes a "prostitution ring" (his scare-quotes) as a "small business that brokers meetings" shortly before he opines that the prostitution laws should be abolished. Viva Las Vegas.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fun With Grammar

You know how you aren't supposed to end a sentence with a preposition? Well a good friend of mine here at school want to use that rule to make satirical bumper stickers for Barack Obama that say one of two things:

- Change [in which] you can believe[].


- Change you can believe in [sic].

The Death of Civil Discourse

First of all, thanks to Pauli for allowing me to contribute to this forum. Secondly, my apologies for taking so long to write my first post. Last week was a bear and this weekend I was out of town and away from my computer since I was attending the annual Federalist Society Student Symposium at the University of Michigan Law School -- which brings me to the topic of my first post.

This Saturday morning, as I and some other symposium attendees made our way down the sidewalk to the law school to attend the first panel discussion of the day, we spotted about 15 people picketing in front of the school with signs in their hand. They were shouting a chant about demanding equality and affirmative action for school admission. It turned out that one of the speakers on the opening panel was Ward Connerly. Connerly is the black activist who is best known for leading the charge in California and Michigan to get ballot initiatives passed that made race based admission illegal for state schools. The fact that he is black makes him a target of particular scorn for supporters of racial quotas.

The protesters were invited inside to attend the panel discussion – this turned out to be a mistake. First, it should be noted that the panel topic was “Kelo, Grutter, and Popular Responses to Unpopular Decisions” and the discussion was not supposed to be specifically about the rightness or wrongness of affirmative action. Rather the panel members were speaking more broadly on the topic of what happens when the people respond – often in the form of a ballot initiative – to Supreme Court decisions they don’t like. Kelo referred to the notorious eminent domain case in which the high Court found that a city could force property holders to sell their property in order to transfer it to developers. Grutter was the case that upheld the constitutionality of the University of Michigan’s admission policy of giving racial minorities preferential treatment. Both decisions faced widespread popular criticism and both have resulted in laws being passed in multiple states that attempt to address the widely perceived deficiencies of those cases.

As I saw the protesters being led into the room, I naively thought to myself, “This is good. They will have a chance to see the kind of open minded debate we promote at the Federalist Society.” (Contrary to what most people think, the Federalist Society is quite good about getting a diversity of opinions represented at its events. More than anything else, the Federalist Society is motivated by the desire to foster good debate.) I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within minutes of Ward Connerly’s opening remarks members of the protest group began shouting out remarks and rhetorical questions. The panel moderator was Justice Robert Young, Jr of the Michigan Supreme Court. Justice Young is also a black conservative and he began admonishing the unruly protesters telling them (and I’m paraphrasing), “You must allow Mr. Connerly a chance to speak. Then we will have a time of questions and answers in which you may participate. That’s how civilized people discuss things.” His words had enough of an effect that they behaved themselves relatively well for the remainder of the speech. But at question and answer time things got wild. The protesters all lined up behind the microphones that had been set up for audience participation and proceeded to filibuster with long attacks on Connerly that were only cut short by the moderator’s demand for a question. They all identified themselves as members of a BAMN and acronym for By Any Means Necessary. This should tell you all you really need to know about these people. A visit to their website reveals that they have made quite a career out of harassing Connerly. Members of BAMN told the rest of the crowd that we all wanted to return to the days of Jim Crow and one participant declared that BAMN “was the only ones telling the truth in this room.”

I am certainly not the first to bemoan the decline of civil debate. The emergence of Bush Derangement Syndrome and its rhetorical excesses have been widely discussed. But at a personal level this event was particularly distressing. Seeing so up close and personal that the possibility of persuasion was entirely non-existent with these people was incredibly frustrating.

It seems that discussion in contemporary society takes the form of one of two extremes: either it embraces a soft relativism in which no one is wrong, everyone’s right and we don’t want to offend anyone by declaring an opinion too boldly. And at the other end is the irrational and disrespectful shouting of the kind engaged in by BAMN where you automatically assume bad faith on the part of anyone that disagrees with you. I can’t quite flesh it out the way I’d like but I can’t help but wonder if these aren’t two sides of the same coin. Modern relativism has made it impossible for two people to vigorously disagree with each other and try to make strong cases for their position. At the same time, when disagreements do occur they do not take the form of rational arguments but rather are loud shouting matches in which you assume the worst in you opponent . It is no coincidence that the rowdy group called themselves “By Any Means Necessary” – in other words reason and persuasion are not the tools they use for bringing change. Brute force is.

Remember when Cardinal Ratzinger talked about the dictatorship of relativism? Maybe he was on to something . . .

A Sincere Request for Clarification

This shifty Rezko character who's on trial currently in Chicago is buddies with Barack Obama and helped broker his house deal. Here is an article about the irregularities involved. My question is this: "What is the big deal?"

The sellers in this case seem to me to be making a weird request, and the Obamas and this guy got creative in order to buy the stupid house. House sellers are not all weird, but the ones I've had to deal with have been. I can't say I've put a gun up to anyone's head and said "Sign the f___ing paper or you're dead," but I can't say it's never crossed my mind. I suppose that would definitely be illegal, right? Legal types, weigh in.