aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Spitzer once told Kristoff to write about his prostitution work
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.
Would legalization help?
The Netherlands formally adopted the legalization model in 2000, and there were modest public health benefits for the licensed prostitutes. But legalization nurtured a large sex industry and criminal gangs that trafficked underage girls, and so trafficking, violence and child prostitution flourished rather than dying out.
As a result, the Netherlands is now backtracking on its legalization model by closing some brothels, and other countries, like Bulgaria, are backing away from that approach.
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.
The future is Web Services, not Web Sites
YouTube announced some new API’s—“This is just a geeky acronym for Awesomely Powerful Interactions, which is what users are now capable of performing from just about anywhere”—that Fred Wilson headlines, You cannot be a destination exclusively on the Internet anymore:
If you are not a open web service, you won’t get nearly as far these days. [...]
Twitter launched with this architecture. And it has worked wonderfully for them. Twitter is everywhere.
So if you are building a new web service today, forget about being a destination. Maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t. Don’t fuss about that. Focus on making your service available everywhere. If you do that, you’ll build a much larger user base.
And Steve Rubel says, The Future is Web Services, Not Web Sites:
The leading players on the web all see the train coming. They are wisely creating APIs and turning themselves into plug-and-play services, not just big destinations. YouTube is just the latest to do so today. Amazon has S3. Google has OpenSocial and an extensive library of APIs. As does Microsoft. Facebook is allowing its applications to live outside the site. Twitter is an API first and (eventually) a business model second. Finally, the booming widget economy shows the promise of small content that can go anywhere.
These are the leaders. But everyone - including marketers - will need to think of their online brands not as sites but as portable services that can go anywhere and everywhere the consumer wants. Without such appendages, no brand will ever be able to break through the online clutter such unlimited choice offers.
Samantha Power in The Chronicle
The Chronicle had a piece on Samantha Power yesterday that put her slip of the tongue in kind context. It’s behind a paywall so here’s a fairly long excerpt:
Even for a prominent intellectual cum foreign-policy adviser, Samantha Power has been keeping a punishing schedule.
When she arrived in Europe at the beginning of the month, she had spent the previous few weeks crisscrossing the country on a frenetic hybrid book tour and campaign junket for Barack Obama, for whom she served as an unpaid adviser. In the middle of an interview to promote her new book, the adjunct professor of public policy at Harvard University told a Scottish-newspaper reporter, in an arguably off-the-record moment, that Hillary Clinton was a “monster.”
Power quickly apologized. But within hours, the story exploded across the American news media, and she resigned from the Obama campaign.
Last month, before Power’s Europe trip, I interviewed her. She was a nervous wreck even then. Perched on a stool in the corner of a bustling Washington cafe, leaning close, she confided: “I can’t sleep, and I can’t eat.”
It was a surprising admission. After all, Power seemed to be living a charmed life. One journalist had likened the attractive auburn-haired author (who was recently featured in a glamorous spread in Men’s Vogue) and human-rights activist turned academic to a latter-day Joan of Arc, out to save the world. Another scribe had suggested that Power possessed just the right combination of dynamism and “cerebral bona fides” to make her an appealing presidential candidate. In short, she was the epitome of the academic celebrity.
Pretty heady stuff for a 37-year-old who never claimed to be on the receiving end of direct orders from God or to have given any thought to running for elected office, much less the highest office in the land.
And she seemed to find love on the campaign trail: The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday that Power was dating the fellow-Obama adviser and prolific University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein, soon to join her at Harvard University.
So why the frayed nerves? Simply put, Power is wildly popular. At a recent talk about her new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (Penguin Press)-an admiring biography of the charismatic Brazilian-born United Nations diplomat who was killed in the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad-she was inundated with well-wishers, autograph seekers, and stargazers.
With charisma and ease, she responded to a plethora of questions that included, for example, Obama and the prospect of U.N. reform. Unfailingly polite and personable-and presumably not wanting to alienate potential Obama voters, she went over her allotted time on her tightly packed schedule. She would be playing catch-up for the rest of the day, and she had been operating at that frenetic pace for weeks on end.
When we finally got to sit down and talk at a favorite tea shop of hers, she took a deep breath and explained her frenzy. “In order to do these really big ambitious books you kind of have to stay out of the daily news cycle a little bit, out of the blogosphere,” Power said, fingering her BlackBerry. But, referring to her work for Obama, she added, “I am in that now, and it has been hard to make sure I am ... being an adequate surrogate for a guy I care about so much.”
Power has spent the last 14 months advising Obama on foreign policy. Though she has always been quick to play down her role, according to The Washington Post, she is-make that was-one of the “most influential” figures in the candidate’s brain trust-"part of a group-within-the-group that he regularly turns to for advice.”
The prominently displayed Obama button on her jacket, as well as the way in which her answers to disparate questions always culminated in praise for the Democratic senator from Illinois, made plain the extent to which Power was consumed by Obama’s bid for the White House. “I have always taken my work very, very seriously, but I have never taken anything quite this seriously,” she said. “When you are out there, you just want to do right by him.”
Power had certainly been out there, campaigning for Obama across the country. And in a previous interview with The Chronicle, Power-who is unscripted and forthcoming in conversationâ€”expressed some trepidation that her blunt style would land her in hot water. “That’s the one thing that terrifies me,” Power acknowledged at the time, “that I’ll say something that will somehow hurt the candidate.” How prescient.
Ferraro was wrong. But Kaus makes an interesting point.
I normally side with Sullivan in the running feud he’s got going with Mickey Kaus, but I was no fan of Sullivan’s big, widely applauded Atlantic piece making the transformational case for Barack Obama.
This morning Kaus quotes this passage from Sullivan:
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial-it’s central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power. We have seen the potential of hard power in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. We have also seen its inherent weaknesses in Iraq, and its profound limitations in winning a long war against radical Islam. The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West’s advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this. Which is where his face comes in.
Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man-Barack Hussein Obama-is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
His face. Hello! Mrs. Ferraro? If one of the “formeost” things Obama offers voters is the “face of a brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia, etc.” doesn’t that mean “he would not be in this position if he were white”? If you like Obama because he might “rebrand” America to the world--well, he wouldn’t accomplish that simply by having his election televised, as Sullivan suggests he would, if he were white, would he? Or think in purely domestic terms. If Obama were white, he wouldn’t embody hopes of a post-racial future. Duh! That’s part of his appeal. It seems obvious. Why does Obama dispute it? Why isn’t Ferraro allowed to acknowledge it? Is it OK for Obama’s “face” to appeal to egghead Atlantic subscribers but not ordinary Wyoming caucusers? Or was Sullivan being “offensive”” and “ridiculous” too?
I also think it’s pretty clear that Sullivan-style logic is at the core what Ms. Ferraro meant when she said “[he] happens to be very lucky to be who he is” and that “the country is caught up in the concept” of his presidency. She’s not arguing that he’s where he is because black voters are caught up in identity politics--more the opposite, that white and black voters alike are caught up in the idea of ending identity politics. Nor does she does she seem to be arguing it’s wrong to be at least temporarily “caught up” in this concept. But the concept wouldn’t be there if Obama was white.
Clickthrough for 1… 2… 3… P.S.s! Here’s the 2nd, “Would Obama be in this position if he weren’t half-white--i.e. if he didn’t have one white parent? That’s a more difficult question. If embodying the post-racial future is an advantage, it would seem to help--but that’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?”
For all we talk about race, for all we say we want to, for all we say we must, we don’t! we can’t! we won’t! We want to point fingers.
And look at me… I just did it too!
Hillary’s an embarrassment. She should get out.
We’ve gone from an embarrassment of riches—two gorgeous Democratic candidates—to being just plain embarrassed! I thought Hillary would lose on March 4 and be smart enough to leave; I hoped that she’d not be a win at any cost George W. Bush-style candidate.
I thought she was smarter than that. I guess I was just gullibly naive.
Now I read Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker on the Clinton attack machine and know that it’s true, when once I had rejected the Clinton-machine construction.
And while Andrew Sullivan’s been saying it for months, now I can say I’ve been seeing it with crystal clarity with my own eyes in the past ten days so that when Lizza ends his piece this way, I knww that it’s true:
Clinton may be criticized for staying too long in the race and for attacking Obama in ways that his supporters will consider nefarious and desperate. But no one is entitled to a Presidential nomination. As ugly as it looks nowâ€”and as ugly as it is likely to become-if Barack Obama becomes the Democrats’ nominee, he may thank Hillary Clinton for making him a better candidate.
To all my friends calling up to say, “I told you so,” I suggest you send an email. It looks like that phone line is going to be busy for a long time!