Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Dismal Political Scene

It is hard to find something to cheer about on the political front. The dreary argument about Iraq goes on with much talk and little, if any, progress toward a unified peaceful country. The Democrats have waged a futile campaign to bring the troops home soon. Presumably, they are beleaguered by their left-wing, anti-war faction, to which I belong, who cannot come to terms with the fact that the party does not have enough votes to bring about a quick and defensible end to the war.

Obstinate President Bush is persisting in his policies and will follow the advice of General Petraeus to bring the troops back to pre-surge levels by next summer -- an outcome dictated by military necessity regardless of policy preferences. All this means is that we have to wait for Bush to leave before a drastic change of policy is possible -- assuming the Democrats win the presidency and enough congressional seats to bring it about. (See my blog of January 26, 2007 )

Meanwhile, urgent domestic issues like health care go without serious attention, not to mention the longer term crises of Social Security, Medicare, global warming, reducing our dependence on oil and finding alternative energy source, and the like. Democratic Congressional leadership is far from inspiring and, judging by results, not at all impressive.

I have seen no evidence that the Iraqi government can bring about an effective, peaceful reconciliation among warring factions to ensure a stable, peaceful, democratic rule. Whether we stay or leave, it is difficult to find grounds of hope for anything desirable in the near term, and the long term is shrouded in mystery. It looks like a long-term de facto segregation of Iraqis into geographical subdivisions of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds is the best hope for any kind of tolerable peace, assuming some acceptable arrangement can be worked out regarding oil revenues. Too few love more Iraq more than they love their own ethnic-sectarian group to hope for a unified country that is workable and free from violence. Haddam Hussein was awful, but he did rule in maybe the only way it can be a unified country-- by coercion, brutality, and terror. Reports after World War I when Iraq was being formed predicted what has actually occurred.

The presidential campaign trudges dismally on with no excitement and nothing but the prospect of more of the same until the 2008 election. Candidates behind Clinton in the polls vainly search for some way -- any little gimmick or minor point of criticism -- to stop her steady march toward the nomination, barring some unforeseen developments. I find no excitement in any of them any more, and I pay little attention to the daily flow of news about the whole dull process. If Hillary wins, I will vote for her but without enthusiasm.The Republicans have nothing to offer but the same dreadful old stuff, whether we focus on domestic or foreign affairs. We can only hope their numbers will be so reduced by the next election that enough sensible Democrats and moderate Republicans can do some serious work on our most pressing problems.

The religious scene is about equally dismal, but that is a topic for another time.

Help! Does anyone know any reason to be hopeful.

Should Prostitution be Decriminalized: A New Look

About a decade ago I put an essay on my web site that advocated the decriminalizing of prostitution and treating it as a public health problem. The goal primarily would be to assist women, especially young ones, to find a better way of life. Force, violence, and sex trafficking of all kinds would still be prohibited and punished severely.


I just learned that in 1999 Sweden, which long before had legalized prostitution, became convinced that this was not working. A new approach was tried in which it is illegal to buy sexual services but legal to sell them -- regardless of gender. The assumption is that prostitution is primarily a form of violence against women. Men become the offenders liable to prosecution, and women are regarded as victims who need to be helped.

Some evaluation are quite positive. See:

Some Swedish sex workers have protested vigorously that this hurts them and is discriminatory. Gone are the "good and kind" men. Present customers are more likely to be violent, refuse to use condoms, and generally made sex work less desirable. Scaring male customers away has put downward pressure on prices, etc. See:
See also:

I have not done enough research to form an opinion, but this novel approach is intriguing and deserves investigation. I am reconsidering my own previous view.

I think one original proposition I offered a decade ago still holds. There is no good solution to the problem of prostitution, only bad and worse. Perhaps Aquinas had a point when he wrote that prostitution is a necessary evil needed for the same reason that we need sewers.

Well, I actually I do have in mind something, but I have not found a way to implement it. The most nearly perfect answer would be that every time a man paid for sexual services with money, one testicle would disappear immediately while angels in heaven cheered. I propose this only for lusty, irresponsible males who only want easy sex without emotional entanglements. Lonely, shy men lacking social skills need assistance in finding healthy relationships with the opposite sex, which might or might not involve sex.