License To Strip

Oct 21 2014 @ 7:39pm

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Elizabeth Nolan Brown asks whether it’s really necessary for strippers to have occupational licenses:

Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are now suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request for it. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma [last] Tuesday, says the Pierce County Auditor’s Office received a request from David A. Van Vleet for copies of all adult entertainment licenses on file for Dreamgirls at Fox’s. Why does this man want identifying info on current and former dancers at the Tacoma-based strip club? Nobody knows. (I reached out to Van Vleet yesterday but haven’t heard back.) But because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an “entertainer’s license”, their identities are a matter of public record.

Attorney Gilbert H. Levy acknowledged that the information was technically fair game under the state Public Records Act, but said the privacy and safety interests of strip club workers necessitates keeping their real names and identities confidential. “It’s a unique occupation and it’s a controversial occupation,” Levy told CBS Seattle. “Some people like nude dancers, and other people for religious or for other philosophical reasons don’t. There’s some stigma attached to the occupation, and most dancers for personal privacy reasons and safety reasons, don’t want the customers to know who they are outside of the club.”

In other words, it’s entirely likely the person who wants this information is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er. At any rate, it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job.

(Photo by Flickr user Michael)

Face Of The Day

Oct 21 2014 @ 7:16pm

Birds Near Raisana Hills

An Indian Black Ibis feeds on an earthworm near Raisina hill in New Delhi, India on October 21, 2014. By Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

Why Are The Midterms So Meh?

Oct 21 2014 @ 6:42pm

Nate Cohn declares that “this is a great election. It’s way better than 2012. All around, it might be the best general election in a decade.”

There are a dozen competitive and close Senate contests and, for good measure, there are another dozen competitive governors’ contests. Better still, these close Senate races add up to something meaningful and important: control of the Senate.

But Americans are nevertheless losing interest in the midterms. How Suderman explains the lack of enthusiasm:

Read On

Map Of The Day

Oct 21 2014 @ 6:15pm

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Amanda Taub highlights the work data journos at The Guardian have been doing with Wikileaks’ Iraq War logs. Each red dot on the above map – the screenshot seen above only shows one corner of Baghdad, but the project covers the whole country – represents one of some 60,000 combat-related fatal incidents (mostly IEDs) between 2004 and 2009, representing more than 100,000 deaths. And that’s not even the whole story, as Taub points out:

[T]he true extent of the violence is much worse: the map likely only shows a small fraction of the attacks from that period. The database the map is drawn from does not include deaths from criminal activity, or those that were initiated by Coalition or Iraqi forces. And many deaths may not have been officially tallied. That means that the real total is almost certainly much higher. But even seeing the number of attacks recorded here shows how devastating this war has been to Baghdad’s civilians, who must now face even more attacks.

Part of the liberal line in the political battle over Ebola is that we’d be much better placed to respond to the crisis if only Congressional Republicans would stop stonewalling the confirmation of Obama’s nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy to the post of surgeon general, which has been empty for over a year. But Mike Stobbe doubts this would really make much difference, considering how the role of the surgeon general has changed over time from front-lines crusader against disease to mere public health advocate:

[I]t was in the 1960s, during the Democratic presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, that things really started to go downhill for the surgeon general. Administration officials were pushing to enact Great Society programs, and increasingly viewed the surgeon general and his troops as foot-draggers reluctant to take on the new initiatives—especially Medicare and Medicaid. … Dr. Luther Terry became renowned in 1964 for releasing a report that finally convinced many Americans of the deadliness of cigarette smoking, but he was shown the door a year later, after only one term. By 1968, the HEW Secretary had stripped away the surgeon general’s administrative powers and redistributed them to others.

Since then, the surgeon general has been little more than a health educator—“a pathetic shadow of authority who traveled around the country lecturing high school students on the hazards of smoking,” as the political scientist Eric Redman once wrote.

McArdle takes a broader view, noting that “this is not your grandfather’s public health system”:

Public health experts were, in a way, too successful;

Read On

Art And Ambiguity

Oct 21 2014 @ 5:16pm

Freddie considers the limits of art criticism in the Internet age, “a vast explosion in the analysis and examination of the art around us”:

These efforts to cast the brute emotional power of art into the conventions of thinking are necessary, natural, and fun. But they can result in, for example, the deep hatred for ambiguity in art, the effort to tease out of every creator what really happened. More, so many takes on art today, straining for political relevance, misunderstand that it is precisely the ability of art to express the indefensible and the disturbing that lends it enduring power.

If you are yet another person online to point out that the lyrics of “Run For Your Life” off of Rubber Soul are disturbing and misogynist, you are yet another to fail to understand that John Lennon didn’t kill anybody. He wrote a song about his impulses to kill — his scary, ugly, unmentionable impulse to kill, driven by the frightening irrationality at the heart of love and desire. He put those impulses into his art because that is where they could be acknowledged without danger. His music was where the unforgivable monster of his feelings could live and do no harm.

Desperately Seeking Moderates, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 4:44pm

In a column from last week, Fareed Zakaria recommends limiting our Syria strategy to containment, emphasizing the unlikelihood that American power can resolve the country’s civil war. He stresses the difficulty of finding reliable partners among the Syrian rebels, a topic the Dish has covered repeatedly. Fareed concludes:

The crucial, underlying reason for the violence in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni revolt against governments in Baghdad and Damascus that they view as hostile, apostate regimes. That revolt, in turn, has been fueled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, each supporting its own favorite Sunni groups, which has only added to the complexity. On the other side, Iran has supported the Shiite and Alawite regimes, ensuring that this sectarian struggle is also regional. The political solution, presumably, is some kind of power-sharing arrangement in those two capitals. But this is not something that the United States can engineer in Syria. It tried in Iraq, but despite 170,000 troops, tens of billions of dollars and David Petraeus’s skillful leadership, the deals Petraeus brokered started unraveling within months of his departure, well before American troops had left.

Pushing back on Fareed’s claims, Michael Weiss and Faysal Itani make a forceful argument for greater engagement with the Free Syrian Army, pointing out that containment is what the Obama administration is already doing – and it isn’t working. They contest the “longstanding and intellectually disingenuous complaint” that the Syrian opposition has been taken over by al-Qaeda affiliates, leaving few “moderates” for the US to support:

Read On

Mental Health Break

Oct 21 2014 @ 4:20pm

A clever new take on the cover song:

Todd Starnes contends it’s a real threat:

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene. “Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”

According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business – not as a church or place of worship – and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Robert Tracinski is left breathless:

Heretics will be found out and forced to recant. No one ever expects the Secular Inquisition.

Dreher also freaks out. But Walter Olson cautions:

I will note that I have learned through hard experience not to run with stories from ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) or Todd Starnes without seeking additional corroboration. As a libertarian, I oppose subjecting this family business to any legal compulsion whatsoever, but it’s also important (as in the Dallas pastors case) to get the facts straight before feeding a panic.

James Peron’s understanding of the facts:

Read On

Stalker Stories, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 3:19pm

During this relatively slow news week, a reader draws our attention to “the latest thing blowing up (a small corner of) the Internet”:

Kathleen Hale, YA author and fiancée of Simon Rich (Frank Rich’s son) wrote this article about her experience with a nasty review on Goodreads of her non-yet-published book. She became obsessed with the reviewer, who was also a book blogger. Hale eventually discovered that the reviewer was operating under a false identity, stolen photos, made-up job, faked vacation photos, etc. Against all advice, Hale decided to confront the reviewer, to find out why she had it in for her, going so far as to find her real name and address, pay for a background check on her, and go to her house.

What makes the story so interesting is the reaction to it. I don’t know if Hale thought she would get a sympathetic reaction to her confession, but she has instead set off a firestorm.

Read On