Oops: yesterday’s Sweeney Todd link now corrected.
(The other link, to his life story and the London of his day, was OK.)

But first . . .


Some of us believe masturbation should not be subject to government regulation. Abominated by religion, perhaps, but not controlled by Big Brother. Apparently, though, the right to privacy is in some dispute – even when it comes to what you do in bed alone.

You may have seen Dan Savage’s op-ed in yesterday’s Times.

Liberals . . . love the right to privacy because we believe adults should have access to birth control, abortion services and pornography as well as the right to engage in gay sex. Social conservatives hate the right to privacy for the very same reason, as they seek to regulate private behaviors from access to birth control to masturbation. (Think I’m kidding about masturbation? In Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, he wrote that the majority’s decision called into question the legality of state laws against “masturbation, adultery, fornication.”)

Well, Savage has a great idea:

[I]f the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don’t we just stick it in there? Wouldn’t that make it easier to find?

He proposes a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to privacy that Democrats, Independents and true Conservatives would be inclined to support, but that the Scalia wing of the Republican Party would oppose.


Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Times carried this story detailing the way in which the Republican leadership overruled a scientific advisory panel and the FDA professional staff in forbidding over-the-counter sale of Plan B, the ‘morning after pill’ that prevents unwanted pregnancies.

Top federal drug officials decided to reject an application to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill months before a government scientific review of the application was completed, according to accounts given to Congressional investigators.

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, concluded in a report released Monday that the Food and Drug Administration’s May 2004 rejection of the morning-after pill, or emergency contraceptive, application was unusual in several respects.

Top agency officials were deeply involved in the decision, which was “very, very rare,” a top F.D.A. review official told investigators. The officials’ decision to ignore the recommendation of an independent advisory committee as well as the agency’s own scientific review staff was unprecedented, the report found. And a top official’s “novel” rationale for rejecting the application contradicted past agency practices, it concluded. . . .

You might think that women should be free to prevent unwanted pregnancies on three grounds: (1) It would reduce abortions. (2) It would allow women to have wanted children, when they’re more likely to be able to love and raise them well. (3) ‘It’s a free country.’ But that’s not the view of the folks currently running the show.

And now . . .


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Housing Market Shows Further Signs of Cooling
November 15, 2005; Page A1

The pace of U.S. home sales is showing further signs of slowing, amid a widening gap between sellers’ asking prices and the amount skittish buyers are prepared to offer, according to an industry survey, real-estate brokerage firms and housing economists.

Rising mortgage rates, higher energy costs, widespread talk about the risk of a “bubble” in housing and a surge in the number of homes on the market are among the factors behind the apparent slowdown. They have combined to make home shoppers more cautious, economists and real-estate brokers say. Buyers are taking their time to look for bargains, while many sellers have put unrealistically high price tags on their homes. That leads to a standoff, causing the number of sales to drop — a classic ending to a period of unusually rapid house-price increases. . . .


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