From Philosophy Bites, Angie Hobbs gives a lively account of the various positions taken on erotic love and sexual desire within Plato's Symposium. Are we losing the fight for porn? It may not matter what the courts say about free speech or what the law is about adult content — because our Department of Justice has its own agenda. A review of The Humble Little Condom: A History by Aine Collier. An article on  redesigning a condom so women will use it. From Discover, an article on the real dirty secret about sex: Life doesn’t need it, so why do we do it? Why do people engage in sexual fantasy? It's obvious on the surface, yet it brushes against the edge of scientific understanding. From Adbusters, an article on Maxim's sex war.

Larry Alexander (San Diego): Constitutions, Judicial Review, Moral Rights, and Democracy: Disentangling the Issues. The introduction to Regulation and Public Interests: The Possibility of Good Regulatory Government by Steven P. Croley. The first chapter from Weak Courts, Strong Rights: Judicial Review and Social Welfare Rights in Comparative Constitutional Law by Mark Tushnet. The introduction to Is the Welfare State Justified? by Daniel Shapiro. The introduction to Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation by Anna Marie Smith. The introduction to The Origin of the Welfare State in England and Germany, 1850–1914: Social Policies Compared by E. P. Hennock.

From Prospect, Michael Lind reviews Robert Kagan’s Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century. Free elections come first: Robert Kagan on how the democratic wonders of globalization haven't worked out as predicted. A review of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East by Michael B. Oren. Do-gooders gone bad: Activists have brought issues like Darfur into living rooms. But they may be doing more harm than good. A new rallying cry: Why the concept of justice — not freedom, not democracy — is becoming a potent tool for political reform in the Muslim world. The introduction to The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam by Sidney H. Griffith. The first chapter from The Politics of Secularism in International Relations by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd. A review of Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka by Sumantra Bose.

From Foreign Policy, a look at the world’s healthiest countries.  A review of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power by Mark Schapiro. An excerpt from The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg. A brief history of the WC: The seventh World Toilet Summit kicks off in New Delhi, and its message is clear: people in the developing world need lavatories. A question of convenience: Authorities may blame society, but it's simple logic that as toilets disappear people do their business in the street instead. Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel examined overlooked trends, while The Toothpick settles arguments no one is having. Looking for a good toothpick, for 2 million years: Since the dawn of humanity, inventors have searched for the perfect teeth-cleaning tool. Stick Figure: An article on the marketing genius who brought us the toothpick. A review of The Toothpick: Technology and Culture by Henry Petroski. 

From The Village Voice, an article on the dirty heartbeat of the golden age: Reminiscing on the SP-1200, the machine that defined New York hip-hop. Hip-hopping the digital divide: Greater broadband access among urban minorities has spurred Russell Simmons and others to develop new, media-rich sites for this growing audience (and more on hip-hop meets Web 2.0). Classic hip-hop images from 1982 to 1990: An excerpt from The Breaks: Stylin' and Profilin' 1982–1990. Yo! Your TV Raps: Hip-hop's TV exposure has been strong, giving us a mixture of critique, celebrity, and celebration. Who, in the '80s, would've guessed that hip-hop would have such cultural presence? A new movement for civil rights: Can hip-hop get past the thug life and back to its radical roots? (and check out the "Rap of Ages" timeline). Hip-Hop graduates from thuggery: Kanye West and other “conscious rappers” lead the music in a new direction. Hip-Hop in Palestine: DAM brings the Palestinian struggle into the world of rap.

From Dissent, Mitchell Cohen on anti-Semitism and the Left that doesn’t learn. It's past time to bury the Hitler analogy: Comparing foreign leaders to Adolf Hitler has long been a way of US leaders to start hot wars and fan cold ones — but the Munich analogy isn't just inaccurate, it's dangerous. It may be going too far to call Norman Podhoretz, the venerable editor at-large of Commentary, a "warmonger". More on World War IV. From Forward, an article on the Jewish lobby Israel needs, and more and more and more and more and more on The Israel LobbyMissing the conversation about the Israel lobby: Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby lacks scholarly thoroughness — and misses the debate among Jews over Israel. From American Heritage, an article on the confusing moment when Israel was conceived. Back in the ghetto: The Israeli Right nurtures the image of the nation of Israel as a bastion under eternal siege but fails to see that Israel is laying siege to the Palestinians — the window of opportunity opened by the Oslo agreement has been closed for good.

From Slate, Ron Rosenbaum writes in defense of Obama's patriotism: A dissent on the pledge. From The Atlantic Monthly, Hillary Clinton tried to teach Barack Obama about power, but then he got ideas of his own: A story of nasty surprises, dueling war rooms, and the Drudge Report. Bunker Hillary: Hillary's press operation is tightly managed, vindictive, and very, very effective. Shankar Vedantam on the Myth of the Iron Lady. So Happy Together: Bill archenemy Richard Mellon Scaife now has admiration for him — huh? From Salon, there’s only one way to understand the candidacy of John Edwards: He’s a damn good trial lawyer, and he’s prevailed against steeper odds than this (and an interview); and an article on the dark side of Mike Huckabee: The national media seems to have a crush on our ex-governor, but here in Arkansas, we know better. Rudy's new best friend: Now that Giuliani has embraced Pat Robertson's endorsement, the mayor should have to answer for the preacher's extremism and outright loony talk. Hey, candidate, I’m all yours, your very own pied piper: An endorsement can be a dream, a dud or none of the above. Consultant in Chief: An interview with Mitt Romney. From The New Yorker, an article on collegiate Ron Paul fans (and more on the conservative wildcard). From Jewcy, an article on Ron Paul's Jewish problem. From Conservative Battleline, Paul Weyrich on third party talk.

It was the "shut up" heard round the world, but what may have upset Venezuela's fiery leader was not the King of Spain (not the rudest royal), but a fellow leftist prime minister (more on YouTube, in Spanish). King Juan Carlos got one thing right on Saturday: Chavez could certainly do with shutting up a bit. The Perils of Petrocracy: Can Hugo Chavez’s "oil socialism" show resource-rich countries the way to stability and prosperity? Or is it just the old oil curse in a new guise? No conflict best exemplifies the ambivalence toward Chavez than his battle against the opposition-aligned RCTV. The new fellow-travelers: Why actors and models love to hang out with Hugo Chavez. Shaman or charlatan? A review of My Life by Fidel Castro. Around Cuba, some walls may be crumbling as the regime battles its greatest foes — America and the march of time. From New Left Review, central planks of Pinochet's state have been left untouched by successive elected governments; Manuel Riesco asks whether the Transition will now finally follow Pinochet into the grave. Political tango, women in the lead: Latin American voters look for new political and economic models. A review of  Revolution of Hope: The Life, Faith, and Dreams of a Mexican President by Vicente Fox; Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants by Jorge G. Castaneda; and Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America by Gregory Rodriguez (and more and more and more).

The Turning: An interview with with former world heavyweight atheist, Professor Antony Bird. More on Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great. A dangerous delusion: By thinking of religion in terms of evolutionary theory we can see just how and why the major religions of today are so harmful. From Christianity Today, an article on answering the atheists; and a poll: What do you think is the most compelling argument for Christianity? If God is one and the Christian faith is the true understanding of God's revelation, why are there so many other religions? Roots of fundamentalism traced to 16th-century Bible translations: The English Reformation—heyday of religious change—spurred a fundamentalist approach to Bible reading, according to new research. Meet the Mormons: From the margin to the mainstream. Allan J. Lichtman on crisis and change in the Christian Right movement: Whither American conservatism? An interview with James Twitchell, author of Shopping for God: How Christianity Went From in Your Heart to in Your Face. For a growing movement of believers, an activist faith means more than proselytizing about Jesus and stoking the fires of our culture wars. Welcome to the new (and yes, liberal) world of evangelical Christianity. The first chapter from Christian Political Ethics.

A review of The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism by George McKenna. A review of American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic by Joseph J. Ellis (and more and more). Monticello’s Shadows: What Jefferson’s fabled home reveals about the Founding Father’s mind and heart. Richard Brookhiser reviews Christopher Hitchens' Thomas Paine's Rights of Man: A Biography. A review of The Case of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Adultery, Murder, and the Making of a Great President by Julie M. Fenster. A review of Brian Donovan's White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-vice Activism, 1887-1917. A review of Big Daddy: Jesse Unruh and the Art of Power Politics by Bill Boyarsky. A review of Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination by Mihai Pacepa. The Year That Changed Everything: The 1968 election is four decades old, and yet we're still rehashing that moment—that era—in the 2008 contest, but why do we come back to it, and why won't it leave us alone? The introduction to The Politics of Hope and The Bitter Heritage: American Liberalism in the 1960s by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.