No more years ?

by John Q on September 2, 2004

A while ago, I discussed the idea that the forthcoming US election would be a good one for the Democrats to lose, eventually reaching the conclusion that the damage that would be caused by four more years of Bush would offset any political benefits from finally discrediting the Republicans.

Now Niall Ferguson looks at the same question from the other side. Like me[1], he thinks this would be a good election for either party to lose. But, since he’s taking the Republican side of the debate, the damage that a second Bush term would cause is an argument in favor of his case. He concludes

moderate Republicans today may justly wonder if a second Bush term is really in their best interests. Might four years of Kerry not be preferable to eight or more years of really effective Democratic leadership?

fn1. Though not for exactly the same reasons. He puts more weight on criticisms of Kerry than I think can be justified, and less on the extent to which painful economic adjustments are already inevitable.

Mad as Zell

by Ted on September 2, 2004

I’ve got to give today’s MVP in debunking to Fred Kaplan at Slate.

Here, one more time, is the truth of the matter: Kerry did not vote to kill these weapons, in part because none of these weapons ever came up for a vote, either on the Senate floor or in any of Kerry’s committees.

This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and inferred that Kerry voted against those weapons. By the same logic, they could have claimed that Kerry voted to disband the entire U.S. armed forces; but that would have raised suspicions and thus compelled more reporters to read the document more closely.

What makes this dishonesty not merely a lie, but a damned lie, is that back when Kerry cast these votes, Dick Cheney—who was the secretary of defense for George W. Bush’s father—was truly slashing the military budget…

I’m not accusing Cheney of being a girly man on defense. As he notes, the Cold War had just ended; deficits were spiraling; the nation could afford to cut back. But some pro-Kerry equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Zell Miller could make that charge with as much validity as they—and Cheney—make it against Kerry.

The whole thing is great.

P.S. In the comments to a thoughtful Obsidian Wings post, a few people have said that delegates were chanting “Hang ’em” when Kerry or Edwards (or maybe just Edwards) were mentioned. Can anyone confirm or deny? Is there a reasonable story behind this?

I just wanted to be part of the Allelujah chorus on this:

Atrios reports gleefully that a Republican Congressman, asked point-blank about his sexual orientation, refused to answer.

Good for him! (The congressman, I mean.) The right answer to that question, from anyone except a potential sexual partner, is “None of your f—ing business.”

I really, really disapprove of gay-baiting, even if the gays being baited hold disgusting political positions. And I thought that attitude was part of the definition of liberalism.

When did that change? Did I miss the memo?

Copyright question

by John Holbo on September 2, 2004

The Republicans are dismayingly insane. Moving right along, I’m wondering whether, when copyright gets extended – as it did with Bono – works get taken out of the public domain and made private IP. That is, when copyright went from life + 50 to life + 70 some public domain works that had passed the 50 mark, but not the 70 mark, ceased to be public domain? Has this created legal trouble or controversy? Suppose I made (and copyrighted) an edition of a recently liberated public domain work that, when the hammer of copyright extension fell, ceased to be such. Would my edition, legally produced during a window of opportunity, cease to be legal? Never mind whether I am a retroactive pirate – a time bandit, if you will. Can I continue to publish my work because I produced and copyrighted it during a window of opportunity?

In short, does Congress have the right not just to extend copyright but to re-enclose the public domain? And if Congress has the right to re-enclose the public domain, is there any limit to that power (apart from the fact that it could only reassign rights to the distant descendents of authors and creators – you know, so as to foster science and the useful arts.)

UPDATE: Oh, the wikipedia tells me that no expired copyrights were reinstated. This does imply that the life + 70 term is not strictly definitive. There are works that fail that test that are actually public domain? So the date of Bono – 1998 (?) – becomes quite crucial for calculating whether a given work is public domain?

2nd UPDATE: This recent decision (June 19, 2004), “Luck’s Music Library, Inc. v. Ashcroft” (PDF) (via this page), seems to establish Congress’s power to remove works from public domain retroactively. Although I guess Bono did not actually do anything of the sort. Interesting.

Tariq Ramadan responds

by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2004

“Tariq Ramadan has an article in the New York Times”: responding to the revocation of his visa and to some of the accusations made against him.


by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2004

Today’s Telegraph has two reviews of Philipp Blom’s Encyclopédie: one by “Graham Robb”: and the other by “Anthony Daniels”: (aka Theodore Dalrymple). It sounds like another volume to add to my Enlightenment pile (some of which I’ve even read). From Daniels’s review:

bq. Because censorship was still strong, though not completely inflexible, in the France of Louis XV, the authors of subversive articles in the various volumes had to adopt an indirect Aesopian approach (a most aesthetically and intellectually satisfying technique that is closed, alas, to authors who have no censorship to evade). My favourite practitioner of such subtle subversion is the Abbé Mallet, who undermined religious dogmas by discussing them in deadpan and literal-minded fashion. He meditates, for example, at great and pedantic length on the precise geographical location of Hell – was it in Terra Australis, in the sun, or in the environs of Rome? And how many species of animal Noah would have had to take aboard the Ark, how many bales of hay and straw, and how often he would have had to clean out the animals’ stalls? No dogma can long withstand the onslaught of this kind of concrete-mindedness, posing in the garb of credulous orthodoxy.

At some point soon I want to write an extended post on the Enlightenment and the common references on blogs to “the Enlightenment Project” and “the values of the Enlightenment”. Pending that, here’s a link to Robert Wokler’s essay “The Enlightenment: The Nation-State and the Primal Patricide of Modernity”: (PDF) which digs overs some of the questions concerning the relationship between the Enlightenment and “modernity”. (The essay also appears in a collection co-edited by Wokler and “Norman Geras”: — _The Enlightenment and Modernity_).

Wibbly Wobbly

by Kieran Healy on September 2, 2004

Zell “‘I am a Democrat because we are the party of hope'”: Miller says John Kerry has been “more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure”: Except maybe that guy who delivered Clinton’s keynote a decade or so ago and is delivering Bush’s now. What’s his name again?

Miller could have used some bits of the “Bush Twins Speech”: to better effect than they did. “And as to my fifty year career in the Democratic Party … Well, when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible!” Would’ve played much better.

Anyway, all in all a ringing endorsement of the the cardinal conservative virtues of steadfastness, loyalty, constancy and, in the words of “another well-known Democrat”: a “partisan,” “crude” and “gob-smackingly vile” effort “jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric.” Vote for Bush because _Zell Miller_ told you Kerry flip-flops and we shouldn’t “change horses in midstream”:

Jumping on someone else’s gravy train

by Daniel on September 2, 2004

OK gang, you know how much you love your mates at CT, now it’s time for you lot to do something for us. We need to get the Wisdom of Crowds to work to come up with an idea that will make us[1] all rich. There’s quite likely to be an election in the UK within the next twelve months, which means that anyone who wants big and lucrative government contracts needs to start donating to the Labour Party now.

[1]In case it’s unclear, I am not using “us” here in any sense that might include you lot.

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