Takedown

by Ted on September 14, 2004

Those of us who enjoy a good InstaFactCheck will delight in Scott Lemieux, on Reynolds’ attempt to eliminate the gap between Kerry and Bush on gay unions. I wish that Lemieux had an instructional videotape or something.

Dotcommunism

by Henry on September 14, 2004

“Dan Hunter”:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=586463 at the Wharton School has written a quite interesting paper arguing that the open source movement’s battle with various bits of the software and entertainment industry is a 21st century version of the Marxian revolution. There’s a lot to argue with in the piece – Hunter’s account of Marxist theory is sometimes a little more metaphoric than precise, and he perhaps overestimates the extent to which a nineteenth century thinker’s insights provide an accurate description of what is happening in open source today. But it’s nonetheless smart, funny in places (talking about the key role of “Marxist-Lessigist theory”), and valuable as an opening move in what I think is a quite important debate. Ever since listening to Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Cory Doctorow hash out the politics of the information age over breakfast this spring (I, a mere political scientist, didn’t feel qualified to intervene), I’ve been convinced that there is something really _really_ important for leftists in the open source movement, and the free culture crowd more generally. The arguments which they are developing about how collective resources provide a basis for individual creativity, and, in an important sense, individual freedom could serve as the seed of a very interesting political program. The left really needs to start paying attention to this stuff, and thinking its implications through.

Via “BoingBoing”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/09/14/copyright_reformers_.html.

Richard Morrison

by Ted on September 14, 2004

One of the tragedies of living in Houston is the knowledge that Tom DeLay has his seat here. My friend Charles Kuffner, proving again that he’s one of the few bloggers who matter, has an interview with Richard Morrison, the Democrat who is trying to defeat Tom DeLay in his suburban Houston district. He’s also written a bit of a primer about the race. Apparently the most reliable poll shows DeLay at 49% and Morrison at 39%.

Interested Americans have the option of donating to Morrison here.

A republic, if you can keep it

by Ted on September 14, 2004

Under Mr. Putin’s proposals, which he said required only legislative approval and not constitutional amendments, the governors or leaders of the country’s 89 regions would no longer be elected by popular vote but rather by local legislatures – and only after the president’s nomination. Seats in the lower house of the federal Parliament, or Duma, would be elected entirely on national party slates, eliminating district races across the country that now decide half of Parliament’s composition. In elections last December, those races accounted for all of the independents and liberals now serving in the Duma.

The Moderate Voice has a long roundup of comments and analysis about Putin’s power grab in the wake of the Chechen terrorist attack on the school in Southern Russia. (Link via Obsidian Wings). I find myself agreeing with Ogged that this may be turn out to be the most serious story of the year.

There are any number of reasons why this story is horrible news. I find it historically unlikely that central, unchecked power will improve the lives of the people of Russia. I’m concerned about the precedent, in which a major power declares that security and democracy are incompatable. He’s going to get away with it, and he won’t be the last. I’m concerned about the muscular claims that Putin is making about the right of Russian forces to fight terror (defined solely by Putin) wherever he wants. Cold War II, anyone?

More than anything, I’m concerned about Russian nukes. I’m flabbergasted at the fact that we haven’t done more to take Russian weapons out of commission, (here, too) but at least we’ve had the benefit of Russian cooperation so far in our efforts. I’m very concerned that Putin is about to say to the West, “Thanks, but we’ll handle it from here.” Russia still has the materials to make tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. What in the world could we do?

Horror Show

by John Quiggin on September 14, 2004

The big news on Australian screens last night was the claim by a terrorist group calling itself the Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army[1] to have kidnapped two Australians near Mosul. As is more or less standard, the announcement said the hostages would be killed unless Australian troops were withdrawn from Iraq. It now appears likely that the claim was bogus, but it has certainly made Australians think about a situation that was previously only hypothetical. Coming only a few days after the Jakarta bombing, it ensures that the issue of whether the Iraq war has made us safer, and what we should do about it, is going to be central to the election campaign.

[click to continue…]

Whipped cream and nuts

by Chris Bertram on September 14, 2004

OK, so this may be the first and last time I quote anything by Steven Den Beste with approval, but “this observation about blogging”:http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/08/Thanksforallthefish.shtml (and comments) struck me as right on the money.

bq. I’ve learned something interesting: if you give away ice cream, eventually a lot of people will complain about the flavors, and others will complain that you aren’t also giving away syrup and whipped cream and nuts.

(via “Dan Drezner”:http://www.danieldrezner.com/blog/ ).

Go Figure

by Belle Waring on September 14, 2004

Truly great stupid questions never die:

By far the most outlandish proposal, and one of the most recurrent, was the idea to use a nuclear warhead to blow a hurricane out of the water.

“Hurricanes are bad enough without being radioactive,” Willoughby [a research professor with the International Hurricane Center] said. “Put that genie back in the bottle. Nuclear weapons are more dangerous than hurricanes.”

Some people just aren’t any fun. If only Giblets were in charge of the NOAA we’d see a lot more decisive action, I can tell you that.