“Gone With the Wind” and the Case for Shorter Copyright Terms

Over at Pacific Standard, Noah Berlatsky writes about the strange copyright case of Alice Randall’s 2001 “The Wind Done Gone,” a parody of “Gone with the Wind.” Berlatsky notes that “a district court at first forbade publication of ‘The Wind Done Gone,’ arguing the work was a sequel rather than a parody, and therefore didn’t warrant fair-use protection.”

Part of the court’s reasoning was that the GWTW copyright deserved deference because of its, as legal scholar John Tehranian explains in a recent article, “favored aesthetic status—its presumed import and cultural and economic value.”

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The War Powers Resolution, ISIS, and President Obama

Does President Obama need to ask Congress for a declaration of war against ISIS? That question has been much debated in recent weeks, with figures like Yale Law’s David Ackerman criticizing both the President and Congress for failing to step up to the plate. In my most recent column for Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution, I argue that the general thrust of this line of criticism is salutary, but that’s it a mistake to apply it too tightly to the ISIS situation. From the piece:

In principle, I am pleased to see the powerful chorus of criticism against the President’s power grab. Yet I am also relieved that the [War Powers Resolution] will fail to achieve its stated goal of forcing Congress to act or getting the courts involved if it does not.

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What Happened to the Iraqi Army?

IA soldiers sharpen skills through Operation Eagle’s TalonWe’ve talked a lot about the rise of the Islamic State: how to explain its success so far, how we underestimated it, who its leaders are, what motivates them, and what they might be planning to do next.

What’s surprising is how (relatively) little attention has been paid to the scandal of the Iraqi Army’s flight and collapse back in June. How on earth could a large, experienced, and well-equiped force trained for a long time — and at tremendous cost — by the world’s superpower crumble so quickly against a small army of irregulars that didn’t even exist until a few years ago?

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Foreign Policy President Needed: Any Republicans Qualified?

Barack Obama seems too rigid, narrow-minded and ideologically obsessed with transforming America to learn from his multiple foreign policy failures. Therefore, I assume our enemies — China, Russia, Iran, ISIS, and North Korea — have all taken his measure and will aggressively pursue their interests via political/military aggression.

The next President will therefore be handed a mess in foreign policy, not to mention the huge looming debt crisis. (Hillary, recognizing this, is furiously trying to simultaneously distance herself from Obama’s disastrous policies, while also emphasizing her experience as Secretary of State, which might be enough to get her elected in 2016)

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Ricochet Forum with FreedomWorks’ Matt Kibbe

kibbeRecently, we announced that we were continuing our Ricochet Forum series with a conversation with FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe, one of the most influential figures in the Tea Party movement.

As usual, the Ricochet community stepped up and delivered a series of great questions. Below are the queries submitted by Ricochet members and Mr. Kibbe’s answers:

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Voting and Other Childish Things

shutterstock_213442531When we were growing up, my mother always made a point of bringing my sister and me with her when she voted. She would tell us why it was important and explain who she was voting for, as well as providing the reasoning behind her choices. Discussing politics and religion with my mom on long car rides are among my favorite memories of childhood, so I smiled when I read the first half of a recent status update from my sister. It explained how she had taken my niece with her when she voted recently:

As we do every election, we took our daughter to the polls to vote, I explained why we were voting (so our schools could get the money to make desperately needed repairs). To which she said, “why would anyone say no to that?” Why indeed?

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Would You Take the Paris Metro?

This news item is being discussed so widely in Paris that it even managed to breach my news blackout and my meditative Cone of Silence:

Iraq has “credible” intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, the prime minister said on Thursday, but US. and French officials said they had no evidence to back up his claims.

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Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Gives Priority to Ex-Cons

States continue to debate whether they should expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare. While the siren song of “free money” from Washington, D.C. lures governors from both parties, states often cut the budgets of programs helping the truly needy to prioritize a massive influx of able-bodied patients. Even worse, one third of those patients have criminal histories:

Lawmakers in expansion states have decided to put their most needy citizens on the chopping block so they can move able-bodied, working-age adults; almost all of whom (82 percent) have no children to support, nearly half of whom (45 percent) do not work, many of whom (35 percent) with a record of run-ins with the criminal justice system to the front of the line. So what happens to those on the ObamaCare chopping block? States that previously expanded Medicaid had to eliminate coverage for life-saving organ transplants, overload waitlists for services, cap enrollment and raise patient costs, all because promises were broken and costs exceeded projections.

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This Guy for President?

Or at least VP.

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Obamacare Gets Another Setback in Federal Court … Courtesy of Ricochet

We always tell you that people in positions of power are reading Ricochet. Here’s some proof.

Earlier today, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled against the Obama Administration’s contention that it is within its rights to dole out Obamacare subsidies in states that haven’t set up their own insurance exchanges (despite the fact that the plain language of the statute seems to say otherwise). This is an especially relevant case given that many legal observers expect the D.C. Circuit’s previous ruling against the Administration on this matter to be overturned when the court rehears the case en banc. In other words, the decision out of Oklahoma could set up the circuit split that sends this case to the Supreme Court. And the opinion quotes this site.

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A Republican Surprise in Massachusetts?

Of the 10 men who have won either the Democratic or Republican presidential nominations since 1988, three (Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney) have been Massachusetts officeholders. The trend, of course, goes back much further, with the Commonwealth always over-performing in presidential politics. Massachusetts, you might say, has a bad habit of imposing its elected leaders on the rest of the country.

With that in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on the state’s most prominent politicians. Senator Ed Markey is too old and explicitly left-wing to be of much danger (thank goodness). His colleague, Elizabeth Warren, is more worrying because she can spout lefty nonsense and sensible advice in similar tones. Governors, however, are usually the most obvious presidential candidates, and the Bay State has an open seat now that Deval Patrick is retiring.

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Is Hollywood Doomed? A Brilliant Answer

Rob Long — yes, Ricochet’s Rob Long — is funny, outrageous, and our official resident RINO. I also recently learned that he is a genius when it comes to his strategic understanding of his profession. Watch this video of a lecture he gave in Budapest not long ago:

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Are You Willing to Hope Again?

Jim Geraghty starts today’s version of his Morning Jolt newsletter with a summary of the last two years that will be painfully familiar to anyone who’s been at the reins of a conservative organization since the 2012 election:

I am told by some campaign consultants that for much of the past two years, Republican donors have felt a malaise. You see it in both the individual-campaign fundraising numbers, the committee fundraising numbers, and the spending by outside groups.

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Act II, Scene 3, in Which an Aging Game Show Host Rails Against Modernity

I was watching the 1982 film Tootsie the other day when I was struck by the iconic scene in which Dustin Hoffman’s title character makes his first appearance as a “woman” walking down the streets of Manhattan. There was something odd about the scene, and I had to look at it several times before I figured out what it was. It turns out the people around Hoffman were interacting with each other and their surroundings. They were talking to each other, admiring the skyscrapers, watching for traffic and taking in the various sights and sounds of a beautiful New York City day. What they weren’t doing was texting, listening to music, talking into a phone, or checking their email.

I know it was over 30 years ago, and life is always changing, but everything looked so—I don’t know—alive, I guess. There wasn’t that zombie-esque atmosphere where what’s happening in the real, living world takes a back seat to the allure of high-tech devices and disembodied voices. I always worry about wading into the “things were better back then” waters, because I know it’s just a small step away from chasing kids off my lawn, and I’m also aware that there are some advantages to being “connected.” So, is it just approaching geezerhood that made me look so longingly at that scene?

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Why Hasn’t James Clapper Been Fired?

384px-James_R._Clapper_official_portraitYou might think that a cabinet-level intelligence officer who learns about terror plots from the news, lies to Congress about domestic spying, mistakenly characterizes an Islamist political movement taking power in a nation that’s a strategic ally as “largely secular,” and then fails to warn the President of the United States about the rise of a terror group unlike any seen since al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, might lose his job. In the Obama administration, you would be wrong.

On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, President Obama blamed “the intelligence community” for failing to assess the threat from ISIS, a/k/a “the JV team.” Passing the buck to the Director of National Intelligence, the president said: “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria” (my emphasis).

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Madam Secretary… Liberal Fantasies and the Reshaping of American Perception

Truth, they say, is often stranger than fiction. In the case of CBS’ new political drama they are also complete strangers.

In what is an almost too transparent attempt to create a false image of Hillary Clinton in the form of Téa Leoni, the main character of Madam Secretary is everything that Hillary Clinton is not: engaging, charismatic, insightful, creative, attractive, and experienced. These, however, are simply the surface attributes that completely separate the truth from the fiction. Even in the construction of the background and temperament of the character, CBS diverges from reality in a manner sure to please every liberal grandstander while he projects Elizabeth Faulkner McCord — how that name just roll on the tongue! — fictional bona fides onto Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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The Idea of Ideology

When did “ideological” become a criticism?

If you are not ideological, then you are blowing in the wind. Your thoughts are shallow and your actions are whimsical.

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Fence-jumper Got Far Deeper into the White House than Claimed

Remember that guy who jumped the White House fence the Friday before last? And the Secret Service only stopped him after he made it to the front door? Yeah, it was much worse than reported.

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident…

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Hail to the Chef

When someone manages to get through medical school and earn the title of “Doctor,” I have no trouble addressing that person in that manner for the rest of his or her life. Likewise, I’m happy to call Barack Obama “Mr. President” for the remainder of his term in office and for as long as one of us survives. (Okay, not exactly happy; more like resigned.)

But this idea of bestowing titles on people (often in perpetuity) needs some boundaries. Take the designation of “Chef.” I always thought it was a career description, but it has increasingly become the title that precedes or substitutes for the name, as in, “Here comes Chef Charles” or “Thank you for the delightful bean dip, Chef.” “Coach” is another title that has been bestowed on some with no sunset clause built in. One season as a coach of any team marks you as “Coach” for the rest of your days, in the same way a two-year stint as Ambassador to Guatemala dictates that you’ll take the “Ambassador” title to your grave.

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Small-Town Catholic Church at the Center of Same-Sex Marriage Fight

Lewistown, Montana, is a town of roughly 6,000, right smack dab in the middle of the state. Legend even has it that the exact center of the state is a drain in the kitchen sink of an old mansion on Main Street. I like the legend, so I’m not about to research the facts.

Now, however, the town is the center of something else: the clash between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the demands of same-sex marriage advocates.

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No Minimum Wage for Lena Dunham’s Warm-Up Acts

Actress Lena Dunham, a big supporter of President Obama, is embarking on an elaborate book tour, which will feature warm-up acts chosen from an open casting-call via video. From the New York Times:

Three of the videos were disturbing, but the rest were super awesome,” Ms. Dunham said, adding that she spent several hours screening the auditions in bed.

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Which Phrases Should the Right Retire?

In conversation with friends this weekend — the group included a couple of members of the Ricochet family — the conversation turned to the shortcomings of how Republicans communicate with the public. One of the participants offered what I thought was a very incisive critique of how the conservative message plays with a broader audience. His argument: a lot of conservative shorthand requires second-order explanations.

For instance, talking about “free markets” works only if the listener has a preexisting appreciation for why government intervention in the economy is generally to be abjured. By contrast, another interlocutor said that, were he running for office, he would position himself as “pro-innovation” rather than pro-free markets, leaving it to his opponents to explain why they were opposed to progress. The key, he argued, was reducing political positioning to the values level — something the left does very effectively through an emphasis on ideas like ‘fairness’ and ‘compassion’ (which, believe me on this, sells better than ‘higher taxes’ and ‘welfare’).

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Best Way to Fight “Rape Culture” Hysteria? Embrace It

shutterstock_72451933Reason has an article about California Governor Jerry Brown signing a bill mandating that colleges police their students’ sex lives. In addition to instituting some awful concepts of due process, the law calls for students to refrain from sexual activity until their partners give “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement… [which] must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” He opines:

Some congrats are in order, I suppose? To collectivist feminists, doomsayers of the “rape is an ever-worsening epidemic” variety, and other puritans: Your so-called progressivism has restored Victorian Era prudishness to its former place as a guiding moral compass. Well done, liberals.

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Florence Foster Jenkins, Patron Saint of Persistence

Flo Fo Failure There are two opposing strains in American conservatism. The scolding, risk-averse strain likes nothing more than to remind people – especially young people – that no one is a special snowflake. In fact, you’re probably a bigger failure than you think you are. And no, you most likely shouldn’t follow your dreams.

The other strain recognizes the importance of risk taking and admires risk-takers (or at least admires them when they succeed). This is the strain that delights in pointing out that big government crushes big dreams. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen, the less scope there is for the big dreamers of the world.

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