21 September 2010


  • You know that creative contracts are getting out of hand when opera — which, historically, has the least business sophistication of the collaborative-production arts — starts demanding non-negotiable copyright transfers from everyone. Of course, it could be worse: It could be in the US, in which case it wouldn't even be a matter of contract; instead, it would fall inside the dubious constitutionality of the work-for-hire doctrine. Or would it, since an opera production is not a motion picture <vbeg>?
  • Powell's Books helped beat back the forces of darkness at the Ninth Circuit. Yesterday's ruling that an Oregon statute restricting provision of "sexually explicit" material to "minors" is unconstitutional (PDF) should serve as a reminder that the First Amendment means something... and, for the sarcastic, a reminder of lug wrenches (you'll have to search for "lug").

    Anyone for Lady Chatterly's Lover or other literary classics (deservedly so or otherwise) being made into felonies when provided to anyone under 18? How about the Song of Solomon? Or, to take it into the true "harmful to minors" and not just "sex" context that is purportedly behind the statute in question, Hotel Rwanda? My point is this: If one accepts that government has any limits at all, attempted thought control has to be the first on the list of those limits... because someone will always twist the most benign-seeming restriction into something truly obscene. Consider, for the moment, Martin Luther's probable fate under some of the current restrictions imposed by governments on free speech — and not just in places like Iran, either; most of the 93 theses (individually and collectively) constitute "hate speech" under contemporary standards.

  • What do the following individuals have in common?

    Lamar Alexander; John Barasso; Robert Bennett; Christopher Bond; Richard Burr; Saxby Chambliss; Tom Coburn; Susan Collins; Bob Corker; John Cornyn; Mike Crapo; Jim DeMint; John Ensign; Mike Enzi; Chuck Grassley; Judd Gregg; Orrin Hatch; Kay Bailey Hutchison; Mike Johanns; Jon Kyl; George LeMieux; Blance Lincoln; Richard Lugar; Mitch McConnell; Mark Pryor; James Risch; Richard Shelby; Olympia Snowe; John Thune; David Vitter; George Voinovich

    Well, it's a pretty pathetic roll of bigotry. They are all United States Senators; none of them acknowledge military service in their official biographies; and they all voted against even hearing debate on the military appropriations bill... primarily, if not exclusively, because it contains a repeal of the wretched "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (And they're all Caucasians, and almost all of Northwest European ancestry, but that's a slightly different problem.)

    A few others also voted to disallow debate, but their experience deficit is not so inexcusable. Scott Brown and Lindsey Graham are least JAGs (not line officers with any idea of what "unit cohesion" means), so they get merely a frown. James Inhofe "served in the Army" and Pat Roberts did four years as a Marine, but their official bios offer no further details; they get frowns and some interservice disdain. John Isakson and Jeff Sessions did the W Plan: Air National Guard and Army National Guard respectively during the latter stages of Vietnam, in an unstated capacity; they get a frown and the directive to "why don't you try that one more time, son?" John McCain is a former line officer (if a pilot and squid, limiting his exposure to "unit cohesion"), so he merely gets the somewhat disdainful interservice rivalry I'd offer virtually all graduates of Annapolis. Richard Wicker was a career USAF officer, so he presumably knows something about "unit cohesion." The rest get water balloons filled with the cheapest, nastiest perfume I can find.

    I don't have a problem with disagreement; that's part of the nature of democracy. I have a problem with refusing to allow debate because you're afraid you're going to lose... on any issue, let alone one like this on which they're simply not qualified to decide in the first place. Yes, we must have "civilian control of the military," and I wouldn't have it any other way (as frustrating as that was at times for me on active duty). But DADT isn't "civilian control of the military"; it is meddling in the bedroom. Methinks they've forgotten the substance of their oath: To protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.