Category: Election 2008

AP cries copyright infringement over poster

AP is at it again, trying to make iffy cases about copyright infringement. This time they are claiming that the ubiquitous red-and-blue Obama poster we all know from the 2008 campaign was based on one of their photos and therefore they are entitled to a share of the profits.

Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey created the poster “Hope” in early 2008, based on a photo he found online. He donated his creation to the Obama campaign and received no profit from it.

“The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission,” the AP’s director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement released Wednesday. Hmm. They couldn’t have figured this out early in 2008, when the poster first became so widely publicized? Or anytime during the year as the poster continued to circulate?

It’s difficult to imagine that AP was unaware of the poster until now. If they were truly concerned about copyright infringement, shouldn’t they have moved in immediately to stop the production and circulation of the poster? Isn’t that the point of copyright laws — to stop or cut short the publication or distribution of the unauthorized work? Not filing suit until a year later, when it has become apparent there might be some money to be made, certainly raises questions about AP’s methods and motives, and perhaps their financial stability.

(AP’s very limited definition of “fair use” of its materials became an issue last year, as well.)

Postscript – Feb. 8. CNN just reported that Shepard Fairey was arrested Friday night in Boston for tagging. It wasn’t enough for him to get sued by AP? Come on, Mr. Fairey, you have a lot of talent but you are not above the law. More here.

Burris turned away but undeterred

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Roland Burris

The 111th Congress convened today in Washington, and Roland Burris, the Democratic senate appointee of indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was turned away because his papers “were not in order.”

He is expected to meet with Majority Leader Harry Reid tomorrow and that may or may not turn out as he’d like. Analysts are saying Reid may make a deal that he’ll seat Burris if Burris promises to serve only the two years remaining in the term and not run for re-election in 2010. Others are suggesting the plan is to drag the whole thing out until the Illinois political machine finds a way to get Blagojevich out of office, thus invalidating Burris’s appointment.

It’s an interesting story to follow. Burris is a super ambitious political hack who failed in his last five attempts to win higher elective office in Illinois. The fact that Blagojevich appointed him does nothing for his reputation, and he seems not to realize he’s just a black pawn in Blago’s twisted game.

On the other hand, despite the stench surrounding his nomination, Burris does not appear to be guilty of anything worse than political tone deafness, and Blago, as long as he remains governor, has the authority to appoint someone to the empty senate seat.

Burris tombstone
Burris tombstone

To ensure his place in Illinois history, Burris has already erected a monument/tombstone/mausoleum for himself
Burris lists his achievements on his tombstone/monument, lest history forget. Rumor has it that "humility" is not among them.

Politics: Never a dull moment

President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration is coming up January 20 and there’s been no shortage of news about his appointments, problems, family move, dog, daughters’ school, etc. More than enough to keep the media busy. But wait, there’s more:

Roland Burris thinks he is indeed the new junior senator from Illinois, despite that fact that he was appointed by indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Illinois secretary of state refuses to sign off on his appointment, and the U.S. Senate has said it won’t seat him. Stayed tuned. He’s already flown to Washington and fully intends to appear on the Senate floor this week.

Al Franken has been declared the winner of his Minnesota senate race, finally, by a margin of just 225 votes. (I could sneeze and blow that many votes onto the floor.) His opponent, not surprisingly, is filing suit. Mind you, there have been all kinds of recounts and recounts of recounts since November 4, and the narrow Franken victory was the result announced today. I don’t know what the loser’s lawsuit can accomplish at this point, other than force yet another recount. How many recounts does it take before an election is over?

And then there’s New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, tapped by Obama to be his new commerce secretary. Richardson opted yesterday to withdraw his name from consideration because he is still embroiled in an alleged pay-to-play investigation. Reports indicate Richardson is in the clear but withdrew because the investigation won’t be over as soon as was previously thought.

Burris seems like an overly ambitious hack who chooses not to understand his situation, but then, I’m not sure at what point he officially becomes Sen. Burris. Franken is a political newcomer who has been through a real test of fire to get this far; I’d like to seem him beat the good ol’ boys and make it all the way. The Richardson thing is disappointing; he’s done the right thing by withdrawing, and I just hope he comes through it with his reputation intact.

Oh yes, Caroline Kennedy, who has been seeming less and less qualified for Hillary Clinton’s New York senate seat, is looking more and more like Gov. David Paterson’s choice for that seat. Go figure.

Meantime, “No Drama” Obama has managed to stay above all this drama. So far, so good, Mr. President-elect.

Time for another Constitutional amendment

constitution_quill_pen

Amendment XX to the U.S. Constitution changed the end of the President’s term of office from March 4 to January 20. Ratified in 1933, it recognized that times had changed, that a four-month presidential transition was no longer necessary, and that it exposed the U.S. to a dangerously long period of lame-duck governance.

One has only to live in the U.S. today to realize it’s time again to shorten the transition period. We are facing a perilous economic situation in which a week or even a day can mean huge, unexpected change. We are fighting two wars against an enemy sworn to destroy us, and he too realizes we are in an extremely vulnerable position.

George W. Bush will be our President until January 20, 2009, and we know his elected successor is Barack Obama. Bush, however, was never a very effective leader and rightly or wrongly is being blamed for a lot of the current economic problems. He has become irrelevant, partly because he seems to have removed himself from the spotlight and partly because the nation and the world are looking past him to Obama — who is essentially powerless until he takes the oath of office.

Basically we have no one in charge, no one minding the store. Bush has already packed his bags, but Obama can’t move in yet. The world’s most powerful nation is essentially leaderless. It’s unnerving, to say the least, and demands our current law be revisited and revised.

On Election Day, we “fire” our sitting President. From that day forward he or she is on the way out and knows it. And like any fired employee in a sensitive position, the President’s keys should be taken immediately and the President escorted from the building. No more laws signed, no more agreements or treaties enacted or suspended, no pardons, no secret deals, no nothing. The new President should be sworn in immediately, or at least as soon as all the votes can be counted. A week, maybe. No more two-month-long period of limbo when all sorts of mischief or mayhem could befall this country.

A twenty-eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s time.