# Satire

History repeating itself?

John Kearney is a retired philosophy professor who taught at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has lived in Waterloo, Iowa for the past six years.

I had a dream last night. An alien spacecraft landed in my backyard. The creature that emerged communicated through a device equipped with a keyboard and screen, much like a laptop computer. Overall, he seemed like a friendly chap. So, I invited him in.

After exchanging pleasantries, he told me he was a “reporter” from a distant planet called “Ogar.” He landed on earth to learn more about the United States political system.

I thought it valuable to listen to the questions and observations of someone who would hopefully represent a point of view free of agenda driven acrimony and confirmation bias.

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A modest proposal

Ira Lacher offers a modest proposal for dealing with the issue of firearms.

In Chicago, a concealed-carry-holder in Chicago shoots a 19-year-old armed with a knife.

In Philadelphia, legally armed drivers foil carjackers three times.

In Des Moines, a woman walks into a Hy-Vee, is assaulted by another woman, pulls out a gun and shoots her.

Clearly, we are on to something here.

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In gratitude

Ira Lacher reacts to the latest news in Iowa’s pandemic response.

On this occasion of Governor Kim Reynolds ending her COVID-19 disaster emergency declarations in Iowa, effective February 15, I thought you’d like to hear from the main beneficiary of her proclamation. Take it away, SARS-Cov-2!

Thank you! I don’t know what to say or tell you how grateful I am for this opportunity!

Iowa and places like it have given me and my humongous extended family such a warm welcome; a welcome that, frankly, we weren’t getting in much of the world. Why, our birthplace even denied our right to exist; then, after admitting that yes, we were really there, tried to keep us penned up, tried to keep us from engaging with our community.

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2020: It was so . . . alien

Ira Lacher: We now know that the events of 2020 were no accident. We have uncovered heretofore classified recordings of a plot by a heretofore unknown alien race to inject chaos into America so as to make us ripe for a heretofore unknown takeover.

What follows is the complete transcript of those heretofore classified recordings.

“Greetings, distinguished leader of the Grand Assembly of the united planet Wwwvvsso. I am here to report on our project of the last four of the solar cycles of the planet known as Earth, which we have identified as the most agreeable planet for our colonization.”

“Thank you, Explorer Rrrkkppa. We have only a few questions since you have done very well to annotate your experiments in understanding how the dominant species on planet Earth perceives reality. The implications could be profound for all Wwwvvssoians, as we seek to expand our galactic empire through military force. Now, then, briefly recap your findings.”

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Testing, testing

Ira Lacher ponders: What if President Trump had to take the citizenship exam? -promoted by Laura Belin

Donald J. Trump has proved himself so incredibly ignorant about history, geography, civics and almost everything else that some have speculated he wouldn’t even be able to pass the test that prospective American citizens have to pass.

What do you think? Some of the real questions (and his very possible answers) are below:

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Effective end of quarter campaign fundraising emails

A tongue-in-cheek take on overly aggressive political appeals for money as each quarterly deadline approaches. -promoted by Laura Belin

Here at One Voice Message & Media, we’re all about helping candidates run the best campaign they possibly can.

We’ve recently hired Vic Levene as our “in-house counsel.” Vic’s a seasoned pro from Chicago with decades of campaigns under his belt. He’ll eventually move back to the big city but for now he’s shacking up on my futon. Things there are “a little hot” for him back home. Whatever that means.

Anyhoo, it’s the end of the FEC fundraising quarter, which means your in-boxes are filled with emails from campaigns trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you they can.

Vic was nice enough to forward me a couple EOQ emails he wrote for a race that he ran a couple cycles back. No, they weren’t successful, but it had nothing to do with Vic’s email writing. The judge even said so.


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Read this before using copyrighted music in web videos

Mr. desmoinesdem alerted me to a recent court ruling in Don Henley’s copyright suit against Republican Chuck DeVore for two web videos DeVore made during his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in California. Ben Sheffner has been covering the lawsuit at the Copyrights and Campaigns blog.

Henley sued over web videos that set new lyrics to two of his songs. DeVore changed “The Boys of Summer” to “The Hope of November” in a video that mocked Barack Obama, and he changed “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” to “All She Wants to Do Is Tax” in a video that mocked Senator Barbara Boxer.

DeVore claimed fair use on the grounds that the songs he put in his videos were parodies. The problem for DeVore was that legally, “a parody comments on the work itself; a satire uses the work to comment on something else.” DeVore wasn’t rewriting lyrics like Weird Al Yankovic used to do to make fun of musicians. He was scoring points against Obama and Boxer. If you haven’t paid for the rights to use a song, you have to meet a higher legal standard for satire than for parody.

You can download Judge James Selna’s ruling here. Excerpt:

Even assuming that “parody-of-the-author” is a legitimate transformative purpose, the Defendants’ songs do not satisfy the fair use analysis, as discussed below. “Tax” does not target Henley at all, and “November,” which only implicitly targets Henley, appropriates too much from “Summer” in relation to its slight jab at Henley and risks market substitution for “Summer” or its derivatives.

DeVore had claimed he was mocking Henley as part of the liberal Hollywood elite, but Henley argued in one legal brief that he has given money to some Republican candidates, including John McCain. (Who knew?)

Selna agreed with the plaintiffs’ claim that by using the Henley songs in their videos, DeVore’s campaign supplanted the market for derivatives of the Henley songs, because “licensees and advertisers do not like to use songs that are already associated with a particular product or cause. […] This injury is the very essence of market substitution.”

While Selna granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on the issue of copyright infringement, he did not issue a finding on whether the infringement was willful. (If so, Henley would have a stronger claim for monetary damages.) Sheffner comments, “I assume there will be a jury trial on the issue of willfulness and damages, unless the parties are able to reach a resolution.”

Selna rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that DeVore violated the Lanham Act by giving people the wrong impression that Henley had endorsed DeVore’s Senate campaign. Sheffner explained in this post why he thought Henley would (and should) lose that portion of the lawsuit.

Other candidates and campaign staffers should review this case before they decide to use copyrighted songs in web ads.

LATE UPDATE: Writing for the Electronic Frontier Foundation blog, Kurt Opsahl doesn’t like this court ruling:

The [DeVore] videos were core political speech, the most protected form of speech under the First Amendment. Yet the court blocked them, relying on copyright law. What happened?

The trouble is the misguided way that some courts have distinguished “parody” from “satire” in when measuring fair use. “Parody,” in the world of copyright, means using a work in order to comment on the work itself (or its creator). Parody gets a wide berth under fair use. So, for example, when 2 Live Crew famously sent-up Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” the Supreme Court found that the use was permitted. A “satire,” in contrast, involves using a work to comment on something other than the work itself.

Some courts have drawn the conclusion that “satires” are disfavored under the fair use doctrine. That’s the mistake the court made in Henley v. DeVore. […]

Satire is most effective when can draw from the well of society’s shared experiences, using common cultural references to leverage the commentary and reach a wider audience. It can take a known quantity, and add new meaning and message – classic characteristics of a fair use.

Fortunately, courts have increasingly begun to understand that fair use can and should apply to transformative satires. So although the judge in Henley v. DeVore got it wrong, other courts will have a chance to recognize the value of satire and fair use.

Click over to read the whole thing.

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Reality and satire convergence alert

“They’re Coming to Your Town,” a new DVD produced by the American Family Association, looks and sounds like a spoof created by The Onion. Click the link to watch the trailer and read the transcript. Here’s an excerpt:

It could happen to your town.

Man: They’ve come out of the closet.

AFA presents a look at how a handful of homosexual activists infiltrated the Eureka Springs, Arkansas government and changed the very moral fiber of the city. […]

Learn the strategies used by gay activists and don’t let this happen to your city. This DVD is a must-teaching tool – watch, and learn how to fight a well-organized gay agenda to take over the cities of America, one city at a time.

Man 3: If it hasn’t happened in your town, get ready, because it is going to happen.

Oh no! Gays are coming to my town to take over the government! Mr. desmoinesdem said this trailer reminded him of the anti-Communist films they made during the 1950s.

Speaking of satire, here’s a piece from the latest Onion: I’m Not One of Those ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ Christians. Excerpt:

My faith in the Lord is about the pure, simple values: raising children right, saying grace at the table, strictly forbidding those who are Methodists or Presbyterians from receiving communion because their beliefs are heresies, and curing homosexuals. That’s all. Just the core beliefs. You won’t see me going on some frothy-mouthed tirade about being a comfort to the downtrodden. […]

We’re not all “Jesus Freaks” who run around screaming about how everyone should “Judge not lest ye be judged,” whine “Blessed are the meek” all the time, or drone on and on about how we’re all equal in the eyes of God! Some of us are just trying to be good, honest folks who believe the unbaptized will roam the Earth for ages without the comfort of God’s love when Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior returns on Judgment Day to whisk the righteous off to heaven.

Now, granted, there are some Christians on the lunatic fringe who take their beliefs a little too far. Take my coworker Karen, for example. She’s way off the deep end when it comes to religion: going down to the homeless shelter to volunteer once a month, donating money to the poor, visiting elderly shut-ins with the Meals on Wheels program-you name it!

But believe me, we’re not all that way. The people in my church, for the most part, are perfectly ordinary Americans like you and me. They believe in the simple old-fashioned traditions-Christmas, Easter, the slow and deliberate takeover of more and more county school boards to get the political power necessary to ban evolution from textbooks statewide. That sort of thing.

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