The sheer number of patents in the U.S. is fueling frivolous litigation and drastic action is needed to make patents more difficult to obtain and easier to invalidate, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit said Tuesday. > more ... (0 comments)
I see Mitt Romney has switched favorite books from Battlefield Earth to Twilight. While this is I would say a step up in terms of literary quality–I’ve never had worse literary experiences with a science-fiction author than I have with L. Ron Hubbard, not even the bits of Twilight I’ve encountered on Cracked.com come close–I find these answers to be very, very strange. Twilight feels like the obvious, “down with the kids” pander routine, while Battlefield Earth is such a weird choice when you think about it–decidedly uncool, associated with a disastrous film, written by a disreputable cult leader–that it doesn’t seem like it would gain him points with anyone in particular to say that he liked it. Aside from if he were wanting some Tom Cruise money, perhaps? Since I can’t find an angle on that, I’m guessing it’s actually true, that Mitt Romney actually loves Battlefield Earth. Probably the most authentic thing he’s ever said as a candidate, though there’s no accounting for taste. But now that one plausibly authentic moment has been switched out for teenage vampires, and I’m somehow disappointed. It profits a man nothing to gain the world by losing his soul, but for Stephanie Meyer? Stick with your inner psychlo, Mitt!
Oh, and how could I not include this:
Since I don’t read The Daily Caller, which is apparently still going on, I rely on FrumForum to clue me in on the ridiculous content they produce. Here’s Evan Thomas:
“This is no longer a theoretical exercise,” Thomas said. “Every chart, every graph, everybody who has ever looked at it is faced with this reality – that if we do not get control of our debt situation, which is driven by entitlements, we are going to have a lower standard of living in this country for sure. We are going to have high inflation and people are going to live less well.”
He even goes so far as to say that the debt will cause “unrest” of some sort. Sheer nonsense. Even though I really liked his books on Bobby Kennedy and the early CIA (both of which I would absolutely recommend), this is the sort of D.C. elite positioning that only further validates the public’s hatred of Washington political society.
I’m not going to say that the debt problem is no problem. Indeed, it’s a problem, though less pressing to my mind than jobs. But this Washington tendency to seize upon a problem and then describe it as the apotheosis of everything bad that could conceivably happen (inflation arising from too much debt?) is so bizarre to me, like an ignorant mob mentality led by people who really should know better. Obviously, it recalls the Iraq War in terms of the apocalyptic interpretation by the press, in which the absolute worst case scenario is treated as the normal one. American culture is often criticized as being too black-and-white, of ignoring nuance in favor of easily-understood, universal, too pat solutions. I’m reading George Kennan’s memoirs, which shows so many examples of this in a Cold War setting that it’s not even funny. But historically, it’s been elites like Kennan who have had to step in, read all the reports, appreciate the nuance, and then craft policy. This was their job, their responsibility. And it is no longer happening–now, our elites seem to share the same flaws with the public at large, without much in the way of redeeming attributes. They reinforce the weaknesses in our own thinking and add little, when they’re not busy blurring important issues.
I really don’t have any explanations for why this might be, aside from the general heuristic that our political system, like most American institutions, has been hollowed out over the past few decades, with talented and civic-minded leadership being replaced by connected wealthy individuals motivated mostly by self-interest. I don’t want to take this too far–of course there are some good people in the establishment, and careerism has never not been a factor in politics–but this theory just seems to fit the thousand examples that I encounter during my keeping up with events.
I was pondering our execrable national news media today and came to realize that we’re just right royally fucked.
Sometime in the long-long-ago, some brilliant GOP strategist discovered that all they have to do to win the messaging war is create a “controversy” over something. That way, the media is forced to report on “both sides” – when, in actuality, one side isn’t actually making any kind of empirically valid argument but, rather, is simply relying on the fact that the media is reporting on an argument in order to win the argument.
Take, for example, climate change. The GOP (and the businesses that bribe them donate to their campaigns) aren’t really relying on any factually based arguments against the theory of man-made climate change – they are basically winning the war because even the Discovery channel is now putting out weather shows with lead-ins like “While opinions differ on what is causing the dramatic rise in global temperatures…”
You can pretty much apply the same analysis to most of the important issues of our day. Take Medicare for example. The primary Democratic position is that Medicare basically works but that we need to figure out some way to tackle skyrocketing medical costs. The Republican position? Kill Medicare. What do “serious” people in the media then ask us? Well — obviously — the serious conversation to have is “how much of Medicare should we kill?”
I really don’t know how we’re going to unfuck ourselves when we’ve got a country full of willfully ignorant rubes and a national media that falls all over themselves to enable our collective ignorance.
The stampede for the exits from the Paul Ryan Kill Medicare Party has been quite a sight to behold. Not just because of all the delicious infighting that it’s causing, but also because the GOP’s desperate new scapegoat (i.e., Medicaid) is also shaping up to be a seriously counterproductive electoral punching bag:
[A] new poll shows that the American public’s distaste for Ryan’s proposal doesn’t stop at Medicare. According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 60 percent of those polled prefer the keep Medicaid — the federal heath insurance system for the poor — “as is,” as opposed to Ryan’s detrimental block grant program. Indeed, more than half want to see no reductions in Medicaid spending at all because of “a strong sense of the program’s importance.” Indeed, many said they had benefited or knew people who had benefited from the program directly:
Support for maintaining the current program may be due at least in part to the public’s personal connections to Medicaid and a strong sense of the program’s importance. About half of Americans say they or a friend or family member has received Medicaid assistance at some point, and a similar share say the program is important to their family.
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