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 think the prevalence of drones is easily explicable: they’re easy. Easy to use, don’t put personnel at risk. But the cost of it is that it’s easier to make mistakes, easier to aggregate power, easier for war to become routinized. TNC puts it well, “And there is no real sense of an ‘end.’ Has there ever been a point since America’s inception when someone, somewhere, wasn’t plotting our downfall?”
He gets close to something I write about every so often. I think it’s pretty plain that Obama has prioritized healing the divisions in the country pretty highly. But internal divisions tend to be high when there’s a war on. There hasn’t been a single war in our country’s history of any length that didn’t lead to ugly divisiveness (and yes, WWII is included: just look at how nasty a campaign Tom Dewey ran against FDR in 1944 if you doubt that, implying he knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed and such). OTOH, the number of times in US history in which you saw unrest and divisiveness like this in peacetime are much rarer–the Populist era, perhaps, or the lead-up to the Civil War which is the exception that proves the rule. Until we are truly at peace, there is no possibility of our political divides being altered in any way. I’m not saying that ending the wars will automatically lead to healing, but it could happen. After both World Wars, the political situation quickly morphed into new peacetime consensuses.
And yes, I realize that he’s ended our involvement in Iraq and seems to be serious about getting us out of Afghanistan. But Coates is right: there’s no indication he’s interested in refocusing the war on terror. To the extent he wants unity to be his legacy, he’s sabotaging himself deeply with his increasingly cavalier use of drones. I might be willing to buy the idea that the political consensus of the moment makes a retreat from the war on terror concept difficult, but escalating it in this way makes it much more difficult to move on. Or easier–perhaps the whole thing will reach absurd proportions. Arguably it already has.
I’m glad this guy lost his primary: “Reyes made an issue out of O’Rourke’s support for marijuana legalization, which the congressman opposes. In one Reyes ad, a group of children say ‘no’ to drugs while ‘Beto O’Rourke wants to legalize drugs’ flashed across the screen.”
Let’s put aside how hackneyed, “Say no to drugs!” is, as well as the fact that supporting the legalization of one drug by definition doesn’t equate with legalizing drugs, plural. I support marijuana legalization full stop, but my preferred strategy would be to start with that and see how it goes before moving onto other drugs. But the line that all we need is more enforcement is simply nuts. If you’re an incumbent and this is what you’re reduced to, you might as well just hang it up already. Especially when you consider that, according to this poll, 57% of Democrats favor legalization, including nearly 70% of liberals, which matters since such voters tend to vote more often in primaries. Talk about out of touch, Reyes seemed not to know where his party or his base were. Considering the only thing I knew about the guy was that he didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, it doesn’t speak well of his preparation for the job is all I’m saying.
I swear I don’t understand the attitudes of Democratic politicians on the drug issue. At the beginning, Obama looked good on the issue before transforming into one of the worst drug warriors in recent memory. Why? A majority of the population supports legalization now, skewed heavily in the Democrats’ column. It’s definitely less partisan than support for marriage equality, and with support from a few senior Democrats that number could really shoot up–there’s way more room to grow. The drug war hits minority communities hard, so making an issue of legalization would be of enormous help to the people these guys supposedly represent. Adopting a legalization stance would put Dems on the cutting edge of an issue that plays well with younger voters, solidifying that bond. Plus, it’s a basic question of individual liberty and the right thing to do, and almost all the arguments against it have been debunked or are caveated all the way to hell. After a certain point, the question is less why don’t they support this, as much as it is why in the living hell didn’t they unanimously back it years ago? The best I can figure is that Democrats are either afraid of the issue, don’t care about the issue, feel silly supporting the issue, or are genuinely on the other side along with the drug warriors, the cops and all the rest. God help them if they actually think they can still score any points by being all “law and order” about it, as Reyes did. Because change is coming. Democrats are led mainly by older white men who are out of step with what their base wants–there’s a latency period of about 5-6 years until the base’s sentiments filter up–but let’s hope this story turns some heads. The fact that a high-ranking, long-serving congressperson lost in this way is a first scalp, a sign of things to come. My guess is that, by 2016, the pro-legalization position will be the default position among Democratic presidential candidates, either at the outset or after some halfway intelligent Senator figures out that this support is something that exists, goes for it, and brings the rest of the field along out of fear of losing. My guess it’s going to be quite the vote-getting issue indeed.
I was trying to find the best song about drugs ever written, “Brutal” by the Mekons. Unfortunately, the internet failed me and I couldn’t find it. So here’s another song on the topic, featuring the same hook as all of Huey’s other songs:
Kevin Williamson is in the category of Republican pundits that Mike Huckabee was in for most of 2008–someone who’s hardly an independent voice, but who occasionally says something reasonable and sometimes even against interest. He recently wrote a narrative about racism and Republicans that was deeply criticized, and his defense is expertly dissassembled by Jonathan Bernstein:
Williamson’s history was and remains one that ignores the Humphrey Democrats, ignoring that they became the dominant voice of the party by 1948; and one that ignores the very mixed at best record of movement conservative Republicans, the Strom Thurmand and Jesse Helms — and Barry Goldwater — Republicans, on civil rights. It is true that the legacy of the Democratic Party, including outside of the South, is also mixed (that is: horrible within the South, mixed in the rest of the nation); it is also true that Republicans up through 1965 had a long history of supporting civil rights.
And I’ll close by repeating what I said above and in the previous post. What I’d suggest is that the first step Republicans could take if they really want to be the party of Lincoln and the party whose liberal wing strongly supported civil rights would be to support the position of civil rights leaders on voting, right now, and give up on the various schemes Republicans have been pushing that will have the effect of reducing African American voting participation. I think it’s pretty clear which way Hubert Humphrey and Hugh Scott, and Jesse Helms and (segregationist Democrat) Harry Byrd, would have come down on this one.
I read Williamson’s effort and found it to be lacking, especially in historical context. It’s as though he worked backward, starting with the conclusion, coming up with the logic that would get him there, and then using whatever assumptions were needed to support the logic. Only this sort of method makes you start with all Democrats (even Northerners!) being segregationists. Silly.
This is part of why I thought Ta-Naheisi Coates had one of his rare blunders a few weeks back when he argued that Republicans see being called racist as nothing more than an attack against the other guys. Big-time conservative thinkers wouldn’t be writing preposterous articles attempting to argue against their movement having benefited from racism, not if it weren’t a big deal. It’s a threat to their narratives and theories of politics, a weight that could tarnish their ideas. After all, Williamson and people like him are still arguing that, because the Democrats were sympathetic to segregationists 70 years ago, their current policies are somehow permanently tarnished. I mean, that argument has a logical conclusion for their ideas that they simply can’t bear to face, or at least that they haven’t quite thought through.
Personally, this subject has started to bore me. The facts are pretty clear: the Republicans used to favor civil rights for blacks, then after supporting The Bill that granted them, they flipped in order to pick up pissed-off whites. This happened very quickly. And after race riots began in 1965, they flipped even more. That’s just the historical record, and the voting record of, say, a Gerald Ford could tell the tale of those shifts. Does that mean that the concept of limited government is forever tarnished because cynical pols like Richard Nixon once associated it with racial grievances? I don’t think so. But that happened, and it couldn’t be less relevant if Republicans were to admit it and, far more importantly, try to do better going forward (as Bernstein suggests). They haven’t because doing so would enfranchise people who oppose them, probably destroying their coalition and forcing them to move to the center. Really, the common thread between 1965 and 2012 is opportunism–Republicans were all too happy to exploit racial inequities then for their benefit and they’re equally happy to do so now. Williamson’s argument is counterproductive–he ought to be making such a case instead of peddling flim-flam. Until he and his compatriots do, the conservative movement’s racial past will forever continue to dog it, and a million Kevin Williamson bullshit articles on history won’t change that.
I’ve been reading a lot about the story of the elections in Egypt and I’m a little bit confused. The pre-voting frontrunners were Aboul Fotouh and Moussa, both of whom seemed like decent leaders for such a pivotal country–neither one combined the important “secular” and “not a former Mubarak Administration official” labels, but both seemed reasonably independent, pretty tolerant, and up to the job. Egypt has the reputation as one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East, relatively speaking, and that those guys were leading in the polls made sense, and perhaps indicated a broad consensus among the public at the outset of Egyptian democracy. Then they held the elections, and out of nowhere a much more conservative Islamist and one of Mubarak’s top lackeys proceed to the recall.
I have no idea what to make of this, but typically these sorts of sudden, dramatic changes indicate funny business going on, especially if the people who spontaneously benefit represent established power blocs. And, wouldn’t you know it, both of the finalists represent key blocs of power in Egypt that weren’t having any traction prior to the vote (i.e. the Muslim Brootherhood and the remnants of Mubarak’s regime). Wonder what really happened there.
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