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)
Lev’s post about Obama’s frustrating “me-too!” obsession with deficits put me in mind of a cartoon I’ve always wished someone would come up with. … So I just came up with it myself.
One thing that I've wondered about in the past few years, and you might have wondered it too, is this: why isn't Eric Cantor Speaker of the House right now? I don't ask this question longingly, by the way. But it is a real question. Cantor is ambitious and doesn't wait his turn–he got his current gig after muscling out Roy Blunt as the #2 Republican in the House, ending the latter's House career and persuading him to run for the Senate immediately. Cantor, by all accounts, is more popular among House Republicans and holds more authority, while John Boehner has stumbled through the last two years, frequently losing votes and going back on promises because he can't deliver his party. You have to assume that if Cantor wanted the job, he'd have it. And I don't really think his utmost ambition is to be House Majority Leader. So the question is, what is he waiting for?
Since he's one of the least enlightening interview subjects ever–every interview he's ever given is like this one, the same aggressive talking point blather–we have to extrapolate this a bit. But I think the answer to this is obvious when you ask the question: he's waiting for a Republican President. Cantor has a lot of authority among House Republicans, a lot of power. Nobody denies that. But you have to consider the source of that power: Cantor has it because he's free not to have to compromise and make deals with the Obama Administration, which would have to be the quickest path to RINOdom. Of course, someone has to make those deals, but Cantor would rather Boehner take the heat while he stays relatively pure, safe in the knowledge that the existence of those deals seals Boehner’s fate any damn time he likes. Cantor doesn’t want to spend the next four years working with the Obama Administration, which would probably leave him in a position to get tossed in favor of a Tea Party challenge. And he's undermined Boehner on more than one occasion, most notably during the debt ceiling debacle, presumably so that Boehner is never regarded as a strong leader in his own right. Makes him easier to push aside when the time comes.
My guess is that Cantor does want to be Speaker, but he wants to be Speaker when President Paul Ryan is inaugurated and Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, and he wants to be the one to push the Ryan Budget through the House when that occurs. And let's not pretend that wouldn't be a huge lift. Yes, virtually every Republican voted for the Ryan Budget, as though they had a choice. But since it had no chance of becoming law, the entire exercise was symbolic and everyone knew it. It was sort of like how every Senate Democrat voted for EFCA when they were in the minority, but as soon as it came time to discuss actually enacting it in 2009, suddenly the Arkansas delegation became squeamish about pissing off Wal-Mart by expanding union organizing rights. And they were hardly the only ones. The Ryan Budget was, mainly, an attempt to reintroduce the party to its base after the Bush years, but when Republicans eventually regain power there will be a strong inclination not to spend immense amounts of political capital on a budget that doesn't actually reduce the deficit, but does essentially smash every popular government program there is. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor had to worry about interests in their state, and so will Republicans have to worry about interests in their districts that might be effected if this shit gets real. Cantor, as a true believer, would want to be the one to ensure it gets enacted. Or so the theory goes, but it's just about the only one that fits the facts. Of course, if Hillary Clinton wins in 2016 and House Republicans still have a narrow majority, Cantor might decide to hell with it and take the top job anyway, who knows. But putting through the Ryan Plan seems to be what his entire House career is building toward.
[Boehner] said it is still unclear what President Obama is willing to concede on. “We don’t need a victory lap, we need leadership,” said the Representative from Ohio.Republicans wanting Daddy Obama to lead them to the school bus is pretty damn sad.
People are buzzing about this, but it’s not technically news, since Boehner and especially Mitch McConnell have not really been coy about their intention to wreck the government again. Obviously, if Romney wins, Republicans will roll over on this issue. But I’m hardly convinced we’ll see another showdown if Obama wins. Republicans will be far more interested in extending the Bush Tax Cuts than anything else, and if November shakes out the way I think it’s likely to (another Obama term, a 12-15 seat Democrat gain in the House–possibly a few more, but I don’t think it’ll be much less–and dead even in the Senate with Biden breaking the tie), Boehner will have very little leverage. So making statements like this has to be understood as a bid to improve his negotiating position, nothing more. Boehner would be happy to trade away a debt ceiling increase in exchange for an extension on the upper-bracket tax cuts, and considering that Obama’s campaign has thus far used tax fairness as a running theme, Boehner has naturally trying to find leverage. As we saw in 2010, Republicans can be extraordinarily generous in negotiations if they get tax cuts for the rick out of them. Does it really make sense that Boehner’s top priority would be to procure a bunch more cuts during a lame duck session, or to parley that threat into an objective his party values infinitely more? Now, if Obama said that he absolutely will not extend the upper-bracket tax cuts under any circumstances, I could see Boehner and his House contingent as petty enough to refuse to raise the limit. That would not exactly be politically brilliant, but he’s got a lot of true believers in his caucus.
Now, obviously, this would be a lot less powerful of a threat had there not been a precedent of holding the debt limit hostage being so successful. I wonder whether Obama has rethought his resistance to using something like the 14th Amendment option in a debt ceiling crisis. Because if Boehner is earnest here, I have to seriously wonder whether the cure was worse than the disease–routine debt ceiling holdups strike me as much more devastating to America over the long run than the government having to issue I.O.U.s for a period of time (or a minor constitutional crisis). I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand just how big a boner Obama pulled when dealing with Boehner.
The Administration’s employer-provided birth control policy has generated some, ahem, interesting pushback. Personally, I’m not moved by appeals to the integrity of the Catholic Church, but it really does appear as though HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Administration weren’t quite prepared for this particular tempest in a teapot. Even the liberal E.J. Dionne is upset about it, and you know what that means!
Seriously, though, I have to give the conservatives credit on this. The indications are uniform that the public (and Catholics in general, too) are not on their side. But they’ve managed to make this into a real headache for Democrats and have even managed to make it seem like it’s not entirely a partisan thing. That’s smart politics, it really is, and I’m always for credit where it’s due. But just count on this man to ruin it for them by going and pushing a bill to block it:
House Speaker John Boehner delivered a scathing attack from the House floor today on the Obama administration’s mandate that health insurers offer birth control coverage.
Escalating the already intense debate over the new requirement, Congress’ most powerful Republican called it an “attack on religious freedom.”
Conservatives have complained in recent days that the rule will force employers who object to contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs to cover those services. Catholic charities, universities and hospitals often object to such procedures.
It is unusual for a House speaker to address the House from the floor, as Boehner did today.
“This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand,” he vowed.
Here’s why this is dumb. Right now, conservatives have some leverage here. The Obama Administration has famously walked the talk of trying to avoid social issue “discussions” like this one. They think they are divisive and don’t want to get into this stuff if they don’t have to, and are often literally frightened of tough criticism in this area (see the Plan B decision last year, which just reeked of panic). They don’t want to go down this road if they don’t have to, and if Congressional Republicans were to let this thing build organically, they’ll likely get most of what they want. The White House has already dropped peace feelers, and whatever your feelings about Obama’s team, this is just how they roll. They will make concessions for no reason in hopes of placating the opposition, just as they always have.
And, suddenly, here comes John Boehner, full of swagger, ready to throw down some legislation that will almost certainly turn this into Just Another Culture War Skirmish, resetting everything to normal partisan loyalties as usual. Democrats uneasy with the policy will now be able to say that it’s being turned into a political weapon, allowing them to have their cake and eat it too by saying they have their issues with the policy but aren’t going to be tools of the anti-choice right. Their pro-choice constituents and traditionalist Catholic constituents will be satisfied, I suppose. Meanwhile, this puts pro-choice Republicans on the spot, having to decide whether to support their party or…ha ha ha. Of course they’ll support their leadership even if they disagree because that’s just how they roll. And they’ll pay the price in November for having voted against making birth control more easily available. Anyone want odds that this isn’t how the situation turns out? And that, in a month, it’s nothing more than one more thing for Rick Santorum to grouse about on the stump?
I don’t know if you all have seen the old Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy miniseries from the early ’80s (if not, go watch it!), but the line where Smiley says that Karla is weak because he’s a fanatic has always stuck with me. If you’re fanatical, you’re going to go to extremes that aren’t advisable because you’re so convinced you’re right, and that is correctly classified as a weakness (at the very least, it’s something that can be manipulated). And Smiley’s line perfectly encapsulates why Republicans are losing this battle, among other things. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cleaner example of one person screwing up something politically useful more efficiently than this. I’m so glad this incompetent boob is the top Republican in the House.
This is a bit of a pickle for the Orange One:
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said it was “pretty dangerous” for Congress to tell other countries how to run their monetary policy.
Beijing has said it “firmly opposed” the measure.
The bill would give the US government the power to add tariffs to goods imported from countries deemed to be undervaluing their currencies to boost exports.
The proposed law does not mention China by name, but many US politicians and analysts have said China subsidises its exports by holding down the value of the yuan, costing US jobs and exports.
I’m generally not impressed by anti-China sentiment. Still, you have to appreciate the irony of a Republican leader standing up for a foreign country’s right to abrogate free market principles that undeniably hurt us. I think he’s got the worst of this issue.
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