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 one of the biggest things that pisses me off about politics and the news media is how easily politicians can truck in transparent about-faces on virtually everything (see, e.g., the filibuster of Federal judges) and not pay a political price for it or even have the hypocrisy immediately thrown back in their faces by any of the Serious People that dominate our pundit class.
Case in point: Obama’s newly waged “war on the Supreme Court“.
Besides being grotesquely hyperbolic given the context of the remarks, every Republican President I can remember has loudly and repeatedly denounced the Supremes and countless other Federal judges for their “unconstitutional abuses of power”, being “partisan judicial activitists” and even comparing them to thugs and criminals. And don’t even get me started on conservative pundits. Just look at the cartoon smearing “Ruth Traitor Ginsburg”.
As SteveM points out, even Saint Reagan and John Roberts were in on the game to denounce and curtail judicial power:
I’m just trying to imagine how Obama’s critics would have reacted if he’d said what a certain presidential candidate said in February 1980:
Ronald Reagan … campaigning in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, blasted the court’s most recent abortion ruling as “an abuse of power as bad as the transgression of Watergate and the bribery on Capitol Hill.” …
Equating the justices to felons? Anyone feeling unsettled?
And I’m wondering how long it would have been before impeachment articles were drafted if Eric Holder ever delivered a speech like the one described in this article from the first year of Reagan’s presidency:
Attorney General William French Smith accused the federal courts of “constitutionally dubious and unwise intrusions upon the legislative domain,” and vowed to oppose such “subjective judicial policymaking.”
And I say that even though court-stripping is frequently proposed by right-wingers, most recently by presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, and even though one of the principal proponents of court-stripping in the Reagan era was a young government lawyer named John Roberts, now the chief justice of the Supreme Court:
Over two decades ago, a young government lawyer named John Roberts tried—and failed—to convince the Reagan Justice Department to endorse a number of radical legislative proposals that would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases concerning such issues as school prayer, school busing, and abortion.
This is what you get with the media’s tyranny of low expectations for the Republican party. Republicans can spout inflammatory and disingenuous rhetoric all day long but when a Democrat says something mildly “partisan”, or simply makes the same kind of political statements that Republicans make, Democrats are immediately held to a higher standard and tut-tutted back into being spineless and carrying knives to a gunfight.
As I think we’ve realized in other contexts, unilateral disarmament doesn’t work.
It would be nice to have a level playing field once in a while.
Update: Also, too, see more from digby.
Balloon Juice spotted a pretty ridiculous example of false equivalence at WaPo. A taste:
Mr. Limbaugh is angry at President Obama’s efforts to require the provision of contraception under employer-paid health insurance and the White House’s attempts to make some political hay out of the policy. His way of showing this anger was to smear Ms. Fluke, who approached Congress to support the plan, as a “slut” seeking a government subsidy for her promiscuity. [...]
We are not calling for censorship. Nor are we suggesting that the ostensible policy issue here — mandatory provision of contraception under health insurance paid for by religious-based institutions such as Georgetown — is a simple one.Those who questioned President Obama’s initial decisions in this area — we among them — were not waging a “war on women,” as Democrats have alleged in strident fundraising appeals. [...]
And so on, in this vein. I complain about the media at times, but the simple fact is that its influence has been decreasing rapidly for a long time, and articles like this are a big part of the reason why. As a blogger myself, I know very well how hard it can be to come up with a fresh or distinctive take on an issue or event, and I am always trying to find these angles. This is because there is no interest or point to commentary that’s less powerful and less intelligent than what you can get elsewhere. The Post is a business venture like any other, and the market space for a wimpier version of something you can find better elsewhere is pretty much zero. And this article, which is a master class in the “both sides do it” genre, proves the point exactly.
As a matter of pure writing, the power of the statements is compromised by the frequent counterpoints and “to be sure” clauses. Now, unless you’re a Fox News writer, pure power is not the only criterion when it comes to writing about a charged issue, there’s also clarity, concision, and of course accuracy, among others (“flow”, perhaps). If, for example, you are writing a fact-checking piece, you’re going to want to tone down the raw power a bit and go for a “just the facts” approach emphasizing accuracy and concision. But an editorial such as this is, well, just stating an opinion. And on something that is exactly this charged, you’re going to want to state it powerfully, appealing to logic and emotion in constructing unbeatable arguments in favor of your position. In this example, the Post manages to sap any sort of power out of this writing by constantly trying to position themselves as super-reasonable and completely unbiased. As an attempt to set the parameters of the debate, it might have some merit. But as an attempt to convey a point of view, it’s just pure junk. And just in case anyone is laboring under the assumption that the Post is on their side, they go to great lengths to assure them that they’re not.
This is, without a doubt, how Washington’s media sees the world, and it explains a lot about why their industry is collapsing. In the ’50s and ’60s, pretty much everyone agreed on the issues, so persuasion was not necessary. They never learned how to do it. Now, being as the dictates of balance require any argument to be so heavily caveated that hardly anyone could possibly convinced by it…except for the people who wrote it, presumably. It’s been said that the MSM cares more about what people who don’t consume their products think than those who do, but when it comes to a mainstream media that just can’t even allow itself to issue a straightforward smackdown that would put it with 65% of the country on one hand and various openly ideological sources that make persuasion their business, who would choose the former? Who is going to put any trust in an institution that tells them, over and over, that they’re not fighting for the people so much as for market share?
I can’t wait for Kaplan to go bankrupt is all I’m saying.
Anonymous hacked into the email accounts of Syrian officials and their advisers and are posting troves of confidential messages online.
One of my absolute favorites so far is a message from a press attaché to Syrian President Assad on how to put one over on the gullible rubes in flyover country:
She advised: “It is hugely important and worth mentioning that ‘mistakes’ have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized ‘police force.’ American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are ‘mistakes’ done and now we are ‘fixing it.’
She’s got us dead-to-rights there. It almost reads like a PR memo from Karl Rove to GW.
Chris Cillizza is generally an insufferable douchebiscuit (remember the gem of a video below). But this latest post is truly beyond hurlworthy:
Headline: Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.
President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.
For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.) [...]
What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.
While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together, a deeper dig into the numbers in the Gallup poll suggests that the idea of erasing the partisan gap is simply impossible, as political polarization is rising rapidly. [...]
For believers in bipartisanship, the next nine months are going to be tough sledding, as the already-gaping partisan divide between the two parties will only grow as the 2012 election draws nearer. And, if the last decade of Gallup numbers are any indication, there’s little turnaround in sight.
[Also, too: a lovely poll called: "Vote: Is Obama the Nation's Most Polarizing President of All Time?"]
Yes, the body of the article does a fine tapdance but we’re left with the link-whoring evoked by the headline and poll question.
Do we get much in the way of an analysis of what is behind the disparity in poll numbers? Not really.
Are we treated to all kinds of insinuation that Obama is out there being all partisan and making people hate him. Yep, quite a bit.
Seems like this ought to attract more attention than it’s seeming to:
Ward Connerly, the former University of California regent who has authored antiaffirmative-action laws around the country and in California, is battling accusations from a former collaborator that he mismanaged funds at his nonprofits while enriching himself and neglecting employees.
His accuser is Jennifer Gratz, whose 2003 case before the U.S. Supreme Court forced the University of Michigan to stop considering race in admissions. Gratz then worked with Connerly at his nonprofits – the American Civil Rights Institute and the American Civil Rights Coalition – until resigning Sept. 22, the day her attorney sent a letter to board members alleging financial and ethical misdeeds.
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