Patterico's Pontifications

8/22/2014

Too Bad The Democrats Slammed George Bush For Golfing…Oh. Wait. Added: Giving The President More Cover

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Fending off criticism of the president’s decision to hit the greens immediately after his James Foley press conference, the White House attempted to give the president cover today. Principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz played defense:

“[S]ports and leisure activities are a good release and clearing of the mind.”

Perhaps sensing that might not be good enough to assuage critics, Schultz added:

Foley’s death has “absolutely captured the president’s attention.”

“Just because the president is in a different location doesn’t mean he isn’t doing his job,” he also said, repeating a common refrain that the White House offers when facing criticism about presidential vacations.

The president is free to be as disrespectful and tone-deaf as he wants because simply put, he can. If none of the scandals his administration is laboring through haven’t yet shamed the man, then I wonder if it is even possible to do so. It’s still shocking to realize that the barbaric killing of an American citizen didn’t even penetrate enough for him to grasp that at the very least, an appearance of respectfulness and seriousness was called for. At the very least…

But speaking of that, it would appear that at least someone on that side of the aisle sees hypocrisy another way to cleverly justify the president’s bad behavior:

“We used to pillory George Bush for going to his ranch and we were wrong,” (David) Axelrod said of Obama’s predecessor. “The demands and pressures of the presidency are relentless, and we ought to want our presidents to get small breaks to relax, even in-and maybe especially in — the midst of crisis.”

–Dana

UPDATE: Since we are on the subject of giving the president cover, I’ve added yet another example. Unfortunately, this one puts others at serious risk.

On Wednesday, the White House leaked a classified special forces operation to rescue American hostages in Syria. The reason: political cover. The cost: so far, unknown.

But this much, we know: The politicized leak of this operation cut through the fog of war to let our enemies know exactly what happened that day in the desert, and because of that, future attempts to free American hostages will be more difficult to plan, farther between, and more dangerous to carry out.

On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed reports of the U.S. military’s failed clandestine hostage rescue operation in Syria. The operation was designed to rescue a number of Western hostages, including American journalist James Foley, that were being held by Islamic State terrorists in Syria. Details of the failed raid were leaked by senior White House officials earlier that day after the Obama administration came under intense scrutiny about what actions it had taken to free Foley following, who was beheaded . The leak was designed to provide political cover for President Barack Obama, who has been taking fire from the press for failing to take more decisive action against the Islamic State in either Iraq or Syria.

How to Get Obama’s Attention

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am

Saw this one on the Twitters and wanted to pass it along.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.50.02 AM

The beheading of James Foley was a tragedy. Now watch this drive.

Is the Ideal Patent Reform to Eliminate Patents?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Can you stand a non-Ferguson, non-ISIS, non-Obama post?

We should consider abolishing patents entirely.

Ken White tells us about the newest and most outrageous ploy by a patent troll: suing the lawyer that is trying to stop their abusive activity. A troll is an ugly monster who sits under a bridge and demands a toll for people to cross it, even though he provides no service whatsoever. A patent troll is an ugly monster who registers a ridiculous, overbroad patent, and then goes around suing and demanding cash settlements from people who do standard activities that he claims infringes on his patent.

The classic example is the guy who claims he invented podcasting. As I recall the story, he read stories from magazines and put them on cassette tapes, and filed a patent for this. In 2009, he “updated” the patent to include downloads from URLs on the Web. So now, if you are a podcaster, this guy might sue you — even though his supposedly original invention contributed zero to modern-day podcasting. For example, he sued Adam Carolla, thought to be the most successful podcaster in existence — and Carolla recently settled with him.

Abusive litigation is one hallmark of the patent troll, and in 2008 this very blog noted (for example) someone suing a patent troll tracker for defamation. Suits over patents tend to take place in the Eastern District of Texas. There is a little town there called Marshall that has numerous unoccupied office spaces which serve as the headquarters for plenty of “inventors” and their companies. The jurisdiction famously caters to patent trolls.

So there’s your background. Ken’s news is that one patent troll company is suing, not just the company that owns the patent, but their lawyer as well. Ken says: “Landmark Technologies has been widely described as a patent troll based on its model of demanding payments from businesses that accept credit cards online.” Landmark has sued eBay and eBay’s lawyer. Why eBay’s lawyer? Because he attempted to have the Patent Office re-examine Landmark’s patents. They claim this constituted any number of a laundry list of torts. As Ken points out, the Patent Office agreed with the lawyer as to one of the patents, and (by agreeing to re-examine them) showed that they believed there was a substantial question as to the others.

We’ve seen this type of abusive litigation, including suing lawyers who try to help victims, before. Hint: et-bray imberlin-kay.

Ken says: “However, the fact that patent trolls are willing to abuse the system like this — and lawyers are willing to help them — demonstrates the need for substantial patent reform.” Yes, I agree.

May I suggest abolishing patents?

Stephan Kinsella of AgainstMonopoly.org has argued that patents do not, in fact, encourage innovation. Instead, they cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars, stifling innovation and creating a sort of oligopoly. I find his arguments convincing. The empirical evidence appears to contradict the notion that we need to use government power to restrict how ideas are used, or we will get no new ideas. I don’t have time for a full exposition here, but wanted to mention the idea to get a discussion going.

Also: Ferguson! ISIS! Obama!

UPDATE: I have changed the link to Kinsella’s argument since the YouTube video was not working. You can hear his argument here.

I will have more to say on this topic, as it is clear from the comments that the post has been misconstrued (I am not arguing that we abolish patents simply to deal with patent trolls, for example) and that the arguments in favor of abolishing patents are being given short shrift. It makes sense, I suppose, since (as I said) I didn’t really have time to make the case this morning — but I plan to do so in coming days.

Gratitude Expressed

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Dr. Kent Brantley was released from Emory University Hospital yesterday. In his statement to the press, he eloquently expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the many people involved in his recovery, as well as God for seeing him through this ordeal. It was a good reminder to me that there is something greater than mere mortal man at work in this universe and that all is not random chaos and luck of the draw. I was also reminded that for the believer whose life is hidden in Christ, no matter the circumstances being faced, it is possible to more than endure with and because of grace. To the faithful like Dr. Brantley, to live is Christ, to die is gain becomes a profoundly real truth as it is worked out in their lives.

“Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. As a medical missionary, I never imagined myself in this position. When my family and I moved to Liberia last October to begin a two-year term working with Samaritan’s Purse, Ebola was not on the radar. We moved to Liberia because God called us to serve the people of Liberia.

“In March, when we got word that Ebola was in Guinea and had spread to Liberia, we began preparing for the worst. We didn’t receive our first Ebola patient until June, but when she arrived, we were ready. During the course of June and July, the number of Ebola patients increased steadily, and our amazing crew at ELWA Hospital took care of each patient with great care and compassion. We also took every precaution to protect ourselves from this dreaded disease by following MSF and WHO guidelines for safety.

“After taking Amber and our children to the airport to return to the States on Sunday morning, July 20, I poured myself into my work even more than before—transferring patients to our new, bigger isolation unit; training and orienting new staff; and working with our Human Resources officer to fill our staffing needs. Three days later, on Wednesday, July 23, I woke up feeling under the weather, and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease. As I lay in my bed in Liberia for the following nine days, getting sicker and weaker each day, I prayed that God would help me to be faithful even in my illness, and I prayed that in my life or in my death, He would be glorified.

Above all, I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and am glad for any attention my sickness has attracted for the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa, and encourage those in positions of leadership and influence to do everything possible to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end. Thank you.”

It is likely that because of Dr. Brantley’s contraction of Ebola (and subsequent recovery), more attention has been and will continue to be given to working on a vaccine, which in turn could lead to a slowdown and even eventual eradication of Ebola outbreaks. Full circle.

–Dana


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