Chaos Manor View, Wednesday, March 11, 2015
National-Security Worries Rise as a Test for 2016
By a stunning 62%-30%, Americans now support sending U.S. troops to fight Islamic State.
William A. Galston
March 10, 2015 7:11 p.m. ET
Events overseas are upending long-settled expectations about the 2016 presidential campaign.
In the two years after Barack Obama’s re-election, both political parties assumed that the 2016 election would hinge almost exclusively on the economy. As unemployment gradually subsided as a public issue, other economic concerns—such as stagnant wages, low labor-force-participation rates and declining social mobility—came to the fore. Potential presidential candidates in both parties jostled for field position as champions of opportunity for the middle class.
These issues will still be pivotal next year. But the Islamic State militants’ rise, the Russian threat to the peace of Europe and the Iranian challenge to stability in the Middle East have sparked increasing public worries about America’s security. Defense and foreign policy will not be as dominant in 2016 as they were in 2004, but they will be far more important than in 2008 and 2012.
The accumulating evidence from high-quality public-opinion research is hard to ignore. A Quinnipiac University survey released March 4 found that terrorism now trails only the economy as a top public priority: 67% of the American people regard Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as a “major threat” to U.S. security. The public is not satisfied with the Obama administration’s response to this threat. Only 39% approve of the president’s handling of terrorism (down from 52% a year ago), while 54% disapprove. When it comes to ISIS, the public’s view is even more negative, with only 35% approving.
These sentiments translate into support for much more assertive policies. The Quinnipiac survey found that by a stunning 62% to 30%, the American people now support sending U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Those in favor include majorities of Democrats and independents as well as Republicans, women as well as men, and young adults as well as seniors. This result underscores a late-February CBS poll, which found 57% of Americans favoring the use of ground forces, up 18 percentage points since last September.
ISIS has declared war on the United States, and for that matter on much of the civilized word including both Shiite and Sunni Muslim States; they are literally an enemy of all except the lands they control. I opposed going into Iraq: Saddam was a brutal tyrant and sons were worse, but they were no threat to the United States on a global scale. Mostly it was a territorial dispute in Arabia, and not our vital interest; and even if it were, once regime change was effected, we should have been done. Democracy in the Middle East is no American goal, and likely to lead to enmity.
ISIS – The Caliphate – is another matter. Just now a division of US troops with the aid of the Warthog force could abolish the Caliphate in a year. We build a base in Kurdish “Iraq”, where we would have an acceptable status of forces agreement. And we liberate Kurdish Iraq and turn it over to the Kurds; then we ask Baghdad if they want a status of forces agreement now. If they insist on their previous nonsense, we continue the war, but operate out of what in effect will be Kurdistan. The Caliphate must go; it would take about a year, and cost a lot less than the previous war. We might even make a profit.
Knock-off Apple Watches go on sale in China ft
Charles Clover in Beijing •
Fake Apple Watches — or at least watches that appear similar to the new devices and are suspiciously affordable — have gone on sale across China, as consumers jump the gun before the genuine items are available next month.
On ecommerce websites such as Alibaba’s Taobao, the watches appear nearly identical to Apple’s product, right down to the distinctive digital crown controller on the side of the device and four sensors on the underside.
Most do not have a brand marking, and cost Rmb250-Rmb500 ($40-$80) — about a tenth to one-fifth of the price of the cheapest Apple watch exhibited this week by Tim Cook, chief executive of the Cupertino-based group.
Revealed on Tuesday and scheduled to go on sale on April 24, Apple’s gold-cased luxury model costs up to $17,000 and appears to be aimed at wealthy Chinese buyers. In his multimedia presentation at the launch, Mr Cook highlighted that WeChat, China’s most popular chat app, could be used on the Apple device.
The early proliferation of fakes will not help Apple’s hopes of replicating the success of its iPhones in China, which is the world’s second-largest market for the smartphones behind the US.
Chinese knock-offs collectively demonstrate the speed, boldness and uncanny accuracy with which China’s counterfeiters can mimic even pioneering products.
Sellers have been fairly brazen about the provenance of their wares — on Taobao the “iwatch” was advertised with the slogan “Knockoff Apple watches have hit the market!”
But the seller cautioned: “If you are the kind of person who wants to compare a Rmb200 product with a Rmb3,000 Apple watch which has not been released, then this watch is not for you. Also, please stop asking us if this is the actual Apple watch.”
As early as January, Chinese companies were hawking knock-offs at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, costing as little as $27.
Taobao is owned by Alibaba, the US-listed group that handles 70 per cent of China’s online commerce. The knock-offs were also seen on other ecommerce websites and have been on sale this week in shopping centres.
Chinese authorities have been cracking down on online counterfeiting. In January, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), a regulator, criticised Alibaba for allowing fakes on its websites. Alibaba said it was taking the matter seriously and was “dedicated to the fight against counterfeits”.
On Monday, Zhang Mao, head of the SAIC, said the regulator was seeking harsher punishments for merchants caught selling counterfeit goods, adding that ecommerce was growing at a faster pace than regulations and laws could cope with, and that companies and the government should co-operate.
Additional reporting by Ma Fangjing
The Financial Times
Little surprise here. Now it’s Apple’s move.
Will equal-pay demands backfire on women? (MN)
POSTED: 03/10/2015 03:00:00 PM PDT
Actress Patricia Arquette called for equal pay from Hollywood to Main Street at the Oscars. Politician Hillary Clinton pushed for gender parity in high-tech, for smashing the glass ceiling that’s as much a part of the culture of Silicon Valley as apps and khakis.
Most reasonable people agree that women deserve a fair shake in the workplace, not to mention the halls of power, although it’s interesting how many pundits would prefer to nitpick at outspoken women like Arquette and Clinton rather than admit they touched a raw nerve.
The real trouble, however, is that no one knows how to get there from here.
Sheryl Sandberg reignited this age-old debate with her famous call for women to “lean in.” The Facebook CEO advocates that if women act more like men, if they are willing to work hard and negotiate harder, they can rise higher. Certainly there are examples of women who have followed this path to the top from the Valley to the Beltway.
Still the sad truth is that for many women, playing hardball can be disastrous advice in a volatile economy, where females still routinely make less than males. Think it can’t hurt to ask for a raise? Think again.
Recent studies show that women may actually be penalized for the same kinds of routine business negotiations that make men look like natural leaders — tough, tenacious and determined. Four studies conducted at Carnegie Mellon last year found that people dinged women who initiated negotiations for higher compensation more than they did men. This bias prevailed whether they watched videos of the negotiation or simply read about the scenario.
Most dire of all: Even women judged other women badly for trying to negotiate. Daring to ask for more money, in particular, was taboo.
I recall that when I was growing up before WW II, “women’s liberation” meant that married women would not have to work outside the home. It was more about raising pay, but not for working women: it was about the right to stay home with the kids. But that was long ago. Still, a case can be made: children with a full time home stating parent are much advantaged over those raised by hirelings…
Apple Dumpling Gang
A federal appeals court scoffs at the company’s antitrust bloodhound.
It’s not the new watch, but this week’s other big Apple news is that the Justice Department’s antitrust campaign is going about as well as the Russian winter did for Napoleon. On Tuesday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments about the roving prosecutor embedded inside Apple, and the three judges seemed skeptical.
Apple is working to evict Michael Bromwich from its Cupertino offices, where the lawyer has camped since federal district Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple conspired with publishers to fix digital book prices. The tech maker has a separate appeal on the antitrust merits before the Second Circuit, but this case is an important challenge to the racket of outside compliance monitors.
In all past civil litigation, special masters have been approved in settlements when companies consent to the terms of the oversight. They’re a tremendous gig for politically connected attorneys like Mr. Bromwich, and most companies that capitulate rather than fight probably deserve it.
But Mr. Bromwich was installed over Apple’s opposition, and he took the appointment as an invitation to all but bug the Apple boardroom. Mr. Bromwich’s investigation with an unlimited mandate and budget has drifted well afield of antitrust into Apple’s business and corporate culture.
Such treatment is usually reserved for institutions with a long history of criminality, like a state prison or corrupt union. They’re meant for Jimmy Hoffa, not the likes of Apple lead designer Jony Ive—who Mr. Bromwich demanded to interview, for some reason.
Apple argues that if judges appoint agents to act on their behalf, they must behave as disinterested and neutral officers of the court. Mr. Bromwich’s quasi-prosecutorial operation exceeds the judicial power and has included abuses such as collaborating ex parte with Justice to serve a witness against Apple in an adversarial hearing.
Judge Jesse Furman pressed DOJ’s lawyer Finnuala Tessier three times to concede that it would be “improper” if a judge had behaved like Mr. Bromwich. She ducked the questions, prompting him to joke about this discovery of new judicial powers—to laughter in the chambers.
Then there are the letters Mr. Bromwich sent directly to CEO Tim Cook and Apple directors in which he tried to circumvent attorney-client privilege and promote a relationship “that is unfiltered through outside counsel.” He later groused that Apple was “using its outside counsel as a shield to prevent interaction between senior management and my monitorship team.”
There’s more, but you get the idea. It’s nice work if you can get it.
The panel was also astonished that Mr. Bromwich’s earnings and hourly billing rate remain under judicial seal. (He has charged Apple $2.65 million so far, as we reported in “All Along the Apple Watchtower.”) Judge Jacobs ordered Ms. Tessier to provide a declaration to the court on this point, which he said he may later release in the public interest. The compensation of an allegedly public official is not supposed to be a state secret.
The late Samuel Francis would call this a splendid example of anarcho-tyranny. I have no better term. The usual result of anarcho-tyranny is an attempt to restore reason and honor. Such coups are generally temporary if successful at all; it’s one of the paths a collapsing Republic can take.
Here’s why patents are innovation’s worst enemy (WP)
By Vivek Wadhwa March 11 at 8:00 AM
The Founding Fathers of the United States considered intellectual property so important that they gave it a special place in the Constitution: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were not wrong. Patents did serve an important purpose during the days when technology advances happened over decades or centuries. In today’s era of exponentially advancing technologies, however, patents have become the greatest inhibitor to innovation and are holding the United States back. The only way of staying ahead is to out-innovate a competitor; speed to market and constant reinvention are critical. Patents do the reverse; they create disincentives to innovate and slow down innovators by allowing technology laggards and extortionists to sue them.
A new paper, Does Patent Licensing Mean Innovation, by Robin Feldman, of the University of California-Hastings Law School, and my colleague Mark Lemley, of Stanford Law School, dispels what doubt there may have been about the innovation value of patents. They analyzed the experience of real companies to see how often patent licenses actually spur innovation or technology transfer when patent holders assert their patents against companies. They found that almost no new innovation resulted. When patents were licensed, regardless of whether they were licensed from companies, patent trolls, or universities, they were practically worthless in enabling innovation.
The study underscores the need to broaden the focus of patent-reform efforts.
Instead of looking at licensing revenue and patent filings, as most academic research papers do, Feldman and Lemley did something unusual: they surveyed 188 technology-development companies in 11 different industry sectors, including computers and electronics, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology, communications and energy. They asked detailed questions about patent licensing, lawsuits and how often patent licenses spur innovation or technology transfer. In other words, the value provided by technology that was licensed.
There’s more, and anyone interested in patent trollery is invited to read it.
: Hm, The Daily Beast lunches on Clintonmail
Maybe all we have to do is ask the Chinese for copies of their captures of Clintonmail. Heck, maybe even Putin would provide copies. I wonder when Anonymous will post it all on WikiLeaks.
Hillary’s Secret Email Was a Cyberspy’s Dream Weapon http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/07/hillary-s-secret-email-was-a-cyberspy-s-dream-weapon.html?via=desktop&source=twitter
The Beast had a very nice lunch with left overs for an evening snack.
By the way, did anybody else notice her shifty eyes in her press conference? She looked at her notes, then the left wall, then her notes, then the right wall, then her notes, sometimes the back wall over audience heads, sometimes the ceiling; but, she never did look an audience member in the eye or the camera in its eye.
Combined with the clumsiness of the contrived comments this confirmed to me, “I am telling the biggest whopper of my life; but, I am a Clinton and you had best believe me lest you be Putinized.” (That last means “an enemy killed in a mysterious and suspicious manner such as Putin and the Clintons have apparently used in the past.)
I suspect we will hear more than we want to about Mrs. Clinton’s email in the year to come. There will be great argument about whether any laws were really broken. Maybe copies will be found on an unused desk in an ante-room at State, in late November, 2016.
Department of War
You wrote “[If there is] rot there you may be sure there is more in the field”
I submit the overworn observation that a fish rots from the head. I am retired enlisted and semi-retired engineer, in the latter capacity having more than 13 years of contract work for all the services and various similar or allied government agencies — call it 35 years of DOD experience altogether. In my personal experience I have become aware of multiple instances of flag officers lying – to the press, in congressional testimony, to their commands and/or to their superiors. Please note that I am excluding from judgment those cases of disinformation to the enemy, managerial manipulation, and social fibs that may be construed as duty or simple politeness.
IMO, Individuals at those ranks may still be able to serve with integrity, but I’ve come to view those cases as rare.
I resigned my last contract position (and left several others as quickly as could be arranged) rather than remain part of outright and ongoing acquisition fraud. A U.S. service chief of staff is on the congressional record (and YouTube) as stating that that particular system was the best and greatest ever. Becoming a whistleblower never appealed to me, and in most cases, reporting fraud waste and abuse is effectively prevented by the classified access clearance system.
I believe in bottom-up restructuring of DOD, and am cynical enough to think anything less is a half-measure.
Having had my rant, I must say that my experiences with the USMC have been markedly better than the rest. I have personally witnessed lone Marine Gunnies completing tasks with success and integrity — both of which qualities eluded well-staffed teams (engaged in very similar tasks) from the other services which were led by O-6 or higher. In my ideal scenario, the Marine Corps would lead the way (as usual) in rebuilding a department of war, and would become an independent service and not a financially neglected part of DON. I could easily be convinced to put the USN, USAF and Army under Marine Colonels, to start.
There are persons of honor and competence in all the services; but the Iron Law can hold in military institutions as well as elsewhere, particularly if encouraged from civilian leaders.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.