Category: Ken Blackwell

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Trump: Expected to Advance Religious Liberty at the UN


Every year, without fail, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for religious freedom.  Persecution of religious minorities is rampant and deeply ingrained in government institutions, and Christians are high on the list of those at risk, especially Christians who have converted from Islam.

The most recent State Department report on international religious freedom notes that between 2010 and 2017, more than 600 Christians were imprisoned solely for the practice of their faith.  The same report points to an upsurge in anti-Christian sentiment within Iranian state media, accompanied by more frequent and aggressive raids on home-based churches.

International human rights groups can naturally be counted on to back up the State Department’s findings and to push for activism on behalf of at-risk individuals and populations in the Islamic Republic.

This goes to show how deeply Islamic extremism is ingrained into the identity of Iran’s theocratic regime.  Every time that regime prosecutes someone for national security crimes on the basis of membership in a religious minority, it is effectively admitting that the regime cannot survive in the presence of religious freedom.  As such, the mullahs tacitly admit this fact almost every single day.

There is no sensible reason for any modern, democratic government to dispute that fact.  Yet the previous White House did just that when it joined the European Union in pursuing negotiations with the Iranian regime on the expectation that this would promote “moderation” among the leadership.  More than three years after the signing of a nuclear deal that was supposed to usher in this moderation, the naïveté of this view has been clearly exposed.

As was revealed recently, some of the Obama administration officials have not given up hope for keeping this deal afloat.  John Kerry, for instance, has met with his Iranian counterparts and advised the ayatollahs to wait until the Trump administration is out.  His conduct is hard to fathom, and it is very damaging to U.S. national security imperatives as well as prospects for promoting religious liberty in the Middle East.

Fortunately, the current presidential administration has no such impulse to turn away from systematic violations of religious freedom and other human rights while waiting for Tehran to correct its own behavior.

In fact, the Trump administration has commendably made religious freedom a major focus of its foreign policy. This was demonstrated in July, when the State Department hosted its first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.  It will be demonstrated again this week when secretary of state Mike Pompeo attends the Values Voter Summit to participate in a discussion of international religious liberty.  None of his predecessors in the office has done the same.

The significance of these gestures is amplified, particularly where Iran policy is concerned, by the fact that the Trump administration has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to assertive foreign policies that will actually hold Tehran and other repressive governments accountable for violations of the rights of Christians and other minorities.  The U.S. is now in the midst of re-imposing the sanctions that were suspended in the wake of shortsighted international negotiations, and this is being done with the express purpose of compelling the Iranian regime toward a comprehensive change of behavior.

To complement its correct policy, the White House should publicly recognize that there is a viable alternative to the clerical regime, which has already specified unqualified religious freedom as part of its vision for Iran’s democratic future.  The 2018 Iran Uprising Summit to be held later this week will echo this message.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the coalition of Iranian opposition movements with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) at its core, is that alternative.  The longstanding pro-democratic Resistance has made itself known in recent months as the driving force behind a far-reaching protest movement that speaks for the economically disenfranchised, for the wrongfully imprisoned, for persecuted minorities, and so on.

In January, the supreme leader of the Iranian regime credited the MEK with facilitating the rapid spread of the protests and used that fact to spur a more aggressive crackdown on the group.  But even after 8,000 arrests and 50 deaths, the Iranian public remained ready to take to the streets again, and the protest movement showed a significant resurgence in March, following a message from NCRI president Maryam Rajavi calling for “a year full of uprisings” in pursuit of “final victory” over the Iranian regime.  In August, protests erupted in more than two dozen cities and towns.  Anti-government protests have become a new feature of the Iranian political landscape.

The Trump administration has done something admirable by giving international religious freedom a place of prominence in its foreign policy.  But it can truly follow through on its commitment to that principle only if it partners with local actors who share the same commitment.

Although Iran is presently one of the world’s most troubled areas in terms of religious liberty and human rights, it is also home to one of the most active, organized, and well established movements in favor of Western-style values and democratic governance.  There is no better or more obvious way of promoting those values in Iranian society than by endorsing and supporting the MEK and its allies.  President Trump presiding over the U.N. Security Council session on September 26 provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. to make a stand for universal values including religious freedoms and to make a clear case for greater multilateral pressure on Iran.

Ken Blackwell advises the Family Research Council and serves on the board of First Liberty Institute.  He was formerly a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Every year, without fail, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for religious freedom.  Persecution of religious minorities is rampant and deeply ingrained in government institutions, and Christians are high on the list of those at risk, especially Christians who have converted from Islam.

The most recent State Department report on international religious freedom notes that between 2010 and 2017, more than 600 Christians were imprisoned solely for the practice of their faith.  The same report points to an upsurge in anti-Christian sentiment within Iranian state media, accompanied by more frequent and aggressive raids on home-based churches.

International human rights groups can naturally be counted on to back up the State Department’s findings and to push for activism on behalf of at-risk individuals and populations in the Islamic Republic.

This goes to show how deeply Islamic extremism is ingrained into the identity of Iran’s theocratic regime.  Every time that regime prosecutes someone for national security crimes on the basis of membership in a religious minority, it is effectively admitting that the regime cannot survive in the presence of religious freedom.  As such, the mullahs tacitly admit this fact almost every single day.

There is no sensible reason for any modern, democratic government to dispute that fact.  Yet the previous White House did just that when it joined the European Union in pursuing negotiations with the Iranian regime on the expectation that this would promote “moderation” among the leadership.  More than three years after the signing of a nuclear deal that was supposed to usher in this moderation, the naïveté of this view has been clearly exposed.

As was revealed recently, some of the Obama administration officials have not given up hope for keeping this deal afloat.  John Kerry, for instance, has met with his Iranian counterparts and advised the ayatollahs to wait until the Trump administration is out.  His conduct is hard to fathom, and it is very damaging to U.S. national security imperatives as well as prospects for promoting religious liberty in the Middle East.

Fortunately, the current presidential administration has no such impulse to turn away from systematic violations of religious freedom and other human rights while waiting for Tehran to correct its own behavior.

In fact, the Trump administration has commendably made religious freedom a major focus of its foreign policy. This was demonstrated in July, when the State Department hosted its first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.  It will be demonstrated again this week when secretary of state Mike Pompeo attends the Values Voter Summit to participate in a discussion of international religious liberty.  None of his predecessors in the office has done the same.

The significance of these gestures is amplified, particularly where Iran policy is concerned, by the fact that the Trump administration has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to assertive foreign policies that will actually hold Tehran and other repressive governments accountable for violations of the rights of Christians and other minorities.  The U.S. is now in the midst of re-imposing the sanctions that were suspended in the wake of shortsighted international negotiations, and this is being done with the express purpose of compelling the Iranian regime toward a comprehensive change of behavior.

To complement its correct policy, the White House should publicly recognize that there is a viable alternative to the clerical regime, which has already specified unqualified religious freedom as part of its vision for Iran’s democratic future.  The 2018 Iran Uprising Summit to be held later this week will echo this message.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the coalition of Iranian opposition movements with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) at its core, is that alternative.  The longstanding pro-democratic Resistance has made itself known in recent months as the driving force behind a far-reaching protest movement that speaks for the economically disenfranchised, for the wrongfully imprisoned, for persecuted minorities, and so on.

In January, the supreme leader of the Iranian regime credited the MEK with facilitating the rapid spread of the protests and used that fact to spur a more aggressive crackdown on the group.  But even after 8,000 arrests and 50 deaths, the Iranian public remained ready to take to the streets again, and the protest movement showed a significant resurgence in March, following a message from NCRI president Maryam Rajavi calling for “a year full of uprisings” in pursuit of “final victory” over the Iranian regime.  In August, protests erupted in more than two dozen cities and towns.  Anti-government protests have become a new feature of the Iranian political landscape.

The Trump administration has done something admirable by giving international religious freedom a place of prominence in its foreign policy.  But it can truly follow through on its commitment to that principle only if it partners with local actors who share the same commitment.

Although Iran is presently one of the world’s most troubled areas in terms of religious liberty and human rights, it is also home to one of the most active, organized, and well established movements in favor of Western-style values and democratic governance.  There is no better or more obvious way of promoting those values in Iranian society than by endorsing and supporting the MEK and its allies.  President Trump presiding over the U.N. Security Council session on September 26 provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. to make a stand for universal values including religious freedoms and to make a clear case for greater multilateral pressure on Iran.

Ken Blackwell advises the Family Research Council and serves on the board of First Liberty Institute.  He was formerly a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.



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Houston, We Have a Problem


Texas has a dramatic history when it comes to voting.  “Landslide Lyndon” Johnson, who went on to become America’s 36th president, benefited from blatant fraud to win his first Senate race in 1948.  Following a runoff against a popular former governor, Johnson’s backers used recounts, corrections, and phony vote-shifting to hand him an 87-vote primary victory.

Today, it isn’t so easy to simply fabricate thousands of votes.  However, inaccurate voter registration rolls, brimming with the names of noncitizens, as well as those who have moved away or died, open the way to error and fraud.  That threatens the integrity of the vote in Texas and elsewhere.

A review of the presidential votes cast in Texas in 2008, 2012, and 2016 by the data analysis firm Votistics found a disturbing number of duplicate registrations and multiple votes.  This means that inaccurate voter rolls are not harmless, forgivable mistakes.

According to Votistics, data provided by the Texas secretary of state indicate that 104,800 people appear to be registered more than once.  That is, the list contains thousands of name/date of birth pairs.  Of course, some cases could reflect unusual coincidences.  But most are the same person.  The State of Texas and county registrars have the information necessary to confirm duplicate registrations and remove the extra ones.

Votistics found that 2,159 of these “voting pairs” appeared to have cast ballots in the same election.  The firm found another 272 cases of registrants who lacked fully matching middle names but also apparently voted more than once, as confirmed by data matching at various commercial sites that track personal information.  While Votistics had no detailed information on these ballots, at least some of them were cast erroneously or fraudulently.

Moreover, 45,854 registrants appeared to have voted more than once in at least one general election according to the records provided by the Texas State Board of Elections.

Texas also has a problem of the dead, or presumed dead, voting.  For instance, Votistics discovered that more than 3,000 of those who cast ballots apparently were older than the world’s oldest known person.  Remarkable!

In 2016 alone, nearly 800 people above the age of 100 appear to have voted, most of them in person.  Either the location of the Fountain of Youth is a few hundred miles off, or there’s a lot of voter impersonation going on.  Regardless of whether these ballots were fraudulent, the secretary of state should lead a determined effort to fix election rolls across the state.

The problems are systemic.  The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) has been reviewing the role of inaccurate registration lists across the country.  In Texas, 39 counties have more people registered than the number eligible to vote.  One of the worst offenders is Starr County, with roughly 16 percent more registrants than qualified residents.

In 2014, the ACRU secured a consent decree with Terrell County, Texas requiring officials to clean up their voter rolls by eliminating outdated and duplicate names.  As a result, the analysis by Votistics showed the number of “surplus” registrants down markedly.

Now the ACRU has negotiated a comprehensive settlement with Starr County, where an election official admitted under oath that if he attended the funeral of someone he knew to be a registered voter and saw the dead body with his own eyes, he would not remove the person’s name from the rolls without an official death certificate.  Is there any wonder why the rolls are in such a mess?

The problem of questionable voting is not limited to Texas.  Pennsylvania has welcomed not just centenarians, but double-centenarians in the voting booth.  Florida’s voter rolls have been swollen by the many noncitizens in the state.  Estimates of the number of inaccurate registrations nationwide are in the millions.

Election offenses are not victimless crimes.  For instance, limiting the ballot to citizens ensures that those empowered to decide the nation’s future have a substantial stake in the result.  Every illegal vote cast, no matter how well intentioned, dilutes the votes of the rest of us.

Organized fraud is far worse.  Although no candidate today likely matches the “success” of Lyndon Johnson, who would never have become president absent his 1948 theft, in close races, it doesn’t take many “fake” votes to change the outcome.  Last fall, one of Virginia’s state legislative races ended in a tie, and that result determined who controlled the House of Delegates.  The GOP held the seat when its candidate’s name was chosen by lot.  Just one improper vote would have changed the work of the entire legislature.

The 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 Florida ballots.  Moreover, the 2016 presidential election turned on close races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  The contest could be even closer next time.  Even without organized fraud, people who are not eligible to vote could end up deciding who governs America.

Keeping accurate voting lists is a local and state responsibility. Indeed, these governments have no more important responsibility than protecting the integrity of America’s democracy.  When they fail to do their duty, groups like the ACRU must go to court to hold election officials accountable.

Texas has much important work to do, as do most other states.  With the next election just two months away, they’d better get busy.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.

Texas has a dramatic history when it comes to voting.  “Landslide Lyndon” Johnson, who went on to become America’s 36th president, benefited from blatant fraud to win his first Senate race in 1948.  Following a runoff against a popular former governor, Johnson’s backers used recounts, corrections, and phony vote-shifting to hand him an 87-vote primary victory.

Today, it isn’t so easy to simply fabricate thousands of votes.  However, inaccurate voter registration rolls, brimming with the names of noncitizens, as well as those who have moved away or died, open the way to error and fraud.  That threatens the integrity of the vote in Texas and elsewhere.

A review of the presidential votes cast in Texas in 2008, 2012, and 2016 by the data analysis firm Votistics found a disturbing number of duplicate registrations and multiple votes.  This means that inaccurate voter rolls are not harmless, forgivable mistakes.

According to Votistics, data provided by the Texas secretary of state indicate that 104,800 people appear to be registered more than once.  That is, the list contains thousands of name/date of birth pairs.  Of course, some cases could reflect unusual coincidences.  But most are the same person.  The State of Texas and county registrars have the information necessary to confirm duplicate registrations and remove the extra ones.

Votistics found that 2,159 of these “voting pairs” appeared to have cast ballots in the same election.  The firm found another 272 cases of registrants who lacked fully matching middle names but also apparently voted more than once, as confirmed by data matching at various commercial sites that track personal information.  While Votistics had no detailed information on these ballots, at least some of them were cast erroneously or fraudulently.

Moreover, 45,854 registrants appeared to have voted more than once in at least one general election according to the records provided by the Texas State Board of Elections.

Texas also has a problem of the dead, or presumed dead, voting.  For instance, Votistics discovered that more than 3,000 of those who cast ballots apparently were older than the world’s oldest known person.  Remarkable!

In 2016 alone, nearly 800 people above the age of 100 appear to have voted, most of them in person.  Either the location of the Fountain of Youth is a few hundred miles off, or there’s a lot of voter impersonation going on.  Regardless of whether these ballots were fraudulent, the secretary of state should lead a determined effort to fix election rolls across the state.

The problems are systemic.  The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) has been reviewing the role of inaccurate registration lists across the country.  In Texas, 39 counties have more people registered than the number eligible to vote.  One of the worst offenders is Starr County, with roughly 16 percent more registrants than qualified residents.

In 2014, the ACRU secured a consent decree with Terrell County, Texas requiring officials to clean up their voter rolls by eliminating outdated and duplicate names.  As a result, the analysis by Votistics showed the number of “surplus” registrants down markedly.

Now the ACRU has negotiated a comprehensive settlement with Starr County, where an election official admitted under oath that if he attended the funeral of someone he knew to be a registered voter and saw the dead body with his own eyes, he would not remove the person’s name from the rolls without an official death certificate.  Is there any wonder why the rolls are in such a mess?

The problem of questionable voting is not limited to Texas.  Pennsylvania has welcomed not just centenarians, but double-centenarians in the voting booth.  Florida’s voter rolls have been swollen by the many noncitizens in the state.  Estimates of the number of inaccurate registrations nationwide are in the millions.

Election offenses are not victimless crimes.  For instance, limiting the ballot to citizens ensures that those empowered to decide the nation’s future have a substantial stake in the result.  Every illegal vote cast, no matter how well intentioned, dilutes the votes of the rest of us.

Organized fraud is far worse.  Although no candidate today likely matches the “success” of Lyndon Johnson, who would never have become president absent his 1948 theft, in close races, it doesn’t take many “fake” votes to change the outcome.  Last fall, one of Virginia’s state legislative races ended in a tie, and that result determined who controlled the House of Delegates.  The GOP held the seat when its candidate’s name was chosen by lot.  Just one improper vote would have changed the work of the entire legislature.

The 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 Florida ballots.  Moreover, the 2016 presidential election turned on close races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  The contest could be even closer next time.  Even without organized fraud, people who are not eligible to vote could end up deciding who governs America.

Keeping accurate voting lists is a local and state responsibility. Indeed, these governments have no more important responsibility than protecting the integrity of America’s democracy.  When they fail to do their duty, groups like the ACRU must go to court to hold election officials accountable.

Texas has much important work to do, as do most other states.  With the next election just two months away, they’d better get busy.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.



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Time to Reverse America's Innovation Decline


America’s position as the world’s innovation leader is in peril.  A decade of bad public policy combined with a judiciary that fundamentally misunderstands the importance of intellectual property protection has driven this downward spiral.  Fortunately, recent moves in Congress and a change in administration are sending signals that we have a chance to turn the tide.

We are ceding important ground to other nations like Germany, England, and even China, and we are doing so voluntarily.  Indeed, the current innovation crisis is a problem of our own creation.  Instead of supporting American inventors and strengthening intellectual property rights, in recent years, some in Congress had continued to push for more policy changes that would further discourage innovation and domestic investment.  This disturbing trend must be reversed.

Why should this be considered a crisis? In 2018, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) released its International I.P. index.  Regarding patent system strength, the GIPC ranked the United States 12th globally.  This is down from 10th last year and 1st in every edition prior to that.  This isn’t surprising if you consider that our patent system has been under direct attack by legislators, judges, and foreign nations for years.  This, in and of itself, should alarm policymakers in D.C.

The decline of our patent system’s strength, however, is not inevitable.  During the Reagan presidency, we faced a similar situation.  Japan was thought to be the leading threat to America’s global innovation leadership.  Today, that threat comes from China and South Korea.  The Reagan administration – through a commission on industrial competitiveness – took steps to turn this around by making significant changes to strengthen patent protections (along with property rights protections), reduce regulatory barriers, and enhance rules-based foreign trading. 

It’s time for us to take steps to protect American innovation again.  Fortunately, some members of Congress have begun to take action.  Recently, my fellow Ohioan Rep. Steve Stivers (R) joined with Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and other members on both sides of the aisle to introduce the STRONGER Patents Act – which seeks to strengthen America’s weakened patent system and restore our leadership in global innovation.

The legislation, which joins a Senate version sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), would “restore patents as property rights, make standards of protections in courts uniform, and protect start-ups from being out-resourced by technology incumbents.”  These bills would reform the out-of-control Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which has become known as a “patent death squad” by experts and would strengthen the ability of patent-holders to protect their innovations. 

The STRONGER Patents Act reflects an understanding of the unique challenges inventors face and fully appreciates the important role strong patent protections have in our innovation economy.  The barriers American innovators face in maintaining global competitiveness are real but not insurmountable if Congress and the Trump administration take action.  STRONGER addresses the erosion of fundamental property rights by Congress and the courts in recent years and helps swing the pendulum back toward American innovators.

In addition to the congressional moves, President Trump recognizes better than anyone that the future of American leadership depends on staying ahead of both our friends and our foes.  On trade policy, Trump has challenged conventional wisdom and put China on notice that intellectual property theft will be met with American strength and resolve.

In a positive sign, President Trump’s newly confirmed director of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Andrei Iancu, seems to understand that America’s patent system is in decline and that the PTO can be a force in reversing this trend.  At a recent address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Patent Policy Conference, Director Iancu said, “As a nation, we cannot continue down the same path if we want to maintain our global economic leadership.  And we will not continue down the same path.  This administration has a mission to create sustained economic growth, and innovation and I.P. protection are key goals in support of that mission.”

Our innovation slide can be turned around.  Making pro-I.P. policy a priority would send a signal to the world that we are not going to willingly give up our historic competitive innovation advantage.

If we fail to address the nation’s slide regarding I.P. protections, there will be consequences.  We’re already seeing inventors trying to obtain patents in countries who have strong patent protection regimes that include injunctive relief for patent-holders.  And venture capitalists are moving their investment to inventors holding patents in countries who have strong patents.  The message?  Strong patents spur research, development, innovation, and investment.

If we continue on the path that the administration and members of Congress supporting STRONGER are beginning to chart, we can be assured that the United States will once again be the best place to innovate.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.  He served as a domestic policy adviser to the Trump-Pence Presidential Transitional Team.

Image: Patents Wall Art via Flickr.

America’s position as the world’s innovation leader is in peril.  A decade of bad public policy combined with a judiciary that fundamentally misunderstands the importance of intellectual property protection has driven this downward spiral.  Fortunately, recent moves in Congress and a change in administration are sending signals that we have a chance to turn the tide.

We are ceding important ground to other nations like Germany, England, and even China, and we are doing so voluntarily.  Indeed, the current innovation crisis is a problem of our own creation.  Instead of supporting American inventors and strengthening intellectual property rights, in recent years, some in Congress had continued to push for more policy changes that would further discourage innovation and domestic investment.  This disturbing trend must be reversed.

Why should this be considered a crisis? In 2018, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) released its International I.P. index.  Regarding patent system strength, the GIPC ranked the United States 12th globally.  This is down from 10th last year and 1st in every edition prior to that.  This isn’t surprising if you consider that our patent system has been under direct attack by legislators, judges, and foreign nations for years.  This, in and of itself, should alarm policymakers in D.C.

The decline of our patent system’s strength, however, is not inevitable.  During the Reagan presidency, we faced a similar situation.  Japan was thought to be the leading threat to America’s global innovation leadership.  Today, that threat comes from China and South Korea.  The Reagan administration – through a commission on industrial competitiveness – took steps to turn this around by making significant changes to strengthen patent protections (along with property rights protections), reduce regulatory barriers, and enhance rules-based foreign trading. 

It’s time for us to take steps to protect American innovation again.  Fortunately, some members of Congress have begun to take action.  Recently, my fellow Ohioan Rep. Steve Stivers (R) joined with Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and other members on both sides of the aisle to introduce the STRONGER Patents Act – which seeks to strengthen America’s weakened patent system and restore our leadership in global innovation.

The legislation, which joins a Senate version sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), would “restore patents as property rights, make standards of protections in courts uniform, and protect start-ups from being out-resourced by technology incumbents.”  These bills would reform the out-of-control Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which has become known as a “patent death squad” by experts and would strengthen the ability of patent-holders to protect their innovations. 

The STRONGER Patents Act reflects an understanding of the unique challenges inventors face and fully appreciates the important role strong patent protections have in our innovation economy.  The barriers American innovators face in maintaining global competitiveness are real but not insurmountable if Congress and the Trump administration take action.  STRONGER addresses the erosion of fundamental property rights by Congress and the courts in recent years and helps swing the pendulum back toward American innovators.

In addition to the congressional moves, President Trump recognizes better than anyone that the future of American leadership depends on staying ahead of both our friends and our foes.  On trade policy, Trump has challenged conventional wisdom and put China on notice that intellectual property theft will be met with American strength and resolve.

In a positive sign, President Trump’s newly confirmed director of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Andrei Iancu, seems to understand that America’s patent system is in decline and that the PTO can be a force in reversing this trend.  At a recent address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Patent Policy Conference, Director Iancu said, “As a nation, we cannot continue down the same path if we want to maintain our global economic leadership.  And we will not continue down the same path.  This administration has a mission to create sustained economic growth, and innovation and I.P. protection are key goals in support of that mission.”

Our innovation slide can be turned around.  Making pro-I.P. policy a priority would send a signal to the world that we are not going to willingly give up our historic competitive innovation advantage.

If we fail to address the nation’s slide regarding I.P. protections, there will be consequences.  We’re already seeing inventors trying to obtain patents in countries who have strong patent protection regimes that include injunctive relief for patent-holders.  And venture capitalists are moving their investment to inventors holding patents in countries who have strong patents.  The message?  Strong patents spur research, development, innovation, and investment.

If we continue on the path that the administration and members of Congress supporting STRONGER are beginning to chart, we can be assured that the United States will once again be the best place to innovate.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.  He served as a domestic policy adviser to the Trump-Pence Presidential Transitional Team.

Image: Patents Wall Art via Flickr.



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Why the Democrats Sit on Their Hands


President Donald Trump has spoken to Congress and the nation.  He did what Democrats and some Republicans said he could not.  He provided Americans with a positive vision and offered realistic solutions, with an overriding theme to bring people together to make America great again.

It was a bravura performance.  He admitted that he hadn’t been communicating well. So he stepped up and made the speech of a lifetime.

Even many of his severest critics admitted that they saw someone different take charge in the midst of a world full of problems.

But President Trump’s triumph was far more than P.R.  If only that, he would have just done an Obama.  Toss out some sound bites.  Preen for the cameras.  Rely on the loyal commentariat to sing your praises.

President Trump can never rely on the latter, however.  The media did everything it could to prevent him from being elected.  And they went all out to destroy his presidency before he even got started.

What made President Trump’s address so powerful was that it was substantive.  The first Republican president in eight years, who enjoys a GOP-controlled Congress, which George W. Bush lost, provided an optimistic blueprint for governing.

The president began by urging his listeners to uphold the values that make America special.  The “torch of truth, liberty, and justice” has been passed.  The desecration of Jewish cemeteries and other disgraceful discriminatory acts remind us of the need to stand “united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

What isn’t to applaud in those sentiments?

Next, he made the case for “Renewal of the American Spirit.”  His vision places America first.  But not in a negative, selfish way.  “America is once against ready to lead,” he said.

However, we must first take care of members of our national family.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about anyone else.  But our greatest responsibility is to those in our own community.

As the president explained, we’ve sent money and jobs to other nations.  “We’ve financed and built one global project after another,” but we’ve ignored the fate of our own people in cities across America.  “We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open.”  The consequences have been large-scale illegal immigration, mass drug smuggling, and an increased risk of terrorism.

That has begun to change.  Trump has filled his short time as president with action.  More American companies are investing at home.  Lobbying by former government officials has been restricted.

The massive regulatory burden on American business is being lifted.  Violent crime is being confronted.  Immigration laws and rules are being enforced.  The Islamic State is being more effectively targeted.  And a Supreme Court justice has been nominated who believes that the courts are to interpret, not make the law.

You don’t have to like every policy to realize that this is a serious president with a serious agenda.  And there’s more to come.

He promised to improve America’s infrastructure, relying on private as well as public funds.  He urged Congress to “replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time provide better health care.”  That’s what should have been done at the start.

The president cited the importance of affordable and accessible child care.  He pointed to the need for faster development of cheaper drugs.  He called education “the civil rights issue of our time.”  Said President Trump: “Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.”  You’d think the Democrats at least would applaud that!  The military also needs to be strengthened, so that it can perform its most important role: defending the country.

The president closed with a rousing call for Americans to work together for a better future.  “Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people,” he observed.

He urged members of Congress to “join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.”  As for the people, he told them to “believe in yourselves.  Believe in your future.  And believe, once more, in America.”

A large majority told pollsters that President Trump had the right priorities and that they felt more optimistic about the country’s direction.  So much for the president’s supposed inability to lead.

Before a joint session of Congress, we saw the president the Democrats demanded: serious, positive, thoughtful, practical, uplifting.  But his opponents still sat on their hands.  They want him to fail, even if that means America fails.

But that’s not going to happen.

President Trump has issued a call to arms.  We the people must turn that into a reality.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.  He serves on the boards of directors of the Club For Growth and the NRA.  He was a domestic policy adviser to the Trump Presidential Transition Team.

President Donald Trump has spoken to Congress and the nation.  He did what Democrats and some Republicans said he could not.  He provided Americans with a positive vision and offered realistic solutions, with an overriding theme to bring people together to make America great again.

It was a bravura performance.  He admitted that he hadn’t been communicating well. So he stepped up and made the speech of a lifetime.

Even many of his severest critics admitted that they saw someone different take charge in the midst of a world full of problems.

But President Trump’s triumph was far more than P.R.  If only that, he would have just done an Obama.  Toss out some sound bites.  Preen for the cameras.  Rely on the loyal commentariat to sing your praises.

President Trump can never rely on the latter, however.  The media did everything it could to prevent him from being elected.  And they went all out to destroy his presidency before he even got started.

What made President Trump’s address so powerful was that it was substantive.  The first Republican president in eight years, who enjoys a GOP-controlled Congress, which George W. Bush lost, provided an optimistic blueprint for governing.

The president began by urging his listeners to uphold the values that make America special.  The “torch of truth, liberty, and justice” has been passed.  The desecration of Jewish cemeteries and other disgraceful discriminatory acts remind us of the need to stand “united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

What isn’t to applaud in those sentiments?

Next, he made the case for “Renewal of the American Spirit.”  His vision places America first.  But not in a negative, selfish way.  “America is once against ready to lead,” he said.

However, we must first take care of members of our national family.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about anyone else.  But our greatest responsibility is to those in our own community.

As the president explained, we’ve sent money and jobs to other nations.  “We’ve financed and built one global project after another,” but we’ve ignored the fate of our own people in cities across America.  “We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open.”  The consequences have been large-scale illegal immigration, mass drug smuggling, and an increased risk of terrorism.

That has begun to change.  Trump has filled his short time as president with action.  More American companies are investing at home.  Lobbying by former government officials has been restricted.

The massive regulatory burden on American business is being lifted.  Violent crime is being confronted.  Immigration laws and rules are being enforced.  The Islamic State is being more effectively targeted.  And a Supreme Court justice has been nominated who believes that the courts are to interpret, not make the law.

You don’t have to like every policy to realize that this is a serious president with a serious agenda.  And there’s more to come.

He promised to improve America’s infrastructure, relying on private as well as public funds.  He urged Congress to “replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time provide better health care.”  That’s what should have been done at the start.

The president cited the importance of affordable and accessible child care.  He pointed to the need for faster development of cheaper drugs.  He called education “the civil rights issue of our time.”  Said President Trump: “Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.”  You’d think the Democrats at least would applaud that!  The military also needs to be strengthened, so that it can perform its most important role: defending the country.

The president closed with a rousing call for Americans to work together for a better future.  “Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people,” he observed.

He urged members of Congress to “join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.”  As for the people, he told them to “believe in yourselves.  Believe in your future.  And believe, once more, in America.”

A large majority told pollsters that President Trump had the right priorities and that they felt more optimistic about the country’s direction.  So much for the president’s supposed inability to lead.

Before a joint session of Congress, we saw the president the Democrats demanded: serious, positive, thoughtful, practical, uplifting.  But his opponents still sat on their hands.  They want him to fail, even if that means America fails.

But that’s not going to happen.

President Trump has issued a call to arms.  We the people must turn that into a reality.

Ken Blackwell is a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.  He serves on the boards of directors of the Club For Growth and the NRA.  He was a domestic policy adviser to the Trump Presidential Transition Team.



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