A Junket That's Patently Enviable
Attention, Hill staffers: Washington summer getting to you? Thinking about how your boss has never taken you on a congressional delegation junket overseas? Beat the heat and conquer that lingering resentment! Sign up now for a fabulous staff delegation (staffdel) trip to lovely Copenhagen, Denmark, courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Okay, so maybe Copenhagen has not heretofore been known as a haven for pirates of movies, music or other intellectual property. But a USPTO spokesman said there is a "very strong relationship with the Danish office." And besides, someone over there, maybe some students or professors, might know something about those issues.
"The purpose of the trip," Jefferson D. Taylor, chief of the USPTO office of congressional relations, says in his invite, sent to aides on the Senate and House Judiciary subcommittees on intellectual property, "is for discussions on issues related to intellectual property rights" and such and to "meet with local patent and trademark office representatives, members of industry" and American businessmen in Denmark, and -- our favorite -- to "visit with students and staff of the Copenhagen Business School, University of Denmark." Nothing but heavy lifting.
On the House side, most of the Democratic staff declined to go, but several GOP staffers are said to be packing, and some GOP aides are said to be going from the Senate side. Only two USPTO officials -- Taylor and deputy for patents Margaret A. Focarino-- will accompany the half-dozen or so Hill folks.
Please note, this is not like a codel, which features military jets and aides and travel befitting the head of a Fortune 500 corporation. These are United Airlines flights from Dulles, leaving on Aug. 17 and returning on Aug. 21. But Copenhagen -- the Little Mermaid, Tivoli Gardens -- is most lovely, especially since it's not Washington in August.
A Terrible Word to Lose
This deplorable error in an Associated Press wire dispatch Monday is surely the result of the demise of copy editors in the news business. The wire carried news of conservative political commentator Robert D. Novak-- who, by the way, was always gracious and helpful to us, despite his cranky public persona -- and his retirement from the biz after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
And then a terrible gaffe: "Novak has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades. He announced late last month he has a brain."
This is the time of year when judicial nominees start reciting the mantra of all failed Oscar nominees. "Well, Quincemer was just super as the robot in 'Mayhem, the Movie: Part XX3,' " the loser says, and then lies: "I think it's a wonderful honor just to have been nominated by the academy."
Ah, yes. And pending judicial nominees should expect no more than a presidential nomination. As of Friday, when the Senate slithered out of town, there were 37 judicial nominees hanging, eight of them for the appeals courts -- the ones that count. The White House in the past couple of weeks even sent the Senate a few more nominations that are likely to go nowhere.
But all 37 nominees -- including old Loop Favorite James Rogan, former head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, who's been pending since January '07 -- were still hanging in the Senate Judiciary Committee. All but three of them will need both hearings and then committee votes after the Senate returns in September.
And then they'll need the skids greased for a full Senate vote immediately thereafter. Ain't gonna happen. The odds any of these folks get confirmed range from razor-thin to none, especially since the Senate is scheduled to be in session for only three weeks in September. The exception might be a deal being pushed by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) for two 3rd Circuit nominees.
In the Senate, where cross-party collegiality traditionally held sway, aides now use language such as "bad faith" and "poisonous" to describe the atmosphere. Grumpy Democrats are in no mood to move on judicial nominees or any nominees who will tip the balance of power on boards or commissions, much less on appellate courts.