That’s a lot of boots.
The new Kindle isn’t out yet, but already there’s a promised “Kindle-killer.” Read:
Amazon’s new E Ink-powered Kindle 2 is all the rage right now, but a Canadian bookseller is confident it can give you the same experience on your smartphone, and without the hefty pricetag.
Shortcovers — occasionally touted by its makers as “the Kindle Killer” — is set to launch in the coming days as an app for the iPhone, the BlackBerry, and the Android operating system. So can it really live up to its king-sized claims?
I finally got to play with a Blackberry the other night. Terrible input, and the screen was even worse. And I’m supposed to read a book on it? No thanks. I don’t even want to read much on my iPhone. The screen is just to small and the resolution (about 160 dots per inch) is still no match for print (300 dpi or better).
If anything can kill the Kindle, it’s… real books.
The Telegraph’s Toby Harnden writes:
Pity poor Joe Biden. His “there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong” quote is put straight to President Barack Obama during the White House press conference just now and his boss seemed to want to say: “Vice-President Who?”
As reporters started giggling, Obama came close to conceding that Biden was indeed a joke. “You know, I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to, not surprisingly.”
Biden will find plenty of company under that bus, including, of course, the President’s former pastor and own grandmother.
You’ve got to be kidding:
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The city of Lakewood has passed a new law regulating escort services as a way of cracking down on prostitutes who place ads or make deals on the Internet.
“The market is transitioning from the streets to the internet,” said Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta.
With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can find it all on the internet. Exotic dancers, VIP packages and the list goes on. All of them showing addresses close to W. Colfax.
“They hide behind the ‘escort’ title as a way to try and legitimize an illegal activity,” said Paletta.
That’s right: They’ve finally found a way to tax… thingy
Wow. Whatever the new bug is, it’s not fun. You know you’re sick when you put on a heavy robe and long underwear to get in to bed. Better today, thankfully. Just can’t wait (probably March) when the new endocrinologist decides to go ahead and kill off my thyroid. ‘Cause this whole extra-susceptibility-to-colds-and-flu thing is driving me nuts.
Lost my voice after the blogger bash Saturday night. Figured it was just a case of talking too much politics with too many guys in too noisy a bar. Woke up this morning without so much as a squeak for a voice.
That said, I’m pretty sure I can still type. Back in a a few after I catch up with the news and take the dog to the vet. And gargle a little more saltwater, just in case.
[This makes twice this week that VodkaPundit Perma-Co-Guest-Blogger Will Collier has snuck out of his undisclosed location to file another great post. Take it away, Will...]
All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.
Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the bygone days of 1993, which up until last month was the last time a Democratic president took office accompanied by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
After campaigning for a year and a half decrying “the worst economy in the last 50 years”–despite the fact that the mild recession of 1990-91 actually ended in March of ’91–one of Bill Clinton’s first priorities was to try and ram through (wait for it) a “stimulus package.” Back in those days, politicians hadn’t yet realized that they could add another three zeroes to their raids on everybody else’s pockets, so the Clinton bill was by today’s outlandish standards relatively modest, starting at a mere $30 billion dollars. Most of that was sold as “targeted stimulus,” which meant it was carefully targeted to pay off Democratic grandees and constituencies that had contributed to the 1992 campaign
All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.
Things did not go all that swimmingly for the Clinton “stimulus” package. By the middle of February, the bill had stalled in the Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster, and the White House sent out its chief economic advisor, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, to warn of the wonderful results should this recalcitrance end:
“The administration estimates that the stimulus package, taken by itself, will add about 0.3 percent to the annual growth rates of real gross domestic project in 1993 and 1994, creating 500,000 additional jobs by the end of 1994,” Tyson said. She forecast economic growth of 3.1 percent this year and 3.3 percent in 1994 if the package is approved.
The Clinton “stimulus” bill failed, going down to final defeat on April 22, 1993. It was never revived. As we all know, the American economy never recovered–oh, wait, that’s not correct. A year later, despite the non-presence of a federal “stimulus” law, unemployment had dropped from 7.1% to to 6.6%. Tyson’s growth prediction was not quite correct, either; the US GDP positively boomed in the fourth quarter of 1993 to the tune of 5.5%, and rose by 4% in 1994–all without the help of Clinton’s “stimulus” package.
The boom accelerated in the second half of the decade, with the greatest gains being realized from 1995 onwards–after the Democrats had been swept out of Congressional power, and as a result, Clinton’s penchants for tax hikes and big spending packages were effectively neutered. There were no grand “stimulus” packages from that point on, only good, old-fashioned gridlock that kept the government from raising taxes or spending to outrageous excess.
All of this has happened before… and if we’re very lucky, all of this will happen again.
Senator Tom Coburn on the Pork Package:
You cannot fix a problem until you know what the problem is. And the problem is us. We created this mess.”
[VodkaPundit's perma-co-guest blogger Will Collier checks in from an undisclosed location...]
The current debate over the monstrous and misnamed “stimulus bill” is bringing out the worst of the established Washington press corps. For a group that up until three weeks ago prided itself on “speaking truth to power,” this bunch is awfully comfortable with unexamined ideological assumptions, so long as power is in the hand of people who share those assumptions.
At Newsweek and the Politico, it’s taken as a given that the House Democrats’ monster of a spending bill is a benign attempt to save a faltering economy, and that any opposition to it is by definition illegitimate “playing politics.” Here’s Politico’s Jeanne Cummings, pausing in a column full of hosannas for The One to toss out a 20-year-old leftoid gripe about those meanies on the AM dial:
Despite Obama’s sky high personal approval ratings, polls show support has declined for his stimulus bill since Republicans and their conservative talk-radio allies began railing against what they labeled as pork barrel spending within it.
[W]hile the White House team struggled to adapt, it was business as usual on Capitol Hill for Republicans.
They could practically sleep-walk through their attack plan once House Democrats began to fill in Obama’s broad outlines for a stimulus with a few pet projects of their own.
It required two simple steps: Scream pork, call Rush Limbaugh.
Actually, Jeanne, it was The Savior who quite stupidly called out Limbaugh, bringing him back to the forefront of national political scene after several years in relative obscurity (although anybody with an audience the size of Rush’s–easily comparable to Obama’s vaunted 13 million email addresses–is never going to be all that far away from the political center ring). It’s also worth noting that Cummings assumes as a matter of course that any accusation of “pork” from the right must be false–but she can’t even keep her own narrative straight. Further down in her “analysis” piece, she notes,
[I]t’s hardly a secret that the president found unhelpful the House Democrats’ decision to slip funding for special groups into its version of his stimulus bill.
Funding to allow Medicaid programs to provide contraceptives as part of its family planning services to low income recipients was the Republicans’ first easy mark for attacking the legislation.
“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives — how does that stimulate the economy?” House Minority Leader John Boehner asked.
With a phone call from the White House, Obama had that provision stripped from the legislation but the damage was done and Republicans soon moved to the next so-called pork project to launch a new attack.
Um, which is it, Jeanne? Is the bill larded up with “funding for special groups,” as you note in one sentence, or is all that just blithely dismissible as “so-called pork,” just a couple of lines later? Why exactly is it out of bounds to point out–or God forbid, get rid of–money being appropriated for no particular good use?
Ah, well. Like they say on The Simpsons, cartoons don’t have to be consistent.
Even more laughably, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh manages to double-back on himself at least twice in this convoluted graph:
Obama’s desire to begin a “post-partisan” era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that’s supposed to be “temporary” and “targeted”—among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts that will prompt immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There’s no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.
I really love all that. Hirsh walks right up to considering the idea that the Pelosi payoffs might be just kind of unwarranted, but than shrugs it off with a “Nah, it’s more important to just borrow and spend a buttload of money and not worry too much about where it’s going.” It’s as perfect an expression of establishment Washington groupthink as you’re ever likely to read. Any consideration that this monstrosity wouldn’t do much of anything to help the economy at large is brushed away as “stale, Republican-style debate over pork.”
Here’s Beltway grandee Norm Ornstein in The New Republic, bemoaning the growth in lobbyists and their salaries relative to Congresscritters and staffers:
In 1969, a member of Congress earned $42,500. Today, the pay is nearly four times that, $169,300. But in 1969, the salary of a first-year associate at prime Washington firms was around $10,000–while today, the starting pay for a first-year associate is $160,000, not including hefty bonuses for those who have clerked for a federal judge. Back then, a senior partner in a Washington law firm would earn a bit more than a member of Congress; today, that partner might make ten times a congressional salary.
The disparities have grown even sharper with lobbyists. In 1969, a newly minted lobbyist with solid Capitol Hill experience could count on making a touch more than the $10,000 they earned as congressional staff. Today, the congressional staffer making $50,000 can look at a peer making five or six times that much as a lobbyist. An assistant secretary in an executive department can make similar multiples upon leaving office and taking up lobbying. The explosion of public relations and lobbying firms has meant that huge conglomerates like Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton, and WPP have bought up boutique firms created by former executive branch and congressional staffers, turning these staffers into instant multi-millionaires.
To his credit, Ornstein does admit just why there’s been so much growth in lobbyist and lawyer salaries:
In 1970, the federal budget was all of $195 billion. Today, the budget is over $3 trillion.
With so many federal dollars at stake, the capital injected into the system to influence government decisions has exploded.
… but, captive as anybody else to the Washington spend-first-ask-questions-later mentality, he never draws the obvious conclusion: if you want to get money out of Washington, then the government should take spend a whole hell of a lot less of it. Instead, Ornstein goes off on the normal goo-goo tangent, talking about restrictions on lobbyists and ethics reform packages and such. All well and good, I suppose, but also nowhere near as necessary if we simply had a government that didn’t trowel out so damn much cash, and exert so damn much influence over individuals and businesses, who then think they have to hire lobbyists to protect themselves–or try and get their own piece of the piggy pie.
And now we know just how low a brand-new president can go:
President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession that might prove irreversible, a fresh call to a recalcitrant Congress to move quickly.
In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, the president argued that each day without his stimulus package, Americans lose more jobs, savings and homes. His message came as congressional leaders struggle to control the huge stimulus bill that’s been growing larger by the day in the Senate. The addition of a new tax break for homebuyers Wednesday evening sent the price tag well past $900 billion.
The solution isn’t easy, but there is a solution — and one where future generations won’t have to pay for the President/Pelosi Political Payoff Pork Package.
1. Keep the banking system solvent, and quickly. Federal assistance to write off bad debts is probably necessary — and TARP probably has that covered. Speed here is of the essence.
2. Take our lumps. A nasty recession where individuals put off consumption and pay off debts simply has to happen.
3. We have charities and a social safety net to make sure individuals and families aren’t going hungry.
4. After the hangover, we can start spending like sailors again.
And there you have it.
Now you know just how low a terrorist organization can sink:
After Samira Jassam (or Jassim) was arrested by Iraqi police, she admitted to arranging the rapes of 80 women in an effort to prepare the women to be suicide bombers in Iraq. The confession is captured on video tape.
The rapes were apparently used as a means of shaming women into being more likely to commit suicide. After putting the women through such torture, Jassam took the women to their targets.
There’s really nothing else to say.
Ken Salazar certainly knows how to lengthen a recession:
Scolding the Bush administration for rushing in its final days to drill near treasured Utah national parks, President Barack Obama’s new Interior secretary Wednesday shelved oil and gas leases sold during a chaotic December auction.
Ken Salazar’s action — which drew cheers from conservationists and sneers from industry representatives — triggered questions about the validity of costly land-use plans governing development and recreation on federal lands in the Beehive State, the fate of a University of Utah student who sabotaged the disputed lease auction and the future of drilling in the West.
Falling commodity prices — especially for oil — are a great way to get people spending money again, or giving them enough extra income to pay down some debts. Instead, we seem determined to send the message that we just love expensive energy. I’d expect the oil markets to respond accordingly.
No way. Yes way:
Colorado Springs police are looking for a man who hit two 7-Eleven convenience stores early Wednesday, armed with a Klingon sword.
The first robbery was reported at 1:50 a.m., at 145 N Spruce St. The clerk told police a white man in his 20s, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and wearing a black mask, entered the store with a weapon the clerk recognized from the Star Trek TV series.
The robber demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount.
Police do not believe the suspect to be dangerous, and have set their phasers on “stun.”
Google Maps isn’t just limited to Earth any more. You can now take a 3D tour of Mars:
Besides providing a rich, immersive 3D view of Mars that will aid public understanding of Mars science, the new mode, Google Mars 3D, also gives researchers a platform for sharing data similar to what Google Earth provides for Earth scientists.
The mode enables users to fly virtually through enormous canyons and scale huge mountains on Mars that are much larger than any found on Earth. Users also can explore the Red Planet through the eyes of the Mars rovers and other Mars missions, providing a unique perspective of the entire planet.
Probably the coolest thing you’ll see all week.
Did you see this ad the New York Times has been running online? A simple banner, with very few words — but it’s pretty effective at getting its message across, I think.
Maybe a little too effective, if you know what I mean. Is it just me, or has the NYT ad department just given the President a ringing endorsement? It’s one thing when the editorial page makes an endorsement, but a banner ad? Really?
Rasmussen’s tracking polls show support for the President/Pelosi Pork Package is slipping:
Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say the final economic recovery plan that emerges from Congress is at least somewhat likely to make things worse rather than better, but 39% say such an outcome is not likely (see crosstabs).
Twenty-seven percent (27%) say the final legislation is Very Likely to make things worse, while just seven percent (7%) say it’s Not at All Likely to have that effect, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Support for the legislation has been slipping over the past two weeks and a plurality now oppose it.
It’s going to be difficult to sell the Senate on a trillion-dollar gamble that’s opposed by a near-majority of voters.
Hollywood “investments” in government garner a 12-fold return:
A provision in the current “stimulus” bill would allow Hollywood moguls to write off half the production and filming costs of big-budget films and TV shows.
Backed by Walt Disney and the Motion Picture Association of America, the provision amounts to an estimated $246 million Hollywood tax break over 11 years.
It’s the least Democrats can do for some of their richest and most generous supporters, who gave nearly $20 million in campaign contributions to Democrats during the 2008 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.