Congresscritter Sheila Jackson Lee seems a little confused about which oppressed minority President Obama is supposed to be. Won’t you help her out?
Smartphone maker — and rising tech star — HTC is suddenly in a world of hurt:
Apple’s initial legal victory over rival HTC in a patent infringement suit could pave the way for Apple to collect high royalties from devices running Google Android, according to one analysis.
Mike Abramsky with RBC Capital Markets believes that Apple has the upper hand over HTC, which is a smaller handset maker with a limited portfolio of intellectual property. As such, Apple could potentially push for an injunction and ask the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar the import of HTC handsets.
Instead, Abramsky believes it’s more likely that Apple will try to establish a high royalty precedent on Android devices. He said the iPhone maker could garner a deal that’s similar to or even higher than the $5 per unit that Microsoft collects on HTC Android devices.
If Samsung and other Android handset makers are also found in violation of Apple’s patents, then who knows what will happen? Forced to choose between giving up a popular mobile OS or paying large sums to your biggest competitor isn’t a situation anyone would envy.
Britain’s News Corp scandal finally got interesting:
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.
Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.
Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: “At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”
Skeezy tabloid antics? Boring. Possible murder? Yikes.
Prosperity is just around the corner! Unfortunately, it seems the corner is a very long ways down the street. By Gallup’s measure (slightly better than the official BLS numbers) unemployment crept up to 8.9% in mid-July, up from 8.7% last month. BLS’s numbers pegged the June rate at 9.2%.
However, Gallup has underemployment at 18.3% — more than two points higher than the official rate.
There’s a lot of guesswork and seasonal adjustments and other such BS behind all these figures, so there’s no telling who’s closer to reality. But it’s crystal clear that the situation is terrible and it’s becoming clear that the terrible situation is getting worse instead of better.
Hat tip: Ed Morrissey, who concludes that the world is “bracing for another recession.”
It pays to be wary of any Balanced Budget Amendment proposal that doesn’t contain some sort of automatic enforcement mechanism. Without one, what happens to an out-of-balance budget? Does it become law, anyway? Does it go to the Supreme Court? And if so, would the Court then be forced to write a balanced budget for the Congress?
Now that’s legislating from the bench, and it’s unconscionable. But it could happen, if we had a BBA without an enforcement mechanism.
So I offer this modest proposal.
Take your favorite BBA — there are several good ones out there — and add the following section to the end of it.
Any member of Congress voting in favor of a budget, a budget item, or any program or expenditure in violation of this amendment will be removed immediately from office, and forfeit any and all congressional pension or benefits. Such persons shall also be forever barred from holding any other public office at any level of government.
Rock solid, eh?
UPDATE: Over on Twitter, Jazz Shaw reminded my that the very last bit — forbidding state or local offices — wouldn’t hold up. So we compromised on tattooing violator’s foreheads with the scarlet “DUH.”
Nine point two. That’s the unemployment rate. The White House told us it would be down around 7.2 by now, if only we’d pass the Stimulus.
40 weeks. That’s now the median length of time an unemployed person stays unemployed, the longest since the Great Depression.
One in seven. The fraction of Americans on food stamps. A postwar record.
Twenty percent. How much of Americans’ income comes from government transfer payments. Unprecedented.
I want you to keep these numbers in mind when David Ignatius assures you that what President Obama has is failure to communicate. Obama’s policies are just hunky dory.
Ignatius says Obama has “the right instincts” for cutting a budget deal, even though the President has yet to provide any actual budget numbers. His policy ideas “look pretty solid,” even though they’ve led to unprecedented spending, debt, unemployment and all the rest detailed above. The President has a “communications gap,” even though his three press conferences in the last two weeks have yet to move public sentiment on the debt ceiling, and two-plus years of selling ObamaCare has yet to make the law any less unpopular. Maybe the President should try communicating a little less. It seems the more he talks, the less people like him.
In foreign affairs, Ignatius says Obama “places equal emphasis on withdrawing troops and staying the course [in Afghanistan], which confuses people.” Well, that should confuse people — it’s a confused policy. The President’s Arab Spring approach is “a sensible mix of pragmatism and principle.” Perhaps. But Obama’s not-quite war with Libya is far from pragmatic, and he has yet to display much principle in Syria. In Egypt, both were abandoned. Rather, the President’s foreign policy appears to be an unintelligible mix of cynicism and naiveté.
In his day, Ronald Reagan was deemed little more than a “great communicator” whose speechmaking skills blessed him as “the Teflon President.” This, even as Reagan’s policies performed as promised. Obama now suffers a “communications gap,” even though his policies have resulted in economic disaster at home, and discombobulation abroad.
Now, David Ignatius is a smart guy. He’s been around Washington long enough to have seen all this before. So maybe he should worry less about Obama’s sales pitch, and spend a little more time sniffing at the merchandise.
Ella & Louis and finest recording of what is arguably George Gershwin’s finest song. Lyric by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin.
Get ready to blast off:
The Falcon Heavy rocket from SpaceX will soon have a launch site.
The company–better known as SpaceX than by its official name, Space Exploration Technologies–announced earlier this week that it has broken ground in Southern California at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is a Department of Defense space launch and missile testing site.
SpaceX has high hopes for the Falcon Heavy, which will be used by NASA to bring cargo to the International Space Station.The rocket is the first to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier, a feat that many in the space industry thought wouldn’t happen for quite some time.
That’s a remarkable price, and even more remarkable if it can hit as small a “box” in orbit as ULA hits regularly, putting satellites into orbit. Getting a bird into the sweet spot greatly extends its service life. Getting it up there so cheaply would save million — billions? — more.
We can do that former. Doing the latter would go a long way towards getting customers back from the Russians.
Go, Falcon Heavy!
Mr. President, you have got to be kidding me:
President Obama on Friday kept up the pressure on Republicans to agree to revenue increases in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, claiming 80 percent of the public supports Democrats’ demand for tax increases.
Remember last November, when the Democrats gained a near-record 63 seats, running on a national platform to “tax you sumbeetches back to the Stone Age?”
Yeah, me neither.
On Fox News Sunday, Mitch McConnell dropped a bit of trivia we don’t think of very often — but it’s still all too true. That is, “We don’t vote on 60% of the budget.”
Congress doesn’t have a say over nearly two-thirds of all spending — that’s entitlements and interest on the debts.
How the hell did that happen? Congress, as usual, abrogated its constitutional responsibilities. With entitlements, benefits were defined years ago, and set on autopilot without regard to the means to pay for them. That’s also how you get to $14 trillion in debt, and why Congress has no control over those interest payments, either.
Those soon-to-balloon interest payments, I might add.
Congress has it in its power to reclaim its power over the budget. But that would require the backbone to take unpopular stands.
Jeffery Snider has a long piece at RCM today explaining the Fed’s “modified pump & dump” policy. But here’s the graf you need to pay attention to:
Market discipline, no matter how brutal, is at least objective and often meritorious, an acceptable condition to free people – free to succeed, free to fail, all regardless of size or stature. General interference, including fiscal interjections such as General Motors and Chrysler, breeds distrust. Fiat is simply an invitation to chaos and discord, so three years of ongoing uncertainty is wholly unsurprising. Price discovery due to interference is not really price discovery at all, meaning the larger class of investors will never fully commit or regain faith. If the game is rigged, fewer and fewer will play.
Now you know why the jobs haven’t come back.
The dollar strengthened for a second day against the euro after a report showed U.S. consumer prices excluding food and energy increased for a second month, adding to optimism the economic recovery will accelerate.
The 17-nation European currency also weakened versus the yen before stress-test results for banks in the region. The Dollar Index had slumped earlier after Standard & Poor’s said there’s a 50 percent chance the U.S. will lose its top credit rating even if Congress reaches agreement on raising the debt ceiling to stave off a default.
“Having a slightly high reading of core inflation is something that grabbed the attention of the market today, which is our reason why the dollar should be benefiting after Bernanke’s speech that raised the idea that we could have more easing or the beginning of an exit,” said David Mann, regional head of research for the Americas at Standard Chartered Plc in New York.
If the Fed does decide to indulge in a third round of quantitative easing, that speck of inflation will take even higher interest rates down the road, to choke it off.
And all it takes is interest rates in the “normal” range of the ’90s before Washington’s interest payments jump from $200 billion today, to $800 billion sometime later. That’s bigger than defense, or Social Security, or Medicare/Medicaid. Just to cover the vig.
Oh, and that’s assuming we don’t add any more debt between now and then.
Shorter Obama: Millionaires and billionaires and corporate jets.
Lord, what a pissy, prissy presser he’s throwing this morning.
UPDATE: On Monday, Obama said he would veto a short-term budget fix. Today? Hey, if we can’t go “big,” let’s go small.
Bluff — called?
Robert Reich on the current economy:
When the Great Recession wiped out $7.8 trillion of home values, it crushed the nest eggs and eliminated the collateral of America’s middle class. As a result, consumer spending has been decimated. Households have been forced to reduce their debt to 115% of disposable personal income from 130% in 2007, and there’s more to come. Household debt averaged 75% of personal income between 1975 and 2000.
We’re in a vicious cycle in which job and wage losses further reduce Americans’ willingness to spend, which further slows the economy. Job growth has effectively stopped. The fraction of the population now working (58.2%) is near a 25-year low—lower than it was when recession officially ended in June 2009.
Wage growth has stopped as well. Average real hourly earnings for all employees declined by 1.1% between June 2009, when the recovery began, and May 2011. For the first time since World War II, there has been a decline in aggregate wages and salaries over seven quarters of post-recession recovery.
Shorter Reich (no pun intended): We have fewer workers devoting smaller paychecks to reducing greater household debt. This economy can’t improve until more people are working and making better money — and that can’t happen so long as the leviathan Regulatory State continues to strangle entrepreneurs.
On top of that, of course, we have record debt coming out of Washington, with no end in sight. The budget submitted by the President in February was so deeply cynical that the Democratic Senate rejected it, 97-0. Obama’s April “budget” was so blithely unserious that the CBO refused even to try and score it. The President then went on this week to bravely propose paltry $2 billion — yes, with a B — in spending cuts for this year, while refusing to even talk about returning the unspent remainder of the “stimulus.”
And this is the man leading the Democrats’ side of the debt ceiling negotiations.
Obama doesn’t even have a bluff to call. He’s sitting at the poker table amongst the serious adults, wearing a party hat, pounding his fist and demanding his cake.
I’m back. Er, my back is back. Mostly. The pain pills are grrrrrrreat! The muscle relaxants, positively dreamy.
Learned a few years ago that the only thing worse than lower back pain is upper back pain. You think it will put you on your back, but you can’t go there because it hurts too much.
So, what have I missed? Good stuff on PJTV, of course. First, we’ve got your Members Grab Bag Trifecta, plus another episode on the Democrats’ recent rediscovery of that old-time religion — and Tea Party values. Well, Charlie Rangel has to pray to somebody these days, right?
Over at Reason, the always way-smarter-than-me Veronique de Rugy has three myths & facts about stimulus spending. There’s a nice collection of scary-ass charts and myth-busting facts and all, but it boils down to just the subheads:
Myth 1: Stimulus spending can jump start the economy and fix unemployment.
Fact 1: Recent experience suggests stimulus spending won’t help.
Myth 2: Additional infrastructure spending is an effective way to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Fact 2: In theory, infrastructure spending injects more money into the economy than other types of government spending. In reality, however, politicians rarely include infrastructure spending in stimulus bills. Instead, they spend money on items like transfers and tax cuts. Only 3 percent of the last stimulus went to infrastructure.
Myth 3: Tax rebates will stimulate the economy.
Fact 3: The evidence says they don’t. First, people usually save the extra money. Second, even if tax rebates did increase consumption, companies don’t hire employees or build new plants because of a one-time boost.
I only wish she’d included one more:
Myth 4: With the stimulus, unemployment wouldn’t rise above 8%.
Fact 4: Since the stimulus, the unemployment rate has shot up to 9.2%, and has been 9% or higher for 11 of the last 13 months.
There. Now we have a complete collection.
Hair of the Dog: What a mess yesterday. We had fiscal armageddon, Bob Schieffer predicting the future, David Gregory asking the world’s dumbest question, Tim Geithner revealing his secret identity and George Will going nuclear on Donna Brazile. Honestly, the only thing it was missing was Christiane Amanpour talking to people you’ve never heard of about things you don’t care about.
Actually, Amanpour did do that. But I didn’t cover it. You’re welcome.
I’d buy that for a dollar — if only I had a dollar:
More stores across the U.S. that offer deeply-discounted products are seeing their sales decline after years of growth amid America’s “Great Recession” — and one analyst said on Monday it’s another sign of even deeper downturn.
While the demand at stores like the 99-Cent Store or Dollar Tree is still relatively high, the biggest chains in the nation have fallen short of Wall Street’s expectations for several months, a trend that may prove even more ominous for the economy at large.
“I think what’s going on in those stores is that we are in a depression for 80 percent of Americans,” top retail analyst Howard Davidowitz told KNX 1070.
America’s three largest discount chains — Dollar General Corp., Family Dollar Stores Inc. and Dollar Tree Inc. — all recently missed their quarterly earnings targets.
Ammo supplies are still tight, however.
Religious studies don’t usually make headline news, but here’s an exception:
MÜNSTER, Germany — Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany’s first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn’t like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.
So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.
German police have already advised the professor to move his center to a “more secure” location.
Reading yesterday’s dismal jobs report I flashed on a snippet of dialogue from Atlas Shrugged. Here’s John Galt speaking with Mr. Thompson, the Head of State:
“The country is in a terrible state. People are starving and giving up, the economy is falling to pieces, nobody is producing any longer. We don’t know what to do about it. You do. You know how to make things work. Okay, we’re ready to give in. We want you to tell us what to do.”
“I told you what to do.”
“Get out of the way.”
“That’s impossible! That’s fantastic! That’s out of the question!”
“You see? I told you we had nothing to discuss.”
There’s really nothing more to say.