Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The California Scare Campaign.

Calfornia lawmakers, and the unions who put them into office, will do everything in their power to cut services first, employees last. That is indeed a crucial reason why we got here in the first place. Any analysis that doesn't explore how a higher-than-inflation-plus-immigration budget has failed to deliver on any increase in services, is not an analysis worth taking more seriously than common propaganda.

More here.

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud.

It couldn't happen to a nicer "religion".

The article is here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First Hispanic Justice?

Apparently being Portuguese doesn't count.

Obama names Sonia Sotomayor 1st Hispanic Supreme Court justice

This sort of story has been all over the news since President Obama announced the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Houston Chronicle makes the claim here, ABC News here, USA Today here, and the New York Times here. There are countless others too, these are just the first ones I looked up.

Now while I will concede that Judge Sotomayor nomination does represent a certain historic milestone (if only in the sense that it represents the triumph of race/gender based politics in its most cynical form), I'm not sure I agree she will be the first Hispanic Justice-assuming of course that she's confirmed.

The word Hispanic derives from the Latin Hispania which was a geographic term used to describe the entire Iberian Peninsula (modern Portugal, Spain, Andorra, and Gibraltar). More recently the term Hispanic has come to have a more limited meaning, focusing on Spanish language and culture both in Spain and her former colonial empire. A case can be made however that Portugal (and by extension her former colonies) be included in the Hispanic world. The histories of the two nations are deeply intertwined and from 1580-1640 they were in fact a single country.

Furthermore, to the extent that Hispanic is a linguistic term Spanish and Portuguese are quite closely related. While they are definitely distinct languages they have more in common with each other than they do with say...French or Italian.

If you're wondering where this is going you're not alone. The wife had to listen to me ranting about this tonight, " What does any of that have to do with the Supreme Court" she patiently asked. "Well, Justice Cardozo springs to mind" I replied.

For those of us who have gone through that post-baccalaureate boot camp known as law school, Benjamin N. Cardozo was a breath of fresh air. A lot of what law student do is simply read old appellate decisions. Most are incredibly boring and not very illuminating as to where the law stands (anybody wanna try to explain the Lemon Test without consulting Gilbert's?). Cardozo was quite different. His writing is clear and concise and occasionally funny. His description of the Palsgraf case sticks with me to this day.

Anyway, Cardozo who served on the Supreme Court from 1932-1938, was Portuguese...and Jewish...and possibly homosexual...and was appointed to the court by a Republican President (Herbert Hoover) who disagreed with him but thought he was a damn fine judge. Hard to imagine someone like him being appointed today, and that's a shame.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pirates and the Law: A Retrospective.

In the late 1720s the Caribbean pirates’ flourishing community was brought to a screeching halt. An enhanced British naval presence was partly responsible for this. But, as I discuss in The Invisible Hook, most important in bringing pirates to their end was a series of early 18th-century legal changes that made it possible to effectively prosecute pirates.

Interesting. I had always assumed that old time piracy had ended because of a vigorous campaign on the part of the Royal Navy (which is indeed true). I had no idea there was a parallel legal war against piracy.

More here.

Memorial Day.

This weekend Americans honor our fallen. We remember with humility, those who have made the supreme sacrifice for the liberty of others. Whatever you think of our current wars or of those that preceded them, we are in the debt of these fallen men and women. For those who knew and loved them, we offer our gratitude and deepest condolences. God bless them all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Rain Forests.

CHILIBRE, Panama — The land where Marta Ortega de Wing raised hundreds of pigs until 10 years ago is being overtaken by galloping jungle — palms, lizards and ants.

Instead of farming, she now shops at the supermarket and her grown children and grandchildren live in places like Panama City and New York.

Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing’s — and much larger swaths of farmland — are reverting to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings.

These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

Interesting, more here.

The Urban Scar.

Usine Duval - St. Dié de Vosges by Le Corbusier, Lorraine, France.

Time has killed off a lot of modernist art. College courses that teach Gertrude Stein must be awfully undersubscribed today, assuming they are offered. Modernist sculpture and painting still receive respectful attention, but this is largely because people have so much money invested in them. It will be surprising if Mark Rothko, Henry Moore, Josef Albers, and Andy Warhol are still preoccupying any serious person (let alone commanding top dollar) 50 years from now. People who don't like them (most people) can avoid them.

But the architectural remnants of the age cannot be avoided. They endure--with their windowless façades, their human-repelling scale, their masses of dirty concrete and their self-conscious wish to shock. Worse things happened in the 20th century, but few were more puzzling than the way Americans let their landscape be ravaged by architects and planners, particularly in the years between World War II and the 1980s. Here a neighborhood of elegant storefronts would be demolished "for parking." There a row of century-old trees would be uprooted so that cars could whiz by at 60 rather than 45 miles an hour. Josep Lluís Sert's ghastly Holyoke Center still occupies the spot in Harvard Square where Massachusetts Avenue's beautiful line of Victorian brick was ripped apart to make way for it in the 1960s. Gerhard Kallmann's Boston City Hall still sits like a Stalinist mausoleum on an empty, windswept plaza, for which dozens of ancient city blocks were razed. You can work westward from there.

More here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jeremy Clarkson on the New Honda Insight.

Much has been written about the Insight, Honda’s new low-priced hybrid. We’ve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you’re easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.

So far, though, you have not been told what it’s like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.

So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

More here.

How to brew beer in a coffee maker, using only materials commonly found on a modestly sized oceanographic research vessel.

Beer brewing is as much an art as a science. Finding the right blend of delicate grains, hops, malt, adding just the right flavoring agents, boiling for exactly enough time to release the tannins, starches, humic acids from you wort, these are all skills that take a lifetime to master. Perfect beer is meticulously planned and carefully crafted.

Screw that.

More here.

Stolen from Theo.

Your Car Warranty is about to Expire.

The calls are incessant. They come to home phones, cell phones, and office extensions — even to numbers listed on the national Do Not Call registry.

An electronic recording issues a dire warning: "Your vehicle warranty may have expired" and refers you to a sales representative who attempts to sell you extended warranty coverage.

But when questioned about the warranty company, the representative immediately hangs up. The number left by the caller on the recipient's caller ID yields a disconnected line.

The wife and I have had about 20 of these calls since the new year. At first I thought it was some kind of mistake and I just hung up on them. As time passed and the calls continued, I began pressing the button to talk to a customer service rep. "Stop calling me!" I demanded-to no avail. The calls came anyway. Finally I tried asking the callers some questions so I'd know where to send my complaints. Do they work for Ford? GM? Perhaps it's in reference to that Honda I used to own...or maybe the Chrysler we sold a few years back. It turn out the answer is none of the above.

The numbers called by the telemarketers seem to be picked at random, without any previous knowledge about a customer's actual car or warranty, she said. Since the callers are apparently ignoring the Do Not Call list, registering may not provide relief, she said.

Tucson residents who have received the calls also report little success in asking the warranty-sales representatives to take them off internal lists. Mostly, the sales representatives just hang up when asked, call recipients said. Even when the recipient is told to press 2 to be removed from the list, it usually doesn't work.

"We can understand consumer frustration," States said.

She recommended that people report the calls to the Federal Trade Commission.

Well that's a fine idea but you are getting deluged with these calls and want to do something about you could always contact them yourself.

National Auto Warranty Service, Inc.

100 Mall Parkway

Wentzville, Missouri, 63385

U.S.A.Phone: 800-649-1856

Ain't the Internet cool?

More here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thirty Years Ago Today I Went to My First Major League Baseball Game.

Bill Buckner before the 1986 World Series made him infamous.

The Cubs were hosting the Phillies at Wrigley Field and it was my ninth birthday. Like so many misguided fools, I was at the time a big Cubs fan (I've since switched allegiance to the White Sox, a major betrayal in my family and something that I think bothers my mother even more than my becoming a Republican).

I can still tick off the starting lineup from those days: The outfield was Vail, Murcer and Kingman. Buckner and Ontiveros were at the corners, DeJesus and Sizemore in the middle. The catcher was...Barry Foote? Ok not sure about that one...and if you were lucky Rick Reuschel was pitching.

The Phillies were fearsome. They had won the Eastern Division in '76, '77, and '78 and would go on to win the World Series the following year. With names like Greg Luzinski, Lonnie Smith, Del Unser, Garry Maddox ("Two thirds of the Earth are covered by water. The other one third by Garry Maddox." - Hall of Famer / Broadcaster Ralph Kiner), Bake McBride and Jose Cardenal made up one of the finest outfields in the game.

The infield was even better: Larry Bowa was having the best fielding season of any shortstop in Major League history. Manny Trillo was solid and at the corners...THEY HAD PETE FREAKIN ROSE AND MIKE SCHMIDT! Bob Boone did most of the catching but the also had an ageing Tim McCarver and a youthful Keith Moreland (that's right kids, before he proved he was a lousy outfielder with the Cubs he first had to prove he was a lousy catcher for the Phils).

Then came the pitchers: Steve Carlton(329 career wins and all-time strike out leader when he retired), Jim Kaat (283 wins), and Tug McGraw, Ron Reed and Dick Ruthven were no slouches either.

The teams had split the first two games of the series and this was the rubber game. Here's Blogging Baseball's description of the game:

In a game started by Randy Lerch and Dennis Lamp, where neither of them lasted beyond a 1/3 of an inning, 11 home runs; 5 for the Phils, 6 for the Cubs went sailing out of wind-blown Wrigley Field. The box score lists Dave Kingman’s 3 home runs, Mike Schmidt’s 2, including the 10th inning game winner shows that even starter Randy Lerch got into the act amidst the 7 run outburst by the Phils in the 1st inning off over Lamp and Donnie Moore.

But, in the Cubs half of the 1st, they struck back for 6 including ‘King Kong’ Kingman’s first of his 3 homers, a 3 shot, as Lerch and Doug Bird were touched up.

Things quieted down temporarily as both teams registered goose-eggs in the 2nd inning. But in the 3rd, there was a second huge Phillies uprising as they scored 8 runs while the Cubs were retired in their 3rd without scoring; 15-6 Phils.

The 4th inning had the Phils scoring twice, the Cubs 3 times; 17-9 Phillies. The Phils scored 4 in the 5th and the Cubs followed with 7 in their half of the 5th, including Bill Buckner’s Grand Slam off of Tug Mcgraw as ‘the Tugger’ was tagged for all 7 Cubs runs and lasted but 2/3 of the 5th inning; 21-16 Phils.

The Cubs followed with 3 spots in the 6th and the 8th while the Phils managed another run in the 7th; game tied at 22.

Both sides rgistered goose-eggs in the 9th and the game went to the 10th with Cubs closer Bruce Sutter having shut Phils down in the 9th and Rawly Eastwick doing likewise to the Cubs in their half of the 9th.

With 2 out in the 10th, Mike Schmidt ended the scoring with his 2nd home run of the game, a solo shot off of Sutter. Eastwick retired the Cubs in order in his 2nd shut out inning and was credited with the win. Bruce Sutter pitched almost as well, 1 run, 1 hit in 2 relief innings, but that 1 run was the game winner to Schmidt. Sutter was tagged with the loss.

The two teams combined for 45 runs on 50 hits in a game where 21 different players scored runs and the 2-team total of 47 extra bases on long hits (24-Phi) set a ML mark for an extra inning game.

The game was the largest scoring game in the majors since August 25, 1922, when these same two teams met and duked out a 26-23 run-fest.

Anyway, it was a heck of a game and I've been in love with baseball ever since.

A nice look back on the game is here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

When Comets Attack: Solving the Mystery of the Biggest Natural Explosion in Modern History.

Trees felled by the Tunguska blast.

On the morning of June 30, 1908, the sky exploded over a remote region of central Siberia. A fireball as powerful as hundreds of Hiroshima atomic blasts scorched through the upper atmosphere, burning nearly 800 square miles of land. Scientists today think a small fragment of a comet or asteroid caused the "Tunguska event," so named for the Tunguska river nearby. Now, a controversial new scientific study suggests that a chunk of a comet caused the 5-10 megaton fireball, bouncing off the atmosphere and back into orbit around the sun. The scientists have even identified a candidate Tunguska object—now more than 100 million miles away—that will pass close to Earth again in 2045. Is there a hidden, but powerful, danger inside the seemingly harmless comet?

More here.

Tincture of Lawlessness.

Anyone, said T.S. Eliot, could carve a goose, were it not for the bones. And anyone could govern as boldly as his whims decreed, were it not for the skeletal structure that keeps civil society civil -- the rule of law. The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.

In February, California's Democratic-controlled Legislature, faced with a $42 billion budget deficit, trimmed $74 million (1.4 percent) from one of the state's fastest-growing programs, which provides care for low-income and incapacitated elderly people and which cost the state $5.42 billion last year. The Los Angeles Times reports that "loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester."

But the Service Employees International Union collects nearly $5 million a month from 223,000 caregivers who are members. And the Obama administration has told California that unless the $74 million in cuts are rescinded, it will deny the state $6.8 billion in stimulus money.

Such a federal ukase (the word derives from czarist Russia; how appropriate) to a state legislature is a sign of the administration's dependency agenda -- maximizing the number of people and institutions dependent on the federal government. For the first time, neither sales nor property nor income taxes are the largest source of money for state and local governments.

The federal government is.

The SEIU says the cuts violate contracts negotiated with counties. California officials say the state required the contracts to contain clauses allowing pay to be reduced if state funding is.

Anyway, the Obama administration, judging by its cavalier disregard of contracts between Chrysler and some of the lenders it sought money from, thinks contracts are written on water. The administration proposes that Chrysler's secured creditors get 28 cents per dollar on the $7 billion owed to them but that the United Auto Workers union get 43 cents per dollar on its $11 billion in claims -- and 55 percent of the company. This, even though the secured creditors' contracts supposedly guaranteed them better standing than the union.

Read the whole thing.

Troy's celebrated solar house left in dark.

Troy -- It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement -- a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups.

Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot.
But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed.

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren't sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open.

Lemme get this straight. They spent $900,000 on an 800 square foot house! That's supposed to be some kind of model for the future???? To put that number in perspective I found a similar house (actually slightly larger) in the same town for $59,000. Just because something is technically feasible doesn't mean is remotely practical.

The article is here.


PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

The article is here.

I think the change (assuming the poll is correct) is largely attributable to advances in medical technology. With modern imaging, it has become clear to anyone not blinded by ideology that life begins at conception. That doesn't necessarily translate to immediate conversion into a hard core pro-lifer, but it does make abortion more morally suspect.

But I Thought All those Foreigners Were Going to Love Us Once We Elected Obama...

Ordered by Congress to "buy American" when spending money from the $787 billion stimulus package, the town of Peru, Ind., stunned its Canadian supplier by rejecting sewage pumps made outside of Toronto. After a Navy official spotted Canadian pipe fittings in a construction project at Camp Pendleton, Calif., they were hauled out of the ground and replaced with American versions. In recent weeks, other Canadian manufacturers doing business with U.S. state and local governments say they have been besieged with requests to sign affidavits pledging that they will only supply materials made in the USA.

Outrage spread in Canada, with the Toronto Star last week bemoaning "a plague of protectionist measures in the U.S." and Canadian companies openly fretting about having to shift jobs to the United States to meet made-in-the-USA requirements. This week, the Canadians fired back. A number of Ontario towns, with a collective population of nearly 500,000, retaliated with measures effectively barring U.S. companies from their municipal contracts -- the first shot in a larger campaign that could shut U.S. companies out of billions of dollars worth of Canadian projects.

Read the whole thing.

In Defense of Cars.

[L]iberals and SWPLs absolutely hate cars (even though most own one anyway), and they have wet dreams for a carless society. But my contention is that a “walkable” community is either a luxury for the affluent, or a dismal living situation that those too poor to afford a car have to settle for. It’s not something that makes sense for middle class America.

An interesting argument I hadn't really considered before.

One of my Progressive Friends on Facebook...

mentioned that he was concerned that "health care reform" might be derailed by industry pledges to contain costs.

I didn't press him on the issue, but it seems to me he means one of two things:

A) He doesn't believe the folks who say costs can be contained with the current system.

B) He doesn't care about containing costs per se. Rather, he's concerned with universal access.

If he doesn't believe pledges to contain costs, I can't say I blame him. The rise in health care costs in my lifetime (I'm 38) has been staggering. What used to be an afterthought in family budgets has become the second largest expense after housing (in some families it's now #1). That begs the question, "why are prices increasing in excess of inflation?".

As a general matter, inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. Think of frontier mining towns in the 1800's where goods go for prices that would make your jaw drop today. The goods were scarce and money was plentiful. Roughly the same thing has occurred in medicine (and education) over the last 40 years. Supply has been tightly controlled in a number of ways. American medical schools graduate roughly the same number of doctors they did in 1960. In that time the U.S. population has doubled and we've gotten older, demographically speaking. We've managed to keep pace (sort of) by importing every English speaking doctor we can lay our hands on. Nevertheless it's undeniable that medical schools and the AMA which accredits them have operated as a cartel to maintain an artificially high price for health care. At the same time government has poured enormous sums into the health care industry, in part to make it more "affordable". In fact these efforts have had the opposite effect.

There are other culprits of course. Trial lawyers have imposed enormous burdens on those who practice medicine (and those who insure them). That's not to say people with real injuries don't deserve to be be made whole, but too often any undesirable medical outcome is seen as an opportunity for a payday. It needs to stop.

Finally, mandates from government tend to drive costs. When general political considerations trump specific medical judgments, cost containment is bound to be challenging at best. Of three health care programs currently run by the government: Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid (health care for the poor), and the VA system (health care for veterans) none can be thought of models of fiscal probity and cost control. In fact medicare costs are so far out of control that they threaten to bankrupt the country. How then will extending medicare to everyone contain costs? If anything it will just add further strain to a badly malfunctioning system.

The access to argument on the other hand, seems stronger to me. Many Americans are filled with genuine fear of illness and the attendant costs. The prospect of losing one's health insurance when out of a job horrifies people from countries with single payer or government run systems. We are told that 47 million lack health insurance at any given moment, though I'm unclear as to how many of those are foreign nationals. Given that we have roughly 20 million illegal aliens in this country, it seems likely that a substantial portion of the uninsured aren't Americans at all. Of the rest, many are young and healthy and they perceive health insurance as a luxury good. If they show up at an emergency room with a broken wrist, they either pay out of pocket or don't pay at all since they law requires that they be treated in any case. They are in effect, free riders who are betting that they wont get cancer, diabetes, or something else similarly expensive...and for the most part they are right.

The people who really get screwed in the current system are those with long term illnesses. When they change insurers it can be extremely difficult for them to get coverage for their disease. Two decades ago when AIDS was killing a lot of people I knew, many of them told me how difficult it was to change jobs, particularly if they were thinking of working for a small business. The impact of one AIDS patient could make an employers insurance premiums unaffordable. This led to employers being hesitant to hire those with HIV/AIDS, not out of bigotry (though there probably was more than a little of that) but in in effort to be able to afford health care coverage for the rest of their employees.

There are no easy solutions to the problems afflicting health care in the United States. If there were they would have been tried by now and some politician would be gloating about having done it. In some places, usually regulatory, I think government can serve a useful role. But for those who crave government run health care I have this question: what has government ever done cheaper and better than the private sector?

Friday, May 08, 2009

An Early Happy Mother's Day

Stolen from my buddy Pat Sternal.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

An open letter to President Obama from Wilhelm II, German kaiser and king of Prussia

Americans have been calling powerful Washington figures "czars" since the early 1830s. What do you see in the Romanovs that makes them such models of good government?

Should I Worry About Chrysler?

Perhaps it's idealistic of me, but the American bankruptcy system actually works very, very well. I think we should be very cautious about mucking with it, particularly when there's no reason to. The administration didn't need to beat up the creditors in order to reorganize the company--or at least, they wouldn't have needed to do so, if they weren't trying to make the creditors take less than they'd get in a liquidation. Nor did it need to do so to keep the UAW at the table--unlike capital, the UAW isn't going anywhere. The administration is beating up the creditors because a) it wants to give the UAW a much better deal than they'd get in liquidation and b) they'd like someone else to pay for it.

Read the whole thing.

Iran Launches Airstrikes on Iraqi Villages.

Under normal circumstances this sort of thing is considered an Act of War. With this administration it might result in a strongly worded letter. When will the left realize that the appearance of weakness merely emboldens aggressor states? Can anyone honestly say that they believe that the Iranians would have done this if George W. Bush was still President? They know that this administration wants out of Iraq as fast as possible and if it happens while Iran is making aggressive moves, they can claim to have driven us out. Another victory over the Great Satan.

Hope and Change!

Read the whole thing.

Robot Identifies Human Flesh As Bacon.

Image stolen from Alaska Robitics.

We're doomed.

The article is here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Little Known Fact...

Most people don’t know that back in 1912, Hellmann’s mayonnaise was manufactured in England.

In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What's (Not) Happening in the Maldives.

No spot in the Maldives is more than six feet above sea level. If ocean levels are rising, you'll see it here first. So what's happening? Apparently not much. From the article:

So it boils down to this: Who would you rather believe? People doing studies on-site and gathering photographic evidence that shows clear geologic actions of lowered sea levels on the islands, or somebody sitting in an office analyzing and doing regressions on tide gauge data when they’ve never even done and checking on the quality control of the gauges themselves?

The rest is here.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Jack Kemp, American.

Jack Kemp was enormously influential in the development of my personal political philosophy. I've always felt that he was the more natural heir to Ronald Reagan. He stood in sharp contrast to the "Compassionate Conservatism" (read Big-Government Conservatism) of the Bushes, and to a lesser extent John McCain and Bob Dole.

Kemp was a tireless promoter of small government conservatism. He worked for it with the zeal of a missionary. He would speak to groups, large and small oven taking questions well beyond the allotted time. If you asked him to come speak to your group he'd be there, schedule permitting. He was in the trenches winning hearts and minds. He was the right's happy warrior.

Kemp was hands down my first choice in the 1988 Republican Primaries, but sadly his campaign fizzled quickly and the party went a different direction. I swallowed my disappointment and hoped for the future. When in 1996 Dole chose Kemp as his Vice-Presidential candidate, I was thrilled. It meant that Kemp was Dole's obvious successor. I reasoned that even if Dole failed to beat Bill Clinton he'd be the obvious nominee in 2000. Obviously this did not come to pass. Kemp seemed...not quite himself during the campaign. He was distracted and and it seemed as though his heart really wasn't in it. For those too young to remember think of Fred Thompson in 2008, brilliant, right on every issue...and just not catching on with the voters.

The 1996 campaign irretrievably damaged the Kemp brand. By the time 2000 rolled around nobody thought of him as a serious presidential candidate. He was reduced to being the wise old man of the party. Someone who would occasionally appear on Sunday morning talk shows, but as a political force, he was spent. Republicans were left with evaluating which was worse: John McCain or George Bush. The rest is, as they say history.

He was a great man and I'll miss him.

A nice obit is here.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cutting edge Danish Interior seen in 70's Porno Movies.

A hilarious collection of interior desecrations. You can't see anything, but I wouldn't call it safe for work either.

They don't fly so much as they plummet.

Today's Amazing Fact.

President John Tyler was born in 1790, served from 1841-1845 and died in 1862.
Astonishingly, he has two living grandsons; Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928.

5 Design Flaws that Ruined Otherwise Smart Gadgets.

Some gadgets have famously bad designs. The N-Gage gaming cellphone looked like a Chocotaco, and it was nearly impossible to silence the Furby's sadistic squeals without removing its batteries. Thankfully, the days of major companies releasing design trainwrecks are mostly over.

That's not to say that every new gadget works the way we want it to. Far from it. Rather, these days, you're far more likely to find a product that almost does it right, but is still plagued by some singular fatal flaw that causes it to be buggy, frustrating, or even physically painful. Here are five recent gadgets whose designs failed in some simple way.

The article is here.

Dick Morris: Obama sows seeds of demise.

When the Obama administration crashes and burns, with approval ratings that fall through the floor, political scientists can trace its demise to its first hundred days. While Americans are careful not to consign a presidency they desperately need to succeed to the dustbin of history, the fact is that this president has moved — on issue after issue — in precisely the opposite direction of what the people want him to do.

Right now, Obama’s ratings must be pleasing to his eye. Voters like him and his wife immensely and approve of his activism in the face of the economic crisis. While polls show big doubts about what he is doing, the overwhelming sense is to let him have his way and pray that it works.

I think that's about right. Most folks, at least those outside of the hard left were hoping that Obama would be a repeat of Clinton-Gore on economic issues. Instead he's been more Henry Wallace-ish. It's making a LOT of people very nervous.

The rest is here.