Friday, November 30, 2007

 

I am bullish on stocks

Just wanted to get that on the record. I am too tired lazy to write up my reasoning right now but I will soon. The triangle scenario that I pointed to in my last trade/stock post seems to be coming to pass. That puts the Dow over 15,500 early next year.

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Rush Limbaugh: Fred Thompson is the one, true conservative

Among the top tier Republican candidates, Rush says that only Fred has been a consistent conservative. You have been given your marching orders. Now you know who to vote for.

RUSH: …the genuine moderate as opposed to conservative aspects of three of the top-tier, four of the top-tier candidates were on full-fledged display last night. There was one candidate who did not display any moderateness or liberalism or have any of his past forays into those areas displayed, and that candidate was Fred Thompson. … …we have a campaign now where most of the candidates are not genuine conservatives. They may be saying they are, but in their past they have done some things that are not conservative in any way, shape, manner, or form — and I think a lot of those things are being overlooked even by friends of mine in the conservative media because the obsession is Hillary…

Audio:

Click to play

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

 

Double Standards


 

The trouble with Mitt

Mitt Romney is a fascinating person. He is well spoken, smart, and utterly without, shall we say, personal issues. That is awfully appealing coming from a candidate who most likely would be running against a person with a...ahem, stain or two on their soul.

That is why I was terrible disappointed to have learned that Mitt Romney is not who he claims to be: politically speaking. Mitt has many things going for him but that doesn't make me feel any better about the fact that Mitt has not been a conservative for very long and that his conversion to conservatism reeks of opportunism. If you want to educate yourself on Mitt I will point you to an ongoing series by Dan McLaughlin of Red State. He is through with part three of a 5 part series discussing Mitt's many problems beyond just his convenient changes of heart. I'll leave you with which pretty well sums up why I have no desire to see Mitt win the nomination.

In this sense, Romney revives memories of George H.W. Bush, like Romney a man of unquestioned personal integrity, a good family man and successful businessman but also a man wholly without political principles, who campaigned as the heir of the Reagan Revolution but ended up giving us tax hikes, a raft of liberal legislation, an adventure in Somalia, David Souter, and, in the end, Bill Clinton. Bush didn't sell us out again and again and again because he was a bad or dishonest man or a closet liberal; he just kept finding the path of least resistance to be running away from the principles he campaigned on, and lacked the core convictions to push back. The Romney record is nothing if not a series of searches for the positions that will be most convenient and popular for him at any given point in time. It's not that Romney's lying to us; but we really are fools if we believe that he will fight tomorrow for the things he says he believes today.

Is it too much to ask to have a Republican candidate who is conservative?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

 

Mitt Romney Log Cabin Republican ad from 1994 2007



(Via Hot Air.)

This is why a lot of people wanted Fred Thompson in the race. Who do you trust? Mitt today or Mitt from...whenever he changed his mind on abortion. What? Three years ago? That doesn't smack of a real change of heart more than a political calculation. If the abortion issue doesn't bother you then listen to Mitt run from the "Reagan-Bush" years.

Correction: I misconstrued the origin and timing of the ad above. It was put out by the Log Cabin Republicans. I give them credit for an ad which is very convincing although a bit sneaky. Although they use Mitt's own words Mitt did not put out an ad so blatantly liberal. Just his positions are liberal. Or were liberal. Now he is conservative. Trust him.

So here is a link to the debate in which Mitt Romney said that he was personally against abortion but was not against it enough to challenge Roe v. Wade.




Here is a fun game. When did Mitt change his mind on Roe v. Wade? Can you guess? Better yet, when did Mitt decide that he was a Republican? He said he was an independent during the Reagan-Bush years. Anyway, you get the gist. Mitt is a recent convert which is good for him but do conservatives want to trust that his conversion is really a change of heart or a political calculation. Do you really trust Mitt Romney to stay conservative?

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Giving Him The Business

From this weekend, via Ace:



Ace also has the original:


Sunday, November 25, 2007

 

US is‘worst’ imperialist: archbishop Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams before he started to let himself go.









Just when I was getting used to the idea of calling myself an Anglican.

Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by “clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the worst of all worlds”.

In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.

He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”. [Emphasis added.]

Yeah that's nice. Pour scorn on the United States in a Muslim magazine. Play to their stereotype. Good liberal, now roll over and beg. Good liberal.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

 

The Lost Lesson Of Thanksgiving

Here is the John Stossel article I mentioned yesterday:
Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. "Isn't sharing wonderful?" say the teachers.

They miss the point.

Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

 

Will The Patriots Go Undefeated?

And will the '72 Dolphins have to leave the champaign on ice this year?

Probably. At least according to bettors at Tradesports. As I write this the contract last traded at 53.8 and is offered at 59.6, which equates to roughly 3-2 odds.

Which I think is about right. Though 4 of their final 6 games are at home, those two road games, Week 13 @ Balitmore and Week 17 @ New York Giants, both at night, loom large. They also face the Steelers on a short week following the Monday night game in Baltimore. But if they are 15-0 with nothing but history to play for heading into Week 17 and the Giants, as is likely, are fighting for a playoff spot, can the Patriots maintain their motivation? Consider this:
Just three seasons after being separated by just three points in Super Bowl XXXIX, the gap between the Patriots and Eagles has widened to historic proportions: Philly is a 23½-point underdog.

That is the largest point spread for an NFL game that does not involve an expansion team, according to odds-making experts in Las Vegas.

On Dec. 5, 1976, the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 24-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers covered easily, winning 42-0.
Sal Paolantonio reports bettors have the perception that the Patriots are running up the score on opponents because of the illegal videotaping incident in Week 1. That incident certainly motivates them. They are playing like a team with a chip on their shoulder, which is part of the reason why they are the most methodically dominating football team I've ever seen.

Diego adds: The Patriots/Eagles betting line is also influenced by QB McNab's injury status but still is big.

Once the Pats have the top seed locked up we will see how bad they want to be undefeated. In week 17 they play the Giants who may be fighting for a playoff seed or even just to get in. It could be tough for the Pats to justify going for it by playing their starters all the way.

I disagreed with Don Shula's suggestion that an undefeated season for the Patriots should be given an asterisk (he backed away from that suggestion soon after) but I do think the Patriots image has been tarnished. They are cheaters. If they go undefeated it will be in the season that they were caught red handed and penalized for cheating.

NFL Commissioner Goodell made an awfully suspect move of destroying the evidence collected and suggesting the matter is closed. There was probably some pretty damning evidence which he could not allow to get out. Correcting past seasons games could have far reaching implications which Goodell likely wanted no part of. The Patriots got the Sandy Berger treatment and the fans were left wondering just what really happened.

Although the Patriots will be favored by significant margin in their remaining games I don't think they will go without a loss. They have some tough games yet to play. The Colts were probably the biggest game (and a healthy Colts team will give them a run for their money if they play again - even in New England) but the Steelers and Giants can beat them and the Ravens might not like the score being run up - that could lead to an injury.

It would be justice if the Patriots only loss this season was the Dolphins only win. But it might be the Buccaneers who send out the champagne this year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

 

Enjoy the Thanksgiving tradition of sitting around an airport


Americans Enjoying Thanksgiving Tradition Of Sitting Around At Airport

I know I have in the past. (Via Hot Air)

 

Kansas vs Missouri

A rivalry with Civil War roots

Who'd have thought back in August that this game would have national championship implications? Certainly not Tradesports, which didn't bother to list a BCS championship contract for Kansas.

History and tradition are integral to college football, as are rivalries, which are often fierce. None are fiercer than this weekend's Border Showdown, especially considering what's at stake:
The game Saturday will take place in a neutral site in the city -- Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs professional franchise -- but nothing about it is expected to be neutral. A night-time kickoff means that fans will have plenty of time to drink beforehand. Arrowhead officials, who typically replace about 15 of the stadium's 80,000 seats following a Chiefs game, expect the Kansas-Missouri brawl to leave as many as 500 seats destroyed. Tickets with double-digit face values are selling for $300 online.

Neither school has ever won a national football championship. Indeed, neither team has finished atop their conference since 1969. To fans on both sides, it is maddening to think that the biggest obstacle toward doing so this year is their oldest nemesis. "I hate Kansas more than everything," says Mr. Hickerson. On weeks when they're not playing each other, "I hate Kansas so much, I would rather have Kansas lose than have Missouri win."
The winner will play either Texas or Oklahoma for the Big 12 title and a possible berth in the national championship game. If Kansas wins out, a berth is all but certain; Missouri needs some help. Whoever loses, their fans will be devastated.

Just how devastated? Jason Whitlock comments:
I say let the outsiders run their mouths about Kansas’ soft schedule and about Harvard-Yale, Indiana-Purdue and Notre Dame-USC.

We know the truth. Those rivalries can’t touch Missouri-Kansas. I used to live in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes respect each other. It’s a good solid rivalry. So is Indiana-Purdue, the rivalry that defined my home state.

Missouri-Kansas is just different. It’s a way of life. It dates back to the Civil War and the abolitionist movement. I have Missouri friends who don’t like to cross the state line, and Kansas friends who feel the same way. Yeah, Norm Stewart has softened in retirement. He made peace with the Jayhawks. But I guarantee you he won’t sleep in Kansas or spend a dime in the state this week.

And I guarantee you on Saturday, no one inside Arrowhead Stadium will care who the Tigers or the Jayhawks beat to get here. All that will matter is what they do to each other. That’s all that’s mattered for more than 100 years.
Just what is a Jayhawk? From Wikipedia:
The Jayhawk is a cross between two hunting birds--the noisy blue jay and the quiet sparrow hawk. The term came to prominence just before the Civil War, in Bleeding Kansas, where it was adopted by militant abolitionist groups known as jayhawkers. With the admission of Kansas as a free state in 1861, Jayhawker became synonymous with the extremist people of Kansas. The Jayhawk appears in several Kansas cheers, most notably, the "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant in unison before and during games.
As an avid college football fan who has met alumni from both schools, I've known about this rivalry for some time. Its nice to see it getting national attention.

 

Natural Phenomena

Via Tigerhawk, 7 incredible natural phenomena you've probably never seen. I had been aware of only two, the Honduran rain of fishes and the tree climbing goats of Morocco.

Monday, November 19, 2007

 

Barry Bonds

Less equal than others?

John Kass thinks politicians and partisans should be defending Barry Bonds:
Democratic and Republican candidates should stand at the Barry Bonds rally in front of a banner with a simple slogan:

"Barry Bonds was only lying about baseball."

You don't like that? Sorry. But if a president can do it, and a senior White House aide can do it, logic dictates that a baseball player can do it. Naturally, it follows that you can do it, and I can do it. Everybody can lie under oath now, can't we? And what happens to the rule of law then?

That's the problem with principle. Once politicians use it to wipe the dirt off their friends, once we cheer them on in their muddy wiping, we can't very well put it back in the box and pretend it's clean.

It's not clean as a baseball. And it's not as white.
Sad but true.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

 

Insurgents attack US port

Even while anti-war insurgents are attacking the US military, former insurgents are working with US troops in Iraq.

First, violent protesters attempt to shut down a port in Olympia, Washington that is supplying our troops.

Seems like there might be more danger to our troops from these kooks in Washington state than the Sunni tribes in Iraq. Not everyone in Washington state is that bad. If you watch the video linked above you will notice there are quite a few regular citizens giving the hippies a piece of their mind.

I know you have heard of Brian de Palma's anti-war film Redacted but you probably haven't heard Michael Medved's review. Apparently the film is even worse than you could imagine with a scene with a Marine being beheaded which is sympathetic to the beheaders. I wonder how Mark Cuban's sponsorship of this dreck is going to play in Texas? Well, like in Washington, not everyone in Texas is conservative.

Friday, November 16, 2007

 

More Progress In Iraq

Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has approved the trial of two high-ranking Shi'ites, both Moqtada al-Sadr appointees, for running sectarian militias in the Health Ministry:
An Iraqi judge ruled last month that there was sufficient evidence to try the two former officials, who held senior positions in the Health Ministry. But there had been concern that the ministry might try to block the case by invoking a section of the Iraqi criminal law that proscribes the prosecution of officials who are executing their official duties.

The approval to hold a trial was provided in a memo issued earlier this week by the acting health minister. Mr. Maliki has formally endorsed the decision, American officials said.

The case has emerged as a major test of the ability of Iraq’s judicial system to take on difficult cases, particularly those in which the accused are prominent Shiites.

“This case is as important, if not more important, than the Saddam Hussein case,” Michael Walther, a Justice Department official who leads a task force that is advising the Iraqi judicial system, said in a telephone interview. He added that a successful trial would demonstrate that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government “is ready to prosecute its own.”
The militias abducted and murdered hundreds of hospitalized Sunnis. Visiting relatives were also targeted.

Via Captain Ed, who observes:
In some ways, this may represent the most significant step towards reconciliation since Maliki met with Sunni tribal leaders in Tikrit last August. The most important bedrock principle in a stable democracy is the equal application of the rule of law. Until now, Sunnis in Iraq have complained, with substantial justification, that the central government represented Shi'ite justice, not Iraqi justice. In approving this trial, Maliki shows that Sunnis can receive justice through the democratically-elected government, and that Shi'ites can be held accountable for their atrocities against the sectarian minority.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

 

Democrats & Iraq

No progress

Senators Harry Reid said today:
"Every place you go you hear about no progress being made in Iraq," said Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid.

"The government is stalemated today, as it was six months ago, as it was two years ago," Reid told reporters, warning US soldiers were caught in the middle of a civil war.

"It is not getting better, it is getting worse," he said.
Apparently Ried doesn't listen to his Senate colleagues.

Senator Schumer admits (my emphasis) that the Democrat's war funding shenanigans are pure partisan politics:
"The days are over when the money is sent no questions asked, when the money is sent without a price," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said.
Via Drudge

UPDATE
: Victor Davis Hanson calls the Democrats very useful idiots:
The result: if the Democrats don't wise up, its leadership will have done the impossible. As bad cops they alienate the Iraqis and make the Republicans look statesmanlike while giving them leverage in pressuring the government to make changes (e.g., Look you sheiks! it's us-or the unhinged Harry Reid); and two, leave a loud trail of defeatism that somehow amplifies in direct proportion to improved news from Iraq.

In short, their loud cut-offs and timetable talk will strengthen our poker hand in Iraq while earning Democrats the charge of fickleness and cynical illiberality; they shunned natural allies like the PhD Petraeus, and his sophisticated highly educated colonels, whom they once in 2004 in fact claimed needed to be listened to; and will now have their clips played all during summer 2008 as defeatists even as the news from the front continues to improve.

 

Novastar Financial: That's a bargain!

Living up to their name, Novastar, has blown up. Blown up real good.

NovaStar Financial Inc. shares lost more than half their value Thursday after the company reported losing almost $600 million in its third quarter and raised the specter of going bankrupt.

Shares of the Kansas City-based mortgage lender were down $2.51, or nearly 55 percent, to $2.08 Thursday. They traded at more than $105 at the beginning of the year.


Yes, they were cut in half on Thursday but the stock was over $250/share just a few years ago. But wait, is Novastar a bargain? It could be. After all the dividend yield is close to 500%. I wonder if that dividend is safe?

 

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything

Well not really just surfer dude. This guy isn't Spicoli.

Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt).


Just goes to show you that being a working stiff for the man is not the only road in life. Maybe he is counting on that righteous Nobel Prize money. Read the article if you want to know about some totally awesome physics and knarly symmetrical mathematics.

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Two interesting stories resulting from the credit crunch

Both have roots in securitized mortgages and they illustrated the far reaching problems caused by lax lending standards during the housing bubble.

One hidden problem that has the potential to be very bad for our financial system is the fact that supposedly safe investments sometimes hold small amounts of CDOs in order to goose up their return.

Based on information on GE Asset Management's Website, the enhanced cash fund has about 27% of its assets in home-equity asset-backed securities, 23% in residential mortgage securities and the rest in a mix of securities, including credit-card securities and corporate bonds. This information is as of June 30. [Emphasis added.]

Well maybe not small amounts. I would like to point out that they called these cash funds in this quote and the title of the article calls them bond funds. There is a big difference between the two in that investors expect to have no risk of losing their investment in a cash fund. In fact, the returns on this fund seem to indicate that they were considered a low risk profile.

The 4% loss suffered by outside investors is sizable relative to the added returns that the fund generated relative to short-term investments. The one-year return on the fund through June 30 was 5.49%, versus one-month Libor of 5.39%.


A 4% loss in a fund that only returned 0.10% over cash is huge. I don't know what past returns have been but even if they were 1.0% over Libor, which I strongly doubt, that would take 4 years to break even.

I know the amounts of money seem small but they show that the street was willing to trust that mortgage backed securities and other CDOs had a return and risk which could be readily understood. Also, these MBS securities will keep popping up for a long time producing losses in unexpected places. Uncertainty is the enemy of stability.

The second story concerns a judges decision to force mortgage security holders to produce paper work which unequivocally proves that they own the mortgages they are trying to foreclose on. Mortgages can and have been divided up into all sorts of securities. Interest only payments, principle only, dividing up the mortgage based on the timing of the payments, risk level of the borrowers, and so on and so forth which leaves the question of who really holds the mortgage. Apparently the mortgage securization industry has not been entirely legally correct when it comes to who is the owner.

On Oct. 10, Judge Boyko, 53, ordered the lenders’ representative to file copies of loan assignments showing that the lender was indeed the owner of the note and mortgage on each property when the foreclosure was filed. But lawyers for Deutsche Bank supplied documents showing only an intent to convey the rights in the mortgages rather than proof of ownership as of the foreclosure date.

Saying that Deutsche Bank’s arguments of legal standing fell woefully short, the judge wrote: “The institutions seem to adopt the attitude that since they have been doing this for so long, unchallenged, this practice equates with legal compliance. Finally put to the test, their weak legal arguments compel the court to stop them at the gate.”

This is just a paperwork issue that will be corrected very soon I imagine by the lawyers working for the various owners of these bits of mortgages. What it shows is that in the rush to securitize mortgages some "I"s weren't dotted and "T"s not crossed. Sloppy work, lack of due dilligence, failure to consider risk all in the rush to profit. All fine with me as long as the risk takers are the ones to suffer the consequences. IOW, know what's in your cash fund.

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Saudi Justice

Sickening

From Fox News:
A 19-year-old female victim of gang rape who initially was ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for telling her story to the news media.
Her lawyer faces disciplinary action.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

 

Fearless Supermice: Yeah that's a good idea

















Our mad scientist community have been doing some wonderous stupid things to mice lately. For one, they have produced a mouse that has incredible strength and stamina. They also live longer and breed longer. Oh yeah, there's one more thing.

But he said the supermouse was “very aggressive” and scientists weren't yet sure why.

Not sure why? A minor side-effect of being many times more physically fit than the average mouse. Don't these guys every go to the movies? So what do these mad scientists do with these aggressive supermice?

”“American scientists now have a breeding colony of 500 of such mice.”

Really!? You think its a good idea to keep that many of these mutants sitting around plotting humanities destruction because you know that mad scientists might be mad but their not stupid enough to tell the world that the aggressive supermice are also reading a 5th grade level. Could it get any worse? Yes it can.

A team of University of Tokyo researchers led by professors Hitoshi Sakano and Ko Kobayakawa have announced they have genetically engineered a mouse that does not fear cats...


Oh perfect. Of course the mad scientist solution to fearless, aggressive supermice is fearless, aggressive supercats. Soon everyone will need a tiger in their basement.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

 

80 is the new 30

Which makes me negative ten.

Monday, November 12, 2007

 

Happy Birthday Marine Corps



William swings while wearing a traditional Mongolian hat, a gift from his babysitter, Irka.












In the new Exersaucer/give-his-parents-a-few-minutes-to catch their breaths. He also appears to be telling me I am a loser.










Belatedly, it was Saturday. 232 years. It was also my boy's 6 month birthday. We celebrated by visiting his Godmother and giving his mother a break which she took to scrub the apartment.

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Just buy some bigger shirts

That's my favorite.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

 

Hannah's Petition

Veterans Day: School Off

We (in Antioch school district 34) should have the school day off for Veterans Day because we should be able to honor the ones who are fighting for OUR freedom in OUR country. Also because we’re at war right now and they’re sacrificing their lives for OUR freedom. We the under signed feel that we should not just have a moment of silence to show our respect for the ones at war right now they should have an ENTIRE day of respect.

John O adds: I agree with Hannah. Its a disgrace that Antioch school district 34 refuses to appropriately acknowledge Veteran's Day. Please use the comments section to sign on to Hannah's petition.

Friday, November 09, 2007

 

A Silly Contract

Do women talk exactly 10% more than men? I would guess no -- its more. But this is the silliest Intrade contract I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

 

Viden One Of The Best Bounce Juggling Video


Viden One Of The Best Bounce Juggling Video - Watch a funny movie here

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

 

Bono Councils Compromise With Al Qaeda

A preposterous notion

Via Instapundit, Tim Blair notes some "common sense" expressed by Bono:
There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It’s real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let’s not pretend it isn’t.
Nice to see a celebrity of Bono's prominence saying this publicly. But I think the above quote is better described as a recognition of reality than a display of common sense. The question below makes reference to his just stated opinion that Bush's plan for Iraq wouldn't work:
So you mentioned this to Wolfowitz. Who else did you say this to? Did you say it to Tony Blair?

I said it in all my conversations. To Condi. To Karl Rove. I did not discuss it with President Bush. I try to stick to my pitch, and it's an abuse of my access for me to switch subjects. But I'm a lippy Irish rock star, and I'm more used to putting my foot in my mouth than my fist. So occasionally I'm just going to talk about it.

I want to be very, very clear, however: I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It's real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let's not pretend it isn't.

I think people as reasoned as Tony Blair looked at the world and didn't want to be Neville Chamberlain, who came back from meeting with Hitler with a piece of paper saying "peace in our time," while Hitler was planning to cross the channel from France.

So what needs to be done?

There's a word all of us have learned to undervalue: compromise. Bill Clinton once rang us, because he was collecting opinions on whether he should give Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams [of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army] a visa into the United States. I thought, "These people have put bombs in supermarkets, and many innocent people have lost their lives." So I said, "No. Don't dignify them." And he said, "But shouldn't you always talk to people?" And I said, "Yeah, but you dignify them."

I was wrong. Clinton did exactly the right thing in talking to the Provisional IRA and other extremist elements. Now they have to do the same, in my opinion, with Hamas, and they have to do the same with Al Qaeda. You have to involve them in dialogue.

But then you've also got to try to cut off the oxygen supply of hatred, which is false ideas about who you are as an American, who you are in the West. I know that sounds like limp liberalism, but it's really not.
Yes, it is.

Equating al Qaeda and Hamas with the IRA is ridiculous. With his talk of compromise in answer to the second question, Bono seems to contradict himself. Compromise didn't work with either the Nazis or the Soviets (presuming by Stalinism he was referring to the Soviet Union). Unquestionably, both struggles were made more difficult as a result of Western concessions. If al Qaeda is a threat on the order of Nazism and Stalinism, how can he possibly advocate adopting a policy with a such a disastrous track record?

Compromise with al Qaeda is impossible, as Captain Ed observes:
What does Osama want? He wants a world that bends its knee to Islam, one way or the other. He has actually made this plain in his propaganda, too, although Western analysts dismiss it as meaningless rhetoric. Osama doesn't see it that way at all. He offers the West the peace of submission -- to Islam, to Osama's authority, and to the Muslim world as our new benevolent despots.

Monday, November 05, 2007

 

Legos

Zach likes legos. Rock on! And if you legos go to Legoshop.com.

 

Ameritina: History's warning about the price of money

I have been hearing this a lot lately:

We have sympathy for Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman, and company.

Or some variation of we feel sorry for them because they are in an impossible position. And the truth is they are, the Fed has an incipient credit crunch to deal with while the dollar is falling and commodity prices are rising. Cut rates and risk an out of control fall in the currency. Don't cut and watch the economy sink as the housing depression gets worse.

Truly no good solution but that still doesn't make me any less mad that they seem to have decided to trash the dollar and risk a 1970's style inflation and I am not alone. The "good" side of this choice is that it postpones reckoning with the housing market. In fact, I am sure the Fed's thinking goes something like this, "If the dollar doesn't get out of control by the end of next year we can get through the worst of the housing crisis." Of course, they might be right but it is a dangerous game which they are playing with the knowledge that previous crises were averted by the very same tactics. The problem is that times are different. The dollar is in a much more precarious position.

Between August 2001 and August 2007, the dollar price of gold soared 144 per cent, while the CPI rose only 17 per cent. The last time such a substantial and sustained appreciation of gold was observed was in the 1970s, on the heels of America's loose money policy and balance of payments deterioration in the 1960s and Rueff's warnings regarding "the precarious dominance of the dollar". There were two episodes, from 1971 to 1975 and from 1977 to 1980. In both, the increase in the price of gold and other commodities presaged substantial increases in CPI inflation as well as significant falls in the international value of the dollar.


Full circle will bring us back to the next Fed chairman who will be forced to raise interest rates, a la Volcker, and crush inflation...and the economy. Better to let the housing market correct itself without the intervening bout of inflation. This won't happen because Helicopter Ben thinks he is smarter than the rest of us.

I haven't had a clear idea about what the stock market might be doing since the July-August turbulence showed itself to be just a correction. Right now I still think we are in a correction and there are a couple of ways it can shake out. (See the chart.) Support remains around 13,100 and 12,500. The volatile markets of late just reinforce my opinion that stocks will stay above 12,500 and move sideways probably until the New Year then rally for a final(?) blowoff top.



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Friday, November 02, 2007

 

Palestine

As aid ebbs or flows, so do Palestinian acts of murder

Via Donald Sensing, who cautions "correlation does not equal causation." More here.

 

State Department Revolt

Democracy interferes with a sense of entitlement

Via Captain Ed, the Washington Post reports:
Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.

At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone.
Captain Ed comments:
Service in Iraq is no milk run. It requires diplomats to work extensively outside the Green Zone, mainly with PRTs on reconstruction efforts. They also work with the military on security issues and with local leaders on reconciliation in one of the most volatile mixes of ethnic and sectarian populaces in the region.

However, volunteers for the Foreign Service understand that the job entails such difficulties when they join. The oath they take should make that fairly clear. Thomas warned the staff in the meeting that one in three tours would likely be in "hardship" areas, given the challenges facing the US, and that the Foreign Service would act to ensure that these missions had enough staff to succeed.

Morale at State seems poor enough that forcing the issue will likely lead to an exodus. Most of the people at this meeting seemed outright hostile towards Condoleezza Rice and current leadership, which may not reflect on Rice personally at all but on policy differences with the current administration.
I hope it does lead to an exodus. Consider this from the post article:
A poll conducted this month by the American Foreign Service Association found that only 12 percent of officers "believe that . . . Rice is fighting for them," union president John K. Naland said at yesterday's meeting, which was first reported by the Associated Press.

"That's their right. But they're wrong," said Thomas, who appeared to grow increasingly agitated as the questioning became more pointed.

"Sometimes, if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct," Naland said.

"Eighty-eight percent of the country believed in slavery at one time. Was that correct?" Thomas responded, saying he was "insulted." Rice is fighting hard for them, he said. Amid scattered boos from the audience, Thomas added: "Let no one be a hypocrite. I really resent people telling me that I do not care about other Foreign Service officers."
Just who do those people who were booing think they are? I'd like to see Naland's quote in full, but isn't it his job to fight for his members? And why do Foreign Service Officers have a union?

In the comments, Hermie observes:
It boils down to a bunch of Washington 'elites' wanting to do the job according to their terms, not what their job description says.
Exactly. Their job -- which they volunteer for -- is to represent the country according to policy set by our elected government. Yet some believe otherwise:
"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," Crotty said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"

"You know that at any other (country) in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point," Crotty said to loud and sustained applause from the about 300 diplomats who attended the meeting in a large State Department auditorium.
How arrogant. Crotty's attitude and sense of entitlement, apparently shared by many in attendance, is dangerously anti-democratic. He has already volunteered to serve in Iraq if directed to do so by the elected government of this country. If he has a problem with that he has a problem abiding by electoral results. Besides, as Ace notes:
There’s a long an honorable history of public servants resigning when they can not in good conscious implement a policy. Perhaps Mr. Croddy and those that cheered him should consider that option.
People with Croddy's attitude and sense of entitlement have no business representing this country abroad. If this attitude is as pervasive at the State Department as I seems to be, a thorough house cleaning is long overdue.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

 

Wife Beating

The Islamic way

Little Green Footballs has a partial transcript and video of a Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-'Arifi explaining wife beating in Islam during a Ramadhan TV show for young Muslims:
Guest: “And beat them.”

Al-’Arifi: That’s right. How is this beating performed? What do you think?

Guest:: Light beatings.

Al-’Arifi: Light beatings in what way?

Guest:: For example, I wouldn’t beat her in the face...

Al-’Arifi: Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals. When a person is beating an animal... Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face. Some religious scholars say: “He should beat her with a toothpick.” I happen to have a toothpick with me. A man who is angry with his wife because she doesn’t get it... If he says to her: “Watch out, the child has fallen next to the stove,” or: “Move the child away from the electrical socket,” and she says: “I am busy” – then he beats her with a toothpick or something like it. He doesn’t beat her with a bottle of water, a plate, or a knife. This is forbidden. The scholars said he should beat her with a toothpick. Check out how gentle the toothpick used for beating is. This shows you that the purpose is not to inflict pain. When you beat an animal, you intend to cause it pain so it will obey you, because an animal would not understand if you said: “Oh camel, come on, start moving.” The camel does not understand such things, unless you beat it. A donkey understands nothing but beatings, but a woman, a man, a child, and so on, are generally more affected by emotions than by other things. If you beat her with a toothpick, or if you beat her lightly with your hand, and so on, it is meant to convey: “Woman, it has gone too far. I can’t bear it anymore.” If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly. He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child - slapping them right and left. Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this.
Update: I added to the portion of the transcript I selected in order to include everything I originally intended to include. I don't know why it didn't make it into the original post.

 

Bruce Tefft

Victim of legal jihad

Bruce Tefft, Director of CRA's Threat Assessment Center, is being sued by an anonymous New York City Muslim police analyst over personal opinions he expressed on an email group:
A Muslim analyst for the New York City Police Department is suing the city for workplace harassment, alleging he was subject to a regular stream of "anti-Islamic" messages from an e-mail list run by a former adviser who trained detectives in counter-terrorism.

The contracted adviser, retired 21-year CIA veteran Bruce Tefft, is also a defendant in the suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan last December.

But Tefft – a founder of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Unit – told WND he believes the analyst, who is not named in court papers, has no case against him. Tefft, noting the suit so far has cost him $50,000 in legal fees, cites First Amendment protections and argues NYPD personnel signed up for his e-mail list at their own will and were completely free to unsubscribe at any time.

He also points out his employer at the time, the private intelligence firm Orion Scientific Systems, covered his entire salary and expenses, effectively donating his services to the NYPD.
Front Page Magazine interviewed Tefft:
FP: So are you optimistic or pessimistic in the West’s ability to confront and defeat its enemy in this terror war? What advice would you give in terms of how the West can best prevail?

Tefft: While the war with Islam is eminently winnable, it is very difficult to be optimistic at this stage when one sees political correctness rampant and the Western leftists supporting Islam (as they supported the National Socialists and Lenin/Stalin in the last century), to the point our leadership (where is Churchill, Thatcher and Reagan when we need them?) is either too frightened or too ignorant to name our enemy.

Islam is basically a regressive ideology, reflecting the evil ambitions of Mohammed, a 6th century brigand. Even if it were to succeed temporarily in bringing a new Dark Age to the world, eventually it will collapse from its own internal inconsistencies and anti-humanistic beliefs. The West has prevailed in the past -- after the Crusades, the recovery of Spain from Muslims in 1492 and defeat of the marauding armies of Islam at the Gates of Vienna in 1529 for more than 500 years, Islam was contained. We need to recall that period, as well as the successful policy of containment from the Cold War, and again contain Islam to its existing borders and block its further spread.

FP: So how does it look like the trial will go? What are your expectations? Is there anyway that our readers can help?

Tefft: The trial is, of course, frivolous -- "legal jihad." It is an effort to shut me up and then shut me down. This is cloaked as an employment issue (which if it was truly, I would not be joined with the NYPD in the law suit since I was neither an employee of NYPD nor an employer of the Muslim. We have a motion to dismiss pending, but if that is rejected then we go to trial on a First Amendment basis.
A legal defense fund for Tefft is here.

Having read the whole interview, I can see how his views on Islam would be offensive to Muslims. But in this country, that's just tough.

Hopefully Tefft's observation about out leadership being too cowardly to name our enemy is about to change:
A divide is emerging on the presidential campaign trail over battling terrorists: how exactly to label the fight. While Democrats tend to talk about terrorism in general, Republicans increasingly pin the threat directly on Islam.

All the major Republican candidates regularly weave some form of the phrase "Islamic extremism" into their stump speeches. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has taken the rhetoric to a new level, running a television advertisement about "this century's nightmare, jihadism."

Democratic candidates generally don't emphasize linking Islam and terrorism. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton talks more of "global terrorism," while Sen. Barack Obama refers to "stateless terrorism."

"In four Democratic debates, not a single Democratic candidate said the word 'Islamic terrorism,'" former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at a Republican debate. "Now that is taking a political correctness to extremes."
Via Robert Spencer, who comments:
This is not, however, a CAIR press release. CAIR has simply reposted a Wall Street Journal article, "Linking Terror on the Trail: Republicans Point To Islam, Democrats Take Different Tone," by Elizabeth Holmes.

Elizabeth Holmes interviewed me at some length for this article, and I explained to her that the linkage between Islam and terrorism did not come from Republican presidential candidates, but from the terrorists themselves, who consistently point to Islamic teachings to explain and justify their actions. If we refuse to explore this, and to speak about it honestly, we are voluntarily declining to make use of the only key that they themselves have given us to understanding their own motives and goals. And without understanding the motives and goals of an opponent, you cannot defeat him.

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