Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The real reason ABC dropped Bill Maher's show

ABC dropped "Politically Incorrect" soon after Maher's idiotic comment about American military forces being "cowards" (because we use cruise missiles versus jihadists who commit suicide). More fundamentally, ABC dropped his show because Maher is a fool.

Case in point: I had finished watching the latest Sopranos episode tonight on HBO On Demand, and when I switched to the main HBO channel, I caught Maher blabbering about the "Karl Rove attack arm" of the White House. He claimed that "previous administrations" never used these "tricks" such as "outing a spy" and firing federal prosecutors, because "they had too much integrity."

Say this in your best Captain Kirk voice: "Right." (From the scene in Star Trek VI where he answers Chang and Kerla with the dryness of a properly made martini.) If Maher believes his own rubbish that previous administrations never resorted to political tricks and games, he's either incredibly stupid or incredibly naïve. I lean toward the former.

I'm not saying the Bush administration is guiltless, but these are ridiculous accusations when there are worse things to worry about. Valerie Plame was so well-known as a non-covert CIA employee that the only resulting conviction was Scooter Libby for the trumped-up charge of "lying to investigators." That's the new trick these days, which worked all too well with Martha Stewart: when no other charge will stick, file a trumped-up charge of "lying to investigators," get a bunch of witnesses to give fuzzy testimony, and get a jury to convict based on how much they hate the person instead of whether the person is guilty of an actual crime.

Also, the nature of federal prosecutors' jobs is that they are employed at the pure pleasure of the executive branch. The firings need to be justified, well, as much as any of our superiors need to justify letting us go. And if the America people don't accept "performance reasons," then they can demonstrate it at the ballot box. The moonbats accuse the Bush Administration of firing prosecutors to shut down investigations of Republicans, conveniently omitting that, uh, Duke Cunningham was still convicted.

The firings are perhaps the biggest red herring yet about the Bush Administration. Let's be candid: Bush & Co. did well to push for tax cuts, but they've committed many sins against the Constitution, not the least of which is the NSA's warrantless surveillance. Gonzales has defended the wiretapping and should be booted for just his comments, since as the federal government's chief prosecutor he should be completely familiar and compliant with the Constitution. Or is the oath to "protect and defend the Constitution" meaningless?

Monday, April 16, 2007

"It was raining in the city by the bay...the hard rain."

Brownie points to whoever can identify that Trek quote.

I was talking with someone tonight and joked about "coming down right now" to the Bronx to give her a little present I'd picked up earlier. She said, "How about you do that!" and was very serious. So, I figured, why not, even at 9 p.m. on a Sunday when I work the next day. We'd just get coffee and that would be it. There was one problem, though: the torrential rains hadn't let up all freaking day. Even now, coming up on 1 a.m., it's still coming down with howling winds.

Well, I take that back. The problem was with the idiot drivers who can't handle wet roads, not the rain itself. I had no problem at all going down I-684 at 75, flying by others seemed to have trouble maintaining 50. My car doesn't even have rain-rated tires. Now, the Hutchinson and Bronx River Parkways do flood badly in this kind of weather, and it's proper that they were closed, but what the frig was up with the mile-long backup going from I-287 onto southbound I-95? And as always, you have the goddamn morons who go as far as they can, then try to butt into the exit lane 50 feet before the ramp. There must be a special circle of hell just for them.

I spent 20 minutes waiting to get on I-95, then another 40 running around Purchase and eventually doubling back. I should have given up then and there and went straight home, but I thought I'd give the Sprain Parkway a try. It was wide and clear, but just before it joins the Bronx River Parkway, we were diverted onto Central Avenue. Eventually I doubled back and went home, which disappointed the two of us.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hey, Al Sharpton, how about censoring yourself first?

The beleaguered Don Imus is going to appear on Al Sharpton's show, and he'll have to put on the appearance of being contrite and broken. All because he said "nappy-headed hos," as part of an exchange with his producer (who himself doesn't appear to be in any trouble at all).

That's all Imus said, at least this time. So say "ho" and imply woolen hair, and in the very first round of criticism, what was actually said will be ignored. You'll simply be branded a "racist," though hardly any of the "critics" will be able to say why, only that they "know" he's a racist or "says racist things." Note how this account doesn't even reproduce the actual exchange. That's because, by definition, the "civil rights" crowd must blow things out of proportion -- if they didn't, there would be nothing for them here to be outraged about. It doesn't even matter that, contrary to what some liars claim, Imus never said "jiggaboos" -- his producer did. But that doesn't matter, because it's now inextricably linked with Imus.

Considering everything Al Sharpton has said and fomented over the years, he's a fine one to accuse others of racism. Where is he when white victims are beaten by black crowds? Where are his protests over such racial hate crimes?

Today, followers of Christ (notice I didn't say "Christians") celebrated the resurrection of the Only Begotten, who taught us as recorded in Matthew 7,

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

What a real man of God would do is exhort people to emulate Christ, and thereby set examples to glorify God, not ourselves. Instead, being a modern day Pharisee, Sharpton is calling upon his true god: government. He wants to use government silence those whom he has declared his enemies, rather than make peace with them, rather than ignore them for they do him no real harm.

And if Al doesn't like what I've said here, he can take the bone out of his nose and shove it up his fat ass. I was going to say "gorilla ass," but that's just plain insulting to the higher primates. Now how's that for racist? If he'd like, he can call me a "Chinese wetback" in return, although I wouldn't care. I've never been called that (the term when I was young was "fucking Oriental"), but I've read that "Chinese wetback" is a derogatory term for Filipinos. I'd properly remind Sharpton, though, that, genetically speaking, I'm more properly called a Malaysian wetback.

Then you have people like Stacy Parker's mother, who couldn't quote what Imus said -- leading me to believe she doesn't even listen to the actual show. Yet she wants Imus fired for providing a service she doesn't use anyway. So much for liberals' "tolerance": it's not enough for them to avoid something they don't like, because if they don't like it, then damn it, you can't have it or use it or like it. And when Parker says, "It is not OK to sit like a coward in one's studio and speak such poison into the airwaves," will she apply the same standard to Al Sharpton and Air America?

Then, in true liberal fashion, Parker has to offer a straw man: "Other than the one we already know: in America, no one gets fired for hurting and disparaging black women. Ever." Imus' use of "ho" wasn't the nicest term, but how did that "hurt" or "disparage" the Rutgers players? Are they adults with a modicum of maturity, that they can deal with a two-letter word, or are they first-grade students who will start crying at any second? If he instead called them "no-talent scum," would that have been "disparaging" them in a more acceptable way? I don't think I was ever taught this, but it always seemed to me that if someone could insult you only because of your ethnicity, then clearly the person had nothing substantial to insult you about.

Another critic from the Huffington Post made said Imus should go to Baghdad, supposedly to broadcast. I read it as a veiled wish that Imus go there and get himself killed. How do we know it's not just an innocuous suggestion? Because if a conservative had said it about a liberal, it would be decried as a "threat."

The National Association of Black Journalists said, "As NABJ strives to dispel stereotypes and promote accurate portrayals of minorities in the media, we find this characterization of these young black women offensive and hateful." Funny enough, I wouldn't have even known the Rutgers team was mainly black. For some reason, it's these minority groups who have to keep making things a racial issue.

This guy is worried about "the sickening of our society" from people like Imus, but if he thinks Imus is stupid, why does he care so much? Why are all these outraged liberals, bent on imposing their own morality on the population, giving Imus all this free publicity? If Imus is fired from the airwaves, he can probably get a job right quick on satellite radio. Put him and Howard Stern back-to-back, and they'll probably become fast friends. Now let me confess something. I had heard the name Don Imus before, but until this blown-out-of-proportion controversy, I couldn't have told you who he was, or that he was a radio host. But now I'm convinced Imus' show must go on, for the very fact that people find it offensive.

Freedom of speech must entail being able to say the most offensive things without repercussion, or else it's meaningless. Liberals like to champion it, but they demonstrate time and time again that the freedom goes only as far as they like, that their "tolerance" means you must tolerate whatever they say and believe, but they don't have to tolerate anything anyone else says that they don't like.

Imus did apologize on-air, but he later said, "America is great in so many ways, one of which is the freedom to speak, and indeed think, freely. I have, of late, begun exercising the rights bestowed upon me by the democratic system I value..." Oh, oops. Imus didn't say that. Rosie O'Donnell did. This blogger talks about "Defending Rosie's right to be wrong," comparing her to Imus. How about making the comparison in reverse? Imus is hardly being "forgiven," and I doubt O'Donnell is in any danger of losing her job -- let alone having to apologize.

Imus has said a lot of things over the years, but I wonder if this is as much over his "racially charged" comments or to stop him from tearing into hypocritical liberals.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

John 20:1-9, KJV:

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

As one of my friends showed me, the part about the napkin is particularly important: it means Jesus did not merely resurrect as a spirit, but actually came back to life in the flesh and set aside the burial clothes. This is important because Mary's encounter with the risen Christ in verses 14 through 18 was with a living being with a physical body, not a spirit. Jesus later demonstrated this to a further degree with Thomas, who doubted. Note that Jesus had previously told Mary Magdalene, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father," and then dared Thomas, in a way, to examine his wounds. Jesus knew, of course, that Thomas would only reply, "My LORD and my God."

"Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

There we see the plain key to salvation by faith. Crucifixes, rosaries, putting statues of whatever saint in your home, a priest shaking incense, even regular taking of the Eucharist -- none of these have power to save. For too many, these have become poisonous rituals that breed dependence on religion while destroying faith. It is faith alone in Jesus Christ, who gave up his life of his own accord to redeem people from their sins, and resurrected on the third day to reign forever and conquer death for us.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Give us this day our daily propaganda

I saw a couple of news headlines recently that reminded me that I had an old screenshot I hadn't gotten around to blogging about.

This was from the morning of March 4th, when the Yahoo News editors were stupid enough to put up a headline about February 27th. It was typical mainstream media bullshit about February 27th's market decline, which they'd like to have people believe was a major crash. I debunked that a ways through this post, and let me update the figures. Year-to-date, the DJIA has gained only 0.8%. But if you had bought a Dow Jones Industrial Average index fund on February 28th, the day after it closed at 12216.2402, then your purchase as of April 5th's close would have already gained 2.8% (the DJIA closed at 12560.8301). If you had bought on March 6th, the day after the market "tumbled" to 12050.4102, then your purchase as of April 5th's close would have gained 4.2%. (Below I'll explain why I'm talking about buying on the next day, not that day.)

Well, this is how the free market works. When people are imprudent or desperate enough to dump assets that are declining in value, but the assets are actually worth more (whether at present or in the long term), then smarter people will be happy to oblige by buying. I don't know about the rest of you, but being far smarter than the average liberal, I like living in a reality where smart people are rewarded while stupid people are left behind. This isn't to say stocks always go up after a few months, but in addition to being wise about long-term investments, you can do well by spotting buy opportunities when a bull market dips (which is by definition temporary).

Oh, the article itself? I can't find it anymore, but part of it is reproduced here. The MSM's desired hysteria was over the fact that very heavy trading caused a delay in the recalculation of the DJIA -- but remember that its very name tells us it's an average (a weighted one, actually). Contrary to what the stupid headline implies, the DJIA didn't drop quickly because of a computer error or computer-decided trades. The only thing that happened was that the software calculating the average merely fell behind (which is strange considering there are only 30 stocks in the DJIA), whereas individual securities were fine. Smart investors, let alone the savvy traders on the floor, aren't going to pay attention to an average, no matter how major. Had there been problems with individual securities' prices, then trading would have been halted immediately, but there were no such problems.

Now, that post from a ZDNet blog was particularly stupid:
It will be interesting to see whether the SEC tracks down anyone making large arbitrage gains as the markets drifted further and further out of sync - something some one with early or even advance knowledge of the glitch could have used to make billions.
The fool doesn't know what he's talking about. There's a reason why I talked above about buying DJIA index funds the next day: such index funds are open-ended, meaning their values are based purely on the underlying securities (Net Asset Value). Open-ended mutual funds' values are recalculated only once a day, after the day's trading. Now, close-ended mutual funds are limited in shares, so their prices change with supply and demand, independent of their NAVs, just like they were individual securities. But I've never heard of any closed-ended DJIA funds: there really wouldn't be a point, because you'd spend too much time determining the underlying securities' value relative to the current market price. On a side note, part of my day job involves scrutiny of employees' trading in open-ended versus closed-ended funds.

So in short, such "arbitrage" is impossible with the DJIA, NASDAQ, S&P 500 and other major indexes. Even assuming he's correct, the DJIA was lagging behind, so yes, you could buy when the markets indicated something else. You'd also be throwing away your money, because you'd be buying DJIA index shares when the underlying securities were worth less. You could sell index shares short, but again, the share value is recalculated only once a day, after all trading, so what would be the point?

You can try such a trick with a close-ended fund, which you can buy at "par" (equal to NAV), at a "premium" (greater than NAV), or a "discount" (less than NAV). You just need to find a close-ended fund at a good discount, right? Well, by the time you find one, you might have spent so much in time and other resources that you'd miss out on a solid long-term investment.

All right, for our next piece of daily MSM propaganda:

This was from Thursday, April 5th. Is the first headline supposed to be for news or an op-ed? For crying out loud, who needs Iranian apologists at the UN and Arab League when the mainstream media will do just fine? A while back, the AP reported with an almost cheerleader tone, "U.S. Troop Deaths Show Sunni Resilience."

And of course, one headline is a jab at President Bush for meeting with Russian general Vladimir Shamanov, who has been accused by Human Rights Watch of committing abuses in Chechnya. The White House's official counter was that Bush didn't know of the allegations, which is entirely plausible: do we really expect the President's staff to keep up on what every little "human rights" group says?

On the other hand, where is the outrage about Nancy Pelosi's unconstitutional trip to kiss Bashar al-Asshead's terrorist behind? As our friend McQ of QandO notes, there was a whisper in mainstream media, but it was quickly drowned out. And the headlines read, "Pelosi Shrugs Off White House Criticism."

And then this morning, ah yes, a bunch of mountain climbers -- "some of whom have scientific training" -- talk about melting snow and shrinking glaciers as if they're "proof" that man is behind the Earth's warming. Whether the Earth is warming is not in question. There are very few genuine "climate change skeptics," and I'm not one of them. What I and others are saying is that the Earth has been warming as a matter of natural course, just as it has previously cooled on its own. Even extreme proposals like the Kyoto Protocol, as the NCPA notes the National Center for Atmospheric Research calculated, would reduce global temperatures by 2100 by only 0.19 degrees C at best.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Protest in London targets Iranian Embassy"

Protest in London Targets Iranian Embassy
British Students Target Iranian Embassy With Rocks, Firecrackers to Protest Sailor Standoff

LONDON, UK Apr 1, 2007 (AP)— About 200 students threw rocks and firecrackers at the Iranian Embassy on Sunday, calling for the expulsion of the country's ambassador because of the standoff over Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines.

Several dozen policeman prevented the protesters from entering the embassy compound, although a few briefly scaled a fence outside the compound's walls before being pushed back, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

The protesters chanted "Death to Iran" and "Death to Muslims" as they hurled stones into the courtyard of the embassy. They also demanded that the British government expel the Iranian ambassador and close down the embassy, calling it a "den of spies."

Tehran's Foreign Office said there had been no damage to the compound.

A Tehran Foreign Office spokesman in London, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said diplomats were working normally inside the embassy.

"There is a police presence outside and there is no risk to those inside," said the spokesman.

Britain and Iran are at a standoff over the 15 seized sailors and marines. Britain said they were in Iraqi waters when detained, but Iran has contended the Britons entered its waters illegally.
By the way, April Fools' -- although I'm not laughing. If you read the actual article, you'll find that it's Iranian students protesting outside the British embassy in Tehran.

"Iranian" and "lies" have been inseparable since 1979, when they pulled the first stunt of this kind. And what has been the West's response every time? Negotiate. Use strong words. The same effective tactics that Neville Chamberlain (may he have a special place in hell for his stupidity) used to make Hitler back down, right?

Jus what kind of "rules of engagement" does the British military have? After the 2004 incident where Iran captured and released British sailors and marines, the British military should have established an unequivocable policy of defending themselves with deadly force. Now, it's true that negotiations will certain result in the return of the hostages. Madman Mahmoud and Co. don't want to start a war, at least not over this. But until Britain -- and the rest of the West -- learns that not showing force only emboldens these goddamn ragheads, we'll only see more such incidents.

Personally, my solution would have been a deterrent policy that would have "discouraged" Iran from pulling stunts like this in the first place: the promise of leaving a capital city, and any other cities as necessary, as nothing more than radioactive-laced rubble. Kidnapping another country's citizens is an act of war, and you can't win by playing nice. Better yet, make it abundantly clear beforehand that you will never play nice. If the bully knows that you will not just strike him back, but that you have the means and the will to knock him down, rip his scrotum out through his eye sockets and thus ensure he won't bully anyone ever again, the bully won't just think twice -- he'll never dare. That's what SDN (scroll down for his comments) and I understand about how the real world works, compared to Jimmy Carter's philosophical children. This bullshit of "proportionality," this fear of tempering a response because you don't want "to hold civilians responsible for their leaders," is exactly why Israel got its ass kicked in Lebanon, and exactly why the United States is losing in Iraq. Yes, I just said we are losing. We just don't have the will to do what is necessary to win.

Is anyone else reminded of the old TNG episode, "Code of Honor"? Replace Lutan with Iranians, Tasha Yar with British hostages, and the vaccine with oil. The kidnappers supposedly demonstrated honor and courage, when in fact they had neither: "honor" was just a red herring used to tie the Federation's hands, just like "international law" is used to hamstring the United States. Come to think of it, I would have liked to see follow-ups showing the fallout from Picard's "sensible" reaction: every time someone on Ligon wanted to regain political prominence, he'd just kidnap another Federation citizen, and the Federation would kowtow because it was desperate for the vaccine.

Tehran claims the hostages are treating well. Many others have covered how the "letters" have likely (likely? Undoubtedly!) been coerced, and let me remind you of the Iranian idea of "hospitality":