Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stuck Inside of Joplin with the .....

I have the dubious situation of being stuck in Joplin for a few days. Driving through eastern Oklahoma and Kansas, my back became more and more painful. Long since familiar with the signs, I looked for a decent motel in which to hole up. There are none in the dwindling and run-down small agricultural towns of the southeastern corner of Kansas, hence Joplin, the local metropolis. It is all for the best because there was a thunderstorm last night and it is raining today, so I would not have been enthusiastic about driving anyway. Also I am ensconced in a very nice Hilton hotel so I am not unhappy. I can barely walk but I am going to try walking outside this afternoon to see if that helps. And aspirin -- I am going to try aspirin.

It is also an opportunity to explore a whole new dimension in my no-longer-young life -- reading glasses. I am still exploring how many diopters of correction is best. I am toying with 2.00, 2.25, and 2.50. They are cheap and readily available so it is easy to experiment. Having tried them in New Orleans and finding them remarkably clarifying, I am rediscovering the printed page. As always I brought along tons of books, none of which I have heretofore so much as touched. Now I am touching them. Another reason not to be uncontrollably distraught about my sojourn in Missouri.

Which religious training did Obama get?

It is now accepted that Fox's report that Barack Obama attended a madrassah in Jakarta in the 1960's was false. But only if you want it to be.

A video clip of the school shows it to be a secular public school with boys and girls playing together, men and women teachers in Western clothing, and the men teachers beardless.


In the same video clip the headmaster of the school says that the Muslim children were given religious training in Islam, the Christian children were given religious training in Christianity, and so on.

Which religious training did Obama get? His step-father, though non-practicing, was nominally a Muslim. Obama's middle name is Hussein. When he registered for the Catholic school his religion was listed as "Muslim". Asked why Obama was listed as a Muslim by the new school, the Obama campaign's spokesman Charles Gibbs replied, "I don't know."

Unlike Charles Gibbs, I do know. In a Muslim country like Indonesia proselytizing Muslims to other religions such as Catholicism is illegal. Which would make it imperative that children entering the Catholic school be registered as Muslims if they had had Muslim religious training, so they could be exempted from being taught the catechism. Which also clarifies the throwing-sand-in-your-eyes attempt to confuse the issue with which school Obama attended first.

When I was seven and eight I attended a Jewish Sunday school. That has something to do with what I believe and feel to this day, who I am. What a person learns at that age has a profound influence on his attitudes throughout his life.

At the very least the scandal here is that Obama is getting a free ride from the press, partly because the initial story was over-stated and partly because it came from Fox, and partly of course because Obama is the Great White Hope of the liberals. The initial story that Obama had attended a radical Muslim madrassa having proven false, the press instantly dropped it. But had the story been that Obama had attended Muslim religious school training for two years as a child and that his mother kept a koran in their home, they would have found that the story was true.

Does it matter that Obama was trained as a, let us assume, moderate Muslim? Considering that the koran explicitly teaches the Muslim duty of jihad and to kill Jews and subjugate Christians, I would say yes.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mardi Gras

I had a good time. I was told there were far fewer people than pK (pre-Katrina) but that may already be the formation of a whole body of Good Old Days lies. Even if it were true, it was a good thing - there were lots of people. Next time I will have a different costume. This time I came as a Clueless Tourist but that was too ironic for most people, many of whom didn't realize it was a costume. My favorite costume was a woman who was dressed as a transvestite. No joke - she handed out wooden nickels with a printed legend describing herself as the doyenne of fake impersonators. Or it was a double imposture. I have no idea.

Katrina Aftermath

The Katrina damage in rural parishes along the coast was impressive. Every outbuilding, commercial building, and church was a broken wreck. In many places there were only bare foundation slabs. There were broken trees everywhere though one could see that the worst of it had been cleared. Equally impressive was the government's success in providing a seemingly endless supply of shiny new bright-colored manufactured homes, each on a three-or-more feet elevated flood platform or stilts. I saw very few wrecked houses, which means that the wreckage of the old ones had been cleared before the new ones were brought in.

The results in the city were more mixed. A large majority of the buildings have been, or are being, rehabilitated. On many only the fronts have been repainted - the sides still show the mud left by the receding waters. The high water mark is usually plainly visible. Around the French Quarter it was usually about or just above the level of the second floor. In other parts of the city there is lots of abandoned property, particularly in poorer quarters. The look of it was that it was slumlord income property which was already marginal before the storm and not worth the investment of restoring. That probably has something to do with the profile of the people still displaced.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Leesville, Louisiana is in the Sabine River country bordering Texas. It is mixed patches of trees, open swards, lakes and rivers. Towns are few, small, and rundown. One can see how, if one were from here, one could come to love this country. If not, one would come here to sit in an aluminum boat, pretend to fish, drink beer, and listen to the quiet.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Another Kick at Carter

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't always take the Klan out of the boy.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Carter Explains the Problem

Carter's handwritten note on Carter Presidential Center letterhead stationery reads:

To Rabbi Marvin Hier:

I don't believe that Simon Wiesenthal would have resorted to falsehood and slander to raise funds.

Jimmy Carter"

I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that we know that the problem is not that Jimmy is a cracker antisemite but that Rabbi Hier is only in it for the money.

Cooling Extremities

Terra Industries seemed to have too much daily volatility so I sold it this morning for a small profit. I bought an almost equal amount of Navistar (NAV) and discovered my feet had cooled for the market generally. Why am I risking money I need for money I don't need? I have a limit order to sell Nav as soon as it goes high enough to pay back the purchase price, the two ten dollar commissions, and lunch.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My Career

Further research has revealed what is meant by Terra Industries' (TRA) "nitrogen products" business. It is a British euphemism for fertilizer. I may have failed as a lawyer, but I am at last in the business of selling bullshit. My parents would be so proud.

Further Reflection on Stock Picking

Another view of my stock picking strategy is that I am waiting for a bull market, then looking for a steady stock with a relatively high beta which rises faster than the market. Then sitting with eyes glued to the screen, finger poised over the 'sell' button, while life passes me by.

Larry P Asks

LP asks:
What if you're a Filipino American who grows up in urban New Jersey who then
attends Rutgers. At Rutgers you read some Arab literature about how Isr has
oppressed the Arab people. Without much investigation you accepts this
simple explanation of the cause and effect of events. He has not heard
much contrary to this story. He then concludes that Isr gets a lot of
support from the US and no wonder the Arabs are so angry at the US and not
so much Eur and Russ? He has no anger at Jews just as he has no real anger
at Arabs but he thinks US foreign policy is titled to the direction of Isr.
His view of Jews is that they are successful for the most part affluent
people as he has seen growing up in and around the Phil area. He even has
some drinking buds that are Jews. In a survey he does write that part of
the problem with US foreign policy is that it has a bias towards Isr over
the Arabs.

Does this make this young adult an antisemite ?

Scenic Route thunders back:
Absolutely. What difference does it make how innocently he comes by his antisemitic persuasions? A guy who assumes that Canada is always in the wrong in all its dealings is anti-Canadian no matter what reasons he gives nor how many Canadian friends he has.