Thursday, December 31, 2009

HOT5 Daily 12/31/2009

1. "The Challenge of Freedom"A must-read post.

Representative Sample: Even patriotic Americans of today don’t always appreciate how special our achievement is… not just in its success, but its endurance. Most victorious “revolutions” end with a new class of slaves cleaning up the victory celebrations, beneath the whips of a new set of tyrants.

2. "Ten months." A call for Republican unity as we prepare to hopefully regain seats in 2010.

Representative Sample:This is not the time for battering Republicans or for tossing around the blame for our downfalls, this is the time to prepare for the congressional elections, donate time and monies to Republican candidates. This is our time to stand up against Democrats across America

3. "The Liberal Lie About Terror" Terrorist leaders do not come from the poor and downtrodden.

Representative Sample: Obama frequently talks about how the economic and democratic deficiencies in the third world are leading to the terror risk. That is simply not the case. None of the facts back up this claim.

4. "How serious is DOD about airships? (Answer: Extremely)" Includes a slideshow presentation.

Representative Sample:The US Army wants to send an optionally-manned hybrid airship to Afghanistan (see today's news article)

5. "Hybrid Threats Require a Hybrid Government"I would put this under that category of some good ideas that are unlikely to be put into effect.

Representative Sample:This new “democracy” is messy and yet we continue to formulate, plan, and execute engagement using “regular” and “homogeneous” bureaucracies and budgets. Today’s threats are increasingly complex, often stateless, and rarely conforming to neat lines of authorities and responsibilities across, or within, government agencies, most of which were designed in and for previous eras.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Going Too Far

Normally I'm a big proponent of citizens defending themselves against criminals with lethal force. But a home owner in Detroit went way too far. Tigh Croff's house had be broken into "three times in the last week." It's understandable that he'd be pretty angry when he found two men in his backyard yesterday. But they ran away. He chased after them and one got away. The other one? Well, this is what happened.
The other stopped running, turned around, put his hands up and, according to a police source, taunted the 31-year-old homeowner.

“What are you going to do?” Herbert Silas of Detroit reportedly asked, his hands still in the air. “Shoot me?”

“Absolutely,” Croff told investigators he replied before pulling the trigger, the source said. Silas was hit once in the chest, killing him.
If Silas had been in Croff's house, or possibly even still in his yard, depending on his actions, I'd be defending the shooting, and congratulating Croff on ridding the area of a criminal. But when someone runs away, you can't chase them down and then shoot them because they taunt you. I'm not sure how Croff thought that was a justifiable killing. Silas was unarmed, not acting threatening, and it's not even clear he was a burglar, or had done anything beyond trespassing. Croff went from a man defending his property, to a maniac killing someone for something they said. He's been charged with second-degree murder, and rightly so.

I was unhappy to see that Croff is a licensed gun owner. If you are going to purchase a gun, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the circumstances in which deadly force is justified. I'm not one for blindly following the law. If your life, or the security of your family is threatened, you should err on the side of eliminating the threat, rather than following the letter of the law. But we really don't need gun owners who think it's ok to kill an unarmed, unresisting, unthreatening man outside their property, simply because they've been burglarized in the past, caught someone trespassing, and he dared taunt them.  

HOT5 Daily 12/30/2009

1. "Why Did the Bush Administration Send Hardcore Terrorists Back to Al-Qaida" That's a good question.

Representative Sample: the U.S. military repeatedly warned the Bush administration in advance that almost half of the former Saudi Gitmo detainees who have rejoined Al-Qaida continued to represent active threats to the United States--and yet they were released anyway, evidently for political reasons.

2. "2010: Getting Off This Rock" A good article in favor of space exploration.

Representative Sample: One of the most important projects for the long-range survival of the human race (and its descendants) involves creating a viable civilization that could survive the destruction of the whole Earth

3. "Socialist ‘market competition’" Chavez sounds like a Democrat.

Representative Sample: “We’re going to defeat speculation. Private individuals in sales can still sell, but they’ll have to compete with us and with a people who is now fully aware,” Chavez said.

4. "Why It’s Okay To Call Ourselves Atheists (And Why We Should)" Given that I call myself one, I agree.

Representative Sample: What’s interesting is that while us nonbelievers often call ourselves atheists, it is quite uncommon for those on the other side of the issue to refer to themselves as theists. ‘Theist’ says precious little about one’s position on what God wants, only that he or she believes that one exists and has intervened (or intervenes) in human affairs. Most often, a theist will describe him or herself as being in a much more specific category: a religious denomination

5. "Naming Conventions" Short but contains a really good question.

Representative Sample: Why shouldn't there be Jewish neighborhoods in a Palestinian state, just as there are Arab neighborhoods in Israel?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Keys to an Obama Comeback?

There's an article in US News & World Report today called, "10 Keys to an Obama Comeback." I thought  I'd give my take on them. I'm quoting shortened versions, hopefully without too much distortion of his ideas.

1. Lighten up. That might help but it's unlikely. Obama is too arrogant, too sure that he knows what's best for us lesser beings, and his political personality is just serious by nature. He's a guy who takes himself way too seriously.

2. Have Michelle take a more prominent role on a major issue. I'd say that's a very bad idea, much more likely to hurt than help. Michelle Obama is primarily popular with people who already like Obama. A policy role for a first lady can seriously annoy people.

3. Feel our economic pain. He suggests things like eating at Denny's. Won't work. That type of thing would be an obvious pandering attempt from Obama.

4. Create an employment program where new jobs can be accurately calculated. That would definitely help -- except that Obama doesn't have the slightest idea how to create jobs, short of hiring more government employees. Being able to accurately count jobs would just remove his ability to lie about his failure.

5. Take whatever healthcare deal you can, then promote the heck out of the benefits. He's definitely going to try and do that.

6. Hit the campaign trail for troubled Democrats, and brag about them. He's probably going to do that too. But in some cases he might hurt, rather than help.

7. Extend some elements of the Bush tax cuts to those making $250,000 or less. That would be nice. Too bad his policies will raise taxes for everyone.

8. Bring the troops home from Iraq, and close the Guantánamo Bay prison. Closing Gitmo isn't particularly popular, and the question about what to do with the inmates is a political nightmare. Iraq isn't even a major issue any more.

9. Seize voter anger, and steer it to a new "economic populism," says Belcher. Tap it before the GOP does Too late, and voter anger is now directed at least partially toward Obama anyway.

10. Name Oprah as a domestic envoy. A transparent gimmick which would be seen as such.

Overall these are really weak suggestions. There's nothing in here that would scare the GOP.

Indian Quick Strike Strategy

I just noticed an article at the Times of India detailing Indian war doctrine, which underwent a shift following the 2001 terrorist attack on parliament. In the aftermath, India concluded that its mobilization was too slow, allowing the enemy (Pakistan) time to react, and opening up a window for international intervention to forestall Indian military action. According to the article, current Indian doctrine calls for rapid mobilization, and overwhelming offensive action. It's described as "`pro-active' war strategy to mobilise fast and strike hard to pulverise the enemy," from a "cold start."
The plan now is to launch self-contained and highly-mobile `battle groups', with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours.
Although it makes sense from a military perspective, you have to wonder if such a strategy might make war more likely. If a major terrorist act tied to Pakistan strikes India, will India launch a rapid attack before all the details are in? Obviously it didn't happen after the Mumbai terrorist attack, but the next time could be different. At any event, the article is an interesting glimpse of Indian strategic thinking.

An Irony of History

China executed a British citizen today for heroin smuggling, despite strenuous protests from the British government, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown. China responded as follows,

Beijing called the British criticism groundless interference in its judicial sovereignty. ... "Nobody has the right to speak ill of China's judicial sovereignty," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations."
It's a measure of just how far Britain has fallen in the world, that China can execute a British citizen and just brush off criticism -- and not just brush it off, but actually condemn the UK for daring to offer any criticism at all.

In the mid-19th century, the British actually fought two wars with China, the Opium Wars, in order to force the Chinese to allow the opium trade -- which was against Chinese law -- and to protect British smugglers. They succeeded. Now in the 21st century, they are powerless to protect a single smuggler from execution. It's yet another measure of how far Britain has fallen, and how far China has risen.

HOT5 Daily 12/29/2009

1. "Obama White House Glossary of the New Terms for 2009"I can think of some more.

Representative Sample: Bipartisan bill – bunch of democrats +1 republican

2. "Salvaging Santa"Ways to restore belief in Santa. Some of these arguments might sound strangely familiar.

Representative Sample: If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our faith, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and adapt to the changing cultural climate. Here are a few suggestions.

3. "Underwear Bomber Renews Calls for ‘Naked Scanners’" It's probably just a matter of time until these are commonly deployed in airports.

Representative Sample: After an alleged terrorist unsuccessfully tried to detonate his explosive underwear on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit, current and former American officials are now using the failed attack to push for more airport scanners to spot such explosives — and a lot more.

4. "USMC Anbar Awakening Report Faults U.S."  Marines lay blame and give own analysis of what turned the tide in Iraq.

Representative Sample: The U.S. Marine Corps recently released a study on the turn of the Sunni tribes in Anbar, Iraq, against al Qaeda beginning in 2007, and the paper is gaining attention for both its approach and its message, purposeful or not

5. "Of No Practical Significance" Short but good rant.

Representative Sample: We confuse rights with privileges, and assign them to those who don't deserve them. We let the passage of time lull us into a sense of complacency. We make it difficult for those who want to do the right thing to keep their jobs, much less advance the state of national security

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Whining About Cartoon Torture

Not content to whine about the well-justified torture of terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, some are now upset about the fictional cartoon torture of fictional alien beings. Seriously. There is actually an article called, "Should your kids be watching cartoon torture?" Consider these amusing quotations from the piece. The author is worried about the Star Wars Clone Wars show.

I have not yet observed much in the way of debate or discussion about the show’s recent use of a ticking time bomb scenario like you see routinely on the Fox series, and whether it’s sending the wrong message to kids.
Why would there be much debate or discussion? And it isn't sending any message. It's fictional entertainment. Most people aren't obsessing over the implications of Star Wars television plots. 
The only being in the galaxy who knows how to stop the worms is an accused war criminal, Poggle, who led his planet Geonosis against the Republic and is now in the Jedi’s custody. Poggle refuses to talk, so Skywalker uses his Jedi powers to choke him. A Jedi mind trick to Skywalker, torture to you and me, and it works – Poggle confesses that if they can freeze the ship, the worms will be stopped.
Ok, so what, you might ask?
The message to kids watching the show, at least to me, is that torture works.
Well, considering that torture can and does sometimes work, that's about as much of a message as demonstrating that the right key opens a locked door. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it's fiction? 

Let's see, what other "messages" might the Clone Wars show be sending? I've noticed that it sends a message that a Jedi with a lightsaber, even a teenager, can wade through a battlefield, fight off hundreds of battle droids, and emerge unscathed -- no matter how much energy weapon fire is targeted at him or her. 

And what about the message that it's ok to slaughter droids in large numbers? These battledroids can communicate, seem to have rudimentary emotions, and show signs of at least limited sentience. Promoting and glorifying their destruction at the hands of Jedi and their allies seems like anti-droidism. Could the show be a form of hate speech directed at droids? Maybe someone should look into it.

And of course the author, apparently a typical leftist,  has a recommendation for what to do if the Clone Wars series fails to conform to his idea of the correct ideological depiction of torture. You guessed it. He wants to invoke the heavy hand of big government.

I hope that the show’s writers and producers, and the people at the Cartoon Network, will more carefully review what they screen to the kids who watch the show. If they don’t, the FCC really needs to raise the question of whether or not the show deserves a rating beyond the TV-PG it gets now.
Hopefully the writers will see this article and add in more torture scenes, just to make this idiot squirm and whine further.

Hitchens on Airline Security

Christopher Hitchens has an excellent piece up at Slate in the aftermath of the attempted Christmas airline bombing. He does a great job of summarizing the state of our security: incompetence in detecting terrorists, combined with overreacting and imposing collective punishment on everyone else in the name of increased safety. Here are some excerpts,
somehow the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on a "central repository of information" don't prevent the suspect from boarding a plane, changing planes, or bringing whatever he cares to bring onto a plane. This is now a tradition
You have to wonder if anything would have been done if he had worn a t-shirt with the words, "I'm a Radical Muslim Suicide Bomber" written across the front. Like Major Hassan, all the warning signs just weren't enough. But what do we do instead?
our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all. Yes, that ought to do it. It's also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.
This is what government does in regard to almost any perceived problem. It doesn't matter what it is, the important thing is that the government be seen to be doing something. Don't worry about whether that "something" is useful and effective, or even counterproductive. Gun control is a prime example. Every time there is a high profile shooting, the usual suspects start screaming for new laws that penalize law-abiding gun owners -- to supposedly make us safer from people who don't follow laws.
fresh idiocies are in store. Nothing in your lap during final approach. Do you feel safer? If you were a suicide-killer, would you feel thwarted or deterred?
Instead of putting in new, ridiculous security measures, wouldn't it be better if the government actually took effective action to investigate & detain suspected terrorists before they got on board? No, it's much easier to just institute new security restrictions for everyone. 

HOT5 Daily 12/28/2009

1. "Revisiting the 'Terrorist Threat Debate'" Things to think about.

Representative Sample: while there has in fact been a declining trend in the number of terrorist attacks since the 1980s, there has been a concommitant tendency for increasingly spectacular incidents -- and importantly, this increase has been marked by the dramatic rise of religious terrorism

2. "Iran: Can the Islamic Republic Survive?" Let's hope not.

Representative Sample: according to reports, the violence of the regime appears to betray more than a whiff of desperation, and some forces appear to be losing their stomach for brutalizing unarmed citizens.

3. "The atheist of the year award 2009" You can vote up to Jan. 15.

Representative Sample:There are a few names that come to mind as deserving the Atheist of the Year Award. Some of the names on the list of nominees are to be expected. Other names are people who have worked largely behind the scenes.

4. "Finding the Good in Obamacare" Despite its overall negative impact, in a bill that large there have to be some good things.

Representative Sample: The new legislation has plenty of downsides but an honest look at it from a conservative, free market perspective reveals a few bright spots too. Five that stand out follow

5. "Mr. Deity and the Magic, Part Deux" If you haven't seen the Mr. Deity episodes, you are missing out.

Representative Sample: It's a video.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

This is How You Fight Terrorists

As I read a New York Times article called, "Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan," I had two thoughts. My first thought was, I wish they hadn't reported on this, since these types of operations require secrecy. But given that it is being reported, I see these operations as an extremely positive sign that the U.S. is taking effective actions that will seriously damage terrorist groups. From the article:

Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.
If you read the article, it reveals that the U.S. military is using elite special operations units such as Delta Force, and SEAL teams to carry out what are in effect military assassination missions designed to take out enemy leaders.
American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged.
No one is speaking out publicly about such missions, including the Obama administration. And that's a good thing. Reports such as this one should be met with a standard "no comment" response.

Back in my series of posts called, A New War Against Radical Islam, I specifically advocated the increased use of secret operations, and the deployment of teams of assassins to target terrorist leaders -- although my focus was on the CIA rather than the military. But according to at least one source, the CIA is involved as well.

an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.

The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders.
If true, that is very good news, and shows that despite public efforts damaging to the CIA, the Obama administration is secretly making effective use of the agency as a weapon against terrorists.

HOT5 Daily 12/27/2009

1. "Not So Scary Terror?" A good response to the latest stupidity from the left.

Representative Sample: Not so scary terror? Only because it didn't work.

2. "The Sniper Revolution"One of the best weapons in assymetric warfare.

Representative Sample: Over the last five years, sniper training in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps has undergone tremendous change

3. "Brewing War Between Iraq And Iran" Remember when the Iraqi government was supposed to be under the influence of Iran?

Representative Sample: Iraqi and Iranian forces are dug in on either side of a disputed inactive oil well in the sensitive border area, with Iraqis vowing to fight if necessary to fend off another occupation of the well by Iranian soldiers.

4. "King of Ireland on “Rational Christianity” and America’s Founding" Interesting article.

Representative Sample: the history of Christianity, properly understood, provided the fertile ground that launched modernity and as such those who invoke the authority of “science” and “rationality” should be less hostile, as many of them oft-seem, to what I term “rational Christianity,” a theological system that helped bring about science, rationality and political liberty

5. "A New World of Engagement Beckons!" Debunking the exaggerated foreign policy claims of the Obama administration.

Representative Sample: Well, I guess we can't expect Susan Rice, our ambassador to the United Nations, to admit that the administration has accomplished squat with its nuanced outreach to the global community. But this boasting of success is a joke

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

What's Wrong With Foreign Airline Security?

Over at Jumping in Pools, there is a post up calling for a "commercial airline embargo" against both the Netherlands and Nigeria, in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack in Detroit. I'm not sure that's necessary, but the post does raise an important point. It doesn't matter how effective (and intrusive) security is at U.S. airports, when flights originating in foreign countries enter the U.S. For those incoming international flights, our security depends on the security precautions taken abroad. 

I have low expectations for third world, oops I mean "developing" countries like Nigeria, but what's wrong with the Netherlands? How do they let someone with an explosive device just stroll onto an international flight to the U.S.? Maybe there is a good explanation of how he was able to get through security -- or maybe their precautions are just too lax.

Elements of the Left Actually Defend Free Speech

Far too often, much of the left is in favor of free speech only if they agree with the speech in question. This was demonstrated yet again when Full Equality Now DC, a pro-gay marriage activist group, demanded that ads from an anti-gay marriage organization be removed from Washington DC public metro transit. Their basic argument, typical of the left, was that the message was "offensive," and therefore should be banned. Nevermind that the whole idea of free speech is to protect expression that others might find offensive. 

But, since I bash the left on a regular basis for its attitude toward free speech, credit must be given when due. And in this case, other organizations and individuals on the left, including Colbert King, author of the article I'm quoting from, stepped up in support of the right for opposing views to be heard.

The group includes Mitch Wood, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the Nation's Capital; Jeffrey D. Richardson, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; Aisha C. Mills, president of Campaign for All D.C. Families; and activist Richard J. Rosendall
As King writes,
Speaking not only for themselves but also for people like me, they said: "Free speech is not only for those whose beliefs we find acceptable. The proper response to offensive speech is more speech. Your proper response to Full Equality Now DC, therefore, is that those who object to ads by Stand For Marriage DC are free to place their own.
King also notes,
So it was heartening to see how some citizens reacted to the issue raised by the Metrobus advertisements. The conflict provided a good -- but rare -- example of citizens standing up for the principle of protecting despised speech of a disagreeable speaker.
It's particularly rare when it comes from the left, and is therefore especially noteworthy.

HOT5 Daily 12/26/2009

1. "THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME" Wait until the climate bill.

Representative Sample:The bill is profligate with the taxpayer’s money when it should have been niggardly. It places the heaviest hand imaginable upon health care consumers instead of the lightest touch possible. It’s strictures, rules, and regulations on insurers guarantee higher premiums. And it will take unfairly from the young and give to the old by forcing the “young invincibles” to purchase coverage they will probably not need in order to service seniors.

2. "Five Questions: An Interview with Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai"Interesting interview with a major Afghan tribal leader.

Representative Sample: Many Afghans were turned against these so-called Mujahideen because these leaders and their commanders became involved in killing innocent men, women and children, looted people’s livelihoods and literally turned all of Afghanistan into a war zone. We witnessed that in just five years these “Mujahideen” warlords destroyed Kabul and all other major cities in Afghanistan. People started to hate them more than they hated the old Communists

3. "Whence Comes God's Nature?" Why does God seem to have human emotions, likes and dislikes? It almost makes you think he might be an imaginary being dreamt up by human minds.

Representative Sample: God, so we're told, is eternal and unchanging. He is pure reason, pure mind, pure spirit - no physical needs to fulfill, no past history, none of the contingent events that make human nature what it is. So how is it that he has, just like us, a complex nature with specific likes and dislikes? He did not undergo the process by which human beings acquire their preferences, so where does he get them from? Why does he prefer things one way and not another?

4. "Merry Christmas From America!" Pretty funny.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

5. "Some Common Sense in Egypt and Saudi Arabia" Misleading title. Examines new polls focusing on Iran and Israel.

Representative Sample: These figures suggest that between a sixth and a third of the population in the two most important status-quo countries is agreeable to an Israeli or American attack on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. Although not a negligible minority, it is small enough to give the Egyptian or Saudi government pause about being associated with a strike on Iran

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Moron

That would be Lew Rockwell at, responding to reports of the attempted terrorist attack on a plane landing in Detroit. A would-be Islamic terrorist tried to ignite an incendiary device on the plane. We don't have all the information yet. It's unclear how dangerous the device was, but the government is taking it seriously. The suspect claims ties to Al Qaeda, and there is information that he has terror connections. So how does Lew Rockwell react?
The story reads like an episode of MAD TV. Does the government have any better fodder than this for its fear mongering campaign? ... Dear Republicrats and other assorted War on Terror proponents: don’t write me and tell me this was a serious threat
Generally someone trying to set off an incendiary on board an aircraft is a bad thing. But it's just no big deal to Rockwell. An Islamic terrorist on a plane? That couldn't be a real threat, could it?  Rockwell not only feels qualified to dismiss the incident out of hand as some sort of a joke, but has come up with an immediate and amazingly idiotic conspiracy theory. It's all part of government "fearmongering," to allow them to increase airport security. Is there a better example of why anyone who uses the term "fearmongering" shouldn't be taken seriously? If anyone was wondering if Lew Rockwell had any credibility at all, this article should provide a decisive negative indication.

Merry Christmas!

No HOT5 Daily today. It will return tomorrow. Have a merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Greatest Foreign Policy Gifts

Earlier today I linked Stephen Walt's article, "The Greatest Gifts: A Christmas Post," in which he picks "ten of the 'greatest gifts' in modern foreign policy." I thought I'd put up a list of my own, although given my historical background, not all of these are "modern" foreign policy. In no particular order:

1. Sobieski Breaks the Siege of Vienna.  In 1683, Polish king John Sobieski led a multi-national force, spearheaded by Poland's elite cavalry, that broke the Ottoman Empire's siege of Vienna. Sobieski then returned home, without any particular compensation or advantage. It was probably the last gasp of glory for the once powerful Polish state. 89 years later, Austria, whose capital had been saved, participated in the first partition of Poland.

2. The Miracle of the House of Brandenburg.  At the beginning of 1772, Frederick the Great's Prussia was beaten down by an enemy coalition, with Russian forces approaching Berlin. All appeared lost, but the death of Russian Empress Elizabeth brought Peter III, an admirer of Frederick, to power. Peter withdrew Russian troops and pulled out of the war, giving up Russian gains without compensation.

3. Lend-Lease.  Although called loans and lease, lend-lease's scale, scope, and lack of repayment by most make it one of the greatest gifts ever. The list of supplies given to the Soviet Union from the U.S. alone is staggering, and too long to reproduce here. Just a few examples: 15 million pairs of boots, 14,795 aircraft, 375,883 trucks, and 51,537 jeeps. It is difficult to envision the course of World War 2 in the east without lend-lease.

4. Operation Citadel.  Before July 1943, the situation on the German-Russian front had stabilized, allowing Germany to build up a strong armored reserve. But in July the Germans launched a major offensive against the Kursk salient, the exact place the Soviets wanted them to attack -- a salient in the lines that they had spent months fortifying and preparing. The German assault broke against the immensely strong in-depth defenses of the Red Army, erasing the irreplaceable German armored reserve, and putting Hitler on the strategic defensive in the east for the rest of the war.

5. The Will of King Attalus III. In 133 BC, Attalus, King of Pergamum, a rich country located in what is today western Turkey, died without heirs. In his will, he left his entire kingdom to the Roman Republic. Without fighting a war, or spending any money, Rome acquired a major new, wealthy province.

6. The Rebuilding of Japan. After overrunning much of the Japanese Empire, destroying its fleet, devastating its merchant marine, reducing its cities to rubble, and bringing it to its knees in surrender, the U.S. not only gave Japan a lasting democratic constitutional system, it undertook the long-term military protection of its former enemy, and helped rebuild it as an economic power to rival America.

7. Independence for India. In 1947 the British peacefully relinquished their hold on India, giving up one of the greatest imperial possessions in history without an armed struggle, and allowing the emergence of multiple independent nations.  

8. Portugal, Genoa, Venice and England Reject Christopher Columbus.Before he turned to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, Columbus approached these other states with his plans for a western route to the orient, but was turned down. Their rejection was an amazing gift to Spain, which would claim the new world empire that might have been theirs.

9. The Death of Ogedei Khan.  By 1240 all Russian lands had been overrun by the disciplined armies of the Mongols, one of the greatest conquering forces in history. The Mongols advanced into Eastern Europe crushing larger European armies at Liegnitz and Sajo River in 1241, and moving toward Vienna. But on the death of Ogedei, the Mongols abandoned their invasion of Europe to return home and choose a successor to the Great Khan, possibly sparing large sections of Europe the Mongol rule endured by Russia. 

10. The Spanish Inheritance.  In 1700, Charles II of Spain, the last member of the Spanish Hapsburg royal family, died without direct heirs. In his will he left the Spanish throne, and with it the vast Spanish empire, to the grandson of Louis XIV of France, Philip of Anjou, who would become Philip V of Spain. This will, possibly the most valuable inheritance gift of all time, touched off the world war known as the War of the Spanish Succession. 

HOT5 Daily 12/24/2009

1. "The Next Showdown"An arms control treaty favoring the Russians?

Representative Sample: While GOP Senators couldn't defeat Obama care (it's amazing how many votes Harry Reid can buy with a few billion tax dollars), there is another showdown they actually have a chance of winning--providing, of course, they stick together and don't give in to compromise.

2. "The Greatest Gifts: A Christmas Post" I don't agree with all of these, but an interesting list.

Representative Sample: Given that international politics is a competitive realm-and sometimes brutally so-you wouldn't expect to see a lot of selfless generosity. But it does occur at times, and the week between Hanukah and Christmas seemed like the perfect opportunity to offer up a list of the "greatest gifts" that one country ever bestowed on others.

3. "The 20 dumbest things said about Obamacare"It must have been hard to pick just 20.

Representative Sample:16. SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): “I Have Said Many Times That The Two Biggest Winners Under Our Health Care Reform Bill Are Small Businesses And The Self-Employed.” ... Well, I suppose you can consider the 111 federal agencies that this act will create “small businesses.”

4. "The Most Bizarre Christmas Tradition Ever" I had to link this.

Representative Sample: Seriously, what the hell is wrong with the Spaniards?

5. "Obama signs away American rights" If there is a bad idea out there that goes against U.S. interests, Obama will probably embrace it.

Representative Sample: Obama’s radicalism in supporting the diminishment of American sovereignty under the guise of “repair of America’s image abroad” is well known.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"New" Policy on Iran

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Obama administration has a new stance toward Iran. Have they given up on negotiation and decided to impose sanctions? Could they be supporting efforts to undermine the regime and force a change? Might they even be considering some sort of military move? No, no, and of course not. Here's the earth-shattering new policy,
The Obama administration has settled on a policy of speaking out modestly but regularly against human rights violations in Iran, even as it continues to focus on Tehran’s nuclear program and the fading hopes of a dialogue with the Iranian regime.

Speaking out "modestly"? Wow, that will show the mullahs and Ahmadinejad. They'll be quaking with fear when they hear about this new policy. I guess that's why Obama and Secretary of State Clinton will only speak out modestly, they don't want to scare the Iranian leadership too badly.

Our current policy on Iraq is centered on empty talk and wishful thinking. This new policy will continue the old policy but add in some more empty talk -- but not too much -- just a modest amount. For some reason this is currently the lead story at the Christian Science Monitor site. I guess with Christmas around the corner, there just isn't too much going on.

Atheist Bingo

I linked this post from the Friendly Atheist for the HOT5 Daily today. I thought I'd mark my own scorecard. All of the marked squares are things I've personally heard from religious people when I revealed I was an atheist. This counts only live, personal interactions, not online exchanges.

HOT5 Daily 12/23/2009

1. "Can Obama Open His Mouth Without Lying About Health Care?" Apparently not.

Representative Sample:The president said he "didn't campaign on the public option," but it turns out he did. He said that there wasn't any "gap" between his campaign promises and the final result, but it turns out there were several, as detectable by the most cursory Google search.

2. "No, they insist on statism" Free market ideas are simply rejected out of hand.

Representative Sample:Not only are centrists, liberals and progressives determined to find a better way for government to fix our problems, they insist on statism, and they continuously find reasons why the private sector is not an alternative.

3. "Seven Reasons for Atheists to Celebrate the Holidays" It's good to see atheists speaking out in favor of Christmas, which is at least as much a secular holiday in America as a religious one.

Representative Sample: I want to talk about some of the reasons that some atheists love the holidays: in hopes that believers might better understand who we are and where we're coming from... and in hopes that a few Scroogy killjoys, atheist and otherwise, might be tempted to join the party.

4. "New direction for NATO must make alliance relevant in current security environment" I'm not sure why this is on scienceblog, but I linked it anyway.

Representative Sample:The study examines five directions the alliance might take as it revises its strategic concept to make the organization relevant in today's security environment.

5. "Are You Around Your Religious Family for the Holidays?"  This is pretty amusing, and applies pretty much any time you have to deal with certain religious people.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Was He Released?

The U.S. released Mohamed Saleban Bare from Guantanamo, despite the following:

his alleged ties with Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya, a Somali Islamist movement which produced many of the current leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab
He was captured in Pakistan in 2001, and transferred to military prisons in Afghanistan, and then sent to Guantanamo. He's been there ever since, but now that we released him, he returned home to Somalia. 

Naturally, he makes the usual wild and hardly believable claims of torture. Despite describing himself as being "in good health," he claims the U.S. used extensive sleep deprivation, starvation rations of "one biscuit a day," and that some were tortured with "electricity and beating." He also makes the common Islamist charge that the U.S. insulted Islam by throwing Korans in toilets -- almost as if he's reading from the little handbook of anti-American propaganda. Bare called Guantanamo "hell on Earth," which is pretty funny coming from a Somali.

Let's see. We have a Somali with ties to a militant Islamist organization who just happened to be in Pakistan after 9/11, and who we felt was dangerous enough to transfer to Guantanamo and hold for eight years. And on his release he makes wild claims that sound like Al Qaeda propaganda. Could his capture have been a mistake? Maybe. We certainly made plenty of mistakes. But in this case it looks like we are probably releasing a terrorist.

HOT5 Daily 12/22/2009

1. "The Health-Care Backlash" I'm hoping for one.

Representative Sample: This health-care bill may well be historic, but not in the way the president thinks. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: passage of a mammoth piece of legislation, hugely expensive and unpopular, on a strict party-line vote taken in a rush of panic because Democrats know that the more people see of ObamaCare, the less they like it.

2. "Climate Change: No Matter the Cost" Considering the costs of doing something. And he could have added that these costs may be for things that don't even solve the problems.

Representative Sample: I ask these as questions because I do not know. Yet, I would wager that many who insist that we do something about climate change do not know either. Instead, they are taking a very simplistic approach to the whole issue.

3. "First They Came For The Tanning Industry..." Democrats: raising taxes & hurting small business. It's what they do.

Representative Sample:What did the tanning industry ever do to deserve being singled out for a new 10% surtax on all indoor tanning services in Harry Reid's Manager's Amendment?

4. "One year after Gaza invasion, Israel proved right" Successful in largely protecting Israeli towns from rocket attack.

Representative Sample: with Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech winning praise for his defense of war in the name of peace, it is a good time to point out, that in the year since Israel invaded Gaza, they accomplished what they had to do.

5. "The couple that sneaked into the Whitehouse without any credentials" Who could it be?

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Obama Did Something Right at the Climate Summit

The climate summit was a big waste of time that fortunately inflicted no damage. But apparently Obama actually did something right. He enraged the Cuban government.
Cuba's foreign minister called President Barack Obama an "imperial and arrogant" liar Monday for his conduct at the U.N. climate conference,
Everyone already knows Obama is arrogant and a liar. I guess Cuba hasn't been paying attention. "Imperial" is just standard communist demonization.
"at this summit, there was only imperial, arrogant Obama, who does not listen, who imposes his positions and even threatens developing countries."
If Obama really threatened developing countries, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate him for putting the beggars in their place.
He called the summit "a fallacy, a farce" and said Washington used back-room deals and strong-arm tactics to foist on the world a deal that he labeled "undemocratic" and "suicidal"
Well, we all knew the summit was a fallacy and a farce, but Cuba calling something "undemocratic" is pretty funny. If the Cubans think the "deal" was suicidal, maybe it isn't quite as worthless as it appears.

Exhibit A: Why We Are Stuck With Obama

Consider the following opinions, all taken from the same article:
I am afraid -- actually, certain -- we are losing the heart and soul that made America unique in human history. Yes, we have enemies, but the greatest danger comes from within.
Watching the freak show in Copenhagen last week, I was alternately furious and filled with dread. The world has gone absolutely bonkers and lunatics are in charge.
Mugabe and Chavez are treated with respect and the United Nations is serious about wanting to regulate our industry and transfer our wealth to kleptocrats and genocidal maniacs.
Instead of provoking thought and inspiring ideas, the man hailed for his Ivy League nuance insists we stop thinking and do what he says. Now.
Washington has its own freak show and it also features Big Government theocrats.
No person of conservative or moderate sensibility could possibly support a federal takeover of the massive health system.

Why am I posting a bunch of excerpts seemingly from a typical right-wing blog post, you ask? Because the clown who wrote them actually voted for Obama. Really. How do you oppose "big government theocrats," government takeover of health care, the UN and crazy internationalism and vote for Barack Obama?

If you wonder how we managed to get stuck with Obama as president, look no further than Michael Goodwin, the author of the article I am referencing. It was clueless independents and worse, some Republicans, that helped put Obama in the White House. Here's Goodwin again,

President Obama, for whom I voted because I believed he was the best choice available, is a profound disappointment. I now regard his campaign as a sly bait-and-switch operation, promising one thing and delivering another. Shame on me.
I can understand Democrats and those who hold liberal positions voting for Obama. But that someone like Goodwin, who holds the opinions and attitudes that he expresses here, could choose a left-winger like Obama over McCain is simply baffling.

HOT5 Daily 12/21/2009

1. "The Childish Constitution and the Mature Constitution" An interesting take on the so-called "Living Constitution" position.

Representative Sample: leftists want a child Constitution. They want its meaning to change with the winds of court rulings, which can be handed down overnight. And why wouldn't they want this? A child is easily manipulated.

2. "The mystery of Yemen" This story got a surprisingly small amount of press.

Representative Sample:Two days ago, Bill Roggio described a US cruise missile strike against al-Qaeda targets in Yemen, next door to Saudi Arabia, following the receipt of intelligence that the AQ were “planning to conduct attacks against Yemeni and US installations in the region”.

3. "India's Prime Minister Schools Obama: First Obligation of an Elected Leader is to His Own Country" An elected leader actually acting in his own country's interests -- imagine that.

Representative Sample: We are led by unaccountable, lifetime bureaucrats -- most of whom have never held a real job in their lives.

4. "Why the GOP Lost the Healthcare Fight" Because the Democrats control the presidency and have strong majorities in both houses of Congress? Interesting article that misses the main reason.

Representative Sample: tactical advantages were offset by a strategic dilemma, and it’s that dilemma that may have proved fatal.

5. "Christmas Myth-Making" Where did we get "x-mas"? Christmas wreaths? Caroling?

Representative Sample:The Stephen in the carol Good King Wenceslas is the biblical St. Stephen who was martyred by being thrown off a cliff near Jerusalem.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BDS Hero Whines About Lack of Profit

Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw shoes at former President George W. Bush, is now whining that he hasn't made enough money off of the incident and is still poor.
In an interview with the Observer, Muntazer al-Zaidi said his only regret after spending nine months in prison – where he says he was repeatedly beaten by his jailers – was that he was still a relatively poor man. ... "I blame the media because they said I would become rich for doing what I did, that I would become a multi-millionaire," al-Zaidi said from Switzerland, where he is receiving treatment for several health problems.
As the Guardian article notes, his brothers "have hinted," that his assault on Bush was "premeditated." It sounds like he was looking to cash in. It's just too bad that his dreams haven't been realized. 

Naturally he regards himself as a hero.

"I become a famous name in all the free world not only for Muslims and Arabs, but in Europe," he said. "Everywhere people have received me like a hero, but the point is not the reception, the point is they believe in what I did. I feel very proud of what I did. I am happy I defended my country's dignity. All free people respect this.
"Free people" who aren't suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome think you are an idiot who was lucky not to have been shot dead by security. And your whine about deserving wealth for your childish behavior, lowers our already low opinion of you to new depths.

Poor Preparation for Snow

When it started snowing early yesterday morning I wasn't worried. For years I haven't bothered with the snow at all. I don't even have a snow shovel. I just sweep off the steps and let the rest of it melt normally. I've never had a problem getting out anyway. We rarely get that much snow. Now, since I have one four wheel drive vehicle, I was even less worried.

So today I go outside and my one car is completely buried. You can't see anything but snow. The four wheel drive SUV is surrounded by snow drifts over three feet high. The rest of the driveway and everything else where it hasn't drifted has about two feet of snow. I sweep off the window of the SUV and stumble through the drifts and get in. Fortunately it starts right up. I put it in 4wd and figure I'm going to drive thru the snow out to the road. Wrong. The snow drifts are so deep that trying to move creates a wall of snow in front that brings me to a halt. 

I tell my wife we aren't going anywhere until I get a snow shovel, and I'm looking at probably at least four hours of heavy labor to clear a path from my driveway to the road. I walk a half mile to a hardware store and buy a shovel. Everyone in the neighborhood is digging, but most people were less stupid than I and started on their driveways while it was still snowing. I'm starting to revise my four hour estimate of labor upward. But then I am saved. On the way back I passed three high school kids looking to make some money. They cleared my driveway and got me out for $25, a major bargain. (The picture is after it was shoveled). And now I have a shovel so I won't be caught so unprepared again. 

HOT5 Daily 12/20/2009

1. "The Democrat’s Suicide Mission" Let's hope it's political suicide for the Democrats, or at least serious damage.

Representative Sample: Everybody hates the health care bill. Leftists despise it because it has no government plan and mandates that individuals buy health care from the hated private insurance companies. Conservatives hate it because it is a massive expansion of government intrusion into our lives and because it is a budget buster. This bill has something for everyone to hate. Yet it is about to be passed in a straight party line vote.

2. "False Dichotomy Tyranny" A favorite fallacy of the left, along with its cousin the false analogy.

Representative Sample: The slick and relentless utilization of one such logical fallacy, the false dichotomy, is a key part of an attempted wholesale destructive change to the historical American philosophical view of the proper relationship between the State and the Individual.

3. "Islamic terror: List of attacks in the last two months" For those wondering why Islam is associated with terrorism.

Representative Sample:This is a story about a website that lists all Islamic-religion-motivated attacks occuring in the 2 months leading up to yesterday. It's a real eye-opener. The story describes the how and why of what the site is doing.

4. "The Social Elements Of War Keep Evolving" Couples serving together.

Representative Sample: A soldier, homesick and lonely for his wife’s affections, can not only be distracted and unfocused ( a danger to his entire platoon) but is more apt to suffer depression, get into trouble, and will be harder to motivate.

5. "Is Scandal Inevitable when Scientists Become Activists?" If not inevitable, at least highly likely.

Representative Sample: scientists who become public policy advocates can lose the most important characteristic they have: objectivity. Scientists must accept data for what it is, not what they wish it to be. Scientists must deal with contradictory data, not ignore it. And most importantly, scientists must be transparent with their research and the conclusions they draw, not secretive.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bad News on Health Care

It looks like Senator Ben Nelson, the last Democrat holding up the health care bill, has been bribed into supporting it. It isn't over yet, but things are not looking good. When health care reform was first proposed, I thought it was likely that something would pass, given the strong Democratic majority and President Obama's popularity. But as it languished in the Senate, I began to hope that it might be killed. Unfortunately, it looks like that hope has now been extinguished. Democrats have been determined to ram this massive expansion of government through, despite zero Republican support, and its unpopularity with the public. 

As everyone is aware, the health reform bill is a gigantic piece of legislation. I'm not sure anyone knows all the details. In a bill so large there are no doubt some good ideas that represent genuine reform. But what we do know for sure is that this bill is an attack on free market principles, a huge expansion of government power over private industry, and another government encroachment on personal freedom. Forcing insurance companies to ignore risk in who they insure turns their business model upside down. It is an attempt to replace basic market rules about how insurance works, with a government fiat. And forcing individuals to buy insurance, whether they want to or not, is a direct attack on individual liberty, and yet another expansion of the nanny state. Let's hope all the independents and even Republicans who voted in a Democratic president with a Democratic Congressional majority are happy with these results.

HOT5 Daily 12/19/2009

1. "A WORLD GONE MAD" One of the better takes on climate change extremism.

Representative Sample: The world has gone mad and our president is in lock step with them as they approach the precipice. Even if you “believe” the science - and not all climate change advocates are frauds, or evangelists for warming, or commies wanting to take over the world - the reaction of the planet’s leaders to this problem is blown titanically out of proportion. It is the Precautionary Principle run wild.

2. "Deranged Democrat Grayson Wants to Imprison Critic" Yet another example of how the left only believes in free speech for those who agree.

Representative Sample: U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando took such offense at a parody website aimed at unseating him that the freshman Democrat has asked that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the Lake County activist who started the anti-Grayson website “”

3. "Video advice for dealing with police due out in January 2010" Includes video trailer.

Representative Sample: Unlike most civil liberties groups, Flex Your Rights is dedicated to trying to prevent civil liberties violations instead of addressing them after the fact in the courts.

4. "Counting the Costs of Modern War" And the need to cut them.

Representative Sample: I don’t think we help our cause by losing the wars we are fighting today, or trying to fight these wars by constantly fretting, looking over our shoulder at the future, fighting with one or both hands tied behind our back. All services, especially the more costly Air Force and Navy must embrace these New Wars, else they will face irrelevance and continue to see cuts on a dramatic scale.

5. "A Catch-and-Release Policy for Pirates" This is what happens when you ignore centuries of practical anti-piracy tactics in favor of idiotic legalism.

Representative Sample:What then, is the point, of the U.S. and other nations sending its warships to patrol the coast of East Africa if they’re going to simply release the captured culprits?

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Climate Summit Results Are a Cause for Optimism

The debacle of the Copenhagen climate summit has been pretty encouraging for most of us who believe that the most widely proposed "cures" for climate change are much worse than the disease itself. The transparent greed of so-called developing nations, better characterized as beggar states, was on display for all to see. Climate change is supposed to be a devastating problem, particularly for many of these states. Given that scenario, they should be bending over backward to cooperate with any international efforts intended to reduce the impact of global warming. But are they? Of course not. They want to be paid to do anything. For many of the beggar nations, climate change is nothing more than an opportunity to try to extort money from gullible, wealthy, western fools.

There plenty of fools in the west, including Obama himself, who made a ridiculous suggestion that the U.S. would help raise $100 billion dollars to help the beggars. But the naked greed and extortion tactics of the beggars was so blatant, than even some of the fools may wake up. More importantly, the display at Copenhagen should raise opposition to any wealth transfer schemes. 

We also saw that the Chinese cannot be trusted, and are not willing to cooperate in good faith, as if that were ever in doubt. That goes double for many other nations. The true believing, clueless internationalists will never wake up, but plenty of others might take note of the proceedings and start to understand that committing America to a sweeping international agreement is not only unworkable, but an extremely bad idea, not at all in the our interests. If the time should come that the Senate is asked to ratify an ill-advised climate change treaty, the issues revealed by this summit should go far to help prevent the necessary two-thirds majority.

HOT5 Daily 12/18/2009

1. "Why Obamacare Won’t Work" A look at five major reasons.

Representative Sample:Ultimately, when you boil it down, they want to accomplish two major things: universal coverage, and minimizing increases in costs. Here is the scary thing: after spending a $1 trillion more in the next decade…the Democrats bill will do neither.

2. "Givings And Takings Part 2: The Heart Of The Matter" The meaning of the rule of law.

Representative Sample: "The rule of law" is among the least understood and worst abused of all the catchphrases of our political lexicon. It's been used as a bludgeon by voices on every side of every issue, but without a consistent application of meaning...and without respect for the meaning it was given when the law was first separated from class privilege.

3. "2009 summed up in one (long) sentence" A really long one.

Representative Sample: We started the year with a president that everybody hated but fortunately we got rid of him pretty quickly and replaced him with a new president that didn't look like at all any of the previous presidents which we were told was a very good and historic thing 

4. "Another Peace Process in Our Time" Somehow it always seems to require more Israeli concessions.

Representative Sample:W ith Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip, arming itself to the teeth and enjoying the support of about one-third of the Palestinians, it has the right to veto any diplomatic progress. With Fatah unwilling to recognize the Jewish nation-state and objecting to a demilitarized Palestinian state, there is no chance for a peace treaty.

5. "Where are the real roots of Christmas?" The same place some other Christian holidays came from.

Representative Sample: There is no evidence that early Christians in the first century would have commemorated the birth of Jesus in any way. In fact, in keeping with early Jewish law and tradition, it is likely that any birthdays were not commemorated at all.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Clash Over Torture

Representative Aaron Schock (R) of Illinois, appeared on Hardball and was asked about waterboarding. He made some reasonable comments about retaining torture as an option in "extreme cases," an opinion that polls seem to indicate is shared by a solid majority of Americans. But as usual, his comments made heads explode. His Democratic opponent, Deirdre "DK" Hirner,  immediately launched an attack, trotting out the same weak and illogical talking points typically deployed by anti-torture types.
"Aaron Schock's latest comments in support of the use of torture are just another in a line of reckless and ill-informed statements . . . that undermine our credibility as a nation as we lead the world in the fight against terrorism,"
Nothing he said was either reckless or ill-informed, and obviously didn't undermine anything.  
She said such action could open American forces to similar treatment.

"This is a matter of the safety and security of our men and women overseas"

This argument is repeated regularly, even though it is complete nonsense. Our minimal use of mild torture, in extreme cases against known terrorists, has no effect whatsoever on the safety and security of our soldiers, except to enhance it if we obtain good intelligence. Our enemies already utilize torture and mistreat prisoners, and will do so if they feel it necessary or desirable. We are talking about enemies that deliberately target non-combatants, including people such as aid workers and journalists. They recognize no rules of warfare, haven't signed any international treaties, and used torture long before the U.S. ever did anything to any terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo. 

"In her statement, she said that "endorsing the use of torture, like Mr. Schock did," provides fodder for enemies who "look to vilify us.""

So what? Again, these are people led by religious fanatics. The mere fact that we are infidels is more than enough reason for them to vilify us. They can only hate us so much. 

And the other Democrat in the race, Carl Ray, had this to say,

"Intelligence personnel will tell you that torture doesn't work"

It is funny how many people actually seem to believe this. The need to deny reality is strong. And of course his statement is highly misleading. Some intelligence personnel would take that position. But others, including most of the top people who directed them and had access to all classified information, say exactly the opposite -- that harsh interrogation techniques produced vital intelligence critical to U.S. national security. 

I applaud Congressman Schock for speaking out in favor of retaining the option of torture in extreme cases, and for not being afraid to employ the word "torture," rather than relying on euphemisms. Far from being "reckless," as his opponent claimed, his position is both honest and realistic. Hopefully he'll keep his seat in Congress. We need more Republicans willing to support flexibility in intelligence operations, rather than relying on moralistic legalism.

Laughable Leftist Whining

The health care mess is driving some on the left over the edge. It's pretty funny to watch. Take a Crooks & Liars post called, "Notes on the Moral and Political Degradation of America." Crooks & Liars is usually good for a laugh, and this post is full of them. It's a non-stop whine about how bad things are here in America.
The news in the last few days has continued the drumbeat of demoralizing events which started in the Bush administration, and with only a few hiccups has continued through the Obama administration. It is clear that Obama is, fundamentally, Bush's 3rd term.
Uh oh, and Bush is pure evil. Comparing Obama to Bush is one of the worst insults a leftist can employ.
spending billions on turning brown people into a fine red mist (a.k.a. the Afghan war) is acceptable, but health care (a.k.a. saving actual American lives) is something which can't cost money. What an interesting--and clearly evil--set of priorities that reveals.
Here we see the typical attitude of the anti-American left, that automatically sees the U.S. effort in Afghanistan as something racist, as if the ethnicity of Afghans had anything to do with the war. And never mind that we are spending, and wasting, massive amounts of money, and the lives of our soldiers to rebuild Afghanistan and improve conditions for the Afghan people. But no, this guy thinks we are just there to kill "brown people."
I guarantee that real healthcare reform would save more American lives than the entire war on terror—assuming said "war" hasn't cost more American lives than it's saved, which is almost certainly the case.
Wow, he guarantees it. It must be true then.
Next we have what Glenn Greenwald is calling the creation of Gitmo North, in which people whom the government judges there is not enough evidence to convict, will be held indefinitely without trial. This is the very definition of tyranny.
Yeah, detaining dangerous foreign terrorists is "tyranny." Let's hope this clown never has to find out the real meaning of tyranny. Here's a guy who wants the government to seize control of health care against the wishes of the population, wants to regulate peoples' pay, and wants confiscatory taxation to punish those whose business practices he doesn't like. Somehow actual tyranny is ok, but taking reasonable security measures isn't.
Any nation which does this is a nation of men, not laws. America has forsaken its fundamental premise and proved its degradation.
Yeah, yeah. America is evil. You'd think the left would come up with a new tune once in awhile.
this started under Bush, but as Obama embraces this, it because a bipartisan project and the new elite consensus. This is now something which has been confirmed as US policy which is extremely unlikely to change no matter who is in power.
The reason that its a bipartisan consensus is that it involves basic common sense, something not present among much of the left.
bankers at the big banks are a net drain on the economy. Their venality and recklessness has wiped out the entire economic gains of the last decade and plunged the economy into its worst crisis since the Great Depression. ... they should be taxed a good confiscatory 90%
Bankers are evil too, and the government should steal their money. But he's worried about "tyranny."
In a healthy, non-degraded society, none of the behavior listed above would be allowed. Not only would there be confiscatory taxes leveled, there would be massive ongoing criminal investigations into what happened.
In his uptopian world, his enemies would be imprisoned and their wealth confiscated.
In a healthy, non-degraded society, saving American lives by making sure they have health care would be a priority
By stealing money from productive groups, and redistributing it to others. Hmm, a sick, degraded society is sounding better all the time.
Americans exist to be looted systematically by their elites
Translation: the wrong Americans are being looted by the wrong elites. 
And, last but not least, in a healthy, non-degraded society, the government is not allowed to lock up people indefinitely without trial. If you don't understand why this is, I can't explain it to you
Somehow I don't think he could explain much of anything to anyone.
any more than it is apparently possible to explain to a plurality of Americans why torturing people is evil, and beyond the pale. The fact that it can't be explained any more to many Americans, of course, is exactly why it is fair to call this degradation.
Those stupid, evil Americans! They don't agree with him. Even though he's out on the fringe, he's right and they are all wrong. That proves they are "degraded."

HOT5 Daily 12/17/2009

1. "Saudi Liberal Muslim says West is more moral" Something many of our own left-wingers fail to recognize.

Representative Sample: In a recent article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa (October, 2009), Saudi liberal Muhammad Jamil Kutbi wrote that the Arabs and Muslims are unjustified in regarding themselves as morally superior to the West. He argued that although Islam champions values such as equality, justice and charity, the West actually surpasses the Muslim world at implementing these values.

2. "Krugman on the Minimum Wage" Debunking Krugman.

Representative Sample: A significant part of the Keynesian argument against free markets (and for minimum wages) rests on the argument that Krugman presents. The assumptions that this argument rests on are simply not true.

3. "Does anyone believe Obama?" No one with any sense.

Representative Sample: Most Americans realize by now that he'll say anything to advance his agenda. I doubt they're even listening. Propaganda is inherently boring.

4. "The insurgency you may never have heard of..." Links an interesting article.

Representative Sample:Check out Duncan McCargo's short and insightful commentary on the Malay Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand

5. "How Did This Happen?" Short but accurate, and links amusing Democratic attack on Obama.

Representative Sample: It’s time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Britain Attempts to Reign In Rogue Courts

The British Foreign office has proposed that the UK Attorney General be given the power to approve arrest warrants for suspected war criminals. This comes in the wake of an embarrassing incident, where a British court actually issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini for supposed "war crimes," causing her to cancel a visit to the UK. The government of Gordon Brown was forced to apologize for the idiocy of this court.

Things are pretty bad in the UK, but even the British government has to be appalled at the shameful behavior of one of its courts, trying to arrest a former minister of a civilized country on behalf of terrorist supporters. Naturally those terrorist supporters aren't happy that the government is interfering with their jihad against Israel.

News of the prime minister's intervention provoked a furious response from lawyers and pro-Palestinian groups.

"I feel honest revulsion at the idea of a case where a judge has granted an arrest warrant and a politician gets on the phone and apologises," said Daniel Machover, a solicitor. "They have got to stay out of individual cases and legal decisions."
Unlike here in the U.S., where we have terrorist rights supporters, over in the UK they have actual terrorist supporters, working diligently on behalf of Hamas. Hopefully the government will be able to put some regulations in place to squelch the activities of courts that issue ludicrous warrants for political reasons, particularly when they act in support of terrorist objectives.

Thank the Founders for the 2/3 Majority Requirement

Although it appears that little will be accomplished at the Copenhagen climate summit fiasco, the chance that this or future negotiations could produce an international treaty again demonstrates the wisdom of the founding fathers. Given Obama's apparently limited concern about advancing U.S. interests, and the tendency of Democrats to swallow radical environmental doomsaying and support drastic, harmful "solutions," it's a good time to remember that treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. This is an excellent protection against the whims of presidents and parties in power. Getting 60 votes in the Senate to stop a filibuster is difficult enough. Obtaining a 67 vote majority is an order of magnitude greater.

Should the time come when the president commits the U.S. to a harmful climate treaty, one which would cripple the U.S. economy, waste taxpayer money in hand-outs to the third world, or impose other conditions damaging to U.S. interests, the Senate represents America's last line of defense. It's one of the many reasons to vote Republican in 2010.

HOT5 Dailiy 12/16/2009

1. "Obama’s Broken Promises" That's a long list, but in this case it's bipartisanship.

Representative Sample: As the political class focuses on President Obama’s efforts to jam through health-care legislation along party-line votes, it’s important that we not give him a pass for his string of broken promises.

2. "They Don't Love Nature - They Just Hate Mankind" Radical environmentalists.

Representative Sample:At the core of enviro-mentalism is an arrogance so intense and narcissistic, it mimics the hubris of classical Greek theater: The AGCC inquisitors literally seem to believe they can remake the Earth by signing a treaty, passing a law, or electing one of the anointed.

3. "Bill of Rights Day" Yesterday was Bill of Rights Day. Reflections on how our rights are being protected or not.

Representative Sample: it seems like an appropriate time to pause and consider the condition of the safeguards set forth in our fundamental legal charter.

4. "Common Prayers Catalyst for Uncommon Compassion" A positive psychological benefit of prayer?

Representative Sample: A newly published study turns the issue around, asking the intriguing question: How does praying for someone affect the person saying the prayers?

5. "Afghan IEDs Hammered Soviets" Deja vu.

Representative Sample:The Mujaheddin used mines and IEDs principally as an offensive weapon to bleed the Soviet occupiers, rather than to seize and defend territory. And bleed them they did: the Soviets lost 1,995 soldiers killed and 1,191 vehi­cles to mines and IEDs during their eight year long war.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ABC News Gloats About Damaging U.S. National Security

ABC News is congratulating itself about its "exclusive" reporting exposing a formerly secret CIA prison in Lithuania. Aside from the damage to the CIA from yet another expose, the report also has negative consequences for Lithuania. The head of Lithuanian intelligence resigned yesterday in the aftermath of the report.

After ABC News revealed the location of the prison, a top Lithuanian official said that the report was damaging to his country's reputation.
I realize that we can't expect a shred of patriotism or concern for national security from most U.S. news organizations, but the obvious self-satisfaction at ABC is still grating. Never mind that future attempts to gain the cooperation of friendly states on intelligence matters are likely to be far more difficult. They clearly can't trust us to keep secrets secret. Why cooperate and risk exposure, international embarrassment, or negative political consequences? Lithuania assisted the U.S. by hosting a secret CIA facility and what thanks does it get? It gets a U.S. news organization running around its country exposing its secrets. Plus it gets terrorist rights supporters using its country for anti-American propaganda, and accusing it of being complicit in "torture."
"The activities in that prison were illegal," said John Sifton, a New York attorney whose firm One World Research investigates human rights abuses. "They included various forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, forced standing, painful stress positions."
Needless to say these are allegations based on very little, other than his own interpretations, including about what constitutes torture. But Sifton, an American, has no problem disseminating anti-American propaganda. 

About the only positive in the story is the response of the CIA itself.

The CIA declined to talk about the prison. "The CIA's terrorist interrogation program is over," said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano. "This agency does not discuss publicly where detention facilities may or may not have been."
It's good to see that the agency is refusing to comment, as it should about any intelligence matters that are supposed to be secret.

Supreme Court Rejects Retroactive Terrorist Rights

Terrorist rights supporters suffered another loss yesterday when the Supreme Court refused to review the dismissal of a case brought by former Guantanamo detainees. According to one of the leading terrorist rights groups, the court ruled that
the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law.
And they shouldn't be. Foreign terror suspects should not be entitled to U.S. Constitutional rights.
the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantanamo had any Constitutional rights.
That should be obvious. After 9/11, the idea that foreign terrorist suspects had Constitutional rights would have been rightly ridiculed as preposterous. Unfortunately, after the immediate impact of the terror attack faded, terrorist rights supporters conducted an effective campaign that led the courts to grant some rights, in violation of longstanding interpretations of the constitution and general practice. But the court shot down this attempt by former detainees to pretend that such "rights" were always present, and had been violated. Here's their attorney.
“It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency when the Supreme Court lets stand such an inhuman decision.
It's a good day for the rule of law, when the law isn't distorted to give foreign terror suspects rights they never had. And common decency was upheld by not allowing a baseless case against those trying to defend the country under difficult circumstances.
The final word on whether these men had a right not to be tortured or a right to practice their religion free from abuse is that they did not.
Correct. They had no rights, and should have had none.
Future prospective torturers can now draw comfort from this decision.
Let's hope so. It's quite possible we may face another situation where torture is necessary, or something that's called "torture," given its increasingly broad and nearly meaningless definition. If measures later deemed to be "torture" are authorized, those who carry them out shouldn't face legal action based on rule changes after the fact.

HOT5 Daily 12/15/2009

1. "Theme of the ’00s? Unpaid Bills" Sounds about right.

Representative Sample: Whatever you call them, the years from 2000 on have been united by one great theme: This is the decade when the bills came due for neglected problems.

2. "Are islamic extremists like the anarchists?" A case for the law enforcement approach to terrorism.

Representative Sample: Today’s violence from islamic extremists has many similarities to the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Using standard police and intelligence methods, Western governmens defeated the anarchists without massive restrictions on civil liberties and military operations. Post-9/11 history suggests that we can successfully cope with Islamic extremists using similar methods.

3. "13 Hardest Toys to Find this Christmas" You might not want to find these.

Representative Sample: Want to present your child with an unusual, one-of-a-kind gift that his friends will oooh and aaah over? Then check out my list: The 13 Hardest Toys to Find this Christmas. And they are hard to find, not because every Tom, Dick, and Mohammed is out there buying it, but because hardly anyone stocks them.

4. "Probable Super-Earths Found: One Nearby" New discoveries.

Representative Sample: Today, it's a little hard to keep up with what's been discovered recently, and what they're like.

5. "Extinct in 2010?" Jumping the gun on some of these.

Representative Sample: Tons of end-of-the-decade lists are popping up all over, but I was interested to see what would end up on a 'Gone Obsolete Since 1999' list.

To submit a blog post for HOT5 Daily, please e-mail me at Put HOT5 in the subject.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Completely Unsurprising

Leaked intelligence documents confirm Iran's work on nuclear weapons.

The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.
For quite some time now, only fools have failed to realize that Iran has been working steadily toward obtaining nuclear weapons. Despite the blatantly obvious nature of their intentions, many in the west have been swallowing and regurgitating Iranian propaganda that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, and doesn't involve nuclear weapons. Will this latest evidence convince those in denial? I doubt it. Those types of fools rely on wishful thinking, rarely letting facts and evidence disrupt their skewed view of reality.

So what will be done? Most likely little or nothing. The same fools will cling to their hopes that Iran isn't really working on nuclear weapons, or that they can somehow be talked out them. They'll probably be reeling with shock when Iran tests its first nuclear device.

What's Wrong with Scotland?

Consider this particular criminal, Martin Hamilton.
Ultra-violent Hamilton was jailed for life in 2000 for a catalogue of offences , including abduction, torture and drug-dealing. ... the most notorious gangland figure in Scotland during a reign of terror which lasted almost 20 years ... Hamilton was found guilty of 14 charges, including several torture offences. Victims were set on fire, scalded with boiling water or stabbed in the face.

In one horrific incident, a young couple were ordered to be stabbed in a bath so they wouldn't bleed all over the carpet of the flat where they were being held hostage.

An attempt was made to gouge a man's eye out with a spoon and Hamilton also tried to cut a man's finger offwith a knife.
Guess what? That's right, Scotland is letting him out after only nine years in prison. Not only is Scotland just too "civilized" to have a death penalty, apparently it is too civilized to actually make a vicious piece of human garbage serve out a life sentence. At the same time it is busy trying to disarm the population. Not content with gun bans, Scotland has enacted bans on swords and certain types of knives, and has passed laws inhibiting citizens from defending themselves.
"What we definitely don’t want to do is to send out a message where you create a situation where people are sleeping with a knife under their bed."
Oh no, they can't have that. A home invader might get killed.  Don't use "excessive" force against an intruder or you'll be prosecuted. But they'll let a vicious killer like Hamilton walk free after only nine years in prison. I guess we shouldn't have been surprised at the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Be glad you don't live in Scotland. And if you do, what's wrong with your country?