Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Billy Graham on Atheism

Billy Graham was asked the following question:
Why does atheism seem to be growing so much in recent years? I guess there have always been people around who didn’t believe in God, but atheists seem to be in the public eye a lot more than they used to be.
Graham answers that atheists seem to "use the media very effectively." But then he trots out one of the standard canards,
They also appeal to people who want to be free from God or any moral restraints.

Atheists don't want to be "free from God." They don't believe in God at all. There's no need to be free of something you don't believe in.  And of course atheists operate under moral restraints just like everyone else. Moral and ethical behavior is not dependent on the fear of divine punishment.

Graham acknowledges that atheism has been around for "thousands of years," but also calls it a "fad."

many people today eagerly latch on to the latest fad (see Acts 17:21). Atheism attracts their attention, at least for a while.

How many atheists do you know that said, I think I'll stop believing in God for awhile just to try it out?  Let's see how it goes. You might think that Graham, at his age and with his long career as an evangelist, would have talked to many atheists over the years. Maybe he hasn't.

He closes with this whopper,

Don’t be misled by those who claim God doesn’t exist, because he does. And the ultimate reason we know it is because he came down from heaven and walked on this earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ was God in human flesh, and he proved it by rising from the dead.
But of course we don't know any of that -- other than that the evidence supports the existence of an individual named Jesus. Everything else is mere assertion lacking any hard evidence -- like most religious claims.

HOT5 Daily 6/30/2009

1. "OBAMA FAILS TO STAND UP FOR AMERICAN INTERESTS IN HONDURAS" Hopefully it's just incompetence.

Representative Sample: The world Obama is creating - one with a supine and pliant America who bows to the wishes of every thug, every dictator who struts across the stage, threatening their neighbors or their own people - is a more dangerous world, a less free world, and a world where our traditional advocacy for stability and democracy is lost amidst the pious platitutdes of this starry-eyed leftist ideologue.

2. "The eliminationist rhetoric of ... Paul Krugman!?" Don't worry, it's only dangerous if it comes from the right. Just like "fearmongering" is bad -- except when the left does it.

Representative Sample: This is not mere hyperbole. This is exactly the sort of demonization and eliminationist rhetoric about which our liberal and progressive friends have been warning us will end in violence.

3. "FRANCE GOES NUCLEAR" A country doing what we should be doing. 

Representative Sample: Nuclear energy in France operates almost entirely without controversy. This absence of controversy is the most exotic and puzzling thing about French nuclear power. Probing our French hosts on the subject, I collected or devised four theories to explain the absence:

4. "Popular Delusions: Out-of-Body Experiences" I wonder how many people believe in this phenomenon. I'd bet it's right up there with belief in ghosts, possibly even higher.

Representative Sample: Most religious people believe in the soul, an ethereal locus of consciousness that separates from the body upon physical death and travels elsewhere to receive its reward. To people who hold this belief, it's a natural next step to guess that the soul or spirit could sometimes leave a person's body while they're still alive and travel to distant places

5. "On War #309: Going Nowhere Fast" Lind is always interesting, but in love with his own theories and prone to ignore any evidence that doesn't fit them. But I think he's generally right on Afghanistan.

Representative Sample: If General McChrystal is to represent any real hope that the U.S. might get out of Afghanistan with some tailfeathers intact, he must confront a host of challenges. Let’s look at just four

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Paul Krugman: Environmentalist Nutcase

Paul Krugman has some credibility on economic issues, even if you disagree with him. But his attempts at analysis on other issues, especially anything political, are either generic leftist ravings, or outright lunacy. Case in point is his latest at the New York Times, "Betraying the Planet." The ridiculous title alone indicates that Krugman can't be taken seriously. He's horrified that a large number of congressmen actually had the intelligence to vote against the monstrosity that is the Waxman-Markey climate change bill.  According to Krugman, they are guilty of "treason against the planet." Yes, he's actually serious. 

Krugman, who clearly knows very little about climate change science, and cites only information that supports his preconceived notions, leaps to an amazing conclusion and runs with it. He thinks those who voted against the bill are "denialists," another made up term referring to those who don't accept consensus climate change science. But obviously, most of the people voting against it are not doing so because they reject science. Instead, they voted no because the provisions will do nothing about climate change, but will instead impose crippling new taxes, damage the economy, and vastly increase the reach of the federal government. Many also objected to the administration trying to ram through another massive big government bill without even having the provisions read and debated.

It should be clear that it isn't necessary to reject climate change science in order to disagree with possible remedies. But recognizing that fact would require intellectual honesty -- something that has never been associated with Paul Krugman. Krugman would be best served to stick to economics, rather than coming off like a fanatical member of a doomsday cult, screeching about people "betraying the planet."

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

That's the Obama administration. Every time the Obama administration does something positive, such as recognizing the necessity for indefinite detentions in certain cases, it turns right around and does something contrary to U.S. interests. According to the Wall Street Journal,
The Justice Department has determined that detainees tried by military commissions in the U.S. can claim at least some constitutional rights, particularly protection against the use of statements taken through coercive interrogations, officials said.

Unlike the Bush administration, which despite its many faults, at least understood that hostile aliens have no constitutional rights, the Obama administration seems determined to pretend that they are somehow entitled to them -- even if it wants to pick and choose which ones they get.

If we are going to grant foreign terror suspects constitutional rights, there is no point in using military commissions at all. Just try them in regular court, watch them go free, pay out their lawsuits against the U.S. government, and wait to see what new terrorist activities they get involved with. That's the preferred option of terrorist rights proponents. 

Indefinite detention would not be necessary if the Obama administration simply recognized that hostile aliens neither have nor deserve rights of any kind -- let alone during wartime. Military tribunals should simply be able to weigh the evidence against each prisoner, come to a determination of guilt or innocence, set the innocent free, and hand down sentences to the guilty. We are making things way more complicated than necessary.

HOT5 Daily 6/29/2009

1. "What was in the Waxman-Markey 'Manager's Amendment'? The Green Gestapo, for starters " Climate bill even worse than it appeared.

Representative Sample: It affects every industry in America using "tonnage of production" measures; requiring each industry to calculate its "trade intensity" and "greenhouse gas intensity". The administrators of the program will compare other countries emissions by industry (how those numbers are achieved aren't spelled out) to U.S. industries in order to punish or reward companies on an industry basis.

2. "Iran-When All Else Fails, Raid the Embassies" Iran, demonstrating yet again its rogue-state status.

Representative Sample: Any talk of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran should be reserved for the day when a respectable and civilized government returns to power. What would be nice would be to see the UK and the rest of the EU obtain the freedom of the embassy employees and then close down their embassies

3. "USA Should Heed Britain’s Defense Woes" Lessons on what not to do?

Representative Sample: Our motherland across the Atlantic isn’t the only nation facing tough defense choices in the next few years, but here in America a struggle is waging for the future course of our military strategy, which will in turn define our national security.

4. "Animal rights are less important than human rights" Should religious slaughter methods be permitted?

Representative Sample: I remain entirely indifferent to the suffering of animals as a political issue. That's not to advocate cruelty. I would, of course, like all animals to be killed as humanely as scientifically possible. They should never undergo any further suffering than that necessary to support human needs. But when it comes to weighing animal rights and human needs, there's no contest.

5. "German Army = Too Soft for Battle?" Links to interesting article.

Representative Sample: will Berlin give its soldiers permission to start shooting? And, will they be ready to join more war-like nations

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taser Case in Missouri

The city of Moberly, Missouri just paid a $2.4 million wrongful death settlement to the family of Stanley Harlan, who died last August after being tasered during a traffic stop. Harlan
had just been pulled over in their hometown of Moberly, Mo. As the police car video shows, Harlan got out, wanting to know why he was stopped. One officer checked Harlan's driver's license and called for backup. Three more officers arrived. Police later said Harlan had been speeding - that he wasn't threatening but he refused to cooperate.

He had his  hands up at the time he was tasered, and was shocked three times for a total of 31 seconds. Harlan went into cardiac arrest and died before medical help arrived.

This is another example of blatantly unnecessary taser use by police. It's good that the family won its lawsuit, but that doesn't make up for the death of a son who was basically killed by police for the crime of speeding. Yes the death was accidental, but this case points out yet again the need for far tighter restrictions on taser use. The city of Moberly has suspended their use entirely in the wake of this incident.

HOT5 Daily 6/28/2009

1. "Declaring War on the American Economy" Let's hope the Senate kills it.

Representative Sample: Act like the governor on a steam engine, increasingly slowing down the economy through energy taxes whenever the economy accelerates. In other words, its virtually guarantees economic stagnation at best. And most economists who are not working for liberals think it will be far more economically pernicious than that.

2. "What Makes a Revolution Work?" Depends on the revolution.

Representative Sample: World solidarity and hope are all well and good, but they don’t win revolutions. Many, perhaps most, revolutions fail

3. "Why Do Atheists Have to Talk About Atheism?" Why not? Good article answering objections to atheists speaking out.

Representative Sample: I want to explain why so many atheists think it's important to talk about atheism ... and why many of us try to persuade other people that atheism is correct.

4. "An Opportunity for Libertarian Conservatives" Would be nice, but won't happen. Social conservatives have a deathgrip on the party base.

Representative Sample:a new path for Republicans that would take them back to a Barry Goldwater brand of conservatism that may be a better fit for the country in 2009 than its current more religious brand. Turning to Goldwater would allow Republicans to reposition themselves without abandoning their conservative principles.

5. "Open Letter to a World of Believers" Things to think about if you aren't an atheist.

Representative Sample: So what I ask of you is this: Try to rattle your own faith. Shake it up. Cause as much doubt as you can. Read what the best of the opposition has to say, and take it seriously. Describe your own faith in the most contentious terms possible (e.g., “an invisible friend who grants me wishes”) and recognize that this is, though not how you would put it, still literally true about what you believe.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Obama & "Indefinite Detention"

Terrorist rights proponents are up in arms about reports that the president is putting together an executive order "that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely." But for those who assign a higher priority to national security than to the imaginary "rights" of hostile aliens, such an executive order is necessary.

It appears that there are certain individuals held at Guantanamo, (and probably elsewhere), who are known to be terrorist enemies, yet cannot be prosecuted -- even by military tribunal. A tribunal of the type envisioned by President Bush (but never implemented) might have been able to handle them, but Obama has made it clear that his idea of tribunals would not have the kind of wide latitude necessary to handle these special cases. The most obvious example is the case of a terrorist who is implicated by evidence obtained through torture. Even if the information against him checked out, the use of torture means that it can't be used in civilian court. Whether it could be used in a military tribunal remains to be seen. But there are other possible cases where even a military tribunal probably wouldn't be able to convict. For example...

Iraqi A is an important tribal leader, and a trusted and valuable informant for U.S. forces. Over a couple of years, he clandestinely gives critical intelligence to U.S. commanders. Any information that could be confirmed was always accurate. One day he tells the local U.S. commander, 

"I have learned that Iraqi B is the commander of Al Qaeda in this region. He has been coordinating attacks against your troops."

The U.S. finds and arrests Iraqi B on the word of Iraqi A, a trusted and proven informant. Iraqi B is shipped to Guantanamo. The U.S. sees an immediate decrease in insurgent activity after his capture. The local commander is absolutely convinced that Iraqi A's information was correct, and that Iraqi B is an Al Qaeda leader

During his time in Guantanamo, Iraqi B maintains his innocence. There is no other evidence against him other than the word of Iraqi A, and the resulting decrease in insurgent attacks. The U.S. is convinced that he's an Al Qaeda terrorist. If he's tried in civilian court he will go free. The U.S. has nothing on him but hearsay from a witness who can't be identified, and wouldn't testify in court if he were. Even a military tribunal would probably have to turn him loose based on a lack of hard evidence. In cases like these the Obama administration has two basic options: one, release someone that it is convinced is a terrorist; or two, find a way to keep holding him. Fortunately for the country, it appears that the administration will choose option number two. 

Religion Must Accommodate Science

There is an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Lawrence Krauss called, "God and Science Don't Mix." Krauss relates that while at the World Science Festival he was asked to be on a panel called ""Science, Faith and Religion." Although he agreed, his first thought was
I saw no reason to have it. After all, there was no panel on science and astrology, or science and witchcraft. So why one on science and religion?
The whole article is worth reading, but Krauss makes this key point.
Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world's organized religions.
I'm not sure how anyone can effectively argue against that statement, with one exception. It is possible for a scientist to hold religious beliefs contrary to scientific reality, if they work in an unrelated field that is not affected by those views. If you are a scientist you can also be religious. But if science conflicts with your religious beliefs, you must either compartmentalize your faith so that it doesn't affect your work, or find a way to accommodate your religion to science. If instead you attempt to make science fit your religion, you cease to be a scientist in the true sense of the word. 

Russians Drinking Themselves to Death

A study published in The Lancet calculates that three million Russians have died because of alcohol since 1987. I'm skeptical of that sort of extrapolation, but the study does indicate that
three quarters of deaths among men and half of deaths among women aged 15-54 were attributable to alcohol abuse. The mortality rate in Russia in this age group was five times higher for men and three times higher for women than in Western Europe...The Russian, British and French researchers said that "excess mortality from liver cancer, throat cancer, liver disease and pancreatic disease is largely or wholly because alcohol caused the disease that caused death".
According to the article, "Consumption has continued to rise sharply." It sounds like the Russian bear has a major alcohol problem.

HOT5 Daily 6/27/2009

1. "New Economic Data In – $787 Billion Wasted" The unnecessary stimulus.

Representative Sample: Since President Obama didn’t take the oath of office until 2/3 of the way through January, and rushing through the stimulus package that nobody read took until the mid-point of the first quarter, the economy improved without any help from the new president.

2. "To Inspire and Convince" Not a good foundation for a moral theory.

Representative Sample: If we look at the things in human history that have had the power to ‘inspire and convince’, they have not had a particularly stellar track records.

3. "Britain’s WWII Poison Dart Plans Revealed" Interesting World War 2 information that was recently declassified.

Representative Sample: The darts were seen by military planners as "a promising chemical weapon of a novel kind" that would have an effective kill rate against enemy forces in the open.

4. "Intel Outside" Is our intelligence establishment behind the times?

Representative Sample:Like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, we seem happy believing that our prevailing business model is not defunct -- not a relic of another time. Unless we make fundamental changes in the way we conduct our business, the relevance of intelligence can only decline.

5. "Rating attractiveness: Study finds consensus among men, not women" Hmm. Could it be that women just don't know what they want? Sorry, couldn't resist.

Representative Sample:There is much more consensus among men about whom they find attractive than there is among women, according to a new study by Wake Forest University psychologist Dustin Wood.

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Punish Iran?

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann have an op-ed in the New York Post supporting the Sherman-Kirk Amendment, which would
require a cutoff of Export-Import Bank financing for any firm that exports gasoline to Iran or helps it develop new refining capacity.

According to the article, the amendment would target Reliance Industries Limited of India, a major player in Iranian gasoline refining. Morris & McGann also make the following assertion:

President Obama has unilaterally repealed the emphasis on human rights that was President Jimmy Carter's major positive foreign-policy accomplishment. He has replaced it with a value-neutral policy that appeases the forces of dictatorship and cowers in their wake.
First, that's highly doubtful. I'd be willing to bet that President Obama has a similar commitment to promoting human rights as Carter. Second, Carter's overemphasis on human rights was a terrible idea not an accomplishment. The principle concern of a U.S. administration should be the advancement of U.S. interests, not the interests of people in other countries.

The entire op-ed is badly flawed. If we wanted to "punish" Iran, shouldn't we have punished them for supporting terrorism, interfering in Iraq and sponsoring our enemies, and for other actions hostile to the U.S.? Repression of their own people is nothing new -- albeit in less spectacular fashion -- and is the least of the things that should concern us about Iran.

In addition, our relationship with India improved tremendously during the Bush years. U.S.-Indian ties have grown in importance, and India is ultimately a far more important state than Iran. How would India react to a U.S. effort that mainly targets an Indian company with a huge contract for business in Iran? How does the Sherman-Kirk Amendment benefit U.S. interests? The answer to those questions is nowhere to be found in the Morris-McGann op-ed.

HOT5 Daily 6/26/2009

1. "Obama’s Mythical “International Norms”" Obama, the foreign policy of naivete & wishful thinking.

Representative Sample: Take a quick glance at the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council, and you’ll find that Iran is already toeing the international line like a real team player. Security Council permanent member Russia has, for a decade, been disappearing journalists, poisoning the opposition, assisting bad actors, and saber rattling throughout Eurasia.

2. "Justice Thomas: A Little Empathy Please!" Thomas sees no problem with strip-searching students for no good reason.

Representative Sample: Thomas has written an opinion to that trivializes individual liberty and defends the interests of school officials who were apparently so exercised over the possible presence of Ibuprofen at the school that they forced a young girl to display her breasts and pelvic area to gazing and searching adults.

3. "Australia Moves to Block Online Access to Games With Content Beyond MA-15+" No games with adult content even for adults. 

Representative Sample: Australia's federal government said yesterday that it plans to block access to websites which host and sell games with content edgier than what is allowable under an MA-15+ rating. The unprecedented censorship policy will apply to Australians of all ages.

4. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" Mayors unhappy with the stimulus they supported. What a shame.

Representative Sample: Having lobbied hard for the stimulus bill with the expectation they could get some extra local spending without the political cost of having to tax the locals more to pay for it, Americas mayors find they in turn got played

5. "Try This with Your Email Signatures" Pretty amusing idea.

Representative Sample: Here’s a fun experiment you can try.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Young Barack Obama

h/t from the foothills

Get a Sense of Humor

A couple of weeks ago I linked to this post at Big Hollywood, arguing that Republicans need to lighten up, get a sense of humor, and stop acting all hypersensitive and easily offended. Apparently Michelle Malkin didn't get the message. In her post, Bad Taste Award, she complains about Grover Norquist making a mild joke about Mark Sanford. She writes,
Just what we need: Beltway conservatives Republicans showing how tone-deaf and insensitive they are for the sake of a self-aggrandizing soundbite. 

Gag.
"Insensitive"? Malkin sounds just like the type of whining leftist she despises. Get a sense of humor, Michelle.

School Strip-Search Illegal

Back in March I wrote about the case of a thirteen-year old girl who was stripped searched because the school thought she had ibuprofen, of all things. The case reached the Supreme Court, and the court ruled that the search was illegal in an 8-1 decision.  In writing for the majority, Justice Souter wrote,
school officials must have a reasonable suspicion of the presence of dangerous contraband or information that contraband is hidden in a student's underwear before "a search can reasonably make the quantum leap from outer clothes and backpacks to exposure of intimate parts."
That shouldn't be too much to ask. Resorting to a strip-search based on nothing more than an unsubstantiated allegation was way over the line. 

Another Useless Weapon Ban Attempt

Not content with simply enforcing the archaic 1958 law against importing switchblades, the Obama administration is planning to expand the prohibition. Its changes would
expand the 50-year-old ban on importing "switchblades" to include folding knives that can be opened with one hand, stirring fears the government may on the path to outlawing most pocket knives.
Aside from being unnecessary and idiotic, the expanded ban could turn a bunch of ordinary people into criminals.
Critics of the rule say that broadening the definition of switchblades in federal law would instantly make previously permitted knives illegal in states that have adopted the ban. Hunters and hikers who cross state lines with their knives in tow may find themselves guilty of a federal felony, they warn.
You have to wonder if there is any rationale behind the ban at all, other than the usual big government impulse to keep as many weapons as possible out of the hands of ordinary citizens. Not only should the ban not be expanded, but it should be repealed entirely. I'm sure the average gang member, with his arsenal of illegal firearms, is sitting around thinking: if only I could get a switchblade. I'd be unstoppable! Knife bans of any kind are ludicrous, especially when far more effective weapons are readily available to anyone who wants them -- well, except for law-abiding citizens who actually obey weapon bans.

My Obligatory Mark Sanford Post

Other have probably said something similar, but I have a couple of observations. First, Sanford is an idiot. He was a rising star in the GOP and a potential presidential candidate. I hope she was worth wrecking his political ambitions. I know politicians are arrogant egomaniacs who think they can get away with whatever they want and not get caught. But there have been enough recent examples that show that politicians do in fact get exposed. You have to wonder why people keep recklessly risking their careers, especially knowing that they are being watched constantly.

There's one other thing that seems to always happen whenever such a situation blows up in a politician's face -- the extended, tearful public apology. I've never seen the point. You already look stupid, why add looking weak & overly dramatic to the equation as well? Apparently Sanford's wife already knew about the affair. Presumably he already went through a big apology in private with her. Do politicians really think that a contrived public crying scene wins them sympathy? I'd be much more impressed if he had just said something simple and calm -- for example:  I've been having an affair. I know it was stupid and I'm sorry about the recent deception regarding my trip. I apologize to my constituents for disappointing them with my behavior. That's all that is necessary. Handle the rest in private.

HOT5 Daily 6/25/2009

1. "Iran’s Potential Future" Links article by Robert Kaplan.

Representative Sample: Iran’s democracy movement is strikingly Western in its organizational discipline and its urbane use of technology. In terms of development, Iran is much closer to Turkey than to Syria or Iraq.

2. "The government-funded $10 tomato" How can we get one?

Representative Sample: the government could start a grocery insurance system for retired people to ensure sure that all retired people could afford groceries. This system would also be utilized by wealthy retired people, even by those who owned grocery stores and tomato farms.

3. "How to Argue with Believers and Not Get Frustrated" Some useful advice.

Representative Sample: Lower your expectations. If you think you’re going to deconvert a believer or even change his mind about something, you need to lower your expectations. Things don’t usually work that way.

4. "Shrinking the Navy’s “Presence Deficit”" Radical proposals for reform in naval shipbuilding.

Representative Sample: such a shock to the system might bring the industry out of the money-flushed coma it has suffered throughout the Cold War and ongoing to this day.

5. "Where is Everyone?"" Many of the people screaming and howling about Israel's attack on Gaza curiously quiet during the Iranian repression.

Representative Sample: This article points out the total hypocrisy of the anti-Israel left that has been so loud in condemning Israel's actions-taken in true defense while standing silent on the brutalities of the Iranian government-against fellow Muslims.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being Incredibly Rich Gets You Better Healthcare

From the department of the blindingly obvious comes this CNN article on Steve Jobs and his liver transplant: "Did Steve Jobs' money buy him a faster liver transplant?" The author, Ray Hainer, actually asks that as a serious question. Most of the article is utterly pointless. It doesn't matter what system you have, what reforms are in place, or what changes you make, someone with $5.7 billion in net worth is always going to have better options that the average person. That's the problem with many of the people pushing healthcare "reform." They have no sense of reality. They live in a dreamworld where government controls actually decrease costs. At the end of the article there are a couple of quotes from medical ethics professor, that demonstrate the lack of real-world thinking.
The inequity revealed in the liver transplant process is symptomatic of the larger inequalities in the American health-care system
There will never be a situation where there are no inequalities. The best possible care is always going to go to those with the best resources, whether that means money, government connections, or some other factor depending on the system.
"Steve Jobs' transplant is relevant to why we need some health reform."
If you are basing a need for health reform on the disparity between one of the world's richest men, and an average person, then you don't have the requisite analytical ability to even be discussing the topic in any sort of meaningful way.

Cold War Memories

Britain has released a formerly classified document called the "War Book" from 1970. It describes the measures that would be taken in the UK following the outbreak of a nuclear war that left an estimated 12 million British citizens dead.
In calm bureaucratic language — loaded with code words to render the book meaningless to those not in the know — the document describes how as the crisis worsened, civil servants would introduce censorship, evacuate all but the sickest patients from hospitals and eventually be sent to one of 12 underground bunkers scattered around the country.

Britain was to be governed from these bunkers after a nuclear attack, with officials exercising powers of martial law over the remaining population.
Contingency planning always makes for fascinating reading.

North Korean Ships

There have been various reports about the North Korean ship heading toward Burma. It's been followed by a U.S. destroyer, and is suspected of carrying weapons intended for the Burmese government, another international pariah. But under the pointless U.N. sanctions, the ship can only be inspected if North Korea agrees. 

This situation brings a couple of things to mind. Why are we so concerned about a cargo of small arms getting to Burma? If we are going to force a confrontation with North Korea it should be over something that actually matters. There is no reason for U.S. sanctions on Myanmar. The country doesn't affect U.S. strategic interests, and doesn't threaten the U.S. in any way. If the North Koreans want to sell weapons to the junta, let them. What should concern us are North Korean transfers of ballistic missile or nuclear technology to states hostile to the U.S. or its allies.

How about some real "sanctions"? Any North Korean ship suspected of carrying nuclear materials or missile technology could simply be made to disappear with no survivors. Don't take responsibility, don't say anything. Just sink the ships in a deniable way and claim to be baffled about what might have happened. That course of action could be put into place at any time, and would be infinitely more effective than any U.N. sanctions.

HOT5 Daily 6/24/2009

1. "The Illusion of Government Competence" Examples of the government in action.

Representative Sample: The damage caused by government investment failures hurts more people than does private failure. Private investors cannot make up their losses by resorting to compulsory taxation. Private investors cannot rewrite the laws to eliminate their contractual obligations. 

2. "On War #308: The Iran Crisis and 4GW" How the Iranian regime damaged/is damaging its own legitimacy within the country.

Representative Sample: the Iranian regime in effect laughed as it rigged its election’s outcome, saying to the Iranian people and the world, “Rig the elections? Of course we rigged the elections. What are you going to do about it, sucker?” The fact that the outcome was announced within three hours of the polls closing suggests they did not count the votes at all.

3. "Animated .gif Of The Day" Pretty funny.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

4. "Calling the Democrat Socialized Medicine Emergency Line" What might we expect?

Representative Sample: For Achondroplasia, press 1-0-0-0. For Acne, press 1-0-0-1. For Acrodysostosis, press 1-0-0-2. For Acromegaly, press 1-0-0-3. For Adenoids, press 1-0-0-4. For Adrenoleukodystrophy, press 1-0-0-5. For Age-related macular degeneration, press 1-0-0-6. For Agoraphobia, press 1-0-0-7

5. "Obama Confuses Corruption with Competition. So What Else Is New?" Responding to Obama's bs about private vs. public insurance.

Representative Sample: If the free market provides the best quality health care -- then how can feckless, inefficient, corrupt federal government drive them out of business? Here are a few possible answers:

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama's Press Conference

Unlike many on the right, I don't have a big problem with Obama's response to the Iranian situation -- other than his ridiculous notion that he can somehow negotiate away Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Most of what he said on Iran I expected, and most had little meaning. There was one remark that caught my attention. The president said,

The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech
Well, obviously they don't. Otherwise some of them wouldn't be getting gunned down in the street by security forces. 

Obama went on to discuss energy. Most of what he said in this section was nonsense -- as usual.

These incentives will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.
Yeah right. I doubt even Obama believes that. Barring some kind of amazing scientific breakthrough, fossil fuels will be our primary energy source for the foreseeable future. There's nothing wrong with promoting some alternative energy measures, but Obama's remarks are just delusional. If Obama really cared about clean energy, he'd be doing everything possible to push the construction of our one major proven technology -- nuclear power. But of course he isn't.

Finally, the president addressed healthcare. Here Obama is either lying, being intellectually dishonest, or is just utterly clueless. He's pushing the fantasy that a massive government intervention in healthcare, estimated at $1 trillion (and likely to cost far more), is somehow going to bring down costs. He also pretends that a government insurance plan, paid for with tax money and backed by the weight of the federal government, is somehow going to be able to compete fairly with private plans that actually have to take profit/loss into account.  It would be nice if Obama were actually honest about the implications and costs of his healthcare proposals, and if he just tried to sell them on the merits. But that's too much to ask.

Analyzing Andrew Sullivan

No one has ever captured the true essence of Andrew Sullivan better than Christopher Badeaux in "Through the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan." Just a couple of samples:
Sullivan, who has worn dozens of hats in his lifetime, is truly unique. He stands astride the worlds of politics, journalism, theology, foreign policy, and applied obstetrics like the Colossus of Rhodes.
AND
More impressive than his output is his utter lack of fear of self-contradiction, flights of laughter-inducing hyperbole, public obsessiveness, repeated self-contradiction, betrayals of utter ignorance, and failed attempts to mimic the Bard by coining bizarre neologisms to match his wandering moods.
Even the parts I disagree with are still well-written. The whole thing is hilarious. Even Sullivan, if he has any sense of self-deprecating humor, would probably laugh at some of it.

Sudan -- Somehow it's Our Problem

Former envoy to Sudan, Andrew S. Natsios, has an article in today's Washington Post called, "Obama, Adrift on Sudan." Natsios argues that the U.S. needs to be more involved with Sudan, and that referring to atrocities in Darfur as "genocide" is not an "accurate term." He makes te case that the genocidal actions occurred in the past, whereas today the situation is chaotic and a merely a "low-level insurgency."In his view,
The United States ought to be in a commanding position to mediate in these negotiations, as it did in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended 22 years of civil war between Sudan's North and South. But disputes within the Obama administration are inhibiting U.S. efforts to stop Sudan's slide toward civil war at a time when unified American leadership is essential.
The problem with this sort of thinking is that it ignores U.S. interests. What U.S. advantage is gained by meddling in what is, to all appearances, an intractable situation? What vital U.S. interests are at stake in Sudan? If there are any, Natsios doesn't bother to point them out. He simply assumes that U.S. "leadership" in trying to solve Sudan's many problems would be a good thing.

HOT5 Daily 6/23/2009

1. "OBAMA'S NEXT TARGET: THE CIA" It has already been targeted. Crippling the CIA appears to be one of the main objectives of the left in general.

Representative Sample: The Obama administration is preparing a grand downgrading of the Central Intelligence Agency’s lead role in the war on terror. The administration is contemplating expanding the FBI and Justice Department’s role in global counter-terrorism operations.

2. "Palestine - Obama and Netanyahu On A Journey To Nowhere" Good title.

Representative Sample: the right to settle in the West Bank was exercised by Jews prior to 1948 and was only then abruptly halted after those Jews still living there were driven out following Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank during the War of Independence. Jewish settlement in the West Bank was not resumed until Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.

3. "You Think The Iranian Police Are Uncivilized; Here's A Most Gruesome Tale About A Palestinian Family" Just one of many incidents.

Representative Sample: what was Raed Sawalha's crime? He waved at an Israeli Border Police soldier driving by. Some say Raed was actually chatting with the soldier.

4. "Controlling costs? No. Controlling America? Yes." The laughable notion that nationalizing healthcare will somehow control costs, instead of costing huge amounts more money.

Representative Sample: That the government will drive down costs with a program based on Medicare isn’t just difficult to believe, it is contrary to the facts. Medicare has, since 1970, increased spending per patient at a much faster rate than the private sector.

5. "In ObamAmerica, dissent is no longer the higest form of patriotism" Of course not. "Dissent" is only a good thing when it's directed against Republicans.

Representative Sample: Last week, the Obama Administration suddenly terminated AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin, citing incompetence and bizarre behavior by the IG as the reason for his abrupt dismissal. Curiously, IG Walpin had just finished a lengthy investigation of long-time Obama supporter

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

More Terrorists Filing Lawsuits

Former members of the Kenyan Mau Mau Rebellion against British rule (1952-60) are suing the British government over their treatment in captivity.
Today, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association will file a suit in London against the British Government for human rights abuses and torture. It is expected that the British Government will present a range of legal arguments to stall the case, deny responsibility or refute the allegations. The case could drag on for years.
What the British should do is laugh the suit right out of court. The Mau Mau war was a vicious insurgency, with atrocities a regular feature on both sides. The idea that one side gets to sue the other almost 50 years later is so silly that only a European or U.S. court would even entertain something that crazy. 

Hitchens on Iran

Christopher Hitchens has an article up at Slate called, "Persian Paranoia." It's well worth reading, especially for anyone who shares the Obama fantasy of accomplishing anything through negotiations with the current regime.  Hitchens makes some interesting points. He argues that worrying about outside intervention is pointless, because outside intervention will be assumed anyway.
The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.
He also asserts that Iran's rulers should not be viewed as entirely rational actors.
It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.
Hitchens makes a couple of great points about U.S. "non-intervention." 
take a noninterventionist position. This would mean not referring to Khamenei in fawning tones as the supreme leader and not calling Iran itself by the tyrannical title of "the Islamic republic." 

And what about Iran interfering with our affairs? That point seems to get lost for many.

There is then the larger question of the Iranian theocracy and its continual, arrogant intervention in our affairs: its export of violence and cruelty and lies to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and its unashamed defiance of the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the nontrivial matter of nuclear weapons.

Hitchens doesn't say so, but we should be doing whatever works best to destabilize and undermine the current Iranian regime -- which is our enemy. Maybe we'll get an equally bad government in its place. But the odds are that we can't find one that is much worse, and more opposed to U.S. interests.

No Burqas in France

French president Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech today in which he said the following:  
“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women.”
After Obama's pandering to Muslims in his Cairo speech, it's nice to see a western leader speak out against a degrading religious practice such as forcing women into burqas.  I can't imagine our president making such a clear statement, for fear of offending Muslims. Sarkozy reinforced his point by saying,
“I want to say solemnly that it [the burqa] will not be welcome on our territory.”
Many on the right are fond of bashing the French, but should give Sarkozy credit for having the nerve to speak so forcefully about what the New York Times calls, "one of the most hotly debated social issues in France." 

HOT5 Daily 6/22/09

1. "Neda: A Lesser Evil is Still Evil" Something to think about.

Representative Sample: No matter who eventually prevails, the Iranian government will still continue their drive to build nuclear weapons. They will still fund terrorists. They will still train terrorists in their country to kill civilians in Israel. They will still train terrorists to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

2. "Where the rule of law meets the war on terror" Using terror watch list to deprive people of weapons?

Representative Sample:How do you get on the watch list? You have to be suspected of links to known terrorists. That's it. The government does not have to prove anything, or present evidence to anybody, or even tell you that you are on the list.

3. "Israeli Intelligence Has OPSEC Concerns With Social Media" The dangers of Facebook and other sites for national security.

Representative Sample: It’s a legitimate concern, and one that is not unique to Israeli intelligence. Ongoing GreyLogic research in this area shows multiple governments are involved in attempts to control the inadvertent leakage of information which in turn may be harvested by adversarial intelligence-gathering efforts.

4. "Twilight" The sad decline of Britain continues.

Representative Sample: the British military is being told by politicians that they will be cutting costs. Even if that means that Harrier jets are forcibly retired. Leaving no fixed wing aircraft that can fly from Britain’s aircraft carriers.

5. "Michael Barone's 'three rules of Obama'" Links to an interesting analysis of Obama. 

Representative Sample: This inability to improvise is typical of the newbie. He can master a limited set of facts and talking points (more so with the aid of a teleprompter) but he doesn't know his subject well enough to synthesize new information and adapt his thoughts to it. He lacks depth of knowledge.

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

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Idiotic Criticism of Obama

Some on the right are actually bashing the president for taking his daughters out for ice cream while people are dying in the streets of Iran. Here's Rick Moran (who I often agree with), writing at American Thinker.  
the signal sent by President Obama when he went out for some ice cream was not one of concern for the demonstrators in Iran. Patrick Frey of Patterico has a devastating contrast between tweets from Iranins getting tear gassed and shot at and CBS White House correspondent Mike Knoller tweets about Obama's trip to an ice cream shop in Alexandria, VA.

There are so many substantive points on which to criticize Obama's performance as president, that I find this sort of ridiculous attack completely idiotic. First of all, Obama is President of the United States, not Iran. It isn't his job to project "concern" for Iranians, let alone 24 hours a day. He has a family, and sometimes he is going to do things with them. Maybe he should stop eating entirely, sit in a room and cry about people in Iran. Would that make these critics happy?

Moran seems to recognize the stupidity of this attack, but justifies it by saying that the left did the same thing to Bush.

as long as the left refused to grant that kind of legitimacy to Bush's actions, I see no reason not to return the favor.
I do. Why should those of us on the right act like BDS-infected morons? Attack Obama for things he deserves to be called on, not for non-issues like going out to eat ice cream.

HOT5 Daily 6/21/2009

1. "A Little Sympathy for the President, Please" He is actually in a difficult position on how to handle the Iranian situation.

Representative Sample: But for those who want far more from our president, I can only say that while more verbal support might be good, we have to be careful. If we say too much, we own the revolution.

2. "can you get a little too skeptical?" Something to think about for fellow skeptics.

Representative Sample: one of the strangest critiques many popular science bloggers get when we talk about very advanced concepts which are still far too complex for us to test, isn’t from people who have a grudge against science or conspiracy theorists. Instead, they’re from people who say that some of the most radical ideas we have on the drawing board simply can’t be done.

3. "Nuclear Energy Update" About that news that looked positive for new nuclear construction.

Representative Sample: these Federal loans are only for a small part of the total construction cost. If they plan to build 7 plants and there is about $18 billion in guarantees, those guarantees won't even cover the OVERRUNS at those plants, given the likely way that construction and legal costs will spiral along the way.

4. "A Revised Ten Commandments for Atheists" Sounds good to me.

Representative Sample:2. Don't worship stuff.

5. "Molester free while dad who bashed him could be jailed" If you think the U.S. legal system is bad, try Australia's. 

Representative Sample: A QUEENSLAND father who bashed a man caught molesting his 10-year-old son is facing a prison sentence, while the boy's attacker walks free.

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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Foreign Policy Isn't Social Work

I'm not normally a big fan of Mona Charen, but she hits the nail on the head with her latest article, "Leave social work out of foreign policy." Here's the key paragraph.
The liberal tendency to believe that international relations are a form of social work is unchanged. Just as liberals like Carter believed in the 1970s that tensions with the Soviets were the result of misunderstandings and “paranoia” on our part, liberals today believe that international tensions are the result of lack of respect for Islam or bellicosity on our part. Liberals are keen to bolster the self-esteem of our enemies. If we were not so provocative (didn’t Bush label Iran, North Korea and Iraq the “axis of evil”?) the world would be a more tractable place. If we demonstrate humility, our former foes will meet us halfway.
That's an excellent capsule description of the naive, wishful-thinking basis of the liberal approach to foreign policy. Charen goes on to write that in the aftermath of the Iranian situation, "The Obama foreign policy — hope leavened with helium — must now come down to Earth." Don't count on it. As she pointed out early in the article, liberals are slow learners.

HOT5 Daily 6/20/2009

1. "The Middle Eastern Cold War" Interesting perspective.

Representative Sample: The present cold war goes back to 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Tehran and harbored grand ambitions to destabilize other states in the region to impose his brand of revolutionary Islam. Those ambitions waned after Khomeini's death in 1989 but roared back to life with Ahmadinejad's presidency in 2005 along with the building of weapons of mass destruction, widespread terrorism, engagement in Iraq, and the claim to Bahrain.

2. "NeoCon Derangement Syndrome On Steroids" That would be Andrew Sullivan's increasingly bizarre ranting about "neocons."

Representative Sample: you would think American "NeoCons" (whoever they may be) were in the streets swinging batons from the backs of motorcycles, trashing the library at Tehran University, and breaking into homes in pursuit of demonstrators.

3. "Obama’s Law Breaking Is Political Courage" For some reason, hysterical concern for the "rule of law" only applies when Republicans are supposedly threatening it.

Representative Sample: Obama has fired an inspector general who was investigating wrongdoing by one of his supporters (a friend of his wife) and has reportedly fired two others with whom his ideas were at odds. Obama did not follow the law that he cosponsored with regard to the firings. In other words, he broke the law by not following procedures.

4. "Navy LaWS smokes several drones" Lasers vs. Drones.  Lasers win.

Representative Sample: A total of five targets were engaged and destroyed during the testing, also a first for the U.S. Navy. 

5. "It's hard being a libertarian" As someone who isn't a libertarian, but has a weird mix of positions that alienate people on both sides, I can sympathize.

Representative Sample: Libertarians don't have anything to offer, like national healthcare, union protection or political power. The one thing we do offer, no one wants -- freedom to voluntarily develop solutions. I mean, we want to limit government power -- and that won't get you invited to parties.

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

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Secrets Will No Longer be Secret

The Obama administration is foolishly preparing to release more information that should remain classified.  
John L. Helgerson, the now-retired CIA inspector who spearheaded the investigation, said Thursday that the report is "a comprehensive look at everything the agency had been doing related to detention and interrogation."

Releasing such information to the public is mind-numbingly idiotic. What's next, releasing the names of CIA-run front companies? Maybe we can let everyone know other operational intelligence details too. 

The government released a heavily redacted version of Helgerson's report last year to the American Civil Liberties Union as a result of its ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on the program. All but a few paragraphs and individual words were blacked out.
Hopefully this new release will be similar. Black out everything but "the," "and," "a," and so forth.  What's the point of having secret intelligence operations if you release the details to the public every time some organization files a lawsuit?

Military Atheists Oppose Army Nomination

The Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers came out in opposition to President Obama's pick for Secretary of the Army, Congressman John M. McHugh (R-NY). Although McHugh is well-qualified through experience, a spokesman from the group had this to say:  
"John McHugh almost ensures a continuation of the stranglehold of dominionist Evangelical Christians on our military. His voting record speaks with a litany of special privileges for the Christian agenda,"
Generally use of the word "dominionist" is a red flag that indicates that someone shouldn't be taken too seriously, but there are some specifics about McHugh that appear problematic. He voted in favor of posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings, and voted to block an inquiry into Christian proselytizing at the Air Force Academy. At least on the surface, allegations that he has used his position in government to give preference to Christians appear to have some merit.

Mossad Head Speaks About Iran

Meir Dagan, head of Israeli intelligence spoke about Iran today. The bottom line:  "The reality in Iran is not going to change because of the elections." He said it was "unlikely" that the situation would actually escalate into a revolution. I give significant weight to what Dagan says, since Israel is known to have pretty good intelligence on Iran. We can always hope that the clerical regime collapses, but no one should be holding their breath waiting.

The Mossad leader also estimated that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon by 2014. But as the article points out,

The Mossad is credited with delaying Iran's nuclear program by years. Defective equipment and defective plans sold to Tehran through straw companies in Europe have reportedly set back the Iranian nuclear program substantially. Reports have attributed mysterious deaths among key figures in the program to the Mossad.
Hopefully these efforts will continue to have success. A military strike is not in the U.S. interest at this time, and with the U.S. resolutely opposed to such action, I believe that an Israeli attack isn't in Israeli interests either. Sabotage, selective assassination, and other forms of disruption and delay are their best options.

HOT5 Daily 6/19/2009

1. "Once Upon a Time in America"Are we in the process of wrecking the things that made America great?

Representative Sample:Already, the government runs our children’s education and our parents’ retirement. Now we’re allowing it to usurp our banks and nationalize what remains of our auto industries. Within weeks, Washington promises a plan to dictate our health care. To do all this, we’ve let Washington run up enough red ink to impoverish our grandchildren.

2. "A Bunch Of People Who Never Owned Slaves Apologize To A Bunch Of People Who Were Never Slaves" The apology administration to orchestrate another useless gesture.

Representative Sample: This is meaningless, so maybe it’s not worth getting upset about. But because it’s meaningless, it’s also a little irksome. Especially because people are apologizing on my behalf for something either myself nor any of my ancestors had any part of.

3. "Al Qaeda Has Syria In The Cross Hairs" Syria's support for Al Qaeda might come back to bite them? That's a real shame.

Representative Sample: Despite their reputation and history of aiding and abetting terrorist groups, the Syrians are becoming increasingly nervous about the large numbers of al Qaeda terrorists that have crossed their border into Iraq.

4. "Creationist Tactics" A good list of typical creationist arguing ploys.

Representative Sample: Trumpet any mistakes made by any scientist, and ignore the fact that these mistakes are corrected.

5. "All War Is Local" The Battle of Waterloo was fought yesterday, 194 years ago. Interesting article.

Representative Sample: All war is local. The wars we care about are the ones that affect us directly. The ones that burn our houses or happen down the road from us, which drain our wallets and take our children away. The ones that threaten our own world

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taser Death in Australia

Last week a mentally disturbed drug-addict died in Australia after policed tasered him 28 times. Police lied at first and said he was only shot three times, but data from the weapon showed the higher number. It is difficult to tell whether taser use was justifiable at all in this instance, at least from the reports I've seen. According to the article linked above, the victim
had gone on a naked rampage just days after being released from a psychiatric hospital. According to police, he was threatening to harm himself and officers so they tried to use capsicum spray on him.

But it's unclear whether he had a weapon or what exactly he was doing. And we know police lied about the number of shots fired, so it's possible they lied about the circumstances as well. This was not a one-on-one situation. The report indicates that there were multiple officers involved. It's difficult to believe that 28 shots from a taser could possibly have been a justifiable response.

This incident illustrates yet again that tasers are a potentially lethal weapon. They should not be used to enforce "compliance" with police orders, fired at children, or employed in situations that don't involve truly serious danger to police. Here's another example from the U.S. of what I consider taser abuse.

deputies attempted to give verbal commands to the suspect, a 26-year-old Volga man, to get him to cooperate. 
To gain compliance from the man, the deputies had to draw their Tasers and deploy
Unfortunately this type of tasering is common and accepted. The person in question was a "street dancer" involved in some kind of fight. Once again there were multiple officers involved, and the man was unarmed. Is it really too much to ask that two or more trained police officers be able to subdue a single unarmed man without blasting him with 50,000 volts?  If you are too lazy or weak to learn and utilize effective hand-to-hand techniques designed to subdue an assailant, especially with a two-to-one or greater advantage, then you have no business being on a police force. A taser should not be a substitute for effective training, or something police can easily resort to in order to avoid any risk to themselves. Police officers are supposed to "protect and serve," not put their own safety above that of the public. If you want to stay safe and take minimal risks, don't become a police officer.

Don't Anger the Ayatollah

"U.S. Struggling for Right Response to Iran." That's the title of an article in today's Washington Post. But the subhead really caught my attention:  "Obama Seeks Way to Acknowledge Protesters Without Alienating Ayatollah." Alienate an inveterate enemy of the U.S.? Oh no, we can't possibly risk that. Here's how the Post puts it.
The political unrest in Iran presents the Obama administration with a dilemma: keep quiet to pursue a nuclear deal with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, or heed calls to respond more supportively to the protesters there -- and risk alienating the Shiite cleric.

This one paragraph illustrates just how clueless the Obama administration is when it comes to foreign policy. The so-called "dilemma" is false. A "nuclear deal" with Iran is a terrible idea in the first place. As usual, Democrats and their enablers have learned nothing from their past support of failed appeasement policies. Any deal with Iran will simply assist it in obtaining nuclear technology. Iran hasn't spent all this time and effort, and endured various sanctions and difficulties in international relations, to give up their nuclear program. It's time to stop being delusional. Let's drop the pretense that some sort of deal with an untrustworthy regime can magically make the problem go away.

U.S. support for the protesters is another questionable proposition. Here's where I differ with many on the right. Why should the U.S. care if another enemy takes Ahmadinejad's place? As long as the clerical rulers retain supreme power, the results of their sham election don't mean all that much to the U.S.  Can we destroy the regime by backing the protesters? If we could, then I'd be all for it. But open support by the U.S. will give credence to the regime's claims of foreign interference. At this point, expressing U.S. support would appear to be nothing more than a possibly counterproductive feel-good exercise.

I don't know what kind of intelligence assets we have in Iran. But if we do anything, that would appear to be the best way to go. Give clandestine support to any anti-government efforts, try to keep the pot boiling, and hope the situation snowballs, causing the collapse of the regime. That's probably an unlikely scenario, but you never know.

HOT5 Daily 6/18/2009

1. "Lonewolf Diaries: Republicans Need to Grow a Sense of Humor" Yes. Let's leave the hypersensitivity to being offended to Democrats.

Representative Sample: Never has the GOP’s lack of funnybone been on sharper display than the last 5 months. For a party that claims to “shun political correctness,” we’ve certainly done a good job of embracing it. Over the past 150 days there have been three “media-worthy” politically incorrect moments related to this administration and Republicans have managed to jump on each one of them for political gain.

2. "Massachusetts Suspends Pentagon Giveaways to Local Police Departments" Do police departments really need armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers and other military equipment?

Representative Sample: small town police departments in Massachusetts have been using the Pentagon’s surplus weapons program to acquire some ridiculously high-powered weaponry.

3. "The Hell You Say!" To hell with hell. The concept of hell as an argument against Christianity.

Representative Sample: Fellow unbelievers: I don't think we rip on hell often enough or stronly enough. The disgusting dogma of eternal punishment is still accepted doctrine for most "mainstream" denominations, and certainly for all the fundamentalist ones.

4. "It’s more than just lesbian seagulls, you know…" More evidence that homosexuality is a more common natural occurrence than previously thought.

Representative Sample: recent research shows that, far from being an aberrant activity restricted to just a few species, homosexuality is in fact common in nature, from fruit flies on upwards

5. "The Ideological History of the Supreme Court, 1937-2007" An interesting chart.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Losing Track of Bioweapons

ABC News reports that a recent inventory at a Fort Detrick biological warfare defense lab turned up "more than 9,200 vials of material that was unaccounted for in laboratory records." They never left the lab, but given the nature of the toxins & germs in question, it would be nice if the army paid a little bit more attention to its stockpiles. According to the report, some of the vials date from the 1950s. If they aren't aware of what's in the lab, they aren't going to know if anything leaves until the next inventory -- which apparently could take 50+ years.

Obama Whining About Fox News

CNN reports that Obama dismissed the idea that he's getting uncritical news coverage by pointing to Fox News.  

I've got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration."
That's because they are about the only major news organization actually doing its job with regard to the Obama administration. Much of the rest are pretty much in the tank for Obama. When everyone else is bending over backward to please you, even mild criticism looks like a major attack.

One of the funniest things about leftists is their constant whining and sniveling about Fox News, and their inability to distinguish individual shows from general news coverage. If you watch standard news ticker type coverage on Fox, it is very similar to what you get on CNN. Fox slants Republican just as other channels slant Democratic, but it's basically a right of center approach. Fox News is no more extreme right than MSNBC is extreme left. 

But unlike those on the right, who are used to having non-talk radio media dominated by left of center outlets, the left can't stand having even one television channel that slants toward the GOP, and hosts shows by hardcore conservative types like Hannity. Read almost anyone on the left that writes anything about Fox and you will see the same irrational, sputtering outrage at its mere existence. Now granted, there are conservatives who have a similar crazy hatred of the New York Times. But again, since most see the media establishment as slanting left in general, hatred of the Times in particular doesn't dominate to the extent that liberals hate Fox News

True Things About Obama?

Mark Halperin has a post up at The Page called, "10 True Things About President Obama His Opponents Are Wrong About." Let's see if these "truths" are actually true.

1. He will not pressure Israel into some deal that will undermine its security  That depends entirely on how you define security for Israel, and also on whether Israel allows itself to be pressured. Would Obama deliberately try to undermine Israeli security? I don't think so. But his naivete & incompetence on foreign policy could pose a threat.

2. He will not push for a health care plan without regard for cost savings. Oh please. What nonsense. Anyone who thinks there will be any "savings" through a massive expansion of government is a complete idiot.

3. He is not captive to his party's liberal interest groups.  Just because he might occasionally fail to please a particular interest group doesn't mean he isn't heavily influenced by them. What has Obama done to show he isn't in lockstep with unions, for example? He's as captive as possible without being actually controlled by them.

4. He is not captive to liberals in Congress. True, he has his own agenda.

5. He has a ferocious political operation that is thinking clearly everyday about avoiding a nomination fight and about re-election in 2012. That certainly appears to be true.

6. He cannot be rattled by the right-wing Freak Show echo chamber.  Is that supposed to be some sort of deep insight? It's also pretty stupid. Obama can probably be rattled by certain attacks no matter where they come from -- just like anyone else. It would depend on the particular attack.

7. He is a free marketeer.  In the sense that he's not a socialist or communist, yes. In the sense of actually believing in free market principles, obviously not. Halperin is either being willfully blind or intellectually dishonest.

8. His hold on his supporters (including those in the press) is firmer than even Reagan's was. That may be true. There are plenty of Obama-worshipping fools out there.

9. He will not hesitate to use force to fight terror. Nonsense. He'll hesitate as much as possible. The evidence indicates that his first instinct is empty talk.

10. He likes a lot of Republicans. There's no reason to think that he doesn't. Politicians often have friends across the aisle.

HOT5 Daily 6/17/2009

1. "WHO IS MIR HOSSEIN MOUSAVI REALLY?" Just another enemy of the U.S., basically.

Representative Sample: During his premiership, Iran founded Hezbollah – a Shiite terrorist group based in southern Lebanon with active cells scattered worldwide. For Mousavi, Hezbollah became an important theocratic weapon: in the aftermath of Khomeini’s infamous fatwa against author Salman Rushdie

2. "The (Lesser) Rules of Civilization" A humorous list of 20 things that define being "civilized."

Representative Sample: 17. Water is free in restaurants (it falls from the sky, after all)

3. "Brits Debut "Stab-Proof" Knives" The wussification of Britain continues.

Representative Sample: With pictures.

4. "The Difference Between Conservatives and Liberals" One of the many.

Representative Sample: When you read stories about Republicans facing personal problems of their own doing, you're not going to see much sympathy from the right.

5. "A New Dialogue With Our Muslim Friends:" Could that be sarcasm? Yes, it could.

Representative Sample: They took civilians prisoner, killed them apparently without a trial, and we’re guessing didn’t even let the Red Cross see them. All this after President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility!

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Building New Nuclear Plants?

There's actually some good news today about energy. According to a short report in the Wall Street Journal, four utility companies will get 18.5 billion in loan guarantees to start constructing new nuclear power plants starting in 2011. The first plants are projected to come online by 2015.

The U.S. should have been building nuclear plants regularly. Hopefully this new construction effort, which the Journal calls "the biggest step in three decades to revive the U.S. nuclear industry," won't be delayed or sabotaged by the usual suspects. 

Identifying Nuclear Terrorism

There's an interesting article in yesterday's USA Today about nuclear forensics. The author asks,
If a terrorist nuclear bomb destroyed the heart of a great city, how would we know who did it, with what? Mideast fanatics with a device improvised from stolen uranium? A weapon smuggled in by a rogue regime? A hijacked U.S. bomb?
Who would we retaliate against? The answer is that we probably won't be sure.
international databases cataloging characteristics of nuclear materials worldwide, essential for tracing clues in such an event, are currently "not nearly extensive or usable enough."

One scientist says that there is maybe a " 65 to 70 percent likelihood" of identifying the source of a nuclear blast. If a country openly launches a nuclear strike against the U.S. or its allies we can retaliate. But what happens if, for example, New York City is suddenly devastated by a nuclear device smuggled in by sea? The U.S. investigates and determines that there is a 2/3 chance that it came from Iran, and a 1/3 chance that it was produced elsewhere. If Iran strenuously denies any involvement, what do we do? Are we going to obliterate Iran when there is a 1/3 chance that we might be wrong?

This article illustrates, yet again, one of the many reasons why playing defense against terrorism is a bad idea. Terror plots have to be stopped before they can launch a successful strike. This requires strong, active, flexible intelligence efforts to disrupt terror networks and break-up plots before they reach the execution stage. Left-wing and other efforts to cripple the CIA, weaken our intelligence capabilities in general, and provide unwarranted rights to hostile aliens, strike at the heart of our ability to prevent a terror attack, including the worst-case nuclear scenario.

HOT5 Daily 6/16/2009

1. "Frankly, My Dear Readers, I Don’t Give a Damn" I have a similar opinion on Iran.

Representative Sample: There is going to be nothing but cosmetic change in Iran until they get rid of the Supreme Leader. That simply isn’t going to happen, due in no small part to the Islamic conviction that religion should have a direct control over everyone’s daily lives, including government.

2. "Drug War: Fail" Consequences of the "War on Drugs."

Representative Sample: The current regime not only has failed, but is absolutely absurd in its assumptions. The argument that something like marijuana should be illegal is always “to protect the kids.” But the solution is nuts. 

3. "Howler of the Day" Howlers occur pretty much any time anyone on the left says anything about Bush.

Representative Sample: George W Bush anti-government? He expanded the size of government at a faster pace than any President since LBJ. Like Hoover, whom he resembles in many ways, the Younger Bush is the quintessential stalking horse of the Left. In painting President Bush as a far right winger they make their favourite son, Barack Obama, seem far more moderate that he truly is. Only by the standards of outright socialism can the Bush years be described as "anti-government."

4. "Trembling, unhinged hatemonger wrestles his personal demons" That would be Andrew Sullivan.

Representative Sample: My God. “Red State Iran.” Reading this lunatic’s deranged swill is now tantamount to watching a slow-mo mental breakdown. There is simply no smear too outrageous — or absurd — for him to fling at his erstwhile heroes, no analogy too twisted for him to employ in demonizing the objects of his irrational hatred.

5. "A FASCIST BY ANY OTHER NAME" Makes some good points.

Representative Sample: the term "fascism" has become distorted by the political left. In fact, we see this distortion on a daily basis in the news today, because the left are particularly anxious to make sure that the use of the term is associated only with the political right.

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Palestinians Reject Israeli Proposal

I know, big surprise.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently proposed the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state.  A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority had this response
"Netanyahu's remarks have sabotaged all initiatives, paralysed all efforts being made and challenges the Palestinian, Arab and American positions."
And why shouldn't the Palestinians reject any Israeli proposals out of hand? Despite their modern history of extreme anti-Semitism, constant acts of terrorism, bad-faith negotiations, failure to live up to previous commitments, and general barbarism, they've managed to force Israel into numerous concessions. The Palestinians know that much of the world has an irrational hatred of Israel, and that the only real ally of the Jewish state, the U.S., is currently led by an administration which sees appeasement as the first best option. 

No Comment on Iran

I haven't commented on the Iranian election because it is still unclear exactly what happened. People are jumping to their conclusion of choice, but without more information there's no point in trying to analyze the situation. In addition, as long as the mullahs retain ultimate power, I don't see a great deal of meaning in an election between four hand-picked, cleric-approved candidates.

HOT5 Daily 6/15/2009

1. "A Real Free Market Health Care Solution" Alternative solutions that don't involve wrecking the system and bankrupting the country

Representative Sample: Don't pass any of the Democrat health care plans. Savings of at least $3 trillion over the next five years.

2. "Cut Taxes & Stop Spending"And stop voting for Democrats if you support either action

Representative Sample: In other words, a distinct minority of people now think that President Obama’s plan is the right plan.What’s more important is that the business community is turning against President Obama.

3. "Happy to grant this rapist, this wish" Rapist/Murder gets what he deserves. Includes link to interesting WSJ article about the death penalty.

Representative Sample:The sad thing is that there are many out there amongst us who would oppose the execution of this fellow, even when he asked for it.

4. "Carter To Palestinians: I Wish I Knew How To Quit You" Worst president ever finalist & unquestioned worst ex-president loves the Palestinians.

Representative Sample:  We're in the midst of a multi-decade campaign of anti-Israel demonization, led in no small part by Carter and former Carter officials. Unseemly expressions of devotion to pathological terrorists are the pinnacle of Romance.

5. "Nonsense has me incensed" In this case the nonsense in question is climate change hysteria

Representative Sample: The New Luddites are magical, not critical thinkers, who not only confuse weather with climate, but who interpret any unusual weather event as proof of man's deadly impact on the Earth.

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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Best Ralph Peters Article Ever

Peter's has some hits & misses, but "Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars," published in the Spring issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs is one of the best analyses that I've seen in a long time -- by anyone. If you are at all interested in national security policy, foreign policy and warfare, you should read the whole thing. There are so many highlights that it is difficult to choose between them, but here are a few.
As our enemies’ view of what is permissible in war expands apocalyptically, our self-limiting definitions of allowable targets and acceptable casualties—hostile, civilian and our own—continue to narrow fatefully. Our enemies cannot defeat us in direct confrontations, but we appear determined to defeat ourselves.
Often when you hear someone say that the U.S. can't do something, what they actually mean is that we are not willing to do it.
an unholy alliance between the defense industry and academic theorists seduced decisionmakers with a false-messiah catechism of bloodless war.
As Peters points out, most people are historically ignorant, especially about warfare. They no longer understand that wars tend to be bloody debacles with hideous casualty levels.
we have become largely a white-collar, suburban society in which a child’s bloody nose is no longer a routine part of growing up, but grounds for a lawsuit; the privileged among us have lost the sense of grit in daily life. We grow up believing that safety from harm is a right that others are bound to respect as we do. Our rising generation of political leaders assumes that, if anyone wishes to do us harm, it must be the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved by that lethal narcotic of the chattering classes, dialogue.
It's hard to say it any better than that.
One of the many disheartening results of our willful ignorance has been well-intentioned, inane claims to the effect that “war doesn’t change anything” and that “war isn’t the answer,” that we all need to “give peace a chance.”
Unfortunately sometimes war is the only answer. And anyone with a minimal knowledge of history knows that wars can & do change things, often quite dramatically.
our expectations of war’s results have become absurd. Even the best wars do not yield perfect aftermaths.
Look at all the idiots, some of whom should know better, who refer to the Iraq War as a "disaster." They have no concept of what constitutes a disaster in military terms. Even some who should know better allow their political views to take precedence over their understanding of history and foreign policy.
history is no longer taught as a serious subject in America’s schools. As a result, politicians lack perspective; journalists lack meaningful touchstones; and the average person’s sense of warfare has been redefined by media entertainments in which misery, if introduced, is brief.

This point can't be overemphasized. Large numbers of people commenting on our wars are ignorant of history in general, and of military history in particular. They have no frame of reference on which to base any analysis.

This is a long article and I could keep excerpting it. But read it for yourself.

Terrorist Lawsuit Ruling -- Not Quite as Bad as it Looks

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled that a convicted terrorist could sue John Yoo for coming up with the legal theories that supposedly led to his mistreatment. A first glance this sounds completely insane. Yoo had nothing to do with anyone's treatment. All he did was give a legal opinion. The people responsible for the treatment of prisoners are those who actually carried it out. Yoo gave no orders and had no direct role at all. This judge appears to be either incompetent or acting out of political bias. But it isn't quite as bad as it looks.

The terrorist in question is Jose Padilla, not a alien. Unlike hostile aliens, Padilla has Constitutional rights that were clearly violated by the Bush administration when it declared him an illegal combatant. He probably has a lawsuit against someone, although Yoo isn't the right target. Regardless of the dubious merits of this particular case, there is nothing especially outrageous or unusual about a U.S. citizen filing a frivolous lawsuit, or some judge being stupid enough to pass it through the system. Unfortunately it happens all the time.

HOT5 Daily 6/14/2009

1. "Terrorists a problem? Just call the cops!" It's hard to believe that even the Obama administration is this clueless.

Representative Sample: The 9/10 mentality, on the other hand, sees jihadist terror as exactly a law-enforcement problem. Playing defense and waiting for the enemy to come to us (to be fair, in cooperation with foreign law enforcement and intelligence services) is the preferred way to do things, with the enemy processed through our normal criminal justice system with all the attendant rights and rules of procedure

2. "Reality Mugs the White House" Wishful thinking about Iran goes south.

Representative Sample:Did these people imagine that because one of the mullah’s handpicked candidates knew how to text that we were witnessing the second coming of Obama, Iranian-style? They assumed that in a country with four pre-selected candidates the mullahs would let just anyone win? It seems so.

3. "Reconceptualizing Atheism, Introducing “Antibelief” and “Contratheism”" An interesting article on defining types of atheism/atheists.

Representative Sample: In other words, I am advocating no longer distinguishing between “weak/negative” atheism and “strong/positive” atheism. Atheism is atheism, and contratheism is contratheism.

4. "Remember Iraq? You will soon enough" What's going on in Iraq?

Representative Sample: Most Iraq experts do not believe Maliki will support the SOFA, despite the fact that his own government negotiated and signed it. He has consistently misjudged his forces’ capacity to manage Iraq’s security threats without American help

5. "Is The Republican Party Lost?" Someone who is actually optimistic about the GOP.

Representative Sample: I believe the evidence is stronger each day that the Republican Party is making inroads into the Democratic “majority.” The election happened and Obama and the Democrats are in power. We have to live with that for another 18 months. But when one looks at the trends a new picture begins to develop. 

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