Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama's Iraq Speech

I didn't hear it live, but I read the transcript. I was prepared to offer a translated version of his remarks as I've done with prior speeches, but I don't think that's necessary this time. It's not full of lies, highly partisan or outright laughable. In other words, it was a decent speech for a change. I think its a sham to pretend that our combat operations in Iraq are done when we still have 50,000 troops in the country, but most people seem willing to indulge that fiction. My expectations for Obama are extremely low, but he exceeded them with this speech. I was impressed by what he said about former President Bush and those who supported the war.
I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, and to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead.
That should drive the Bush Derangement Syndrome crowd crazy. I know Obama will get criticism from the right for not mentioning the surge, but I think he deserves significant credit for the passage I quoted. When you consider the raving, lunatic hatred for George Bush and for so-called "neocons" still present amongst much of the Democratic base, Obama's statement is greater than it might seem to those wanting something more substantive. Overall I found Obama's speech unobjectionable, and actually generally positive.

HOT5 Daily 8/31/2010

1. "Obama Stimulus…More Expensive Than Entire Iraq War" And many Democrats think the problem was that we didn't spend enough stimulus  money. 

Representative Sample: In 2007 and 2008, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 1.2 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. It was 9.9% in 2009, and will be 9.1% this year.

2. "A list of foreign Mosques being funded by US Taxpayers (with cost details)" We've apparently got money to burn. 

Representative Sample: It’s not exclusively mosques that are being funded, but the great question remains, in this time of economic turmoil with so much debt and deficits, why are we wasting US taxpayer dollars on “cultural funding projects” overseas? Particularly those places which may be supporting Islamic extremism against Americans.

3. "Judge them by their actions" Good points. What scriptures say is less important than how religious people behave.

Representative Sample:  In a classic Jeffersonian mode we shouldn’t care much about the nature of the beliefs of organized superstition, rather, we should focus on the material consequences.

4. "Think Again: Offshore Drilling" Evaluating commonly held views on offshore drilling and oil in general. 

Representative Sample: President Obama told residents of the gulf states this weekend that he feels their pain. But the best way to help the gulf would be to let his ill-advised drilling moratorium expire early.

5. "What Do You Call an IED with Fins? A SAM …" A military flying car?

Representative Sample: Our friends at Popular Mechanics are reporting that “DARPA has selected two companies to proceed with the next stage of its Transformer, a fully automated four-person vehicle that can drive like a car and then take off and fly like an aircraft to avoid roadside bombs.

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Excellent Article About Torture

I was skimming through various articles and I came across one at Strategy Page called, "Trying To Silence The Stridently Righteous." It echoes some points I've been making for years -- and seen few others covering -- so naturally I liked it. Here are some excerpts.
"Opposition to torture" has become something of a religious issue, and a vague one at that.
It certainly has, complete with beliefs that run counter to reality. A fanatical minority, "the stridently righteous," believe that their moral absolutist stand against torture is the only correct way of thinking.
there is no agreement on what, exactly, torture is.
This cannot be repeated too often. What constitutes torture in many cases is a matter of opinion, dependent on the exact circumstances. Many torture opponents refuse to recognize that torture is not easily defined, and like to pretend that their opinions about certain techniques constitutes fact.
To many anti-torture advocates, what goes on in police interrogation rooms worldwide, every day, can be considered torture.
A point I've made many times.
Critics like to point out that, under torture, the victim will tell you what you want to hear, to get the pain to stop. But a competent interrogator will be able to double check some information provided by the subject under torture, and adjust the questioning as needed. At least that's how it's worked for thousands of years. But now all that is depicted as misguided nonsense that really didn't work at all.
Information doesn't stop being valid if it's extracted through torture. There are plenty of types of information that can be checked out, confirmed, falsified or evaluated in the light of other evidence. The idea that torture -- alone of all interrogation techniques -- always produces false or unreliable information is completely illogical, aside from being factually untrue. Yet it is repeated as a mantra by anti-torture types.
Advocates for the abolition of torture believe that torture doesn't work. Obviously, it does work. Just check out the history of espionage during World War II, or any other major conflict. Torture was accepted, if not much talked about. Information was regularly extracted from unwilling captives, and damage often done to the subject as a result.
You don't even need to go back that far. There are plenty of examples of criminals using torture to extract accurate information from their victims. I could keep commenting on excerpts, but read the whole article. There are good arguments against torture. I wrote a post awhile back listing ten I thought should be taken into consideration. But pretending that it can't work isn't one of them.

HOT5 Daily 8/30/2010

1. "US Wasted Billions in Rebuilding Iraq" Not surprising, but still annoying. 

Representative Sample: As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted -- more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

2. "The Price Of Victory" A good run-down. 

Representative Sample: For Afghan troops and police, the death rate is 700-800 dead per 100,000. The death rate for U.S. troops during Vietnam, Korea and World War II, was over 1,500. Better body armor, tactics, training, weapons and medical care have all contributed to a sharp reduction in fatal losses. Last year, IED (improvised explosive devices) accounted for over 60 percent of foreign troops deaths, but this year that is under 60 percent and falling.

3. "A discomfort with being commander-in-chief" He's not comfortable with being commander-in-chief, and we're not comfortable having him commanding.  

Representative Sample: I'm sorry. He is a president. He has ordered more troops into Afghanistan and some of those men and women are dying and will continue to die. Why shouldn't he speak of that more often and keep reminding the American people why we are fighting in Afghanistan? These troops deserve more than a sporadic mention. If we are going to be committed to Afghanistan, those troops also deserve to be more than a consideration in domestic politics.

4. "On the Uses of Ridicule" Good points. 

Representative Sample: The whole reason I'm an atheist, the reason that Ebon Musings and Daylight Atheism exist, is because of those websites which made me realize that religious beliefs could be poked fun at. Ridicule has its uses: If skillfully deployed in an argument, it can be more persuasive than anything else

5. "Pennsylvania’s Death Penalty: Uslesss" Having a death penalty is pretty meaningless if no one ever gets executed.

Representative Sample: the death penalty is not a deterrent if it is never carried out. Rendell is correct there. In Pennsylvania, you can kill as many people as you want, content in the knowledge that you will live a long life at the expense of the state.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Get Ready For A New Round of Smears

Construction equipment at the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee was set on fire last night in an apparent act of arson. A project sign was also vandalized.  The determination of arson was a preliminary ruling and an investigation is ongoing. Nothing is yet known about who might have set the fire. Will this stop left-wingers from smearing anyone opposed to the Ground Zero mosque as accessories to the crime? Of course not. 

The last smear campaign, launched immediately after the stabbing of a Muslim NYC cabbie, quickly fizzled when the perpetrator turned out to be a member of a liberal, pro-mosque organization. But that won't stop the usual suspects from doing the exact same thing. Check Memeorandum. They've already started. Smearing opponents is all they know. 

Defenders of the Ground Zero mosque are horrified at the notion that -- as they see it -- all Muslims are being lumped together with a small minority of extremists. But they are perfectly happy to smear all opponents, even those who offer the most mild objections to a mosque in one specific location, as promoting violence and bigotry against Muslims in general. Guilt by association, even of the most utterly illogical variety, is quite alright as long as they are the ones assigning the guilt. Let's pretend that the person responsible for this arson is exactly what they are hoping for, a rabid bigot who hates all Muslims, opposing all mosque-building anywhere, and is the ultimate caricature of a so-called "Islamophobe." Even if that were true, committing an act of arson would also make him a violent extremist -- by definition a member of a tiny minority. There is simply no connection between an arsonist in Tennessee and the majority who just think the Park51 project near Ground Zero is in poor taste and should be located elsewhere -- none whatsoever. 

It shouldn't even need to be pointed out, but there is also a huge difference between peaceful protest -- for whatever reason -- and violence. People peacefully protesting a mosque in Tennessee or anywhere else, even if their motives really are based on dislike of Muslims, are not in any way equivalent to arsonists or other perpetrators of violence. Those conducting the smear campaigns are not defending freedom, or standing up for the Constitution as they like to claim. They are in fact trying to suppress free expression and free speech that they disagree with, as is often the case with the left. Smears, name-calling and ridiculous attempts at guilt-by-association are not debate, they are a form of ad-hominem in an attempt to delegitimize and silence opponents. They can keep trying, but it's not going to work.  

HOT5 Daily 8/29/2010

1. "The Left's Unlikely Alliance with Islam" Why is Islam the left's favorite religion?

Representative Sample: the left has shown that it is perfectly willing to deride those who question the practices of Islam and Sharia law as "Islamophobes" while ignoring obvious intolerance from the practitioners of Islam. The fact that the critics of Islam get censored and threatened with death for speaking out doesn't seem to bother the left's interpretation of the First Amendment in the way that a death threat from a Catholic to atheist critics would.

2. "Bad Faith at Ground Zero" You can't have too much Pat Condell. 

Representative Sample: It's a video.

3. "Why can't Barack Obama tell the world about American tolerance?" Maybe if he could put it in the form of an apology.  

Representative Sample: Throughout Obama's entire adult life his whole raison de etre has been "us" vs. "them", with "them" being some powerful, nebulous, nefarious group motivated solely by prejudice working to deny "us" what we deserve. Hell, he even thought his own white granny just couldn't help herself but be a typical black-hating Klansman at heart. Does anyone believe he doesn't look at any situation involving an ethnic minority on one side and 70% of Americans on the other without seeing it through a prism of bigotry?

4. "It is safer in Baghdad than Caracas" Just how bad things have gotten under Chavez. 

Representative Sample: That socialist paradise created by Hugo Chavez has a new failure to add to its long list of failures – the failure of the government to provide the population with protection and security. Venezuela has become the murder capital of the world.

5. "Progressives Against Progress" Links a good article about environmentalism.

Representative Sample: Neither the failure of the environmental apocalypse to arrive nor the steady improvement in environmental conditions over the last 40 years has dampened the ardor of those eager to make hair shirts for others to wear. The call for political coercion as a path back to Ruskin’s and Mishan’s small-is-beautiful world is still with us. Radical environmentalists’ Tory disdain for democracy and for the habits of their inferiors remains undiminished.

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

World's Dumbest Pirate Confesses

A Somali pirate captured by the U.S. Navy confessed yesterday to attacking an American warship back in April. He and six of his dumb pirate friends actually chased and fired on the U.S.S. Ashland, one of the more amusing incidents of the not so amusing Somali pirate problem. Here's a picture of the Ashland.  It has a crew of over 400, can carry 400+ marines, and has an array of surface to surface weaponry, including two 25mm auto-cannons, and six .50 cal machine guns. It's an ideal target for seven guys in a small boat.

If you are going to make your living as a pirate, knowing the difference between major warships and merchant shipping is a key job skill.

HOT5 Daily 8/28/2010

1. "Islamophobiaphobia" One contrived term deserves another.

Representative Sample: With very minor exceptions, I have seen little irrational fear of Islam in our society. What I have seen is a lot of serious and justifiable dislike of the religion for its ideology.

2. "Pointless US Plan for China?" I have some problems with this analysis, but it's still interesting.

Representative Sample: China rises as the United States seems to stagnate. The Chinese military grows more powerful as the Americans struggle to maintain their current strength. Washington remains committed to defending Taiwan and dominating the entire Pacific, but finds its aspirations apparently at odds with reality. So, with no new money and a rival flush with cash, the best weapon the Americans can apparently propose to counter the Chinese is an idea.

3. "Ritual and Atheism" Not incompatible.

Representative Sample: For as long as humans have been able to recognise that we all feel the same way about the great events in our lives, and we feel the need to share these event. We celebrate achievements in our lives, and collectively commiserate anniversaries of momentous dates in human history. And a way to make these celebrations and commiserations more powerful, we ritualise them

4. "A perfect illustration of how the Left counterattacks" Left-wing smear tactics not restricted to America.

Representative Sample: The mosque debate in America has been instructive when it comes to Leftist rhetorical tactics. Ordinary Americans make an argument — “the mosque is inappropriate on secular sacred ground.” The Left then responds, not substantively, but with personal attacks — “you’re racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and stupid.”

5. "The Women Men Most Over- and Underrated Women, by guys, according to women " These kinds of lists are usually interesting.

Representative Sample: It's a list.

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

HOT5 Daily 8/27/2010

1. "Collective guilt is a strange thing, or: Stabbing people is wrong even if you can’t use it for political purposes" Pretty much sums it up.

Representative Sample: Here’s how it works: When 19 Muslim terrorists fly planes into buildings and murder thousands of people, it’s not a reflection on all Muslims. Or any Muslims besides those 19, for that matter. But when a drunk A-hole in the same neighborhood yells “As-salaam alaikum! Consider this a checkpoint!” and stabs a Muslim cabbie, it’s a reflection on all opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque.

2. "Flaws in Theistic, Religious Morality: Religion, Theism aren't Needed for Values" A nice breakdown.

Representative Sample: The values outlined here aren’t part of every religious moral system, and may be part of some non-religious moral systems. They are, however, flaws in most religious systems of morality and thus a basis for rejecting the idea that religion is necessary for moral values.

3. "The "Moderate Muslim" Litmus Test" Some excellent points here.

Representative Sample: Almost a decade after the September 11 attacks, it is remarkable to see how primitive, censored, and misinformed is the Western debate over Islam and Islamism. Yet this is an issue of the greatest importance in the world today.

4. "Your Weekly World Zombie News" What's going on with zombies at the moment?

Representative Sample: In an effort to allay rising fears of a zombie apocalypse, Cracked proffers Seven Scientific Reasons a Zombie Attack Would Quickly Fail. They're trying to be on the side of the angels with this piece, but I gotta say that I'm pretty unconvinced by most of their arguments.

5. "The Stimulus Solar Boondoggle " Stimulus & boondoggle are two words that seem to go together.

Representative Sample: Energy sources that need subsidies and mandates need them because they don’t make economic sense. If they did make sense there would be no need for mandates and subsidies. When it comes to providing affordable energy, supply and demand do a much better job than lobbyists and bureaucrats.

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Actual Persecution of Muslims Looks Like

A Pakistani-American returned to Pakistan after 20 years in the U.S., only to be murdered. Why? Because he was the wrong type of Muslim. The former native of Germantown, PA, Habib Peer was an Ahmadiyya Muslim, a minority sect that has four million adherents in Pakistan.
That nation's four million Ahmadis are forbidden by law to publicly practice their religion, and they can be jailed for blasphemy if they greet Sunni or Shiite Muslims with the traditional "salaam alaykum" or wear Muslim garb.

Mainstream mullahs and imams denounce Ahmadis, with some blaming their presence for the floods ravaging Pakistan.

Mujeeb Chaudhary, Philadelphia resident, Ahmadiyya Muslim and brother-in-law of the slain Peer, said that some non-Ahmadi Islamic religious leaders even tell their followers that it is their duty to kill Ahmadis. Interestingly, Chaudhary was asked his opinion about the Ground Zero mosque issue.
Although some Muslims are upset by the resistance to a proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, Chaudhary said he welcomed such debate as "proof of America's freedom of speech and freedom to practice religion."
It's good to see a Muslim speaking out in favor of free speech and debate, instead of demonizing critics as Islamophobes in an attempt to silence them, as with many mosque supporters. Chaudhary also noted that a new mosque will be going up in Philadelphia.
the Philadelphia-area Ahmadi community plans to break ground for a new mosque, with dome and minaret, on West Glenwood Avenue near Temple University. The plan, he said, has encountered no hostility from the neighborhood.
There's been quite a bit of nonsense lately bemoaning how Muslims are treated in America, when in fact most are far better off here than in their own Islamic homelands. There's unfortunately a certain level of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination and harassment of minorities here in the U.S. But it's useful to keep it in perspective. It's nowhere near what those who delight in condemning America would have you believe.

HOT5 Daily 8/26/2010

1. "The Perfect Iranian Storm on the Horizon" Very interesting interview discussing various aspects of the Middle East situation.

Representative Sample: Jonathan Spyer is not your typical Israeli journalist and political analyst. He has a PhD in International Relations, he fought in Lebanon during the summer war of 2006, then went back to Lebanon as a civilian on a second passport.

2. "Lefty beats up cabbie; left blames the right" Don't hold your breath waiting for apologies from those doing the smearing.

Representative Sample: It is attempted murder. I don’t care about this coward’s politics. But connecting this inexplicable act of violence on peaceful protesters is ignorant.

3. "America plays the Apollo Option: killing from the sky" Questions raised by the expanding drone assassination program.

Representative Sample: How times have changed. Now technology had provided us the capability to smite whomever we wish from across vast distances, while our targets, being mortals, can do precious little in reply. Propitiation is their only reasonable option. Our new Olympian status, though, still has a few details to be worked out.

4. "THE LEFT OPPOSES THE 3 BEST ANTIDOTES TO POVERTY Oversimplified but generally correct

Representative Sample: the left sees capitalism, globalization and "USA hegemony" as negative. The left is wrong. Leftist policies are what's keeping much of the world's population poor.

5. "Can Bush be blamed? " He certainly will be by the usual suspects.

Representative Sample: George W. Bush has not occupied the Oval Office for more than 19 months, so it will become more and more difficult to blame a double dip on his administration. Even a short and mild secondary recession will be a difficult hurdle for President Obama's re-election campaign, which must start in earnest in 17 months.

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Smearing People As Accessories to Murder

Some maniac attempted to kill a Muslim cab driver in New York City. His vicious attack appeared to be motivated by hatred of Muslims. As soon as I saw this story, I wondered how long it would take left-wingers to start smearing critics of the Ground Zero mosque project as accessories to the crime. Since smears are a standard leftist tactic, I figured it wouldn't take long, especially since it has happened pretty much any time some nutcase with arguably anti-government or right-wing views has committed a crime. The story has been up for only 20 minutes on Memeorandum, and already the leftists are swarming. Here's left-wing propagandist Juan Cole, a member of what Robert Gibbs called the "Professional Left."

The slasher was apparently “very drunk,” but what does being drunk do to a person? Makes them suggestible, lets primal emotions come to the fore. Newt Gingrich and Rick Lazio may as well have kept Enwright in their basements in chains and whipped him into a frenzy as to spew their hatred on the airwaves.
One guy in a city of millions attacks a Muslim, and suddenly we have "pogroms" according to Cole. Leftists love the "blood on your hands" smear, regardless of how utterly illogical it might be. Cole libels the entire Republican party for good measure.
A New York cabbie came close to dying for the sake of the G.O.P. Tuesday night. ... Shame on you, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Lazio, and Sarah Palin, and all the other hatemongers. You have blood on your hands,and will have more if you go on this way.
If you've ever read any of Juan Cole's garbage, you'd be aware that he's much more of a "hatemonger" than any of the people he's attacking. And it's pretty funny to write a post practically seething with hatred while calling others "hatemongers." But then again, people who want reasoned, logical analysis don't read blogs by people like Cole.

When you constantly demonize your opponents as racists & bigots over any political disagreement, it's not much of a leap to start pretending that they are somehow responsible for the crimes of random lunatics. After all, you've already built them up in your own mind as monsters.

Pain Ray Testing in a U.S. Prison

You may remember that the U.S. military was testing a so-called pain ray in Afghanistan. It produced some minor controversy.

Several weeks ago, site co-founder Sharon Weinberger and I started pestering the military about the decision to send a microwave heat ray gun to Afghanistan. Blasting the locals with an invisible pain beam, we suggested, might not be the optimal way to promote trust in the Kabul and Washington governments.
The system was withdrawn from Afghanistan back in July.  But now they found a better place to test it, on U.S. prisoners in California.
The 7½-foot-tall Assault Intervention Device emits a focused, invisible ray that causes an unbearable heating sensation in its targets – hopefully stopping inmates from fighting or doing anything other than trying to get out of its way, sheriff's officials said.
This is yet another example of why I laugh at the hysterical overreaction of those who whine about the U.S. using some torture techniques on terrorist prisoners. How many times have you heard some fool bleat about how torture is "un-American," in complete ignorance or denial about not only history, but what goes on in our domestic prison system? There are numerous people who have an incredibly expansive definition of torture that encompasses almost any coercive technique, or even threats. But what about an invisible ray that makes people feel like their skin is on fire? As long as we use it to enforce compliance in U.S. prisons instead of extracting information from enemy prisoners, there's no problem.

Throughout the U.S., American citizens who have been convicted of no crime are regularly shocked into submission to police by a serious jolt of electricity from tasers. There are all sorts of nasty techniques used to control prisoners in jail -- techniques which many would consider torture. The rationale for using this pain ray is to break up fights in prison. What are the odds that it might be abused and used for other less justifiable purposes? But don't worry, it's not that big a deal, unless we were to use it in an attempt to interrogate foreign enemies who would like nothing better than to slaughter thousands of Americans.

HOT5 Daily 8/25/2010

1. "The Myth of an Anti-Muslim Backlash" Links an excellent article in the LA Times.

Representative Sample: that they have long since ceased to defend Imam Ra’uf and his supporters, and segued into defense of themselves and their pretentious self-elevation to Omniscient Arbiters of All Things Ethical and Moral. Those defenses, couched as they are in terms so insulting, dismissive, and disrespectful of the both the feelings and the rationality of Americans, do not discredit the denounced, they discredit the denouncers.

2. "Iranians at Sea: Swarm Attacks (revisited)" A good look at the often exaggerated Iranian small boat threat.

Representative Sample: it's really hard to hide 20 or 30 or 100 boats getting underway and trying to sneak around in an area like the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Faster boats don't add much to the picture - except they make faster fireballs flaming across the water.

3. "Bring On the Mosque, Bring On the Terror" Reasons why people often object to having a mosque go up in their neighborhood.

Representative Sample: "Around the world, mosques have been disproportionately used as venues for terrorists to raise funds, plot operations, recruit new terrorists and radicalize young Muslims,"

4. "DARPA Asks: Why Can't a Robot Be More Like a Man?Robots need more human-like hands

Representative Sample: The project, known as the Autonomous Robotics Manipulation (ARM) program, seeks software and hardware that will improve the ability of robots' hands to grasp and manipulate objects and perform complicated tasks.

5. "Go, Denmark! Denmark to the stars!" Denmark's private space program.

Representative Sample: If all goes well, in the very near future Denmark will become the fourth nation to put a man into space.

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

HOT5 Daily 8/24/2010

1. "Stop Defending. Start Jeering." I've already gotten a jump on that.

Representative Sample: that they have long since ceased to defend Imam Ra’uf and his supporters, and segued into defense of themselves and their pretentious self-elevation to Omniscient Arbiters of All Things Ethical and Moral. Those defenses, couched as they are in terms so insulting, dismissive, and disrespectful of the both the feelings and the rationality of Americans, do not discredit the denounced, they discredit the denouncers.

2. "A Test of Tolerance" As usual, almost anything Hitchens has to say is worth reading.

Representative Sample: Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism.

3. "Americans Don’t Like Islam So Much" I wonder why.

Representative Sample: there’s now a pattern of Islamic figures held up as moderate role models turning out to be quite radical when examined closely - the Ground Zero Mosque’s Imam Rauf is just the latest example of this. Frankly the American people have shown remarkable sensitivity and tolerance towards Muslims despite 9/11. A tolerance seldom reciprocated by Muslim groups here or abroad.

4. "Capitalists Take Advantage Of Chinese Traffic Jam That Lasted Nine Days. A serious traffic jam

Representative Sample: If you were stuck in a nine day traffic jam, wouldn’t you appreciate someone bringing food and water to your car even if the prices were above what you’d normally pay?

5. "The Most Detailed Schematic Illustration of Democrat Effects on the U.S. Economy You Will Ever See" That's about the size of it.

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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The 25 Percenters

The latest Rasmussen poll finds that only 25% of Americans support the so-called Ground Zero mosque project.

62% oppose the building of a mosque near where the World Trade Center stood in Lower Manhattan, compared to 54% in the previous survey. Twenty-five percent (25%) favor allowing the mosque to go ahead, and 13% more are not sure.
So to sum up, three quarters of Americans either oppose the mosque or are unsure about it, with only a quarter supporting it. That's a pretty strong negative majority.

I happened to stumble onto another poll, this one by the Pew Forum from last year, on American beliefs. Interestingly enough, 25% happens to be the same number of Americans who believe in astrology. But I'd be willing to bet that many of that 25% probably keep their mouths shut about that belief, except in the company of other true believers. Not so the 25% pro-mosque believers. Instead, they've adopted a smug, self-righteous attitude. They're the true defenders of American religious freedom and the Constitution, against the benighted, bigoted hordes of Islamophobes. They are so convinced of their own righteousness, that they are willing to smear anyone who disagrees with them on this issue as a bigot. And most of them are every bit as illogical and weak on reasoning power as those who believe in astrology. They simply can't grasp the idea that reasons for offense, or for considering something to be in poor taste, differ from person to person. The can't understand -- or pretend not to -- that symbols matter, and that people also view symbols in different ways.

It's no accident that the left forms the majority of the 25 percenters. Most are badly out of touch with the American mainstream on many issues. Accusations of racism directed toward political opponents is almost a reflex action on the left. It's not much of a stretch to start screaming bigotry about an issue involving the left's favorite religion.

As others are pointing out, this poll also illustrates the massive gap between the opinion of ordinary Americans, and the so-called "political class."

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the Political Class, however, favor building the mosque near Ground Zero. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Mainstream voters are opposed.
You can't get much more disconnected. Is there any wonder that people don't trust the government, and believe our leaders are out of touch?

HOT5 Daily 8/23/2010

1. "The Professional Left vs. the Amateur Right" A bit over the top, but still an interesting essay. 

Representative Sample: Of all the slips of the tongue and unintentional admissions by this administration, Robert Gibbs’ “professional left” comment may well be the one they wish they could squeeze back into their collective windpipe the most

2. "NATO: The Search For Relevance" When you have to search for relevance it's a pretty good indication that it is no longer there. 

Representative Sample: If you don’t want to read the report, you should at least take a look at the table on page 29 that shows how much weight the US, UK, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe place on different strategic concerns. It’s noteworthy that Eastern Europe really doesn’t care about Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Middle East given their proximity to Russia (which was what originally justified NATO in the first place). The US is obsessed with those plus deterring China, which the rest of NATO couldn’t really care less about.

3. "is this the golden age of conspiracy theories?" It does seem that way.  

Representative Sample: Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before. The government is plotting to institute a New World Order and every war, terrorist act, and a case of the sniffles anywhere in the world is just a carefully planned step in their quest to rule this planet and use its people as a workforce, which is why they distract us with meaningless celebrity news and human interest stories in the media, to keep us from talking about their crimes and conquests and sinister plots. Oh you’ve heard that too? Really?

4. "More Special Forces Battalions" We need them. Given the types of wars we are fighting, there aren't enough special ops troops to go around. 

Representative Sample: All this is part of a SOCOM expansion that is adding several thousand more military and civilian personnel. This includes the additional U.S. Army Special Forces battalions, and 400 more troops for the U.S. Marine Corps special operations forces. Another battalion is being added to the army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

5. "More Evidence that Acupuncture is a Placebo" Also has an interesting discussion in the comments section.

Representative Sample: there does appear to be a significant placebo effect, in addition to non-specific effects from relaxation and therapeutic attention, to the ritual of acupuncture. Does this mean “fake acupuncture works?” No – it means acupuncture does not work, but there are known placebo effects from the process of getting treated.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Religious Fundamentalism: Not Just an Islamic or Christian Problem

There's an article in Haaretz warning about the rise in Jewish fundamentalism in Israel. It's interesting just how close the parallels in thinking are with Islamic fundamentalism/extremism. For example:

"In discussions on the killing of infants and children ... it is reasonable to harm children if it is clear they will grow up to harm us. Under such circumstances they should be the ones targeted." And finally: "There is no need to discuss the question of who is and is not innocent, just as when we are defending against evil we do not hesitate to strike at limbs that were not actually used in actions against us." AND ""When there is a conflict between orders based on the ethics code and a halakhic instruction, of course one must follow halakha" - Jewish law."
Blind, fanatical adherence to religion is a problem that transcends any one particular faith. The writer even calls the movement he is attacking, "Jewish Wahhabism." As the article notes, fundamentalist rabbis have
approved murder, attacks on Arabs and their property, the illegal takeover of land, racist segregation between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi female pupils, and have ignored (at least ) the murder of a prime minister.
Like fundamentalist Islamic madrassas that turn out Muslim extremists,  Jews have yeshivas turning out "tens of thousands" of students who then go on to become soldiers, and take other positions of authority.

Many Americans support Israel -- at least in part -- because despite the many differences between the U.S. and Israel, they recognize it as a sort of kindred state: an advanced, modern, industrialized nation built along Western lines. If it were ever to become a radical Jewish state, where a fundamentalist version of Judaism takes center stage, much of that support will dry up. Fanatical adherence to religious beliefs, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or something else, is a plague on society whenever it infects, let alone takes over government. Anything can be justified if it's God's will. And since God doesn't actually talk to anyone, God's will tends to be determined by fundamentalist leaders and their particular interpretation of holy books.  Religious fundamentalism and government authority are a deadly combination that should be kept as far apart as possible. 

HOT5 Daily 8/22/2010

1. "Increasingly Unhinged" From reality. 

Representative Sample: Disconnection from reality, arrogance, unwillingness to accept criticism and to discuss other points of view, contempt for and hostility toward broad swaths of the American population–these have become the hallmarks of the Obama adminstration and its enablers in Congress.

2. "Why Bother?" The latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian "Peace Process" farce. 

Representative Sample:  onlookers and officials could barely muster the forced smiles and rote expressions of optimism that normally accompany the “beginning” of (OK, the never-ending, fruitless) direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

3. "How Much We Really Spent on Iraq" A look at the numbers and some perspective.  

Representative Sample: Turns out the war from 2003-2010 cost about $709 billion, which is still a lot, but not astronomical by today’s standards. In contrast, the whole Vietnam War cost about $698 billion in 2007 dollars.

4. "U.S. ‘combat troops’ have not left Iraq" Speaking of Iraq... I often disagree with Ricks, but he's correct here. The idea that U.S. combat troops have left Iraq is completely delusional when 50,000 still remain. If Bush were still president, he'd be bashed repeatedly for this pretense. Obama would probably be a loud voice calling him a liar for that claim.

Representative Sample: This is fiction pure and simple. I just don't get how the nation has swallowed this and why members of the media are not reporting facts the way they are rather than the political PR message the Administration wants portrayed. Does anyone not think that the likelihood of continued combat operations is a reality?


Representative Sample: Build it. Don’t build it. Move it. Bah! Everyone has an opinion. That opinion has been expressed ad infinitum. No nuance has been neglected. No angle uncovered. No stupid, silly insult or smear has been left under the mossy rocks from which they sprang.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HOT5 Daily 8/21/2010

1. "A Capital Idea" Many excellent points. 

Representative Sample: The market is a bias-free medium meant to facilitate a "meeting of minds" between buyer and seller; it was never meant to be a government-owned monopoly that picked and chose who would be allowed to sell and who excluded for insufficient payment of tribute.

2. "Immanuel Kant vs. Israel" One theory regarding some of the basis for the seemingly irrational, widespread hatred of Israel. 

Representative Sample: Paradigms also frame politics and Hazony applies this theory to Israel's delegitimization in the West. Israel's standing has deteriorated for decades, he argues, "not because of this or that set of facts, but because the paradigm through which educated Westerners are looking at Israel has shifted."

3. "Coexist? Yes, yes, and no." Includes a much better graphic than the commonly-seen "coexist" one.  

Representative Sample: atheism need not be a definite position. Atheism is about belief, not knowledge. So one can be agnostic atheist, meaning one doesn’t claim to know whether or not gods exist, but one doesn’t believe gods exist.

4. "Being president might not be all it’s cracked up to be if. . ." Four reasons. 

Representative Sample: 1. unemployment rates go up during your tenure, while you continue to blame someone who hasn’t been in office almost two years.

5. "Why Atheists Should Be Feminists" Sexism a problem among atheists in general? I'm inherently skeptical of these sorts of arguments.

Representative Sample: the atheist movement has a significant imbalance of men, and the most prominent and visible atheists - the ones who get the lion's share of media attention, the ones who are most often assumed to represent atheism as a whole - are all men.

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

Friday, August 20, 2010

HOT5 Daily 8/20/2010

1. "More Government Won't Fix the Mortgage Mess" Understatement of the day.

Representative Sample: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced his support for rainbows, the American flag, and a “carefully designed guarantee in a reformed system, with the objective of providing a measure of stability in access to mortgages.” Okay. He wasn’t explicit about the rainbows or Old Glory, but a speech about either of those two topics would have said just as much about the administration’s real intentions for housing finance

2. "For All the PLA-Watchers Out There" Useful perspective regarding the exaggerated threat of the Chinese military that some are pushing.

Representative Sample: Blasko shatters some myths about the China's amphibious abilities for cross-strait invasion. China's amphibious capabilities are not at the stage where they can credibly threaten a seaborne invasion and appear to be structured for different missions..

3. "I Don't Think That Constitution Means What You Think It Does.." A good post on the latest egregious misinterpretation of the first amendment.

Representative Sample: the 1st Amendment is just for the use of calling Asshats Asshats when they do Asshatty things..

4. "IEEE-USA cites 5 engineering breakthroughs" A couple I hadn't heard of.

Representative Sample: Five engineering breakthroughs, from restoring a degree of eyesight to developing a new treatment for sudden cardiac arrest, were cited today by IEEE-USA, the U.S. career and public policy unit of the IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.

5. "The Moon is Shrinking!" Really.

Representative Sample: despite it being perhaps the most well-studied object in the sky, our Moon is still capable of surprising us. Not only that, but some of its secrets are actually rather big, but so well-hidden we need to study the Moon pretty carefully to uncover them.

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Security Reform

The Wall Street Journal has an article up called "Cuts in Social Security Weighed by Fiscal Panel." As everyone knows, touching the third rail of American politics is not only politically painful, but accomplishes little or nothing. How long have people been talking about or making proposals for Social Security reform? It's not like we haven't been aware for a long time of the inherent problems with the system. Here are some of the latest ideas.
Raise the retirement age.

Reduce the rate at which benefits grow each year.

Reduce benefits for wealthier retirees.

Subject a greater portion of income to Social Security tax.

Raise the Social Security payroll tax, now 6.2% for employer and employee.

The first one makes a great deal of sense in my opinion. It's a fact that people are now living much longer than when Social Security was introduced, and are capable of working into their later years. I have no problem with this option. The second one makes less sense. We are going to have benefits that don't increase to reflect cost of living and inflation? That seems unworkable.

I have also long been in favor of cutting benefits for the wealthy. Social Security was never meant as supplemental income for the rich. I'd favor drastic cuts for those making over a certain amount -- although exactly what amount that would be is a huge question mark. But, since Social Security is an entitlement, that means people who are already in the workforce feel entitled to it -- with some justification. In order to enact such a reform, it would have to be done as a long-term change, with current benefits grandfathered in for those already in the workforce, or at least beyond a certain age.

The third option is another reasonable possibility, particularly if reform number two is not used, but it amounts to a tax hike when the economy is already in bad shape. The last option is a terrible idea, as well as an economy wrecker. Social Security taxes are already a major burden on both employees and employers. The last thing we need, particularly right now, is another tax hike that will directly reduce the amount of money in the pockets of workers, while simultaneously increasing the tax burden on businesses.

Like most talk of Social Security reform, this latest panel is probably just indulging in idle speculation. It's far more likely that we are just going to have to find more ways of funding it and maintaining benefits than coming up with any real reform.

Giant Roadside Crosses Ruled Unconstitutional

I wrote about this issue last year. To recap, a couple of members of the Utah Highway Patrol Association have been putting up metal crosses along the highway to honor fallen officers. But unlike most roadside crosses, these are 12 feet high. American Atheists filed suit to have them removed as a violation of church/state separation, and an appeals court has agreed. The original lawsuit was thrown out.
The appeals court judges disagreed. They said the critical issue was how the large white crosses on public land would be perceived by motorists and others. “We conclude that the cross memorials would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity,” they said. “The memorials use the preeminent symbol of Christianity.” ... The judges said they were also concerned that the memorials included the insignia of the Utah Highway Patrol. They said the combination of the cross and insignia links the state with a particular religious symbol.
I think the appeals court is correct, but as I wrote in the earlier article, ordering that the UHP symbol be removed from the crosses might have been enough of a remedy, rather than taking them down entirely.

HOT5 Daily 8/19/2010

1. "David Harsanyi asks – Why Is It ‘Bigoted’ To Criticize Religion?" Good question.

Representative Sample: There are those who continue to make the facile claim that any protest over Park51 is a display in un-American intolerance and contempt for the Constitution. This position treats criticism of faith — religious institutions and symbols included — as tantamount to “bigotry.”.

2. "Guns for Fire" A really bad idea from Hamid Karzai.

Representative Sample: to end the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan by Dec. 17 of this year, as Karzai wants, the West would have to make an impossible acceleration of its timetable in Afghanistan. The lion's share of the coalition's current diplomatic and development programs simply cannot be sustained without their vital support -- unless they were staffed entirely with uniformed military personnel, which is surely not what Karzai intends.

3. "Israel deepens relations with Greece. That's one way to deal with increasing Turkish hostility.

Representative Sample: Speaking on condition of anonymity, Greek diplomatic sources commented that the impasse in Israeli-Turkish relations was the direct cause of improved Israeli relations with Greece, prompting Netanyahu's visit as the first Israeli prime minister to officially visit Greece

4. "U.S. air power in perspective" Any decline is relative.

Representative Sample: The problem is the comparison of the future, present and past air force. The problem is that humans get used to things/conditions and bureaucracies resist against reductions.

5. "The world’s darkest material" man-made.

Representative Sample: Harnessing darkness for practical use, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed a laser power detector coated with the world’s darkest material — a forest of carbon nanotubes that reflects almost no light across the visible and part of the infrared spectrum.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Scale of Disaster in Pakistan

As the blogosphere wrangles over the Ground Zero mosque, the current disaster in Pakistan hasn't seemed to get as much coverage. But the sheer scale of the devastation raises all sorts of questions, not only about the future of that country, but about its impact on U.S. policy in the region. Here's Ralph Peters, writing in the New York Post.
Try to grasp that number. Twenty million people, overwhelmingly poor, have lost their homes, their slight "wealth" and their livelihoods. Thousands have died.

And international aid groups estimate that 3.5 million children are at mortal risk from diseases spread by polluted water and poor sanitation. Think cholera, typhoid, dysentery and common diarrhea -- the latter a killer among children in the developing world.
As Peters points out, this makes Hurricane Katrina "look like a thunderstorm." Even the Haitian earthquake, which attracted massive international attention and aid, pales before the scope of this disaster. And unlike Haiti, Pakistan is a nuclear power, home of the strongest branch of the Taliban, and full of millions of people with Islamist sympathies. The U.S. has pumped billions of military aid into the country in an attempt to keep it on-board in the fight in Afghanistan, with mixed results. We are now sending in large amounts of humanitarian aid. But the government, which was already shaky, now appears utterly incompetent to deal with the massive flood. Governments have fallen before because of their inability to respond to disaster. What will happen in Pakistan, and is there anything we can do about it? Peters argues that the Taliban will attempt to exploit the situation.
Islamist extremists will attempt to capitalize on the disaster by 1) providing local aid to the poor; 2) blaming the government for not helping sufficiently; 3) claiming that the deluge was a judgment from Allah for Pakistan's cooperation with the West and for not supporting jihad, and 4) spreading rumors that the US masterminded the flooding to take control of Pakistan and punish Muslims.
This is an extremely volatile situation. Desperate people often do or support things they would never countenance in normal times. And with a fifth of their country underwater, there is incredible desperation in Pakistan.

HOT5 Daily 8/18/2010

1. "Question to ask your liberal friends" One of the better analogies. 

Representative Sample: Coming soon to Columbine, Colorado: RD Walker’s Rifle Range and Handgun Emporium.

2. "Obama Asks Congress for Access to Your Internet Records: Your Prescribed Drugs are Already in a Government Database" The non-existent right to privacy. 

Representative Sample: Without any authority, the government is already keeping your prescription drug information in a government database. Think that doesn't include you? AVirginia Tech student's records were in a government database, not a hospital or doctor's database - but in a Federal database. 

3. "Three Paths to Missile Defense" Interesting approaches.  

Representative Sample: Israel, the People’s Republic of China and the U.S. are all looking for a missile defense but each is taking a separate technology path.

4. "Obamunism! Bankruptcies Hit 5 Year High" I'm sure if someone asked him, Obama would be glad to explain that it's all Bush's fault. 

Representative Sample: Much worse times are coming, fellow Americans – we can tough it out as poverty really isn’t the worst thing which can happen. But we do need to get rid of the Ruling Class clowns so that we can start rebuilding.

5. "What Patriotism Means to Me" Explaining patriotism to liberals.

Representative Sample: So I guess it’s unpatriotic to make fun of the overpriced lemon that is the Chevy Volt, according to Governor Granholm. The left does seem to question people’s patriotism about really stupid things (if you don’t like paying taxes, you’re unpatriotic!), but I guess that’s just because they don’t understand it. Among themselves, they use patriotism as an insult. “You think the U.S. is better than all other countries? How uncouth!

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

President Obama to Magically Create 800,000 Jobs

President Obama, speaking today in Wisconsin, said something pretty funny.
“We expect our commitment to clean energy to lead to more than 800,000 jobs by 2012,” Obama declared. “And that’s not just creating work in the short term, that’s going to help lay the foundation for lasting economic growth.”
You have to wonder if even Obama believes his own propaganda about job creation. I doubt many other people do. But I guess when you are just making up a number off the top of your head, you might as well make up a big impressive one. Why not just predict 8 million new jobs? It would sound even better and be about as accurate.

It's About Time

Texas executed Peter Anthony Cantu tonight for two murders committed back in 1993. He, along with fellow gang members, raped, tortured and murdered 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena and 14-year old Jennifer Ertman. Here's a brief description,
In what police later would describe as a sadistic frenzy, the girls were gang-raped for more than an hour. They were forced to perform oral sex. They were kicked, teeth knocked out and hair pulled out and ribs broken. A red nylon belt, with an attacker tugging at each end, was pulled so tightly around Ertman's neck the belt snapped. Shoelaces were used to strangle Pena. Evidence showed Cantu kicked one of the girls in the face with his steel-toed boot.
He should have been executed years ago. But better late than never. Good riddance.

HOT5 Daily 8/17/2010

1. "Ground Zero Mosque Exposes Rift Between Leftist Elites & Other 70%" There's an understatement.

Representative Sample: A much larger segment of the political left has chosen to wrap its patriotism in the brown-paper wrap of multi-culturalism. For these soft leftists, America’s great strength is its diversity, (as opposed to the founding belief in certain objective truths to which all men must be bound). For them, American values must be malleable enough to fit into the larger context of world citizenry. Thus, everything is American! And yet, in truth, nothing is American because America is so many different things and all of them of equal value, none more sacred than any of the others!

2. "Today's Reading Assignment " Muslims against the Ground Zero mosque.

Representative Sample: New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it's not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as "Fitna," meaning "mischief-making" that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

3. "Random Gender Related Rants" An interesting article with some excellent points

Representative Sample: I happen to believe men have some very legitimate complaints with regard to the excesses of feminism, but they do themselves no credit when they stoop to the very tactics they previously objected to. One of these tactics is labeling everything in sight, "misandry".

4. "Cell Phone Mamas – WARNING!" This article should resonate with many people.

Representative Sample: Yeah, Mama, I’m talking to YOU! I am constantly having to avoid your toddlers in parking lots as they dart out in front of my car while you are on your phone. You must be talking about something real important, even more so than the safety of your kid/s.

5. "Poland and America Drift Apart" Decline of U.S. influence?

Representative Sample: When Poles dream of leaving the country, they think not of Chicago but of London. A Pole can work legally in any large EU country, and an estimated 1 million do, sending home more money than Poland earns from all its U.S. trade. Meanwhile, Poles need a visa even to visit the United States.

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

Protest Does Not Equal an Attack on Religious Freedom

Before I address the main point, I want to note a few things, since my last post on this subject attracted various comments and questions. When this controversy first erupted, I refrained from posting anything. It's not really a big issue for me if a Muslim group wants to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. My first thought was: that's a really bad idea which will anger a lot of people. But, if they own the property they have a right to build it. I was not surprised that large numbers of people started to protest. A strong majority of Americans were going to object to the project for what I think are obvious reasons -- and those reasons (for most) do not include bigotry toward Muslims. What caught my attention was the almost immediate campaign, led by the left, to smear the majority of Americans as ignorant bigots for daring to object, even in mild terms, to an Islamic center near Ground Zero. I find this campaign particularly annoying because of the rank hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the loudest voices. In my opinion, there is no question that many of the same people screeching about religious freedom, pretending that there are no reasonable grounds for objection, and smearing those with differing opinions would be on the opposite side were this an issue involving a Christian or Jewish structure planned for a place where it was guaranteed to cause offense. That's why I feel compelled to address the mosque issue myself.

Returning to the main point... As many have rightly pointed out, the question of whether or not the Islamic center should be built is not a religious freedom issue. Saying that it is, over and over again, no matter how loudly, does not make it one. This has been one of the main false narratives from mosque supporters, that opponents are against the constitution and want to restrict religious liberty. Public protest is not an attack on religious freedom. It is instead an attempt to persuade, to change minds, to demonstrate the strength of public opinion in opposition and to convince those being protested to change their behavior or designs. It is an exercise of free speech. If a land developer of any kind wants to construct something on private property that others find offensive, protesting it is what we do here in America. The fact that this is a religious project in no way turns protests into an attack on religious liberty. Being religious does not and should not shield someone from criticism or protest.

The only time religious freedom becomes an issue is if government intervention is suggested to shut down the project by force. If this is the case, then the Islamic center development becomes not only a religious freedom issue, but a question of property rights. But most people protesting the project are not suggesting government action of that kind -- although a few are. There is a giant red line between protesting the construction and calling for government intervention. But supporters of the Islamic center have lumped both positions together, and labeled all opposition as bigotry, and an attack on constitutional rights. They are not only wrong, but in my opinion intellectually dishonest, as most are aware of the distinction between protest and government action.

HOT5 Daily 8/16/2010

1. "The Great Thing About Priorities Is You Can Have So Many Of Them" A good list of Obama bs. 

Representative Sample: From CBS’s Mark Knoller, we have a mostly complete list — one would hope, anyway — of President Obama’s “top priorities.” Take a deep breath before you dive in

2. "The ugly, pockmarked, troop-hating face of the anti-war left" Where the only troops they like are the traitors. 

Representative Sample: Anti-war types like to claim they “support the troops but not the war.” I don’t think so, not when you consider how what they do almost always has negative, disastrous consequences for the those who volunteered to serve and to, in effect, take a bullet in the battlefield for all us back home in the name of freedom, even the contemptible armchair nitwits who have made it their mission to make their lives a living hell - at the risk of either injury and/or death.

3. "The YIMBYS" As the subhead states: "Five places saying "yes, in my backyard" to the nasty stuff that no one else wants."  

Representative Sample: For years, the Ghanaian government has sought to make treasure out of its enormous supply of trash, even touting the slogan, "Solid Waste: Big Problem! Big Opportunity!" 

4. "We would lose a quarter of the Earth's forests" Pretty much. 

Representative Sample: it's a graphic.

5. "Roll the Dice: A Contradiction on Gambling" Recent polls on gambling.

Representative Sample: People don't seem to know what they want when it comes to gambling. According to two separate polls from Rasmussen, people loathe gambling if it is online, but love it if it is on terra firma.

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

64% Oppose Ground Zero Mosque in UK Poll

Admittedly it's an unscientific opt-in online newspaper poll. But I was surprised to see that level of opposition at the Guardian of all places, a newspaper that is well on the political left. It seems that even many people in the UK recognize that the project is in poor taste. As of now the poll is running 35.4% approve, and 64.6% disapprove. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another Reason to Stay in Afghanistan?

The recent discovery of vast potential mineral resources in Afghanistan provided an incentive for continued U.S. involvement in the country. I wrote about it here.  Now Reuters is reporting that a large new oil field has been discovered in the north.
The discovery of the basin between northern Balkh and Shiberghan provinces was made after a survey conducted by Afghan and international geologists, said Jawad Omar, a spokesman for the ministry of mines.

"I do not know its price in the market. But the initial survey says there are 1.8 billion barrels of oil and I think there will be more than what it is estimated," he told Reuters.
As with the other resources, the U.S. should begin moving immediately in an attempt to exploit this find. We've pumped billions into Afghanistan with no end in sight, with much of that money disappearing without a trace -- not to mention the expenditure in American lives. The U.S. should do everything possible to extract favorable development concessions that will benefit U.S. firms and American workers. I doubt we will, but we should.

Ten Reasons Worshipping the Sun Makes More Sense Than Other Religions

If you must worship something, why not consider the sun? Here are ten reasons sun worship makes more sense than most religions.

1. The sun sustains all life on earth. If it goes away, or dies, we all die too. And this is an actual fact, not an assertion. 

2. We can feel its power. I mean actually feel it, not just imagine it.

3. It's visible in the sky. Unlike the vast majority of other gods, The sun is not invisible. You can see it from anywhere on earth at the right times.

4. The sun is vast and powerful almost beyond human comprehension, much like other gods. But unlike other gods, its power, size and other attributes are subject to scientific analysis.

5. We don't need a sacred book to tell us about the sun. It can be observed and studied without having to make stuff up.

6. We don't need prophets or revelations to tell us when the sun will be coming back, or when its great plan will unfold. The sun isn't away, or in hiding, or biding its time. It's always there.

7. The sun doesn't have the whole universe to worry about, just our system. We live in its solar system, and to the best of our knowledge we are the only sentient lifeforms under its rule. It's a much more personal god than ones that have to rule entire universes, other dimensions, untold possible alien lifeforms, and so forth.

8. Praying to the sun works just as well as praying to any other god.

9. If you worship the sun, you don't need to believe a whole bunch of additional nonsense, assorted rules, and outright lies.

10. The sun is real, not imaginary.

HOT5 Daily 8/15/2010

1. "Obama Backpedals on Mosque" Sam Harris weighs in. 

Representative Sample: honest reasoning declares that there is much that is objectionable—and, frankly, terrifying—about the religion of Islam and about the state of discourse among Muslims living in the West, and it is decidedly inconvenient that discussing these facts publicly is considered a sign of “intolerance” by well-intentioned liberals, in part because such criticism resonates with the actual bigotry of not-so-well-intentioned conservatives. I can see no remedy for this, however, apart from simply ramming the crucial points home, again and again.

2. "Top 10 Bizarre Mormon Beliefs" It's always good to take a break from worrying about Islam to make fun of some other religions. 

Representative Sample: This one is very unique to the LDS faith. Basically, everyone on earth now was a spirit in the pre-existence. When we die, our spirits are separated from our bodies and if we were good they go to “spirit paradise.” If we were bad they go to “spirit prison.”

3. "Can You Tell This is a Government Operation?" Wasting money making useless coins.  

Representative Sample: Only the federal government could screw up printing money. The BBC is noting that the US keep printing billions of dollars worth of coins that no one wants to use

4. "The Trillion Dollar Question: Should the National Debt be Repudiated?" Chapter 7 for the whole country? 

Representative Sample: I have been predicting that the U.S. government would default on its debt since 1993. At the time, no one else was making such an outlandish forecast. Now those who are discussing the prospect as at least a realistic possibility are far too numerous to cite.

5. "The next liberal ‘Chicken Little’ government pandemic." Is there any problem liberals don't think can be solved through more taxation?

Representative Sample: here’s the newest crisis: The era of antibiotics is coming to a close.

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

Saturday, August 14, 2010

HOT5 Daily 8/14/2010

1. "The West Is in Denial over Turkey" Willful blindness.

Representative Sample: The accumulating evidence all points to the same conclusion: Turkey has switched its allegiance from the West to the radical axis led by Iran. And it seems doubtful that any Western action could reverse this shift totally. But because Turkey still needs the West in many ways, a strong Western response probably could at least moderate its behavior.

2. "Israel About to Attack Iran? No. Iran About to Get Nuclear Weapons? Also No. "Links an informative analysis.

Representative Sample: There's been a new round of speculation on Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons. I will repeat my earlier point: This is not about to happen, certainly not in the next year and, in my opinion, better not to happen at all.

3. "Why are animals cute?" Evolutionary cuteness?

Representative Sample:If, like me, you’re one of those softies who likes cute animals—especially baby animals—and visits places like The Daily Squee, Zooborns, or Acting Like Animals, and if you’re also a tad reflective, you may have asked yourself, “Why do I find these things so god-damned adorable?”

4. "Have Arabs Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Iranian Bomb?" Not Exactly.

Representative Sample: Among others, Pew Global Attitudes’ June poll arrived at different conclusions from the UMD/Zogby/Telhami poll on this question. In the three countries in which Pew and Telhami polling overlapped—Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon—Pew found that in only one country, Lebanon, citizens became less concerned between 2009 and 2010 about the threat from an Iranian nuclear weapon.

5. "How Do We Wean the People Off the Socialist Dope?" File this under things that aren't going to happen.

Representative Sample: I wouldn’t want to be in a politician’s shoes on this one. Especially one with good intentions. Smitty took a look at Paul Ryan’s Road Map, and notes that it’s a tacit acceptance of the current situation. (In his defense, Ryan posted this op-ed in the Washington Post.) I have to say, I applaud Ryan’s attempt to work with what we have, in the present climate.

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

Worst Worst List

No that's not a typo. Over at Right Wing News there is a post called, "Conservative Bloggers Select The 25 Worst Figures In American History." Here's the intro.
Out of all the gangsters, serial killers, mass murderers, incompetent & crooked politicians, spies, traitors, and ultra left-wing kooks in all of American history -- have you ever wondered who the worst of the worst was? Well, we here at RWN wondered about that, too, and that's why we decided to email more than a hundred bloggers to get their opinions.
That sounded interesting. Then I read the list. Here's the top 10:
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)
That's right, incompetent one-term president Jimmy Carter is the worst figure in American history, followed by incompetent one-term ( hopefully) president Barack Obama. They are somehow not only in the same league with, but worse than Aldrich Ames, Tim McVeigh and Benedict Arnold. This is the kind of "thinking" that gives ammunition to those who want to paint conservatives as a bunch of crazies.

The rest of the list is no better. Here's just one example: Hilary Clinton. What has Hilary done that could conceivably justify including her on a list of the worst Americans of all time? Hilary has been a first lady, an unremarkable senator from New York, and a largely ineffective Secretary of State. I'm no fan of Hilary, but in what universe is she somehow one of the worst Americans in history? This list is good for one thing and one thing only: making right-wing bloggers look bad. Thanks a lot.

Iran Set to Open a New Target

No, not a store. According to Russia, Iran is set to start-up its first nuclear power plant next week.

Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said Friday that uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning the startup process. ...“From that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear-energy installation,”
The plant is painted with a gigantic bullseye that can be seen from the air. Not really, but it might as well have one. I'm not in favor of strike on Iran, but if there is one, I expect this facility to become a smoking pile of radioactive rubble.

It would be interesting if Iran's brand-new first nuclear plant were to suffer a mysterious, catastrophic accident, perhaps a massive internal explosion, or some sort of cooling system failure that led to a meltdown. Aside from destroying the plant, such an accident would probably kill scientists, engineers and technicians important to Iran's nuclear program. It might even be blamed on shoddy Russian engineering, poor workmanship or the use of cut-rate materials in construction, damaging the close relationship between Russia & Iran on nuclear projects -- especially if the cause of the accident is difficult to determine.

HOT5 Daily 8/13/2010

1. "All We Are Saying - Is Give Nukes a Chance" Excellent points about nuclear weapons.

Representative Sample:Nuclear weapons did not exist until the end of World War II, the most destructive war in human history; which is ironic, because their very existence is testimony to the fact that their lack obviously does not create peace. So why would their disappearance?.

2. "Occidentalism's Cost: War?" Instead of the West misjudging our opponents, what about them misjudging us?

Representative Sample: Occidentalism, a coherent ideology, held by people ranging from Russian anarchists to Islamic terrorists, sees the West as spiritually bankrupt, prone to collapse, and incapable of exerting the sheer force of will to triumph in the cutthroat world of international politics.

3. "US soldiers needing treatment get a dose of Christian fundamentalism instead" Because when you are having psychological problems brought on by war, the best cure is a heavy dose of fundamentalist Christian propaganda.

Representative Sample:The letter, sent last month, is co-signed by Paul Sullivan, the Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense, whose organisation has received many complaints from veterans that when they sought treatment for PTSD and other mental health issues while in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were sent to chaplains who proselytized them rather than to psychologists.

4. "never ask a biologist to do an engineer’s job" A good response to those who disparage space exploration as too difficult and expensive.

Representative Sample: there certainly are times when people propose grandiose projects that simply aren’t practical in the long term, but when it comes to space travel, we often give up the minute we start listing what we’ll need to actually accomplish something significant.

5. "Ethiopia Eyes End Of Food Aid Within 5 Years" Good news from Africa?

Representative Sample: Ethiopia is one of the world's biggest recipients of foreign aid, receiving $3.3 billion worth of help in 2008. The country's new five-year plan predicts a "base-case" scenario of 11 percent average growth and a "high-case scenario" of 14.9 percent average growth.

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No HOT5 Today

Sorry about the lack of a HOT5 today. I had various annoying errands today that kept me from getting any posting done. It will return tomorrow.

68% of America Comprised of Ignorant Islamophobes

That's if you believe those who are perfectly fine with having an Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero, and think anyone who dares raise an objection is just an ignorant bigot who hates Muslims. A new CNN poll finds that 68% oppose the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. I'd be willing to bet the opposition is actually higher, with some who recognize the project as a bad idea refusing to say so for fear of being smeared as bigots.

It's somewhat bizarre that a massive left-wing smear campaign -- usually employed against actual political opponents -- is in full swing against an overwhelming majority of the country. It's also interesting that many of the individuals leading it are suddenly just so passionate about a supposed religious freedom issue. If the Catholic Church wanted to construct a major center in an area where it was guaranteed to provoke offense & controversy, how many of the same people hysterically smearing mosque opponents as bigots would have the same attitude? I suspect very few, particularly on the left.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Richard Dawkins Offends Muslims

As a particularly outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins regularly offends Christians. But this time he managed to offend Muslims. I know, that's real difficult to do. His great offense? Expressing his true feelings about the burkha, feelings that are probably shared by the vast majority of non-Muslims, and no doubt even many Muslims.
The 69-year-old author and Oxford academic said he is filled with “visceral revulsion” when he sees women wearing the traditional Islamic covering.
Who isn't, other than people who like seeing the subjugation of women? He also compared it to a trash bin liner. I never though of that, but now that he mentions it, there is some similarity. Naturally these comments were just so offensive to those claiming to represent Muslims in Britain.
He has sparked fury among Muslim groups, who have accused him of being “ignorant” and “Islamophobic”.
If disliking the sight of a burkha equals "Islamophobia," then it's a good thing and should be promoted. And it's pretty funny that people who think women can't be allowed to go out in public without wearing a shapeless sack covering their body are calling others "ignorant."
Seyyed Ferjani, of the Muslim Association of Britain, accused Professor Dawkins of “Islamophobia” ... "“It is a woman’s choice if she wishes to wear a burka, a niqab or not. Why does it matter to this man what a woman is wearing?”
It matters because you are a blatant liar. There is definitely a minority of women stupid or brainwashed enough to voluntarily choose to wear a burkha. But many do not have that choice. Dawkins is speaking out against a symbol of widespread oppression & backwardness.

Dawkins is pretty far on the left, and I disagree with him on many issues, including some regarding atheism and the best way to critique religion. But I applaud him for having the guts to speak out on this issue, knowing that even his mild comments -- he explicitly rejected banning the burkha -- would produce shrieks of outrage and attempts to label him as an "Islamophobe."