Thursday, April 29, 2010

Electrical Work Tomorrow

I'm having electrical work done on my house tomorrow and the electricity will be off. I'm not sure exactly when, or for how long, so there may or may not be any posting tomorrow. I usually don't post much on Fridays anyway, but if no HOT5 shows up tomorrow, you'll know why.

Translating Obama's Latest Speech

President Obama gave a speech yesterday in Illinois. Like most political speeches, the words differ from the actual meaning. Translations are in bold.

Hello, Illinois! It is good to be home. I miss you guys. As much as I love being your President, one of the toughest parts is that I don’t get to come home as much anymore and visit with you like I used to. As you may have noticed, it tends to cause a ruckus.

So I appreciate getting to spend some time with you all. We’ve spent a couple days out here, in Iowa, Missouri, and now back home, visiting with workers busy building our clean energy future, and families and small business owners trying to navigate a tough economy."

Please vote for me in 2012.

Because it’s folks like all of you, and towns like this one that give America its heartbeat. It’s towns like this where working men and women built the American Dream with their bare hands. And that dream is shared by every Illinoisan and every American – the chance to make a good living, raise a healthy and secure family, and give our kids opportunities we never had ourselves.

I don't actually believe any of this. Just look at my policies! But I think it's what you want to hear.

But times are tough in Quincy and towns like it across America. Even though our economy is growing again; our markets are climbing again; and our businesses are beginning to create jobs again

Please ignore the actual unemployment numbers.

lots of folks don’t feel any recovery in their own lives. I’ve heard their stories across this country. I’ve read them in the letters I get each night. Many of them worry that the dream is slipping out of their reach. Many felt that way even before the economic storm of the past two years. Folks were living up to their responsibilities the best they could, but found themselves hurting in ways they never expected because folks in Washington and Wall Street weren’t living up to theirs.

It's all Bush's fault, and those greedy Wall Street Bankers. When I say "Washington," I certainly don't mean myself or Congressional Democrats.

That’s why I asked to be your President. And that’s why so many of you joined our campaign. Because you believed we had it within our power to change that. You believed we could solve the problems that had been holding us back year after year, and focus on working Americans for once. You believed we could keep the American Dream alive in our time, and for all time. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

Thanks for being stupid enough to swallow my lies and elect me president. I continue to rely on your gullibility.

When I took office, we were in the midst of an historic financial crisis brought on by reckless and irresponsible speculation on Wall Street. That in turn led to a recession that hammered Main Streets across America with lost jobs, lost homes, lost businesses, and downscaled dreams.

Never mind all the other reasons for the crisis. It's time to bash Wall Street.

The first thing we had to do was mount an aggressive response – and that required some tough steps to stabilize the financial sector that were as necessary as they were unpopular. But we took them, because the well-being of millions of Americans depended on it. It was the right thing – the only thing – to do.

It wasn't actually the only thing. But because of our ideology, we refused to listen to other ideas that might have been better.

We took immediate steps to help the American people get back on their feet. We aimed tax relief right at the middle class and the cornerstones of the American Dream, to make them whole again. We cut taxes for small businesses; for first-time homebuyers; for students and parents paying for college; for 95 percent of America’s working families. We extended unemployment benefits and made COBRA cheaper for folks who lost their jobs. We helped states avert massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and police officers.

Please swallow my campaign lies again. Please ignore all the other things I did, and all the unintended consequences of measures that you like, and the gigantic increase in the deficit.

We did what it took to rescue our economy and spark its recovery. And that work goes on. But it’s also time to rebuild our economy on a new foundation for real, sustained growth. It’s time to extend opportunity to every Main Street in America so that young folks never have to feel like the only place to find it is somewhere else. It’s time to create conditions so that Americans who work hard can gain ground again. That’s what’s at the heart of all our efforts.

It's time for the federal government to exert more control over your lives, because we, and especially I myself, know better what's best for you than you yourselves.

It’s why we made the biggest investment in clean energy in our history, creating good jobs in Middle America that harness the wind and sun and biofuels and won’t be shipped away.

We love spending your money on things that might not even be viable. Please don't look closely at any claims about creating jobs.

It’s why we took on the special interests and reformed the student loan system so it works for students, not bankers.

Try not to laugh when I claim to have taken on "special interests," given that the Democratic party is wholly owned by various special interests.

That saved tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. And we’re reinvesting that money in making college more affordable, and in upgrading America’s community colleges, so that more middle class Americans can get ahead in the 21st century.

I think you are incredibly stupid to actually believe that I, the master of wasteful spending, actually saved money. We are spending way more money on education, because we have no idea what else to do, and because we believe more government involvement and more spending is always the answer.

It’s why we finally passed health reform in America – reform that will begin to end some of the worst practices of the insurance industry this year. In a few years, millions of families and small business owners will have more choice, more competition, and finally be able to purchase quality, affordable care and the security and peace of mind that come with it. And over the next two decades, this reform will reduce our deficit by more than $1 trillion dollars.

We passed this health bill because we couldn't get the nationalized system we really wanted. We did it to get as much government control as we could get away with. And if you actually believe that it will somehow reduce the deficit, you might be stupid enough to vote for me again. I certainly hope so.

And it is why we need good, commonsense Wall Street reform today. Not next year; not some other time down the road. Now. Let me tell you why that’s important for you.

Big government good. Free market bad.

The crisis we’ve come through together wasn’t part of any normal economic cycle. It began because some on Wall Street took irresponsible risks, making bets that produced big profits and big bonuses, but were built on bad mortgages.

Don't ask me about the role of government in causing the crisis.

And because we didn’t have commonsense rules in place, those irresponsible practices came perilously close to bringing down our entire economy and millions of dreams along with it. We had a system where some on Wall Street could take wild risks without fear of failure, because they could keep the profits and you had to cover their losses. Heads, they win – tails, you lose.

We actually had a maze of regulations in place, but we failed to enforce them. They could take those risks because big government types such as myself were willing to bail them out.

They failed to consider that behind every dollar they traded or leveraged like Monopoly money, there was a family out here on Main Street looking to buy a house, pay for college, open a business, or save for retirement. That might work just fine for them, but as we’ve all learned all so clearly; it doesn’t work fine for our country. And it’s got to change.

Bankers evil. You need big government to protect you.

Now, we’re not doing this to punish these firms or begrudge success that’s fairly earned.

Of course we are.

We don’t want to stop them from fulfilling their responsibility to help grow our economy. As I’ve said many times, including just last week when I went to Wall Street; I believe in the power of the free market.

Please don't laugh when I say that.

I believe in a strong financial system.

Under tight government control.

When they are working right, financial institutions help make it possible for families to buy homes, businesses to grow, and ideas to take flight. There are a lot of good people in the financial industry who do things the right way, and it’s in our best interest when their firms are strong and healthy.

We need central planning to make sure this happens. 

But when these institutions operate irresponsibly, they not only threaten themselves; they threaten the whole economy, along with the dreams that millions of Americans worked so hard to build. And we just want them to operate in a way that’s fair, honest, and in the open, so that we never have to endure a crisis like this again. We need to make sure our financial system doesn’t just work for Wall Street, but Main Street, too.

The running dogs of capitalism must be brought to heel.

So let me lay out what this reform should look like.

First – and I know this is as important to you as it is to me – we will make sure the American taxpayer is never again on the hook when a Wall Street firm fails. Never again. That’s what this reform does. And yet, some cynically and absurdly claim the opposite: that somehow, this bill institutionalizes bailouts. That’s just false. The fact is this: a vote for reform is a vote to end taxpayer-funded bailouts once and for all. If a crisis like this happens again, financial firms will foot the bill.

If you believe that, I've got some more things I'd like to sell you.

Second, we’ll close the loopholes that allowed derivatives deals so large and risky they could threaten our entire economy. And we’ll bring those deals out of the dark alleys of our financial system and into the light of day.

We'll react to things that already occurred, which will actually do nothing to prevent new, unforeseen problems.

Third, this reform would give you more power by putting in place the strongest consumer financial protections in history. This crisis wasn’t solely the result of decisions made on Wall Street. It was also the result of decisions made on Main Street by folks who took on mortgages and credit cards and auto loans. Some took on obligations they knew they couldn’t afford. But millions of others were deceived or misled by shifting terms, confusing conditions, and forests of fine print. Now, some argue that arming consumers with clear and concise information will somehow stifle competition. I believe the opposite. Instead of competing to see who can offer the most confusing product, companies should compete the old-fashioned way: by offering the best product.

Big government is good for you. It's for your own good. Really. Competition is overrated anyway.The whole idea of a free market is outdated

Finally, we’ll give the people who own these companies – investors, pension holders, and shareholders like many of you – more of a say in the way they’re run. At some of these firms, exorbitant salaries and bonuses actually created perverse incentives that encouraged folks to take reckless risks. Well, if you own stock in these companies, you’ll get some say about that. You’ll get to help decide how their managers are paid.

We'll make some feel-good cosmetic changes.

So that’s the reform we’ve put forward. Accountability – no more bailouts. Closing loopholes – no more trading in the shadows. Consumer protections – no more deceptive products. A say on pay – giving shareholders a more powerful voice. That’s what we’re trying to do.

No, really. Seriously, I mean it.

Now, I don’t believe this should be a partisan issue. Everybody – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – were hurt by this crisis. And everybody should want to fix it. So I’m pleased that after a few days of delay, it appears that an agreement may be in hand to allow this debate to move forward on the Senate floor on this critical issue. And I want to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who wants to pursue these reforms in good faith. But we are going to get this done. We’re going to get it done because you demand it.

Everything is a partisan issue for me. I'll try to ram through my ideological agenda without a single shred of Republican support. Please believe my lies to the contrary.

It’s been two years since the crisis born on Wall Street slammed into Main Street with its full fury. And while things aren’t nearly back to normal yet out here, they’re getting back to normal pretty quick up there. Some in Washington may think this debate is moving too fast. I don’t. I’ve been calling for better rules on Wall Street since 2007. And I certainly don’t think you would accuse Washington of moving too fast, either.

I don’t think you should have to wait one more day for protection from some of the practices that got us into this mess. And we can’t let the recovery that’s finally beginning to take hold to fall prey to a new round of recklessness on Wall Street. If we don’t learn the lessons of this crisis, we doom ourselves to repeat it. And I refuse to let that happen. The time for reform is now.

We need to do something. We don't need to think about it, or find the best solutions. We just need to do something so I can claim credit for  having done something.

Through all the noise and lobbyists and partisanship, this debate comes down to a simple choice: Are we going to keep going down the same road, where the irresponsibility of a few can put millions of families at risk and stick taxpayers with the tab – or are we going to protect consumers, strengthen our financial system, and put rules in place to keep this from happening ever again? Are we going to give in to the special interests, or are we going to score another victory for the American people? Are we going to stick with the status quo that failed us so profoundly, or are we going to remember that we have the power to do something about it?

Remember, big government is your friend. We need to do something.

The will to act. That’s all it comes down to, Illinois. I still believe we can come together and make this happen. Because we are not powerless in the face of our challenges. We do not quit when things get tough. We come together. We move forward. We act. We are Americans. Our destiny is not written for us – it is written by us. And if we remember that; if we summon that spirit and that resolve once again, we can strengthen our economy today and tomorrow. We can restore some security for the middle class. And we can renew the American Dream for families on Main Street all across this country we love.

Thank you very much, Illinois. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America.

Blah, blah, blah.

This translation brought to you by the Unreligious Right Obamic Translation Service.

HOT5 Daily 4/29/2010

1. "The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism" Because smearing opponents as racists is a standard left-wing tactic. That's my answer. His is somewhat different.

Representative Sample:To engage the Tea Party Movement in a battle of ideas would be suicidal for them, because the basic economic tenet of American liberalism — an increase in government spending and consequent increased national debt is good for society — seems nonsensical to the vast majority of our citizens at this point in history. And for good reason.

2. "Obamacare Requires You To "Show Your Papers"" Pointing out the hysterical overreaction to Arizona's new law, versus what we already have to do for Obamacare.

Representative Sample: If being told "show me your papers" under the Arizona law constitutes the equivalent of any of those evil forms of government, what does that make Obamacare? And the Democrats who voted for it? And the President who signed it? And the bureaucrats who will implement it? And the doctors who will provide services under it? And the patients who will participate in it?

3. "Enemy Adapts To Counter-IED Tactics" The constant struggle between offense and defense.

Representative Sample: the IED threat in Afghanistan is expanding, nearly doubling over the last year.

4. "Pyongyang's Not-So-Revised Strategy" North Korea's war plans.

Representative Sample: Pyongyang's wartime strategy is now focused on the capture of Seoul, a move aimed at achieving a limited military victory, and negotiating a favorable peace.

5. "Legalizing Marijuana More Popular Than Obama, Health Reform, and War on Terror" A new AP/CNBC poll.

Representative Sample: Read how marijuana legalization ranks against Obama's approval ratings, our handling of the War on Terror, and the number of Americans who support the new health care law

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona's Immigration Law

I haven't posted anything about it until now because illegal immigration is not a hot-button issue of mine. I favor greatly-expanded legal immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and support an amnesty program that would allow current illegal residents to obtain citizenship. In general, I think the vast majority of illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. and our economy. But having said all that, I don't have a major problem with the Arizona law -- if I understand it correctly.

Border states such as Arizona do have serious problems caused by illegal immigration. The federal government has failed to control the border, and the states have to act on their own. Although I am inherently suspicious of any increase in police powers, it appears that the Arizona law merely allows/requires police to enforce existing immigration law, although certain specific provisions might not stand up under court scrutiny. I see nothing to warrant the hysterical, borderline crazy overreaction by the usual suspects. Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, does a good job debunking some of the apparently misinformed criticism.

HOT5 Daily 4/28/2010

1. "Getting Asia right means getting India right" And it's being bungled by Obama.

Representative Sample: it is U.S. relations with India that have perhaps taken the biggest hit over the past year. This is a shame: building a strategic partnership with the world's biggest democracy,

2. "THE GUN IS CIVILIZATION" The many benefits of firearms.

Representative Sample:The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

3. "In Europe, Remorse Has Turned to Masochism" Interesting analysis.

Representative Sample: it is Europe's very readiness to acknowledge its faults that prompts self-hatred, for societies that do not engage in such introspection do not lacerate themselves. Europe's strength is thus its weakness. Although the continent has "more or less vanquished its monsters" such as slavery, colonialism, and fascism, it chooses to dwell on the worst of its record.

4. "Please Don’t Tell Us the Facts" The administration doesn't want to let facts get in the way of its ideologically-driven policy decisions.

Representative Sample: Remember all that BS about the Obama administration only being ruled by facts and science? This is a mythology at the core of the progressive movement, that it is possible to have a wise dictator who uses the heavy hand of government coercion only for the best interests of the country, driven only by science and not by political influence.


Representative Sample:The neutralisation of HVTs has a definite place in the modern combat area, especially when it comes to combating insurgencies and organised crime syndicates/cartels. But a lack of decision making at the political level and inter-service bickering often result in no action. It is the lack of action, both direct and indirect, that allows the target to become a HVT

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

HOT5 Daily 4/27/2010

1. "Morning Bell: The Obama Fiscal Responsibility Farce Continues"Another example of Obama thinking that talk is a substitute for action.

Representative Sample:This is a now familiar pattern for the White House: first enact record breaking levels of deficit spending, then turn right around and promise austerity sometime in the future

2. "Obama for Entrepreneurs, but Not American Ones" That pretty much sums up Obama: a lack of concern for American interests.

Representative Sample:The Obama administration and today’s Democrats are driven by regulatory zeal, lust for higher revenues, and apparent ignorance of the workings of the market economy. I don’t think they planned it this way, but their anti-market actions are accumulating cut by cut, threatening major long-term damage to America’s standard of living.

3. "National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones Scares Me" Too bad he and the rest our national security team, especially the president, don't scare our enemies. A good analysis of Jone's comments on the Middle East.

Representative Sample:in this environment, why should Palestinians sign away their imagined "right of return" now? And how would Palestinians react to a "peace" deal imposed by the US - would they say "Peace at last" and resume something like a normal life, or would this become the Versailles Treaty of the 21st century? 

4. "Comedy Central Preemptively Beheads South Park Creators" Just in case they might offend radical Islamic nuts again.

Representative Sample: executives at Comedy Central have preemptively beheaded the cartoon’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

5. "B-1 adapts, remains effective after 25 years" The enduring & adaptable B-1 bomber.

Representative Sample: As the B-1 nears its 25th anniversary, a new chapter could be opening up for the bomber with an even more precise weapon, the airborne laser. The Air Force's chief scientist, Dr. Werner Dahm, flew on a Lancer recently to see if the crew could operate an airborne laser platform in the tightly spaced cockpit while continuing to do their duties. The laser is capable of precision targeting and minimizes unintended damage when the enemy places hostile networks near schools and mosques.

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

For Draw Mohammed Day

If you can't draw and want to participate, here's something that will help you out. 


Another False Analogy from the Left

The use of false analogies has long been a staple of left-wing argumentation, almost as important as smear tactics. But occasionally you see one that is outrageously idiotic, even for a logically-challenged leftist. Such is the case over at Balloon Juice, in a post called, "Who’s being naive now?" According to DougJ, the South Park situation involving Revolution Islam happens "in some form, every day on every show on television." Really? I guess we missed all those death threats that regularly force people not to show certain things on tv. But for clueless leftist DougJ, radical Islamic death threats are somehow equivalent to "complaints."
here’s a partial list of people who lost their jobs for not being sufficiently psyched about Operation Iraqi Freedom: Bill Maher, Ashleigh Banfield, Phil Donahue. NBC wouldn’t rebroadcast the clip of Sinead O’Connor tearing up a picture of the pope. ... When it happens because of right-wing American complaints, it’s called family values or patriotism. When it happens because of Muslim complaints, it’s called censorship.
Let's pretend that DougJ is correct about why those people lost their jobs. How is losing your job because you offended advertisers, the viewing audience, or network executives somehow equivalent to threatening people with death if they show certain images during a television show? Are peaceful protests, boycotts and other non-violent acts against things you find offensive the same as issuing death threats to enforce your demands? Is Balloon Juice run by complete imbeciles without a shred of logical reasoning ability, or is this just another typical, intellectually dishonest attempt to draw false equivalence between radical Muslim extremists and right-wing Americans?

HOT5 Daily 4/26/2010

1. "Who Inherited What?" Inherited problems go back much further than G.W. Bush.

Representative Sample: Although it is getting very tiresome and it is losing it’s bite, Democrats still are desparately clinging to “we inherited eight years of Bush policies, yada, yada, yada.” Was it eight years? If so, how did he get re-elected in 2004? I will be among the first to say that Bush wandered off the conservative reservation with his spending, but Bush didn’t create Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac either.

2. "The Religion of Fear Itself, or Why I Despise Modern Liberals (reason 334)" A very interesting take on Stephen Hawking's comments about aliens. I don't agree with all of it, but it's worth reading.

Representative Sample: Why is Hawking so frightened? And why does he think should the rest of us be afraid? Because liberal ideology -- and in particular disgust with Western civilization and unthinking acceptance of all the environmenalist myth-making about the unnaturalness of humanity -- leads many liberals into despair and terror.

3. "Does accepting philosophical ideas limit intellectual freedom?"A good analysis.

Representative Sample:There is a definite and vocal group of people who besides rejecting religions do reject also all systems of philosophy, as they seem to fear that accepting even any philosophical ideas would somehow limit their intellectual freedom.

4. "Iran: Military Sea Drills"A look at things we may have to destroy at some point in the future.

Representative Sample: The drills reveal that Iran's sea-side defense is built around a combination of missiles, mines and swarm attack small boats, including an alleged missile firing remotely controlled "sonar-evading" boat as set out in IRGC unveils homemade vessel:

5. "The never-ending bailout" Links and excerpts a good article at the WSJ.

Representative Sample: We are witnessing the gutting of the competitive banking system by the administration.

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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beware of Alien Invaders

Stephen Hawking points out what has long been obvious to every fan of science fiction.
He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
That type of situation is probably far more likely than benevolent visitors who assist us by curing cancer and giving us all sorts of advanced technology. But we don't really need Stephen Hawking to tell us that. Just read science fiction, which has covered just about every permutation and outcome of first contact with aliens.

Obama & the Armenian Genocide

Peter Baker, writing in the New York Times, notices that Obama managed to anger both Turks and Armenians in his commemoration of the anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Obama pandered to Armenian-Americans while trying to get elected, "vowed to use the term genocide to describe the Ottoman mass slaughter of Armenians nearly a century ago," but then failed to do so. Armenian-Americans believed his campaign lies and are now upset that he didn't deliver.

“Today we join with Armenians in the United States and around the world in voicing our sharp disappointment with the president’s failure to properly condemn and commemorate the Armenian genocide,” said Ken Hachikian, the committee’s chairman. He added that Mr. Obama’s failure to follow through on his campaign pledge was “allowing Turkey to tighten its gag rule on American genocide policy.”
But even what Armenians see as a weak and evasive announcement was too much for Turkey.
Although the president’s statement did not use the term “genocide” on Saturday, it was strong enough to provoke a sharp statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which called the language a reflection of a one-sided political perception. “Third countries neither have a right nor authority to judge the history of Turkish-Armenian relations with political motives,” the statement said.
Another foreign policy triumph for Obama. Let's insert the U.S. into the middle of something that is none of its business, and mange to anger all sides. Great job. I've been very critical of Turkey lately, as its turn to Islamism makes it an unreliable ally and potential threat to U.S. interests. But the current Turkish government, and the governments since the founding of the republic do not deserve to be beaten over the head with the actions of the Ottoman Empire. It serves no purpose, and is not in the interests of the United States, which has no stake in this sort of fight over what happened almost a hundred years ago. Yes the Ottoman Turks carried out a genocidal campaign against Armenians. That's not in dispute among reputable historians. But there is no need for the U.S. to hold official commemorations about it, or for the president to address the issue.

HOT5 Daily 4/25/2010

1. "Open borders, immigration and reality" One of the best recent articles on immigration and borders.

Representative Sample: Since the welfare state doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon (if ever) either, again it seems rather silly to argue that “open borders” is a viable solution. Yes, it’s an ideologically pure libertarian solution, but it denies reality. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good goal, but it does mean that in the current situation, no one is going to listen to it seriously or give it any credence.

2. "Fighting Statism" Interesting essay advocating individual liberty.

Representative Sample: voters today do not question the bipartisan violation of their rights. A vote for either party results in the same unfavorable outcome: a politician with no moral qualms about trampling your rights as an individual. Voting alone will not solve this problem.

3. "Credit Where Its Due: Jon Stewart" John Stewart may bash the right, but he recognizes the true enemy. Includes video.

Representative Sample: hearing him make the distinction between "basically decent human beings" he disagrees with and who are "at worst, worthy adversaries" (like Bernie Goldberg and Fox News) and the real enemy is something I've waited a long time to hear from him.

4. "Hamas' interior minister's sick daughter airlifted by Israel to Jordan" Imagine if the situation were reversed.

Representative Sample: Israel immediately acceded to a Hamas request to help the sick daughter of their interior minister.

5. "3 Men Arrested After Offering Human Sacrifice to Goddess" Another reminder that Islamic extremists aren't the only crazed religious fanatics.

Representative Sample: Three Indian men were arrested for killing and beheading a man. The head for adorned with flowers and was thought to be part of a human sacrifice to the goddess Kali.

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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Response to Radical Muslim Threats & Intimidation

This video is from 2006, but it pretty much sums up my attitude toward extremist Muslim threats, such as those regarding the recent South Park episode. 

HOT5 Daily 4/24/2010

1. "Dunces In DC Don’t Comprehend The Word “Cut”" They prefer tax & spend.

Representative Sample: Democrats think Americans need hand holding. The fact is Democrats are the ones in need. They need to feel superior, they need to feel like they are the ones providing for the needy. And so they take our money and waste it on stupid ideas to fulfill their delusions of saving the planet and humanity from its incompetent and evil core self.

2. "This Week at War: Do We Still Need Special Ops?" Yes.

Representative Sample: What exactly is unconventional warfare? The U.S. military's special operations warriors have struggled with the definition for decades. To some, unconventional warfare encompasses the entire gamut of activities off the traditional battlefield, including support for foreign militaries, support for friendly guerillas, and behind-the-lines reconnaissance and raiding. Doctrinal purists object to this notion.

3. "Sci-Fi Sexy Time: All-Time Hottest Robots" The top 10.

Representative Sample: This past weekend's FIRST Robotics competition (congrats to all of the talented kids) got us into a machine kind of mood, and one mention of BSG's Number Six was all it took for the birth of this list: The All-Time Hottest Robots.

4. "The problem with identity politics is that humans defy simple classifications" Interesting essay.

Representative Sample: People are not labels. They are the giant sum of their parts, their interests, and their values. I have good friends who are gay conservatives, and I even know some Jewish conservatives. I know Asians who are slackers. These people are who they are, not what they are.

5. "A new international sign" Inspired by President Obama.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Left Upset with Chuck Schumer

Many on the left despise Israel, although some like to pretend that they support it as a U.S. ally. Unfortunately that "support" usually involves demonizing Israel, assisting our enemies, and making the U.S. look foolish and weak. So it was not surprising to see some hostile reaction when Chuck Schumer dared to point out just how idiotic Obama's Middle East policy has been. Consider the case of Taylor Marsh, who is usually one of the more rational liberal voices out there.
there is no silver lining on what Sen. Chuck Schumer has done, because he’s made Pres. Obama the bad guy on Israel, something the right has been trying unsuccessfully to do.
No, President Obama through his own policies has made himself the "bad guy" on Israel. Schumer was just pointing that out.
if you ever had any doubts about where Sen. Schumer’s loyalties lie, know that it is with Israel Netanyahu over United States Pres. Obama. ... The Senator from AIPAC New York
Here we have a typical leftist smear. Because Schumer dares to differ on policy toward Israel, he isn't just wrong. Oh no, he's disloyal. He's basically a traitor who puts Israel's interests above the U.S. It couldn't be that he thinks our current policy toward Israel is not in the U.S. interest. For all their whining about people questioning their patriotism (even when it very rarely happens), there is no one quicker to label fellow Americans as disloyal, traitors, or un-American than leftists.
his is a very public dressing down by Mr. Schumer of Pres. Obama, not to mention a serious instance of rewriting the facts on the Netanyahu government, with a Democratic senator taking sides with Israel over the U.S. president.
Again, advocating that the U.S. change its policy is not "taking sides" with Israel over the U.S. It is a call to abandon a counterproductive course, which Schumer made clear in his statements.
Sen. Schumer has done a disservice to President Obama in every way
No, actually he's given Obama a much needed wake-up call --which unfortunately will probably fall on deaf ears, given Obama's apparent commitment to bashing allies and groveling before enemies.
a U.S. Middle East policy that solely favors Israel, even as we stay loyal friends, is not in the best interest of this country
Utter nonsense. What isn't in the interest of the U.S. is pretending that we can be some sort of honest broker, and sacrificing the interest of our friends in order to appease our enemies.
Putting American foreign policy interests at the top of the priority list is Obama’s job
Maybe Taylor Marsh should explain that to President Obama, since advancing American foreign policy interests seems to be nowhere on his list, let alone at the top.

HOT5 Daily 4/23/2010

1. "Words That Were Destined to Be Eaten" Ridiculous predictions of doom from 1970. Good to remember when you listen to current ridiculous predictions of doom.

Representative Sample:"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years."

2. "The Fragile Left" Reasons for hope.

Representative Sample: the coming years could, instead, be a time of great peril for the Left. The tidal wave surging toward November may represent more than just a temporary partisan advantage for Republicans. The popularity of the Tea Party grows from the willingness of the public to question many of the basic assumptions behind the bloated, terminally ill super-State. This could result in significant damage to some institutions the Left has long relied upon for its money and muscle.

3. "“The next Obamacare target: Your bacon sandwich”" For your own good, of course.

Representative Sample: giving the government such a vested financial interest is dangerous precisely because the feds wield the kind of regulatory power that can take away our freedoms, all the while justifying such decisions based on a combination of what they’d call sound fiscal responsibility and improving “public health.” The result? Liberal fascism.

4. "Compounding One Mistake With Another: Dems Want to Implement Price Controls on Health Insurance Premiums" That's what happens when people disdainful of basic laws of market economics are put in charge.

Representative Sample:Price controls follow a predictable path. First, they create shortages. Companies simply will not be able to sustain a profit if they are required to provide a service for less than the cost to provide it. They’ll just stop offering health insurance.

5. "Countering liberal hate" By laughing at it.

Representative Sample: When you live in a country founded on individual liberty and personal freedom and you want to re-create as a land where the people are feeble wards of the state, you are on the wrong side. So you fight harder and dirtier and soon your little Saul Alinsky-ed heart is filled with hate and anger.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chuck Schumer is Actually Right About Something

This has to be a first. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and I are actually in agreement on a major foreign policy issue. Schumer did a great job of eviscerating Obama's clueless and counterproductive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
the policy they took to try to bring about negotiations is counter-productive, because when you give the Palestinians hope that the United States will do its negotiating for them, they are not going to sit down and talk," Schumer told Segal. "Palestinians don’t really believe in a state of Israel. They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.
Exactly. This point cannot be emphasized enough. And there's more.
Every administration has this idea to talk tough to Israel and make nice to the Arabs and the Palestinians and that’s the way to bring about peace. It’s counter-productive, it’s actually the opposite. The only way the Palestinians will sit down and talk is if they know Israel and the United States are as close as could be.
Rather than standing by our ally and pressuring the Palestinians to make reasonable concessions in the interests of peace, we are encouraging intransigence and ridiculous demands. And in so doing we are acting against our own interests, giving support to a people largely hostile to the United States, while simultaneously damaging relations with a long-time ally and client state. Even Chuck Schumer can see that.

HOT5 Daily 4/22/2010

1. "The Left Is Grouchy" When isn't it? But this is about the current situation.

Representative Sample: Health-care reform seems to have aggravated as many as it pleased. (”A fight over whether federal funds could be used to pay for abortion tied up the bill and split the party, which has been a strong supporter of abortion rights but now has a significant wing opposed to abortion.”) And without the public option, many on the Left are as angry as those on the Right that Big Insurance now gets enriched as a result of a liberal president’s signature issue.

2. "No Instinct for the Jugular" The GOP. The funny thing is, that many on the left say the exact same types of things about the Democratic party.

Representative Sample: If there is one thing that has become clear to me after almost 50 years in Republican politics, it is that Republicans have no instinct for the jugular. Professional Democrats always play hardball and do not take prisoners. Most Republican politicians, especially those in leadership positions, have some need to be loved or if not loved at least to be approved of. These types just cannot handle rejection and this causes them to roll over and be complete wusses rather than be labeled by Democrats and the media as anything negative.

3. "China love" Excellent points about admiration of China.

Representative Sample: We're hearing a lot about China's capitalist success, and they are succeeding while still maintaining authoritarian control. We're not hearing about the negatives of authoritarian control, so much, as we're hearing a cautious explanaton how the Chinese governent is managing the plan and moving ahead of America. No one prominent has come straight out and recommended authoritarian control in America, but the implications are that America has to find a way to give government more control over our Plan.

4. "China's strategic pork reserve" Speaking of China, it appears that we have a pork gap.

Representative Sample: there are over 446 million pigs in China. That's one for every three people and more than the next 43 pork producing countires combined!

5. "Execution in Ohio" Good riddance.

Representative Sample: Here's a good one for all you death penalty foes. Serial rapist and murderer Darryl Durr was executed in Ohio yesterday for the kidnap, rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. Durr's lawyers were arguing for a reprieve on the grounds that Durr would likely suffer a violent allergic reaction to the lethal injection.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

School Lunches Affect National Security?

It sounds like an Onion News piece, but there is a story up at ABC News called, "School Lunches Are a Threat to National Security, Retired Officials Say." A group called Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids, claims that they have identified a

dramatic increase of obesity among young adults age 17 to 24 – a trend that is reducing the pool of healthy young adults available for military service.
They argue that healthier school lunches are needed in order to reduce problems finding physically fit military recruits. I find this line of argument both ridiculous and dangerous.

First of all, despite the supposed problems getting physically fit recruits, we seem to have had little problem filling the ranks of the armed forces. This appears to be a manufactured "crisis" based on nothing. Second, whenever someone advocates more government manipulation of the population, let alone children, for reasons of national security, that should be a cause for alarm. Consider this statement.

The reason school lunch reform is so key, Moore added, is that school is an environment in which "we can get to kids" and influence what they eat. At home, it's much harder to change these habits, she said.
"We can get to kids." I don't want the government deciding what my kids need to eat in order to make them good military recruits. How about if schools just provide a decent, balanced selection of food and let it go at that?

I also question another assumption behind this whole idea. Is there any evidence that school lunches have gotten unhealthier over the years? Were school lunches ten, twenty or thirty years ago healthier than they are now? I recall eating all sorts of junk food items when I was in school. Why are school lunches suddenly a big issue?

More on Sarah Palin & Her Supporters

Yesterday I wrote a post critical of Sarah Palin for her remarks about church/state separation, and her advocacy for returning the U.S. to it's supposed "Christian roots." As criticism of Palin goes, it was pretty mild stuff. I made it clear in that post, and in others, that I don't accept that left's hate-infused caricature of Palin.

Most of Palin's policy positions fall well within the GOP mainstream. I'm not a fan of hers, and I would not be happy to see her as the Republican nominee for president. I was not impressed with her performance in 2008, and have other problems with her as well. But she isn't in any way terrifying, or some horrific threat that "responsible" Republicans have an obligation to oppose.
But even on this blog, which has a small audience, my minor criticism of Palin managed to attract an angry Palin-worshipper, who among other things, labeled me a "cultural Marxist" for daring to object to Palin's words. That type of reaction is typical among fanatical Palin followers. I'm not too worried about Palin herself, but many of her followers exemplify the worst elements of the right -- the clowns who want to narrow the GOP to only true believers who fit all of their litmus tests, and who demonize anyone who deviates from what they see as "true" conservatism.

A couple of days ago, Quin Hillyer at the American Spectator also wrote a post critical of Sarah Palin called, "The Problem With Palin." Needless to say it didn't go over too well with Palin fans. I noticed that someone even called Hillyer, whose conservative credentials are long-established, a "liberal troll." The reaction of Palin's fanatical supporters to any criticism of her is eerily similar to that of Obama drones: demonization of the critics. Instead of calling critics racists, Palin-worshippers call fellow conservatives "liberals."  

HOT5 Daily 4/21/2010

1. "If Regulations Aren’t Working, Add More Regulations" That sums up the Democratic approach.

Representative Sample: Democrats think they have a winner. They want to lather on some more financial regulations because regulators dropped the ball on enforcing what already exists. So as conservatives point out that what they are proposing is unnecessary or won’t work, they can gleefully say, “Republicans are for the fat cats, while we’re for the little guy.”

2. "Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives II" A comparison chart.

Representative Sample: Back in 2006 I wrote about The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives and how the invention of beer was one the foundations of modern civilization and the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

3. "There Is Nothing Off Limits To Collectivists" Big government always has something new to force you to do, because you are too stupid to take care of yourself.

Representative Sample:These "do-gooders" never stop. There is always another crisis for them to solve with more control over your lives. The tide of collectivism is truly relentless.

4. "Just Say No to a Gasoline Tax Hike" I'll second that. Explains why arguments in favor of a tax are bogus.

Representative Sample: The proposed gasoline tax increase will have no significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the demand curve for gasoline is rather inelastic. Hence, a 15 cent increase in gasoline prices – presuming that the entirety of the tax is passed on to consumers, which may not prove to be the case – would not discourage very much fuel consumption at all.

5. "Why We Are Hardwired for Belief in God" Interesting argument.

Representative Sample:Why do so many people believe in God? Although there is much cultural variation among different religious faiths, all have in common the belief in supernatural agents in the form of God, gods, or spirits who have intention and interact with us in the world. There are four lines of evidence pointing to the conclusion that such beliefs are hardwired into our brains.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

African Joint Anti-Terror Force

Four African nations, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger are creating a joint anti-terrorist commando force to oppose Al Qaeda activities in the Sahara. Libya, Burkina-Faso, and Chad are also associated with this effort, which appears to be an Algerian initiative.
the joint anti-terrorism force will be set up already next week and headquartered in Tamanrasset. Formally named the "Joint operational military committee," the joint command will include officers from all the seven Saharan-Sahelian countries. ... the aim of the joint command will be to fight terrorism in the vast region. It is in particular a group claiming to be attached to al Qaeda that is causing concern in the Sahara desert, standing behind several hostage-taking operations and attacks on isolated military posts.
There aren't any details available, so it's unclear whether this is a serious anti-terrorism effort, or just a hollow agreement that will accomplish nothing. But if these states can put together a force to kill Al Qaeda terrorists, more power to them.

Palin Against Separation of Church and State

It's extremely rare that I agree with left-wing hack Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly -- even a little bit -- but this is one of those times. Most attacks on Sarah Palin from the left lack any real substance, and are just part of a hysterical smear campaign that has been going on since she rose to national prominence. The majority of Palin's policy positions fall well within the GOP mainstream, and she did nothing in her short time in office to indicate that she's anything like the strawman built up by her enemies. But her recent remarks are disturbing.

I beg you, Women of Joy, to bring light and be involved, loving America and praying for her. Really, it is our solemn duty. Praying for true spiritual awakening to overcome deterioration. That is where God wants us to be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life.
Here's Benen,
far less amusing is the fact that Palin and others of her radical ilk reject any notion that "God should be separated from the state." It's the 21st century, for crying out loud. There are some countries that endorse Palin's worldview and intermix God and government -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan under Taliban rule come to mind -- but they're generally not countries the United States tries to emulate.
Palin obviously doesn't have the same worldview as Iranian mullahs, etc., but even filtering out Benen's typical leftist smears, he has a point. Separation of church and state is a founding principle of America and not something we should look to tear down. The fusion of God and government is not a positive aspiration. And it doesn't sound like Palin is just talking about retaining ceremonial deism. She has apparently bought into the whole "Christian nation" idea, with her talk of returning to our "Christian roots." Despite the political separation of church and state, the U.S. was once a overwhelmingly Christian nation, with the vast majority identifying as Christian. But it is no longer. Depending on what poll you choose to go by, around 20%+ of the country does not identify as Christian -- that's tens of millions of U.S. citizens. We aren't leaving. If anything, the country is slowly growing less Christian by the day. Talking about returning to Christian roots in a country where large numbers are not Christians is stupid and exclusionary. Sarah Palin gives ammunition to those who try to tie the Republican party to Christian extremists, and talk about the "theocratic wing of the GOP."

Our country isn't based on religion, and its establishment is specifically prohibited by the Constitution, a document drafted by the same founders people such as Sarah Palin like to quote-mine, in order to pretend that they really didn't want separation of church and state. It sounds like Palin has little understanding about the actual views of the founders.

Having said all that, I don't want to make too much of this situation. Palin was speaking to a religious audience and some of her remarks can probably be written off as just pandering to the crowd that thinks more religion & prayer is the answer to our problems, and that the U.S. has lost its way, and needs to get back to being a God-fearing nation. Still, the more I see and hear of Sarah Palin, the more I hope she is never again a GOP nominee for the presidency or vice presidency.

HOT5 Daily 4/20/2010

1. "Bill Clinton's Fertilizer Bomb" A good response to Bill Clinton's attempt to demonize everyone against big government as potential Tim McVeighs.

Representative Sample: Our founders constructed a system of government that was strictly limited, based on an understanding of power's corrupting influence. If it is irrational to fear overweening government, and if that fear predictably leads to violence, the Framers were loony rabble-rousers.

2. "The strategic foundations of the US-Israel alliance" Makes many excellent points.

Representative Sample: In both military and non-military spheres, Israeli technological achievements - often developed with US support - are shared with America. The benefits the US has gained from Israeli technological advances in everything from medical equipment to microchips to pilotless aircraft are without peer worldwide.

3. "an American Imam replies to an American Jihadist" Refuting the extremists, and doing so based on Islamic theology.

Representative Sample: As for your call for American Muslims to wage jihad against our country and homeland; the land that you are urging us to wage war against, is the land of our homes that we are obligated to protect.

4. "I voted Democrat because..." Reasons to vote Democratic.

Representative Sample: I voted Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

5. "can we really end civilization with nukes?" In theory. 

Representative Sample: when we take radiation into account, it seems that the given total of 10,225 bombs is about 36 times more than we will ever need to destroy or poison every square centimeter of inhabited land on Earth. Even the least affected territory in this scenario would send Geiger counters to 900 rem, more than enough to trigger a slow and very painful death about two weeks after exposure.

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

The BBC World Poll

According to a new poll by the BBC, world opinion of the U.S. has improved since Barack Obama became president.
For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America's influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative.
This warms the hearts of liberals, who think that international affairs is a popularity contest, and that the opinion of foreigners is more important than an aggressive pursuit of U.S. national interests. The poll also notes that there are two countries where views of the U.S. turned negative. Unfortunately, both are important to American interests.
The only countries where perceptions of the United States became more negative overall were Turkey (where the proportion with positive perceptions of the United States fell from 21 per cent to 13 per cent and negative perceptions increased from 63 to 70 per cent), and in India (where positive perceptions dipped from 43 per cent to 39 per cent and negative views increased from 20 to 28 per cent).

I don't think the president has much to do with the shift in Turkey, where the rise of Islamist sentiment has turned it from a strong ally to a nominal one, but apparently India, a much more important ally, has not been too impressed with the U.S. under Obama. Overall though, I'd be wary of reading too much into this poll. It's not surprising that weak leadership and failure to advance U.S. interests leads some to view the U.S. more favorably. But if you look at the details of the poll, which considered 27 different countries, you find of those surveyed only 19% had a favorable view of Israel's influence, with a full 50% seeing it as a negative influence on the world. In comparison, Russia received a 30% favorable rating, with only 37% percent seeing it as a negative influence. North Korea is a 17% favorable, only 2% below Israel, and only 48% see it negatively.

When world opinion sees North Korea and Israel in the same light, and has much more positive impressions of Russia and China, world opinion is pretty worthless.

HOT5 Daily 4/19/2010

1. "Hospice America" The left's vision of America.

Representative Sample: Obama and his party view investment, entrepreneurial adventure, private ownership, and personal responsibility as the epic fantasies of a young nation. Geriatric America is expected to accept the socialist wisdom of zero-sum, no-growth economics, in which prosperity ends at the waterfall edge of a flat Earth, and private innovation fades into a blank space labeled “here there be dragons.” Wealth is viewed as a dead mass to be redistributed, not the living energy that flows between the needs and abilities of free people. The healthy ambition to build a better life is replaced by hatred for those who already have it.

2. "Presidents Clinton and Obama Still Don’t Get Tea Partiers’ Issues" It's easier to just demonize millions of people as dangerous racists.

Representative Sample: neither president is capable of or willing to acknowledge the legitimate issues that are driving the Tea Party movement. That’s understandable, for to address the real issues that the Tea Parties are about would be to put a spotlight on all that is wrong with Democratic politics.

3. "They know not what they do"Also links another good post about the left-wing smear campaign.

Representative Sample:The media has reported on rightwing attacks on the left, and many prominent people have expressed their concerns regarding demonization and heated political rhetoric. What hasn't been reported in depth, at least in the media outlets I read, which are politically diverse but mostly with a liberal tilt, is the left's demonization of right as racists.

4. "IMI Delivers the last of 170 Upgraded M-60A1 to the Turkish Army" Hopefully Israel won't regret their military assistance to Turkey.

Representative Sample:Israel Military Industries (IMI) has delivered the last of 170 upgraded M-60A1 tanks to the Turkish Army. April 7, 2010, at an official ceremony held at the 2nd Turkish Army Depot at Kayseri, Turkey - the location in which the tanks underwent upgrading work in recent years. IMI is the prime contractor for the $687.5 million project

5. "The Amphibious Swarm Pt 1" Swarming ashore.

Representative Sample: Swarming large numbers of smaller landing craft should solve the problem of getting them to the beach in the age of the guided missile. The question might arise whether these numerous but smaller teams will be effective when they do land?

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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

JCS Chairman Reiterates that Wishful Thinking Remains Official U.S. Policy on Iran

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a completely useless address today, where he reiterated what everyone already knows regarding the Obama administration's policy -- or lack thereof -- toward Iran's nuclear program.

"The diplomatic, the engagement piece, the sanctions piece, all those things, from my perspective, need to be addressed to possibly have Iran change its mind about where it's headed."
I guess he hasn't noticed the abject failure of that approach. But hey, let's keep pretending. Wishful thinking is great. It removes the need to actually face reality, especially when reality looks pretty ugly. 

Since the Obama administration is powerless to force Iran to get rid of its nuclear aspirations, why not prepare a policy of deterrence?

"There are those that say, 'Come on, Mullen, get over that. They're going to get it. Let's deal with it,'" Mullen said.
People actually think that the government should prepare for something that looks inevitable. Imagine that. But Mullen rejects that out of hand. He's committed to the wishful thinking policy. He actually started talking about all the bad things that might happen if Iran gets nuclear weapons -- as if the people advocating deterrence aren't aware of the drawbacks. Those, such as myself, who have called for a deterrence policy toward Iran, aren't doing so because we are thrilled with the idea of Iran getting nuclear weapons, but because it appears to be the only realistic option. But facing reality isn't part of Obama's foreign policy. In Obama-world, if you talk enough things will magically turn your way. That's their policy and they're sticking to it.

HOT5 Daily 4/18/2010

1. "Obama Using Scare Tactics For Financial “Reform”" Scare tactics are ok as long as Democrats are using them. If Republicans do so, then it's "fearmongering."

Representative Sample: Which is typical. In order for the government to seize more power they must first make us afraid of something. In this instance, Obama wants us to believe that we’ll be facing another financial meltdown without giving government more power over financial markets. That would be power on top of what they seized during the last financial meltdown. Which, of course, was caused by too much government interference in the markets in the first place.

2. "Does This look like an Economic Recovery to You?" No.

Representative Sample: The past nine months Obama has talked about little else other than health care. Meanwhile, millions of Americans remain out of work. If a Republican President were in the White House we'd read daily stories about the toll of human suffering wrought by the President's economic policy. 

3. "Evangelist Spurned for Supporting Evolution" Ostracized for recognizing reality. Includes video.

Representative Sample: “If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult — some odd group that is not really interacting with the world,” says Waltke

4. "Letter Of Marque: Reconsidering The Letter Of Marque–Utilizing Private Security Providers Against Piracy"A good idea that will probably never happen.

Representative Sample: This article examines how letters of marque could be revived to effectively empower the private sector to assist governments in dealing with modern piracy. It examines Somali piracy, the development and different uses of letters of marque and privateers, the current legal framework relating to piracy, Somalia’s decade-long experience with maritime security contractors, the use of maritime contractors outside of Somalia, and addresses concerns involving private maritime security.

5. "Infographic: World Robot Population" Rapid expansion.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another Leak of Classified Information

I just got done writing about our seeming inability to keep secrets secret, and today comes another leak of classified information.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability,
The Times describes the document, written by Gates to National Security Advisor General James Jones, as a "highly classified analysis." It's so highly classified that it's in the New York Times where it can be read all over the world.

Yes it's an open secret that the Obama administration doesn't have the slightest clue about how to counter Iran's nuclear program. No doubt Obama is baffled as to why his empty talk and wishful thinking haven't brought positive results. But just because a leak embarrasses the Obama administration doesn't make it a good thing. The leaks have gotten so bad that two senior officials can't correspond with each other at any level of classification, on a sensitive foreign policy issue, without the document appearing in the national press. It's not a good thing if the president's advisors need to watch every word they say when giving supposedly confidential advice, for fear that their words will be exposed in the press. When it comes to national security, intelligence matters, and secret foreign policy deliberations, we don't need more transparency, as some have argued. We need greater secrecy, and more assurance that confidential matters will remain under wraps. 

HOT5 Daily 4/17/2010

1. "Obama’s Syrian Policy Collapses" Unfortunately, not a surprise.

Representative Sample: what did we gain by waving off the Israelis? Another dollop of contempt. We have conveyed — both to Syria and its Iranian partner — that we will not respond to provocation and, in fact, will restrain Israel from doing so. In a neat package we have all the elements of Obama’s foolish and dangerous Middle East policy

2. "One in Five Hundred" One reason why it is so difficult to keep secrets secret.

Representative Sample: It's a little-known, but disturbing fact: from the mid-1990s until the middle of this decade, the Justice Department conducted more than 600 investigations into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. All of those inquiries had something else in common, too. Not a single one resulted in the prosecution or conviction of individuals suspected of leaking classified data.

3. "An Accumulation and Amplification of Doubts"A good analysis of why the resurrection is almost certainly a myth -- even leaving aside the whole problem that people don't come back to life after they die.

Representative Sample: the cumulative effect of all of these layers of doubt is to undermine our confidence that the resurrection really occurred. The Lourdes effect alone is sufficient to lead us to reject the historical resurrection claim. There is a staggering burden of proof facing anyone defending the historical case for Jesus. And it will not be met with the paltry provisions of the Bible.

4. "What's the (dark) matter? Physicist Peter Fisher says we may not know for 10 years" Interesting article.

Representative Sample: maybe people just want to know what the heck makes up the vast majority of the universe, a question to which science has provided only sketchy answers.

5. "Lessons From Hybrid Wars: The IDF in Lebanon and Gaza" The full paper is available as a free PDF download at the RAND link.

Representative Sample:The most significant realization among the IDF in the wake of Lebanon, Johnson said, was that hybrid wars cannot be decided with stand-off precision firepower. Putting troops on the ground, backed by close air support, is absolutely necessary.

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

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is Putin a Great Leader?

Ralph Peters has an interesting column in the New York Post called, "Putin wins again: Rebuilding Imperial Russia." Peters sees Putin as a great statesmen who has made strong gains for Russia at the expense of U.S. interests, among others.
A few years back, I wrote that Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was the most impressive major leader on today's world stage. Since then, he's gotten better. ... Putin's ruthless, unforgiving and murderous. He also has a clear vision of what he wants, the strength of will to get it -- and a stunning ability to spot the weaknesses in his foreign counterparts.
Peters goes on to list a series of what he sees as "strategic achievements in just the last few months." For example,
Last week, Putin supported the overthrow of the US-backed government of Kyrgyzstan, tightening his chokehold on our northern supply route into Afghanistan. The Obama administration was utterly blindsided ("Where's Kyrgyzstan?").
Peters argues that we have no one that rises to Putin's level as a leader.
I can't spot a single potential president in either of our political parties who'd be a match for the guy.
Although I agree that Putin has been able to take advantages of incompetent U.S. leaders like Bush and Obama, I think Peters' analysis is a bit over the top. Putin is simply taking what's available. If the U.S. is willing to hand concessions to Russia without compensation, such as cancelling our Eastern European missile defense plans, that's speaks less to any brilliance of Putin, but more to our own incompetent leadership. It's also worth pointing out that during the Bush administration, and continuing to the present, the U.S. has been greatly distracted. Diplomatic sparring with Russia over strategic concerns is a sideshow, rightly or wrongly, as long as we are tied down in Afghanistan, still in Iraq, and continuing a worldwide fight against Al Qaeda. In some respects Russian gains can be marked down to the U.S. taking the path of least resistance in dealing with Putin. The U.S. doesn't need a confrontation with Russia right now, and doesn't see contesting Russian advances as a priority. What looks like great statesmanship to Peters, looks to me like Putin capitalizing on favorable circumstances while his more powerful rival is otherwise occupied. He's smart to do that, but it doesn't require any sort of geopolitical genius.

The CIA tapes: Destruction Was a Good Thing

The usual suspects are worked up regarding a New York Times report that former CIA director Porter Goss approved of destroying interrogation video tapes. All this newly released document shows is that Goss exercised good judgment. Since the CIA is apparently unable to prevent secret information from leaking to press organizations devoted to undermining U.S. intelligence operations, the more sensitive information destroyed before it can be revealed the better. 

What we should be worried about regarding the CIA tapes is the fact that we even know about their existence in the first place. There's no good reason the public should know about details regarding secret interrogations, and no reason that the details of internal CIA decision making, such as whether or not the director approved a particular measure, should be open knowledge. As I've argued repeatedly here, it appears that many people simply don't have a clue about the importance of secrecy to secret operations. Questions of misconduct about secret intelligence operations should be handled without exposing them to the public.  What's the point of even having secrecy classifications, if any idiot with a Freedom of Information request can extract internal documents regarding the operations of an intelligence organization that requires secrecy for many of its missions? 

HOT5 Daily 4/16/2010

1. "What if the Palestinians Don’t Want a State?" Is there any evidence that the Palestinians are prepared to abandon their hostility to Israel's existence?

Representative Sample:What if, just as many prominent Israelis are more or less satisfied with current status quo, the Palestinian leadership is content for now with the Palestinians having “won” the rule of all of Gaza and 70% or so of the West Bank without giving up their claim to the right of return, or, for that matter, their desire for the ultimate destruction of Israel? 

2. "Forget paying the taxes. Worry about paying for paying the taxes." The U.S. tax code = a giant, confusing mess. Includes video.

Representative Sample: We’ll spend 7.6 billion hours complying with the U.S. income tax code this year: that’s a full workyear for 3.8 million people.

3. "Is The US Prepared For Bioweapons Decontamination?" Short answer: no.

Representative Sample: A new report by the UPMC Center for Biosecurity suggests that the US remains unprepared for the task of decontaminating the site of a major biological weapon attack. Decontamination after the comparatively small-scale Anthrax attacks of 2001 is estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while shuttering some facilities for as long as two years. By comparison, the costs of a larger scale attack on a major city could be staggering.

4. "Blessed Are The Arms Dealers" Peace thru strength.

Representative Sample: It seems that disarmanent is being sought as though it will bring world peace. In reality, when a sane country with a well founded fear of aggression arms itself well, it increases the likelihood of peace.

5. "India wants fleet of Israeli killer UAVs"Another big Israeli-Indian arms deal in the making?

Representative Sample:New Delhi wants to muster at least 25-30 of the armed unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, one of its key arms suppliers and a global leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

HOT5 Daily 4/15/2010

1. "Obama’s Philosophy: America, The Enemy of Peace?" Obama has said many stupid things, but this one is up near the top.

Representative Sample:How far left have Democrats come in the last half century? Well, Bill Clinton would have never been so stupid to say such a thing, even if he believed it. Even Jimmy Carter understood the place of America in the maintenance of peace and security.

2. "Apologetics that Annoy Me" You'll hear these same weak arguments over and over from Christians.

Representative Sample: some of these claims annoy me more than others. Usually, this is because the logic behind them is so patently flawed, or the fallacies so obvious, that even an evangelist with no formal education in critical thinking ought to be able to spot them.

3. "Holding Pope Benedict Responsible"A good analysis.

Representative Sample: covering up the crimes is not a "crime against humanity." Covering up a crime is, in fact, a crime, and don't think I'm trying to excuse it morally. But is it really the same thing as torture or genocide perpetrated on tens of thousands of people from a position of governmental power?

4. "God's Top 50 Killings: How do you rate them?" Rating God's greatest hits.

Representative Sample:God sent two bears to rip apart 42 boys for making fun of a prophet's bald head

5. "Mixed-race people perceived as 'more attractive'" Interesting study.

Representative Sample: "A random sample of black, white, and mixed-race faces was collected and rated for their perceived attractiveness. There was a small but highly significant effect, with mixed-race faces, on average, being perceived as more attractive."

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm Not the Only Atheist Who Thinks the Campaign to Arrest the Pope is Idiotic

A few days ago I wrote about Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins efforts to arrest the Pope. Unlike me, most atheists I've read are at least sympathetic to the idea. So it was nice to see an article by self-described "atheist libertarian," Brendan O'Neill, called "The Pope-hunters' Pathological Campaign." I'm not sure I agree with his psychoanalysis of their motivations, but he's right about their obsession with the Pope. He clearly understands that this campaign makes atheists look bad, and leads people to dismiss them as anti-religious bigots. I was going to quote some sections, but I'm currently at work, and for some reason am unable to cut & paste on blogger. Read the article and see what you think of his thesis. It's a pretty sweeping indictment of the whole "new atheist" movement, which I don't think is warranted. But if applied only to Hitchens and Dawkins themselves, and those who ardently support the pope-hunting campaign, it may have more merit.

Double Wishful Thinking

Wishful thinking has been a key plank of Obama's foreign policy throughout his administration. But China has provided another reminder that reality differs sharply from the delusions of the Obama administration.
China insisted Tuesday that it has not shifted its approach on Iran's nuclear program, despite White House claims on Monday that Beijing had become more open to sanctions on Tehran.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing that "China has always believed that sanctions and pressure cannot fundamentally resolve the issue" of concern about Iran's nuclear program, according to the official New China News Agency.

This is an example of double wishful thinking. Obama is  operating under two sets of false assumptions. First is the idea that sanctions are going to do anything to stop Iran's nuclear program. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the administration continues to pretend that  Iranian nuclear ambitions can be derailed through some sort of sanctions.  In reality, there are only two things likely to disrupt Iranian plans: war, or some sort of radical change inside Iran itself. But the Obama administration isn't just content to cling to the comforting delusion that sanctions can solve the problem. It has to go further, and engage in wishful thinking about the involvement of countries like China. 

The Chinese have made it clear that they aren't interested in applying any sort of harsh sanctions to Iran, let alone ones that even in theory might have some chance of halting its nuclear program. Making a false statement that the Chinese are on board, only to have China come out and directly contradict the administration, is just one of the many illustrations of the bumbling incompetence of Obama's foreign policy. It's not the first time he's engaged in such a pretense about sanctions, only to be publicly contradicted.

The White House has recently asserted common ground with Moscow on the issue. Yet last week, in an appearance with Obama in Prague, Czech Republic, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed that there were limits to the sanctions that his country was willing to impose.
Wishful thinking about a policy based on wishful thinking. That's what passes for foreign policy in the Obama administration. 

HOT5 Daily 4/14/2010

1. "The Third Nuclear Age" Excellent article on nuclear weapons.

Representative Sample: The danger posed by weapons is crucially dependent on their human modifiers. Guns in the hands of the Swiss are not the same as guns in the hands of a Sudanese militia. Enriched uranium in Australia is no worry; but uranium in the hands of Kim Jong Il is. It is changes to the political environment that create or diminish the problem even when the hardware remains the same.

2. "Obama, Hybrids, and Electric Vehicles" Vehicle technology and politics.

Representative Sample: will EVs, hybrids, biofueled or improved conventional cars dominate the future? The uncertainty is striking for a $5 trillion global auto and fuel supply market where there is agreement only that the number of cars will keep increasing, perhaps doubling to two billion by 2050, driven largely by the surging Chinese and Indian middle classes.

3. "18 Funniest Onion News Headlines About Religion" Good ones.

Representative Sample: God Answers Prayers Of Paralyzed Little Boy: 'No', says God

4. "Embrace The Party of NO" Things to say no to. A good list.

Representative Sample: I say we embrace their talking point

5. "President Obama bowing to some unlikely individuals"Apparently the president has an uncontrollable need to abase himself and the U.S.

Representative Sample: the President once again bowed, this time to Chinese President Hu Jintao. That wasn't the end of it though. Caught by the camera of photographers from the group,, the following pictures of the President bowing to some unlikely individuals have just been released

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Naive Obama?

Niles Gardiner has written a piece in the Telegraph called, "10 reasons why Barack Obama is the most naïve president in US history." I thought I'd consider each of his reasons.

1. Obama believes unilateral disarmament will achieve a nuclear-free world.  I agree with this one. Obama's attitude toward nuclear weapons is based on utopian thinking that bears little relation to real-world conditions, particularly the idea that cuts in U.S. weapons will some how inspire rogue regimes to abandon their nuclear aspirations.

2. Obama thinks evil regimes can be negotiated with. It's not so much that evil regimes can't be negotiated with, as it is Obama's approach, which projects weakness and pretends that talking is somehow going to resolve irreconcilable differences in national interests.

3. Obama doesn’t believe America is fighting a global war. I don't think this is true. Gardiner is going by some of the administration rhetoric, rather than its actions. The U.S. has continued to fight against Islamic terrorists worldwide under the Obama administration.

4. Obama believes increasing spending and raising taxes leads to prosperity. No question about that. He's a typical big government liberal.

5. Obama thinks government-run health care is good for America. See #4. I don't consider this naive per se, just a typical left-wing policy position.

6. Obama doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. As with #3, the rhetoric doesn't necessarily match the actions. But I do think at heart Obama is a utopian internationalist. He's not exactly a vigorous advocate of U.S. national interests.

7. Obama believes alliances don’t matter.  I'm not sure what he believes, but he certainly acts as if they don't matter.

8. Obama trusts Russia. That seems a little strong. But he does seem to give Russia the benefit of the doubt without good reason. He's more interested in appeasing Russian interests than in strongly advocating for the U.S.

9. Obama believes the UN is indispensable. Utopian liberal internationlists love the UN.

10. Obama believes a federal Europe is good for America. I wouldn't call that naive. I don't agree that a federal Europe is good for America, but I think a reasonable case could be made.

The whole article is an interesting read.