Monday, May 31, 2010

The Idiocy of Andrew Sullivan - Israel Edition

Andrew Sullivan has a post up regarding the incident between the Israeli Navy and a ship full of Hamas-supporters & their useful idiots heading for Gaza. He links the video, and notes that the so-called "activists" attacked the Israeli commandos boarding the ship. After giving a mild condemnation of their violence, he then goes off the deep-end.

But the violence is not fatal to anyone and it is in response to a dawn commando raid by armed soldiers. They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: theya r civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19 - all civilians.
So in Sullivan-world, the fact that they didn't manage to kill any Israeli soldiers, and had "improvised weapons," means Israel is the bad guy here.
This is like a mini-Gaza all over again. The Israelis don't seem to grasp that Western militaries don't get to murder large numbers of civilians because they don't like them, or because they could, on a far tinier scale, hurt Israelis. And you sure don't have a right to kill them because they resist having their ship commandeered, in international waters. The Israelis seem to be making decisions as if they can get away with anything. It's time the US reminded them in ways they cannot mistake that they cannot.

It's a mini-Gaza alright, with clowns like Sullivan making the same illogical arguments all over again to attack our ally and excuse the actions of its enemies -- enemies that in most cases are also hostile to the U.S.

Let's dissect Sullivan's nonsense. First, he calls the attack on the Israeli boarding party "self-defense." As the video shows, the Israelis did not come in shooting. They were engaged in a standard naval action that involved stopping and boarding a civilian vessel that was trying to break a blockade. By attacking the commandos, the people on that ship immediately changed their status from civilian blockade runners to enemies. The "self-defense" here was Israeli commandos defending themselves when attacked. Killing enemies who attack you is not "murder," as Sullivan ignorantly asserts. Israeli forces have every right to protect themselves with deadly force, no matter what the type of weapons used against them. Sullivan is using the same ridiculously illogical argument about disproportionate force that was deployed by Hamas supporters during Israel's Gaza operation. If a police officer is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant, he doesn't have to pull out his own knife and fight on equal terms. He draws his gun and shoots to kill. That type of defense has long been justified in the U.S. and other countries, and I doubt even Sullivan would argue otherwise. But for some reason, he thinks Israeli military personnel should be held to a different standard.

Israel is for all intents and purposes in a state of war with the pseudo-state of Gaza. Gaza's rulers do not even recognize Israel's existence, and indiscriminately launch rockets at civilian targets within Israel. Far from "making decisions as if they can get away with anything," Israel has in my opinion been incredibly restrained in its actions in dealing with Gaza, and this incident is no different. Israel would have been within its rights to have simply withdrawn its commandos after being attacked, and sent that ship to the bottom, killing everyone aboard. But of course it didn't.  

For various reasons (good ones in my opinion), Israel has imposed a blockade of Gaza. There is no point in having a blockade if you allow ships full of enemy supporters to run the blockade and deliver contraband merchandise. Israel had a simple choice: let its blockade be violated, or intercept the ship. There was little reason to think that Israel would not intercept that ship, and it is quite possible that the attack on the boarders was pre-planned in order to create an international incident. Andrew Sullivan isn't a Hamas supporter, but he's a typical useful idiot for anti-Israel propaganda, even more valuable to Israel's enemies than voices that can be quickly dismissed as rabidly anti-Semitic or as known enemies of Israel.

So what should the U.S. do? Nothing. The U.S. should downplay this incident as much as possible, point out that Israeli forces came under attack first, and block any sort of meaningful international action against Israel. The people on that boat, a collection of terrorist supporters and useful idiots, are for the most part as hostile to the U.S. as to Israel. They are the same type that are quick to call necessary U.S. actions "war crimes," and who would like nothing better than to cripple U.S. operations with the same sort of restrictions they think Israel should operate under. 

In Honor of Memorial Day

Last Memorial Day I noted the truly amazing Medal of Honor citation of First Lieutenant John J. Tominac.  Today I thought I'd highlight a different citation from a different conflict: the often-overlooked Korean War. I've read many accounts of tremendous heroism from medics and corpsmen, people risking their lives to help the wounded while not even being able to fight back against the enemy. The Medal of Honor citation below is for Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class (HC3c) William Charette, serving with the Marines. Charette not only shielded a wounded comrade with his own body when a grenade fell nearby, but he got up, ignored his wounds, kept treating the wounded, and went so far as to remove his own flak vest and give it to someone he thought needed it more, all while continuously remaining exposed to enemy fire. As the citation notes, "Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives."

I looked up his Wikipedia page. If it is correct, William Charette is a still-living hero, unlike many Medal of Honor winners. He survived his wounds and served 26 years in the navy.

Rank and organization: Hospital Corpsman Third Class, U.S. Navy Medical Corpsman serving with a marine rifle company. Place and date: Korea, 27 March 1953. Entered service at: Ludington, Michigan. Birth: Ludington, Mich. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces during the early morning hours. Participating in a fierce encounter with a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched enemy force occupying positions on a vital and bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, HC3c. Charette repeatedly and unhesitatingly moved about through a murderous barrage of hostile small-arms and mortar fire to render assistance to his wounded comrades. When an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of a marine he was attending, he immediately threw himself upon the stricken man and absorbed the entire concussion of the deadly missile with his body. Although sustaining painful facial wounds, and undergoing shock from the intensity of the blast which ripped the helmet and medical aid kit from his person, HC3c. Charette resourcefully improvised emergency bandages by tearing off part of his clothing, and gallantly continued to administer medical aid to the wounded in his own unit and to those in adjacent platoon areas as well. Observing a seriously wounded comrade whose armored vest had been torn from his body by the blast from an exploding shell, he selflessly removed his own battle vest and placed it upon the helpless man although fully aware of the added jeopardy to himself. Moving to the side of another casualty who was suffering excruciating pain from a serious leg wound, HC3c. Charette stood upright in the trench line and exposed himself to a deadly hail of enemy fire in order to lend more effective aid to the victim and to alleviate his anguish while being removed to a position of safety. By his indomitable courage and inspiring efforts in behalf of his wounded comrades, HC3c. Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

HOT5 Daily will return tomorrow. Have a good Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

No HOT5 Today Due to Late-Night Emergency

Last night my wife, who has major health issues as it is, woke me up at 2:30 am telling me to call 911. She was having intense chest pains. I grabbed the phone and called. Despite what had to be my obvious panic, the 911 operator exhibited no sense of urgency and started asking me all sorts of questions about her symptoms, what medications she was taking, her general health, etc. All this before even asking for the address or telling me they were sending the paramedics. I had to interrupt him and demand an ambulance, at which point he got annoyed but said he'd get one out there. It's like he didn't believe me or something, even though we've never even called 911 since we've lived here. 

In the meantime I got my wife an aspirin, in case it was a heart attack. We live in a small town, so I expected paramedics shortly. No one showed up for like 10 minutes. My wife was scared to death and desperate to get to the hospital and asked me to just take her instead. I called 911 back and told them I was taking her myself, and found that apparently the nearest paramedics are 10 miles away, and that they had just been dispatched a couple of minutes ago. I knew I could make it to the hospital faster than they could get here and back, so I told them to call it off and I would drive myself. 

My son and I got my wife to the car, and we made it to the hospital in record time, fortunately without getting stopped by police. The emergency room was great and got her right in immediately. It turned out that it wasn't a  heart attack, but probably some sort of intestinal problem although we weren't sure. The doctor said a reflux attack or something similar can simulate heart attack symptoms. They checked everything out, and gave her medication that stopped the chest pains. We left the hospital after 5 am or so, exhausted but relieved.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Oil Spill is Still Spilling

Definite word came today that the latest effort to plug the leak failed. BP is trying something new that could take up to a week or so to go into effect. I'm not sure who was responsible for what the president called, "optimistic reports about the procedure," which suggested earlier this week that the so-called "top kill" plug effort was succeeding. Raising expectations and then smashing them is pretty bad public relations. Those in charge of the capping procedures, and anyone in the government talking about them, should be more careful not to create false hopes. Maybe it was just bad reporting, but it is surprising that information given to the press wasn't done in a much more neutral fashion -- something like, we're still evaluating the results and can't say yet whether or not we've succeeded in plugging the leak.

I'm a big supporter of offshore drilling, and don't think we should suspend operations because of one accident -- no matter how severe. But having said that, there should certainly be a major reevaluation of safety procedures and contingency plans in the event of catastrophe. I admit to a complete lack of knowledge regarding the technical aspects of oil drilling, so I may be way off-base. But it appears to me that BP didn't have much of a plan for dealing with worst case scenarios. I know the well is very deep, and that it probably isn't possible to test capping procedures. But I would think such things could and should be done with detailed and realistic computer simulations, so that a well-structured emergency plan could be in place. Whenever you are reduced to just trying stuff and seeing if it might work -- which appears to be the extent of BP's contingency planning -- you aren't in good shape with an ongoing disaster. Is this particular spill event really so unforeseen that one of the world's largest oil companies can be caught flatfooted? It's reaction so far is not exactly that of a well-oiled machine -- pun intended.

Appeals Court Shoots Down Uighurs

There are five Uighurs remaining at Guantanamo bay. Apparently they rejected three offers of resettlement in other countries, and have been suing to be released in the United States. Yesterday an appeals court rightly shot down their ridiculous demands and gave them two options: accept a resettlement offer or stay in jail.
“Petitioners hold the keys to their release from Guantánamo: All they must do is register their consent.” ...  The judges said: “Even if petitioners had good reason to reject the offers they would have no right to be released into the United States.”
You might think this should have been obvious and not required a lengthy court battle. Even more importantly, the court pointed out,
it was within the exclusive power of the political branches to decide which foreign nationals may or may not enter the US.
No foreign nationals have a some sort of right to settle in the U.S. The entire Uighur case is a gigantic waste of time and money. All of them should have been returned to China, preferably as part of a deal that secured some Chinese concessions on issues of importance to the U.S.

HOT5 Daily 5/29/2010

1. "The Public Education Spending Binge Must Stop" No to a teachers union bailout.

Representative Sample: For the past several decades, states have acted like a hungry child at an all-you-can-eat buffet. When the economy was good and state revenues were plush, school districts increased staff roles. And more recently, with eyes bigger than their stomachs, a seemingly endless buffet of federal funding has enabled states to continue bloating their staff roles even when state budgets needed trimming.

2. "The limits of libertarianism."An interesting article that attempts to define libertarianism in contrast to liberalism & conservatism.

Representative Sample: I start with a relative loose definition for libertarian and then fine-tune it, hopefully reaching a place that is neither fundamentalist nor meaningless. First, a libertarian starts out with a presumption for liberty. In every situation a libertarian first assumes that the use of state coercion has to be justified on a case-by-case basis. Liberty is the default setting.

3. "The Diplomat: India’s Greatest Threat?" A situation about which most in the west probably know very little.

Representative Sample: They were on the lookout for fighters from the Naxals, an armed group originating in West Bengal that had split off from the Communist Party of India in 1967. Forty-three years on, senior officials in New Delhi consider the Naxals India’s most serious internal threat.

4. "Protestants tempt fate, but atheists don't!" Interesting.

Representative Sample: Jonathan Abramowitz and colleagues, at the University of North Carolina, have done a nice little study into the differences between Protestants and nonbelievers in attitudes towards tempting fate. Technically, this is actually 'thought-action fusion' - a cognitive bias that occurs when people believe that thinking is equivalent to doing, and that thinking can make certain events more probable. It's related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

5. "Reading list: After the hole is plugged, what’s next?" A good round-up.

Representative Sample: The issue, remember, is not stopping the leak. That is short term. The issue is what comes next.

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

HOT5 Daily 5/28/2010

1. "President Obama's Ayatollah Explains Islam to the Muslims" Debunking administration idiocy.

Representative Sample: it is reasonable to have a U.S. policy that doesn’t define the enemy as Jihad; it is mandatory to have a U.S. policy that doesn’t define the enemy as Islam (President George W. Bush set that theme on September 12, 2001) but it is ridiculous for the United States to compete with imams and ayatollahs in defining Islam. And this is especially true when the specific claims made about Islam are so obviously nonsensical.

2. "The BP Spill: Self-Regulation, Public Property, and Political Capitalism" Some useful perspective.

Representative Sample: BP’s defenders and statist critics both have it wrong. This is not the story of a well-meaning or negligent firm operating in the free market. Negligent or not, BP is a player in a corporatist system that for generations has featured a close relationship between government and major business firms.

3. "Pocketed regulators" This goes well with item #2 above.

Representative Sample: When will we realize that a powerful government which can hand out favors like high schools hand out condoms attract the most unscrupulous players in the nation. We've created a feeding trough which attracts some big-ass, hungry hogs.

4. "Report: Government Spending Kills Jobs" Somebody inform the Democratic party.

Representative Sample: The larger government gets, the worse it gets for everyone for the simple reason that government can be swayed – it can be bribed. After a while, you get the situation we currently have – where Big Government and Big Corporation bribe each other for mutual benefit. The only people suffering in this are, well, the people. We don’t have the free market we need for growth nor do we have a government we can rely on to help us.

5. "The Coming War on Bacon" For your own good of course.

Representative Sample: Having dramatically expanded the role of the government in your doctor’s office and your bank this year, the Obama administration is turning its attention to your kitchen. Sara Burrows, a reporter for the Carolina Journal, reported on the ramifications of the Obama administration’s war on salt, announced recently as a nationwide decade long program by the FDA.

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Religious License Plates OK, Atheist Plates No Good

A North Dakota man requested a personalized license plate saying "Is No God." It was rejected, despite the fact that the state has allowed plates with religious messages such as "I love God" and "Praise God." As the man who applied for the plate said,
“If they're going to allow one point of view to be expressed on government property, they should allow everyone's.”
Exactly. If you don't, then you get a situation where the state government has to decide which views of religion are acceptable and which aren't-- which translates into state endorsement of particular religious messages. In my opinion, religious messages on license plates are a bad idea and should be avoided, no matter what the viewpoint. But if you are going to allow "Praise God," it seems pretty unreasonable to reject "Is No God."

HOT5 Daily 5/27/2010

1. "Why do They Hate Us, Indeed?" Excellent points.

Representative Sample: Whatever we do--or don't do--is reason for some to hate us--or at least suspect us of evil intent. There's really nothing we can do about it. So stop trying to adjust our behavior to reduce the reasons our enemies and detractors use to justify hating us and killing us

2. "The Dragon Enables Again" China and North Korea.

Representative Sample: Peking has deliberately and unabashedly thwarted each and every opportunity to contain North Korea. The Chinese refused outright to live by UNSC Resolutions 1718 and 1874. China continues her arms sales to Pyongyang, and her large economic (read: financial) aid to Kim’s government.

3. "Inglorious Results of an Overspent Youth" A grass-roots movement to seriously cut government spending?

Representative Sample: something is happening that has never happened before in Western civ. For the very first time, a populist, small-c conservative uprising is focused not on taxes (that's fairly common), but rather on the deeper and more profound cause of socialist woe, government spending itself

4. "BUSH & OBAMA BY THE NUMBERS" Some cherry-picked but still amusing comparisons.


5. "Is Joe Biden a foolish bumbler, or the most honest politician…ever?" Both?

Representative Sample: While at a barbeque for wounded veterans, Vice President Joe Biden said something…unfortunate

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just Say No to a Special Prosecutor

The GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Obama administration's dealings with PA Democratic Senatorial candidate Joe Sestak.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa, who has been pressing this issue for months, called for a special prosecutor in April. He alleges that the White House may have violated anti-bribery provisions of the federal criminal code as well as prohibitions on government officials interfering in elections and using federal jobs for a political purpose if it made the offer.
In my opinion, this is another case of much ado about nothing. Appointing a special prosecutor is usually a big waste of money that results in an endless witchhunt. Here's the situation as I understand it.

The administration supported Arlen Specter for Senate and wanted to get Sestak out of the way, so they allegedly offered Sestak a "White House job." Is this a type of bribe? Sure it is. But why should we care? This is a matter of Democratic party politics. The president, as leader of the party has a right to try to influence who the party has as its candidates. He also has the right to give out jobs as political patronage. But according to the critics combining the two things is somehow illegal. I find that laughable. If it is technically illegal it shouldn't be. That's how the system works. Bribery by way of handing out politically patronage jobs has long been institutionalized. People are routinely rewarded for major campaign support with positions such as ambassadorships. There's no good reason that I can see why this particular instance should be criminalized. The GOP is making a mistake that will probably come back to bite it in the future, when Democrats look for similar ways to criminalize Republican job offers.

HOT5 Daily 5/26/2010

1. "How Islamists Came to Dominate European Islam" Not surprisingly, it involved governmental stupidity.

Representative Sample: Western governments have a history of ignoring the Islamists' repulsive ideology and working with them, even strengthening them.

2. "Africa Hearts America"All our aid to Africa is buying us some good will?

Representative Sample: Across 110 countries Gallup surveyed in 2009, median approval of U.S. leadership was 51%, up from 34% in 2008. Approval topped 75% in 20 sub-Saharan African countries, with Kosovo, Ireland, and Albania joining them as most approving.

3. "How safe is safe enough?" Good question.

Representative Sample: Fatalities per vehicle mile traveled has fallen by 300% since 1971. Cars have never been safer. Perhaps federal regulations have played a part, but even the greediest CEO of a car company knows the dead make lousy repeat customers. Just how much safer can cars be made?

4. "Dueling Rifle Rounds: It’s All About the Wound Channel" This debate has been ongoing since the 5.56 round was introduced decades ago.

Representative Sample: The Times (the British one) has a story about the continuing debate over the 7.62mm round versus the 5.56mm as employed in the long range firefights in Afghanistan. The story asserts that the 5.56mm round used in the M4 rifle “lacks sufficient velocity and killing power in long-range firefights.” As Defense Tech readers know, we’ve covered this issue before.

5. "The Right to be a Fool?" It's amazing that this has made it all the way to Canada's Supreme Court.

Representative Sample: The Quebec Superior Court awarded Richard $101,000 in damages. Being La Belle Province, and M Richards being a francophone, and the letter being in English, additional offence has been caused. Being fleeced in your own language, one supposes, is less aggravating. Still, that's a heck of a return on the price of a magazine subscription.

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Bad Leak That Doesn't Involve Oil

As most of the world knows by now, another secret U.S. program has been exposed in the press.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.
Now that this no longer secret directive is public knowledge, even our most clueless enemies should be on the alert, with new reason to suspect any Americans they think might be part of such an intelligence gathering effort. This leak will lend credence to rogue regimes such as that of Iran, which seize U.S. citizens and charge them with being spies. The New York Times describes the source of this leak as "defense officials."
some Pentagon officials worry that the expanded role carries risks. The authorized activities could strain relationships with friendly governments like Saudi Arabia or Yemen — which might allow the operations but be loath to acknowledge their cooperation — or incite the anger of hostile nations like Iran and Syria. Many in the military are also concerned that as American troops assume roles far from traditional combat, they would be at risk of being treated as spies if captured and denied the Geneva Convention protections afforded military detainees.
Of course it carries risks. But objecting to policy does not justify exposing secret operations to the press. By doing so, the leakers not only risk damage to the operations, they create even greater danger to the lives of those that they supposedly want to protect. 

There are many more details in the Times report, none of which should ever have seen the light of day. As I have argued repeatedly, failure to keep secrets secret is a major problem that severely hampers our intelligence gathering and special operations -- the first line of defense against terrorism. It is long past time to do something about leaks. This leak should be aggressively tracked to its source, and the leaking "officials," whatever their motives, should face harsh criminal punishment. Until this starts to happen, leaks will continue to occur, as officials who lose policy fights decide to undermine their opponents in the press, with reckless disregard for national security.

HOT5 Daily 5/25/2010

1. "Duty, Honor … Country Optional"A good analysis of Obama's West Point speech.

Representative Sample:President Obama’s dream for a new international order has informed virtually all of his administration’s foreign policy initiatives. And almost all of them demonstrate just why sacrificing American sovereignty and security at the altar of global bureaucracy is such a terrible idea.

2. "Bounties: How The Taliban And Al Qaeda Use Bounties In The War" Compared to how we use them.

Representative Sample: the big difference between our bounty system, and their bounty system, is that they actually want people to either kill or capture folks and that there are no legal restrictions for that process. It is the purest form of a free market based killing mechanism.

3. "Beijing's Most Embarrassing Allies" Five examples.

Representative Sample: As China has grown into a major economic and military power in the last two decades, its mad scramble for energy resources and trading partners has led it into alliances with some of the world's most unsavory governments. Here are five regimes that couldn't survive without Beijing

4. "Why Big City Incompetents Like “Gun Control”" Because it is an excuse for not taking responsibility.

Representative Sample: A lot of the big urban areas of the Northeast have turned into war zones. Virtually, without exception, they place the blame on lax “gun control” (really, people control) laws for their sky-high murder rates. I wonder if their voters have ever asked themselves why their mayors are so obsessed?

5. "Which Jefferson?" Interesting historical article.

Representative Sample: There is no state or territory of the United States with the name Jefferson—but there were four such entities that either existed or were contemplated in the course of American history.

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Environmentalist Lunatics Unite!

I'm paraphrasing Peter Daou, writing at the Huffington Post. Like most hysterical environmentalist types, Daou is outraged that others are not more hysterical about the Gulf oil spill.
Shame on us. 

A calamity is unfolding before our eyes - the greatest oil spill in history - and America's response is little more than a big yawn.
Americans are concerned. No one is thrilled with a big oil spill. But because most people keep things in perspective, Daou thinks they don't care.
Where is the outrage? Where are the millions marching in the streets, where is the round-the-clock roadblock coverage tracking every moment of the crisis, every effort to plug the leak, every desperate attempt to mitigate the damage? 

Where is the White House? Where are Republicans? Where are Democrats? Where is the left? Where is the right? Where is the "fierce urgency of now?"
It's an oil spill, not a comet heading straight for earth. But he thinks it's the same thing.
In the movies, pretend heroes like Bruce Willis and Will Smith save the planet while the whole world watches with breath and belief suspended. In real life, a global catastrophe is treated like a mere annoyance, mismanaged by a rapacious oil company, while drill-baby-drillers double down on their folly and the White House puts out defensive fact sheets about how they were on it from "day one."
It's pretty hard to read this article without laughing constantly.
The Gulf disaster is a singular moment - an opportunity to bring the human race together to save itself, to protect its only home
We're doomed! Only the environmentalist vanguard can save us.
This should be a rocket-boost for the environmental movement, a time to finally put to rest the notion that environmentalists are misguided alarmists, a chance to finally marginalize green-bashers and put an end to their fatal obstructionism.
Except that many environmentalists are "misguided alarmists." Daou is a prime example.
We need, and must demand, boldness and resoluteness worthy of a planetary emergency - true leadership, rallying the nation and the world to action. Offense, not defense.
What? Sorry, I was too busy laughing. But this guy is actually serious. It's a "planetary emergency"!
We are at an inflection point, one that will likely determine the fate of our species. Green-haters have been winning the message war, the all-important battle of public opinion. If those of us who want to salvage and protect our earth don't rise in righteous anger and use this moment to cement our case, then we have failed ourselves and future generations.

Environmentalist lunatics unite! Our hysterical earth-worship religion has been rejected by the ignorant masses. What is the answer? We need more hysteria and predictions of doom!

It's pretty funny that President Obama is getting the same type of criticism from environmentalist whack-jobs that Bush took over Katrina. They seem to think that if only he waved the magic wand of big government, that somehow he could make the problems go away.

P.S. Sorry, no HOT5 today. It will return tomorrow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

HOT5 Daily 5/23/2010

1. "Rudderless" I prefer "clueless," but another good adjective describing Obama's foreign policy.

Representative Sample: Faced by the linked yet separate crises in the Middle East and in Northeast Asia the Obama administration is acting like it was shot through the central nervous system, acting in uncoordinated jerks. The alliances with Korea and Japan and the special relationships with Israel and Britain lie almost forgotten like neglected toys on the floor of a spoiled child distracted by his latest bauble.

2. "Duty, Honor, Blah Blah Blah, Etc." Obama's West Point speech.

Representative Sample: he might have come clean, with something like, “I am one of those who have disparaged everything that Americans fought and died for these last nine years, who sought to render it meaningless, even suggesting our nation brought all this trouble on itself. I am slowly learning, now that I’m going to have whatever happens hung around my neck, that war is a serious business and our enemy actually wants to kill us.

3. "There's Something I Have to Tell You" Prepare for the return of the Old Ones.

Representative Sample: It's a graphic.

4. "How to Prevent the Next Financial Crisis" Some good suggestions.

Representative Sample: Everyone is running around trying to figure out what legislation we need to keep us from having a financial meltdown ever again. The proposed legislation runs to thousands of pages . This is totally unnecessary.

5. "The Laffer Curve, as Explained in 1377" Really.

Representative Sample: When tax assessments and imposts upon the subjects are low, the latter have the energy and desire to do things. Cultural enterprises grow and increase, because the low taxes bring satisfaction. When cultural enterprises grow, the number of individual imposts and assessments mounts. In consequence, the tax revenue, which is the sum total of (the individual assessments), increases

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

HOT5 Daily 5/22/2010

1. "Not Everyone Has Right to Live in U.S." It's amazing that even needs to be pointed out.

Representative Sample: I can't be absolutely sure, but I believe that most Americans would recoil at the suggestion that somebody other than Americans should be allowed to set the conditions for people to live in the U.S.

2. "Don’t Stop With Dennis Blair – There is Plenty of Incompetence to Go Around inside Obama’s National Security Team" From the top on down.

Representative Sample: Dennis Blair is just the public fall guy. Attorney General Eric Holder is less than clue less on terrorism, he can’t even understand that it is radicalized Muslims who are attacking us. Then we have Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, this woman is busy worrying about white, gun owning, conservative returning veterans, she just can’t seem to find any Islamic terrorist’s to watch. 

3. "Libertarianism and Private Discrimination" A much more reasoned critique than the usual leftist smear of racism.

Representative Sample: what’s the problem with this libertarian position? Property rights are obviously very important. You don’t need to be a libertarian to believe that. I argued strongly in favor of property rights here. Likewise, the free market does an enormous amount of good. The problem with the libertarian view is absolutism and a rejection of value pluralism.

4. "The Feral Vanguard" An interesting essay.

Representative Sample: It’s imperative for the American people to understand this is the inevitable result of collectivist economics. Political control of the marketplace always degenerates into the political class robbing independent citizens and unpopular industries, to maintain the support of indentured constituents. Packaged votes and bundled political donations, from loyal and motivated groups, are a far easier route to power than somehow keeping the majority of the country happy

5. "Photo of the Day: A Gory End to Bullfight" The bull wins big. 

Representative Sample: As Aparicio held his red cape and sword out to face down the 1,100-pound beast named Opiparo at the Feria de San Isidor bullfighting event in Las Ventanas, Spain, the bullfighter lost his footing and the bull was able to strike.

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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Black American Atheists

I stumbled across an interesting article called, "Black Women Who Use the "A" Word." After reading it I realized that I've never met a black atheist. The article explains why open atheism among African-Americans is so rare.
Within this incredibly religious culture, black Americans are the most devout and routinely rate at the top of every index that measures religiosity. It's difficult--if not impossible--to divorce religion from black culture. We can hardly get on the bus without invoking or thanking Jesus that we'll make it to work on time.

Among black folks, if you're a criminal who shows up at a service on whatever Sabbath you subscribe to, you're just a fallen human who is worthy of love and redemption. But if you're a moral and decent human who doesn't believe in a supernatural force, you'll soon find that your kind is most unwelcome.

But some are trying to change that. There was a recent conference called, "African Americans for Humanism."
If nothing else, the group assembled was a rational one. And while "fired up," we realize that Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is only around 15 percent. The number for blacks is even lower, at 12 percent. So as a minority within a deeply closeted minority, we're going to have to work to gain visibility and influence. Those of us who are "out" mustn't apologize for our stance. We also need to join larger non-theistic groups.
The whole article is interesting reading.

North Korea is Probably Laughing

Somehow I doubt the North Korean leadership is shaking with fear after the administration trotted out Hillary Clinton to give a speech in response to the unprovoked sinking of a South Korean ship.

"This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international — not just a regional, but an international — response," she told a press conference in Tokyo
Wow, an "international response." That's pretty frightening.
While it was "premature" to discuss exact options or actions that will be taken, Clinton said it was "important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences."
Yeah, but in Obama world, "consequences" means a mildly harsh talking-to. The spineless Obama administration, with its instinctual desire to appease, does not scare anyone -- let alone a rogue state such as North Korea. Obama & Hillary can't even summon up the courage to call an obvious act of war an act of war -- even while North Korea routinely screams threats.
U.S. officials have refused to call the North's attack on the ship an act of war or state-sponsored terror, warning that an overreaction could cause the Korean peninsula to "explode." Instead, they said they would explore diplomatic steps through the U.N. or increase Washington's unilateral sanctions against North Korea's Soviet-style state.
Projection of weakness -- it's the Obama way.

So what should be done? As I've argued before, the North Koreans respect one thing and one thing only: overwhelming force and the willingness to use it. Communications from the U.S. to North Korea should be in the form of clear, unmistakable threats -- something the communist thugs running the country will understand. At a minimum, the North should be put on notice that since their submarine force has initiated an act of war against the South, from now on any North Korean submarine detected outside its home waters will be treated as a deadly threat to navigation and sunk without warning. This edict will continue until North Korea apologizes for the sinking, pays compensation and agrees to refrain from further incidents in the future. In addition we should hold direct, private talks with North Korean leaders and make our policies clear and unambiguous in the event that they decide to start a war -- so there is no misunderstanding. The North should be told in no uncertain terms that if they initiate a war, we will use our full power to crush their state forever, including directly targeting and killing the communist leadership. Any offensive use of nuclear weapons will be answered with the utter annihilation of North Korea.

The reason North Korea can act as it does is that it feels it can get away with it -- particularly with a weak president in charge of the U.S. A state willing to starve its own population to build its military doesn't fear the type of weak & ineffective sanctions that Clinton's threatened "international response" might entail. With China as its patron, its nuclear weapons, the U.S. occupied in the Middle East, and its ability to threaten Seoul, it feels it can do whatever it wants with little serious consequence. And so far it has been proven correct. Unfortunately I have no confidence whatsoever that the Obama administration will do anything to change that equation, and is far more likely to embolden the North further.

HOT5 Daily 5/21/2010

1. "Standing by while a foreign leader bashes the United States" Typical Obama.

Representative Sample: there we have the vision of an American president to stand by and agree with a foreign leader who was criticizing the Arizona law. Remember this is the president of a country that has a much stricter policy than we do for dealing with illegal immigrants.

2. "I Thought Democrats Were For Privacy" It's hard to be for privacy and big government.

Representative Sample: The House voted to allow the DNA of people to be taken from them if they are arrested even if they are never convicted of a crime.

3. "Obama Cannot Ignore Chavez Terror Links" I'll bet he can.

Representative Sample: Washington’s ability to manage multiple challenges continues to be tested in the Western Hemisphere, where Venezuela’s anti-American leader Hugo Chavez is working to destabilize the region and support international terrorist organizations

4. "Drawing Mohammed: what was accomplished?" A refusal to bow to violent religious fanatics.

Representative Sample: Today, millions of Muslims worldwide cried out like infantile idiots over scribblings that were not in any way directed at them, but at an idea that is anathema to those who cherish freedom; the idea that religion is off-limits to criticism and that those who dare to criticize it should be silenced or killed.

5. "Pennsylvania Democrat Won Election By Running As A Republican" Pretty much. A sign that the Democratic brand is in trouble?

Representative Sample: He’s anti-Obamacare. He’s pro-gun. He’s against cap-and-trade. He’s for tax cuts. He’s anti-abortion. He’s pro-guns.

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

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mohammed Supervises the Slaughter of Jews

Since it's Everybody Draw Mohammed Day I thought I would post this picture found here. This is the sort of thing celebrated by those most enraged about people drawing Mohammed.

HOT5 Daily 5/20/2010

1. "Intense Battle Shows Limit of ROE"Another example of the extreme measures the U.S. takes to minimize civilian casualties -- something to remember the next time you hear some anti-American ignoramus either here or abroad accuse the U.S. of callously killing "brown people."

Representative Sample: while the full force of American might was just a radio call away from the command center here – artillery, attack helicopters, drones and mortars -- new rules of engagement designed to minimize civilian casualties made it difficult for leaders like Powers and his superiors to support their troops with extra firepower when the bullets were flying.

2. "Talks of Peace -- Threats of War"An interesting roundup of the current Israeli situation and the possibility of war.

Representative Sample: Behind all the optimism that is being expressed in regard to the new Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, there is great concern of a looming war in the Middle East. While reports have focused on the possibility of a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran, few analysts have considered that the next war might be more limited in scope -- one that could occur, instead, between Israel and Iran's proxies in the region.

3. "Ham-boned Arguments" Long but contains many good points on the church/state issue.

Representative Sample: I think I've demonstrated good evidence for my case - that the founders intended for this to be a nation of no government religion, separation of church and state, and free exercise of religion for those who choose it.

4. "White House: We never told Turkey the fuel-swap deal was enough"Amazing foreign policy incompetence from the Obama administration. Get Turkey & Brazil involved with Iran, raising the chances that Iran will sign some worthless agreement undermining his own ineffective sanctions plan. Then enrage Turkey & Brazil by publicly declaring that their plan isn't good enough, and continue with own useless sanctions. Great job.

Representative Sample: It's true that Obama "encouraged" Turkey and Brazil to hold discussions with Iran, a White House official tells The Cable, but he never indicated that a deal like the one announced this week would be sufficient to alleviate international concerns or stave off sanctions.

5. "NY Times Names BP Oil Spill Obama’s 9/11" A good takedown of Thomas Friedman's latest.

Representative Sample: You have to love it: America was hit with a massive terrorist attack, 2,996 of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones died, and a liberal immediately thinks to……raise taxes! And, of course, no mention of drilling for oil on our own lands.

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Republican Nanny-Statism

Many nanny-state efforts come from the left, and tend to be supported by Democrats. But unfortunately the GOP is also complicit in efforts to restrict personal freedom and undermine the notion of individual responsibility. A prime example was a law restricting online gambling, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 2006, and set to go in effect on June 1. Congressman Barney Frank (D) is sponsoring a bill to block the law by legalizing online gaming. Here's the response from Republican Spencer Bachus of Alabama.
he would do everything in his power to stop the legalization of Internet gambling, specifically singling out online poker. 

"Internet poker is the crack cocaine of gambling," Bachus told "Young people are particularly vulnerable – we don't want to put a casino in every dorm room in the country. Compulsive gambling, by many accounts, is a very serious, growing problem."

We have to ban it for the children! -- actually college-age adults in this case. Bachus sounds like a typical nanny-state Democrat. He thinks we need big government to protect people from themselves. No one can possibly take responsibility for whether or not they want to do some online gambling. We need people like Congressman Bachus to ban it for our own good.

It's very difficult to present the GOP as the party of smaller government, personal responsibility, and individual freedom -- even though it usually is in contrast to Democrats -- when we have Republican idiots like Bachus and his cohorts acting just like typical big government Democrats.  

HOT5 Daily 5/19/2010

1. "The Price of Pearls: How Can I Listen if You Won’t Hear?" Excellent points that are apparently lost on Obama.

Representative Sample: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did not murder Daniel Pearl because he was a journalist. He murdered Daniel Pearl because he was a Jew. An infidel, like you and me

2. "For Once AP Gets it Right" The miserable failure of the drug war.

Representative Sample: Throughout its history drug prohibition has been an immoral, violent, and costly failure. It simply does not accomplish its stated purpose of preventing people from using illicit drugs while at same time it vastly increases the harm caused by the use of those drugs. Now the Associated Press is finally acknowledging these already well known facts in a scathing indictment of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs.

3. "Red Generals Demand Revival Of The Red Army" Interesting quick look at the current state and outlook for Russia's military forces.

Representative Sample: Kornukov joined many other critics who bemoan the sharp decline of the Russian defense industry, and the departure of its best people for the more lucrative civilian sector. Because of this, Kornukov believes that Russian military technology is now 25-30 years behind the United States

4. "Pakistan's India obsession" It would be nice if they were half as worried about fighting the Taliban.

Representative Sample: the lack of strategic thought on display here is quite amazing. Here you've got an impoverished, dysfunctional country next door to one of the most dynamic economies on Earth, and it can't imagine a paradigm in which India is an economic partner and an ally, not a threat.

5. "The Best Case for Atheism" Interesting argument.

Representative Sample:the real problem with God is -- It cannot really be explained, it cannot be proved, it fits nicely into a human strength for creating imaginary characters, it is deeply undermined by the problem of indiscriminate evil, it is not the best explanation for anything, and it’s the most improbable cause of observed reality.

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

British Terrorist Rights Supporters Even More Insane Than the US Variety

Today's headline in The Guardian: "Two Pakistani students pose 'serious threat' but can stay in UK." What?!

Britain's counter-terrorism strategy was thrown into turmoil today when a judge ruled that two Pakistani students posed a serious threat to national security but could not be deported because of the risk that they would be tortured or killed in their own country.

According to the court, one of the men is actually an "an al-Qaida operative." Yet they can't be deported because something bad might happen to them. Enemies who want to kill British civilians have to be protected. This is what happens when you listen to the blind legalism of morons who like to bleat about the so-called "rule of law."

Rational people might think that foreign students residing in a host country are there as a privilege on the sufferance of the host nation. If those students turn out to be terror supporters, let alone actual members of Al Qaeda, they should be expelled, and have to take their chance with whatever happens in the country they are returned to. Rational laws are designed and used to protect society, not enemies who wish to destroy it. But terrorist rights supporters are much more concerned with protecting foreign enemies than the society they live in. They have a blind, almost religious veneration for "the law," as if it was a mystical force detached from reality.  

HOT5 Daily 5/18/2010

1. "Typical hand-wringing and Liberal moral relativism on full international display"That pretty much sums it up.

Representative Sample:This administration’s effort towards discussing “uncomfortable issues and showing maturity” would be hilarious if it wasn’t so damaging, ridiculous, and utterly removed from history and reality. China has an atrocious human rights record which makes it a fighting insult for American diplomats to fabricate and distort reality just so they can forcefully include the U.S. in comparison along side China, in order to find a reason to apologize.

2. "Hearts and Minds" How about we stop militarizing our police forces?

Representative Sample: We aren't at war with our people and we don't need para-military police to pacify our cities. Our military, in contrast, operates under very restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan. 

3. "Creating New Soldiers in Mexico's Drug War" Unintended consequences.

Representative Sample: the United States has failed to come up with a working strategy to weaken the most powerful players in today's drug trade: the handful of Mexican cartels that control the shipment of drugs across the border. Worse, U.S. efforts to make moving drugs across the border more difficult might be having the opposite effect: consolidating the illicit drug business into fewer and fewer hands and making the surviving heavyweights more difficult to defeat.

4. "Big Government to the Rescue!"Finding new ways to seize more power over citizens.

Representative Sample: the crisis game works like this: pet issues are turned into national concerns, which then become the object of study for social scientists. The media then substantiate the concerns by publishing the opinions of social scientists, and thus elevate the issue to the level of a crisis. Once concerns become crises, there are demands that something be done. These demands are quickly followed by legislative action that invariably leads to higher taxes, increased government regulation, a loss of liberty

5. "The Mind of the Fundamentalist" An interesting analysis.

Representative Sample: In many senses the fundamentalist is like the New Age wacko who argues that reality is what you perceive it to be and that there is no "real" nature to anything. According to them everything is what we perceive it to be, or our perceptions shape reality. The fundamentalist believes the world is what the Bible says it is, whether it fits that description of not.

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

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Attacks on Miss USA

I checked Memeorandum this morning and saw that the lead story was about the new Miss USA, Rima Fakih, who is a Lebanese-American immigrant and competed as Miss Michigan. Some on the right, such as Michelle Malkin,  responded to her victory by attacking her for her interview comments. Daniel Pipes, whose foreign policy analysis I respect, went so far as to suggest that she is an "affirmative action" winner. How can anyone look at her pictures and think: affirmative action?

The attacks against her by prominent people on the right are petty and uncalled for. They suggest a reflexive dislike of Muslims and Arabs. Here's a story that we should be celebrating as an example of assimilation. This woman comes from a Muslim background, but she isn't demanding special accommodation for her religion. She isn't competing in a niqab, in a separate Muslim-only pageant. She's obviously embraced American culture to the point of parading around in a bikini to win a beauty contest. And that's a good thing.

If Rima Fakih is at all representative of Lebanese women, I think I speak for most guys in saying that we need more Lebanese-Americans.

HOT5 Daily 5/17/2010

1. "An obvious but muzzled truth: Islamist terrorism" Michael Barone analyzes why some think Americans need to be protected from the truth.

Representative Sample:these well-intentioned folk see the American people as a howling mob. They think that if Americans find out that Islamists are attacking us, they will go out and slaughter innocent Muslims. They think that Americans are incapable of understanding the simple truth that while most terrorists are Islamists, the large majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

2. "Left-Wing Think Progress Advocates Stripping Citizens of Constitutional Rights Without Benefit of Trial, Conviction, or Notice of Even Being A Suspect" The same people who support extensive "rights" for foreign terrorists.

Representative Sample: Their latest attempt is to use the fear of terrorism (without, of course, naming Muslims as the primary cause of terrorism, as that would not be politically correct) to advocate for the government to have the power to strip away the right of American citizens and resident aliens to purchase and own firearms with nothing more than the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen.

3. "Living in denial: When a sceptic isn't a sceptic" The difference between denial and skepticism, and why the two should not be conflated.

Representative Sample: Though the distinction between scepticism and denial is clear enough in principle, keeping them apart in the real world can be tricky. It has, for example, become fashionable in some circles for anyone who dares to challenge the climate science "consensus" to be tarred as a denier and heaved into a vat of feathers.

4. "Another Humiliation for the Obama Administration: Coddled Brazilian Regime Seeks Oil Deals with Iran" One foreign policy blunder after another.

Representative Sample: once again—as with Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and a lot of other countries, Obama’s efforts to suck up to radical regimes has backfired in making them more confident about defying U.S. policies and interests. At the same time, his backing, praise, and at times money has had no effect on making them more friendly to Washington.

5. "Science vs Norse Mythology" Where are the calls to teach this controversy?

Representative Sample: It's a cartoon.

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

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Arrogance of Mexico

The Washington Post has a story up called, "Tensions over immigration law may dominate Calderón's visit."

President Felipe Calderón arrives in Washington this week for a two-day state visit that was supposed to be a celebration of U.S.-Mexican cooperation in his drug war. Instead, it is likely to showcase Mexico's frustration over Arizona's tough new immigration law, which Calderón has described as anti-Mexican.
Here's a country that can't even control its own territory, has marauding drug gangs that threaten the state itself, endemic corruption of epic proportions, and that exports a huge segment of its population to the United States. According to the Post story, almost 10% of the Mexican population lives in the U.S.  Mexico even has harsh restrictions of its own on illegal immigration, yet its president thinks he can tell the U.S. government what to do regarding the internal laws of a U.S. state.
In Mexico, the political class from right to left has closed ranks to deplore the Arizona measure, which has dominated the front pages and TV news here. Elected officials from the three major parties are exhorting Calderón to challenge it in Washington
Rather than deal with their own self-inflicted problems, Mexicans would rather indulge in America-bashing, from Calderon on down. If Obama had any spine whatsoever, he would tell Calderon in no uncertain terms that the U.S. will not be lectured about its laws from Mexico, particularly when Mexico's failure to control its own borders, and its encouragement of illegal emigration has caused the very problem Arizona is trying to contend with.

Naturally I don't expect Obama to actually stand up for the U.S.  When does he ever? No doubt he will grovel and apologize, and commiserate with Calderon about those nasty Arizona Republicans and their horrible new law.

HOT5 Daily 5/16/2010

1. "A Hidden History of Evil" translate and study the Soviet archives.

Representative Sample: the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about.

2. "The man who endlessly pontificates on every topic imaginable strangely silent on Iran's new partnership with Al Qaeda" That might get in the way of appeasment.

Representative Sample: on the subject of the stunning revelation that Iran is assisting Al Qaeda -- the same group that killed 3,000 innocent Americans -- the administration is mum, two months after the news first broke.

3. "Arlen Specter, Then and Now" His sole principle is retaining power. With video.

Representative Sample: I'm looking forward to watching, even if from a distance, a Sestak vs. Toomey race in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate. Whatever my disagreements with each of them, both seem to have actual convictions and beliefs that go beyond winning just another term in office

4. "Studying science doesn't make you an atheist... but studying literature does!" I'm skeptical that this correlation equals causation... but still interesting.

Representative Sample: humanities and social sciences, much more than biological and mathematical sciences, challenge you to imagine the world though the eyes of others. And this exercise in imagination undercuts religious dogma far more effectively than any science lesson can

5. "Great News: Ground Zero Mega-Mosque Runs Into Funding Problems" So far the usual suspects, such as the Saudis, haven't come up with the money.

Representative Sample:The ridiculous proposal to build an in-your-face mosque right by Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan is not only running into a lot of opposition, but it apparently isn't backed by any money.

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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

HOT5 Daily 5/15/2010

1. "The Poet Versus the Prophet"A must-read.

Representative Sample: There are times for interfaith dialogue, for mutual respect and compassion. This isn’t one of them.

2. "IS A NEW AXIS OF EVIL EMERGING?" Let's hope not. From an article in a Turkish newspaper.

Representative Sample: Asked by organizers to come up with a provocative scenario for Turkey’s foreign policy future, Ananicz said the “coalition of the rejected” option had already been voiced by a top military official, Tuncer Kılınç, when he was at the head of the powerful National Security Council.

3. "Standing on Air" A good article about theist attitudes toward morality & atheism.

Representative Sample: you would think that atheists and believers would agree that good behavior should be encouraged. You would think that a religious evangelist would say to an atheist, "I may not understand how you can justify acting ethically, but I'm glad you do and I hope you continue treating others with kindness and doing good deeds." But often, that's not what we get. Instead, we see apologists not just scorning the idea that atheists can have moral principles, but actively trying to convince us that we should be evil!

4. "Big Government to Monitor How Much Your Kids Weigh" What's next, federal inspectors to make sure kids brush their teeth after eating?

Representative Sample: This latest outrage against individual liberty has the typically Orwellian name "Healthy Choices Act" — as if Big Government were in the business of leaving us with choices.

5. "Your House of Representatives at work" Or rather, wasting time on nonsense.

Representative Sample: Having rammed through hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted stimulus spending, Obamacare and an unpopular climate change bill that is going nowhere, the Democrats in the House of Representatives seem exhausted. Wary of doing anything else that might tick off their constituents, they have just thrown in the towel and are now simply grandstanding their way until they recess and can go home to campaign to be sent back to D.C. in order to rinse and repeat.

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

US Funds Israeli Missile Defense

I often criticize President Obama on foreign policy, so it's worth pointing out when does something right. Israel is in the process of building a multi-layer missile defense system. One key component is called "Iron Dome."

The Iron Dome missile defense system aced a test run in January, and event that convinced senior defense officials that the defense system was on its way to becoming operational and that it will be able to effectively protect against short-range missiles, such as Katyushas and Qassams, which often hit Israeli towns.
Like most missile defense systems, it's expensive, and the question of funding was holding it up.
The budgetary difficulty that has been delaying Israel's armament with the anti-missile defense system Iron Dome has apparently been resolved. The Pentagon has issued a message to Israel's Defense Ministry that U.S. President Barack Obama has approved the transfer of special assistance totaling $205 million (just under NIS 800 million) for the purchase of more than ten Iron Dome batteries.
For those who balk at handing even more money to Israel, here's why I believe this action is in the U.S. interest.

As I've argued before, I believe that U.S. interests are best served by keeping a lid on the overall Arab/Israeli situation, and by a policy of deterrence toward Iran and its likely eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons. An effective Israeli missile defense system will do several things. First, it will lessen the chance that Israel will need to take offensive action to defend itself. Rockets which are intercepted before they strike are much more tolerable than ones which hit Israeli towns and kill civilians. It may even make Palestinian rocket attacks even more counterproductive than they are already. Why make the effort to launch such attacks if there is little likelihood that they'll hit any targets?

An Israel with an effective missile defense system is also an Israel that might be more willing to consider a deterrent policy with regard to Iran. Iron Dome doesn't counter long range missile threats, but it's a component of an layered system, which would at least partially reduce the threat from Iran's ally/proxy Hezbollah. With the U.S. tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the situation as fragile as it is in both places, the last thing we need is a major war caused by a preemptive Israeli offensive. Such a war would radically alter the dynamics of the situation, and cost far more than the $205 million we are shelling out to Israel. If improving Israeli defenses makes offensive action less likely, and I believe it does, than the money is well-spent. Finally, we have our own needs regarding missile defense. Funding what appears to be a successful Israeli project could benefit our own efforts through technology transfer. It is also likely that Israeli defenses will be tested for real, as they intercept rockets from Gaza. The data from a working missile defense system should be invaluable to missile defense research in general.

HOT5 Daily 5/14/2010

1. "Obama's Hackneyed Hypocrisy"An outstanding takedown of Obama's latest.

Representative Sample:Barack Obama posing as the representative of the people against the powerful is like Tiger Woods feigning virginity while crusading against promiscuity.

2. "The Coming Mideast War?" Let's hope not, but unfortunately a more realistic prospect than any so-called "peace process."

Representative Sample: Daniel Jackson, a rabbi who lives in Israel, has been traveling around the country and talking with young men and women who are either in the service or recently out of the service

3. "It's time for these 'no-knock' SWAT raids to stop" I agree. Links to the latest incident.

Representative Sample: Those identifying as “libertarian” and “very conservative” were the most knowledgeable about basic economics. Those identifying as “Progressive” and “Liberal” were the worst.

4. "Atheists are “vincibly ignorant”"A good response to a pretty ignorant post attacking atheists.

Representative Sample: For much of the history of the West there were strong social sanctions against public expressions of atheism. And quite often the sanctions were not simply matters of ostracism, they were of capital consequence. The last person executed in the British Isles for atheism suffered such a punishment around ~1700

5. "Japan’s Carrier-Killing Missile to Deter China?" As China's naval power grows, Japan reacts.

Representative Sample:The XASM-3 represents a quantum leap in maritime firepower for the Japanese Self-Defense Force. The predecessor to the XASM-3, the ASM-2, first came into service in 1998. Development of the new missile apparently started in the early 2000s. Japan tends to replace weapons systems fairly quickly, but that is a very short turnaround.

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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pope Attacks Gay Marriage & Abortion

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Portugal, attacked gay marriage and abortion as “among the most insidious and dangerous challenges” to society. Even though I disagree, I give the Pope a pass on the abortion issue. If you really believe that even a fertilized egg qualifies as a human being with a right to life superior to the mother's rights, I can understand taking a hard line against abortion. And if you truly believe that abortion represents some sort of ongoing holocaust, it's certainly reasonable to see it as a major danger to society. But gay marriage is another thing entirely.

The idea that government legalization of marriage contracts between two adults, who happen to be of the same sex, is some sort of monstrous threat to society is ludicrous. There are a couple of responses to the Pope's words in the article. This one says it best.

"It is one thing to oppose gay marriage from religious convictions and another to make such a claim about it when you look at issues such as teenage pregnancy, sexual disease, drug abuse, world poverty and war. This is an appalling, unfounded and unjust claim. I do not really see on what basis he can say gay marriage is among the most dangerous challenges to society. It ignores real social evils the Church and others should be addressing with far greater urgency."
That pretty much nails it. No one expects the Pope to abandon his religious convictions and support gay marriage, or even approve of homosexuality. I see no reason why he should tolerate gay marriage for Catholics, since it violates Catholic doctrine. And unlike some, I think he has every right to speak out on the issue and try to influence the passage of laws. But those who disagree have the same right to point out that his attacks on gay marriage are a hysterical overreaction. Gay people are a small minority of the population, and those who wish to get married are likely a minority of a minority. They aren't going to destroy traditional marriage, and they aren't some sort of dire threat to civilization.

Amazing Wildlife Pictures

The Telegraph has a new photo gallery by photographer Jonathan Griffiths that is one of the most amazing I've ever seen. Not too many people would risk getting their faces torn off to get these pictures, but he did. 

Weakness Breeds Agression

Since he became president, Obama has bent over backwards to appease the Russians, most notably by cancelling our Eastern European missile defense plans -- which Russia strenuously opposed -- without demanding or receiving any compensation. Right through to the latest nuclear agreement, the administration's dealings with Russia have projected U.S. weakness, and once again we see the results.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the United States and other Western nations on Thursday against imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program ... Countries facing Security Council sanctions "cannot under any circumstances be the subject of one-sided sanctions imposed by one or other government bypassing the Security Council", Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Russia feels confident that it can tell the U.S. directly what it can and cannot do. It can assist a rogue state in obtaining nuclear weapons, in direct opposition to U.S. and European policy, and it can openly block anything from being done about it.
Moscow has indicated it could support broader sanctions but has stressed they must not harm the Iranian people.
I seriously doubt that the government of Russia would care even slightly if every single Iranian suddenly dropped dead. But it has no hesitation in using Iran as a weapon against U.S. interests. By "broader sanctions," it means completely ineffective sanctions that won't change anything. It doesn't even feel the need to tread lightly. And why should it, with Obama in charge of U.S. foreign policy?
Despite his criticism, Lavrov said that relations with the United States had shown clear signs of improvement, specifically with the signing of a nuclear-disarmament treaty that would reduce their deployed nuclear warheads by about 30 percent.
By "relations," Lavrov means Russia's strategic position vis-a-vis the U.S. With an inexperienced foreign policy incompetent in charge in the U.S., whose first instinct is appeasement, advancing Russia's interests at the expense of the U.S. became much easier. That's great for Russia, but not so great for us.

HOT5 Daily 5/13/2010

1. "Administrative State of Emergency" Rules that run our lives.

Representative Sample:The administrative state are government bureaucracies that create “rules” that have the power of law, but were not voted on by Congress, or signed by the president. This gives them unregulated power to regulate our lives in ways that were never intended by the Founders. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson cited the administrative state as one of the reasons they were declaring their independence from Britain:

2. "Surprise! Health Care Bill “Likely to Top” $1 Trillion “Budget”" A surprise that isn't surprising.

Representative Sample: Obama’s promised “unofficial budget” of $1 trillion over 10 years for his health care overhaul has already been busted

3. "Army Surpasses One Million Unmanned Flight Hours" The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle revolution.

Representative Sample: The growth in UAS since the beginning of OEF and OIF is staggering - the Army inventory jumped from a handful of systems in 2001 to roughly 1,000 aircraft by 2010 and is now logging up to 25,000 of UAV flight hours per month in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Army surpassed the one million unmanned-hour mark in April of 2010.

4. "Why Does Porn Matter?" Links to a more detailed article by the same writer.

Representative Sample: I want to talk about why porn matters. I want to talk about what porn contributes: to individuals, and to a culture. I want to talk about why porn has redeeming social importance... even the "no redeeming social importance" stuff, the sleaziest, skankiest, artistically shabbiest, porniest porn you can imagine.

5. "Muslim Violence Against Critics Works Once Again" Swedish university caves in to intimidation.

Representative Sample: What happens when you appease those who use violence to silence those they don’t agree with? You allow them to shape the debate. You allow them to win and you silence freedom of speech

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'll Second That

From Politico:
A group of leading military bloggers has issued a joint statement urging Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
In my opinion it is past time to allow gay people to serve openly in the military. Will there be problems? Yes. Will it cripple the military and destroy readiness as opponents suggest? No. There is no reasonable justification for throwing otherwise qualified and capable members of the military out of the service, simply because of their sexual orientation. Kicking people out for being gay is both stupid and unjust. It's time for our official policies to stop catering to bigotry against homosexuals.

HOT5 Daily 5/12/2010

1. "Why I'm an Optimist About the US" Reasons for optimism.

Representative Sample: As I've watched the European debt crisis grow, I've gained increasing optimism for the future of the US. Here's why.

2. "It’s Just a Muhammad Drawing. Relax." Many excellent points.

Representative Sample: This isn’t about disrespect. You don’t see atheists drawing Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu in a compromising way. Why not? Because Hindus aren’t going around threatening to kill anyone who does so.

3. "India needs less government, not more" Don't we all.

Representative Sample: The mistake socialists make is to equate ownership by the government with ownership by “the people”. That is a fallacy. Government does not equal “the people”; to the contrary, it is made up of an elite group that often selfishly pursues its own interests.

4. "Tone deaf or just plain stupid? You decide. Church installs registered sex offender to oversee youth and children" Not the Catholic Church. And apparently this bishop of the Church of God in Christ has learned absolutely nothing from the Catholic scandal.

Representative Sample: Frank Douglas, Jr. bishop of the Church of God in Christ’s Western Missouri jurisdiction has appointed and installed a registered sex offender as president of AIM (Auxillaries in Ministry) which, among other things, has oversight of youth and children

5. "If She Floats Then She is Not a Witch Like We Thought" Enforcing laws against witchcraft because otherwise "witches" will be lynched. Seriously.

Representative Sample: In case you need further evidence that religion and superstition are a scourge on the species, look no further than this piece in The Atlantic about anti-witchcraft laws in the Central African Republic

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Restrictions on Intelligence Gathering May Have Deadly Consequences

It's a truism that intelligence is a key weapon against terrorism. The best way to stop a terrorist operation is to find out about it in advance, and nip it in the bud. Once an act of terrorism reaches the execution stage it is very difficult to stop, and we are reduced to relying on luck or the mistakes of the terrorist himself to prevent disaster. Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post, argues that we may be "passing up chances to stop terrorist plots."
just a few months before Shahzad attempted to blow up a car bomb in the heart of Manhattan, U.S. and Pakistani officials captured the highest-ranking Taliban leader ever detained in the war on terror -- Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This raises a critical question: Could Baradar have warned us about the Times Square attack?
That's a good question. As Theissen points out, the foolish legalistic restrictions placed on the CIA prevent us from gaining such intelligence. Instead we have to rely on the unreliable Pakistani intelligence service to take the lead conducting interrogations -- a service known to have close ties with Islamist groups.
officials said they have learned nothing from Baradar that could be used to track down other Taliban leaders, or inform the planning of U.S. military operations." The failure to properly exploit Baradar prompted the CIA to push for his transfer to a U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan -- a request that was apparently denied.
Apparently the ISI is taking its time getting information from Baradar, and allowing him to set the agenda.
It would be a different story in a CIA black site. But President Obama shut down the CIA's black sites and dismantled the agency's interrogation program.
And we may yet pay for those idiotic actions with a terrorist plot that escapes detection. The Obama administration is not even making use of the new interrogation unit it created.
he created something called the High-Value Interrogation Group (HIG) -- a less controversial alternative for questioning senior terrorist leaders like Baradar and KSM. Yet according to multiple media accounts, the HIG has not been deployed to participate in Baradar's interrogation. Why not? While the HIG is not authorized to use even the most mild enhanced interrogation techniques that could compel Baradar's cooperation, it was purportedly created for just such a circumstance. If the HIG is not going to being used to question the highest-ranking Taliban leader ever taken into custody, who exactly is it going to interrogate?
Another good question. I give the Obama administration credit for aggressively going after terrorist enemies both militarily and with its expanded drone assassination campaign. But by caving at least partially to the whining of terrorist rights supporters -- people far more concerned about the imaginary rights of foreign enemies than U.S. national security -- the administration has damaged our intelligence gathering capabilities, putting us in a position where we need even more luck than usual to avoid a terrorist strike. When we capture a known enemy terrorist leader such as Baradar, our primary concern should be gaining intelligence necessary to protect the U.S. What's better for U.S security, an extensive CIA interrogation with all options available to extract information, or relying on the cooperation of Pakistan's ISI? The answer seems pretty obvious -- at least if you aren't a terrorist rights supporter. But since that's no longer an option, let's hope our luck continues to hold, we continue to have people in the right place at the right time to spot terrorist plots unfolding, and that all the terrorists make as many mistakes as the last few.