Sunday, 24 May 2009


Ken Berwitz

What do you do when you've been caught in a lie, the heat ratchets up, and the questions get too intense?

You duck, that's what.  And one way of ducking is going halfway around the world on a meaningless wild goose (or should I say duck) chase.

Which inexorably brings us to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi is a liar.  That, sadly, is nothing new.  But her lies regarding waterboarding, and her despicable attempt to turn truth on its ear and claim she was the victim rather than the perpetrator of those lies, is low even by Pelosi standards.  It is a black hole that she has no way of getting out of.

What to do, what to do.

Hey, how about a trip to.......China!  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Stay there for a week and hope that our wonderful "neutral" media will again play ball, the way they always have, and forget this ever happened.  

From Agence Presse-France:

US House Speaker Pelosi in China for climate talks

Sun May 24, 9:49 am ET




US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of Beijing's rule over Tibet and its rights record, arrived in China on Sunday for a trip focused on energy and climate change.

US embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson confirmed Pelosi had arrived in Shanghai but could not say who the top US official was going to meet in the country's financial hub.


Pelosi is scheduled to attend a clean energy forum in Beijing on Tuesday along with Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other details of her itinerary were not immediately known.


Kerry on Sunday arrived in Xi'an, the capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, where he was holding official meetings and visiting the country's famed Terracotta Warriors, Stevenson said.


He will travel to Tianjin, a large city near Beijing, on Monday to do some clean energy-related work before heading to China's capital for the forum with Pelosi, she added.


Before her trip, Pelosi -- who is leading a delegation from a key energy and environment committee -- declined to say whether she would press Beijing on rights ahead of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown.


"The purpose of the trip is to follow up on meetings we've had here with the representatives of the Chinese government on the subject of climate change and energy and how that relates to our economy," the Democratic lawmaker said.


Pelosi has been a vocal critic of China's rule of Tibet, drawing the wrath of Beijing, which resents foreign interference in its internal affairs, and led US congressional condemnation of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.


In March last year, when riots against Chinese rule erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and then spread to nearby provinces, Pelosi urged "freedom-loving people" in the world to "speak out against China's oppression in Tibet".


And in October, she commended the European Parliament for its "bold decision" to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia.


But Jia Qingguo, a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, said Pelosi's visit highlighted an improvement in relations between China and the United States.


"She has always been quite tough on Chinese policy, so her visit definitely shows that the two countries' relations are in a stable state," he said.


Pelosi, who will be meeting with her counterpart Wu Bangguo during her visit, is due to stay in China until May 31.

Will Pelosi be right?  Will our media be on to other things when she comes back from China?  She certainly has a wealth of history that suggests as much.

Let's hope that this time media do what they're supposed to do, and not let a politician off the hook. 

In other words, let's hope they treat her the same way they'd treat a Republican.


Ken Berwitz

Do you have any idea that radical islamists are operating in our own country?  Do you have any idea how openly they are doing so and what horrific consequences might result from their activities?

Please read the folling piece from Patrick Poole, writing for, and realize what is going on.:

Minneapolis Imam Decries the Hell of Living in America

Hassan Mahmoud was already under fire for defense of suicide bombings and the airport alcohol fatwa.

May 22, 2009 - by Patrick Poole


As the FBI has ongoing investigations in numerous cities across the country looking into the disappearances of possibly dozens of young Somali men who have left the country to presumably  join the jihad and train in terror camps back home, attention has recently been focused on one Minneapolis imam. Hassan Mohamud (Jamici) has been singled out by some in that community as being one of the radicalization influences in the Twin Cities.


Minneapolis has the largest Somali population in the country. In an interview with USA Today, Mohamud denied any connection to the missing men. But the findings of one recent news report by the Minneapolis Fox News affiliate is sure to keep Mohamud in the spotlight.


According to that Fox News report, the imam appeared in a fundraising video posted on YouTube (now since removed) for his mosque, the Islamic Dawah Institute in St. Paul. In his appearance he encourages viewers to donate to the mosques project, which he says can save you from the hell of living in America.


When questioned by reporter Tom Lyden, Mohamud attempted to clarify (with his attorney immediately at hand) that by hell he was using a religious term denoting suffering and pain and general hardships in America, not the travail of living with non-Muslims. Having offered that explanation, however, he did not explain why the video had been taken down from the website.


He was also asked about the following comments he had made two years ago when he was interviewed by Minnesota Law & Politics magazine about the legitimacy of suicide bombings for an article:

L&P: The Quran equates the taking of an innocent life with killing all of humanity, yet some Muslims say suicide bombings are justified. Can you explain this contradiction?


HM: There are scholars who say that there is one place where suicide is not prohibited. Its an exceptional case for them because they have no other means. It is Palestine. This is because it is the only means they have to free their country. Otherwise, any other places in the world, suicide means becomes prohibited.


Mohamud contends that he was not offering his own opinion. When asked if he believed that suicide bombings were wrong under any condition, he had to stop the interview three separate times and consult his attorney before responding. That prompted Lyden to comment, It may be complicated, but if its difficult for the imam some may wonder how clear it is for the young people hes teaching. Coincidentally, Mohamud is also an attorney and teaches a course on Islamic law at the William Mitchell College of Law.

This confusion on Mohamuds part is compounded when considering that he is the vice president and director of the Islamic Law Institute of the Muslim American Society (MAS)-Minnesota chapter. On this very issue of suicide bombings, the national MAS magazine, The American Muslim, featured a fatwa in their June 2002 issue by Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood leader Faisal Al-Malawi endorsing martyrdom operations. The FBI has stated in court documents that MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.

Mohamud also openly expressed his support for the terrorist group Hamas in a March 2004 article published in Somali on the Somalitalk website, where he laments the assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and recounts the death of other Hamas leaders previously killed in targeted strikes by Israeli Defense Forces. Yassins picture is featured prominently with the essay.

Abdirahman Warsame of the Terror Free Somalia Foundation provides this translation of the opening sentences of Mohamuds article:

He was the founder of Hamas, the Mujahedin group who fights in a jihad. They are true and brave warriors. He was killed this morning by Israel in an American-made plane. The pilot was given his orders directly by Israel Prime Minister Sharon (terrorist), but he is not the first mujahid killed in a terrorist attack by Israel.

His most recent statements are not the first time that Hassan Mohamud has waded into controversy. In 2007, he was one of four Islamic religious leaders who signed a fatwa on behalf of MAS-Minnesota calling on Somali licensed cab drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to refuse service to any passenger with a dog or carrying alcohol. As reported by Robert Spencer, Mohamud also organized a rally in defense of the right of Somali cab drivers to deny service to passengers at the public facility, saying that requiring them to transport a dog or alcohol would violate their religion.

As FBI agents continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the dozens of missing Somali men from Minneapolis and other areas, none of Hassan Mohamuds present qualifications to his previous statements really quell the concerns of those eager to understand the radicalization process behind the disappearances. In fact, his statements and positions raise more questions than they answer.

How do you feel knowing that this festering boil is implanted among us?


How do you feel about the woefully low coverage of this activity by our wonderful "neutral" media?

How do you think we wiill be protected from hate-filled, violence-rationalizing scum like this, which seem to have no problem conducting their activities in our country?  

Do you think the current administration is up to it?

We damn well better start thinking about this.  And fast.


Ken Berwitz

If you read this blog you know that I have repeatedly compared President Obama's nationalization of major US companies, and the strongarm tactics used to accomplish it, to the way hugo chavez operates in Venezuela.

Is that why he stands back and watches as chavez continues his assault on what used to be at least a modicum of freedom in that ill-fated country?

The Washington Post has an excellent editorial on this subject today.  Here it is:

Is Silence Consent?


The Obama administration's 'engagement' policy is convenient for Hugo Chvez's latest crackdown.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


WHILE THE United States and Venezuela's neighbors silently stand by, Hugo Chvez's campaign to destroy his remaining domestic opposition continues. On Thursday night state intelligence police raided the Caracas offices of Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of the country's last independent broadcast network, Globovision. They claimed to be looking for evidence of irregularities in the car dealership that Mr. Zuloaga also runs. In fact this was a thinly disguised escalation of an attack that Mr. Chvez launched this month against Globovision. The channel has been officially accused of "inciting panic," based on its accurate reporting of a mild May 4 earthquake in Caracas; under the regime's draconian media control law it could be shut down. Few doubt that that is Mr. Chvez's intent: Two years ago he revoked the license of the country's most popular television network after a similarly trumped-up campaign.


To recap: In February Mr. Chvez eliminated the limit on his tenure as president after a one-sided referendum campaign that included ugly attacks on Venezuela's Jewish community. Since then he has imprisoned or orchestrated investigations against most of the country's leading opposition figures, including three of the five opposition governors elected last year. The elected mayor of Maracaibo, who was the leading opposition candidate when Mr. Chvez last ran for president, was granted asylum in Peru last month after authorities sought his arrest on dubious tax charges. The National Assembly, controlled by Mr. Chvez, is considering legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining and replace independent trade unions with "worker's councils" controlled by the ruling party. Another new law would eliminate foreign financing for independent non-government groups.


This is hardly the first time that a Latin American caudillo has tried to eliminate peaceful opponents: Mr. Chvez is following a path well worn by the likes of Juan Pern and Alberto Fujimori -- not to mention his mentor, Fidel Castro. But this may be the first time that the United States has watched the systematic destruction of a Latin American democracy in silence. As Mr. Chvez has implemented the "third phase" of his self-styled revolution, the Obama administration has persisted with the policy of quiet engagement that the president promised before taking



"We need to find a space in which we can actually have a conversation, and we need to find ways to enhance our levels of confidence," Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. said two weeks ago, echoing earlier remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. We have no objection to dialogue with Mr. Chvez. But isn't it time to start talking about preserving independent television stations, opposition political leaders, trade unions and human rights groups -- before it is too late?

What is President Obama waiting for?  Is there nothing he can say about this?

Or is he too busy taking notes?


Ken Berwitz

We have have heard the term "cap and trade" repeatedly over the past few months.   But, based on a series of discussions and off-handed questions with friends and relatives, very few know what it is.  And fewer still know what it will do to our economy - who it will benefit and who it will damage.

Here, from the Washington Post via the New York Post, is an explanation from David Sokol, Chairman of the Board of MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.  It is must-reading for anyone who wants a reality-based view of cap and trade:




Posted: 3:24 am
May 24, 2009


The adage that everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die is on display again as the House considers a massive 932-page climate-change bill, introduced by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), that would establish a "cap and trade" system for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Its sponsors say it will keep low- and middle-income consumers whole while the United States cuts emissions 83% below 2005 levels by 2050 and transitions to a clean-energy economy.


Nothing could be further from the truth.


On paper, the Waxman-Markey bill puts a cost on carbon dioxide by imposing a ceiling, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions and then setting up a market for regulated industries -- such as the electric power sector -- to buy and sell allowances to pollute under that cap. As the cap is reduced each year, market participants will exchange allowances in a complex auction market.


If you liked what credit default swaps did to our economy, you're going to love cap-and-trade. Just read Title VIII of the bill, which lets investment banks, hedge funds and other speculators participate in the cap-and-trade market. They don't have emissions to cut; they have commissions to make.


The real hidden catch of the cap-and-trade system, though, is that it will require consumers to pay twice: first for emission allowances and then for the construction of new low- and zero-carbon power plants.


Congressional estimates of government revenue from the sale of cap-and-trade allowances range from hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars. Contrary to assurances from the bill's sponsors that utility customers wouldn't have to pay these costs for the first decade, some coal-dependent utilities would be forced to purchase more than half of their allowances when the program is scheduled to begin in 2012. Would these allowances reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? No; that would come when consumers footed a second bill -- for the cost of their utilities either to retrofit coal and gas plants to capture carbon -- something that cannot be done today on a commercial scale -- or to shut them down and build non-carbon-producing nuclear plants and wind farms instead. In fact, to the extent that cap-and-trade auctions increase ratepayers' bills, they will impede utilities' ability to develop a less carbon-intensive infrastructure.


Markets thrive on volatility. Electricity utilities, on the other hand, are highly regulated to ensure price stability -- not volatility -- for their customers. The Waxman-Markey bill imposes a market-based (read: unregulated) trading program on a highly regulated industry that must make enormous long-term and least-cost capital decisions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In an unprecedented and unwise fashion, it turns American industry over to the federal Environmental Protection Agency by giving the agency the authority to change the rules on allowances every five years. Is this sound public and economic policy? I think not. If Congress wants to achieve 83% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the electricity sector can get there, but there is no need for that first cost. Get rid of auctions, speculation, trading, new Wall Street "products" (yes, the bill allows for credit default swaps and carbon derivatives) and the trillions of dollars in government revenue that may end up being spent on other programs. Get rid of the 12 new advisory boards, committees and other institutions established under the Waxman-Markey bill. Focus instead on the most efficient and inexpensive way to cut carbon dioxide emissions.


The solution? Keep the cap and remove trading from the equation: Mandate that the industry, over the same 40-year period, simply limit its emissions to the same levels proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill. This can be accomplished with a clear plan that gives states an option: Either they participate in a cap-and-trade program or they elect an alternative compliance mechanism to reach the same greenhouse gas emission goals by working with their utilities to develop a 40-year program of shutting down aging coal plants, retrofitting plants to capture carbon dioxide if the technology becomes available, and/or building zero-carbon energy plants. More important, the carbon dioxide reductions in this proposal can be achieved while providing adequate time to plan to minimize price shock and economic dislocation. It is the states, through their public utilities commissions -- not the federal government -- that have both the interest and obligation to manage citizens' costs while transitioning to a carbon-free future.


This transformation of our entire electricity sector won't be cheap, but it would be less expensive than the double cost of a complex cap-and-trade program followed by that same transformation.

Let me synopsize Mr. Sokol's carefully written, detailed explanation of cap and trade:  The Waxman-Markey bill is nuts.  It is just what you'd expect from two tra-la-la-la leftists whose "ideals" do not coincide with the real world.

But all is not lost.  Maybe, unlike the "stimulus package", congress will be given a chance to actually read Waxman-Markey before voting on it, and voters will be given a chance to think it through - both sides - before cheerleading Democrats to pass it.

Since the so-called "stimulus package", which put us hopelessly into debt and has not "stimulated" a damn thing, was passed without congress or voters reading it and knowing what it was, I'd call that a step forward.  How about you?


Ken Berwitz

Nile Gardiner writes for London's Daily Telegraph.  He watched this past week's so-called "duelling speeches" by President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, both of which were about the war on terrorism.

Here is how he saw them:

Dick Cheney: brutal, uncompromising, brilliant

Posted By: Nile Gardiner at May 23, 2009 at 11:43:20 [General]

Posted in: Foreign Correspondents , Politics


Forget Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation - the new leader of the resistance is Dick Cheney. The former vice president, who this time has been sent from the past to save the future rather than the other way round, has had an astonishing week. He's dominated much of the news with his barnstorming defence of the previous administration's counter-terrorism strategy, and completely overshadowed President Obama's weak-kneed and exceedingly dull speech at the National Archives. He's even been getting a big boost in the polls even though he's not running for any kind of office. According to CNN, Cheney's up eight points since he left government, not bad for a figure the Left continues to demonize as the Antichrist.

You've got to hand it to the 68-year old Cheney. He's come out swinging like Jake LaMotta, and as Toby Harnden blogged earlier, is landing several well-placed blows. Cheney's speech at the American Enterprise Institute was brutal, uncompromising and brilliant. In contrast to President Obama's highly confusing address across town, which frankly could have been written by the European Commission on a slow day, Cheney adopted a compelling take-no-prisoners approach which generated hundreds of hours of air time across the news networks. It was old-fashioned John Wayne-style stuff, summed up by the former veep's classic line that "there is no middle ground" in the war against Islamist terrorists (aka Overseas Contingency Operation).

There is something very reassuring about a leader who never apologizes for America's actions, possesses no self-doubts about defending his country, and who believes his nation must do what is necessary to crush al-Qaeda. The spectacular return of Dick Cheney on the political stage is a huge breath of fresh air after months of suffocating liberal dominance in Washington. Let's hope he's here to stay.

.Thank you Mr. Gardiner for saying what, I suspect, a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic are saying - including a good many who are now looking at Mr. Cheney in a very different light than they did before the Obama administration came into being.

I've done some thinking on why Cheney didn't speak up until now.   I'll be talking about the possible reasons in a subsequent blog.


Ken Berwitz

Hobson's choice  n. An apparently free choice that offers no real alternative.


[After Thomas Hobson (1544?1630), English keeper of a livery stable, from his requirement that customers take either the horse nearest the stable door or none.]

You could substitute the name Netanyahu for Hobson, couldn't you?  What alternative does the Prime Minister of Israel have with Iran - a country whose head of state is telling us it will wipe Israel off the face of the map and rapidly acquiring the nuclear means to do it?

And what is Barack Obama's position on Iran and Israel?  How is he addressing each country?

The following discussion of this issue is by Aaron Goldstein of  See if you agree with him:

Preconditions: Why is Obama Placing Them On Israel But Not Iran?

by Aaron Goldstein | May 22nd, 2009

What makes Obama think that a Palestinian state will make Iran hate Israel any less than it does now?

You would think the President of the United States would give pause before engaging Iran.

You would think the President of the United States would be wary of a country that has aided insurgents to kill American soldiers in Iraq

You would think the President of the United States would proceed cautiously towards a country that created Hezbollah, a terrorist organization responsible for killing 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut

You would think the President of the United States would be mindful of a country prepared to take our citizens hostage as it did when it seized our embassy in Tehran thirty years ago.

You would also think the President of the United States would guarantee the security of a stalwart friend and ally like Israel, especially given Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon coupled with its apocalyptic threats against the world's only Jewish state. 

You would think the President of the United States would implicitly understand that we and Israel have common cause where it concerns Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. 

But such considerations do not matter to this President. 

As President Obama sat impassively while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was justifying Israel's existence I sighed with resignation.  What can we really expect of a President who is prepared to talk with Iran without precondition but will not guarantee Israel's security without precondition?

Yet President Obama has made it quite clear the United States will not lift a finger for Israel unless it brings about a Palestinian state. That is the precondition.

Now one can make the case that U.S. support for a Palestinian state began with President Bush. However, President Bush made it clear to the Palestinians that they could have a state or they could have terror, but they could not have both.  President Obama has not drawn such a line in the sand.  As Michael Goodwin of The New York Daily News noted, "Obama did not even demand that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist."

In other words, the Palestinians can have their cake and eat it too. 

All things considered President Obama's position is hardly surprising.  Consider his statement last week on Sri Lanka, where he placed its democratically elected government on the same moral plane with the Tamil Tigers, which the State Department recognizes as a terrorist organization.  Yet in Obama's worldview a terrorist organization has the same legitimacy as a country that observes the rule of law. But then again what can one expect of someone who palled around with Bill Ayers?

Israel must be envious of Sri Lanka. Its government wisely ignored Obama's edict and emerged victorious over the Tamil Tigers, thus proving that terrorism can be defeated militarily.  Of course, Israel is not Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Council does not make Sri Lanka a permanent item on its agenda. Hugo Chavez isn't closing the Sri Lankan Embassy in Caracas. No one is seeking to expunge Sri Lanka from the face of the earth.  Alas, the Sri Lankans aren't Jewish. Israel is hated by the world and Obama knows it.

But even with that knowledge how exactly does the creation of a Palestinian state appease Iran? What makes Obama think that a Palestinian state will make Iran hate Israel any less than it does now? Or does Obama think there will be less of Israel for Iran to wipe off the map?

Yet make no mistake. The creation of a Palestinian state will be an enormous coup for President Obama. Should he bring this about he will be forever adored, celebrated, loved in the headquarters of the United Nations, in the halls of academia, in pubs frequented by young socialists and by kafieh-clad Palestinians the world over. As if Obama doesn't receive enough adulation.

In the end, Israel will meet President Obama's precondition. There will be a large ceremony on the White House lawn. Obama might even break out the Greek columns for the occasion. Netanyahu will shake the hands of both Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas while Obama wraps Netanyahu's other arm around his back.  Everyone will be smiling.

So what will come in the weeks and months that follow Obama's grand achievement?  More rocket attacks into Israel? Will Corporal Shalit remain in captivity with more Israeli soldiers to join him? When Netanyahu complains, Obama will lean on him to make more concessions.  Dismantle all Jewish settlements. The rocket attacks continue. More soldiers are kidnapped. Obama tells Netanyahu to make yet more concessions. Tear down the security fence.  Suicide bombings happen on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  The White House tells Israel, "More concessions please."

Meanwhile, Iran will build its bomb and bide its time as to when to deploy it.  They will simply wait for the right preconditions.

Does Mr. Goldstein have a point? 

Does Barack Obama have any understanding of what is going on in the middle east?  Does he understand Israel's situation?  Or care at all about it?

And does Prime Minister Netanyahu have a choice?

Yes he does.  A hobson's choice.

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