Tuesday, 01 May 2007

THIS DAY IN WORLD WAR II: MAY 1, 1943

Ken Berwitz

As promised, I am continuing the day to day synopsis of World War II from 1943 (the middle year of our involvement).  I am doing so to remind readers of how today's media would have treated these events, based on how they treat events in Iraq.

I am getting my information from www.onwar.com, and I of course welcome you to go there and read along with me.  

Here is what happened on May 1, 1943

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In Tunisia... US forces complete the occupation of Hill 609 in "Mousetrap Valley." The Axis defenses hold American attempts to advance further.

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Based on how they report Iraq, what would today's media most likely lead with?  "Axis Stops US Forces in "Mousetrap Alley".  The story would of course list out the casualties we sustained while not advancing and remind readers that after two years and hundreds of thousands of our boys dead, no end of the war was in sight.  After two years we couldn't even move forward in some godforsaken backwater area that no one ever heard of.

And, of course, the demands for FDR's impeachment would grow.  He would be accused of bungling the war from the beginning, with the proof being that we were 100% committed to the fight, but completely bogged down and with not one country liberated.  Why?  To fight an admittedly bad guy, but one who heads a country that never attacked us.


HOPELESSLY PARTISAN VERSUS REALITY

Ken Berwitz

Two days ago, my co-author Barry Sinrod posted this comment, as if it were fact:

Slam Dunk a comin at 7pm EDT on CBS. Mr. Tenet will speak and his medal will be rescinded.  No more impeachment talk. I would rather see GWB and Cheney and Rove doing the perp walk. They must be held accountable and criminally charged. Impeachment will let them off the hook. We need to see them "naked" take away all the war profiteering money.
 
Forgetting the requisite I-hate-those-guys-and-want-revenge material, which becomes tedious the 1,649th time it is angrily stated, let's talk about the idea that George Tenet's medal will be rescinded.  It is not stated as an opinion or a possibility, but as a fact.
 
Well, it is now two days later, and no one of any authority in the Bush administration has rescinded Mr. Tenet's medal or asked that it be rescinded.  But such a demand has been made from a different source.  Read this, from today's Washington Post:
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Ex-CIA Officers Among Tenet Critics

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 1, 2007; A06

George J. Tenet's close friends said he anticipated criticism for some of the claims and anger he expressed in his new memoir about his former life as director of the CIA. He did not expect, they said, that his detractors would include former CIA and military officers, or that he would be blamed for the deaths of U.S. troops fighting a war in Iraq that he knew had been badly planned from the start.

As his book, "At the Center of the Storm," debuted yesterday, six former CIA analysts called on Tenet to donate a significant portion of royalties to families of service members killed or wounded in Iraq. They also called on him to return the Presidential Medal of Freedom he was awarded in December 2004.

The signed letter chastised Tenet for bottling up criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war for three years and then publicly focusing on how the White House may have sullied his reputation. The letter -- written by officers who have been vocal in their opposition to the war -- was widely circulated by e-mail to CIA and military veterans groups and blogs. Several former CIA officers who worked closely with Tenet in the run-up to the war said they agreed with the letter but did not want to become embroiled in a public fight with their former boss. -

 
Interesting, no?  Not only was the "fact" that Tenet would have his medal rescinded non-existent, but the people most vocal in demanding that he give it back are the anti-war activists.  Not the Bush administration, but Barry's people.
 
I assume Barry will furiously condemn them for doing so.  After all, Mr. Tenet is a hero.  Didn't he attack Bush in the book he's trying to sell? 
 
To these folks, the answer is no.  To them, Tenet did not magically transform into a hero because, years later, he's hawking a book by using the tried and true formula of including sensational charges that will make headlines.  To their credit, they remain as angry at Tenet as they were before, and for the same reason.  I disagree with their conclusions but commend their consistency.
 
The lesson this story teaches us (or should teach us), is that being unconditionally partisan -  "hopelessly partisan" if you wish - is great when you're writing a political humor book.  But in the real world it is going to make you look bad time and time again.


DIANE FEINSTEIN AND DUKE CUNNINGHAM

Ken Berwitz

We all know who Randy "Duke" Cunningham is.  He is the disgraced former congressperson from California, now serving jail time for his dishonest, unethical actions.

That is as it should be.  People who do this must be punished, regardless of which party they belong to. 

My problem, however, is that only one party seems to pay for it.  Read this (bold print is mine):

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Feinsteins Cardinal shenanigans
April 30, 2007
Anyone who knows much about real power in Congress knows that almost every member of the House and Senate lusts after a seat on the Appropriations Committee and hopes one day to achieve the status of Cardinal. The Cardinals, of course, are the folks who chair the various Appropriations Committee subcommittees and literally control the billions of dollars that pass through their hands.

California Sen.  Dianne Feinstein (D) chairs the Senate Rules Committee, but shes also a Cardinal. She is currently chairwoman of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subcommittee, but until last year was for six years the top Democrat on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (or Milcon) sub-committee, where she may have directed more than $1 billion to companies controlled by her husband.

If the inferences finally coming out about what she did while on Milcon prove true, she may be on the way to morphing from a respected senior Democrat into another poster child for congressional corruption.

The problems stem from her subcommittee activities from 2001 to late 2005, when she quit. During that period the public record suggests she knowingly took part in decisions that eventually put millions of dollars into her husbands pocket the classic conflict of interest that exploited her position and power to channel money to her husbands companies.

In other words, it appears Sen. Feinstein was up to her ears in the same sort of shenanigans that landed California Rep. Randy Duke Cunningham (R) in the slammer. Indeed, it may be that the primary difference between the two is basically that Cunningham was a minor leaguer and a lot dumber than his states senior senator.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, usually focuses on the ethical lapses of Republicans and conservatives, but even she is appalled at the way Sen. Feinstein has abused her position. Sloan told a California reporter earlier this month that whilethere are a number of members of Congress with conflicts of interest because of the amount of money involved, Feinsteins conflict of interest is an order of magnitude greater than those conflicts.

And the director of the Project on Government Oversight who examined the evidence of wrongdoing assembled by California writer Peter Byrne told him that the paper trail showing Senator Feinsteins conflict of interest is irrefutable.

It may be irrefutable, but she almost got away without anyone even knowing what she was up to. Her colleagues on the subcommittee, for example, had no reason even to suspect that she knew what companies might benefit from her decisions because that information is routinely withheld to avoid favoritism. What they didnt know was that her chief legal adviser, who also happened to be a business partner of her husbands and the vice chairman of one of the companies involved, was secretly forwarding her lists of projects and appropriation requests that were coming before the committee and in which she and her husband had an interest information that has only come to light recently as a result of the efforts of several California investigative reporters.

This adviser insists apparently with a straight face that he provided the information to Feinsteins chief of staff so that she could recuse herself in cases where there might be a conflict. He says that he assumes she did so. The public record, however, indicates that she went right ahead and fought for these same projects.

During this period the two companies, URS of San Francisco and the Perini Corporation of Framingham, Mass., were controlled by Feinsteins husband, Richard C. Blum, and were awarded a combined total of over $1.5 billion in government business thanks in large measure to her subcommittee. Thats a lot of money even here in Washington.
Interestingly, she left the subcommittee in late 2005 at about the same time her husband sold his stake in both companies. Their combined net worth increased that year with the sale of the two companies by some 25 percent, to more than $40 million.

In spite of the blatant appearance of corruption, no major publication has picked up on the story, the Senate Ethics Committee has reportedly let her slip by, and she is now chairing the Senate Rules Committee, which puts her in charge of making sure her colleagues act ethically and avoid the sorts of conflicts of interest with which she is personally and so obviously familiar.  

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The most disspiriting part of this article is not the the blatant lack of ethics and the over $10,000,000 that Feinstein procured for her husband, therefore for herself.  It is that last bold-print line:  "In spite of the blatant appearance of corruption, no major publication has picked up on the story".

In other words, if you're going to be an unethical thief, make sure you're not a Republican.  That will make you a protected species.  Republicans are either not very talented at nailing thieves on the other side of the aisle or find that it is nearly impossible because media will cover for them.  Personally I think it's a combination of the two.

I hope you're not waiting for nancy pelosi to attack Ms. Feinstein as part of the "culture of corruption".  Or john murtha, the guy who tossed $20 million to his brother in defense contracts.  Or william jefferson, who was caught on surveillance tape accepting a $100,000 bribe, which they found hidden in his home freezer.  Etc. etc. etc.

And if you're waiting for mainstream media to say or do something about this, you're living in a dream world.

It's good to be a Democrat.


IS AL-MASRI DEAD?

Ken Berwitz

There is great news out of Iraq.   According to reports throughout the media, it is very likely that the leader of al qaeda in Iraq, abu ayyub al-masri, has been killed during infighting between the various terrorist insurgent factions.

As you can see, there is not yet definitive confirmation that al-masri is dead (I'll update during the day if more information becomes available).  Why, then, do I call it great news?

I do so because of the reason he may be dead;  i.e. that there is deadly fighting between these factions. 

It appears that there is enormous anger at the insurgency within Iraq -- hardly a surprise given that their single most successful "accomplishment" is in randomly killing Iraqi civilians.  For this reason, a great many Iraqis are turning against them. 

Some terrorist factions want to continue the kill-kill-kill strategy, probably because they know that USA media will lead with it every day.  They use our media, and our media are happy to oblige.  This not only provides great propaganda for the terrorist insurgents, it also makes it that much more possible for Democrats to prevail with their cut and run strategy. 

Others probably think that while there will be fewer successes if they primarily attack USA targets, the people are more likely to support them.  That might play into their long-term objective of taking over Iraq, making it a shari'a state, and using Iraq's oil revenue to finance terrorism around the world.

I don't know for sure which camp al-masri is in (although he has never had a problem with killing people, civilian or otherwise).  But I do know that if these groups are fighting each other, it increases the chances of success for our troops and the fledgling Iraqi government.

If al-masri is dead, there will quickly be another "leader", who will be just as happy to kill people too.  Maybe he won't be as proficient at it as al-masri, or maybe he'll do even more killing.  The point is that al-masri can be replaced. 

But the hatred that has boiled over among these inhuman terrorist insurgencies isn't going away any time soon.  And the more they fight each other, the better it is for us.

Unless you support terrorist insurgency, or hate the USA so much that you root for them over us, this has to be great news.


Just back from a funeral of an 80 yr old Holocaust survivor to hear GLEN BECK

Barry Sinrod

GLEN BECK is one of the reasons why free speech should not include pure hatred. He spews Hatred all day every day. His words are so hateful and I wish that CNN would send him packing.

On the April 30 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck likened former Vice President Al Gore's fight against global warming to Adolf Hitler's use of eugenics as justification for exterminating 6 million European Jews. Beck stated: "Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government." He continued: "You got to have an enemy to fight. And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler's plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore's enemy, the U.N.'s enemy: global warming." Beck added: "Then you get the scientists -- eugenics. You get the scientists -- global warming. Then you have to discredit the scientists who say, 'That's not right.' And you must silence all dissenting voices. That's what Hitler did."

Later in the broadcast, Beck plugged his upcoming CNN Headline News special criticizing those who urge action on global warming, titled "Exposed: Climate of Fear." Beck said of the program: "There is no balance to the special. I want you to know right up front. I am not saying that this is the end all truth. I am saying that this is the credible other side. ... It's what scientists used to hold up and say, 'This is what we do.' It's what colleges and universities used to hold up and say, 'Diversity of thought.' But it doesn't happen anymore. And before it's completely shut down, and before we're all sent to respect camps, make sure you watch it on Wednesday."

Beck further claimed that Gore is using misinformation to mobilize support for action on global warming, stating: "[T]hey're telling us things in Al Gore's global warming special that are not true, that the seas will rise 20 feet. Even the U.N. says that's not true. So you got to have the fear, we're all going to die." In fact, as Media Matters for America documented, a report released in February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations, supported an assertion regarding sea levels in Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth (Rodale Books, May 2006). In the book, Gore wrote that if the West Antarctic ice shelf "melted or slipped off its island mooring into the sea, it would raise sea levels worldwide by 20 feet." He added that "the West Antarctic ice shelf is virtually identical in size and mass to the Greenland ice dome, which also would raise sea levels worldwide by 20 feet if it melted or broke up and slipped into the sea" (Page 190). The IPCC noted that "[c]ontraction of the Greenland ice sheet is projected to continue to contribute to sea level rise after 2100" and that "[i]f a negative surface mass balance were sustained for millennia, that would lead to virtually complete elimination of the Greenland ice sheet and a resulting contribution to sea level rise of about 7 m," which is equivalent to approximately 23 feet.





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