Saturday, 12 May 2007

THIS DAY IN WORLD WAR II: MAY 12, 1943

Ken Berwitz

Here is the synopsis of events on this day in 1944:-

Over Germany... About 800 bombers of the US 8th Air Force, with a substantial fighter escort, attack synthetic oil plants at Leuna-Merseburg, Bohlen, Zeitz, Lutzkendorf and Brux (northwest of Prague). The Americans claim to shoot down 150 German fighters and report losses of 46 bombers and 10 fighters.

In Italy... Allied attacks by forces of the US 5th Army make some progress against the German-held defenses. The French Expeditionary Corps (General Juin) encounters only the German 71st Division along its line and captures Monte Faito. The Polish 2nd Corps is held with heavy losses, north of Cassino. The British 13th Corps establishes two small bridgeheads over the Rapido River, opposite Cassino. The US 2nd Corps, on the western coast of the advance, experiences difficulty advancing.

In New Guinea... Japanese forces continue to skirmish with American forces on the beachheads around Hollandia. -

How would today's media have handled these events?

The outcry over losing 46 bombers and 10 fighters would have been deafening.  For WHAT?  What has Germany done to us?  Hitler is a bad guy?  There are a lot of bad guys.  Why are we only going after him and not the others, at the horrible cost of 56 planes and all those young lives.  There must be a war crimes tribunal.

Similarly, the fifth army's assignment would be heavily questioned.  How many more must die for this meaningless fight?

New Guinea?  Another day and other round of skirmishes.  For what reason and for what benefit? 

The media would be up in arms.  What were the American people thinking to elect this incompetent president and then have to suffer his even more incompetent advisors?  There would be detailed articles on the lead-up to the war, the hugely high unemployment rate until it started, and the implication that the only reason we became involved other than Japan was because FDR needed a war to put people to work.  There would be editorials denouncing his economic policies and calls for him to admit his real motives for the war.


THE NEW YORK TIMES' LATEST HIT PIECE

Ken Berwitz

The New York Times, ever vigilant in their quest to sabotage the war in Iraq, has a front page story today which raises questions about Iraq's oil revenues and where they are going.  Here is the beginning of the article:-

Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq, U.S. Study Says 

Output Is Short Of Goals.  Suspicions Include Theft or an Overstatement of Production
 JAMES GLANZ

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraqs declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.

Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy was valued at $5 million to $15 million daily.

The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly two million barrels pumped by Iraq each day, but the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents and corrupt officials control significant parts of the countrys oil industry.

The report also covered alternative explanations for the billions of dollars worth of discrepancies, including the possibility that Iraq has been consistently overstating its oil production.

Iraq and the State Department, which reports the numbers, have been under relentless pressure to show tangible progress in Iraq by raising production levels, which have languished well below the United States goal of three million barrels a day. Virtually the entire economy of Iraq is dependent on oil revenues.

The draft report, expected to be released within the next week, was prepared by the United States Government Accountability Office with the help of government energy analysts, and was provided to The New York Times by a separate government office that received a review copy. The accountability office declined to provide a copy or to discuss the draft.

Paul Anderson, a spokesman for the office, said only that we dont discuss draft reports.

But a State Department official who works on energy issues said that there were several possible explanations for the discrepancy, including the loss of oil through sabotage of pipelines and inaccurate reporting of production in southern Iraq, where engineers may not properly account for water that is pumped along with oil in the fields there.

"It could also be theft", the official said, with suspicion falling primarily on Shiite militias in the south.  "Crude oil is not as lucrative in the region as refined products, but we're not ruling that out either" -

Among the thoughts that occur to me:

----This is another proof -as if the first 3,481 weren't enough already - that we did not invade Iraq for oil.  If we did, we'd be far more assiduous in guarding and accounting for it.  And, of course, we'd be expropriating it for our domestic use, wouldn't we?  I'm still waiting for any of the geniuses who were screaming "war for oil" to acknowledge that our actions belie this slogan.  In fact, a good many are still yawping it out;

----The headline screams that billions are missing, and the sub-heads say there is a shortfall, possibly due to theft or an overstatement of production.  But the body of the article makes it clear that this is a draft rather than final report and there are other plausible explanations for the disparity.  So what exactly is the purpose of this article other than to put up a disparaging message?  

When I see a negative hit piece like this - and I see them very often in the New York Times, as I've chronicled in the past - I stop and wonder who they are rooting for in Iraq.  That is not meant to be sarcastic or rhetorical.  I mean it dead seriously.

I have asked several anti-war people I know the following question.  You might want to try asking it as well, to see if you get the kind of answers I do.  The question is:

"Would you rather we win a victory over the insurgency in Iraq, with President Bush getting full credit for it, or would you rather we lose to the insurgency in Iraq, with President Bush getting full blame for it?"

So help me, I have yet to get even one straight-out preference for a victory over the insurgency in Iraq.  Zero. Their hatred of Bush is so great that they literally would rather see terrorists defeat our troops than to have a reason to give Bush credit for a victory. 

I don't know, of course, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if I asked the editorial staff of the New York Times this question, I would get the same answer.


COMMON SENSE ABOUT HATE CRIMES

Ken Berwitz

Here is a common-sense editorial from Investor's Business Daily (IBD) about hate crimes and the law:

-

Hate And Miss

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY :  Friday, May 11, 2007

Justice: Will Democrats' effort to include sexual orientation in hate crimes legislation be expanded so that it applies to the mere criticism of protected groups? And if so, is this protecting civil rights or establishing a national thought police?

The problem with defining a crime as a hate crime is that it's a classic definition of a distinction without a difference. It says that if someone assaults you because he hates you for the color of your skin, it's deserving of more punishment than if someone assaults you because he likes the color of your money.

In embracing H.R. 1592, which expands federal hate-crime laws to prohibit violence against gays and transgender people, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said: "Hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our democracy that all citizens are created equal and are afforded the same freedoms and protections under the law."

But don't hate crime laws do exactly the opposite? Don't they treat some victims and some predators unequally because of who they are and what they think? Aren't otherwise equal crimes treated differently because one predator's motive might be different from another's?

House Minority Leader John Boehner thinks so. "This bill would eliminate any concept of equal justice under the law," he said, "dividing Americans into different classes of people subject to different protections under the law." Boehner also said the legislation gives the government the ability to punish "thought crimes."

Authored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., H.R. 1592 goes beyond expanding the scope of victims covered by hate crime laws. It adds a new and potentially dangerous wrinkle by defining a victim of a hate crime as not just someone who is physically harmed. The bill now includes mere intimidation in its definition of violence. This leads to justifiable fear of infringement on freedom of speech.

Is the merely offensive going to be criminal? Should a Don Imus go to prison? Is criticizing affirmative action or opposing gay marriage a crime? Could the passengers on that US Airways flight be charged with a hate crime for putting homeland security above political correctness?

That's not so far-fetched. Republican House Whip Roy Blunt cites the precedent of the 11 people arrested in 2004 in Philadelphia simply for holding signs and reading passages out of the Bible during a gay-pride festival.

According to Blunt, their charges included "possessions of instruments of crime," meaning a bullhorn, "ethnic" intimidation (the reading of Bible passages) and "inciting a riot" by reading those passages aloud. They were charged with three separate felonies and five misdemeanors. The ACLU was nowhere to be found.

"It's called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act," said Chuck Colson, a former White House insider and founder of Prison Fellowship. "But the bill is not about hate. It's not even about crime. It's about outlawing peaceful speech speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong."

Colson notes that we already have laws on the books against assaulting people in general and that the need for added protection for certain groups is unnecessary. He also notes FBI data that show crimes against homosexuals in the U.S. have dropped dramatically. Out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault in 2005, just 177 were crimes of bias against homosexuals.

Will preaching that homosexuality is a sin or opposing gay marriage now be enshrined in the federal code as an incitement to criminal activity? Some might consider that hate speech, but is it a crime?

We should be punished for what we do to one another, not what we think about one another. 

Before you make assumptions about my motives, here is a little personal disclosure so you understand where I'm coming from:

  • I find discrimination against homosexuals odious. 
  • I believe strongly that there should be legal civil unions with full rights, exactly the same as marriage. 
  • The only reason I wouldn't call it marriage is semantic - i.e. most people consider the definition of this word as one man/one woman -  not because I see it in any lesser context. 
  • I would not be troubled one bit if same sex unions were called marriage too.  It doesn't change my heterosexual marriage in any way.  I'm not threatened by the fact that two men or two women love each other and want to cohabitate legally.  And I can't fathom why it is anyone's business but theirs.

To me, the IBD editorial makes perfect sense.  Why is one class of people protected more or less from the same crime than another?  Where is the justice in that?

That said, however, IBD is hardly simon-pure.  Have they ever published editorials attacking the differences in basic rights between homosexuals and heterosexuals - very much including the right to "marry", regardless of what it is called.  It seems to me that is 100% within the realm of their point. 

I don't know for sure if they agree.  But, frankly, until I see one or another of such editorials, I'm sort of assuming the answer is no.


MORE ON ISRAEL'S PEACE PARTNERS

Ken Berwitz

Earlier this week I blogged about a children's television show broadcast throughout Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank) in which a Mickey Mouse-like character taught children hatred of Israel, hatred of Jews in general and that Islam should dominate the world.  

After its existence was widely reported, we were told that it would be pulled from the air "for review" (as if no one in those areas knew the content of this hate-fest until then).  That was their song and dance.  Here, however, is reality.  The bold print is mine:

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Defiant Hamas TV airs resistance Mickey again

Hamas-run television defied Israel and the Palestinian government on Friday by airing a controversial children's show with a Mickey Mouse lookalike preaching resistance and Islamic domination.

Israel and Jewish groups have slammed the Al-Aqsa television channel for allowing the copycat mouse "Farfur" and a girl co-star to urge resistance against Israel and the United States, and for its overtly Islamist message.

Padded out with Islamic songs and calling cities in Israel part of Palestine, Friday's episode apparently sought to prepare children for their end-of-year examinations.

Asked by an Al-Aqsa reporter why he looked around to see what his friends were writing, Farfur -- whose name means butterfly -- answered: "Because the Jews destroyed my home and I left my books and notes under the rubble."

"I'm calling on all children to read more and more to prepare for exams because the Jews don't want us to learn," said Farfur who failed the test.

Broadcast weekly for an hour, the show also featured a short film recalling the anguish of little girl Huda Ghalya, whose family was killed on a Gaza beach last June in a blast for which Israel denied responsibility.

"Anyone who wants to go to the sea will be killed," said Farfur.

"Yes Farfur, but also they killed her family because we are Palestinian," interjected reporter Hazem Sharawi, before calling for Islamic rule and for Spain to be returned to Muslim rule as after the 8th century Moorish invasion.

"Palestine will return free and Andalus will return soon. Hello Egypt, Damascus and Algeria. Islam will return for all whole world," he said.

Friday's show also taught tomorrow's pioneers that the cities of Jaffa, Haifa and Acre, in modern-day Israel, in addition to Jerusalem, belong to their country. Songs are sung about Palestine and about facing the enemy.

Friday's broadcast came after the Palestinian information ministry asked Al-Aqsa to withdraw the programme for review, but minister Mustafa Barghuti said he would reserve judgement until watching the latest installment.

"They have said they will change it and improve it, and we will see," he told AFP.

Earlier this week, Barghuthi said the programme had adopted a "mistaken approach" to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and that it was wrong to use children's programmes to convey political messages.

On Thursday, the chairman of the Al-Aqsa board, Fathi Hamad, refused to bow to pressure to cull the programme or to doctor its content, slamming an Israeli and Western plan "to attack Islam and the Palestinian cause".

Hamas is the senior partner in the Palestinian national unity government and is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation in the West.

The Islamist movement controls a television and radio network both called Al-Aqsa and has just launched a newspaper.

-

You cannot reason with, you cannot negotiate with and you cannot peacefully coexist with people who want your country vaporized and you either gone or dead - preferably dead.  And you cannot expect people to change in this regard when they drum exactly the same hatred and violence into their children with cartoon shows  (along with similarly hate-filled violent children's programming which glorifies suicide/homicide bombers). 

Peace process?  What peace process? 


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