Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Mobsters and Politicians Meet

Matt Birkbeck. The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Buffalino. New York: Berkley Books, 2013.

Rossario “Russell” Buffalino was the mob boss who organization the meeting of mob bosses in 1957 which the police raided. This raid confirmed suspicious that mob organizations had interconnections.

Buffalino’s territory included northeast Pennsylvania and parts of New York State. Northeast Pennsylvania, in the 1940s, was known for garment companies that were controlled by Buffalino that paid low wages in hopes of undercutting higher wages of unionized garment workers in New York City.

Buffalino often picked which people would run and be elected to county and local political offices. He led a political operation which rigged election results.

Buffalino was close to U.S. Rep. Dan Flood. Flood helped Medico Industries, in which Buffalino had a major interest, in obtaining military contracts. Rep. Flood resigned from Congress in lieu of facing a second trial for accepting illegal funds from lobbyists and contractors. His trial was suspected of having a fixed juror. Although Flood was not charged with anything regarding this, the FBI had wiretaps of Flood and Medico officials discussing deals,

Buffalino also controlled illegal gambling of sports betting and poker parlors in the Scranton-Wyoming area. Buffalino received a commission and a percent of gross profits from these operations. He also persuaded local police to look the other way at these illegal activities.

A 1951 government report criticized the Scranton police for ignoring obvious signs of illegal gambling sites. State Police officers reported bribe offers. The committee report estimated the illegal operations grossed $30 million a year.

There were raids that captured millions of gambling tickets. These raids resulted in fines ranging from $200 to $300. It was alleged a suspected gambling operator gave a $2,500 ring to the Public Safety Director.

The Lackawanna Country District Attorney claimed it did not prosecute many gambling cases because its office did not police matters even though the office had four detectives. The State Police tried to raid illegal lottery operations while local police remained uninvolved in halting gambling.

In 1961, Buffalino joined with a Central Intelligence Agency agent awaiting a hoped for successful invasion of Cuba. Earlier, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa had introduced Buffalino to Federal government agents. The invastion effort failed. Had it worked, Buffalino was going to return to Cuba to help regain mob assets. Among them was $1 million Buffalino had buried in Cuba when Castro took control

The mob use to earn over $1 million a day in its Cuban activities. In 1995, Time magazine presented a story about CIA ties with Hoffa, Buffalino, and mobsters Sam Giancona and Johnny Roselli. Ten days after the article appeared, Giancona was shot to death. Six weeks later Hoffa disappeared. Some theorize Hoffa was murdered as he was threatening to expose ties of then current Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmon to the mob in hopes Hoffa could regain his old position. About a year later, Roselli was murdered. Some theorize there were fears Giancona and Roselli might also expose secrets and those fears led to their deaths.

In 2005, Pennsylvania Deputy Police Commissioner Ralph Periandi began investigating Governor Ed Rendell. Suspicions arose over Rendell’s support of legalizing casino gambling and awarding contracts. Rendell had sought election as a supported of casino gambling as a means of obtaining funds to reduce property taxes. There were also concerns over Turnpike Commission contracts. It was the reported tradition that half of Turnpike Commissions are awarded by the legislative majority party, one fourth are awarded by the legislative minority party, and one fourth are awarded by the Governor.

State Senators Robert Mellow and Vincent Fumo were instrumental in getting legislation passed legalizing casino gambling, Both would later be charged with corruptoin.

The State Police conducted background checks on appointees to the newly created Gaming Control Board Rendell’s Chief of Staff John Esty and Revenue Secretary Greg Fajt told the State Police that Rendell wanted speedy background checks on his appointees to the Gaming Control Board  to get the casinos operating quickly.

Rendell named Frank Friel Gaming Board Chairman. Friel allegedly had friendships with people with alleged mob ties. The State Police investigation of Friel caused Rendell to ask Friel to step aside. The press obtained the confidential State Police report on Friel. This upset Rendell who privately blamed the State Police for leaking the report.

Secretary Fajt switched having background checks conducted by the State Police and instead had them conducted by the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement (BIE), a division of the Gaming Control Board. The State Police would conduct low level background checks and overall casino security. The BIE did not have access to information which the State Police did.

Louie DeNaples, an associate of Buffalino’s, waned a casino. DeNaples had previously been charged with defrauding the government. DeNaples was charged with submitting $525,000 in false reimbursements for Federal government clean-up funds following a hurricane. In his first trial, one lone juror created a hung jury. The juror was later convicted of receiving $1,000, four tires, and a watch for the ruse. DeNaples then pled guilty in a plea bargain where he was fined $10,000 and received no jail time.

This 1978 conviction of DeNaples would have prevented him from obtaining a casino license in Nevada and New Jersey. Pennsylvania created a law prevented people convicted of felonies over the past 15 years from obtaining casino licenses. DeNaples was not legally barred from seeking a Pennsylvania casino license. DeNaples received a slots casino license by a unanimous Gaming Control Board vote in 2006.

A grand jury report noted that some Gaming Control Board members had favorite awardees for different casino applications They got together with other Board members and agreed to vote foreach other’s favorite applicants. State legislative leaders had influence in these selections. No criminal charges resulted from this grand jury.

Periandi believes a State Police background check would have blocked DeNaples from getting a casino license. Periandi theorized the creation of the BIE was to allow DeNaples to circumvent the process.

DeNaples contributed over $100,000 to Rendell’s political campaign. Tad Dexter, the Board Chairman, had worked with the Cozon O’Coner law firm whose clients included DeNaples. Dexter returned to this firm after stepping down as Chairman William Conaboy, who had also been an attorney for DeNaples, was appointed to the Gaming Control Board. One of DeNaples’s consultants was Kevin Feeley, who was Deputy Mayor to Rendell when Rendell was Philadelphia Mayor. U.S. Attorney Thomas Marino, whose jurisdiction included northeast Pennsylvania, was a personal reference for DeNaples’s application. Marino shortly afterwards became a $250,000 a year attorney for DeNaples’s casino. Marino was later elected to the U.S. Congress.

William D’Elia took over for Buffalino when Buffalino died. The FBI arrested D’Elia. D’Elia agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico began a grand jury investigation into the Gaming Control Board. He subpoenaed D’Elia. D’Elia told of organized crime acivity with DeNaples including fixing his 1977 trial. Shamsud Din-Ali testified about his landfill dealings with DeNaples.

DeNaples, in seeking a casino license, denied knowing Shamsud-Din Ali, who was convicted of racketeering and defrauding Philadelphia government. It was later disclosed the FBI had taped Ali arranged for DeNaples to accept hazardous waste at a landfill DeNaples operated.

The Pennsylvania Casino Association, which was funded by DeNaples, hired former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Stephen Zappala as a lobbyist for $500,000.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its first time ever in a criminal case, used its “King’s Bench” powers to stop the prosecution of DeNaples by Marsico

Marsico decided to go after DeNaples for perjury. DeNaples and Marsico came to an agreement that perjury charges would be dropped if DeNaples yielded ownership of his casino. DeNaples then transferred ownership to his daughter.

Paul Rossi testified that the state Supreme Court negotiated rulings on cases with state legislators. One of these was getting the Court to oppose a lawsuit against pay raises for legislators, judges, and Justices. A Supreme Court Justice even reassured Gaming Control Board staff that the Court would side with them in their casino licensing decision

DeNaples was not clear of trouble. D’Elia alerted Federal authorities to a scam where teenagers were being improperly sent to a private juvenile detention center that was profiting from these detentions. Bank regulators implicated the First National Bank in scams. DeNaples had a major interest in the bank.

DeNaples registered trucks, that were damaged being under flood waters, as non-damaged vehicles with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. These vehicles were sold at regular, non-damaged vehicle prices. This was discovered when some vehicles malfunctioned.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Book by the National Chair of That Other Political Party

Debbie Wasserman Schultz with Julie M. Fenster. For the Next Generation: A Wake-up Call to Solving Our Nation’s Problems. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013.

This presents the authors’ positions on numerous national issues. The following are notes of interest to Political Science students taken from the book:

The Republican House Speaker continues a practice of a previous Speaker and named for him, the “Hastert Rule”. The rule is that the Speaker will bring only votes before the House where a majority of the Republican House members support the bill. Thus bill would could win the support of a majority of House members are never brought to a vote, creating much power to the Republican members. This rule was abandoned to prevent a fiscal crisis where enough Democratic House members, including the author, passed legislation to avoid sequester cuts and tax increases.

The authors note the Obama stimulus worked but did not fix economic problems. Yet it prevented an economic disaster.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz observed that many opponents of universal health care coverage fail to observe they already pay for emergency room care.

She notes that the U.S. can;t make democracy emerge in other countries. Yet she argues we should make them accountable and insist that they keep past treaties.

The U.S. gets just 7% of energy from renewables. She wants to increase the use of renewables.

The national infrastructure is falling into disrepair, she argues, 11.5% of bridges are “structurally deficient” and another 13$ are “functionally obsolete.” The state with the worst problem is Pennsylvania, with 26% of bridges as “structurally deficient” and another 16.5% are “structurally obsolete.”

Rep. Wasserman Schultz is not opposed to charter schools yet warns that charter schools often offer only an illusion of success.

The income earned by the 60% in the middle of earnings has been decreasing since 1970.

In Australia, a person who fails to vote is fined $25.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz noted in a speech that Rep. Allen West, whose district borders her, should not support the Republican Medicare plan that the Congressional Budget Office concluded would cost senior citizens an additional $6,000 a year, due to the large number of senior citizens in his district. Rep. West responded with an email calling her “the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives...if you have anything to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up” and also added she “was not a lady.”

The author notes that any in Congress, especially Tea Party members, lack “a spirit of sportsmanship.”

There Were Once a Time When New York Did Not Have Republican Mayors

David N. Dinkins with Peter Knobler. A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic. New York: Public Affairs, 2013.

David Dinkins joined the Marines and went to college on the G.I. Bill.

Dinkins became a lawyer. To make himself known, in order to get clients, he joined the George Washington Carver Democratic Club which was influential in Harlem.

Dinklins believed the political “reformers then were part of a power group led by whites who worked against established Black leaders. He does believe that reform leader Percy Sutton became an effective leader. He also saw the rise of reform leader Charles Rangle and believes he too was a good leader.

One of the important jobs of political organizations is to get enough qualified signatures on petitions to get candidates listed on primary ballots. Dinkins mentions “stories” of candidates’ petitions ‘accidentally’ destroyed by political operatives.

In 1966, the courts allowed the State Assembly to expand from 150 to 165 Assembly seats for one election. This was in response to Assembly leadership attempting to comply with previous court orders. This was done even though the state Constitution sets the numbers of Assembly members at 150.

Raymond Jones asked Dinkins o run for a newly created State Assembly seat. He ran against Frank Leichter, a candidate supported b notable liberal U.S. Rep. William Fitz Ryan. Dr. Kenneth Clark, a noted social activist, supported Dinkins and served as his Committee Chairman. Dinkins won the race.

As an Assembly member, Dinkins learned the Assembly Speaker and his staff were in charge. The Assembly Speaker chose which bills were to receive an Assembly vote. Nothing was passed without the Speaker’s approval. The Speaker also chose all the committee chairs and hired the Assembly staff.

The legislative process was complex and often the Assembly members did not know what was happening. Dinkins notes “we would frequently read the papers the next day to find out what we had done the days before in session.”

Before Dinkins was elected to the Assembly there had been a deadlocked race for Speaker between Anthony Travia and Stanley Steingut. Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller broke the deadlock by getting some Republican Assembly members to vote for Travia.

There were then enough members to form a New York State Black and Puerto Rican Caucus in the legislature.

Black elected officials in New York began regularly meeting with each other. Percy Sutton and Shirley Chisholm were among their leaders. Sutton advised the group to choose their battles to fight declaring “you can’t dance every set.”

The Assembly reverted to 150 members. Dinkins lost his district. He ran for and was elected a Delegate to the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention.

In 1972, Dinkins was named to the Board of Elections, a position he felt was unconstitutionally structured as it consisted of two Democrats and two Republicans yet had no representatives from New York’s other political parties. Still, Dinkins realized the need for the office to operate efficiently.

Dinkins ran for District Leader and lost. He noted his opponent had supporters using a siding level on election machines to obtain votes. Dinkins failed to put enough election poll watchers monitoring for such things. This was a lesson he learned and a mistake he would not repeat.

When Abe Beame was elected Mayor, Dinkins was offered a newly created position of Deputy Mayor for Planning. Dinkins admitted he owed back taxes. He had filed all the paperwork and paid what he owed with penalties and interest. Yet the negative press caused Beame to ask Dkinkins to withdraw his name, and he did.

Dinkins later told Beame he was interested in the vacancy of City Clerk. Dinkins got the job. He served for ten years.

Dinkins ran for Manhattan Borough President. Percy Sutton was running for Mayor. While Charles Rangle endorsed Dinkins, some other African American leaders feared having too many Blacks on the Democratic Party ticket would hurt Sutton’s chances and they did not help Dinkins.

Dinkins was elected Manhattan Borough President in his third try. He defeated Jerry Nadler.

Dinkins believed Mayor Ed Koch was more concerned with building new high income housing than with the problem of homelessness. Dinkins fought for programs for low income and homeless residents, for child care assistance, life training, etc.

Koch sought a third term as Mayor, Dinkins defeated him.

Dinkins rented his campaign office for Mayor from Local 1199 of the Drug, Hospital, and Heatlh Care Employees Union. This gave him access to union volunteers and the ability to print campaign materials at low costs. Other unions joined in to support Dinkins.

Dinkins received 96^ of the African American vote (which was 26% of the total vote). 50% of the Hispanic vote, and 27% of the white vote. He won the primary with 51% and thus did not need to have a runoff primary as required in New York law should no primary candidate receive 40% of the vote.

The Dinkins campaign paid radical organizer Sonny Carson $9,500 for field work in a politically underserved Black neighborhood. The Republican nominee for mayor, Rudy Giuliani, found Carson had made anti-Semitic remarks two decades earlier. Carson made things worse for Dinkins by declaring “I’m ant-white. Don’t limit my “anti” to just one group of people.” The Dinkins campaign severed ties with Carson yet Giuliani and the press kept the story alive.

Giuliani also raised Dinkins’s previous failure to pay taxes to make Dinkins appears unable to handle city finances.

Giuliani also tied Dinkins’s previous support of Jesse Jackson for President to Jackson’s support of a Palestinina state and his comment that New York was “Humietown” to draw  Jewish votes away from Dinkins.

The Newsweek Gallup Poll predicted Dinkins would win by 51% to 36%. Dinkins won by two percentage points. He believes racism explains a lot of the discrepancy between the polls and the election results as many whites claimed they were undecided because they did not wish to disclose they were not going to vote for a candidate of color.

The Dinkins Administration discovered what they thought was a $75 million budget deficit they were inheriting was in fact a $750 million budget deficit.

As Mayor, Dinkins stopped housing homeless in blighted hotels. The city used more hospital shelters, housing that had been foreclosed for tax non-payments, and residences operated by social service organizations.

Dinkins created a Department of Homeless Services. It reached out to non-profit groups to provide assistance to drug dependents, job skills training, etc. for homeless people.

There were about 28,000 homeless when Ed Koch was Mayor Homelessness fluctuated between 17,000 and 24,000 while Dinkins was Mayor. Under Bloomberg, homelessness increased ti about 35,000 to 40,000.

Dinkins implemented the largest privatized municipal health care program. 150,000 received coverage. Mayor Giuliani retained and expanded this program.

Dinkins notes crime decreased in numbers and rate when he was Mayor more than it did for any previous Mayor. He accomplished this by hiring more police officers than ever done so before and he did so during budget deficits. An analytical study, the first in a quarter century, was conducted on public officer allocations.

New York citizens became divided on issues concerning alleged police brutality. Witnessed in several instances claimed police officers overreacted. Dinkins supported citizens police review, to which many police strongly objected. Giuliani stood firmly in support of the police when he ran against Dinkins.

As Mayor, Dinkins created community policing, increased New York police by 6,000 with a 500% increase in officers on the beat, began agreement with Walt Disney Co, to improve Times Square, approved spending $2 billion on housing, created literacy programs, enacted tougher gun laws, began the first needle exchange program, created the largest municipal registry, and created the Increate the Peace Volunteer Corps.

Dinkins found his popularity had decreased, particularly among Jewish voters. White voters were less supportive of Dinkins believing he favored the African American communities while African American voters felt he hadn’t done enough for them. Dinkins lost to Giuliani by two percentage points He blames his loss on racism, “plain and simple.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Back When Democratic Presidents Were the Racists

Scott Berg. Wilson. New York: G.F. Putnam’s Sons, 2013.

Woodrow Wilson stated he was interested in “all feminine attractions”. Theodore Roosevelt refused to smear Wilson with allegations Wilson had an affair, in part fearing it would make the President appear more appealing to some voters. Wilson was a romantic, having written thousands of love letters to his wife. Wen she died, he remarried 18 months later. He also wrote many letters to her

Wilson liked jokes, puns, and limericks. He was very religious and believed God guided his rapid rise to political fame.

Wilson was reelected President in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war.” He was the first Democrat elected in two successive elections since Andrew Jackson in 1832.

Wilson was the first President to leave the nation while in office, traveling to Europe.

Wilson’s father was a minister. He believed all were God’s children. Woodrow Wilson taught Sunday School in Augusta, Ga. to young Blacks. Blacks were allowed to attend Wilson’s father church, though they had to sit in the balcony.

Wilson became a college professor. He did not allow students to take notes during the first half hour so they would pay attention to his general ideas. One student recall Wilson as “a Southerner who had no special sympathy for Negroes as human beings.”

Wilson earned a Ph.D. from Princeton. He began teaching, wrote several books on government, and was noted as a great speaker. His course enrolled the most students at Princeton. 1896, he suffered what he called “writer’s cramps” which today would appear likely a small stroke.

In 1898, Wilson tried yet did not received the Presidency of the Base Ball Association.

The Princeton Board of Trustees convinced Princeton’s President to leave in return for six years salary and the President of the Theological Seminary. Wilson became the first non-ordained minister to be Princeton’s President.

Wilson advanced new ideas for collegiate learning, giving sciences equivalent weight to literature, philosophy, and politics. He expanded the Biology, Economics, and History departments, as well as adding a graduate school, a law school, an electrical engineering school, and a Museum of Natural History as well as new dormitories and dining halls. He traveled to numerous cities seeking to raise the $12.5 million hs expansion required.

Some New Jersey Democratic politicians mentioned Wilson for the President, which was then a far fetched idea. Some then mentioned him for the U.S. Senate, which would have been difficult for a Democrat to win. Wilson stated he would not run.

Wilson declined to racially integrate Princeton. Wilson wrote in 1897 that “time is the only legislator in such a matter.” Wilson spoke of Blacks as inferior and lazy. It is noted some would consider these centrist views of race at that time.

Wilson met with Democratic leader Colonel George King in Wilson’s Old Lyme, Ct. house. Wilson stated he would not seek but would not resist the nomination for New Jersey Governor. William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper, the New York Journal, denounced Wilson as Wall Street’s choice even before Wilson had decided to run.

Democratic leaders wanted Wilson to oppose Prohibition. Wilson stated he felt it should be a local option and he refused to change his views. He agreed to listen to party leaders but did not commit to abide by them. This appeared to b enough for party leaders to accept Wilson. Wilson was nominated on the first ballot Wilson gave fifty campaign speeches and was elected.

As Governor, Wilson supported and helped enact a Corrupt Practices Act, regulated public utilities, enacted an Employers Liability Act,  and helped pass an elections bill, the Elmer H. Geron Bill, a State Senator who had studied under Wilson, that regulated voter registration, balloting, and created a direct primary for all elected public and party officials. He asked a party leader who opposed the bill to leave his office.

Wilson ran for the Presidency. The early favorites for the Democratic nomination were Champ Clark and Oscar Underwood. Wilson was the only candidate to declare his opposition to making conservative and Tammany Hall’s choice Alton Parker as Committee Temporary Charman. While Parker won, Wilson’s position earned him respect among many progressives. Clark led in the first ballot with Wilson second. Clark increased to a majority (two thirds was needed for the nomination) on the tenth ballot. Wilson prepared his exit plan. William Jennings Bryan, though, refused to support Clark on the 14th ballot. Wilson was nominated when Indiana switched from its Govenor Thomas Marshall to Wilson. A party leader recommended to Wilson that Marshall be Wilson’s running mate. Wilson wanted the convention to decide and was informed by party leaders that the convention was seeking to aide by his choice. Wilson agreed to Marshall without knowing the leaders had already dealt the Vice Presidency to Marshall in return for the switch to Wilson. Wilson considered Marshall “a small calibe man” yet realized he could help win votes.

William Jennings Bryan advised Wilson to win by taking progressive states and not worrying if he couldn’t win New York.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican Party by also running. Eugene Debs gained notice as the Socialist Party nominee and was respected by Wilson.

Wilson created a Democratic Party Finance Committee. The Democratic Party National Committee Vice Chairman William Gibbs McAdoo wrote “I have long been convinced that financing Presidential campaigns by private contributions should be prohibited. It is the seed of innumerable evils.”

Wilson wanted his stand on trusts to be clearly seen as different from Roosevelt’s position. Louis Brandeis advised Wilson on the trusts issues and the evils of monopoly. Wilson was strongly in favor of regulated competition. Roosevelt was seen as supported by big trusts that would be controlled by government.

Taft’s Vice Preisdnet, James Sherman, died six days before the election. There wasn’t time to replace him. The Republican National Committee later declared Electoral votes be cast instead for Nicolas Murray Butler, the President of Columbia University.

WIlson won with 42%. Roosevelt received 27%, Taft 23%, and Debs 6%, Wilson won an electoral vote landslide. The election turnout (58.8%) was the lowest percent turnout for a Presidential election in 76 years. Democrats won a majority in the U.S. House.

WIlson appointed U.S. Rep. Albert Burleson,  segregationist as Postmaster General, the largest Federal government employer and patronage office. This appointment pleased House Majority Leader Oscar Underwood, who also chaired the Ways and Means Committee.

Wilson refused to recognize Mexico’s new government, considering the butchers. He knew it was a “wise” choice protecting American interests but it would not be the “right” choice.

Wilson followed advice from Brandeis for Federal supervision of banks.

There were confrontations between Americans and Mexicans. In one clash at Veracruz, 19 Americans and 100 Mexicans were killed.

War broke out in Europe. Germany sunk the ship Lusitania with American passengers onboard. Germany explained the ship was carrying ammunition guns, and Canadian troops and illegally using Americans as shields. Wilson found this explanation “wholly unsatisfactory”.

A battle left 9 Americans dead and 25 taken prisoner. Wilson pondered if he could have withdrawn American troops from Mexico earlier as it appeared then the Villistra threat had been neglected. Wilson concluded he could not have withdrawn the troops earlier.

Wilson stated he would sever diplomatic relations with Germany if it kept attacking neutral vessels.

Wilson vow of peace especially helped him in the 1916 election where women could vote as women voted soundly for Wilson. Wilson won a second term.

Wilson outlined his idea for peace. Poland should be independent, the Turkish Empire torn apart, Belgium and Serbia returned as nations, and Russia allowed a southern seaport without which they would likely go to war over. Wilson presented this vision which included “freedom of the seas.”

Germany declared all ships, neutral or not, near England, France, and Italy could be sunk. A limited route for specific American ships was created. Wilson responded that violating the laws of the sea could lead to U.S. actions.

Germany sought to create an anti-U.S. alliance with Mexico and Japan. Mexico was promised money plus Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The U.S. declared war.

McAdoo and the Wilson Administration increased taxes on industries profiting on the war increased the unearned income tax, and created large taxes on luxuries.

Wilson favored women’s suffrage yet believed it should be determined by each state.

During war, Wilson considered supporting his political agenda as a sign of patriotic support. He achieved women’s suffrage and the Sedition Act. There were many objections to the Sedition Act yet it was strongly supported within government. The Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Party became suspect because they were against the U.S. entering the war. Socialist leader Eugene Debs was arrested for speaking against the war. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Wilson supported the imprisonment, arguing Debs had free speech before the war but no during war. 1,500 were arrested in 1918 for criticizing the war. 2,500 “enemy aliens” were interred.

France and England wanted to invade Russia when it became Bolshevik. Wilson was against this.

Wilson proposed a League of Nations in hopes it would create and preserve world peace. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee, was opposed.

Japan sides with England and expected to receive territory in China and North Pacific islands Germany owned. Wilson believed this land dispute should be placed under the League of Nations.

William Bullitt offered to go to Moscow on a fact finding mission. Wilson agreed to this. Wilson felt Russia’s internal affairs were their own yet felt there may be ways to provide outside assistance to the Russian people.

Wilson wanted Fiume as a free international port. It was located between Italy and Croatia serving Austria-Hungary with a large Italian population. There were more Italians than Croatians in Fiume.Wilson appealed for public support for his position

Italy and Japan were upset by the League of National and left it.

William Bullitt returned from Moscow and advised tht Lenis wanted an armistice and wanted recognition for its Communist government of former Russian territory (now the Baltics). Bullitt advised that Lenin’s government be recognized. Wilson was unconvinced.

Herbert Hoover warned the League of Nations made economic demands on Germany that would wreck it economy. John Maynard Keynes criticized the focus on reparations rather than rehabilitating the defeated countries. Germany knew the battles would resume if they did not sign the treaty yet the German Social Democratic Party argued against signing. In England, Lloyd George and Liberal and Labor Party leaders argued for moderating the penalties as they recognized economic instabilities could produce problems.

Many Congressional Republicans opposed the Treaty primarily to damage Wilson politically. Senator Lodge insisted on a public reading of the 264 page Treaty which created a week delay,

Wilson suffered from memory loss and couldn’t remember recent events and sometimes game wrong information about the Treaty.  He was emotionally drained from fight for the Treaty while the nation was experiencing rapid food price increases, race rios, and the threat of railroad strikes.

Wilson appealed to the public, speaking in several cities. He suffered a stroke, a fact hidden from the public. It was announced to the public he has physical exhaustion.

The Senate turned down a Treated agreed to even by the enemy The Senate vote was 53 to 38. Wilson dismissed his Secretary of State Robert Lansing for not supporting the Treaty strongly enough. Widespread newspaper editorial positions criticized Wilson for pushing out Lansing.

Labor and management kept things peaceful between them for the war effort. After the war, growing issues between them exploded. Many strikes resulted.

Mail bombs were sent to numerous political and economic leaders. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer blamed international Communism for plotting to overthrow the U.S. government. J. Edgar Hoover was hired to lead the General Intelligence Division to gather information on “a virtually invisible---and possibly imaginary enemy” and have them deported. Over 600 suspected radicals were arrested yet no bombs were found on them. 249 anarchists including Emma Goldman were deported to Russia.

Wilson refused to pardon Debs. He considered Debs a traitor.

Wilson believed he could run for a third term and envisioned being nominated at the Democratic Convention. He did not recognize his serious physical limitations. The party nominated James Cox.

Terrorists exploded bombs on Wall Street on September 16, 1920, killing 38 with about 400 injured. This was to then the worst case of terrorism in the U.S.

Warren Harding defeated Cox by 60% to 34$ and an Electoral victory of 404 to 127. Eugene Debs, running from prison, received 900,000 votes. Many Republican leaders claimed the outcome was a protest against Wilson’s League of Nations.

Under Harding, the U,S. signed the Treaty in 1921 that included many changes in Wilson’s Treaty which Senator Lodge favored. Harding commuted Deb’s sentence.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The War Did Help Produce a Republican President

Rick Atkinson. The Gains at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1941-1945. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2013.

England, which suffered 50,000 civilian deaths from German air raids, feared from intelligence reports that Germans were plotting to drop rats that would spread bubonic plague or other toxic or chemical invasions. 1,500 civilians were prepared to undergo decontamination efforts if needed. The U.S. had 160,000 tons of chemicals ready for retaliatory strikes.

President Franklin Roosevelt chose Dwight Eisenhower to lead OVERLORD as Eisenhower, according to Roosevelt, was “the best politician among the military men. He is a natural leader.”

In England, new rail lines were camouflaged with cinder and sludge. Fake landing craft and false transmissions created false beliefs the invasion would occur elsewhere.

Landing craft for the invasion were overloaded. Warnings that the extra weight would requires vehicles to be unloaded in water that would ruin their engines were ignored.

Tragedy awaited many paratroopers and craft occupants who arrived off from their intended destinations.

Erwin Rommel had seen and respected American w. He had wanted 200 million land mines for fighting in North Africa yet received only 6 million. Rommel believed the U.S. had superior air and naval forces. Rommel believed an invasion would have to be fought on the beaches. He theorized that if the Allies got past the beaches that
Germany would lose the war.

The 12th S.S.Panzer division killed 156 of their prisoners, most of whom were Canadian.

Hitler looked worn from the war. He spoke about retiring. His plans were to meditate and work operating a museum.

Rommel and Rundstedt informed Hitler there were not enough troops to keep the invasion held back. They advised withdrawing forces from southern France and creating a strong German defense along the Loire River. Hitler did not agree and ordered the forces to stay put.

The Germans were working on developing flying torpedoes which Hitler believed would have a crucial role. Rundstedt and Rommel urged the V1s be used against the invaders. Hitler realized the V1s were inaccurate and thought that using them on London would weaken the British public spirit. Rommel asked Hitler if it would be wise to make an agreement with Western powers to mutually find peace and then attack the Soviet Union. Hitler told Rommel that such things were not of Rommel’s concern. Rundstedt also advised Hitler to end the war. Hitler had him retire.

Gen. Omar Bradley stuck to the original OVERLORD plan. Instead of moving towards capturing Paris, he diverted to attack coasted fortresses of German soldiers. This did prevent a German rear attack yet led to capturing ports that the Allies never used. It also delayed the advance towards Paris.

The French arrested 900,000 and held 125,000 for trial for their behavior during the occupation. Some were imprisoned and others banned from holding government positions.

In retreat, Hitler ordered that anything of economic value be destroyed, that men of military age be captured, and civilians criticizing the Nazis be executed.

A major problem the American forces faced was a much higher need for ordinance replacement than was planned. The supply plans has turned down a plan for numerous depots to supplying being handled on an ad hoc basis that did not work as well as anticipated.

Germany began firing V-2 rockets into England. Each rocket had a one ton warhead.

Aachen became the first German city to fall. The city residents feared Nazi reprisals if they surrendered. The attackers did not provide an “honorable” way to surrender. When the city did give up, it was insisted it be reported they were out of ammunition and food.

Trench foot, where long exposure to the cod and wet crippled blood vessels and tissues, represented about one fourth of military hospital cases by November 1944. 46,000 would eventually be hospitalized accounting for 10$ of European operation casualties. Sadly, these could have been avoided. Purple Hearts were not given for trench feet.

Rundstedt twice unsuccessfully urged Hitler to allow Germans to abandon Metz. Many Nazis fled anyway.

Bombing reduced German forces from 91 oil production facilities to three. The Cmbined Chiefs stated bombing priorities were petroleum targets, transportation, and tank manufacturers. Yet Bomber Command favored bombing cities. 19 cities were mostly destroyed and 19 cities seriously destroyed. British bombers suffered extensive casualties. Half of British bombs were dropped on cities.

American bombers disliked bombing civilians and were precision bombers aimed at military and war production targets. Under one third of bombs exploded within 1,000 feet of intended targets, though.

Eisenhower wanted to secure the west bank of the Rhine before crossing it. Most analysts believed he should have crossed it earlier and that an earlier crossing would not have been that difficult.

Hitler created 750,000 solders by lowering the military age to 16 and raising it to 50. The U.S. increased troops by one million in 1944 to 1945 by no longer exempting fathers.

A Look at China Based on a True Story

Fred Hiatt. Nine Days. New York,N.Y.: Delacorte Press, 2013.

This fiction novel presents Chen Jie-min, an activist for democracy within China who disappears. It is based upon the  real story of Wang Bingzhang who started a democracy organization in China after learning about democracy and civil liberties as a graduate student in North America. He was kidnapped in Vietnam where he had gone to meet with labor activists. The kidnappers returned him to China where he was accused of plotting to bomb a Chinese Embassy. He was given a life imprisonment sentence. His daughter, Ti-Anna Wong, hopes that his work helped plant seeds for democracy to eventually grow within China.

The novel involves two teen agers who leave for China without telling their parents in hopes they may somehow help. They learn about people in China fearful of speaking out against their government, being bugged by authorities, and they witness human trafficking. Their adventures are definitely unique for most American teens. They learn insightful lessons about China and about themselves.