Arnold is looking very, very Teutonic this evening.
Arnold talks about how he grew up in fear in Soviet-occupied Austria. Notes that the Sovs are gone, because of the USA.
Evidently, he became a Republican after watching the Nixon-Humphrey debates. Of course, that was '68, when Nixon was still a conservative, rather than a crook.
Everything I have...I owe to America. America gave me opportunities, and my immigrant dreams came true.
If you believe that this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican. If you believe we must be fierce and determined to "terminate" terrorism, then you are a Republican.
If you are pessimistic about the country's economy, don't be economic "girly-men".
Arnold seems to take a perverse pleasure in the yelps of dismay that his use of that line engenders among the perpetually affronted.
Nice line: Our troops don't believe in "two Americas". They believe in one America and they are fighting for it.
Decent speech from Arnold, with a couple of stirring moments. Nothing like Giuliani last night, though.
Is it just me, or is FOXNews trying to show every single African-American they can find in the convention? They just did a crowd reaction shot that flashed to five different black guys in a row. 92% of African-Americans vote Democrat. There can't be that many black delegates at the convention.
And, wherever they are finding the black people, I'm not seeing any of them in the longer-lens crowd shots. It strikes me that FOX is intentionally highlighting minorities.
Maybe there would be more black delegates if the Repubs weren't just writing them all off, or offering token blacks like, say, Alan Keyes, as candidates.
Jenna and Barbara Bush. Cuties.
Jenna: We've tried to stay out of the spotlight over the last four years. Sometimes we did a better job than others. But we told our dad that, when we were young and stupid, we were young and stupid.
For some reason, Jenna looks like the kind of girl who's always ready to say "yes" to a party. Barbara looks like the girl you take home to mother.
We had a hamster, too. *grimace* Let's just say it didn't make it.
That's the best line the kids have. Whoever wrote their speech needs to take a few classes at humor school. Corny, corny, corny.
This is a bit of surprise. W is on live from a remote location, to introduce Laura Bush.
I'm sure Laura Bush is a wonderfully nice person. Heck, I'm sure Teresa Kerry is a peach, too. I'm not to sure whay I am supposed to listen to either of them. That whole Libby Dole deal in 96 set a bad precedent. I mean, what are the wives gonna say? "My husband is a misanthrope who should be put in a bamboo cage and poked with sharp sticks."
I don't think I'd want to make The Lovely Christine speak before a convention. In fact, I'm pretty sure I couldn't.
By the way, is it just me, or is every other person on the convention floor wearing an American Legion or VFW hat? Actually, it's not just me. Veterans are the largest delegate group present at the Con.
You gotta hand it to the Democrats, though. They clearly win the flamboyant headger contest.
Lot's of signs in the Crowd: "W Stands for WOMEN"
Obvious Democratic rejoinder: As long as they don't want, you know, abortions.
Mort Kondracke: Compared to the Kerry Daughters, the Bush Girls came off like ditzes. The rest of the panel agrees. I do too. They seemed like giggly teenagers, while Kery's daughters were poised and mature, and far more entertaining.
Unfortunately, the race isn't between Jenna and Alexandra.
Fred Barnes has it right: Our politicians aren't royalty, and the families really have no business having prime-time speaking roles.
Reader MK-Ultra writes:
Judge a man by results. On that score what is Bush for?
Creating jobs? Nope, we have lost jobs during his tenure.
Probably this was due to the recession that started in April of 2001, then the 911 attacks. Oddly enough, people lose jobs in recessions. Apparently, the recession is over, and we've created many new jobs over the last sevral months. Indeed, the Household Survey indicates we are creating millions of more new jobs than the establishment survey counts.
Not that it is anything other than passingly relevant, since presidents don't create jobs. At most, they can convince Congress to sign on to fiscal policy measures that help or hinder job creation. Bush has done the former.
Bringing down deficits? Nope, deficits have skyrocketed during his tenure.
Yes, that usually happens during recessions. And wars. That aside, though, can we presume that you'd prefer that we slash the size and scope of governments to reduce the deficit?
Sorry, I was just being silly. Of course, you probably prefer massive tax increases.
Lifting people out of poverty? Nope, more have joined the ranks of those in poverty during his tenure.
Actually the poverty rate has remained stable. More people have joined the ranks of poverty, just as more people have joined the ranks of the well off, because there are simply more people.
Increasing the number with health insurance? Nope, more people have become uninsured during his tenure.
That's tragic, but we do live in a country where the government is the health insurer of last resort. So medical care for the uninsured is available.
Moreover, I don't want to live in a country where government is the health insurer of first resort.
Reducing the size of government? Nope, the size of government has increased during his tenure.
That's an odd argument coming from a member of the politcal spectrum whose primary accomplishments in government have been constant increases in its size. Especially when the sentence immediately prior seems to be arguing for government intervention in the medical sector, which accounts for 14% of GDP.
That hardly sounds like a prescription for reducing the size of government. Which makes one doubt the sincerity of the "size of government" argument.
Resditributing wealth upward? Bingo. The gap between rich and poor has increased during his tenure.
And government reditribution of wealth to solve that problem worked famously in the USSR for years.
You all deserve what you get. BTW, how many jobs does a President have to lose before you declare him a failure? One more than Bush has lost?
That depends on whether the president implements policies that cost jobs, or whether he can get Congress to sign on to policies that try to prevent job losses.
In this case, the president and Congress have implemented a mixture of both classical Keynesian (Deficit Spending) and Supply-Side (tax cuts) policies designed to assist in job creation. Since that is essentially the limit of what a president can do, it's difficult to see what else Mr. Bush could've done.
An example of one of those day-to-day atrocities John Kerry was going on about in 1971:
Read the caption:
This is a psyops visit to a village in late 1969 in the Bassac River. That's me with my back to the camera, handing out candy to the kids and vitamins to the adults. Note the expressions on the faces of the adults -- and the fact that they are voting with their feet by crowding toward the boat. Kids and adults loved to have their pictures taken with our Polaroid -- the magic of having their picture right away and most of them didn't even know what a camera was!
Sadly, this village was attacked a day or so later by the Vietcong. They literally beat the village chief and his wife to death with clubs and hacked a 4-inch hole in their daughter's skull with a machette. We ran the little girl to Binh Thuy to the hospital at 0230 with me sitting on the fantail holding her. We never did find out if she lived or not... she was alive when I handed her to the corpsman.
Former OinC PCFs 32 & 65
CosDiv 13 / Cat Lo & Sa Dec, RVN
While listening to the radio today, I heard Sean Hannity mentioning Tommy Franks upcoming appearance on his show to "announce his endorsement for President....stay tuned! We'll have it next!"
You know what? If a General is about to announce his endorsement at the Republican Convention, on Sean Hannity's show...I don't think there's a whole hell of a lot of suspense left.
Still, Hannity missed the catch by a few minutes. The bloggers got the announcement first, and his additional remarks seemed....well, just about right.
Q: Do you think John Kerry can fight a war on terror?As near as I can tell, John Kerry appears to be for winning wars, stopping terrorists, making friends and nice weather. He doesn't actually indicate how he'll accomplish them, but, by golly, he'll do it. Because he's not George W Bush.
A: Well, I support George W. Bush. You know what? I know what John Kerry is against. I'm having a little trouble figuring out what he's for.
Captain Ed--one of the convention bloggers--makes a couple other good points, worth passing along.
We had two Russian aircraft blown out of the sky by terrorists a week ago. In both cases, Chechen women are suspected of the terrorist acts.
It appears that today in Moscow a third Chechen woman commited a terrorist act almost to the hour when the previous attacks occured:
A woman strapped with explosives blew herself up outside a busy Moscow subway station Tuesday night, killing at least 10 people and wounding more than 50 — the second terrorist attack to hit Russia in a week.
We've seen the occasional use of women among the Palestinians in the role of suicide bombers, but its not been prevalent elsewhere ... until now.
Obviously scrutiny of Muslim women in general and Chechen women in particular is going to heighten, especially in Russia.
But I wonder, given the fundametalism of al-Queda and its apparent fundamentalist Islamic view of the role of women, whether that would ever be something they'duse in future operations?
Suicide bombings blamed on Chechen secessionists have struck Moscow and other parts of Russia over the past several years. In February, 41 people were killed in a rush-hour explosion on the Moscow subway that officials said was a terrorist attack; in December a female suicide bomber blew herself up outside a hotel adjacent to Red Square, killing five other people.
Many of the Chechen female suicide bombers are believed to be so-called "black widows," who have lost husbands or male relatives in the fighting.
No doubt Iraq and Afghanistan will produce more than a few "black widows". The question is, will fundamentalist Arab terrorists ever try to use them?
An interesting find. From The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (which describes itself as "a non-profit public charity dedicated to discovering and disseminating scientific information pertaining to the effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on climate and the biosphere") comes a Swedish study of, you ready for this, freshwater pearl mussels which says, its no so different now than it was 217 years ago.
Apparently based on the title of the review, yearly growth increments on the shells of these mussels is effected by the air temperature. These folks went to museums which had collected specimens alive and studied their yearly growth increments:
The authors utilized 60 specimens of freshwater pearl mussels that had been collected alive between AD 1853 and 1930 (stored in museums) and between AD 1986 and 1997 from six rivers in northern, central and southern Sweden to reconstruct a 217-year history of summer (June-August) air temperature for the country, which they compared with the Scots pine tree-ring-derived summer air temperature reconstruction of Briffa et al. (1990).
Schone et al. report that "both series do not reveal any significant long-term temperature trends," but they say that "the number of cold summers was higher prior to about AD 1900 as compared to the last 90 years." Also, their data reveal that the peak temperatures of the late 1980s and early 1990s were no higher than those of the 1930s and 40s, while the coldest summer of the entire record (by far!) occurred on the last full year of the series.
Clearly, these temperature reconstructions reveal absolutely nothing that is unusual about either the entire 20th century or its last two decades, which are routinely described by climate alarmists as having experienced unprecedented warming over the last thousand years and perhaps even the past two millennia. If such occurred anywhere, it wasn't in Sweden.
In the Atlanta Journal Consititution today, Jim Wooten was discussing why Kerry's post Vietnam activites were fair game. I think we've covered that fairly well here.
But at the end of the article he made a pretty good point about the controversy with the Swift Boat Vets, the mainstream media and the "internet" which is a euhphemism for blogs:
The Kerry camp has treated the swift-boat veterans as an adjunct of the Bush campaign and dismissed them as liars, one and all. That's the story framed for the mass media.
On a parallel information track, primarily the Internet, a different story emerged. Rather than focus on whether the swift-boat veterans were Bush pawns, a community of fact-checkers and military experts assembled to examine the evidence. The result was that veterans who knew the history of the brown-water Navy in Vietnam, who understood tactics and missions, and who had firsthand experience, studied the Kerry claims.
The mainstream media never quite got past the "liar-liar" feed. I have not heard anybody on either side of the Kerry claims who I thought lied. Different vantage points and memories, perhaps. But no liars.
I'm not sure I'm in agreement wtih the "no liars" bit, but I do agree very much with his assessment of what has happened with the Swift Boat controversy and how it has essentially ended the monopoly of the so-called main stream media.
Watching the "internet", aka blogs, dig into this story has been fascinating. Meeting in a virtual room over many weeks, fact-checkers and former (and present) military did indeed sift and compare the evidence at hand, as noted by Wooten. And their conclusions were much different than the MSM who's approach was to focus on the politics and connections and ignore the substance.
As we all know, that's not something new for them.
Its interesting to watch this examination and assessment of the new state of the media going on. Its also fun to be a part of the change that's taking place. I like the fact that it is now possible to address the slant, factual inaccuracies and opinions in some other way than a 'letter to the editor" or an email to the ombudsman and hope they get noticed or published.
Its freedom of speech in the most democratic way .... and it appears to scare the big-boys to death.
Besides getting rid of Bush, that is?
That's the question Tod Lindberg at the Washington Times is asking:
The Democratic convention, in retrospect, was a glass half-empty. Organizers correctly realized that they had a huge anger management issue on their hands, and to their credit, they handled it well. Several thousand people, including delegates and hangers-on, most of whom loathe George W. Bush viscerally, managed to keep their passions in check well enough to avoid alienating the majority of Americans (including just about all of those whose votes are up for grabs) who don't share their sense of disgust toward the incumbent.
Unfortunately, what the check on the Bush-bashing chiefly revealed was the presence of absence: What exactly was or is the point of the John Kerry campaign? Why is it urgent for Americans to pull the lever for him? What is the Democratic agenda?
The "presense of absense". I like that.
As we all now know, Kerry has since agreed that he'd have voted to go to war with Iraq knowing what we now know about WMDs. So what in the world is different here? Oh, that Kerry served in Vietnam?
Uh, I think he'd just as soon that became a 'backburner" issue. Which leaves him with his Senate record and his anti-war record. As someone noted he gave a 5000+ word convention speech in Boston and he spent 70-something words on his Senate record.
I don't know whether Democrats have answers to these questions or not — beyond, that is, their passionate desire to beat Mr. Bush because of what they take to be his intrinsic loathsomeness. But if you have in mind that your real reason is not one you can safely put on the table — namely, again, Mr. Bush's loathsomeness — you are going to have to find something else.
And that's the weakness the Democrats bring to the election. Kerry isn't there because of his record. Kerry isn't there because of his leadership. Kerry isn't there because of his war time service.
Kerry is there for one and only one reason. Kerry's there because he, of a field of 9 candidates, was deemed the most likely to beat George Bush. He's the nominee because he appeared to be the most 'electable'. The nominee who most excited the Democrats, who appeared to best reflect what they are, Howard Dean, was abandoned like an old whore with STD when it became obvious he wasn't going to make it.
In my opinion, that choice by the Democrats is beginning to show in a campaign which appears to be fraying around the edges and coming apart at the seams.
Its still early, and Kerry has kick-started his compaign before, but barring unforseen catastrophe on the Republican side, I'd have to bet it will come up short.
In 1996, Bill Clinton was running for reelection. Michael J. Mandel of Business Week notes that, economically, the US was very similar to where it is now:
Perhaps a better, and more informative, comparison is with 1996, the last time an incumbent President ran for reelection. Like this one, the election of 1996, which pitted Bill Clinton against Bob Dole, came several years into a recovery. And the 1996 campaign, like today's, was fought against a backdrop of middle-class anxiety over job cuts and outsourcing, at least in its early stages.
The good news for Bush: On many of the key variables that voters care about, the economy looks uncannily like it did in the summer of 1996, a year when the incumbent was reelected. July's unemployment rate was 5.5%, exactly what it was in July, 1996. Similarly, consumer inflation is running at 3%, the same as July, 1996. Consumer confidence, housing affordability, unemployment claims -- all are roughly at 1996 levels.
However, its not identical:
Some factors have improved considerably this time around: GDP growth, for one, is much stronger. In other areas the economy is worse off, particularly in the number of jobs created and the size of the budget deficit. Still, history suggests that unless the economy suddenly deteriorates, it may be difficult for John F. Kerry to convince voters -- outside of swing states that have suffered disproportionately from the loss of manufacturing jobs -- that Bush has mishandled economic policy.
And we've related the difficulties to be found with the statistics out on job creation. Depending on which survey you're inclined to trust, jobs can be lagging (BLS payroll) or doing quite well (Household Survey). Regardless of the economic good news, those without jobs are most likely going to be voting on the lack of jobs.
But here's an interesting point:
By the time Clinton was running again in 1996, the economy had come a long way, but the national mood was troubled. Voters still felt uneasy about layoffs and outsourcing, with far more insecurity about their jobs than they had in the 1980s. Real wages were only up 0.9% -- total -- since Clinton had first taken office.
In fact, in terms of 1996, jobs really don't look that bad in 2004:
And although jobs were being created -- more than 200,000 per month -- the jobless rate was barely inching down. In fact, going into the August, 1996, Republican National Convention in San Diego, 12 states actually had higher unemployment rates than a year earlier. By comparison, only one -- Rhode Island -- has a higher rate today than a year ago.
Interesting. And there's even more to the comparison:
Moreover, growth prospects did not look very bright at the time of the convention. In August, 1996, the government reported that productivity had risen only 0.7% over the previous year -- a number that has since been revised to 2.8%. Moreover, over Clinton's almost four years in office, a period of economic recovery, growth had averaged a tepid 2.5%, according to the data at that time. As a result, most economic forecasters expected only 2% or so growth over the next year, terrible by current standards.
Just like today, some parts of the country were doing better than others. In July, 1996, 10 states had a jobless rate at or above 6%, not much different from today's eight states. California, in particular, had unemployment over 7% in 1996, far worse than the 5% the state saw in 1989.
Also just like today, the mixed economic picture in 1996 was reflected in the data on consumer confidence from the Conference Board. In July, 1996, the consumer confidence index was 107, about where it is now. That was far below the previous peak of 121, reached in 1989.
Yet, as Mandel notes, Dole was unable to get any traction on the issue with voters. He further notes that "the Democrats were able to argue successfully that a 5.5% unemployment rate was a successful economic record". Of course, 5.5% is exactly the unemployment rate today. But the Democrats are hardly making the same argument this time.
So Mandel asks are there other differences which may help or hurt Bush when compared to Clinton?
Is there any reason to believe that Bush might be more vulnerable on the economy today than Clinton was? Perhaps. For one, Dole was not a very effective candidate, and he ran against one of the great campaigners of all time.
Agreed. But then, I don't believe John Kerry is doing much to impress anyone with his campaigning. And Bush seems to be a much better and more effective campaigner than Dole, his father, and frankly, Kerry. And then there was also the dying gasp of the attempted third party which impacted the right more than the left in 1996 (which is why the Dems are so desperate to get Nader to go away).
Another difference is the unemployment rate for college-educated workers, which stands at 2.7%, compared with 2.2% in 1996. While that may not seem high, it's enough to raise anxiety among the educated class, who face unprecedented threats from outsourcing.
True, if the numbers are true. But there are real indications that job creation has changed quite significantly over the time of 1996 to now. And it is entirely possible that the comparison isn't really valid. That in fact while these workers may not show up on the traditional stats of the payroll survey, they may very well be working in a contract or 1099 capacity in jobs of their own creation.
In addition, real wages are down over the past year, compared with a slight increase in 1996. The political import of that, however, depends on whether voters are more sensitive to recent events or to comparisons with four years earlier. Real wages are still up by 2.1% since Bush took office -- equal to the entire real wage gain from 1983 to 1996.
Again, debatable. As Jon pointed out recently, "total compensation" which is a more fair gauge of what workers are earning, is growing faster than it did in the '90s. But to be fair, its harder to sell "total compensation" than "higher wages".
Then there's the budget and trade deficits, which are far higher as a share of GDP than they were in 1996. These factors may hurt economic growth over the long haul, but it's hard to argue that they are holding the economy back in the short run.
And its hard to argue that many voters are going to pay much attention to this at this time. The economy as a local or personal issue is what is going to drive a voter one way or the other. While there is going to be some concern expressed about budget and trade deficits, those aren't everyday economic issues to which voters are most attuned.
The biggest imponderable is how the labor market does over the next few months. If job growth continues to stall, then Kerry will have a potent economic issue. But a pickup in the labor market will make this look even more like 1996 -- and we know who won that one.
Actually if it continues to grow, it will be better than 1996 in terms of the unemployment rate. And if that's the case then it will be an issue that Kerry will have great difficulty selling (and it should be a comparison the Republicans hammer on the campaign trail).
We'll have to see how it goes.
Snippets from the convention:
We have Michael Moore welcoming Republicans to his New York in USA Today:
But what's all this talk about New York being enemy territory? Nothing could be further from the truth. We New Yorkers love Republicans. We have a Republican mayor and governor, a death penalty and two nuclear plants within 30 miles of the city.
"We New Yorkers"? I thought this slug was from Michigan?
Apparently USA Today found Moore's mocking salute to Republicans "usable" unlike Ann Coulter's piece from the Democrat Convention.
John McCain, however, addressed Moore rather well if a bit obliquely last night:
Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war.
It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.
And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls.
My small nit-pick with McCain is he referred to Moore as a "film maker". So did USA Today. I guess the word "propagandist" isn't in the style book.
Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), facing a tough campaign against Rep. John Thune, is running a new campaign ad back home.
It features him receiving a hug from President Bush!
"This is delightful!" laughed one republican official in New York on Monday morning. "Senator Daschle now concedes supporting the president can score him votes in the fall!"
That's just too funny.
In a post last week, I'd noted some very interesting progress being made in the field of alternate-energy development....
Apparently, via reader Eric, we know "whatever happened to those guys"....at least, one of the proponents of cold fusion, if not the original University of Utah scientists. Eugene Mallove died--was murdered, actually--just months ago.
Oddly, this occurred just about the time there has been renewed interest in the "Cold Fusion" idea....
Three months ago, the US Department of Energy quietly agreed to examine what cold fusion supporters say is increasing evidence -- culminating at a conference at MIT last summer -- that the reaction exists and is reproducible. If the agency agrees, it will likely mean an injection of both funding and legitimization for the forgotten research.The entire article is a fascinating look at a scientist who may become either an Einstein, Reolutionary Physicist....or a modern day alchemist, spending his life on the impossible.
Is there anything to it? I'm certainly unable to say--sure, I've read Stephen Hawking, but mostly so I could leave the book laying about where people might see it--but one has to believe that it's exactly these kind of researchers--and not a government program to mandate fuel standards, etc--who will drag us out of the age of dangerous dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Those magnificent scientists in their flying cars.
National Review's Rich Lowry went marching with the protestors in New York yesterday. He had some interesting conversations, like the one below:
A kid was holding a sign, "Stop the war on youth, from here to Najaf."
"So," I asked, "do you support al Sadr?"
"I do as long as he's resisting U.S. imperialism."
"OK, so you support Islamic fundamentalism?"
"No," he said, walking away.
"Well, he's an Islamic fundamentalist," I said.
He came back up to me, "Just because you support the youth doesn't mean you side with an extremist."
"Sadr is an Islamic extremist, he's very clear about it."
"It's their mosque."
"He seized the mosque by force!"
"You're wrong," he said. "He supports elections."
"No, he doesn't! He opposes elections."
"Well," he said, walking away again, "they are U.S.-supported elections. Of course he opposes U.S.-supported elections."
Then, this goateed, cigarette-smoking little Chomsky walked off for good.
You can always reason with a Lefty. You can always reason with a brick wall for all the good it'll do ya.
I mean come on, is this a bit over the top or what?
A New Jersey game called "Wack the Iraq," where players fire paintballs at people dressed as Arabs, has drawn ire from Arab groups after the city failed to convince the operator to change its name this summer.
The City of Wildwood, a seaside resort in southern New Jersey popular with summer vacationers, said the game would continue to operate until the end of this summer holiday season, but would change its name when it returns next year, according to Fred Wager, commissioner of public affairs and public safety for Wildwood.
At best its in bad taste. It certainly and justifiably gives Arab anti-defamation organizations a reason to complain (and they are).
They should know better.
I don't understand why they didn't, instead, run up the tri-color and call it "Frag the Frog".
No one would have said a word.
By the way, I noticed this advertisement running on The Nation's web site:
Most of it, of course, is the same old anti-Bush stuff the Left lives for these days. What is really amusing is the pro-Kerry bit in the ad. "John Kerry: The Lesser Evil 'We'll go backwards less fast!'"
That encapsulates perfectlyThe Nation's--and the Hard Left's--political views. But, let's not pretend that it's the kind of slogan that will draw people to the polls on Nov 2.
I think this speaks volumes about Kerrys actual chances of winning. When the best thing your most fervent supporters can say about you is that you'll lead the nation to hell slightly slower than your opponent, then you'd probably better not hold your breath on election day, waiting for people to start lining upoutside their polling places at 5 a.m.
Yes, Bill Clinton knows how it feels to have his integrity questioned. The problem is he still doesn't realize the difference between an attack based in truth and an attack based in fiction.
From an exchange he and Geraldo Rivera (born Gerald Rivers) had on Fox.
RIVERA: Quickly comment on the swift boat controversy's effectiveness and John Kerry in the polls etc.?
CLINTON: Well I think there has been too much controversy or discussion about the politics of it and little about its merits. All the guys that were on the boat with him say he told the truth. The records say he told the truth. There have been no serious disputes about any of the incidents in which he earned his medals. The ad was paid for by a big supporter of the president and the campaign's lawyer and one of the military advisers participate accurately in it and it was wrong. It was false witness.
RIVERA: Appropriate on a Sunday — you're about to give a sermon, but you have been a victim of slings and arrows. They don't necessarily have to be true to be effective.
CLINTON: That's why I think we need to answer back. But I think, I think in the beginning John couldn't believe it. I mean after all the guys that were on the boat with him were up there on stage with him including some that were probably Republicans — they just knew him and if you've never been through this kind of thing before, where people question your integrity and your very core — it's disorienting, but I think he's got a good answer. The facts are on his side and he'll prevail.
Note: the record doesn't at all say he told the truth, not if that record is contained in "Tour of Duty". You see, it is that book which spurred this reaction by the Swift Boat Vets. It is rountinely ignored when the Kerry partisans try to defend Kerry's record. And the record certainly points to him claiming he was in Cambodia on Christmas eve, even when his own boat crew won't support it.
But that's the apparent DNC strategy. Talk in generalities about his "record" being supported and ignore the facts brought forth by the Swift Boat Vets. Take as gospel the statements of the Kerry crew and dismiss as heresay or lies the statements of men, some of whom rose to flag rank, who were there as well.
Never mind the fact that Alston has been proven to have not been on Kerry's boat during the Silver Star incident. Ignore the fact that the Kerry campaign has used an incident which happened to Ted Peck as one in which John Kerry was involved. Per the talking points, stress "the record supports John Kerry".
Says Clinton: "...if you've never been through this kind of thing before, where people question your integrity and your very core — it's disorienting, but I think he's got a good answer. The facts are on his side and he'll prevail."
If the facts are on his side, then all he as to do is sign an SF 180 and trot them out. As for Kerry's core, it'd be nice if someone would do us all the favor of identifying it.
I've been trying and with him on both sides of just about everything, I can't find it.
Maybe we ought to look at his Senate record?
"I voted for the 87 million before I voted against it".
Robert Samuelson tries to deflate a myth that has always irked me, too: The idea that the president has some kind of effective control over the economy.
Politicians, the press and the public all buy into this notion. Unfortunately, it isn't even a half-truth. More like a sixteenth. A president's policies do affect the economy. But they're just one of many influences. The others (including the business cycle, technology and the Federal Reserve) usually dominate.
You'd think this would be common knowledge, but it's not. The president has become a totemic figure, in whom resides all our hopes and fears, even our economic ones. Hence, if job growth isn't fast enough, it's because the president is at fault.
As Samuelson demonstrates, though, much of what happens in the economy is completely outside of the control of the president, or, for that matter, anyone else in government.
Over the long term, budgets should be balanced. But in an economic downturn, they should move toward deficit to stimulate private spending. Well, you can't fault Bush there. In fiscal 2000, the surplus was $236 billion; for fiscal 2004, the Congressional Budget Office projects a $422 billion deficit. It's possible to condemn (as many Democrats do) Bush's pro-rich tax cuts. A more middle-class tilt might have translated into more consumer spending. It's also possible to retort (as many Republicans do) that Democrats would have moved more slowly toward deficits. Regardless, the tax cuts bolstered private spending. But the resulting economic growth produced fewer jobs than expected. Why?
Although outsourcing could be the reason, it probably isn't. The stories about software jobs and call centers moving to India aren't make-believe. But the numbers are small. Charles Schultze of the Brookings Institution concludes that perhaps 155,000 to 215,000 U.S. service jobs shifted abroad between late 2000 and 2003. Similarly, Schultze reports that government surveys attribute only about 4 percent of mass layoffs in the past two years to "import competition" and "relocation overseas." Even if these estimates are too low, they suggest that the impact of job loss abroad is exaggerated, writes Schultze.
The bigger cause of slow job growth, he contends, is higher productivity. Companies and workers got more efficient. That's ultimately good; it raises living standards. But higher productivity can temporarily lower employment. Fewer people are needed to do the same work, and new jobs don't instantly materialize. From late 1995 to late 2000, productivity (output per hour worked) grew 2.6 percent annually. During the next three years, annual growth averaged 4.1 percent. If it had stayed at the lower level, there'd be 2 million more jobs, estimates Schultze. Unemployment would be about 5 percent.
Of course, if there is a good unemployment report for August, the truth won't stop Bush from taking credit for it. Or for Kerry to blame Bush for it if the numbers are bad.
Writing in The Nation, Bill Greider gives us a wonderful look into the mindset of the Hard Left as the election approaches. While reading it, it struck that Krauthammer's right. These guys need therapy, because they are already living in an odd fantasy world where George W. Bush will tell any lie, and commit any act to get himself re-elected, where he runs a vast right-wing conspiracy that uses the power of the government to instill fear and loathing of our enemies.
This is paranoia. There's simply no other word for it. I mean, sure, it's an amusing kind of paranoia; the kind that makes you smile as you see 100,000 people march down the streets of Manhattan, claiming that civil liberties are being smashed, just like in Germany back in the 30s. Marching in front of gas stations where regular unleaded is selling for $2.00+ per gallon while carrying "No Blood for Oil" signs. That kind of cognitive dissonance is just too precious for words.
Mr. Bush seems to invoke that kind of cognitive dissonance though. Any good Lefty can, without even pausing for breath, launch into a harangue describing George W. Bush as a simpleton who needs a brace of Secret Service agents to help him into his pants every morning, then, in the very next sentence, describes him as the global mastermind of a fascist conspiracy to take over the world.
I mean, it's like the freakin' mystery of the trinity, where one God is eternally existent in three separate persons. To the Left, the mystery of George W. Bush is that he is both Forrest Gump and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, which is really quite revealing about the mental Weltanschaung of the Left, because, in the real world, no one person can be both an idiot and a criminal mastermind. That makes no difference to the Left, though. In W they see every single negative character trait. If there is any way in which Mr. Bush can be deficient, he is.
It's almost enough to make you want to round all the Lefties up and stick 'em in dank, cheerless prison cells. At least that way they'd feel the warm glow of knowing they were right, that they were targets of the new fascism. That'd probably be more mentally healthy for them, because at least they would no longer have to reconcile their overblown world-view with reality. Of course, we won't do anything like that. We'll leave them free to march in the streets, which will keep the flames of their paranoia high, as they wait each evening for the midnight knock on the door from the State Security goons; a knock that never quite comes.
I can only imagine how crazy these people will be if Mr. Bush wins reelection in a landslide. I mean, they're already nutty now. We may be in for a repeat of the 1960s.
I think John Podhoretz has a good point here, and, frankly, I agree with his conclusion, but first check out this part of his op/ed about the left's bottled up rage:
This election is about one thing and one thing only: Which of the two candidates is best suited to be this nation's commander in chief.
And as we speak, a 2004 election plotline is developing among those who wish to see George W. Bush defeated. The plotline is this: The efforts by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to cast doubt on John Kerry's war record may be the tipping point of this campaign in Bush's favor. And if indeed that is so, the rage that liberals and Democrats will direct toward Bush will be something terrible to see.
The election is about who is best suited to be commander in chief. John Kerry made sure of that when he did his hokey "reporting for duty" schtick. With his salute and his "band of brothers" he made it about that. It appears he may rue the day he did so. But then faced with running on his 20 year Senate record or his 120 day Vietnam record, he really had little choice, did he?
Enter the Swift Boat Vets (who had been ignored by the media as well as the Kerry campaign since May when they first announced their presence) and their attack on Kerry's fitness to be c-in-c. Since then the SBV's effect has been slowly eroding Kerry's support.
Despite the lack of any evidence that the Bush campaign or Republicans questioned the patriotism of either McCain or Cleland in their last elections, those claims have now passed into legend among the left, just as the belief that the use of Willie Horton was at the behest of Bush 41 (instead of first used by Al Gore) and that Bush 43 "stole" the election.
What the Swift Boat Vets will have done, if Kerry loses, is add to the impotent rage felt by those on the left.
At a panel discussion yesterday on the press and the election at the Harvard Club, two media doyens — Joe Klein of Time and David Gergen of U.S. News — pronounced themselves frightened by this prospect and the damage it might do to our democracy.
One only has to revist our fairly recent past to understand why Klein and Gergen feel that way. The '60s and early '70s were an era of leftist violence the likes of which this country hadn't seen before. The Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army were staples of that violence. The frustration of the left at their inability to have their way spawned violent groups who murdered policemen and destroyed property. Will we see a return of the "Days of Rage?"
But that wasn't really Podhoretz's point in this little epistle. It was more about the entity known as the "main stream media" and its future.
Others on the panel — Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal and Jill Abramson of The New York Times — fretted about the capacity of the mainstream media to play the role of fact-finding truth-teller in an age dominated by cable news and the Internet.
I was on the panel too, and I feel like I was the only one who didn't arrive at the Harvard Club riding on my pet dinosaur.
I've been listening to mainstream-media types talk about the terrible threat posed to the news business by one new phenomenon or other since I began my career 22 years ago. The complaint is invariably, and drearily, the same: Whatever is new is bad because it supposedly lowers the historically high standards of the mainstream media.
The last two years in particular have seen the explosion of a new medium — the personal Internet newspaper, or blog — that has already and will forever change the way people get their information.
This is a thrilling development — unless you are a mainstream-media Big Fish.
Interesting. So blogs are a "threat to the news business"? Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the main stream media is more of a threat to the news business than blogs are. Its they who the blogs are finding to be, in many cases, "factually challenged". It is blogs who are exposing institutional biases the MSM has been denying for years. It is blogs who are picking up stories that the MSM would prefer to spike.
What blogs are is a threat to business as usual among the MSM. Blogs refuse to let the MSM have the exclusive rights to what is and isn't news.
And that scares the hell out of them. So we see this appeal to "journalistic standards" and how they're hobbled by them while we nasty bloggers aren't.
Guess they've never heard of commenters and the instant feedback they bring.
Podhoretz points to the perfect case study. The event which has finally, given the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the MSM about irresponsible journalism, pushed them over the brink and made them recognize and acknowledge the threat to their monopoly.
The success of the Swift-boat vets' ads is the tale of the triumph of the nation's alternative media. The mainstreamers didn't want to touch the story with a 10-foot pole, and they didn't. But the alternative media did. Amateur reporters and fact-gatherers offered independent substantiation for some of the charges. It turned out the criticisms of the Swifties weren't quite so easily dismissed.
Because there was new information coming out every day, there was more and more to discuss on talk radio and cable news channels. And the story just wouldn't go away, because millions of people were interested in it.
This democratization of the news is clearly a good thing, if only because it increases available sources of information in a democracy.
But it isn't a good thing if you're a proud part of an Establishment whose authority is being eroded and whose control of the marketplace is being successfully challenged.
No, it scares the hell out of them. Just as Gutenberg's bible took the exclusive interpretation of the bible out of the hands of priests and "democratized" it by putting it into "everyman's" hands, so has the internet and blogs changed the way news is reported and consumed.
And it worries the big boys to death.
What these Establishment-media types will never do — what they can never do — is consider the possibility that the 24-hour news cycle and the rise of talk radio and the Internet are all positive developments.
And I would argue they can't consider that possibility — not only because their platforms are slowly sliding into the quicksand, but because these alternative phenomena have been of great benefit to conservative ideas, anti-liberal attitudes and Republican politicians.
They hate the Swift-boat story. Hate it with a passion. Some of it's based in genuine conviction. Some of it's patently ideological. And some of it's based in fear. They are worried the bell is beginning to toll for them, and they're right.
Bingo. And its only going to get worse for them.
The election is a long time away, and, of course, anything can happen. But take a look at the Sunday closing prices for the Presidential election from the futures markets from Tradesports, based on the closing Sunday prices1:
That can't be good news for the Kerry campaign. I don't think the polls are accurately reflecting the outcome of the election. I think, all other things being equal, Bush is headed for a landslide. And, evidently, people who are putting their money where their mouth is are thinking the same thing.
1 I'm writing this at 22:28 PDT, but, because this is an East Coast blog, it will appear as an 30 Aug 04 Entry.
Even though I'm not a heavy drinker by any stretch of the imagination, there are certain things that I simply have to have around the house, when it comes to booze. But, why blog about it? Well, first, because sometimes, you need to have a little break from public policy. Second, because The Lovely Christine is out of town this weekend, so I have nothing else to do but get lit, which, to be frank, I am doing this evening with a vengeance. (Sleeping alone is very unpleasant. It's even more so when the one you usually sleep with is the best thing that's ever happened to you in your whole life, and she's not there.)
One of the best things about living in Escondido, CA, is that one of California's historic wineries, the Ferrara Winery, is located here. The Ferraras are the oldest active grape growing, winemaking family in San Diego County, supplying wines to California since 1932. Now, the thing about the Ferrara winery is that they offer two products that are unavailable everywhere else in the world: California Nectar da Luz and Almond da Luz.
The Nectar da Luz is a ported wine that has been kind of…uh…brandy-ized (18% alcohol by volume). It has a sweet initial taste that's almost like pure clover honey that fades to a robust port aftertaste almost like that of a dry sack sherry. It's really indescribable, and indescribably good. It is just the perfect after-dinner aperitif. It's even more perfect if you pour it over strawberries and vanilla ice cream. That's a dessert you can't stop
The Almond da Luz is an amaretto-flavored version of the Nectar da Luz. The flavor is like that of a fine amaretto liqueur, but, again, with the full-bodied aftertaste of a fine port. If you ever happen to be in the San Diego area, and you can get to the Ferrara Winery, I promise you that you will not regret picking up either of these two products. The Ferraras still run the winery as a family business, and Mamma Ferrara will most likely be in the wine store, and will be happy to let you have a free taste of the products, after which, you'll probably sprain your wrist with the speed at which you reach for your wallet.
For those of you who cannot get out to San Diego, I have another recommendation for you. If you are one of the elite members of the sake aficionado community, you will want to go try to pick up a few bottles of Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake . Nigoro sake is produced the way sake first appeared when it was brewed for the Imperial Court in Kyoto as well as for most of its 2,000 year history. It is coarsely-filtered and the sweetest of all types of sake. It is especially delicious with very spicy foods. The bottle should be shaken each time before pouring due to the high rice content that settles in the bottom of the bottle. It is available from Takara Sake USA, and comes in 12.7 oz. bottles. If you like sake, this very traditional brew, with its slightly sweet, robust flavor, will be a must-buy on your shopping list.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should--unlike me, this weekend--drink responsibly.
Well that's because McCain finally has gotten it right:
Republican U.S. Senator John McCain said Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam are an appropriate subject for political debate.
McCain, 68, of Arizona, said on the CBS News program ``Face the Nation,'' that he disagreed with Kerry throwing his ribbons from his medals on the steps of the U.S. Capitol when he returned from the war.
``Every American is entitled to protest,'' McCain said. ``Whether he did that appropriately'' is a legitimate subject for debate, he said.
And I define "appropriate protest" as "responsible dissent."
In other words, it is the responsibility of the dissenter to ensure his dissent is based on facts not fiction. Appropriate dissent doesn't spread or propogate lies in order to make its point. It either has factual support or its not appropriate.
That isn't to say there wasn't appropriate and responsible dissent possible about Vietnam. That isn't to say that I disagree with all who were against that war. There were valid arguments to be made. And there were those who made that sort of dissent.
But John Kerry wasn't one of them.
And that is what vets hold against the man.
A spokesman for the Kerry campaign didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
... the prettiest "commie" in Manhattan. Yes folks, one of the many "protestors" in NY today ... and this one has it right. Another ringing Kerry endorsement.
Yes, its a joke (you could only dream it was true). Someone having a bit of fun with everyone (per one source, its the Protest Warriors, but I can't confirm that). Part of the anti-protesting protesting. Check out the web site listed. Its' hilarious and pretty well done.
Reader Becky comments on the Kerry testimony before the Senate in 1971 by asking:
Okay, guys. Could you PLEASE just read the ENTIRE transcript of Kerry's testimony instead of a few random quotes from someone's article?
Kerry emphatically stated, at the beginning of his testimony, "...I am not here as John Kerry. I am here as one member of the group of 1,000 which is a small representation of a very much larger group of veterans in this country, and were it possible for all of them to sit at this table they would be here and have the same kind of testimony...."
He was speaking on behalf of a group of Viet Nam vets he met with in Detroit.
Not an unreasonable request and not an unreasonable assumption, if you only limit your research into Kerry’s anti-war, anti-military activities to his testimony. But there’s more .... much more that makes the case that Kerry was indeed indicting the entire military through his activities in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). His testimony was only the most visible of these activities and certainly not the most damning.
Note who is among the organizers and among the speakers. As you can see they planned on “forming an infantry unit of company strength” comprised of “Vietnam vets, active duty GIs and other war veterans” and staging a 4 day march from Morristown, NJ to Valley Forge, PA where they’d have a mass protest. On the surface, it sounds pretty benign, doesn’t it?
But the devil is in the details.
There was a reason they formed an “infantry unit of company strength”. It was so they could portray American infantrymen, every day soldiers, as brutal butchers. Now, the words sound hyperbolic, but they’re not. As Operation RAW moved through each town they enacted their version of a “search and destroy” operation”. As described in one of the flyers, the purpose of this unit was to “dramatize as authentic a picture of a US Army search and destroy mission to the American people as practical."
How did they do this? Well read it straight from the horses’s mouth. As it proclaims in the cite: “This story is taken from material saved by Joe Urgo-VVAW AI. Joe was one of the marchers, a former national officer of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), and the first Vietnam vet to travel to Hanoi in support of the revoluntary struggle of the Vietnamese.”
It was Labor Day weekend 1970. At 10:30 a.m. in Doylestown, PA a company of infantry swept into town, seizing and occupying the center of the city, setting up road blocks and taking civilian prisoners. Anyone fleeing was killed, the rest were tortured and then killed for just being there. The younger women were particularly mauled and abused before being killed. At 10:45, once again on alert, the company marched south of town, leaving a trail of bloody bodies and survivors standing in their yards and streets, mute with shock, unbelieving eyes fastened on the departing soldiers. Leaflets lay in the streets like the one below.
Beginning in Morristown, New Jersey, 150 combat veterans marched through the countryside toward Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The veterans, who held 110 purple heart medals between them, had enlisted the help of the aptly named Philadelphia Guerilla Theater Company to go ahead of the march and plant themselves in the villages and towns along the march route. Sweeping through the rural back countries of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, the vets wore as much of their combat fatigues and battle gear as they had been able to scrape together. Their "infantry company" was realistically armed with toy rifles.
As the column of veterans passed through the communities, they cordoned off the villages, "interrogated," "tortured," and "shot" the actors posing as civilians, and in general tried to recreate the brutal realities of war. The towns and roads were mapped out in advance and the skits were pre-arranged so that as the company surrounded a home or a village--with walkie-talkies screaming and vets running all over the place, blood capsules bursting on library steps or in front of stores--there was a sense of realism in the air as these safe rural hamlets were "invaded." The veterans terrified and shocked some people, challenging many others. Of course, some patriots thought that the vets were "disgracing the uniform of the U.S." to bring their message to civilian Amerikkka. One thing was certain: there was no business as usual for those communities on the day the column of vets marched through.
"Amerikkka". No agenda in that spelling, is there?
The flyers they left laying in the street as they departed said the following:
A US INFANTRY COMPANY JUST CAME THROUGH HERE
If you had been Vietnamese
--We might have burned your house
--We might have shot your dog
--We might have shot you
--We might have raped the women
--We might have turned you over to your government for torture
--We might have taken souvenirs from your property
--We might have shot things up a bit
–We might have done all these things to you and your town
If it doesn’t bother you that American soldiers do these things every day to the Vietnamese simply because they are “gooks”, then picture yourself as one of the silent victims. Help us end the war before they turn your son into a butcher or a corpse.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Becky claims Kerry’s focused on the “leadership” of the military, not the soldiers.
Now, before you get all crazy...keep in mind one very important thing. Kerry NEVER blaimed the vets for the atrocities comitted. He blamed our LEADERSHIP. Read the whole thing. Read it 3 times. I read it 5 times.
Operation RAW certainly didn’t do that, did it? It was talking about American soldiers. In particular infantry soldiers. It was saying “American soldiers do these things every day”. It said we were the butchers. It said we raped and murdered “every day”.
You know, just another day at the office.
Listed on the organizing flyers for Operation RAW is a partial list of the event sponsors, including Jane Fonda and John Kerry. Listed as an information and transportation sponsor in Boston is John Kerry. Listed as speakers are Jane Fonda and John Kerry.
So I’m sorry Becky, I can read it 50 times, which I most likely have in the last 35 years, but it is only a part of what John Kerry has responsibility for ... and its high time that all of it was exposed. In Operation RAW the only purpose of their “theater” was to paint everyday soldiers in Vietnam as stone-cold butchers and rapists. As war criminals. And nothing could have been further from the truth. That’s what the 2.5 million Vietnam Vets are finally saying.
Read this stuff 3 times, 5 times. It doesn’t matter. The conclusion is inescapable. John Kerry and the VVAW purposely and viciously painted a whole generation of soldiers as baby killing rapists through actions such as Operation RAW.
I haven’t forgotten it and I haven’t forgiven it.
Becky concludes with:
I am angry. I am VERY angry. And that you people can sit back and condemn Kerry for speaking out against an unjust war, for bringing to light the atocities of war that our LEADERSHIP condoned in the name of freedom -- in the name of MY country....I have no words for you, either.
Well I’m very angry as well, Becky.
I’m angry that a nation treated its soldiers the way it did 35 years ago. I’m angry that actions of John Kerry led to that dishonorable treatment. But more than that, I’m angry that now that we who were maligned and smeared by Kerry and the VVAW want to speak out about it, people like you want us to shut up.
Well we’re not going to shut up.
We kept quite about it for all those years and we’re damn tired of living with the lies Kerry and others told about us. We’ve as much right to speak as John Kerry. And we’ve got as much right to tell you and others he was full of crap as any other citizen of this country.
Its not just YOUR country. Its OUR country as well. And this is about how OUR country treated us because of the lies people like John Kerry and the VVAW spread.
When Kerry grows the balls to stand up and tell the Vietnam Vets that he was wrong, he lied and he portrayed them falsely and that he’s sorry for doing so, then perhaps, some real healing can begin.
Until then, I agree with John O’Neill ... he’s unfit for command.
UPDATE: A few images from the VVAW "Operation RAW" march, found in Kerry's book "The New Soldier", depicting American soldiers 'at work' brutalizing and butchering Vietnamese:
Thanks, John Kerry.
UPDATE: TrueBlueGal makes us a cake!
I just went back to the old Blogspot version of QandO, and realized....we turn 1 year old today. The first QandO post was 8/29/2003.
Was it a magnificent piece of analysis? A biting insight? A devastating fact-check? Well, not exactly.
First Post Stress.Clearly, things have improved since then. The move to our own domain--and MovableType--was the start. Most importantly, though, were the additions of McQ and Dale Franks.
What to write?
Well, in the absence of ideas, I'll just duck the whole thing by posting this.
That's out of the way.
And, without getting too maudlin, it cannot be overstated how much I appreciate and enjoy the people who have been reading, commenting, emailing and participating for so long.
At any rate, today marks the 1st Blogiversary of QandO.
Expensive gifts Congratulatory links, blogrolling, bookmarking and word-of-mouth advertising are not discouraged.
UPDATE: To the newcomers: welcome. Where have you been? For a good idea of what this blog is about, check this latest weekly roundup of our best posts.
If it hadn't been in the Korean language I'd have sworn it was a MoveOn.org video.
The first part is being explained by a South Korean TV station I assume as they play the video to their audience.
This passes for MTV in North Korea, I guess.
Oh, and lest we forget, North Korea endorses John Kerry.
- Per Schachte he was manning the M-60, not Bill Zaldonis.
- All Skimmer missions were his and consisted of two officers and one enlisted man to man the outboard motor.
-Schachte doen't remember the name of the enlisted man on that particular night.
-Schachte says there was no after action report made on that night because there was no hostile fire. AA reports are only required if there is hostile fire.
-Schachte reports that he opened fire with the M-60 and it jammed after a short burst. Kerry fired with the M-16 until it jammed. While Schachte was trying to clear the M-60, Kerry fired the M-79.
As for the Purple Heart, he says:
Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard denied Lt. (jg) Kerry's request. Lt. (jg) Kerry detached our division a few days later to be reassigned to another division. I departed Vietnam approximately three weeks later, and Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard followed shortly thereafter. It was not until years later that I was surprised to learn that Lt. (jg) Kerry had been awarded a Purple Heart for this night.
A U.S. citizen and a Pakistani national were arrested in an alleged plot to bomb a subway station in midtown Manhattan and possibly other locations around the city, police said Saturday.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the men were not thought to be connected to al-Qaida or any other international terrorist organization, although he said they expressed hatred for America. The arrests come two days before the start of the Republican National Convention, which is drawing tens of thousands of visitors into the city.
Though there was no clear tie to the convention, authorities moved to arrest the two men before it began, two law-enforcement sources told The Associated Press.
The men had been under police surveillance and had discussed placing explosives at the Herald Square subway station and stations at 42nd and 59th streets, Kelly said. The men never obtained explosives, he said.
One was a US citizen.
Amazing. They apparently were willing to kill many, many people in NY in order to demonstrate the depth of that hate.
What a great purpose in life. Blowing up innocent people on a subway for "hate".
And one was a US citizen?
I was reading through American Legion Magazine, and came across an interview with Kerry by the staff of ALM. While perusing it, I came across this quote from Kerry in answer to a question about a flag burning amendment:
"James Warner, who was a POW in Hanoi, said in a very eloquent article the Vietnamese showed him the photo of somebody burning the flag and said, "See? You're wrong." And he said, "No, that makes me right, because that shows that in our country, you're free, and that's the meaning of freedom." And the captor got absolutely outraged, purple, and he'll never forget having used that as a way of showing what America stands for."
Well Jim Warner, a Marine Corps F4 pilot shot down over North Vietnam, had some other "very eloquent" things to say when recalling his imprisonment there and a man named Kerry who shamelessly used his name above:
After we had talked for quite sometime the interrogator showed me a transcript of testimony that my mother had given at something called the winter soldier hearings...which I had no idea what these were. I read her testimony, and it wasn't damning, but then I saw some of the other stuff that had gone on at this winter soldier hearing and I wondered how did somebody get my mother persuaded to come, uh, appear at something like this.
And then shortly thereafter he [his interrogator showed] showed my some statements from John Kerry. He said that John Kerry had helped to organize the winter soldier hearings because he was so motivated because he had been an American officer served in the US Navy...and...then he started reading some of the statements that John Kerry made.
I'm sorry I can't quote them, but essentially he accused all of us in Vietnam of being criminals. That everything we had done was criminal. Therefore, of course, the North Vietnamese had told us from the time they got their hands on us that we were criminals, we're not covered by the Geneva Conventions, so it was ok for them to do whatever they wanted to us.
And they told us that they were going to put us on trial, and some of us would be executed....
The interrogator went through all of these statements from John Kerry. And he starts pounding on the table, "Well see here is this Naval officer, he [John Kerry] admits that you are a criminal and that you deserve punishment."
Kerry is indeed shameless. As is obvious, Jim Warner isn't his biggest fan. Kerry used Warner's mother in 1971, and now he uses Warner in 2004.
Would someone please forward this to Teresa Heinz Kerry so she can buy a clue about what's going on concerning her husband and wannabe president?
The best posts of this past week, linked and excerpted in one convenient place. Read the excerpts and--if it interests you--follow the links. Even if you don't follow the link, I think you'll enjoy the excerpts. And, as usual, check the lower right-hand sidebar for Quick Links to other interesting posts around the 'sphere.
* Swifties and Rood (McQ) - If I were Kerry, I don't think I'd be touting this Rood fellow.
* Swifties and MoveOn (McQ) - One doesn't have to look very hard to find coordination between Kerry and liberal 527s. It's just that, so far, nobody seems interested in that coordination.
* Suggestion for keeping the peace (Dale Franks) - A suggestion which would allow us to finally move this campaign past 1972.
* Media Matters for John Kerry's Election (Jon Henke) - Media Matters tries to prove that Gore won Florida, by citing a study that concluded Bush won Florida. Interesting epistemology.
* Iran: Job One for 2005 (Dale Franks) - "They aren't part of the "Axis of evil" for nothing, the Iranians."
* Departamento de los Vehículos de Motor (Dale Franks) - We don't tolerate law-breakers round here. We give 'em Driver's licenses. Yes, sir. Law and order, you know.
* Factchecking Factcheck.org...again (Jon Henke) - Factcheck leaves out some facts. We checked.
* Make. It. Stop. (McQ) - Kerry goes from "bring it on!" to "not in the face!" in record time.
* Kerry's evolving story (Jon Henke) - a compendium of recent, er, problems with Kerry's story. Plus, the lengths to which partisans will go to ignore them.
* Finally figured it out (McQ) - "A) The NYT deliberately left out some of the report.
B) The NYT writers who used the report had no idea about the meaning of what they were reading."
* Media Matters for John Kerry's Election (PT 2) (Jon Henke) - Fact-checking Media Matters. (something you really shouldn't have to do to an organization supposedly "devoted" to correcting mistakes.
* Why I oppose McCain-Feingold (Dale Franks) - All the good intentions in the world won't solving the unintended consequences of the McCain-Feingold stake in the heart of the 1st ammendment.
* Misunderestimating W. Again. (Dale Franks) - "the Democrats have underestimated George W. Bush's political skills .... Or, perhaps they've overestimated John Kerry's."
* Kerry's Economic Spin (Jon Henke) - factchecking John Kerry's economic pessimism.
* The Iranian Problem (Dale Franks) - "Negotiating with a potential enemy who desires nothing you can offer him other than capitualtion, is usually not productive, a fact that is often completely lost on the chattering classes."
* Are we back in Cambodia for Christmas or not? (McQ) - It's the political equivalent of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle - we can either believe what the Kerry camp is currently saying about when/if Kerry was in Cambodia, or we can believe what they were saying yesterday. We cannot believe both at the same time. McQ discusses the various stories....
* McCain-Feingold II (Dale Franks) - Nobody likes to hear "I told you so". But that's no excuse....they need to hear it anyway.
* Exploiting Max Cleland (McQ) - Max "Timmy!" Cleland....
* AWOL for the Goose... (Jon Henke) - There appears to be every bit as much evidence that John Kerry was AWOL as there is evidence that George W Bush was AWOL.
* The Job Picture Gets Muddier (McQ and Dale Franks) - "Time to take a good hard look at the BLS payroll survey."
* More about Jobs (Dale Franks) - It's too early to tell if the tax cuts have increased revenue, but it's apparent that they did help to ameliorate the recession.
* The Laffer Curve (Dale Franks) - A discussion of the Laffer curve, as it relates to the Bush tax cuts. (with reader questions)
* Swifties Phase II addresses vets real anger (McQ) - "...the smearing and back stabbing took place in 1971 by a man named John Kerry. He's the one who broke faith with his military comrades and who stabbed them in the back while they were still in combat."
* The Highest uninsured rate since
Herbert Hoover...er, Bill Clinton? (Jon Henke) - A look at the recent "uninsured" data, which isn't as bas as it sounds on the evening news....
* Busting the McCain 2000 myth (McQ) - Bush attacked the service of Cleland and McCain! Except, beyond the strange syllogism that "Rove is evil, and attacking their service is evil....therefore, Rove was behind it. QED! " there doesn't seem to be much to that claim.
* Curiouser and Curiouser (Dale Franks and Jon Henke) - Questions arise surrounding Kerry's records. Which may explain why he's not real big on releasing records.
* 1st Blogiversary for QandO (Jon Henke) - It's our Birthday weekend!
The Tallahassee Democrat carries the results of an interesting poll just taken in the state of FL.
A new survey of Democrats and Republicans shows how polarized the parties are in Florida and has some potentially troubling implications for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
The poll of 500 Democrats and 500 Republicans, released Friday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., showed predictably partisan breakdowns on issues and unity behind Kerry and President Bush within their own parties.
But the poll found 11 percent of Democrats willing to vote for Bush on Nov. 2, compared to just 5 percent of Republicans who said they would cross over for Kerry.
And while only 18 percent of Democrats consider themselves conservative, more than one-third of conservative Democrats said they will vote for Bush.
If this same sort of dissaffection, no matter how small, holds true in other states, it could be the margin of victory for Bush.
As the poll notes:
Democrats in the survey backed Kerry by 82 percent. Bush had 87 percent support among his own party's likely primary voters.
Bush's approval rating also broke down along party lines - 85 percent approval among Republicans, 75 percent disapproval among Democrats - and party members were similarly split on the economy. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans said the economy is improving while 76 percent of Democrats said it's not.
Seventy-nine percent of likely Republican voters backed Bush on the Iraq war, 12 percent said it was a mistake to invade, and 83 percent felt the administration is making progress in fighting terrorism.
By contrast, 76 percent of Democrats felt invading Iraq was a mistake. Only 25 percent thought the war on terror is making gains while 59 percent said it isn't.
Well, it probably goes without saying that most libertarians have Big Problems with the Bush administration. Between the spending, trade restrictions, increased regulation, dramatically enlarged entitlement programs, and assorted other quibbles and bits, there's a whole lot to dislike.
On the other hand, I'm having trouble recalling any election in which libertarians didn't have Big Problems with the whole slate of realistic candidates.
And there is, after all, a War on.
So, primarily for that reason, some libertarians have thrown in their chips with Bush.
Bush is not a libertarian, nor do we claim he is. He is a Centrist with soft conservative leanings. In this election and upcoming term we believe he is the right man for the job.Of course, the fact that the alternative is John Kerry is....well, motivation.
There is also a Political Quiz at the site. I got:
Economic Issues: is 95
Social Issues: is 90
...probably because of a few "maybe's" I put in response to questions that I wasn't sure could be accurately answered with a Yes or No. At the end, there's an interesting map of projected rankings for other well-known political and social figures.
I'd be interested to know your scores, as well. Take the test, and visit the site.
Teresa Heinz Kerry has broken her silence of weeks to wade into the fray about her husband's VN service and war-protesting. Perhaps she shouldn't have:
"I believe that discussions or attacks on [my husband's] service undermine the peace of mind not only of Vietnam veterans but of those now fighting for their country," she told the Dayton Daily News.
"Let us hope that if they volunteer for service their reviews are not going to be so nefarious in the future," she added.
In a word, Ms. Heinz-Kerry: "Nonsense". If anyone, those fighting in Iraq know exactly what this is about, even if you don't.
What they know is the veterans of the Vietnam era, who were so maligned by your husband, are going to make sure of two things. A) He doesn't get a pass on if as he has for 30+ years and B) that the sorts of lies and exaggerations he told against our military will never again go unanswered or unconfronted. Not if the veterans have anything to say about it.
While this may be painful for you and your husband, try to imagine how painful it was for those who were branded wholesale as murderers, rapists and war-criminals by his false testimony. Imagine having to live silently with the lies your husband told about them for all these years.
Is this detrimental to the morale of the troops in Iraq? Hardly. What would be detrimental to their moral is to have to endure a Commander-in-chief who trashed the institution they hold dear and has worked incessently during his Senate career to cut their funding, weapons systems and size.
Asked Monday about the Swiftvet criticism by the Gannet News Service, Heinz Kerry responded less forcefully, saying, "I honor my husband's work. I honor his past."
"I may be wrong," she added. "But I have to believe that no veteran today, including those who don't plan to vote for my husband, feels very good about these attacks."
In this case you're precisely right. But its like surgery. We may not like it but its something which must be done. This has been a festering wound among veterans for 35 years. But there's never really been a forum to present the tide of resentment which has abided in Vietnam era vets that this particular man seeded with his testimony and activites in 1971.
As you saw at the VFW Convention, what your husband did in 1971 has not been forgotten and it certainly hasn't been forgiven. You, like most of the left who were complicit in the lies and the resulting shabby treatment of members of our military at that time, would love to just pretend like it all never happend.
Well it did.
And your husband is in large part responsible for that. This is the first opportunity on a national scale for the veteran community to finally have its say about what he did. The time has come for John Kerry to face up to it and pay the piper.
Is it hurting morale in Iraq? Don't kid yourself. Its most likely building it up ... our troops know that, at least in the veteran community, we'll never let this happen again if we can help it.
UPDATE: Reader Peter distills the essense of the anger felt by Vietnam veterans toward John Kerry with a passionate and articulate rendering of his deepest feelings about what this has awakened and why its important to him and to others like myself:
I cannot speak to any effect that this controversy has on serving Military. I cannot even speak to any Viet Nam Veteran but myself.
This controversy has affected my morale, albiet not in the way Mrs. Heinz-Kerry seems to think. This controversy has made me ashamed of myself.
Make no mistake, my tours in Viet Nam were not the stuff of the glorious fiction of a John Wayne movie, my war had far more to do with lonlieness, homesickness, fear and exhaustion than it had to do with charging enemy pillboxes shooting a flame thrower from the hip. I was simply one of millions doing an ugly job in an ugly place.
I do not apologize for my mundane service, I went where I was sent and did what I was told, to the best of my ability. My shame comes from when I came home to the cacophony of the 'anti-war' movement.
For a little while I tried to defend myself and my comrades, when few would listen I gave up. In my weariness, my desire to fit in, my eagerness to build a civilian life and, yes, my cowardice, I shut up, put my head down and allowed the Haydens, Fondas and Kerrys to define me, and, worse, those who had done more and sacrificed more than me. I sat silent for three and a half decades while the children of men who died over there were taught the same thing that mine were, that the men who fought that war were a bunch of raping, murdering thugs of subhuman intelligence but enough cunning to master the incredibly complex machinery of then-modern war and unleash it, not in defense of freedom but in opposition to it.
As I sat with my family and told them of the absolute integrity, love and honor of so many of the young men I was privileged to stand alongside, the superhuman courage, born out of love, that I had the honor to see, a small voice in my soul was asking 'who is telling this to the children of the dead?' It wasn't me. It should have been me.
Now, after years of my silence, the man who, more than any other single man, put that black cloud over those 58,000 names carved in black granite, is back. Three and a half decades after pissing on every single one of those 58,000 neatly-folded flags he is wrapping himself in them.
I'm angry and ashamed. Angry at myself for allowing this. Angry at him for doing this.
I am not competant to judge the quality of Kerry's service in those boats. I was nowhere near them, my job was elsewhere. I simply don't know enough about the war on the rivers to have an opinion, I defer to those who served on the rivers.
I do know this. John Kerry surrounded himself with 'veterans', many of whom had never spent a day in uniform. Others had never been assigned to Southeast Asia. None of those 'veterans, not a single one, would testify under oath, to all of these 'widespread atrocities'. Even after being offered full immunity they would not testify.
This is what I know. John Kerry slimed the good name of every single one of the millions of good men I had the honor of standing beside. He did it on purpose, knowingly. He did it after running for office as a hero and losing. Discovering that heros weren't selling very well he turned to knavery. Had he spoken only for himself I could forgive him for his lies and myself for my silence.
I am silent no longer. Everywhere my voice is welcome and places where it isn't, I'm speaking out. I should have done this decades ago.
This isn't about George Bush. It's not about me. It's about scrubbing the slime off that black granite wall. It's about the pride and love being, thirty-odd years too late, restored to some 58,000 families.
Please forgive the length, somebody smarter than me could probably say this in a single sentence.
Thank you Peter. I don't think I could have said it better if I had tried.
Thank you for you service ... and welcome home.
Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Thomas Lipscomb has been looking over the military records on Jiohn Kerry's campaign web site. After doing so, he's wondering about something.
The Kerry campaign has repeatedly stated that the official naval records prove the truth of Kerry's assertions about his service.
But the official records on Kerry's Web site only add to the confusion. The DD214 form, an official Defense Department document summarizing Kerry's military career posted on johnkerry.com, includes a "Silver Star with combat V."
But according to a U.S. Navy spokesman, "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star."
Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.
That's certainly odd. But that's not all. For a single medal, Kerry seems to have gotten more than the usual number of citations (1) to go with it.
Kerry's Web site also lists two different citations for the Silver Star. One was issued by the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. John Hyland. The other, issued by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman during the Reagan administration, contained some revisions and additional language. "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (j.g.) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself... ."
But a third citation exists that appears to be the earliest. And it is not on the Kerry campaign Web site. It was issued by Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam. This citation lacks the language in the Hyland citation or that added by the Lehman version, but includes another 170 words in a detailed description of Kerry's attack on a Viet Cong ambush, his killing of an enemy soldier carrying a loaded rocket launcher, as well as military equipment captured and a body count of dead enemy.
Actually, that's not just odd, it's bizarre. Usually, if you lose the citation or certificate, you just request a duplicate from the DoD. They don't get re-written for you.
But, wait, there's more!
Kerry's Web site also carries a DD215 form revising his DD214, issued March 12, 2001, which adds four bronze campaign stars to his Vietnam service medal. The campaign stars are issued for participation in any of the 17 Department of Defense named campaigns that extended from 1962 to the cease-fire in 1973.
However, according to the Navy spokesman, Kerry should only have two campaign stars: one for "Counteroffensive, Phase VI," and one for "Tet69, Counteroffensive."
Now, we shouldn't jump to conclusions here. Peoples' DD214s get screwed up all the time. My DD214 missed my AF Achievement Medal. Not a particularly impressive medal, but, still, I earned it, and my DD214 should show it. So, it may be that way with Kerry.
Experts point out that even the official military records get screwed up. Milavic is trying to get mistakes in his own DD214 file corrected. In his opinion, "these entries are not prima facie evidence of lying or unethical behavior on the part of Kerry or anyone else with screwed-up DD214s."
But, we'd probably know more about this whole deal if we could actually see Kerry's records, which, of course, we cant.
Reporting by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs points out that although the Kerry campaign insists that it has released Kerry's full military records, the Post was only able to get six pages of records under its Freedom of Information Act request out of the "at least a hundred pages" a Naval Personnel Office spokesman called the "full file."
So, what's in those hundred pages of documents? What kind of goodies might be unearthed? For instance, might we find out what happened with Kerrys discharge from the Navy?
Questions have been raised about President Bush's drill attendance in the reserves, but Bush received his honorable discharge on schedule. Kerry, who should have been discharged from the Navy about the same time -- July 1, 1972 -- wasn't given the discharge he has on his campaign Web site until July 13, 1978. What delayed the discharge for six years? This raises serious questions about Kerry's performance while in the reserves that are far more potentially damaging than those raised against Bush.
Nice to see the mainstream media finally jumping in and asking some questions.
UPDATE (JON): "Wow" is right. Reader "Jumbo" refers us to NRO's Kerry Spot, which has this....
Veterans said yesterday that although they would take offense at someone falsely wearing a "V" combat pin, they couldn't see how this could drive Navy Adm. Jeremy Michael Boorda to suicide.It is, apparently, no longer sufficient to question one's leadership based on potentially inappropriate medals. I don't recall, precisely, what day that change went into effect, but John Kerry says it's all different now, and John Kerry is an honorable man.
“Is it wrong? Yes, it is very wrong. Sufficient to question his leadership position? The answer is yes, which he clearly understood,” said Sen. John Kerry, a Navy combat veteran who served in Vietnam.
One more question. If John Kerry believes this....
“In a sense, there's nothing that says more about your career than when you fought, where you fought and how you fought,” Kerry said....then why won't he release his records, so we can know about this thing that "says more about [his] career" than anything else? Why has Kerry suddenly gotten gun-shy about his Vietnam-era resume?
“If you wind up being less than what you’re pretending to be, there is a major confrontation with value and self-esteem and your sense of how others view you.”
And, more to the point, why did John Kerry say that Bush "owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it. That's what we ought to have."....and, yet, John Kerry--principled man that he is--refuses to do more than a very limited, selective release of his own records? And why is the left side of the 'sphere so suddenly quiet about that whole "release the record" thing?
Of course, those are rhetorical questions.
The fact is, while each side blathers about "the principle of the thing", there's still an election to be won, and principles don't win the Electoral College. The shots fired are for advantage, not principle.
I like Rich Lowry's characterization of a trio of Vets we've come to know well here lately:
It is supposed to be a devastating critique of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that John McCain doesn't like their ads. But should we be surprised? McCain knows no party. Instead, together with Kerry supporter Max Cleland, the Arizona senator makes for the smallest caucus in American politics -- Thin-Skinned Vietnam War Veterans Adored by the Media (TSVWVAM).
This is a crew that takes every single little thing said in criticism, no matter how true, to be an attack on their service or their patriotism. We've delt with the Cleland nonsense before, but how about McCain? Just as with Cleland, there's a myth which has grown up about McCain and Bush in South Carolina which has Bush questioning McCain's military credentials and patriotism.
Lowry says, "not true". Consider the context and the situation:
A Kerry ad (now taken off the air) featured a clip from McCain at a 2000 debate in South Carolina excoriating Bush for abiding attacks on his service. It seems devastating, unless you know the context. McCain was furious -- a not-infrequent condition for the Arizona maverick -- that a Bush supporter who is a veteran had stood next to Bush at a rally and complained about McCain's Senate voting record. It wasn't an attack on McCain's service. But both members of TSVWVAM have the same inability to distinguish between criticisms of their records and themselves personally.
"He has always opposed all the legislation," the pro-Bush vet said, "be it Agent Orange or Gulf War health care, or frankly the POW/MIA issue." You don't have to subscribe to every particular of this litany to consider it firmly in-bounds. A McCain vote in 1999 against a Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill, for instance, angered some vets, as did his work to normalize relations with Vietnam. Veterans of Foreign Wars gave McCain a 75 percent favorable rating in 1998, respectable but lower than other senators who scored in the 80 percent to 100 percent range. In 1995, McCain scored a mere 27 percent. So it's not as though his legislative record was beyond reproach.
McCain was rejected by SC voters not because of his service or his "lack" of patriotism, but because he was too liberal when they compared him to Bush. Max Cleland was rejected by GA voters for the same reason. However, to hear McCain whine about it, you'd think they cut the buttons off of his uniform, broke his sword and escorted him to the SC line.
As Lowry points out:
McCain lost in South Carolina because he was too liberal for Republican primary voters and his campaign was considered too negative after he compared Bush's honesty to Bill Clinton's.
So as you can tell, it wasn't exactly all "sweetness and light" from McCain.
As an interesting aside, since we're talking about McCain, the Washington Post is reporting the following:
McCain said that he urged Kerry sometime ago not to talk about Vietnam during his campaign. "I did advise John. I said, 'Look, you shouldn't talk about Vietnam because everybody else will. Let everybody else do it.' His advisers figured that was probably not enough, that he had to emphasize that in his campaign. In my campaign, as you know, I didn't talk about it because I didn't need to."
McCain also said he drew a distinction between the first anti-Kerry ad by the veterans group, which focused on Kerry's Vietnam service, and a second ad now airing that criticizes Kerry for his leadership in the antiwar movement after he returned from Vietnam. McCain condemned the first ad but not the second.
Not condemning the second ad, huh?
John Kerry's characterization of the Swift Boat Vets attack on him:
"They have obviously decided that some people will believe anything, no matter how fictional or how far-fetched, if they just repeat it often enough. That's how they have run their administration, that's how they're running their campaign, and that's how they will run their convention," Kerry said.
Is he talking about himself or the Swifties? When it comes to "repeat it often enough" no one can hold a candle to Kerry's "... when I was in Vietnam" and all the now frayed and frazzled hero vignette's which have been repeated ad nauseum for 30 plus years.
Oh wait ... he's repeating the canard that the Swifties are run by the administration.
Well, you know, he may have a point, depending on how many times he intends to repeat that specious bit of nonsense.
Heh ... watching this guy work is making me consider the possibility he may be "irony impaired."
That's Charles Krauthammer's name for his theory about the relatively quick emergence of the left's virulent hate of George Bush. You see, it all began in Florida and ended with the Supreme Court. Despite mountains of evidence showing no matter how many times and ways the recount had been done the result would be the same, the left rejects the result. Anger boils:
The hostility, resentment, envy and disdain, all superheated in Florida, were not permitted their natural discharge. Came 9/11 and a lid was forced down. How can you seek revenge for a stolen election by a nitwit usurper when all of a sudden we are at war and the people, bless them, are rallying around the flag and hailing the commander-in-chief? With Bush riding high in the polls, with flags flying from pickup trucks, the President was untouchable.
The Democrats fell unnaturally silent. For two long, agonizing years, they had to stifle and suppress. The forced deference nearly killed them. And then, providentially, they were saved. The clouds parted and bad news rained down like manna: WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill and, most important, continued fighting in Iraq.
Stripped of his halo, Bush's ratings went down. The spell was broken. He was finally once again human and vulnerable. With immense relief, the critics let loose.
The result has been a virtual avalanche of fear and lothing. "Hate" has unhinged the left:
It is not often that a losing presidential candidate (Al Gore) compares the man who defeated him with Hitler and Stalin. It is not often that a senior party leader (Edward Kennedy) accuses a sitting President of starting a war ("cooked up in Texas") to gain political advantage for his reelection.
The loathing goes far beyond the politicians. Liberals as a body have gone quite around the twist. I count one all-star rock tour, three movies, four current theatrical productions and five best sellers (a full one-third of the New York Times list) variously devoted to ridiculing, denigrating, attacking and devaluing this President, this presidency and everyone who might, God knows why, support it.
In a word, it has become "toxic".
The subject of one prominent new novel is whether Bush should be assassinated. This is all quite unhinged.
What if Bush is reelected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They'll need therapy.
Actually I think if they lose, they'll need more than therapy. I'm of the opinion we'll see a preview of what we can expect if they lose in the streets of NY during the RNC convention.
I mentioned in an article the other day when writing about irony of Kerry's antiwar past and the probability he'd almost be forced to prosecute a war in the face of a gathering anti-war movement. But there was a paragraph in the op/ed I cited which makes me uneasy.
The anti-war movement in this country today is precisely where it was in its earliest stages of Vietnam. This nation is about a year away from serious antiwar activity, especially if Bush wins re-election and the pent-up bitterness that now drives the national Democratic Party has no productive outlet.
I happen to agree with this assessment. Jim Wooten, who wrote the piece in which it is found, has articulated something I've been thinking about for some time. If they lose, considering the virulence of the hate being spewed by the left, what will be the outlet for that hate but an anti-war movement? How else, with the presidency out of play for four years and a probable hold by Repubicans in Congress, will they vent this almost nuclear-powered hate?
We'll see ... but I certainly don't think its going to be pretty.
Another from the liberal side of the fence has a revelation on the order of a "blinding flash of the obvious". Joan Ryan of the SFGate tells us:
As a good San Franciscan, I swallowed my judgment as I watched the Muslim women move through the malls and restaurants like shadows of their husbands and sons and young daughters. If I have learned anything in two decades in the Bay Area, it is tolerance for the customs of other cultures and religions.
But one day at breakfast in our Dubai hotel, I came across a story in the English-language Gulf News that made me question the assumption that tolerance is always a good thing. Is it possible, I wondered, to so single-mindedly embrace the virtue of tolerance that we become de facto supporters of oppression?
You see making a judgement means having to determine whether something is good or bad. And that then requires the "thinker" to determine whether their culture is "better" or "worse" than the culture being judged.
Much to , er, judgmental. Its an article of faith among many liberals that intolerance is perhaps the greatest of secular sins. The "thinking" is all cultures are equal, and to judge one as superior to another is to be intolerant, and thus narrow minded, parochial and partisan. It is to miss out on the richness of cultural diversity and the lessons we can learn from others.
Well I would agree that there's much to be said for many cultures and I wouldn't doubt we can learn from other cultures as well, but does that mean I must consider a culture which holds its women in virtual slavery, to be equal to a culture that demands the same rights for its women as it does its men?
I suppose that depends on my view on freedom, women and a whole raft of other things doesn't it? But regardless of what my views might be, I'm going to judge, one way or the other, whether a culture's treatment of women is "good" or "bad" according to what standards? The standards of the culture which supports (and shaped) my views. What our lib friends tell us is that any "judgement" of another culture is wrong. In other words they ask us to abandon the views which have been shaped by our culture and to view other cultures in a value-neutral sort of way. To acccept other cultures as being "as good as" ours, even if we don't agree with the basic precepts or principles of that culture.
Well you know what, that's just not human nature.
Time to be forthright. I am and always have been intolerant of many things, and I plan on remaining that way. It is through intolerance and discrimination that I make many daily decisions concerning the conduct of my life.
So sue me.
And even worse, I suppose, I find some cultures to be far superior to others.
They're shrieking in Berkley!
For instance, I'm intolerant of a culture which will stone a woman to death for being unfaithful and write the guy's infidelity off as "guys will be guys and just can't help themselves". A culture which treats that sort of offense as an offense to be settled between the two people and provides for them to do so legally is far superior.
I'm intolerant of a culture which finds male children superior to female children. I find far superior the culture that views both male and female children as equal gifts and treats them as such.
I'm intolerant of cultures which place their women in such a subserviant and degraded place that they're virtual slaves. I find far superior the culture which sees males and females as equals both in the law and through rights.
I'm intolerant of a culture which classifies and treats other human beings as inferior simply because of their race, sex or religion. The superior culture would treat all people, regardless of race, sex or religion as equals.
Those are just a few. And, somehow I figured all of this out all by myself years ago.
For Joan Ryan, the apparent revelation and conversion came late in life and was made on a very recent trip to the UAE where an honest to goodness "different culture" stared her right in the face. She apparently had a rough time applying the value-neutral "tolerance" template to what she saw and learned.
We cannot force another country to change its values and customs so they better reflect our own. But we don't have to accept them, either. Some customs and values are not worthy of our tolerance.
Welcome to the real world, Joan. Maybe we ought to make the UAE a "must go" destination on the liberal travelogue in the future.
Former career soldier Ralph Peters takes a critical look at the report on the Abu Ghraib Abuses. He's not happy. He's especially unhappy with the senior leadership at the pentagon, who shouldn't've have created the situation that led to it.
he problem isn't that we did the wrong thing. We did a great thing by ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. But we did it needlessly badly. Because we tried to do it on the cheap. Well, the truth is that you don't always get what you pay for — but you never get what you don't pay for.
Why was our military prevented from conducting its standard, detailed planning processes? Why were troop levels held artificially low?
Because ideologues in the Bush administration feared that, if the American people were given honest answers about the potential cost, it might be politically impossible to go to war...
The administration clutched at the straw that the Schlesinger report didn't call for Rumsfeld's resignation (the Army's internal report could not have done so). Cold comfort: The report damned his performance. Besides, the Schlesinger team was drawn from the Washington old-boys' club, of which Rummy is a long-term member. The old boys never call for each other's resignation. It's remarkable they were as critical as they were.
The fact that the same bloodstained civilian leadership remains in place in the Pentagon is an insult to our troops — and a prime cause of our occupation stumbles.
Keep in mind, that Peters is a bush supporter.
I could write a book on everything the Bush administration has done wrong in Iraq. If there was any possible mistake the Bush Administration could make in being too tentative, or too risk averse, they made it. For example, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Moqtada al-Sadr. If I had been president, al-Sadr would've been dead or in prison a year ago.
And, while we're on the subject, Fallujah would be nothing but a very wide, flat place on the highway out of Baghdad, because, as soon as the trouble started there, I'd've evactuated it, razed it to the ground, leveled the rubble, and sowed the earth with salt.
And I'd've had enough troops in Iraq to do it, even if I'd had to empty out Germany to do so.
But, where were we? Oh. Yes. Abu Ghraib. Nasty business that. But apparently, though the senior leadership committed enough sins of omission to fill a book, they can't bear the blame for Abu Ghraib directly. That lies on the heads of the perpetrators. That doesn't mean the penatgon's leadership should be held blameless, though.
Whatever the sins of omission and commission at the top of the chain of command, the thugs in uniform at Abu Ghraib were self-starting criminals. Which is why they're pleading guilty, one after the other. No sympathy for those devils...
The reports also found officers in the Abu Ghraib chain of command derelict in the performance of their duties. They need to be court-martialed.
The easiest link in the chain of command to sympathize with is Lt.-Gen. Rick Sanchez and his staff in Baghdad. They had a growing insurgency to fight with too few troops, too small a staff, too few resources and indecision in Washington. It's easy to grasp why Sanchez and his deputies concentrated on the combat situation and slighted other matters. As a former soldier, I can easily imagine a sweating general snapping, "Look, I'm busy fighting a war, colonel. Just handle that prisoner business, all right?"
In the military, it's always the issue for which you don't have time that bites you on the backside.
And sometimes they take a big bite.
Kudos to George Bush for standing up and admitting that he "miscalculated what the conditions would be" in Iraq after the US invaded.
Of course that doesn't solve the problem or change the current situation in Iraq, but it does prove, at least to me, that Bush isn't above admitting an error or miscalculation. That admission does make it easier to now consider a course change and do what is necessary in Iraq to correct the effect of that miscalculation with an eye to remedying the situation.
We've all seen politicians who refuse to acknowledge error, apparently believing that doing so somehow damages them politically. Well folks when its obvious to the entire world but they won't admit it, how does it help their cause?
This is an important admission, because now alternatives and remedies can be openly discussed without further fear of the politics getting in the way.
Oh sure, the Dems are going to use this .... they'd be fools not too ... but I think this show of honesty will resonate more positively with the American people than negatively (well at least with the undecided). Yes it shows Bush to be fallible, but then I'd love to hear from someone who has always believed our elected officials to be infallible. I'm not sure of anyone who's ever believed him or any other president to be something other than a human being who may make mistakes.
More important than that is the man or woman who's willing to review his or her actions, admit their mistakes and not ride them over the canyon wall so they don't have to say "I was wrong".
Its that type person I prefer in a leadership positions.
Daniel Henninger asks a question I've been wondering about for a while now.
How can this be happening? Why didn't John Kerry months back--if not years--find some gracious way to make peace with the John O'Neills of the world? Why didn't one wise head among the Democrats point out the obvious difficulties of the Kerry candidacy once past the party's primary voters? This is a man who would be running as both a hero of Vietnam and a famous accuser of the war's heroes. This is an election, not a Shakespearean tragedy. How come John Kerry never worked out, before the final leg of his long odyssey, a let-bygones statement, admitting the hyperbole (at the least) of his accusations of atrocity before Congress in 1971, honoring the service of colleagues who never felt obliged to apologize for Vietnam, but reserving his right to oppose that troubled war?
That's actually a pretty good question. It would seem like the smart thing to do would be to come to some sort of reconciliation with his fellow Viet vets; some sort of "mistakes were made" kind of deal. I mean, he wouldn't've had to go the whole mea maxima culpa route, just some sort of accomodation that took some of the edge off.
Henninger, however, thinks he knows why that never happened.
Alongside support for the civil-rights movement in the 1960s, opposition to Vietnam forms the moral bedrock of the modern Democratic Party. John Kerry (whose fidelity to principle, on the available evidence, is weaker than that of those who voted him into this role) is obliged to stand by his 1971 testimony as a matter of principle. Abandon that, and the party abandons him.
Henninger goes on to take this analysis a bit farther--perhaps too far--but this is compelling enough.
One of the things that the Left never did, except for a very few people like Joan Baez, was to admit that they were completely duped by the whole commie line of BS about being champiopns of democracy, and the VC being an indigenous movement that was all about self-determination for the people of South Vietnam.
That was all a sham, and once the VC had served their purpose, the North Vietnamese government gutted them, disbanded the VC, and bumped off any troublesome VC leaders who weren't completely willing to knuckle under.
And of course, the aftermath: a hundred thousand Vietnamese dying in "reeducation" camps, hundreds of thousands of "boat people", many of whom dies trying to leave the new workers' and peasants' paradise, the murder of 1/4 of Cambodia's population under the Khmer Rouge, the whole sad, sorry detritus of defeat.
The response of the Left was denial. It wasn't really happening, and besides, we caused it with our unjust war over there, and anyway, we still don't have social justice at home, and please, please, please, whatever you do, don't try to tell me that I was wrong, and that my opposition to the war in Vietnam led, in some small way to the murders of millions upon millions of people at the hands of my heroes.
They didn't want to hear it then, and they don't want to hear it now. It has become an article of faith that nothing was accomplished in Vietnam, nothing could've been accomplished, and so nothing that happened after our departure could possibly be their fault.
And they certainly don't want to be told they were wrong by their own presidential candidate. So Kerry is in an odd position. He is running as a valiant hero for fighting in a war he is mainly known for opposing. But to reconcile those two positions by admitting that his past statements were...factually incorrect, well, that simply isn't in the cards.
At least, not until he gets a lot more desperate than he is now.
I've got to tell you, I find this both amazing and fascinating:
A German who had his lower jaw cut out because of cancer has enjoyed his first meal in nine years — a bratwurst sandwich — after surgeons grew a new jaw bone in his back muscle and transplanted it to his mouth in what experts call an "ambitious" experiment.
According to this week's issue of The Lancet medical journal, the German doctors used a mesh cage, a growth chemical and the patient's own bone marrow, containing stem cells, to create a new jaw bone that fit exactly into the gap left by the cancer surgery.
Tests have not been done yet to verify whether the bone was created by the blank-slate stem cells and it is too early to tell whether the jaw will function normally in the long term. But the operation is the first published report of a whole bone being engineered and incubated inside a patient's body and transplanted.
This is really an amazing story and development. But apparently not that new of a thing:
Paul Brown, head of the Center for Tissue Regeneration Science at University College in London, said it's not clear any major scientific ground has been broken, and tests may not be able to show whether the new bone came from stem cells, rather than from the growth factor alone.
The operation put established techniques together, resembling a well-known experiment in which University of Massachusetts scientists grew a human ear using a mold on the back of a mouse in 1995, he said.
They're going to try to make that determination at a later date. In the meantime the patient is eating steak and complaining he can't chew it well because he has no teeth so he has to cut it into tiny, tiny pieces.. On the agenda for later is the implantation of teeth so he can chew and enjoy large freaking chunks of charred cow.
Maybe his friends ought to learn the Heimlich maneuver now.
There is a film currently in production called "Stolen Honor" which bills itself as "a documentary exposing John Kerry's record of betrayal". Obviously it has an agenda. But there is a portion of the web site which has some sample clips of interviews with Former POW's which I found to be very powerful and very damning.
The three who speak in these 3 to 4 minute clips are Ralph Gaither (7 years as a POW), Robinson Risner (7 years as a POW) and James Warner (6+ years as a POW). Pay particular attention to the Warner clip as he directly ties Kerry into the North Vietnamese using anti war activities against the POWs. Gaither is also compelling. He is of the opinion that had the war ended 6 months earlier, one of his fellow POWs (who died 6 months prior to the war's end) would have survived, but because of the anti-war movement extending the war, he didn't.
As mentioned below when I talked about phase two, this is part where the real anger with Kerry is found. As I've pointed out before, this isn't about duty, its about honor. And it appears "Stolen Honor" is going to address that point rather vividly if these clips are any indication.
Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr claimed that he "definitely" was in the "skimmer" (Boston whaler) with Kerry on the night he wounded himself with an M79 grenade.
In an exclusive interview with Robert Novak he says:
"I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident which led to his first Purple Heart.
"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 (grenade launcher)," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."
He also said it was he, Kerry and an enlisted sailor, but he doesn't remember that sailor's name.
This obviously contradicts the claims by Bill Zaldonis and Patrick Runyon who both claim to have been on the skimmer that night with Kerry. They related their rememberances to the Boston Globe thusly (from Chap 3, "Unfit for Command")
The two men serving alongside Kerry that night had similar memories of the incident that led to Kerry's first wartime injury. William Zaldonis, who was manning an M-60, and Patrick Runyon, operating the engine, said they spotted some people running from a sampan to a nearby shoreline. When they refused to obey a call to stop, Kerry's crew began shooting. ''When John told me to open up, I opened up,'' Zaldonis recalled. Zaldonis and Runyon both said they were too busy to notice how Kerry was hit. ''I assume they fired back,'' Zaldonis said. ''If you can picture me holding an M-60 machine gun and firing it-what do I see? Nothing. If they were firing at us, it was hard for me to tell.''
Runyon, too, said that he assumed the suspected Viet Cong fired back because Kerry was hit by a piece of shrapnel. ''When you have a lot of shooting going on, a lot of noise, you are scared, the adrenaline is up,'' Runyon said. ''I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked. I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm.''
So somebody (or maybe all of them) has it wrong. But note they do agree on one thing ... both Zaldonis and Runyon cannot, in anyway, verify return fire.
Back to Schachte:
Schachte, who also was then a lieutenant junior grade, said he was in command of the small Boston whaler or skimmer, with Kerry aboard in his first combat mission in the Vietnam War. The third crew member was an enlisted man whose name Schachte did not remember.
Two reasons why Schachte's story has some credibility. One is you'd rarely if ever, send a green officer out alone on his first combat mission.
Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and "I don't think he (Kerry) was alone" on his first assignment.
But that's not the only reason to believe Schachte's account:
Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush enemy forces on the banks of Mekong River so that the larger Swift boats could move in.
Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis are the two enlisted men who said they were aboard the skimmer and did not know Schachte. However, two other former officers interviewed Thursday confirmed that Schachte was the originator of the technique and always was aboard the Boston whaler for these missions.
In other words, all skimmer missions were all Schachte's missions. It was his technique and it was only used, per Schachte, when he was aboard the skimmer. The Swift boat which was in support and which had towed the skimmer in was commanded by Lt. Voss.
So who's zoomin' who here? And why? We've already seen Alston's "memories" of Kerry's Silver Star event to have been false, as well as Alston's attribution of the actions of Ted Peck to Kerry. Is this just another in a long line of mistaken rememberances?
If we assume Schachte was always on the skimmer a number of possiblities ensue.
A) One of the two enlisted sailors wasn't on the skimmer.
B) Both were on the skimmer, but for some reason neither remembers Schachte
C) Shachte's rememberance of the number of sailors on the skimmer is faulty
Kerry has always supported the one officer (Kerry), two enlisted version in his rememberances as have, obviously, the two saliors, Zaldonis and Runyon. Schachte supports three in the boat, but with one of them being him.
Ted Peck, another Swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill (Schachte) telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.
So who's right? Is it possible that Runyon or Zaldonis have perhaps mixed up a different skimmer mission with this one? If so, and if Schachte was on everyone of them, wouldn't one of them remember Schachte? Wouldn't Kerry?
Lots of interesting questions.
But let's remember one thing while contemplating the questions. According to Kerry, he went on exactly one of these missions not long after he first reached VN. This is how Schachte describes Kerry wounding himself that night:
At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.
The M-79 does indeed have a distinctive "thunk" when it fires. Absolutely no mistaking it (like you can't mistake the fire of an AK-47 for an M-16). But more importantly, note the code name of the skimmer. Then consider this conversation related by Schachte:
The next time he saw Kerry after the first Purple Heart incident, Schachte said, was "about 20 years" later on the U.S. Senate subway in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. "I called, 'Hey, John.' He replied, 'Batman.' I was absolutely amazed by his memory." He said they "talked about having lunch" but never did.
What does that say to you? What it says to me is Kerry identified Schachte with the skimmer mission. There is no other reason to refer to him as "Batman" otherwise.
It says to me that in all likelyhood, William Schachte was indeed on that skimmer the night of the incident. Note I'm not then suggesting that Zaldonis or Runyon weren't. Its entirely possible they were and Schachte's memory is faulty in that regard. Its entirely possible that all three have forgotten the other was on there.
But, based on the Kerry reaction to Schachte 20 years later and the fact that the skimmer missions were all Schachte's and he was on every one of them, I have to come down on the side of the Schachte version here. If it was his technique, he'd be the responsible party for employing it. Regardless of who was in the boat, all of them either remember there was "no fire" or don't know if there was any fire, and that puts the Purple Heart awarded for that incident in deep doubt.
This data will be making the Democratic talking points...
A stagnant economy and rising health care costs helped push the percentage of people in the USA without health insurance last year to 15.6% of the population...The rest of that sentence will not....
...the highest since the share hit a peak of 16.3% in 1998.Rest assured, you won't be hearing any "worst since..." comparisons on that point.
As we've noted here often, our health care system is terribly mangled, and a change is absolutely warranted. Of course, when we say "a change", we don't mean "more government".
For future reference, though, the Census Bureau lists these stats...[formatted differently for your viewing pleasure]
Covered by private or government health insuranceAnd interesting point in all of this is that the total insured numbers for whites, blacks, and Asians are all fairly high...generally around 80%. So, where is the uninsured problem really hitting? Take a look at the Hispanic community...
Covered by private or government health insuranceAnd there is a dramatic discrepancy--much larger than with any other racial category--between Hispanic males and Hispanic females. Indicating? Well, it seems a large component of our uninsured problem--and the health care problems that creates--is a result of mass (and, perhaps, temporary) immigration, and not a lack of economic oppportunity.
Now, one can argue whether the number of insured people should be legislated higher--i.e., "government provides health insurance"--or whether the government should stay out of it and allow people to make their own choices.
We could argue all of that, discuss Canada, per-capita health care spending, a priori economic assumptions on efficient allocation of resources, and the number of MRI machines in Tennessee.
We could discuss all of that, and and I think we probably will over the course of the next few years. Socialized medicine is coming and, as Dan Patrick might say, we can't stop it...we can only hope to contain it.
UPDATE: Via INDC Journal, I see Prudent Politics has taken on the poverty aspect of the report.
The first thing that stands out to me when looking at this graph is that the years with the lowest number of poor were in the booming years of the 1970's.
I also noticed that a poverty rate of 12.5 percent is still one of the lowest poverty rates since 1959. Any idea why AP didn't report this?
Heh ... Alice Cooper weighs in on Rock Stars going political:
"When I was a kid and my parents started talking about politics, I'd run to my room and put on the Rolling Stones as loud as I could. So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick.
"If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."
Jeff Jacoby points out that while all the bruhaha about Kerry's combat record has distracted Kerry, put him off message and caused there to be doubt about his version of events in Vietnam, its not that about which the Swifties are really angry:
That doesn't mean their version of the facts is closer to the truth than his. There are conflicting eyewitness recollections, and, as The Washington Post says, "both accounts contain significant flaws and factual errors." Kerry certainly wouldn't be the first soldier to have embellished his war stories; the Swift Boat vets wouldn't be the first whose passions have altered their memories. Of course, if Kerry really wants to silence the debate about his medals, he can authorize the government to release all his military records. But that won't silence the Swifties. Because their real beef with him is not about what he did in Vietnam. It's about what he did when he came home.
Certainly its been hinted at enough, but now, the full effect and effort of pointing out his perfidy when he returned from Vietnam is their aim.
On April 22, 1971, Kerry went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to indict the American war effort in Vietnam for horrendous war crimes. These were "not isolated incidents," he testified, "but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."
Most who were in Vietnam, as in any war, know that there were war crimes committed as well as atrocities. It happens in every war, and they're perpetrated by both sides. But what Kerry describes above, were he to be describing WWII, would be a very valid description of the Nazi army, but not the Allies. That's not to say that the Allies didn't commit the occasional war crime or atrocity. But unlike Nazi war crimes and atrocities such as their advance through Poland, atrocities and war crimes by the Allies were isolated incidents which were not "committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command". That is also what happened in Vietnam.
And, that is the beef. That is the label which Vietnam veterans reject Mi Lai was an aberation, not a policy, just as we're now finding with Abu Ghrab. To pretend that Mi Lai was comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto is simply ludicrous, but that is what Kerry contends with those statements.
BG Burkett, in his book "Stolen Valor", quotes findings by historian Guenter Lewy in his book "America in Vietnam" which address the issue:
Lewy pointed out that incidents similar to those described at the Winter Soldier hearings did occur. "Yet these incidents either (as in the destruction of hamlets) did not violate the law of war or took place in breach of existing regulations," Lewy wrote. Those responsible were tired and punished.
"In either case, they were not, as alleged, part of a 'criminal policy,'" Lewy said. Despite the antiwar movement's contention that military policies protecting civilians in Vietnam were routinely ignored, Lewy said the rules of engagement were implemented and taken very seriously, although at times the rules were not communicated properly and the training was inadequate. That's what made the failure so notable.
But that is not what Kerry said. Instead Kerry willingly (whether knowingly or unknowingly) perpetrated a fraud which has since branded an entire generation of soldiers with the false impression he generated about the war in Vietnam.
What Lewy found is what most who were in Vietnam remember. But in 1971, no one was interested in listening to soldiers who disagreed with the anti-war side's version. No one was interested in the other side of the argument. So for 35 years, the false impression John Kerry is responsible for perpetrating in both the fradulent "Winter Soldier Investigations" and his 1971 Senate testimony has laid there like a cold lump in need of excising. Now with a war on, now with an understanding of the things which can happen in war, now with support for the military at an all time high, the maligned vets of the Vietnam era see their chance to finally tell their side of the story ... and it won't be kind to John Kerry.
That is what thousands of Vietnam veterans, not to mention countless other vets, have never forgiven or forgotten. Bob Dole, whose right arm was crippled in World War II, suggested on Sunday that Kerry apologize to the 2.5 million veterans he defamed. Kerry's words -- which drew immense media coverage at the time -- helped poison public attitudes about Vietnam veterans and the cause they had fought in. Even worse, they gave encouragement to the enemy.
Kerry has refused to acknowledge his responsibility in this, trying to wave it off as youthful indescretion. But that's not how the majority of vets of that era see it. They instead see a calculated campaign to impugn their honor and what they were doing. They remember the aura of disgust and revulsion those like Kerry helped generate against the military based on that false testimony. They haven't forgotten.
We see comments here at Q and O by some of those backing Kerry that by questioning his combat record or any other record we're smearing him or stabbing him in the back.
Well as far as I'm concerned, and I'm only speaking for myself, the smearing and back stabbing took place in 1971 by a man named John Kerry. He's the one who broke faith with his military comrades and who stabbed them in the back while they were still in combat. They've neither forgiven nor forgotten what he inferred about all of them. So I don't begrudge the Swifties at all in taking advantage of this opportunity to set the record straight and repair the honor of the military of that era that Kerry so badly impugned.
As their Phase II rolls out, remember that while there are certainly questions on both sides about Kerry's Vietnam record, the real anger comes from what he did afterward.
Kerry has never taken back his terrible slur against his fellow soldiers -- men he now calls his "band of brothers." The most he has been willing to say is that his words "were a little bit over the top" and that he could perhaps "have phrased things more artfully." He certainly doesn't regret the propaganda coup he handed the Viet Cong: "I'm proud that I stood up," Kerry told NBC in April. "I don't want anybody to think twice about it."
As I've pointed out before, eveyone has a right to dissent. But when you dissent, you have an obligation to do so responsibly. Responsible dissent doesn't include spreading falsehoods, lies and outright fabrications in order to build or boslter your case. That is what Kerry did. So while he declares no real remorse for what he did, I can find no reason to fogive him for it and I certainly haven't forgotten about it. He abrogated his responsiblity to dissent responsibly and I have no problem with now confronting him with his record on that account.
The second phase of the Swift boat vet's ads addresses the core of the anger an era of soldiers, saliors, airmen and marines hold against Kerry. If he handles this phase as badly as he has handled the questioning of his Vietnam duty, he may have the DNC researching whether they can pull a "Torecelli" nationally and elevate John Edwards to the top spot.
... QandO (I swear, I'm gonna cheerlead for these fellas)...And this is getting her blogrolled....
Completely aside from the clever flattery, she's got some good posts, too. Check this one out, in particular.
In May, Renewable Environmental Solutions (RES) said its first commercial plant is selling oil -- equivalent to crude oil No. 4 -- produced from agricultural waste products. The plant currently produces 100 to 200 barrels of oil per day using byproducts from an adjacent turkey processing facility.Are these the solutions to our energy problems? Who knows? I remember some scientists a couple decades ago swearing up and down that they had created cold fusion in a jar. Whatever happened to those guys, anyway?
At peak capacity, estimated to occur by the end of this year, the first plant will produce 500 barrels of oil per day, as well as natural gas, liquid and solid fertilizer and solid carbon.
Regardless, it's exactly something like this that I believe will render our current environmental and economic energy-related fears an anachronism of another age. With the advancing pace of technology, I fully expect we'll see some serious progress within a couple decades, and implementation within a decade or two after that.
With these advances in technology, the Kyoto Treaty will eventually look a bit like a fellow trying to sell horse carriages right about the time the Model T was being produced.
* Ah, Bob Herbert. Today, he asks "where is the shame", and asks President Bush--who is not allowed to coordinate with 527 groups--to "call off his dogs".
Naturally, he doesn't seem to have any problem with criticizing National Guard service...but then, the National Guard seems to be a "free fire zone" these days. At least he doesn't repeat the myth that Bush leapt ahead "of 500 other applicants who were on a waiting list" as he has done before.
Most obviously, though, Herbert is just missing the point when he calls this "trash[ing] their service for political gain". Let's get this very clear. Right or wrong, the questions surrounding Kerry right now are about his STORY, not his service.
* Recently added "Winning Argument" to our blogroll. It's an interesting liberal blog, with each post addressing a particular issue with a "why you're right/why they're wrong" pattern. They seem to encourage reasonable, factual debate. I like that in a blog.
Needless to say, though, I disagree with their conclusions, especially in posts like this, where they pass on the misleading story that "Bush proposed rolling back increases for imminent-danger pay". In fact, the proposal was simply an attempt to restructure the pay, with no attempt to reduce the overall level of pay received by the soldiers.
Seems like a good place for reasonable debate, though.
UPDATE: And since I mentioned reasonable debate, it's worth taking on this point at Winning Argument.
Bush should stop using the Olympics in political advertisements.While it is true that Iraq has been in previous Olympic games, it is absolutely inaccurate to say that the ads say "today, because the world acted with courage and moral clarity...[Iraqi] athletes are competing in the Olympic Games."
The ads are inaccurate. The advertisement implies that Iraq was able send athletes to the Summer Olympics because the United States invaded Iraq. The ads say "today, because the world acted with courage and moral clarity...[Iraqi] athletes are competing in the Olympic Games." But Iraq was represented in the 2000 Sydney Games.
That line came from a radio address Bush gave ~2 weeks ago, and their ellipses left out the phrase "those nations are free"...which seems an important component of the statement.
The actual phrase use in the ad: "this Olympics there will be two more free nations". That's a far cry from claiming the nations are only competing because of the wars.
On the legal issue, I'm unpersuaded by their argument, but only because I haven't heard the opposing argument. However, I do agree with WA that the ad should be pulled on general principle.
* The NYTimes writes...
President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly.Some Democrats are complaining that Bush "still won't condemn Swift Boat Vets". You know what? When the Republican Party, and a bevy of major GOP figures goes to a "Unfit for Command" book-signing, and call the book "fair", "very powerful, much more powerful than I thought it would be" - when Ed Gillespie makes an allegation comparable to the allegation that Bush went to war in Afghanistan for an oil pipeline - then, and only then, can the Democrats bitch about Bush not telling a couple hundred Vietnam Veterans that they're all liars.
But they won't wait.
Roger Snowden objects to my characterization of the Laffer Curve below, arguing:
The Laffer Curve is valid, I believe, but must be placed in the context of time. And lots of questions remain, such is the actual growth effect of tax policy, lag times, the effects of changing levels of government spending, etc. The inevitable "all other things being equal" that does not actually happen in reality.
Well, here's the thing about the Laffer Curve. It posits, correctly, that higher rates of taxation hinder economic growth by killing incentives. But, and this is often missed, it also posits that, below the equilibrium point, the tax rate no longer impedes economic growth.
Snowdon appears to be interpreting that as meaning that lower taxes keep incentivizing economic growth, so the lower the tax rate, the greater the rate of economic growth. But that isn't the correct interpretation.
Once taxes have reached the equilibrium point, lower taxes don't encourage even greater economic growth. Once you've reached the equilibrium point, you're already at the optimum level of growth. Cutting taxes beyond that point begins to reduce revenues, because the lower tax rates no longer produce increased economic growth.
Essentially, the Laffer Curve posits that, below the EP, people are already maximizing their economic production, because they are, after all, willing to pay some taxes. It keeps the cops on the beat, and the courts open, and the roads relatively pothole free. It is only after you move to the right of the EP that economic activity begins to become constrained. Moving to the left of the EP no longer increases economic growth, it merely reduces revenue, and that's true over time, as well.
Once people are already maximizing their production, lower tax rates can't make them super-maximize.
Reader Frank Castle asks:
I thought equilibium point is where govt revenue is maximized, not economic growth. Are you saying that both are maximized at equilibrium, or am I in error?
I am saying something close to that, but not exactly that. At the EP and below, economic decisions are not made with much reference to taxation. So, as long as tax rates are acceptably low, i.e., at the equilibrium point or the left of it, people make economic decisions on other factors.
Once taxes reach the equilibrium point, or move to the right of it, taxes begin to distort economic decisions because they provide disincentives. In other words, the main power of tax rates is to hinder economic activity. Once tax rates are low enough, the disincentive they provide is removed.
Now, it might very well be that very low taxes might help economic growth to some small extent, simply because more money is freed up for, say savings or investment. But in all probability, the increases in economic activity aren't enough to overcome the lost revenues.
So, you are technically correct to say the EP is the point at which revenues are maximized. But the reason revenues are maximized is because the revenue losses from tax rates at the left of the EP are greater than the marginal increases in economic activity that might be provided by the extra money in people's pockets.
It is important to remember that there are other reasons why economic growth can't increase too much. There are, for instance, physical limits on the amount of work one can do in a single day. Lowering tax rates doesn't change those physical limits.
Raising tax rates above the EP might make a person decline to work more than eight hours a day, because the benefits of doing so are hindered by high tax rates. But, if a person is willing to work 10 hours a day at the EP, he won't necessarily be willing, or even able, to work 12 or 14 hours a day if tax rates are cut even more. His output is already maximized.
That's why the true power of tax rates is to hinder economic growth, not to boost it.
Reader Oscar asks:
I wonder why it has not been generally recognised that below some cut-off point, however defined, the effect stop. Do economists not study mathematics?
But, it has been defined. The Laffer Curve is just the graphic representation of that definition. That's precisely why the curve shows tax revenues dropping on the left side of the EP.
The trouble is not that economists don't study math. The problem is that the Equilibrium Point can't be quantified. It changes over time, and in response to political or economic conditions. Indeed, the definition of the EP is remarkably imprecise: The rate at which the population consents to be taxed.
During a war, for example, the rate may be quite high, as people are more willing to sacrifice in a time of national emergency. But when peacetime comes, people no longer are as willing to do so.
I have long posited that we saw an example of this during the first term of President Clinton, when he raised the top rate to 36%.
During the previous several years, there was increasing concern about the deficit. Supply-Siders were aghast, though, at the thought of raising taxes. At the time, I spoke every week to former Reagan Administration Deputy Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts on my radio show in LA. Craig was adamant that raising tax rates would slow te economy, then just coming out of recession, and would reduce tax revenues.
In fact, quite the opposite occured. The economy boomed and tax revenues rose quite sharply. More sharply, in fact, than during Reagan's term. I think the Supply-Siders were quite wrong because public fear about the deficit made people more willing to pay higher taxes in order to reduce the deficit. The EP had moved to the right, and Clinton's tax increases produced more revenues because they moved tax rates closer to the EP.
Co-blogger Jon ponders:
So, while an effective tax cut from 40% to 36% might create an additional, say, 1% GDP growth, that GDP growth would not offset the 10% reduction in effective tax percentage. Meaning, the revenue would still go down, though not quite by the full 10%.
But, as Snowden indicated, the cumulative effect over that extra 1% GDP growth would add up. Over the course of 10 years, that's quite a large increase in potential GDP, and that eventual increase in GDP would offset the lost revenue...though, it would not occur in any single year.
Well, that's true, but not very relevant. as long as there is any economic growth at all, eventually revenues will increase beyond the level they were before taxes were cut.
But that wasn't the argument the Supply-Siders were making in the late 1970s. Their argument was that cutting rates would result in an immediate increase in revenues, because tax rates were, at the time, so far to the right of the EP, with the top rate at 70%.
Sure, if you don't mind deficits for a decade, you can cut taxes 10% at any time, even if you're already on the left of the EP. If you don't mind deficits for a century, you can cut taxes by 99%, and 100 years from now, the money will be rolling in!
Once you start making the "Well, in the long run, revenues will increase" argument, you're moving the goalposts. As long as the economy keeps growing, then at some point, revenues will increase beyond where they are when you change the tax code, no matter what you do. In the long run, then, it doesn't matter if you raise taxes, lower them, or do nothing, as long as there is any economic growth at all.
Of coure, as Keynes wrote, in the long run, we're all dead.
Reader el Seco is full of questions:
You are saying that we are presently very close to the maximum amount of revenue we can expect given how much we are willing to be taxed. Is that about right? Thus, our situation with revenue has little to do with the unemployment rate or Bush's tax cuts. Is that about right?
Yes, that's what I'm saying. The main reasons for our current revenue problems have been the massive increases in government soending over the past 4 years, the revenue-lowering effects of recession, and the implosion of the equities market that began in the spring of 2000.
There are, after all, a lot of things that affect revenues besides tax rates.
Last question: Did Bush promise that the tax cuts would increase revenue or did he promise that they would stimulate the economy?
Now that I think about it, I never remeber Bush explicitly making the revenue enhancement argument. He argued that his tax cuts would encourage economic growth, which is an indirect revenue enhancement argument, but he also argued that the 2003 tax cuts were an important stimulus tool.
I think both arguments were wrong. If we were already at the EP, then further cuts wouldn't encourage more growth to the extent that the revenues losses would be neutralized. And the tax cuts themselves weren't particularly stimulative. I know of no reputable economist who agreed with the stimulus argument at all.
No matter how good the moral arguments were and are for the 2003 tax cuts (i.e., the government has no right to be a majority shareholder in my income), the economic arguments for them were a bit weak, from both the stimulus and revenue point of view.
That's also not to say that all the economic arguments were bad. Ending taxation on dividends is quite a good idea, although I'm not sure I want to get into that whole argument now. But the basis on which Bush pushed them, the arguments were deficient. There were several good arguments for tax cuts, they just weren't the arguments that Bush made.
In reference to the jobs picture we talked about below, reader MK-Ultra writes:
If employment is in fact higher than the payroll numbers indicate, then the question becomes why are we operating in record deficit territory?
When employment numbers were high in the 90's, we had a surplus. Bush hasn't cut the size of government, but he hasn't created any new major programs either. And yes, government spending outpaces inflation. But not on a level that would account for the current deficit.
Only two explanations present themselves: Revenue is down because there simply aren't that many people working. Or Bush's tax cuts are not having their promised effect, i.e., increased revenue.
Funny how that works.
First, despite his rather cavalier dismissal of federal spending , saying simply that it "outpaces inflation" that substantially understates the case, in much the same way as saying that the South Pole is "somewhat cool". In point of fact, Federal spending has substantially increased:
Since 2001, even with record low inflation, U.S. federal spending has increased by a massive 28.8% (19.7% in real dollars)—with non-defense discretionary growth of 35.7% (25.3% in real dollars)—the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. This increase has resulted in the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, over $520 billion in fiscal year 2004 alone. Furthermore, the projected spending for 2005 is a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t include at least $50 billion for the 2005 cost of the Iraq occupation.
Technically, though he is correct. Spending increases have certainly outpaced inflation.
Revenues, of course, are down as well:
|Fiscal Year||Revenue ($Trillions)|
And you can take that 2005 estimate with as many grains of salt as you like.
So clearly we have an unsustainable spending situation going on, with massive spending increases, and declining revenues. So, why are revenues down? Alan Greenspan, earlier this year, provided the answer:
In part, the recent deficits have resulted from the economic downturn in 2001 and the period of slow growth that followed, as well as the sharp declines in equity prices. The deficits also reflect a significant step-up in spending on defense and higher outlays for homeland security and many other nondefense discretionary programs. Tax reductions--some of which were intended specifically to provide stimulus to the economy--also contributed to the deterioration of the fiscal balance.
The chief problem with the federal budget has not been revenue losses due to tax cuts, but rather revenue losses due to the recession that began in early 2001, and the implosion of the stock market that began in the spring of 2000, which reduced equity values across the board by 40%.
To go back to MK-Ultra:
Only two explanations present themselves: Revenue is down because there simply aren't that many people working. Or Bush's tax cuts are not having their promised effect, i.e., increased revenue.
Even if one assumes that the payroll data from the establishment survey are absolutely correct, that still puts our current rate of employment of 5.5% at the same rate it was in July of 1996, which is hardly remembered as a time of great tribulation. Indeed, the unemployment rate never reached as low as 5.5% from 1974-1988, or from 1990-1994. So, it's a bit dumb to pretend that a 5.5% rate of unemployment is a crisis. Moreover, if in fact, the establishment survey is missing employment because it does not account for changes in the composition of the labor force, the actual unemployment rate is below—and judging by the household survey, significantly below—5.5%.
As far as the Bush Tax cuts not having their desired effect, i.e. increasing revenue, there's really no way we can know that one way or another at this point. Both rounds of tax cuts were back-end loaded, although the 2003 round moved $100 billion in cuts to the front end as a stimulus method. Considering the time it takes for tax cuts to filter into the revenue basket, especially if they come during a recession, it seems to me that it is hard to bifurcate out those effects.
What we do know, however, is that despite the complete implosion of the equity markets, followed by the 9/11 attacks, the recession of 2001-2003 was fairly shallow, all things considered. Those of us who remember the back-to-back recessions of 1982-83, with unemployment above 10%, have some historical experience to go by, and the 2001-2003 recession was extremely tame compared to that. It was, in fact much shallower than the 1991-1992 recession, where unemployment peaked at 7.6% a full 1.3% higher than it reached at any time in the last four years.
If, as John Maynard Keynes first taught us nearly 70 years ago, that stimulus through deficit spending and tax cuts is the appropriate remedy for ameliorating recessions, then I suggest that the tax cuts and increasing deficits, while not increasing revenue, certainly helped to make the recession shallower, and, by so doing, prevented even worse hemorrhaging of the fiscal situation.
If, in fact the tax cuts do eventually increase revenue, that will happen at the top of the economic cycle, when economic growth is higher, and the period of expansion is longer than it otherwise would have been. Tax cuts at the bottom of the cycle don't increase revenues; they merely help cut the losses.
As regular readers know, though, I am not a Supply-Sider, so I dispute that, outside of certain bounds, Supply-Side economics has the powers its advocates attribute to it. So, I am agnostic that the Bush tax cuts will increase revenues. But, even I were to accept, arguendo, that Supply-Side policies work in the exact way Supply-Siders describe, I would argue that we are either very close to, or perhaps slightly to the left of the equilibrium point on the Laffer Curve.
As such, any reductions in taxes, no matter how spiffy they are at keeping the economy growing, will not result in significant increases in tax revenues, and, may actually result in revenue decreases.
But that, of course, is a subject for another post.
There's been discussion and debate for quite some time as to whether the BLS payroll survey or the Household Survey more accurately reflect job growth. To this point, most have felt it was the payroll survey. But an op/ed in USA Today says, "hold on".
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently snuck out a telling confession beneath everyone's radar: Its flagship payroll survey is likely undercounting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The article, by Timothy Kane and Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation is worth the read. They note that when looking at the economy, it seems everything adds up - except the payroll survey:
In his July 20 testimony to Congress, Greenspan cited measures from the payroll and household surveys. Then the Federal Reserve, led by Greenspan, voted unanimously to raise interest rates. It said the economy is "poised to resume a stronger pace of expansion" and noted that labor-market conditions continue to improve. It's no secret which survey would lead to that conclusion.
The Fed's actions helped everyone, including Wall Street, remember the good news. Claims for unemployment benefits, for example, are 10% below their 30-year average, while the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2001. Best of all, the household survey showed a gain of more than half a million jobs in July alone.
Everything adds up — except the payroll survey.
So, per these guys, it appears that there have indeed been more jobs created than have been counted in the payroll survey. If we're going to judge the health and stability of our economy with certain statistics, it would help if they're accurate.
They also mention the following:
The definition of a job has changed, but the payroll survey hasn't. It is a huge mistake to focus on an illusory problem of economic weakness. Instead, policymakers should update business laws to reflect the new reality — the rapid pace of change in the workplace.
Time to take a good hard look at the BLS payroll survey.
One last thing mentioned in this article that caught my eye:
American workers need health care that's portable between jobs. They need pensions and 401(k) rules that are as flexible to move between employers as they are. What they don't need is more hot air about flawed statistics.
Want health care reform? There it is. Its as easy as making insurance portable. It should be the job and choice of the employee as to which insurance pool he chooses to join and he or she should also have the ability to change whenever their needs change. Make health insurance portable and you eliminate "preexisting conditions" and periods of no coverage. Institute competition for clients among insurers and see pricing adjust.
Andrew Grossman ws kind enough to provide a direct link to Mr. Kane's paper, which the article references.
Now, I generally don't refer to publications put out by politically oriented think tanks. Without casting aspersions on anyone, the simple fact is that the job of a conservative or liberal think tank is to provide ideologically sound interpretations of data for use by their political allies. I prefer to refer, therefore, solely to peer-reviewed work from the academic world, or from government sources like the generally quite good working papers released by the economic staffs of the various Federal Reserve Banks and the like. Once you quote Heritage on policy X, someone invariably points to an opposing paper put out by some place like the Progressive Policy Institute, which doesn't get you very far.
No doubt, someone will point out how convenient that Heritage has published a paper that says the jobs picture is better than the government says it is, just as we are moving into the fall campaign season.
With that caveat noted, however, I think Mr. Kane's work deserves a close look at the very least. For the last year or so, we've seen very large discrepancies between the number of jobs the payroll survey is indicating, and the number of people who are telling us, via the household survey, that they are gainfully employed. So far, no one has come up with any convincing rationale that allows us to try and rectify this obvious discrepancy. Even the BLS is stumped.
The BLS reviewed the disparity in a major study for its October 2003 Advisory Committee, concluding, "To date, BLS has not been able to pinpoint a source or sources of these differing trends in employment growth." More recently, the February 2004 Economic Report of the President noted that "the explanation for why these two surveys' results have diverged so markedly over the last few years, and what this might indicate about the economic recovery, remains a puzzle."
My own, tenative conclusion, and the one I've been touting for several months, has been that the rise in self-employment is being missed by the payroll survey. Mr. Kane appears to agree.
Self-employment is a different matter, and the latest statement by the BLS commissioner confirms the appearance of a new class of contractors. The evolution of the workforce--specifically, the demographic emergence of consultants and contractors who do not consider themselves self-employed--is a likely wedge between the surveys. Self-employment has grown by over 600,000 in two years, and misidentification by the LLC and consulting workforce implies a much higher number.
The conventional wisdom, of course, is that the establishment survey is more precise than the household survey, for a number of statistical and practical reasons. But, that only remains true as long as the composition of the workforce doesn't change radically. A shift from direct employment, to employment as a contractor or an LLC may not seem like self-employment to the worker, but that is, in fact what it is. So, if there has been a workforce shift towards contract work, the payroll survey, no matter how accurate it is methodologically, will still be wrong, simply because it can't record what it doesn't measure.
I'm loathe, however, to place a lot of reliance on the household survey in terms of taking up the slack, because there's a lot the household survey doesn't measure, too. Bob may say he is employed full-time, but, just because he counts, say, selling cocaine as a full-time job doesn't mean that we should count it as such.
So, I doubt the employment picture is quite as good as the household survey indicates, but, I doubt it's as low as the establishment survey says either.
Captain Ed is getting very mainstream. After recent media mentions in the Washington Times among others, and a bit in the Wall Street Journal today, Captain Ed has sold a blog post to the New York Sun.
I remember when he was just a beginning blogger, still learning the ropes. I remember, because I was right there with him. Good work, Ed. Keep it up.
This mainstream infiltration--for lack of a better term--is something that should be occurring more and more often among the better writers and researchers in the blogosphere. The media, and especially the more advocacy-journalism publications, have an amazing resource: hundreds of writers who do their research and publish for free. They could be picking up valuable opinion pieces and research like this, this and this for very little, indeed.
They should, too. Those who don't will be left behind soon, wondering why they didn't see the freelance gold being published every day.
Was Kerry AWOL? I mean, it appears he did skip out on his active duty Reserve obligations in the early 70's.
Look, I don't think he was AWOL, and I don't think he was wrong to ask for an early out on his obligation. But I do wonder if the same people who accused Bush of getting out early--"deserting for a year even from this surrogate service", and that he fulfilled his obligation "only because he had essentially been relieved of any further obligation"--will go after Senator Kerry with 1/10th of the righteous anger with which they went after Bush for, essentially, the same thing.
Wait. No. I don't wonder about that at all.
NOTE: You can find a plausible exculpatory explanation of his status here. It concludes....
I conclude that Kerry, while in violation of his contract (as I was) was not legally required to drill and hence not AWOL...Hm....so, while Kerry was contractually obligated, he had "other priorities" and got an exception that meant he "never showed up for [Reserve Duty] for a period of approximately one year".
Now, where have I heard that before?
Being from GA, I used to have a lot of respect for Max Cleland. He was the epitome of someone who'd shaken off the horrible effects of losing three limbs in Vietnam (for which, ironically, he did not get a Purple Heart ... no hostile fire) and and literally pulled himself back together, entered politics and was much beloved by the home folks.
Until he became a Senator. Then, it seems, Max got Potomac Fever. He became a staunch party man. He began to show an increasingly conservative state an increasingly liberal side. The final straw came when he voted against Homeland Security in favor of labor union rules.
Of course Max has come to prefer to believe he was sacked because his "patriotism was questioned". Nothing could be further from the truth. No one in GA has ever had a question about Cleland's patriotism. They've had many questions about his voting record however. And they turned him out because of it. What's happened since is sad:
In one of the stranger photo-ops in an increasingly bizarre presidential sea son, former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland yesterday rode his wheelchair to the front gate of President Bush's Texas ranch to protest attacks on Democratic candidate John Kerry's Vietnam War record.
Cleland lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam — hence the wheelchair — but we won't patronize him by pretending he is anything other than what he became after losing his Senate re-election race two years ago: bitterly resentful, highly partisan and an effective deflector shield for Kerry whenever the latter's military bona fides are called into question.
Cleland has willingly allowed himself to be exploited by the Kerry campaign. As the NY Post notes, "an effective deflector shield" for Kerry when the "combat Kerry" meme is questioned. A triple amputee sitting in his wheelchair trashing other vets who are speaking out as is their right. Apparently Max doesn't see the irony.
The other irony is instead of letting this die a natural death, the Kerry camp keeps it alive with stunts like Cleland pulled yesterday. Why?
And, for better or for worse, Kerry has made Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign — though it is not at all clear why Kerry & Co. are working so hard to keep this issue alive.
As evidenced by Cleland's visit to the Crawford ranch.
"The question is where is George Bush's honor. The question is where is his shame," Cleland said after Secret Service agents at the Texas ranch refused to accept a letter calling on Bush to disavow the anti-Kerry veterans.
Yes, tough ... and dumb. And because it was dumb it provided a perfect opportunity for the Bush people to respond:
"You can't have it both ways. You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up," said a Bush spokesman.
Game. Set. Match.
The Kerry campaigns shameless exploitation of Cleland's bitterness is telling. Even more telling is Cleland's willingness to be exploited. Does anyone really believe yesterday's photo op would have had much of an impact if say, Tom Harkin had delivered the letter? Of course not.
Why Cleland is so bitter toward George Bush is beyond me. Bush has done more for Cleland since his defeat in the Senate than the Democrats have. He appointed him to a cushy $130,000 a year job on the board of the Export-Import bank:
Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) is a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). President George Bush nominated Cleland on Nov. 21, 2003. He was subsequently confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on Dec. 15, 2003 for a term expiring January 20, 2007.
But that was then and partisan Max is dealing in the now. Of course, it seems the exploitation of anyone to get Kerry into the White House, no matter how sad, shameless or distasteful it is, appears to be par for the DNC/Kerry Campaign course.
As Opinion Journal points out, in 1971, Kerry said in his testimony before the Seanate:
"I called the media. . . . I said, 'If I take some crippled veterans down to the White House and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?' 'Oh, yes, we will cover that.' "
Cruel, calculated and exploitive then and now.
I remember well April, 1968 - I was serving in Vietnam--a place of violence -- when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates the violence back home...
Well, Vietnam was surely a place of violence in April of 1968, but it's hard to see how Kerry saw much of it, since he didn't get into the country until November of that year.
Maybe he could see all that violence by looking towards Vietnam and squinting real hard from the quarterdeck of the USS Gridley.
There is an excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal (not available online, unfortunately), abd George W. Bush and his craven caving in on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.
President Bush didn't tell the full story on Monday when he denounced TV ads by such "527s" as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But not because he didn't agree to the Kerry campaign's demand that he repudiate the specific Swift Boat ads.
Our gripe is that Mr. Bush assailed the very campaign-finance system that he helped create."I don't think we ought to have 527s," Mr. Bush said, referring to the independent political fund-raising groups that have become such an important part of this election season. "And I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning those activities of the 527s. It's the -- I think they're bad for the system."
Not so fast, Mr. President. One reason 527s are so prominent now is because Mr. Bush made the mistake of signing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" that barred big donations to political parties. So 527s have become the new alternative vehicle that Americans passionate about politics are using to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech. The difference is that now the campaigns can't control how that money is spent.
If Mr. Bush wanted the two major parties to better control their campaign messages, he could have vetoed McCain-Feingold. Some of us urged him to do so, but his political advisers whispered not to worry, the Supreme Court will take care of it.
Well, Sandra Day O'Connor failed too, but in any event since when are Presidents supposed to pass the buck to judges?
In our view, this was among the worst moments of Mr. Bush's term. Having helped to midwife the current campaign-finance system, it ill behooves him to blame others for the way this world works.
A very good "gotcha" from the WSJ's I told you so file. After being hammered by MoveOn.org for the last two years, I'll bet Bush would love to get rid of the 527 organizations.
At this point, the best scenario I could possibly hope for is that politics becomes so down and dirty, and so divisive, that Congress goes back and repeals this travesty of a law post-haste. Let, as Mao once said, a thousand flowers bloom. Let the air be filled with the sounds of TV ads of increasing moonbattery. Let every politician running for office have his name, his reputation, and his family savaged by independent ad groups.
Then we'll see how long McCain-Feingold holds up.
Money is, has been, and will always be the mother's milk of politics. Even the founders knew it. Unlike us, however, they were too smart to try to make Utopian changes the way the real world works.
First, it goes without saying that I love you all, dear readers, with a pure, untainted love. I want to (metaphorically) gather you all in my arms, cover you with my burning kisses, until the hot flames of your desire are fanned to heights of ecstacy.
What I do not want, however, is for you to return my (metaphorical) passion by adding me to your mass email list, in order to review your comments and positions on the issues of the day. I certainly don't mind you writing to me, and, to the extent possible, I'll try to write back, even if it's just a brief note of thanks for your comments. I appreciate emails from readers.
But, as soon as I see your link-filled email screed, directing my attention to the top 10 news stories of the day, and wondering why I'm not covering them, my first temptation upon seeing the TO: address listed as "Recipients Undisclosed" is to hit the delete button like a lab chimpanzee hitting the push bar that delivers crack cocaine pellets.
Because, what it tells me is that you aren't interested in writing me, you've just added me to your list of bloggers, et al. to whom you mass broadcast your stream of consciousness rantings on a regular basis. What's even worse, is that some of you seem to think I'm waiting to receive hourly updates on your thoughts.
If it's not even 11:00 am, and I've already received 5 mass emails from you, then you need to know that you've just become the newest entry to my "Add this sender to your Junk Senders list" roll call. That means that your emails are deleted as soon as they arrive in my inbox, and I never even see them.
As much as I might agree with you that we need to maintain the purity of our precious bodily fluids, that there really is a face on Mars and that Nasa's covering it up, or that the Freemasons are indeed threatening to end our way of life, I don't need to be reminded of it every 1.37 hours by emails from you. I suspect that the other 200 bloggers on your mailing list don't either.
If you have that much to say, then log on to TypePad or Blogger and start your own blog. But, once you've become part of the worldwide spam conspiracy, you go from being the (metaphorical) hot beach volleyball girl to being the creepy, fixated, Fatal Attraction chick.
And that's not showing me the love.
Well it seems Christmas in Cambodia is back on the table ... either that or Tad Devine didn’t get the DNC memo.
First let me set this up for you as outlined in the Washington Post. You all know the story of Kerry’s claim on the floor of the Senate that his supposed “Christmas in Cambodia” was seared in his memory. He only spent one Christmas there, so that was the Christmas of ‘68. When that was roundly questioned by the Swift Boat Vets as well as his crew, things started to come apart:
However seared he was, Kerry's spokesmen now say his memory was faulty. When the Swift boat veterans who oppose Kerry presented statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat entered Cambodia, none of Kerry's shipmates came forward, as they had on other issues, to corroborate his account. Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia."
So around August 8th, they’re beginning to “backtrack” with him somewhere in the area of Cambodia. Apparently backing off didn’t sit well with the Kerry campaign. So next they trot out Brinkley on or about the 16th of August.
Next, the campaign leaked a new version through the medium of historian Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty," a laudatory book on Kerry's military service. Last week Brinkley told the London Telegraph that while Kerry had been 50 miles from the border on Christmas, he "went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions." Oddly, though, while Brinkley devotes nearly 100 pages of his book to Kerry's activities that January and February, pinpointing the locations of various battles and often placing Kerry near Cambodia, he nowhere mentions Kerry's crossing into Cambodia, an inconceivable omission if it were true.
Obviously, based on the Post’s analysis, it didn’t really do Kerry or Brinkley’s credibility any good. Brinkley's been in hiding ever since.
Back to the drawing board.
The new position, per the post of August 24th was this:
Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry "on one occasion crossed into Cambodia," on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry's campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry's own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley's book says: "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side." His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission.
Another conflicting and unexplainable position. The campaign says he went there on an unspecified date. However, based on Kerry’s own recollections as featured in Brinkley’s book, “his curiosity was never satisfied” which, per the context of the sentence, means he was never in Cambodia ... ever.
Except, well, not quite. You see, two days before, on Meet the Press, Tad Devine, a Kerry advisor, put him back in Cambodia on Christmas.
MR. RUSSERT: The New York Daily News intervened on this yesterday with an editorial and said this: "As for Kerry, he might ask why the Swifties' attacks have been effective. The answer is his propensity to exaggerate. Kerry exaggerated about 'atrocities' in testimony before Congress. And it's looking more likely that he exaggerated, if not worse, when he claimed through the years that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. He has said the memory was 'seared' into him, but it's now clear Kerry was elsewhere, at least at that time. He has yet to explain. Until he does, the Swifties will have a powerful weapon in their arsenal." And this is...
MR. DEVINE: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: ...so we--be clear and give you a chance to respond. Senator Kerry in '86 on the floor of the Senate: "I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there, the troops were not in Cambodia. ...I have that memory which is seared--seared--in me."
In '79 in the Boston Herald: "I remember Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."
First of all, Nixon was not president...
MR. DEVINE: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...in December of '68.
MR. DEVINE: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: He didn't take office until January '69. Does Senator Kerry stand by that statement that on Christmas Eve of '68 he was physically in Cambodia?
MR. DEVINE: Right. Well, his memory, Tim, is being there, around there. And
I'll tell you what happened on December 25th...
MR. RUSSERT: No--being there or around there?
MR. DEVINE: No, being right at the Cambodian border, over the Cambodian border. That's what he remembers. That's his clear memory. Now, Tim...
MR. RUSSERT: Five miles across the border.
MR. DEVINE: Now, Tim, obviously, as those records demonstrate, particularly in respect to President Nixon, you know, there's some difference between some of the records. Let me tell you what happened on December 24, 1968. John Kerry started that morning 50 miles away from the Cambodian border and they headed towards Cambodia, deep behind enemy lines. First, they were ambushed once. Second, they were fired upon, again in a separate incident. And that night they encountered friendly fire. Three times in one day he was fired upon deep behind enemy lines. And that certainly was seared into his memory.
Is this the gang who couldn’t shoot straight or what?
Clearly Devine is trying to give some credibility to the Cambodian Christmas story as its dismissal is otherwise very detrimental to Kerry’s credibility. Yet two days later, after Devine is on MTP, the campaign says it was on an “unspecified date”ruling out the 25th of December, 1968.
Hello? Mr. Devine? Did you miss that meeting?
Oh and never mind about the Kerry recollection, via Brinkley, of never having his curiosity about Cambodia satisfied right up through his last mission in Vietnam. Instead, let’s pretend that was never written. Move along, nothing to see here... move along (or perhaps I should say MoveOn).
This is amazing stuff. Usually spin is subtle, nuanced and hidden as well as possible. In this case it is so poorly done, so contradictory and so blatantly obvious as to almost be laughable if this subject wasn’t such a serious reflection on Kerry’s character.
Some of the reporters covering Kerry said that the candidate had become less accessible on the campaign plane in recent weeks, with a few speculating that it might be because he did not want to face questions about the swift boat issue. But among them, different views arose over the swift boat story, with some saying it had gone on too long and others believing it was news that had to be covered.
"What I've heard from colleagues is that people feel it probably has had too long a life," said Frank James, a Chicago Tribune reporter. "We wish someone would put a stake in this vampire."
James also said some wondered why Kerry did not take on the issue himself earlier on. "He should have knocked it down early, but the campaign clearly thought it would go away."
Its not going to go away, especially if it is ignored, especially if continuing conflicting statements are made about events such as “Christmas in Cambodia”. And as the Kerry campaign knows, this is resonating with a lot of veterans, despite the main stream medias valliant attempts to first ignore it and then to spin it in Kerry's favor.
Interestingly the entity doing the worst damage to the Democrat nominee’s campaign is not the Swift Boat Vets, the media, bloggers or talk show hosts.
It is the Kerry Campaign.
(Huge hat tip to Kendall Harmon for the links and idea.)
Iran's supreme leader is offering us a prediction
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the United States Wednesday it was facing "decades of hatred" from the Islamic world due to fighting in the Iraqi holy Shiite city of Najaf.
Which is a shame, because we've been getting along so well for the last twenty-five years or so.
Youssef M. Ibrahim writes in USA Today that we'd better think twice before confronting Iran.
Despite the overly tendentious tone of Mr. Ibrahims opinion (Iraq as a "quagmire", The Bush admninistration panicking, etc.), he makes some valid points:
All very valid points. The trouble is, though, that Mr Ibrahim doesn't also expound on what consequences a nuclear-armed Iran would have on the region. In such a case, an attack on Israel would touch of his feared war, anyway, this time with nukes, and Israel has a lot more than Tehran would have, by the way.
Mr. Ibrahim notes that Iran denies it is making nuclear weapons. So, he concludes, we should negotiate more, rather than risk a horrific war by offending them.
Maybe so, but it's hard to take with anything less than a metric ton of salt that Iran isn't seeking to produce a nuclear arsenal.
First, if they were seeking such an arsenal, they certainly wouldn't admit it. Unfortunately, Mr. Ibrahim doesn't explain to us how we can be sure that their denials are being issued because they really aren't trying to produce such weapons, or because they really are. But their rejection of any demands that they stop their uranium enrichment program isn't a positive sign. They are saying, essentially, that it's vitally important that they be able to enrich uranium, which would give them the capability to make nuclear weapons, but that they will never do so.
Because, it would be, you know, wrong.
But, totalitarian states don't have a sterling track record of actually doing what they say they will do. Indeed, quite the opposite is usually the case.
But, because the WMD argument went so horribly awry in Iraq, any similar claims about Iran will now meet an almost insurmountable barrier of skepticism from both the press and the electorate.
The sad thing is that a nucelar-armed Irtan would be even scarier than a nuclear-armed Iraq, by almost any measure. Saddam Hussein may not have been playing piano with both hands, if you know what I mean, but at least he didn't think he had God whispering instructions in his ear. The mullahs, on the other hand, do.
No matter how you cut it, it's a tricky situation, despite Mr. Ibrahim's childishly naive assumption that we can negotiate our way out of this mess. Negotiating with a potential enemy who desires nothing you can offer him other than capitualtion, is usually not productive, a fact that is often completely lost on the chattering classes.
Mr. Ibrahim paints a very dark picture about the dangers of a confrontation with Iraq. Of course, in 1941, a very dark picture could've been painted about a possible confrontation with Germany and Japan. We did it anyway, of course.
But, not because we wanted to.
What Mr. Ibrahim seems to forget is that it takes two willing partners to make peace. It only takes one party to go to war. Mr. Ibrahim assumes that the decision between war and peace rests solely in Washington. It would be nice if that were true. In the real world, however, the US and Iran can be at war withing minutes of Iran's head Mullah, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making a phone call.
The Iranians, after all, have the ability to make choices, too.
One of the key talking points for the Democrats this year is represented by this statement on the Economy page of the Kerry/Edwards site....
In America, a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats. But today, Americans are working harder, earning less, and paying more for health care, college, and taxes.I'm willing to assume that health care and college costs are rising. Indeed-- as they are largely legislated beyond the normal pressures of the free market--they are always rising, so this is hardly a keen insight by the Kerry/Edwards team.
However, I'm less willing to give ground so quickly in the other areas. To take them in order:
So, we're working harder than...when, exactly?
Real wages fell 1.0 percent in the last year and are now lower than they were when the economic recovery began.Well, fair enough...real wages have fallen. We won't even get into the argument regarding whether that is a temporary structural anomaly.
No, instead, let's remember something: "wages" do not represent our total compensation. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a category to represent total compensation. They--in a rare instance of comprehensible economic language--call it "Total Compensation".
Here's the BLS data for 12 month % change in private industry total compensation, going back 10 years.
The Congressional Budget office recently released a report called "Effective Federal Tax Rates Under Current Law, 2001 to 2014" (pdf) What did the CBO find?
TOTAL EFFECTIVE FEDERAL TAX RATEYou see any higher effective federal tax rates in there? No? Neither do I. And the effective individual tax rates tell the exact same story.
Quintile --- 2001 -- 2004
- 1st Q: - 5.4 ---- 5.2
- 2nd Q: - 11.6 --- 11.1
- 3rd Q: - 15.2 --- 14.6
- 4th Q: - 19.3 --- 18.5
- 5th Q: - 26.8 --- 23.8
But, remember, John Kerry promises to turn this all around.
After 4 years of Democrats complaining--correctly, in many instances--about how the Bush administration is painting a deceptive picture of the economy, it's worth pointing out that the new boss will be the same as the old boss. The Democrats are not upset about the President putting political spin on economic information...they're just upset that it's not their turn.
Zev Chafets writes, once again, the Democrats have underestimated George W. Bush's political skills, and Kerry is paying the price.
Or, perhaps they've overestimated John Kerry's.
In any event, the Swiftvets ads have started to hurt Kerry badly, and his response has been foolish. Forst he tried to silence them, then he tried to get the president to silence them.
And that was exactly what Bush has been waiting for.
On Monday, down in Crawford, Tex., Dubya hitched up his jeans, sauntered out to a press conference and allowed as to how he'd be glad to help his worthy opponent. But, just to be fair, he said, let's shut down the negative campaigning by all 527 groups. Goodbye, Swifties. So long, MoveOn. Just say the word, Sen. Kerry, and we'll take all the nasty dollars out of politics.
But Kerry hasn't said that word. He probably can't. His entire campaign finance structure is predicated on 527 money. Of the top 10 soft donors, nine are Kerry supporters. Combined, they have already raised more than $100 million for the Democrats. The Swifties, by contrast, have raised much less than 1% of that. For Bush, soft money is just a dab of Texas perfume; for Kerry, it's oxygen.
So, the President comes off as the champion of upright McCain-Feingold reform, while Kerry is stuck with George Soros & Co. If the senator cuts off his billionaire backers, he suffocates. If he sticks with Soros, et al., he's stuck with the Swifties, too. That's a hook Kerry can wriggle on until Nov. 2. Then Bush will throw him back.
If Kerry reallt wants to stop the bleeding, then he'll have to hold a press conference specifically to invite questions about the Swiftvets ads. But, that's the one thing he simply can't do, because the dangers are too high.
He'll have to cover the whole Cambodia/Magic Hat story. Why does the last entry in his diary from Vietnam indicate he'd never been to Cambodia? How could he mistake Christmas in Cambodia, which was seared--seared!--into his memory? Why did he write about his Cambodia experiences in his writted review of Apocalypse now in 1979? When, exactly, was he in Cambodia? What was he doing?
And that's just the beginning. He'll have to cover the Purple Hearts,and his Bronze Star for the Rassman rescue. Then he'll have to move on to talk about VVAW. He'll have to explain why he is so proud of his service in Vietnam, a war he made a career of opposing, and how, if he did take part in the atrocities he has admitted to, fighting there can be both terribly wrong and immoral, and, at the same time, such a source of pride.
Then, of course, as some point, we'd have to get into the whole 527 deal, and he would have to explain why his Soros-based funding of 527s is substantially different from Bush's, whose links to the Swiftvets are way more tenuous than his campaign's associations with MoveOn, org.
No, the questions in that press conference won't get any easier as the conference goes on.
Which is why I don'tthink he'll do it. I think he'll try to ride this thing out until the Republican convention, which should take some presure off of him, and hope that a week concentrating on other things will move the media past the story, and on to the fall campaign.
Good luck with that.
Women's Beach Volleyball: It's all about athletic excellence.
Robert Samuelson, like many others, now realizes why McCain-Feingold wasn't such a hot idea after all.
The presidential campaign has confirmed that, under the guise of "campaign finance reform," Congress and the Supreme Court have repealed large parts of the First Amendment. They have simply discarded what were once considered constitutional rights of free speech and political association. It is not that these rights have vanished. But they are no longer constitutional guarantees. They're governed by limits and qualifications imposed by Congress, the courts, state legislatures, regulatory agencies -- and lawyers' interpretations of all of the above.
We have entered an era of constitutional censorship. Hardly anyone wants to admit this -- the legalized demolition of the First Amendment would seem shocking -- and so hardly anyone does. The evidence, though, abounds. The latest is the controversy over the anti-Kerry ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and parallel anti-Bush ads by Democratic "527" groups such as MoveOn.org. Let's assume (for argument's sake) that everything in these ads is untrue. Still, the United States' political tradition is that voters judge the truthfulness and relevance of campaign arguments. We haven't wanted our political speech filtered.
Now there's another possibility. The government may screen what voters see and hear. The Kerry campaign has asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to ban the Swift Boat ads; the Bush campaign similarly wants the FEC to suppress the pro-Democrat 527 groups. We've arrived at this juncture because it's logically impossible both to honor the First Amendment and to regulate campaign finance effectively. We can do one or the other -- but not both. Unfortunately, Congress and the Supreme Court won't admit the choice. The result is the worst of both worlds. We gut the First Amendment and don't effectively regulate campaign finance.
People like...well...me, were saying this when the law was still just a gleam in Senator McCain's eye. When the bill went to the President's desk, we warned that the things we've seen this election cycle, namely the funnelling of marge amounts of money to 527s would be the logical result, and it would mean more viciously partisan attacks.
Moreover, we warned that it gave the government too much leverage on the right of free speech, and sure enough, now everybody--including the president--is keen to try and shut up the 527 organizations. And the most outrageous thing is that the Supreme Court assented in this gutting of the right of free speech, with hardly a quibble.
Like Inspector Reynaud, everyone is shocked--shocked!--that all this has happened. The washington people all knew that this would be the result of McCain-Feingold, but they signed it anyway. The protections that its clampdowns on free speech provide incumbents (no direct mentions of support for a candidate, no ads 30 days prior to an election, limits on direct, "hard money" contributions, etc.) were too good a treat to pass up. The major campaign finance reform it accomplished was to reform the system so that chellengers would find it almost impossible to finance a successful challenge to an incumbent office holder.
And I, and people like me, were saying all this at the time. The only real campaign finance reform, the one with the fewest unintended consequences, and the one most compatible with our constitutional liberties, is to let people give as much money as they want, to any candidate they want, with the proviso that all such donations are public knowledge, cannot be given anonymously, and must be immediately reported to the public.
All you guys on the Left were piously droning on about the corrupting effects of money, and the other drivel that Senators McCain and Feingold were spouting. The necessity of its passage became an article of faith among Democrats. You ignored warnings that it gutted the first amendment. You ignored warnings that 527s would just take up the slack in soft-money spending. No, you had your starchy white ideal of utopia, and you weren't gonna be happy 'til you got it, and thank God that there are a few Republicans, like Senator McCain, who, unlike the rest of his party, knows how to do the right thing.
Well, you got it. And what has it given you this election year? The Swiftvets.
So, how does campaign finance reform taste now? Does it taste good? Is it yummy? I hope so, because now you're just gonna have to suck on it for a while.
By the way, I hear the Swiftvets are working on a new ad.
Jim Wooten, at the Atlanta Journal Constitution suggests that the Kerry/Vietnam story is actually three stories:
John Kerry's Vietnam experience is not one story.
It is at least two. A third, not fully explored, is whether the "combat Kerry" or the "anti-war Kerry" survived to become a U.S. Senate policy-maker.
The two stories are Kerry in Vietnam and Kerry as the anti-war activist who accused his fellow veterans of committing atrocities on a daily basis with the full knowledge of their officers -- a view he holds to this day. Swift-boat veterans and the military records are the authorities on his months in Vietnam. Kerry has not agreed to sign Standard Form 180 for their release, though he has released some. His post-Vietnam activities, however, affect everybody who ever served.
An examination of his Senate record indicates to me, at least, that the anti-war Kerry is the one that survived, even though he now is attempting to use his "combat Kerry" as the best stepping-stone for his aquisition of power. That's primarily because we are at war.
Ironically, if we lived in a pre 9/11 world, the argument could be made that his anti-war past would be an asset in a Presidential run. And it would be hard to argue that his Senate record wouldn't rank right up there with the best in that regard. He'd be peddling the "Peace dividend", talking about our bloated intelligence apparatus and suggesting cuts and generally allying himself with the anti-military left. He could do so unabashedly, and have the credentials to pull it off.
But 9/11 did happen and that sort of record, at least at this point, is pure poison. Thus, "combat Kerry" is created for the times we live in. But it isn't the real Kerry, the 20 years worth of Kerry which resides in the Senate records.
The ultimate irony, however, is found in Wooten's next statement:
The anti-war movement in this country today is precisely where it was in its earliest stages of Vietnam. This nation is about a year away from serious antiwar activity, especially if Bush wins re-election and the pent-up bitterness that now drives the national Democratic Party has no productive outlet.
But what if Kerry wins? The irony there would be undeniable. He's almost completely accepted Bush's position.
It [the anti-war movement] will develop much more quickly now than then. In the absence of a draft, the nation is cultivating generations of opinion leaders with no ties to the military, no real comprehension of their capabilities and no real sense of when and how to use them. Kerry's Vietnam experience is commendable and useful, but the real question unanswered by the campaigns so far is what lessons he learned about how to use power to combat terrorism. That's the third story not yet pursued.
How would the poster-boy for the Vietnam anti-war movement handle the budding Iraq anti-war movement? More importantly .... how would he handle the War on Terror.
I have my ideas. Love to hear yours.
Media Matters--previously caught red-handed calling a win for Gore by citing research that actually concluded Bush would have won Florida--weighs in on the matter of Kerry's Purple Heart, and once again they leave out relevant information....
Echoing a widely discredited allegation by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke ... falsely claimed ... that Senator John Kerry ... did not properly earn his third Purple Heart, awarded for an injury sustained during a combat incident on March 13, 1969.To their credit, they did cite a credible authority on Purple Heart regulations. To their discredit, they didn't cite all of it. The Military Order of the Purple Heart also includes this requirement for the Purple Heart...
The truth is that Kondracke is ignorant of the relevant requirements for awarding a Purple Heart. Annenberg Public Policy Center's Political Fact Check pointed out that the buttock wound alone -- which Kerry sustained while blowing up a cache of rice that was a source of food for the Viet Cong -- would have qualified Kerry for a Purple Heart, even without the arm injury Kerry subsequently sustained in full-fledged combat later that day. A "friendly fire" injury can qualify for a Purple Heart "as long as the 'friendly' projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment," according to the website of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:Now, one might credibly make the argument that Kerry was not negligent in standing within the blast radius of his own grenade.....or, one might make the argument that it was negligent. There's room for debate.
(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.
But Media Matters called Kondrake's allegation "false" and Kondrake "ignorant of the relevant requirements for awarding a Purple Heart".
That's just wrong. It is not, however, surprising that Media Matters would make such a tendentious argument.
UPDATE: DMan points out that the wound did not occur "in the heat of battle"--as the regs seem to require, per my reading--which may call an end to the whole debate on whether the "rice grenade" could even be considered for a Purple Heart.
If "heat of battle" is a prerequisite--and exploding rice doesn't count as "enemy fire"--Kerry and Rassmann's attack on the pile of rice would not seem to qualify. ("Sir, the enemy attacked with far more than my daily allowance of starch!")
I've been bothered by a passage that was contained in a NYT article that all three of us had a go at this last Friday. You remember the one, it was the topic of the day. The NYT entitled it: "Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad".
But in that article there was this paragraph:
A damage report to Mr. Thurlow's boat shows that it received three bullet holes, suggesting enemy fire, and later intelligence reports indicate that one Vietcong was killed in action and five others wounded, reaffirming the presence of an enemy. Mr. Thurlow said the boat was hit the day before. He also received a Bronze Star for the day, a fact left out of "Unfit for Command."
Before that time, I had never heard it suggested that there was a report in which a claim of 1 VC being KIA and 5 being WIA. It wasn't until today, when Jon sent me a link, that I found the source of the NYT claims.
They're contained in The Coastal Division Eleven Command History "Chronology of Highlights". I'm not sure how I managed to miss it up to now, but I have.
Anyway to the point at hand which will demonstrate two things:
A) The NYT deliberately left out some of the report.
B) The NYT writers who used the report had no idea about the meaning of what they were reading.
First the report (you'll find it on page 8 of the pdf):
March 13, 1969: PCF's 3, 51, 43, 93 and 94 with MSF RF/PF troops conducted SEA LORDS operations in Bay Hop river and Dong Cong canal. A mine detonated under PCF 3 and units were taken under small arms fire several times during the operation. Friendly casualties were 8 USN WIA and 1 MSF KIA. Units destroyed 30 sampans and 5 structures and captured 16 booby trap grenades. Later intelligence reports indicated 1 VC KIA and 5 VC WIA.
Once I read this, I understood why the NYT had screwed up this part of the story so badly.
Let me translate it for you. Those 5 boats hauled some Mike Strike Force (MSF) Regional Forces/Popular Forces (RF/PF) on a Sea Lords operation. The Ruff Puffs apparently assaulted a village, killed 1 VC and wounded 5 VC, but that final total wasn't clear at the time. During their assault they (and possibly the PCFs) were under enemy small arms fire (stands to reason, wouldn't you say and might also explain the 3 holes in Thurlow's boat). They, the Mike Force and PCFs, destroyed 30 sampans, 5 structures and captured 16 grenades while losing 1 MSF KIA (a booby trap). The Mike Strike Force stayed there at the village site (and thus became the source for the "later intelligence").
On the way back, sans the Ruff Puffs (who are still at the village), PCF 3 hit a mine.
END OF STORY.
There was no reported small arms fire around the mine. There was no reported VC KIA or WIA at that time. Those all took place in the previous Mike Force operation, not the mine detonation.
Which explains why the PCFs were able to spend 90 minutes on site, saving the 3 boat and its crew before towing it in and not suffering one single solitary casualty from small arms or any other type of fire.
Of course if the writers at the NYT had bothered to show their source for the claim of the "later intelligence reports indicate that one Vietcong was killed in action and five others wounded, reaffirming the presence of an enemy" to someone who knew what a Mike Strike Force was, or what they apparently did on that operation, they wouldn't look as foolish, as they'd know the VC KIA and WIA were killed and wounded on a previous part of the operation and not at the mine detonation.
Great research guys.
UPDATE (JON): Recon suggests this analysis, which appears very interesting.
[Begin brief vulgar interlude]
Drudge is reporting that Kerry called one of the Swifties and had the following conversation:
KERRY: "Why are all these swift boat guys opposed to me?"
BRANT: "You should know what you said when you came back, the impact it had on the young sailors and how it was disrespectful of our guys that were killed over there."
[Brant had two men killed in battle.]
KERRY: "When we dedicated swift boat one in '92, I said to all the swift guys that I wasn't talking about the swifties, I was talking about all the rest of the veterans."
If so, and as one of the "rest of the veterans" I'd like to say to Mr. Kerry ... you can kiss my ass, you lying sack of shit. You still don't get it, do you, you freakin' clown!?
[End brief vulgar interlude.]
Back to your regularly scheduled programs
Kim Jung-Il, or at least North Korea, who does nothing without Kim's OK, is indeed for John Kerry.
"The North Koreans made it very clear, politely, that they want Mr. Kerry to win the election," said C. Kenneth Quinones, a former U.S. diplomat who was in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital this month for a Korean studies conference, said in a recent interview in Tokyo. "Nobody wants to move. North Koreans are going to play wait and see."
"The negotiating process is stalled," said Alexander Losy-ukov, who was Russia's negotiator at the talks until this spring and now is its ambassador to Japan, said in an interview last week. "It is clear they have just refused to participate in talks before the American presidential election. There are expectations in Pyongyang of a change in American policy. Probably they are wrong."
And North Korea's had some nice things to say about Bush as well:
North Korea called President Bush an "imbecile" and "a tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade" yesterday, unleashing a stream of insults that seemed to rule out any serious progress on nuclear disarmament talks before the American election this fall.
Apparently NoKo's characterization had to do with Bush aptly describing "Dear Leader" while on the campaign trail:
Yesterday's tirade appeared to have been set off by a campaign speech in Wisconsin last week by Bush, who referred to Kim Jong Il, North Korea's hereditary leader, as a "tyrant."
So at least one foreign leader and country have come out of the closet to back John Kerry. I wonder if he'll tout that endorsement on his website?
Seems like no matter what, the Vietnam era is bound and determined to remain a part of this election process. The NYPD, per the NY Post, is getting ready to do battle with ... are you ready for this? The Weather Underground.
A number of extremists with ties to the 1970s radical Weather Underground have recently been released from prison and are in New York preparing to wreak havoc during the Republican National Convention, The Post has learned.
A top-level source with extensive knowledge of police plans wouldn't disclose the names of the aging rabble-rousers but said a handful of them are already here and will play a behind-the-scenes role in attempting to disrupt the GOP gala.
"These people are trained in kidnapping techniques, bombmaking and building improvised munitions," the source said. "They've very bad people."
"They're not likely to take direct action," the source continued, "but they'll be orchestrating operations."
Originally called "The Weathermen," the anarchist organization came into existence in June 1969 as a radical splinter group of the Students for a Democratic Society.
Yes the old leftist bomb tossers of the 60s and 70s are apparently gathering in NY for the Republican Convention.
Now everyone should understand that they're going to be characterized as "anarchists" with the hope that they'll essentially be written off as apolitical. But they were anything but apolitical in the '60s and 70s. They were, and probably still remain, a violent and extreme leftist group.
Why do I say that? Well it has to do with how they described themselves:
The Weathermen, also known as the Weather Underground Organization, was a US-based, self-described "revolutionary organization of communist men and women" formed by members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), splintering that organization in the process.
A "revolutionary organization of communist men and women" isn't an anarchist group. They're an extreme leftist group. And these folks have a history. Originally a part of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), they were committed to a "New Left" as outlined in their Port Huron Agenda, a portion of which I've excerpted below. What you'll see is the SDS was primarily focused on effecting change in universities and colleges that would move them to the left:
Its a rather interesting agenda for taking over the universities of the land. Some argue the agenda has all but been achieved there, at least in such places as Berkley.
Founder of the SDS? Tom Hayden. Hayden will be in NY for the protests saying "Dissent must come alive in New York City. Dissent against an unelected government that misled us into an unnecessary war that has cost nearly 1,000 American lives and $200 billion that could have been invested in health care."
One wonders if his fellow 60's radical anti-war activist and former wife, Jane Fonda, will be there? One of Jane Fonda's fellow radical anit-war protesting buddies won't be there for sure though.
Anyway, back to the Weathermen or later Weather Underground. They split from the SDS wanting to take more direct and violent action against the government than the SDS was willing to do.
In October 1969, they organized their first event, called the "Days of Rage" in Chicago. The opening salvo in the Days of Rage came on the night of October 6, when they blew up a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket Riot. Although the October 8 rally failed to draw as many participants as they had anticipated, the estimated three hundred who did attend shocked police by leading a riot through Chicago's business district, smashing windows and cars. Six people were shot and seventy arrested. Two smaller violent conflicts with police followed the next two nights.
In 1970, following the shooting of Black Panther Fred Hampton, the group issued a Declaration of War against the United States government, changing its name to the "weather underground organization", adopting fake identities, and pursuing covert activities only. These initially included preparations for a bombing of US military noncommissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix. But when three Underground members died in an accidental explosion while preparing the bomb in a Greenwich Village, New York City safe house, other cells reevaluated their plans and decided to pursue only non-lethal projects.
The group released a number of manifestos and declarations, while conducting a series of bombings, attacking the U.S. Capitol, The Pentagon, police and prison buildings, and the rebuilt Haymarket statue again, among other targets. They successfully broke LSD advocate Timothy Leary out of prison and transported him to Algeria. They remained largely successful at avoiding the police.
Bombings, jail breaks, conspiracy to commit murder, you name it ... all in the name of revolutionary communism.
So if any of the talking heads begin waxing nostalgic or pretending like these are just, you know, benign, aging old hippy war protesters and lovers of peace, well its not true. They were (and possibly still are) murderous communist rabble and left wing extremists, and the world needs to be reminded of that when their minions are battling the NYPD next week.
Despite the fact that John Kerry has called them "lies", the Swift Boat Veterans seem to be forcing the Kerry camp into quite a lot of retreats, rowbacks and other concessions. Captain Ed has been positively invaluable in documenting the ongoing story. A few things he's noted recently....
Add to that the other recent evidence--from John Kerry's own hand--that contradicts John Kerry's story in a variety of places. It is a bit surprising, isn't it, that the best critic of John Kerry is...John Kerry.
It's a bit less surprising that the media isn't paying more attention to these inescapable discrepancies in his story.
UPDATE: Somehow, Matthew Yglesias manages to address this story, accuse Muravchik of "ignoring minor facts", call it "largely debunked".....and never--not once--address the points made by Muravchik: that...
a) Kerry's own journal appears to indicate that he was never there
b) Kerry's shipmates do not corroborate his story.
What's more, Matthew writes--as fact--that "Kerry was in Cambodia a few weeks later". What is the basis of this? Brinkley's after-the-fact suggestion that Kerry was in Cambodia a few times? A suggestion, by the way, contradicted by the Kerry camp, which is now saying Kerry was in Cambodia once.
With no apparent irony, Matt writes, "Muravchik's supposed to be a "scholar" but here he is acting like a campaign operative. There's nothing okay about it." Well, that cuts both ways, Matt.
I'm anxious for the Kerry camp to confirm or deny what Peter Garrett claims here....that they are standing behind the original "enemy fire" story, or retreating to the Swift Vets contention that it was self-inflicted.
And if so, will Chris Matthews be half as apologetic as he was uninformed? Just asking.
UPDATE: Media Matters is still running with this...
Following Michelle Malkin's August 19 appearance on MSNBC's Hardball -- during which host Chris Matthews refused to accept Malkin's false accusation that a shrapnel injury Senator John Kerry (D-MA) suffered in Vietnam was a "self-inflicted wound"...
Very consistently good stuff at Captain Ed's. Read him daily.
UPDATE: With Kerry backpedaling on various stories, this seems like an opportune time for Kerry's supporters to call for an end to Vietnam-era allegations, and Ezra steps up to the plate, saying "Fucking enough".
That is, he's had "enough" of the focus on the SwiftVets Vietnam allegations that have "shone light on everything corrosive, everything vile, everything that turns off Americans not just from voting but from civic participation".
The Bush/AWOL Vietnam allegations? Well, just yesterday, Ezra wanted to focus the debate on "his time AWOL".
Cause that's just different.
Claude Salhani of The Washington Times has an interesting piece examining the apparent Iranian hand in the fighting in Najaf:
To establish the "why" of the fighting in Najaf, one must first try first to ascertain the "who." Who stands to profit from the turmoil? Who could be pulling Sheik al-Sadr's strings and, of course, to what end?
The answer, no matter how you turn this thing around, dissect and analyze it, seems to point in one direction: Iran.
Sheik al-Sadr has traveled twice to Iran in recent months. He maintains close links with Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, a cleric in the city of Qom and a close confident of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Analysts believe he receives support and most probably financing from Iran.
So it would seem safe to assume there's certainly a relationhip between al-Sadar and top level clerical and political (not that they're really separated in Iran) leaders. As the Times notes, that answers the "who". But what about the "why". Why is Iran doing this and what is the message they're trying to send?
The reason is the Iran's ayatollahs are sending Washington a message. The message is "make sure that you, Washington, will convince Israel to stay away from our nuclear sites and desires." Otherwise, the fighting currently under way in Najaf can easily expand to other localities and grow in intensity. Lives are, unfortunately, expendable in this part of the world.
In other words, keep Israel on a leash and ensure there's no "Osirik". In the meantime, Iran has been issuing not so veiled threats to Israel, according to The China Daily:
Last month, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Iranians would "crush" Israel if it attacked the Persian state. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, upped the ante this week, telling Al-Jazeera television that his government might launch pre-emptive strikes to protect its nuclear facilities if they were threatened.
"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," he said, adding that some Iranian generals believe the doctrine of pre-emption is "not limited to Americans."
The warning was seen as aimed at Israel, alluding to the Israeli strike on Saddam Hussein's reactor two decades ago.
Israel has responded with its own warning to Iran:
A senior Israeli official responded that Israel's government was ready for all eventualities.
"We're not seeking war with Iran. But if a real threat materializes, Israel will know how to defend itself," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reflecting long-standing Israeli policy of not talking publicly about matters involving nuclear arms.
In other words, Najaf is a warning to the US that its control of Israel is key to the amount of discord and insurgency it will continue to face in Iraq. While the US has quite a bit of influence over Israel, it cannot stop Israel from doing what it perceives to be a threat against its existance. Iran has the means to hit Israel and Israel knows it. As Iran nears the completion of its nuclear weapons, Israel is going to be less and less inclined to listen to any US entreaties to hold off hitting Iran preemptively.
Of course hitting Iran wouldn't be as easy as hitting Osirik in Iraq was. Iran has learned from the Iraqi strike and has spread its facilities over a wide area and studded them with air defenses. But with Iran's threat to consider hitting Israel preemptively (as noted above), tensions are high.
Najaf, if Salhani is correct, is Iran playing international hard-ball. As mentioned here, whoever has the reigns after the election of November is going to be faced with a terrible dilemma and few real options for dealing with Iran.
The WSJ notes that back in February, John Kerry felt it was perfectly fine to question the service of his opponent:
The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at the times he was supposed to be. . . . Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question. --John Kerry, questioning President Bush's military-service record, February 8, 2004.
Well fair enough, it is a presidential election which means everything is going to be scrutinized.
But wait. After going after Bush and using his Vietnam service as the centerpiece of his campaign we have Kerry and company playing the vicitim of, you guessed it, the ubiquitous "Republican Smear Machine", or for the older folks, a revival of the "dirty tricks" department first made famous under Nixon.
The Swift Boat Vets couldn't possibly be principled people who find Kerry's behavior during and after the war to be suspect and scurrilous. They, instead, must be a bunch of liars who've been put up to this by Republican political operatives. Or so the story goes on the left.
As the WSJ points out:
A good rule in politics is that anyone who picks a fight ought to be prepared to finish it. But having first questioned Mr. Bush's war service, and then made Vietnam the core of his own campaign for President, Mr. Kerry now cries No mas! because other Vietnam vets are assailing his behavior before and after that war. And, by the way, Mr. Bush is supposedly honor bound to repudiate them.
"Bring. It. On." has become "Make. It. Stop".
What the left won't face is this isn't about Bush, the Republicans or the Democrats:
In any case, anyone who spends five minutes reading the Swift Boat Veterans' book ("Unfit for Command") will quickly realize that their attack has nothing to do with Mr. Bush. This is all about Mr. Kerry and what the veterans believe was his blood libel against their service when he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the spring of 1971 that all American soldiers had committed war crimes as a matter of official policy. "Crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" were among his incendiary words.
Its about words and actions taken 35 years ago in which the real "smears" and "dirty tricks" took place. It is about that account finally coming due. Now you have two choices here. Understand what really is driving this, shrug off the "dirty tricks" canard and take an honest look at what these veterans are saying and decide for yourself, or adopt the victimhood argument of the Kerry campaign and whine about how its your opponent's responsibility to stop this examination.
But again, remember ... it was Kerry who questioned Bush's service and it was Kerry who made his 4 months in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign. Its hard to find any "victimhood" available to Kerry in light of those two facts.
Factcheck.org has released an analysis of the latest SwiftVets ad, and it's....er, incomplete.
"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" announced a second anti-Kerry ad Aug. 20, using Kerry's own words against him. It features the 27-year-old Kerry in 1971 telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stories about American troops cutting off heads and ears, razing villages "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan" and committing "crimes . . . on a day-to-day basis."It's true, as far as it goes--in his 71 testimony, Kerry was simply passing on hearsay--but this analysis doesn't go far enough. From the commercial transcript, here are the claims Kerry made....
The Kerry campaign called it a smear and said his words were "edited" out of context. The ad does indeed fail to mention that Kerry was quoting stories he had heard from others at an anti-war event in Detroit, and not claiming first-hand knowledge. But Kerry passed them on as true stories.
John Kerry: “They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads. . .”In Factcheck.org's defense....yes, in his 71 testimony, he was simply passing along stories he'd heard. At least, that is what he claimed during that testimony.
John Kerry: “. . . randomly shot at civilians. . .”
John Kerry: “. . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies. . .”
John Kerry: “. . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. . .”
John Kerry: “. . . crimes committed on a day to day basis. . . ”
John Kerry: “. . . ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.”
But FactCheck.org claims he "was not claiming to have witnessed those atrocities personally", and that's not entirely true.
In his Congressional testimony Kerry did not claim to have witnessed them personally, but he did claim to have witnessed and participated in similar "atrocities". From an April 18 appearance on Meet the Press....
"I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others in that I shot in free fire zones, used harassment and interdiction fire, joined in search and destroy missions, and burned villages. All of these acts were established policies from the top down, and the men who ordered this are war criminals."Note that John Kerry seems to believe that the men who ordered this are "war criminals", but he--apparently--claims the "I was just following orders" defense. Note, too, that John Kerry was an officer and it was his duty to know and abide by the Geneva Convention....even to refuse unlawful orders.
Oddly, Mr Kerry admitted participating in what he terms "war crimes" prior to appearing before the Senate.....but he did not admit to his own participation in testimony before the Senate, claiming he was just passing along the testimony of others.
He also admitted to participating in those actions on the Dick Cavett show, though he quickly pointed out that they weren't trying to, you know, turn themselves in or anything....
"I did take part in free-fire zones, I did take part in harassment and interdiction fire, I did take part in search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground. And all of these acts, I find out later on, are contrary to the Hague and Geneva conventions and to the laws of warfare. So in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the application of the Nuremberg Principles, is in fact guilty. But we are not trying to find war criminals. That is not our purpose. It never has been."Let's review:
FactCheck.org claims the SwiftVets ad is misleading, because "Kerry was quoting stories he had heard from others" rather than "claiming first-hand knowledge".
However, of the 6 Kerry statements in the Swift Vets ad, Kerry has claimed firsthand knowledge--even participation--in 3 of them (shooting at civilians, razed villages, and ravaged the countryside), and only claims to have not participated in two of the allegations (those dealing with torture, dismemberment).
FactCheck.org has a good point--one I've made here--that some atrocities similar to what Kerry described did occur. But FactCheck.org fails miserably in claiming that Kerry "was not claiming to have witnessed those atrocities personally".
In addition to the hearsay of the Winter Soldier "investigation", Kerry very clearly did claim to be a witness and an active participant in what he termed "atrocities".
UPDATE: Let 'em know....
UPDATE II: More Kerry-related fact-checking here.
UPDATE III (McQ): This is QandO's second fact check of FactCheck.org.
Atrios is incensed that W is calling for 527 ads to be denounced. Why, George W. Bush is trying to stop free speech!
Now, as I've said before, I'm a tepid supporter of some campaign finance initiatives, but can some reporter please nail down just what the hell Bush is talking about. Can he really be saying that all outside ads should stop because "they're bad for the system." Should political parties be the only ones who are allowed to engage in political speech? Or, is his objection to disclosure requirements? If so, the media should start learning just what disclosure laws are, which groups are complying with them, how, and whether they're doing it in a timely fashion.
But, there's free speech, and there's free speech,
Why are the Swift Boat Liar ads and Move On's ads equivalent? On one hand we have proven liars contradicting existing Navy records and 35 years of public comment, and on the other hand we have legitimate questions, raised by many prominent news organizations, about whether George Bush bothered to show up for national guard service as he was required. There are many legitimate questions about Bush's failure to fulfill his duty, including his failure to take a required flight physical, as well as the fact that Bush lied about his military record in his autobiography. Kerry has Navy records to back up his claims, Bush does not.
So, it's not really "free speech" Atrios cares about. Just speech he likes.
Oh, by the way, have you ever read the comment threads over there?
Mark Steyn writes that, as campaign strategies go, there have been many better ones than John Kerry's idea of touting his four months of service in a war he's primarily known for opposing. It doesn't seem to have helped him with the military vote.
If Vietnam vets loathe him, World War Two vets seem to think he's a buffoon. Short of reversing over the last 128-year-old Spanish-American War veteran in the retirement home parking lot, it's hard to see how Kerry could more comprehensively diminish his military support.
Still, he's doing his best. After going around huffing and a-puffing that, if Bush wanted a debate about Vietnam, "Here is my answer: BRING. IT. ON," he's now gone to ground and is demanding Bush call it off. Meanwhile, his lawyers are threatening suits and the campaign's complained to the Federal Election Commission to get the Swift vets taken off air.
His hagiographer Douglas Brinkley, after an intriguing interview with the Telegraph's David Rennie, seems to have entered the witness protection programme. If this campaign were any more inept, Michael Moore would be making a documentary claiming Kerry's a Republican plant secretly controlled by Karl Rove and the House of Saud.
Did Kerry honestly think that touting his war record wasn't just asking for the current spate of attacks? What was he thinking?
Bumped to the top and updated, because....well, because it's important to me.
* Been away from the blog for the most part for the last couple days, and that may continue somewhat today. Tim Blair has been staying with me here in Richmond these last couple days before taking off for the GOP convention, and--to be perfectly blunt--talking to him is much more interesting than anything I have to write on this blog.
In short: Tim is every bit as clever and interesting as you might assume from reading his blog, he's good with children, and he is an incorrigible agitator.
Seriously. Within 2 days he has my son convinced of some very questionable Australian astronomical "facts" (did you know they have 5 moons in Australia?), and has declared war on various neighborhoods within my subdivision. Some sort of August Revolution of the Proletariat against the Bourgeoisie living near the lake. Eggs are involved.
Vive la Woodlake Revolucion! Cry havoc and let slip the bloggers of war!
At any rate, fine fellow, and it's been an honor to meet him. He's even added us to his blogroll....a nice gesture, and one for which I had not asked, thinking it a bit gauche to put a guest in that spot.
Still, as a blog-promotion tactic, it seems ingenious. The hell with reciprocity. From now on, I'm offering free boarding to prominent bloggers, in exchange for a spot on the blogroll. Now, if only Glenn Reynolds will make a trip to Richmond....
* Rusty Shackleford writes....
Making the rounds today I was checking out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's (you may know him from such beheadings as Paul Johnson and Kim Sun-Il) website. Guess what...it was hacked!!!He's got a screenshot, and it's pretty funny. While I normally favor capital punishment for hackers, I'm willing to let these guys off with only a mild warning: don't get caught.
* Speaking of internet savvy terrorists, this Sacred Cow Burgers shot was funny...
* John Hawkins has a couple interesting pieces at RightWingNews....
What depresses some of us about Krugman is that he has become a one trick pony. He has become so unhealthily obsessive about George Bush that he cannot seem to think about anything else. George Bush has become his great white whale. Robert Solow once took this shot at Milton Friedman: "Everything reminds Milton of the money supply. Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper." Krugman is determined to blame George Bush for everything, which keeps reminding me of Joseph Schumpeter's remark that the most remarkable thing about the Japanese earthquake of 1924 was that it was not blamed on capitalism. Sometime this fanatical urge to believe that the Bush administration is alway, always wrong leads him to say things that should embarrass a professional economist.That sound about right.
UPDATE: Oh, and don't forget the Weekly QandO roundup from the past week. Excerpted, linked and worthwhile.
UPDATE II: Capt. Joe--one of my favorite commenters here at QandO--left this comment to a post below, and I think it deserves a promotion....[formatted a bit for this post]
So let's look at how the press has given a pass to kerry where others have not, shall we? In 1992, Sydney Blumenthal was contracted to do a hit piece on Bush Sr for the new republic.Me, I'm really just amazed that Bush 41 and Dole lost, what with all the Democrats who believe so fervently in the value of military service in a President.....and really really believe in voting for people who've been heroic in war. I guess I just didn't read between the lines closely enough.What really happened at Chichi Jima will never finally be resolved. Were the men really dead when Bush jumped? Did one man parachute out? Why did the intelligence report say one thing and the Finback log another? And why have Bush's versions changed over time? Bush's experience in the Good War was more tortured and his accounts more tortuous than he now admits.This was when a decorated WW2 vet (Bush Sr) faced off against a draft dodger (Clinton). Remember Kerry's words about military service not being a requirement for the presidency?
In 1996, Another hit piece was commisioned by the nation to dispute Dole's war record. Again a decorated WW2 vet(Dole) was facing off against a draft dodger (Clinton).
It seems that you lefties have a problem with vets when there were on the wrong side.
Hey, maybe I got my meme's twisted around but I thought WW2 was the good war, the just war. You know, the one to rid the world of the nazis.
With these stories in mind, John Cole writes...
Dear Democrats 'outraged' over the Swift Boat Vets (who unlike Blumenthal and Ellis, actually where there),
Meanwhile, in Najaf, US troops have tightened the noose around the Imam Ali Shrine where Michael Moore's Iraqi brother, Muqtada al-Sadr continues to hide or maybe not:
Al-Sadr has not been seen in public for many days, and police drove around Najaf with loudspeakers declaring that he had fled and was headed to the northern city of Sulaymaniyah. Al-Sadr's aides denied that.
"Muqtada al-Sadr is still in Najaf and is still supervising the operations," Sheik Aws al-Khafaji, the head of al-Sadr's office in the southern city of Nasiriyah, told the pan-Arab television station Al-Jazeera.
As for his militia:
With the U.S. advance Monday, fewer militant fighters were visible in the streets of Najaf and some were seen leaving the city. Militant medical officials said at least two insurgents were killed and four others injured.
I'm still not clear as to al-Sadar's goal in all of this. Its been reported that his support, which peaked in April, has steadily declined. And with it apparent, at least at the moment, that the US isn't going to back off getting him out of the shrine and his militia out of Najaf, I'm not sure he knows how to end this without looking pretty bad ... being "humiliated", which apparently is much worse than being dead to some Arabs.
So the face-saving effort is as follows:
Al-Sadr's aides said Friday they would turn over the shrine to Shiite religious authorities, but the militants had still not withdrawn by Monday amid squabbling with the religious leaders over the details of the pullout.
Great. While eveyone tries to be careful about not harming the shrine, al-Sadar continues to hold the whole process hostage.
Which brings us to the interim government:
The crisis has posed a severe challenge to the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who has tried to take a hard-line toward insurgents causing chaos throughout the country.
Government officials have sent mixed messages in recent days, first threatening to raid the shrine — which would infuriate the nation's Shiite majority — then backing down and saying they were willing to wait for a peaceful solution.
Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said the government would not wait indefinitely.
"Certainly there's a limit, and I think the period has started to narrow," he told Al-Arabiya television Monday. "It could be days or it could be hours. Such decisions are taken at the time, depending on the developments."
Well it could be days only if you patronize this idiot. Its time to pound on the table and set a deadline. Its time to act like a government which has the best interest of its citizens and country at heart. Its time to stop letting some nut hold the country hostage. Its time to grow a pair and do something.
Meanwhile neighboring countries are beginning to worry a bit:
Worries over the fallout from the violence have fueled calls for international action. Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari, in talks with his Jordanian counterpart Monday, warned that instability in Iraq "is about to backfire on neighboring countries" and called for Arabs and Iraq's neighbors to "help it get out of its current ordeal."
Iran has called for an urgent meeting of Muslim nations to deal with Iraq. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) repeated denials of claims by some Iraqi officials that his country supports al-Sadr.
"We have never taken sides in favor or against any group or faction in Iraq," Khatami told reporters when asked if Iran was supporting al-Sadr, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Yeah right Iran ... and you never had any plans of breaking your word with Britian, France and Germany about restarting your nuclear program again, did you? I'm sure your denial will sooth a lot of worry about your not taking sides in Iraq.
California Democrats are insisting that not only should illegal immigrants be given driver's licenses, they should look exactly the same as regular licenses.
Gov. Schwarzenegger begs to differ, so Democrats in Sacramento are not hot as blazes, particularly state Sen. Gil Cedillo
A driver's license bill for illegal immigrants, perhaps the most emotional issue facing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as California's legislative session winds down, will likely land on his desk within days.
Schwarzenegger has indicated he'll veto it unless the license "looks different" from other licenses for security reasons - an amendment supporters of the bill call a discriminatory "marker" that's unacceptable.
With no apparent middle ground in view, the postmortem for SB 1160 by state Sen. Gil Cedillo is already taking shape. Latino legislators say Schwarzenegger promised them he would sign a license bill; the governor maintains the bill does not address his security concerns.
The Republican governor also maintains he never assured Cedillo - as the Los Angeles Democrat insists - that licenses for illegal immigrants would look the same as licenses for legal residents.
The basic argument that Democrats have been making is that illegals need licenses, because, right now, they're driving anyway, and they are a public danger. We must, says cedillo, get licenses out to the illegals so that we can be reasonably asssured of their ability to drive safely.
OK, fine, I'm willing to listen to that argument. But, when Cedillo starts shrieking that they absolutely, positively cannot have some sort of distinguishing mark, then he loses me completely. Because then it becomes obvious that this is about something else than safe driving.
There's a reason that Cedillo wants illegals to have the same license that citizens get, and the reason can be described in one phrase: Motor Voter.
In California, once you get a driver's license, you're automatically issued a voter registration card, right at the DMV. And, since no one ever actually checks to see if you're eligible to vote, Motor Voter would allow Democrats to swell the voter roles with illegal immigrants who aren't legally allowed to vote, but who generally won't get caught if they do, because of how Motor Voter was implemented in California. Putting a distiguishing mark, like a "Non-Resident" stamp on the license, would put an end to that.
No, this isn't about letting illegals drive. It's about political power in Sacramento, and how to keep it.
According to Expatica, East Germans long for the "good old days":
Some 15 years after the Berlin Wall came down, more than 75 percent of eastern Germans polled in a survey released Monday believe communism to be a good idea in theory.
Over half of the people in formerly communist eastern Germany are disillusioned with democracy, said the survey by Datenreport 2004.
Some 25 percent of respondents agree with the statement: "There are other, better forms of government than democracy."
A whopping 76 percent eastern Germans said they believed communism was a good idea that was only poorly carried out by the regime in the former German Democratic Republic.
The canard that "communism is a good idea" but was "poorly carried out" is an article of faith among members of the socialist left and limo liberals. They believe it would work if only someone else had done it properly. Despite the contrary evidence to be found in the west's success, it remains a siren song to them. Despite all that's written about its theory and its reality, there are large numbers who still choose to believe that a socialist or communist utopia is both achievable and best. It still amazes me that in the face of the real repression communism brought to that region that a majority would pine for it.
But then it seem memories fade quickly. The East German generation that grew up under the banner of the DDR and never knew anything but communism until now seem to be engaged in selective nostalgia. My guess is if their newly found freedoms were again taken from them, and the oppression that was rampant in the good old days were returned, perhaps it would jog their memory.
Then again, maybe not.
The editors of the New York Times support the nucelar waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain. Will wonders never cease?
There seems little doubt that the safest way to dispose of used fuel rods from nuclear power plants and highly radioactive wastes from nuclear weapons production is to bury them deep underground in stable geological formations resistant to leaking. Experts in this country and abroad, as well as many environmentalists, agree on that point. Although Yucca Mountain was partly chosen because of a perception that Nevada lacked the political clout to reject it, the site has a lot to recommend it. It sits on federal land where nuclear bombs were tested, in an arid desert where population density is low, well above the water table and atop volcanic rocks that have been there for 12 million to 13 million years. But technical obstacles, litigation, political opposition in Nevada and the sheer difficulty of the undertaking have slowed progress for 17 years and threaten to prolong the agony indefinitely.
The sheer idiocy of mandating that a waste facility should operate safely for 100,000+ years is evidently apparent even to the the editors of the New York Times, which is surprising, considering how often they are the kings of not getting it when it comes to other shibboleths of the Left.
Apart from anything else, one suspects that, sometime in that period, we'll probably come up with a wide range of technologies to secure this stuff.
Con somebody, anybody, tell me how this piece about the administrations war on "terraces" made it into the Op/Ed page of the Los Angeles Times?
The premise of the bit is that the president gave this speech at a private campaign event:
Some people say there are simply too many terraces, that we can't win this war. It's true that there are also lots of terraces in old European countries like France and Germany. But many of our newer allies, like Poland, don't have this problem. My father, the former president, says it has something to do with Soviet construction.
Sen. John McCain has told me he has no use for terraces. I was glad to hear it. He said it's too hot in Arizona. I told him, "John, I know wars can get hot. That's why I won't rest until we've won the war on terraces."
As I see it, the choice in this election is clear. For example, the media reported that my opponent has several terraces. His wife enjoys terraces in five languages. I take a different approach. As far as I know, there are no terraces at the ranch in Crawford, just a lot of brush that needs to be cleared. Dick told me he took care of the one terrace he knew of in Wyoming. I thanked him for the superb job he is doing.
My opponent has also raised questions about our strategy in going into Iraq. I am so happy to be able to tell you that there are now far fewer terraces in Iraq than there were under Saddam Hussein. Mission accomplished.
I mean, what is the point? I would get it if it was supposed to be funny, but it's just lame. Did the guys at the LAT editorial board read this, and go, "Ha, ha, W is dumb, he gets terraces and terrorists confused! That's funny!"
Because, it isn't.
And I'm a guy who's made fun of Bush's verbal problems myself:
But this article isn't funny. It's just...dumb. How this makes it into the op/ed page of one of the nation's 1st tier newspapers is mystifying.
UPDATE: Beltway Traffic Jam
Well you can't have a day pass without noting something new or different in the Kerry Vietnam flap. Today it has to do with whether the VC Kerry chased was wounded or not.
"Kerry, followed by one member of his crew, jumped ashore and chased a VC behind a hooch – a thatched hut – maybe 15 yards inland from the ambush site.
"Some who were there that day recall the man being wounded as he ran. Neither I nor Jerry Leeds, our boat's leading petty officer with whom I've checked my recollection of all these events, recalls that, which is no surprise. Recollections of those who go through experiences like that frequently differ."
Well they do, unless they're the guy who wounded the VC.
"You know, I shot that guy," Bellodeau told the Boston Globe during a 1996 interview, correcting an earlier Globe report that echoed Kerry's claim that he alone had neutralized the enemy ambusher.
"He jumped up, he looked right at me, I looked at him," Bellodeau continued. "You could tell he was trying to decide whether to shoot or not. I expected the guy on Kerry's boat with the twin 50s to blast him, but he couldn't depress the guns far enough. We were up on the bank."
Only after the enemy soldier was wounded, said Bellodeau, did Kerry leap from the boat onto the beach and pursue him around the back of a nearby hut, where the would-be president finished him off.
So there's a pretty definative account that says the VC was wounded. And only after he was wounded and headed away did Kerry jump off after him.
More importantly, though, this again makes a point I made yesterday. Bellodeau points out that they were essentially defenseless against this guy because Kerry had beached the boat and made them unable to respond with their on-board weaponry.
Bellodeau has since passed away. His 1996 statement has been ignored (whether purposely or accidentally), both by Kerry and Rood. But if the standard for relevance is having to be on Kerry's boat, Bellodeau was there and his recollection of the wounding is recorded by the Boston Globe.
One other point. Bellodeau says the VC was trying to decide whether to shoot or not. That stongly suggests that the launcher was loaded and it was Bellodeau who saved PCF 94 .... not Kerry. After Bellodeau fired on him, he took off instead of firing the RPG.
Amir Taheri writes that, no matter who becomes president this year, next year Iran will be his biggest foreign policy headache.
A nuclear-armed Iran is a prescription for more trouble than you can shake a stick at. At the moment, the Mullahs are facing a lot of pressure. Their borders with Afghanistan to the East, and Iraq to the west puts them right in the middle of two incipient democracies that they perceive to be American clients. Their population is both young and restive with clerical rule, and democratic examples in bordering nations are not conducive to the maintenance of their rule.
Moreover, the mullahs have a series of goals--a vision, if you will--about the world order as it pertains to the Mideast. First and foremost in their minds is the destruction of the "Jewish Entity", that is to say, Israel. Second is the elimination of American power in the region. Third is the imposition of direct Islamic rule--preferable of the Shi'a flavor--all throughout the Mideast. Fourth, and finally, is the expansion of Islam to the West, and eventually, the rest of the world.
These seem like fairly grandiose dreams for a poor, desert country, but, unfortunately, they think otherwise. By their reckoning, God is on their side.
It took WWII to teach Germany that putting "Gott Mit Uns" on the belt buckles of their army uniforms was no guarantee that God actually was with them. The Iranians have, as of yet, undergone no such learning experience.
But, such learning experiences as they have undergone in the past few years has brought one fact to their attention. Baghdad has a new government, and Pyongyang does not, and the mullahs expect that they know why. So the choice they must make is obvious: obtaining nuclear weapons now may very well prevent Tehran from following the path that Kabul and Baghdad have taken.
Additionally, it would allow them to begin a blackmail campaign against the Afghani and Iraqi governments, to force them to require the removal of American and NATO troops. With that out of the way, some sort of Iran/Iraq axis might be formed--with Iraq as a very junior partner--or the secession of southern, Shi'ite Iraq, and it's union with Iran might be engineered.
Also, a nuclear-armed Iran might feel far more safe in organizing and supporting terror movements throughout the west, secure from any meaningful retaliation because of the deterrent shield provided by it's nuclear arsenal.
Really, we can play this kind of game forever, and construct any number of scenarios that might play out if Iran obtains nuclear weapons. And all the scenarios have one great similarity: none of them are good for the security or interests of the world in general, or the United States in particular.
They aren't part of the "Axis of evil" for nothing, the Iranians.
Adam Sparks at SFGate puts together a long list of reasons why he figures "The Jig is Up for Kerry". Its an interesting read. The first thing he claims is it quietly imploded when Kerry admited he'd have voted for the war resolution even if we had known what we know now about WMDs, etc. Sparks feels that pretty well sliced any possiblity of the winning vote from his side by alienating the peacenik faction which resided with the Deaniacs.
Possibly. But the Deaniacs must have remembered that as recently as January of 2003, Kerry was saying things like, “[W]e need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime."
I realize he changed his colors when it became politically expedient to do so (to appeal to the Dean supporters and their ilk during the primaries), but is this really something that will surprise and disgust them enough to refuse to vote for Kerry?
I'm not sure it is.
Sparks then goes into quite a litany of other reasons. One that struck my eye was this:
In 1997, he mused on the floor of the Senate, "Why it is that our vast intelligence apparatus, built to sustain America in the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, continues to grow at an exponential rate? Now that that struggle is over, why is it that our vast intelligence apparatus continues to grow even as government resources for new and essential priorities fall far short of what is necessary?" Kerry knew then about the global threat al Qaeda poses. Is this how he and Clinton prepared us for the war on terror?
The debatable point here is did he indeed know about the global threat al Qaeda posed? That's really hard to establish. I would be assumed that someone serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee would be up on that terrorist threat, but then this guy missed 38 of the 49 Senate Intelligence public meetings during his tenure.
Is it any wonder that the proposed $6 billion in cuts in intelligence funding instead of boosting it? One would guess if he were in fact up on the terrorist threat, he wouldn't have made such a proposal. So he was either ill-informed or didn't have the best interest of the security of the United States in mind when he made the proposal. Either way, its clear his proposal was not in the best interest of the US and this was demonstrated when his colleagues roundly defeated his proposal 75-20.
Sparks also notes Kerry's almost knee-jerk opposition to troop withdrawl:
And then there's his response to Bush's announcement last week of the largest return of troops since the start of the Cold War, in which the president promised to bring back to the United States 70,000 troops from units originally deployed in Europe and Asia as a presence to deter communist aggression. This move should please all those antimilitary types in Europe and the United States. However, to everyone's surprise, Kerry said he's against the decision, which he calls "hasty." The Cold War ended in 1989, when the Berlin Wall was torn down, and that decisive candidate, John Kerry, now calls the president's decision to finally bring the troops back "hasty"?
As noted here, this was only weeks after he'd said he was for making the very realignment he was now against. If his justification for cutting intelligence funding was based on the fact that the Cold War had ended how in the world does he justify keeping Cold War troop deployments 15 years after its end? In a word: politics. If Bush is for it, he must be against it. Its what his base expects.
Of course we've discussed the Swift Boat thing and Christmas in Cambodia to death, but Sparks touches on them. I'll leave the details for you to read and concentrate on this aspect:
This reminds me of the thundering silence from the left when Bill Clinton's peccadillos came to light. After hounding Bob Packwood from office for lesser offenses, they simply refused to engage the Clinton problem. Paula Jones, et. al. were treated as pariah's. But now, when the left tries to lecture on "women's rights" and "abusing women", they're reminded of their ignoring the problem when politically the perpetrator was on their side. Their blatant moral relativity removed them most emphatically from the moral high-ground. The same principle applies here. In principle, you're either for the first amendment or you're not. You can't be for it on a selective basis depending on the politics of those involved. But it again appears to be the case with the left as it pertains to the Swift Boat Vets. Where are the great first amendment crusaders of the left on this one? You can hear the crickets chirping away.
Sparks then does a little "poll analysis" and notes some of the difficulties Kerry now faces:
Now that we all know Kerry is more warlike than the president -- after all, he would have removed Saddam without any evidence of WMDs -- Bush's job approval in the latest Gallup poll is now at 51 percent, almost identical to Clinton's 52 percent rating in August 1996 and President Reagan's 54 percent mark in August 1984. Last week, USA Today reported that "no president who has been at or above 50 percent at this point in an election year has lost."
Well "no president has lost" rules are simply made to be broken. But Sparks gives you some other links and analysis which makes a pretty descent case for "not this time". You may or may not agree with his analysis, but it is interesting.
Sparks concludes with:
The Democratic primary was hotly contested, but there was no question of Bush getting the Republican nod. The Demos really would like to be excited for Kerry, if they could figure out just who he is and what he stands for -- this week. The Kerry strategy of campaigning on the basis of not being Bush is, unfortunately, not enough to win an election. As of now, with most of Kerry's fellow Vietnam veterans on the warpath against him, it looks as if his swift boat to the White House has sprung a leak and is sinking quickly.
We live in interesting times. The admission he'd have voted for the Iraq war resolution even if he knew then what he knows now, the Swit Boat flap and the brutal attempts to suppress their right to express themselves along with rising poll numbers for Bush in front of the Republican convention do indeed spell trouble for Kerry. All the distractions have kept him off message and on defense. And when he has taken a moment to address the issues (Iraq war and troop realignment), he's fumbled them.
If he's still playing catch-up and defense coming out of the Republican Convention and Bush gets any kind of a decent bump, I'd have to say Kerry'd be all but toast.
We'll have to stay-tuned and see.
As MMFA has noted on each occasion, the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center (NORC) conducted a study which concluded that in at least four different recount scenarios, Gore emerged the winner of the disputed election.Aha! So, NORC reported that Gore would have won! Except..., well not so much.
A comprehensive study of the 2000 presidential election in Florida suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president.The only scenarios in which Gore would have won were those involving the loosest possible standards...standards not adopted by most counties. So,yes....if everybody had done something that almost nobody was going to do, Gore would have won.
Using the NORC data, the media consortium examined what might have happened if the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened. The Florida high court had ordered a recount of all undervotes that had not been counted by hand to that point. If that recount had proceeded under the standard that most local election officials said they would have used, the study found that Bush would have emerged with 493 more votes than Gore.
Well, yes...and--to borrow a line--if we only had eggs, we could all have ham and eggs, if we had ham.
What's more, the margin of error made the study--per CNN--"instructive but not definitive in its findings".
So, they've cited a study--though, not a definitive study--which verified that Bush would have won Florida. Which is, you know, what Neal Boortz said in the first place.
Good work, Media Matters!
Major Glen Butler, USMC, writes, in the New York Times, of all places, that the fighting in Najaf is about peace and security in Des Mones, Iowa, just as much as it is about a democratic Iraq.
Now we are on the verge of victory or defeat in Iraq. Success depends not only on battlefield superiority, but also on the trust and confidence of the American people. I've read some articles recently that call for cutting back our military presence in Iraq and moving our troops to the peripheries of most cities. Such advice is well-intentioned but wrong - it would soon lead to a total withdrawal. Our goal needs to be a safe Iraq, free of militias and terrorists; if we simply pull back and run, then the region will pose an even greater threat than it did before the invasion. I also fear if we do not win this battle here and now, my 7-year-old son might find himself here in 10 or 11 years, fighting the same enemies and their sons.
When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.
Michael Moore recently asked Bill O'Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it's the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. This country is breeding and attracting militants who are all eager to grab box cutters, dirty bombs, suicide vests or biological weapons, and then come fight us in Chicago, Santa Monica or Long Island. Falluja, in fact, was very close to becoming a city our forces could have controlled, and then given new schools and sewers and hospitals, before we pulled back in the spring. Now, essentially ignored, it has become a Taliban-like state of Islamic extremism, a terrorist safe haven. We must not let the same fate befall Najaf or Ramadi or the rest of Iraq.
No, I would not sacrifice myself, my parents would not sacrifice me, and President Bush would not sacrifice a single marine or soldier simply for Falluja. Rather, that symbolic city is but one step toward a free and democratic Iraq, which is one step closer to a more safe and secure America.
Major Butler gets it.
In order to move the presidential campaign away from what happened or didn't happen in Vietnam 35 years ago, I offer a suggestion. Since the Kerry camp wishes to argue that official Navy records are conclusive proof that Kerry served honorably and with distinction, I suggest that those of us opposed to Kerry offer to accept that argument, as long as the Kerry people accept the logical corollary: the official Air Force records indicating George W. Bush was honorably discharged from his service is conclusive proof that he properly met his obligations as well.
Perhaps then we can move forward to matters more relevant to Mr. Kerry's record, such as his support for the Sandinista's in the 1980s, or his 20-year record of voting to cut military and intelligence funding. Or, why Sen. Kerry voted for the Iraq War, and maintains that he would've done so even if he had known there were no WMDs in Iraq, but George W. Bush was wrong for actually doing what Sen. Kerry authorized him to do.
So, how does that sound to everyone?
Kerry's 1971 book, which he has gone to extreme lengths to see wasn't republished, is now available over at Slings and Arrows in PDF format.
I'm going to give it a look later and may have some comments on it.
Gotta tell you, there are some weird folks in this world.
A Malaysian woman is trying to reclaim the world record for the longest stay in a room full of scorpions, news reports said Sunday.
Nur Malena Hassan, 27, moved Saturday into a locked glass box where she plans to live for 36 consecutive days with more than 6,000 of the poisonous arachnids in a shopping mall, the Malay-language Mingguan Malaysia newspaper reported.
Scores of people watched as Nur Malena stood fearlessly in a red sweater and jeans with scorpions crawling up her head, chest and legs in Kuantan, a city about 160 miles east of Kuala Lumpur, a photograph published by the newspaper showed.
Nur Malena set a world record in 2001 by living for 30 days with 2,700 scorpions. She was stung seven times, fell unconscious and almost gave up the attempt.
The only record I can imagine involving scorpions is how many years I can go completely avoiding them.
Tim Blair and I spent some time this weekend discussing the hysterical state of the left side of the 'sphere, both agreeing that--for many of them--anger has led to some very self-limiting partisan blinders. Case in point: Matthew Yglesias' recent rant, in which he calls Bush "a lying, cowardly, idiot who's willing to go to any lengths whatsoever to maintain his grasp on political power" and the rest of the administration "the gang of criminals he's employed at the highest levels of government".
Of course Matt can substantiate those positions by pointing out that Bush has (1) misled, (2) taken positions that Matt thinks are "cowardly", and (3) is engaged in a campaign for President. It's all true! QED!
Except, every bit of that can be said about every Presidential candidate, and every President, past and future. And they will be.
I mean, it's like 1998 all over again.
They don't stand for anything, just for tearing people down.Noted, Oliver. "just tearing people down"=bad. So, what does Oliver stand for? Taking a look at many of the posts between that post and now...
To review: one positive comment about John Kerry, a meta-blog comment, a post about the Redskins, a post about Keyes being nuts/Obama being good, and about a half-dozen posts that "don't stand for anything, just for tearing people down".
...which Oliver just hates.
I'm under no delusion that my criticism will cause a liberal blogger to reevaluate their approach. Pandering, after all, does get hits. But it's important to point this out. Pundits complain about the polarized, angry nature of political discourse today.....but, far too often, they're responsible for it.
Former presidential candidate Bob Dole is now piling on to John Kerry.
Dole told CNN's "Late Edition" that he warned Kerry months ago about going "too far" and that the Democrat may have himself to blame for the current situation, in which polls show him losing support among veterans.
"One day he's saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons," Dole said. "The next day he's standing there, `I want to be president because I'm a Vietnam veteran.' Maybe he should apologize to all the other 2.5 million veterans who served. He wasn't the only one in Vietnam," said Dole, whose World War II wounds left him without the use of his right arm.
Dole added: "And here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out."
Dole is always such a tactful guy, huh?
Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said: "It's unfortunate that Senator Dole is making statements that official U.S. Navy records prove false. This is partisan politics, not the truth."
That's a pretty fair amount of spin, since the entire controversy about the medals is whether or not the official Navy records are an accurate reflection of what happened. Of course, the Kerry campaign can't show any wiggle room on that. Their position has to be that the Navy records are canonical.
Joe Klein, writing in Newsweek opines that John Kerry's campaign is suffering from a lack of substance about issues that matter in the here and now.
Actually, Kerry's best moments in this saga have come when he challenged the President's foreign and defense policies. Kerry distinguished himself two years ago by criticizing Bush for not using U.S. troops to attack the trapped al-Qaeda leadership at Tora Bora.
That sort of detailed, sophisticated critique has vanished from Kerry's repertoire. He hasn't had anything of interest to say about the humiliating American retreat from Fallujah—a city that has subsequently become a miniature rogue state within Iraq—or about the mystifying, flip-floppy U.S. attitude toward the Shi'ite revolutionary Muqtada al-Sadr. Kerry hasn't said whether he thinks Bush Administration policy was responsible for the torture at Abu Ghraib. He has mentioned—but hasn't really exploited—the growing sense in the military and intelligence communities that the war has strengthened Islamist radicalism, overburdened the U.S. military, and made it far more difficult to rally the world against the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.
Kerry does not have to be specific about what he would do in Iraq—the situation on the ground changes daily, so how can he know?—but I suspect the public needs to hear, in plain and forceful language, Kerry's opinion of what Bush has done and whether it has been good for America. Instead, Kerry has offered only vague criticisms and an increasingly implausible promise to lure our allies into the chaos.
Kerry made the mistake of showcasing his Vietnam service prominently. That makes the Swiftvets charges all the more damaging, and is putting Kerry's campaign on the defensive.
It's interesting how Klein minimizes the Swiftvets problem Kerry faces:
[The voters] have obviously responded to the scurrilous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Kerry's war record, which is why he was forced, finally, to counterattack last week. The Swifties' ability to dominate the news with incendiary nonsense is, I believe, a direct result of Kerry's unwillingness to dominate the news with tart, controversial substance by challenging the President on Iraq.
There it is in a nutshell: scurrilous, incendiary nonsense. That's the talking point, and Klien isn't gonna deviate, even though, as a result, Kerry has already had to backtrack on the Cambodia claim. But, even if we grant, arguendo, that all the Swiftvet claims are nonsense, the simple fact is that it was Kerry himself who chose to make his Vietnam experience the sine qua non of his candidacy. Had Kerry projected the attitude he did in 1992 when Bill Clinton's service was being questioned, none of this would've happened. Kerry would merely have said, "35 years ago, I went to Vietnam. I'm proud of my service there, but it was 35 years ago. It is the challenges we face today that are the important issues of the campaign."
But, that he didn't is his fault, and no one else's.
There are a number of ways, as Klein points out, for Kerry to strike at Bush directly on the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq, if Kerry were willing to do so. But, even there it isn't quite as simple as Klein claims. Opposing Bush in the War on Terror, or on Iraq isn't enough; Kerry has to provide a road map of how to correct those perceived deficiencies. And that's where it gets a bit tricky.
Kerry cannot strike from the right of President Bush on these issues by using policies from the left, like a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, or more fully subjugating US foreign policy to the judgment of the UN. At the same time, he can't turn off the anti-war crowd by implementing proposals that come from too far to the right, at least, not if he expects them to actually come to the polls and vote for him on Election Day.
It is, as Klein terms it, a straightjacket, but it isn't imposed on Kerry, as Klein believes, by political operatives, but the nature of the constituency he needs to be elected.
The ditors of Investor's Business Daily editorialize that, since Kerry himself made his service in Vietnam a central issue in his campaign, it's appropriate to question him about that servce.
The presidency of the United States is too important to give to someone with something to hide. Questions about Kerry's fitness to be commander in chief won't go away if he simply stonewalls and makes baseless charges of political bias.
After all, it was Kerry himself — with the smart salute and "reporting for duty" opening of his convention speech — who made his military service the keystone of his campaign. And it is Kerry who has repeatedly compared himself favorably with President Bush on that score.
In so doing, he's all but ignored his undistinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Senate and his decade as an anti-war activist.
Fair enough. Now we have questions about Vietnam.
Three questions, specifically:
Did Kerry commit war atrocities? This charge would seem unduly harsh to level at someone who fought in a war more than three decades ago — except for the fact that he himself made it.
In a 1971 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Kerry said: "There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed . . ."
So, Senator, what exactly were the nature of the war crimes you committed? Please describe them in detail, then, if you'd be so kind, perhaps you should turn yourself over the the ICJ, so that the UN can decide upon a fitting punishment. I mean, since, you're so keen to see us sign on to the ICJ, and all, what better test case?
Did Kerry lie about "Christmas in Cambodia"? This is a story Kerry has repeated over and over as explanation for his later metamorphosis from decorated hero into staunch anti-war activist.
"I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas," Kerry wrote in the Boston Herald in October 1979. "The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."
A couple of problems. Nixon wasn't president on Christmas Eve 1968. Lyndon Johnson was. In fact, official records of his service show Kerry was never in Cambodia — as his campaign now concedes.
Well, not so fast. Even as I write this, the head of Veterans for Kerry is on FOX News with Chris Wallace, explaining that Kerry was, in fact, in Cambodia, at some unspecified point in time, that he was confused about where the border was, and that he's further confused about exactly what it is that's "seared" in his memory.
So, Kerry's gonna stick with the Cambodia deal, apparently, even if he's gonna have to give ground on what, precisely, is seared into his memory.
Kerry's medals. Kerry returned from his 4 1/2 month stint in Vietnam with three Purple Hearts for wounds, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for gallantry.
But some of those who served with him cast doubt on how he earned his medals — and whether he deserved them. Harsh charges, to be sure. O'Neill's book, however, raises serious evidence to support the charges. Kerry must respond.
There are, I think, only real controversies of any merit. Whether or not his first and third Purple Hearts were the result of enemy action. And whether his Bronze Star for the Rassman rescue took place under the circumstances described.
I'm perfectly willing to grant that he deserved his Silver Star, and I think the questions surrounding that are primarily questions of judgement about it's merits, on which, Kerry deserves the benefit of the doubt.
As for the other charges, Kerry could answer them by releasing the totality of his service records. And so, for that matter should George W. Bush, although having said that, Bush hasn't made his TANG pilotage a central point in his campaign.
OK, Tell me the difference
Kerry and Edwards, et.al. have been beside themselves with the Swift Boat Veteran’s for Truth ad campaign. They tried legal intimidation to stop the ads from being played. That didn’t work. They’ve tried to link the group to the Bush campaign. So far that’s not worked. They’ve put their best attack beasts like Carvelle on the talk shows. That’s been a flop. They’re even filing a complaint with the FEC.
With the book “Unfit for Command”, the tact has been to demand its recall as, per the left, it is reminiscent of the “Hitler Diaries”.
The latest tactic, however, is to try to put the whole thing in Bush’s lap.
“This is a moment of truth for George W. Bush,” Edwards said at a Democratic rally. “We’re going to see what kind of man he is and what kind of leader he is. ... We want to hear three words: Stop these ads.”
Well there’s one problem. They’re not his ads. They’re the ads of a 527 organization which has as much right to run them as say, MoveOn group. Would Edwards or Kerry demand they too “stop these ads”?
Of course not.
Any formal ties between the Bush campaign and the veterans group would be against the law. Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth is organized as a non-party, independent political group under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, and coordination between a 527 group and a presidential campaign is illegal.
While any connection between the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat for Truth is tenuous at best, that’s not the case between John Kerry and the MoveOn group. Just for the record on one site MoveOn lists itself this way:
The MoveOn family of organizations consists of three entities. MoveOn.org, a 501(c)(4) organization, primarily focuses on education and advocacy on important national issues. MoveOn PAC, a federal PAC, primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values. And MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a 527 organization, primarily educates voters on the positions, records, views, and qualifications of candidates for public office.
On another, MoveOn lists itself this way:
The MoveOn family of organizations consists of three entities. MoveOn.org, a 501(c)(4) organization, primarily focuses on education and advocacy on important national issues. MoveOn.org PAC, a federal PAC, primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values. And MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a 527 organization, primarily runs ads exposing President Bush's failed policies in key "battleground" states.
Emphasis mine. Note the change or difference. “[A] 527 organization, primarily runs ads exposing President Bush’s failed policies in key “battleground” states”.
So both 527 organizations are running ads in the battleground states. But while there is no apparent relationship with the SBVT and Bush, there’s definitely a relationship between John Kerry and “The MoveOn family of organizations”
On June 17, 2003, John Kerry addressed a letter entitled “A letter to MoveOn members from John Kerry” in which he solicited their support and asked them to sign a petition on his web site:
Three words sum up why we need to take action today: The Supreme Court. I need you to join me in keeping the Supreme Court out of the hands of right wing ideologues. I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman’s right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.
If you agree with me that there should be no equivocation, no double-speak, no avoidance of the issue, then sign my online petition today at:
I will deliver this petition to Senate Democratic Leader, Tom Daschle, and the Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, as well as their counterparts on the Republican side of the aisle – Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch. We will assure that they hear our voices loud and clear that we will oppose a nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman’s right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment.
Last but not least, there’s the MoveOn PAC video which takes on Bush’s military record.
It repeats the refuted “Bush AWOL” nonsense, but not a single person in the Kerry campaign has called for MoveOn PAC to “stop these ads”. In fact they seem to think they have every right to run them as they note here, unlike the Swift Boat Vets, apparently.
The more I see the desperation to which the Kerry campaign tries to stop the SBVT ads, the more I’m inclined to believe their truth. You just don’t try as hard as the Kerry folks are trying to get something stopped if it doesn’t have any validity.
On the other hand, I’d be interested to see what the FEC would have to say about the Kerry campaign's obvious connections with the MoveOn group, part of which is a 527 organization.
If, as MSNBC claims "coordination between a 527 group and a presidential campaign is illegal", then I'd suggest that its the Kerry campaign which has the problem, not the Bush campaign.
Hat tip to my bro for the links.
UPDATE: John at Kalblog points me to the following:
The Democratic Party is partnering with MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, Campaign for America's Future, and dozens of other groups representing millions of Americans to organize a massive public mobilization. On Wednesday, May 14, join us by calling and emailing your representatives in Congress to let them know that the majority of Americans oppose more irresponsible tax cuts that go overwhelmingly to the wealthiest sliver of Americans.
What is it?
An announcement at the DNC website.
I have to admit I sort of chuckled when I read Rood's account of the action in which Kerry won his Silver Star. It was funny because the first thought that popped in my head was "how can this matter, he wasn't in the same boat as Kerry". This has been an article of faith with the pro-Kerry side in all of this. I'm going to be interested to see how they manage the acceptance of Rood's story while still rejecting the stories of the other Swift boat commanders who served "with" Kerry as Rood did.
Having read the book "Unfit for Command" and Rood's version, I really don't see much in Rood's story that contradicts what was said in the book.
It more of a case of differing opinions about the incident. The book, for instance, points out that Kerry didn't act alone in his pursuit of the wounded VC. Rood confirms that. If I'm not mistaken, "Tour of Duty" alludes to Kerry acting alone.
BTW, that's the one part missing in all of this. Much of the dispute "Unfit for Command" has is with Kerry's biography "Tour of Duty" and its version of the events. Note that the "Tour of Duty" version is not related in any of these articles.
"Unfit for Command" also claims the move to beach the boats was orchestrated while "Tour of Duty" alludes to it being a spontaneous action. Rood confirms the "Unfit for Command" version, but his explanation says it was done for tactical surprise (it wasn't standard operating procedure) while the "Unfit for Command" claims or infers that it was done for other less savory reasons (again, based on the treatment by "Tour of Duty"). Based on Rood's recollection I'd have to go with him on this point although tactically, I think it was a poor idea.
Rood also confirms that when the initial ambush was sprung Kerry's boat was not the boat that turned and beached. That is not the impression left by the campaign's treatment of the event although it is how it is treated in the Silver Star citation. It was the boat PCF-43 commanded by Donald Droz with the Regional Forces (known as "Ruff Puffs" for "Regional Forces/Popular Forces" ... a sort of militia) that beached. The Ruff Puffs cleared the ambush. That's how the book tells the story as well.
It was a secondary ambush in which Kerry beached the boat. Where the Swiftees dispute Kerry's account is that he alone chased this VC down. He was part of a group which chased him down.
Per the Chicago Trib article:
The book's authors, John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, wrote that Kerry's attack on the Viet Cong ambush displayed "stupidity, not courage."
This is an important point. It is also the main point of contention. But its also a matter of opinion. Was the beaching of the boat stupid? Well if the main assets of your command are its mobility and firepower, then yes, beaching your boat is stupid. If you read what one of Kerry's crewmembers manning the .50s on the boat says you can understand why. Because of the beaching, he couldn't depress his weapons enough to bring them to bear. He was out of the fight. That's dangerous to the safety of the boat and the crew.
Secondly, and probably just as important, Kerry was a Swift boat commander, not an infantryman. He left his post to chase this VC down. Now, if you read some of the statements from the vets he's surrounded himself with and "Tour of Duty", you get the impression that if he hadn't done that, they were "dead men".
Well that's only because his craft was beached and he couldn't bring his weapons to bear. Had he maintained position in the river and been able to bring his .50s to bear, the VC was a dead man, right there. But its also not true for another reason. As Rood himself points out, there were Ruff Puffs on the shore clearing the area. They were also after this VC.
Here's how Rood remembers the event:
Meanwhile, Kerry ordered our boat to head upstream with his, leaving Droz's boat at the first site.
It happened again, another ambush. And again, Kerry ordered the turn maneuver, and again it worked. As we headed for the riverbank, I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes.
We called Droz's boat up to assist us, and Kerry, followed by one member of his crew, jumped ashore and chased a VC behind a hooch --- a thatched hut --- maybe 15 yards inland from the ambush site. Some who were there that day recall the man being wounded as he ran. Neither I nor Jerry Leeds, our boat's leading petty officer with whom I've checked my recollection of all these events, recalls that, which is no surprise. Recollections of those who go through experiences like that frequently differ.
With our troops involved in the sweep of the first ambush site, Richard Lamberson, a member of my crew, and I also went ashore to search the area. I was checking out the inside of the hooch when I heard gunfire nearby.
Not long after that, Kerry returned, reporting that he had killed the man he chased behind the hooch. He also had picked up a loaded B-40 rocket launcher, which we took back to our base in An Thoi after the operation.
So again, not to belabor the point, but to ensure its clear ... we have 2 Swift boats beached and the 2 commanders ashore, which essentially leaves their boats "leaderless" and unable to support against any further VC action while they're running around on shore like John Wayne. You've reduced their combined firepower from a couple of twin .50 cal machine guns and a couple of M-60 machine guns to 4 guys running around with M-16s. Not a smart tactical move. In fact a rather stupid tactical move.
So I definitely agree with part of what O'Neill said .... it was stupid. I wouldn't agree, however, that it wasn't courageous. Stupid and courageous are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, in this case and in my opinion, the stupid outweighs the courageous. The "courageous act" could very easily have gotten his boat destroyed and his crew killed. They were very lucky they survived the incident because Kerry's action essentially took his crew and boat out of the fight and left his command in very sorry tactical shape.
But again .... that's an opinion based on 28 years of operations experience in the military.
The other part of the SBVT opinion is that Kerry's action with the VC didn't rise to the level of that for which a Silver Star is awarded.
l'd agree if that's all the Silver Star awarded was about. But it wasn't. When you read the citation, the impression I get is its being awarded for the whole operation. It appears to me that the award is being given to the OITC (Officer In Tactical Command) of the operation (Kerry) for the results of the operation, a part of which was this pursuit of the wounded (or not wounded) VC. Hoffmann's praise was for the operation's total results, not the killing of the single VC. So I'd have to side with Kerry and Rood on this one.
Although I think it was operationally stupid to beach swift boats because of the degredation of their tactical mobility and firepower and the risk to the crews, and I further think it was stupid to see OICs of swift boats on shore playing infantry and leaving their beached boats leaderless, the results were a 'success' as concerns the mission.
If I had been pinning Kerry's Silver Star on that day, I'd have congratulated him on his courage and success and told him if he ever repeated the incident I'd have him court-martialed for disregarding Standard Operating Procedure, endangering his command, and leaving his command while under fire (all which come close to dereliction of duty). But success ameliorated the stupidity of the actions Kerry took that day. Funny how that works.
One other point brought out in Rood's article which makes a point I and others have been stressing about the claims that Kerry has made about "clandestine insertions in Cambodia". I couldn't have made it better than if I'd have written it myself:
The approach of the noisy 50-foot aluminum boats, each driven by two huge 12-cylinder diesels and loaded down with six crew members, troops and gear, was no secret. Ambushes were a virtual certainty, and that day was no exception.
Get the point folks? You don't do "clandestine" insertions with 'noisy 50-foot aluminum boats, each driven by two huge 12-cylinder diesels'. You do clandestine insertions with stealthy craft which will go in undetected, not announce themselves a mile ahead of their arrival.
I still await the revised Cambodia stories with anticipation.
Some highlights from this past week on QandO. Check the excerpts for...well, excerpts. Follow the links to read the posts.
Also, don't forget to keep track of the right-hand sidebar, which always contains a link to the Weekly QandO Roundup from the past week, as well as elections markets, frequently updated headlines and quick links to interesting things we've read.
* Is this a flip or a flop? (McQ) - I've looked at nuclear waste from both sides now, from candidate and Senator, and still somehow, it's my positions I can't recall...
* Once upon a time, with Paul Krugman (Jon Henke) - What Paul Krugman used to write, before there was a Bush to be defeated.
* The Man with the Hat (Jon Henke & Dale Franks) - Photgraphic evidence of the Secret Agent with whom John Kerry may have been travelling.
* A LAckluster Defense (Dale Franks) - Dale reviews Michelle Malkins new book.
* Profiling and Security (Dale Franks) - Profiling is, apparently, only bad when it's a matter of life and death.
* Here's what has to be changed to defeat Islamic terrorists (McQ) - The "you are what you eat" theory of terrorism-prevention: until we change their intellectual diet, we can't hope to change their social order.
* Betrayal (Dale Franks) - Dale is, in my opinion, one of the most effective, enjoyable ranters in the 'sphere. And this is a rant. So, I'm saying this is worth reading.
* Nice timing, after all.... (Jon Henke) - Bush Administration announces terrorists may be targetting X. Liberal bloggers accuse Bush Administration of, essentially, faking it for the publicity. Terrorists with plans to attack X are caught. Time to point and laugh at the liberal bloggers!
* Its not about duty, its about honor (McQ and Dale Franks) - "Kerry acted in a dishonorable way in 1971 when he trashed his comrades. He dishonred his service, he dishonored his comrades, he dishonored his nation. And vets of that war can't and won't forget that."
* Developing... (Jon Henke) - Still unrefuted--so, of course, still unreported--holes in Kerry's story.
* Withdrawing from the world (Dale Franks) - Both in troop deployment and foriegn policy, our allies should be determined by our interests....not the reverse.
* NeoLibertarianism (Jon Henke) - You say "Fusionism", I say "Neolibertarianism"....either way, it's the pragmatic path for libertarians.
* Troop realignment: Pro/con (McQ) - "Neither the inner-German border nor the USSR exist anymore, and its time we acknowledged that and realigned for the new threat."
* The Thurlow "inconsistency" explained (McQ) - Rassmann apparently was the source of the initial reports of "enemy small arms fire"....and, right or wrong, it's reasonable to assume that he believes that was the case.
* The Birth--and, perhaps, death?--of an Anti-Kerry Ad (Jon Henke)
NYT v. Swifties (Dale Franks)
NYT/Swiftees-My turn (McQ)
- Our three takes on the New York Times/Swift Boat Veterans story.
* Matthews v. Malkin (Dale Franks) - A criticism of both Michelle Malkin and Chris Matthews.
* More Problems for the Swift Boat Vets (Jon Henke and Dale Franks) - Two problems for the Swift Boat Veterans--and a dissenting opinion from Beldar on one of them.
Two more recent statements that are going to cast more doubt on the Swift Boat Veteran stories.....
That lends quite a bit of credibility to Kerry's version of events. The Swift Boat Veterans will have do do a great deal better than "nope, didn't happen that way, no sir, no way". At this point, with this much corroboration, the Swift Boat Veterans need a smoking gun, and I seriously doubt they have one. (...which should make us all think long and hard about this)
But, that's all history now, because they're coming out with another ad, using Kerry's own words. An ad which features Kerry lying about what went on in Vietnam. Right? Well, perhaps not.....
* (Via Oliver Willis) Tommy Franks, on Hannity and Colmes....
In not differentiating between the few who were engaging in these acts and the vast majority of honorable soldiers, Kerry was irresponsible. I can certainly understand veterans who hold that against him. But he also didn't specifically state that those war crimes were practiced by all soldiers. That was an inference by others, and not an implication by Kerry.
Was he wrong? I think he was wrong to do it in the way he did....but what he said--excepting the later-disproven testimony--was not necessarily incorrect.
The Swift Boat Veterans are putting themselves in a precarious place, criticizing John Kerry for, essentially, blowing the whistle on war-crimes. One could see John Kerry standing side-by-side with Sergeant Joseph Darby to turn that negative into a perceived positive rather quickly.
Opinions, however, may differ. Beldar concludes that Mr. Rood's new memoir merits respectful attention in the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy, but that it doesn't actually contradict ANY of the SwiftVets' principle allegations about Kerry's Silver Star, and indeed SUPPORTS their main claim -- that in connection with his Silver Star, young Kerry did not, as the Navy brass who awarded it thought, charge alone, through overwhelming enemy fire, into a dense concentration of the enemy.
UPDATE (JON): I'll concede, Beldar makes a pesuasive case. However, the difference between the Rood/Kerry/Navy claim of "heavy fire" and the SBV claim that it "didn't happen" seems....not insignificant. ("rocket and automatic weapons fire" qualifying as "heavy" in my book) That's a bit more than the "not substantially different" claim made by O'Neill.
I'd also recommend Captain Ed's post, where he makes this great point....
However, using Rood to counter -- factually, finally -- one of the Swiftvet's contentions points out that these boats worked together as a unit and that witnesses to engagements do not lose their stature merely because they happened to be on a different PCF during the engagement. If Rood's testimony is valid, and I have no doubt he means well, then that makes all of the other Swiftvets' testimony just as valid.
The new Swiftvets ad can be seen here.
This time, it juxtaposes John Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony with former POWs in Hanoi, who characterize his actions on behalf of VVAW as betrayal. One of the men, Paul Galanti, who was a POW in Hanoi from 1966 to 1973, says that John Kerry gave the enemy for free what he and many of his fellow POWS were tortured to avoid saying.
And there's no controversy over what John Kerry may or may not have said in this ad.
Deb over at True Blue comments on an attempt by Media Matters for America to get "Unfit for Command" pulled at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. David Brock, CEO of MMFA likens the book to the "Hitler Diaries" (for those that don't remember, they were a fraud). Apparently Brock has somehow done what no one else on the left has done ... a thorough refutation of all the allegations in the book.
Or maybe not. As Deb says:
IF there was a REAL case to be made in accusing these veterans of "false allegations and lies", otherwise known as libel - wouldn't it have been made already? Wouldn't Kerry himself have to address the actual issues in the book and the television ads and prove that they are wrong?
You'd think so, huh?
UPDATE (JON): The "Hitler Diaries", huh? Well, I guess that's a less embarrassing comparison than, say, "The Real Anita Hill" or "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham".
Several people have inquired about the election futures markets. If you have an asp, aspx, php, or shtml site, you can grab the markets file as an include file, using the following URL:
This file contains only the HTML for the table containing the market prices. The table, however, references the table styles included in QandO's CSS stylesheet, so you'll need to implement those styles. To make it easier for you, the relevant styles you'll need are shown below. Obviously, you'll need to change the style definitions to ensure the table fits in with the design of your site.
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Having read both and the NYT article, I have to tell you that while I think the points Jon raises are valid and interesting, I mostly agree with Dale that this isn’t at all that damaging to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s case, primarily because it really doesn’t address most of their points. Are there some inconsistencies? Yes, obviously. Is that a surprise? Well not to me, but apparently to the NYT. But only the inconsistencies on the SBVT side are of interest to the NYT… not the Kerry side.
Secondly, it doesn’t address any of the points brought up in “Unfit for Command” concerning Kerry’s activities after he left Vietnam. It is those activities which form the nut of why these guys think Kerry’s not fit to command.
Full disclosure: I’m not neutral in this. I’ve stated that many times. However, that being said, I'll call a spade a spade if I see it that way, even if its not helpful to the Swiftees. But it should be well known to regular readers that I’ve long thought Kerry to be unfit for command. So when reading my opinion concerning the NYT, keep that in mind.
Stipulated: Republicans have funded part of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign. No news or anything relevant in that revelation, anymore than Democrats have funded anti- Bush ads through MoveOn.org. However the NYT tie to Rove and thus to the Bush campaign is very tenuous if not outright strained. And that’s being kind.
Stipulated: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have an axe to grind with John Kerry. That has to do with what he did after the war as much as it has to do with what he claimed during the war. The NYT piece doesn’t address those parts of the argument. Its clear that the author of “Unfit for Command” has had what he considers to be a legitimate gripe against Kerry since 1971.
The strategy the veterans devised would ultimately paint John Kerry the war hero as John Kerry the "baby killer" and the fabricator of the events that resulted in his war medals. But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.
So here’s the NYT’s version of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s premise. But there’s one problem with this … John Kerry has already painted himself as the “baby killer” (not literally, but with is admission to having committed atrocities). And, of course, the unrefuted “Christmas in Cambodia” lends credence to him being a bit of a fabricator. I think we can agree that the SBVT do honestly believe Kerry fabricated part of his service in Vietnam. But there’s another part to this story, and that part deals with what he did after Vietnam. That is as much a part of their anger as what he did in Vietnam. The crux of the SBVTs anger stems from what he did after the war. Statements like the following need to be understood to give this group’s action’s context:
"I went to university and was called a baby killer and a murderer because of guys like Kerry and what he was saying," said Van Odell, who appears in the first advertisement, accusing Mr. Kerry of lying to get his Bronze Star. "Not once did I participate in the atrocities he said were happening."
As Mr. Lonsdale explained it: "We won the battle. Kerry went home and lost the war for us.
"He called us rapers and killers and that's not true," he continued. "If he expects our loyalty, we should expect loyalty from him."
On to the statements by members of the SBVT which the NYT questions:
In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, "I am not going to say anything negative about him." He added, "He's a good man."
Context: In March of 2003, Kerry was one of many thinking about running for the presidency. Brinkley asks Hoffmann about Kerry. At that time there was no particular reason to rehash the past. Hoffmann simply held his peace. Why vilify the man? There was no reason too. The book though, when it came out savaged Hoffmann. Guess who’s attitude probably changed in that regard?
In a profile of the candidate that ran in The Boston Globe in June 2003, Mr. Hoffmann approvingly recalled the actions that led to Mr. Kerry's Silver Star: "It took guts, and I admire that."
Again, context. In June of 2003, Hoffman was no more aware of the other version of Kerry’s Silver Star action than was Elliott, as Elliott admits. Based on the knowledge of the award as outlined in the citation, it was a perfectly legitimate comment. Just as legitimate are his comments since he’s learned the other version of the events as told in “Unfit for Command”.
George Elliott, one of the Vietnam veterans in the group, flew from his home in Delaware to Boston in 1996 to stand up for Mr. Kerry during a tough re-election fight, declaring at a news conference that the action that won Mr. Kerry a Silver Star was "an act of courage."
Again, the context of the situation is left out or at least muddied. Elliott defended Kerry against charges of him committing atrocities. Kerry had admitted, or claimed, he’d committed them and was then engaged in backing off of those admissions. Elliott, as his commander, was of the firm conviction that none of those who served under him had committed atrocities. A perfectly plausible reason for defending Kerry for in so doing, he defended himself and his command.
At that same event, Adrian L. Lonsdale, another Vietnam veteran now speaking out against Mr. Kerry, supported him with a statement about the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift boats."
"Senator Kerry was no exception," Mr. Lonsdale told the reporters and cameras assembled at the Charlestown Navy Yard. "He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers."
Same event, same defense, boilerplate praise. He generalized and praised Kerry as one of many who did the same job. In a phrase, “big deal”.
Those comments echoed the official record. In an evaluation of Mr. Kerry in 1969, Mr. Elliott, who was one of his commanders, ranked him as "not exceeded" in 11 categories, including moral courage, judgment and decisiveness, and "one of the top few" - the second-highest distinction - in the remaining five. In written comments, he called Mr. Kerry "unsurpassed," "beyond reproach" and "the acknowledged leader in his peer group."
This fitness report has been adequately explained here. The analysis of those who know how to read a FITREP see it this way:
In his FITREP for his combat tour as Officer in Charge of a SWIFT Boat -– arguably the most important FITREP among those released by the Kerry campaign –- Kerry is not dinged but slammed in command, seamanship and ship handling and in all major leadership traits (28 JAN 69 ELLIOTT). To Kerry and perhaps to other junior officers, it is an okay FITREP. To detailers and selection boards, it is a negative fitness report that borders on the adverse. LCDR Elliott ranks him well below the norm in traits essential for command: force, industry, analytical ability, judgment and more.
Obviously no one at the NYT took the time to check with anyone in the military to see, if in fact, the report was considered to be a good or bad report. The “one of the few” is not a good rating when you have “not exceeded” as a category above it. A good FITREP would have had ALL “not exceeded” comments. The “one of few” are considered to be negative comments in the context of the report.
We then get a fairly flaky character assassination attempt by the NYT against Hoffmann.
But the book, Mr. Brinkley's "Tour of Duty," while it burnished Mr. Kerry's reputation, portrayed the two men as reckless leaders whose military approach had led to the deaths of countless sailors and innocent civilians. Several Swift boat veterans compared Mr. Hoffmann to the bloodthirsty colonel in the film "Apocalypse Now" - the one who loves the smell of Napalm in the morning.
It not only “burnished” his reputation, it apparently fabricated part of his reputation. It was in tour of duty where Brinkley relates entire conversations taken from Kerry’s journal which never took place. One of these involved Lonsdale, who changed his mind about Kerry based on that. Hoffmann too was left without the ability to respond. Meanwhile Kerry is building toward a presidential nomination.
While the NYT has no problem relating statements from Hoffmann and Lonsdale, it ignores a conversation between Kerry and Hoffmann, reported in “Unfit for Command” in which Kerry is alleged to have offered to rehabilitate Hoffmann’s reputation in subsequent editions of “Tour of Duty” if the Admiral would give him his support. Hoffmann refused.
I wonder, though, why “Tour of Duty” seems to be a perfectly acceptable source for the NYT, but “Unfit for Command” isn’t?
After this bit, we’re led through a very tenuous attempt to put Karl Rove, the left’s bete noir, as the man behind the plan. Obviously, if they can link Rove and company, even tenuously, they can write the whole thing off to a “Republican smear campaign”. Of course, its hardly likely Democrats would be interested in funding a group which attacks their candidate, so it stands to reason that any funding to be found among political types for this particular group is most likely to come from Republicans. That doesn’t, however, mean it was made at the behest and approval of the RNC or the Bush campaign, anymore that the funding of MoveOn.org’s anti-Bush ads are linked to DNC or Kerry campaign. But they certainly aren’t funded by Republicans, are they?
As to the action surrounding the first Purple Heart, Patrick Runyon is never quoted in the piece as saying they actually received enemy fire.
"It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire," he said. "He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life."
Well it may have been the scariest night of his life, but it doesn’t mean he was fired upon. Those on the Swift boat in support of Runyon’s skimmer say there was no return fire, that the suspected VC sprinted into the woods when the skimmer opened up on them. And the other member of the skimmer, Bill Zaldonis, has previously stated he didn’t know if they were under fire. Take it from me folks … you KNOW when you’re under fire.
They also quote Runyon as saying that he and Bill “can count to three” pointing out that only three people were in the skimmer. But then William L. Schachte claims he was in the skimmer as well. He was the OIC of the skimmer and, if I'm not mistaken, the operation. Voss was on the Swift boat to which the skimmer was attached and which he supported. In other words, the NYT doesn’t understand, big surprise, that the skimmer was working for the overal OITC, Schachte as a subordinate unit and that the swift boat was right there in support.
We then move into the attempted destruction of Elliott’s credibility.
Mr. Elliott, who recommended Mr. Kerry for the Silver Star, had signed one affidavit saying Mr. Kerry "was not forthright" in the statements that had led to the award. Two weeks ago, The Boston Globe quoted him as saying that he felt he should not have signed the affidavit. He then signed a second affidavit that reaffirmed his first, which the Swift Boat Veterans gave to reporters. Mr. Elliott has refused to speak publicly since then.
Obviously, after his round with Kranish and the misquoting and misrepresentation which took place, its not surprising that Elliott has refused to speak publicly. However to the larger point ... one of the foundations of command is honesty, especially among officers. A commander expects to get an honest rendering of an action when it is reported. Unless he does, he’s unable to report accurately up the line and get the proper support required. This is true in combat situations and it is true administratively. It is a horrible breach of trust to lie to your commander about anything.
What Elliott has essentially said is he signed off on the Silver Star because he believed the Kerry version of the event, since, at that time, he had no reason not to believe him. Subsequent to that and with the revelations that have come to the surface from others who participated in that action, he feels betrayed by an officer who was under his command, namely John Kerry. That is why you are hearing him say that had he known what the Swift boat vets allege, he’d not have signed off on the award.
Then there’s the attempted trashing of the publisher and authors of “Unfit to Command”. Suffice it to say this is just poor journalism in my opinion. Who wrote it or published it is irrelevant to what’s in the book. Either what is presented as fact is accurate or it isn’t. The NYT mentions that Jerome Corsi, a practicing Catholic, made anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semetic remarks. Yes, he did, he admits that saying he thought he was being clever and has publicly apologized. In his apology he said, and I paraphrase, “while I thought the remarks were sarcastic and funny, my wife didn’t and my dog didn’t and I apologize to anyone who was offended”.
Of course the NYT never managed to report that, instead inferring that Corsi is an unrepentant bigot. While not at all condoning what Mr. Corsi might have said in the past, I couldn’t find a single reference to Catholics, Jews or Muslims in “Unfit for Command”. Nor do I understand what any of that has to do with the book. O’Neill gave him the information and Corsi put it in the proper wording. End of story.
Dr. Lewis Letson is then examined. The inferrence here is if his word is all that’s available, that’s not good enough. Or at least that’s how I read it. Letson was the only MD on staff. Just as when you go see your doctor and the nurse stands there and jots down what the doctor does or says, so Letson’s assistant, J C Carrone did for Letson.
Carrone was an “HM1”. That means he was a “Hospital Mate first class”. He may or may not have been qualified to work on anyone at that rank. That was up to Letson. And Letson’s word is all he as on that since Carrone has died. Interestingly the word of Jim Rassmann and Patrick Runyon aren’t questioned, but the word of a medical doctor is.
Dale has delt sufficiently with the Silver Star action in his review and I’ve talked about why Elliott now says he wouldn’t have signed the thing so I’m not going to rehash it. Instead I want to go to this paragraph.
A damage report to Mr. Thurlow's boat shows that it received three bullet holes, suggesting enemy fire, and later intelligence reports indicate that one Vietcong was killed in action and five others wounded, reaffirming the presence of an enemy. Mr. Thurlow said the boat was hit the day before. He also received a Bronze Star for the day, a fact left out of "Unfit for Command."
Nebulous “later intelligence reports” indicate 1 KIA and 5 WIA VC. What “later intelligence reports” and what was their source? Where are they? If the sitrep claims there was 5000 yards (3 miles) of fire from the banks as Kerry reported, why did only one boat get 3 bullet holes? Perhaps, as Thurlow says, it was damage from a previous engagement. It makes more sense than one boat in five, among that 3 miles of fire reported by Kerry only getting a total of 3 bullet holes. I don’t think so.
Thurlow received the award, a Bronze Star, after he’d left the Navy. He’s also, according to reports, now signed a Standard Form 180 which will release all the records surrounding that award. We’ll see how it turns out, but the bottom line is, Thurlow stands behind what he’s said in the past.
The article wraps with a mention of Kerry’s “Christmas in Cambodia” and the quotes I used above about how the vets were greeted when they came home from Vietnam and why they’re angry at Kerry. Fair enough. But I, like Dale, don’t find anything terribly damaging in this. A couple of inconsistencies, yes, but not any which, with patient digging, probably couldn’t be easily explained. Obviously the NYT didn’t have the time or the desire to do that.
What was most notable about the piece, though, is its avoidance such things as the sampan incident in which Kerry falsified a body count, or the account of him burning a village and killing all the animals or the request from Thomas Wright, a senior swift boat commander, to exclude him from future missions with Wright because he was dangerous. In fact, this piece is more notable for what it didn’t address than for what it did.
If this is the best shot the Kerry side has, he’s in a bit of trouble in my opinion.
Judging from the transcript, Michelle Malkin didn't do as well on Chris Matthews as some of her defenders are trying to say. I heard the exchange on the radio this morning, and went to the transcript, to confirm what I thought about it.
Now, let's take it as a given that Matthews kind of drew Malkin into the Swiftvet story, even though she was there to talk about her book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror, which I've reviewed here. But, as she relates on her blog, this was not an ambush, in that they had asked, and she had accepted, to discuss the Swiftvets in one segment.
Perhaps she shouldn't have agreed to talk about the Swiftvets though, because, from what I can tell, it appears that she was, at the very least, trying to give the impression that Kerry intentionally shot himself to get a purple heart, and she implies that Unfit for Command alleges this.
MATTHEWS: No. No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.
MALKIN: Yes. Some of them say that.
MATTHEWS: Tell me where that...
MALKIN: Self-inflicted wounds—in February, 1969.
Malkin is factually incorrect. The Swiftvets do not allege that Mr. Kerry intentionally shot himself. The allegation is that Mr. Kerry fired a grenade, and caught a piece of shrapnel from his grenade when it blew up. That is "self-inflicted", but it is not intentional. It is merely one of those bracing "learning experiences" that military life is prone to deliver.
In reading the transcript, however, it seems to me that Ms. Malkin is trying to imply otherwise, and Mr. Matthews was right to pound her like a piece of cheap veal. Either she was simply wrong about the facts, or she was deliberately trying to leave a false impression through her use of language. Either way, her arguments were incorrect.
Ms. Malkin's account of the episode is here. In it, she writes:
I repeated that the allegations involved whether the injuries were "self inflicted wounds." I DID NOT SAY HE SHOT HIMSELF ON PURPOSE and Chris Matthews knows it.
For most-people, simply saying "self-inflicted" carries an implication of deliberate intent. Not only did Ms. Malkin not attempt to make it clear that these wounds are alleged to have been accidentally self-inflicted, in the section of the transcript shown above, it appears that she is, in fact, saying that the allegations are that Kerry intentionally wounded himself.
Now, perhaps she meant to make the whole context of the allegation clear, but didn't get the chance, or, in the heat of the exchange, she was unable to make herself sufficiently clear. But the implication of intent is certainly what I carried away from the transcript.
I DID NOT SAY HE SHOT HIMSELF ON PURPOSE and Chris Matthews knows it.
That is, technically, true. What she said was that other people say it. This strikes me much as John Kerry piously intoning, "Some have questioned President Bush's military service, but I will never do that." No, of course, not. He'll just point you in the direction of someone who will.
Now, this doesn't mean that Matthews isn't an ass. He is. For instance, there's this:
MATTHEWS: I think the president, if he wanted this to stop would make one phone call. Karl Rove, would make one phone call and that would be the end of the ads. That‘s what think, and you know that‘s true, right?
First, let's assume that, even though Mr. Matthews statement here is almost a direct quote of Mr. Kerry's campaign spokesman, Chad Clanton, that is sheer coincidence. But, with that said, surely Mr. Matthews knows that such a call from the President would constitute an illegal "coordination" between a political candidate and a 527 organization. Moreover, it would add substance to Mr. Kerry's allegation that the Swiftvets are a put-up job by the Bushies, since, if Mr. Bush can stop it, one presumes he could've started it, too.
Indeed, if the Bush campaign were to make the—illegal, don't forget—phone call that Mr. Matthews suggests, it would be a political disaster for Bush.
Which, come to think of it, might explain why Mr. Matthews thinks Mr. Bush should do it.
Still, that aside, Mr. Matthews response to Ms. Malkin, as far as I can tell, is understandable, even if, as he is prone to do, Mr. Matthews' overdeveloped self-righteousness gene blew it a little bit out of proportion.
UPDATE (JON): Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler takes both Malkin and Matthews to task. Malkin for getting facts wrong, Matthews for--by his own admission--having no clue what he's talking about. (Somerby takes some of the SBV claims to the woodshed, too)
A commentor to this blog asked how many tons of regs did Kerry have to go through to find out he could go home early from Vietnam if he got three Purple Hearts.
The Marines have a saying: Three hearts is a trip home. I suspect Kerry didn't have to go through any regs at all. It's not the obscure reg that some have tried to make it out to be.
I have a rather different take than Jon on the New York Times piece on the Swiftvets.
First, with all due respect to Jon, I'm not sure that a little "shooting the messenger" in this case isn't appropriate. It's interesting timing that this article comes out the day after John Kerry unloaded on the swifties. And, since we have a headline over on the right sidebar, even as I write this, that says, "The New York Times--should be ashamed of the one-sided, misleading reporting Bob Herbert is doing lately," it looks like a little messenger-shooting is already happening.
Now, if memory serves me correctly, the reason some swifties came out supporting Mr. Kerry in 1996 was that he was being hammered with accusations of war crimes, atrocities, and the like. The swifties position was that they did not participate in war crimes. Although that seems not to have been the position of Mr. Kerry in 1971), some swifties came to his aid anyway. Which, considering his "rapists and baby-killers" line of the early '70s, was nice of them, I think.
Admiral Hoffman, in 2003, appears not to have been all gushy about Kerry. He said "I'm not going to say anything negative about him. He's a good man." That is, you should note, not exactly the same as saying, "There isn't anything negative about him." It's merely a refusal to do so, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Then there's the "indoctrination session", as it was called by Mr. Lonsdale. «pause» Who did not attend. But, there's something strange about this construction:
About 10 veterans met in Ms. Spaeth's office in Dallas in April to share outrage and plot their campaign against Mr. Kerry, she and others said. Mr. Lonsdale, who did not attend, said the meeting had been planned as "an indoctrination session."
What might have been loose impressions about Mr. Kerry began to harden.
If they met to share outrage and plot against Mr. Kerry, then who, precisely was being indoctrinated? And, if they're already outraged, and prepared to wage a campaign against Mr. Kerry, how much harder could their impressions have gotten? Maybe "indoctrination session" isn't exactly the phrase Mr. Lonsdale was looking for. To me, the way that Zernicke and Rutenberg phrase this seems overly tendentious.
So, several of the swifties don't like talking to the press. Well, if I hadn't spent a couple of years as a member of it, I probably wouldn't either. Unless you've been subjected to the kind of treatment the press can dish out, you should probably cut these guys some slack. The Arkansas State Troopers who came out against Bill Clinton in the early 90s were savaged by the press to such an extent that now, a decade later, hardly anybody even remember that their stories were, uh, actually true. It seems to me that what the swifties need is a PR spokeshole, because the average person--and, for the most part, that's what these guys are--gets spooked by constant pressure from the media in conversations that run more or less like this:
Reporter I: How do you respond to your critics, who allege that you butcher puppies for amusement!?
You: I don't butcher puppies!
Reporter II: When did the puppy-killing stop!?
You: But, I never killed puppies!
Reporter III: So, the puppies were already dead before you butchered them!?
You: No, I--
Reporter IV: So the puppies were alive then!? But you've just said the opposite! Which is it, sir!?
You: No, it's all untrue!
Reporter V: Then how do you explain these serious allegations!?
Unless you've got a lot of patience and a good bit of experience, you're just not going to win in that conversation. There's a reason why-when pros do it--press events are very scripted, and press statements use such precise language.
So, when someone who is not a public figure refuses to talk to the press, I don't automatically assign bad motives to them. Maybe they're just spooked, because the press is kinda creepy.
The article concentrates a lot on the Silver Star Kerry won. But it seems to me the real controversy is over the Bronze Star he got for the Amazing Rassman Rescue, and whether or not one of his Purple Hearts was self-inflicted. I know that some have questioned the circumstances surrounding the Silver Star, but it's the lesser medals that seems to have drawn the lion's share of controversy, and for some reason, the Times just slides right by that.
Naval reports do seem to contradict some the of the swifties' stories. But, since the swifties contend the naval reports are, if not fraudulent, at least factually incorrect, that's exactly what we would expect.
I don't know who wrote the citations for what, 35 years ago. But I do know who wrote the citations for my own Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Joint Service Commendation Medal.
So it wouldn't surprise me to hear that Kerry wrote the citations, or that other medals handed out for the same action would use the language from Kerry's citation.
Now, we come to Secret Cambodia and the Magic Hat (which is, I believe, also the title of the upcoming Harry Potter book).
Even Mr. Brinkley, who has emerged as a defender of Mr. Kerry, said in an interview that it was unlikely that Mr. Kerry's Swift boat ventured into Cambodia at Christmas, though he said he believed that Mr. Kerry was probably there shortly afterward.
Wow. That's a rousing confirmation for Mr. Kerry. Brinkley believes that Mr. Kerry was probably in Cambodia. At some time. Probably. Despite the fact that numerous Army, Navy, and diplomatic officials have stated flatly this is highly implausible, Mr. Brinkley believes it. Mr. Brinkley, one notes, has no evidence of it, however. Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry's memory has been far more highly specific. He has stated he was in Cambodia at Christmas. He's sure it's Christmas, 1968, because that memory is seared in him.
Of course, he's also got the memory of Nixon being president in 1968 seared into him, so, who knows.
Finally, the Times tries to play a little gotcha with Larry Thurlow, saying, "Ha, see!? He won't release his records either!" Thurlow plays right back, by releasing them, and signing the AF 180. Perhaps Mr. Kerry will respond by doing the same.
Although I doubt it.
So, maybe these aren't minor problems. But I don't think this Times story is anywhere near as damaging, or even as credible, as Jon seems to.
If interested, Chapter 4, in full, from Unfit for Command can be found here.
It has the sampan incident in it which I talk about in my review of the book.
The New York Times has an article on the Swift Boat Veterans sure to propogate around the blogosphere in short order today. Kerry supporters will write--not unreasonably--that it is a vindication of Kerry, and a refutal of the Swift Boat Veterans. Kerry critics will claim--not unreasonably--that the stort is one-sided.
Kerry supporters, it seems to me, will have the strongest case, though. The vindications and rebuttals contained in the story are not insignificant. Though, others--the connections to the Republicans and the Bush campaign, for example--are so tenuous and removed as to be a bit laughable.
I'll list some of the major points...
* Some of those SBV's weren't always so critical of Kerry. In fact, they weren't critical at all....
* The SBV's "remembered" much of their story after "an indoctrination session"...
* SBV's stories occassionally were contradicted....at which point, said SBV stopped talking to the press. (hardly a credibility enhancing move)
* SBV's had previously corroborated accounts they now challenge...
* Various Naval reports contradict the SBV story....
* If you're going to criticize Kerry for not releasing his records, you'd better not do this...
* The Christmas in Cambodia story may not be a matter of whether Kerry was there, but whether he was there in December or January....hardly a "victory" for the SBV's.....
Those are not minor problems, and the SBV's credibility is deeply in question - especially with the disclosure that so many of them had made statements about Kerry exactly opposite to those they are currently making.
To be fair, other criticisms of the SBV are much less damning.
All in all, a fairly one-sided story--note the very limited "other side"--but the criticisms appear valid and damning to the Swift Boat Veterans. It's encumbent on Kerry's critics to recognize that the Swift Boat Veterans may very well be incorrect....or worse.
UPDATE: Of course, individual mileage varies, so let's see what others are saying...[updated as I find more]
UPDATE II: Dale Franks disagrees with me, and gives his reasons in this post. He makes reasonable points, which is something that's missing from this debate in much of the 'sphere. I really would like to hear the left address some of the SBVs specific charges--and rebuttals of this NYT story--without dipping into ad hominem and absolutist rhetoric.
It seems to me there's an interesting debate to be had on the margins here. Unfortunately, many people have already chosen their side, and they're not moving.
Note: this criticism is addressed at the 'sphere in general, and not at my co-bloggers, who--as I read them--have been pretty reasonable, even when we disagree.
.....which is why I pay more attention to their point of view than, for example, people who write things like this
So now, Kerry lied Thurlow into a medal?That's great red meat for partisans, but hardly an instructive question. I'd prefer to read pundits who are willing--or even able--to question both sides. Just a little even-handed skepticism about what is, let's face it, an unverifiable-from-both-sides event.
The big question is: why did we give a man this stupid a gun and control of a boat in which he was responsible for the lives of other men?
As mentioned yesterday in the Estrich piece where she blames talk radio for keeping the Kerry Vietnam service flap alive, I think bloggers have had as big a hand, if not a bigger hand than talk radio, in keeping this story visible. Debora Orin of the NY Post agrees:
The other fascinating part of this story is the key role that bloggers on the Internet have played in pointing out the holes in Kerry's story — even as much of the press tries to ignore them.
For instance, when Team Kerry held a press conference featuring his crewmates this week, one was conspicuously missing — David Alston — after the Internet-fueled revelation that he may have only served on Kerry's boat for one week.
A Web blogger, captainsquartersblog, began questioning whether Alston (who has spoken emotionally about how they "bled together") ever served with Kerry. National Review examined the records and concluded maybe — for just one week.
This whole story could be a test of the Internet's impact in this campaign. While most papers have been ignoring the story — until Kerry went ballistic at the Swift vets yesterday — bloggers have been examining it in detail.
On Web sites like Instapundit.com, captainsquartersblog.com, hugh- hewitt.com and rogerlsimon.com, skeptical veterans are trading details on Kerry's service and raising intricate questions about his veracity based on their own experience.
Their online dialogue is punctuated with questions about why the "mainstream media" have been mostly ignoring this story — and why the 13 pro-Kerry vets are automatically assumed to have more credibility than 264 anti-Kerry vets.
This points to the sea change the internet, generally, and blogging specifically have brought to the political process. Much like the invention of moveable type put the bible in the hands of common men and allowed them to make their own interpretations of it, the internet has allowed the common man the same resources and voice as the main stream media. Just as priests lost their exclusive right to interpret the bible, the MSM has lost its exclusive voice as to what is and isn't news.
In several instances, it is bloggers who've forced the issue on the main stream media. Trent Lott comes to mind. And now the questions about Kerry. But questions about why the main stream media has done its level best to avoid this story still abound.
Just imagine the coverage if 264 vets who served with Bush in the Texas Air National Guard made similar charges. For those bloggers, this story has become a test of the mainstream media's credibility — and its liberal anti-Bush bias.
Given the rectal exam Bush's guard records received from the MSM I'd say this is a test of the MSMs credibility. Will they acknowledge it and react accordingly or will they be dragged kicking and screaming into the investigation?
Or will they, instead, continue to ignore the story and the 200+ credible witnesses to Kerry's service?
If they choose the latter, they do so at their own risk.
German blogger David Kaspar notes that ver.di, Germany's largest service-sector union is upset at the idea that US troops will go home from Germany, because it will cause many of their members to lose their jobs.
He points to a press release from ver.di. What caught me was this phrase from Christian Zahn, from ver.di's national office (It's in German but I'll translate it. More or less.), saying that the German government can't leave these poor devils in the lurch:
Die Beschäftigten hätten jahrzehntelang einen wichtigen Beitrag für die äußere Sicherheit Deutschlands geleistet und ein Recht darauf, einen Teil dieser Dividende zurück zu bekommen.
Translation: These employees would have made an important contribution to Germany's national security for many decades, and they have a right to get a part of this dividend back.
I just love the sense of entitlement that expresses. "Hey, we might've had jobs for life. If we don't, somebody's gotta pay. "Cause we got a right to part of that money we would've made."
And that attitude, my friends, is why Germany has some of the highest unit labor costs in the world.
After reading her column in the Indianopolis Star, I can only characterize Susan Estrich as a classic "idiot savant". She writes well, but other than that, she hasn't got a whole bunch going for her. For instance her "analysis" of the Swift Boat Vets ad makes the following assumptions:
In order to believe the central claim of the swift boat vets, you have to call the guy who says Kerry saved his life, whom Kerry hadn't seen in three decades, a liar.
No, Ms. Estrich, you don't. As I explained below, its entirely conceivable that Jim Rassmann believes every word he says even though every word he says is wrong. Note I didn't say a "lie". I've come to the conclusion, after listening, watching and reading what he has to say that he believes what he says to be the truth.
Of course that doesn't make it the truth. It simply makes it his version. And there are others who were right there who disagree with his version.
You have to take on not only Kerry's account of what happened that night, but nine of the 10 men who were in his boat with him, and are still alive.
Well, first, Ms. Estrich, it wasn't at night and second there are only 6 on a Swift boat. So the 6 on Kerry's boat agree. The 18 on the other three boats disagree. Which side would you fall on if given those numbers and the evidence which shows not a single one of the boats in that engagment, to include Kerry's recieved a single scratch from small arms fire. They were either faced with the most attrocious shots among the VC, or nothing happened just as they said. Seems pretty cut and dried in that regard.
This information has been available for some time, but apparently Ms. Estrich couldn't be bothered to chase it down.
Some of this has been around for a while, but most of it has been dredged up for this campaign, reminiscent of the tactics used against previous Vietnam vets, including John McCain and Max Cleland, both of whom have condemned the ad and called on Bush to do the same.
Uh, no. Cleland got booted for a extremely liberal voting record after getting elected by running as a centerist. Its Georgia for goodness sake. The only one who questioned Cleland's patriotism was Cleland when he whined about the why of his defeat. He hasn't faced the fact yet it had to do with his voting record and not his combat record.
The irony of McCain's condemnation of the ad is they are step-children of his McCain-Finegold act. I find it relatively funny that he's decrying what he brought to be.
Estrich's opinion of the SBVT ads?
There are two problems with an ad like this.
First, it smacks of the sort of sleazy, unfair tactics that most people hate. You're going back 30 years digging dirt on a guy who served his country, for the sole purpose of tarnishing his reputation. When you ask people what they hate most about modern politics, this is it.
Conveniently ignored by Estrich is the fact that it wouldn't be on anyone's radar screen if Kerry hadn't used it as the centerpiece of his campaign. He arrives at the convention in a water-taxi "Swift boat" with his "band of brothers". He salutes as his first act and "reports for duty". He trots his "band of brothers" out on stage not to mention ensuring each and every one of them have an opportunity to speak to the convention about Kerry's alleged heroics.
Which is more sleazy Ms. Estrich .... disputation of the events by those who were there or embellishing events and faking qualifications for awards?
Guess which I find to be more sleazy.
And, of course, Estrich forgets that same people who now dispute Mr. Kerry's version of events today have had their reputations tarnished by a pack a lies Kerry told 35 years ago.
Payback's hell, isn't it Susan?
Second, what makes it even worse is that the guy who stands to benefit had a rich daddy who managed to pull strings so he didn't have to serve at all. This is, ultimately, the most inexplicable aspect of this comparison.
A) His rich daddy did no such thing (another of the left's favorite unfounded canards) and B) it isn't inexplicable at all when you consider the fact that Kerry dishonored his comrades 35 years ago and this is their first opportunity to point this out. But in order to understand that, Estrich needs to dig a little deeper than the first page of the DNC talking points.
The ad broke about two weeks ago, along with a book about the allegations.
The national press did some follow-up stories. It probably would have died as a story, and an issue, had it not been for the push it has gotten from two disparate groups.
The first are Bush's best friends -- conservative talk show hosts, radio and television, who have pushed the story and continued to air the ad long after its sponsors could afford to pay to do so, thus justifying the later investigations by the legitimate press, and feeding on each other, continuing the uproar long after the ad itself went out of rotation.
The second are his worst enemies, the folks at MoveOn.org, who are now tying the swift boat ad to Bush by demanding that he take a stand on it.
Yes, the ad broke about 2 weeks ago, and in the ensuing time it has reduced the left to screaming, whining, hissing, name-calling fits, none of which have successfully refuted a single allegation of the SBVTs. Not one. They've tried legal intimidation, they've called on Bush, who had nothing to do with the McCain's bastard step-child, to condemn the ad. They've tried to divert attention by slamming those who paid for the ad as being partisan. They've tried to change the subject by attempting to revive the "Bush was AWOL" nonsense.
But what they haven't done is successfully refute a single allegation of the Swiftees. Estrich laments that if it weren't for talk radio the main stream media would have given this its final yawn and ignored it. She's apparently unaware of the fact that bloggers have also taken this on and aren't about to let it go without some damn good answers.
If Bush condemns the ad, demands that his supporters take it off the air, what would they do?
First he has no right to demand its removal. Per Mr. McCain's baby, its simply an exercise of free speech. And, despite Estrich's inferrence, there's absolutely no evidence that the majority of the SBVT are Bush supporters.
If he told his donors not to give a penny to the group that made the ad, would the vets themselves be able to get it on the air?
You bet they would. They've been raking in donations from across the country ... from VETERANS who are sickened by Kerry and what he did after the war. Perhaps you missed the less than enthusiastic response he was given at the VFW convention, Ms Estrich. When veterans stand and turn their back on someone, its likely they'll answer the call to fund an ad which tells what they consider to be the truth ... and they have. All you have to do is read the forum on the SBVT site to understand how they're funding the ad.
Stick with teaching law, Susan.
You're over you head in this one.
Out of curiosity, if Dick Cheney was a coward for getting a draft deferment during Vietnam what was John Edwards doing in 1971, when he turned 18?
Actually the Thurlow "inconsistency" probably has a very reasonable explanation. Why is "enemy small arms fire" mentioned in Thurlow's citation when he and the other Swift Boat Vets claim that in reality there was none?
Because Jim Rassmann says there was, and Jim Rassmann wrote the citation for John Kerry's award:
For his actions that day, I recommended John for the Silver Star, our country's third highest award for bravery under fire. I learned only this past January that the Navy awarded John the Bronze Star with Combat V for his valor.
That quote is from Rassmann's August 10th WSJ op/ed piece. The original award recommendation, apparently, came from Rassmann's account of the action. Rassmann also wrote the first (and perhaps only) citation for the incident in his recommendation for a Silver Star for Kerry.
Now folks if you've never been in the military, you need to understand something. Military guys and gals don't like to reinvent the wheel or do extra work. When they have what they consider to be a perfectly good citation in their hands (they have no idea nor do they really care what the truth of the situation was), and if they're told to include some other awards for other people in the same action to those going forward, they're not going to write another citation. They're going to use the one they have.
They're going to depend on the version of the officer who submitted the original recommendation as being valid.
The only problem here is Rassmann's may very likely have not been valid, through no fault of his own.
Jim Rassmann got blown off of a boat (most likely the number 3 boat, since everyone except Rassmann agree no other boat hit a mine). He lands in the water. Most likely he's slightly concussed (all the others on that boat were diagnosed with concussions) and confused. He hears weapons firing and assumes they're bad guys. But instead the weapons firing are from the other PCFs laying down suppressing fire on the shore in case its an ambush. Standard operating procedure. Rassmann thinks he's in mortal danger from all of this and is diving and coming up to try to dodge what he thinks is enemy fire. Finally someone picks him up and he's a grateful as a grunt in the water can be to his rescuer. Because he thought he was under enemy fire and because Kerry picked him up in that perceived enemy fire, he is grateful enough to write him up for the Silver Star. Then the contents of his writeup for Kerry is used in other awards for that same action.
Absolutely and positively the probable scenario in this little "inconsistency." Having read both versions, I come down on the side of the SBVT's version, although I do believe that Jim Rassmann honestly believes what he described was true.
The facts of the situation, however, seem to coincide more with the SBVT version now than the Rassmann version then. Why? Because there is no memory of hostile fire by the rest of the crews in the event. Probably more importantly, there wasn't a single bit of damage to any boat out there from the impact of enemy rounds. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nary a single bullet hole in any of them.
The suppressing fire probably had a confused and concussed Rassmann thinking he was under fire, and it translated into a citation for an award which mirrored his confused memory. Clerks, being clerks, used that citation for the other awards which were recommended, since it was already in their hands and required no further work on their part.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
UPDATE: Thurlow responds:
I am convinced that the language used in my citation for a Bronze Star was language taken directly from John Kerry's report which falsely described the action on the Bay Hap River as action that saw small arms fire and automatic weapons fire from both banks of the river.
To this day, I can say without a doubt in my mind, along with other accounts
from my shipmates-there was no hostile enemy fire directed at my boat or at
any of the five boats operating on the river that day.
I submitted no paperwork for a medal nor did I file an after action report
describing the incident. To my knowledge, John Kerry was the only officer
who filed a report describing his version of the incidents that occurred on
the river that day.
It was not until I had left the Navy-approximately three months after I left
the service-that I was notified that I was to receive a citation for my
actions on that day.
Read the whole thing here.
Hat tip to reader Mike for the link.
I love the last line of this news story about the Swiftvets taking another big chunk of money from a Republican donor:
"The real question is why won't President Bush heed Sen. McCain's call to condemn this ad?" said Clanton of the Kerry campaign. "With one phone call, George Bush could put an end to this smear of John Kerry's military service."
Uh, actually Mr. Clanton, no, he couldn't. Thanks to McCain-Feingold, Federal Law now bans any coordination between a campaign and a 527 Organization. If Mr. Bush were to call off the Swiftvet ads, it would be prima facie evidence of a serious violation of campaign finance law.
It was you guys on the Left that were so gung-ho for McCain-Feingold. Well, you got it. Deal with it.
Not quite as pleasant, is it, now that you've figured out Republicans can start 527 Organizations, too, is it?
As I've stated several times when referring to this whole Swiftvets deal, we simply can't know what actually happened on those specific days, 35 years ago, on those rivers in Vietnam. We weren't there. And considering the fact that it happened 35 years ago, the guys that were there can't actually be sure of their memories either.
I've said this before, too, and I'll it again: I am inclined to believe the Swiftvets more than I am Kerry, because Kerry appears to have played fast and loose with the truth several times in his recorded public life. The Winter Soldiers "investigation" was a sham, taking "testimony: from several "vets" who had never even been to Vietnam, or worse, weren't even veterans. The Christmas in Cambodia that is seared--seared!--into his memory. The Magic Hat. Kerry is a guy who seems prone to tell stories of dubious plausibility.That tells us something about his character. After all, if Kerry had a 3-decade record of unshakeable honesty, it wouldn't be quite as easy to beleive the Swiftvet allegations, would it.
Trial attorneys have a saying about witness credibility, "Lie in one, lie in all", meaning, that once a witness is caught telling one lie on the stand, his whole credibility is shot. That, in large part, explains what's already happened with Kerry.
Ah, but now we've got a problem with one of the main Swiftvets guys. Does that change my assessment of Kerry's problems with the truth? No, because Kerry's problems arise from his own statements, not those of the Swiftvets.
Look, I would love for the Swiftvets stuff to be true. I think John Kerry is wrong on practically every national security poilicy he espouses, and most of his economics are a load of crap as well. I think his actions on behalf of VVAW bordered on the traitorous. So, I want to believe his medals were faked, and his heroism is a sham. I get the same feeling watching Kerry throw that half-cocked salute that I got watching Alec Baldwin play Jimmy Doolittle in Pearl Harbor. He's creepy and I don't like him.
But, more than anything, I want to know the truth. If the Swiftvets are lying I want to know that. Whatever the truth is, or the closest approximation to it that we can obtain, I want to know, because knowing what's true is more important to me than my biases. If I'm wrong about Kerry's character, I want to know that, because it means I am correcting a deficiency that exists in me.
Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, all we've learned from this is that Thurlow may be as big a weasel as John Kerry. Doesn't mean that Kerry still isn't a weasel. Doesn't mean that the other Swiftvets are weasels either. Or, who knows, maybe neither Thurlow nor Kerry are weasels in this particular case. People tend to remember--and with perfect sincerity--what they wish to remember.
Thurlow remembers the river being calm and flat, with crickets chirping and mosquitos lazily flitting about, their gentle, buzzing whine the only break in an otherwise pastoral scene. Kerry remembers the harsh crack of gunfire, the brown water exploding into white columns of spray as bullets struck the surface of the river, the water drenching him as reached out for Jim Rassman's hand.
As I said when writing about Jim Rassman's Wall Street Journal op/ed, everybody may be perfectly sincere in their memories, while, at the same time, being quite wrong.
The only way we'll ever have a chance at determining anything resembling the truth if for full disclosure of all the relevant records. When W was getting slammed for being AWOL from the Guard, we got everything in existence, right down to his dental records, for cripes' sake!
So, why aren't we getting the same thing now? Why won't Kerry sign the SF 180? Why isn't the media going after Kerry with the same enthusiasm it had when going after W's TANG service records, or Thurlow's records in this case? Why is Kerry getting a pass?
There are a lot of questions that could be answered with full disclosure, and it's not impropoer to ask why we aren't getting it. Nor is it improper to draw inferences from the fact that we aren't getting it.
David Englin of The New Republic says our troop withdrawls will have a devestating effect on our relationship with our allies, even if they do make some military sense:
Finally, even on the grounds of military strategy--where Bush's move is most easily defensible--the plan is not without drawbacks. Al Qaeda and its affiliates remain active throughout Europe. Plus, Europe is closer than Kentucky to strategically critical locations in the Middle East and Central Asia, and therefore an easier base from which to deploy troops. So the strategic pros and cons of the move can be legitimately debated. But the damage that Bush's proposal could do to America's relations with its allies is beyond dispute. There is no easy public-relations substitute for 100,000 Americans living in the heart of Europe and serving as ambassadors to and from their host countries. If you think Americans and Europeans have trouble getting along now, just wait.
Good grief. First, our troops aren't going to be fighting al-Queda in Europe, and there is no magic involved in effectiveness if the troops come from Germany or Ft. Hood, TX when and if they're ever called to fight al-Queda. In fact, given the probability that they'll fight in a Middle Eastern country, Ft. Hood would most likely have better prepared them for what they'll face in terms of terrain and climate. Straegically the pros far outweigh the cons.
Secondly, the rosy picture Englin paints isn't exactly true. I'm an army brat who lived in Europe and Asia. While relations were "ok", they really weren't all "sweetness and light" where I lived. I followed that up with active duty in Asia which it was clear we weren't wanted there. I spent 18 months in Korea, and the student riots protesting our presense were a pretty regular occurrance.
The argument that we ought to keep 100,000 Americans in foreign lands to "help strengthen our alliances" is nonsense. The only nation we've ever had at our side in all our modern wars, Australia, has remained our staunch ally without thousands of American troops hanging out there. If our alliances are so fragile that we have to keep our allies "friendly" by stationing troops there (and subsidizing their economy) then we need to rethink them anyway.
Englin's arguments are the typical "touchy-feely" nonsense which ignore the harsh realities of the world in favor of the weak argument that the troop removals may harm our relationship with our allies.
Doug Feith, in WaPo has a completely different take:
Our new posture will allow us to deploy capable forces rapidly anywhere in the world on short notice. It will push more military capability forward, while shifting 60,000 to 70,000 service members from foreign to U.S. bases. It will create a lighter U.S. "footprint" abroad, consolidate scattered facilities, remedy irritants in our relations with host nations, and, in numerous ways, make it easier for the United States to work well with allies and friends on military operations -- to train and operate, to develop military doctrine and tactics, and to exploit new military technologies with them.
The new posture acknowledges (finally) that the Cold War has ended. It anticipates the emergence of new threats. It recognizes new strategic facts, including the entry of former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO. And it capitalizes on new technologies.
Feith makes a point that Englin ignores or overlooks. We're not withdrawing all of our troops, just a majority of them. We will, most likely still have a smaller footprint in Europe. For instance, the 173rd Airborne Brigade will most likely stay in Italy. And the two heavy divisions in Germany. Probably downsized to a STRYKER Brigade. With those two elements left in Europe we'd have an immediate response team available while we ginned up a larger force in the US.
We'd also most likely have another brigade or two forward deployed in some of the old Eastern European nations which were once part of the Warsaw Pact. Again, with the emphasis on quick reaction.
The move is neither hasty nor vague as Kerry claims. It is a long overdue realighment to face today's threat, not the threat it is now configured to meet, the defense of the inner-German border against Soviet invasion.
Neither the inner-German border nor the USSR exist anymore, and its time we acknowledged that and realigned for the new threat.
Kenneth Silber, refusing to stick with a perfectly good label--Neolibertarian--, comes up with proposes the name Fusionist for libertarian.conservatives...
Like the man who's surprised to learn he's been speaking prose all his life, the fusionist is a political category whose members may operate without much awareness of their label. Fusionism is the idea, named and developed decades ago by Frank Meyer of National Review, that conservatism and libertarianism share a common agenda. Thus, the fusionist believes that conservatives and libertarians ought to be allies -- and indeed that their respective philosophies are largely or essentially combinable into a coherent body of thought.While I'd prefer Silber bow to my pressure and call himself a Neolibertarian--and others might question the utility of asking a libertarian to be a comformist--I think Silber makes three good points to back up his assertion that there is room for a "Fusionist" coalition....
Fusionism has had a difficult time of it, politically and intellectually, in recent years. Libertarian and conservative magazines routinely run articles denouncing each other. Divisions are rife on a long list of issues: government spending, faith-based programs, gay marriage, abortion, the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and more. The Cold War, a unifying cause for conservatives and libertarians, is long over. Celebrants of Reagan's legacy include mutually antagonistic factions that once were part of his coalition.
Does fusionism have a future? I believe it does. For one thing, the publication you are now reading has a distinctly fusionist coloration. Moreover, "libertarian conservative" (unlike "promiscuous celibate") is in fact coherent. It describes someone who thinks libertarian institutions are worth conserving (and that a country embracing such institutions is worth defending). It implies a consistency in advocating both social and economic freedoms, and a recognition that both types of freedoms require responsibility and virtue.
All three, I think, have merit, and there seems a clear opportunity for pragmatic libertarians to make mainstream in-roads. Of course, for that to happen, libertarians need to get a lot better at politics. They care a great deal about their own particular principles. They don't really care that much about being elected. And then they whine a great deal when they find themselves without any serious political power.
I don't mind the principle thing. I don't mind that they don't care about being
elected. But it drives me nuts that they run off the cliff, flag flying high,
and then bitch about the fall.
Note: Neolibertarian - spread the term. And if somebody wants to organize a Neolibertarian League of bloggers....well, count us in.
UPDATE: Rusty Shackleford at MyPetJawa adds some interesting thoughts.
Yesterday Kerry said this:
“Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars,” Kerry said. “But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way.”
Let's be clear - the president’s vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war on terror,” he said. “It in no way relieves the strain on our overextended military personnel. It doesn’t even begin until 2006, and it takes 10 years to achieve. And this hastily announced plan raises more doubts about our intentions and our commitments than it provides real answers.”
On August 1, 2004 he is quoted as saying this:
Asked whether he would promise to have US troops home from Iraq by the end of his first term, Kerry replied: ''I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. We will probably have a continued presence of some kind, and certainly in the region. If the diplomacy that I believe can be put in place can work, I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there but elsewhere in the world -- in the Korean Peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps."
Why does anyone take this man seriously? Troop realignment has been in the works, per Condoleeza Rice, for 3 years. Its been discussed with NATO and Russia for a year. Its been discussed with our Asian allies for a year. And, just 18 days ago, John Kerry thought it was a boffo idea, enough to discuss it on ABC's "This Week".
Now we essentially get a "if Bush is for it I'm against it" reaction from Kerry, less than a month after he threw up a "vaguely stated plan" to do precisely what the administration is doing.
So let's wait a week or two and ask him again. We may see he's for it again.
Who the hell knows?
Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.Now, if Thurlow wrote the report that was the basis for that citation, then he's pretty clearly dishonored himself, either then or now.
In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.
But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."
On the other hand, we already knew Kerry's citation said there had been small arms fire, and I would assume the citations were issued based on the same set of reports, so it's hardly news that other citations were consistent with John Kerry's citation.
In short--assuming Thurlow did not author the initial report--the question is not whether Thurlow's citation is consistent with the SBV's story, but whether the initial after-action report is representative of their view or of John Kerry's view. So, this new information really doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know.
Actually, that's not true.
It tells us one thing. This story tells us that the Washington Post is willing to use a Freedom of Information Act....but only against Kerry's critics. John Kerry's complete records are still flying under the media radar.
The day after John F. Kerry said he would make all of his military records available for inspection at his campaign headquarters, a spokesman said the senator would not release any new documents, leaving undisclosed many of Kerry's evaluations by his Navy commanding officers, some medical records, and possibly other material.UPDATE: As "Just a Dad" points out, Kerry has released some of his records since this report. However, he has not released all of his FITREPs, medical records, etc. Selective release isn't the same thing as complete release.
And the media doesn't seem willing to subject those records to the same sort of inspection to which they've exposed Kerry's critics. Or President Bush.
The Associated Press asked a federal judge Friday to order the Pentagon to quickly turn over a full copy of President Bush's military service record.* A Google News search for FOIA requests for Bush records from the AP returns 5 stories.
But they have time to find out that the Thurlow medal citation for March 13, 1969 tells us what we already knew the reports indicated for that day. Though, not, apparently, enough time to find out whether that initial report is based on Kerry's version of events, or that of others.
Kerry supporters are jumping on this story rather quickly--apparently, they have some insight into the genesis of this citation that would differentiate it from the questions surrounding the Kerry citation--though, not as quickly as they failed to demand of Kerry the same thing they demanded of Bush.....a complete records release.
Note: the usual caveat applies. I'm agnostic about the veracity of claims on either side, doubtful that they can be proven either way, and perfectly willing to concede that Thurlow has--at best--been disingenuous in accepting a medal for an action, while disagreeing with the description of the action.
Nevertheless, the one-sided partisanship of the attempts to get to the bottom of this is instructive.
UPDATE: It's also worth noting the almost complete lack of interest in public domain information that appears to contradict Kerry's story. Of course, since the source of those apparent contradictions is John Kerry, it's hard to see how they can call it a smear campaign.
UPDATE II: James Joyner makes a point I'd like to echo, and expound upon...
So far as I'm concerned, the Navy awarded him a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with "V" device, three Purple Hearts, and an Honorable Discharge. That's sufficiently decisive for me, just as George W. Bush's Honorable Discharge ends for me any concern over his service in the Guard.I absolutely agree with this. 100%.
So, why am I posting about it? Well, you'll note I have not called Kerry a liar, or accused him of falsifying his war experience. My interest in this story--and stories like this...Bush/AWOL, for example--is a two-parter:
I had--and have--no problem with people examining the "Bush/AWOL" story, provided they remain equally skeptical of claims from Bush's critics and from Bush's supporters. Unfortunately, far too often, the case was closed as quickly as it was opened, based on that one little letter...(R). I worry that the same is being done with Kerry, but the facts and the stories are worth following nonetheless..
While Michael Moore wanders the country, telling us about the poor, deceived US soldiers who are in Iraq against their will...other Americans are stepping up to the plate.
Mike Zummer is not your typical Stanford Law Student. ... he is giving up his position of privilege at perhaps the most desirable place to study law in the country, voluntarily, to serve in Iraq. Yes, voluntarily. Mike enlisted and has taken a leave of absence from Stanford Law School. He was not part of a reserve or a national guard unit - he recently CHOSE to go to what is said by some cynics to be a killing zone.You know, I'd like to think that, were I still a single guy with no family to care for, I would have gone to Iraq to help in some civilian capacity, because I feel so strongly about the war.
I'd like to think that I would have done something so honorable, but it's pure speculation. I have no idea what would have happened under different circumstances. Mike Zummer, though.....
Well, as Elliot Fladen writes: "If you wish to give Mike Zummer your thanks, please email him at mzummmer (at) stanford (dot) edu".
Ronald Asmus, the State Department's big Euro-boy in the Clinton Administration, has read about the proposed withdrawal of troops from Europe, and he doesn't like it. Not one bit.
Harry Truman must be turning over in his grave.
The planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe and Asia that President Bush announced this week, if allowed to stand, could lead to the demise of the United States' key alliances across the globe, including the one that Truman considered his greatest foreign policy accomplishment: NATO.
The president proposes something that generations of U.S. diplomats and soldiers fought to prevent and that our adversaries sought unsuccessfully to achieve: radical reduction of U.S. political and military influence on the European and Asian continents.
Now, that's just disingenuous. First, as VodkaPundit points out, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are probably still spinning in their graves at having a standing army of US troops stationed there in the first place.
That aside, though, Asmus conveniently forgets why we sent all those troops over there in the first place. There used to be this evil empire called the Soviet Union, the key phrase in that sentence being "used to be".
When Truman created NATO, and committed the United States to defending South Korea, there was an expansionist, international communist movement to defeat and subjugate the Free World.
No, really, there's books about it and everything.
Creating NATO, and keeping hundreds of thousands of US troops in Europe was a necessary corollary to the policy of containment. There were, after all, 45 Soviet Army divisions sitting in East Germany, ready to swoop down through the Fulda Gap into Western Europe. Preventing that was a prime goal of not only Truman, but seven successive presidents as well.
But, in case Mr. Asmus hasn't noticed, the USSR collapsed more than a decade ago, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, and the only remaining major communist state is rather busy at the moment putting new KFCs and McDonald's on every street corner, getting the cell phones to work right in Shanghai, and espousing the hip, new, "Wealth is Good" brand of communism.
US troops were stationed in Europe to defend against a threat that died a decade ago. I doubt that Truman, who, until 1948, was doing everything he could to reduce the US troop presence in Europe, would be imminently satisfied that we are finally able to do so.
NATO was created for a purpose, not merely to justify it's own existence. That purpose has, thankfully, passed into history. Perhaps the overriding importance of NATO should, too.
The Bush message, delivered at a campaign rally, also smells of political opportunism. Under pressure but unable to withdraw troops from Iraq, the president has instead reached for what his advisers hope is the next best thing politically -- a pledge to bring the boys home from Europe and Asia.
That might be a little more convincing argument if the DoD hadn't announced it was going to start studying how to implement such a policy in 2001.
Whether this is good or bad politics remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that it is bad strategy and bad diplomacy, for which the United States is likely to pay a heavy price. The reasons are fairly simple. In Europe after the Cold War, the United States decided to significantly reduce its former troop levels but to leave sufficient military forces on the ground to accomplish three objectives: help ensure that peace and stability on the continent would endure; have the capacity to support NATO and European Union expansion and project the communities of democracies eastward; and provide the political and military glue to enable our allies to reorient themselves militarily and prepare, together with the United States, to address new conflicts beyond the continent's borders.
Ok, let's take those three objectives one at a time.
help ensure that peace and stability on the continent would endure
It looks to me like we've pretty much done that. The last time I looked, the Europeans had a continent-wide political union, a single currency (for the most part), and were discussing a new constitution that creates what is essentially a central European state, with its own executive, parliament, government ministries, and the like. I'm not entirely sure what large numbers of US troops could achieve over that.
The Europeans themselves are so convinced of it that they basically have no armed forces to speak of. If they don't think having their own troops are necessary for engendering peace or stability, I'm not sure I see how they need to keep a lot of our lounging around.
Actually, that's not quite true. I am sure. They don't.
have the capacity to support NATO and European Union expansion and project the communities of democracies eastward
Well, NATO now contains pretty much the entire former Warsaw Pact, except for Russia, and even Russia participates in some of the intra-European security councils. The EU has been extended right up to the Russian Border, and Vladimir Putin is giving them long looks, and batting his pretty eyes about an invite. Looks to me like the EU and NATO has expanded about as far east as it can go, without inviting Alaska to become a member.
So, "mission accomplished", as someone once said.
and provide the political and military glue to enable our allies to reorient themselves militarily and prepare, together with the United States, to address new conflicts beyond the continent's borders.
Well, a majority of NATO countries have troops in Iraq, and those that don't have them in Afghanistan. But, with that said, it doesn't appear to have convinced Germany or France to join up with the Iraq project. At best, our ability to convince European governments to join us in military operations outside Europe is mixed, despite having a several divisions of troops there for more than half a century.
I suspect that the required political glue comes from something other than US troops in Europe. Europeans will join us in military adventures elsewhere only to the extent that they feel to do so is compatible with their interests, and it's fantasy to suggest otherwise. I highly doubt they take the presence of US troops on their soil into account when the time comes to make such judgments.
It certainly didn't help in Germany, where we have tens of thousands of troops, but who sent none to Iraq. And not having troops in Poland, who did join us in Iraq, seemed not to deter them from doing so.
With transatlantic relations badly frayed, Russia turning away from democracy and the United States facing the challenge of projecting stability from the Balkans to the Black Sea, Washington should be putting forward a plan to repair the transatlantic alliance, not ruin it.
One wonders how transatlantic relations could have become so badly frayed, what with all the troops we have there and all. Perhaps the reason for our strained relations with Germany have some other source--and, hence, some other solution--than the number of troops we station there.
In Asia the stakes are just as high and the challenges perhaps greater. There the United States faces the long-term challenge of managing the rise of China as a great power. North Korea's eventual collapse and the unification of Korea will raise the question of that country's future geopolitical orientation. And such seismic events will undoubtedly have a considerable impact on the evolution of Japan's role and orientation as well.
No doubt. But since the Koreans have been less than subtle in making their dislike of such a large foreign presence in their country increasingly clear, Does Mr. Asmus suggest that we ignore their wishes? If the South Koreans feel our presence there is unpleasant and/or unnecessary, who are we to dispute them? It is, after all their country, and not ours.
And, as far as the specter of an emerging China is concerned, Korea seems like an awfully exposed forward base into which to put the majority of our marbles. Maybe it's just me, but I would like a little less exposed position from which to base any required counters to Chinese obstreperousness.
The president's plan is unfortunately further evidence of the strategic myopia that has afflicted this administration and is undercutting the United States' standing in the world. At a time when we should be mobilizing and reinvigorating our alliances in Europe and Asia, we are dismantling them.
Well, he's certainly right that someone is dismantling them. But, one notes that one doesn't see large protest marches in San Francisco demanding the removal of US troops from Korea, the way one sees in, say, Seoul. One also notes that the United States hasn't been casting UN Security Council vetoes over French military invasions of the African portion of la Francophonie. The reverse, however, is not true.
Instead of creating multilateral structures to mobilize the world in a common struggle against terrorism and new anti-Western ideologies and movements, we opt for a unilateral course that leaves us with fewer friends.
Multilateral institutions, of course, famously efficient at stopping trouble in places like the Congo, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, etc. And who could forget the League of Nations, and the tireless campaign they waged against Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, in the 1930s.
It would really help Mr. Asmus' argument a lot if he could point to a track record of effectiveness by multilateral institutions in the areas of peace and security.
Is there room for reconfiguring the U.S. military deployment plan overseas and modernizing it for a new era? Of course, there is.
"I'm not prepared to suggest one at this time, but believe me, I could. Entirely doable"
Sen. John Kerry has recognized that the lesson of Sept. 11 is that the U.S. need for allies is going up, not down. He has pledged to make the reinvigoration of U.S. alliances a foreign policy priority. He has claimed that his election would allow for a "fresh start" and close a remarkably divisive chapter in relations with many of our close allies.
"And nothing should be inferred from the fact that he hasn't actually presented any such plan. Once he has the power of the presidency, his wisdom will manifest itself. Trust me."
There is little doubt that Kerry's election would be enthusiastically welcomed in both Europe and Asia.
And that should influence us, why, precisely? Are the states of Europe and Asia as keen as the citizens of the United States to defend US interests and security?
I doubt it.
Indeed, the public utterances of their officials should incline any rational person to the opposite view. The whole purpose of the European Union, for example, as legions of French officials have tactlessly lectured us over the past 30 years, is to reduce the power and influence of the United States, and to become a "counterweight" to it. So, I don't think their happiness should invoke any reaction in us but a distinct sense of unease.
Entirely missing in Mr. Asmus' article is any sense that there is any blame at all that can be placed at the feet of our allies for the current state of our relations. It is as if they were entirely passive participants in the past four years.
No marches against US bases in Korea. No national election campaigns in which German politicians compared the president to less savory figures from Germany's past. No times in which French officials, after personally assuring the US Secretary of State of their support in the UN Security Council, actively lobbied other states to join them in opposing it.
It is as if all of our allies keenly wished to join us in our crusade to spread democracy and freedom, and defeat terror, but were only prevented from doing so by the unfortunate personal qualities of Mr. Bush.
That is farcical. Nations make policy decisions based upon their perceived interests, not upon the personality of allied leaders. That is why, for example, we allied ourselves with the odious Josef Stalin in WWII, or for that matter, the arrogant Charles deGaulle, a man so untrustworthy that he couldn’t even be informed of the D-Day invasion of his own country until it was too late for him to sabotage it with his unceasing petty demands.
Relations between the US and some nations in Western Europe are strained not because Mr. Bush has sabotaged those relations, but because those nations perceive their interests to diverge from ours. The only way to repair such divisions is to align our interests more closely with those they espouse. Such an alignment might very well make Mr. Chirac, the president of France, deliriously happy, but it does not mean that it would advance the interests or security of the United States, unless one supposes that the support of France is the paramount goal of US foreign policy.
So, here's my question for those of you who think the Swiftvets stuff, and the Cambodia stuff, and John Kerry's Magic Hat are all just lies told by Kerry's detractors. What if it's all true?
I mean, let's say, arguendo, that Kerry did lie about his exploits in Vietnam to get at least one purple heart and a Silver Star he didn't deserve. Then, let's say that, in addition to that, he's been lying, several times over the course of three decades, about being in Cambodia when he knows full well he was not. So, my question is, if that was shown to your satisfaction, would you still vote for him?
If the answer is "yes", then why are you here? I mean, your mind is already made up. You don't actually care what the truth is, so why bother to come here and read our stuff and leave detailed comments? Really, what's the point? If your answer is that Kerry's lies were personal, then does that mean that, if Bush had claimed that, while as a pilot for the TANG, he flew secret aerial reconnaissance missions over Cuba, that you'd dismiss it in the same way?
And, even more interestingly, since you're all so keen to repeat, ad nauseum, that Bush lied--or misled, or exaggerated, or however you want to put it--about going to war in Iraq, what makes you think that Kerry, with a history of lying for his own political self-aggrandizement, wouldn't lie to the public in a similar fashion again? Indeed, if Kerry's past lies wouldn't bother you, why would you care whether the president lied at all? Clearly, you aren't bothered about being lied to, if you answered the first question with a "yes".
Now, if the deal is that you just don't like George W. Bush's policies, and think Kerry would implement better policies, then that's a perfectly legitimate argument. But, if you're willing to accept Kerry's lies, then the whole "Bush Lied" deal that you're pushing is just a smokescreen, because you don't mind being lied to per se, you just mind it when the liar is someone you don't like.
A couple interesting developments in the Kerry/SBV story.....
* Captain Ed points to a story about Kerry's personal journal, in which he claims he has not been shot at....a week after the event for which he received his first purple heart....
Interesting, but I'm hesitant to stake too much on this story right now, especially since Kerry's journal statement is sufficiently vague that we can't really tell whether he was talking about himself, his boat, his crew, or even that particular mission. I'll wait for the explanation before reaching any conclusions on this. (in fact, I'm generally leaning towards agnosticism on the whole Kerry/Vietnam issue, though I think it's interesting to follow)
* Beldar--who is getting blogrolled--finds some discrepancies between the official story Kerry is telling now, and the story John Kerry told previously....
Again, I'm largely agnostic about the whole Kerry/Vietnam thing, but it certainly is interesting to note the discrepancies. (...discrepancies between Kerry's stories, and discrepancies between the way his supporters handle this "question about Vietnam service" and the way they handled that of Bush)
William McSweeny, in a WaPo op/ed piece, misses the point about the Kerry Vietnam flap.
It is a young man's reaction to a sense of responsibility and duty, done without much forethought.
That, I believe, is the key ingredient in John Kerry's service in Vietnam -- and why both campaigns should drop this contrived issue.
He did not have to go -- because he had been. His tour on a destroyer was overseas time enough. But he went to the boats because other young men were there. The men and the boats had a mission -- and he commanded, because he could. That is enough for me. I couldn't care less whether he received a medal. The rest of it is frosting. There is no honor in this debate for our country. We need to know whether a man can save the economy and slow terrorism, not listen to harangues about who was a shooter and who was a dodger.
Most of the left and Kerry apologists don't seem to understand: its not about duty, its about honor.
Kerry performed his duty. No one disputes that. He was there. That's not the debate. That's not the argument.
McSweeny is wrong when he says "duty" is enough. It would be if Kerry's campaign for the presidency didn't use his "valor" as a central part of his qualifications for the job. It would be if Kerry were to say "I served in Vietnam" and leave it at that. It would be had Kerry come home and quietly gone about his life. It would be if he didn't insist the men he'd served with and who were still in combat at the time, were war criminals.
Duty would have been enough if Kerry had just done his and kept quiet about it.
But he didn't. After essentially throwing his "band of brothers" to the wolves in 1971, he's consistently used his war time record in his later runs for public office. Something of which he was intensely ashamed in 1971, or so he said, suddenly became a political asset, and so it was revived and embellished and trotted out like a prize pony. It became a centerpiece to who he was and what he stood for.
But when you've dishonored yourself and others, it changes the equation and the argument.
Kerry acted in a dishonorable way in 1971 when he trashed his comrades. He dishonred his service, he dishonored his comrades, he dishonored his nation. And vets of that war can't and won't forget that.
While McSweeny came back largely unnoticed from a war which was largely ignored, Vietnam vets came back to hostility, bald-faced hate and a stereotype
which survives to this day ... mostly because of the dishonorable things John Kerry said and did after his "duty".
So, in this veteran's mind at least, I don't dispute Kerry's duty. He was there. But so were millions of others. Millions who've quitely put it behind them and carried on with life. Millions who didn't dishonor their brothers in arms or their nation.
So I dispute his honor. I find John Forbes Kerry to be a dishonorable man who used his experience in Vietnam for self-glorification and political expediency. I find him to be a man who used lies and innuendo, rumor and myth to brand a generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines as "war criminals". Duty be damned, he dishonored us all.
Kerry has made his service as a centerpiece of his qualification for the Presidency. Because of that, and because of his demand that we "judge him on his record", I've taken him up on it.
Based on his record both in and after Vietnam, I've found him to be severely wanting.
He has no honor.
Let me also offer a brief study in contrast. My high school principal was an Army captain and infantry company commander in Vietnam, named Richard Smith. During my senior year, we showed up at his house at about 11:00pm one night, and "kidnapped" him. In his living room, he had the certificate for a Silver Star on the wall. Now usually, when you receive a medal, you not only get a nice certificate with a the medal embossed on it, you also get a citation to accompany the award that describes what you did to get it. Mr. Smith only had the medal certificate hanging. Impressed, I asked him, "What did you get a Silver Star for?"
He smiled slightly, and replied, "Keeping my nose clean." And that is all he would say.
To this day, I don't know what he did to get the country's third highest award for valor in combat.
If you can't see the difference between that, and Kerry's repeated stories about his trips to Cambodia and his magic hat, then I just don't don't know what else to tell you.
UPDATE: Beltway Traffic Jam
Oliver Willis seems to have recently discovered that political campaigns are staged events....
Just confirming Bush's place as the most partisan president ever.Look, I'm perfectly aware that Oliver is just doing his partisan duty, but are we really still pretending that political campaigns are not stage-managed commercials, masquerading as Reality Politics?Kathryn Mead wanted to see her first sitting president when George W. Bush visited the city.
Instead, Bush campaign staffers tore up the 55-year-old social studies teacher's ticket and refused her admission because she sported a small sticker on her blouse that touted the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.I'm sure she's always welcome [at a Kerry rally]
Well, apparently, Oliver is...though it's hard to tell if he really believes it, or if he's just throwing red meat to the faithful. (Is it relevant/compromising that he's paid to do that? Your call)
He is right, though, that Kathryn Mead would be welcome at a Kerry campaign rally. In fact, Kerry might even show up on her front porch.....so long as she doesn't live on the wrong (read: Republican) side of the tracks.
Ms. Imponen, 24, had instantly agreed when Mr. Kerry's aides knocked late Wednesday afternoon asking to borrow her backyard for an event just 40 hours in the future; she even said they could chop down a couple of trees to improve the view.Hey, I wish candidates were exposed to tough questions and dissent more often, too. I wish a lot of things, but I prefer not to sacrifice intellectual honesty to score cheap political points off them.
But after asking how the sun falls and canvassing Ms. Imponen's neighbors on A Street, a campaign worker called Thursday morning to say no thanks. "She said there were too many registered Republicans," sighed the would-have-been hostess.
Note: Oliver is right about Alan Keyes, though, citing an Economist article which explains how "Keyes is an insult to black Americans by the GOP".
Both here and abroad, apparently. But there's a fairly simple explanation as to why:
Although attempts at linking President George W. Bush to the Arabs have generated a veritable industry in the past two years, there is evidence that most Arabs favor his Democratic Party challenger Sen. John F. Kerry. A Zogby poll taken this month shows that in the November presidential election Kerry is likely to collect more than two-thirds of the Arab-American vote. A similar pattern is emerging in the Arab world itself.
"If it were up to us, it would be 60 percent Kerry, 40 percent Bush," says Iyad Abu-Chaqra, an Arab columnist who has followed American politics for years. "Most Arabs have one dream this year: to see George W. Bush booted out."
One wonders if Moore will make a movie about that ... nah!
But why is the Arab world leaning toward Kerry?
Bush's "Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative" is seen by Islamists as "a plot to impose a Western model."
"The Muslim world is not a blank sheet on which Mr. Bush could draw what he likes," says writer Walid Abi-Merchid, who would vote for Kerry if he could. Opposition to Bush's plans for democratization in the Middle East is put even more dramatically by Muhammad Shariatmadari, a mullah of Arab origin now acting as an advisor to Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi.
"Bush is trying to develop an American Islam," Shariatmadari says. "He thinks that Americans will not be safe in their homes until the Muslim world is dominated by pro-U.S. governments."
Ah ... Bush is acting in the best interest of the US, or at least his interpretation of it. One has to assume then, with all of the Arab leaders opposing Bush, that they too have figured out that if Kerry's elected, he most likely won't pursue the same path. He probably won't pursue what many feel is in the best interest of the US ... i.e. the democtrization of the Middle East. Instead, I'd guess, they believe he would submit the US to UN "guidance" as to how the US should procced in that area. Any guesses as to how that would work out?
Not in the best interest of the US, that's for sure.
In reality though, its simply another flavor of the Anybody But Bush syndrome. After all, if the Russians could have voted in the '80s is there anyone who doesn't believe they'd have wanted to retain Carter? Does anyone believe they would have been for Anybody But Reagan? And that would be especially true when it came to Reagan's second term.
So its really not surprising to see the Arab leaders in opposition to a president who seems intent on upsetting their oppressive apple-carts. I mean check it out. Democracy? Elections?
One theme of these sermons is that Bush's call for free elections and reform in the Muslim world amounts to "an act of cultural aggression."
"Our Prophet did not run for office in any election," the sermon says. "He did not win any political debate. [Instead] he won the war against the infidel."
A deep-seated fear of elections is one key feature of the Islamist political psyche. The Koran includes a chapter entitled "Parties" (Ahzab), to warn against splitting the Umma (the community of the faithful) into rival political groups vying for power. "Kerry's recent statement that he would abandon Bush's democracy campaign in the Muslim world will please many Islamists," says the novelist Rubee Madhoun.
So while they don't want any such nonsense in their country, they sure want to see it work in ours ... against Bush, that is. Because, hey, their pal Kerry says he'll leave them to their religious dictatorships which breed terrorists like fleas.
Perhaps that is where the "sensitive" part of how Kerry would wage the war on terror comes in. Ignore the root and foundation of the problem (i.e. oppressive governments dominated by religious extremists) and pretend to play nice with them. Maybe, just maybe, they'll call off the dogs.
At an official level, most Arab and other Muslim governments are careful not to take sides. But it is clear that most want Kerry to win.
Since almost all Arab regimes could be described as despotic, it is clear that they all feel targeted by Bush's calls for reform and democratization.
Bush has committed himself to changing Washington's 60-year-old policy of supporting the status quo in the region. It is, therefore, no surprise that all regimes in the region feel threatened to some degree. Their hope is that under a President Kerry, the United States would abandon Bush's "adventurous attempt to remould the region."
"America needs a new perspective," says Javad Zarif, the Islamic Republic's ambassador to the United Nations. "The United States must change attitudes that have harmed its interests in the region."
Yes indeed, they know that Bush will stay consistent with his plan, just as Reagan did, and we, like them, all know the result of Reagan's consistency. The eventual fall of the "evil Empire". Arab leaders know know that if Bush stays with his plan, it will eventually lead to the same sort of result in their part of the world.
The anti-Bush sentiment of the ruling elites in the Middle East is reflected in efforts to screen "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's celluloid attack on the U.S. president. Last week, the mullahs running the Farabi Cinema complex in Tehran scrapped the season's program to screen Moore's "documentary."
"This film unmasks the Great Satan America," a spokesman said. "It tells Muslim people why they are right in hating America. It is the duty of every believer to see [this film] and learn the truth."
With the exception of Kuwait, which has banned it, Moore's film is shown or sold in pirated cassette form throughout the Arab world. Anti-American Arab television stations, including one owned by the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah, have broadcast chunks of Moore's attack on Bush with commentaries more virulent than the original.
"We may not be able to drive the Americans out of Iraq," says Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader in Lebanon. "But we can drive Bush out of the White House by heating things up in Iraq." Bush is also seen as too pro-Israel in his Middle East policy.
"I would rather have [Israeli Premier Ariel] Sharon than Bush," says Abu-Chaqra. "The Palestinians may have a chance with Sharon; they have none with Bush."
Now folks that's some powerful stuff. One of the leaders of the terrorist group, Hezbollah understands that Bush is committed to the destruction of his sort of terror. When Sharon comes off better in a comparison with Bush, it means he's got the terrorist's attention.
Its not all negative for Bush though:
Bush, however, has some supporters in the Arab countries and in the broader Muslim world. "The Arabs have never known what is good for them," says Iraqi columnist Adnan Hussein. "This is why they hate Bush. But what is Bush saying? He is telling them that their regimes are corrupt and bankrupt and that they have no future without democracy."
The Nobel prize-winning novelist Neguib Mahfouz expressed similar sentiments in a recent column published in a Cairo newspaper. He warned that any reversion by the United States to the policy of supporting the status quo is a setback for democracy in the region. Mahfouz believes that Bush is right in his diagnosis that lack of democracy breeds terrorism in the Middle East.
Other pro-reform writers, notably Daoud Kuttab, Ahmad Bishara and Abdul-Mun'em Saeed have also called on the United States to remain true to Bush's promise of supporting reform and democratization in the Muslim world.
In a bit of a reverse of what you'll find in Europe and the US, the so-called "intelligencia" of the Middle East support Bush's drive for democratic reform in the region. They understand the importance and they want it to succeed.
But, the despots and terrorist don't.
Which explains why Kerry is their man.
I don't think its an overstatement to say Michael Moore's "Fraudenheit 911" plays fast and loose with the truth. One of the most searing scenes involves a young soldier, Sgt. Peter Damon, who lost both his arms in Iraq.
In it, Damon is seen sitting on a gurney just before going into surgery. The remains of his arms are swathed in heavy bandages, and he is describing phantom-limb sensation and the phantom crushing pain that doctors have relieved with a steady flow of anesthesia into each limb.
The original Oct. 31 interview with NBC Nightly News was about the anesthesia and the work being done at the hospital with other amputee soldiers. Damon and his anesthesiologists considered it a positive piece that showcased the hard work being done for wounded soldiers.
But Moore took the clip and changed its context:
But, Damon notes, the 10-second clip in ``Fahrenheit 9/11'' is sandwiched into a segment of the movie that describes the supposed plight of hapless soldiers sent to Iraq, many of whom, Moore asserts, have joined the Army to escape poverty.
Not that I really should have to say it, but if you can imagine, it wasn't true:
Damon believes this portrayal couldn't be further from the truth - at least in his case.
He grew up in Brockton, Mass., in a working class neighborhood south of Boston where, he says, paychecks are hard won and families close knit.
His late father worked for a boat maker, and his mother is a bookkeeper.
Damon, an electrician by trade, joined the Massachusetts National Guard in March 2000 with an eye toward starting a career in aviation, something he had always been interested in. With a young daughter at home, he chose National Guard service over active duty because of the less demanding time requirement.
But with the war in Iraq, his unit was federalized.
On March 20, 2003, the day after the war began in Iraq, Damon was called up and served at an airfield in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.
Then, on Oct. 21, he and Pfc. Paul Bueche were changing a tire during phase maintenance on a Black Hawk helicopter when the wheel's split rim exploded, killing Bueche and wounding Damon.
An accident which could have happened back home in the US. Regardless, the young man lost both his arms serving his country.
And he's not happy about Moore's twisting of his story.
``No one said (the interview) could be twisted,'' Damon said, adding that, unlike politicians who willingly go into the spotlight, ``being part of the government doesn't make me a figure for everyone to pick apart.''
How's he feel about his appearance in Moore's propaganda piece?
``What really makes me mad is that people get the impression that I agree with it,'' said Damon.
``I volunteered to go, I wanted to go. I believe we should be in Iraq,'' he said.
``I was really embarrassed and ashamed to be in a theater where people were laughing and clapping about Moore making fun of President Bush.''
Is he going to sue Moore? No he's got a better idea:
``If anything, I'd like to see (Moore) throw some money toward a veterans charity,'' Damon said. ``He claims to be a champion of soldiers, but I haven't seen him do anything for us.''
Unfortunately, its unlikely that Moore will share his windfall from his propaganda film with the unwilling stars of his film.
Damon, showing a wisdom far beyond his years has the final say:
``Just the whole thought of being in this piece of propaganda. It's like a documentary Hitler would have made.
``You know when you join the military that there's an inherent risk,'' Damon said.
``I was doing my job the same as any guy in a foxhole was doing his. I don't blame this on anybody. It was an unfortunate accident.''
It is young men like Sgt. Damon who make me proud to be a citizen of this fine country, despite the fact that fat slugs like Michael Moore live here as well.
Gov. Bill RIchardson (D-NM) wants the Federal government to take another look at the Roswell, NM, UFO incident of 1947.
Because apparently, the Feds don't have much else on their hands at the moment.
Wow ... its getting a hostile out there.
Ex-Navy fighter pilot Sen. Tom Harkin called Vice President Cheney a coward who dodged military service but is willing to be tough "with someone else's kid's blood."
Harkin said he was infuriated by the veep mocking Sen. John Kerry for saying he would fight a "more sensitive war on terror."
"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," Harkin said yesterday, elevating an already vicious war of words between the two campaigns and their allies.
"He'll be tough, but he'll be tough with someone else's kid's blood," Harkin said of Cheney.
"It just outrages me that someone who got five deferments during Vietnam and said he had 'other priorities' at that time would say that," said Harkin, an Iowa Democrat.
Two things to note ... Cheney attacked what Kerry said. Harkin attacked Cheney. Why? Because what Kerry said was stupid, so stupid Harkin couldn't defend it, sohe has no other way to show his displeasure but by calling Cheney names.
Someone needs to teach Harkin a lesson and give him an hour of time-out and a mandatory nap after his snack. Talk about kindergarden stuff.
I hope Cheney tells him to "#@&% Off!"
The Bush team response:
Team Bush replied that Harkin resorted to name-calling because he cannot defend Kerry's votes on Iraq or intelligence issues.
"He can't offer an explanation why John Kerry says he wants to fight a 'sensitive war on terror.' ... That quote says a lot more about Tom Harkin's character than anybody else's," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt.
Seems to be the MO these days .... ignore the facts or issue brought up and kill the messenger. Drag his name through the mud, call him a coward, question his patriotism, call him everything but a child of God. The hope? That you to will ignore the facts or issues the "coward" brought out and focus on the irrelevant, such as the name calling.
Like those "cowardly" Swift Boat Vets for Bush, er Truth. Interestingly enough, that is precisely what MoveOn.org plans on doing:
The liberal group MoveOn.org, meanwhile, airs a new ad today in Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia attacking Bush for failing to condemn millionaire Texas GOP donor Robert Perry for funding a group of vets trying to discredit Kerry's Vietnam War record.
The 30-second TV ad says Bush has allowed Perry to fund the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has aired a commercial casting doubt on Kerry's war record.
The MoveOn.org ad finished with a clip of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticizing the attack on Kerry's war record.
"Here's what a true Republican war hero has to say about the anti-Kerry ad: 'I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. ... I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad,'" the MoveOn spot says as McCain's image appears.
So Bush is being condemened in a 527 ad for not condemning another 527 ad?
Only MoveOn.org would miss the irony there.
I'm still wondering when McCain served in Kerry's boat since that's the left's baseline for having the knowldege to speak out against Kerry. I'm also clueless as to what relevancy who paid for the ad has to do with the facts brought forward by the SBVT. They either are true or they aren't. If they aren't they should be very easy to refute.
Notice McCain says nothing about whether the ad contains any truth or not. He just finds it dishonorable. I'd only say that if Sen. McCain finds the possiblity of faking medals and combat reports (not to mention whereabouts on Christmas night) to be honorable, he and I have different concepts of the same word.
Speaking of war heros and ex-fighter pilots, I just heard Rep. Duke Cunningham talking about John Kerry's record as presented by the Swift Boat Vets.
Cunningham, if you're not familiar with his record, was our first fighter ace in Vietnam, shooting down 5 MIGs. He won the Navy Cross (2nd only to the Medal of Honor), 2 Silver Stars and a Purple Heart. Unlike Kerry, it took Cunningham 300 combat missions to win those medals.
Anyway, today he used precisely the same analogy as I have about his wingman and the Swift boats. He said those in the other Swift boats were as much of the action as anyone on Kerry's boat, just as his wingman was as much a part of the downing of those 5 MIGs as he was. Secondly, he says you don't have to believe either side, just read the combat reports. Per Cunningham, the reports do not support Kerry's side.
And last but not least:
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, responded, "We were there. We served alongside John Kerry and we know the history of his service. We will not be silenced."
The war of the words will continue unabated. Wonder which side will finally threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue?
British police have charged eight men arrested two weeks ago with terrorism-related offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder.Planned attacks on financial centers in New York, Washington and New Jersey. Why does that sound familiar?
They are also accused of conspiring to commit public nuisance by "using radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause a disruption."
In addition, one of the men is charged with possessing plans that could have been used as the basis for a terror attack on financial institutions in New York and Washington. He and another man face a similar charge concerning a financial building in New Jersey.
Oh. Right. I remember. That's the threat that....
.... were telling us was an example of the Bush administration using the threat warnings for political advantage, rather than to warn of genuine, current threats.
Thanks for not "playing politics" with our national security, guys. How about we lock you in a room with Senator Dan Coats and other Republicans who tried the same trick, when another President tried to defend our country from Osama Bin Laden. That seems fitting.
(Link via Robert Tagorda, who points out that CNN also "makes no references to the alerts")
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin makes a good point, too...
What say you now, Howard Dean?
Mickey Kaus' reaction to the Dem's talking points about the troop realignments:
Richard Holbrooke instinctively hits on the winning political response to Bush's troop redeployment: "I know that the Germans are very unhappy about these withdrawals." ... Note: Sometimes you really need to let Bob Shrum vet your sound bites.
Now, think about that for just a minute. Holbrooke is the guy who'd probably be National Security Advisor or SecState in a Kerry Administration. What does this tell us about whether Kerry actually would allow foreign governments to have a veto over our security policy?
It's almost as if they're telling us that if the French and Germans don't like a polocy it must be illegitimate. I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out why that would be, especially in a matter like troop deployments, in an era where, to be quite frank, there's nothing to protect Germany from.
Do we have some sort of obligation to keep troops in Germany forever? Other than funnelling perfectly good US dollars into the coffers of German businesses, what are our boys actually doing over there that's useful in any tactical or strategic sense?
Wes Clark says that the move is hideously damaging to US national security? But, why, exactly? I mean, unless you're convinced that a united Germany, free of foreign occupation forces, inevitably becomes a threat to world peace--and that's a perfectly understandable view, historically speaking--then it's hard to see what all the carping's about.
And, frankly, if the Euros are sincere in their beleif that the EU should be a superpower that serves as a "balance" (rival?) to US power, then you really have to wonder why they're complaining, too. After all, as Mark Steyn quips in today's Telegraph, "It must surely be awfully embarrassing to be the first superpower in history to be permanently garrisoned by your principal rival superpower." You'd think their only words of caution would be for us to be sure the door didn't injure us on our way out.
Apparently not, though.
Robert Scheer is mad. And I don't mean that in the sense in which "mad" usually refers to Mr. Scheer, as in, "You're mad, Bobby! Completely barking mad!" No, I mean he's angry.
Although, the other meaning of "mad" is always appropriate when referring to Mr. Scheer.
But this time he's mad at John Kerry, for...well...for being John Kerry, essentially.
At Bush's prompting, reporters asked Kerry if he, knowing what we all know now about Iraq's lack of weapons of mass destruction, would still have voted, as he did in October 2002, to authorize the president to use force against Iraq. Instead of smacking that hanging curveball out of the park by denouncing the Bush administration for deceiving Congress and the nation into a war, Kerry inexplicably said yes.
Of course Kerry went on to make an important critique of Bush's conduct of the war, but he got slammed by the Bush team as well as the media for losing in the "gotcha" derby.
The irony is almost too much to bear. After all, for two years Bush has flip-flopped relentlessly on just exactly why it was a good idea to occupy a troubled Muslim country that posed no military threat to the United States. Now Bush is getting political mileage out of exploiting Kerry's stubborn refusal to admit he was had by All the President's Con Men.
Yeah, by the way, keep up with that "flippy-floppy Bush" line. 'Cause, you know, the whole critique of Bush is that he just won't commit to anything.
Let me know how that's workin' out for you.
In any event, Mr. Scheer finds it inexplicable that Mr. Kerry won't recant his vote on the Iraq War. That's because Mr. Scheer suffers from a big dose of the Pauline Kael Syndrome. Literally no one Mr. Scheer talks to, from the editorial board at The Nation, to Tina Brown, to the guys over at The New Yorker can find any possible reason for Kerry to keep defending his Iraq War vote. Why, even the centrists over at the New York Times are kind of puzzled by it. In fact, he was talking to Julianne Malveaux on the phone just the other day, and Jules can't figure it out either. I mean, it's just so obvious, how can Kerry not see it?!
But, compared to Robert Scheer, John Kerry lives in a world that actually has some relevance to the real world, as least as far as electoral politics goes. Rejecting his Iraq vote, at this late a date, doesn't actually make Kerry look less flip-floppy than Bush.
Apparently, Mr. Scheer thinks what Mr. Kerry needs to do is come out, and tell the press, "Here's the deal: George W. Bush, who is so stupid he needs to paint a big L and R on his shoes so he can tell what foot to put in them, fooled me with his devious and tricksy ways, and I fell for it, because he's the genius mastermind of a globe-spanning neo-con-spiracy."
I know Chrysler salesmen who wouldn't touch that line with a 10-foot pole, and they sold the K Car for 5 years for cripes' sake!
Also, in the real world, which is, apparently, the one Mr. Scheer doesn't inhabit, the average voter has...uh...questions about the Democratic Party's trustworthiness when it comes to national security. Now, maybe that isn't a problem with Mr. Scheer, who is of the Jimmy Carter school, i.e., there's no problem that can't be solved with a unilateral American retreat. But, for most voters, who happen to think that we've got a fairly decent country here, weakness on national security is, in wartime, the kiss of death to a candidate.
So, I expect the real reason why Mr. Scheer is so mad at Mr. Kerry, is because he wanted a presidential candidate of the Jimmy Carter School, too. Instead, what he got was John Wayne Kerry, complete with combat service, medals, secret trips to Cambodia, amazing kung-fu grip and, oh yes, a magic hat.
And, maybe that wouldn't be so bad if Mr. Kerry had served in a "good" war, like old double-u double-u eye eye, but Kerry served in Vietnam, so how can he be proud of it since it was so wrong, wrong, wrong?!
And that whole Band of Brother's business must be pretty unseemly to Mr. Scheer. Why, look at them, the baby-killers! Poncing about on stage like normal, successful, middle-class citizens. How they can keep themselves from flinging themselves to the ground and low-crawling across the stage, yelling "Gooks in the wire! Gooks in the wire!" is a complete mystery to Mr. Scheer. Because, as we all know, Viet vets are, at the best of times, barely stable, due to the horrific crimes they were forced to commit while in Vietnam, where they never would've been sent if it wasn't for the evil warmongering of that Nixon fellow, which, when you think about it, kinda makes them victims, too, man, and hey, how 'bout giving me another hit of that bong?
One suspects that Mr. Scheer wants is for John Kerry to not only reject his Iraq war vote, but to call for an immediate troop withdrawal, just like Jack Kennedy would've done if he hadn't been killed by secret agents working for Lyndon Johnson. Why, if he were to do that, he'd be swept into power in a landslide, by the glorious forces of the people's and worker's enthusiasm for peace! Mr. Scheer just knows it's true.
After all, that's what Eric Alterman says, and he knows everything.
MEMRI has an article on its website which it has translated into english.
The article's title?
'The Jews Slaughtering Non-Jews, Draining their Blood, and Using it for Talmudic Religious Rituals'
In case you don't know it, Egypt's press is pretty much government controlled. MERMI notes that the article was written by a columnist for the religious Egyptian weekly magazine 'Aqidati, published by the Al-Tahrir foundation which is linked to the ruling National Democratic Party.
How sweet. And the finding of this bit of "scholarship?" Well it seems that according to their reading of the Talmud, the sole purpose of a Jew is to kill non-jews.
" Dr. Al-Sharqawi concludes by saying: 'All this proves the principle that the killing of non-Jews by Jews is a sacred obligation that the Jew should carry out whenever he can, because, according to the Talmud, his arm is connected to his body for the sole purpose of killing and not for recreation.'"
Well that thesis certainly has credible references thoroughout history, doesn't it?
You know like the pograms in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. The Nazi death camps. Yup, obvious examples of this Talmudic "truth".
Another Egyptian "scholar" is also quoted concerning Jewish blood rituals.
" Dr. Jama al-Husseini Abu Farha, instructor in theology at the University of Suez , points out that what the media shows us every day about Israeli conduct in the occupied territories is no different than what their history shows us about their inhumane practices towards humanity as a whole. One need only point out that they are 'blood suckers' according to the Talmudic dictates, which urge them to murder and draw the blood of Muslims in particular, and Christians even more so, and to use this blood in religious Israeli rituals.
Amazing. What's troubling though is these charlatans are taken very seriously, just as the Nazi scientists who pushed eugenics and declared the Jews to be "sub-human". Same song, different time.
Of course its not just "we Egyptians" who feel like this, per the article:
The Oxford dictionary says that there are words related to the word 'Jew,' among them 'cheat,' 'offensive,' and 'grasping,' and all of them mean greedy, covetous, cheating, counterfeiting, aggressive, and annoying. This link between the word 'Jew' and all these meanings certainly reflects the image of the Jewish way of thinking from an English point of view, and it is undoubtedly a bad image which does not reflect the opinion of one person only but [rather] the opinion of anyone who speaks English…"
Funny. I have an Oxford Dictionary sitting right here on my desk. It defines Jew as "a person of Hebrew descent or who's religion is Judaism." I keep trying to read between the lines, but I'm having terrible difficulty finding those other definitions, regardless of the "fact" that as a speaker of English, I believe them.
Then we have the real "clincher". The turncoat Jewish rabbi who converted to Christianity and let all of these "scholars" in on the "real deal" as it concerns Jews.
"Since admission is the highest form of evidence, we will present to the reader a letter of confession written by the Jewish Rabbi known as 'Neophytos the Convert [to Christianity].'  The letter has to do with the Jews slaughtering non-Jews, draining their blood, and using it for Talmudic religious rituals. Neophytos called his letter 'The Secret of the Blood'; in it he said that 'from a young age, the Jewish Rabbis teach their students how to use non-Jews' blood to treat illnesses and for sorcery…
"'The Rabbis use this blood in various religious rituals, among them weddings when an egg is smeared with blood and the married couple eats it the night of the wedding, which gives them the power to deceive and trick anyone who is not Jewish. Also, the Rabbis use the blood of the non-Jewish victim to treat some illnesses that afflict the Rabbis. They mix some of the blood with the blood of a circumcised baby, then brush it on his throat in order to purify him, and also anoint their temples with it to commemorate the destruction of the Temple every year; [it is also used to] anoint the chests of their dead so that God will forgive them their sins; it is also mixed in the holiday bread and in many other Talmudic rituals.'
"Therefore, these rituals that were mentioned in the Talmud and which reflect the truth about the present Jewish terrorist way of thinking are certainly implemented from time to time, while they do not hesitate to distort the image of Islam and describe it as a terrorist faith."
Who's this converted Jew? MERMI notes the following:
The Orthodox monk Neophytos was a Jew by the name of Noah Belfer who converted to Christianity and claimed that the Jews use Christian blood in their religious rituals. His work, which was first published in 1803 in Romanian and appeared in many later publications, became a main source for modern blood libels. See: Jonathan Frankel , The Damascus Affair 'Ritual Murder,' Politics, and the Jews in 1840 . Cambridge University Press (1997), p. 264.
A quick Google of "Neophytos" and "Noah Belfer" bring nothing as it relates to this. But this is the basis of an article who's entire point is found in the last sentence as quoted above:
"Therefore, these rituals that were mentioned in the Talmud and which reflect the truth about the present Jewish terrorist way of thinking are certainly implemented from time to time, while they do not hesitate to distort the image of Islam and describe it as a terrorist faith."
This is the state of scholarhip among Islamic Middle Eastern countries. This is the type of article which is common in the government controlled press of these countries.
Is it any wonder that if the reading diet consists only of this sort of horrific pseudo-scholarship with no chance of reading a differening opinion or contradictory facts, that Islamic terrorists have little trouble recruiting new members?
Regardless of Iraq, this is the truth of what the west faces. In this article they're pointed toward the Jews. But if you doubt Christians and westerners aren't discussed with the same level of 'scholarship", I'd say you were sadly mistaken.
Jon Podhoretz weighs in on the president'sannounced troop redeployments, and the Democrats' reaction to it.
Surrogates and spokesmen for the Kerry campaign went ballistic. "Alarming," declared Richard Holbrooke, the foreign-policy guru who will almost certainly be secretary of State if Kerry is elected. Wesley Clark, who was supreme commander of NATO before his disastrous run for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, thundered that the plan would "significantly undermine U.S. national security"...
The president has beaten Kerry at his own game. The hawk of hawks has found a way to tell America that he is bringing soldiers home, even as he vows to stand firm and tough on Iraq until the job is done. What's more, unlike Kerry, Bush has offered specifics, and by doing so has made it clear he is not acting precipitously.
That's why Wesley Clark complained that "this ill-conceived move and its timing seem politically motivated." Of course the announcement was "politically motivated." Let us stipulate for the record that everything the president and John Kerry say and do until Nov. 2 will be politically motivated. But the idea of moving troops around in the aftermath of the Cold War and the advent of the global war on terror is hardly new.
No, it isn't. In point of fact, as Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution pointed out a few months ago, this is a plan that Rumsfeld has been working on since 2001. And, despite the fact that O'Hanlon perceives some flaws in the plan, he notes that it isn't really politically motivated.
Fifteen years after the Cold War and almost three years into the war on terror, Mr. Rumsfeld's plan makes generally good sense. And despite the claims of critics and anxieties of allies, it has been brewing for too long to be viewed as reprisal against Germany, South Korea or any other country that challenged the Bush administration over the Iraq war. Its rationale is clearly strategic, not vindictive.
I imagine our German friends are quite perturbed about it, too.
I remember when I was stationed in Europe, and we began the first big drawdown of troops there. Prior to the drawdown, the Germans were all full of "Amis Go Home!" enthusiasm. Then, somebody apparently whipped out a calculator, and figured out how much money 200,000 Americans were putting into the German economy every year. Then, all the sudden, local German officials were simultaneously keen to have most of the Americans go home, and equally keen to ensure that the bases adjacent to their towns remained open.
Be careful what you wish for, Fritz.
Lee Cearnal, special projects editor for the Houston Chronicle is asking in the Chron's editorial page today, why the media is ignoring the questions about Kerry's military service.
Indeed, Cearnal--who, by the way, was a Marine chopper pilot in Vietnam in 1968-1969--wonders how Kerry is getting a free pass on not releasing his military records, the way George W. Bush was forced to when questions arose over his Texas ANG service.
To those of you who say such questions are unseemly, consider that John Kerry's principal claim on the presidency is that he served four months and 11 days in Vietnam. OK, fine. Let's examine the records — all the records, which, unlike Bush and contrary to popular perception, Kerry has not released — and have a debate. We would be if it were George W. Bush. The media would see to it.
Yes, they certainly would. But, c'mon now, is anybody surprised that the big media guys don't want to touch the story when a Democrat is the subject? I'm not.
I think I really liked it better in the old days, when the pres was not only biased, they told you what their biases were. When you bought a Hearst or Copley paper in the 30s or 40s, you knew exactly what you were buying.
But all this sanctimonious droning on about the press' "objectivity" and "neutrality" when it's becoming increasingly clear that they possessneither, is beginning to sicken me.
Is there any doubt whatsoever about the public pillorying that W would've gotten had he refused to release his TANG records? And, if not, then why does Kerry get a free pass?
Love him or hate him, Dick Morris is a pretty savvy guy when it comes to politics. he's of the opinion that the election is not Bush's or Kerry's to win or lose. He's of the opinion the guy who holds those cards is none other than Islamofacist nemesis Osama bin Laden:
MORE than any other single individual, more than George W. Bush, more than John Kerry, it is Osama bin Laden who will determine the winner of the election in November.
Why? Because it depends on whether American's actually believe we're at war or not. The war on terror is unlike any war we've ever fought before.
If Americans feel that they are at war, they will rally to Bush. By a strong majority, they feel that he is the best candidate to keep America safe, prosecute the War on Terror, and — even on his worst days — stabilize Iraq. But if they feel that the war is over or winding down, they are likely to vote for Kerry. By similar majorities, most surveys indicate that voters trust him more to create jobs, help the economy, lower health-care costs, stabilize Medicare and Social Security, reduce prescription drug prices, help improve education and protect the environment.
That's a resonable analysis. Which brings us to the OBL part in all of this, per Morris:
So, the key issue is whether America is at war or at peace. And Osama bin Laden has more to say about that than any other person. If he ratchets up the terror threat to the United States and has us looking over our shoulders and thinking twice before we fly, we will feel at war and will back Bush. But if he lets up and backs off for the election, we will revert back to our peacetime posture and likely elect the Democrat.
Again, a reasonable analysis which is essentially backed by poll numbers. Morris points to the impact of terrorism in both Israel and Spain as proof that it can indeed sway elections if timely. That brings us to the salient question. If Osama bin Laden is still kicking and planning, what will he try to do?
The current evidence suggests that he will tilt toward an aggressive posture. His recent threat to assassinate American political leaders and the evidence that he may be planning a terror strike to disrupt the elections here indicates that he is planning to become more aggressive as election day nears.
I'd agree that seems possible. I noted the March 2004 meeting of top terrorists in Pakistan yesterday. It was much like the Jakarta meeting which took place before 9/11. So it is certainly possible something could be in the works.
My bet is that it will help. While many will criticize the president for failing to prevent the attack, the immediate reaction will be to rally around the White House and to grasp that we live in a dangerous world and that Bush's superior commitment to fighting terror effectively is the way to go. While nations like France and Spain can be counted upon to react to a terror strike by surrendering and running for cover, the likely American reaction would be quite the opposite — just as Israel's has been.
I agree with Morris. I hope it doesn't happen, no matter who wins the election, even if its Kerry. But in a strict and dispassionate analysis, I'd have to agree that it would more likely than not help Bush's reelection. It would again change the calendar to 9/12.
But this year, I think that bin Laden will remind us frequently and graphically that we are at war. And I think that may re-elect George W. Bush.
I think so too. Our enemies have underestimated us in just about every war we've ever fought. And in the case of the Islamofascists, their religious bent has indocrtinated them to believe the worst about the "decadent west". It holds the US to be a paper tiger, even while it the previous claw marks are healing.
If bin Laden wants to join the ABB crowd, he'd best sit quietly in his cave and behave, or its going to be "four more years" of hiding out ... if he lasts that long.
While I might not have found her new book compelling, I certainly agree with Michelle malkin's larger point about the absolute boneheadedness of refusing to use threat profiling as a security aid.
When our national security is on the line, "racial profiling" — or more precisely, threat profiling based on race, religion or nationality — is justified. Targeted intelligence-gathering at mosques and in local Muslim communities, for example, makes perfect sense when we are at war with Islamic extremists.
Yet, last week, the FBI came under fire for questioning Muslims in Seattle about possible terrorist ties. Members of a local mosque complained to Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who called for a congressional investigation of the FBI's innocuous tactics. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington accused the agency of "ethnic profiling."
But where else are federal agents supposed to turn for help in uncovering terrorist plots by Islamic fanatics: Buddhist temples? Knights of Columbus meetings? Amish neighborhoods?
One of the silliest sights imagineable can be seen on any busy weekday at the security screening area of any metropolitan airport. Aged grandpas or young, blond businesswomen are routinely pulled out of line and given the third degree, as if America was facing a deadly onslaught of elderly WWII veterans, or predatory marketing VPs.
Of course, the plain and simple truth is that it wasn't octegenarian D-Day vets who were flying planes into skyscrapers on 911. But the eagle-eyed TSA airport security personnel are required to pretend that it was, or, at least, that it could be the next time.
What makes all the uproar over profiling even more silly is that the groups who are so voiciferously against profiling for security purposes, are all for it whenever there's a buck to be made from other types of profiling, like, say, college admissions.
Some might argue that profiling is so offensive to fundamental American values that it ought to be prohibited, even if the prohibition jeopardizes our safety. Yet many of the ethnic activists and civil-liberties groups who object most strenuously to the use of racial, ethnic, religious and nationality classifications during war support the use of similar classifications to ensure "diversity" or "parity" in peacetime.
So, no profiling is allowed at all when it comes to keeping possible hijackers from flying 747s into the Sears Tower. Profiling is such a powerful and dangerous tool it must be reserved solely for really important things like hiring preferences.
This is called having your cake and eating it, too. We are required to regard race as of no importance whatsoever, except when it's convenient for the minority group in question, at which time it becomes the most important factor to consider.
Hence, in the middle of a war against the terror spawned by Islamic extremism, we cannot be allowed for any reason, to give any special consideration to young, Muslim males of Middle Eastern extraction.
Unless, of course, they are applying for a job, or admission into college.
UPDATE (JON): There is something about the the aversion to profiling that has bothered me for awhile. I understand--and agree with--the distaste for the idea that, with no specific crimes being investigated, one can simply investigate people for being "likely" to commit a crime, based on (whatever set of profiles are applicable)
However, that's not really the current situation.
There is one instance in which law enforcement officers are allowed to "profile", as it were. That is when a crime has been--or is being--committed, and there is a specific description of the criminal. For instance, if a truck is stolen, and the criminal is described as a white male, early 20s, brown hair, driving a truck in area X.....the police are within their legal authority to pull over and investigate people fitting that profile. (that's actually an incident that happened to a friend of mine some years ago)
I was once pulled over by police who had been called to a domestic disturbance scene, only to find the male in question had left the building. I fit the description--until closer examination, anyway--and they pulled me over to check further.
Our airline safety situation is very similar. We have a specific and detailed description of the members of the group who--we know--are actively working to attack the United States. So, why can we pull over people fitting Profile X when a person of Profile X has stolen a vehicle, but not pull over people fitting Profile Z when people fitting Profile Z are actively involved in ongoing attempts to attack the United States?
Lest you think there is some racial component to this, let me add: if the United States was under attack from the IRA, I would expect--as a fair-skinned, reddish-haired, white male--to receive closer examination in the airport. It would only make sense.
So, forget "profiling". Why can't we follow up on the already existing descriptions we have of our enemy?
Mark Steyn, in is usual wonderful way, ably points out that in the world of "alliances", the defense of the free world has largely been billed to the US:
The basic flaw in the Atlantic "alliance" is that, for almost all its participants, the free world is a free lunch: a defence pact of wealthy nations in which only one guy picks up the tab. I said as much in a Canadian column I wrote on 9/11, and a few weeks later the dominion's deputy prime minister, John Manley, conceded that his country was dining in the best restaurants without paying its way: as he put it, "You can't just sit at the G8 table and then, when the bill comes, go to the washroom." But in Nato, for generations, whenever the bill's come, there's been a stampede to the washroom, not just from the Canadians but the Continentals, too.
Like any other form of welfare, defence welfare is a hard habit to break and profoundly damaging to the recipient. The peculiarly obnoxious character of modern Europe is a logical consequence of Washington's willingness to absolve it of responsibility for its own security. Our Defence Editor, John Keegan, once wrote that "without armed forces a state does not exist".
Relatively speaking, its much easier to run a "successful" welfare state if you can pass the bill for the defense of your country off to one of your "allies". That's precisely what Europe and Canada have done for decades. As Steyn notes, when the bill has been presented in the past, they've all headed to the washroom. But their shirking sure has't stopped them from developing quite an anti-American attitude in Europe, has it?
Bret Stephens, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, opened his mail the other day and found a copy of something called "Conclusions of the European Council", a summary of the work done during the six months of the Irish Euro-presidency. He made the mistake of reading it.
Here's item 80: "The European Council expresses its deep concern at the recent events in the Eastern Congo, which could jeopardise the transition process."
Been following that one? Europe is free to flaunt its "concern" – and even its "deep concern" – over the Eastern Congo precisely because it's entirely irrelevant to events in the Eastern Congo. As Stephens points out, European countries now have attitudes in inverse proportion to the likelihood of their acting upon them.
Much like the recent EU fact-finding trip to the Sudan where the inspector conveniently determined that the 30,000+ who've been killed in Dafur weren't victims of "genocide". A huge sigh of relief was heard among the EU intelligencia because since it isn't "genocide" they don't have to do anything about it. You see, after Rwanda's genocide, they vowed "never again". Since Dafur now "officially" been determined not to qualify as genocide, they can just prattle on about how deplorable it is while essentially ignoring the continued death and destruction.
Steyn then effectively compares our EU "allies" effectively to his "hippy-dippy" neighbors:
They're like my hippy-dippy Vermont neighbours who drive around with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers. Every couple of years, they trade in the Volvo for a Subaru, and painstakingly paste a new "Free Tibet" sticker on the back.
What are they doing to free Tibet? Nothing. Tibet is as unfree now as it was when they started advertising their commitment to a free Tibet. And it will be just as unfree when they buy their next car and slap on the old sticker one mo' time. If Don Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet'? That's a great idea!
The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', all the 'Free Tibet' crowd would be driving around with 'War is not the answer' stickers. When entire nations embrace self-congratulatory holier-than-thou moral poseurdom as a way of life, it's even less attractive. The Belgians weren't half as insufferable when they were the German army's preferred shortcut to France.
Memories are short in Europe. The US is expected to foot the defense bill while those who are being protected by our blood and treasure feel free to whine and cry about the application of force to situations which threaten their own security. Its absurd, but then, when you have no stake in the game, its easy to criticise those who do, even when they're defending your right to do so.
A wealthy continent liberated from the burdens of military expenditure is also liberated to a large degree from reality. Poor peoples have no choice but to live in the real world: if a drought wipes out their crops, they starve. Likewise, rich, powerful nations have traditionally required great vigilance to maintain their wealth and power.
But Europe increasingly resembles those insulated celebrities being shuttled around town from one humanitarian gala to another – like Barbra Streisand flying in by private jet to discuss excessive energy consumption with President Clinton. Just as elderly rockers and Hollywood divas are largely free from the tedious responsibilities of rich industrialists or supermarket magnates – payroll costs and plant upgrades – so the EU can flaunt its "concerns" about the world and leave the logistics to others.
And we're the others. We provincials have a duty, a duty I tell you, to defend those who denigrate our culture, our government, our president and our very way of life.
Well, not anymore. With the announced troop redeployment, the bill is coming due. Europe must once again face its responsiblities to itself in terms of defense. The welfare pie is going to get smaller, because they're actually going to have to, horror of horrors, consider building the militaries necessary to defend themselves!
The US security umbrella, along with the Eurovision Song Contest, was really the prototype pan-European institution. The Americans helped build a continent in which you could sing Waterloo rather than fight it, and, if in their excessive generosity they accelerated an inclination to softness and decadence, well, it's not their problem. For the wars of the future, it makes sense to have a mobile presence using old colonial bases in the Horn of Africa or old Soviet bases in Central Asia as temporary homes.
The EU, meanwhile, has challenges of its own, and in the coming clash between a shrinking secularised Euro-elite and its swelling Islamist populations it's not clear whether, as James Baker would say, America has a dog in that fight. The only question for the Continent is whether it's over over there in a more profound sense than those singing doughboys ever contemplated.
As we've noted here any number of times, alliances are made out of need, not friendship. Its time that the US address its needs (and it is with this troop realignment which is a very good idea) and let those who can afford to do the same, address their needs. Then, perhaps, we can talk again about alliances ... when we're all on equal footing relative to taking the responsiblity to defend ourselves.
And that goes for you too, Canada.
Read carefully what Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe does here:
Through surrogates, George W. Bush is trying to discredit the story of John Kerry, war hero. John Kerry should not leave his defense to surrogates.
Regular readers know I do not appreciate Kerry's nuance regarding Iraq, his fence-straddling on issues like gay marriage and his recent effort to finesse a career of pro-choice votes by now stressing a belief that life begins at conception. It adds up to an unseemly effort to side-step the label that best describes his voting record: liberal. Kerry should focus more on the lessons of Vietnam, and less on his heroics in Vietnam. If he were true to those lessons, he would not be telling voters he would have voted to authorize war with Iraq knowing all that we now know.
But criticizing him for political expedience is different from calling him a liar. That's what the Swift Boat Vets for Bush are doing. By questioning Kerry's version of events during his tour of duty, these veterans are helping Bush plant seeds of doubt about Kerry's truthfulness.
There is something ridiculous about a president without credibility attacking his opponent's credibility.
That's right. Its all Bush's fault:
A) Bush is attacking Kerry through surrogates (like the Swift Boat Vets are a cobbled together group of 250 Republican vets who just happened to be assigned together in VN at the same time and place as was Kerry and who agreed to take the heat and grief this sort of exposure brings. Wow ... those Repubs really can plan ahead, huh?).
B) Bad, bad Republican hacks are calling him (Kerry) a liar. Its OK if the guy who's being called a liar is Bush. But not Kerry.
C) She then shifts the whole premise to you believing that Bush has no credibility and Bush is behind these attacks. Lord knows these charges couldn't be true (over 200 officers and men at the same events who saw them differently, phaaa...a bunch of lying Republican shills) and we all know Bush lies.
Also notice the little disclaimer thrown in there about how she doesn't appreciate Kerry's nuance, etc. That's supposed to paint her as "moderate" and give her charges against Bush some credibility.
She then, having established the ridiculous "its Bush's fault" premise, charges on:
But ridiculous as it may be, Kerry ignores the attack at his peril. If Bush and Kerry are both liars, it gives voters a reason to rationalize sticking with Bush.
Bush is the known purveyor of false information. He is the president who convinced a nation to wage war because, as he told us, Iraq represented an imminent threat to America. He is the president who invaded another country on the basis of bad intelligence or bad faith -- it doesn't really matter which. Either scenario explains why people don't trust the administration's terror warnings. Bush's current state of political vulnerability is a direct product of the nation's collective skepticism about him and his administration. Based on their track record, there is precious little reason to trust them on anything.
Ever clinging to the discredited "Bush lied" meme, she again pushes the left's favorite Bush canards. They are the claim that Bush said Iraq was an "imminent danger" and that bad intelligence equals a lie. Of course Bush never, ever said Iraq was an imminent threat. He said he didn't want to wait until they were. As for the latter, she uses the Michael Moore redefinition of the word lie, which says "if you're wrong about something, even if you didn't realize it at the time, its a lie". Of course that's not the one the rest of us use.
But, that's her basis of "fact" for calling the President's credibility into question and then lamenting that we damn sure don't need another liar.
Well Ms. Vennochi ought to take off the blinders, put on her thinking cap instead of her tin foil hat and examine the evidence dispassionately. I know that's not going to happen as the examination of the facts surrounding the Kerry VN saga would cause her some real intellectual discomfort (and its apparent from this screed that intellectual honesty is not her forte). But she is right about one thing ... if Kerry doesn't answer the charges, and, at least in my opinion, they're very serious, he will lose credibility.
To her credit she does give a few inches of her column to discussing the Christmas in Cambodia kerfuffle:
The Kerry campaign now says Kerry's runs into Cambodia came in early 1969. "Swift boat crews regularly operated along the Cambodian border from Ha Tien on the Gulf of Thailand to the rivers of the Mekong south and west of Saigon," Michael Meehan, a Kerry adviser, said in a statement last week. "Many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group."
Answers like that aren't good enough. Kerry put his Vietnam service before voters as the seminal character issue of his presidential campaign. He should answer every question voters have about it -- and he should answer them himself.
She's right and she's right. Even with all the nonsense with which she prefaced her conclusion (Bush is a lying liar and so are his "surrogates"), she finally stumbles upon a truth. These are serious charges and Kerry himself need to answer them. The reason they're serious, and a reason which she ignores, is those bringing the charges have as much if not more credibiltiy based on their service and the positions they held during Kerry's service than he does.
And he knows it. Couple that with the Alston fiasco, and the Kerry Swift boat seems to be hulled below the water line with inoperative bilge pumps. Speaking of blige, lets' deal with the rest of this.
This is an important point: whether they're "surrogates" or veterans who feel they've been dishonored by Kerry, the simple truth is it doesn't matter ... they have at least as much credibilty as Kerry and the absolute right to put these charges forward. The facts and accusations are on the table. They're either true or they're not. The ball is in Kerry's court.
Of course the release of all of Kerry's military records would help immesurably in that department, but I notice she falls short of demanding those. I'd bet, however, she was one of the journalists screaming at the top of her lungs about Bush's records and their release.
Oh, wait ... wouldn't that make her a Kerry "surrogate?"
UPDATE: Bryon at Slings and Arrows reminds us of how the press covered the "Bush AWOL" story in comparison with this one. He also looked at the official Kerry blog and found it lauding a blogger who was trying to revive that meme.
Surrogates just abound, don't they?
Meanwhile, when Bush was asked about the Kerry credibilty problem, given the perfect opportunity to comment on it, he refused to do so:
Q: Mr. President, Mr. Kerry seems to have a lot of trouble remembering dates -- when and if he was in Cambodia; who was President -- Nixon or Johnson -- when he was assigned to Vietnam; what bills in Congress he worked for and when; cannot remember if he campaigned in Oregon or California for George McGovern. Your last opponent you exposed with fuzzy math. It's time to expose John Kerry with fuzzy memory. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You got a question?
Additionally, as Slings and Arrows notes, a check of the Bush campaign website shows absolutely no mention of the Kerry kerfuffle. Pretty sloppy use of surrogates if you ask me.
An interesting story in Sunday's Richmond Times-Dispatch on one of the most prominent Swift Boat Veterans, Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann. Interesting, in part, because it turns out I live just a few miles from the fellow.
Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann picked up the phone in his Chesterfield County home this year and launched a movement to brand John F. Kerry a liar. [...] A soft-spoken man who speaks carefully, Hoffmann, 78, sat at a table in his Bexley home last week and expressed no regrets about his role in the anti-Kerry campaign.Of course, as the article points out, other veterans disagree with the SBVT's assessment of Kerry. In the end, I suspect, this may be an unresolvable matter. People are pretty much going to end up believing what they are predisposed to believe, and we'll never really see closure.
He is chairman of the organization.
"I knew him well enough to know that he was shrewd, a very intelligent man, and I was concerned," Hoffman said. "I had been retired from the Navy since 1978, and I fully retired from everything in 1996, so I wasn't particularly anxious to get back into the fray."
"Then when he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, to be commander in chief of the armed forces, it got our attention. It got my attention in particular. I couldn't believe it. I took it pretty seriously right from the beginning."
"I just didn't think the man has the character to be commander in chief of the armed forces. We're going after Kerry on his military background, we are not getting into the politics of things."
Hoffmann has three beefs with Kerry. He thinks he used the war to advance his political career, that he used minor wounds as an excuse to apply for Purple Hearts and that he returned to the United States and discredited the military by talking about "atrocities" in Vietnam. A serviceman could request transfer from a war zone after three Purple Hearts. Kerry did, and he went back to the United States after four months and 12 days.
"He didn't endear himself to the people who were putting in a full tour of duty," Hoffmann said.
When he saw that Kerry was going to win the Democratic nomination, Hoffmann said, "I started organizing pretty much on my own. I started calling people I hadn't heard from or seen since the Vietnam War. About 95 percent I was talking to were in agreement with me."
Hoffmann said the swift boat sailors got to know each other well because they slept at night aboard a larger "mother" ship.
"I knew him and he was trouble," Hoffmann said. "He needed supervision."
Well. Where did you go?
My review of Michelle Malkin's new book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror is up.
Your comments can be left in the comments section of this post.
Here, he is pictured "near Cambodia".
This would explain a great deal. A great deal, indeed.
Are you sure it wasn't this man?
It's quite interesting to read what Paul Krugman--who really is a very accomplished, credible economist--wrote back in the 1990s, before his worm turned from Academic/Economist to Pundit/Demagogue. In fact, a great deal of what he wrote at the time would seem quite applicable today....the sort of thing he would be teaching his readers if he weren't so hell-bent on policiticking for Anybody But Bush. So, let's review some of Paul Krugman's knowledge, when there wasn't a political agenda clouding his economics....
1: What is an acceptable unemployment rate? (NAIRU)
I would remind you that our current unemployment rate is.....5.5%. Precisely what Paul Krugman argued was consistent with historical experience....and perhaps even on the low side. So, since we are at the same unemployment rate as we had in 1996, how large a reduction in the unemployment rate is it realistic to hope for today? If he were writing a less tendentious column, Professor Krugman might argue...."Perhaps none at all".
2: Who would be responsible for economic growth? (90s version)
Seems like it would be appropriate for Professor Krugman to remind us that our current economic performance is largely indifferent to current policymakers, too. You might think, in the midst of all the gloom and doom, he'd give us the same reminder he gave us in the 90s. You might think that, but you'd be wrong.
3: "Irresponsible economic plans"
You recall Paul Krugman's current criticism of Kerry's economic plan, don't you? Neither do I.
4: Economic circumstances are whose fault, now?
5: The poor are better off than they used to be...
In 1996, the poor were getting richer. In 2002, however, it was "hard to deny the evidence for growing inequality in the United States". Now, those are not mutually exclusive, but they paint a dramatically different picture. (...under, it might be pointed out, quite different administrations)
Oddly, in 1995, Krugman had written that "The standard of living of the poorest 10 percent of American families is significantly lower today than it was a generation ago."
A remarkable bit of criticism directed at a Clinton administration? Well, not really. He wrote that latter in support of a liberal/pro-"wealth tax" book, and in response to a book by Republican Dick Armey.
That's a critique that we see on a regular basis from Paul Krugman today. This one? 1994. Shortly before the 90s boom really took off. The boom he said was not "Bill Clinton's doing but happened to happen on his watch".
7: Explaining Wage Issues
8: On the subject of shrill and angry economists....
10: Assorted Krugman predictions from 1998
Krugman seems to have a mixed record, but it becomes less and less fair-minded as he becomes more and more "radicalized".
All in all, Krugman can be--and has been--worth reading. Unfortunately, the advent of a GOP President has rendered him all but useless as a pundit. The (relative) evenhandedness of a decade ago is ancient history.
Ironically, I suspect the one thing that can rescue Paul Krugman as a pundit is a Democratic President. Krugman may be intensely partisan, but during the 90s, he was perfectly willing to take issue with Democrats, as well. It would be interesting to find out whether Professor Paul "built his career on free trade" Krugman has anything to say to the protectionist, free-spending Democrats.
It would be interesting, but I suspect we won't see it until the specter of another Bush term is out of the way.
On August 11th as reported by the Washington Post, John Kerry told Nevadans that "Yooka" Mtn. was a bad deal and if he were elected he'd take care of it:
The Democratic presidential nominee said Bush is threatening the security and the economic vitality of Nevadans with his plan to ship spent nuclear waste from around the country for storage in the mountain 90 miles northwest of here.
Kerry said that if he is elected he will cancel the project, which has cost the federal government billions and eventually could cost as much as $60 billion.
"Yucca Mountain to me is a symbol of the recklessness and the arrogance for which they are willing to proceed with respect to the safety issues and concerns of the American people," Kerry said on the 12th day of his post-convention coast-to-coast swing through battleground country. "When John Kerry is president, there will be no nuclear waste at Yucca."
One assumes he's since learned how to pronounce the mountain's name, but it may explain why he apparently forgot that in 1999 he and 3 other Senators asked for the movement of nuclear waste to Yucca Mtn. be accelerated as revealed in "Human Events".
HUMAN EVENTS has obtained a March 23, 1999, letter to then-Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Frank Murkowski (R.-Alaska), signed by Kerry, calling for the acceleration of a nuclear waste acceptance schedule.
When the letter was sent to Murkowski, the Committee was working on legislation to advance the siting and construction of Yucca Mountain -- the site designated by Congress in 1987 as the only site the Department of Energy was allowed to study as a future permanent storage repository.
The thrust of the Kerry letter is that there was an established order for shipping waste from various locations across the country, but Kerry wanted nuclear waste from decommissioned power reactors to be allowed to cut in line.
The letter states, "We request that such legislation [the Yucca bill] include an accelerated waste acceptance schedule." Apparently, John Kerry had no problem with Yucca Mountain in 1999 -- his focus was on sending nuclear waste out of Massachusetts to Yucca Mountain as quickly as possible, regardless of the staunch opposition from Nevada, including two of Sen. Kerry's fellow Democratic Senators.
I get confused in all of this ... is it a flop, a flip or a full-fledged flip-flop?
As Dale reported on Saturday, and a subject Captain Ed has reported on extensively, it appears there was some "fire" in the smoke of the Alston story as it concerns Alston witnessing the event first hand in Kerry's Silver Star performance (ok, I picked that word purposely because I'm just in a freakin' snarky mood). Alston claims he was there and remembers it vividly. Its seared -- seared in him memory.
Alston recalled: "I know when John Kerry told Del to beach that damn boat, this was a brand-new ball game. We wasn't running. We took it to Charlie."
Except, per other's who were there, it seems like Alston wasn't:
Whatever the exact dates, Hurley confirmed that Alston was not on board PCF-94 on February 28, 1969, the day Kerry earned a Silver Star for an engagement in which he beached his Swift Boat and chased down and killed a Viet Cong guerilla armed with a rocket launcher. That suggests that Alston, who was wounded on January 29, was indeed away for at least a month. Short was manning the guns on February 28 and received the Navy Commendation Medal for his work.
According to Hurley, Alston was on board PCF-94 during the now-famous March 13, 1969 engagement in which Kerry pulled Army Green Beret Jim Rassman from the water after one of the boats in Kerry's group struck a mine. Kerry won a Bronze Star for that action, as well as a third Purple Heart.
While this "band of brothers" stuff worked fairly well in the many essentially local Senate races in Mass, it is starting to wither under the intense spotlight of national exposure. Then it was Massachusset's problem. But now, its about a national office, and the scrutiny is on an entirely different level.
Elaine Shannon and Tim McGirk from TIME report on a big terror meeting in March which took place in Pakistan:
It was a gathering of terrorism's elite, and they slipped silently into Pakistan from all over the world in order to attend. From England came Abu Issa al-Hindi, an Indian convert to radical Islam who specializes in surveillance. From an unknown hideout came Adnan el-Shukrijumah, an accomplished Arab Guyanese bombmaker and commercial pilot. And from Queens in New York City came Mohammed Junaid Babar, a Pakistani American who arrived with cash, sleeping bags, ponchos, waterproof socks and other supplies for the mountain-bound jihadis.
Why are these people so important? Well according to Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, "The personalities involved, the operations, the fact that a major explosives expert came here and went back, all this was extremely significant."
How wonderful. Now some of the summit attendees have been captured, but some remain at large. And this summit now makes it clear that perhaps the recent terror alerts weren't at all about "politics":
"This was a meeting of a bunch of cold-blooded killers who are very skilled at what they do and have an intense desire to inflict an awful lot of pain and suffering on America," says an official familiar with the summit. A senior counterterrorism official said analysts are scrutinizing the recent pattern of enemy activity against timelines of previous attacks. This, he said, has contributed to the worry that at least some members of a strike team are already in the U.S.
Musharraf is of the opinion this meeting points to a "second string" of al-Queda leadership. Or you could look at it as the new and emerging leadership of al-Queda. In either case they remain viable and dangerous. Probably the most dangerous of those who are being sought is this man:
The terrorist who worries Washington most is el-Shukrijumah, 29, chiefly because he is still at large but also because he is practically homegrown. Born in Guyana and reared in Miramar, Fla., where his father, a Saudi-Yemeni cleric now deceased, preached hard-line Wahhabism at a small mosque, el-Shukrijumah took computer classes at Broward Community College in Florida. He holds Guyanese and Trinidadian passports, may also have Canadian and Saudi passports and can easily pass for Hispanic. "He speaks English and has the ability to fit in and look innocuous," says an FBI agent. "He could certainly come back here, and nobody would know it." U.S. authorities have put his name on domestic and international watch lists but fear he will travel to Mexico or Canada on phony documents and then sneak across the border into the U.S.
Should he come through Mexico, I'm sure he'll be greeted by our newly "sensitized" Border Patrol, processed and allowed to wander into the US. But then, maybe I'm just cynical and have the feeling that there a whole bunch of folks out there still living in a September 10th world and still don't take these sorts of threats seriously.
Slowly, inexorably, the story begins seeping into the main stream media:
Does this matter? Well, if President Bush was found to be using tall tales from his National Guard days to justify his policies in the war on terror it would certainly attract some attention. So the would-be commander in chief can hardly complain of being subject to scrutiny, especially since he's joined in criticism of Mr. Bush's war record and made his own a campaign centerpiece. Never mind the anti-Kerry swiftees. So far the veteran whose testimony is doing John Kerry the most damage is . . . John Kerry.
The passionate debate over John Kerry's war record has become a question of credibility. Who is accurately portraying what the Democratic presidential candidate did in Vietnam 35 years ago? Kerry's designated advocate Lanny Davis has posed a simple test of who was aboard a small boat with the future senator during his baptism of fire.
The Kerry campaign so far has responded to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth not by refuting their accusations, but by attacking their motives and their character. The Swifties are a Republican front group, Democrats charge, even though O'Neill says he voted for Al Gore in 2000. Co-author Jerome Corsi is an "anti-Catholic bigot." Since Corsi is a Catholic who regularly attends Mass, this charge is unlikely to be true, and is in any case irrelevant, since it has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of what the Swifties charge.
Kerry could clear up much of the confusion if he would authorize release of all his military records. His failure to do so suggests there may be something he doesn't want Americans to know.
According to Newsweek's assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, "There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards . . . as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them . . ." (Inside Washington television show, July 10).
Thomas' prediction is amply supported by the (non)coverage which the Denver dailies, like most of the rest of the media, have given to this week's meltdown of the Kerry campaign.
The period is fair game, not only because he and his running mate invited it but also because there are legitimate reasons to examine it. "I ask you to judge me by my record," said Kerry in his acceptance speech. "If you have any questions about what John Kerry is made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him," urged John Edwards.
Its almost painful to watch. My brother made the comment that in the past, the media's bias wasn't so much evident in stories they ran, but in the stories they spiked. I think he's on to something. The problem for the main stream media today has to do with the internet and the "unofficial" media watchdogs, in the guise of bloggers, who now have a voice and keep track of such things.
How this will all turn out remains a mystery to this point, but it is sure instructive to watch the media, on the whole, do its level best to ignore this story.
Meanwhile, according to surveys, the ad by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth seems to be having an effect on independent voters according to this poll...
A video released last week by the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth (www.swiftvets.com), an organization aiming to refute John Kerry’s Vietnam war record, proves to be highly effective in raising questions among Independents about the Democratic candidate's military service.
The Swift Boat video – primarily a montage of outspoken Vietnam veterans claiming that Kerry has lied about his Vietnam service – was found by a majority of Independents to be persuasive, with 53.89% responding that this was the case.
That may explain, in part, why this hasn't been a big item in the media to this point ... that's if you believe what the Newsweek's assistant managing editor Evan Thomas about who, in general, the media would like to see win this election.
Hat Tip to reader Xavier for the poll link.
UPDATE: As a contrast, a reminder of how the media covered the Bush AWOL story captured for us at The New England Republican.
This is, perhaps, of interest to nobody but myself, but I thought I'd share with you a few anecdotes from this weekend....
"Well, they're not "bad guys", per se, Alex. Just sort of misguided, semi-socialists. But you've got the right idea. Lemme check with Dale and McQ, but I think you're ready to be a blogger."
And that's my life. [other than that, for whatever reason, I have very little about which I want to blog today]
Some of the most important QandO posts of this past week, linked and excerpted in case you've missed them. [and don't forget to check the right-hand sidebar, which is--top to bottom--updated frequently]
* Kerry's non-plan for Iraq (McQ) - Kerry's Plan for Iraq looks great....except that it's mostly being implemented already. Kerry's plan is Bush's plan, but "better". (just trust him, ok?)
* Does the name Mike Boorda mean anything to you? (McQ) - Once upon a time, it was very important to the media that they get to the bottom of potentially undeserved medals. Once....
* Poverty and Terrorism (Dale Franks) - The poverty and oppression in the third world is directly attributable to their own government. If we want to solve the problems that come with that poverty, we have to do something about the governments....
* Headline v. Story (Dale Franks) - Headline/slug says the Bush administration failed...story says something entirely different.
* Economic Mistakes (Dale Franks) - The Bush administration has been unwilling to implement a consistent and effective economic policy, and it's having an effect...
* Rassman Rebuts (Dale Franks) - Dale responds to
the Democrats talking points about Kerry's Vietnam issues Rassman's "everything but the point" WSJ article...
* The Tale of Two Stories (McQ) - McQ adds perspective on the Rassman op-ed, and points out that it is contradicted by a prominent swift boat veteran...fellow by the name of John Kerry. Seems like the sort of thing you'd want to avoid in an op-ed defending John Kerry's truth-telling abilities...
* Kerry dovish Cold War record (McQ) Forget Vietnam. How did Kerry do in the Big War of the latter half of the 20th century...
* Wishing won't make it so (Dale Franks) - "People's memories are short, and pointing to 1996 and saying that clinton got re-elected with a worse unemployment rate is just silly. It's like asking, "Hey, unemployment is much lower than the 25% rate of 1933, so why's everybody carping about it?""
* Securing the Border (Dale Franks) - Our borders are a major weakness, but we'll do something about it, eventually. Right after a terrorist attack. Politicians are "always good for closing the barn door right after the horse gets out."
* Bush Derangement Syndrome (Jon Henke) - In which I laugh at--and correct--some nonsense from liberal bloggers about the Bush rugby picture, and take Atrios' Joe Scarborough, and raise him a James Carville and a Ron Reagan.
* The "they didn't serve on the same boat" meme ... (McQ) - Pictures demonstrating just how far apart those Swift Boats really operated. (hint: you could have played a nice game of catch between them without putting yourself out)
* Another triumph for European Diplomacy (Dale Franks) - Europe issues a strongly worded letter. Iran gives it the respect it demands.
* Long Overdue (Dale Franks) - Heh. Just read the excerpt.
* Bad Medicine (Dale Franks) - The NYTimes seems to be rejecting Keynesianism...or something. In any event, in involves the recently discovered equation: Whatever Bush Does=Bad.
* "...The content of their character." (Dale Franks) - A discussion of the difference between racism and rational discrimination.
* McGreevey Resigns (Dale Franks and Jon Henke) - a look at the McGreevey Story, and the "homosexuality" strawman.
* Kerry's Cambodia nonsense refuted (McQ) - A discussion of the military realities behind Kerry's Cambodia tale. Realities which do not support Kerry's story.
* Nuclear Fearmongering (Dale Franks) - "One of the biggest victories of the environmental movement over the last thirty years has been to convince the public that nuclear power is unsafe."
* This Criticism of Criticism-Funding Is Paid For By... (Jon Henke) - Democrat-funded critics criticise Republican-funded critics for having their criticism funded.
* Military Realignment: 70,000 out of Europe & Asia (McQ) - A change is gonna come....as a shock to Europe. The US is planning a realignment...
* "Unfit for Command": A Review (McQ) - A book review, with relevant passages....
Michael Silence notes in New Mexico (yes, it is a state), News anchors are giving Governor Bill Richardson a hand.
According to the Albuquerque Tribune:
Say you need a smashing introduction for your political speech. Who can you call?
Apparently you call three Albuquerque TV news reporters.
At this year's Border Governors Conference, Gov. Bill Richardson got one of the most glowing introductions he's ever received.
Monica Armenta, the longtime morning anchorwoman for KOB-Channel 4 bestowed the honors. Armenta was followed at the podium, at other times, by KOB anchorman Nelson Martinez and KOAT-Channel 7 anchorwoman Cynthia Izaguirre.
"Gov. Richardson has done more for New Mexico in two legislative sessions than any previous governor accomplished in decades," Armenta said in an introduction Monday.
She noted Richardson "cut personal income taxes and capital gains taxes nearly in half," and said Richardson has "led New Mexico to one of the most dramatic economic turnarounds in U.S. history."
Last but not least, Armenta said, Richardson "successfully and effectively represented the Democratic Party, New Mexico and the border region as the 2004 chair of the Democratic National Convention in Boston."
After the applause died down, Richardson returned the favor, calling Armenta "the Katie Couric of New Mexico."
Now, if you're like me, you might find something unseemly about professional journalists working as PR hacks for an elected official. But KOB's station manager is on the case.
Mike Burgess, KOB station manager, said his outlet welcomes the publicity his station gets from such appearances, but aims to keep its news broadcasts neutral.
"We watch very carefully how the news gets reported," Burgess said. "Whatever the political leanings of our reporters, it damn sure doesn't come out on the air."
Of course it doesn't.
Captain Ed uncovers what appears to be evidence that Kerry "brother" David Alston, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his stirring memories of serving under John Kerry in Vietnam, never served with John Kerry at all.
On January 29th, Alston was medevaced out to a hospital with head wounds and no records indicate that he ever returned to the unit. Kerry took command of PCF-94 the next day. Alston never served a day under Kerry's command. In fact, Kerry received a replacement, Fred Short, on 28 February as a replacement for Alston.
Now what does that tell us about Kerry and his Viet Nam narrative?
Yeah, the Swiftvets are looking more credible all the time. Kerry has already had to abandon the Cambodia lie he's told at various times over the past three decades. Now, there's this, which means that Kerry cooperated in David Alston lying on national TV--and to the Democratic Convention delegates--about service under Kerry that never occured.
To say the least, it doesn't help Kerry to call the Swiftvets liars, without any proof, while his own stories start to fall apart under casual inspection of information that's already in the public domain.
UPDATE (Dale): Perhaps I spoke too soon. Reader KJ directs me to this picture of PCF 94's Crew:
That is David Alston, second from the right, pictured with John Kerry.
I have notified Captain Ed. Obviously, a second look needs to be taken at this story, since the picture casts some doubt on the published account to which Captain Ed refers.
UPDATE II (Dale): Captain Ed already knows. So, we have this strange inconsistency. Alston was wounded in the head while serving under LTJG Peck, and was medevaced out the day before Kerry assumed command of the boat. Despite the fact there's no record of Alston being returned to duty, this pitcure seems to indicate that Alston did return to the boat. And that's odd because Fred Short replaced him.
Indeed, it now gets even more confusing, because Alston claims to have been on the boat on 28 Feb 69, during the incident in which Kerry got his Silver Star. Alson related to ABC News that he was a crewman on the boat that day, and adds:
Alston recalled: "I know when John Kerry told Del to beach that damn boat, this was a brand-new ball game. We wasn't running. We took it to Charlie."
So, then, if that's true, why wasn't Alston in this picture:
According to the Boston Globe, this picture is:
Sailors stand together in An Thoi, Vietnam, on February 28, 1969, after a medal presentation for Silver Star action. From left: Del Sandusky, John Kerry, Gene Thorson, Thomas Belodeau. Kneeling from left, Mike Medeiros, Fred Short.
This is supposed to be John Kerry's crew, after receiving their medals, Including Mr. Kerry's Silver Star, for the 28 Feb 69 action. (And even here, the Globe is wrong, since the action took place on 28 Feb. The picture was actually taken sometime in early March.) I see one LTJG, and five enlisted men. That seems like a full PCF crew to me.
So, where's Mr. Alston? Everybody else on the crew that day got a Navy Commendation Medal with a V device for valor. Where's Mr. Alston's medal?
Clearly there's something a little off here, no matter how you cut it.
Dave Kopel's column in the Rocky Mountain News takes both the News and the Denver Post to task for covering both the Swiftvets and Cambodia stories exclusively by attacking Kerry's critics.
The Denver dailies have covered the story exclusively by attacking Swift Boat Veterans for Truth through:
• An Associated Press article in both papers reporting that John McCain denounced the attacks on Kerry (without providing any evidence that the attacks are factually wrong);
• News columnist Mike Litt- win criticizing Bush for not criticizing the Swift boat veterans (Aug. 7);
• The Post's Jim Spencer defending Kerry's Purple Hearts (a July 30 column with more substance than other Kerry defenses); and
• An AP article pointing out that John Corsi, the co-author of Unfit for Command has made disparaging remarks about Islam and Catholicism (News, Aug. 11).
Early in the week, the Kerry campaign denied that Kerry had ever claimed to have spent Christmas in Cambodia. Confronted with evidence, the campaign refused to answer questions. On Wednesday, the campaign abandoned the Christmas-in-Cambodia story that had been "seared" in Kerry's memory. The campaign told Fox News that Kerry was in Cambodia sometime, but would not specify when. The campaign told ABC News that Kerry was in the Mekong Delta, which "consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol."
To the contrary, the Mekong River flows from Cambodia into Vietnam and does not border the two countries; the Mekong Delta is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, and is nowhere near Cambodia.
The News ignored the story of Kerry retracting three decades of Christmas-in-Cambodia tales. The Post also ignored the story, and instead ran the attack on John Corsi which had appeared the day before in the News.
It is as if the media had covered the Bush National Guard story only by impugning Bush's critics, while barely acknowledging the substance of the charges.
One of the good things about the press' response to these stories is that it increasingly lays bare the pretense of "objectivity" the press works so hard to foster. One wonders whether the media realizes this, or whether they simply don't care.
...And bless NBC, too, for their committment to wall-to-wall coverage of the exciting sport of Women's Beach Volleyball.
Oddly, The Lovely Christine seems to have some doubts that the coverage of this exciting event is motivated solely by the athletic excellence it represents. Apparently, she doesn't understand that there are extremely important athletic justifications for the type of uniforms the competitors wear.
It's educational, too. For instance, it appears to get much colder in Athens after the sun goes down. So, I'm getting a geography lesson, too.
I’ve read “Unfit for Command”. That’s the easy part. Since then I’ve been struggling to find a way to explain why this is so important to many of us out here to those who don’t find it to be important.
“It was 35 years ago, for heaven sake!” or “So he exaggerated his war stories a little” are common explanations, or excuses, as to why many don’t take this seriously. Some will never take it seriously. They’re the same people who thought Bill Clinton’s problem had to do with sex instead of character. But that is the point here. This sort of exaggeration and lying does reflect on a man or woman’s character. And that is one of the reasons the Swift Boat Vets are engaged in telling their side of those stories. They have as much of a right to do so as John Kerry.
But there’s an even more important point that seems to be lost in all of this. It has to do with men who’ve been in combat, who’ve seen their comrades suffer horrible wounds and die. Who’ve watched acts of unselfish valor go unrewarded and who deeply resent those who attempt to take advantage of the system for self-glorification or political gain. Who cynically use their service as a stepping stone to political office and lie about the events of that service to condemn and pillory those who’ve served their country in combat and those still serving in combat.
In a word, this is about “honor”.
The money quote for me, the paragraph that said “this is why” came in the 4th chapter where an incident in March of 2004 involving Admiral Hoffmann and John Kerry. In 2003 Kerry had called Hoffmann to try to get his support in his run for President. Hoffmann was initially enthusiastic as he mistakenly thought the caller was Bob Kerrey, the Navy Medal of Honor winner and former Senator. When he realize the caller was John Kerry, his entire tone changed. He refused to give Kerry his support.
In the ensuing months, “Tour of Duty” was published, in which Kerry savaged Hoffmann.
“On March 15, 2004, Admiral Hoffmann’s telephone rang again. Once again, the caller was John Kerry. Kerry had clinched the Democratic nomination, and he knew that Hoffmann was organizing Swiftees to bring out the truth about him, his exaggerated military record and his antiwar lies that had slandered his fellow veterans. Kerry made the admiral an offer: If you will back off and drop your efforts, I will ensure that my biography, “Tour of Duty”, which I know is unfair to you, will be changed to make it accurate in a revised edition. Here is my secretary’s number – you can get me anytime.
The offer from the Democratic presidential candidate was an attempt to flatter Hoffmann, a warrior who’s coin is not power or wealth, but honor – an honor deeply impugned by Kerry’s book. ... Kerry knew that winning Hoffmann over to his side would thwart the Swiftees’ efforts to discredit him. Hoffmann told Kerry that he and the vast majority of his shipmates could never forgive him for his defamation of our Navy and other US Armed Forces by his slanderous and undocumented accusations of unspeakable atrocities in Vietnam before the US Congress in 1971, his leadership in the VVAW, and his association with the traitorous Jane Fonda and others of her ilk. Surprisingly, Kerry responded by simply saying that he “was expressing his conviction”.
So for Admiral Hoffmann and the rest of the Swiftees, this isn’t about Republican or Democrat. Its not about wealth or power. This is a matter of honor. The Swift Boat Veterans, as a group, and you’ll find this mostly true of most veterans and particularly Vietnam and Vietnam era veterans, the problem they have with Kerry is a matter of honor. They feel he dishonorably lied about them and their service after he left Vietnam, that he dishonored those who were a part of the very same operations he now claims for his awards through his exaggerations and fabrications and he dishonored the thousands who’ve given lives and limbs for the very same awards they allege he faked.
In the military, and among veterans and veteran’s groups, honor is a very important and even sacrosanct subject. The honor of serving, the honor of serving well, the honor of awards for valor, all are taken very seriously. The honor of legitimate heros is closely guarded and worshiped. It is not something taken lightly or waved off with “oh, he was just exaggerating a little”. That is especially true if the “exaggerations” were actually cynical attempts to portray the service of others in a dishonorable way for the self-promotion of the person telling the lies.
It is this concept of honor which drives the Swift Boat Veteran’s for Truth. And it is this concept which is so hard for civilians and politicos to comprehend and take seriously. Honor isn’t a constant thread in their daily lives as it is in the military. The greatest sin for any military man or woman is to dishonor his or her comrades, unit and service. It is that which the Swiftees contend John Kerry has done.
The book very compellingly and succinctly makes their case. This isn’t a book which deals with innuendo and rumor. It is meticulously researched and footnoted. It uses direct quotes which were obtained in signed and notarized affidavits. In short, it is a documented indictment of John Kerry’s perfidy. More importantly, it’s a documentation of his lack of honor.
In 1971, John Kerry accused American soldiers of daily atrocities of the most heinous kind. But he, and his comrades in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War provided nothing specific. No names, no places, nothing which could be checked. “Unfit for Command” however, provides us with some specifics to meet the charges. In 1971, in front of the US Congress, John Kerry had the following to say:
“We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them.”
“We learned the meaning of free-fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.”
“We watched the US falsification of body counts ...”
In “Unfit for Command” three incidents are described where Kerry destroyed a village and the animals in the village, fired without orders in a free-fire zone and falsified body counts in a report.
In the first incident, George Bates, another PCF commander in CosDiv11 and now a retired USN Captain, recalls where he and Kerry were on a mision together and came upon a small village.
“With Kerry in the lead, the boats approached a small hamlet with three to four grass huts. Pigs and chickens were milling around peacefully. As the boats drew closer the villagers fled. There were no political symbols or flags in evidence in the tiny village. It was obvious to Bates that existing policies, decency and good sense required the boats to simply move on.
Instead, Kerry beached his boat directly in the small settlement. Upon his command, the numerous small animals were slaughtered by heavy-caliber machine guns. Acting more like a pirate than a naval officer, Kerry disembarked and ran around with a Zippo lighter, burning up the entire hamlet.”
Bates has never forgotten Kerry’s actions and was appalled by the complete hypocrisy of Kerry’s quick shift to the role of peace activist condemning war crimes upon his return. Even today, Bates describes Kerry as a man without a conscience.”
Tom Wright, another PCF commander, talks about Kerry and “free-fire” zones.
“We believe that “free-fire” zones placed the greatest responsibilty on the OinC because he alone had to decide if he was going to shoot. In other areas, the ROE (Rules of Engagement) told you what to do. John Kerry thought that a “free-fire” zone meant “kill anyone you see....”. Not every person is a good combat commander. John Kerry was not a good combat commander.
In fact, Wright finally went to his boss, George Elliott and asked that Kerry not be assigned to any further missions Wright was put in charge of because of his unreliability.
“I had some very serious problems with Kerry one day and I told the DivCom that I did not want Kerry in my group anymore.”
The last incident involves a sampan, the ubiquitous little boats that Vietnamese use for transportation and commerce on the rivers of Vietnam. Vietnam had a dusk to dawn curfew which prohibited travel on the rivers at that time. On the day in question, Kerry and another Swift boat (PCF 21) were on patrol. The night, as described, was “pitch-black”. Out of the dark came a sampan, and Gunner’s mate Steve Gardner, in the absence of Kerry orders (Kerry was in the pilot house and not on deck) saw what looked like a man with a weapon drawing down on him and fired into the sampan. Technically, to this point, nothing wrong has been done. The sampan was out after dark, Gardner thought he saw a weapon and fired. What happened afterward is the problem.
When the lights of the PCF were turned on Kerry relates what he saw:
“The light revealed a woman standing in the stern of the sampan with a child of perhaps two years or less in her arms. Neither [was] harmed. We asked her where the men from the stern were, as one of the gunners was sure that he had seen someone moving back there. She gesticulated wildly and I could see traces of blood on the engine mounting. It was obvious they had been blown overboard. Then somebody said there as a body up front and we moved closer to se the limbs of a small child limp on th stacks of rice.”
All indications were that the boat had mistakenly shot into the sampan of a family, probably returning late from some destination. This wasn’t at all unusual, but usually ended much less dramatically and with no loss of life as the sampan was searched, the crew warned and let go. As stated, though, to this point, technically the Kerry’s crew had done nothing wrong. Until the report was filed.
According to The CTF 115 report (called the Commander Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam (CTF 115) Quarterly Evaluation Report) of March 29, 1969, the following was reported by Kerry:
“...20 January PDFs 21 and 44 (Kerry’s boat - ed.) Operating in An Xuyen Province ... engaged the enemy with a resultant GDA of one VC KIA (BC) [body count], four VC KIA (EST) and two VC CIA (VQ810650/44)”
In other words, what Kerry reported was he’d killed a VC (the man blown off the boat), probably killed four other VC (purely fictional) and captured two VC (the mother and the two year old) in action. The child who was killed was simply ignored. The four estimated VC KIAs were simply made up out of whole cloth. The mother and child suddenly became VC who were captured.
These three incidents put an exclamation point to why the Swift Boat Vets for Truth specifically and may other veterans in general find Kerry to be a dishonorable man and “Unfit for Command”.
Regardless of your political leanings or feelings for either candidate (and in full disclosure, I feel and have felt precisely the same way the Swiftees do about John Kerry) you need to read this book. It's contents deserve a review before you cast your vote in November.
Apparently the President is going to announce:
The United States plans to withdraw about 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia in a major realignment of American military presence prompted by the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the war on terrorism, U.S. officials said on Saturday.
Good. This is important and necessary. And its time Europe began paying a bit more for its own defense and a bit more attention to its own defense.
"The president is going to make an announcement about a major initiative to reduce the burden on our forces overseas," said one of the U.S. officials.
They confirmed a report in the Financial Times of a total shift of at least 70,000 troops from overseas to home bases. The British newspaper, citing people briefed on the plan, said two-thirds of the reductions would be made in Europe, mostly in Germany.
"Germany is definitely a place where there will be a major rearrangement," one U.S. official told Reuters of plans to bring two big armored units back to the United States from there.
I can imagine we'll here some real squealing when this is announced officially. The "two big armored units" are comprised of about 30,000 personnel, plus all the support units there to support them. Despite the anit-American feelings in German, this will have a pretty heavy local and perhaps regional effect in Germany economically. A lot of Germans work in and around those units and make a living off their presence.
More importantly though, the realignment will give the US military more flexibility as it will no longer have the NATO mission conflicting with the WoT mission. That and the fact there simply isn't any necessity for the large footprint in Germany and Europe. The world has changed.
There are currently more than 100,000 American troops in Europe, including about 70,000 in Germany, and another 100,000 in the Asia-Pacific region. About 150,000 additional troops are now in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This will take years to complete," said one Pentagon official, who refused to discuss the number of troops involved. "It will not, it will not, result in any reduced commitment to our friends and allies. Wherever people go down, weapons and technology will more than make up the difference."
A senior administration official traveling with Bush in Portland, Oregon, said the president "will be discussing next week how the United States will structure its military capabilities to meet the threats of the 21st century with new technologies and new capabilities."
At the moment it, with NoKo still a rogue nuclear state, it make more sense to reduce troop levels in Europe than Asia. But if and when the NoKo problem is settled, then Asia would probably see the same sort of withdrawl of US troops. The economies in Asia, where we have troops deployed, are more than able to pick up the defensive slack. And they should.
Kathleen Antrim's column in the San Francisco Examiner says that Kerry's problem with the Swiftvets is a problem he asked for. And now that he has it, there's only one thing he can do to make it go away.
The worst part of this political fiasco is that it could have been completely avoided. With a little work, preparation and organization, Kerry or his staff could have shown these veterans a little common courtesy by finding out where they stand regarding his candidacy and asking their permission to use them as references. This was a huge mistake, and it's costing Kerry dearly.
But like an old fish story in which the catch keeps getting larger with every telling, Kerry didn't stop at telling tales of war crimes.
He also told the Senate, in 1986, that he was illegally in Cambodia.
Kerry said, "I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."
Utter lies, total and complete exaggerated lies, the Swift Vets claim. So, this fish tale stinks worse each time Kerry drags it out.
With accusations flying, Kerry's version of free speech has shrunk down to only one veteran: himself. All others must be silenced.
This is called "damage control," folks, and it's in high gear because Kerry knows he's in trouble here. Big trouble.
Of course, this whole matter could be cleared up if Kerry would release his Vietnam records and his personal journal. It's a simple matter to release these records, requiring only a standard Form 180.
So, Mr. Kerry, if you haven't been making up stories, and if the Swift Vets are lying, then release your records and prove your case. Trust the American people to discern the truth. Or have the courage to admit you lied, over and over again.
Yeah, I'd like to get a look at those records, myself.
Via Instapundit, who remarks this is the first crack in the big media blackout on the Swiftvet story.
Outside of FOXNews, the mainstream media has been silent about both the Swiftvet ellegations, and, to the extent possible, about the Cambodian stories as well. But I doubt that they can keep it silent forever.
Moreover, having them do so doesn't particularly help Kerry, or the media, for that matter. Failing to cover the story makes it look as if they are intentionally covering for the Democratic candidate. Considering that an ever greater percentage of Americans are coming to find mainstream media outlets untrustworthy, this blackout on the Swiftvets might end up hurting both Kerry and the media.
Kerry has made his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his campaign. Now, nearly 9 out of 10 of his fellow swift boat vets oppose him. That's a legitmate story, whether you like it or not. If the campaign line is, as John Edwards famously said, that all we need to know about John Kerry is to talk with he fellow swift boat veterans, then it's poor form to complain when we do, and those veterans tell us something that KE04 doesn't like.
Or at least that would be my advice:
U.S. forces suspended a major offensive against militants in Najaf on Friday, and aides to Muqtada al-Sadr told Iraqi negotiators that radical Shiite cleric was prepared to disarm his followers in exchange for a list of demands including an American withdrawal from the holy city and amnesty for all his fighters.
Look, this is the second time he's done this. It would be a mistake to give him an opportunity to do it a third time. Hell it was a mistake letting him do it the second time. Al-Sadr's day is done. Give him the opportunity to go count virgins, or grapes ... whatever.
The individual variously known as JimmyTheGeek, OutbackJack, KilltheWomenandChildrenFirst, LetTheTRUTHBeTold, et al, using the IP Address 22.214.171.124, has been banned from further commenting. He is merely a troll.
I have a very, low "fool tolerance" in any event, but there is something about dishonestly portraying yourself as different individuals, making outrageously insulting comments, and the like, that really pisses me off. If you want to have a debate about issues or facts, that's perfectly fine, whether we agree or not. If you want to make ad hominem comments, cheap shots, and the like, then go screw yourself. Life's too short to have to constantly deal with a-holes.
As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has been banned for trolling or being abusive. I'd like it to be the last, but if not, and you find you can't play nice, I'll be happy to ban your ass, too.
Also, note to potential trolls: There's something called an IP address. Having 10 different login names doesn't hide that you’re the same person, moron.
Julia Child, the nation's Head Chef emeritus, died today, just two days short of her 92nd birthday.
She was a national treasure.
Let's all just sit and ponder the irony of the Swift Boat Veterans being criticized for their Republican-funding, by people like....
Thank goodness for these disinterested truth-seekers, here to warn us of Republican-funded criticism.
But hey, if they want to allege that partisan/ideological funding is an automatic disqualifer.....well, I'm willing to take them up on it. Assuming, of course, that they go first.
So, you think this is a nasty negative capaign? Well, then, as Charles Krauthammer writes, you can thank McCain Feingold.
This is what all elections will now look like.
Read, as they say, the whole thing.
I usually don't worry too much about giving hores-race analysis of the election, but sometimes, even the horse-race story is important.
Jules Whitcover of the Baltimore Sun discusses the Bush Campaign's one-two punch against Kerry for his vote on the Iraq war. As Whitcover notes, it's put Kerry in a bad position.
Mr. Kerry, in taking Mr. Bush's bait and saying he would have gone into Iraq, weapons of mass destruction or no, appeared to be denying he had flip-flopped on his pre-war Senate vote authorizing the use of force. If so, it only dug him a deeper hole with anti-war Democrats who claim the Iraq invasion was illegal, or at least an unnecessary war of choice.
As he has attempted throughout the campaign, Mr. Kerry has labored mightily to attach conditions to that vote, alleging that Mr. Bush not only misled the country on why he was going to war but also failed to work through the United Nations sufficiently to achieve an international response.
But the Democratic nominee's tortured inability to articulate his position on the war vote in a way that would dispel voter confusion continues to haunt his campaign.
And that's not his only problem, as Ryan Lizza points out in The New Republic. The real troubvle for Kerry began when he decided to make the Democratic Convention about national security and his military service.
The dueling messages -- the economy versus the war -- are a reminder that for all the recent talk that Iraq has turned into a liability for Bush and that Kerry has made great strides in how voters view his approach to terrorism, the old conventional wisdom that Kerry needs the campaign to be about the economy while Bush needs it to be about national security has returned.
The shift in emphasis by Kerry suggests his campaign realizes that it may have missed an opportunity by making his convention almost entirely about strength and national security. Kerry's aides insist that there was no bounce available to him because of the polarized electorate, but other Democrats disagree. They point out that numerous polls show there is a majority for change in America. Whether one looks at the percentage who say the country is on the wrong track or the percentage who say Bush should not be re-elected, there are indeed enough voters looking for a new direction that Kerry should have had a bigger bounce.
Rather than emphasizing his strengths—economy, health care, and other bread and butter issues—Kerry chose to try and shore up his weakness in national security. But, considering the lopsided advantage that Bush has in those areas, all he managed to do was to turn the campaign into a discussion of precisely those things that work best for Bush.
Now, Kerry's in the position of having to try and bring the discussion back to his strengths on bread and butter issues, while BC04 keeps hammering him one the national security side.
Whitcover thinks that's there's really only one choice left to Kerry.
Rather than trying to parry the president's taunts on the run, the time may have come for Mr. Kerry to hold a full-blown news conference focusing solely on defending that vote and why he cast it as he did. With all the millions his campaign has been spending on television ads, maybe he needs to buy air time to present a more carefully crafted defense.
He could also use such an occasion to spell out his contentions that Mr. Bush has botched the aftermath of a war that the senator now apparently says was justified. As matters stand, Mr. Kerry needs to explain himself not only to clarify his views to the general public but also to reassure all those Democrats who support him essentially because he is not George W. Bush.
But even that's a tough road for Kerry to travel, because it runs the risk of turning off the anti-war constituency in his own party. Why, after all, are they going to be keen to vote for Kerry if his position on the war is that it was necessary, irrespective of whether Saddam had WMDs, and his only quibble with Bush is that he'd have waged the war more effectively? That's not the candidacy the anti-war folks are looking for. And, with Nader as an even more distant also-ran in this election than he was in the last one, that really leaves the anti-war folks with nowhere to go…except not to go to the polls on election day.
So, at the moment, Kerry's in a difficult position. He's been forced by the BC04 campaign to make a definitive statement that alienates a good chunk of his own voters. The best he can hope for is that he hasn't alienated them enough to keep them from going to vote out of sheer hatred of George W. Bush.
And if you think this is bad, wait until the debates. If Kerry tries to nuance his way through the presidential debates in this fashion, he's gonna come off looking more indecisive than Jimmy Carter did in 1980.
One of the biggest victories of the environmental movement over the last thirty years has been to convince the public that nuclear power is unsafe. Now, Jonah Goldberg writes, the Kerry campaign is putting that same kind of fear-mongering to good use in Nevada when discussing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. The only trouble is that, like most fear-mongering, it's based mainly on lies.
Kerry keeps harping on safety concerns, as if it's safer to keep the waste where it is, spread out all across the country in various cooling ponds.
Now, I've been to Yucca Mountain and interviewed the scientists there and read quite a few of the studies. And, frankly, I have no idea what Kerry is talking about. Yucca Mountain is indisputably the safest conceivable installation for nuclear waste in America - and, quite probably, on the planet. If terrorists wanted to, say, crash a 747 into Yucca Mountain, they'd pretty much have to get past the Nellis Air Force base, where the Air Force practices blowing things up. It's also the home of the Air Warfare Center and the Air Force Weapons School. It is where the Thunderbirds practice and the site of the International combat-training exercise known as "Red Flag." Yucca Mountain also abuts the highly secure Nevada Test Site where we've blown up a kajillion atomic bombs.
Oh, and I should add that even if the terrorist-seized plane got through and smacked the repository head-on, it wouldn't even rattle the canisters under thousands of feet of Yucca Mountain rock. In fact, a direct nuclear strike would mean next to nothing in terms of safety.
But hey, even in the hugely unlikely scenario - and I really mean hugely unlikely - that some nuclear material did get out, it would still be in the middle of a godforsaken desert. Even what little groundwater there is there - on the edge of Death Valley - is self-contained.
Anyway, I could go on, but the science on this issue is so settled that no one really disputes it. That's one reason why we've heard so much hyperbole in recent years about how dangerous it would be to transport the waste to Yucca Mountain. Once the waste is there, it's not going to bother anybody.
The fear-mongering over these so-called "mobile Chernobyls" is bogus too. The containers can withstand virtually any imaginable attack. In tests, they even drop the things from way up high onto steel spikes and nothing happens. There have been more than 3,000 nuclear waste transports since 1964 without a single release.
The controversy over Yucca Mountain has nothing whatsoever to do with safety. The fundamental issue is that the environmental lobby wants to put up every hurdle possible in order to prevent any nuclear power generation for any reason.
Let me be as clear as possible: Nuclear power generation is the safest, cleanest, most efficient power generation technology in the world. Bar none. The amount of waste generated by nuclear power generation is, while dangerous, compact and solid. Compared to the hundreds of thousands of tons of pollution generated by oil and gas generators, it is infinitesimal. A 1000-megawatt plant produces 1 cubic yard of radioactive waste per year. Compare that to a coal plant of similar capacity, which would produce 10 tons of waste per minute.
The waste itself is solid, and would be placed in sealed containers under thousands of feet of solid rock. The opposition to Yucca Mountain, like the opposition to nuclear power itself, is pure, unalloyed Luddism.
Now, the waste that we would produce all over the country would be radioactive enough to kill 10 billion people, if they were exposed to it. Yet somehow, every year we produce enough barium to kill 100 billion people, enough ammonia and hydrogen cyanide to kill 20 trillion people, and enough chlorine to kill 400 trillion. Somehow, we manage to do that without killing anyone. With nuclear waste, ground into power, fused with glass, placed in steel containers, and put in a concrete bunker several hundred feet underground, there's not much chance of anyone being exposed to it.
Air pollution from coal, on the other hand, is estimated to cause 10,000 deaths a year in the US alone. In one year, a 100-megawatt coal power plant generate 1.5 million tons of solid waste that are chock full of toxins and carcinogens, and we usually dump it into landfills or piling it up in hills. And that's only the solid waste. That doesn't count, say the 600 pounds of carbon dioxide or 10 pounds of sulfur dioxide that go up the chimney every second.
And we're all breathing that.
Professor Bernard Cohen of the University of Pittsburgh, in his book, Before It's Too Late, predicts that if the US were to go completely nuclear for power generation, the total added health risk covering the entire process, from uranium mining to waste disposal, would be the same as raising the speed limit by 0.006 miles per hour. The risks eliminated by ending coal, oil, and natural gas power generation would be far, far greater.
We are at a very dangerous point in our history. We have a highly technologized, scientific, civilization that requires extraordinary amounts of technical learning just to keep the trains running. At the same time, we have fewer, and fewer people who know how to keep all this complicated machinery working.
It's not helpful to also have an environmental lobby that keeps trying to throw monkey wrenches into the machinery, and politicians who are willing accomplices in that sabotage.
Or, for that matter, a public education system that teaches our children to parrot the beliefs of the environmental lobby without question.
I love all the spin that's been going on about the Christmas in Cambodia story. He was there, he wasn't there, it was night and confusing, 3 crewmembers claim they were never in Cambodia, it wasn't Christmas it was January, it was a secret mission.
Lets get a couple of facts straight. And this is technical, but oh so important.
Anyone recall the designation of John Kerry's unit when the "Christmas in Cambodia" alleged event took place? Coastal Division 13. Note the designation carefully ... they patroled the coast of Viet Nam. That was their mission. And they also patrolled the rivers of VN as they flowed out on the coast. The Rassmann incident took place on the Song Be Da river which is a few miles long and flows into the ocean.
Now, lets review an excerpt from "Unfit for Command's" chapter three:
Coastal Division 13’s patrol areas extended to Sa Dec, about fifty-five miles from the Cambodian border. Areas closer than fifty-five miles to the Cambodian border in the area of the Mekong River were patrolled by PBRs, a small river patrol craft, and not by Swift Boats. Preventing border crossings was considered so important at the time that an LCU (a large, mechanized landing craft) and several PBRs were stationed to ensure that no one could cross the border. A large sign at the border prohibited entry. Tom Anderson, Commander of River Division 531, who was in charge of the PBRs, confirmed that there were no Swifts anywhere in the area and that they would have been stopped had they appeared.
Nothing new here except the importance of what? The designation of the unit commanded by Tom Anderson. River Division 531. Is it beginning to dawn on you that perhaps Kerry's unit did the coast and the river divisions did the interior rivers and their patrol areas met somewhere toward the coast?
So look at your hand. The Cambodian border is at the knuckles of your fingers. Kerry and boys patrolled the fingertips down to the first joint. The river divisions patrolled from the first joint to the knuckles. Why in the world would Kerry be in another unit's patrol area? Why would Kerry be at the knuckles?
Simple answer ... he wouldn't. They wouldn't stand for it. And if he was authorized to do so, they'd know about it, from top to bottom in both the river division and the coastal division. IOW, the coastal division would have been ordered to send a boat into Cambodia on a mission (the boat would not have been designated, but left up to the commander to task the one he wanted to go) and the river divison would have been notified so it could effect coordination of the coastal divison boat's passage through its patrol area and ensure it wasn't fired up by the PBRs on patrol.
That is how the military works. You don't go wandering into another units patrol area unless you have a death wish. Which brings us to this additional excerpt from "Unfit for Command":
All the living commanders in Kerry’s chain of command—Joe Streuhli (Commander of CosDiv 13), George Elliott (Commander of CosDiv 11), Adrian Lonsdale (Captain, USCG and Commander, Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi), Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (Commander, Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115), and Rear Admiral Art Price (Commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116)—deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. They indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there. At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry’s PCF 44 boat—Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner—deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia. The remaining two crewmen declined to be interviewed for this book.
Do you understand the point now? CosDiv13 was never tasked with a Cambodian mission by CTF 115 and CTF 116, which was the command organization for all the river patrol forces was never tasked to coordinate the passage of a Swift boat from CosDiv13 on a mission to Cambodia.
So while those who don't understand how this would all happen if true continue to pontificate as to how it might have happened, I'll just flatly tell you that if it were true, there'd be a record and a memory of the taskings (even if the gist of the mission might be classified). There are certainly no such memories among those who would have had to effect the assignment of a PCF and coordinate its passage of any such taskings.
As for the new tact which says "oh, it was a secret mission", I say again, Bravo Sierra.
CTF 116 was charged with the patrolling of the interior rivers of Vietnam to include where they bordered Cambodia. Among the assets CTF 116 had at its disposal should a "secret mission" to deliver a CIA agent into Cambodia really be necessary were these:
SEAL Teams 1 and 2
Strike Assault Boat Squadron - 20 (STABRON-20)
Underwater Demolition Team - 12 (UDT-12)
Underwater Demolition Team - 13 (UDT-13)
Underwater Demolition Team - 21 (UDT-21)
Underwater Demolition Team - 27 (UDT-27)
Now, you tell me boys and girls, with those assets available to the unit who's most familiar with the waterways going into Cambodia, why in the world would someone pick PCF 44 and John Kerry and crew, who were totally unfamiliar with the territory, and have them deliver the agent?
You're right ... they wouldn't.
Conclusion: Kerry's Cambodia excursion, which ever version he's on today, is nothing more than a figment of his imagination and never happened.
UPDATE: Rusty at Mypetjawa has a map up which gives you some context on distances and locations. Sa Dec is the furthers extent from the coast that CosDiv13 patrolled. After that, from Sa Dec to the border, it belonged to River Division 531. You'll note the distance is a little over 50 miles from Sa Dec to the Cambodian border.
Andrew Antippas served as a Foreign Service officer in the U.S. Embassy in Saigon as the "Cambodia Man" until 1970, then went to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He writes in the Washington Times that if John Kerry had ever had a firefight with the Cambodians, as he has claimed, the Cambodians would've had a cow, and it would've provoked an international incident. The Cambodians, evidently, were extremely touchy about their borders at the time.
The bottom line of all this is that in the 15 years of active American military involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia, between 1961 and 1975, there was ongoing attention and scrutiny paid to the border because of the political sensitivities over the neutrality of the Cambodians. While things may have happened that no one ever found out about in Saigon, the Cambodians yelled bloody murder to the world press and the ICC whenever they found Americans trespassing.
Neutrality, unlike virginity, does not disappear at the first violation, but the Cambos sure acted like it did.
Of course, later on, when the commies started threatening Phnom Penh, the Cambodians became a lot friendlier to the idea of US help. Unfortunately, when the crunch came, we abandoned them just as quickly as we did our South Vietnamese allies.
The "Bush Lied" meme is a firmly fixed star in the heavens of the Left. H.D.S. Greenway, writing in the Boston Globe, repeats it again.
Iraq is an area of Republican vulnerability, however. The Iraq war has gone just about as badly as possible. The Bush administration misled the nation on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda connection.
No amount of factual or documentary evidence will kill it. It's like a belief in astrology, or young-earth creationism. It's now an authoritative statement, and anything that contradicts it is automatically ignored.
Not content to end there, Greenway continues:
Kerry doesn't do yes-or-no answers, any more than Bush does nuance. So Kerry asked in return why Bush had rushed to war on the basis of faulty intelligence, misleading the American people, without a plan to win the peace, and without sufficient allies? All good questions.
The deep dishonesty of this kind of stuff is just disturbing. No one is being "misled" about going to war if the President actually believes what he's telling us. After all, his own CIA chief—who was also Bill Clinton's CIA chief1—told him the WMD question was a slam-dunk. The president might be wrong, as were the presidents/prime ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, et al., but no one seriously questioned whether Iraq had WMDs or was preparing to use them.
But "Bush Lied" will be with us forever. Sure, you can always reason with a Leftie who espouses it. You can always reason with a brick wall, for all the good it'll do you.
1 And that's as good a reason as I'd've needed to fire him as soon as I took office.