Due to our growth, QandO has been forced to move off of MovableType, and onto a custom blogging platform designed by QandO blogger Dale Franks. In addition to the new look, we've added a few new features that will be explored more fully in time. For now, the links you need to know are:
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A Weekly Best-Of-QandO, with links to, and excerpts of, our most important posts from the past week. [though, I'm largely leaving out the somewhat dated RatherGate stuff]
* Exit Interview (Jon Henke) - A book review of "Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography" by William F. Buckley Jr.
* Quarterly Services Survey (Jon Henke) Papa's got a brand new....er, economic indicator. The first Quarterly Services survey indicates growth in the services sector.
* Democrats ignore "first law of holes"... (McQ) "... when you're in one quit digging." And the Democrats are in one....so, it's hard to see why they still want to make this election about Bush's National Guard Service. Because that's working out sooo well for them, so far.
* "Is there any betrayal that we wouldn't support?" (Jon Henke) - Let's be honest - Kerry might be uninspiring, but we're not all that excited about Bush, either.
* 9/10 Kerry outlines Economic Plan (McQ) - Kerry pretends we've never had "recession, 9/11, war", and then offers his
free candy...er, economic plan.
* Voodoo economics II - The Sequel (McQ) - The Boston Globe conflates the Kerry's proposed additional spending with Bush's proposed fiscal shift, and claims they're equivalent. They are, to be blunt, wrong.
* What would Rather do? (Dale Franks and Jon Henke) - In which Dale preemptively nails the CBS reaction to the document forgery, and lays out their roadmap to Obfuscation.
* Triumphalism (Jon Henke) - Blog triumphalism is a bit out of hand, so it's time to remember our "proper place"....what we are, and what we aren't.
* Old Media BS Filter (McQ) - Blogs are another level of editorial oversight.
* How did we end up with this clown? (Jon Henke) - Bush claims Kerry wants to expand government. Which is a bit of a pot/kettle criticism.
* The Persistent Myth of the Stolen Election (McQ) - Debunking the 2000/Florida election myths.
* True or election year politics? (McQ) - A Democratic Senator announces a forthcoming Guard and Reserve Call-up that hadn't yet been announced. Er....
* The Iraq Intel Assessment (McQ) - The Iraq intel assessment: what it shows and what it doesn't.
* Oh, it's not just the documents, Dan. Apparently, the story has some holes, too (Dale Franks) - "I hate to risk veering off into Freeper territory here, but it's hard to beleive that the only answer for the one-sidedness of the CBS story is just incompetence."
Please be aware that real blogging has now begun at the new QandO blog! I've already put in my thoughts about today's big WaPo story on Rathergate.
*** Freeven, at Mental Hiccups, asks "What is John Kerry hiding?".....and then he answers it, too.
"The following"--i.e., what Kerry is still hiding--includes Kerry's military, medical, and tax records. And his war journal. And his Senate Intelligence Committee attendance record. And more."I have nothing to hide. I want you to ask me questions." --John Kerry, Democratic candidate for PresidentOh really?
Reuters, August 3, 2004
If Mr. Kerry has nothing to hide, why won’t he let us see the following:
John Kerry has previously said "The Nixon legacy of secrecy is alive and well in the Bush White House". One wonders if Kerry and his supporters really ever had a problem with that secrecy, or if they just wanted to get their hands on the machinery they'd just woken up to bitching about in January 2001.
That's a rhetorical question.
*** Earlier this week, I wrote a piece called "Triumphalism", in which I discussed the nature and role of the blogosphere. (and what we aren't, too) A reader (unnamed, unless he tells me otherwise) sent this email, which I think deserves attention.
I liked your analogy of the blogosphere as a great big newsroom, and I think the similarities go deeper than you suggested in your article.I think that description holds up pretty well, and I think the (rough) comparison between the blogosphere and a newsroom is appropriate.
We have columnists (e.g. Andrew Sullivan - possibly unfair since he is an actual newspaper columnist, but he embodies a particular kind of "thinker" blogger).
We have stringers (think Glenn Reynolds: he says, "hey, look at this!" and everyone else gets to comment: the "linkers").
We have editors (just about everyone with an opinion, another kind of "thinker" blogger).
We have editorials (Bill Whittle?).
We have analysis writers (Steven den Beste, plus the myriad specialists).
We even have the cartoons! (DayByDay... soon may it return).
It's all there, with one exception. We have no "reporters", we don't break news, as some would put it. Well, I'm not so sure. After all, each one of us could be considered a local reporter. We don't need national roving reporters because we have people *everywhere*. As for breaking news.. well, if it's local we do. But how often is a local event of national or international significance? As for breaking news... liveblogging perhaps? I'm not sure about that one.
I think, however, your analogy could be improved very slightly. Yes, a newsroom. But an "open source" news room. All decisions, judgements and logical processes are there to be examined by anyone who cares to, which makes a big difference.
Maybe that could make a good reality TV show? Put cameras in the news rooms of major newspapers and TV broadcasters.
*** I've had a few people ask about Neolibertarianism in recent days. "What is it?" Well, there's no simple answer, and that's something I want to correct in upcoming months, but I also need to offer a temporary explanation until then.
There's no simple explanation. I like the term "Hobbesian libertarian"--or "Lockean ideals in a Hobbesian world"--though, I recognize the fact that this won't exactly clear things up.
I responded to a reader earlier today on that question. I'll reproduce it here for what it's worth...
UPDATE: Interesting article about Halliburton--a favorite Democrat whipping-post for the Bush administration--here.
"[M]any voters may have no idea what services Halliburton provides to the government but that they know Cheney once ran the company"....and that is, apparently, enough for a political indictment. Left unsaid, though, is the exceedingly minimal actual profit--a key component of the term "profiteering"--that Halliburton is actually making on their contracts.
Bill Burkett, the retired National Guard officer who's been cited as the probable source for the CBS memos, appears to have been an Democrat operative looking for a way to discredit Bush according to a Washington Post story today:
The former Texas National Guard officer suspected of providing CBS News with possibly forged records on President Bush's military service called on Democratic activists to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks" in a series of Internet postings in which he also used phrases similar to several employed in the disputed documents.
Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, who earlier said he overheard Bush aides conspiring with the commander of the Texas National Guard to "sanitize" the president's military records, has refused to comment on reports that he could be CBS's confidential source. In e-mails yesterday to The Washington Post, he said he would speak out "at the appropriate time" but "that time is not now."
His first attempt to push the "stanitizing" story back in the late '90s was stuffed when all those he accused of doing it or knowing about it categorically denied Burkett's allegations. So it appears he had quite an axe to grind.
Per WaPo, he plans on speaking out, but only at the appropriate time. You have to wonder what could be more appropriate a time than now?
In e-mail messages to a Yahoo discussion group for Texas Democrats, Burkett laid out a rationale for using what he termed "down and dirty" tactics against Bush. He said that he had passed his ideas to the Democratic National Committee but that the DNC seemed "afraid to do what I suggest."
In another message, dated Sept. 4, Burkett hinted he might have had advance knowledge of some details in an explosive segment that aired Sept. 8 on CBS's "60 Minutes." In addition to airing footage of an interview with former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes saying he helped Bush get into the Guard, the network broadcast documents purporting to show that Bush had disobeyed a direct order to take a physical required to continue flying in the spring of 1972.
"I believe that Bush knows that there is more coming out than Ben Barnes," Burkett wrote. "No proof, just gut instinct."
Gut instinct indeed.
So we have an axe-grinder with tenuous link to the DNC who has "advanced knowledge" of something big on CBS? Sounds more and more like Burkett's the source, doesn't it?
For his part, Burkett said in an Aug. 25 posting to a different Web site, Online Journal, that he and other researchers had "reassembled" files showing that Bush did not fulfill his oath to obey his superior officers. It was not clear from the context of the message, however, whether he was referring to records that have dribbled out of the White House and the Pentagon in response to Freedom of Information Act requests or to previously unpublished documents.
"Reassembled" is newspeak for "forged". A word on the FOI for Bush's records. Memo's to File would not be in Bush's record. They'd be in a private record. If Killian had indeed done such documents, they wouldn't be in his official file. The reason one does a Memo to File is to privately record what may be a problem so that if the problem ever comes to fruition and they try to pin the blame on you, you have a MTF to show you took certain actions and covered your butt. If nothing ever came of the problem, you'd most likely get rid of the MTF. But regardless, it would be a private, unofficial file.
So we know that Burkett contacted the DNC. But is there a connection in all of this to the Kerry campaign.
In an Aug. 21 posting, Burkett referred to a conversation with former senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) about the need to counteract Republican tactics: "I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with. But none of them have called me back."
Cleland confirmed that he had a two- or three-minute conversation by cell phone with a Texan named Burkett in mid-August while he was on a car ride. He remembers Burkett saying that he had "valuable" information about Bush, and asking what he should with it. "I told him to contact the [Kerry] campaign," Cleland said. "You get this information tens of times a day, and you don't know if it is legit or not."
Which leaves the question: What did the Kerry campaign do with the information Burkett had, if anything?
This should put to rest some of the debate about Kerry's medals, at least whether they were "properly approved". Per the Navy Inspector General:
"Our examination found that existing documentation regarding the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals indicates the awards approval process was properly followed," Route wrote in the memo sent Friday to Navy Secretary Gordon England.
"In particular, the senior officers who awarded the medals were properly delegated authority to do so. In addition, we found that they correctly followed the procedures in place at the time for approving these awards."
What this means is they were properly submitted and those that needed to sign off on them did and those that awarded the medals had the authority to do so.
What it doesn't do is answer whether the events or "wounds" which lead to the medals warranted the medal or not. It also doesn't identify, in the case of the first Purple Heart, who signed off on the award (since his first commander under whom the "wound" occurred says he refused to do so).
But in terms of the legitimacy of the awards, the Navy is saying they were legitmately awarded and properly approved. That is all it is saying.
"Conducting any additional review regarding events that took place over 30 years ago would not be productive," he wrote. "The passage of time would make reconstruction of the facts and circumstances unreliable, and would not allow the information gathered to be considered in the context of the time in which the events took place.
"Our review also considered the fact that Senator Kerry's post-active duty activities were public and that military and civilian officials were aware of his actions at the time. For these reasons, I have determined that Senator Kerry's awards were properly approved and will take no further action in this matter."
So endeth this part of the medal's saga.
According to NewsMax, Hanoi Jane has now weighed in:
The America-bashing actress then urged voters to back Kerry over Bush, saying, "I don't think there's ever been such a clear choice between radicalism and moderation. I mean, we are dealing with a radical ideologue here."
A moment of sanity here ... compared to extreme leftist Fonda, anyone in the center or center/right would be a "radical ideollogue" in her world.
And that tells you where Kerry's "moderation" falls on the Fonda political spectrum.
Right where it always has .... very close to Fonda's leftist extremism.
Between her and Ted Kennedy, Kerry has just the friends he needs in the last few weeks of the race to ensure he gets no closer to the White House than booking an official tour.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Col Walter Staudt has contradicted the CBS Memos story.
Retired Col. Walter Staudt, who was brigadier general of Bush's unit in Texas, interviewed Bush for the Guard position and retired in March 1972. He was mentioned in one of the memos allegedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian as having pressured Killian to assist Bush, though Bush supposedly was not meeting Guard standards.
"I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to," Staudt told ABC News in his first interview since the documents were made public.
The memo stated that "Staudt is pushing to sugar coat" a review of Bush's performance.
Staudt said he decided to come forward because he saw erroneous reports on television. CBS News first reported on the memos, which have come under scrutiny by document experts who question whether they are authentic. Killian, the purported author of the documents, died in 1984.
Staudt insisted Bush did not use connections to avoid being sent to Vietnam.
"He didn't use political influence to get into the Air National Guard," Staudt said, adding, "I don't know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn't talk to any of them."
Read that last sentence carefully. Have you ever wondered when CBS News talked to Col. Staudt? "Cause, if you have, you can stop wondering.
Here they were, with these «damaging »memos, telling a story about how Staudt was applying political pressure to sugar-coat Mr. Bush's EOTRs, and, yet, somehow, they never talked to the man who was allegedly asking for the sugarcoating to be done.
Maybe the phones were out in Manhattan the day they were planning to call.
This is just yet another disturbing aspect of the whole episode. Somehow, the folks at CBS never aired the objections of document experts who questioned their authenticity before the story aired. They didn't include the denials of Lt Col Killian's wife and son. they didn't include any of the several peoploe who remeber Mr. Bush serving in Alabama.
And, now, we find out they didn't even talk to Col. Staudt.
I hate to risk veering off into Freeper territory here, but it's hard to beleive that the only answer for the one-sidedness of the CBS story is just incompetence. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask how much of this whole CBS national guard is the result of an agenda, rather than sloppy reporting.
One wonders if they didn't intentionally not talk to Staudt because they somehow knew or suspected he would refute every detail of the story.
Clearly, CBS didn't even do the bare minimum of due diligence before reporting this story, and, what is even worse, as the cracks in not only the memos, but the story itself, grow wider and wider, they're circling the wagons.
This is unconcsionable, and it makes one wonder how much often this kind of thing went on in old media before there was the distributed intelligence of the Internet to make fact-checking by the public so much easier.
One wonders when or if someone at Viacom will start putting the pressure on Rather--who is the 800lb gorilla at CBS News--to resign in an attempt to salvage some shred of credibility for the News Division.
Reader Mr. K was concerned that the CBS story had been "beaten to death" and yet the story of the Intel Assessment about Iraq hadn't been mentioned and was very "pessimistic"".
Well, true on both accounts. However there's a reason I, at least, haven't paid that much attention to the intelligence estimate on Iraq that was given to the White House.
I've read a good many intel estimates/assessments in my day (most of them tactical) and have come to understand they're a snap shot in time based on the information available at the time as well as assumptions and intel sources. I've also come to understand that with the passing of a day, the assumptions can change to the point that the assessment is rendered useless. I also came to understand that there are varying grades of intel sources. Some are rock solid and some are almost worthless. But both are used in intel assessments.
Lastly, intel assessments reflect the thoughts of, not surprisingly, the intel world. They do not reflect the ground truth that commanders in the field see. They are just another tool for the commander's decision making process.
That being said, I ran across something at Captain's Quarters from a Marine Major (serving in Iraq) that pretty much said what I wanted to say. Some salient clips:
Let’s lay out some background, first about the “National Intelligence Estimate.” The most glaring issue with its relevance is the fact that it was delivered to the White House in July. That means that the information that was used to derive the intelligence was gathered in the Spring – in the immediate aftermath of the April battle for Fallujah, and other events. The report doesn’t cover what has happened in July or August, let alone September.
IOW a three month old snap-shot taken in the middle of the battle for Fallujah? Any guess as to how it might be colored?
Well how about Najaf, you say? It certainly looked like the possiblity of civil war when that cranked up. Well, again, it depends on how you look at it. As a strategic intel weenie or a commander on the ground:
The naysayers will point to the recent battles in Najaf and draw parallels between that and what happened in Fallujah in April. They aren’t even close. The bad guys did us a HUGE favor by gathering together in one place and trying to make a stand. It allowed us to focus on them and defeat them. Make no mistake, Al Sadr’s troops were thoroughly smashed. The estimated enemy killed in action is huge. Before the battles, the residents of the city were afraid to walk the streets. Al Sadr’s enforcers would seize people and bring them to his Islamic court where sentence was passed for religious or other violations. Long before the battles people were looking for their lost loved ones who had been taken to “court” and never seen again. Now Najafians can and do walk their streets in safety. Commerce has returned and the city is being rebuilt. Iraqi security forces and US troops are welcomed and smiled upon. That city was liberated again. It was not like Fallujah – the bad guys lost and are in hiding or dead.
Most likely the intel estimate talks about the Sunni triangle as it existed in June of this year. But what about now?
You may not have even heard about the city of Samarra. Two weeks ago, that Sunni Triangle city was a “No-go” area for US troops. But guess what? The locals got sick of living in fear from the insurgents and foreign fighters that were there and let them know they weren’t welcome. They stopped hosting them in their houses and the mayor of the town brokered a deal with the US commander to return Iraqi government sovereignty to the city without a fight. The people saw what was on the horizon and decided they didn’t want their city looking like Fallujah in April or Najaf in August.
You can bet that's not in there, because it hadn't happened in June. As our Marine Major points out "boom, boom" two great things happen almost sponteneously, not because of US troops but because of Iraqi citizens ... neither of which are reflected in the gloom and doom assessment:
Boom, boom, just like that two major “hot spots” cool down in rapid succession. Does that mean that those towns are completely pacified? No. What it does mean is that we are learning how to do this the right way. The US commander in Samarra saw an opportunity and took it – probably the biggest victory of his military career and nary a shot was fired in anger. Things will still happen in those cities, and you can be sure that the bad guys really want to take them back. Those achievements, more than anything else in my opinion, account for the surge in violence in recent days – especially the violence directed at Iraqis by the insurgents. Both in Najaf and Samarra ordinary people stepped out and took sides with the Iraqi government against the insurgents, and the bad guys are hopping mad. They are trying to instill fear once again. The worst thing we could do now is pull back and let that scum back into people’s homes and lives.
So what's the trend in this Major's assessement on the ground? That in these two very important instances, "ordinary people stepped out and took sides with the Iraqi government against the insurgents".
As he says, that's huge. For Mr. K and the rest of those feeling a bit pessimistic about Iraq, he passes this along:
So, you may hear analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like in the next few days talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it’s looking significantly better now than when I got here. The momentum is moving in our favor, and all Americans need to know that, so please, please, pass this on to those who care and will pass it on to others.
But he also warns of this:
It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read & hear such negativity in our press. It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed. It causes the American public to start thinking about the acceptability of “cutting our losses” and pulling out, which would be devastating for Iraq for generations to come, and Muslim militants would claim a huge victory, causing us to have to continue to fight them elsewhere (remember, in war “Away” games are always preferable to “Home” games). Reports like that also cause Iraqis begin to fear that we will pull out before we finish the job, and thus less willing to openly support their interim government and US/Coalition activities. We are realizing significant progress here – not propaganda progress, but real strides are being made. It’s terrible to see our national morale, and support for what we’re doing here, jeopardized by sensationalized stories hyped by media giants whose #1 priority is advertising income followed closely by their political agenda; getting the story straight falls much further down on their priority scale, as Dan Rather and CBS News have so aptly demonstrated in the last week.
From his lips to God's ears.
Just got off the phone with Dale Franks1, and it appears our new design is coming along rather quickly. We may be able to transition over there sometime next week. Go check it out--the front page, the blog, etc.--and tell us what you think.
A few notes on what we're hoping to do:
Does that sound like too much? Perhaps. But it's become very apparent that blogs have a very important contribution to make to the national discourse, and I want QandO to be an important part of that for our fellow Neolibertarians.
1 Every blog should have a Dale Franks. Useful, friendly, and he comes in 6-packs.
STATEMENT FROM REP JOHN P. MURTHA [D-PA]:
I have learned through conversations with officials at the Pentagon that at the beginning of November, 2004, the Bush Administration plans to call up large numbers of the military guard and reserves, to include plans that they previously put off to call up the Individual Ready Reserve.
I have said publicly and privately that our forces are inadequate to support our current worldwide tempo of operations. On November 21, 2003, a bipartisan group of 135 members of the House of Representatives wrote to the President urging an increase in the active duty army troop levels and expressed concern that our Armed Forces are over-extended and that we are relying too heavily on the Guard and Reserve.
We didn't get a reply until February 2004, and now as the situation in Iraq is deteriorating, it seems that the Administration will resort to calling up additional guard and reservists, again with inadequate notice.
One can reasonably expect the Pentagon to deny this. One thing you don't do is signal to your enemy what you plan on doing in the future, to include mobilization.
That means this falls under one of two categories ... we have here a representative who has no problem telling of military plans in advance of their execution if it will reflect negatively on his party's political opponent or we have a representative who's making something up (which can't be checked) simply to frighten the families of Guardsmen and reservists in hopes of changing their vote.
Either way, I have a real problem with this announcement. It is the ultimate in politicizing the war in Iraq.
Per the NY Daily News, even CBS fixture Andy Rooney thinks the documents are fakes:
CBS curmudgeon Andy Rooney indicated yesterday he believes the controversial documents on President Bush's National Guard service are fake and said it could cost Dan Rather down the road.
"I'm surprised at their reluctance to concede they're wrong," Rooney said, referring to CBS brass.
Despite praising Rather as "a good, honest newsman," Rooney added, "I'm unsure if they're whistling in the dark instead of apologizing."
Kind of begs the question of whether a 'good honest, newsman' would continue to perpetuate a fraud, dosen't it?
Rooney doesn't think the network would try to ease out Rather over the memo mess, but he added, "It might have an effect on him six months from now."
But what about the effect it will have, overall, on CBS? Is allowing Dan Rather to continue to stonewall worth the price to CBS in ratings and credibility?
"If Dan Rather wants to stay at the 'CBS Evening News' and be the premier anchor at the network, this whole imbroglio didn't help him," said Max Robins, editor in chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine.
However, unlike NBC News, which has groomed Brian Williams to take over from Tom Brokaw after the presidential election, CBS has no succession plan.
Which is easily remedied by looking outside CBS.
I still ask, how long can CBS let this obvious fraud of a story continue without specifically addressing the challenges to the authenticity of the documents which have been raised? How long can it continue without at least ordering an internal investigation?
Its an article of faith on the left that George Bush "stole" the 2000 election with the aid of the Supreme Court which gave him a win in FL that he didn't earn and thus a Presidency he didn't earn.
To this day, the myth is still perpertrated by the likes of Jesse Jackson, John Edwards and John Kerry:
There are many issues to debate and argue about the sordid Florida experience, but one of the most intriguing is how a cottage industry has sprung up among liberals to perpetuate this myth. (Jesse Jackson still refers to Florida as "the scene of the crime" where "we were disenfranchised. Our birthright stolen.") As the 2004 election grew closer, the distortions spread beyond Moore's fantasy to the presidential campaign itself. Senator John Kerry told crowds that "we know thousands of people were denied the right to vote." His running mate, former trial lawyer John Edwards, ended speeches with a closing argument about "an incredible miscarriage of justice" in Florida.
The problem for the left is that there are no facts to support the myth. Unlike Michael Moore's claim in his factually challenged film "Fahrenheit 911", none of the recounts which were conducted post election showed that Al Gore would have won:
But in fact, every single recount of the votes in Florida determined that George W. Bush had won the state's twenty-five electoral votes and therefore the presidency. This includes a manual recount of votes in largely Democratic counties by a consortium of news organizations, among them the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times. As the New York Times reported on November 21, 2001, "A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward." The USA Today recount team concluded: "Who would have won if Al Gore had gotten manual counts he requested in four counties? Answer: George W. Bush."
Despite evidence to the contrary in the form of that presented by the consortium of news organizations, the myth persists among the left. It is the origin of the hate which they feel for Gerorge Bush.
When confronted by the fact that the news consortium could find no basis for the claim that Bush and the Supreme Court had "stolen" the election, many on the left then made the claim that certain minorities had been illegally "disenfranchised" (by not counting their vote) and others had not been allowed to vote ... in fact, per the claim, prevented by police from voting. Enough, those critics claim, to have easily made the difference for Al Gore.
After all the media recounts of 2001 showed that George W. Bush would still have won under any fair standard, Democratic activists have narrowed their charges to the purported disfranchisement of black voters. The Civil Rights Commission, led by Democrat Mary Frances Berry-with only two Republican commissioners at the time-issued a scathing majority report in 2001 alleging "widespread voter disenfranchisement" and accusing Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush of "failing to fulfill their duties in a manner that would prevent this disenfranchisement."
So by what means did the Civil Rights Commission prove these charges? Well, in fact, they really never did.
But when it comes to actual evidence of racial bias, the report draws inferences that are not supported by any data and ignores facts that challenge its conclusions. Since we have a secret ballot in America, we do not know the race of the 180,000 voters (2.9 percent of the total number of ballots cast in Florida) whose ballots had no valid vote for president. Machine error cannot be the cause of discrimination, since the machine doesn't know the race of the voter either, and in any case accounts for about one error in 250,000 votes cast. (And, as some have asked, is it not racist in the first place to assume that those who spoil ballots are necessarily minority voters?)
The Commission simply assumed that the invalid ballots were those of minorities. That somehow blacks and other minorities were shut out of voting based on the evidence that 180,000 ballots had no valid vote for president. That somehow those counting the ballots knew the voters were black.
Sounds absurd, but that's the core of the claim.
The question then is: was the commission able to come up with "a consistent, statistically significant relationship between the share of voters who were African-American and the ballot spoilage rate?"
The answer is a flat "no". In fact, a study showed something else entirely:
John Lott, an economist and statistician from the Yale Law School now with the American Enterprise Institute, studied spoilage rates in Florida by county in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections and compared them with demographic changes in county populations. He concluded that "the percent of voters in different race or ethnic categories is never statistically related to ballot spoilage."
Lott found that among the 25 Florida counties with the greatest rate of vote spoilage, 24 had Democratic election officers in charge of counting the votes. He concluded that "having Democratic officials in charge [of county elections] increases ballot spoilage rates significantly, but the effect is stronger when that official is an African-American."
In other words, the possibility of disenfranchisement as charged by the Civil Rights Commission took place in counties with Democratic officials in charge of the elections and counting.
How then is it possible for Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush in particular and the Republicans in general, to have "disenfranchized" minority voters in those counties?
In fact, ballot spoilage at the rate indicated in the 2000 election is about average and happens in every election:
Ballot-spoilage rates across the country range between 2 and 3 percent of total ballots cast. Florida's rate in 2000 was 3 percent. In 1996 it was 2.5 percent.
Another of the charges leveled was that blacks were kept away from the polling places by police.
Other charges from Democratic activists turned out to be "falsehoods and exaggerations." For instance, when the commission investigated the charge that a police traffic checkpoint near a polling place had intimidated black voters, it turned out that the checkpoint operated for ninety minutes at a location two miles from the poll and not even on the same road. And of the sixteen people given citations, twelve were white.
And last, but not least, "the Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth-a Democrat-testified that of the 2,600 complaints he received on Election Day, only three were about racial discrimination."
The myth's foundations are easily destroyed with fact, but not as easily dismissed by those who badly want to believe George Bush was "selected not elected". Although false, the myth gives them a basis for their claim to the illegitimacy of Bush's presidency and a reason for their hate. Whether its true or not apparently doesn't matter anymore (and I'm not so sure it mattered then) as the hate is now so rooted within them that it is a part of their political being. ABB is their mantra and ABB is who they'll vote for, regardless of whether that's good for the country or not.
Sometimes--frequently, even--I am just aghast at the sheer, unadultered bull coming from the Bush campaign - and, specifically, from President Bush.
If you listen carefully to the rhetoric in this campaign, I'm running against a fellow who wants to expand government. We want to expand opportunity for every single citizen of this country.That's pretty much the same thing on which Bush ran in 2000 - "My opponent trusts government. I trust you."
That's what he said, anyway. Once elected--as the Cato Institute pointed out--Bush became the "Mother of All Big Spenders."
Now, I realize it's nothing new to point out that Bush has all the fiscal discipline of a, er, politician running for reelection. So, instead, let's just point out the hypocrisy of Bush calling Kerry "a fellow who wants to expand government."
In the same speech, Bush advocates:
Of course, he didn't always use the word "expand". Other times, he said....
Face it - the only thing Bush can brag about is his comparative conservative advantage over Kerry. And that's akin to saying a tornado is--comparatively--better at home improvement projects than a hurricane.
How did this guy ever get nominated by the Republican Party, and how can we make sure the GOP never does that again?
Reading through the comments to Jon's post about the blogosphere's triumphalism over Rathergate, I came across commenter Navteqie's take on the whole thing.
I think everyone misses the point of Blogs entirely.
The blogsphere is a giant B.S. filter of what is fed to us from the MSM. Instead of one reporter getting some information, then disseminating it to us through his biased mind, and then feeding it to us as he sees it, we have Blogs which consist of millions (?) of people that have more combined knowledge on the subjects the reporter is giving us and thoroughly disecting it to find out what the -REAL- truth is.
For the most part, I agree. While mildly crude characterization, its a very succinct description of what the blogosphere, on both sides, has done since its existance. "Fisking" is and has become an integral part of its daily bread, where columnists and opinion leaders in the old media have their version of events and their pontifications challenged. The intent? Filter out the nonsense and challenge the ideological conventional wisdom. Its usually done with facts, figures and logical arguments to counter the arguments of the pundit.
The same goes for more hard new stories, such as Rathergate. I won't bore you with a rehash of the details so readily known among those who frequent the blogosphere, but suffice it to say, the "BS Filter" was applied to a CBS "60 Minutes" story and CBS was found wanting.
In my estimation, this sort of function is both necessary and invaluable. What blogs don't do as a rule, is break news. Bloggers are net consumers of news. But what they provide is something new and something which has been lacking forever. The old media likes to talk about editorial "checks and balances". But those are internal checks and balances which may or may not render judgement that a story is both factual and unbiased as we've seen with Rathergate and my other such stories. It is difficult to see beyond institutional bias sometimes, and that is where bloggers perform a valuable "filtration" function. They provide an external version of "checks and balances".
Depending on who's ox is being gored, one or the other of the ideological sides of the blogosphere is going to look hard at the facts and figures of the old media's output. And its at that point where the strength of the blogosphere is found.
Michael Van Winkle, in a Tech Central Station article, points to how that strength manifests itself by citing the smiling ghost of F A Hayek. As Van Winkle points out, "Hayek's work centered on the effectiveness of spontaneous, decentralized organization". That effectiveness was proven last week, initiated by Powerline.
Hayek's work focused on how it is that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction. When they do, they outperform systems of "command", systems that rely on central direction. Hayek was an economist and so his primary object of study was the market and how, seemingly counterintuitively, it can work without commands; and why it outperforms large scale centralized economies like the Soviet Union.
Hayek theorized that markets worked better primarily because of their ability to facilitate the use of 'on the spot' knowledge, knowledge that is very unique to a particular person or place.
With Powerline as the source of the questions about the CBS program and the authenticity of the memos, it solicited "on the spot" knowledge from its readers simply by asking those questions. The reaction, as we know was both spontaneous and phenomenal.
This traditional criticism of the internet has now been aimed at the blogosphere and is embodied by big journalists like Jonathan Klein who, while defending the CBS story to The Weekly Standard remarked, "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing." Klein misses the point that it's not whether you can trust some guy in his pajamas, but whether you can trust a spontaneous system of thousands of guys in their pajamas trading information and imparting small, sometimes deceivingly insignificant, bits of information.
On reflection, Klein seem like a dinosaur who doesn't understand what the impact of that meteor means to him. As Van Winkle points out the "spontaneous system of thousands of guys in their pajamas trading information and imparting small, sometimes deceivingly insignificant, bits of information" created a synergy and self-correcting process which very quickly and convincingly destroyed CBS's claim that the memos were real.
The BS Filter characterization, despite its crudity, seems to be the best fit to me. I think it is very unlikely that bloggers will ever break news ... in fact I find it very unlikely they want too. Instead what bloggers bring to the game is an external and spontaneous system of filtration which has never existed with the old media. As Van Winkles concludes:
Big media isn't dying. It never will. The proof of this is that most bloggers get the grist for their mills from traditional big media sources. The impact of the blogosphere is to change the way the media does business. Five years from now, the news channels doing well will be the ones who take the blogosphere seriously, finding ways to use it to better its own reporting and analysis.
I agree. And those who embrace and use the new media in that capacity will most likely survive and thrive. And those, like CBS, who fight and denigrate it will go the way of the dinosaurs.
The BS filter is in place .... and it works.
Per the experts, and the polls, each candidate has issues which are strengths and weaknesses. On the Kerry side, its health care, the economy, and social issues. On Bush's side its defense and national security. The issue that could make Bush the most vulnerable, an issue which can swing both ways, is Iraq. If Kerry could frame the debate about how wrong Iraq is, how badly it is going and how poor a decision Bush made to go in there, he'd have a shot.
But as Charles Krauthammer points out, Kerry's record of votes and statements really leave him nothing with which to do that:
If the election were held today, John Kerry would lose by between 88 and 120 electoral votes. The reason is simple: The central vulnerability of this president -- the central issue of this campaign -- is the Iraq war. And Kerry has nothing left to say.
Why? Because, until now, he has said everything conceivable regarding Iraq. Having taken every possible position on the war, there is nothing he can say now that is even remotely credible.
Krauthammer takes us down memory lane with Kerry concerning Iraq. Suffice it to say that whatever Kerry tries there's a statement he's made or a position he's taken on Iraq which refutes it:
He now calls Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." But, of course, he voted to authorize the war. And shortly after the fall of Baghdad he emphatically repeated his approval of the war: "It was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him."
Right decision? Wrong war? Which is it?
When Don Imus asked him this week, "Do you think there are any circumstances we should have gone to war in Iraq, any?" Kerry responded: "Not under the current circumstances, no. There are none that I see. I voted based on weapons of mass destruction. The president distorted that." But just last month he said that even if he had known then what he knows now, he would have voted for the war resolution.
Absolutely no circumstances we should have gone to war as opposed to saying he'd have voted for it again even knowing what we know now. Two completely contradictory statements.
Is Iraq a part of the war on terror? Well, yes and no. Then and now.
Is Iraq part of the war on terrorism or a cynical distraction from it? "And everything [Bush] did in Iraq, he's going to try to persuade people it has to do with terror, even though everybody here knows that it has nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda and everything to do with an agenda that they had preset, determined."
That was April 2004. Of course, shortly after Sept. 11, Kerry was saying the opposite. "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally," he said in December 2001. "This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. . . . Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue [with], for instance, Saddam Hussein."
The only consistent position Kerry has taken on Iraq is an inconsistent one which features the candidate adopting whatever stance is popular (or politically necessary) at the time. As one person mentioned, its a "weather-vane" approach to national security.
Interestingly, last week Kerry was back to considering Iraq a part of the war on terror:
Kerry temporarily returned to that position last week when he marked the 1,000th American death in Iraq by saying the troops have "given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, in the war on terror."
With these conflicting statements, stances and positions, is it any wonder why people are in the dark as to where Kerry stands on Iraq?
Couple his constant changes there with a record he's running away from (how often have you heard the man mention what he's done in the Senate) and you have a candidate who can't seem to get any traction because he doesn't stay with one position long enough to be identified with it.
Krauthammer explains his "Kerry theory of political expediency and multiple positions" this way:
With factions in his campaign staff fighting among themselves for dominance, the lack of a strategy and a message are becoming obvious and critical. A recent NDN Poll (a Democrat poll) points out that among swing voters, 48% feel Bush has a clear agenda for the future while only 38% believe the same to be true for Kerry.
These dizzying contradictions -- so glaring, so public, so frequent -- have gone beyond undermining anything Kerry can now say on Iraq. They have been transmuted into a character issue. When Kerry went off windsurfing during the Republican convention, Jay Leno noted that even Kerry's hobbies depend on wind direction. Kerry on the war has become an object not only of derision but of irreconcilable suspicion. What kind of man, aspiring to the presidency, does not know his own mind about the most serious issue of our time?
Its a good question, and its an unanswered question. Its also the question which is most likely to sink any Kerry presidential hopes if left unanswered. The other unanswered question is can Kerry change the perception of his constant vaccilation and apparent inability to take a consistant stand within the next 6 weeks enough to neutralize the negative characterization he labors under, that of a "flip-flopper?"
We'll see. But in my opinion, it is that which his campaign must accomplish if he's to have any chance at all of winning.
UPDATE: If you haven't seen the RNC video on Kerry's multiple positions on Iraq, its interesting and illustrates Krauthammer's points quite well. Keep in mind though that it is an RNC video.
In a recent press release, John Kerry claimed that:
“The election comes down to this. If you believe this country is heading in the right direction, you should support George Bush. But if you believe America needs to move in a new direction, join with us. John and I offer a better plan that will make us stronger at home and more respected in the world. And we need your help to do that.".....citing--inter alia--"The number of uninsured has swelled under Bush" to "15.6 percent of the total population".
And he has a plan to reverse that. Essentially--with mandated government intervention for health care by fiat--it amounts to socialized medicine.
So, how's that working out elsewhere?
Canada often boasts its universal health care program shows it is more caring than the United States, but the system is creaking alarmingly, with long wait lists for treatment, and shortages of cash and doctors.And that's in Canada....the Democratic Party's Health Care Promised Land.
As the politicians bicker, Canadians spend more time waiting in line. A study by the right-wing Fraser Institute this month said that average waiting time for treatment in 2003 rose to 17.7 weeks from 16.5 weeks in 2002.
Some delays are much longer. Patients in Ontario who require major knee surgery can wait six months to see a specialist and then another 18 months for surgery.
Statistics Canada said in June that some 3.6 million Canadians, or 15 percent of the population, did not have a regular doctor last year. This means hospital emergency rooms are flooded by people with routine problems.
Remember: if you don't like to see 15% of America uninsured, the Democrats have a solution. They'll insure so many people that 15% of Americans won't even be able to see the doctor. (which keeps costs down!)
A shot from the destruction Hurricane Ivan brought to Pensacola FL. Take a close peek near the bottom right.
Per Drudge it appears so:
CBS executives on both coasts have become concerned in recent days that Dan Rather's EVENING NEWS broadcast has plunged in the ratings since the anchor presented questionable documents about Bush's National Guard service.
NIELSEN numbers released this week show Rather fading and trailing his rivals in every Top 10 city, other than San Francisco, with audience margins in some cities running more than 6 to 1 against CBS!
Executives fear many voters inclined to vote for Bush are now switching off Rather.
Maybe instead, executives should fear that viewers (instead of voters) who are disinclined to accept fraud and then watch it supported night after night are switiching off.
"The audience appears to [be] polarized," a top CBS source said from LOS ANGELES on Thursday. "Rightly or wrongly, we're being perceived as 'anti-Bush,' which I do not think is fair to Dan, who is a fine journalist... of course we do not like to see the ratings coming back the way they are this week."
Are these guys out of touch or what? While some do indeed think that CBS is preceived as being "anti-Bush" so is much of the news media. That perceived bias hasn't hurt the rest of the news media as badly as CBS is being hurt. Conclusion: Maybe its something else.
Maybe, its because CBS has perpertrated a fraud and is too arrogant to admit it?
A Rasmussen poll says only 27% of those polled believed the memos to be real. That goes far beyond a pro-Bush faction.
In Philadelphia, the nation's #4 market, Rather pulled a 2.6 rating/5 share on Tuesday night against ABC's 13.3 rating/23 share and NBC's 4.0/7.
In Chicago, Rather hit a 2.3/5 to ABC's 9.2/20.
CBS trailed ABC by more than 2 to 1 in Los Angeles.
And in the nation's top market, New York, Rather finished not only behind NBC NIGHTLY NEWS and ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT -- but also pulled less audience than reruns of the SIMPSONS, WILL & GRACE and KING OF QUEENS.
Rather finished dead last in New York during the 6:30 pm timeslot among all broadcast channels tracked by NIELSEN on Tuesday.
Pretty sorry ratings to say the least. While pressure may not get CBS's advertisers to jump ship, bad ratings certainly will.
I wonder if the "internal investigation" is becoming more of a possibility now?
UPDATE: Reader S. asks "but aren't they always the bottom of the barrel. How about some comparative ratings."
Good point. For the week of September 9, 2004 which is a pre-Rathergate rating:
NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.7 million viewers (6.3 rating, 14 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 7.5 million (5.4, 12) and the "CBS Evening News" 6.5 million (4.6, 10).
T. Bevan of RealClear Politics drops an interesting little factoid on us concerning the much discussed 527s.
Look at this list of the top individual donors to 527's. So far, twenty-five individuals have contributed $58,218,283 to these groups. Of that total, 97% has gone to liberal and/or anti-Bush organizations and Soros and Lewis are responsible for nearly half of that money ($26,830,000) just between the two of them.
On that particular list, if you haven't ponied up at least half a mil, you're a nobody. 97% have gone toward sinking Bush.
Yet who was the first candidate to really whine about a 527?
Sometimes you come across "reasoning" which makes you realize that if this was representative of main stream thinking, you'd have to conclude the human race doesn't have a chance of survival.
Some professor of statistics wrote a piece for the LA Times (I found it in the San Jose Mercury) in which he says ... well let him say it:
The bottom line is this: There will always be terrorists and legitimate efforts to catch and kill them. But meanwhile, the bigger statistical threat comes from the driver next to you who is talking on the cell phone.
Did you catch the premise? This "terrorism" thing is all about the threat to you, and if you're worried about that, its hardly that much of a real threat when compared to bad drivers.
He writes a whole piece describing how we're overreacting to this terrorist thing and giving away liberties by the handful when, in fact, it only averages about a 1000 or so souls a year.
OK, true enough. I stand a much greater chance of being killed by another driver than by a terrorist. But on reflection, that's not the point of all of this, is it?
I don't think anyone really believes that its all about the threat only to them.
Its about much more than that. For instance, everyone of the 40,000 deaths on the highway this year will not change the direction of an election, such as 200 deaths in Spain did. Even twice the numbers of deaths on the highway would not have the horrible negative effect on a nation's economy as did 3,000 on September 11, 2001. While the loss of life is negligable in comparision, the impact of terrorism is far, far more damaging to the nation as a whole.
I look both ways before crossing a street or pulling out into one, but not one of the drivers out there is a threat to me when I step into a government building or any other crowded public facility, unless that driver has made his car into a bomb.
Certainly all of what Bart Kosko says in his article is technically true, its also irrelevant.
Terrorism isn't just about the threat to me. Its about the threat to the very fabric of the nation I live in. Its a concerted effort by a brutal and fanatic enemy to change my way of life, change the direction of my country and effect the very lifeblood of my nation ... its economy.
Not one of the millions of bad drivers out there can or will have that effect.
So when you hear an idiot savant like this guy tell you that statistically speaking your neighbor in her car is more of a threat than Osamma bin Laden, pat him on the head, send him off to his ivory tower and call ahead to clear the road so he won't take out some innocent driver as he heads that way.
My book review of "Mile Gone By: a Literary Autobiography" by William F Buckley--one of the giants of political thought in this past century--is up. You can read it here. Comments can be made on this post.
Below in "Stray Voltage" I mentioned Kofi Annan's BBC interview. In that interview, Annan characterized the invasion of Iraq as "illegal". Seems that description engendered a rather sharp reaction among some of the states which participated in Iraq:
But Australian Prime Minister John Howard said it was entirely valid.
Labelling the international body "paralysed", he said it was incapable of dealing with international crises.
"The legal advice we had - and I tabled it at the time - was that the action was entirely valid in international law terms," he said.
In the US, Randy Scheunemann, a former advisor to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had this to say:
"I think it is outrageous for the secretary general, who ultimately works for the member states, to try and supplant his judgement for the judgement of the member states," he told the BBC.
"To do this 51 days before an American election reeks of political interference," Randy Scheunemann said.
Scheunemann also points to the UN's lack of action in Sudan as a further indication of its failure and the failure of multilateralism under its leadership.
The Brits too reacted strongly:
The British government - which has argued that UN resolutions provided a legal basis for intervening to topple Saddam Hussein - said the 2003 invasion was "not only lawful but necessary".
"We spelt out at the time our reasons for believing the conflict in Iraq was indeed lawful and why we believed it was necessary to uphold those UN resolutions," Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt told the BBC.
Japan's response is a bit more muted, but it asks, in essence, what the heck Annan meant by his use of the term "illegal".
Japan's top government spokesperson told a news conference that he would be seeking clarification about the exact significance of Mr Annan's words.
"We wish to verify the real meaning by making various inquiries," Hiroyuki Hosoda was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
It'll be interesting to see if there's any further fallout from the Annan interview.
Bush speaks to the UN General Assembly next week, and the BBC is of the opinion that both Annan and the Bush administration will try to play this down.
Who’s Bill Burkett ... well if you want a pretty complete picture, don’t rely on the MSM, check out Ace of Spades instead. And excellent run down on the man suspected to be the source for the forged memos.
The Kerry Spot on NRO reminds us that there is a race for the presidency going on and it seems the news is getting worse on the Kerry side of the ledger:
While all of us are focused on exposing Dan Rather as a blatantly dishonest hack, the polls are, by and large, falling apart for John Kerry.
We reported earlier that a poll has Bush up in New Jersey, down by only four in Illinois. Now we notice Bush is up 6 in Florida, up 4 in Nevada, tied in Minnesota, up 3 in Pennsylvania, Bush up by 2, 6, or 8 in Wisconsin. The three most recent Ohio polls have Bush up 12, 3, and 9.
This doesn't mean the election is over — not by a long shot.
Heed the last line. But last line included, it is not looking good, at this time, for the Dems.
Robert Novak is having trouble figuring out the Kerry/Gun Control gambit. His essential question is “why”? Its mostly a loser, yet he continues to return to it. His analysis:
Last Friday, Sen. Kerry abruptly returned to the safely buried gun control issue by decrying President Bush for permitting the assault weapons ban to end. On Saturday, he addressed the Congressional Black Caucus with a liberal harangue. On Sunday, Kerry rested. On Monday, Kerry was back boosting gun control, scolding Bush for letting the assault weapons ban expire at midnight.
Only two explanations are possible, and neither is reassuring to worried Democrats. Kerry could be making a conscious, though counterproductive, decision to reassure his liberal base. Or, he could be trapped by the calendar of events -- talking gun control because a deadline had been reached and talking civil rights because the Black Caucus invited him. Democratic strategists are particularly concerned by the latter explanation, suggesting a mindless campaign.
With the reported “civil war” raging inside the campaign, it appears the candidate himself is adrift. So he’s reduced to “issues of opportunity” since there’s no real direction to his campaign?
Not a good sign for Kerry/Edwards.
I read it in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution and Whizbang is reporting that it was also in the Washington Post that there may be more “documents” about to be released concerning Bush’s Guard service.
In a related development, White House press secretary Scott McClellan hinted that more documents regarding Bush's National Guard service may soon be released. Asked whether officials in the White House have seen unreleased documents, McClellan called that "a very real possibility." Other officials with knowledge of the situation said more documents had indeed been uncovered and would be released in the coming days.
I use the scare quotes on “documents” because it remains to be seen whether they’re real or not.
Hurricane Ivan roared into Mobile Bay last night sending 53 foot waves crashing toward the shore. We here at Q and O send along our hope that all who were and are in Ivan’s path remain safe and healthy.
Kofi Annan sounds like a Kerry echo chamber, or is it the other way around? From a BBC interview:
Q: Are you bothered that the US is becoming an unrestrainable, unilateral superpower?
A: Well, I think over the last year, we've all gone through lots of painful lessons. I'm talking about since the war in Iraq. I think there has been lessons for the US and there has been lessons for the UN and other member states and I think in the end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with our allies and through the UN to deal with some of these issues. And I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time.
Q: Done without UN approval - or without clearer UN approval?
A: Without UN approval and much broader support from the international community.
Annan goes on to say he considers the war to have been “illegal”. He forgets to mention that UN resolution 1441 included language which essentially said that any member nation of the United Nations was allowed to take military action against Saddam Hussein if the provisions of all the resolutions are not completely complied with. They weren’t and the rest is history.
Blog triumphalism is getting a bit out of hand, lately. I think it's time for a bit of perspective. Sure, the distributed intelligence of the blogosphere helped a great deal in aggregating relevant information, pushing the Forgery Story to the front burner, and pressuring CBS--and the media--to reach some resolution.
For all of that, the 'sphere deserves credit.
But this talk about "revolutionizing the media", "bringing down the Mainstream Media", and "making the MSM obselete" are just so much nonsense. As Josh Marshall writes, "most of what blogs do feeds off of newspaper coverage -- either criticizing coverage, expanding on coverage, running with stories that aren't getting much attention and so forth. That's not to say blogs aren't important, only that they're in a synergistic or interdependent relationship with the conventional media".
I've been conflicted about the proper description of blogs. Blogs are:
David Adesnik writes that "American journalists' unflagging efforts to confront authority figures and challenge conventional wisdom created the environment within which bloggers can thrive" and that, as a result of this, "America's bloggers are very much its journalists' children".
There's something to this, I think, but it doesn't quite hit the mark.
Blogs, I think, are a combination of editor and stringer. Bloggers do both the fact-checking (of editors), and the preliminary--even dubious--muckraking (of stringers in search of a story). The Blogosphere might best be compared to the newsroom at a newspaper. There, you'll find everything....the conscientous fact-checking, as well as the unsourced rumors that never make the final product.
Well, in the 'sphere, all of it is thrown against the wall to see what sticks. Blogs, like the preliminary research done in the newsrooms, are not The Record. They are merely the combined intelligence and information that goes into coalescing The Record.
Except, in blogs--for better or worse--it's all written and published as it happens.
In our current case--commonly called RatherGate--Matthew Yglesias makes a case against blogs that I think touches on, but ultimately misses, the point...
I'm not quite sure I grasp all the blogosphere triumphalism surrounding the Killian memos. After CBS ran the story, the conservative side of the 'sphere came up with dozens of purported debunkings of their authenticity, almost all of which turned out to be more purported than debunking. Then after a few days of back-and-forth, traditional reporters at The Washington Post came out with a more careful, more accurate, more actually-debunking story. The folks at PowerLine and LGF are, at best, Gettier cases, they didn't do any of the actual debunking. Instead, it was done by reporters working for major papers. And good for them. And shame on CBS. But I don't really see what the blogs had to do with it. [emphasis added]Matt essentially notes the preliminary nature of the blogospheric contribution to this story. You can be certain the WaPo reporters didn't arrive at their story fully-formed and correct. Instead, they pieced together the various bits and pieces pointed out by others, be they experts or bloggers, discarded the dross and wrote up the accurate bits.
Now, one might correctly say that the final WaPo product had a higher percentage of accuracy than the whole of the blogospheric contribution, but if Matt really can't see that the blogosphere contributed to that final product....
Well, I doubt he's that foolish.
In fact, the blogosphere's contribution was exactly the sort of distributed-intelligence expertise, aggregation and vetting that produces--and, in fact, produced--a story like that which eventually ran in the Washington Post. Blogs were editors to CBS, and stringers for the Washington Post.
Tony Blankley described this distributed intelligence contribution in more vivid terms:
Jesse Taylor is correct to critically ask "Have we now reached the point ... where a significant portion of the conservative blogosphere actually believes that it provides a thoroughly reliable fact-check function?"
But Tony Blankely is also correct to describe the process thusly: "As each of these experts added their information to one blog, other bloggers would monitor it, pass it on, add a new fact, reorganize the analysis and synthesize new information. If new information proved wrong, it was corrected by yet another expert in the blogosphere."
Blogs, in the end, are not the Journalism Product of Record. But they are a part of the process....as both stringers and, at times, editors-of-last-resort.
And, really, that's a pretty valuable contribution.
UPDATE II: At Non-Box Thinking, Roger Snowden writes....
The real revolution is not the blogosphere, per se. It is competition in the media news marketplace, first brought by talk radio, and then cable news. The failing of broadcast news-- CBS, NBC and ABC-- is they did not recognize competition from cable news until it was too late. CNN, once the cable alternative to MSM, is now MSM itself. They too failed to recognize competition, and now FoxNews has twice the audience of CNN on any given night.He has a point, I think. What passes for news media is becoming less centralized, and more ideological...as well as more ideologically diverse. I do wonder what effect that will have on the consumers, who are becoming more comfortable picking their media outlet based on what news they like to hear. (see: FOXNews)
MSM is the self-appointed autocracy, while the blogosphere is almost pure democracy. Right, left, tinfoil-hat or stone-cold-sober, bloggers compete with ideas. Individual citizens eventually decide what is true and what to believe. In a recent survey, Rasmussen reports only 27% of the public thinks the Rathergate documents are not forgeries. The emperor has no clothes.
The marketplace of ideas will win the day.
I fear that may lead to even more polarization, in due time, as the citizenry immerses themselves in almost wholly different universes of facts and values. What facts, after all, will Rush Limbaugh news-consumers share in common with Al Franken news-consumers?
Very little, I fear. And that will make a civil, reasonable exchange of ideas very nearly impossible.
UPDATE III: Bit late to update this post, but Bill from INDC Journal has made a very important contribution to the "settle down, Beavis" theme....
Nothing of huge significance here, just interesting and indicative:
Teresa Heinz Kerry, encouraging volunteers as they busily packed supplies Wednesday for hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean, said she was concerned the effort was too focused on sending clothes instead of essentials like water and electric generators.
"Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids," said Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites). "Water is necessary, and then generators, and then food, and then clothes."
Uh, gee Teresa, thanks. Tell us again why are you visiting those sending stuff to the Carribbean when we've had 3 hurricanes make landfall in the US in the last month?
In case you were wondering how the new blog is coming along here it is. I've gotten the majority of programming done to display the entries from the SQL Database, and I've done a little initial formatting, too. All the entries are just test data so far, but it gives you an idea of how the blog will look when it's done.
For you geeks out there, the blog itself is an ASP.NET control I've put into a DotNetNuke template page.
I'm posting this story by Anne Morse in its entirety because it is true. But more importantly it demonstrates a pattern that is not new with Dan Rather and CBS News. Its not hard to spot, but it is very damning in light of the charade these people are engaged in concerning the forged "Killian Memos".
Critics are calling the media scandal over the Jerry Killian forgeries "Rathergate." But to thousands of Vietnam veterans, the real Rathergate took place 16 years ago when Dan Rather successfully foisted a fraud onto the American people. Then, unlike now, there was no blogosphere to expose him. On June 2, 1988, CBS aired an hour-long special titled CBS Reports: The Wall Within, which CBS trumpeted as the "rebirth of the TV documentary."
It purported to tell the true story of Vietnam through the eyes of six of the men who fought there. And what terrible stories they had to tell.
"I think I was one of the highest trained, underpaid, eighteen-cent-an-hour assassins ever put together by a team of people who knew exactly what they were looking for," said Steve Southards, a Navy SEAL who told Rather he had escaped society to live in the forests of Washington state. Under Rather's gentle coaxing, Southards described slaughtering Vietnamese civilians, making his work appear to be that of the North Vietnamese.
"You're telling me that you went into the village, killed people, burned part of the village, then made it appear that the other side had done this?" Rather asked.
"Yeah," Steve replied. "It was kill VC, and I was good at what I did." Steve arrived home "in a straitjacket, addicted to alcohol and drugs" knowing that "combat had made him different," Rather intoned. "He asked for help; that's unusual, many vets don't. They hold back until they explode."
Rather then moved on to suicidal veteran named George Grule, who was stationed on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga off the coast of Vietnam during a secret mission. Grule described the horror of watching a friend walk into the spinning propeller of a plane, which chopped him to pieces and sprayed Grule with his blood. The memory of this trauma left Grule, like Steve, unable to function in normal society.
Neither could Mikal Rice, who broke down as he described a grenade attack at Cam Ranh Bay, which blew in half the body of a buddy, "Sergeant Call." "He died in my arms," Rice tearfully recalled. Rice described how the sound of thunder and cars backfiring would regularly trigger his terrible memories.
Most horrific of all were the memories of Terry Bradley, a "fighting sergeant" who told Rather he had skinned alive 50 Vietnamese men, women, and children in one hour and stacked their bodies in piles.
"Could you do this for one hour of your life, you stack up every way a body could be mangled, up into a body, an arm, a tit, an eyeball . . . Imagine us over there for a year and doing it intensely," Bradley said. "That is sick."
"You've got to be angry about it," Rather replied. "I'm suicidal about it," Bradley responded. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, drug abuse, alcoholism, joblessness, homelessness, suicidal thoughts: These tattered warriors suffered from them all. The Wall Within was hailed by critics who - like the Washington Post's Tom Shales - gushed that the documentary was "extraordinarily powerful." There was just one problem: Almost none of it was true.
The truth was uncovered by B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and author of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History (with Glenna Whitley). Burkett discovered that only one of the vets had actually served in combat. Steve Southards, who'd claimed to be a 16-year-old Navy SEAL assassin, had actually served as an equipment repairman stationed far from combat.
Later transferred to Subic Bay in the Philippines, Steve spent most of his time in the brig for repeatedly going AWOL. And George Gruel, who claimed he was traumatized by the sight of his friend being chopped to pieces by a propeller? Navy records reveal that a propeller accident did take place on the Ticonderoga when Gruel was aboard - but that he wasn't around when it happened. During Gruel's tour, the ship had been converted to an antisubmarine warfare carrier which operated, not on "secret mission" along the Vietnam coast, but on training missions off the California coastline. Nevertheless, Burkett notes, Gruel receives $1,952 a month from the Veterans Administration for "psychological trauma" related to an event he only heard about.
Mikal Rice - the anguished vet who claimed to have cradled his dying buddy in his arms - actually spent his tour as a guard with an MP company at Cam Ranh Bay. He never saw combat. Neither did Terry Bradley, who was not the "fighting sergeant" he'd claimed to be. Instead, military records reveal he served as an ammo handler in the 25th Infantry Division and spent nearly a year in the stockade for being AWOL.
That's good news for the hundreds of Vietnamese civilians Bradley claimed to have slaughtered. But it doesn't say much for Dan Rather's credibility.
As Burkett notes, the records of all of these vets were easily checkable through Freedom of Information Act requests of their military records - something Rather and his producers simply didn't bother to do. They accepted at face value the lurid tales of atrocities committed in Vietnam and the stories of criminal behavior, drug addiction, and despair at home. Perhaps that's because this is what they wanted to believe.
Says Burkett: The Wall Within "precisely fit what Americans have grown to believe about the Vietnam War and its veterans: They routinely committed war crimes. They came home from an immoral war traumatized, vilified, then pitied. Jobless, homeless, addicted, suicidal, they remain afflicted by inner conflicts, stranded on the fringes of society."
Burkett, who did check the records of the vets Rather interviewed, shared his discoveries with CBS. So did Thomas Turnage, then administrator of the Veterans Administration, who was appalled by Rather's use of bogus statistics on the rates of suicide, homelessness, and mental illness among Vietnam veterans - statistics that can also be easily checked.
Rather initially refused to comment, and CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said, "The producers stand behind their story. They had enough proof of who they are." For his part, CBS president Howard Stringer defended the network with irrelevancies. "Your criticisms were not shared by a vast majority of our viewers," he sniffed, adding that "CBS News and its affiliates received acclaim from most quarters . . . In sum, this was a broadcast of which we at CBS News and I personally am proud. There are no apologies to make."
Sarah Lee Pilley, who ran a restaurant in Colville, Washington where the CBS crew dined while filming The Wall Within, would not agree. The wife of a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who saw combat in Vietnam, Pilley, said she "got the distinct feeling that CBS had a story they had decided on before they left New York."
After interviewing 87 Vietnam veterans, CBS chose the "four or five saddest cases to put on the film," Pilley said. "The factual part of it didn't seem to matter as long as they captured the high drama and emotion that these few individuals offered. We felt all along that CBS committed tremendous exploitation of some very sick individuals."
Why would Dan Rather do such a thing? Partly because the stories of deranged, trip-wire vets is much more dramatic than the true story: That most Vietnam veterans came home to live normal, productive, happy lives. Second, Rather apparently wanted the story of whacked-out Vietnam veterans to be true - just as he now wants the Jerry Killian story to be true. Or maybe - despite a preponderance of the evidence - he considered the sources of these tales of Vietnam atrocities "unimpeachable."
As angry Vietnam veterans began calling CBS to complain about the factual inaccuracies of The Wall Within, Perry Wolff, the executive producer who wrote the documentary, claimed that "No one has attacked us on the facts." Despite the growing evidence that he'd been had, Rather also continued to defend the documentary - which is now part of CBS's video history series on the Vietnam War. Perhaps Vietnam veterans ought to take a page out of the book of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and air television ads exposing Rather's deceits - something along the lines of: "Dan Rather lied about his Vietnam documentary. I know. I was there. I saw what happened. When the chips were down, you could not count on Dan Rather." Certainly, we cannot count on him for the truth.
During a 1993 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Rather criticized his colleagues for competing with entertainment shows for "dead bodies, mayhem, and lurid tales." "We should all be ashamed of what we have and have not done, measured against what we could do," Rather said. Thousands of Vietnam veterans - not to mention the Bush campaign - would agree. - Anne Morse is a writer living in Maryland.
Tony Coelho, former Al Gore campaign manager fired some heavy shots at the Kerry campaign today:
Longtime Democratic insider Tony Coelho lashed out at the John Kerry presidential campaign, characterizing it as a campaign in chaos. With yet another appointment of a former Clinton administration staffer to Kerry’s team on Tuesday, Coelho argues the problem is worsening.
“There is nobody in charge and you have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other,” says Coehlo, who ran Al Gore's campaign early in the 2000 presidential race. As Coelho and other detractors see it, there is a civil war within the Kerry campaign.
If true its explains some of the reasons Kerry has seemed so inept lately on the campaign trail. Per Coelho, its all about money:
“Here are two groups that have never gotten along and have fought, and it is a lot over money,” says Coehlo. "Because in the Democratic Party the consultants get paid for the creation and the placement of [advertising]. Republicans only pay you for the creation.”
So each faction is fighting over what ends up in the ads? And what gets in the ads ends up being 'the message'.
That's where the fight is .... over what constitutes "the message".
“Our problem here is a national message,” Coelho says. “What is it that we [Democrats] are? If you go to Kerry, that’s a disaster because the candidate should not be involved in solving disputes or the creation of his message.
“You need a [campaign] boss, somebody who says ‘Shut up, we are going to work this out.’ Not someone who can go around to Kerry, and that’s Shrummy’s forte,” Coelho continues, speaking of Shrum. The Kerry campaign has over the past week refuted speculation that either Shrum or Sasso are running the campaign.
Coelho isn't a big fan of Shrum's. Shrum has managed many presidential campaigns, but they've all been losers. Shrum's 0 for 7.
Coelho is a Sasso fan. Sasso has recently joined the Kerry campaign.
“What I’m looking for is a Karl Rove and I don’t know where our Karl Rove is.” Coelho says. “I think Sasso is a Karl Rove. I’m very high on Sasso because I don’t think he plays Machiavellian games. I think he very sincerely wants to win. I think he is very big on Kerry. And I think he’s tough enough to say, ‘Goddammit, come together.’”
But apparently the power struggle is in full bloom. And the result is a failing campaign. The signs of distress are so obvious that Democrats are coming out of the woodwork to try and save it:
But in a sign of how seriously the Kerry campaign is taking its dive in the polls, a trio of ex-Clinton staffers has come aboard recently, including former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry who signed up on Tuesday. He joins Joe Lockhart, another onetime Clinton press secretary, and Joel Johnson, the former president’s legislative strategist.
The call for the Clintonistas, in McCurry’s view, illustrates that Democrats are circling the wagons.
“Democrats are sort of coming out of places where normally they might sit on the sidelines,” McCurry says, “because there is a strong sense that we really need to get in there and try to help, because it is an important election.”
McCurry tries to downplay the apparent lack of an identifiable Democrat message.
McCurry defends the Kerry camp and says he doesn’t think they got off message in August. “I think Bush got on message,” he says.
“I think [Mr. Bush] had a much better August than he had had prior,” McCurry adds. “So I think part of this is a reaction to the fact that [the Bush campaign] sharpened up their operation and had a good convention on their side. We just have got to do our bit, on our side.”
Sounds a little like whistling past the graveyard to me.
Meanwhile Coelho says its time to decide who's in charge:
Of Shrum’s role as adviser, Coelho says “I’m not anti-Shrummy here. What I’m saying is that you need to have someone in charge and I think Sasso’s capable of it.”
“If [Sasso] is in charge then Goddammit, say it and stop having the speculation of who's in charge because that’s worse,” Coelho says. “It also starts to impact in regard to the whole image of leadership. If someone can’t control a message in a presidential campaign, how are you going to be a good president?”
Makes you wonder, doesn't it? If candidate Kerry can't even "lead" his own campaign, why in the world would you want to give him the opportunity to lead the country?
48 days and a wakeup.
UPDATE (JON): I'm bumping this post of Dale's to the top, because Dale got it exactly right. To the letter. CBS had a chance to offer a mea culpa--or, at least, transparency--and all they came up with was "we believe every word of those forgeries, because they're exactly what we wanted to hear".
Unbefreakinglievable. Just damn. And the worst is this line from CBS News President Andrew Heyward:
Some at this network believe the backlash against the 60 Minutes report is pure politics. But that's the critics' point as well -- that fake, or real, the fact that 60 Minutes got these documents during an election year was no accident.That's it, guys. You commit journalistic fraud....but, your critics are Republicans. So, you're even. Equivalency!
Read on. Dale nailed it.
Bases on the coverage of the memo's story at the CBS Website, I suspect they'll be following a line of, "The documents aren't important. It's the deeper truths behind them that are important. Forget the documents. It's the story you need to understand.
CBS News says the original report used several different techniques to make sure the memos were genuine, including talking to handwriting and document analysts and other experts who strongly insist that the documents could have been created on a typewriter in the 1970s – as opposed to a modern-day word-processing software program.
And aliens could have produced them at their sector administrative outpost at Alpha Centauri, then beamed them to earth. Lt Col Killian could have run them off at PIP (the Kinko's of that era), because they were 'specially important. A lot of things could have happened.
But, how likely is it that they happened? That's the question that CBS still doesn't seem keen to address.
CBS has also said its story about Mr. Bush's guard service relied on much more than documents. Featured in the segment was former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat who claims he pulled strings to get Mr. Bush into the Guard in 1968.
«So, please, ignore the document forgeries. Not important. It's the story that's the important part. Trust us on this. »
CBS News spokeswoman Sandra Genelius said CBS did not believe Knox was a documents expert and that the network believes the documents are genuine.
"It is notable that she confirms the content of the documents, which was the primary focus of our story in the first place," Genelius said.
So, essentially, their saying that, even though Killian's secretary, Ms. Knox, thinks the documents are forgeries, the whole forgery deal is unimportant because the content of the memos
are what they wanted to believe at CBS comport with the story CBS reported.
So, the CBS argument is that the documents were fake, but their content was authentic. And that's supposed to make it all better?
Well, don't expect any big mea culpa from CBS in half an hour. I think their position is pretty clear. If the documents were forgeries, then we should just forget about that and concentrate on the rest of the story CBS is trying to tell us.
But, if CBS' journalistic standards were so shoddy that they were perfectly willing to pass these memos off as reliably authenticated, why should we give any credence to the rest of CBS's story? How do we know that it wasn't also infected by similarly sloppy standards?
CBS is silent on that point.
UPDATE (JON): Beldar is pretty mad.
He goes on, and he is brutal. Captain Ed just asks a few questions...
France's ailing health insurance system for salaried workers showed a all-time record deficit last year of EUR 11.9 billion (USD 14.6 billion), an official government report revealed Wednesday.
The government accounting office, one of two bodies that monitors the social security budget, attributed the skyrocketing deficit to "state decisions" combined with a general increase in the public demand for health care services.
When its free or of low cost people demand more. When people have to pay the actual cost of something they have a tendency to use only what they need.
"The deficit in the insurance branch, which nearly doubled from 2002 (EUR 6.1 billion) to 2003 (EUR 11.9 billion) is unprecedented," said the annual report by the Cour des Comptes, due to be officially released on Thursday.
Salaried workers account for more than 80 percent of insurance payments in France.
The global social security deficit, including the budgets for family, health, pensions and work-related accidents, stood at EUR 11.5 billion for 2003, more than triple the EUR 3.4 billion recorded the previous year.
Couple this with France's stagnant economy and double digit unemployment and you can imagine the natives are not happy.
Although France's health care system was once hailed as one of the world's best, it is now battling both the massive deficit and a poor public image after last year's deadly heat wave that claimed 15,000 lives.
I'd also bet its trying to figure out how its going to ration its health care now that its running huge deficits.
In July, both houses of the French parliament approved the centre-right government's plan to overhaul the health insurance system, which includes a raft of cost-cutting measures to check the spiralling deficit.
The plan asks patients to pay EUR 1 per medical consultation, encourages the use of generic drugs and cracks down on sick leave abuse.
It calls for the use of computerized records as a way to trace a patient's medical history and pinpoint possible abuses such as over-prescription of drugs.
Ah, sounds like Kerry's plan ... fix the bureaucracy, generic drugs (Canadian drugs in Kerry's case) an abuses such as over-prescription (redundant tests in Kerry's case).
And of course, its a band-aid. Single-payer systems which ignore market forces are doomed to be buried by them (because they can't control the rest of the markets which impact health care).
When he presented the plan in May, French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the government hoped the initiative would generate EUR 15 billion to EUR 16 billion in annual savings.
Heh ... yup. They've been so successful in reforming bureaucracy and government in France in the recent past that I can't wait to see how quickly these "initiatives" generate the savings they 'expect'.
This, by the way, is the left's dream for your future health care as well.
Reader Ed Madden points us to something on the CBS web in which he thinks Dan Rather may need to enroll:
Just took a peek at the NOAA satellite pic I linked to here and it looks as if Ivan has started taking a turn to the north. A few hours ago it looked like a dead hit on New Orleans, but with this move to the north it looks like it may instead move directly into Mobile bay.
I live in Atlanta. The forecast is sprinkles today (we've been overcast all day), 1 to 2 inches tomorrow and, depending on whether Ivan stalls or not (right now they're saying they expect the storm to stall) we could get up to 7" on Friday and wind gusts up to 50 mph. I may need a bilge pump before its all over.
To you folks in the Pensacola, Mobile and New Orleans areas, good luck and if you haven't done so (and still can) get out of there. As I heard one guy from New Orleans say "give Ivan some respect". Its not worth your life to ride it out.
I'm not a hockey fan, nor will I ever be ... just not brought up to appreciate it I guess (my brother calls it soccer of skates).
But this just doesn't make sense regardless of the sport:
The National Hockey League will lock out its players Thursday, threatening to keep the sport off the ice for the entire 2004-05 season. The long-expected decision was approved unanimously Wednesday by NHL owners, who are demanding cost certainty, which players say would be tantamount to a salary cap.
Despite what both sides of this fight believe, they exist because of the fans. No fans, no teams, no salaries, no owners. If no one shows up, no TV, no revenue.
This sort of nonsense almost killed baseball, and it has a much broader base than does hockey. Some fans have never come back after the baseball strike.
Ignoring the fact that it is the fans are who pay the freight, as the NHL owners are doing here, may cost them a hell of a lot more than the money involved in this fight right now. It may cost them and the players their livelyhood. They're not only locking out the players ... they're locking out the folks who will make or break the NHL. And they have a tendency to take that very personally.
Rather, in the NY Observer, says, essentially, forget whether the memos are real or not, answer the questions George Bush:
"With respect: answer the questions," said Dan Rather, the CBS News anchor. He was asking a direct question to President George W. Bush, his re-election campaign and his political allies in the press and on the Web. "We’ve heard what you have to say about the documents and what you’ve said and what your surrogates have said, but for the moment, answer the questions.
Now maybe its just me, but does it strike anyone else that what Rather is asking us to do is akin to finding an entry in the "Hitler Diaries" saying Dan's Mom had an ongoing relationship with Adolph and requiring poor Dan to forget the diaries are forgeries and answer the questions about the relationship?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
This just gets more and more bizarre.
UPDATE (JON): I'm thinking 60 Minutes (SUN) should do an expose about 60 Minutes (WED). They can even doctor up some tapes with, oh, anybody--heck, Lesley Stahl and Andy Rooney--impersonating Dan Rather and Terry McAuliffe.
Then, Ed Bradley can ask Rather: "Are you, in fact, an operative for the DNC, Dan? Or just a really bad journalist? With respect, answer the questions."
Yeah, I think that might be appropriate.
We all remember "Voodoo Economics" don't we?
Well, welcome to the sequel "Voodoo Economics II - "cost" = spending".
In today's Boston Globe, an attempt is made to show how Kerry's proposed spending of $2.2 trillion (yes, its gone up again) is less than the "cost" of Bush's proposals.
Cost v. spending?
First let's take a look at their chart:
A $1 trillion "cost" to privatize Social Security? Or $1 trillion saved by younger future recipients in private accounts --- enough that perhaps the government won't be doling out any to them when their retirement comes? Social Security has to be fixed at some point and now is as good a time as any. Consistent with Bush's "Ownership society".
Or how about a $243 billion "cost" associated with new tax cuts and tax free health savings accounts? The cost of tax cuts? Cost to what? Fat government programs which could pare their share of revenues perhaps? Cost to subsidy programs that the government should forgo? Cost to programs in areas the government has no business? Meanwhile citizens are left with the opportunity to take charge of their own healthcare costs. Again consistent with Bush's "Ownership Society".
Cost? Its only a cost if the federal government has the money. If the money belongs to the citizens, it isn't a government cost.
When the Globe uses "cost" it assumes ownership of the money by the govenment. It assumes it to be its irrevocable due. And when it is kept by those who earn it instead of being handed to the government to be handed out by the government in its various programs, that "costs" the government per the Globe. Its a convoluted and specious argument at best.
If we take these bogus "costs" out and compare spending programs we find that out of the $2.9 trillion that the Globe claims Bush is proposing, in reality, we're down to 1.65 trillion in spending.
Still too much, but wait there's more. Again a "cost" is being correlated with the spending proposals on the Kerry side of the chart.
$1 trillion for permanent tax cuts.
That's future revenue if taxed at the former rate.
It is not a "cost". Its not a spending proposal. So now, we're down to $650 billion on the Bush side for new spending. At least as outlined by the Globe's numbers. Again too high, but nothing like the $2.9 trillion nonsense the Globe was trying to pawn off.
In reality, when comparing "spending" its Bush $650 billion, Kerry $2.2 trillion.
On the Kerry side, we're looking at pure and unadulterated spending. Proposal after proposal to increase spending.
Well almost. Remember those middle class tax cuts? Remember how Kerry says he wants those while claiming he'll pay for everything else with increased taxes on the two precent of the highest income earners in America?
Kerry also has called for a middle-class tax cut, which is expected to cost more than $400 billion.
A chunk of those costs would be borne by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers, saving $860 billion -- not enough to cover all the new spending.
$2.2 trillion in new spending proposals and $860 billion in new revenue, offset by a 'cost' of $400 billion for middle-class tax cuts? That takes the increase in revenue from the 2% down to a net $460 billion, not the $600 billion we've been told to expect.
So Kerry says he's going to cover $2.2 trillion in spending with a $460 billion net increase in income tax revenue?
And cut the deficit as well?
Sure sounds like voodoo to me.
Somebody ought to tell John Kerry that 9/11 actually happened and while it may surprise him to know that, it may also explain, among other occurrances, why the economy had a rough time. Of course the other occurrances include an inherited recession and a war. You'd think a guy running for president would know that. Instead we get this:
Since January 2001, the economy has lost 1.6 million private-sector jobs. The typical family has seen its income fall more than $1,500, while health costs are up more than $3,500.
Recession, 9/11, war.
And again, we then get this:
The economy still has not turned the corner. Over the last year, real wages are still down and even the jobs created in the past 12 months represent the worst job performance for this period of a recovery in over 50 years. Indeed, the total of 1.7 million jobs created over the last year is weaker than even the worst year of job creation under President Clinton, and below what is needed just to find jobs for new applicants entering the work force.
It hasn't turned the corner, but its created 1.7 million jobs, making up the 1.6 million lost in the wake of what?
Recession, 9/11, war.
Unemployment is lower now than it was under Clinton when he ran in 1996. Lower in the wake of?
Recession, 9/11 and war.
And as has been demostrated here, "real wages", whatever that term means, in terms of total compensation, is not down, its up.
In the wake of recession, 9/11 and war.
When the economy needed short-run stimulus without increasing the long-run deficit, President Bush got it backwards, passing an initial round of tax cuts that Economy.com found had no effect in lifting us out of recession. He then passed more deficit-increasing tax cuts that Goldman Sachs described as "especially ineffective as a stimulative measure." When small businesses and families needed relief from skyrocketing health-care and energy costs, he chose sweetheart deals for special interests over serious plans to reduce costs and help spur new job creation.
Of course Alan Greenspan pointed to the tax cuts as one of the single most important acts which lifted us out of the recession early and quickly.
As for Economy.com, I couldn't find anything at their site which said the tax cuts didn't help lift us out of recession. In fact, I found exactly the opposite:
The economic impact of the combined monetary and fiscal stimulus has been substantial. Indeed, if monetary and fiscal policy had remained unchanged during the Bush Presidency, the recession that began in early 2001 and ended later in the year, would have likely instead lasted through much of 2003.2 The economy would still be shedding jobs.
Over the entirety of the Bush Presidency, monetary and fiscal stimulus have added an estimated 2.5 percentage points to per annum real GDP growth (see Table 3). Of that, 1.5 percentage points is due to an easier monetary policy and 1 percentage point to fiscal policy. Of the contribution to growth from the fiscal stimulus, the bulk has been from surging defense spending and income tax cuts to lower and middle income households.
At the peak of the stimulus in early 2002, combined policy stimulus provided a whopping 4 percentage points to real year-over-year GDP growth (see also Chart 1). Even during the first quarter of this year, nearly one-half of the close to 4% annualized real GDP growth in the quarter was due to the policy stimulus.
Anyway, blatant nonsense aside (you can't fix a problem unless you create one), what is Kerry's plan? Here's the 1, 2, 3, 4:
With the right choices on the economy, America can do better. American businesses and workers are the most resilient, productive and innovative in the world. And they deserve policies that are better for our economy. My economic plan will do the following: (1) Create good jobs, (2) cut middle-class taxes and health-care costs, (3) restore America's competitive edge, and (4) cut the deficit and restore economic confidence.
OK, let's get into the how:
•Create good jobs. I strongly believe that America must engage in the global economy, and I voted for trade opening from Nafta to the WTO. But at the same time, I have always believed that we need to fight for a level playing field for America's workers.
I am not trying to stop all outsourcing, but as president, I will end every single incentive that encourages companies to outsource. Today, taxpayers spend $12 billion a year to subsidize the export of jobs. If a company is trying to choose between building a factory in Michigan or Malaysia, our tax code actually encourages it to locate in Asia.
My plan would take the entire $12 billion we save from closing these loopholes each year and use it to cut corporate tax rates by 5%. This will provide a tax cut for 99% of taxpaying corporations. This would be the most sweeping reform and simplification of international taxation in over 40 years. In addition, I have proposed a two-year new jobs tax credit to encourage manufacturers, other businesses affected by outsourcing, and small businesses that created jobs.
Outsourcing is a tiny problem in the job market. Taxation isn't the only problem. It has to do with wages. It has to do with regulation. It has to do with competitiveness. Addressing only the taxation angle will not stop outsourcing at all. Again, as pointed out here, there's another side to the dynamic. Insourcing. The US seems to be doing pretty darn well on the "insourcing" front because of the productivity of its workers.
The net trend has been a plus for insourcing of jobs over outsourcing them.
American businesses are the most competitive in the world, yet when it comes to enforcing trade agreements the Bush administration refuses to show our competitors that we mean business. They have brought only one WTO case for every three brought by the Clinton administration, while cutting trade enforcement budgets and failing to stand up to China's illegal currency manipulation. That not only costs jobs, it threatens to erode support for open markets and a growing global economy.
Actually American businesses aren't the most competitive in the world. They're the most productive in the world. Where much of their lack of competitiveness comes from is over-regulation and taxation. Notice Kerry doesn't even try to address these ... instead its all the rest of the worlds fault for not playing fair. My suggestion ... clean up the regulation and taxation mess at home and then if we're still not competitive, look at the rest of the world.
• Cut middle-class taxes and health costs. Families are being increasingly squeezed by falling incomes and rising costs for everything from health care to college. But spiraling health-care and energy costs squeeze businesses too, encouraging them to lay off workers and shift to part-time and temporary workers.
Under my plan, the tax cuts would be extended and made permanent for 98% of Americans. In addition, I support new tax cuts for college, child care and health care--in total, more than twice as large as the new tax cuts President Bush is proposing.
Keep in mind, he is embracing permanent tax cuts for 98% of Americans. That leaves the top 2% as the main bill payers for all of Kerry's programs. And his programs of new spending add up to almost 2 trillion dollars. Estimates say that increasing taxes on the top 2% of income earners to the same level they were under the Clinton administration (and that is Kerry's stated plan) will raise $600 billion.
Where will the rest come from? That's a very real and important question Kerry needs to answer.
I have proposed a health plan that would increase coverage while cutting costs. It builds on and strengthens the current system, giving patients their choice of doctors, and providing new incentives instead of imposing new mandates.
My health plan will offer businesses immediate relief on their premiums. By providing employers some relief on catastrophic costs that are driving up premiums for everyone, we will save employers and workers about 10% of total health premiums.
Probably one of the most significant problems in spiraling health care costs are law suits. Malpractice law suits and the cost of malpractice insurance drives the decision of many MDs to call it a day and retire because they can no longer afford the malpractice premiums demanded.
Kerry, as is typical of candidates, offers more for less. His solution is government. Any of you who've any had experience with goverment programs know that you rarely, if ever, get more for less.
Our hospitals and doctors have the best technology for saving lives, but often still rely on pencil and paper when it comes to tracking medical tests and billing. As a result, we spend over $350 billion a year on red tape, not to mention the cost of performing duplicative or redundant tests. My plan will modernize our information technology, create private electronic medical records, and create incentives for the adoption of the latest disease management.
Kerry promises a revamp of the medical bureaucracy? How? This has been a candidates pipe-dream for years. And the only area government can impact is its own bureaucracy: Medicare and Medicaid.
He ignores the fact of that which drives "duplicative or redundant tests" is the possibilty of a law suit. Its medical CYA which drives those tests as much as anything. Streamlining the bureaucracy does not effect that basic truth and won't effect at all the desire for doctor's to protect themselves from potential financial ruin.
And I won't be afraid to take on prescription drug or medical malpractice costs. We will make it easier for generic drugs to come to market and allow the safe importation of pharmaceuticals from countries like Canada. Finally, we will require medical malpractice plaintiffs to try nonbinding mediation, oppose unjustified punitive damage awards and penalize lawyers who file frivolous suits with a tough "three strikes and you're out" rule.
This plan will make our businesses more competitive by making our health care more affordable.
Finally Kerry gives a swipe at the malpractice problem. His solution "lets try nonbinding mediation". Yeah, there's a winner. And who's to determine what "unjustified punitive damage awards" are? How will they determine whether a suit is frivolus? And how is something which gives you three shots "tough"?
Why won't he just come out and say "I will ask Congress to pass a comprehensive tort reform act to lower the cost of medicine to everyone?" Instead we get nonsense about nonbinding arbitrarion, "tough" three strikes and your out and the usual about "unjustified damage awards" and "frivolous law suits".
• Restore America's competitive edge. America has fallen to 10th in the world in broadband technology. Some of our best scientists are being encouraged to work overseas because of the restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research. President Bush has proposed cutting 21 of the 24 research areas that are so critical to long-term growth. We need to invest in research because when we shortchange research we shortchange our future.
Who's "we"? As a libertarian, I want businesses, not government (except in the area of defense) driving research. I agree with the cuts in federal research dollars. What government ought to do is encourage research, not pay for it all. '
Businesses know, especially those in cutting edge technologies, that R&D is critical. The market is a much better arbiter of where research money should go than is government. Let the maket work.
My plan would invest in basic research and end the ban on stem-cell research. It would invest more in energy research, including clean coal, hydrogen and other alternative fuels. It would boost funding at the National Science Foundation and continue increases at the National Institutes of Health and other government research labs. It will provide tax credits to help jumpstart broadband in rural areas and the new higher-speed broadband that has the potential to transform everything from e-government to tele-medicine. I would promote private-sector innovation policies, including the elimination of capital gains for long-term investments in small business start-ups.
If you look at stem-cell research right now, the money is flowing to adult stem-cell research, not fetal stem-cell research. Why? Because that is where some fairly substantial progress is being made. I'll again make the point that absent a profit motive government spending in this area tends to be highly inefficient.
As for the "rural broadband' initiative, its fluff thrown out there to the "fairness crowd". If it isn't cost efficient to put broadband into the rural areas yet, it won't be if Kerry does it. The difference? Instead of potential customers and businesses picking up the tab, you the tax payer will instead.
• Cut the deficit and restore economic confidence. When President Bush was in New York for the Republican convention, he did not even pay lip service to reducing the deficit. His record makes even Republicans wary. From missions to Mars to a pricey Medicare bill, President Bush has proposed or passed more than $6 trillion in initiatives without paying for any of them. The record is clear: A deficit reduction promise from George W. Bush is not exactly a gilt-edged bond.
Key point "propsed or passed". Passed is much less that proposed. Now I'm not at all convinced that Bush has come close to that $6 trillion figure that Kerry pushes out there, but suffice it to say, I'm not happy with Bush's performance in this regard either.
But here's the problem. After taking Bush to task, Kerry neglects to mention that he's proposed almost $2 trillion in new spending and has told us he can pay for all of it on the back of tax increases to the wealthy.
Its nonsense, of course. It does not compute. But more importantly, it certainly does nothing to imbue me with the confidence that Kerry is serious about deficit reduction.
Americans can trust my promise to cut the deficit because my record backs up my word. When I first joined the Senate, I broke with my own party to support the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction plan, which President Reagan signed into law. In 1993, I cast a deciding vote to bring the deficit under control. And in 1997, I supported the bipartisan balanced budget agreement.
I think we're all familiar with the "I cast the deciding vote" hyperbole. But more importantly what everyone should be familiar with is Kerry's past deficit reduction proposals have mostly been on the back of defense and intelligence appropriations as is dramatized quite succinctly in his 1984 memo outlining the defense systems he'd like to see cut as well as other votes over the years.
Yes the deficit needs to be cut, but I've seen nothing in Kerry's record to indicate he'd attack the discretionary spending side of the ledger and cut social programs. I've seen every indication, however, that he'd be willing to go after defense spending which, with the ongoing war on terror, is critical.
I will restore fiscal discipline and cut the deficit in half in four years. First, by imposing caps, so that discretionary spending--outside of security and education--does not grow faster than inflation. If Congress cannot control spending, it will automatically be cut across the board. Second, I will reinstitute the "pay as you go" rule, which requires that no one propose or pass a new program without a way to pay for it. Third, I will ask for Congress to grant me a constitutionally acceptable version of line-item veto power and to establish a commission to eliminate corporate welfare like the one John McCain and I have fought for.
A) He can't impose caps. He can demand them. He can lobby for them. He can ask that they be followed. But Congress enjoys the power of the purse, not the President.
B) Pay as you go sounds great, doesn't it? But we've been there and done that. What's the deficit today? What makes John Kerry think as president he'll be able to make "pay as you go" work when as a Senator he ignored it?
C) Line item veto ... ain't going to happen. It would require amendment of the Constitution to be "Constitutionally acceptable". No way that happens. If it had a chance, a Republican Congress and a Republican President surely would have seen it passed. More election fluff.
I am not waiting for next year to change the tone on fiscal discipline. Every day on the campaign trail, I explain how I pay for all my proposals. By rolling back the recent Bush tax cuts for families making over $200,000 per year, we can pay for health care and education. By cutting subsidies to banks that make student loans and restoring the principle that "polluters pay," we can afford to invest in national service and new energy technologies. My new rules won't just apply to programs I don't like; they will apply to my own priorities as well.
"We can pay" for healthcare, education, defense, deficit reduction, permament tax cuts for 98% of the population, and 2 trillion in new spending proposals with tax increases on 2% of the tax payers?
Maybe you can suspend disbelief and buy into that, but I just can't.
This isn't much of an economic plan in my estimation. Its a "I'll do it better" plan built on a mischaracterization of where we've been (recession, 9/11, war) and where we are (1.7 million new jobs, 5.4% unemployment, increased productivity, total compensation up, and the highest homeownership percentage in the nation's history).
It identifies problem areas, but then misses or overstates government abilities to solve them.
Its a true "candidates" manifesto: Long on charges, short on meaningful specifics, and redolant of the stink of promises impossible to keep.
CBS News has announced that they'll be releasing a statement abou the Killian Memos at 12:00 EDT today. Considering that their own document experts have been spouting off about the problems with the memos' authenticity over the last day or so, this should be an interesting statement.
So, will they own up to the problems that even their own experts (no doubt seeing their professional reputations on the line) have been touting to the media? Or will they, in a stunning coup, produce Lt Col Killian himself to vouch for the memos' authenticity?
UPDATE (JON): They certainly might apologize, or produce proof. But there's always a third option.
Due to today's news, I'm bumping this relevant post back up. It has been updated to reflect the ABC story, in which more experts jump off the CBS Titanic.
The mainstream is finally catching up, but--as Glenn Reynolds notes--it's "not really news to people who have been reading blogs". Today's CBS problem: their own experts. (or, "experts", as the case may be)
I'm aware of 3 names that CBS has brought forth to corroborate their documents. Bill Glennon, Robert Strong, and Marcel Matley. Unfortunately for CBS, these "experts" seem to be hedging.
Odd, though, because he also said "I don’t claim to be a typewriter expert...". Guess he studied hard over the weekend, because when they heard he was willing to verify their documents, "CBS called him Monday morning".
None of which is to discredit what he said. But it certainly is odd, the inflated expertise CBS will assign people who are willing to corroborate their documents. And it's even odder that CBS is not looking for independent experts to examine documents, but, instead, presenting people who have already expressed a concurring opinion.
Stacking the deck, are we, CBS?
"There's no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them."
That's got to be the weakest set of expert testimony I've ever seen. Two guys who say there are aspects of the document that seem accurate, and one guy who used to repair typewriters and says it's "possible" they could have been created on a typewriter in the 70s.
And that doesn't even include people like Hodges, who said he thinks they are forgeries. Of course, CBS didn't relate his story for long.
QUESTION: Why is CBS stacking their expert deck with ringers?
UPDATE: Tom Maguire goes into detail on the damning Washington Post piece, saying it "puts up a huge "No-Sale" sign on the latest CBS defense", and pointing out that the WaPo has done exactly as Brad DeLong asked, and gotten documents written concurrent with the alleged Killian memos. (So, DeLong believes they are forgeries now, right? Yes, and with an apology. Good on him)
ALSO: I fear I've missed one expert CBS cited: "Richard Katz, a computer software expert", who "noticed a slight variation in the boldness of the letters, as there is on many typewritten documents". A credible criticism, though I think it is dulled by the fact that the document has been through so many generations.
So.....where are those originals, CBS? If even your own experts claim that copies are unreliable indicators, why have you purported to have authenticated them based on copies alone?
UPDATE II: Bithead makes a good point...
If they do not stop the stonewalling tactics, Americans will respond by simply assuming ... that the source was in the DNC, Kamp Kerry or one of the far-left 527's, and they will vote accordingly.
I'm not sure they'll be able to maintain this "don't look behind the curtain" stance, though, because the mainstream press--perhaps sensing blood in the water--has come out swinging their big bats. (if I might mix a metaphor)
UPDATE III: Unbelievable. CBS was worse than I'd imagined. Not only did they go after "ringers" for experts, they rejected experts who didn't give them the feedback they wanted....
Two of the document experts hired by CBS News say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of a report citing documents that questioned George W. Bush's service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War.
Emily Will, a veteran document examiner from North Carolina, told ABC News she saw problems right away with the one document CBS hired her to check the weekend before the broadcast.
"I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter," she said.
Will says she sent the CBS producer an e-mail message about her concerns and strongly urged the network the night before the broadcast not to use the documents.
"I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story," Will said.
A second document examiner hired by CBS News, Linda James of Plano, Texas, also told ABC News she had concerns about the documents and could not authenticate them. She said she expressed her concerns to CBS before the 60 Minutes II broadcast.
"I did not authenticate anything and I don't want it to be misunderstood that I did," James said. "And that's why I have come forth to talk about it because I don't want anybody to think I did authenticate these documents."
Of course, at this point, those other experts may not want to be named. And without a last minute Hail Mary, Dan Rather is going down.
UPDATE IV: How long till the defense shifts to:
UPDATE V: Captain Ed writes...
I don't think any of us expected to see a major broadcaster with a penchant for deliberately hoaxing its audience in order to promote its left-wing agenda and candidate.I am not a person who believes in any sort of monolithic media bias, or intentional Network liberal bias. I believe that what bias exists comes from subconcious assumptions, rather than conscious decisions.
But it's getting damned hard to see this as anything less than intentionally partisan bias.
Can anyone think of an example of Dan Rather breathlessly announcing breaking news that turned out to be a flop--if not a pure fabrication--where the story reflected badly on a Democrat?
If you're interested in following the progress of Hurricane Ivan, go here. Its a self-refreshing animated look at the storm from the NOAA satellite.
Excerpts from various MSM sources about Rathergate:
The Arizona Republic: "Truth and Trust.
LA Times: "Paper War on Bush Record"
Zev Chafets, NY Daily News: Dan's 'scoop' is
as shaky as his status"
Eric Fettman, NY Daily Post: " Rather's Other Imploding 'Scoop'
James P. Pinkerton, Newday.com: "The day CBS News got 'blogged' down"
NY Post: " Stop The Stonewall, Dan"
UPDATE: Per Fox News, CBS will release a statement on the documents today around noon:
CBS News, dogged over questions about the authenticity of memos apparently showing that President Bush shirked his National Guard service more than 30 years ago, is expected to release a statement about the document snafu around noon Wednesday.
If you really want to know, I've been working on the Qando web site's new look, feel, and functions. I've just been too busy to blog. But I think it's coming along nicely. If you want to see the new site, go here.
I'm working on the new blog right now, and it'll be a few weeks before I'm ready to unveil that bit, but a good portion of it is ready to go.
I think you'll be happy with the new interactivity. Many of you, however, will apparently be disappointed in the lack of porn.
The DRUDGE REPORT has found Lt. Col. Jerry Killian's former secretary who claims that the Texas Air National Guard documents offered by CBS in its 60 MINUTES II report filed by Dan Rather last week are indeed 'forgeries'.
"I did not type these particular memos. I typed memos like these," Knox told the DRUDGE REPORT from her home in Houston.
"I typed memos that had this information in them, but I did not type these memos. There are terms in these memos that are not Guard terms but that are Army terms. They use the word 'Billets'. I think they were using that to refer to the slot. That would be a non-flying slot the way we would use it. And the style... they are sloppy looking."
But Marion Carr Knox stands by the accusations contained in the allegedly fraudulent documents that Bush skirted a medical and flight exam without suffering institutional repercussions.
"The information in these memos is correct -- like Killian's dealing with the problems."
"It was General Staudt, not then Lt. Colonel Hodges [who succeeded Staudt], that was putting on the pressure to whitewash Bush. For instance he didnt take his flight examination or his physical. And the pilots had to take them by their birthdays. Once in a while there would be a reason why a pilot would miss these things because some of them were commercial pilots. But they had to make arrangements to take their exams."
Knox speculated as to how she thought the forgeries were created saying, "My guess is that someone in the outfit got hold of the real ones and discussed it with a former Army person."
But Killian's son, Gary essentially says "nonsense".
Contacted by the DRUDGE REPORT, Lt. Col. Killian's son Gary, who also served in the unit during the same period, responded: "I know Marion Carr. I remember her as a sweet lady who reminded me then of a dear aunt."
"But if Staudt had put pressure on my dad, there would have been a blow-up -- instantly. It was one of the reasons they got along so well. They had a mutual respect for one another."
"As has been pointed out by so many others, then Col Staudt had been out of the unit for 18 months. And I stand by my previous comments regarding my dad's admiration for Lt. Bush and his regard for him as an officer and pilot -- which was exemplary."
What brought Ms. Knox forward?
"What really hacked me off was when it was somebody on TV, associated with the White House, who said that all of this information was lies. And I got excited at the time because I knew that I had typed documents with this information because a person like Bush stood out from the others -- because of his association with his father."
Asked about reports that Lt. Col. Killian's wife and son saying he didn't type, Knox stated, "He didn't need to. He had me."
Of course Ms Knox is not exactly a neutral party in all of this:
Knox told the DRUDGE REPORT that she did not vote for Bush in 2000 because he is 'unqualified' for the job, and does not intend to vote for him in 2004, either.
"Bush was not the only person of privilege who had a spot in the Guard. Senator [Lloyd] Bensen's nephew was in headquarters. There was a big jewelery store, Gordons. Their son was in the Guard. The owner of Batelstein's, a posh department store in the area, his son was in. The other kids couldn't get in like that. Hugh Roy Cullen's grandson was also in. He was a big oil man."
In the meantime, another former Guard officer had this to say about flight physicals in general:
Contacted at his office in Bartlett, Texas, former Major Dean Roome, who served with Lt. Bush, responded to the latest information.
"If the memos are fraudulent, then why were they generated? Roome asked.
"Marion Carr Knox is validating what the rest of us are saying. She says once in a while a pilot would miss a physical because some of them were commercial pilots. I was also a commercial pilot with Continental Airlines. The clinic did not just open up for us to take a personal physical. The Flight Surgeons had to be there along with a full complement of medical personnel. We took our physical during the Uniformed Training Assembly (UTA) just like everyone else."
"The 'former Army person' she references is the person we believe may have created the fraudulent documents in an effort to injure President Bush. He has his own agenda and I doubt that he has any 'real ones'
Who is this mysterious "Army person?" No one knows at the moment, but it appears he, or she, is the one holding the smoking gun, if such a gun exists.
Oh, and one more little thing about Ms. Knox:
Ms. Knox states emphatically that she is not acting for political motives, and has no formal relationship with any political party. She says she just wants to set the record straight.
So, if true it leaves us with a whole raft of questions which need clarifying, some of which are:
When she says "I typed memos like these", does she mean specifically relating to George Bush or in general relating to pilots who had missed their flight physicals (or both?)?
Was an order given to George Bush in writing to report to Killian (or the medical facility) for a physical as portrayed in one memo?
Why would Staudt tell Killian to sugarcoat Bush's OER in May of 1972 when Bush had been there under Killian's command from 1971 to 1972?
Why would Killian be claiming he'd only do a "not observed", per the fradulent memo, when he had observed Bush between 1971 and 1972?
But most importantly, if the contents are "real", why the frauds?
Nope, sorry Ms. Knox ... this stinks a bit too. We'll just have to sit back and watch this develop a bit more.
Yup, the boyz and girlz at MoveOn have just put out a stinkin' fish as far as ads go. Its an ad in which absolutely everything is wrong.
FactCheck.org, which is usually a bit more restrained in its comments, minces no words when it comes to the new MoveOn ad about assault weapons:
This latest ad from Moveon PAC is about as misleading as it can be. Through words, graphics and sound effects, it invites viewers to think that the expiration of the ban on 19 semiautomatic assault weapons will allow people legally to buy fully automatic machine guns that can fire "up to 300 rounds per minute." That's false.
Well there's a surprise. In fact, the only thing "assault'" about the weapons in question is the name. They are semi-automatic rifles, not automatic rifles like the military assault rifles, and they're no different, in effect than hundreds of other semi-automatic rifles sold daily except they happen to look like military assault weapons.
That's right, their biggest "crime", if you will, is they look like something they're not.
As FactCheck.org points out:
It has been illegal to buy a machine gun without federal clearance since 1934, and remains so.
The fully automatic version of the AK47 -- pictured and described in the ad -- remains just as illegal as it was before the ban expired.
In other words, in terms of automatic weapons and automatic assault weapons, nothing has changed.
Of course in the politically charged atmosphere of a national election, its not unusual to see some exaggeration come to the fore, like MoveOn's claim about President Bush:
But on Sept. 13th, George Bush will let the assault weapon ban expire. George Bush says he’s making America safer. Who does he think he’s kidding?
Except George Bush didn't let the assault weapon ban expire, Congress did.
The ad also claims that Bush "will let the assault weapon ban expire," which is misleading. In fact, Bush spoke in support of the ban during his campaign four years ago and his spokesman said as recently as May of last year that he still supported it. It was Congress that failed to consider extending the ban and didn't present Bush with a bill to sign.
If there's any claim to be made that has some legitimacy, it would be that Bush didn't exert the leadership necessary to have it renewed. Maybe, maybe not. I've not seen that discussed anywhere yet. But in terms of power, he had no power to keep the law from expiring. Only Congress had that power.
The assault gun ban was about attributes which were non-leathal. Grips, magazines, etc. It wasn't about the important attributes of a real assault weapon ... automatic fire. Automatics, as pointed out, have been illegal since the '30s. This was about how a semi-automatic rifle looked.
The now expired Assault Gun Ban was a typical symbolism over substance law. It did nothing to prevent the spread of real assault rifles to terrorists or criminals and it certainly didn't keep them from using them over the years the law was in effect.
With the Assault Weapon Ban coming to an end, John Kerry steps up to the plate to.....well, conflate things.
"Let me be very clear. I support the Second Amendment," Kerry said yesterday. "I've been a hunter all my life. But I don't think we need to make the job of the terrorists any easier."Cause, you know, what would terrorists do if they had to go without those cool hand-grips and 3 extra bullets per clip.
Hmmmm, this brings to mind a few questions:
Five widows whose husbands were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks will endorse John Kerry for president on Tuesday, United Press International has learned.
Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken will announce their support for Kerry at a press conference in Washington DC, and then embark on a whirlwind campaign tour through key battleground states.
"This is not about politics," Breitweiser - who lost her husband Ron in the World Trade Center - told UPI. "This is about making the country safer. No one should have to go through what I went through."
1) Does this constitute "politicizing" 9/11 and will Kerry condemn it?
2) If 5 widows of soldiers come forward and endorse Bush, will they get the same coverage?
As an FYI, this is really nothing new for these 5. They've been rabid anti-Bushies for years.
The five - who have become known as "The Jersey Girls" - were the moving force behind the relatives' campaign that forced the administration to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the attacks, which killed 3,000 people.
Oh, and in answer to the questions in 1:
Democratic strategists see the endorsements as one way to narrow the security gap between their challenger and Bush, who currently enjoys a more than 20 percent lead on terrorism issues.
The answers are yes and no.
Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe has come to a startling conclusion:
Dick Cheney, the dour vice president with the downward-curling lip, is clobbering Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards.
Apparently this just surprises the pants off of Joan. Why, I'm not sure. After all, Kerry hired a lightweight as his VP candidate. That's not to say Edwards is totally without substance. But politicially he's more face than force. A one term Senator who apparently would not have won reelection. So junior that he had few opportunities to exhibit any leadership in the Senate.
Why is it surprising then that a man who's been in politics for over 30 years in the Congress, as Sec Def and VP would be "clobbering" Edwards? It shouldn't be a surprise at all.
Perhaps Vennochi is surprised because she actually believes Edwards has a point:
Edwards is correct, there are two Americas and there are many ways to show it. Poverty is on the rise, fewer people have health care. Stretching income to cover basic costs is more difficult. A recent Businessweek.com article labeled shoppers as "Moneyed vs. Worried." August retail sales showed that discount stores like Wal-Mart, Costco, and Target fell below analysts' forecasts. Some blamed hurricane season, gas prices or the late start of back-to-school shopping. However, the same factors did not impede retail sales at high-end stores. "Wealthy Americans seem unshaken by current economic uncertainties and are still spending their money freely, while consumers in lower income brackets are feeling less secure," Businessweek concluded.
As with most commenters on the left, Vennochi strips the context from these statistics in order to invoke the class warfare canard. The inferrence in the above paragraph is the policies of the Bush administration have driven more into poverty and helped the wealthy. As usual what is left out of the discussion is the fact that the Bush administration inherited a recession, 9/11 happened which further impacted the economy and we went to war against terror. All three events would indeed cause results that would impact poverty and income statistics.
Also left unsaid is the rapidity of the recovery given the recession, 9/11 and war, and the fact that the economy is now adding jobs at a decent level and economic growth is approaching record levels. Unemployment is below the level which Democrats crowed about during Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign.
Perhaps that is why, given the growth which is now becoming more and more obvious to Americans, plus the fact that in general the economic picture is more upbeat than it has been, that the "Two Americas" class warfare speech is no longer resonating like it did previously. It may also be because the "Two Americas" speech was a targeted speech, meant to sway primary voters already committed to the Democrats. It apparently isn't as powerful among the center or right.
Which leaves the Democrats with this:
Everyone knew that Edwards brought good looks and charisma to the Democratic ticket.
And in the absense of a message that's all he has to offer. As the economy continues to grow and marginalize his message, he hasn't much left. His record of one term leaves him little to fall back on. His experience is minimal and it stands to reason that an old and savvy political warrior like Dick Cheney would have his way with a relative neophyte in the hard-ball arena of national politics.
Why Joan Vennochi finds this surprising is beyond me.
While few vote for a president because of his VP (or VP candidate), they may indeed vote against a presidential ticket, (all things being fairly equal) because they're reluctant to put the VP candidate a heart-beat away from it all. Kerry once quipped that the Secret Service had standing orders to shoot Dan Quayle if anything ever happened to Bush 41.
A Kerry presidency might see those mythical orders revisited.
Unkindnesses have been done. Let's document them!
* Lyndon LaRouche is as weird as ever, isn't he?. An article descibes the candidate thusly....
Franklin D. Roosevelt knew about the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and "allowed that to happen." [The candidate] says he's fairly certain that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't operating as a lone gunman. And he doesn't know what really happened in Oklahoma City, but he's happy to imply that someone planted four bombs inside the Murrah building. "The official federal reports just don't seem quite right to me," he says.Well. While Lyndon LaRouche is still as weird as ever, that wasn't actually about him. That is how columnist Doug MacEachern described a meeting with Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik.
[The candidate] is one of those committed to the mean-spirited notion that it wasn't Osama bin Laden and friends who murdered 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001. It was interventionist American foreign policy. And to demonstrate just how crass a conspiracy theorist can be, [he] used Sept. 11 as an opportunity to milk for campaign contributions: He sought donations yesterday ranging from $9.11 to $1,909.11.
Looks like the John Birch Society has their Manchurian Candidate.
Those of you who know ideological Libertarians will appreciate this.....
* Zell Miller fights back, responding to his critics in the Opinion Journal. While I still think little of his speech, he does manage to put some of his critics in their place. At the end, though, there is one of the most pithy, yet brutal, responses I've had the pleasure to see. And it is delivered to a man who richly deserves it.
But for David Gergen and this newspaper's Al Hunt, among others, to call me a racist was especially hurtful. For they know better. They know I worked for three governors in a row, not just one: Carl Sanders, Lester Maddox and Jimmy Carter. They knew I was the first governor to try to remove the Confederate emblem from the Georgia flag. And by the way, when I called each of Georgia's former governors to tell them what I was about to attempt, Jimmy Carter's first question to me was, "What are you doing that for?" Mr. Gergen and Mr. Hunt also know I appointed the only African-American attorney general in the country in the 1990s and more African Americans to the state judiciary than all the other governors of Georgia combined, including that one from Plains.Ouch.
Go to Ebay where a fine 1961 vintage IBM Selectric 72 is up for auction.
The title of the auction?
"RARE 1961 IBM 72 SELECTRIC TYPEWRITER GREAT FOR FORGING.
CREATE YOUR FORGED DOCUMENTS RIGHT THE 1ST TIME - CBS"
And take heed:
This auction is for a vintage IBM Selectric 72 typewriter. This is one of the early Selectrics produced in the early 1960s, a Model 7X. Now you can create those forged documents right the very first time. We will ship at no charge for Buy It Now buyers.
Yes, this is the one CBS should have used to forge there documents. So to give your forged documents that original look use the original equipment. All you need is some old typing paper to give your forged documents that unique original professional look!
Ah America, where satire and disrespect collaborate to make a buck and a political statement.
Gotta love it.
Wonder if we ought to send Dan a memo?
The old media, like a shark pack smelling the blood of one of its own, finally turns on CBS and begins ripping it to shreds.
The Washington Post has a story out which destroys the "document expert" claim of Rather and CBS:
The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush's former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer's signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves.
"There's no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them," Marcel Matley said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The main reason, he said, is that they are "copies" that are "far removed" from the originals.
Bloggers knew this last Friday. WaPo further reports:
A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush's National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.
The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS's Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word.
The beginning of a feeding frenzy? Oh yeah ...
"I am personally 100 percent sure that they are fake," said Joseph M. Newcomer, author of several books on Windows programming, who worked on electronic typesetting techniques in the early 1970s. Newcomer said he had produced virtually exact replicas of the CBS documents using Microsoft Word formatting and the Times New Roman font.
Newcomer drew an analogy with an art expert trying to determine whether a painting of unknown provenance was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. "If I was looking for a Da Vinci, I would look for characteristic brush strokes," he said. "If I found something that was painted with a modern synthetic brush, I would know that I have a forgery."
We, among others, reported Dr. Newcomer's findings over the weekend.
The conventional wisdom is so convinced now that the memos are forgeries that politically, its even safe for the First Lady to take a shot at them:
Meanwhile, Laura Bush became the first person from the White House to say the documents are likely forgeries. "You know they are probably altered," she told Radio Iowa in Des Moines yesterday. "And they probably are forgeries, and I think that's terrible, really."
The documents have apparently been in CBS's possession for over a month. And CBS still declines to reveal their source:
Citing confidentiality issues, CBS News has declined to reveal the source of the disputed documents -- which have been in the network's possession for more than a month -- or to explain how they came to light after more than three decades. Yesterday, USA Today said that it had independently obtained copies of the documents "from a person with knowledge of Texas Air National Guard operations" who declined to be named "for fear of retaliation."
That says to me its most likely not this Bill Burkett fellow because he's already gone public in the past. Who, then, remains a mystery.
WaPo then describes its detailed examination of the documents and their findings:
Again the vast majority of these plus many more have been available among blogs for days.
CBS had produced an "expert" who claimed the memos could have been produced on an IBM electronic typewriter, but an expert contacted by WaPo claimed that was not true.
In its broadcast last night, CBS News produced a new expert, Bill Glennon, an information technology consultant. He said that IBM electric typewriters in use in 1972 could produce superscripts and proportional spacing similar to those used in the disputed documents.
Any argument to the contrary is "an out-and-out lie," Glennon said in a telephone interview. But Glennon said he is not a document expert, could not vouch for the memos' authenticity and only examined them online because CBS did not give him copies when asked to visit the network's offices.
Thomas Phinney, program manager for fonts for the Adobe company in Seattle, which helped to develop the modern Times New Roman font, disputed Glennon's statement to CBS. He said "fairly extensive testing" had convinced him that the fonts and formatting used in the CBS documents could not have been produced by the most sophisticated IBM typewriters in use in 1972, including the Selectric and the Executive. He said the two systems used fonts of different widths.
The CBS "expert" , after a pretty strong initial statement, seemed to back down in the face of Phinney's findings.
The rest of the article again mentions Matley's denial that he was an expert in formating or fonts, CBS's spokesperson claiming all of this was inconclusive and the usual spin from all sides.
All I'd like to do is welcome the old media to the party ... a party that's been going on for days.
Where have you guys been?
This weekend (Sep 12) veterans against John Kerry held a "Kerry lied while good men died" rally in Washington DC.
Well not quite. In fact, per FactCheck.org, not even close at this time.
Kerry and the DNC are running ads which claim the war in Iraq is at "200 Billion" in cost and 'counting'. Kerry also mentioned it 14 times in a stump speech.
FactCheck.org quotes the Office of Management and Budget which puts the cost at 120 billion thus far. FactCheck.org notes:
One liberal group, the Center for American Progress (CAP), comes up with a higher figure in an August 25 report: "so far, the war has cost the United States $144.4 billion." But that figure is produced by simply padding the OMB's $119 billion figure with $25 billion approved by Congress as an "emergency appropriation" signed into law by Bush on Aug. 5.
But what the Kerry campaign and the DNC do is further pad the CAP's numbers:
Nevertheless, Kerry further pads the $144 billion figure by adding another $60 billion that his campaign says the Bush administration is expected to ask for after the election, as a supplemental appropriation. It is true that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that an additional $56 billion will be required next fiscal year. But that's money that won't be spent until next year, and even then it's padded with more than $9 billion that doesn't actually apply to Iraq.
So Kerry's "$200 billion and counting" includes:
119 billion actually spent
25 billion emergency appropriation
60 billion in assumed spending
9 billion that doesn't apply to Iraq
Some creative accounting there boys.
While the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) does say about 56 billion will be spent next year, its figures are based on the war on terror as a whole not just the part of it which is Iraq:
CBO's estimate covers next-year money for Iraq and Afghanistan and what CBO calls the "global war on terrorism," including added costs of keeping combat air patrols over major US cities. It includes $5 billion for "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, $4 billion for "Operation Noble Eagle" (the Pentagon's domestic anti-terrorism operations) and $13 billion in an "undistributed" category that includes such things as mobilized reservists stationed in the United States who are supporting both Iraq and Afghanistan operations, and the cost to maintain active-duty forces above authorized levels.
Not quite the same as 60 billion they've assumed will be spent only in and on Iraq.
119 billion is obviously nothing to sneeze at ... but its not "200 billion and counting" by any stretch. And while the war in Iraq may indeed cost 200 billion or more, its not there yet and the Democrats should quit saying it is.
Yeah, yeah, I know I keep dwelling on aspects of Rathergate but I heard the inteview with this insufferable twit, Klein. A more classic example of the arrogance of the old media would be hard to find:
A watershed media moment occurred Friday on Fox News Channel, when Jonathan Klein, a former executive vice president of CBS News who oversaw "60 Minutes," debated Stephen Hayes, a writer for The Weekly Standard, on the documents CBS used to raise questions about George W. Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service.
Mr. Klein dismissed the bloggers who are raising questions about the authenticity of the memos: "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing."
He will regret that snide disparagement of the bloggers, many of whom are skilled lawyers or have backgrounds in military intelligence or typeface design. A growing number of design and document experts say they are certain or almost certain the memos on which CBS relied are forgeries.
Mr. Klein didn't directly address the mounting objections to CBS's story. He fell back on what high school debaters call the appeal to authority, implying that the reputation of "60 Minutes" should be enough to dissolve doubts without the network sharing its methods with other journalists and experts. He told Fox's Tony Snow that the "60 Minutes" team is "the most careful news organization, certainly on television." He said that Mary Mapes, the producer of the story, was "a crack journalist" who had broken the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story.
Of course Klein never mentioned that the "most careful news organization, certainly on television" had been duped by forged documents before:
"60 Minutes" may have a sterling reputation in journalism, but it has been burned before by forged documents. In 1997 it broadcast a report alleging that U.S. Customs Service inspectors looked the other way as drugs crossed the Mexican border at San Diego. The story's prize exhibit was a memo from Rudy Comacho, head of the San Diego customs office, ordering that vehicles belonging to one trucking company should be given special leniency in crossing the border. The memo was given to "60 Minutes" by Mike Horner, a former customs inspector who had left the service five years earlier. When asked by CBS for additional proof, he sent another copy with an official stamp on it.
CBS did not interview Mr. Camacho for its story. "It was horrible for him," says Bill Anthony, at the time head of public affairs for the Customs Service. "For 18 months, internal affairs and the Secret Service had him under a cloud while they established that Horner had forged the document out of bitterness over how he'd been treated." In 2000, Mr. Horner admitted he forged the memo "for media exposure" and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. "Mr. Camacho's reputation was tarnished significantly," Judge Judith Keep noted.
Mr. Camacho sued CBS and eventually settled for an undisclosed sum. In 1999 Leslie Stahl read an apology on the air: "We have concluded we were deceived, and ultimately, so were you, the viewers."
Nor is it like "60 Minutes" has only made that one "mistake" in the past. As Walter Olson reminds us in a 1993 National Review article, "60 Minutes" has pulled some stinkers over the years:
In December 1980, 60 Minutes reported that the small army-style "CJ" Jeep was dangerously apt to roll over--not only in emergencies but "even in routine road circumstances at relatively low speeds." A Jeep is shown crashing. "We'll get to precisely what the conditions were that made that single-car accident happen in a moment," promises Morley Safer.
"60 minutes" conclusion: The CJ was just too dangerous to drive. But what "60 Minutes" didn't tell anyone was the following:
Viewers might have profited by knowing, for example, that testers had to put the Jeeps through 435 runs to get 8 rollovers. A single vehicle was put through 201 runs and accounted for 4 of the rollovers. Make a car skid repeatedly, Chrysler says, and you predictably degrade tire tread and other key safety margins.
"60 Minutes" made the conclusion fit the story.
Then there was the truck tire story the next year on "60 Minutes"
Consider the Emmy-winning 60 Minutes segment in March 1981 revealing how the most common type of tire rim used on heavy trucks can fly off, killing or maiming tire mechanics and other bystanders. Again CBS relied on film from the Insurance Institute, this time showing an exploding rim shredding two luckless dummies, an adult and a child. Such footage, said Mike Wallace, "shows graphically what can happen when a wheel rim explodes." Insurance Institute spokesman Ben Kelley (who had also appeared on the Jeep segment) explains that a truck tire is under enormous pressure. "And if that metal, for any reason, dislodges, it fires off like a shell out of a cannon."
But again, there was a "rest of the story" which the "60 Minutes" viewers were never privy too:
Again, 60 Minutes did not see fit to tell viewers exactly why the metal happened to dislodge in the film clip. It turned out that, according to the Insurance Institute, the rims had been "modified" to get them to explode for the demonstration.
Well, actually, the rims' locking mechanism had been deliberately shaved off for the test. Under questioning in a later deposition, an Insurance Institute employee acknowledged that the testers had to go back and shave off more and more of the metal in stages before finally getting off enough of it--an estimated 70 percent-that the rims would explode.
Of course we all know if you change a design by removing 70% of it, there's a huge possiblity that it will fail.
Then of course there's the Audi 5000 "sudden acceleration" story carried in 1986 on "60 Minutes":
The Audi, it seemed, was a car possessed by demons. It would back into garages, dart into swimming pools, plow into bank teller lines, everything but fly on broomsticks, all while its hapless drivers were standing on the brake -- or at least so they said.
"Sudden acceleration" had been alleged in many makes of car other than the Audi, and from the start many automotive observers were inclined to view it skeptically. A working set of brakes, they pointed out, can easily overpower any car's accelerator, even one stuck at full throttle. After accidents of this sort, the brakes were always found to be working fine. Such mishaps happened most often when the car was taking off from rest, and they happened disproportionately to short or elderly drivers who were novices to the Audi.
So naturally "60 Minutes" set out to investigate as it wasn't buying into it being the fault of drivers. The assumed conclusion was it had to do with a design flaw.
It found, and interviewed on camera, some experienced drivers who reported the problem. And it showed a filmed demonstration of how an Audi, as fixed up by, yes, an expert witness testifying against the carmaker, could take off from rest at mounting speed. The expert, William Rosenbluth, was quoted as saying that "unusually high transmission pressure" could build up and cause problems. "Again, watch the pedal go down by itself," said Ed Bradley.
All by itself? I mean there it is on camera, no?
Well yes, but no.
Bradley did not, however, tell viewers why that remarkable thing was happening. As Audi lawyers finally managed to establish, Rosenbluth had drilled a hole in the poor car's transmission and attached a hose leading to a tank of compressed air or fluid.
The tank with its attached hose was apparently sitting right on the front passenger seat of the doctored Audi, but the 60 Minutes cameras managed not to pick it up. It might have been for the same reason the Jeep weights were tucked away in the wheel wells, rather than being placed visibly on top.
So next time you see that arrogant and sneering excuse for a former executive vice president at CBS remind him his panties aren't at all as clean as he'd like to pretend and that his system of checks and balances obviously didn't work in the past. Also remind the twit that we guys (and gals) in pajamas in our living rooms aren't buying into his spin and nonsense.
Now excuse me, my wife wants the CJ so I'm going to have to go to the store in the Audi 5000.
UPDATE (JON): One thing that Klein said really jumped out at me.
"“You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas.”."
I'm just sayin'.
Arthur Weinreb of the Canada Free Press finds the AP "booing" story of interest.
If you're not familiar with it, the AP originally reported that Pres. Bush, while at a campaign rally, announced that ex-Pres. Clinton would be undergoing by-pass heart surgery and the partisan Republican crowd booed. The story was false and AP had to retract it mostly because the blogosphere wouldn't let it die.
Weinreb's message? About the same as we've told concerning the CBS Rathergate fiaso.
Bloggers are out there and they're watching.
Without comment or explanation, AP changed the story that it ran later in the day. In the second version, AP changed the reaction of the Bush’s audience to read, "[T]he crowd reacted with applause and some "ooohs" apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill".
The next morning, AP issued a retraction that said "This is a correction to an incorrect story posted by AP on Friday stating the crowd booed the President when he sent his good wishes. The crowd, in fact, did NOT boo."
The reporter, that Associated Press refuses to identify, no doubt heard what he wanted to hear--a Republican crowd booing Bill Clinton who had been hospitalized with a serious medical condition and more importantly, George W. Bush saying or doing nothing about the audience’s negative reaction. This is the only plausible explanation for the mistake other than a complete fabrication of the audience’s reaction.
What helped force Associated Press to send out the corrected story plus the retraction the next day was the power of the Internet. Immediately after the news hit the wire services, blogs were filled with the correct version of the reaction to Bush’s announcement in West Allis and allegations of media bias on the part of AP. As well as making the blog sites, the wire service’s error was reported on news sites such as Newsmax.com.
AP’s erroneous story plus quick correction, followed by a retraction is a good illustration of how the mainstream left-wing media can be held accountable for inaccuracies and bias through the medium of Internet sites.
I'd only add that the same applies left-wing bloogers and right-wing nonsense.
Newsweek has identified the CBS source of the memos as one Bill Burkett, an former Guard officer who claimed, some years ago, that he'd witnessed a "sanitization" of George Bush's Guard records. The two individuals he claimed were present and did the sanitzing said his story was 'absolute garbage'.
Where did the documents come from? CBS won't say. But the trail pieced together by NEWSWEEK shows that in a sulfurous season like this one, the difference between obscurity and power is small, and anyone can get a hearing. A principal source for CBS's story was Bill Burkett, a disgruntled former Guard officer who lives in Baird, Texas, who says he was present at Guard headquarters in Austin in 1997, when a top aide to the then Governor Bush ordered records sanitized to protect the Boss. Other Guard officials disputed Burkett's account, and the Bush aide involved, Joe Allbaugh, called it "absolute garbage." Burkett may have a motive to make trouble for the powers that be. In 1998, he grew gravely ill on a Guard mission to Panama, causing him to be hospitalized, and he suffered two nervous breakdowns. He unsuccessfully sued for medical expenses.
Still, in theory, Burkett may have had access to any Guard records that, in a friend's words, "didn't make it to the shredder." Fellow officers say he wasn't a crank, but rather a stickler for proper procedure—a classic whistle-blower type. Burkett was impressive enough to cause CBS producer Mary Mapes to fly to Texas to interview him. "There are only a couple of guys I would trust to be as perfectly honest and upfront as Bill," says Dennis Adams, a former Guard colleague. The White House, through Communications Director Dan Bartlett, called Burkett a "discredited source." Indeed, Bush strategists are convinced—or have convinced themselves—that the issue will backfire on its purveyors.
The "theory" put forth here is they destroyed any records that would have refelcted poorly on W. Well, except those memos from Killian to Killian. Memos which non-typing Killian conveniently put together with future technology so they'd be easily readable by CBS.
"Fellow officers say he wasn't a crank, but rather a stickler for proper procedure—a classic whistle-blower type."
A fellow who'd seen his "whistle" discredited these many years and who harbored resentment because of that. A fellow who wanted badly to get back at those who dismissed his allegations. A fellow so much a stickler for proper procedure that he fabricated 6 memos on technology that was non-existent in 1973 and referenced officers who were no longer serving in the TANG.
In other words, a "crank".
At The New Republic, an article about Bush that should ring the bells of real conservatives and libertarians. The scene: convention week, a Club For Growth panel meeting of supply-siders, going on about the Bush tax cuts as Supply-siders tend to do....
But, as the session ground to a close, it took an unexpectedly dourI'll let you in on another secret. Senator Kerry isn't the only candidate in this race who a large section of his own party would be happy to replace.
turn. A senior from Fordham University wearing an untucked white shirt
stood to challenge the panel. "Bush spends like Carter and panders like
Clinton. It feels like we've had the third term of a Clinton
presidency," he said, decrying the dramatic growth of government on the
president's watch. "Is there any betrayal that we wouldn't support?"
With so many party loyalists in the room, you might have expected such
comments to elicit boos. Instead, there was scattered applause. One man
shouted, "Yes!" Stephen Moore, the president of the Club for Growth and
the morning's moderator, solemnly turned to the speakers. "Why don't we
address this? It's a serious question."
It wasn't just a stray moment of discontent. For all the encomiums GOP
speakers have been showering on George W. Bush from the podium at
Madison Square Garden, conservatives--especially conservative
intellectuals--have a far less rosy view of the president. Last month,
Andrew Ferguson wrote in The Weekly Standard, "[W]e'll let slip a thinly
disguised secret--Republicans are supporting a candidate that relatively
few of them find personally or politically appealing." Or, as
conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett told me, "People are careful about
how they say it and to who they say it, but, if you're together with
more than a couple of conservatives, the issue of would we be better or
worse off with Kerry comes up--and it's seriously discussed."
While bloggers like to say that Kerry is the "Anybody But Bush" candidate, I'd argue that Bush is--for conservatives and libertarians, anyway--the "Anybody but a Democrat" candidate.
Indeed, beyond his hawkish approach to the war on terror, I simply cannot think of much that I like about Bush. And even his approach to the war on terror suffers from frequently poor implementation, and even poorer rhetoric. (though, with Bush as the candidate, I suppose the latter might be a bit unavoidable)
And yet, John Kerry is worse in every way. And the Libertarian candidate is even stranger than usual.
Even with a successful conclusion to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I cannot see Bush going down in history as a successful President. Some aspects of his term--the economy, for instance--may be largely beyond his control. Other aspects--the war on terror--have yet to be determined.
But, those objections aside, who will lionize George W Bush? Between the rampant government spending, trade restrictions, social conservatism, multiple on-going wars, and dramatic expansion of
regulation [under reader advisement, I'm eliminating this aspect] pretty much every other part of Federal government.....
...is there some massive niche of voters who will praise this one day? A previously undefined "Big Government/Social Conservative/Protectionist/Interventionist"? Does this voter exist anywhere but the head of Karl Rove?
I doubt it. And, while I may be wrong, I think it's exactly this lack of positive features that will suppress the Republican vote in this election. The Democrats are energized. Not by their own Qualude of a candidate, perhaps, but at least they have somebody to vote against.
By what are the Republicans motivated? I'm not so sure that the distance between Kerry and Bush on the war (BUSH: "I'll Finish it" - KERRY: "Me too, but differently") is enough to scare the GOP voters into action.
UPDATE: Secure Liberty and Brain Fertilizer weigh in on the topic, both in some degree of disagreement. Some good points...
However, aside from the war on terror, there a few other positives for the President. Judges. I wish he would fight for them a little harder, but I like the nominations. There's a good chance that the Republicans can pick up a few seats in the Senate and defeat the Democrat's filibuster. Given that the liberal plan is to erode our Constitutional Republic by judicial fiat, NOTHING is more vital. If Bush wins, and the GOP picks up a couple of seats, look for a few retirements from the Supreme Court.I think he has a good point about Supreme Court judges. Clearly--from a conservative/libertarian POV--Bush would appoint superior judges. I suspect there are a couple pending retirements just waiting for a Democratic Presidential administration.
There will be a fight in the Republican tent very soon, just after the Democrats implode. The thing I like about it is that with the rise of the internet, there will be much more debate going from the grassroots upward, rather than direction and "take it or leave it" coming from the top down. It can't help but improve our two-party system immensely.
... when you're in one quit digging.
Fresh off the Kerry Vietnam quagmire and the CBS memo debacle, the DNC, figuring the third time must be a charm, has decided to further push the Bush AWOL meme in fresh attacks. Per Drudge:
Faster than a CBS eye can blink, dogged Dems are set to take to the airwaves anew hoping to keep questions about President Bush's National Guard duty in play, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
Candidate Kerry apparently has rejected former President Clinton's advice not to get further locked in a 2004 Vietnam quagmire.
"George W. Bush's campaign literature claimed that he 'served in the U.S. Air Force.' The only problem? He didn't," slams a new DNC press release set for distribution.
Hey Bill, have a Big Mac and shut up.
Instead of heeding Clinton's advice to pick an issue or two and stick with it and stay on message, the DNC, and one presumes, the Kerry campaign, have decided that they have to do to Bush's service what the Swift Boat Vets did to Kerry's.
Unfortunately they are missing two very key points.
1) This is old news. Regardless of the truth of the matter, those that believe Bush received preferential treatment to get in the guard to avoid Vietnam and then went "AWOL" already believe that. Those that don't aren't going to be convinced, especially by the lame stuff the DNC and CBS is running out there.
2) Unlike Kerry, the electorate has 4 years of George W Bush as president to judge which makes his service 30 years ago irrelevant. Kerry, on the other hand, can't point to any leadership of consequence over the last 30 years and thus has chosen to run on his record of 30+ years ago.
The DNC just doesn't understand this point. As Pat Caudell said, and I paraphrase "if they stay in Vietnam, they're dead". Caudell is a well known Democrat consultant.
Bush "wasn't in the Airforce?"
My guess is, and I don't have the time to dig it up, but other bloggers will, that when he went to flight school he was federalized and put under Air Force orders for those two years. Most likely it was a requirement. That would certainly qualify for having served "in the Air Force". Additionally ANG assets are considered to be reserve assets of, you guessed it, the Air Force. So if you're flying Air Force assigned air defense missions as an interceptor pilot, even as a part of the TANG, you are probably all right if you claim to have served in the Air Force. Any claim to the contrary might be seen as silly and stupid. But then we're talking about the DNC here.
Apparently Terry McAulliff and the Kerry Campaign feel Caudell and Clinton are full of beans.
I happen to think they're dead on. Watch the poll numbers for confirmation.
With typewriters and physical examinations from 1972 dominating the headlines, some other important news has been unfortunately neglected. As I noted last week the Census Department has released "first new economic indicator from the Census Bureau since the 1960s". [first announced Wednesday, Sept 8th]
You may recall that the Daily Mislead hysterically called the forthcoming indicator "the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods."
Well, it's called the "Quarterly Services Survey (QSS)", and it measures the service sector industries, "which account for nearly 55 percent of the nation’s economic activity". It's hard to see why the Daily Mislead is opposed to a measurement of the Service Sector of our economy, but one suspects it may have more to do with partisanship than with data.
Revenues in three major U.S. services industries increased 5.4 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter to $598.1 billion, the Commerce Department estimated Monday.Caveats: the data is not seasonally adjusted, and the survey only includes ~15% of the relevant industries, so far. (both of which will be corrected in coming years)
5+% growth quarter over quarter is quite good, but it should be noted that the previous quarter saw weak growth, or even decline, in many of those service sectors, so the expansion is not exactly occuring in a straight line.
To date, the Daily Mislead has not announced their specific objection to the Quarterly Services Survey. Nor do I imagine they will. After objecting to the Bush administration "eliminat[ing] longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods", it's hard to see how they could advocate the, er, elimination of a new source of economic data.
I got a very interesting email from a reader concerning the CBS Rathergate memo flap and the reaction of the blogosphere.
Jim Johnson sat out there on the net and watched it all happen. He comes up with some interesting observations and some fairly pointed commentary which I wanted to reproduce in its entirety. I think he does some pretty good analysis:
In your post you refer to a "growing line of 'questionable journalism"." I think it is time to come to a real judgment about the competence of the MSM. There has been a never ending whine of the right about the "liberal bias" and lack of objectivity of the big media. The examples have been trotted out endlessly for years. The naive assumption of the right has always been that if a sufficient number of examples are pointed out that the left, in its desire to uncover truth, would say "O my gosh, you are correct, that wasn't fair."
One of many errors the right continually makes is to grant the inherent competence of its adversaries. The reason for this is that issues become resolvable if there is a shared paradigm of problem solving. This is laziness on the part of the right. It seems to be a quick clean path to resolution. If, however, you say the left doesn't "get it," and that there skill set is deficient one is open to the relativistic arguments that their world view is as valid as yours. This has been the fear of the right as long as I can remember.
There is a resolution though, and that is to be on the right side of what works in the world. It is the Left's biggest and most glaring deficiency. The fact is that the Left is not rigorous, logical, and consistent. Its analysts and commentators are second rate or worse by and large. Imagine James Carville teaching a class in logic. In the same way the media does not have competence in the way the world understands (or should) what competence is. They really don't "get it" or share the same reality. Standards of proof are substandard.
ASIDE: This leaves them open to manipulation by those who do have a clue. Clinton had a very good clue. My opinion is that Clinton is more naturally a conservative in his gestalt and could have been anything he wanted. Circumstances provided the path he took. He is, however, a pragmatist at heart. Triangulation was a strategy based on what works.
This is a rambling way of saying most journalists of the MSM really don't know what they are doing but are very good a spouting a vocabulary that makes them appear to know. They are very good at dissembling because their unconscious and continual covering of their lack of competence is perfect training in their political avocation.
On the other hand it makes the MSM sitting ducks for the Blogoshere because competence (in Bloggerland) is what separates the men from the boys whether in pajamas or not. The outcome of the battle with the MSM is a forgone conclusion. Either the MSM goes down in flames or real competence arises and takes it over. They currently cannot compete with the new medium. The inefficiency that has been revealed is the ability to get at the truth and the Blogosphere has revealed it brutally.
One of the things I've learned as I've gotten older is that many "experts" talk a good game but aren't as "expert" as they'd like us to believe. Some have become complacent in their celebrity, some have stopped developing their expertice in a changing field, and, as Jim points out some simply aren't as competent as they'd have you believe.
Jim's "aside" is very important in my estimation. I agree with his assessment of how Clinton understood and used the old media's incompetence. And we've all seen their glaring incompetence in all things military. The memos highlight this incompetence and demonstrate how very easily manipulated CBS was with rather crude and obvious forgeries. Crude and obvious to everyone but CBS.
And we have reports that CBS eshewed interviews with Killian's widow and son as well as Maj Rufus Martin, all people who would have shed a completely different light on the memos. They also decided they didn't want to talk to others who knew Bush, people suggested by Killian's son. He was told, when he suggested them, that they were to "Pro Bush". Their "expert" who was their "trump card" never saw the memos, but had them read to him. He denied their authenticity once he saw them. Their "document expert" only vetted the signature on one memo and has no expertice in document forensics itself. 11 independent document experts say they're forgeries.
But CBS "stands by its story".
All of this points to an agenda as well as a competence problem. It is very reminiscent of the "Tailwind" controversy at CNN where a blatantly false story was presented as fact, even though there were scores of witnesses and tremendous evidence available to discredit it. The net, in its infancy in this regard, was instrumental in discrediting this story. Although bloggers weren't in evidence per se, message boards and web sites carried the story, gathered the contrary evidence and kept it alive until the old media could no longer ignore it.
Both "Tailwind" and "Rathergate" point to another fault with the old media.
Pure and unadulterated arrogance.
They have, for so long, been the sole arbiters of what is and isn't news that they haven't yet recognized or accepted that that day is over. They have, for so long, been able to say "we stand by this story" and have that end the discussion that they are completly blindsided by the new media's ability to keep a story alive. As Jim points out, these things "make the MSM sitting ducks for the Blogoshere".
To everyone but those who desperately want the memos to be real, and CBS, they've been discredited. When you begin to see parody and satire based on the memos, you know that CBS's credibility has not only been questioned, but trashed.
You wonder how long they'll stand by "we stand by this story". You wonder how long they'll agree to suffer this tremendous blow to their credibility. You have to wonder if Dan Rather is worth that.
* If you want bloggers to write about a column, write a column about bloggers. In between attempting to discredit the mainstream media, there's nothing we bloggers like more than....attention from the mainstream media.
Alert bloggers who knew the difference between the product of old typewriters and new word processors immediately suspected a hoax: the "documents" presented by CBS News suggesting preferential treatment in Lt. George W. Bush's National Guard service have all the earmarks of forgeries.Huzzah! A shiny quarter to the first person who gets QandO mentioned in the pages of the New York Times, LA Times, USA Today or Washington Post.
Safire does make some good points here. In typical blogger fashion, I'm just going to skip straight to the relevant 'grafs....
Serious allegations, and serious problems with those allegations. And Safire--albeit with professional civility--opens unambiguous fire on Dan Rather...
"Courage". The none-too-subtle message here is that the alternative to transparency in this case is cowardice.
Safire is right, I think. CBSNews is, after all, in the business of "journalism". News. Accuracy. (all snark aside, please; I'm not interested in debates about "liberal bias") At the end of the day, this is a classic debate. CBS has made an assertion, and it has been challenged. The ball is now in their court. They can either produce the evidence retract the story - back it up, or back off.
In the end, if these documents are legitimate, then an objective analysis by an expert panel can do nothing but confirm the documents accuracy, and CBS' reliability. If these documents are forgeries, then an objective analysis by an expert panel can do nothing but help CBS confirm the inaccuracy of those documents, though it would, perhaps, hurt CBS.
Why would a journalistic entity put anything above accuracy? And why would their reputation depend on not allowing an independent examination of their evidence?
"The story is true. The story is true" is not a credible defense. It is assertion, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.
UPDATE: On the "write about bloggers, and bloggers will write about you" theme, everybody will be linking to this LA Times story. One part, in particular, stands out as utterly ridiculous....
Media experts said the role of the bloggers illustrated a significant development in the relationship between mainstream news and the still-nascent phenomenon of blogging.Yes, readers should be cautious about anything they read on blogs. We are, after all, the internet equivalent of the op-ed pages of a newspaper.
This was the first time, some said, that the Web logs were engaging in their own form of investigative journalism — and readers, they warned, should be cautious.
But "the first time" that blogs have engaged in investigative journalism? Child, please. The blogosphere does that every day. Every. Damn. Day.
* Beldar Blog--one of the most important blogs on this CBS issue--is taking a look at the new USA Today documents, and the discrepancies between them and the CBS documents. Take a look.
* Patterico notes that the "Texans for Truth" spokesman, Bob Mintz, who claimed Bush was not in Alabama, because he hadn't seen him and "It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size", has also said....
"I cannot say he was not there," Mintz said. "Absolutely positively was not there. I cannot say that. I cannot say he didn't do his duty."...which seems, you know, relevant.
* A Powerline Reader makes a very good point....
What do Brig. Gen. William Turnipseed, Capt. George M. Elliott, and now Dr. Phillip Bouffard all have in common? They were all misquoted in the Boston Globe."The story is true. The story is true." Maybe, if they keep saying it, people will believe it. That seems to be the going strategy.
What's more, there seems to be a pattern. The Globe quotes, the source objects, the MSM refers to it as a "recantation," the Globe stands by its story and claims to be relying on what the source "originally said." We have an identical situation with Sharon Bush (Kitty Kelley) and a similar set of circumstances with Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges (CBS).
And in non-CBS-related news. (yes, there is some)
* Take this with a grain of salt or three, as it's not being reported elsewhere, but the Washington Times has an interesting report [apparently corroborated by Senator Ted Stevens and Rep. Curt Wheldon] of French military support for Iraq that went on until just a few months before the war, violating a whole bevy of UN sanctions.
* What kind of idiot is running the Bush/Cheney campaign in Florida?
State law sets a Sept. 1 deadline for the governor to certify a list of presidential electors for each party's candidates.Millions of dollars in advertising for the swing state of Florida, but they can't spring 100 bucks for a reliable courier to get the papers to the Florida Election Commission?
But Sept. 1 was also the day President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were being nominated at their party' convention in New York. Consequently, some of their paperwork did not arrive at state elections headquarters until Sept. 2, a day after Gov. Jeb Bush certified the candidates for president.
* Captain Ed notes two witnesses to Bush's Alabama service. Well, one witness to his presence at the base in Montgomery, and one witness to his absence from the Blount campaign on those weekends...
Oops. Sorry, guys, but that's gonna leave a mark.
UPDATE: Anybody else see Matt Lauer's interview with Kitty Kelly? Brutal. There was a palpable sense of disgust from Matt Lauer, for Kitty Kelly. Good for him.
Quoting Dr. Joseph M. Newcomer, a PhD from Carnegie Mellon Univ. with 40 years in Computer Science to include vast experience in fonts, typefaces, etc:
... I am not a fan of George Bush. But I am even less a fan of attempts to commit fraud, and particularly by a complete and utter failure of those we entrust to ensure that if the news is at least accurate. I know it is asking far too much to expect the news to be unbiased. But the people involved should not actually lie to us, or promulgate lies created by hoaxers, through their own incompetence.
There has been a lot of activity on the Internet recently concerning the forged CBS documents. I do not even dignify this statement with the traditional weasel-word "alleged," because it takes approximately 30 seconds for anyone who is knowledgeable in the history of electronic document production to recognize this whole collection is certainly a forgery, and approximately five minutes to prove to anyone technically competent that the documents are a forgery.
I love it. He refuses to dignify the forgeries with "the traditional weasel-word 'alleged'."
Heh ... strong statement to follow.
You'll find Dr. Newcomer's destruction of CBS's memos here. Worth the read.
I'm very. very excited about the changes that are in the offing here at QandO. Let's just suffice it to say that soon, QandO will be much more than just a blog.
Yes, the blog will still be here, although it will have a new look, but it'll still be the same bloggy goodness that you've gotten used to.
But I really think you'll like what we are preparing to become.
Aren't you just dying for a hint?
In a week dominated by typewriters, documents, and Dan Rather, we have written other stuff. No, really. Pretty useful stuff, too.
So, here is a collection of links to, and excerpts from, our most relevant posts from the past week. [excepting our CBS-related posts] Look through the excerpts, and read the posts that interest you.
* "The smell of panic is in the air" (McQ) - 5 reasons Kerry has been, and is, in trouble.
* Factchecking the NYT (Jon Henke) - In an editorial decrying the current "low level of debate" about the economy, the NYTimes editorial board takes the debate a bit lower.
* I want you to get nasty (Dale Franks) - Dale delivers a righteous fisking to Joe Klein, who, apparently, "missed the whole Bush AWOL, fascist, liar, Hitler comparisons", because he seems to have placed John Kerry up there on a cross alone.
* Sudan and the Election (Jon Henke) - Sudan could be a very effective wedge issue for John Kerry to both establish his military bona fides, and sway voters who will vote for a promise to "end a genocide". A look at Kerry's current position, and some historic parallels.
* Operation Dewey Canyon IV (McQ) - A look at one of the most objectionable Vietnam-era activities in which John Kerry participated.
* Democratization and the state of progress (Jon Henke) - Critics of the war have been very quick to point to Bad Things, and declare defeat. I'm not so sure that's justified. Politics can have a way of making the battlefield obselete.
* It's called The Daily Mislead...and they mean every word of it (Jon Henke) - A division of Moveon.org is lying? Say it isn't so! (hint: it is)
* More Nuance (Dale Franks) - Kerry doesn't really "flip-flop" from one side of the fence to the other on the Iraq war. In a sort of political "Schrodinger's Cat", he actually manages to be on both sides, simultaneously.
* Records are Just a Bitch (McQ) - A list of the early "negative" attacks from the Kerry camp...useful when the Democrats start crawling up on the cross.
* A short primer on Chechnya (McQ) - "a short history of what has been happening in Chechnya since WWII"
* Cheney, selective editing, and selective outrage... (Jon Henke) - Dick Cheney gets Dowdified, and, in their rush to condemn him, everybody forgets to check the transcript. And the Kerry/Edwards campaign forget their own rhetoric.
* Destined for Failure (Dale Franks) - the relevant questions about the war on terror for a Kerry administration.
* No Good Options (Dale Franks) - The terrorist attack on a school in Beslan brings home the difficult realization that we cannot stop people who are determined to kill themselves and take some of us along with them.
* Was Bush really AWOL? (McQ) - Since AWOL is a charge under the UCMJ, McQ takes a look at the UCMJ.
For more RatherGate analysis and news....just scroll down. There's quite a lot. Most important, though, is this post:
At this point, I think I'm gonna drop discussing the CBS memos any longer. With the exception of a few holdouts, the vast majority of document experts that have come out have stated their belief that, with the evidence they've seen, the CBS memos appear to be computer-generated forgeries.
So, I think it's kinda pointless to spend any more time getting down in the weeds, discussing the number of twips the horizontal space of a Palatino Linotype "h" takes up. The prople who do that sort of thing professionally already seem to have weighed in on the side of forgery, except for a few holdouts, so I'm not sure what more I have to add. If you think the whole raft of forensic document analysts that have publicly stated that conclusion are wrong, then go right ahead.
But I don't feel any particular compulsion to continue arguing with you.
It seems to me that, in the face of such expert criticism, the ball is now firmly in CBS' court. They should provide the documents and the experts they used, and a full accounting of what leads them to the conclusion that the memos are genuine, and let the expert community examine them freely. Until that happens, it's not unreasonable to assume that they simply aren't interested in learning the truth about the documents.
And there, I think, is where we have to leave it, pending new information
I don't think I have much to add to that. 9/11 had an enormous impact on me, but it's hard to explain that. You either already understand, or you never could.
Instead, I'll point you to this story. It's the kind of story that wouldn't have moved many of us prior to 9/11, but moves us to tears today.
A reservist who lost his right arm in a roadside bombing in Iraq re-enlisted in the Army on the same day he received a Bronze Star for his service.
Sgt. Chuck Bartles, 26, raised his prosthetic right arm with his left hand as he took an oath Thursday during a re-enlistment ceremony at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.
Bartles was injured when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb last year. One soldier died and two others were injured in the attack. Bartles’ right arm was shattered and had to be removed above the elbow.
“I’m not bitter at all,” he said. “I’ve been in the military my whole adult life, and I really enjoy it.”
Amputees are usually given medical discharges, but Bartles twice appealed to officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Satisfied that he could perform his duties, they agreed to let him re-enlist.
Bartles’ commander visited him at a hospital in Iraq the day after his amputation and praised his positive attitude.
“He was already talking about learning how to shoot left-handed because he didn’t want to miss the deer season,” said Lt. Col. James Suriano, commander of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion.
According to Jerry Killian's wife, he 'didn't type'. Rufus Martin, his admin officer said the same thing. But we're now asked to believe that somewhere Jerry Killian had access to an expensive and difficult to operate IBM Selectric Composer typewriter and it was on that device he decided to type these memos.
Oh it would do all the stuff that everyone is arguing about, but then, unless you're willing to suspend disbelief, its not something Jerry Killian would have sought out to hunt and peck away on. Why?
"The first IBM Composer was the IBM "Selectric" Composer announced in 1966. It was a hybrid "Selectric" typewriter that was modified to have proportional spaced fonts. It is 100% mechanical and has no digital electronics. Since it has no memory, the user was required to type everything twice. While typing the text the first time, the machine would measure the length of the line and count the number of spaces. When the user finished typing a line of text, they would record special measurements into the right margin of the paper. Once the entire column of text was typed and measured, it would then be retyped, however before typing each line, the operator would set the special justification dial (on the right side) to the proper settings, then type the line. The machine would automatically insert the appropriate amount of space between words so that all of the text would be justified." LINK
A guy who would have a rough enough time typing it once would type it twice? Right. And he'd also know all that stuff about setting the "justification dail", etc. And then he'd "record special measurements into the right margin of the paper" as well. Um hmmm.
This is the sort of nonsense CBS is demanding everyone swallow. A non-typist who would probably had a hell of a time on a manual typewriter is supposed to have figured out how to use this one and turned out perfectly proportioned memos (even if their format is not according to accepted AF style).
Sorry ... no sale.
Apparently the Boston Globe has again misrepresented what someone said (boy, there's a surprise ... remember George Elliott?).
As you recall, Bill at INDC Journal first interviewed Dr. Philip Bouffard, a documents expert. Dr. Bouffard, at that time said he was 90% certain that the documents were fake. But today, the Globe claims the following:
Philip D. Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the documents in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, one in a wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe yesterday that after further study, he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.
Backing away? By that paragraph it would seem so. But not so fast.
The Globe adds a bit more to a growing line of "questionable journalism" among the old media. Its apparent that they want to dismiss all of this analysis as nothing so badly they can taste it. And they're working to do so in any way necessary.
Disclaimer: I have no expertice in the forensic documents field. However a reader, billy, made the point that the typeface in the CBS memos isn't MS New Times Roman. His reasoning is thus:
I'd just like to point out that the typeface in the CBS memo is NOT the Microsoft version of Times New Roman. Of course this doesn't prove anything one way or another. But as it's clear to anyone who has actually looked at the documents closely - and it's very easily checked as the documents are online - it's best to not to use it as an argument against their authenticity.
Some of the salient differences between the typeface of the CYA memo and MS Times New Roman:
capital 'A' & capital 'M' - the angles of the A and M are substantially, consistently wider in the memo than in MS TNR. this cannot be an artefact introduced by copying/faxing if it affects only these two letters.
'8' - the proportions between upper and lower loops of the 8 are clearly different - in MS TNR, the two loops are very close in size. in the CBS memos, the top loop is plainly, consistently smaller.
small points I know, but enough to be absolutely conclusive that the typeface is not MS TNR.
I had linked to an automated slide show yesterday which did a complete comparison of the disputed document and it overlayed a document created in Microsoft Word 2000 but identifed the font used as Palatino Linotype.
Palatino Linotype is identified as a "True Type" (TT) font. For whatever reason, I've always been under the impression that TT fonts were fairly recent creations.
Questions to the folks more expert in this than me:
A) Do you agree its Palatine Linotype? See the referenced slide show. When I brought it up in my word processing program it looked identical to the font in the disputed memo. But it was admittedly a cursory inspection.
B) Is that font (as well as most TT fonts) a fairly recent creation?
C) If not, when was it created and was it in use on typewriters of the era of the memos?
If it is that font and that font is a fairly recent creation, then the evidence is certainly more damning than if its New Times Roman.
UPDATE: Check out this great work at Shape of Days blog. Jeff Harrell has contacted a typewriter expert and had him reproduce one of the memos on the high end typewriter CBS claims could have done it. Long story short: no sale. And its especially apparent when you read about the machinations he had to go through to get a superscript on there.
Why especially apparent? Because, as his wife noted, Killian didn't type. Not only that, the typewriter would have cost about 16,000 in 2004 dollars (not something a squadron orderly room would have) and the superscript required a ball change. But go, read it all.
UPDATE II: Reader Benito Guajardo offers some research into the Palatino font
The salient points are:
LINK --Palatino is a serif typeface created by Hermann Zapf in 1948. Full of grace and strength, Palatino is nearly universally admired. It has been adapted to virtually every type technology, and is probably one of the most used and copied typefaces in existence.
So obviously its been around a while and is quite popular.
Microsoft now also distributes 'Palatino Linotype' in Windows 2000 and XP.
It is availablle on MS Word for 2000 and XP.
LINK --It also has the distinction of having been created in at least five different media (Linotype composing machine, foundry metal, phototype film, transfer sheets, and digital)
But, if this list is inclusive, not in typewriters.
As I've said repeatedly, the fact that George Bush may have missed some drills due to a job conflict, etc. is really not that big of a thing in the reserves. The civilian job is the top priority and the reserves and NG do their level best to work with the reservist or guardsman in regard to those conflicts.
Retired National Guard members and even an Army Reservist home on leave from Iraq say they aren't bothered by memos indicating President Bush was suspended from flying because he skipped a medical exam and missed six months of training with his Texas Air National Guard unit during the Vietnam war.
They said it's common for Guard members and reservists to miss drills - even up to six months - because of job conflicts, family problems or illness, and the members are encouraged to make up the drills so they don't lose pay or eligibility for retirement benefits.
"We worked around it. There's all kinds of situations ... that cause a person to go out of state for a period of time," said Ralph Bradley, 56, who served three years in Vietnam with the Air Force and 17 years with the Georgia Army National Guard.
So those that know simply shrug it off. They know this isn't anything special or rare.
"It's just politics. That's what they are doing; it's kind of obvious," said Neal Eubanks of nearby Leesburg, who served 39 years in the military - 23 in the Air Force and 16 in the Georgia Army National Guard.
Well it is politics, at least to those who know about how the military in general and the reserve components in particular work.
But to those who don't or refuse to learn, or to whom the facts are inconvenient, such as Terry McAuliffe and the crowd, they prefer to attack on very specious grounds.
As for reports - and criticism - that Bush may have sought to get out of Guard drills for several months in 1972, [Army Reserve Sgt. Tim] Wilding said: "It's stupid. They're trying to dig up crap.
"A lot of guys don't serve for four or five months at a time. They've got other stuff going on. They'll make it up later on, or they just won't get paid. That's really no big deal to a lot of National Guard soldiers. I don't see how it's relevant now," said Wilding, who has served nearly 20 years as an Army Reservist and has been stationed just north of Baghdad with the 428th Transportation Company.
What eveyone needs to understand is this ... the reserves and guard have always worked hard to help its reservists and guardsmen work through job conflicts which may remove them from the state and make drilling difficult. They work to retain good people. Anyone who's been in the reserves knows this to be true and understands that this is simply much ado about nothing.
As Neil Eubanks says, "Its just politics", and not even very good politics. Its the Democrat smear machine working overtime to plant false impressions about routine guard business and then repeat their lies over and over and over again hoping those unaware of how this all works will buy into the spin.
George Bush's records indicate he did what was necessary to have good years in both 1972 and 1973. He obviously had some job conflicts. But like thousands upon thousands of other rescervists, he found a way to make the number of points necessary to fulfill his obligation.
To those of us who've been in the reserves, its just "no big deal".
Rowen Scarborough of the Washington Times reports:
A handwriting expert says the two signatures on purported Texas National Guard memos aired by CBS News this week are not those of President Bush's squadron commander, as asserted by "60 Minutes."
Until now, press scrutiny of the memos supposedly written by the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian focused on the finding that the documents were, in the opinion of experts, produced by computers not yet in use in the early 1970s.
Eugene P. Hussey, a certified forensic document examiner in Washington state, said yesterday there is another flaw in the CBS memos. Mr. Hussey studied the known signatures of Col. Killian on Air Force documents, and two signatures on documents dated 1972 and 1973 that aired on "60 Minutes" Wednesday night.
"It is my limited opinion that Killian did not sign those documents," Mr. Hussey told The Washington Times. He said he uses the phrase "limited opinion" because he does not have the original documents. He, like other experts interviewed by the press, relied on copies of originals first obtained by CBS. The White House then distributed copies of the memos in what is said was the interest of full disclosure.
All opinions are going to be "limited" until CBS releases the originals to outside experts like Mr. Hussey and others.
In the meantime, and the longer they let it go, it gets deeper and deeper for CBS.
Its beginning to smell a lot like "Tailwind".
.... demonstrates graphically why memo appears to be a fake produced on MS Word 2000.
You'll find it here. If you have any lingering doubts this may help you lay them to rest.
You'll need Macromedia Flash installed to watch it.
As has been mentioned a couple of times by readers of QandO, one of the people mentioned in a memo about "sugarcoating" a rating was out of the TANG for a year before the supposed memo was written:
The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugar coat" President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows.
An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged on March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of Bush's service, was dated Aug. 18, 1973.
You know, its beginning to look pretty pathetic on the CBS side. Its going to be an interesting weekend seeing how well they can avoid the mounting questions about their assertions.
A CBS staffer stood by the story, suggesting that Staudt could have continued to exert influence over Guard officials. But a former high-ranking Guard official disputed that, saying retirement would have left Staudt powerless over remaining officials.
Yikes ... If that's the best they can do, they're in for a VERY long weekend.
Retired Col. Earl Lively, who was director of Air National Guard operations for the state headquarters during 1972 and 1973 said Staudt "wasn't on the scene" after retirement, and that CBS' remote-bullying thesis makes no sense.
"He couldn't bully them. He wasn't in the Guard," Lively said. "He couldn't affect their promotions. Once you're gone from the Guard, you don't have any authority."
More and more interesting. Speaking of 'more', I'm beginning to wonder if Michael Moore might have consulted on the "60 minutes" broadcast. This has his style all over it, doesn't it?
Yesterday CBS pointed out that the documents in question had been authenticated by Maj Gen Bobby Hodges who had been commander of the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group during the time George Bush served. He's now said he was mislead by CBS:
Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian's supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were "handwritten" and after CBS read him excerpts he said, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt."
Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70's and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been "computer generated" and are a "fraud".
So we have Killian's son saying his father didn't keep those sorts of files and besides he thought the world of George Bush. We have Killian's widow saying he didn't type and besides he thought the world of George Bush. We also have the units admin officers saying those were not typical of the memos they turned out there. Last but not least, we have Hodges saying he never saw them and now that he has, they look fraudulent.
The noose around CBS tightens.
Bill, at InDC is retreating from the claim that the documents are kerned. I'm not sure why he's making the claim, because, as of yet, he's offered no explanation.
In the analysis I posted last night after blowing up the images and comparing the spacing, I found two examples where it appears the letters are kerned. But, after seeing Bill's retraction, I decided to look at the issue again in Microsoft Word, rather than just looking at the available copies of the memos, and looking for overlapping horizontal spaces.
The problem here, I think, is a confusion between kerning in Microsoft Word, and kerning within the font itself. Times New Roman (TNR) kerns the letters f, j, and by a tiny amount, r, in that they extend outside the horizontal space alloted to the letters.
Microsoft Word adds additional kerning by further compressing the space between letters. Unfortunately, the effects of kerning in Word for 12pt TNR is hardly noticable, except in a few isolated cases involving capital letters. For example the letter combination "YA" appears slightly differently in TNR in kerned and unkerned Word documents.
Based on that, I reproduced the 18 Aug 73 memo in both kerned and unkerned forms, in Microsoft word, and compared them to the original memo.
After viewing all three side by side, I have come to the conclusion that the original document is not kerned. The kerning we see in the memo is solely an artifact of the font, not of additional kerning from Word.
As such, I think I have to retract the kerning argument, because I simply can't say whether a typewriter version of TNR, if it was available, wasn't also similarly kerned internally.
It is vitally important to ensure that we honestly examine and re-examine our arguments, to ensure that what we are presenting is as correct as we can make it. That includes making the appropriate retractions when further investigation proves us wrong.
As you can see, it uses the superscript "th" in several places, and I suspect this is the document that CBS will show us tonight. It's the only document I can find after looking at them that uses superscripts.
I'm not sure what it proves, however. First the document is undated and unsigned, which makes it's provenance difficult to judge. But, based on the dates in the document, it appears that the earliest it could've been produced was in late November of 1974, over two years after the first Killian document. The font is also a monospaced font of the Courier family. Natually, as a monospaced font, it isn't kerned.
So, what have we learned? Well, not much. Unless this or a similar model was the typewriter used by Lt Col Killian, it tells us nothing. We already knew that some typewriters in 1973 did type a superscript "th". They were relatively rare, expensive, top-end models, but they existed. The question is, Did Lt Col Killian have one?
We don't even know who typed this, or when they did it, although it was at least 2.5 years after the original Killian memos. Maybe somebody got a nice new IBM Selectric Executive in 1975. Maybe this was automatically generated on a daisy-wheel computer printer at ARPC, and wasn't typed at all. How can we possibly know? And what does it tell us about the memos typed by Lt Col Killian?
Look, let's keep our eye on the ball here. The problem is not that there's a couple of superscripts in the CBS memos. That's just a flag that catches our attention because it's so unusual. Because once we notice that, we also notice the font, then we notice it's kerned, then we notice some stylistic problems, and so on.
All the superscript does it catch our attention. After that, it becomes just one piece in the totality of the evidence.
But, telling me that if you find a document a) with superscripts that is b) unsigned and c) undated, d) may not even be manually typed, and e) is at least two years newer than the memos in question, then you still haven't come anywhere near to proving f) the original memos are genuine.
It tells me nothing to show me something from Mr. Bush's records a couple of years later, to whom you can't attach a source or an author.
Find me similar examples of the same typographical and stylistic characteristics from Lt Col Killian's records. Because if Lt Col Killian's records have 1,000 monospaced Courier documents, and then these four proportionally spaced Times New Roman memo's, then you've still got lots of questions to answer.
Otherwise, all you're doing is just a version of the old joke about the defense lawyer: "You honor, I can produce 100 witnesses that didn't see my client shoot the victim!" If this is the document that CBS plans to show us tonight, then they're essentially saying, "See, I can prove that there were superscripted typewritten documents in the 70s!"
Well, yeah, there were. We know. So what? id this document typewritten, or is it daisy-printed? How do you know? Find any of those 1970s typewritten documents that were kerned? Oh, and while we're at it, are any of 'em in Lt Col Killian's files? Or is one document produced at an unknown time, by an unknown person, on an unknown system all you got?
Yes, I'll definitely be watching Gunga Dan tonight...
The blogosphere has been all over the CBS documents, but all the information is parceled out in penny packets all over the place. At the request of a reader, I thought I'd try to consolidate them into a single post. This is not canonical, of course, just the stuff I know about.
RICHARD B. KILLIAN, Lt Col, TexANG
This is the required USAF formulation for a signature block.
FROM: Lt Col Killian, Richard B.
SUBJECT: Annual Physical Examination (Flight)
TO: 1Lt Bush, George W.
Documents that are titled as MEMORANDUM are used only for file purposes, and not for communications.
The reasons above constitute a very reasonable basis for serious questions about the legitimacy of the memos distributed by CBS. In light oif them, it seems to me that CBS has a positive duty to disclose as much information about the provenance and authenticity of the memos as possible. So far, their response has been, "We think they're true, so do not question us!" That is an understandable reaction, and, indeed, it's much the same as that of the German magazine Stern, when it claimed to have found Adolph Hitler's diaries in the 1980s.
It is not a helpful response, however, and it indicates that CBS is, at this point, far more interested in performing CYA operations than it is in getting to the bottom of these questions.
Statement From CBS News Friday September 10, 3:53 pm ET
NEW YORK, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Later today, CBS News will address on the air and in detail the issues surrounding the documents broadcast in the 60 MINUTES report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. At this time, however, CBS News states with absolute certainty that the ability to produce the "th" superscript mentioned in reports about the documents did exist on typewriters as early as 1968, and in fact is in President Bush's official military records released by the White House. This and other issues surrounding the authenticity of the documents and more on this developing story will be reported on tonight on THE CBS EVENING NEWS WITH DAN RATHER.
Well that should be interesting.
Seems McAuliffe (although he may not realize it) has all but admitted that the memos are fake. He's doing so by suggesting Karl Rove is the man behind the plan:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe today said neither his organization nor John Kerry´s campaign leaked to CBS documents questioning President Bush´s service record, which may have been forged.
He suggested White House adviser Karl Rove could be behind the documents.
"I can unequivocally say that no one involved here at the Democratic National Committee had anything at all to do with any of those documents. If I were an aspiring young journalist, I think I would ask Karl Rove that question," Mr. McAuliffe said.
Asked later if he believed Mr. Rove or Republican operatives were involved, he said: "I am telling you that nobody — Democratic National Committee or groups associate with us — were involved in any way with these documents. I am just saying I would ask Karl Rove the same question."
Heh ... it appears that the only person this side of China who's sticking with "the documents are authentic" is Dan Rather.
The DNC has its backup lights on.
Yes, the title is a bit sarcastic. This from the National Post:
Canada rejected a U.S. request to send a squadron of CF-18 fighter-bombers to Afghanistan last year because of concerns that it might free more American forces for the invasion of Iraq, according to internal Defence Department documents.
In documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, the two top generals in the Canadian Forces agreed that a six-month deployment of as many as 18 aircraft to the air base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, was "deemed feasible" but recommended against the proposal because of concerns over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
My first reaction was unprintable. Deny support in one theater (a war which you support) in order to assure American troops don't get support in another theater (a war you don't support).
I'm sorry but this sort of crap is just indefensible. I can see saying no if you're streched thin or don't have the assets, but to deny support in hopes of denying units to Americans in combat just flat sucks out loud.
Well, the way I see it, if Canadian troops get in a pickle in Afghanistan and I I'm the US commander, when their call for airsupport came in I'm most likely deny it since there's a possiblity an American unit might be left short.
In reality I'd try to pull their Canadian bacon out of the fire. But I wouldn't be happy about it.
CBS has apparently decided to stick with its story on the Killian memos.
In a statement, CBS News said it stands by its story.
"This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking," the statement read.
"In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content," the statement continued. "Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned."
Essentially, CBS' position is, "Our mind is made up. Don't try and confuse us with facts."
Way to go, guys. Never admit error. That's really the key in maintaining public trust, as I'm sure everyone will agree. Don't let us know who your authentication experts are, or the methods they used to authenticate the documents. Don't respond to any questions with details about their source or provenance.
Just stonewall everybody.
Back in the day, CIA officers working in Vietnam were rumored to carry around warrant cards that stated:
DO NOT QUESTION OR DETAIN ME!
I am authorized to pass into restricted areas, carry unusual personal weapons, and conscript any person into service at any time.
The management at CBS News act like they're carrying around something similar.
For all the good it'll do 'em.
UPDATE: Gunga Dan enters the fray. Dan Rather went on CNN this morning. Unrepentant, he personally vouched for the authenticity of the memos.
You go, Dan!
CBSNEWS anchor and 60 MINUTES correspondent Dan Rather publicly defended his reporting Friday morning after questions were raised about the authenticity of newly unearthed memos aired on CBS which asserted that George W. Bush ignored a direct order from a superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been. There isn't going to be -- there's no -- what you're saying apology?
QUESTION: Apology or any kind of retraction or...
RATHER: Not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is what are the answers to the questions raised in the story, which I just gave you earlier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Somebody needs to buy Dan a clue. Yo Dan, if the story is based on false documents, then the story isn't true and subsequent questions from faked documents have no validity.
It appears Capt Rather has chosen to go down with the ship.
One would assume if Rather is saying the above that it reflects CBS's decision and the end to its internal investigation, such that it was.
False pride and a refusal to admit being wrong? A feeling they can bluff their way thorough this one?
Regardless, unless he answers all the questions raised about the memos, he becomes Mr. Tailwind of 2004.
Maybe he and Peter Arnett could write their memoirs together.
They could call it "A Tale of Two Twits" (yeah I almost got there but I didn't think I could get away with "Twitties").
Found on Free Republic and sent to me by a QandO reader. He figures maybe the NYT could use it this sunday in a story about soft money and the left.
Heh ... yeah, right.
Seems Lileks likes the "old media/new media" characterization as well:
Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes. And when the dust settles we will be right back where we were 100 years ago, with dozens of fiercely competitive media outlets throwing elbows to earn your pennies.
It would appear that if the old media is to survive it needs to quickly recognize the sea change at work here. It needs to join the new media instead of looking down its nose at it.
The old-line media, like its Boomer components, got old, and like the Boomers, it preferred self-congratulation to self-reflection. And so the Internet had it for lunch, because the Internet does not have to schedule 17 meetings to develop a strategy for impactfully maximizing brand leverage in emerging markets; the Internet does not have to worry about how a decision will affect one’s management trajectory; the Internet smells blood and leaps, and that has turned the game around, for better or worse. So we’re back to where we were in 1904 – except that the guys on the corner shouting WUXTRY, WUXTRY aren’t grimy urchins selling the paper – they’re the people who wrote the damn thing, too.
In the military there's a term for what is happening. We're told that in order to beat an enemy we need to "get inside his decision cycle". If you do that you're calling the shots and all he can do is react to your moves. In a sense that's what is happening here. Bloggers are on the story immediately and continuously. Its like the work of a hive, with information and bloggers coming and going, sharing and comparing. The product is scrutinized, parts of the theory are dumped, new parts are added as more and more information becomes available. Thousands participate through articles, comments and cites.
Meanwhile, plugging along at their relatively sluggish pace, with their limited staff and fixed publishing or broadcast times, the old media is simply overwhelmed.
Look at the stories out there today. They're essentially reporting today what bloggers knew and reported yesterday. They've been overwhelmed and they are figuring out there's no chance the "old way" will ever return.
This is an amazing thing to watch.
I have a lot to say, but none of it requires an entire post, so....
* Now, this is funny...
* The Spectator is claiming the DNC is behind the leak of these documents. I doubt this will be verifiable, and I won't speculate on the odds that a DNC staffer would leak such damning information to a right wing publication. (wait. Yes I will...they seem fairly low)
It is high time the mainstream media be held to at least the minimum standards expected of competent bloggers, isn't it?
And that goes for both the left and right sides of the 'sphere.
* Brad DeLong, citing a story in which Dick Cheney said "That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago. Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay", writes...
Cheney needs a staff who will tell him that the $2.0 billion or so in eBay's domestic revenues are already included in the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis's estimates of GDP.Brad DeLong needs a staff who will tell him that Cheney wasn't talking about GDP. He was responding "to a question from a self-employed man who said the federal government would consider him "unemployed".
While Ebay "employment", in itself, is certainly not a major component in the Household/Establishment disparity, it is indicative of the sort of alternative "employment" situations available in a changing economy.
10 out of 10 for snappy repartee, Professor. And minus a few thousand for missing the point.
* matthew Yglesias cites the existence of proportional type in 1941, and writes...
More and more this forgeries theory is looking like just some more rightwing BS.
Is it a forgery? I have no idea. But, just as with the Swift Boat Vet story, the left side of the 'sphere seems to be engaging in some selection bias, touting the evidence that helps them, ignoring the evidence that does not, and calling "game over" at half-time.
* The New York Times editorial page is in high dudgeon. Bob Herbert is doing his best to conflate Iraq with Vietnam...
They were sent off by a president who ran and hid when he was a young man and his country was at war. They fought bravely and died honorably. But as in Vietnam, no amount of valor or heroism can conceal the fact that they were sent off under false pretenses to fight a war that is unwinnable.Well, Bob Herbert just doesn't seem Iraq becoming a flowering Jeffersonian democracy, so we might as well just declare defeat. And Herbert does.
To what end? You can wave goodbye to the naïve idea that democracy would take root in Iraq and then spread like the flowers of spring throughout the Middle East. That was never going to happen. So what are we there for, other than to establish a permanent military stronghold in the region and control the flow of Iraqi oil?
I guess there's nothing in Bob Herbert's book between the Garden of Eden and Vietnam.
At some point, as in Vietnam, the American public will balk at the continued carnage, and this tragic misadventure will become politically unsustainable. Meanwhile, the death toll mounts.The constant drip-drip-drip of casualties in Iraq certainly makes it feel worse than it is--by any historical standard, that is--but what has really made the American public "balk" at the cost of the war has not been the 1000 deaths. Far from it. Prior to the war, we all assumed there would be significant loss of life. In fact, in a survey of "opinion leaders, the general public and military elite", the "acceptable losses" broke down as follows....
Self-fulfilling prohecies are a great rhetorical trick, but at what cost?
* Oliver Willis is still running with the "Cheney said vote for us or die" meme, this time citing his explanation--which is perfectly clear and consistent with what he said before--and writing "Cheney tries to extricate his foot from his mouth. Nevermind, you horrible person, we know you were speaking your mind the first time. [...] Once again, the Bush administration tries to defeat facts with words."
Of course, Oliver defeats facts by ignoring words. Once again, he only presents a small portion of Cheney's statement, leaving out context. I know there's an election to win, and that supercedes, you know, intellectual honesty....but isn't that where David Brock--Oliver Willis' employer--went wrong, once upon a time?
"Rove Ex Machina"
Bottom line: these memos might be 100% genuine. But there are lots of legitimate questions about their origin and authenticity, and at a minimum CBS ought to make its own copies available for inspection and also ought to disclose the names of the typographic experts it consulted. Better yet would be convincing their source to either go public, allow inspection of the original memos, or at least allow a more thorough discussion of exactly where the documents came from.For reference, some of the problems he notes with the memos were addressed in detail yesterday by Dale. (with graphics for you visual learners)
"These memos are absolutely and positively authentic. I give you my word on that. You can quote me. No kidding. I mean it. Honest."
More funny stuff at Whizbang.
So says the American Spectator (via the Daily Recycler - due to heavy traffic, American Spectators site is down):
"More than a couple people heard about the papers," says the DNC staffer. "I've heard that they ended up with the Kerry campaign, for them to decide to how to proceed, and presumably they were handed over to 60 Minutes, which used them the other night. But I know this much. When there was discussion here, there were doubts raised about their authenticity."
If true, it redefines "smear campaign". As to the charge that Bush didn't release all his records:
The documents that CBS News used were not documents from any of Bush's personnel files from his time in the National Guard. Rather, CBS News stated that they were documents uncovered in the personnel files of Killian. That would explain why the White House or the Pentagon had never before released or even seen them.
Meanwhile, back at Kerry Campaign headquarters:
According to a Kerry campaign source, there was little gossip about the supposedly hot documents inside the office of the campaign on McPherson Square. "Those documents were not something anyone was talking about or trying to generate buzz on," says the staffer. "It wasn't like there were small groups of people talking about this as a bombshell. I think people here weren't sure what to make of it, because provenance of these documents was uncertain."
But did that stop them from offering them to news organizations? Apparently not. And despite "alarm bells", CBS News went with them:
A CBS producer, who initially tipped off The Prowler about the 60 Minutes story, says that despite seeking professional assurances that the documents were legitimate, there was uncertainty even among the group of producers and researchers working on the story.
"The problem was we had one set of documents from Bush's file that had Killian calling Bush 'an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot.' And someone who Killian said 'performed in an outstanding manner.' Then you have these new documents and the tone and content are so different."
Not to mention their style. But apparently that slipped past the CBS "experts".
It speaks to the desire of CBS to present a negative story about Bush even with all these alarm bells going on, they continued with the project.
Now, the producer says, there is growing concern inside the building on 57th Street that they may have been suckered by the Kerry campaign. "There is a school of thought here that the Kerry people dumped this in our laps, figuring we'd do the heavy lifting on the story. That maybe they had doubts about these documents but hoped we'd get more information," says the producer. "If that's the case, then we're bigger fools than we already appear to be judging by all the chatter about how these documents could be forgeries."
Where was the concern before they ran the story? While it may be true that the documents were forged and it may be true that in the end they were suckered by the Kerry people, it doesn't remove the responsibility for vetting the memos from CBS.
ABC apparently met to talk about the difficulties rival CBS faces and discuss the impact if it is true. The ABC meeting also discussed theories concerning the memos:
ABC News' political unit held a conference call at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening to discuss the memo and its potential ramifications should the documents turn out to be a forgery. That meeting took place around the time that the deceased Killian's son made public statements questioning the documents' authenticity.
According to one ABC News employee, some reporters believe that the Kerry campaign as well as the DNC were parties in duping CBS, but a smaller segment believe that both the DNC and the Kerry campaign were duped by Karl Rove, who would have engineered the flap to embarrass the opposition.
You knew Karl Rove would somehow end up as the evil genius behind all of this, didn't you?
(Hat tip to Looker for the link)
Well why not, we have citizen soldiers?
That's the name John Podhoretz gives bloggers and their readers in the 60 minutes/CBS News "Memogate" flap:
The populist revolution against the so-called mainstream media continues. Yesterday, the citizen journalists who produce blogs on the Internet — and their engaged readers — engaged in the wholesale exposure of what appears to be a presidential-year dirty trick against George W. Bush.
What the bloggers and their audiences did was call into profound question the authenticity of four documents proudly trumpeted by CBS News in a much-heralded investigative report on Wednesday night's edition of "60 Minutes" about the president's National Guard service in the early 1970s.
I'm sure well now be treated to some professor of journalism's lament about these unprecidented attacks on an institution he or she reveres. However, these 'corrections" by bloggers seem to be getting more frequent, not less.
Of course, as Podhoretz explains, the left was giddy with the find and just didn't look that closely at the evidence. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. It was exactly what they'd been looking for. It was perfect. Perhaps too perfect:
Liberals went wild with glee about the story, especially after the onslaught on John Kerry's Vietnam record by his fellow Swift-boat veterans.
Kevin Drum, the most talented of the left-wing bloggers, wrote: "This story is a perfect demonstration of the difference between the Swift-boat controversy and the National Guard controversy. Both are tales from long ago and both are related to Vietnam, but . . . in the National Guard case, practically every new piece of documentary evidence provides additional confirmation that the charges against Bush are true."
Drum simply assumed that the documents were above-board. So did The New York Times and The Washington Post, both of which put the story on its front page on Thursday.
But we all know about "assumptions" don't we? Once the documents were released the scrutiny was on. First FreeRepublic and then Powerline were all over the authenticity of the memos. It spread like wildfire among blogs where readers offered comments and ideas, and in some cases expert testimony:
The Minneapolis lawyers who run powerlineblog.com were on the case early. Two of the blog's readers directed their attention to a note left on an Internet bulletin board on the freerepublic.com Web site — the 47th posting on the topic there.
Post No. 47 pointed out that there was something off about these documents from the 1970s: The spacing between the letters and the words was proportional, and only a few IBM electric typewriters could achieve that effect back then.
From there it was off to the races. Once anyone who had had experience writing and typing in the 1970s began examining the documents, it was impossible not to see some weird anachronisms that suggested they had been crafted not on a 1970s typewriter, but using Microsoft Word.
Charles Johnson, who runs the wonderful littlegreenfootballs.com, simply typed one of the memos over using Microsoft Word's New Times Roman font and, lo and behold, the document came out exactly identical to the one on the CBS site, down to the letter spacing.
The documents contain such features as superscript lettering, which is done automatically by Microsoft Word, and curly quotation marks. A brief glance at a Web site called selectric.org, run by an amateur typewriter fanatic, reveals dozens of IBM electric typefaces — and none of them has curly quotation marks.
By 3 o'clock, the very careful and honest Jim Geraghty, who produces invaluable material every day on nationalreview.com's Kerry Spot, was saying flatly, "CBS had better have one heck of a defense for this."
The flap was highlited on Brit Hume's Special Report and Nightline had a special segment on it as well.
From the lies of Ben Barnes to the apparent forgeries of who-knows-who-did-it — why has "60 Minutes" exposed itself in this way?
We all know why. Its producers and others in the media think George Bush deserves to be beaten up now because of the beating administered to John Kerry in August. In some weird way, the editors and producers believe this is fairness at work.
Instead, they have unmasked themselves. Or rather, they have been unmasked by ordinary people who can see what they and their hired experts evidently could not.
It appears that 60 Minutes/CBS had produced a hit piece in which the examination of the authenticity of the evidence at hand was less important than the damage it would do to the Bush campaign. 5 years ago, they may have gotten away with it.
Maybe we should go with a new name for this. Instead of "Memogate" we should call it:
(Hat tip to my bro for that one)
UPDATE II: Wretchard at The Belmont Club describes what happened yesterday with the memo story being shredded by bloggers as a result of "the distributed intelligence of the Internet". Precisely ... a world body of available investigators and experts converged to cry "fake" to the memos. It is still reverberating in the old media and will for some time.
CBS NEWS executives have launched an internal investigation into whether its premiere news program 60 MINUTES aired fabricated documents relating to Bush's National Guard service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
"The reputation and integrity of the entire news division is at stake, if we are in error, it will be corrected," a top CBS source explained late Thursday.
The source, who asked not to be named, described CBSNEWS anchor and 60 MINUTES correspondent Dan Rather as being privately "shell-shocked" by the increasingly likelihood that the documents in question were fraudulent.
Rather, who anchored the segment presenting new information on the president's military service, will personally correct the record on-air, if need be, the source explained from New York.
UPDATE (JON): I Love Jet Noise has a pretty comprehensive roundup of media reaction (or lack thereof) to this story, as well as notable quotes from the family of the late Lt Col Killian. (hint: they're not buying it, and they're mad. At CBS. )
Journalism is funny. No matter what the political views of reporters, above all else, they love to play "gotcha" with rival news organizations.
So, the Washington Post is leading off with this:
Documents unearthed by CBS News that raise doubts about whether President Bush fulfilled his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard include several features suggesting that they were generated by a computer or word processor rather than a Vietnam War-era typewriter, experts said yesterday.
ABC News is going with this:
More than half a dozen document experts contacted by ABC News said they had doubts about the memos' authenticity.
"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available … indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter."
On the other hand, not everyone wants to deal with the forgeries problem. The AP handles it like this:
Reviving issues that have shadowed his political career, the documents show Bush ignored a direct order from a superior officer and lost his status as a Texas Air National Guard pilot more than three decades ago because he failed to meet military performance standards and undergo a required physical examination.
But the authenticity of the memos was questioned Thursday by the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote them. One of the writer's fellow officers and a document expert also said Thursday the documents appear to be forgeries.
Still, the documents marked the second time in days the White House had to backtrack from assertions that all of Bush's records had been released. They also raised the specter that Bush sought favors from higher-ups and that the commander of the Texas Air National Guard wanted to "sugar coat" Bush's record after he was suspended from flying.
The AP then spends 1,000 words rehashing the charges against Mr. Bush in the memos in detail. But, hey, at least they mentioned the possibility of forgery, though they appear to feel that it isn't all that important.
CBS News, on the other hand isn't saying anything.
I keep saying it and everyone keeps telling me I'm wrong.
Maybe I am, but there continue to be events which demonstrate I'm not. Events such as the parade in Washington where a young Iraq vet was called a 'baby-killer" and now this in Texas, which again says "the anti-war crowd is not pro-troops" no matter how many times they claim to be. It keeps creeping out into the light ... the true feelings of some of the anti-war crowd, and it seems damn familiar to me:
A candlelight vigil took place Wednesday night to remember U.S. war dead in Iraq during the week of the 1,000th casualty. One North Texas family, whose relative -- Chad Drake -- was killed outside Baghdad Monday, was among the mourners at Dallas City Hall Plaza.
The vigil, though, turned abrasive toward the family members, according to a family friend. The friend sent an e-mail message to NBC 5 News that described the treatment some vigil attendees directed at the family.
Drake's mother was "harassed and yelled at, booed and hissed, told her son died for nothing," the message read.
Drake's mother reportedly left the event in tears.
To those who did this to this poor family you're insenstive pigs who don't deserve to live in the country for which young Chad Drake died. They aren't worthy of the blood the young man shed so they could act like the asses they certainly are.
Its because of better men, like Chad, that they can revel in their smug arrogance and believe their way is so superior that they mock the sacrifice of a fine young American and his family.
There just aren't words vile enough to describe how much contempt I feel for those that did this. I hope they all rot in hell.
Rather than cover the ground that McQ and Jon have covered, I've decided to offer some observations about the forgery allegations over the CBS Documents. I served for nearly ten years on active duty in the USAF, two of them in a staff position, so I'm extremely familiar with the the USAF's Tongue and Quill (WARNING: Very large PDF file) style guide, also known as AFH 33-337. Additionally, I have spent the last several years working as an author of computer training manuals, technical training instructor, and software and web developer.
I point out my background to note that I have some relevant expertise, and that, based on that expertise, these memos appear odd.
It's not particularly relevant, but I was also in the Civil Air Patrol unit at Ellington AFB. I was born in Houston, and grew up in that part of town. When I was in the CAP there in the late 70s, the 111th was still flying Voodoos.
First, the form of the memos are odd. The signature at the bottom of the memos is improper. The memos are signed as follows:
This is not a proper Air Force signature block. Indeed, via Powerline, we have an example of Lt. Col. Killian's signature in the proper form:
I find it difficult to believe that Lt Col Killian would sign an official document without using the prescribed USAF signature block format. It just isn't done.
Next, some of the documents have manually typed letterheads. this isn't done either. Since 1948, the Air Force has had an official letterhead which is required for use by every USAF unit in the world:
It consists of the DOD Seal at left, then the words DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, under which is the unit name, and, optionally, the unit's full address. If you run out of unit letterhead, you are allowed to use the blank letterhead, which merely has the DOD seal and the top line DoAF text. What you do not do, however, is just type in your own letterhead at the top of a page.
Sure, you can run out of letterhead at any time. I can remember several times when we were out of unit letterhead, and USAF letterhead both. And, in every case, I had to tritty-trot down to the base printing office and pick some up, so that we could write official documents.
What is really odd is that the USAF style for Memorandums for Record is that they do not use letterhead at all. Instead, you use plain white paper, and the top line simply says MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD.
One of the documents wildly violates the prescribed style:
MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD
TO: 1Lt Bush, George W.
Additionally, the rank abbreviations are not in the appropriate USAF style. The rank of First Lieutenant is abbreviated as "1Lt" in the USAF; Lieutenant Colonel is abbreviated "Lt Col", with no periods in the abbreviation.
Finally, the unit abbreviation for the 111th FIS incorrectly uses periods. USAF acronyms for units use capital letters only with no periods, as I have written it above.
By the way, the address that has been redacted is 5000 Longmont #8. In case you care.
Now, I freely admit that none of this proves the documents are forgeries. Maybe the guys in the 111th FIS were a bunch of free-wheeling cowboys, who didn't give a fig about the USAFs prescribed styles, because they were TEXAN national guardsmen, who were above all the pretty rules of those lace-panty boys in Washington. Indeed, there's probably some truth in that, because, even as a teenager in the CAP, I remember that the bathroom in the control tower at Ellington AFB was liberally stocked with porn.
Still, the absolute lack of adherence to long-standing USAF standards is odd, at the very least.
Enough of the tedious USAF style stuff. On to the geekery.
In typesetting, there is a process called "kerning". This is the process of grouping letter in a word so that their spacing overlaps for readability. Instead of each letter taking up a discrete amunt of horizontal space, the letters in a word are squished together so that they overlap horizontally. Take a look at this from the 18 Aug 73 memo:
See how the horizontal space of the F and E overlap? This appears to be a case of kerning. Here is another example from the same document:
In this case, it's the F and the R that appear to be kerned, although the RO appear slightly kerned as well, but it's simply hard to tell with the poor resolution of the document.
Computer programs like Microsoft Word do this automatically. They know what the letters are in each word, so they can adjust the letter spacing horizontally to kern them.
No typewriter in the world can do this, because typewriters do not know what the letters of each word are. Not even proportional font typewriters can kern. Typrewiters have know way of knowing whether you've typed an FO, which can be kerned, or an OO which cannot. Only word processors can do this.
Moreover, Charles at Little Green Footballs, did an interesting experiment that reproduced one of the memos exactly using Microsoft Word with the default font and margin settings. In fact, the match was so close that when he superimposed his recreation in Word over the CBS original, he got the result below:
I think all of this raises very serious questions about the provenance of these documents. At the very least, CBS should publicly announce who did the document authentication, along with a precise explanation of how the authenticator arrived at his conclusion.
Oh, and finally, Hugh Hewitt has posted the transcript of his interview with Farrell Shiver, the owner of Shiver & Nelson, a document investigation lab in Woodstock, Georgia. Mr Shriver is also of the opinion that these documents are forgeries.
CBS has some questions to answer.
Powerline has another blue-suiter who confirms my statements about the Air Force's style requirements.
The kerning argument appears to be an artifact of the Times New Roman font itself, which extends some letters beyond their alloted horizontal space. The document itself appears to be completely unkerned. See here for a fuller explanation.
The new Washington Post/ABC News poll gives George W. Bush a decided lead among likely voters.
For the first time in the campaign, a majority of likely voters now say they plan to vote for Bush. Among those most likely to vote in November, Bush holds a 52 percent to 43 percent lead over Kerry, with independent Ralph Nader receiving 2 percent of the hypothetical vote. Among all registered voters, Bush leads Kerry 50 percent to 44 percent.
In entirely unrelated news, John Kerry may soon offer an apology for his...uh...less nuanced remarks about the Vietnam War 35 years ago.
I thought you'd enjoy the graphic that CBS News is displaying over their links to the documents they presented on 60 Minutes.
Why, I think we will. Thanks for the advice.
And Old Dan may have been duped.
Bill at INDC has done some leg work and contacted a forensic document examiner to get his take on the possibilty that the documents which were used on last night's "60 Minutes II" may be forgeries based on their typeface. The expert's conclusion?
“It’s just possible that this might be a Times Roman font, which means that it would have been created on a computer. It’s very possible that someone decided to create this document on a computer... I’ve run across this situation before … my gut is this could just well be a fabrication.”
Conclusion: He thinks there's a 90% probability they're fakes.
Read the whole thing.
Rather Biased Blog comes to the same conclusion with another good discussion of the controversy.
LGF is also on it.
You can see the documents here.
UPDATE: CBS News claims it consulted an expert :
Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.
UPDATE II (JON): While we're on the subject of frauds.....a correspondent gives me a heads-up to something interesting. First, the caveats:
Just a note: Ben Barnes daugher, Amy who lives in Denton, Texas is on the radio right now with Monica Crowley (sitting in for Mark Davis on our local radio 820 show) and she just said that herf father is a a political opportunist. Whoa!
She said she loves her father but she knows he is doing this for purely political reasons and that she knows that he never used any influence to get Busn into the National Guard. She also says that he has a book coming out and that is the reason he went on TV. Watch for flying feathers on this.[typos in original -Jon]
UPDATED AGAIN (JON): A few readers have confirmed hearing it/hearing about it on the radio. It appears it did happen, roughly as described.
UPDATE III (JON): Regarding the forged documents, MyPetJawa has a good roundup of skeptical opinions.
Consider me agnostic, pending much more evidence.
UPDATE IV (McQ): Powerline is all over this. Read it.
UPDATE V (McQ): Oh this gets better and better. From Powerline:
UPDATE 11: CBS is sticking to its story. It's not entirely clear which story, however. Initially, CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards said:
As is standard practice at CBS News, each of the documents broadcast on '60 Minutes' was thoroughly investigated by independent experts, and we are convinced of their authenticity.
Later, however, Ms. Edwards sent out an email that appeared to revise the nature of the "authentication" process:CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.
So what CBS is now saying is not that the documents are authentic, but that the opinions they express are authentic, based on the hearsay reports of anonymous persons alleged to be close associates of Col. Killian, who recall his views of thirty-two years ago. This is what passes for "authentication" in the mainstream media.
But according to an LA Times story here, they claim Staudt retired in '72.
Bush's application, as well as his commission, were handled by then-Col. Walter B. "Buck" Staudt, who said, "Nobody did anything for him…. There was no … influence on his behalf. Neither his daddy nor anybody else got him into the Guard." Staudt, who retired in 1972 as a brigadier general, said Bush was enrolled quickly because there was a demand for pilot candidates.UPDATE VI (McQ): The Commisar has uncovered another memo you need to see to believe. Since it appears to fit the authenticity criteria Dan Rather used on the Bush memos, he's thinking seriously about sending it to CBS News.
UPDATE VII (McQ): More experts weigh in. Conclusion? The memos are fakes.
"These sure look like forgeries," says William Flynn, a forensic document expert widely considered the nation's top analyst of computer-generated documents. Flynn looked at copies of the documents posted on the CBS News website (here, here, here, and here). Flynn says, "I would say it looks very likely that these documents could not have existed" in the early 1970s, when they were allegedly written.
Several other experts agree. "They look mighty suspicious," says a veteran forensic document expert who asked not to be quoted by name. Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor who operates a website dedicated to typewriters, says that while he is not an expert on typesetting, the documents "look like typical word-processed documents."
(Hat tip: Ryan McGrath)
UPDATE VII (McQ): Gary Killian, son of LTC Jerry Killian speaks out about the memo controversy:
"I am upset because I think it is a mixture of truth and fiction here," said Gary Killian, son of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, said one of the memos, signed by his father, appeared legitimate. But he doubted his father would have written another, unsigned memo which said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review.
"It just wouldn't happen," he said. "The only thing that can happen when you keep secret files like that are bad things. ... No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."
News reports have said the memos, first obtained by CBS's "60 Minutes II," were found in Jerry Killian's personal records. Gary Killian said his father wasn't in the habit of bringing his work home with him, and that the documents didn't come from the family.
So from whence did they come, CBS?
UPDATE IX (McQ): Jerry Killian's widow says memos don't sound like her late husband:
Marjorie Connell — widow of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the reported author of memos suggesting that Bush did not meet the standards for the Texas Air National Guard — questioned whether the documents were real.
"The wording in these documents is very suspect to me," she told ABC News Radio in an exclusive phone interview from her Texas home. She added that she "just can't believe these are his words."
This is getting old.
But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.
He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show. The 1973 document has been overlooked in news media accounts. The 1968 document has received scant notice.
There’s a reason for that. It’s a stock form that everyone signs. IOW, it means you understand and acknowledge the contents. That’s it. That’s all
On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, ''It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. . . " Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit.
Oh man .... there’s a darn good reason for that. He requested an “early out” and his discharge on September 5th. He was discharged on October 1st, 1973. Of course this is public record. It has been public record for a few years and available to anyone with the compunction to look it up ... which apparently excludes the Boston Globe.
But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit. In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. ''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview.
All this indicates is Bartlett doesn’t understand this anymore than the Boston Globe does.
And early in his Guard service, on May 27, 1968, Bush signed a ''statement of understanding" pledging to achieve ''satisfactory participation" that included attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty -- usually involving two weekend days each month -- and 15 days of annual active duty. ''I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation," the statement reads.
Yet Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.
Note the “usually involving two weekends days a month and 15 days annual active training”. That is only a guideline. I spent 21 years in the reserves and I never ever did a 15 day annual training (AT). My unit, because of what it did, chose to do what is called fragmented AT which allowed us to do our AT on weekends during the year. We’ve had reservists who, with permission, missed months of drills for a variety of reasons and were allowed to make them up. The bottom line is not how you get the necessary points but whether you get them. And Bush’s record indicates he did what was necessary to do so. But understand that there is nothing which requires every drill be made or 2 weeks in the summer are required. As it states, that’s “usually” how it works.
The reexamination of Bush's records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show that Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been ''satisfactory" -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.
A number of flaws in this argument. Irregularity of attendance is not, in and of itself, a cause for discipline. Irregularity without permission is. If Bush had permission to drill irregularly, there was absolutely no cause for discipline. There is nothing in his record to indicate otherwise so it is a real stretch to conclude that his superiors “could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty” in those three years. And speaking of those years, he was discharged in October of 1973, so how the Globe concludes he could have been ‘disciplined’ in ‘74 is beyond me.
Lastly, since Bush was in Alabama for the previous 12 months, it stands to reason his commander in Texas would make that sort of a report. He couldn't, by regulation, do any other sort of report. That's what he stood up in said when he said he'd backdate the report, but it would still be an N/O.
Bartlett, in a statement to the Globe last night, sidestepped questions about Bush's record. In the statement, Bartlett asserted again that Bush would not have been honorably discharged if he had not ''met all his requirements." In a follow-up e-mail, Bartlett declared: ''And if he hadn't met his requirements you point to, they would have called him up for active duty for up to two years."
That assertion by the White House spokesman infuriates retired Army Colonel Gerald A. Lechliter, one of a number of retired military officers who have studied Bush's records and old National Guard regulations, and reached different conclusions.
''He broke his contract with the United States government -- without any adverse consequences. And the Texas Air National Guard was complicit in allowing this to happen," Lechliter said in an interview yesterday. ''He was a pilot. It cost the government a million dollars to train him to fly. So he should have been held to an even higher standard."
Lechliter is a flaming fool. What Bush requested and got, time away from his unit to work his civilian job, is as common a reason for this sort of occurrence as one can find in the Guard and Reserves. Civilian employment always gets the priority nod in the reserve component. There’s nothing “complicit” in doing so.
Yes he was a pilot and yes it cost the government millions of dollars to train him, but Lechliter seems to forget that at the time this was going on, the US military was out of Vietnam and drawing down its military. They had a glut of pilots and they were discharging them right and left. Bush was in a non-flying slot in Alabama anyway.
Even retired Lieutenant Colonel Albert C. Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel chief who vouched for Bush at the White House's request in February, agreed that Bush walked away from his obligation to join a reserve unit in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973. By not joining a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said in an interview last month, Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down, and he probably knew that the Air Force was not enforcing the penalty."
But Lloyd said that singling out Bush for criticism is unfair. ''There were hundreds of guys like him who did the same thing," he said.
Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, said after studying many of the documents that it is clear to him that Bush ''gamed the system." And he agreed with Lloyd that Bush was not alone in doing so. ''If I cheat on my income tax and don't get caught, I'm still cheating on my income tax," Korb said.
After his own review, Korb said Bush could have been ordered to active duty for missing more than 10 percent of his required drills in any given year. Bush, according to the records, fell shy of that obligation in two successive fiscal years.
Both Lloyd and Korb miss one salient point. He could only have been ordered to active duty if he missed 10% of his required drills without permission. The fact that he wasn’t so ordered strongly suggests permission in the absence of any other evidence to the contrary. To assume otherwise is to do so with no factual evidence to support the assumption.
Korb said Bush also made a commitment to complete his six-year obligation when he moved to Cambridge, a transfer the Guard often allowed to accommodate Guardsmen who had to move elsewhere. ''He had a responsibility to find a unit in Boston and attend drills," said Korb, who is now affiliated with a liberal Washington think tank. ''I see no evidence or indication in the documents that he was given permission to forgo training before the end of his obligation. If he signed that document, he should have fulfilled his obligation."
Absolute rubbish. Again, you’ll find Bush’s request for discharge here. Approval was recommended. This was an era of “early outs” where service committments in both the active and reserve components were being given to reduce the size of the military. If Bush had a further obligation to serve, then the TANG would have disapproved his request. It didn’t. And, as requested, he was discharged honorably on 1 October, 1973.
To suggest that Bush should have sought out a unit in the 60 days he was awaiting his approved discharge is simply a stultifyingly stupid argument.
The documents Bush signed only add to evidence that the future president -- then the son of Houston's congressman -- received favorable treatment when he joined the Guard after graduating from Yale in 1968. Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 1968, said in a deposition in 2000 that he placed a call to get young Bush a coveted slot in the Guard at the request of a Bush family friend.
Bush was given an automatic commission as a second lieutenant, and dispatched to flight school in Georgia for 13 months. In June 1970, after five additional months of specialized training in F-102 fighter-interceptor, Bush began what should have been a four-year assignment with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
Jon has handily dealt with the “favored treatment” nonsense here.
The Globe continues to ignore the fact that everyone in the military serves at the pleasure of the military. If things change then the military will change your obligation to that which they decide is best for the military. If they had required Bush to serve 4 years as a fighter pilot, he’d have been ordered to do so. If, on the other hand, they had a glut of fighter pilots because the war in Vietnam was winding down, and some wanted to leave early, they’d do that as well. Looking at this without the context of the Vietnam draw down of forces is disingenuous at best.
In May 1972, Bush was given permission to move to Alabama temporarily to work on a US Senate campaign, with the provision that he do equivalent training with a unit in Montgomery. But Bush's service records do not show him logging any service in Alabama until October of that year.That’s correct. That’s because the Air Force had denied the assignment Bush had requested and had been approved by the local commander. It took them 5 months to straighten this out and get him assigned to a unit in Alabama that the Air Force felt was more appropriate. Its rather hard to drill without a unit. Those 5 months of no orders were not the fault of Bush, but of the system. As soon as he was assigned a unit he began drilling again and earned the appropriate number of points necessary for a good year.
And even that service is in doubt. Since the Globe first reported Bush's spotty attendance record in May 2000, no one has come forward with any credible recollection of having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama or after he returned to Houston in 1973. While Bush was in Alabama, he was removed from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical in July 1972. On May 1, 1973, Bush's superior officers wrote that they could not complete his annual performance review because he had not been observed at the Houston base during the prior 12 months.
More poppycock. We have his dental records from AL. So unless he mailed his teeth in for examination, we know he was there. As Dale pointed out yesterday:
There is retired Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, unit's flight safety officer who told the Associated Press in February that he saw Bush “every drill period” ; Joe LeFevers, another member of the 187th, who told The Birmingham News that he remembered seeing Bush on base and remembered Bush because of his political job at the time on a U.S. Senate campaign; Joe Holcombe, who worked with Bush on the Blount campaign and told a local paper that he remembers Bush missing at least one campaign meeting because of his National Guard drills; James Anderson, who was a physician for the Montgomery-based 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, who recalls performing a routine examination on Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard base in 1972; and Emily Marks Curtis, who dated Bush while he worked on the 1972 Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount, and who told a local paper that Bush had talked of going to Guard duty on the weekends.
And there’s also retired MSgt. James Copeland who was the Disbursement Accounting Supervisor (which was a full time slot) who remembers meeting Bush on at least two occassions at Dannelly field.
Apparently only we dumb-ass bloggers are able to find these witnesses to Bush’s presence there. Apparently that’s beyond the investigative resources of the Boston Globe.
As for the point that Bush was rated as not observed by an officer in Texas, it stands to reason he’d do so since the officer he was rating had been in Alabama for the majority of the year. The regulations require he do so since he hasn’t had the necessary time to render a fair evaluation. The Globe again tries its damndest to make something out of nothing and fully proves the point that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Although the records of Bush's service in 1973 are contradictory, some of them suggest that he did a flurry of drills in 1973 in Houston -- a weekend in April and then 38 days of training crammed into May, June, and July. But Lechliter, the retired colonel, concluded after reviewing National Guard regulations that Bush should not have received credit -- or pay -- for many of those days either. The regulations, Lechliter and others said, required that any scheduled drills that Bush missed be made up either within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill.
And of course what Lechliter doesn’t tell you is that that can all be waived by the local commander if he deems it necessary to do so. If you look carefully at the documentation, you find that most were ADT days, not IDT days. You don’t issue orders for IDT, only for ADT or AT. IDT days are drill days. ADT days are “active duty for training” days. So he wasn’t getting all “drill days”, he was also getting Active Duty for Training days. You’d think a retired colonel would know the difference. For instance take a look at this record.
See the June 23/24 date? That’s an IDT. A drill. Why? Because you get twice the points for days served on an IDT. The two entries above it are ADT entries and the two below it are ADT entries. Why? Because you only get one point for every day served.
The next IDT entry is July 16-19 where he apparently made up his June drill and did his July drill. Right after that comes another IDT date when he apparently did his August drill early. The rest are ADT days. So his makeup for June was within 30 days and his early August drill was within 15 days of August drill. IOW, he was actually ahead on his drills in July.
His records are very easy to read if you know what the freakin’ hell you’re reading. Looking at his record, I find nothing irregular in his drilling and ADT days which wouldn’t be found on any reservists record who was active and traveling a lot.
Lechliter said the records push him to conclude that Bush had little interest in fulfilling his obligation, and his superiors preferred to look the other way. Others agree. ''It appears that no one wanted to hold him accountable," said retired Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard.
Actually it appears Lechliter doesn’t have a clue and most likely after a cursory glance, Weaver doesn’t either.
...to hear a few more tidbits of info from Dan Rather last night. Maybe some skeptical questioning. Like, I dunno, why has Mr. Barnes told a consistently different story both in public statements and in statements under oath than he told last night. Why, after at least 6 years of consistent, and very public--and sworn--denials is he claiming something completely different now? Was he lying then, or is he lying now?
Oh, and since he's a very public fund-raiser for Senator Kerry, and has appeared on the podium with him at a couple of events in the last few months, maybe some questions about his motives might've been in order. They certainly seemed relevant when it was the Swifties under the microscope.
Or maybe some information about where Texans for "Truth" came from, and how much of their funding is supplied by MoveOn.org (Hint: pretty much all of it).
Oddly enough, though, those questions never seemed to come up. I guess there just wasn't time to cover the story fully, what with that damned stopwatch ticking away, and all.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick...
I want to deal with one portion of the "new" Bush AWOL nonsense.
The new commercial by Texans for Truth, to be aired on $110,000 worth of television time in battleground-state cities such as Harrisburg, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio, shows Bob Mintz, who served as a lieutenant in the Alabama Air National Guard at the same time Bush was supposed to be serving, speaking to the camera:
Questions have loomed for years over George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
"I heard George W. Bush get up there and say, 'I served in the 187th Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama.' I said, 'Really? That was my unit. And I don't remember seeing you there.' "
Really? So you were always there?
According to FactCheck.org, the answer is a resounding "no".
In a telephone conference call with reporters, however, Mintz conceded that he is not certain whether he himself was present on the dates when pay records show Bush being paid for drill attendance, and he volunteered that he can't say that Bush failed to meet his military obligations:
Mintz: I can't say that he didn't do his duties, but I can say for sure that I was there and I never met George Bush.
Well gee, Mr. Mintz of "Texans for the Truth" .... why not try telling the truth then?
Talk about selling your soul for your 15 mintues of fame.
Mintz conceded during the telephone conference that he wasn't sure if he himself had been at the base on the specific dates Bush was paid in October and November, and said it was possible that Bush performed office work at the base without his knowing it.
A total non-story.
Well, it appears that August was Kerry's month for criticism, and September is Bush's. I'll comment and link to interesting pieces here....
* Interesting, isn't it, that the first major media stories of the Swift Boat Veteran story were pieces investigating connections and inconsistencies. Yet, the first major media stories (this cycle, anyway) of the Bush/AWOL stories are simple recitation of the allegations. Case in point:
The New York Times first story on the SBVs....
Anticipating his remarks, Republicans worked to discredit Mr. Barnes as a partisan Democrat and large contributor to Mr. Kerry.I guess Republicans had to work to discredit Mr Barnes, since the New York Times seems to have exhausted all of their investigative budget on discovering that one of the Swift Boat Veterans contributors was a Republican who knew a guy who knows George W Bush.
Odd, isn't it, that the NYTimes did the legwork for the Democrats in the Swift Boat Veteran story, but the "connections" in the Barnes story are only cited as a Republican attempt to discredit him? (actually, that's a rhetorical question)
Ok, with that out of the way, let's round up some important contributions to this story.
* Beldar Blog probably has the most comprehensive, detailed discussion of the Barnes allegations from 60 Minutes....
Mostly, Beldar notes that this is nothing more than a compilation of old stories, with a brand new patina of hyperbole.
* Powerline notes some reason to believe the documents may be forged...
On that subject, Kevin Drum asks a good question:
"The real question now is: what other documents does the White House have? Obviously they've had these sitting around for a while, and just as obviously they've held them back even though they claimed in February that they had made available every known document related to Bush's National Guard record."That's a good question, though I suspect that--since these were documents from the files of other officers--the White House may not have had earlier access to them, either. Or not. I don't know.
I now have copies of the memos the White House released, and they are just versions that CBS faxed to the White House the day before the 60 Minutes segment aired. There's no indication that the White House had its own copies of these memos and had been sitting on them.I admire a blogger who will correct himself, and publicly. Good on Kevin.
* Tom Maguire reams Nick Kristof for (take your pick) lying/bad reporting....
* A new Virginia Beach area blog--written by a Naval Flight Officer--FlightDeck offers some military insight. (hint: the media is going nuts where it's not warranted....which they would know, if they knew something about the military)
UPDATE: John Cole helpfully provides a complicated flowchart detailing the tangled web of connections.
UPDATE II: How could I forget my co-bloggers contributions of yesterday?
As I come across more information, I'll post it here. Check back.
It seems that journalism has a new bogey-man to hear Edward Wasserman talk about it.
Plus, news is a collaboration. It's a team effort, and regardless of how strictly the team is run, news reflects the collision of values, perspectives and passions of the people who create and produce it -- and their guesses as to what the reality they're chasing actually consists of.
That's a long way of saying that journalism is crude, tentative and fumbling, that it always involves compromise and that there's a healthy measure of give-and-take in the process of producing it.
But anybody who enters the profession makes a core commitment to do his or her best to determine and tell the truth. And I think that commitment is now under assault.
What Wasserman, who by the way is the "Knight professor of journalism ethics" at Washington and Lee University, doesn't note is that while there may indeed be "the collision of values, perspectives and passions of the people who create and produce it ", those passions appear to some observers to be firmly on one side of the political spectrum. That means that the collision isn't about balanced news, its about how far left it goes.
The assault, he laments, doesn't come from within, but without:
The attack doesn't come from ideologically committed journalists and commentators who put together reports clearly selected and spun-dry to sell a political line. There's a transparency of motive here that, as long as they retain some minimal respect for fact, may even work to enrich the variety of information and interpretations available to all of us.
An interesting point with the "transparancy of motive". Its absolutely true that one side of the blogosphere seems to "attack" the old media more than the other. And yes, its motive is transparant, much more so than that of the old media. It does have an ideology which appears to be different in many respects than that of the old media, hence the assaults on what the old media says.
In other words, its not much different than a so-called right-wing blog taking on what some left-wing blog says. The difference is both blogs acknowledge where they stand. The old media won't.
The more compelling danger concerns news organizations in the so-called mainstream. By that I mean those that aim to deliver a broadly informative report on current affairs to a demographically diverse audience that isn't defined by some overriding ideological predisposition. These are the country's best-staffed and most influential news organizations, and they're losing their nerve.
I understand why. It's hard now even to write for publication without being uncomfortably aware of just how thoroughly what you say is going to be inspected for any trace of undesirable political tilt and denounced by a free-floating cadre of rightist warriors.
Wasserman apparently believes that the delivery of the news is in fact neutral in todays old media venues. He seems to think that their product "isn't defined by some overriding ideological predisposition." I'd simply say this is a position without merit. Too many instances have been brought to light where what was portrayed in the old media was far from neutral in its presentation. What bothers Wasserman, and apparently the old media, is they're now being called on it by a "free-floating cadre of rightist warriors."
My question to Mr. Wasserman would be, if the old media is ideologically neutral, why is it only 'rightist warriors' who are making this assault?
But its this next bit that really sets me off. Wasserman relates a possible story (carnage in Iraq) and the apparent trend now to include something positive as well (softball in Iraq). In his explanation he finally identifies his bete noir:
Now, both stories may well be integral to news of Iraq. If so, both should be told. The problem arises when the softball story is nothing but a Pentagon publicist's brainstorm seized on by right-wing bloggers -- and the pressure to tell it comes not from a principled desire to deliver a factual account that is broadly emblematic of significant happenings in Iraq, but from a gutless attempt to buy off a hostile and suspicious fragment of the audience base.
Yes "right-wing" bloggers, for heaven sake ... this is all about Wasserman's dislike for a "hostile and suspicious fragment of the audience". Per Wasserman this splinter of the audience is effecting today's news product, and Wasserman calls that "cowardice" by the old media. What he fails to mention is that these bad-guy, 'right-wing' bloggers aren't attacking just the tilt of the story, they're also attacking the facts of the story and finding them, in many cases, to be skewed or partial. What the bloggers are demanding isn't that bad news be balanced with good news, they're demanind that whatever the news report all the facts correctly and report them without spin.
To Wasserman, that's an unconsionable assault on the profession of journalism, and he simply doesn't feel the old media should cave in to it.
The underlying problem is that news then becomes a negotiation -- not a negotiation among discordant pictures of reality, as it always is, but an abject negotiation with a loud and bullying sliver of the audience. News of great significance becomes not an honest attempt to reflect genuinely contradictory realities, but a daily bargaining session with an increasingly factionalized public, a corrupted process in which elements of the news reports become offerings -- payments really -- in a kind of intellectual extortion.
It simply horrifies Wasserman that somehow bloggers have managed to insert themselves into this "negotiating process". He ignores that fact that those engaged in the previous "negotiation" were a far smaller sliver .... the closed world of journalists. What bloggers have been able to do is expand those who produce and present the news, and they've been remarkably successful. As he must understand, no one makes anyone read a blog, and some blogs now have larger "circulations" than some newspapers. Instead of embracing the new media and acknowledging its impact and presence, dowdy old media types like Wasserman demand it be ignored.
Wasserman sees its existance and effect as a loud, unchecked and intrusive assault on their monopoly. He calls the old media's apparent new-found desire to balance its reporting as caving in to "intellectual extortion". He understands that something is different, he just doesn't understand why. He translates this attempt by the old media to check itself against the emerging new media as "cowardice" in the face of this extortion.
The performance of this country's finest news organizations in the run-up to the Iraq invasion of March 2003 will be remembered as a disgrace. To be sure, it was an angry, fearful time, and independent-minded reporting might not have been heard above the drumbeats of patriotism and war. But it's hard to read the hand-wringing confessionals from news organizations that now realize that they got the prewar story wrong without concluding that the real problem was they were afraid to tell the truth.
Resisting undue outside influence is part of what news professionals do, even when that influence comes from the public they're honor-bound to serve. It's hard enough to get the story right, without holding it hostage to an open-ended negotiation with zealots who believe they already know what the story is.
In his conclusion, Wasserman appeals to these news organizations to reject outside influences which are apparently corrupting them and their product. He assumes they have a better handle on getting the story right than a bunch of "zealots" who're dealing only idealogically. What he doesn't understand is that while the old media can, in effect, reject this new outside influence, its rejection will have no effect on bloggers.
You see, it never enters Wasserman's mind or arguments that in many cases those zealots have destroyed the "factual base" of stories Wasserman's "journalists" served up to the public. It never occurrs to Wasserman that what he is witnessing is the changing of the guard in terms of how news is produced, now and forever more.
He sounds as any priest would have sounded after Guttenberg made the bible available to all and forever took its exclusive interpretation away from them.
They, as does he, lamented and condemned the "zealots" who dared question what had once been exclusively theirs.
What he needs to understand, is the "zealots" are here to stay, and the "negotiation" process now includes them, like it or not.
OK, we here at Qando have a problem. Today, for about two hours, I had to shut down PERL on the QandO site because the comments.cgi and even the mt.cgi files were running and taking up 75% of the CPU load. Because this site is hosted on a shared server, I can't shut off other web sites when MT is chugging away on this one.
Most of the problem was related to MT-Blacklist, which, when you have as many comments as we do (about 8500) is a server killer. Also rebuilds are extremely server intensive with MT.
I know that Kos had to dump MT because it simply couldn't handle the load. Instapundit is on MT, but, of course, he stopped alowing comments ages ago, presumably because of the load it put on his server.
Well, I'd like to keep comments, but I can't run MT if it's gonna cause that kind of server load when it runs the PERL scripts.
So, If we were to move over to something new, where do we go? I'm attracted to WordPress, but, because it's all dynamic, I'm not sure how the server load compares to MT. Mt. delivers static pages to the user, so that's nice and easy in terms of server loads. On the other hand, rebuilds are a killer, especially since we post quite a lot here on a daily basis, which requires a rebuild for every post. So MT gives you a really spiky server load.
Nicholas Kristoff decides it's time to look into George W. Bush's attendance record with the National Guard.
Mr. Bush insists that after moving to Alabama in 1972, he served out his obligation at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Montgomery (although he says he doesn't remember what he did there). The only officer there who recalls Mr. Bush was produced by the White House - he remembers Mr. Bush vividly, but at times when even Mr. Bush acknowledges he wasn't there.
In contrast, Mr. Mintz is a compelling witness. Describing himself as "a very strong military man," he served in the military from 1959 to 1984. A commercial pilot, he is now a Democrat but was a Republican for most of his life, and he is not a Bush-hater. When I asked him whether the National Guard controversy raises questions about Mr. Bush's credibility, Mr. Mintz said only, "That's up to the American people to decide."
In his first interview with a national news organization, Mr. Mintz recalled why he remembered Mr. Bush as a no-show: "Young bachelors were kind of sparse. For that reason, I was looking for someone to haul around with." Why speak out now? He said, "After a lot of soul-searching, I just feel it's my duty to stand up and do the right thing."
Another particularly credible witness is Leonard Walls, a retired Air Force colonel who was then a full-time pilot instructor at the base. "I was there pretty much every day," he said, adding: "I never saw him, and I was there continually from July 1972 to July 1974." Mr. Walls, who describes himself as nonpolitical, added, "If he had been there more than once, I would have seen him."
The sheer volume of missing documents, and missing recollections, strongly suggests to me that Mr. Bush blew off his Guard obligations.
OK, that's fair enough. It does however, leave out a few other witnesses:
There is retired Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, unit's flight safety officer who told the Associated Press in February that he saw Bush “every drill period” ; Joe LeFevers, another member of the 187th, who told The Birmingham News that he remembered seeing Bush on base and remembered Bush because of his political job at the time on a U.S. Senate campaign; Joe Holcombe, who worked with Bush on the Blount campaign and told a local paper that he remembers Bush missing at least one campaign meeting because of his National Guard drills; James Anderson, who was a physician for the Montgomery-based 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, who recalls performing a routine examination on Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard base in 1972; and Emily Marks Curtis, who dated Bush while he worked on the 1972 Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount, and who told a local paper that Bush had talked of going to Guard duty on the weekends.
Wow. A large group of people have differing recollections about events that happened 35 years ago. That must mean something!
But, there is some documentary evidence, too. Let's not forget the dental records, which indicate, at the very least, that his teeth were assigned to the base, and a dentist looked at them.
Oddly though, and rather conveniently, considering the Old Media coverage of the story today, the DoD now seems to have found more of Mr. Bush's service records.
Months after insisting it could find no more records of President Bush's Air National Guard service, the Defense Department has released more than two dozen pages of files, including Bush's report card for flight training and dates of his flights.
I question the timing.
In any event, Mr. Kristoff continues,
The sheer volume of missing documents, and missing recollections, strongly suggests to me that Mr. Bush blew off his Guard obligations. It's not fair to say Mr. Bush deserted. My sense is that he (like some others at the time) neglected his National Guard obligations, did the bare minimum to avoid serious trouble and was finally let off by commanders who considered him a headache but felt it wasn't worth the hassle to punish him.
Now, we get to what Mr. Kristoff has been saving for us. A detailed "analysis" of Mr. Bush's service record.
"The record clearly and convincingly proves he did not fulfill the obligations he incurred when he enlisted in the Air National Guard," writes Gerald Lechliter, a retired Army colonel who has made the most meticulous examination I've seen of Mr. Bush's records (I've posted the full 32-page analysis here). Mr. Lechliter adds that Mr. Bush received unauthorized or fraudulent payments that breached National Guard rules, according to the documents that the White House itself released.
Mr. Lechliter can assert anything he wishes, but, with so many documents missing, it's odd that he can be so sure in his conclusions. In every case in his "analysis" where he finds a missing document, Mr. Lechliter concludes it means that Mr. Bush failed to meet his obligations.
That's not an analysis. That's a brief for the prosecution. And even prosecutors know that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Unless, of course, it's politically convenient.
Does this disqualify Mr. Bush from being commander in chief? No. But it should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh.
Oh, please. Mr. Bush is not responsible for everything Mr. Kerry's detractors say. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous. Mr. Bush has never questioned Mr. Kerry's military service, nor, as far as I am aware, has anyone on the Bush Campaign. It is dishonest to pretend otherwise.
The people who have questioned Mr. Kerry's service record are his fellow veterans, all of whom, by the way, served full tours--or multiple tours--in Vietnam, unlike Mr. Kerry. They are seriously PO'd at Mr. Kerry, and they need no help from Mr. Bush. Indeed, I suspect they would reject any attempted hindrance by him.
Clearly, the Old Media insiders are tryng to run a Swiftvet hit against Mr. Bush. Visions of a bad September for Mr. Bush, to balance out Mr. Kerry's bad August are dancing in their heads.
It won't happen though. The voters have already looked at this stuff, and dismissed it as irrelevant. Bush isn't using his service in the Guard to bolster his qualifications as president. Apparently, he feels that comfortable running on the four years he's already spent as president. Moreover, whatever the truth was about his appearance at his scheduled UTAs, he has an Honorable Disharge in his hot little hand to show that the US Air Force didn't think it was a big deal.
But, please, Dems, spend all the time you want talking about this. Oh, and Cheney's ties to Halliburton. You should make a big stink about that. too. And while you're at it, more of the "Bush Lied, People Died" stuff would be good.
Don't worry about trying to provide any clarity about Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq, or the war on terror. Don't worry about giving us a vision of what a Kerry presidency would be like. No, stick with stuff like this. Pound away at it for the next 8 weeks.
Give me a call on 3 November, and let me know how that worked out for you.
Well not if the Uniform Code of Military Justice is correct. AWOL or Absent Without Leave is a military charge under the UCMJ. Article 86.
As with all articles of the UCMJ there are certain requirements for and restrictions of its application.
A) It requires that the person in question be subject to the UCMJ.
B) The person in question must then have violated one of the articles of the UCMJ
All this discussion about George Bush being AWOL revolves around "B". Everyone assumes "A" to be a given.
But is it?
Per the UCMJ's listing of who is subject to its articles we find this:
I've listed it all to preemptively thwart those who would holler I only used selective parts of the regulation. Note the two parts I emphasized. What do they say?
That a member of the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard are subject to the UCMJ only "when in Federal service."
In other words, the National Guardsmen now serving under federal authority in Iraq are subject to the UCMJ. However the National Guardsmen presently serving the Governor of the state of Florida in disaster relief are not.
All that to say that technically Bush could never have been charged with either AWOL or desertion under the UCMJ since when the alleged occurrances took place, he wasn't serving the federal authority and thus wasn't even subject to the UCMJ.
UPDATE: Beltway Traffic Jam
John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics, notes with interest that today seems to be "W Was AWOL Day" in Old Media today. He's not impressed.
I love it when post-hippie 1970 liberals indignantly throw around words like "evaded service in Vietnam." Of course for eight years while Bill Clinton was Commander in Chief this was a non-issue, but suddenly they are enraged that somebody might have "evaded service in Vietnam" by serving in the National Guard. Now liberals will say the issue is not that Bush served in the National Guard, but rather how he got into the National Guard. But Kristof's own words accuse the President very directly of "evading service in Vietnam."
The hypocrisy here is so stunning and the gall of baby boomer, anti-war lefties getting all self-righteous about "evading service" is a joke. The fact the Left has decided to go back to the trough on this issue just shows how few attractive avenues of attack they have left against the President. This is a sign of weakness, not strength.
Yeah, it's funny how, 30 years ago, people who fled to Canada to avoid the draft were heroes to people like Kristoff. They were sticking to the establishment, man. And, they were certainly keen to excuse Bill Clinton for not going into the service. Now, all the sudden, it's deeply, deeply important that Mr. Bush didn't go to Vietnam.
One wonders how they'd feel about a soldier who refused to serve in Iraq today. Hero of conscience, or evader of duty?
There's a lot more to McIntyre's post, so read the whole thing.
The school massacre in Beslan has gotten me thinking about the implications of how we would respond to a similar situation here. And, the more I think about it, the gloomier I become. I don’t see any good options for dealing with such a tactic.
I've spent the majority of my adult life in the military or law enforcement, both as a career NCO in the USAF Security Police, and part-time high-risk civilian security and law enforcement. My conclusion is that we're completely unprepared for such an attack here in the US.
The central emphasis on hostage situations in American law enforcement is on negotiation. In almost every case, police hostage situations deal with criminals who do not have an ideological pre-disposition to kill their hostages. That allows us to have, as our primary objective, a conclusion to hostage situation in which both hostages and hostage takers are unharmed. Naturally, sometimes such situations go wrong, because the hostage taker is irrational. But, for the most part, police train for hostage situations that are ad hoc affairs where a criminal takes hostages on the spur of the moment. Our current training assumes that the hostage taker does not wish to kill hostages (although he may be willing to do so), and can, in most cases, be convinced after some period of time to release them and surrender. There is, therefore, no pressing reason to assault the hostage taker, and risk the lives of the hostages. The assault option is exercised only as a last resort. Additionally, the hostage taker is usually a single individual, or at most three or four people.
What we do not plan or train for are hostage situations in which a large group of hostage takers methodically plan to take large numbers of hostages with the full expectation that they will eventually kill the hostages, and die themselves. The terrorists in Beslan made it clear from the outset that they were on a suicide mission, and that puts this type of situation into an entirely different framework from the one police and high-risk security personnel are trained for.
Our police training is also not designed to cover military assaults against a large number of hostiles. It assumes the number of hostiles will be small, and that the police will have overwhelming force. The British, when faced with such situations, simply don't use the police. They call in the SAS. In the US, however, posse commitatus prevents us from using military forces for police purposes—and that's a good thing—but it means that we usually don't have the Delta Force option available, and in any event, even if we could, it would take hours for them to get to where they are needed from their base. We can, of course, train our police to the same standards that Delta Force uses, picking off terrorists with headshots, even in crowded rooms, but the further militarization of police forces is, in itself a troubling trend.
When faced with such a situation, my conclusion is that there are simply no good options for security forces to pursue. Negotiation, as a tactic, relies on the assumption that both parties are willing to negotiate in good faith. That assumption appears to be inoperable in dealing with terrorists. They are there to die, and to take as many infidels as possible with them as possible when they go. So, what, precisely, are we negotiating?
Moreover, in Belsan, while these negotiations were going on, the terrorists were raping 14 year-old schoolgirls and filming it for their own edification. Usually, negotiations stop and an assault begins immediately once a hostage taker begins harming the hostages. At that point, we assume that the assault is less dangerous to the hostages than leaving them in the hands of the hostage taker. Unfortunately, if the Beslan framework holds true, the hostage takers will have booby trapped their location to ensure that an assault cues a catastrophic outcome by killing as many hostages as possible by tripping the booby traps.
It's Hobson's choice. The terrorists aim to kill their hostages, because that is the statement they mean to make. Negotiations are, therefore, fruitless. At best, they delay the inevitable, while allowing the hostage takers to consolidate their position, and brutalize the hostages. Moreover, as Beslan shows, as time passes, it increase the chance that a booby-trap will be inadvertently tripped. On the other hand, an assault runs the risk of the terrorists simply blowing all their bombs, and going down in a flaming orgy of destruction, taking our children along with them. Also, if the terrorists expect that our policy will be to forego negotiations and assault, they won't take hostages at all. They'll just start killing children immediately in order to maximize casualties, in the expectation that as soon as security forces arrive, an assault on their position will begin.
In essence, what this means is that, the moment such a terrorist operation begins, our first operating assumption must be that the children are already dead, no matter what we do, and to plan on killing the hostage takers immediately, irrespective of the loss of life that might entail.
I doubt, however, that it will be possible to do that. No parent will willingly consent to an assault that might kill his or her child if there is any hope at all for a negotiated settlement. Trying to convince a community that they must regard their living, breathing children as already dead is simply a non-starter, no matter how objectively true that might be. That means that a period of negotiation will be mandatory, no matter how useless such negotiations will ultimately be.
Remember, the terrorists are on a suicide mission. The only possible outcome to such a negotiation is to convince the terrorists to let the hostages go and then kill themselves. But, since the whole point of terror is to terrorize, the chances of such an outcome are vanishingly small. The end result will be that the negotiations will practically ensure that the final assault will be more costly than it might otherwise have been.
The only possible solution I see is wildly impractical, and that is to have a number of highly trained shooters stationed at every school, in order to combat the terrorists before any hostage situation can be effectively begun.
Over the weekend, terrorists in Afghanistan blew up a boy's school—a madrassah, as it happens—that had begun offering after-school programs in English and mathematics. Apparently, such distractions from Islamic studies cannot be allowed, so the terrorists had no compunction against blowing up the children of fellow Moslems, studying at a madrassah, by detonating a bomb while the school was in session.
Apparently, our children are now targets, and we have no good options available for protecting them.
In today's NY Sun, Daniel Pipes addresses something which has been bugging me, and I'm sure a lot of others for quite some time:
"I know it when I see it" was the famous response by a U.S. Supreme Court justice to the vexed problem of defining pornography. Terrorism may be no less difficult to define, but the wanton killing of schoolchildren, of mourners at a funeral, or workers at their desks in skyscrapers surely fits the know-it-when-I-see-it definition.
In the face of 9/11, Spain, Bali, and Beslan (who's name will now and forever bring vividly to our minds the atrocities committed against children), the press does its level best to avoid characterizing these murderers as terrorists:
The press, however, generally shies away from the word terrorist, preferring euphemisms. Take the assault that led to the deaths of some 400 people, many of them children, in Beslan, Russia, on September 3. Journalists have delved deep into their thesauruses, finding at least twenty euphemisms for terrorists:
* Assailants - National Public Radio.
* Attackers – the Economist.
* Bombers – the Guardian.
* Captors – the Associated Press.
* Commandos – Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as "membres du commando" and "commando."
* Criminals - the Times (London).
* Extremists – United Press International.
* Fighters – the Washington Post.
* Group – the Australian.
* Guerrillas: in a New York Post editorial.
* Gunmen – Reuters.
* Hostage-takers - the Los Angeles Times.
* Insurgents – in a New York Times headline.
* Kidnappers – the Observer (London).
* Militants – the Chicago Tribune.
* Perpetrators – the New York Times.
* Radicals – the BBC.
* Rebels – in a Sydney Morning Herald headline.
* Separatists – the Christian Science Monitor.
And my favorite:
* Activists – the Pakistan Times.
Amazing. The avoidance of the use of the term "terrorists", the shying away from naming their deeds as "murder" and "atrocities" simply gives these terrorists a veneer of credibility and a modicum of cover. It also adds to the confusion about who the players are.
Pipes is of the opinion this avoidance of using "terrorism" comes from the Arab/Israeli conflict:
The origins of this unwillingness to name terrorists seems to lie in the Arab-Israeli conflict, prompted by an odd combination of sympathy in the press for the Palestinian Arabs and intimidation by them. The sympathy is well known; the intimidation less so. Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi made the latter explicit in advice for fellow reporters in Gaza to avoid trouble on the Web site www.newssafety.com, where one tip reads: "Never use the word terrorist or terrorism in describing Palestinian gunmen and militants; people consider them heroes of the conflict."
Per Pipes it appears that the term "militants" is now the euphemism for "terrorists".
Politically-correct news organizations undermine their credibility with such subterfuges. How can one trust what one reads, hears, or sees when the self-evident fact of terrorism is being semi-denied?
Worse, the multiple euphemisms for terrorist obstruct a clear understanding of the violent threats confronting the civilized world. It is bad enough that only one of five articles discussing the Beslan atrocity mentions its Islamist origins; worse is the miasma of words that insulates the public from the evil of terrorism.
As Pipes points out in his first paragraph, I know terror when I see it. I know murder when I see it. I can identify an atrocity when I see it. What happened in Belsan as seen by the world was an atrocity in which wanton murder was perpetrated against little children by terrorists.
But don't ever expect to see that sentence or anything like it in the old media.
The activists wouldn't like that.
At least the Left is consistent. They see defeats and quagmires everywhere. This time, though, it's their own defeat they're seeing, if this article by Nicholas von Hoffman is any indication. As far as he's concerned, Kerry's already lost. And it's all because of those darned Swiftvets ads.
A few crisp denials from Mr. Kerry would have sufficed instead of days of pleading with George Bush to disavow the ad, cat-in-the-alley mewlings about unfairness, whinings about breaking the always-broken, never-enforced election rules, and defensive ventings about what a heroic chap Mr. Kerry is. The end result was to make the Democrats and their candidate look like ineffectual jerks and to make millions of would-be voters forget why it was that Mr. Kerry was running, if they ever knew.
The Republicans have been saying that Mr. Kerry is too weak and wishy-washy to be commander in chief, and this recent performance goes a long way to confirm it. Nobody ever got elected to anything running around crying, "Mama, he hit me!" Politics, as they still say, isn’t bean bag.
Apparently the Kerry Campaign still hasn't learned that lesson. Their response to even the mildest criticism is to start yelling, "I will not have these attacks on my patriotism." That just gets to sounding a little whiny and shrill after a while.
But, von Hoffman's preferred response would be problematic.
The tactically correct answer to the Republican attack was to reply in kind. To counter the Swift boat ad, the Democrats ought to have gotten one of their own front groups like MoveOn.org to run a TV spot beginning with a voice-over saying, "When the going gets tough, President George Bush gets going to the bunker. In the Vietnam War he hid out, and on 9/11 he fled to an underground bunker in Nebraska, where he stayed until he got the all-clear signal."
There are two problems with this argument. First, it assumes that the Bush Campaign had something to do with the Swiftvet ads. I doubt that very much. First, because it was unnecessary. The Swiftvet guys have a serious hard-on for Mr. Kerry. They don't need any encouraging by Mr. Bush toprosecute their campaign. Yes, they've gotten a lot of money from a big Bush supporter. Is that supposed to be a surprise? Who else would give them money to take shots ot the Democratic Party's candidate? The DNC?
This whole idea the Dems put forth--whenever it's convenient for them to do so--that George W. Bush or Karl Rove is responsible for everything that happens that they don't like is just paranoid fantasizing. Apparently, it's inconceivable to them that other people may oppose Mr. Kerry, and are willing to go to great length to express that disapproval without any reference to what Mr. Bush would prefer.
Note to Democrats: George W. Bush is either an amiable dunce who has to wear loafers because that whole shoelaces-tying deal is too difficult to master, or he's the omnipotent and onmiscient leader of the VRWC. He can't be both. Choose one.
The second problem with von Hoffman's argument is that if it would be illegal for the Kerry campaign to coordinate with their 527s to create response ads. Not that Mr. von Hoffman appears to care. Everybody ignores the FEC anyway, and, besides, laws are for the little people.
Still, even von Hoffman recognizes that the Swiftvets problem is only part of Mr. Kerry's difficulty. The remaining problem with Mr. Kerry is...well...Mr. Kerry.
The developing Kerry debacle extends beyond a simple TV ad. While George Bush has been hard at work firing up his base support by advocating a marriage amendment to the Constitution, Mr. Kerry has taken another tack—he is trying to discourage his base. His astonishing avowal that, if he knew then what he knows now about weapons of mass destruction, etc., he still would have voted for the war, has had about the same effect on his hard-core supporters as an announcement by George Bush that he is in favor of abortion rights would have on his. If only by silent deception, Mr. Kerry should have understood that he must give his own workers some reason to think that, if elected, he would not be Bush lite.
Mr. Kerry’s critique of Mr. Bush’s war and foreign policy has been fumbling, ambiguous, unfocused and unconvincing. He gives the impression of a politician who is hiding his real intentions—which, if one can smell them out, are to walk the same path as Mr. Bush, but with the lame promise of getting more help in Iraq from NATO or the E.U. That, however, is transparent buncombe. Making nicey-nicey is not going to get French or Belgian or German politicians to send their people into the desert to get picked off by snipers and roadside bombs.
My congratulations to Mr. von Hoffman for his intellectual honesty in recognizing that Mr. Kerry seems intent on becoming a loser, for reasons which, at present, remain obscure, by refusing to provide a coherent argument about the single biggest political issue of the election: The Iraq War.
Kerry and his surrogates can't seem to decide whether it was all a big mistake, or whether it was necessary; whether we should bring our troops home or keep them there to assist in the transition to some sort of quasi-democracy there; whether it is the front line in the war against terror or a distraction from it. All they seem to know is that, whatever it is, it would be better if Mr. Bush wasn't in charge of it.
That might be a more compelling argument if Mr Kerry could state with any clarity how his policy would be different.
So, how does Mr. von Hoffman suggest the Kerry Campaign move forward from here?
One public position which fulfills these requirements is the argument that Mr. Bush has no plan to win the war against terrorism, only to endure it indefinitely. The war strategy is blundering overseas and posting a guard in front of every bridge, dock, pipeline, chemical plant, courthouse, office building, etc., in the country. Since homeland security is a political-patronage mill and a cash cow for crony corporations, in a pinch you may be sure half of these "first responders" will screw it up. The costs of our kind of homeland security to business must add one more competitive drag on an economy which falls farther behind in the world-trade race every year.
Mr. Kerry should be saying that there is no security in George Bush’s security program. Does Mr. Bush think he can keep terrorists out of the United States? Let Mr. Kerry remind us that Mr. Bush cannot keep out thousands of tons of cocaine and tens of thousands of Mexicans. If he can’t do that, how is he ever going to stop a couple of dozen terrorists?
Mr. Kerry must repeat and continue to repeat that only an end to the war, a victory or even a negotiated compromise will make the homeland secure. He should be saying that Mr. Bush’s policies mean that for years to come, no American—particularly no American abroad—will feel safe. Mr. Bush is promising a perpetual terror threat, a permanent code-red life for Americans wherever they are. The irony is that without victory, without a clear end to hostilities, without a peace, then even when there is no danger, we will not know it and will be doomed to live in fear under the Bush approach.
That type of argument sounds nice, but it raises many, many questions that Mr. Kerry will have trouble answering because the answers, quite simply are not apparent.
A negotiated settlement? With who? Negotiating what? I've asked it many times before, but I'll ask it again: How do you negotitate with an enemy wants nothing but your defeat and the destruction of your way of life? What do you offer them short of this that will satisfy them? How do you convince them even to begin negotitations if they consider themselves intruments of Gods will, and negotiation with infidels an apostacy? While we're on the subject, who will we be negotiating with? The web of terror is a somewhat looseley organized collection of inter-related groups that span the a quarter of the globe, each with it's own leadership and objectives?
And what about the longer-term questions? How would such a negotiated settlement secure any lasting peace? Wouldn't any concessions we offer them--whoever "they" might be--constitute a victory for the terrorists, and encourage even more terror, since we've already shown that, given enough pressure, we will offer them concessions? That's the same kind of "negotiation" that Edouard Daladier and Neville Chamberlain did with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. We may want to take a look at where than got them before heading down that path.
Similar questions arise when talking about a victory that would allow us to decalre the war over, and come home to ticker tape parades. A victory against who? As Dennis Miller observes, it's not like there's an Al-Qaidastan we can invade and occupy. Its thousands of individuals in hundreds of groups spread out all across south central Asia? What will the condition of victory be, and how will we know we've achieved it? And, even better, how does Mr. Kerry propose to get us there in some finite time? What is his plan for victory?
For someone who's so dismissive of Mr. Kerry's abilities, he shows a childlike faith in Mr. Kerry's skill at coming up with a realistic answer for all these questions. One also notes that Mr. von Hoffman makes no attempt to provide the answers either.
Mr. Kerry must separate himself from Mr. Bush. He has chosen not to do it by attacking Mr. Bush for having invaded Iraq, so he had better find another way of distinguishing himself from his opponent. That way is to go after Mr. Bush for his no-win, war-forever strategy. He should be asking every day and at the top of his voice: "When is the war going to end?"
That's simply a stupid question. The answer is essentially unknowable, and anyone with a lick of sense--except Mr. von Hoffman--realizes it. It's not as if we can sit down with maps, and mark out our troops' positions as they advance on Osamabad.
Moreover, if Mr. Kerry does start asking that question, he'd better have a pretty darn good answer for it himself. If he doesn't--and since no one can answer it, he can't--it's hard to see how asking the question could do anything more than emphasise Mr. Kerry's image as a petulant child, screaming from the back seat, "Are we there yet?! How many more minutes?!" I don't think that's the image you want to project as a potential Commander in Chief.
Hmmm. Maybe Mr. von Hoffman is secretly working for the Bush Campaign.
Awaiting us today, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution was a blast of Zell Miller in letter form written by none other that GA's "favorite son", Jimmy Carter. It seems the mild-mannered Carter was none to thrilled with Miller's performance nor his characterization of Carter's presidency.
To Sen. Zell Miller:
You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor [of Young Harris] and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as state senator, lieutenant governor and governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.
Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.
Yup, those guys had the "decency" to become Republicans. Dissent, it appears, is ok if you're a Democrat speaking out against Republicans, but its absolutely verboten if you speak out against your own party. When you do that it is a "betrayal". I wonder, given the principle here, what Jimmy Carter would consider dissent as concerns the war in Iraq?
Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican National Convention because of your being a "Democrat," and it's quite possible that your rabid speech damaged our party and paid the GOP some transient dividends.
Note the scare quotes. Its just inconceivable to Carter, I guess, that Miller might actually have strong beliefs concerning the direction the Democrats have been going. He's only been voicing them for 4 years and has even written a book about it. The Democrat response? Ignore it. Now, when called to task in a venue which might provide the Republicans with 'some transient dividends', Carter is outraged. Outraged I tell you.
But when Zell was trying to get his point across to the Dems prior the the convention, he was simply ignored.
Then Jimmy falls into the Democrat canards which they so cherish, even though the suckers have been stomped flat and have absolutely no truth to them.
Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign's personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders --- and a good friend.")
Well gee Jimmy, one supposes you once called Miller "a good friend". I imagine if I scrape around long enough the quote can be found. What has that to do with his record? Good friends can also end up on the wrong side of ideology. It appears that Carter believes that their supposed friendship requires blind loyalty to the party, doesn't it?
As ususal, the characterization of Kerry's RECORD is compared with an attack on his patriotism. God that's getting old.
I, myself, served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacifist.
I did get a laugh out of this paragraph. Russia invades Afghanistan and war hawk Carter, in a bold move, cancels our participation in the Olympics. Jimmy apparently remembers his term a lot differently than most of us who had to suffer through it.
Zell, I have known you for 42 years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre-emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.
Chosen the "rich over the poor", gag.
"[U]nilateral pre-emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace..." What is this, liberal canard 5 or 6? Let's ask Britian and Australia, maybe they're keeping count. Oh, and don't call Jimmy a pacifist, ok?
"...lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause."
Characterizing Kerry's record specifically and the Democrat record generally is now "lies and obfuscation", and questioning the direction of his party is "character assassination". Of course Jimmy's letter is all of the above, but lets pretend not to notice, OK?
Instead of confronting what Miller has been trying to get across for years, Carter chooses to chastise Miller, never once understanding that the Democrats he references in his second paragraph would have been more likely to agree with Miller than Carter.
Nothing to see here, move along please, move along.
Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday warned Americans about voting for Democratic Sen. John Kerry, saying that if the nation makes the wrong choice on Election Day it faces the threat of another terrorist attack.John Edwards responded immediately, saying...
The Kerry-Edwards campaign immediately rejected those comments as "scare tactics" that crossed the line.
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told about 350 supporters at a town-hall meeting in this Iowa city.
“Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line today, showing once again that he and George Bush will do anything and say anything to save their jobs. Protecting America from vicious terrorists is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it's an American issue and Dick Cheney and George Bush should know that. John Kerry and I will keep America safe, and we will not divide the American people to do it.”John Edwards responded less quickly to this inflammatory statement from August 30th....
...their failed leadership means that they cannot deal with the new threats we face. [...] We will ensure that we have the best ideas to make America stronger at home and... This is what they won’t do.The above accusation that the Bush administration cannot deal with terrorism, and will not ensure that they have the best ideas to make America stronger was brought to you by John "will not divide" Edwards. And this statement....
In his most pointed attempt yet to distinguish his stand on the war from President Bush’s, Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday that "extremism has gained momentum" and the world is more dangerous because of the Bush administration’s bungling in Iraq...is brought to you by John "no scare tactics" Kerry.
So, you'll understand if I don't see any great problem with Dick Cheney saying that a Kerry administration's policies will increase the danger of terrorism.
At least, that would be my position if that's what Dick Cheney actually said. It's not, and the press should be absolutely ashamed. They have raised Dowdified quotes to a new level, and the left--among others--has swallowed it whole.
We're now at that point where we're making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.
And the more complete text, for context....
Cheney was pretty clearly not saying that a Kerry administration would be the cause of another attack. He was saying that, under a Kerry administration, we would react incorrectly to another attack. To make it more clear, let's remove the prefacing statements, and cut to the actual danger he cited....
Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that....we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.Reasonable people might disagree about whether Cheney is correct, but only the tendentious left (and the media? apparently so) can read this as a threat of another attack.
And only the loony, intellectually dishonest left can both claim Cheney is willing to "destroy America", and bitch about having their commitment to America questioned. Only the partisan-to-the-point-of-dishonest left can tell Cheney to "stand by your damn words" while actually leaving out Cheney's "damn words".
Below I've compiled a short history of what has been happening in Chechnya since WWII. The Chechyns and Russians go back to Tsarist Russian conquering it 1815. Its not a particularly happy relationship.
This is offered as a backgrounder to better understand why there is a Chechen/Russian conflict. Its been clipped from various short histories and combined. In no way is it to be construed as a endorsement of the Chechyn terrorists.
As you can tell, Chechnya has not been a happy place for quite some time. And the Russians haven't helped the situation at all. That, of course, does not in any way excuse what was done in the school.
The Islamic connection seems to go through the Muslim Brotherhood which has been active in Chechnya. From what I read of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is considered to be moderate as compared to al-Queda, although if it is the MB, what they were just involved in showed anything but moderation and speaks to the possiblity of connection with more radical elements among Islamic extremists.
You can read more about the Muslim Brotherhood here. You can read more about Chechnya here.
UPDATE: Winds of Change has a fabulous listing of the terrorists operating in and around Chechnya and their Islamic links.
Nathan Carelton, at The Chronicle (Duke University) has compiled a lovely list of Kerry, Edwards and the gang going "neg" early and often. Feel free to use it the next time they whine about smears, hyperbole, insults and insinuation:
No smear machine here... move along, nothing to see, move along.
I wonder if he'll have a midnight rally to protest that.
William Kristol of the Weekly Standard reminds us of a little Kerry then and Kerry now:
JOHN KERRY said yesterday that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Translation: We would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power.
Not an unheard of point of view. Indeed, as President Bush pointed out today, it was Howard Dean's position during the primary season. On December 15, 2003, in a speech at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, Dean said that "the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer." Dean also said, "The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at the extraordinary cost, so far, of $166 billion."
But who challenged Dean immediately? John Kerry. On December 16, at Drake University in Iowa, Kerry asserted that "those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."
Kerry was right then.
So what does that make Kerry now, besides wrong?
It's awful early in the campaign for fatigue to set in, but apparently it is. Both John Kerry And George W. Bush seemed to be at a loss for words today. Or, the right ones, at any rate.
Of course, it's not news that the President has a...uh...colorful way of expressing himself. But, still...
At a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo., [Mr. Bush] was breezing through his domestic agenda when he came to a favorite: what he calls medical liability reform.
"We got an issue in America," he began, in a folksy diction aimed at his small-town crowd. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business."
Mr. Bush then turned to another point he has been making lately to appeal to women - that among those doctors being driven from the business are many obstetricians and gynecologists.
But Mr. Bush seemed to get derailed on the way to his point.
"Too many good OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their" - he paused a split second, as if searching for a word, then continued - "their love, with women all across this country," he said.
Actually, I think we're supposed to have pretty stiff laws aimed at preventing doctors from engaging in love practice with their patients, aren't we?
At least he didn't misread his cue cards, and call them "Obgins".
While that's amusing, Mr. Kerry seemed eager to do the president one better.
As [Mr. Kerry] likes to do, he brandished a bit of local color to show he wasn't just any interloping politician blowing through town.
But in so doing he seemed to forget that Republicans have been tearing him down for months as a vacillating, indecisive, finger-in-the-wind politician of the worst order.
"Everybody told me, 'God, if you're coming to Canonsburg, you've got to find time to go to Toy's, and he'll take care of you,'" Mr. Kerry said, dropping the name of a restaurant his motorcade had passed on the way in. "I understand it's my kind of place, because you don't have to - you know, when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling: Ah, what do you want?
"He just gives you what he's got, right?" Mr. Kerry added, continuing steadily off a gangplank of his own making: "And you don't have to worry, it's whatever he's cooked up that day. And I think that's the way it ought to work, for confused people like me who can't make up our minds."
Suddenly, Mr. Kerry's Iraq policy has become much clearer. Or, rather, the reason for its lack of clarity has.
Still, as far as catchphrases go, I think Mr. Bush wins this one.
Practice your love, people. Just don't practice it in public.
It's very hard to find some of the more horrific details of what happened to the hostages in Beslan, but the Sunday observer gives you a taste of it.
While despairing soldiers and rescue workers moved among the growing pile of body bags, it was revealed that an 18-month-old baby had been repeatedly stabbed by a black-clad terrorist who had run out of ammunition.
Other survivors told how screaming teenage girls were dragged into rooms adjoining the gymnasium where they were being held and raped by their Chechen captors who chillingly made a video film of their appalling exploits
I only wish these animals could be killed more than once.
A few weeks ago, Senator Kerry made news by admitting that he would've voted to go to war against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, even knowing everything he knows now. OK, that's fair.
But, apparently, that made his position too clear, so he's revised it again, giving it the appropriate amount of nuance.
Asked his timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq, Mr. Kerry told a few hundred people in Canonsburg, Pa.: "My goal would be to get them home in my first term. And I believe that can be done." He said he would make it clear that "we do not have long-term designs to maintain bases and troops in Iraq."
Mr. Kerry has said he could replace most, but not all, American troops with foreign forces within four years by offering new inducements to other countries...
"It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
But, he would've voted for it anyway, right? So, what's his point? I mean, assuming he actually has one.
But, I tell you, he's a master of international diplomacy.
"When they talk about a coalition - that's the phoniest thing I ever heard," Mr. Kerry said of the current array of foreign soldiers deployed in Iraq. "You've got 500 troops here, 500 troops there, and it's American troops that are 90 percent of the combat casualties, and it's American taxpayers that are paying 90 percent of the cost of the war.
And, why should we expect things to be any different, considering that those troops all come from "bribed, bought and coerced" countries of little importance?
I bet the PM can't wait to have Mr. Kerry visit him at Number 10. Indeed, I hear they're already getting the parades ready for Mr. Kerry's arrival in Warsaw. No doubt it's because he's such an understanding uniter.
Yes, complaining that our allies haven't been dying enough. That'll endear him to so many people abroad.
So, apparently, his plan is to replace American troops with heathen foreigners, so that they can die in appropriate amounts. Presumably, this is just another sign of his deep comittment to defending America.
The essence of Mr. Kerry's argument - one he has had a difficult time making - is that Mr. Bush obtained the authority to go to war on false intelligence, and then prosecuted the war in a way that alienated allies and prolonged the insurgency.
At day's end on Monday, Mr. Kerry told thousands at a rally that Mr. Bush "wishes I have the same position he does, but as we've learned from this president, just wishing something, and saying something, doesn't make it so."
"When it comes to Iraq, I would not have done just one thing differently, I would have done everything differently from this president," he added.
So, as near as I can figure it, his position is that the war in Iraq was a mistake, it was conducted incompetently, the intelligence was bad, and "everything" should've been done differently--whatever that means, Mr. Kerry's not saying, by the way--but he would've voted to go to war anyway.
And Democrats wonder why people think they're unclear on their committment to National Security. Hint to Dems: When it comes to the safety of the electorate and their families, nuance isn't what they're looking for. I'd've thought you guys would've been able to figure that out over the last 30 years or so, but I guess not.
"It" sure can be missunderstood and spun.
George W. Bush finally told the truth. It happened last week when he said of the war on terrorism, "I don't think you can win it."
We know it was the truth because of the way it embarrassed him, because of the way his handlers immediately required him to repudiate it ("I probably need to be more articulate"), and because the mass of Republicans were deaf to it. Just as Bush had inadvertently spoken the exact truth about the war on terrorism at its onset ("This crusade, this war on terrorism"), he had inadvertently done so again.
Recognizing this is an opinion piece, it isn't difficult to figure which side of the spectrum James Carroll (Boston Globe) comes down on. I point this out because its important to the point as you'll see in a bit. Think of a distant war which one candidate has made the centerpiece of his campaign. If you do, this will all sound eerily familiar.
To the statement by Bush. I heard the audio. Apparently I was one of the few who actually understood what the man meant. "It" isn't going to surrender. The only way we'll know we've won is when "it" isn't used against the US anymore.
Now to me, at least, that's a reasonable point. Many experts have said we need to change the name from the "War on Terror" to something else, since terrorism is really a tool or technique used by your enemies, not an "it" you can make war on.
Its more a war against terrorists and their organization and their sponsors. But that's a little unwieldy and has somehow become "the war on terror."
Bush essentially explained this later but, as we've all witnessed before, members of the old media (to adopt Dale's distinction) simply choose to ignore it.
However , doing so, choosing to adopt the false premise because of what he said, and not what he meant has a purpose:
Citizens of the United States are a decent, fair-minded people. The only reason we tolerate what is being done in our name in Iraq is that, for us, this war exists only in the realm of metaphor. The words "war on terrorism" fall on our ears much in the way that "war on poverty" or "war on drugs" did.
The war in Iraq exists to us only in the realm of a metaphor? What an absurdity. For those who've been paying attention, the war in Iraq serves as one battle, a real battle, a life and death battle, in the overall war against terrorists. Afghanistan is another. Neither exist as discrete entities. Both are tied into the overall battle.
The war on poverty and the war on drugs are metaphors for internal social wars. The war on terror is an externally based cultural war and there is nothing metaphoric at all in Iraq or Afghanistan. In both contries real terrorists are being confronted and killed. In both countries institutions are being put in place to deprive any future terrorists the support base necessary for their survival.
It is through this sort of action which the war against terrorists might be won.
Carroll however refuses first to accept that by "it" Bush was refering to the fact that "terror" is a technique or tool of terrorists not an entity which we can pound into submission and then declare victory. Logically if "it" is terror, "it" can't be beaten or "won". We can only make the use of "it" so expensive in terms of return on investment that our enemies, the terrorists, no longer used "it".
But acceptance of that point would deprive Carroll of his metaphor wars. It would also deprive him of the cheap attempt at psychoanalyzing all of us.
War is an abstraction in the American imagination. It lives there, cloaked in glory, as an emblem of patriotism. We show our love for our country by sending our troops abroad and then "supporting" them, no matter what. When images appear that contradict the high-flown rhetoric of war -- whether of young GIs disgracefully humiliating Iraqi prisoners or of a devastated holy city where vast fields of American-created rubble surround a shrine -- we simply do not take them in as real. Thinking of ourselves as only motivated by good intentions, we cannot fathom the possibility that we have demonized an innocent people, that what we are doing is murder on a vast scale.
One only has to travel back 35 years to see this sort of rhetoric. It was the stock and trade of the anti-war movement of the '60s against the war in Vietnam. Its the sort of nonsense with which the anti-war crowd, while in its infancy, began creating the intellectual framework which would allow them to edge closer and closer to characterizing the military in a grossly unfair way, culminating in their condemnation of not only the military but the soldier as well.
That's precisely what Carroll is headed for here.
The only people Vietnam was an "abstraction" to were those safely here in the US protesting it. Vietnam was a "metaphor" to the VVAW who metaphorically killed "Vietnamese civilians" in their street theater productions in Operation RAW. To the young men and women fighting that war and this war, and their parents and loved ones, it is as real as the folded flag clutched by the grieving widow.
Unlike Carroll most Americans live in the real world, and understand how it actually works. They deplore Abu Ghrab and want it never to happen again but the understand the difference between an anomoly and a policy. They understand the rubble around the shrine but not of the shrine because they know how Americans try to fight, and they certainly understand, more so than Carroll, that war is an utidy business in which unfortunate things happen.
Unlike Carroll, they are able to distinguish between the unfortunate and purposeful. But as John Kerry was not able to make that distinction 35 years earlier, Carroll hints that all this must be purposeful because he says we're "doing murder on a vast scale".
Murder. To him this is all just America and Americans committing "murder on a vast scale".
And what does one call someone who murders? A murderer, of course.
So who is Carroll calling a murderer here, folks?
The soldiers in Iraq.
To Carroll this is all purposeful killing. Part of the plan, one supposes. After all, murder is pre-meditated, isn't it?
If that's not enough, we then we get this amazing line:
There is the single most troubling aspect of the war in Iraq. We launched it against the wicked Saddam Hussein, yet the majority of so-called "insurgents" against whom our forces are arrayed hated Hussein more than we did. We are killing people by the thousands who threaten absolutely nothing of ours.
The echoes from the past are amazing. The liberation from a mad man is cast in the light of US murders. While ignoring the concerted efforts by the "insurgents" to kill not only US soldiers but Iraqi government officials, soldiers and policemen, they're excused as victims that we're randomly slaughtering, because, I guess, we can. Or is it because its policy?
Not understanding that almost all of the US action in Iraq is now defensive and not offensive, Carroll can't fathom that the "thousands" being killed usually initiate the action by attacking US forces.
The boys in the Iraqi resistance are not terrorists. They are not Ba'athists. They are not jihadists -- or they weren't until we gave them reason to be. Whatever the justifications for the invasion of Iraq were a year and a half ago, why are we in this war today? And as President Bush might ask, how in the world do we "win" it?
The 'boys' among the Viet Cong weren't terrorists either, were they? The VC hung and disembowled their enemies to terrorize them into not supporting the government. They did that on purpose. The 'boys' among the "Iraqi resistance" prefer beheading and have a penchant for IEDs. But they're not terrorists Mr. Carroll, are they?
Obviously, something else is going on below the surface of all the stated reasons for this war. The Republican convention last week was gripped with war fever, and the fever itself was the revelation. War is answering an American need that has nothing to do with the Iraqi people.
Even though the war on terrorism is indeed, as the president said, a "crusade," it has nothing real to do with Islam either, although Islam is surely its target. Not Islam as it actually exists in dozens of different settings and cultures across the globe, but an imagined Islam that exists only in the troubled minds of a people who project "evil" outward and then attack it. Alas, it is an old Christian habit.
War fever? I must have watched a different convention.
This is incredibly reminiscent of the anti-war left's charges about Vietnam, isn't it? In fact, they claimed that war wasn't really about communism either. No, its not Islam that's the problem. Its that old Christian habit of projecting. It was the troubled mind of Christians who drove those poor Islamic men to slam jetliners full of Americans into the WTC and Pentagon. It was projecting Christians who holed the USS Cole and shredded the African embassies.
The war, meanwhile, answers the Bush administration's need to justify an unprecedented repressiveness in the "homeland," and simultaneously prompts widespread docile submission to the new martial law. But more deeply still, by understanding ourselves as a people at war, we Americans find exemption from the duty to face the grotesque shame of what we are doing in the world.
So the final truth about this war is that there is no real enemy (although we are creating enemies by the legion). There will be no victory. I resume this regular column by declaring, President Bush was right.
Now the war is an excuse to repress Americans. And while we're at it we ought to be so ashamed of what we're doing (liberating 50 million people from repressive and totalitarian regimes, confronting terrorists on their home turf and denying them ours) that we should immediately repent and withdraw.
Amazing and shameless.
"There is no real enemy"?
Again, it seems that in James Carroll's world, 9/11 too was a metaphor. An abstraction.
But mark my words. This is only the opening shot of the anti-war movement's turn against the military. I've seen it all before, and in my case, Carroll's screed is not an abstraction.
Unlike what happened during that distant war, I won't sit quietly by and let it happen again.
Mark Steyn also believes that Mr. Kerry is on his way to a trouncing.
One of the reasons why the Bush-despisers will be waking up stunned on the morning of November 3 is because they spend way too much time talking to each other and sustaining each other's delusions.
It's called the Pauline Kael Syndrome, and it has the Democrats convinced--convinced--that Mr. Kerry was a shoo-in. Well, at least they were convinced last month anyway. Now, they're not so sure.
After the Democratic Convention, when Mr. Kerry failed to get a bounce, they were all sure it was because the election was so close, and because so many people had already decided who to vote for. So, no reason to worry.
Of course, that was then. This is now.
Then the Time and Newsweek polls came in, and showed Bush with an 11-point lead over Kerry. How did that happen? Whatever became of the post-bounce era of American politics?
Not to worry. The new conventional wisdom is that it was the sheer meanness of the Republicans that earned them the bounce, and so Kerry's hitting back saying he's not going to be criticised by a President and Vice-President who weren't in Vietnam. If you didn't serve in Vietnam, you can't criticise John Kerry. On the other hand, if you did serve in Vietnam and you criticise John Kerry, that just means you're a "Republican smear artist". Either way, don't criticise John Kerry, because, if you do, he'll spend his next 10 campaign rallies droning on about how he's not going to take criticism.
But, there's something more behind that post-convention bounce than "meanness", and Steyn nails exactly what it is.
"This Russian school business works for the Republicans," a Democrat griped to me over the weekend. Alas, it does - because it's a reminder for those who need it that the war on terror isn't some racket cooked up to boost Halliburton profits but a profound challenge to America and the world.
Could what happened in Beslan happen in the US? Two months ago, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a fellow called Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, a suspected terrorist who'd fought with his fellow jihadi in Chechnya and somehow wound up in Minnesota, where he'd applied for licences to transport hazardous materials and drive school buses.
Americans who care about this stuff know where George W Bush stands. They're not sure where the Democrats do - sometimes it's full-scale Michael Moore denial, at other times it's going through the multilateral motions with Kofi and Co. No point on that continuum is of sufficient electoral appeal.
And that's the central problem of the Kerry Campaign, as well as the general distrust the electorate has for the Democratic Party when it comes to National Security. Many Americans wonder why, if we are fighting an enemy who tortures children by gouging out their eyes and/or setting them on fire, we need to ensure that Kofi Annan and his crowd are on board with us.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of them conclude, "We don't."
The Dems are also making a mockery of themselves, as Steyn points out, be emphasising their overblown fear of George W. Bush. Compared to what happened in Beslan, it sounds shallow and stupid.
Wallace Shawn, by contrast, is a writer, a man who makes his living by words and yet devalues his own currency. Is the Bush-Cheney tyranny truly a "scary" time for him? Is he really "scared"? Of course not. He's having a convivial drink with a fawning Brit interviewer; what could be more agreeable?
"Scary" is - to pluck at random - being held hostage in a school gym and the kid next to you is parched and asks for water and the terrorist stabs him in the belly in front of your eyes. "Scary" cannot encompass both that situation and Wallace Shawn's vague distaste for Bush without losing all meaning.
And, in general, the electorate knows that, and will continue to believe it, no matter how many red-crayon screeds the Democratic Underground types write.
The Wall Street Journal's Brendan Miniter believes that John Kerry will be lucky to match Mike Dukakis' share of the vote when the election is over. All this stuff about an equally divided electorate is a bunch of hooey, he believes, because this election takes place in a much different environment from the 2000 election. Moreover, he thinks Mr. Kerry is a poor politician, too.
Mr. Miniter has a whole laundry list of reasons why he thinks the way he does, and it's worth a read.
Moveon.org affiliate Misleader.org publishes a semi-daily email called "The Daily Mislead"...and it lives up to its billing. This recent one is indicative, so let's fisk the righteous hell out of it....
Bush To Alter Economic Stats Again
Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics showing that for the first time in years, poverty had increased for three straight years, while the number of Americans without health care increased to a record level.
But instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush administration today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics are compiled. The move is just the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods.Actually, no such thing was announced. As even the Daily Mislead points out in the very next sentence....
In a Bush administration press release yesterday, the Census Bureau said next week it "will announce a new economic indicator" as "an additional tool to better understand" the economy.Note that this is not a change to methods of compilation. It's an additional statistic. Further, it will be "used as an additional tool to better understand the trends of the services sector of the U.S. economy", which--considering the dramatic structural changes in the US economy over the past 4 decades--does not seem terribly unreasonable.
For my part, I'll withold judgement until I actually find out what sort of measurement they will introduce. (that happens Wednesday, Sept 8th)
The change in statistics is being directed by Bush political appointees and comes just 60 days from the election. It will be the first modification of Census data in 40 years.Well, technically--i.e., "accurately"--it will be the first "new economic indicator" in 40 years. Modifications of Census data occur very regularly.
By this point, you'd think the Daily Mislead could not be more laughably inaccurate, but you'd be wrong. Oh, how you'd be wrong....
This is not the first time the White House has tried to doctor or manipulate economic data that exposed President Bush's failed policies. In the face of serious job losses last year, the Associated Press reported "the Bush administration has dropped the government's monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush's father was in office."Here is the "MASS LAYOFFS IN JULY 2004" report. It was cleverly hidden on the front page of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You can also see the monthly data for every month going back to the beginning of 2001 here.
Similarly, Business Week reported that the White House this year "unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush's reelection bid." For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan research group. But the Bush administration decided to toss aside the NBER, and simply declare that the recession started under President Clinton.Here, to some degree, the Daily Mislead has a point. The Bush administration has taken advantage of some legitimate uncertainty in the data to claim the recession started earlier than is recognized by the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, even the NBER has recognized the uncertainty of that data, and been willing to reevaluate their official stance on the dates of the recession.
In fact, NBER member Victor Zarnowitz noted at about the time the Bush administration was advancing these arguments that "the recession started maybe November or December 2000 and lasted to November of 2001.".
[it should be noted that they haven't moved their official date; it should also be noted that the NBER is positively glacial in making these judgements]
For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan research group. But the Bush administration decided to toss aside the NBER, and simply declare that the recession started under President Clinton....it should be noted that--even assuming the NBERs March 2001-November 2001 dates are correct....and I do--the recession occurred almost wholly within the final fiscal year of President Clinton. Bush's first fiscal year began October 1st, 2001 (pdf). Until that point--including 7 of the 9 months of the recession--we were operating under the final Clinton-era budget. (none of which is to imply that the recession was Clinton's doing) Regardless of the dates, that recession occured almost wholly before Bush's first fiscal day in office.
It's not for nothing they call it the "Daily Mislead".
As noted by Tom Maguire, it's been a tough week in the 'sphere for Matthew Yglesias--some of it deserved, some not--so it's not with a desire to pile on--he's a big boy, with a big brain, and he can tell the difference between abuse and intellectual debate--that I take issue with this post, but with a genuine interest in the issue he raises.
It's interesting to note that US forces are progressively surrendering larger and larger portions of Iraq to insurgents. It's things like this that make me so convinced it's vital to stay the course... victory is just around the corner... light at the end of the tunnel... freedom... democracy... yeah....Here, I think, is a good example of where we who believe we are on course--albeit, bumpily--diverge from those, like Matt, who believe the light at the end of the Iraq tunnel is a big ol' Shi'ite train.
Without minimizing the problems inherent in an Iraqi democracy--or, really, any democracy in a country with diverse interests--I would note that the story doesn't actually give evidence that our larger strategic goals are necessarily in danger. The key grafs....
In Iraq, the list of places from which American soldiers have either withdrawn or decided to visit only rarely is growing: Falluja, where a Taliban-like regime has imposed a rigid theocracy; Ramadi, where the Sunni insurgents appear to have the run of the city; and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to the south, where the Americans agreed last month to keep their distance from the sacred shrines of Ali and Hussein.Short version: Iraqis, in a few cities, are growing prohibitively unhappy with US presence, and putting up enough of a resistance that the US has determined, in many instances, it's better to just let them control the cities.
The calls are rising for the Americans to pull out of even more areas, notably Sadr City, the sprawling neighborhood in eastern Baghdad that is the main base for the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. There, leaders of his Mahdi Army are demanding that American soldiers, except those sent in to do reconstruction work, get out.
If I read him correctly, Matthew sees this as evidence that we're going backward in our efforts. That we are entering a quagmire, so to speak, where we define "surrendering cities" as victories. (Matt, if I've read you incorrectly, correct me and I will note it)
Well, that could be the case. Or, it might not. As the Times article notes...
where Iraqis once tolerated American soldiers as a source of stability in their neighborhoods, they increasingly see them as a cause of the violence. Take out the Americans, the Iraqis say, and you take out the problem. Leave us alone, and we will sort our own problems.Well, that's unfortunate...but, did we really expect anything else? From the start, we have known that the Iraqis--especially the Sunni's--are tolerating US presence only so far as it benefits them...and that, barely or not at all. Fortunately, that's our goal, too. "As long as required and not one day longer".
We would certainly like to see the Iraqis work side by side with us, all of them gladly....but that's a bit of a utopian dream. Nobody likes an occupation, and unrest is a given. We should leave that scenario off the table. It's a false choice.
What we need is simply for the Iraqis to work out their own salvation, and--beyond a certain point--that doesn't really require us. In fact, it requires our absence.
Matt seems to regard this story of Iraqis asserting their independence as a bad sign for the US. I'd argue that it is only a bad sign if we assume one of two things:
Obviously, the first is off the table, but what about the second? Well, the New York Times expresses some concern....
Most significant of all, the withdrawal from these cities calls into question the practicality of nationwide elections scheduled to take place before the end of January. At the moment, the Americans appear to be prepared to hold elections without cities like Falluja and Ramadi. But excluding the largely Sunni Arab areas from the elections would raise serious doubts about their legitimacy. Already, one of the country's leading Sunni groups, the Sunni Clerics Association, boycotted the selection of the National Council, which serves as a de facto Parliament here.This is, I think, a bit of a static evaluation, depending too heavily on the problems presented by our current head-to-head military stand-off. To be blunt: as long as we are engaged in a military struggle with the Iraqis, we will always have the irreducible problem of violent resistance. That is an unavoidable fact of life, and no amount of prior planning--no degree of competence--by the Bush administration could have avoided that problem.
But will it remain true as we disengage militarily? I'm not so sure it will, and this gets to the crux of the "are we winning" debate. You see, the real beauty of a representative democracy is in its tendency to mitigate the extremes. Ambitions are thwarted by opposing ambitions. When some minimal power can be had by participating in democracy, rather than killing fellow Iraqis (as opposed to those infidel Americans) to no apparent end, the marginal utility of the insurgency will change rapidly.
At this point, our goal should not necessarily be to win on the field of battle. The fact that we are choosing to withdraw is not, as Matthew thinks, evidence that we are losing the larger battle. Instead, we have the opportunity to change the field of battle to a political one....to thwart ambition with ambition.
And, if that can be accomplished--still an "if", but very possible, I think--then we will have one. We won't have a flowering Jeffersonian democracy with life, liberty and justice for all, but we'll have a nation orders of magnitude better than the alternative.
Finally: why do I think that will happen, as opposed to continued fighting? For the simple reason that, among the current insurgent leaders, there seems to be more anger at the US occupation than at the prospect of a democratic Iraqi government. And, like Moqtada Al-Sadr, they seem interested in participating in internal Iraqi politics, once the military conflict with the United States (read: point of pride) is out of the way.
The problem, of course, lies with the Sunni areas, where political power will be diminished from their halcyon days during Saddam's regime. The solution to that--a turnover of local power before sharply limited federal power, giving them near-autonomy in local control--would have been far better imposed early, but it can still be achieved.
In fact, if it is to be achieved, it absolutely requires our absence. Things may still go to hell before the elections in January, but our disengagement in the hotspots like Fallujah is not necessarily evidence of that, as Yglesias seems to believe, and the problems in Iraq are nothing that a bit of good parliamentary coalition-building pragmatism cannot subdue in fairly short order.
Of course, that's up to the Iraqis. We'll see.
Apparently Michael Moore is fairly adept at self delusion. He's also quite adept at self-promotion and interestingly, those things can go hand-in-hand. On his MichaelMoore.com today he posted a letter about his latest, greatest work and the fact that he's modestly going to decline seeking the Oscar for documentary.
Now if you have any knowledge at all about tactics Moore uses, you might suspect that perhaps he was told by the academy that his film didn't qualify in that regard. But hey, it sounds much better if he claims to keep the sure winner out so others might have a chance and point to the fact that by declining to have it considered he can get this little beauty of his out there where it will make the most impact and defeat Bush
Anyway, to the letter. Even though its rather difficult, I'm sure, he had to begin by patting himself on the back:
I had dinner recently with a well-known pollster who had often worked for Republicans. He told me that when he went to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" he got so distraught he twice had to go out in the lobby and pace during the movie.
"The Bush White House left open a huge void when it came to explaining the war to the American people," he told me. "And your film has filled that void -- and now there is no way to defeat it. It is the atomic bomb of this campaign."
He told me how he had conducted an informal poll with "Fahrenheit 9/11" audiences in three different cities and the results were all the same. "Essentially, 80% of the people going IN to see your movie are already likely Kerry voters and the movie has galvanized them in a way you rarely see Democrats galvanized.
"But, here's the bad news for Bush: Though 80% going IN to your movie are Kerry voters, 100% of those COMING OUT of your movie are Kerry voters. You can't come out of this movie and say, 'I am absolutely and enthusiastically voting for George W. Bush.'"
I wonder if this pollster knew the unnamed "Republican" or, excuse me, RINO that Moore interviewed at the Repbulican National Convention
"Its and atomic bomb I tell you! Atomic bomb! You can bet a "well known pollster" would conduct an "informal poll" and give it credibility, right? But then, this IS Michael Moore's fantasy we're talking about, isn't it?
His findings are similar to those in other polls conducted around the country. In Pennsylvania, a Keystone poll showed that 4% of Kerry's support has come from people who decided to vote for him AFTER seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- and in an election that will be very close, 4% is a landslide. A Harris poll found that 44% of Republicans who see the film give it a “positive” rating. Another poll, to be released this week, shows a 21-point shift in Bush's approval rating, after just one viewing of the movie, among audiences of undecideds who were shown "Fahrenheit 9/11" in Ohio.
My pollster friend told me that he believes if Kerry wins, "Fahrenheit 9/11" will be one of the top three reasons for his election. Kerry's only problem, he said, is how many people will actually be able to see it before election day. The less that see it, the better for Bush.
But 20 million people have already seen it -- and the Gallup poll said that 56% of the American public has seen or plans to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" either in the theater or on home video. The DVD and home video of our film, thanks to our distributors listening to our pleas to release it before November, will be in the stores on October 5. This is very good news.
Has anyone had the courage to tell Mikey that the Gallup poll, post convention, has Bush up 8 points? It would appear that the "Fahrenheit 9/11" vaccination didn't take if that's the case. So here we have Mikey sacrificing fame for ... well, fortune. He gets it out there before November so the remaining 44% can see the thing.
But can it also be shown on TV? I brought this possibility up in this week's Rolling Stone interview. Our contract with our DVD distributor says no, it cannot. I have asked them to show it just once, perhaps the night before the election. So far, no deal. But I haven't given up trying.
The only problem with my desire to get this movie in front of as many Americans as possible is that, should it air on TV, I will NOT be eligible to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Academy Award consideration for Best Documentary. Academy rules forbid the airing of a documentary on television within nine months of its theatrical release (fiction films do not have the same restriction).
Although I have no assurance from our home video distributor that they would allow a one-time television broadcast -- and the chances are they probably won't -- I have decided it is more important to take that risk and hope against hope that I can persuade someone to put it on TV, even if it's the night before the election.
Yessir, good folks out there in flyover land, Mikey is going to take one for the team. "Cant we show it the night before the election ... pleeeeaaase?"
So after taking a big quaff of his own Kook-aid, er Kool-aid, he asks you to join him in a glass.
Therefore, I have decided not to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for consideration for the Best Documentary Oscar. If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important to me than winning another documentary Oscar. I have already won a Best Documentary statue. Having a second one would be nice, but not as nice as getting this country back in the hands of the majority.
The deadline to submit the film for the documentary Oscar was last Wednesday. I told my crew who worked on the film, let's let someone else have that Oscar. We have already helped to ignite the biggest year ever for nonfiction films. Last week, 1 out of every 5 films playing in movie theaters across America was a documentary! That is simply unheard of. There have been so many great nonfiction films this year, why not step aside and share what we have with someone else? Remove the 800-pound gorilla from that Oscar category and let the five films who get nominated have all the attention they deserve (instead of the focus being on a film that has already had more than its share of attention).
Shed a tear, fair friend. We won't have Michael Moore to boo at Oscar time this year. He hopes his 800 pound gorilla will be tap-dancing on TV. Let the little people vie for the Oscar. Mikey wants the big prize ... bringing down Bushitler, er, W.
I've read a lot about "Fahrenheit" being a "sure bet" for the documentary Oscar this year. I don't believe anything is truly a "sure bet." And, in the end, I think sometimes it's good for your soul to give up something everyone says is so easily yours (ask Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps why he gave up his spot in the last race to someone else equally deserving, and you'll know what I am talking about).
OK, I admit I gagged a couple of times here. Retching at the maundering and self-agrandizing nonsense of this hippo is nothing new though. Comparing himself to an Olympic athlete? Please. At best he could only hope to compare himself to the winner of the cow chip throwing contest at the Red Neck Olympics, but honestly I don't think they'd have him.
And then the tease:
I have informed our distributors of my decision. They support me (in fact, they then offered to submit our film for all the other categories it is eligible for, including Best Picture -- so, hey, who knows, maybe I'll get to complete that Oscar speech from 2003! Sorry, just kidding).
Don't get your hopes up for seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11" on TV before the election. In fact, I would count on NOT seeing it there (you know me, I'm always going after something I probably shouldn't). Get to the theaters soon, if you haven't already, or get it from the video store in October and hold house parties. Share it with everyone you know, especially your nonvoting friends. I have included 100 minutes of extras on the DVD -- powerful footage obtained after we made the movie, and some things that are going to drive Karl Rove into a permanent tailspin -- more on this later!
Go out and buy this thing, boys and girls! Make me proud I turned down a sure winner on Oscar night. Revel in the 100 extra minutes on the DVD which is sure to kill poor Karl.
To quote Bugs Bunny, who seems appropriate since we're taking about Michael Moore's cartoon "Fahrenheit 9/11": "What a maroon".
Both of their stories seem oddly familiar to me.
A few months ago, I bought the new Sony DSC-F828 8-Megapixel digital camera. I'd been waiting for this camera, because it was the first 8MP camera available, and also because it had the new 4-color digital chip, instead of the standard RGB chip.
The first day I took it out, I shot about 300 pictures on the first 1 GB compact flash card, then started on the second CF Card. later that night, up in Orange COunty, The Lovely Christine and I wanted to look at the day's pictures. when I put the first CF card back in, the camera formatted the card, and I lost all the pictures I had taken on it. An entire day's shooting, right down the drain.
It turns out the camera had a problem with erasing the CF card when it was instered, so when you took a CF card out, you couldn't put it back into the camera without losing all the pictures. That's not the kind of problem you expect after paying $1,000 for a camera.
I took it back to CompUSA. At first, they refused to either refund or replace the camera. I finally took both my camera, and the display model in the store, and proved to them that the camera was eating my compact flash cards, while the display camera in the store worked properly.
Even after that, the manager told me that he was hesitant to refund or replace the camera, because it sounded like a case of buyer's remorse.
Eventually, I got them to give me a replacement camera for it, and the replacement works fine. It only took me making a loud public scene for half an hour, but, I guess that's OK since CompUSA apparently considers my time valueless.
Well, I don't consider it so, and, I don't need to to business with a merchant that refuses to provide appropriate service, even when they sell you defective merchandise. fortunately a brand new Fry's has opened near my house, so I never, ever have to go to CompUSA again.
In April of 1971, John Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) held a 6 day event they called Operation Dewey Canyon III, which they billed as the “invasion of Washington DC". It was named after a military operation in Vietnam in which Army of Vietnam (ARVN) forces invaded Laos to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail (it was the major supply and troop movement route from North Vietnam into South Vietnam and traveled mostly through Laos).
This is the beginning of my own personal operation “Dewey Canyon IV”. I'll be talking more about this as the election nears. While its 35 years ago, its very important to me. This particular article is an attempt to give readers who weren't around at the time a feeling for the era in which Kerry and VVAW operated.
Looking only at Kerry’s testimony in June of 1971, without some understanding of the era lessens its impact. It is the sum of all of the activities, events, speeches and movements which have to be looked at and understood in order to give the era context. You have to have a feel for the whole to understand how the participants in these movements were considered by many to be A) wrong and B) bent on the destruction of the military and, if they could have effected it, a revolutionary change in the government of the US.
And for a while, John Kerry was right there in the middle of the most radical of them.
Probably the best place to start is with the movement’s most well known figure. As is well known, Jane Fonda worked quite closely with John Kerry’s VVAW, helped fund it and spoke at rallies with John Kerry. But I’ll cover that later. Jane Fonda also was one of the founders of FTA (and that doesn’t stand for Fun Travel and Adventure). It stood for “F**k The Army.” It was an organization which promoted its agenda through coffee houses it supported near army bases in the US.
Jane Fonda also helped in the organization of a production group called the F.T.A. (F*** The Army). This group helped to set up coffee houses near military bases where they would perform anti-war derogatory-type sketches for the visiting soldiers. The coffee-house sketches were intended to counterpoint the U.S.O. shows, such as Bob Hope and other U.S.O. sponsored performers whose performances increased morale and gave positive support to American soldiers. Some of the F.T.A. coffee house employees would mingle with the soldiers to help them to "relax and unwind", while encouraging the soldiers to desert. Some soldiers alleged that they were promised jobs and money by the F.T.A. if they deserted.
Its hard, today, to imagine other Americans attempting to get American soldiers to desert the Army or satirizing them involved in combat in Iraq.
But they did.
Another aspect of the era was the attempt of socialists to support, infiltrate and then direct the anti-war movement.
During the 10 years of the anti-war movement from 1965-1975, the revolutionary Marxist wing of the movement, represented at that time by the Socialist Workers Party (special note - Socialist Action comes out of the SWP, identifies with the politics of the SWP from this period), went from being a small minority within a small movement to part of the leadership of a movement of millions.
Fonda, of course, was very open to this association:
On November 21, 1970 she told a University of Michigan audience of some two thousand students, "If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist." At Duke University in North Carolina she repeated what she had said in Michigan, adding "I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism."
As you might imagine the USSR and North Vietnam also had interest in the anti-war movement at the time and some links have been established (and admitted too) that they provided heavy support to the movement. But more important, at least to those who fought there, is this:
The Wall Street Journal (August 3, 1995) published an interview with Bui Tin who served on the General Staff of the North Vietnam Army and received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. During the interview Mr. Tin was asked if the American antiwar movement was important to Hanoi's victory. Mr. Tin responded "It was essential to our strategy" referring to the war being fought on two fronts, the Vietnam battlefield and back home in America through the antiwar movement on college campuses and in the city streets. He further stated the North Vietnamese leadership listened to the American evening news broadcasts "to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement."
Visits to Hanoi made by persons such as Jane Fonda, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses." Mr. Tin surmised that "America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win."
Not to mention John Kerry’s trips to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese.
The event which most exemplifies how the anti-war movement in conjunction with the media weakened the hand of the US and strengthened the hand of North Vietnam was Tet of ‘68.
Mr. Tin further advised that General Vo Nguyen Giap (Commanding General of the North Vietnam Army) said the 1968 Tet Offensive was a defeat.
The military defeat of North Vietnam after the Tet Offensive of 1968 became a political victory for North Vietnam because of anti-war demonstrations and the sensationalism of the news media. The North Vietnamese interpreted the U.S. reaction to these events as the weakening of America's resolve to win the war. The North Vietnamese believed that victory could be theirs, if they stayed their course.
While the North Vietnamese knew they’d suffered a very large loss, the American media chose to portray Tet as a defeat for the US military and the anti-war movment stepped up its activities:
From 1969 until the end of the war, over 20,000 American soldiers lost their lives in a war that the United States did not have the resolve to win. The sensationalism by the American news media and the anti-war protests following the 1968 Tet Offensive gave hope to Communist North Vietnam, strengthening their belief that their will to succeed was greater than ours. Instead of seeking a successful resolution at the Paris Peace Conference following the disastrous defeat of the 1968 Tet Offensive, they employed delay tactics as another tool to inflame U.S. politics. This delaying tactic spurned further anti-war demonstrations. Those who sensationalized their reporting of the war and those who supported anti-war demonstrations are guilty of giving our enemy hope.
In hindsight, and according to the North Vietnamese own words, it is clear that had the US and its citizens resolved to win in Vietnam, it could have and there’d be a free South Vietnam today. But just as clear is that the possibility was essentially destroyed by the media and anti-war movement after Tet of ‘68.
20,000+ additional Americans lost their lives after Tet because the reaction of the American media and the American anti-war movement helped turn a American victory of huge proportion into a “defeat” and expand the civil dissonance at home. Those 20,000 dead paid the price for the negative image the media and subsequent activities of the anti-war movement gave to prosecuting the war further. Encouraged to hold on by those developments, North Vietnam did just that.
The country’s youth, the ones dying in the line fire, began demanding answers to Americas high profile presence in Vietnam. They wanted to know why peace talks were organized and continually failed.
Why did they continually fail? Bui Tin answered that question above.
All of this took place among radical changes in our culture. The campuses exploded. Music and musicians took up the anti-war mantra. The radical black power movement began to emerge. The will of the people as regards the war was slowly sapped by the media's treatment of the war and the anti-war movements activities.
Once the draft was introduced young people on college and university campuses all around the country began to organise protests against the war. Teach-ins and student organizations like the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) held rallies and marches, the first of which happened in Washington in April of 1965. Over the next 2 years the anti-war movement snow balled. Activists, celebrities and musicians like Abbie Hoffmann, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Jane Fonda, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and countless others took up the Anti-war cause and waved Anti-war banners. Their speeches and their music reflected the anger and hopelessness that Americans felt over the Vietnam war. Even the GIs stationed overseas began supporting the Anti-war movement in whatever capacity they could, from wearing peace symbols to refusing to obey orders.
Perhaps the most defining event in the anti-war movement’s eyes, was Kent State. Kent State came to be symbolized as all that was wrong with America when 4 students were killed by tired and badly led National Guardsmen. What is rarely told are the events which led up to the Kent State killlings:
Saturday began quietly. Black student leaders, who had been demanding the admission next year of 5,000 more blacks to Kent State (it now has about 600), and leaders of the mounting antiwar sentiment on campus talked of joining forces. They got administrative approval to hold a rally that evening on the ten- acre Commons at the center of the campus. There, despite the presence of faculty members and student marshals, militant war protesters managed to take complete charge of a crowd of about 800, many still smarting from the conflict of the night before. They disrupted a dance in one university hall, then attacked the one-story Army ROTC building facing the Commons. They smashed windows and threw lighted railroad flares inside. The building caught fire. When firemen arrived, students threw rocks at them and cut their hoses with machetes until police interceded with tear gas.
Obviously it was a complete overreaction to fire on unarmed students, but the violence which preceeded the shootings had put tired Guardsmen on edge. That’s never mentioned in the popular literature which condemened Kent State at the time. It was all about the evil military.
With the context painted above, it is now time to look more closely at John Kerry’s part in all of this:
The Vietnam Veterans Against the War Organization received major financial support from Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda's F.T.A. coffee houses helped in recruiting soldiers and veterans for the Vietnam Veterans Against The War Organization. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War Organization membership was approximately 7,000 at it's highest. The Organization's membership number was comparatively low, when you consider that more than 2 1/2 million Americans served during the Vietnam war.
And the VVAW was embarked on an agenda every bit as radical as that of Jane Fonda.
An example of that agenda can be found here in a partial time-line on the VVAW which concentrates on the time Kerry was a leader there. You can see the time-line in its entirety here.
During this portion of the timeline, John Kerry was among the national leadership of the VVAW. The time-line takes up a month after his testimony before the Senate. Note in particular the August 1971 entry and the activities and supporters of the VVAW. Also note the quote from Kerry in the November 7th edition of the Sunday Oklahoman:
So you have an organization, in which John Kerry is a leader (up too Nov. 15th of ‘71) speaking in favor of the enemy’s 7 point plan, in contact with the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris, traveling to North Vietnam and meeting with NV leaders, talking about the (justified in their minds) violent overthrow of the American government and the assassination of key congressmen who oppose their point of view.
As is obvious, vets of that era had to live and work in an atmosphere poisoned by the likes of Jane Fonda and John Kerry. It is the era which fuels the rage many veterans feel when they think of what John Kerry said and that in which John Kerry was involved.
Because of the events described and the activities of the protesters, morale in the military was at an all-time low. Serving became a stigma. Members of the military were made to feel ashamed. And in the civilian world, police officers who we respectfully call “first responders” and hero’s today were routinely referred to as Pigs back then.
58,000 died in Vietnam for essentially nothing because America’s antiwar movement convinced America it couldn’t win.
To this day, I believe they were wrong..
In late 1974, Communist forces had overran Saigon. Within a few short months most of Indochina would fall into Communist hands. The Domino Theory finally stopped at the border of Thailand. Millions in the countries taken over died. Millions fled. And hundreds of thousands were sent to reeducation camps, from which they never returned.
In the end, the protesters demand, as shown in this picture, came true.
Its now time for the ‘70s radical turned politician to face his past and those he, in my opinion, wronged with his words and activities. Not only here, but in Vietnam.
He’s now talking about “keeping faith” with those in the military? Excuse me if I’m more than a little leery
As one vet is quoted as saying, “defeating John Kerry would be the parade we never got.”
I couldn’t agree more.
And so is a certain candidate. Which one of these quotes is the "real" John Kerry?
... I will always remember that America’s security begins and ends with the soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine – with every man and every woman in our armed services standing a post somewhere in the world. Today, we salute each and every one of them for their commitment, strength, and extraordinary courage – especially those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like all veterans of wars past, deserve our prayers and then, when they come home, they deserve the respect and support of a grateful nation. After all, the first definition of patriotism is to keep faith with those who have worn the uniform of the United States.. --- John Kerry, June 3, 2004. [emphasis mine]
These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.
They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. -- John Kerry, June 22, 1971 [emphasis mine]
Its time that John Kerry stood up and told us how he "kept faith" with those who were fighting and dying in Vietnam on June 22, 1971? Those of us who weren't engaged in "raping" and "cutting off heads" or ordering our troops to shoot "cattle and dogs for fun" while our commanders benignly and approvingly looked on and encouraged us would really like to know.
If, as you claim, "the first definition of patriotism is to keep faith with those who have worn the uniform of the United States" , then how do you characterize what's seen here?
Is that, "keeping faith" with those who were in combat that day in June of 1971 or those who had already served in Vietnam?
How about it Kerry, did you live up to your own definiton of patriotism?
At the risk of being crass and heartless, allow me to suggest that John Kerry could make very serious electoral progress by simply politicizing genocide. Really.
The conditions in Sudan--genocide, by any definition but that of the United Nations--have been underreported in the past few years. While the United States has been more vocal and "concerned" than our colleagues in the UN, nobody has actually, you know, done anything about it. Sudan has remained a "problem" that requires "action"....though, apparently, not yet.
Think back a decade, when the largely ignored Rwanda crisis became a massacre, about which Bill Clinton eventually said "We in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred in Rwanda in 1994".
Think back to the relatively popular, low human-cost, humanitarian interventions during the Clinton administration. Yugoslavia and Haiti, for example.
Think back to the past few years, when the Bush administration has made much headway--and blunted much criticism--by proclaiming the humanitarian virtues of our interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Clearly, there is an emotional case to be made for humanitarian intervention, and it plays well with voters. Yet, despite a burgeoning crisis in Sudan, there's a great deal of inaction from the Bush administration, and no campaign promises for action. The President is "deeply concerned". He "condemn[s] these atrocities" and "expresse[s] [his] views directly to President Bashir of Sudan".
The good intentions are a mile long. The action are an inch deep. The room for John Kerry to make a move to own this issue is wide open.
Indeed, John Kerry seems to be aware of the issue, having already called on Bush to do something. "Demonstrate this kind of leadership" as he called it, referencing "Bosnia and Kosovo"...presumably, a call for some limited military intervention, with or without UN approval.
In fact, just days ago, John Kerry released a statement calling on Bush to intervene miliitarily.
Note, please, that although early in the press release he concedes that "Many governments want to evade the issue", his demand for US troop deployment seems to assume cooperation from the United Nations Security Council. Cooperation of exactly the sort that he assumed with regards to the Iraq war, and failed to criticize when it did not come. Well, he failed to criticize the uncooperative nations. He didn't hesitate to criticize Bush, who "lead the UN to do the right thing and to put the full weight of the U.S. behind halting" the problems in Iraq.
But that's an inconsistency for another day.
In the meantime, there's still this Sudan political opening, and--again, at the risk of crass political calculation--I suspect Kerry could exploit it for electoral gain between now and November, by incorporating the following elements....
Indeed, the door seems wide open for Kerry to challenge Bush in a military arena, without necessarily losing the anti-interventionist faction on the left.
One wonders if Kerry will hit back in these final two months with something productive and forward-thinking....or, otherwise.
UPDATE: I think I should note that I'm not actually advocating such a venture. Just pointing out that I think Kerry could use this as a wedge issue against Bush.
Mark Steyn responds to the massacre in Beslan.
The good news is that the carnage in Beslan was so shocking it prompted a brief appearance by that rare bird, the moderate Muslim. Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of al-Arabiya Television, wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat headlined, "The Painful Truth: All The World's Terrorists Are Muslims!" "Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," he wrote. This is true. But, as with Nicolson's prettified prose in London, the question remains: So what? What are you going to do about it? If you want your religion to be more than a diseased death cult, you're going to have to take a stand.
As one of our readers here commented, we'll know Muslims are serious about stopping terror when they start picking up rifles and start shooting their fellow Muslims to stop such atrocities. Until then, it's just empty talk.
That's the message to the Kerry campaign from Joe Klein, one of Kerry's most unapologetic supporters in Old Media1.
The message of the week was: You know where Bush stands. You can't be sure about Kerry. But that headline also came with a misleading subhead: Bush is fighting the war against terrorism, and Kerry wouldn't.
Actually, the subhead was, "You have a pretty good idea about what Bush will do. You have no similar clarity about Kerry." And that's not misleading at all.
We actually don't know what John Kerry would do. We know he would fight the war with more sensitivity to our "allies", i.e. France and Germany. We know he feels everything Mr. Bush did on the path to war in Iraq was wrong, and he would've done it differently. But knowing that doesn't tell us much.
What sensitive policies would Mr. Kerry pursue to placate Paris and Berlin? What, precisely, would Mr. Kerry have done differently vis a vis Iraq. We don't know, because Mr. Kerry has been adamant in refusing to give us the answers to these questions. We must wait until he's president, because it would be too dangerous, presumably, to tip his hand at this point.
Wouldn't be prudent at this time.
Apparently, Mr. Kerry expects us to vote for him based on some criteria other than the details of his criticisms of Mr. Bush.
Besides, I'm not sure that the subhead as Mr. Klein states it, is actually incorrect. What we do know of Mr. Kerry indicates that he might not actually prosecute the war on terror very strongly.
Now, we can argue about why Mr. Kerry voted against the Trident, the F-18, SDI, intelligence funding, etc., in the Senate. We can probably parse each vote and come up with some plausible budgetary or political rationale for each vote. But, in toto, his voting record is not one that we would expect from a committed defender of National Security. It is not unreasonable to question why his voting record in the Senate seems to pit him so solidly against funding so many security and intelligence tools. Nor is it unreasonable to form conclusions about his future actions based on his past record.
It was a theme that was pounded from the very start of the convention, and it depended on a sly conflation— the notion that the war in Iraq and the war against the 9/11 terrorists were one and the same. We heard far more about Bush in the World Trade Center rubble than we did about the U.S. in the Iraqi quagmire. And when Iraq was raised, it was done in a deceptive and simpleminded way. Even John McCain, who gave the most serious foreign policy speech of the week, presented a false choice: "Our choice [in Iraq] wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat."
Actually, there were at least three choices: doing nothing about Saddam, going to war as Bush did or doubling down on the war against al-Qaeda, as Senator Bob Graham and others suggested at the time.
And what was Mr. Kerry's preferred solution? Apparently, based on his most recent position, it would've been to go to war against Iraq. But, you know, differently.
Now, Mr. Klein explicitly presumes that the Iraq War and the War on Terrorism are two discrete wars. That is, at best, a questionable presumption. One could similarly have argued in 1942--and similarly wrongly--that an attack on neutral Vichy France in North Africa was a distraction from our real purpose: opening a second front in Europe.
It might, in fact, be an interesting proposition for debate, in a purely academic sense, at this point, whether the Iraq War was or was not integral to the War on Terror. But, even Mr. Klein recognizes that we won't be having that debate, mainly because Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq has become so...uh...nuanced.
The attacks on Kerry ranged from the reasonable—he certainly has empretzeled himself on Iraq—to the outrageous: Zell Miller's assertion that Kerry would take his orders from Paris. The Miller speech was the ugliest I've ever seen at a convention. It certainly trumped Pat Buchanan's 1992 "culture war" speech, in which the target was an abstract army of social liberals. This was a direct assault on the character and integrity of the Democratic nominee.
All you have to do to get the Left frothing at the mouth now is to say, "Zell Miller". But the charge that Kerry is, shall we say, overly concerned with the opinions of the man sitting in the Elysee Palace, not as specious as Mr. Klein pretends.
Our current coalition in Iraq is one he has derided as a "some trumped-up so-called Coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted". So, if our current coalition--one, I hasten to add, that contains a majority of our NATO allies, as well as several Asian nations, including Australia, Japan, and South Korea--is illegitimate, who, precisely is it missing?
France and Germany, certainly.
At best, it implies that Mr. Kerry believes that the lack of French and German support delegitimizes our actions in Iraq, although, to be sure, he promises us he would've gone to war in Iraq anyway.
Well, OK, but that raises a lot more questions than it answers. If Mr. Kerry would've gone to war in Iraq anyway, than the support of Germany and France is, at best, a side issue, because he's already conceded the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. One wonders then, how his policy materially differs from the Bush policy he so decries.
Perhaps he assumes that, under a Kerry Administration, he could have convinced the French and Germans to sign on to our coalition. That would be a neat trick, but unfortunately, Mr. Kerry has given us no indication whatsoever as to how he would accomplish this feat of diplomacy.
If, on the other hand, Mr. Kerry believes that our actions in Iraq are delegitimized by the lack of Franco-German support, then I think it's very fair to question whether he would, in fact, give what is a de facto, if not de jure, French veto over our foreign policy.
Of course, a clear explanation by Mr. Kerry would help clear up these questions, but, so far, such explanations have not been forthcoming.
And it followed a familiar G.O.P. attack pattern: like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Miller wasn't an official part of the Bush campaign. He claims to be a Democrat, and so, several Republicans told me, he was free to say anything he pleased.
Ah, the old familiar GOP attack pattern. Please pay no attention to the antics of the MoveOn.Org crowd with their "Bushitler" t-shirts. That's, like, completely different.
I also like the line about how Mr. Miller "claims" to be a Democrat. He's evidently not a real Democrat, despite having served as an elected official from the Democratic Party for the last 40 years.
I have never seen a presidential campaign in which the strategies of the two parties are so different, and so dreadful. The Republican strategy is to demolish Kerry, posit the President as a man of simple strength and do everything possible to avoid a discussion of Iraq or the effects of globalization on the American economy. The Kerry strategy is to present an "optimistic" candidate with a "positive plan for the future." The Kerry consultants, who actually believe this claptrap and have zero sense of political theater, sound like a bunch of low-budget Ginzu-knife salesmen when they represent their candidate on television: We're offering you a $4,000 college-tuition tax credit and—for no extra charge—a $1,000 reduction in your health-care costs! They also seem to believe this election isn't about the most important decision Bush has made: to go to war in Iraq. Kerry's adherence to that strategy—including the robotic repetition of the words strong and values—has made him seem weak, transparent, a focus-group marionette with neon strings.
Essentially, Mr. Klein is admitting that Mr. Kerry's strategy seems perfectly designed to allow Mr. Bush to characterize him as a poodle of France. But the blame for that strategy lies with no one but Mr. Kerry. Perhaps a clearer strategy on Mr. Kerry's part would make the Bush Campaign's strategy less effective. But to denounce Mr. Bush for taking advantage of Mr. Kerry's inept campaign seems overly tendentious.
After a week of gut-wound assaults on his character, Kerry finally fired back on Thursday night, assailing Bush and Cheney for having avoided service in Vietnam and for having "misled" us into Iraq. The latter may be an exaggeration, but after the G.O.P. assault, Kerry has a right to exaggerate with impunity.
Apparently, Mr. Klein has lived in a cave—or under a rock—for the last four years, and he's missed the whole Bush AWOL, fascist, liar, Hitler comparisons. No, Mr. Kerry has a right to strike back, even viciously, against the assassination of his character by Republicans. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, having apparently served though four years of sweetness and light from his opponents, is simply being unreasonable.
Funny how that works.
Indeed, if he hopes to win, Kerry will have to do much more of that. He will have to become a version of the young John Kerry not celebrated at the Democratic Convention—the eloquent, passionate, uncoached leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War who caused the Nixon White House serious heartburn. Where did that fabulous young politician ever go, anyway?
Apparently, he grew up and became more nuanced.
In any event, I'd be perfectly happy for Mr. Kerry to transform himself into the fiery John Kerry of his VVAW days. I can't imagine a surer path to a Bush landslide than for Kerry to adopt that tactic. Let me join Mr. Klein in urging Mr. Kerry to do precisely that.
It seems to me that the Left has gotten increasingly tone deaf about what the average citizen is looking for. In the aftermath of the 2000 election, Democrats were moaning that the reason Al Gore didn't do better was that he wasn't liberal enough. Now, Mr. Klein suggests that we need to see a revival of Mr. Kerry's VVAW days.
Well, I'm perfectly willing to participate in that experiment. Indeed, I urge it strongly. After all, moving to the Left worked so well for Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Mike Dukakis.
Since 1968, the Democrats have elected two presidents. Both of them were southerners that ran as moderates. Apparently, though, there are no lessons to be learned from that history.
1 Note to readers: I've decided to relegate the term "Mainstream Media" to the ash heap of history. It's either Old Media or New Media
The New York Times addresses the economic debate in an editorial today--apparently they have no pundits on staff interested in economic matters--and manage--inter alia--one very glaring error.
The United States gained 144,000 jobs last month, which is just barely enough to keep up with the number of people entering the work force. True, the job numbers for June and July were revised upward, but they were still weak, and much lower than August's. There was a tiny reduction in the unemployment rate - because the work force became smaller, not because of job creation.One is a bit surprised that paragraph passed editorial scrutiny. How, I'd ask, can the economy simultaneously "barely...keep up with the number of people entering the work force" even as "the work force became smaller"?
Which is it? Is the work force increasing in size by something close to 144,000 per month, or is it becoming smaller?
Even aside from the cognitive dissonance such a contradiction must create, there are the simple facts, and they demand a correction from the New York Times, whether they want to argue the short view (we meant last month alone!) or the longer view (we meant the average growth in the work force!).
In the former instance, there simply was no "growth in the labor force" as the New York Times article alleges. In the latter.....well, 144,000 is clearly quite a bit larger than 89,022.
There is a second "partial truth" worth pointing out from the New York Times editorial.
Even with a slight acceleration in August, average hourly wages for the month are not likely to keep up with inflation (that number comes out in mid-September). As has been the case throughout the current economic recovery, wages are held down by the slow pace of job creation and, to a lesser extent, by the mainly service-oriented jobs available.Note, please, that this story focuses on "wages", rather than compensation. Why? Well, probably because, if they focused on total compensation, their storyline would be....complicated. It would introduce a bit of nuance. And, in an editorial decrying the "current low level of the economic debate"...well, that appears to be a bridge too far.
So, here's the story on total compensation, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Notice anything? For example, the fact that current total compensation is higher than....well, anything between 1994-2000?
So, maybe things aren't quite as dismal as the New York Times would have us believe. And, unfortunately, no one is served by the current low level of the economic debate....in the pages of the New York Times.
UPDATE: Econopundit fisks the thing, noting "What you don't know -- and what we're sure as heck not going to tell you -- is most economists agree the numbers we're talking about are just part of the normal business cycle."
... into the minds of those on the left following the RNC. Writer Farai Chideya sends a "Letter from New York" to the SFGate describing a gathering she had to watch the Republican's do their thing:
On Monday night, the Republicans were having their party, so I had mine. I gathered friends -- New Yorkers, San Franciscans and one stray Angelino --
for cocktails, snacks and a chance to observe the political system from the relative safety of a Manhattan living room. We put boring speeches on mute, but jacked up the sound when John McCain and Rudy Giuliani took the stage.
The guests seem stunned by, but impressed with, the ability of the Bush campaign to take people who have never shown much personal or ideological affinity for President Bush (and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would fall among these) and turn them into Zombies-for-Bush.
Near the end of the night's broadcast, I took a poll. How many people thought Kerry was going to win?
The room contained liberal and Democratic voters of different races, national origins, incomes, professions and generations. Not a single solitary one raised a hand.
Just as you can talk an economy down, the same can easily happen to a campaign. Remember, this was before the TIME and Newsweek polls were published. Little vignettes like this say to me that Kerry support is pretty soft among much of the left. It means that not only does he have to woo undecided voters, but it appears that he's going to have to work to solidify his base again.
Which means he has to more Howard Deanish to his base and more John McCainish to the undecideds and moderates.
Quite a trick if he can pull it off.
Wm Dyer at Beldar Blog has a much stronger stomach than I have. He's begun reading the Boston Globe book "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best". He's barely into the introductin (pg xxvii) when he comes across this:
Do these actions reflect the conflicts of a powerful intellect, of a man who appreciates nuance in policy and deeds but sometimes has trouble translating it to a mass audience? Do his statements and votes on military force reflect the natural caution of a man who was severely wounded in combat, who watched men under his command die, who lost five of his best friends in a war that ended in U.S. withdrawal? ...[emphasis mine]
And these are the people "who know him best?"
Now that quote may be a little hyperbolic, but, per the article, it was the assessment of a "Democratic strategist" on the release of the TIME poll.
As Debra Orin in the NY Post relates:
Democrats were reaching for the panic button yesterday amid growing fears that John Kerry is blowing the 2004 race — while President Bush basked in the glow of a successful New York convention.
"The smell of panic is in the air," said a veteran Democratic strategist as Time magazine reported that Bush has suddenly built an 11-point lead over Kerry.
Democratic angst was fueled by Kerry's decision to hold a shrill, post-midnight rally right after Bush's well-received convention speech and blast the wartime commander in chief as "unfit to lead."
"It looked reactionary and panicky and angry — not confident. That's not presidential," said a senior Democrat.
Others said Kerry is starting to look as tone-deaf as 1988 Massachusetts loser Michael Dukakis.
The stunning turnaround began after anti-Kerry Vietnam vets went on the air with TV attack ads noting how Kerry once painted fellow vets as war criminals.
Any honest person would have to admit, an 11 to 13 point bounce probably did invoke a little panic over in Kerryland since everyone, and I mean everyone (well except me), was convinced there just weren't enough uncommitted voters to give anyone a bounce. Remember?
So what the hell happened?
Well first of all the pundits, pontificators and political experts were wrong. Like I've mentioned before, people really don't start paying attention until, well, right about now. And even now you're probably only talking 80 to 85% of those who'll vote. The other 15 - 20% will begin paying more attention around the time of the debates.
Either way, a bit of panic on the Kerry side may be warranted.
A few thoughts and possibilities.
A) Kerry's support has always been soft. It may not have been "Anybody But Bush". It may have been "Anybody But Bush, Except For That Guy ... Eewww". Now that America is getting a look at Kerry, Bush doesn't seem so bad. Obviously the screaming, hissing, snapping, and snarling 10% who are true Bush haters don't count ... ABB works for them. But then they'd vote for any Democrat anyway.
B) Based on the top issue in the polls, terrorism and homeland security, the threat is well recognized and important to voters. People have a tendency when threatened to go with what they know, instead of changing horses in midstream. As Bush said, voters know where he stands on this issue and apparently, for a great many of them, that stand works for them.
C) August was an awful month for Kerry. Even his campaign admitted that. Questions about his medals, questions about his service in Vietnam, Swift Boat Vets, questions about his anti-war activites. And they haven't even gotten to his Senate record yet. Kerry's answer to all of this? Threatened lawsuits, intimidation tactics, lawyer letters, Dem talking heads (Carville, Davis, Matthews) making screaming fools of themselves. Not the image and or activites which are likely to impress undecided voters.
D) Voters are taking stock in the intangibles - leadership, trust, honesty, values and likability - and Kerry is coming out on the short end of the stick. In the last 20 years his leadership has virtually been zero, he's just not a very likeable person, and his honesty and trust have been damaged by his apparent flip flopping on issues. Voting against the $87 billion for the troops didn't help either. Not a good sign for Kerry.
E) Vietnam has mortally wounded him. He may get another Purple Heart if this keeps up. I caught Democrat strategist Pat Caudell on Fox last night and he kept saying "why is this man still talking about Vietnam?! He should have put that behind him and moved on. Its a loser for him. Start talking about the issues." The Republican strategist just sat there with a smug smile. Kerry had two great chances to put that behind him at the VFW and American Legion conventions. Apologize for your anti-war past and make nice with your "band of brothers" who you once called "irrelevant". Instead he chose to lecture and attack. Guess who still have no use for him? Yup, the VFW, American Legion and most of the veteran's community. Dumb politics based on false pride.
Add this little thursday night screech fest and September looks no better than August for Kerry.
Yup, I guess if you're honest, you can catch a little whiff of panic in the air.
This weekend we'll be treated to a "60 Minutes" segment about former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes and how he helped young George Bush secure a slot in the "Champagne Unit" of the Texas Air National Guard. The unit was refered to as such because it contained so many son's of prominent Texans.
But first let's dial up the "Way Back Machine" and revisit recent history.
Remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Remember a guy named Bob Perry? Bob Perry is the guy who gave the SBVT $200,000 and supposedly had some sort of connection with Karl Rove ... right? How could we forget this nifty diagram in the NYT?
It was enough, declared the main stream media, to brand the SBVT as smear mongers funded by the Republicans. And because it was a Republican smear, they sniffed, we can ignore it as just more dirty politics. Bob Perry's supposed acquaintence with Karl Rove as well as the money donated to the SBVT proved enough, in terms of Republican connections to discredit the SBVT in the eyes of the MSM.
Well, if that's the conclusion it has reached about the SBVT, it would have to reach the same conclusion for Ben Barnes if it could be shown that Ben Barnes had connections to the Kerry campaign, wouldn't you say?
Take a gander. Third name down.
Makes Bob Perry look like a piker, doesn't it? And his contributions aren't to a 527.
One wonders what conclusion the MSM will draw from "60 Minutes" this week with this in evidence?
By the way ... given the evidence, I don't question Ben Barnes timing at all. But I do question "60 Minutes" journalistic integrity.
UPDATE: More on Ben Barnes here (hat tip to VRWC Jedi for link).
UPDATE II (JON): So far, we're hearing one side of the story from Barnes--a side he's alleged before. But let's be very clear about what the allegation is. As the Washington Post reported in 1999...
But Ben Barnes, who later was lieutenant governor, said the request for his help came from a Bush family friend – not Bush or his father, who then was a congressman.
... [Barnes] lawyer issued a written statement saying Barnes had been contacted by the now-deceased Sidney Adger, a Houston oilman and friend of the elder Bush.
"Mr. Barnes was contacted by Sid Adger and asked to recommend George W. Bush for a pilot position with the Air National Guard. Barnes called Gen. (James) Rose (Texas Air Guard commander) and did so," the statement said.
"Neither Congressman Bush nor any other member of the Bush family asked Barnes' help. Barnes has no knowledge that Governor Bush or President Bush knew of Barnes' recommendation," the statement said.
Well, if Barnes claims it did, he's the only one. According to the Dallas Morning News
Records provided to The News by Tom Hail, a historian for the Texas Air National Guard, show that the unit Mr. Bush signed up for was not filled. In mid-1968, the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, based in Houston, had 156 openings among its authorized staff of 925 military personnel.My apologies for the FreeRepublic link, but it's the only place with the full story. I've checked around, and I'm comfortable with the accuracy of the story. It's listed as "Dallas Morning News | July 4, 1999 | Pete Slover, George Kuempel", so skeptic should be able to check it, perhaps on Lexis-Nexis. Further, a google-search for ["Pete Slover" "George Kuempel" + Bush] turns up all manner of lefty sites who apparently found the article credible enough to cite in critiques of Bush's record....though, perhaps due to the exculpatory evidence, many don't see fit to link, or reproduce it.
Of those, 26 openings were for officer slots, such as that filled by Mr. Bush, and 130 were for enlisted men and women. Also, several former Air Force pilots who served in the unit said that they were recruited from elsewhere to fly for the Texas Guard.
Officers who supervised Mr. Bush and approved his admission to the Guard said they were never contacted by anyone on Mr. Bush's behalf.
"He didn't have any strings pulled, because there weren't any strings to pull," said Leroy Thompson of Brownwood, who commanded the squadron that kept the waiting list for the guard at Ellington Air Force Base. "Our practices were under incredible scrutiny then. It was a very ticklish time."
According to several former officers, the openings in the unit were filled from a waiting list kept in the base safe of Rufus G. Martin, then an Air National Guard personnel officer.
In a recent interview, Mr. Martin of San Antonio said the list was kept on computer and in a bound volume, which was periodically inspected by outside agencies to make sure the list was kept properly.
Mr. Bush said he sought the Guard position on his own, before graduating from Yale University in 1968. He personally met with Col. Walter B. Staudt, commander of the 147th group.
In an interview, Mr. Bush said he walked into Col. Staudt's Houston office and told him he wanted to be a fighter pilot.
"He told me they were looking for pilots," Mr. Bush said. He said he was told that there were five or six flying slots available, and he got one of them.
While Guard slots generally were coveted, pilot positions required superior education, physical fitness and the willingness to spend more than a year in full-time training.
"If somebody like that came along, you'd snatch them up," said the former commander, who retired as a general. "He took no advantage. It wouldn't have made any difference whether his daddy was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Bobby Hodges, the group's operations officer, and others familiar with Guard rules said Mr. Bush made it to the top of the short list of candidates who could pass both the written officer test and a rigorous flight physical to qualify for the three to four annual pilot training "quotas" allotted to the unit.
Mr. Hodges and Gen. Staudt are the two surviving members of the military panel that reviewed and approved Mr. Bush's officer commission.
Most of those wanting to get into the Guard at that time, they said, didn't want to put in the full year of active service that was required to become a pilot.
And when the LA Times spoke to then-Col. Staudt....
Bush's application, as well as his commission, were handled by then-Col. Walter B. "Buck" Staudt, who said, "Nobody did anything for him…. There was no … influence on his behalf. Neither his daddy nor anybody else got him into the Guard." Staudt, who retired in 1972 as a brigadier general, said Bush was enrolled quickly because there was a demand for pilot candidates.
One wonders whether 60 Minutes will ask anybody involved in that chain of events beyond Ben Barnes?
UPDATE III (McQ): More on Barne's contributions thru "Open Secrets".
Ann Althouse responds to Kerry's Midnight Speech.
"For the past week, they have attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief ... Well, here is my answer to them ... I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could've and who misled America into Iraq."
So, your big answer, after all of these attacks, is that you somehow "will not have" any questions. I simply will not have it. You hear that? He does not want to be questioned. He went to Vietnam, and therefore, he simply will not have any questions about whether he has the qualifications to be President. Come on, that's a roar, isn't it?
And by the way, any man who didn't volunteer to go to Vietnam who was of age at the time--all you Baby Boomer men who had student deferments or even if you served in the National Guard, I mean were in the National Guard--you were all refusing to serve.
Now, I'm beginning to wonder if I was coward for not serving in Vietnam. I mean, I was only 4 years old when John Kerry was there, but still...
Links to, and excerpts of, our most valuable posts from the past week. If you've missed anything--and we do write a lot, so it's understandable--this is the place to catch up.
As always, of course, don't forget the right-hand sidebar. Top to bottom, frequently updated good stuff from the media and the 'sphere.
* "Operation RAW" deal (McQ) - A look at the poisonous rhetoric of "Operation Raw"--with which John Kerry was involved--which slandered far more than "just a few soldiers".
* Evil Bush (Dale Franks) - Power corrupts. Absolute power corrups absolutely. Lack of power just makes people crazy.
* Energy and Progress (Jon Henke) - Promising developments in the world of alternative energies. (plus, whatever happened to Cold Fusion!)
* What IS the point of the Kerry campaign? (McQ) - He's the perfect "anybody but Bush" candidate, because there's just not a whole hell of a lot else to recommend him.
* Kill them all, each and every one (McQ) - The war on terrorism can only be won proactively.
* Liveblogging RepubliCon '04 (Dale Franks) - Running commentary on the most interesting night from either convention.
* The VVAW and Radio Hanoi (McQ) - A peek behind the Radio Hanoi curtain. (hint: they're just "on the other side", too)
* Who invited Howard Dean? (Jon Henke) - Hypocrisy abounds as the Republicans learn demagoguery, and Democrats take a break from comparing the Bush administration to Nazi Germany so they can act all offended about said demagoguery.
* Undecided Veterans may be key to win in November (McQ) -Kerry's "Band of Brothers"--the veteran vote--may not be standing beside him come November. And Kerry has nobody but John Kerry to blame.
* Zell's Tirade (and mine) (Dale Franks) - "Naturally, the Left is howling that Zell was "demogogic and shrill". Well, yes, there was one point at which Mr. Miller crossed the line into demagogy. But, after four years of stolen elections, "Bushitler", blood for oil, Bush AWOL, and all the rest of it, you know what?
I don't care."
* How LOW can Cleland go? (McQ) - Max Cleland--pulling statistics out of his ass--politicizes suicide. Charming fellow, isn't he?
* The Petulant Mr. Kerry (Dale Franks) - John Kerry brings out the old "don't question my patriotism, I served!" chestnut. Which is a bit odd, considering the things (atrocities) in which he claimed to participate in Vietnam.
* Snippets from the Yapping Class (McQ) - "A review of some interesting snippets in various articles and columns about Bush, Kerry and the election."
* And I heard the number of those who were employed... (Jon Henke) - It's not a great jobs report, but it's also not as bad as some people try to make it. (though, I'm disappointed that nobody seemed to get the obscure reference in the title)
* For those of you still enamored with Government Health Care (McQ) - Health care in Canada breaks down, but continues to be "free". I wonder if there might be a connection?
* This is what we call a "bounce" (Dale Franks) - Bush opens up an 11-point lead on Kerry, so it's obviously time for Kerry supporters to tell us how optimistic they are.
* Inside the TIME Poll (McQ) - The Time poll, how it breaks down, what it means, and what it doesn't mean...
* Mean-spirited haters (Dale Franks) - Democrats don't seem to want Kerry's record examined too closely. "One wonders if they would be so keen to push such an unfair idea if they had a stronger candidate than Mr. Kerry."
An example of the fury the terrorists spawned with the attack on the Russian school.
Furious relatives of Russian school hostages on Saturday lynched one of the terrorists involved in the three-day bloody siege in Beslan in southern Russia.
Twenty six terrorists were killed by security forces in a gunbattle while three were detained. Another terrorist, while being taken to a police station, was snatched away by relatives of the hostages and lynched, Federal Security Board chief in North Ossetia Valery Andreyev said.
Maybe its just me, but I can't muster even the first bit of outrage over the lynching.
In Ohio on Friday, John Kerry summed up Bush's convention speech in four words:
"All hat, no cattle."
I'd suggest that perhaps that perhaps Kerry's entire campaign can be summed up in four words as well:
"All hat, no Cambodia"
Not original. Shamelessly stolen.
Again the disclaimer: Its early.
Immediately following the Republican National Convention in New York, the latest Newsweek Poll shows that, in a two-way presidential trial heat, the Bush/Cheney ticket would win over a Kerry/Edwards ticket by 54 percent vs. 43 percent among registered voters. In a three-way trial heat, including Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader, the Bush/Cheney ticket would still win 52 percent to 41 percent for Kerry/Edwards and 3 percent for Nader/Camejo among registered voters. That represents a 13-point margin bounce for Bush/Cheney since an August 5-10 poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the Pew Research Center.
So Newsweek is claiming a 13 point bounce.
And even though more Americans (49%) say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. at this time (43% are satisfied), President George W. Bush's approval rating has gone up to 52 percent, a seven-point increase since the last Newsweek Poll (July 29-30), and the first time it's topped 50 percent since January. Also 53 percent of registered voters say the would like to see President Bush re-elected to another term. The last time a majority of Americans wanted to see the president re-elected was May 2003.
Bush up on job approval and has a slight majority who want him re-elected.
In comparing the two presidential candidates, more registered voters think President Bush has strong leadership qualities than Kerry (65% vs. 47%), is more honest and ethical (62% vs. 47%), says what he believes and not just what people want to hear (66% vs. 42%), would trust him to make the right decisions during an international crisis (57% vs. 44%), shares their values (54% vs. 42%), and is personally likeable (67% vs. 59%).
In all cases, leadership, honesty, trust, values, likability, Bush takes a strong lead.
In addition, more registered voters think President Bush would do a better job than Sen. Kerry on various issues: terrorism and homeland security (60% vs. 32%), the situation in Iraq (55% vs. 37%), foreign policy (54% vs. 38%), taxes (52% vs. 38%), economy (49% vs. 43%), education (48% vs. 42%), and gay marriage (44% vs. 36%). More people say Sen. Kerry would do a better job than President Bush on healthcare, including Medicare (45% vs. 43%) and the environment (50% vs. 36%).
Bush thumps Kerry on terrorism, homeland security, Iraq, foreign policy, and taxes. He has a good lead in education, gay marriage and the economy. Kerry's holds a slim lead on healthcare and a large lead on the environment.
Hmmm .... not good news for Kerry.
Two months before the election, more registered voters (28%) say terrorism and homeland security is the most important issue in determining their vote. Twenty-one percent say it's the economy, 13 percent say healthcare and only 11 percent say the situation in Iraq. On that subject, a majority of registered voters (55%) think that the U.S. did the right thing in talking military action in Iraq, though 50 percent say the war has not made Americans safer from terrorism (45% think it has). And, among registered voters, 44 percent think Saddam Hussein's regime was not directly involved in 9-11 (42% say it was).
The top issues as identified by those polled included Terrorism/Homeland security (28%), economy (21%), healthcare (13%), Iraq (11%)
In all but healthcare, Bush holds a lead. If you recal the TIME poll, those polled there identified the top issues as:
25% of registered voters cited the economy as the top issue, followed by 24% who cited the war on terrorism as the top issue. The situation in Iraq was rated the top issue by 17% of registered voters, moral values issues such as gay marriage and abortion were the top issue for 16% of respondents, and health care was the most important issue for 11% of respondents.
So the two polls track pretty closely with terrorism/homeland secuirty and the economy swapping the top spots in the Newsweek poll.
As to the presidential candidates' military service, though 75 percent of registered voters say what they've seen or heard about Bush's military service will not have much effect on their vote, and 62 percent say the same about Kerry's military service in Vietnam, 75 percent of registered voters have seen or heard about the recent TV Ads sponsored by a veterans' group questioning Kerry's military record. And 21 percent say those ads are generally accurate. Thirty-nine percent say they are misleading or distorted. Only 25 percent are not aware of those ads. Twenty-seven percent of registered voters think the Bush/Cheney campaign is behind the ads, while 38 percent think they were produced independently. (However, 26 percent of military households who have seen or heard about John Kerry's military record say they are less likely to vote for him).
Note the last line. Unless he wants to increase this percentage, Kerry needs to invoke the rule of holes: when you're in one quit digging. My guess is he won't.
And as an interesting preview of possible things to come?
Looking ahead to the next presidential campaign, a majority of registered voters (50%) said they would like to see former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani run for president in 2008 (65% of Republicans), followed by Arizona Sen. John McCain (48%, 47% of Republicans), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (22%, 30% of Republicans), if the Constitution were changed to allow foreign-born U.S. citizens to run.
Bottom line: Newsweek shows more of a bounce than TIME because it was concluded the day after the convention, however it tracks very closely with the TIME poll, which give the numbers and percentages some credibility and show that John Kerry has 2 months to get out of the hole.
As we're all aware George Bush gave an acceptance speech on Thursday night and John Kerry pitched a fit an hour later.
But let Mark Steyn describe it:
At any rate, less than 60 minutes after President Bush gave a sober, graceful, droll and moving address, Kerry decided to hit back. In the midnight hour, he climbed out of his political coffin, and before his thousands of aides could grab the garlic from Teresa's kitchen and start waving it at him, he found himself in front of an audience and started giving a speech. As in Vietnam, he was in no mood to take prisoners: ''I have five words for Americans,'' he thundered. ''This is your wake up call!''
Is that five words? Or is it six? Well, it's all very nuanced, according to whether you hyphenate the ''wake-up.'' Maybe he should have said, ''I have four words plus a common hyphenated expression for Americans.'' I'd suggest the rewrite to him personally, but I don't want him to stare huffily at me and drone, "How dare you attack my patriotism."
Is the "patriotism" gig wearing a little thin? Since when is questioning a man's record in the Senate questioning his "patriotism?" Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't recall a single speaker at the RNC who questioned anything but Kerry's record.
And what does Kerry do? Question a former Secretary of Defense and sitting Vice President about "service" in a war he spent all of 4 months in (I'm sorry folks but I just can't find it in myself to credit him with "two tours" when one of those supposed tours was 5 weeks sitting by an aircraft carrier at Yankee Station with coast of Vietnam completely out of sight). Would anyone say FDR didn't serve during WWII? Look, when you're Secretary of Defense, you are the top guy in the military. But for Kerry, the only "service" which counts is his in Vietnam.
There were USO shows which stayed longer in Vietnam than Kerry did.
What we're seeing right now are indicators of serious problems in the Kerry campaign. As the Washington Post reported a few days ago:
Coming off what even his aides acknowledge has been a bad month for the candidate, Kerry is scrambling to regain momentum -- sharpening his critique of Bush's policies and shaking up his communications team to be more responsive to attacks on the Democrat and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.).
Thursday night was apparently the face of the new and improved Kerry campaign. To me it seemed more like the Paul Wellstone memorial or the Howard Dean scream.
It was pitiful.
So the man who would be president decides to pull a classless stunt after the President's acceptance speech and this is where he goes with it?
''For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve.''
Hate to break it to him but you bet he's going to have his commitment to defense questioned as it does impact on whether he'd be a fit commander in chief. And its going to be questioned through his record. The record he asked us to judge him by on his thursday night ... the one on which his opponent gracefully kept silent.
So what was this thursday night Kerry gig? Perhaps it is Kerry finally doing what he wanted to do all along:
There is disagreement inside the campaign over who is to blame for the belated response to the attacks on the Kerry's war service. Kerry has told some Democratic friends he wanted to strike back hard weeks ago, but several advisers talked him out of it because polls and focus groups showed a negative response could backfire. Yet one aide said Kerry privately conceded that he, like most of his top staff, miscalculated the impact of the attacks by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the influence of 24-hour cable news in shaping public opinion, and thought the controversy would blow over. One Kerry friend said the candidate focuses on more traditional news outlets and lacks a sophisticated understanding of modern media. "You would think he would have recognized this five years ago," the friend said.
But with all things political, timing is the key. And the time to do this has passed. While Bush may have said he "miscalculated" concerning the aftermath of the war in Iraq, it appears that Kerry's decision to attack now is a miscalculation as well. Just as the impact Swift boat accusations are beginning subside, Kerry wants to address them?
Not a particularly smart move. The thursday Kerry performance had him come off as petulent, whiny and thin-skinned. As Steyn says:
Ah, yes. As usual, he has four words for Americans: I served in Vietnam. Or five words if you spell it Viet Nam.
So we have one candidate running on a platform of ambitious reforms for an ''ownership society'' at home and a pledge to hunt down America's enemies abroad. And we have another candidate running on the platform that no one has the right to say anything mean about him.
And for this the senator broke the eminently civilized tradition that each candidate lets the other guy have his convention week to himself? Maybe they need to start scheduling those Kerry campaign shakeups twice a week.
Its almost as if Kerry doesn't understand how politics at a national level are played. It ain't bean bag, Senator.
There was an old joke back in the Cold War:
Proud American to Russian guy: ''In my country every one of us has the right to criticize our president.''
Russian guy: ''Same here. In my country every one of us has the right to criticize your president.''
That seems to be the way John Kerry likes it. Americans should be free to call Bush a moron, a liar, a fraud, a deserter, an agent of the House of Saud, a mass murderer, a mass rapist (according to the speaker at a National Organization for Women rally last week) and the new Hitler (according to just about everyone). But how dare anyone be so impertinent as to insult John Kerry! No one has the right to insult Kerry, except possibly Teresa, and only on the day she gives him his allowance.
Bush has shrugged off the vicious attacks by the left because he understands that unfortunately it is part and parcel of the national political scene. It comes with the territory. Kerry seems not to have figured that out even yet. But there's more to it than that.
Several distinguished analysts have suggested that the best rationale for a Kerry presidency is that it would be a ''return to normalcy'' -- a quiet life after the epic pages of history George W. Bush has been writing these last three years. Even if a ''return to normalcy'' were an option, I doubt whether John Kerry would qualify. As we saw in those two Thursday speeches, Bush takes the war seriously but he doesn't take himself seriously -- self-deprecating jokes are obligatory these days, but try to imagine Kerry doing the equivalent of Bush's gags about mangled English and swaggering. The president is comfortable in his own skin, which is why he shrugs off the Hitler stuff. By contrast, Kerry doesn't take the war seriously because he's so busy taking himself seriously. If ''return to normalcy'' means four years of a grimly humorless, touchy, self-regarding Kerry presidency, I'll take the war.
That's surely why Kerry is running his kamikaze kandidacy on biography rather than any grand themes. Senator Kerrikaze is running for president because he thinks he should be president -- who needs a platform? One of the most revealing aspects of the campaign this last week were the interviews given by his various surrogates. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chairman, went on Hugh Hewitt's radio show and was asked about the swift boat veterans' ads, and he laughed and blustered and stalled and floundered. That sounded weird. This thing's been going on a month now, and the Kerry campaign still hasn't come up with a form of words to deflect questions about it. If they had an agreed spin, McAuliffe and Co. would be out using it. But the seared senator feels it's lese majeste even to question him. He can talk about Vietnam 24/7, but nobody else is allowed to bring it up.
As Steyn aptly points out, George Bush is very comfortable being George Bush. But Senator John Kerry is not comfortable being Senator John Kerry. Kerry knows, in a time of war, that his Senate record won't compare well to that of a war time president. So he chooses instead to construct a facade of war hero turned politician as the way to negate Bush's advantage. As is obvious to all but Kerry apparently, its not working. The TIME poll released yesterday puts an obvious exclamation point into the heart of Kerry's theory.
But having placed himself in this box, he has no where else to go. So he has to grit his teeth and push on. What it is creating is a brittle, shrill and petulent candidate who takes offense at every legitmate attack and instead of answering the charge, attempts to characterize it as an attack on his patriotism.
Steyn points out that, unfortunately for Kerry, that's not the way this all works:
Sorry, man, that's not the way it works. And if he thinks it does, he's even further removed from the realities of democratic politics than he was from the interior of Cambodia. Instead of those military records the swift boat vets are calling for, I'd be more interested in seeing his medical ones.
Indignation as a result of over-the-top rhetoric is one thing. But indignation over legitimate political questions is simply silly. More importantly, it plays poorly among voters.
Kerry obviously wants to avoid serious discussion of his record. He's fond of saying that Bush doesn't want "to run on his record, he wants to run away from it". Ironically the line seems to fit him much better than Bush.
It also explains his almost knee-jerk reaction to any criticism as an attack on his patriotism.
What he needs to quit this whiny nonsense about patriotism and answer legitimate questions about his record. If he even hopes to succeed he needs to get his story out there. And do so quickly. Because while he whines about "patriotism", the Repulicans are telling the story about Kerry's Senate record their way.
I'm not sure he understands this, but when he gets to the debates, viewers and voters aren't going to buy the false indignation. They're going to demand he answer the questions.
Ralph Peters responds to the Massacre in Beslan.
Make no mistake: No blame attaches to the Russians for the massacre at that school. The guilt is entirely upon the Islamic extremists who have led the religion they claim to cherish into the realms of nightmare.
There will be repercussions. Having suffered the hijacking and destruction of two passenger jets, a deadly bombing at a Moscow subway station and a massacre in a primary school all in less than two weeks, the Kremlin will have learned to rue the day it imagined that there was anything to gain by opposing American efforts against terrorists, whether Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.
As they inevitably do, the terrorists reminded the world of their heartless barbarism. Even if France manages to beg the release of its kidnapped journalists in Iraq, it has begun to sense its vulnerability. And all Europeans with a vestige of sense will recognize that the school seizure in Russia could easily repeat itself in Languedoc or Umbria, Bavaria or Kent.
An attack on children is an attack on all of humanity.
No matter what differences Western states discover to divide them, the terrorists will bring us together in the end. Their atrocities expose all wishful thinking for what it is.
Children. Shooting children in the back with automatic rifles. Because, after all, they aren't Muslims, so God will reward you for it. This is the face of our enemy: Men who will shoot children in the back, and kill as many of them as possible to make their point.
Words fail me.
Once again, the perpetually affronted have found a new source of outrage.
Ellis Hennican has broken open the central conspiracy of RepubliCon '04: The secret plan to link George W. Bush to Jesus.
Sadly, the special design of the convention podium didn't bridge these gaps in political compassion. Or should I say the convention pulpit? The lines have grown a little vague at the Garden this week, and I'm talking carpentry here - not just philosophy.
Several keen-eyed observers in the hall couldn't help but notice what appeared to be two clear crosses in the wood design of the podium.
Was that a hidden message, linking Bush and Jesus?
Was it a subliminal sop to the Religious Right?
Or was it a mere art-deco design flourish, more a tribute to the Empire State Building than to Christianity?
Convention organizers brushed aside such queries as far-fetched.
"A Rorschach test," scoffed one Republican spokesman. "Sometimes," said another, "a cigar is just a cigar."
But eyes did not deceive easily - on either side of the political aisle.
And Henican isn't the only one. The National Jewish Democratic Council is outraged:
"It is the very height of insensitivity for the Republican Party to feature a cross at the center of the podium of this convention, for the duration of the opening night of the convention," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "This wooden cross must be at least three feet tall, and it sends a signal of exclusivity loudly and clearly."
Well, here's the podium:
There, you you see the blatant Christian imagery? Do you see the offensive symbol of persecution and exclusivity?
Or do you, perhaps, see evidence of the Democrats' spiraling descent into madness?
Richard Cohen's opinion column for the Washington Post pretty much encapsulates the mainstream medias characterization of the RepubliCon. It was, according to him, just a festival of lies and hatred.
The constant distortion of John Kerry's record, a drizzle of deceit that eventually soaks the listener in a fat, wet lie, is not to be admired...
What's more, they were followed by a string of misrepresentations spit from the mouth of Zell Miller, as mad an eruption of hate as I have witnessed in politics. Some time back, Kerry must have dissed Miller. This was personal.
The Bush campaign knows what it is doing...It is infused with such a sense of righteousness that, like the Crusaders of old, it can commit atrocity after atrocity on the way to Jerusalem. All that matters is the goal. God understands...
The GOP convention was successful because it was part of the overall Republican campaign. It was a loathsome affair, suffused with lies and anger...Speaker after speaker stomped on Kerry because, really, he had made himself the entirety of the Democratic campaign.
I'm wondering if he was watching the same convention I was. I saw a convention that had a few rhetorical excesses, but no personal attacks or hatred. One gets tired of repeating oneself, but, while I heard plenty of criticisms of Mr. Kerry's record in the senate, his positions on the issues, or his public statements, personal criticisms of Mr. Kerry were remarkably muted. Mr. Cohen, of course, gives no examples of this hatred. But he knows it was expressed, so, presumably, we must take his word for it.
It's perfectly acceptable for Mr. Kerry to allege that the president mislead us into war in Iraq. Just normal political discourse, you see. But to criticize Mr. Kerry, well, that's just hateful. Mr. Bush has been derided as a dunce, an avatar of fascism, a subverter of the constitution, and worse. Yet strong criticism of Mr. Kerry's public life can't be allowed.
Is there anything for which Mr. Kerry can be criticized? I don't ask to be snarky, I am honestly wondering. It almost seems as if any criticism of Mr. Kerry, for any reason, is beyond the pale. It's as if no statement Mr. Kerry has ever made, no senate vote ever recorded, no policy stance he's ever held can be criticized.
Most people, of course, didn't watch the convention, so they have no idea what happened there. They will depend on the characterizations made by people like Mr. Cohen, and of course, what they will hear is that the Republicans were hateful, and mean. One suspects that Mr. Cohen knows that very well, too.
Another obvious rejoinder to why "speaker after speaker stomped on Kerry" is because he is the actual candidate against which Mr. Bush is running. He is not some innocent bystander against whom the Republicans harbor some inexplicable animus. He is the direct opponent of Mr. Bush. Who else would the Republicans speak out against? He is the person the Republicans have to defeat. Mr. Kerry was certainly not reticent about speaking out against Mr. Bush during his nomination speech. Mr. Cohen's argument is, quite simply, not just nonsense, it is nonsense on stilts.
Kerry, triumphant and accepting the nomination with a smart (but silly) salute, has been disparaged as a phony who lied about his combat record and then came home from war to smear his buddies.
This is a Category Five lie, one so immense and brazen it almost compels you to wonder whether there is an element of truth to it. It is the functional equivalent of the question that's withdrawn in court: Sorry, your honor. Bush virtually said the allegations were not true, but he has not repudiated them -- and so, in the minds of the jury, they stand.
If Mr. Cohen thinks Kerry's salute was smart, then he obviously knows very little about military service. Mr. Kerry's salute was lazy and improper. But that's just a quibble. But, there are some real problems with Mr. Cohen's argument here.
First, it's framed in a way that conflates the Swiftvets' accusations with an act of the Bush Campaign. Because Mr. Bush won't explicitly repudiate them, it's his fault that they have been effective. I might not mind that argument if Mr. Kerry would be equally forthright in denouncing the MoveOn.Org ads that compared Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler. Or the cute T-shirts with big swastikas labeled "Vote Republican". Or if he didn't lend credence to the Bush Lied, people Died blood libel by accusing the president of "misleading the nation into war". Apparently, Mr. Kerry has no responsibility for the actions of people allied with him, but Mr. Bush does. This is a double standard, of course, but I suppose it should be one we're used to by now.
Second, it's not a "Category Five lie". At the very least, the argument that Mr. Kerry slandered his fellow Vietnam veterans can be plausibly made. He did, in fact, relate to the Congress of the United States that our soldiers in Vietnam routinely committed atrocities with the full knowledge and acquiescence of all levels of command. The North Vietnamese certainly used that for propaganda purposes, and to taunt our POWs in Hanoi as proof of American war crimes. Moreover, since a number of the "Winter Soldiers", whose tales of atrocities Mr. Kerry so earnestly related had not served in Vietnam, and in fact, had never even been soldiers, a prima facie case can certainly be made that it was slanderous.
Next, no one forced Mr. Kerry to make his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign. That was his choice. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best choice for Mr. Kerry, who began his career in politics by vehemently opposing the war he now claims to be so proud of fighting. Surely he must have known that, by making his Vietnam service so central to his campaign that it would prompt questions about his activities with the VVAW, or his Senate testimony. Or even worse, why, as news reports have indicated, Mr. Kerry, while still an officer in the naval reserve, traveled to Paris to meet representatives of the North Vietnamese government during the war. Those are al valid questions, and Mr. Kerry invited them by touting his Vietnam service as a qualification for the presidency. If he wishes to present it as a qualification, then questions about it are fair game. That is, after all, how we judge the value of one's qualifications for office.
Cohen, as well as his mainstream media compatriots, is arguing for what is essentially a loaded deck against Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry cannot be strongly criticized, yet Mr. Kerry and his surrogates are allowed to spout any nonsense about Mr. Bush that they desire. The logical outcome of this would be a campaign where Mr. Kerry would be allowed to harshly criticize Mr. Bush and his performance, while Mr. Bush would have to refrain from any serious examination of Mr. Kerry's public life.
One wonders if they would be so keen to push such an unfair idea if they had a stronger candidate than Mr. Kerry.
The answer is no despite the fact that AP reported it that way.
If you like to hear it for yourself, the audio is here.
MKultra, plug in your earphones.
Disclaimer: I'm not big on gross poll numbers, especially this early in a campaign. But I do think they're useful to look at for trends. That's why the specifics of the poll are usually more interesting to me than the gross numbers. Depending on the specifics, those gross numbers can be fairly solid or pretty soft.
The specifics of this poll are as follows:
25% of registered voters cited the economy as the top issue, followed by 24% who cited the war on terrorism as the top issue. The situation in Iraq was rated the top issue by 17% of registered voters, moral values issues such as gay marriage and abortion were the top issue for 16% of respondents, and health care was the most important issue for 11% of respondents.
TOP ISSUE - Economy: 25%
1) 47% trust President Bush more to handle the economy, while 45% trust Kerry.
2) Survey respondents were split on the President’s handling of the economy. Almost half (48%) said the approved of Bush’s handling of the economy, while 48% said the disapproved.
TOP ISSUE - War on Terrorism: 24%
1) 57% trust Bush to handle the war on terrorism, while 36% trust Kerry.
2) Almost two thirds (59%) said they approve of how President Bush is handling the war on terrorism, while 38% disapprove. Last week’s TIME poll found 55% approved of Bush’s handling of the war on terrorism, while 40% disapproved.
TOP ISSUE - Iraq - 17%
1) 53% trust Bush to handle the situation in Iraq, while 41% trust Kerry.
2) Half (50%) of those surveyed approve of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 46% disapprove. In last week’s TIME poll, 48% approved of the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq and 48% disapproved.
3) Have the United States’ actions in Iraq made the world safer? Almost half (45%) think the United States’ actions in Iraq have made the world safer, while 45% think the world is more dangerous. In a similar TIME poll taken Aug. 3 – 5, over half (52%) said the world was more dangerous, and 38% said the world was safer.
4)Was U.S. Right Going to War with Iraq? Over half of those surveyed (52%) think the U.S. was right in going to war with Iraq, while 41% think the U.S. was wrong to go to war.
TOP ISSUE - Moral value issues (such as gay marriage and abortion) - 16%
Specifics: None given
TOP ISSUE - Health care 11%
1) 48% trust Senator Kerry to handle health care issues, while 42% trust Bush.
Providing strong leadership: 56% said they trust Bush to provide strong leadership in difficult times, while 37% said they trust Kerry to provide leadership in difficult times.
Commanding the Armed Forces: 54% said they trust Bush to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, while 39% said they trust Kerry.
Understanding the needs of people: 47% said they trust Kerry to understand the needs of people like themselves, while 44% trusted Bush to understand their needs.
Tax policy: 49% trust Bush to handle tax policy, while 40% trust Kerry.
Analysis: The Republicans, if this poll is accurate, have successfully framed the debate exactly as they want it with the War on Terror and Iraq right under a rebounding economy. Perhaps they'd prefer Iraq and the economy to swap places, but close enough for government work.
Probably the most interesting of all the stats are those concerning the economy, simply because this is an issue the Democrats feel they can gain traction on.
While the Democrats wanted it front and center (and that's where it is) they've done nothing to make the case that they'd do a better job. In fact, Bush takes a slight lead in that area. And the tax policy question may be part of that reason. Kerry's said he'd only raise taxes on the rich, but voters have heard that sort of promise before.
But the huge difference between the two candidates is easily seen in the next two top issues. In the War on Terror and Iraq, its really not even close. And the numbers for Bush are improving as indicated by the previous poll numbers noted.
However, the most significant numbers are about who the voters see as the best for commander-in-chief and as a leader. In both categories, Bush trounces Kerry. Is it the Swift boat guys? Is it his non-record in the Senate? Is it his anti-war activities. Is it his characterization as a flip-flooper? My guess is its all of them, plus some satisfaction with how Bush has performed.
Kerry leads in the tradionally strong Democrat issues, but they're the bottom two issues and his lead isn't particularly significant. Even the "understanding the needs of people" doesn't bring him a big spread.
Conclusion: Again, taking these numbers at face value and as a tool for analysis of the dynamics of the process by which people choose for whom they'll vote, I'd say that Bush is obviously making his case and framing the debate (as his numbers are improving or trending up) while Kerry seems to be moribund and trending downward.
Don't make too much of this right now, but these indicators point to the Bush campaign gaining momentum at the expense of the Kerry campagin. It obviously remains to be seen if the trends continue, but taking them at face value, Bush is in prime shape for reelection.
According to the new Time magazine poll, George W. Bush has opened up an 11-point lead on John Kerry.
New York: For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Poll results are available on TIME.com and will appear in the upcoming issue of TIME magazine, on newsstands Monday, Sept. 6.
That's about what one expects from a convention bounce, and it's interesting that Mr. Bush got one, while Mr. Kerry didn't.
There are three general signs that a campaign is getting desperate:
So far, the Kerry campaign has, in the past week, completed tasks 1 and 2. so that's not a good sign that they think things are going swimmingly.
Still, their partisans, like Michael Moore, remain optimistic.
Kerry supporters and Bush-bashers should not despair. These Republicans have not made a permanent dent in Kerry's armor. The only person who can do that is John Kerry. And by coming out swinging as he did just minutes after Bush finished his speech Thursday night, Kerry proved he knows that the only way to win this fight is to fight — and fight hard.
He must realize that he faces Al Gore's fate only if he fails to stand up like the hero he is, only if he sits on the fence and keeps justifying his vote for the Iraq war instead of just saying, "Look, I was for it just like 70% of America until we learned the truth, and now I'm against it, like the majority of Americans are now."
Kerry needs to trust that his victory is only going to happen by inspiring the natural base of the Democratic Party — blacks, working people, women, the poor and young people. Women and people of color make up 62% of this country. That's a big majority. Give them a reason to come out on Nov. 2.
Unfortunately for Mr. Moore's electoral calculations, married women are pretty much equally divided. Married women with children are firmly in the Bush camp. The Gender Gap in favor of Kerry, such as it is, consists almost entirely of unmarried women, who, as it happens, tend to be women who do not vote. Married women, on the other hand, do.
I'm not sure Mr. Moore really wants women, per se, to come out an vote on November 2nd. If they do, I suspect the results will not be exactly what Mr. Moore expects.
And by coming out swinging as he did just minutes after Bush finished his speech Thursday night, Kerry proved he knows that the only way to win this fight is to fight — and fight hard.
Either that, or it proves that he's so thin-skinned about any criticism that he just declares it all to attacks on his "patriotism". One wonders what Mr. Kerry can be criticized for, if criticism of his sentate voting records and policy statements cannot be allowed. In fact, after his performance last night, I'll bet a lot of people are wondering that.
It does prove Mr. Moore right about one thing though: John Kerry can permanently dent his own armor.
A story out of Canada which makes the point that just because the government is involved its going to be better.
In fact, it may just get worse.
Hospitals in Ontario say they're facing a shortfall of $600 million and they say that makes it almost certain there will be cuts to services, including day surgery and emergency room care.
The Ontario Hospital Association says administrators have no choice but to cut medical services because of a 2004 law that says the province's 159 hospitals must balance their books by 2005-2006, and can no longer run a deficit to maintain services.
So its saying that the hospitals must at least break even. Yet it controls how much is paid for medical care. Maybe you can reconcile that but I'm having a difficult time with it.
Since the hospitals can't charge more for what they do, they then have little choice but to not do some things which cost more than they can collect. Make sense?
"Ontario's hospitals are being forced to make some very difficult choices about the type and level of care they can continue to provide patients," said Hilary Short, the association's chief executive.
The province has drawn up a list of hospital offerings that cannot be cut, like cardiac and dialysis services, putting more pressure on services considered less essential, like diabetes and arthritis clinics, and obstetrical beds.
In other words, medical care marches backward in Ontario. And, of course, the demand for treatment for the procedures and level of care these cuts will eliminate will remain the same.
Result: Probably a whole lot of Canadians visiting US clinics across the border.
In Ottawa, Health Minister George Smitherman repeated his comments there would be no more top-ups for hospitals.
"That's what I said today, and what I've been clear with hospitals is that that's the amount of money that the government of Ontario is in a position to provide," Smitherman told reporters.
In the provincial budget, hospitals received a 4.3-per-cent increase, worth $469 million. In February, the province gave hospitals $385 million to cover deficits for the last fiscal year.
Smitherman has apparently realized that regardless of good intentions, finite assets cannot meet infinite need. You can't set a level of payment below the level of cost and expect hospitals to be able to break even. So, as I once pointed out, you end up rationing health care to achieve that balance.
Instead of rationing through money and market, the Canadians are going to ration through denying a certain level of treatment.
Regardless of the system, health care will be rationed.
Hospital officials say their costs have increased because of a growing and aging population, rising drug costs and higher wages.
The part of the market which is allowed to work continues to work but has a dramatic impact on the part which isn't allowed to work.
Not good. They'd flunk Econ 101.
But you can't tell that to the socialists.
(Hat tip to reader OneDrummer for the link)
An interesting article by Marilyn Geewax in the AJC today about the timing of Hurricane Frances as it pertains to a national election. She makes some interesting points:
Hurricanes typically boost Florida's economy once rebuilding kicks into high gear. Homeowners upgrade damaged structures, putting in bigger bathrooms and better roofs. Construction jobs soar, and tourists eventually return.
But in the short run --- and that's all that's left before the Nov. 2 election --- hurricanes can cause enormous economic damage, shutting down businesses and driving up unemployment.
A new round of job losses in Florida could darken the nation's economic statistics and contribute to an increasingly sour mood.
Depending on how hard hit FL is by this hurricane and with its attendent short term negative economic impact, it could put the state in the Democrat column.
In a tight presidential election and with Florida too close to call, additional job losses could help shape the outcome. On the other hand, a hurricane gives the incumbent a chance to demonstrate his compassion for people who are hurting. Last week, President Bush said he would ask Congress for $2 billion to help Charley's victims. By the time Congress returns Tuesday, the request could be much higher because of Frances.
And success for the Republicans will be how soon it is provided and how well the state, under Republican Governor and brother Jeb Bush, gets the relief in place and the recovery underway.
As Geewax notes:
Economists say hurricanes generally follow a fairly predictable economic track. Initially, they drive up retail sales of emergency supplies. In recent days, retailers in South Florida reported huge sales of batteries, generators, plywood, ice chests, bottled water, propane and camp stoves.
But such sales can steal from the future. Money spent today on a generator can reduce a family's budget for back-to-school clothes and Christmas presents.
In the long run, however, hurricanes tend to spur people to upgrade their homes, as many did in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
But in this case, there is no "long-run" involved as it concerns politics. With FL a key battleground state, its going to be interesting to see how Bush and company handle Frances, or whether Frances ends up handling them.
From the Waterbury Republican American (Waterbury CT - no link) comes the following story:
Uh Mary, there is an alternative, you just don't want to face it. You could live up to your principles that no animal's life is worth sacrificing for a human and die ... or you could hypocritically take the drug and live.
Now I'm not suggesting you die, Mary. I simply want you to understand that everytime you take that shot of insulin you are, in effect, saying that you, a human being, are more important than the animal who died so you could do so.
Or don't you understand that?
Yup. Of course we'll be told he's just an "activist" and doesn't really represent Democrats, but live in New York we have:
U.S. Rep. Major Owens, a New York Democrat, warned a crowd of feminist protesters that the Bush administration is taking America "into a snake pit of fascism."
Owens also said the Bush administration "spits on democracy" and is leading the country down a path reminiscent of "Nazi Germany."
Owens made his remarks in New York City's Central Park at a National Organization for Women rally on Wednesday night.
Owens, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the nation is at a "pivotal point" in its history, and he called the upcoming election the most important one in the last 50 years.
"I am right on the spot there in Washington, and I tell you our country will either go forward or down the drain into a snake pit of fascism," Owens declared to loud cheers from a crowd numbering about a thousand people.
All we needed was a "He's BETRAYED us" from Al Gore and a couple of "amens" from the crowd to make this a typical leftist event.
If I'm not mistaken this is the same crowd which applauded this:
Poet Molly Birnbaum read aloud to a crowd of feminists gathered in New York's Central Park on Wednesday night, as part of a NOW event dubbed "Code Red: Stop the Bush Agenda Rally."
"Imagine a way to erase that night four years ago when you (President Bush) savagely raped every pandemic woman over and over with each vote you got, a thrust with each state you stole," Birnbaum said from the podium. (If something is pandemic, it affects many people or a number of countries.)
"A smack with each bill you passed, a tear with each right you took until you left me disenfranchised with hands shackled and voice restrained. Thanks for that night, Mr. President, I can barely remember my tomorrows," Birnbaum said to applause.
Talk about marginalizing rape.
But hey, its just another example of how far left the left has gone. Its a little disconcerting (and disappointing) though to see an elected Democrat representative right in the middle of it and spouting the same sort of hate.
And yes ... I was being a bit facetious with my title.
Drudge is headlining....
My sympathies and best wishes to the former President. We owe him every bit as much respect as we expected to be shown to Ronald Reagan upon the announcement of his poor health.
The AP reports....
Former president Bill Clinton, after experiencing chest pains, is to have heart surgery for a quadruple bypass, media reports said Friday.Godspeed, Mr President. I hope your doctors are all Democrats, if only for the day.
CBS News and CNN reported that Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, had gone to Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan with complaints of chest discomfort. ABC News said the former president would have a quadruple bypass on Friday.
I'd bet the Republicans would gladly trade McCain and a couple of future draft choices if they could get Zell Miller for him.
“Well, Zell Miller is a very experienced politician,” McCain, who spoke earlier at the convention, told NBC News on Wednesday night.
“I’m sure he knew exactly what he was talking about. [But] I just don’t agree with the fact that the Democrats are unpatriotic or the assertion that the Democrats are unpatriotic,” he said. “I don’t think they are.”
McCain, you're a dunce. There wasn't a single solitary instance of anyone asserting the Democrats were 'unpatriotic". Although I saw you sitting there during the speech, and I know you got a copy of the text, it is apparent that you are blissfully ignorant or schemeingly disengenous about the 'unpatriotic' canard.
In that speech, Mr. McCain, Zell Miller pointedly and loudly said:
It is not their patriotism, it is their judgement that has been so sorely lacking.
Judgement, Senator. You and the Democrats need to learn the difference between questioning someone's judment and their patriotism. Contrary to your apparent belief, they aren't synoymous.
Well, the jobs report, while not actually bad, wasn't quite a ray of sunshine, either...
The U.S. job market brightened modestly in August as employers added 144,000 workers to their payrolls and hiring totals for the two prior months were revised up, the Labor Department reported on Friday."So altogether, not stellar but a solid report", as one economist said.' It's neither weak enough, nor strong enough, to be used effectively by either candidate.
With the economy growing in importance as an issue in November presidential elections, the department said the August unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in July.
A month ago, the department said that only 32,000 jobs were created in July but it more than doubled that estimate to 73,000 and it said 96,000 jobs were created in June instead of 78,000.
I am reading things like this, though, in a number of places...
144,000 increase in payroll employment in August, just enough to keep us from losing ground relative to the growing labor force.Except, that's not quite true. Contrary to Professor DeLong's assertion, the "growing labor force" actually declined last month by 152,000. (perhaps economists have a different definition of "growing")
In fact, the oft-repeated claim that we need at least 150,000 new jobs every month just to keep up with growth in the labor force doesn't seem to be holding true, either. Since January 2001--per BLS data--it seems the Civilian Labor Force Level has only grown by ~89,022 per month....far below the ~150,000 goalpost being set.
2001 -- 143,787,000So, let's not pretend that this 144,000 number represents a bare accomodation of the labor force. It's forward momentum, though--obviously--not as much as we'd like.
2004 -- 147,704,000
Apparently the kidnapping in Russia is over, but it appears it ended badly.
Russian troops stormed a school Friday in a chaotic battle to free hundreds of parents, teachers and children who had been held hostage for two days by Chechen separatists.
Naked and screaming children ran for safety amid machinegun fire and explosions while attack helicopters clattered overhead. The Tass and Interfax news agencies spoke of over 300 wounded, mostly children. Rebels fled with soldiers in pursuit.
Witnesses at the scene in Beslan, in the North Ossetia region near Chechnya, saw several bodies on stretchers and Russian news agencies said at least seven people had been dead on arrival at hospital.
According to some reports I've heard, about 100 or so kids may have been killed. Most, per this report, may have been gunned down by the terroists as they attempted to escape.
Shot in the back.
I think about that and imagine my 4 grandsons. And it is those thoughts which have me come to the same conclusion as Zell Miller, that between the two candidates, I have higher confidence in Bush to carry the war to the terrorists than I do in John Kerry.
One other point that bothers me about this particular incident. How in the world did the terrorists get out of the school and away?
Most likely because the Russian military didn't take charge of the scene and area, move parents and relatives out of the way to a protected area, isolate the area and completely seal all escape routes. It doesn't take a military genius to do something like that ... just a competant one.
UPDATE: From a radio report, Russia is claiming that 9 of the terrorists which were killed were "Arab mercenaries". Not Islamic fundamentalist. Not jihadists. Not terrorists. Mercenaries.
An review of some interesting snippets in various articles and columns about Bush, Kerry and the election. Paragraphs or sentences that caught my eye:
Charles Krauthammer, making the case for Bush in Time:
John Kerry tells us we have to wage a more sensitive war where we acquiesce more to "allies." O.K., let's talk allies. Which is the single most crucial ally in the war on terrorism? France? Germany? Russia? No. Pakistan. Pakistan made possible the destruction of the Taliban, and has been turning over to us the most important al-Qaeda figures ever captured. How did Bush turn the world's foremost supporter of the Taliban into our most critical ally against them? Sensitivity? Two days after 9/11, Bush had his Secretary of State deliver an ultimatum to the Pakistanis: Join us or else. They joined. That is leadership.
Actually that's an excellent point. Without Pakistan on our side we're in a huge strategic hole, since Pakistan was being used in some cases, for staging into Afghanistan by al-Queda. No Pakistan, horrible alternatives concerning going after the Taliban and al-Queda. When Pakistan, who'd not even been luke-warm in her relationship with the US, signed on it was a major coup in the prosecution of the war against terror in general and al-Queda in particular. Its not something which has gotten the credit it deserves.
In a speech that was at once eloquent and substantive, sensitive and dynamic, profound and familiar, Bush has risen to a level few presidents have ever reached.
Sometimes a strategist just has to sit back and gasp. Occasionally, a seasoned political observer needs to realize that he has seen something extraordinary. Tonight, Bush made me feel like that.
The speech satisfied every single political need. He contrasted with Kerry without appearing negative. He demonstrated emotion without pandering. He rose to a level of substantive specificity without becoming wonkish.
Obviously Morris was impressed. I did a quick read through the blogs last night, and noticed the most critical of the speech tended to be blogs which are generally on Bush's side. I have to say I thought it was a good speech (which is not to say I agree with everything that he said or proposed). I thought he did what he had to do. Listening to the chattering classes after the speech, most shared the opinion that it was a good speech well delivered. I'd also add something else which in my opinion was as important as the speech or its delivery. He had to look "presidential" .... and I think he accomplished that.
David Corn in The Nation wrote:
The obvious question: will the Protector-as-Missionary bit sell? Will voters hear the term "liberty century" and be moved? Or will they ask, is that the name of a new car? It's one thing to turn a lemon (a messy war now considered a mistake by a majority of Americans) into lemonade. But can Bush turn that lemon into blessed wine?
This, of course, is the left's version of a 'fear' campaign ... erecting a "Bush as a messianic missionary and crusader" facade, and then tearing it down. If the red herring isn't obvious, they'll do their best to invent it. Nothing worries the left more than the possibility that a leader may actually do more than pay lip-service to his or her faith. Corn attempts to make the case against Bush with this tired old theme as its basis.
Thomas Oliphant in The Boston Globe:
That left Bush with but two cards to play, the same ones played all week here and the same ones played all year by his campaign -- war and John Kerry. Bush's first approach to politicizing war has been to link the struggle against terrorism with the quagmire in Iraq, a link that no responsible body that has examined the situation -- the 9/11 commission included -- has ever found. His second approach is to pretend that this grand war only he can lead began on Sept. 11 and ended on the morning of the invasion of Iraq. And his third is to help sell the idea that Kerry is not fit for the office he seeks and is borderline disloyal.
This last canard is what brought Kerry out of the shadows late last night, in an unprecedented counterattack during the same news cycle against a nominee's acceptance speech. Kerry's assertion that Bush is up to his eyeballs in a smearing campaign, his raising of Bush's and Cheney's selfish evasions of combat as young men, his claim that this is the real Bush campaign -- these are rough words, and the course of the campaign may hinge on the reaction to them.
After a bit about the "bad economy" (which saw a drop to 5.4% in unemployment with the creation of 144,000 new jobs this month) which was reminiscent of Wm. Saletan's anemic attack in Slate made previously, Oliphant says all Bush has left to focus on Iraq and the war on terror. He assumes, obviously, that Bush can't talk about the economy. But in reality Bush can ... and will. Bush did so last night and when put in a context that the left unceasingly and purposely leave out, its actually a good story for Bush.
This administration inherited a recession, endured the incredible economic impact of 9/11, and is in the middle of fighting a war and as of today has an unemployment rate lower than when Clinton ran in 1996. Other than the Democrats and their flacks no one can resonably call this a bad economy.
In John Kerry's remarks last night he compared Bush to Hoover without acknowledging the recession, 9/11 and the war. His context free condemnation of Bush is simply a talking point the Dems plan on pushing regardless of its truth because, politically speaking, they know its their only chance.
William Saletan in Slate says Bush wants to go "Back to the Future":
This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.
Except he already is president. He already ran this campaign. He promised great things. They haven't happened. So, he's trying to go back in time. He wants you to see in him the potential you saw four years ago. He can't show you the things he promised, so he asks you to envision them. He asks you to be "optimistic." He asks you to have faith."Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them," said Bush. "Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future."
Recession. Unemployment. Corporate fraud. A war based on false premises that has cost us $200 billion and nearly a thousand American lives. They're all hills we've "been given to climb." It's as though Bush wasn't president. As though he didn't get the tax cuts he wanted. As though he didn't bring about postwar Iraq and authorize the planning for it. All this was "given," and now Bush can show up, three and a half years into his term, and start solving the problems some other president else left behind.
At least Saletan acknowledges the recession although he disengenuously tries to tie it to the Bush administration. Again note the two things Saletan leaves out.
9/11 and a war. Beginning to see a pattern folks?
It is inconvenient to their argument about a weak economy. If they include those events, suddenly the economic progress becomes remarkable. In fact, it is becoming increasingly obvious that most of the chattering class, who's goal it is to help defeat Bush, would prefer if we forgot all about 9/11. Its better if they can allude to mismanagement rather than events beyond anyone's control. That's why the "corporate fraud" nonsense was tossed into the mix.
Another point which Saletan must ignore in order to push his argument is that all presidents ask for another 4 years to finish what they've started. As Bush noted, he got the tax cuts he wanted but now he wants to make them permanent. etc., etc. The same sort of appeal was made by Clinton in 1996. Saletan attempts to make such an appeal proof that he's done nothing but get us into a mess during his first term. Again to do that he's got to be stuck in a "back to the past" date of 9/10.
Not to be outdone, at the conlusion of a 4 day Republican convention which stressed 9/11, John Kerry immediately tried to take the discussion back to his service in Vietnam. Someone needs to let Mr. Kerry and his "its all about me" campaign know that "two tours" would mean 24 months in country. Not 4 months once and 5 weeks floating around Yankee Station another time.
Photo: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
Photo: AP Photo/Adam Butler
Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
For the past week they have attacked my patroitism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief...I will not have my patriotism questioned by those who refused to serve...I'm going to leave it to the voters to decide whether five deferrments makes you fit to serve....What really makes you unfit to lead this country is to mislead us into war in Iraq...Letting the Saudi Royal family control the price of oil makes you unfit to lead this country.
This is outrageous. I reject utterly any contention that Kerry's military service immunizes him against criticism from those who did not serve. One of the key elements of our system of government is the inflexible and inviolable principle that the military is permanently subject to civilian audit.
No one questioned Mr. Kerry's patriotism. They questioned his judgement, and rightly so. For Mr. Kerry to proclaim the valid criticisms he's received over the last four days as a slur on his patriotism is, quite simply, a lie.
What makes this even more insulting is that the military service of which Mr. Kerry claims to be so proud now, is the same military service he denigrated as an exercise in atrocity 30 years ago. He didn't seem so proud of his service when he was providing aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese at the very time they were killing his fellow soldiers.
Well, Mr. Kerry, I am a veteran, and I do question your fitness to serve as Commander in Chief. Indeed, I flatly state that you are unfit.
Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam tells us precisely nothing about his ability or fitness to serve as president, and more than the lack of service was a bar to FDRs fitness to be a wartime president. It is specious and pejorative to assert otherwise.
The line about the Saudis is also a bit too much. What would Mr. Kerry do to change that? Invade Saudi Arabia and take over the oil that currently belongs to the Saudis? No, what Mr. Kerry would do is...nothing. Or worse, artificially raise the price of energy through taxation, which would make his assertion that he could create jobs rather questionable.
But then, everything about Mr. Kerry is questionable.
I'm not hearing much good about George W. Bush's Speech tonight. Again, it's embargoed, but what I am hearing about is that it's State-of-the-Unionish. If so, he may squander some of the political capital he's accumulated over the last week.
John Kerry is holding a midnight press conference tonight. Mr. Kerry's remarks will directly reference Mr. Cheney's lack of service. Kerry's also going to be complaining about the "attacks on his patriotism". This is just the repetition of the same kind of claim that Max Cleland made about his defeat at the hands of Saxby Chambliss.
Bt, no one has questioned Kerry's patriotism. They've questioned his positions, his votes, and his public statements as a Senator. But, twice during this convention, when speakers have referenced Kerry's Vietnam service, the crowd has broken into spontaneous applause.
Kerry's statements seem to imply that if you didn't serve in the military, you have no right to question him. That is outrageous. This afternoon, I just paid my American Legion dues for the next year. Does that mean I have more of a right to question Kerry than you do?
Not at all, and I would be the first to vehemently reject any suggestion that it does.
Your estimation of Mr. Kerry's fitness to serve as commander in chief is just as valid as mine. Any statement to the contrary is nothing more than an attempt to bully critics into silence.
Of course, if Kerry's position is that only veterans have a right to question his service, one wonders why the Swiftvets should be silenced.
The president is on the stage. Wild welcome from the crowd, which is hardly a surprise.
"Four more years!" the crowd is shouting.
Well, if this speech is just a SOTU laundry list, we'll see how long the enthusiasm lasts.
Very nice line about the bravery of our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq making the veterans of Omaha Beach proud.
Ho-hum, so far. Obligatory introductions and cheers for the Bush family. Paeans to the No Child Left behind Act and Prescription Drugs for Seniors. Wild applause for the latter two, which is a bit odd since they both are somewhat less than conservative in orientation.
Oh, and Compassionate Conservatism. Can't forget that.
What is it with Mr. Bush and the blue ties? Red power ties, surely he's heard of them.
I'm still waiting for an applause line.
Now we're getting into the laundry list of policies.
Making the tax cuts permanent. How about cutting federal spending while you're at it?
Making us less dependent on foreign oil. Well, every president since Jerry Ford has promised that.
Freer trade. Huh. Does that mean you'll be eliminating your tariffs on softwood lumber, textiles and steel?
Now, this might be interesting: Reforming and simplifying the Federal tax code. OK, How? Oops, I guess that answer will come later.
Wait, wait, wait, now he's talking about job retraining? Job retraining? That'll pull in the voters.
Tort reform. As long as the Lawyers don't sue in Federal Court to have it declared unconstitutional.
Health Care reform. Rural health centers! Medical Liability reform!
Jeez, how did W turn into Clintonish Policy Wonk?
Uh-oh, It's back to the "risky scheme" of social security privatization. Oh, and schools will be even better because the Feds are getting involved.
Some of us think that a better solution would be to get the Feds out of school completely, and to shut down the Department of Education. I'm just saying.
Too bad that whole "Bridge to the 21st Century" idea was already taken. That would've been perfect for this speech.
Oh, cripes, now he's talking about frickin' Pell Grants! And he's giving us his URL!
Now he's hitting Mr. Kerry with the Tax and Spend Northeastern Liberal argument. Well, that's nice, but who's gonna pay for all this reform Mr. Bush has on his agenda? I mean, those Pell Grants are gonna cost something. Indeed, prescription drugs benefits for Seniors will, too.
He mentioned abortion, and the Federal Marriage Amendment and DOMA. Now's he's dissing Hollywood. Along with the speeches of last night, I think we can toss the "it's all moderates" argument.
OK, 42 minutes in, and he's now mentioning the War on Terror.
Apparently he's saving the big stuff for last.
Another protestor is being manhandled out of the auditorium.. The sign the protestor had said "Bush Lied, People Died."
Interesting intro to Bush's remarks now about Iraq.
Mr. Bush still argues that Saddam was a threat, and that we wasn't going to wait for it to become imminent. And, he says he'd do it again.
Now he's going through the list of good things that overturning the Taliban and the Ba'athists has produced. Democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We will help them have more or less democratic governments, and our boys will come home with honor.
All of this, of course, is vitally important; I'd be the first to agree.
But not the stuff of applause lines.
Mr. Bush is taking Mr. Kerry to task, albeit far more gently than Zell Miller did last night. His criticisms have been fair, and have been confined to responses to Mr. Kerry's public statements.
The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom.
As hard as it might be to believe now, the Democrats once thought that, too, before they became convinced that any use of American power abroad was nothing more than thinly veiled neo-colonialism.
Nice point to quote from a 1946 news article about how the American occupation of Germany had failed. Perhaps, muses Mr. Bush, that writer is writing NYT op/eds today.
Now, we're in the self-deprecating humor portion of the evening.
Some people think I have a little swagger, which in Texas, is called "walking".
You know, this is just too much. He's doing the exact same kind of Speech that Mr. Clinton did in '96. That didn't hurt Mr. Clinton, because he was running against Bob Dole. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, is running against John Kerry, and...
On second thought, it's probably no big deal.
Finally, he's done. For the last couple of minutes, I was starting to feel like the Pope, asking Michelangelo, "When will you make an end?!" and hearing "When I am finished!"
This is a bad omen, if you believe in that sort of thing: The balloons aren't falling. Apparently, they are stuck in the roof. Some of them are coming down, but not the massive amounts of balloons and confetti you usually see. Just sparse bits here and there.
OK, now it looks like they're getting it to fall.
Well, I have to say, this is no better than a workmanlike effort for Mr. Bush. Perhaps this was the kind of speech Mr. Bush had to give, with a forward-looking agenda, but I would've preferred something a little more rhetorically powerful.
Still, if elections, especially presidential elections, are about the future, then a president asking for a second term has to present some sort of roadmap for the future.
It's difficult to tell whether this speech will be much of a help for him though. On the other hand, it certainly didn't hurt him, and it did help to cement the idea of what the differences are between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry.
We'll also get another interesting contrast in about another half hour, when Mr. Kerry speaks. Based on the previews we've had of Kerry's speech for tonight, he runs the risk of looking very petty.
I don't think anyone's ever had a late-night rally on the closing night of the opposition's convention, especially one scheduled at the last minute. Quite unusual.
I think I'll take a little break, have a glass of port, and be back to blog live during Mr. Kerry's speech. The contrast should be quite interesting.
Yikes. I wandered over to Slate for some unearthly reason and ran across this screed by William Saletan.
From the beginning he gets it wrong and it goes south from there. Remarking on Zell Miller's speech he trots out this premise:
The 2004 election is becoming a referendum on your right to hold the president accountable.
Well if you're in the tinfoil hat brigade, perhaps. But for the rest of us, as was stated up front in Miller's speech, it was about who we feel is going to better protect our families. But the premise? A blinding flash of the obvious I suppose. All elections are referendums on the president and to my knowldege no one has interfered with Mr. Saletan's right to do so.
But let's let him go ahead anyway, shall we?
The Dems are desparate to talk about the economy because they think they have some traction there. So with some major warping Saletan uses the Miller speech to do what?
Attack tax cuts. And he can't even do that honestly.
The case against President Bush is simple. He sold us his tax cuts as a boon for the economy, but more than three years later, he has driven the economy into the ground.
WTF? Where has this guy been? Let's see they inherited a recession, then 7 months later 9/11 occurred which compounded it and we found ourselves in a war after that, yet in the two short years since then, with the aid of tax cuts the economy has rebounded spectacularly.
I mean this is just "if I say it maybe they won't call me on it" stuff. He can't seriously think a serious reader is going to buy off on this.
Of course you could consider it just a rhetorical device he used so he could say the same sort of thing, rhetorically speaking, about Iraq.
He sold us a war in Iraq as a necessity to protect the United States against weapons of mass destruction, but after spending $200 billion and nearly 1,000 American lives, and after searching the country for more than a year, we've found no such weapons.
Actually he sold us on the idea that a rogue country who was defying the UN and the sanctions it imposed, with proven ties to terrorism and a history of WMD production and use, could pose a threat and in the war on terrorism we could no longer afford the luxury of sitting on our fat behinds and hoping we could "contain" such a threat. In other words, although Mr. Sletan apparently missed it, the world had changed. But if he said it like that, well, he wouldn't have a point would he?
But cleverly, our boy pushes on. False premise and discredited "supporting points" in hand he concludes:
Tonight the Republicans had a chance to explain why they shouldn't be fired for these apparent screw-ups.
Well, I told you he was clever, didn't I? "Apparent screw-ups" builds in "wiggle room". God forbid he should actually take a stand.
But let's bite. Lets swallow the premise, line and sinker and go with Saletan on this one.
Here's what Cheney said about the economic situation: "People are returning to work. Mortgage rates are low, and home ownership in this country is at an all-time high. The Bush tax cuts are working." But mortgage rates were low before Bush took office. Home ownership was already at an all-time high. And more than a million more people had jobs than have them today.
But, but ... mortgage rates stayed low even through a rescession and into a war. Home ownership was already at an all-time high but now its at and even greater high. And we lost a million jobs immediately after 9/11 (you do remember 9/11 don't you Mr. Saletan?) which have now been regained, with a unemployment rate of 5.5% and going lower. A rate for which you Dems were mightly proud in 1996.
So, uh, maybe Cheney was right, huh?
"In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat," Cheney said. What about the urgent, nukes-any-day threat to the United States that supposedly warranted our expense of so much blood and treasure? Cheney was silent.
"A senator can be wrong for 20 years without consequence to the nation," said Cheney. "But a president always casts the deciding vote." What America needs in this time of peril, he argued, is "a president we can count on to get it right."
You can't make the case against Bush more plainly than that.
Well you can make a better case for Bush if you study Kerry's record for the last 20 years and then imagine (shudder) him making key decisions. We'd need a daily scorecard to keep up with what version and which side he was on today.
If the convention speeches are any guide, Republicans have run out of excuses for blowing the economy, blowing the surplus, and blowing our military resources and moral capital in the wrong country.
Well based on what I've read of your reasoning, Mr. Saletan, the only one blowing anything right now is you. You forgot all about that pesky Clinton/Gore recession, apparently 9/11 slipped your mind and the term 'war' doesn't seem to register in your "thinking" either.
So having made an exceedingly poor, no I'm not going to be that nice, non-existant case concerning the economy, you finally get to what you really wanted to push all along.
So they're going after the patriotism of their opponents. Here's what the convention keynoter, Miller, said tonight about Democrats and those who criticize the way President Bush has launched and conducted the Iraq war.
Oh is that what they're doing? We get a long quote which Saletan points to as proof of his charge:
While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.
Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.
In [Democratic leaders'] warped way of thinking, America is the problem, not the solution. They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself.
Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide.
And Saletan's take on this?
Every one of these charges is demonstrably false. When Bush addressed Congress after 9/11, Democrats embraced and applauded him. In the Afghan war, they gave him everything he asked for. Most Democratic senators, including John Kerry and John Edwards, voted to give him the authority to use force in Iraq. During and after the war, they praised Iraq's liberation. Kerry has never said that any other country should decide when the United States is entitled to defend itself.
That was then, this is now. Must we quote the from the Democrat primary about Iraq and Kerry's new position, or at least position of choice at that time? Should we talk about Ted Kennedy's "he cooked it up in Texas" embrace of the war in Iraq? Or the snarling and snapping which has ensued ever since from the Democrat side? And Kerry has said he wanted our troops deployed only at the behest of the UN, but has since, if you can imagine, changed his position.
But more importantly than the lines Saletan quotes of Miller's speech, is the one he doesn't quote:
It is not their patriotism, it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking.
Guess it just got by him somehow.
But the important thing isn't the falsity of the charges, which Republicans continue to repeat despite press reports debunking them.
You mean like the economic nonsense you just tried to run past us?
The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it's criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy.
In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.
Why is it that everytime Bush and company say something they're "trying to quash criticism" when its obvious by the inane criticism you're pounding out in your article that nothing could be further from the truth.
What you guys don't like is when they shoot back, do you, slugger?
Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics.
And of course it never occurrs to Saletan that perhaps the way the accusations have been made may weaken the nation and do a disservice to its national interest. In Saletan's world all criticism is apparently 'legitimate' regardless of how outrageous it might be. What Saletan demands is the right to criticize with out consequence. He wants to run his mouth freely and take no responsbility for what it may bring. And if you try to point out what those consequences are, you're attacking his "patriotism" or trying to quash dissent.
Its a poor argument from a very weak position. But he's not done. Here he tries it again:
When patriotism is impugned, the facts go out the window. You're not allowed to point out that Bush shifted the rationale for the Iraq war further and further from U.S. national security—from complicity in 9/11 to weapons of mass destruction to building democracy to relieving Iraqis of their dictator—without explaining why American troops and taxpayers should bear the burden. You're not allowed to point out that the longer a liberator stays, the more he looks like an occupier. You're not allowed to propose that the enormous postwar expenses Bush failed to budget for be covered by repealing his tax cuts for the wealthy instead of further indebting every American child.
The fact that its being done every day by Kerry and his surrogates puts lie to his assertions that "you're not allowed" to say those things. The very fact that his nonsensical article exists in Slate points to what utter foolishness this collection of assertions is. Another way of saying it is: "Slaetan writes, therefore 'you're allowed'".
Again, and not to belabor the point, Saletan wants his criticism allowed ... but not the other guy's. He wants to have his say and the other guy to shut up.
Now we get to the whiny part:
If you dare to say these things, you're accused—as Kerry now stands accused by Cheney and Miller—of defaming America and refusing "to support American troops in combat." You're contrasted to a president who "is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America." You're derided, in Cheney's words, for trying to show al-Qaida "our softer side." Your Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts are no match for the vice president's five draft deferments.
Its all about "accusations". Saletan is hurt by 'accusations'. Well he's hurt if he and his ilk are the target of those accusations. For some reason he has no problem with hurling them willy nilly. One more time with feeling, folks. Willie Saletan wants to be able to have his say, but he wants the other guys to keep a lid on it.
Then we get to the irony. These last two are loaded with irony which apparently slips right past Willie S.
In his remarks, Miller praised Wendell Wilkie, the 1940 Republican presidential nominee who "made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue." But there are three ways to make national security a campaign issue. One is to argue the facts of a particular question, as Kerry has done on Iraq. The second is to sweep aside all factual questions, as Cheney and Miller did tonight, with a categorical charge that the other party is indifferent or hostile to the country's safety. The third is to create a handy political fight, as Republicans did two years ago on the question of labor rights in the Department of Homeland Security, and frame it falsely as a national security issue in order to win an election.
So now you have two reasons to show up at the polls in November. One is to stop Bush from screwing up economic and foreign policy more than he already has. The other is to remind him and his propagandists that even after 9/11, you still have that right.
Who has the right Mr. Saletan?
You do. And have. And no one has stopped you from writing or speaking out.
To borrow a phrase: Just a reminder to you and your propagandists that even after 9/11, you still have that right.
You've got to see this video and then you'll have a much better understanding of "why they hate us".
(Hat tip to Airborne Combat Engineer)
John Kass writes that Kerry's inept politics are playing right into the Republicans' hands.
Rather than address a series of withering commercials from the Swift Boat veterans, Kerry decided not to engage. Rather than confront the Republican mantra using his own words to show that he's a flip-flopper on Iraq, he kept silent.
Rather than engage what threatens him, Kerry offered programs, plans and government benefits to his fellow veterans. He talked about improved health care, hospitals and cheaper medicine if he is elected president in November. It was a speech about political payoff, and he offered them a piece of the pie. But he couldn't offer a piece of himself.
In the speech to the American Legion, Kerry offered a side of himself that Republicans were hoping for, since it buttressed what they've been saying about Kerry for the past few weeks: indecisive. Overly cautious. Locked by his own post-Vietnam political past into a defensive position.
Letting the other guys define you is always a dangerous game. If you're the presdient, you can get away with playing it, perhaps, but only because you have the bully pulpit of the office, and can counter it by simply doing your job acceptably well.
If you are a challenger though, allowing your opponents to define you can be the kiss of death. If you can't engage your opponents directly--or even worse, it looks like tyou are hiding from them--it only adds credence to your opponents' attacks.
Kerry's last press conference/media sit-down was way back on August 1st, just before the first Swiftvet ad. It's as if he's intentionally allowing his opponents all the free shots at him they want.
In part, Kerrys reticence to speak to the press is understandable. After all, when he does so, as often as not he says something that requires some serious "clarification". It does seem at times as if his foot is continually cocked to go flying into his mouth as soon as it opens.
But, it's hard to see how speaking out could do him any more damage than is being done my hiding from the press for a month. That strategy is a proven loser.
Of course, part of the problem may be that Kerry has no particular desire to go over his own post-Vietnam record in detail. If he disavows his VVAW activities, or his support for the nuclear freeze, he disaffects his party's left wing. If he doesn't he disaffects moderates and undecideds. Perhaps he thinks that walking that line would require more nuance than even he has, and, he'd probably be right.
But just standing there and taking a shellacking isn't helping him all that much either.
I wrote earlier about how I used to have respect for Max Cleland and I was disturbed at how he was allowing the Kerry campaign to exploit him.
I've changed my mind. Yesterday I tagged Alan Keyes as a "political idiot" because of one of the most unbelievably stupid remarks I ever heard uttered.
Well Cleland one upped him today. From a story by Charles Hurt of the Washington Times dealing with Kerry's American Legion speech, this paragraph:
Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who joined Mr. Kerrey in demanding Mr. Rove's resignation on behalf of the campaign, said the veterans attacking Mr. Kerry's war record have contributed to a spike in suicides, which, he says, has occurred among veterans.
This is just unconsionable bullshit. This is inexcusable. Its gutter politics of the worst sort. Exploitation of suicides for cheap political points? Disgusting. Utterly revolting and completly over-the-top. This sort of nonsense deserves to be rebuked in no uncertain terms.
I await the Kerry campaign's condemnation, but I'm not holding my breath.
So please spare me the "Miller is a fascist" nonsense, ok? Nothing Miller said even begins to approach this new low by Cleland. If indeed Cleland said this then there are very few on the right who will ever be able the top, no, go lower than Max Cleland just did.
Someone ought to tell that bitter little troll to STFU!
(hat tip to Steve at thoughtsonline blog who has some thoughts on the subject as well. His are a bit more objective than mine.)
Look it was a stem-winder of a speech and you can parse it and pick it apart all you want. But there was one line in that speech which resonated with me. And it wasn't an attack on Kerry. It was an indictment of the left in this country:
Today, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.
He said Democrats because, this being an election year, its the most visible part of the left in this country, but make no mistake about it ... the left has done everything in its power to ignore the fact we're at war and to focus solely on the destruction of George Bush.
That is why Zell Miller and a lot of other folks are angry. That is why Zell Miller invoked Wendell Wilkie. That is why Miller said:
Where are such statesmen today? Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?
Yes, it can be argued this way and that way about whether or not Kerry actually voted up or down on certain weapons systems. A wonderful nuanced argument could be had by all.
But there is no argument and frankly no justification for the viscious attacks by the left on the Bush administration for the past two years in a time of war.
That's what Zell Miller is angry about. That's what he doesn't understand. He doesn't understand why his party, the party he grew up with and loved, now thinks its job is to recreate the '60s instead of recreating the '40s.
Maybe he's just an old coot that time has passed by. But if he is then call me an old coot as well. Because I don't understand it either.
So all you lefities out there quit playing dumb. You know why Zell is angry and you know he's right.
You just can't find the brass to admit it.
John Podhoretz reviews Zell Miller's speech last night at the Garden, as well as the hysterics it seems to have provoked from the Left.
The thing about the speech was that it was the type of stem-winder that used to be regular American political fare, but has gone out of fashion in the last generation. That may be why many people are having trouble understanding it.
Chris Matthews' first question for Mr. Miller last night (before Mr. Miller offered to meet Mr. Matthews on the Field of Honor) was, "Do you really think Senator Kerry wants to arm American troops with spitballs?"
That's just an extraordinarily stupid question. Imagine a reporter a century ago asking William Jennings Bryan, "So, sir, where is that Cross of Gold? Can you produce it? Does it actually exist?"
The polite term for someone who asked something like that a century ago was "congenital idiot." Today, I guess we'd call that kind of person a "Matthews".
But, that's just semantics.
The other thing about it was the lack of bipartisanship. A few nights ago, America's best argument for term limits, John McCain, went out of his way to tell us that we should all just get along, and everyone should agree that we all have the best of intentions.
That's the perfect epitome of all that's wrong with Washington. It's the whole, "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" mentality that's led to ever-increasing spending, and ever more government intrusion into Federal life.
John McCain and his ilk have been captured by Washington. They get fawning from the press, invitations to the best parties, and lots of money for their campaign treasuries. And, eventually, they forget why it was they went to Washington in the first place.
So, when someone like Mr. Miller comes out swinging, they hardly know how to respond. "It's mean!" they moan. "It's an vicious attack!" they whine. Which, I suppose it probably is, to people who are more concerned with pouring oil on the water than actually accomplishing their ideological goals.
Another thing that strikes me is the shrill response to Mr. Miller. Like this one, from David Gergen:
Indeed, an enraged David Gergen dared to compare Miller to Lester Maddox, the segregationist governor for whom Miller worked more than 40 years ago. Gergen said Maddox was "a man of hate," and that Miller was "a man of hate" too.
It's a good thing that guys like Gergen weren't around in the Federal Era. They'd have had a heart attack at the type of politics that we practiced then. The Hartford Courant, for example, predicted an outbreak of rebellion, apostasy, and destruction if Thomas Jefferson were elected President.
But, Mr. Miller, some hyperbole aside, was right. It was a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, after all, who counseled us about our inordinate fear of communism, as if the Commies were perfectly willing to go along to get along, if we were. It was a Democrat, David Bonior, who led pilgrimages to Managua so he could grovel at the feet of the Sandinistas. It was Democrats, including John Kerry, who voted against the original Gulf War, even though the UN had fully approved it (which, by the way, makes their current objections to a lack of UN cover particularly disingenuous).
The unpleasant fact is that, for the last 25 years, the Democratic Party has increasingly become the party of defeatism, pacifism, and capitulation. The reason that Zell Miller stood on that exact spot in Madison Square Garden 12 years ago, and gave the Keynote address to the Democratic Convention was because he thought that Bill Clinton was going to pull his party back from the brink of it's plunge into transnational progressivism.
Turns out, Mr. Clinton was completely unable to stop his party's slide.
The Left, is entirely oblivious to this, as they are to many things. Firmly convinced of their own righteousness, filled with the importance of their mission as one of the anointed, it has become nearly impossible for them to accept criticism. Since they are so completely right, their critics must have ulterior reasons for opposing them, and be deeply morally deficient. They are "greedy" if they argue against higher taxes, filled with "hatred" if they oppose gay marriage, they are "warmongers" if they support defending American interests overseas without the full support of the UN, or NATO, or some other body that, unlike the US government, isn't responsible for securing American interests or national security.
So, if Mr. Miller breaks with his party, he must--since his party is so morally pure--be animated by hatred, just like Lester Maddox. Why, he probably secretly wishes he was out in the fields whipping darkies right now!
That kind of myopia is dangerous to both liberty and democracy. Once you have convinced yourself that your positions are fundamentally moral, while those of your opposition are fundamentally immoral, you've just laid the foundations of a totalitarian society. You're already setting limits on permissible thought and opinion. Sure, you're for free speech, as long as it's responsible free speech.
Well, if that's the direction we're headed, we may as well start surveying Montana right now, so we'll know the best places to build the gulags when the time comes.
The up side to that kind of thinking, is that it causes you to assume that everyone is supporting you. After all, how could anyone support your opponents, who are clearly evil.