Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bashing Viet Nam veterans. A new talking point against Bush is that his operatives have defamed the records of three Viet Nam veterans in the last four years.

How about Kerry's record on this? His operatives and the press have defamed 250+ members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth as liars.

Most recently, Rear Admiral Schachte said that he was there when Kerry won his first Purple Heart and there was no return fire. The Kerry campaign dug up that (like a majority of veterans), Schachte has donated moderate sums of money to the Bush campaign ($1,000 in 2000 and 2004). He is also associated with Blank Rome, a lobbying firm that won a $40 million contract last February. Plus, the chairman of the RNC is associated with the Blank Rome office in Washington, DC.

The connection to Blank Rome isn't as solid as Kerry's supporters make it out to be. Blank Rome's office says that he has retired although their web site still lists him as "of council".

The Kerry campaign has said, "It's amazing what a $40 million government contract can do for your memory."

So the Kerry campaign is reduced to saying that a decorated Viet Nam vet. Accepted a bribe in the form of a federal contract to lie about Kerry's record.

If that isn't enough, remember, in 1971 Kerry defamed all Viet Nam veterans by saying before Congress that atrocities were being performed on a daily basis.

Al Jazeera ran an article denouncing the kidnapping of the French journalists. It turns out that it is all the fault of the US.

However, the statement held the United States and its occupation army
"responsible for fostering an atmosphere of anarchy and chaos in Iraq" which
makes "these repugnant acts inevitable".

Surprised to see Michael Moore at the Republican National Convention? He was there with press credentials from USAToday. In order to give both sides a voice, they hired columnists from the opposing side to write humorous pieces during the conventions.

Mike turned in his first column. It isn't funny. It isn't even amusing. He has two points. First he says that the Republicans are not in hostile territory. I hope that the protest groups read this. Some of them wanted to shut down the city because Republicans are so foreign to NYC.

For his other point, he wandered around and asked people (not necessarily delegates) a couple of questions. From this he concluded:

Hanging out around the convention, I've encountered a number of the Republican
faithful who aren't delegates. They warm up to me when they don't find horns or
a tail. Talking to them, I discover they're like many people who call themselves
Republicans but aren't really Republicans. At least not in the radical-right way
that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Co. have defined

This is misleading (A Michael Moore trademark). What he really means is that they are not radical-right in the way that he has defined Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, and Co. We see this in his leading questions:

I asked one man who told me he was a "proud Republican," "Do you think we need
strong laws to protect our air and water?"

"Well, sure," he said. "Who doesn't?"

I asked whether women should have equal rights, including the same pay as men.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"Would you discriminate against someone because he or she is gay?"

"Um, no." The pause — I get that a lot when I ask this question — is usually because the average good-hearted person instantly thinks about a gay family member or friend.

There's a name for these Republicans: RINOs or Republican In Name Only. They possess a liberal, open mind and don't believe in creating a worse life for anyone else.

What Michael has done here is exaggerate the Republican's actual positions into extreme yes/no questions. I suspect that he would have gotten very different answers had he asked,

"Are you in favor of making current environmental laws much stronger and more intrusive even if there is no proven link with improved health?"

"Do you think that an outside agency should regulate wages in order to promote fairness between dissimilar jobs?" (or "Do you think that someone who has taken a couple of years off for personal reasons should get the same pay as someone who has worked continuously?"

"Are you in favor of gay marriage?"

If Michael had asked these revised questions to the people attending the DNC, he probably would have concluded that they were Democrat in Name Only.

Cute rhetorical trick isn't it?

Here's another one:

Let me also say I admire your resolve. You're true believers. Even though only a
third of the country defines itself as "Republican," you control the White
House, Congress, Supreme Court and most state governments.

The trick here is in the third sentence. 40+% of the country identifies itself as Republican. That's more than 1/3. It is also more than identify themselves as Democrat. "Control" is a loaded word, also. Around 2/3s of the state governments are Republican. Congress is around 52%-48% Republican and the Supreme Court is 5-4 conservative on many issues. That's pretty consistent with the population spread.

One might ask how the Democrats ended up controlling the White House and both houses of Congress in 1992 with fewer members that the Republicans?

His resolution:

The Republican Party's leadership knows America is not only filled with RINOs,
but most Americans are much more liberal than the delegates gathered in New
York. The Republicans know it. That's why this week we're seeing gay-loving
Rudy Giuliani, gun-hating Michael Bloomberg and abortion-rights advocate Arnold

And you think that the DNC delegates weren't more liberal than the average American?

After years of demonizing Republicans, Michael rubbed shoulders with them and found out that they are regular folks. Many people would question their long-held beliefs. Not Michael. He decided that these people aren't really Republicans.

I think that it is a measure of why the Republicans have had so much success that Mike can ask this question. Name an anti-abortion Democrat? A pro-gun one? An anti-gay one (ok, there are some anti-gay black Democrats)?

The Democrats insist on a level of ideological purity that the Republicans reject. Yes, there are Republicans who dislike all three of these speakers because of their views but they are still in the party. Can you imagine a Democrat who rejects a central party precept being a speaker at the DNC? You don't even have to imagine, just look at the speakers. The closest was Obama who implied that he was against racial quotas (time will tell if this was empty rhetoric).

Over at TechCentralStation, they predicted that the press would do exactly what Moore did - write a storyline before the convention event started.

My colleague and TCS host James K. Glassman recently highlighted two other
Laphams in a convention preview. Glassman pointed out that the establishment media will portray "Republicans like yahoos and religious fanatics." But what about those high-profile Republicans who share some establishment media values? For example, convention speakers Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani are pro-choice. And John McCain buys into green dogma on global warming and favors restrictions on political speech. For these Republicans, the media will roll out another Lapham to round out the picture. As Glassman puts it, they'll be "portrayed in the media as weird anomalies." (As if on cue, NBC's Tom Brokaw included in his Sunday broadcast the Lapham that the GOP was engaged in a "con game" by having Schwarzenegger, McCain and Giuliani speak.)

Monday, August 30, 2004

More on the Kerry daughters. According to other blogs, the Bush twins were there, too but got silence instead of boos. There was cheering for the Kerry girls but you could hear the boos, also. Considering that cheers are louder than boos...

Watch is here.

CNN says it was the Bush girls who were booed. This is contradicted here.

The French have discovered that there are no non-combatants in the war on terrorism. This is a quandary for them. The headscarf rule shouldn't be worth anyone's life but if they give in then who knows what the next demand will be. This is why it was so bad for the Philippines to give in a few weeks ago. Once you let violent people know how easy it is to hold hostages then this becomes their primary weapon.

In 1999, one of G.H.W.Bush's first problems was how to deal with hostages being held in Lebanon. Bush stationed warships off the coast and announced that he would start shelling the city if the hostages were not released by noon. It worked.

In an interview this morning, President Bush admitted that we might never win the war on terrorism.
He was correct and his critics have been saying this since he first coined the term. Like the war on drugs and the war on crime, it is an open-ended conflict with no organized opponent to surrender. It was a nuanced statement, the sort of thing that Bush is supposed to be too stupid to say.

Edwards has already picked up on it, proclaiming that he and Kerry will win the war on terrorism. I guess that he doesn't do nuance.

On Nightline tonight, Ted Kopel ended up defending Bush against the Democrats. Who would have thought it?

There was an article in the Columbus Dispatch
over the weekend about how the average Egyptian hates us. (no links - you have to be a paid subscriber.)

To summarize, in the 1990s 70+% of Egyptians hated us. Now 99% of them do and it is all Bush's fault.

It is interesting reading an article like this and finding the glaring omission. It's like a hidden picture puzzle.

What we are told is that the images of Israel subjugating the Palestinians is inflammatory. They blame us for everything that Sharon and Israel does. It is all Bush's fault for allowing this.

So what is missing here? Have you spotted it? It's subtle.

Al Jazeera! In the last four years, there has been explosive growth in satellite dishes in the Arab world. They are tuning in to Al Jazeera by the millions. And Al Jazeera has a huge pro-Palestinian, anti-USA slant. Their web site currently has a special report on how Israel is about to have the USA bomb Iran's nuclear reactors in order to preserve Israel's nuclear monopoly.

Those images that they see of Palestinians? They are all being watched on Al Jazeera.

This would be true no matter who was President.

See? Just like a puzzle, once you see the hidden piece it is obvious.

In case you think that Al Jazeera is neutral, check out this feature story.

Having succeeded in getting the United States to invade and occupy Iraq, Israel is now making efforts to instigate the Bush administration to deal with the "Iranian threat".

According to the Drudge Report, the Kerry daughters were booed as well as cheered on the MTV awards. When they asked people to vote for their father the boos were louder than the cheers. Interesting since the youth vote is usually considered to be disproportionately liberal and MTV's audience is supposed to be even further to the left. This is the whole point of the drives to increase young-voter turn-out. Maybe conventional wisdom hasn't been updated since Viet Nam. Note - the same thing happened to Michael Moore during his 2003 acceptance speech for his Oscar.

While web-surfing last night I saw an argument that a Bush lose would help the conservatives. No matter what the ABBers say, Bush is largely a tax-break and spend, moderate instead of a limited government Reaganite. The theory is that four years out of power during the Carter days caused Republicans to regroup under Reagan.

There are several problems with this theory. The biggest is that being out of power makes a party settle. Eight year out under Clinton and the Republicans settled on Bush even though his reputation in 2000 was as a moderate. Twelve years out of power and the Democrats settled for Clinton, also a moderate. The biggest qualification for the current Democratic challenger was not "Do I represent the party", it was "Do I stand the best chance of beating Bush?" That is how Kerry got the nomination.

So, if Bush loses, the next candidate will be even more moderate.

Speaking of Kerry, how many people actually know where he stands on the issues? Most Kerry supporters think that he thinks the same as they do. Test yourself. Is Kerry for or against the following issues:

  1. Troops in Iraq
  2. Global Warming
  3. Off-shoring of workers
  4. Bush's tax breaks
  5. Preemptive wars

  1. For it. He would like to see more foreign troops in Iraq but he is on record as being against a pull-out even if we don't get and foreign help.
  2. For it (against Kyoto). His energy policy calls for cheaper oil prices. This means more emissions. He also wants to burn more coal and natural gas.
  3. For it as long as there are no tax advantages.
  4. For them for most of the population. This is one of Kerry's nuanced views since he wants to repeal them for people making more than $200,000 and give even more to people making less than that. Many of his other proposals would help the "rich"
  5. For them although he would ask for more foreign (French and German) support.

(All answers either taken from Kerry's web site or from direct interviews with the candidate.)

So what are we left with? The ABB conviction that even if Kerry makes the same choices as George Bush, things would somehow turn out better because Kerry isn't Bush.

It's not JibJab.com but it's close. Check out Moore/Bush.

The Chicago Sun/Times has been looking onto Kerry's records. It gets confusing. There are all sorts of irregularities. One of them is the "V" designation for his Silver Star.

B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran himself, received the highest award the Army gives to a civilian, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, for his book Stolen Valor. Burkett pored through thousands of military service records, uncovering phony claims of awards and fake claims of military service. "I've run across several claims for Silver Stars with combat V's, but they were all in fake records," he said

Then there is the fact that there are three citations for the award.

Maj. Anthony Milavic, a retired Marine Vietnam veteran, calls the issuance of three citations for the same medal "bizarre." Milavic hosts Milinet, an Internet forum popular with the military community that is intended "to provide a forum in military/political affairs."

Normally in the case of a lost citation, Milavec points out, the awardee simply asked for a copy to be sent to him from his service personnel records office where it remains on file. "I have never heard of multi-citations from three different people for the same medal award," he said. Nor has Burkett: "It is even stranger to have three different descriptions of the awardee's conduct in the citations for the same award."

The last of these citations raises its own questions.

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman has no idea where a Silver Star citation displayed on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's campaign Web site came from, he said Friday. The citation appears over Lehman's signature.

"It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me," he said.

That's what Kerry gets for running on his war record from 35 years ago in an unpopular war instead of running on his senate record.

Of course, his senate record has a problem, also. For most of 2003 and 2004, he has been AWOL from the senate. He didn't resign from the senate but he has been bush campaigning. The result is that he has only made a few (I think it is two) votes this year. That led to this counter-protest.

The Veterans for Kerry were met by another veterans group calling themselves Veterans for Working Senators who are protesting Kerry's poor attendance record in his day job. According to this Berkshire Eagle report the Veterans for Working Senators complaint boils down to:

"We have no reason to question your [Kerry's] service in the jungles of Vietnam. But we have many questions about your service in the jungles of Washington, D.C.," the letter stated. "To use a military term, you have been absent without leave from the halls of Congress. Even worse, you have continued to accept your full salary for what amounts to a no-show job."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Is the Electoral College a good thing or a bad thing? The Weekly Standard has some interesting points on this.

That belongs to the late Martin Diamond, whose classic work on the keep-it side, The Electoral College and the American Idea of Democracy, is excerpted here. This brilliant essay, first published in 1977, reminds us that, like the U.S. Senate, the Electoral College embodies the federalist principle by which the American states were successfully united after the failure of the Articles of Confederation. The effect of the Electoral College is not to make us less democratic, but to make federal as well. Here's how Diamond puts it:

"In fact, presidential elections are already just about as democratic as they can be. We already have one man, one vote--but in the states. Elections are as freely and democratically contested as elections can be--but in the states. Victory always goes democratically to the winner of the raw popular vote--but in the states. The label given to the proposed reform--"direct popular election"--is a misnomer: the elections have already become as directly popular as they can be--but in the states. Despite all their democratic rhetoric, the reformers do not propose to make our presidential elections more directly democratic; they only propose to make them more directly national, by entirely removing the states from the electoral process. Democracy thus is not the question regarding the electoral college; federalism is. Should our presidential elections remain in part federally democratic, or should we make them completely nationally democratic?

"Whatever we decide, then, democracy itself is not at stake in our decision, only the prudential question of how to channel and organize the popular will."

After 2000, the practical wisdom of avoiding election of the president in one vast national district ought to be obvious. In 2000, state boundaries acted as firewalls, containing the uncertainty in one state. Imagine a virtual tie on a national scale--a nation-sized Florida. Lawyers for the parties would have every incentive to leap into action demanding recounts in thousands, or tens of thousands, of precincts across the land, with no sure result in sight.

Think about who is complaining and why. Would they really think it was a travesty if Gore had won the Electoral College and Bush has won the popular vote? In early November, many pollsters expected this to happen and Gore had already being asked if he would consider his election valid even if he did not win a majority of the popular vote.

Probably if the results had been switched, MoveOn would be running ads about how the Electoral College saved us from Bush and should be preserved (and the Republicans would have spent the last four years muttering).

A few thoughts on Eric Alterman. I know, picking on the deranged isn't nice but I'm going to do it anyway.

First, he announced today that he is going to quit reading his emails. His assistant will do this and pass the nice ones along to Eric. I can understand him not wanting to see the abusive ones but that also implies that intelligent critiques of his work will also get weeded out. Alterman is building a happy bubble around himself.

Here is what he had to say yesterday:

It’s amazing and a bit disgusting that our election seems to be turning on
a war that took place thirty years ago in which the man who served honorably
both in the war and in the anti-war movement is on the defensive against the man
who supported the war but took a pass on any service or sacrifice it might have
involved, but there it is. Given that we have no choice but to engage the
issue, let’s think about it for a moment and see if we can isolate the kinds of
decisions that faced young men in those dark days when American leaders—as they
are doing today—unjustly sent America’s youth to pay for their own folly and

Recall that only privileged Americans had a choice as to whether
to fight in Vietnam. The sons of poor and working-class people did not
have access to educational deferments and hence were unceremoniously sent to the
firing line. Given that, here are a few categories of the choices faced
and the choices made, in what I judge to be descending order of moral fortitude.

Yes, it is amazing and disgusting that Viet Nam has become such a hot topic for today's election. I blame the Democrats for this.

First, Michael Moore dredged up Bush's "missing months" in the Guard. This had already been investigated in 2000 but the press is still bringing it up. There's nothing there but they keep hoping.

Next, the Democrats nominated a candidate on the basis of four months spent in Viet Nam 35 years ago. Kerry didn't run on his record as a senator or an anti-war protester. He ran on his record as a war hero. That makes both his actual war record and his anti-war record fair game.

The newest pro-Kerry attacks talk about Bush being a coward for not serving. Alterman touches on this:

Contradicting one’s alleged convictions in the service of protecting one’s

Supported the war, preferred to let others fight and die for it (George W.
Bush, Dick Cheney)

This seems to me to be the least defensible position imaginable. Bush
and Cheney both used their privileged positions to protect themselves; Cheney
says he did it because he had “other priorities.” Bush says he did it
because he wanted to “better himself” by learning to fly planes. Whether
he deserted his post or not—and I think he did-- it is incontrovertible that he
wasted the government’s million dollar investment in his training by allowing
his qualifications to lapse while he was still supposed to be on active
duty. (And what if during this period, the Guard was actually needed,
if say, Oklahoma had invaded Texas?)

So, Bush's actions are indefensible even though he took a legal and acceptable alternative to service in Viet Nam. The same for Cheney. Neither one is fit to serve office because they didn't volunteer to go to Viet Nam 30+ years ago.

It doesn't matter how well Bush has done as a war president or how thin Kerry's accomplishments during his four terms in the Senate are. All that matters is what they did during Viet Nam.

Then there is this:

Category A: Exhibiting the strength of one’s moral convictions.

Supported the war and served in Vietnam (John Kerry, John
Opposed the war and served in Vietnam because it would have been
unfair to force someone less fortunate to take one’s place (Al Gore)

Opposed the war and dedicated oneself to anti-war movement at some
personal risk, including conscientious objection. (This position is not as
dangerous as serving in a war, but it is nevertheless just as moral. The war was
evil. Putting oneself at legal and physical risk as many did to try to end
this evil strikes me as an unimpeachable moral position, though given America’s
political culture, it would also be untenable for any contemporary presidential
candidate to hold.)

Alterman doesn't say it here but he counts Kerry in this group twice. Once for going and once for protesting. (As an aside, I should point out that Gore didn't volunteer to save some poor slob from the draft, he was trying to save his father's reelection and he knew that he wouldn't be in combat.)

Kerry is not so solidly in the first group as Alterman paints him. According to his own biography, he volunteered for swift boat duty when he thought that it would be close enough to the action to help his resume but still safely away from the front ranks. He was livid when the swift boats were re-assigned and he go out as fast as he could.

It is Kerry's actions as a protester that really got the debate going. After reading the list of charges he makes against the servicemen in Viet Nam, you wonder why anyone would blame Bush for not volunteering to go. Kerry never retracted those statements but his current campaign ignores them instead.

Had Kerry renounced his anti-war rhetoric last year the SwiftVets probably would never have formed. Kerry is running now on a record he rejected in 1971. It is only fair to puncture a few holes in his inflated picture of himself.

Again, if Kerry had offered anything except his war record it would hardly be an issue. Instead he sold himself as someone qualified to lead the war on terrorism because he spent a few weeks in a shooting war 35 years ago.

I miss Dean. At least he seemed to have a little substance.

And a final thought:

Recall that only privileged Americans had a choice as to whether to fight in
Vietnam. The sons of poor and working-class people did not have access to
educational deferments and hence were unceremoniously sent to the firing line.

This is untrue. I knew a lot of working-class people who went to college just to avoid the draft. None of these people were rich or privileged. They got scholarships and took out student loans.

Also, everyone who served with Kerry volunteered. The draft was only for the Army and Marines. (Although some people volunteered for the Navy and Air Force just before they could be drafted.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Lowered expectations. Near the end of his appearance on the Daily Show, Kerry said this:

Well, that's the test of debates. I mean, look, the President has won every debate he's ever had. People need to understand that. He beat Ann Richards. He beat Al Gore. So he's a good debater. And debates are sort of formulaic.

I know that it has been months since Iowa and New Hampshire but still... Kerry won those states on three points:

  1. I'm a Viet Nam war hero.
  2. Wouldn't you love seeing me debate George Bush?
  3. Bring it on!
That was it, the sum of his early campaign. Now he is warning us that Bush will win the debate. What happened?

Funny how two people can look at the same data and come up with different conclusions. Eric Alterman looks at a site called the Slant-O-meter sees that Fox has more critical coverage of Kerry than Bush and sees evidence of a right-wing slime-machine. I look at the rest of the chart which shows that the big three networks are far more critical of Bush than Kerry and I see evidence that the mainstream media is biased against Bush. NBC is especially bad about it, much more pronounced than Fox.

Adeimantus writes that we have a domestic truce on Viet Nam which Kerry violated. It is worth while examining how this truce came about.

The following is based on my own personal recollections. I grew up during Viet Nam and was registered for the draft when the war ended.

In the early days of the war it was just that - a war. People were drafted or enlisted. Some of them went to Viet Nam. It was dangerous. If they came back safely then they were veterans - someone who gained a little respect for having served his country and survived.

This didn't really change until reports of wartime atrocities started getting out. At first these seemed like isolated incidents but more kept coming out. Added to this was the testimony of people like John Kerry saying that atrocities comparable with Gengus Khan were being committed daily. The impression was that everyone who fought in the war was dirty. Added to this was reports of delayed stress and flashbacks.

The surest way to discredit a war is to discredit the people fighting it. Why continue the war if we were sending a generation over to either be killed or to be corrupted?

I don't know how many vets were actually called baby-killers but that was the impression we had of them. This continued until the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.

Eventually things changed. The anti-war activists had been telling us that North Viet Nam was better than South Viet Nam and that things would be fine if we just got out of the war. After the fall of Saigon they couldn't keep saying that. North Viet Nam turned out to be more ruthless than anyone dreamed. Most of the activists admitted that they had been wrong. A few even admitted that war against North Viet Nam had been a good thing, after all.

Jane Fonda never apologized, though. John Kerry never apologized, either.

Then came Rambo. It was the 1980s, Reagan was president and we had a movie hero running through the swamps of Viet Nam killing Viet Cong and Russians (who sounded German). By then we knew that the North Vietnamese had not beaten us. We had beaten ourselves. The Vietnamese knew what was happening in America. They knew that they would win if they just kept fighting long enough.

The national mood changed. A record called "19" became a hit. The title came from the average age of American combat troops in Viet Nam. It pointed out that the veterans had never gotten a parade.

The new feeling about Viet Nam was that we would have won it if our troops had been allowed to "finish the job".

That is where the truce on Viet Nam came from:

(1) Those who participated in the war, with the exception of anyone at or
above the rank of general officer, are entitled to public honor for their

(2) Those who actively opposed the war, with the exception of the most
extreme Jane Fonda-types, are not to be branded as cowards or traitors to their

There were a few minor violations of the truce. Dan Quayle had joined the National Guard and Bill Clinton had joined the ROTC then dropped out as soon as he knew he was unlikely to be drafted.

In 2000, Al Gore tried to make an issue of his service vs. Bush's. Gore probably hurt himself with this since he portrayed himself as having been in combat. In actuality, he was a Army reporter covering a construction crew that was never on the front lines. He also had a short tour of service and it was obvious that his father had pulled strings.

Bush, of course, took the Guard route. The fact that he was a pilot while Gore was a reporter might have helped Bush a bit. Stories about Bush being AWOL came and went without being a major factor.

Then came Kerry.

The second part of the truce applies here - Kerry is in the Jane Fonda class of war protesters. He hung out with her, he organized major protests, he testified before Congress, he even made Nixon's enemies list.

You would think that he would be running on this. Here was his chance. He was a warrior-turned-protester-turned politician. You would think that he could use this unique synthesis to find an anti-war platform that would have captured the nomination.

It didn't happen. Instead he ignored his protester days and ran as a decorated veteran. He was too busy trying to run against Bush's strength as a war president that he erased half of his own war-time history.

That's what got the SwiftVets upset. In 1971 he said terrible things about them. Without retracting his statements before Congress he is running as one of them.

Kerry's defenders point out that atrocities (are we still using that word?) like the ones listed by Kerry actually happened.

Yes, but were they the rule or the exception? Kerry said that they happened daily and implied that everyone did them.

Kerry often tries to be on all sides of an issue. He was a veteran but he threw his medals away except he still has them and is proud of them. He was in Viet Nam and served heroically except he played the system to end his tour of duty eight months early and to get medals for exaggerated events.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Reasons to vote for Bush

Competence. The Clinton years were one stumble after another. His only major piece of legislation, health care, died. Files vanished only to show up in secure quarters. Bimbos kept giving new stories about their affair after another. Even in his final hours, Clinton filtched some White House furniture and pardoned friends of donors.

None of this happened with Bush. With the exception of Iraq, he had rough spots but no real stumbles. Some people have attributed this to the Vice-President but Bush is more than Cheney's sock puppet.

A frequent criticism of Bush is that his administration is too unilateral. This is false. Look at his approach to Korea, Iran, and Libya. If anything, he has been too multilateral.

He is also frequently criticized for being too ideological but that is not reflected in the budget. If anything, he is too much of a centrist. A real Reagan Republican would have been cutting the budget instead of letting it grow. Bush's centrist beliefs leave him too soft-hearted to make any needed cuts.

This and his reluctance to fire anyone are his main failings as a President. At least a few heads should have rolled by now for something.

Bush's pre-9/11 response to bin Laden was a good one. Instead of following Clinton's ineffective attempts to assassinate bin Laden, Bush asked for an entirely new approach. 9/11 happened before he got it but even Richard Clark admitted that the policies he was pushing would not have averted 9/11.

The War on Terror. Afghanistan was Russia's Viet Nam. The same thing was supposed to have happened to us. It didn't because Bush insisted on new ideas. There are tradeoffs. We conquered Afghanistan in a few weeks because we used limited ground troops and depended on local allies. This might have helped bin Laden escape. On the other hand, if we had gone in with overwhelming force, we might still be fighting. The Russians showed us what sort of invasion doesn't work.

As for Iraq, I firmly believe that war with Saddam was inevitable. According to the Kay report, Saddam had some weapons programs but they had been ineffective because of the sanctions. If we had not invaded, pressure from France, Germany, and Russia would have lifted the sanctions. Saddam would have re-armed and attacked one of his neighbors and we would have been drawn into the conflict again. The difference being that there would have been WMDs and possibly nukes.

Also, their past history shows that bin Laden might well have moved to Iraq and set up shop if the sanctions had been lifted. Bin Laden was dangerous enough in the hills of Afghanistan. The prospect of him headquartered in a country with active WMD programs is what spurred the invasion of Iraq in the first place.

Are we safer for this? Probably. Al Qaida went from a large, wealthy organization with central planning to small, loosely connected cells. This type of organization can set off a car bomb but now hijack multiple planes and ram them into buildings.

Clarity. You know where you and the rest of the world stand with Bush. This ticks off a lot of people but it really is important in a leader. At the same time, Bush is not inflexible. His policy on embryonic stem cell research represents a compromise between his own belief that life begins at conception and the life-saving promise of new research. His policies for the reconstruction of Iraq have been modified and are pretty close to Kerry's original proposal.

Honesty. Reporters have been trying but no one has caught the Bush administration telling an outright lie. Iraq may not have been producing WMDs but there was every reason to think that they were. Such luminaries as Senators Clinton, Kennedy, and Kerry all assured the country that Saddam was producing WMDs. The 9/11 Commission said that there was reason to believe that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium.

Personality. If I was invited to Bush's ranch, we'd probably get along. we wouldn't have a lot in common - he is into sports and they bore me. Still, he comes across as a regular guy. He had some problems in his past and he overcame them. He is trying to do what he thinks is best for the country.

Reasons to vote against Kerry

Personality. It has been a running joke for months - Kerry makes Al Gore look animated. Every time he makes personal appearances he goes down in the polls.

Even more than George Bush, Jerry was born rich and privledged (although not as rich as the people he was with). He does not seem to have made any deep friendships in high school or college and he still seems uncomfortable around people. You suspect that a dinner with him would be uncomfortable but you know that it will never happen - you just aren't the right type of people.

Honesty. In his acceptance speech, Kerry told the country how important it is to have a President who does not lie to the American people. Ten years earlier, Kerry stood on the Senate floor and lied about his experiences in Cambodia in order to give himself the moral high ground in a debate.

Leadership. Kerry commanded a swift boat because he had a college degree. He didn't like it and got out after serving 1/3 of his tour of duty. He has not been a particularly memorable senator either. He did not introduce any major legislation and he skipped most of the meetings on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The only time he showed any real leadership was 33 years ago when he organized anti-war demonstrations. The Kerry campaign is now down-playing that period in his life.

Kerry has been talking about being president since the 1960s. It seems like he has passed up a lot of chances to demonstrate leadership.

Nuance. Kerry is too nuanced. The most famous quote is "Actually I voted for that bill before I voted against it." This describes his entire life. He is a war hero turned protester turned war hero again. He made a big show of throwing away his medals except they were someone else's medals. He kept his and displayed them proudly later in his career.

This is reflected little things, also. The huge SUV parked in his driveway isn't his, it's the "family's". He has called for energy independence but he has a boat that burns two gallons per mile.

His supporters say that he is nuanced and sees multiple shades of gray for everything. While this might be a fine attribute in a senator, it makes for a poor commander and chief.

Reagan was not very nuanced. At his death he was remembered by both sides as being a great president whose moral clarity won the war on communism.

Kerry's ambivalence is unlikely to win the war on terrorism. We lost Viet Nam because he and other anti-war protesters made it clear to the Viet Cong. That all they had to do was to keep fighting and we would eventually give up and pull out. Kerry's election will send the same message to Islamic militants - that America doesn't have the heart for a protracted conflict.

Let's be honest about Kerry's platform. It is barely formed. He talks about a middle-class tax cut and an upper-class tax hike plus fiscal responsibility. None of this will happen. Even if Kerry wins, the Republicans will still control one or both houses of Congress. Kerry does not have the leadership skills to pass legislation through a hostile Congress and there is no momentum to his platform.

Some conservatives like this prospect. With the President and Congress at each other's throats, no new spending is likely to pass. They are hoping for Bush's defeat just to bottle up Washington. For the rest of us, the Kerry administration is likely to be a repeat of the Carter administration. Do we really want four more years of malaise?
I commented last week about how difficult it would be for Kerry to counter the 2nd SwiftVet's ad. He has not managed to. His attempts have boiled down to:

  • The testimony was taken out of context, he was only relaying what others had told him. This doesn't work since no one forced him to relate those stories. Just the opposite, he chose them himself.
  • Bush should condemn the SwiftVets. This approach backfired. Bush denounced all 527 ads and a few networks are admitting that the anti-Bush groups have spent around 30 times as much money as the pro-Bush groups.
  • We should be talking about the issues like jobs, education, and medical coverage. Notice that he skips over terrorism. Bush didn't. When he condemned the 527s he said that the main issue is who can lead the war against terrorism.

The furor over the first ad continues. Very few people have seen the ad on TV (I never did) but everyone has heard about it. It is pretty well established by now that Kerry lied about being in Cambodia. Now his campaign has admitted that his first Purple Heart was not earned.

If finally happened - someone asked Kerry in front of a camera if he was ever in Cambodia. Too bad it was Jon Stewart and Kerry didn't answer.

"I'm sorry," Stewart said. "Were you or were you not in Cambodia?"Stewart and
Kerry then leaned in and stared each other down before Stewart asked about other
things Kerry's opponents are saying.

The Smoking Room has more on Kerry's appearance.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The SwiftVets have a new ad. The Democrats won't like this one any better but there is no way that they can call it a pack of lies. It is footage of Kerry testifying before the Senate about war crimes in Viet Nam with cuts to POWs saying how much this hurt them.

The Dems will cry foul again but the SwiftVets are just rubbing their nose in their own candidate's past.
We keep hearing about the Republican slime machine. Why doesn't anyone talk about the Democrat's slime squad? They've been working overtime. First the NYT has a piece finding connections between the SwiftVets and Bush. It then gets picked up by other news outlets as a big story.

Here's a couple of tidbits from MSNBC.COM

The veterans' group behind the controversial TV ads that question Sen. John
Kerry’s Vietnam war record has extensive ties to President Bush and his family,
other high-profile Texas politicians and Bush’s chief political aide — ties that
have raised questions about possible illegal coordination between Bush’s
re-election campaign and the group.

But later on in the story comes the kicker (emphasis added):

“Out of desperation, the Bush campaign has picked the wrong fight with the wrong
veteran,” said Jim Jordan, former Kerry campaign manager who now runs an outside group airing ads against Bush.

Kerry's former campaign manager runs a 527 and he complains about ties between Bush and the SwiftVets?

For that matter, why is it so sinister that conservatives have pushed the SwiftVets? Anti-Bush 527s have gotten many times the money as pro-Bush ones. I bet that George Soros has given money to lots of liberal causes before.

The double standard here is amazing. The SwiftVets are being portrayed as underhanded for getting a fraction of the financing that the anti-Bush groups have gotten.

What about truth? I heard someone on Nightline say that the anti-Bush ads are truthful but the SwiftVet ad is full of lies.

Look at the two ads running currently. One run by the MediaFund says that Bush is in favor of off-shoring jobs which he never said. It also implies that Bush created tax breaks for companies that off-shore. In fact, these tax breaks are decades old. The other which is run by MoveOn uses big graphics saying "GROUNDED" and "MISSING" while describing Bush's time in the Guard.

There is enugh truth in the SwiftVets' story to get the Kerry campaign to admit that Christmas in Cambodia never happened. If the press dug into Kerry the way that they are digging into the SwiftVets, who knows what else they will find?
The anti-war left agrees with me about base closures and bringing the troops home. Some points that we both make:

Well, let's see: if North Korea really does have nuclear weapons, and would, as
many believe, launch a preemptive strike against U.S. and South Korean forces on
the peninsula if they thought an invasion was imminent, what good would those
12,000 GIs do? Most would perish in the first few hours of such a conflagration,
but Kerry has no problem with incinerating them on the altar of his ambition:
anything to score some political points off of George W. Bush.


The network of American military bases ringing the globe represents one of
the biggest international welfare schemes, ever, on several levels. It's true,
as Chalmers Johnson points out in The
Sorrows of Empire
, that these bases impose a plethora of social costs on
their often unwilling hosts: particularly in Asia, where American arrogance in
Japan and South Korea provoked mass protests and calls for closing the

And here are some points I missed:

I would also point out that the plan, which calls for repositioning U.S. troops
in Poland, Romania, and (ugh!) Uzbekistan, is really an expansion of our military presence.

U.S. troops are not abandoning Western Europe. Looked at in purely geographical terms, they are merely spreading Eastward, toward the War Party's main target of the moment: the Middle East. But also much closer to Russia, which is another obvious but curiously overlooked aspect of the Eastward Ho plan.

There is, in short, a valid critique of the realignment strategy on which the
repositioning proposal is based. But Kerry is not making it. His surprising
inversion of the old partisan polarity on this issue certainly confuses his
supporters, particularly the Anybody But Bush (ABB) contingent. But for instant
enlightenment, all you have to do is drink deeply of Kerry's Kool-Aid. Philip H. Gordon, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, must have downed a giant draught, because there he is in the Los Angeles Times bibbling to Brownstein:

"During the Cold War, bringing troops home was a
dovish thing to do. Now, it's hawkish."

Kerry's criticism shows that he has no understanding of how warfare has changed:
he poses the question of whether to retain our overseas bases not in a strategic
framework, but in terms of forging political ties with our allies:

"With al-Qaeda operating in 60 countries, we need closer alliances in every part of
the world to fight and win the war on terrorism. So, as president, I will be a
commander in chief who renews our alliances based on shared interests and a
common vision for a safer world. For more than 50 years, our allies have joined
with us to say: the future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to

But what Kerry misses completely is that every American base, in Al
Qaeda's war against the U.S., is a potential target. It's all well and good to
deny that the future belongs to fear, but somebody ought to tell that to the
voters of Spain, who never supported the invasion of Iraq and were not about to
put their lives on the line for the sake of George W. Bush's foreign policy. If
Kerry somehow believes they will make an exception for him, he is very much

As Chalmers Johnson pointed out in a commentary on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" radio program, the Kerry/Wesley Clark critique of the realignment – that it somehow "compromises" the war on terrorism – is largely irrelevant. Military bases are of little use in the struggle against shadowy terrorist cells dispersed worldwide.

I know that the country is pretty polarized, but this is going over the top.

Gary Boston and Jeff Adler of http://www.shutitdownnyc.com/ are approaching Broadway performers, particularly gay men, and asking them not to perform on September 1, when convention delegates have been given tickets to eight shows, including 42nd Street, Aïday, Bombay Dreams, and The Phantom of the Opera.

They also want shops, restaurants, and even room service shut down on Sept. 1.

So now people are to be denied basic services and entertainment because of the beliefs expressed by some members of their party. This goes way beyond booing an entertainer or firing an spokeswoman who publicly compared the President to her pubic hair.

The Daily Show for the 18th opened with an attack on the Swift Boat Veterans. I can't say that Jon Stewart made fun of them - no one laughed - but he made it clear that he was disgusted with them.

Over on Nightline, they debated Kerry's strategy of attacking Bush over the Swift Boat ads. I think that Kerry's and MoveOn's strategy will be inefective. We already know that Bush went into the Guard instead of the Navy. I don't think that new attacks over this will affect swing voters.

Besides, they were probably hoping to save the Guard vs. Navy attacks for closer to the election.

Nader probably will make it onto the Ohio ballot. He turned in more than twice as many signatures as he needed.

MooreWatch has been looking into the "seven minutes". It turns out that the Memory Hole has a copy of the seven minutes in Quicktime format. The Memory Hole is very anti-Bush. They want him to have rushed out of the building as quickly as possible. After all, terrorists in hijacked airliners might have been zeroing in on him at that moment and he was endangering the children by being close to them. There is a logical disconnect here. Unless the terrorists had a homing transmitter planted on Bush, they would not know that he had left the building. They were worried about being able to hit the White House which never moves.

Besides, until the Pentagon was hit it was assumed that there were only the two airliners. Communication between air traffic control and the Feds was all screwed up.

Anyway, it turns out that the "seven minutes" were only five minutes. Moore lied (a film editor always knows how long a clip is).

Moorewatch points out that the Secret Service were already on alert because someone had tried to see the President, claiming that a Secret Service agent who does not exist authorized it.

Given that the country was under attack, the worst thing the President could do would be to charge out of a building without waiting for the Secret Service to give an "all clear". You might not like whatching the President, waiting in a classroom until he got the ok that it was safe to leave but that is how it works.

The same thing happened when he got to Air Force One. Richard Clark told him not to come back to DC until the skies were clear.

At some point in the day, Bush must have had to use the bathroom. It is a biological fact. If Moore had footage of that he would have shown it with a snide voice-over. Moore takes things out of context and gives them a different spin.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Swift Boat Veterans are finally getting real coverage on Nightline. Instead of dismissing them as Republican operatives and moving on, they are showing soundbites from the Swiftees. Nightline is still slanting the story for Kerry but it is no longer one-sided. They even showed part of the ad with the doctor saying that Kerry lied.

The process of denying the story is spreading it further. People who never heard anything except that a bunch of people who did not serve under Kerry are now hearing what the Swiftees have to say.

Kerry is attacking it which gives it some backhanded credibility. He is also having to spend money when he was hoping to save his own war chest, allowing the 527s to pick up the slack.

All of this will probably affect Kerry's campaign going into the general election. So far he has depended on his service record. That is now tainted and he has not come up with much else.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Kerry says that we should keep our troops in Korea. Has he read the news in the last couple of years?

The current Korean goverment won on an anti-American movement. A lot of ordinary Koreans want us out. Relations between the US and Korea are being harmed by our continued presence.

What about North Korea? Kerry says that we are giving them something for nothing. Other pundits have pointed out that we do not have enough troops to properly defend South Korea in case of a surprise attack. Worse, if North Korea has nucular-armed missles then our troops are at risk from a first strike.

Everyone on the left is disgusted at Kerry's admission that he would still have voted for the war, even if he had known then what we know now. Personally, I think it was the most genuine thing Kerry has said in this campaign. Sadam may not have had stockpiles of WMDs but we have plenty of documentation showing that he intended to build stockpiles again as soon as sanctions were lifted. He was in violation of multiple UN sanctions. We were exchanging missles with Iraq on a regular basis. Something had to be done. Given the choices of war or lifting the sanctions (with a future war very likely on Sadam's terms), it is good to know that Kerry would have made the right choice.

Unless you believe that Kerry only said it to keep Karl Rove from calling it another flip-flop.

Here's what the far left thinks of Kerry's war record. They believe everything that Kerry ever said about war crimes, especially ones that Kerry committed personally. As for his medals...

Circulating around veterans' websites in early February of 2004 was an email written by Mike Morrison who, like Kerry, won a bronze star won in Vietnam. Morrison who later went on to write speeches for Lee Iacocca, was highly suspicion of Kerry's claims to martial glory. In a letter to his brother Ed he wrote as follows:

"I've long thought that John Kerry's war record was phoney. We talked about it when you were here. It's mainly been instinct because, as you know, nobody who claims to have seen the action he does would so shamelessly flaunt it for political gain.

"I was in the Delta shortly after he left. I know that area well. I know the operations he was involved in well. I know the tactics and the doctrine used. I know the equipment. Although I was attached to CTF-116 (PBRs) I spent a fair amount of time with CTF-115 (swift boats), Kerry's command.

"Here are my problems and suspicions:

"(1) Kerry was in-country less than four months and collected, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three purple hearts. I never heard of anybody with any outfit I worked with (including SEAL One, the Sea Wolves, Riverines and the River Patrol Force) collecting that much hardware so fast, and for such pedestrian actions. The Swifts did a commendable job. But that duty wasn't the worst you could draw. They operated only along the coast and in the major rivers (Bassac and Mekong). The rough stuff in the hot areas was mainly handled by the smaller, faster PBRs. Fishy.

"(2) Three Purple Hearts but no limp. All injuries so minor that no time lost from duty. Amazing luck. Or he was putting himself in for medals every time he bumped his head on the wheel house hatch? Combat on the boats was almost always at close range. You didn't have minor wounds. At least not often. Not three times in a row. Then he used the three purple hearts to request a trip home eight months before the end of his tour. Fishy.

"(3) The details of the event for which he was given the Silver Star make no sense at all. Supposedly, a B-40 (rocket propelled grenade) was fired at the boat and missed. Charlie jumps up with the launcher in his hand, the bow gunner knocks him down with the twin .50 (caliber machine guns), Kerry beaches the boat, jumps off, shoots Charlie, and retrieves the launcher. If true, he did everything wrong. (a) Standard procedure when you took rocket fire was to put your stern to the action and go (away) balls to the wall. A B-40 has the ballistic integrity of a Frisbee after about 25 yards, so you put 50 yards or so between you and the beach and begin raking it with your .50's. ( Did you ever see anybody get knocked down with a .50 caliber round and get up? The guy was dead or dying. The rocket launcher was empty. There was no reason to go after him (except if you knew he was no danger to you--just flopping around in the dust during his last few seconds on earth, and you wanted some derring-do in your after-action report). And we didn't shoot wounded people. We had rules against that, too.

"Kerry got off the boat. This was a major breach of standing procedures. Nobody on a boat crew ever got off a boat in a hot area. EVER! The reason was simple. If you had somebody on the beach your boat was defenseless. It couldn't run and it couldn't return fire. It was stupid and it put his crew in danger. He should have been relieved and reprimanded. I never heard of any boat crewman ever leaving a boat during or after a firefight.

"Something is very fishy."

President Bush is going to re-deploy troops, bringing 70,000 home from Europe and Asia. The Washington Post thinks that this is terrible. I think that it is great.

The Post is missing a few factors. First of all, the troop deployments were based on containment of the Soviet Union and Communism in general. The front line has moved. What used to be the border between East and West Germany is now just Germany. NATO and the European Union have moved east.

At the same time, China is not exactly communist any longer and is not likely to invade the rest of Asia.

An additional factor - US troops are no longer as welcome as they used to be. This is especially true in Japan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

There is a high cost for keeping troops overseas. The bases are expensive and the military often has to move and house entire families.

So why pay to keep troops where they are neither needed nor wanted?

That money that we spend to keep troops overseas is welcomed by the host countries even if the soldiers themselves are not but it is questionable how much good will we are buying.

Another effect of the passage of time is the end of the need for some historic aliances. NATO was created to oppose the USSR. Without the USSR then it has fufilled its purpose.

It is also being held hostage by politics. During the Iraq war, France vetoed the use of NATO troops to protect Turkey (a non-combatant) in case of attack by Iraq.

This action by France is part of a wider pattern where France in specific and Europe in general is trying to set itself up as competition to the US. That is the whole point of the European Union - to create a single economy that can compete with the US.

During the Cold War, France and West Germany had to stay friendly to the US. Without us, they might be overrun by the USSR.

Without the USSR, there is no enemy threatening France or Germany so there is no need for them to stay in an alliance in which they are junior partners.

Bush has recognized this and reacted accordingly. The Post is still mired in the past. Unable to recognize new political realities that have been building for years, they think that Bush (or better yet, someone else) can rebuild our alliances just like they were before.

In international affairs, 50 years is an eternity. In the 1960s the Cuban Missle Crisis nearly escalated into a full nuclear exchange. Now, Russia is a trading partner and many of the Iron Curtain countries are joining the EU. Even Russia might join NATO.

NATO and the European alliances existed for over 50 years but their usefullness has come to an end. They cannot be expected to last forever.

I slept through the Daily Show the first time that Clinton was on. They reran it last night. The Swift Boat Veterans' story was still breaking so Jon Stuart had to get in some digs. He read from the Democratic Party talking points - these vets did not serve with Kerry and the doctor did not treat him (both wrong).

Clinton had to get in a few digs of his own. He stated that the same people who were behind this ad were behind a similar effort against McCain four years ago.

For someone who is supposed to be brilliant with a photographic memory, Clinton really got that wrong.

The complaint is that something like the Swiftees ad was done against McCain and that this one is being produced by former McCain workers who should know better.

Got that? The people doing these ads were not the same ones who ran the anti-McCain ads. Clinton told an un-truth.

Yesterday I mentioned the Conventional Wisdom that says the race is Kerry's to lose. The more I think about it the less likely this seems.

You overturn a sitting president by putting together a personal narative proving that you will do a better job running the country than your opponent. Reagan beat Carter with a promise to improve the economy by cutting taxes. Clinton, the Man from Hope who felt our pain, pointed to the Arkansas economy as an example of wha he can do.

Kerry reminds us that he is a vet and promises to get rid of Benedict Arnold corporations that get tax breaks for sending jobs overseas. The vet part is already hurting him as reporters dug into Kerry's Cambodia claims.

Off-shoring jobs might also hurt Kerry in a debate. The movement started under Clinton. The total number of jobs lost this way is comparatively small and Kerry is on record as supporting movement off-shore as long as there are no tax breaks involved. Finally, the tax breaks are not something that Bush passed. They have been around a long time. Kerry might have even voted for one of them (this would make an interesting October surprise).

Without a convincing narative, Kerry doesn't have much to offer except for not being Bush.

That leaves Kerry a long way from it being his race to lose.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The ABC News story that I linked to yesterday says that Conventional Wisdom is that the race is Kerry's to lose. I'm not sure how they arrived at that. Bush has been leading in several polls, especially when Nader is added in.

Slanting the news:

With more than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Prize winners, having signed a statement opposing the Bush administration's use of scientific advice, this election year is seeing a new development in the uneasy relationship between science and politics.
Proper naming is everything. This is not an organization of "4,000 scientists", it is a lobbying organization with 4,000 members. There is no membership requirement nor is there a place on the membership form to indicate what sort of scientist you are. This is just a left-wing group that gets extra credibility because of its name.

The glut of Bush-bashing books has to be the best thing that has happened to the publishing industry since Harry Potter. There are expected to be 50 of them by election day. FrontPageMag has a rundown on them.
ABCNEWS points out the lengths that Kerry goes to to try to seem like an ordinary person.
Throughout his campaign, Kerry has made it clear that he is not ready to cede to President Bush what Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, once called "the hang test."

So whether it's been shooting pheasant, playing hockey, tossing a football, or riding a Harley, Kerry has been presented to the public as fun-loving, athletic, outdoorsy, and, most importantly, the kind of Democrat who crosses the "testosterone threshold" needed to be commander-in-chief.

But the exotic nature of some of the sports he plays (say, kite-surfing in Nantucket) and the great lengths he goes in order to play them (say, flying from Idaho to Oregon to windsurf), can have the unintended effect of making him seem out of touch with the hard-pressed middle class whose cares he says have been his concern.

As his plane was flying from Oregon to Idaho on Saturday, Kerry defended his taste in sports, saying, "The guys who do it are all local guys -- plumbers, construction workers."

Asked if these regular folks fly from one state to another, the husband of the condiment heiress downplayed the cost, saying, "What? 250 bucks for a ticket?"

Kerry was born in the 1940s. The people who do a lot of these things are 20-30 years earlier than he is. Usually you figure that you are getting too old for kite surfing when you hit 40. Heck, I know someone who tore up his knee and missed weeks of work while playing basketball on his 40th birthday.

Acting like you are in your 20s doesn't make a seem like a regular person. It makes you seem rich and spoiled.

I wonder if he skis backwards like the Kennedys.

Bush gives a different image when he is relaxing. He clears some brush, drives an SUV, and throws a barbecue. This is stuff that regular people his age do. Bush doesn't have to act like real folks, he is one.

Maybe that is why Kerry's poll numbers go down every time he makes appearances.

Friday, August 13, 2004

TechCentralStation has an update on Global Warming. Surprise - it doesn't exist. The apparent rise in global temperatures is attributable to urban heating.

For an example of this, look at the Columbus Airport. 75 years ago it began the first regularly scheduled commercial flights in the country. Photographs of that first time show a grass field. The airport now has several square miles of cement and blacktop including runways, taxiways, and parking lots. Pavement heats up more than grass in the sunlight. Just walk across your driveway and your yard in your bare feet on a warm day to verify this for yourself.

The official temperature readings for Columbus are taken at the airport. Near all of that hot pavement.

They also have an examination of Kerry's spending proposals written by the man who put together McCain's proposals during his 2000 campaign. It seems that Kerry would add $2.1 trillion to the deficit and that's allowing for his own rosy estimates.

Over on FrontPageMag there is an answer to the people who said that Bush lied.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Too bad the major media has no interest in checking into Kerry's history. It doesn't take much digging to uncover nuggets. This article for example from the Boston Globe by Michael Kranish has some interesting tidbits. The article is meant to be a puff piece published between the end of the primaries and the convention.

For example, this contains the Cambodia story:

To top it off, Kerry said, he had gone several miles inside Cambodia, which
theoretically was off limits, prompting Kerry to send a sarcastic message to his
superiors that he was writing from the Navy's "most inland" unit.

The part about his third Purple Heart and Bronzw Star reads:

A couple of weeks later, on March 13, 1969, a mine detonated near Kerry's boat,
wounding Kerry in the right arm, according to the citation written by Zumwalt.
Guerrillas started firing on the boats from the shoreline. Kerry then realized
that he had lost overboard a Green Beret who is identified only as "Rassman."

"The man was receiving sniper fire from both banks," according to Kerry's
Bronze Star citation from that day. "Lt. Kerry directed his gunners to provide
suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding
and in pain, with disregard for his personal safety, he pulled the man aboard.
Lt. Kerry then directed his boat to return and assist the other damaged craft
and towed the boat to safety. Lt. Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great
personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the
US Naval Service," Zumwalt's citation said.

Other articles say that the shrapnel wound in Kerry's arm troubled him for years. However, the official report available from Kerry's own web site says "shrapnel in the left buttocks and contusions on his right forearm."

A contusion is a bruise. Was it shrapnel in his butt that was troubling him?

FactCheck.org has this quote:

Kerry's account is in the book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley, who based
it largely on Kerry's own Vietnam diaries and 12 hours of interviews with Kerry.
"I got a piece of small grenade in my ass from one of the rice-bin explosions
and then we started to move back to the boats," Kerry is quoted as saying on
page 313. In that account, Kerry says his arm was hurt later, after
the mine blast that disabled PCF-3, when a second explosion rocked his own
boat. "The concussion threw me violently against the bulkhead on the door and I
smashed my arm," Kerry says on page 314

This is consistent with the official record.

Where did the shrapnel come from? They were blowing up barges of rice and Kerry was too close and got hit with a fragment from his own grenade (where have we heard that before?)

Again, from FactCheck.org:

The Swift Boat group's affidavits state that the wound in Kerry's backside
happened earlier that day in an accident. "Kerry inadvertently wounded himself
in the fanny," Thurlow said in his affidavit, "by throwing a grenade too close
(to destroy a rice supply) and suffered minor shrapnel wounds."

The grenade incident is actually supported by Kerry's own
account, but the shrapnel wound was only part of the basis for Kerry's
third purple heart according to official documents. The evidence here is

From here it gets murky. You don't get a Purple Heart for a bruise and you don't get one for blowing up enemy supplies unless the enemy is firing back. Kerry seems to have run the two incidents together in his report.

You see, you don't even have to read the Swiftee's book to catch Kerry.

Eric Alterman needs medication. He is convinced that there will be violence at the Republican convension but that it will be caused by right-wing infiltrators.

...with so many people, it can easily get out of hand or be exploited for
nefarious purposes by those on the far-left or far-right—and in the far-right I
include the president and people working for his re-election.

...it hardly requires an act of imagination to prepare for the possibility
that Republican conservative spies and thugs will infiltrate these protests and
cause the violence themselves, with the knowledge that it will be blamed on the
protesters and their cause.

Jon Stewart keeps reminding us that they are a fake news show. Never the less, he felt obligated to comment on the Swift Boat Veterans. He chose to attack a column written by Robert Novak. Novak pointed out how short a time Kerry's "band of brothers" actually knew him. Stewart responded to all of this with, "Robert Novak, douchbag of liberty."

While no one would mistake the Daily Show for unbiased, sometimes it really goes overboard.

FactCheck.org's coverage if the Swiftees seemed a bit strange to me. It was pretty partisan for a non-partisan web site. I'm not the only one who thought so. Here's a run-down of the problems.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Last week Kerry took a page from F911 and criticized Bush for spending seven minutes reading to a class (actually Bush was not the one doing the reading). What was Kerry doing at the time? According to a recent interview, he watched the TV coverage from when the second plane hit the WTC until the third plane hit the Pentagon. Where was he watching? In the Capitol.

That's right, he spent 40 minutes watching TV, unable to think, while sitting in the 4th target. Of course, he did not know that it was a target. It was not obvious until the 3rd plane struck that there were more targets than the WTC.

This is why Bush's seven minutes do not trouble me. At that point, all we knew was that terrorists had attacked the WTC. The attacks had already happened. There was nothing he could do about them and the fact that there were more coming had not been communicated yet.

If Bush had jumped up and started giving orders, Kerry and Moore would be denouncing him for reacting without knowledge.

One of the attacks on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is the source of their money. Much of it came from a Texas millionaire who has previously donated $3 million to the Republicans including Bush.

I suppose that this is part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

But somehow George Soros doesn't qualify as part of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy since his roll in funding ads is never mentioned.

Some of the controversy is over what actually happened. Who put in for Kerry to get his first Purple Heart? Kerry has refused to open his service records which leaves a lot open to speculation.

There is a lot of "he said, you said" going on. The major media has chosen to unquestioningly believe whatever Kerry's supporters say.

Here is an example of both sides from Factcheck.

Van O'Dell, a former Navy enlisted man who says he was the gunner on
another Swift Boat, states in his affidavit that he was "a few yards away" from
Kerry's boat on March 13, 1969 when Kerry pulled Rassman from the water.
According to the official medal citations, Kerry's boat was under enemy fire at
the time, and Kerry had been wounded when an enemy mine exploded near his own
boat. O'Dell insists "there was no fire" at the time, adding: "I did not hear
any shots, nor did any hostile fire hit any boats" other than his own,

Others in the ad back up that account. Jack Chenoweth, who was a
Lieutenant (junior grade) commanding PCF-3, said Kerry's boat "fled the
scene" after a mine blast disabled PCF-3, and returned only later "when it was
apparent that there was no return fire." And Larry Thurlow, who says he
commanded a third Swift Boat that day, says "Kerry fled while we stayed to
fight," and returned only later "after no return fire occurred."

None of those in the attack ad by the Swift Boat group actually served on Kerry's boat. And their statements are contrary to the accounts of Kerry and those who served under him.

Jim Rassmann was the Army Special Forces lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water. Rassmann has said all along that he was under sniper fire from both banks of the river when Kerry, wounded, helped him aboard. Rassmann is featured in an earlier Kerry ad, in fact, (see script at left) saying "he (Kerry) risked his life to save mine."

On Aug. 10, Rassmann wrote a vivid account of the rescue in the Wall Street Journal that contradicts the Kerry accusers. Rassmann said that after the first explosion that disabled PCF-3:
Rassmann: Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.
When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I thought I'd be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around. Kerry's boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck. But, because I was nearly upside down, I couldn't make it over the edge of the deck. This left me hanging out in the open, a perfect target. John, already wounded by the explosion that threw me off his boat, came out onto the bow, exposing himself to the fire directed at us from the jungle, and pulled me aboard.

This could have been written two ways. As it was presented, it gave the claim from the Swifties then presented the pro-Kerry version as a rebuttal. I could easily switch the two. On the one hand we have a man in the water, diving under to prevent being a target. On the other hand we have a nearby observer. Who is in a better position to see enemy fire?

FactCheck closes with this statement:

At this point, 35 years later and half a world away, we see no way to resolve
which of these versions of reality is closer to the truth.

While this is true, Kerry should at least have to justify himself a little more. After all, his service and his medals are centerpiece of his campaign. He owes it to us to justify them.
The centerpiece of Kerry's campaign is his service in Viet Nam. He even took a water taxi to the convention to remind us. So, it seems as though it would be a valid story when a group of swift boat captains question Kerry's fitness to be president. After all, Bush's service record in the Guard was examined in 2000 but a single comment from Michael Moore and the Bush people had to spend two weeks defending his record all over again. Then it came up for a third time last month when his records surfaced.

Kerry's fellow officers say that he didn't deserve at least one of his Purple Hearts. He was the only swift boat captain to get out after four months with no worse injuries than a few scratches.

How does the press cover this? They attack the accusers. The story broke with a quote from McCain denouncing the ad. Bush was asked to disavow it. All of a sudden the 527s were news because they let 3rd party groups run ads. Really nasty anti-Bush ads have been running for months but the press only notices when someone runs an anti-Kerry ad.

The 3rd chapter of the anti-Kerry book is available on-line. It is pretty devistating. It seems that, while on a training mission, Kerry ordered his men to open fire on some people in sampans - possibly Viet Con but there is no proof wither way. As soon as they opened fire, the possible VCs took cover in the jungle.

During the excitement, Kerry's gun jammed so he fired a grenade. It hit the ground too close and a sliver hit his hand. When he presented it to the doctor, the doctor's reaction was, "Why are you showing me this?" He used tweezers to pull out the sliver and put a band-aid on it. Kerry's commanding officer refused Kerry's request for a Purple Heart but Kerry got one anyway, pussible by nominating himself.

Another interesting fact from this chapter - Kerry lied about being in Cambodia. People have been checking this the last few days. Kerry has been claiming since the late 1970s to have been on a secret mission in Cambodia at Christmas, 1968. At times he adds that President Nixon was telling people that there were no troops in Cambodia at the same time that Kerry was there. Interesting bit of historic trivia - Nixon didn't take office until January, 1969.

Kerry even told Congress this story. It is in the Congressional Record.

But it never happened. On Christmas, 1968, Kerry was 50 miles from Cambodia.

Again, outside of bloggers, this is not getting any press.

What was that about no liberal media?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

David Broder has an interesting take on Kerry's acceptance speech.

Normally the challenger to an incumbent president has two main tasks to perform
during convention week. The first is to present a fuller picture of himself, one
that is more comfortable to the voter. The other is to lay down in strong terms
the case why the man in office should be replaced.

Kerry and other speakers fixated on one brief shining moment in his pre-political career: his valiant service as a Navy officer in Vietnam. It became the all-purpose metaphor -- "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty." But it never really merged with the story of his later life, and the American people are plenty smart enough to remember that throughout the 1990s, Democrats insisted that Bill Clinton's avoidance of military service during Vietnam was no disqualification for his
serving as commander in chief.

Left largely unanswered -- or only vaguely outlined -- was the question of what Kerry had done with his life in the decades since he came home from Vietnam, particularly in his 20 years of Senate service. President Bush immediately pounced on the omission, suggesting in his very first speech since Kerry's nomination that the senator has few "results" for which he can claim credit as a legislator. The charge is unfair, but Kerry left himself wide open to it.

I've said this before - Kerry is giving his service in Viet Nam as the only reason that he should be president. He was only there for four months. Hundreds of thousands were there for a full year. He was the only swift boat captain to get out early. Once home, he started protesting that the war should never have happened. Never the less, his service is the reason that we should vote for him.

This could blow up in his face. A anti-Kerry attack book is due out in a month (assuming that it can be found among the 50 anti-Bush books expected to be on the shelves by November). The book takes on Kerry's strong point, Viet Nam. According to excerpts, two of his three Purple Hearts were for self-inflicted wounds and he did commit atrocities, just like he implied when testifying to Congress.

Similarly, a new 60 second ad (not produced by the White House) has several Viet Nam veterans condemning Kerry and accusing him of lying about the action that won him his bronze star.

This is only fair. The anti-Bush folks have been attacking Bush's strong points. They say that we are less safe than before and that the new jobs the economy has produced are lower-paying than the ones lost.

Kerry mentioned this in his acceptance speech - that the new jobs pay $9,000 less than the old jobs. How did he come up with this figure? He made it up.

Actually, the institute he quoted from made it up. Employment figures are too complex. No one really knows how many people are moving up economically or are moving down. Tracking this sort of data requires an effort on the level of the national census which is only taken once a decade.

Kerry's figures are come from averages based on various employment sectors' relative contribution to the economy. If one sector, such as manufacturing, grows slower than the service industry then the figures imply that people who were in high-paying manufacturing jobs have moved to low-paying service jobs. It is lying with statistics at its best.

Bruce Springsteen was on Nightline last night talking about his upcoming Vote For Change tour. At one point Ted Koppel asked him if he was for Kerry or against Bush. He replied that he was pro-Kerry. A few minutes later, in a "gotcha" moment, Koppel told Springsteen that he sounded like he was anti-Bush instead of pro-Kerry.

Predictably, Eric Alterman looks at a half hour show featuring Springsteen telling everyone why they should vote against Bush and has a fit. It seems that ABC slipped in a quick mention of a couple of stars stumping for Bush showing their conservative bias (technically Alterman was quoting someone else but it still ran in his blog).

Springsteen was upset that anyone would question media stars expressing political opinions. So why is the Boss against Bush? "Because of all the environmental regulations he rolled back," Springsteen explained.

Bush has not rolled back regulations. There were some regulations that were held up for automatic review at the beginning of his term. Some of these went through unchanged, some were modified but are still tougher than the regulations they replaced. At no point did the Bush administration made the world a dirtier place.

Springsteen should know this before he spouts off to thousands of voters. He doesn't. This is why media starts should stay out of politics - they don't know what they are talking about.

After all, would you take marriage advice from these losers?

This is where Nancy Reagan's faith in stem cells comes from. In reality, Alzheimers is unlikely to ever be cured by stem cells but Nancy's Hollywood friends think that stem cells could cure everything if Bush was just out of the White House.

At any rate, Nancy made it clear that this is not the only issue she is interested in and that she strongly supports Bush.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Did the Bush administration cry wolf in order to hurt Kerry? Let's look at the events.

First, Al Qaeda seems to like disrupting elections. Spain comes immediately to mind but there was also a local election going on in New York on 9-11. With a major election coming up, we have to expect something.

But what? According to the Washington Post, the rest of an Al Qaeda operative in June indicated that they were interested in hitting financial institutions in New York City.

The al Qaeda operative, Musaad Aruchi, was arrested here on June 12 by Pakistani paramilitary forces in an operation supervised by the CIA, officials said. According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official involved in the early interrogation of the suspect, Aruchi "was sure that al Qaeda would hit New York or Washington pretty soon."

"He had with him street maps of New York City without the front cover, and addresses of some other important buildings," the official said. "There were some data CDs also recovered from him."

Next, just six days before the alert was issued, more information came to light. An Al Qaeda operative had lots of information about specific financial institutions on his hard drive. Most of the information was years old, gathered in the days before the invasion of Afghanistan disrupted Al Qaeda's operations.

The big complaint about 9-11 is that the administration did not connect the dots. Yes, they had issued alerts in 2001 but they were mainly to military bases and Americans living abroad. They never said anything about domestic airlines.

Now we have some big dots. Al Qaeda attacked America's military and financial centers on 9-11. They planned for years. Now we see that they have also been planning for years to hit other specific targets. So an alert was issued.

Where does politics fit into this?

On the other side. The Bush haters are sure that there are no threats to America. 9-11 was a one-time event, possibly orchestrated by Bush himself. Michael Moore advances this idea in F911 - that the alerts only exist to distract us while Bush accomplishes some nefarious activity.

To many of the Bush-haters, the alerts are phony, no matter how valid the evidence. Howard Dean was denouncing the alert before he even know how old the data was.

I suspect that the Democrats decided at the convention that they would immediately discount the next terrorist threat as crying wolf. The odds are in their favor. That leaves the Bush administration on the defensive.

If the Democrats are real lucky, Ridge will be reluctant to issue any more alerts. Either it will give the impression that the war on terrorism has already been won or an actual attack will happen without an accompanying alert which would assure a Kerry victory.

It's a low-risk strategy if you are an anti-Bush cynic.

There has been an illusion of safety since 9-11. Experts expected a new major attack around the Spring of 2003. It didn't happen. In America.

What has happened instead is that Al Qaeda has gone from a well-funded organization with a strong central control to a poorly financed movement. There were numerous attacks in 2003 but they were all home-grown in countries that have a significant disaffected Moslem population.

Are we safe in Fortress America? No, but we are safer than we were before Bush invaded Afghanistan. Even the invasion of Iraq has directly made us safer. Terrorists who might have tried to attack America went to Iraq instead.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

What's the worst thing that the press can say about a presidential campaign? Compare it to McGovern? What about Nixon?

Kerry doesn't have to choose - he has been compared to both this week. And it's only Tuesday.

First the polls showed that Kerry's post-convention bounce was the worst since McGovern.

Then an AP story
says that Kerry's Iraq plan is reminiscent of Nixon's secret plan for solving Viet Nam.

Kerry's plan is open to debate. Weeks ago he admitted that no matter how many nations were involved, most the the troops would be American. They would gain legitimacy by associating with NATO troops and would stop being a target.

That would never satisfy the red meat Deaniacs. In his acceptance speech he promised to talk foreign leaders into replacing our troops with theirs. Over the weekend he expanded on that with his secret plan.

One thing that he has not explained - who has 100,000 extra troops that could be committed to Iraq? There is a reason that we are the world's only superpower. No one else has the spare troops to handle situations like this.

No matter what he implies, the French and Germans have not promised to relieve the US troops. They just don't have the troops to do it.

Any assurances that Kerry says he has are either wishful thinking or outright fabrication.