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August 20, 2004

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» Straddling from Political Animal
STRADDLING....Over at Obsidian Wings, von complains that:...he's been stuck in lawyerly locutions on the subject for nearly a week; even I, a lawyer, am getting tired of hearing them.Funny, though, it's not John Kerry that he's talking about.... [Read More]

» Straddling from Political Animal
STRADDLING....Over at Obsidian Wings, von complains that:...he's been stuck in lawyerly locutions on the subject for nearly a week; even I, a lawyer, am getting tired of hearing them.Funny thing, though: it's not John Kerry that he's talking about. It'... [Read More]

» Heads they win... from Snow World
The fighting in Najaf is really a ball-buster for Bush [Read More]

» Justice for the Swift from Bloodless Coup
OK, I'm officially sick of the whole swift boat thing. I really don't think it matters one way or the other if Kerry was or was not in Cambodia (he was almost certainly close), or whether his valor medals (Bronze... [Read More]

» Justice for the Swift from Bloodless Coup
OK, I'm officially sick of the whole swift boat thing. I really don't think it matters one way or the other if Kerry was or was not in Cambodia (he was almost certainly close), or whether his valor medals (Bronze... [Read More]

Comments

von, your post has been doubled.

"I'm still doing the "impossible""

It can't be that impossible, since everyone I've talked to is on board. I wouldn't confuse peoples' true (or maybe 'nuanced') feelings, with those that they stress when they make public comments. I wish they were the same, but people tend to get punished for nuance, as I'm sure you've noticed. The difference is also responsible for the sideshow that is political journalism, since if you take Tucker Carlson or Moore aside they say very reasonable and evenhanded things, but in front of the camera they have to play the part.

In other news:


Shaibani scoffed at government reports that Iraqi police were in control of the Imam Ali shrine and had arrested some 400 militiamen of the Mehdi Army.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw the militiamen still holed up in the shrine late on Friday, with no Iraqi police in sight.

In Baghdad, a spokesperson for the interim government said earlier that Iraqi police had arrested some 400 militiamen at the Imam Ali shrine.


What a weird context for he-said, she-said.

"I'm with Drum in thinking that the SwiftVet story is about to turn on Bush"
Seen the extended NY Times contribution, with convenient infographic detailing the ties between Bush and the ad's backers? Yowza.

The Democrats will inevitably go too far and hamstring their argument by overselling it, but it's nice to see that crap like the SwiftVet ad isn't being rewarded anymore. Maybe the era of Atwater is coming to a close. Which would be something I think we could all celebrate.

"Call me eccentric (or Ishmael, as may please you)."

Nah, just unduly self congratulatory. Moderates sometimes choose "a pox on both your houses" as their side in advance and then wait for the facts. I don't know how else to explain even considering not voting in this year's presidential race.

But you're quite right: Najaf is more important. I don't really know what we should do, though, nor can I figure out what's going on. Spencer Ackerman is doing very good stuff, and as always Juan Cole is worth reading.

Unfortunately I think Kerry had to respond instead of high-mindedly sticking to the issues*. This stuff works. It worked on McCain, worked on Dukakis, it will work on Kerry if he doesn't hit back. Yesterday was a start but it's not enough.

*or IS IT highminded? I saw a CNN report yesterday to the effect that "sticking to the issues" was a cynical campaign ploy by Kerry because he polls better than Bush on almost every issue whereas Bush still scores higher on some vague "character questions". Sheesh.

"I saw a CNN report yesterday to the effect that "sticking to the issues" was a cynical campaign ploy by Kerry"

We've reached the point where trying to win the election is a cynical campaign ploy. I wish I could remember where. . I think it was on red-state. . but I read somewhere yesterday that Kerry was nefariously trying to influence voters so he could win the election. Worth a belly-laugh.

von writes:

...I believ[e] that Kerry has done more than his fair share of "embellishing" for political gain. I realize that the traditional approach to these things is to choose a side and then figure out the facts.

Since I take it you've figured out the facts and chosen a side (or rather a viewpoint), what's "a fair share" and what's the evidence for Kerry's, uhh, excessiveness?

Thanks, Dave.

"I'm still doing the "impossible""

Thus, the "quotes." I'm a post-modern, self-conscious "Holier than thou" blogosperian. (IOW, I'm not so seriously self-righteous as I may appear.)

Moderates sometimes choose "a pox on both your houses" as their side in advance and then wait for the facts.

Umm, no. Read the "impossible" link. I came out pretty strongly against the SwiftVets from day one.

what's "a fair share" and what's the evidence for Kerry's, uhh, excessiveness?

Let's start with Chirstmastime in Cambodia . . . .

I've read the NYT article and lurked over at Drum. The Swiftvet agruments are pretty strong. Pretty weak dispersions from Kerry's water boys. Kerry's not the man. Kerry cannot be the man.

"The Swiftvet agruments are pretty strong."

Argument-by-assertion is not.

What is "christmastime" really?
Walmart starts pushing Christmas in late Oct./early Nov. My Christmas break this year will reach all the way to January 3.
Stick with "Christmas in Cambodia".

The Dead Kennedys had a song released in 1980 called "Holiday in Cambodia"
maybe Kerry was a fan amd got confused a little.

"It’s time to taste what you most fear
Right guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear¡­

It’s a holiday in cambodia
It’s tough, kid, but it’s life
It’s a holiday in cambodia"

"Let's start with Chirstmastime in Cambodia . . . ."

Ok, let's start.

From the LA Times:

But two of Kerry's crewmates — Wasser and Zaladonis — both told The Times the boat was in the vicinity of the Cambodian border and even fought an engagement with a Viet Cong sampan on Christmas Eve day.

"We patrolled a river on the border," Zaladonis said last week. "Unless I'm out of my mind or mistaken, that river was part of the border."

There are no after-action reports that pinpoint where Kerry's boat was in late December 1968. But a file from Navy archives in Washington obtained by The Times provides support for both sides.

An entry in a monthly summary of engagements for December 1968 reports that on Christmas Eve, "PCF-44 fired on junk on beach. Results: 1 sampan destroyed."

The entry was made by then-Capt. Roy Hoffmann, the overall commander of Swift boats and now one of Kerry's most vocal critics. There is no written location for the engagement, but it contains a coordinate used by the military to plot locations. The coordinate points to an area about 40 to 50 miles south of the Cambodian border, near an island called Sa Dec.

The entry also notes that the incident took place about 7 a.m., which would have given Kerry's boat another 12 hours to make it to the Cambodian border by nightfall. At a cruising speed of 23 knots, the boat could have covered the distance in about two hours.

This would be consistent with the contention of Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan that Kerry was in Sa Dec but reached the Cambodian border later the same day.

What do you have?

Maybe the era of Atwater is coming to a close.

And the era of Mickey Moore and Moveon is ascending? Sidereal is that what you are saying?

As for Kerry vs the Swifties, the second ad is working its way to the cable news shows. The current score is Swifties 2 Kerry 1. The trend line still favors the Swifties, because when you are the last man standing and can't hold a press conference to discuss the topic, you've got problems which aren't going to go away.

One of the commenters on the blog formerly known as Calpundit thought that, as the lunar new year is a bigger deal than Christmas in Vietnam, that Kerry's recollection of S. Vietamese firing their guns in the air might have been during the Lunar New Year.

That would put Kerry's time in Cambodia to February 1969.

What do people think?

Timmy
You think the winner is going to be the one who puts out the most commercials?
Ha ha ha
I think credibility may have something to do with it but then again some folks may still be waiting for Kerry to have a press conference about that intern Drudge reported on a number of months back.

Tom
New Year's celebrations are certainly huge in Asia.

"And the era of Mickey Moore"
His name's Michael. I don't particularly like him, but I grew out of schoolyard nicknames. To the point, a) I haven't seen F911 and likely won't, so I can't comment expertly, b) from what I've read, the effective parts of his diatribe are factually correct, so there's no equivalence, and c) in the end, I agree. I hope for a future with fewer Fahrenheit 9/11s.

"and Moveon is ascending?"
I hope so. I think Moveon is great. Don't you? I've only seen one (I think) of their ads. It was about how our kids are going to have to end up paying off the Bush tax cuts. It won their contest. Very compelling. Good politics. I hope you're not trying to bring that 'Hitler ad' garbage. Surely you know it was submitted to their site by some loon and they deleted it shortly thereafter.

"As for Kerry vs the Swifties, the second ad is working its way to the cable news shows. The current score is Swifties 2 Kerry 1."

Is the actual veracity of their claims any part of the score, or just their chance of bringing electoral results? If you're still enthused, maybe I was premature about the era of Atwater. Maybe we're stuck with it.

What do people think?

I think that only the future is certain—the past is changing.

I don't know why I read through blog comments sometimes. It might be easier to have bamboo skewers shoved under my fingernails....but I digress. What's worse, I'm actually writing one after having read them so I am officially contributing to the delinquency.

In regard to the Swift Boat stuff...their stories are completely unraveling. Many of the guys now criticizing Kerry have lavished praise on him, some as late as last year. Elliot (the Silver Star guy) has changed his story twice and now he refuses to give interviews. Turlow appeared last evening on Hardball and admitted he had no evidence to back up what he's been saying. The doctor who claims Kerry didn't deserve his first Purple Heart, his name never appears anywhere on Kerry's medical paperwork for the injury. This stuff just goes on and on an on. In terms of cred, the SBV are bone dry.

Bush won't distance himself from these guys, either. It's obvious to all but the most naive observer that Rove's fingerprints are all over this. It's a pattern...Willie Horton, McCain and the push polls, Cleland and Vietnam..it's what they do.

Kerry has to respond to it. If he doesn't, he loses. Period.

What I'm curious about is why Kerry is holding back on the rightwing tongue wagging regarding Kerry's vote on the Iraq Resolution and the alledged "flip-flop" of positions. Kerry's been consistent on his position from the outset...and by any above 100 IQ reading of the resolution, Bush invaded and occupied Iraq outside the authorization of the resolution.

"I'm still doing the "impossible": thinking the SwiftVets are lying scum while simultaneously believing that Kerry has done more than his fair share of 'embellishing' for political gain.I realize that the traditional approach to these things is to choose a side and then figure out the facts. Call me eccentric (or Ishmael, as may please you)."

I'm sorry, this is a complete load of crap. The reason the Swift Vets are so effective is that no matter how BS it is, the media and everyone else, in order to feel "impartial" and "nonpartisan", unthinkingly just cuts the difference, no matter how scant or nonexistent the evidence. The result is always exactly the one you've come up with, which is to say Kerry must have embellished and the truth is somewhere in the middle. "Clinton killed Vince Foster!" Well, maybe he only drove him to suicide. See how open minded I am! You're not original in the slightest.

To be fair, I suppose you'll now have to always refer to Kerry's "alleged" medals earned when "he claims" to have come under fire, and "supposedly" saved one of his crew mates.

How fair of you! How balanced! Yeah, right. LIke a FOX.

Speaking of Najaf, check this out.

Pretty wild stuff.

Is the actual veracity of their claims any part of the score, or just their chance of bringing electoral results?

With regards to the Swifties, I was thinking of Kerry's own changes to his stories (Cambodia at Christmas and 13 March)

Regarding Cambodia, it occurred to me that people often leave Christmas decorations around well after Christmas Day, depending on how lazy they are. Sometimes well into January.

I could see some military people setting up a small Charlie Brown-style Xmas tree and hanging some empty beer cans and spent brass off of it, then leaving it up for weeks.

Anyhow, I think that sort of thing could mix up a person's memory and make it hard to place an event.

I think Moveon is great.

I thought soft money was evil!

I could see some military people setting up a small Charlie Brown-style Xmas tree

I heard there was a great Xmas tree lot five miles into Cambodia. But wait there is more, now we have Kerry, according to Doug, ferrying in Seal, CIA and Green Berets. What I find curious is why the Seals would use Swifties, when they had their own boats?

I don't care much about the silly SwiftVet thingee, but don't use: "'We patrolled a river on the border,' Zaladonis said last week. 'Unless I'm out of my mind or mistaken, that river was part of the border.'" as a refutation. The river factually is not part of the border. He was mistaken.

As far as Sadr goes, we need to kill him or imprison him at this point. Otherwise he will just keep stirring up bloody revolution until he wins and installs and Islamist state.

Dylan has the right of it. Balanced and fair?? Embelished.

Lets get back to the facts. Kerry was in Vietnam. Bush was in the Guard, thanks to connections. Kerry got shot at. Bush failed to show up for his flight physical and DID NOT fly for the full six years of his committment.

The Swift Vets are upset at Kerry because he came home and was active in the antiwar movement. Fair enough. A valid difference of opinion.

But using that difference as a basis of a smear job is not fair. And allowing the smear to continue with his blessing tells me all I need to know about the character of George Bush.

Kerry is now suing the Swifters.

The truth will out. If the Smear Boat Veterans for Rove still haven't been publicly denounced by Bush at the time of the first Presidential debate, this should make for some very interesting mano a mano exchanges.

It will be impossible for Bush to keep his own military record out of the argument, and it's a much different comparison in that context: a huge embarassment as the AWOL scab is ripped off again. Kerry'll ask why Bush's records still haven't been released, while Kerry has posted every evaluation ever received from every commanding officer (including Thurlow) on his web page and they're all, every single one, loaded with effusive praise?

Glass houses, stones? Bush will get eaten alive if he allows this, and surely his campaign knows it. Expect for it to have been abandoned by the Rovians by then. The question then will be, will Kerry agree to stop talking about it, or can they fight off the Kerry counterattack?

Hey, look over there... Missile defense! Gay marriage! Watch this drive!

I saw on PBS last night that the Swifters have been offering this same tripe to any willing takers since 1984. If their charges were true, wouldn't some news agency of some repute have dug into it and found enough evidence to verify it by now?

I don't care much about the silly SwiftVet thingee

Cut the crap, Sebastian. It's a pack of liars paid by members of the Bush gang to go out and spread their slime. And you know it.

What do you mean, you don't care much? These are your people. They're not some fringe nutcases. But you're not interested. Rather talk about Christmas in Cambodia, would you? That's convenient.

As for me, I'm still waiting and seeing. I think Kerry can end the waiting by signing that pesky form 180, and releasing all of his records to whatever newspapers are interested.

After all, that'd be the fair and balanced thing to do.

And you know it.

Personal foul mind-reading. Mandatory ejection.

Kerry is now suing the Swifters.

Is he? Excellent. That should make for some good headlines in October.

Bush has really missed the boat on this one: if he denounces the Swifters now, he's obviously scrabbling to catch up. But if he doesn't, he can't afford to debate Kerry - melior's dead right.

Personal foul mind-reading. Mandatory ejection.

Slarti, either Sebastian knows that the Swifters are a pack of liars (paid by a Republican from Texas, last I heard, which is close enough to "the Bush gang") or else he's functionally illiterate. Since I will not believe that Sebastian is the latter, it's a reasonable enough deduction that he does know the Swifters are a pack of liars. It's not like this is a questionable issue.

As for me, I'm still waiting and seeing. I think Kerry can end the waiting by signing that pesky form 180, and releasing all of his records to whatever newspapers are interested.

Why should he? All Kerry's military records are up on his website. (His medical records aren't, but medical records are private in a way that military records aren't.)

Can't recall, Slarti: were you advocating that Bush "put an end" to the AWOL story by signing that pesky form 180 and releasing all of his records? Which Bush still hasn't done... If not, why not?

I think Bush has done this just right, Jesurgislac. He's pretty much said that he's got as much control over the SwiftVets as Kerry's exerting over MoveOn, i.e. none.

Slarti, either Sebastian knows that the Swifters are a pack of liars (paid by a Republican from Texas, last I heard, which is close enough to "the Bush gang") or else he's functionally illiterate.

Wow. NO middle ground? More [ahem] moderate thinkers would tend to wait for all the information to come out before making such a statement, but what the hell: you go, boy.

Which Bush still hasn't done

He hasn't? Show me.

"I thought soft money was evil!"

Yeah, you and Scott McC. Crazy, the both of you.
Changing the subject from how much a load of slander the ad is to who paid for it isn't a bad play, though.

"As for me, I'm still waiting and seeing. I think Kerry can end the waiting by signing that pesky form 180, and releasing all of his records to whatever newspapers are interested.

"After all, that'd be the fair and balanced thing to do." -- Slartibartfast

Uh, Kerry's records have been released and can be found on his web site here.

Wow. NO middle ground? More [ahem] moderate thinkers would tend to wait for all the information to come out before making such a statement, but what the hell: you go, boy.

Eh... middle ground. When thus far the Swifters have provided no solid evidence to back up their accusations, and their accusations directly contradict the contemporary documentary record, and every piece of independent evidence that's surfaced since shows that they're lying... I'm not sure that clinging to the middle ground actually shows you in any better light than those who persistently claimed there was no real evidence that the atrocities in Abu Ghraib were nothing but a frat-boy prank. At some point you have to decide whether you really want to stand back and be neutral about this kind of defamation.

He hasn't? Show me.

Er... Slarti, do you really want me to link to all the

Bush sites on the Internet to show that on none of them has Bush provided his full military records?

That does appear to be what you're asking for.

I'll make a more reasonable request: If you're asserting that Bush has provided his full military records online, for the period between May 27, 1968 and October 1, 1973, please, link to it. Or admit that it just isn't there.

very glad to hear there's no connection between Bushco and the Swift Vets. oops, what's that noise coming from Florida?
http://atrios.blogspot.com/

Slart:"He's pretty much said that he's got as much control over the SwiftVets as Kerry's exerting over MoveOn, i.e. none."

Check out the latest at Atrios:

"We could put an end to it all if Sen. Kerry would come out and join the president and say 'let's stop this,'" McClellan said.

Bush Campaign Busted Passing Out “Swift Boat Veterans for Bush” Flyer

At least he could address the issue directly, as Kerry addressed the recent MoveOn ad.

It's not even "soft money". Soft money is donations directly to the DNC and RNC. These are "independent expenditures".

If a newspaper prints a pack of slanderous lies, the problem is with slanderous lies, not with newspapers. You cannot ban 527s constitutionally and Bush damn well knows it. Maybe you could require more disclosure about their donors. That would be just fine with me. But that's not the issue.

What MoveOn needs to understand, though, is that these days ads' main function is to drive free media and define the debate. It can focus group as well as you like, but if it doesn't contain any new information or charges it won't make the evening news. Some liberal group needs to buy an ad that makes specific, accurate, factual charges about Bush's human rights record.

And at least Sebastian and Moe have done nothing to actively promote this story. The list of right-of-center bloggers I can respect is dwindling fast these days.

Updated in response to comments.

Heck, I thought I was doing a half-decent job of covering the Najaf standoff, including being the first (only?) blog to note the significance of al-Sadr offering to turn the shrine over to senior clerics last weekend.

But if even readers like carla and praktike won't defend my honor, I guess there's no hope. :)

The thing is, I have no f***** chance to influence what happens in Najaf, and unfortunately these idiot campaign commercials are much more likely to influence the election than what happens in Najaf. And the way to have elections decided on what happens in Najaf instead of slanderous campaign commercials is not for the slandered parties not to defend themselves.

Not only politicians embellish their memories. My close family members and I have contradictory memories of things that happened not five years ago, and I bet you do too.

"Updated in response to comments."

**I can't resist violating my own advice (I'm a weakling): The river Kerry was supposedly on while "on" or "near" Cambodia on Xmas day is not, in fact, on or near the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Kerry's vivid memory is an embellishment -- at the very least. Yes, politicians do these kinds of things.

From above:
This would be consistent with the contention of Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan that Kerry was in Sa Dec but reached the Cambodian border later the same day.

I suspect you've reached a conclusion that pleases you, independent of the available data. Yes, bloggers do these kinds of things. (So do commentators, but as yet I've seen no evidence that in any way rules out Kerry being on the border that xmas day, or for that matter being in Cambodia near enough to xmas day to make it ludicrous to expect his memories to be perfectly accurate at a remove of years.) And the original contention of yours that I challenged is, as far as I can tell, hardly supported by this one instance whatever the truth of this particular issue. I recommend you at least retract it and substitute a Slartibartian pause.

Rilkefan, "consistent with" and "actually happened" are two different things. But I'll grant that I'm as amendable to casting a jaundiced eye to the facts as anyone else. As are you (as I'm sure you'll concede).

My close family members and I have contradictory memories of things that happened not five years ago, and I bet you do too.

I'll gladly grant you that honest eyewitnesses can make mistakes -- and even critical ones.

"consistent with" and "actually happened" are two different things. But I'll grant that I'm as amendable to casting a jaundiced eye to the facts as anyone else. As are you (as I'm sure you'll concede).

von, you said Kerry exaggerates more than the usual politician. So far as I know your case rests on events about which neither of us can judge the truth - Kerry might have been there and he said (once many years ago and once in 1986) that he was.

Of course you're a more dispassionate observer on this than I am, but I'm supposedly a trained observer and as far as I can tell you've got no reasonable basis for your opinion.

Why do I care passionately about this? See the 2000 Election and read The Daily Howler. (Also you seem like a smart good guy and it pains me for you to be in error. [Though Sebastian seems like a smart good guy too and oddly the same doesn't apply.])

Check out the latest at Atrios:

Lovely. Excerpt, no link.

Bush sites on the Internet to show that on none of them has Bush provided his full military records?

I await with bated breath the proof that Bush hasn't released his records.

Proof, mind you. Not some rant on DU. Come on, I know you can do it.

me: "Check out the latest at Atrios"

Slart: Lovely. Excerpt, no link.

To save you valuable googling time...

That's it? That's your evidence? That some pro-Bush groups are actually rallying together?

Dunno about how you folks on the Left work, but some cooperation with Alachua County Republican Party doesn't point strongly toward a party-wide conspiracy.

Pretty weak. Wow. 35,000 entire Republicans.

The flyer is thin gruel.

Apparently the Kerry campaign isn't optimistic about enough people being able to google 'Spaeth'.

Sure, the stuff in Florida and Minn. isn't much (though perhaps there's more), and the web of connections between the ad people and Bush's people up at the NYTimes is just circumstancial - but it would be nice if Bush would, as his spokesman said he could, turn it off (though not if involves the 1st Amendment violation Bush recently spoke in favor of).

swopa:

You're a kick ass Najaf writer, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound...and quit looking at me with that x-ray vision, dammit.

**I can't resist violating my own advice (I'm a weakling): The river Kerry was supposedly on while "on" or "near" Cambodia on Xmas day is not, in fact, on or near the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Kerry's vivid memory is an embellishment -- at the very least. Yes, politicians do these kinds of things.

Are you sure? Kerry headed north up the Cho Chien to the junction with the My Tho, which is only miles from the border on X-mas Eve...

Dunno about how you folks on the Left work, but some cooperation with Alachua County Republican Party doesn't point strongly toward a party-wide conspiracy.

It's not the Alchua County Republican Party, it's Alachua Bush/Cheney Committee. And this particular point isn't about conpiracy, it's about direct support by the President's campaign. Surely the good folks in Alachua wouldn't have gone ahead with this if it was against Bush's wishes.

And you know it.

Intended to express my opinion that Sebastian is a reasonably intelligent and well-informed individual.

The evidence against the Swift Boat Scumbags for Bush is overwhelming.

If their charges were true, wouldn't some news agency of some repute have dug into it and found enough evidence to verify it by now

Actually no Edward, next question.

"No one wants to discuss it."

I declined to respond to this the first time, but since you're repeating it: I'm not "discussing it" (or posting about it), because it would be pointless. No one particularly knows what's going on in Najaf, and what will happen will happen, and nothing any of us says will have the faintest effect on anything.

So why on earth waste breath or finger strength? What possible point would there be to it? What do you want out of such "discussion," von? To know that we care?

Okay: I care.

I'm now finished with my exhaustive discussion of Najaf until I see how it settles out.

If their charges were true, wouldn't some news agency of some repute have dug into it and found enough evidence to verify it by now

Actually no Edward, next question.

You have such little faith in Fox?

Regarding Posted by: wilfred | August 20, 2004 06:31 PM, I'd like to note that whatever anyone is ever arguing about, unless one is referring to a single-post "weblog," citing an entire blog as a source for anything specific is about as useful as citing "the library" or "Encyclopedia Britannica, somewhere," or, perhaps, "look on the internet!"

Permalinks were invented for a reason. I cite "http://amygdalagf.blogspot.com" for the post that explains why. You can find the post for yourselves.

Hey, I've written about Najaf! Conclusion: Really fluid, and Sadr cannot be trusted.

On to Kerry in Cambodia.
(1) His "Christmas in Cambodia" was completed debunked, despite his claiming that it was seared -- seared! -- into his memory.
(2) Kerry claims that he went into Cambodia in January or February 1969. Problem is, none of his boatmates (that is the coin of the realm, right?) will back him up. None of his command has stepped up and confirmed it. Kerry has not released all of his military records, so there's no documentation available of him entering Cambodia. His December 1968 and January 1969 records are not available.
(3) Kerry's biographer claimed in the Telegraph that Kerry was in Cambodia a few times some time after Christmas 1968, but where did he get that information? Kerry? His diary? After action reports? We don't know. Brinkley is selling a book but he's jumped into the media cone of silence, which is highly unusual behavior.
(4) It's been pretty well established that those entering Cambodia did not use swift boats to make incursions.

These questions will remain nagging until Kerry steps up and answers them. Kerry made his time in Vietnam a centerpiece of his campaign. He said "bring it on", well, it is on. The first thing he should do is release all of his records. If he can't back up his Cambodia stories with witnesses or documentation, then he should just say so. Brinkley needs to break his self-imposed media silence. His credibility as a presidential historian is on the line.

gary, since post was the entire first column of that web address, thought it would be ok. but seeing as how you've jumped on my first post back in a week after the last thread we were on together, i'm sure that was just your way of saying welcome :)

"I await with bated breath the proof that Bush hasn't released his records."

As a rule, asking someone to prove a negative isn't reasonable, Slart. If you wish to affirm such a fact, on the other hand, it would be easy enough for you to do so.

Bernard Yomtov: "The evidence against the Swift Boat Scumbags for Bush is overwhelming."

That may be, but I'll note that your calling them names isn't an argument. As a rule, I tend to assume that when people rant with name-calling it is because they are unable or unwilling to muster facts. I may be the only person who thinks that way, of course. You may or may not wish to take that into account in your efforts at persuading others.

Bird Dog sucks, oh wait wrong site.

You have such little faith in Fox?

Oh ye of little faith, Fox gets no credit for breaking this story as compared to WaPo, which is my bet. Wasn't there a journalist who said they were all in the bag for Kerry? I believe the answer is yes, never the less this story isn't goint to die.

Welcome, Wilfred!

"gary, since post was the entire first column of that web address, thought it would be ok."

Could you try that again? I can't make sense of it.

Bird Dog: "(4) It's been pretty well established that those entering Cambodia did not use swift boats to make incursions."

Cite, please?

Adding to BD's comment:
(5) Kerry's claims of having been running guns and CIA agents into Cambodia seem ... well, unlikely to have happened, given how little time Kerry spent in the country. Surely a more experienced skipper, familiar with the waters, would have been chosen.

"Kerry's vivid memory is an embellishment -- at the very least. Yes, politicians do these kinds of things."

I gather from these statements that you have never been fishing.

Bird Dog: "(1)..."
Cite, please?

As a rule, asking someone to prove a negative isn't reasonable, Slart.

I'm not, as a rule, a reasonable guy. But: the idea that no Bush sites have linked to the complete record proves something, somehow is even more silly than the idea that Kerry's site has his complete military record up.

Just sayin', is all.

Gary...you do seem to pick on wilfred with little to no obvious reason. Others had already linked to the particular story by the time you noted your criticism, so it was mute by then, unless you're auditioning for Chief of the html Police. ; )

As for Kerry in Vietnam...why is it the same people who applauded me when I wrote repeatedly that those charged with atrocities under the fog of war in Iraq should be given every benefit of doubt, given what a tough job it must be to operate under such conditions, are the same people now jumping to doubt Kerry's side of the story? The same people pouring through the details of these allegations, drooling to find some morsel of contradiction to sink their fangs into? Gleefully pointing out what they feel is an inconsistency with a report?

Could it be unchecked partisanship????

Really, the double standard is a bit obnoxious.

OH...yeah...on Najaf.

It's a tricky one. Clearly if Sadr died in his sleep nearly everyone would be better off here. But he's a political force to be reckoned with now due to a series of miscalculations on Bremer's/Rumsfeld's parts. Kill him now and he's a dangerous martyr symbol (and if you think the Iranians won't ensure that, you're not paying attention); let him live and he'll grab enough power to be a constant thorn in Allawi's/our side.

The trick now IMHO is to get Sistani to curb him. To convince Sistani it's in his/his people's best interest to lean on the young pup and make him fall in line. This will undoubtedly include offering him a significant place at the table, but that's more or less a forgone conclusion now, so it might as well look like Allawi's idea.

Or, I could be full of $%#!

Probably the latter.

Could it be unchecked partisanship????

Edward, you can probably spot it better than I can given the ABB thread which is driving your side.

As for Sadr, take away the Iranian money, and you have another guy who didn't make it to cleric.

Edward,

Kerry *invited* people to scrutinize his record, so don't fault people for accepting his offer.

Furthermore, isn't scrutinity warranted given that
his statements on Vietnam are contradictory at best (I'm a hero and a war criminal), falsehoods at worst (Christmas in Cambodia; the 1971 testimony and the Winter Soldier stuff), with plenty of implausible stuff in-between (gun-running and transporting hatless CIA officers across the border)? Not to mention that his freelance diplomacy in Paris was almost certainly illegal.

And isn't it of some importance to try to find out what, if anything, Kerry has learned from Vietnam? Will he, for example, cut and run from Iraq, just as he advocated cutting and running from Vietnam?

"Gary...you do seem to pick on wilfred with little to no obvious reason."

Oh, please. How many blunt remarks have I made here today? Or in the last three days? Or generally? How many are directed at wilfred? Do I treat wilfred in some out-of-character way that is different from the way I generally comment? Was I just "picking on" wilfred in some way different from my comment to Slarti or Bernard Yomtov or Bird Dog? Did I make any personal remark in any way?

If not, wtf are you talking about?

The only thing I have against wilfred is that wilfred rarely writes an actual sentence, and as a result I often find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand what he is trying to say. This is a factor that is easily remedied by wilfred. (I heartily commend this to wilfred, and all; take it to heart! Please! For the love of god!)

What else might I have against wilfred?

It may or may not have crossed your attention, Edward, that I am a great deal more prejudiced against people who cannot argue well, fairly, and logically, or cannot express themselves coherently, or who are too lazy to bother to try to be coherent, thus putting the work onto us readers, than I am prejudiced against people with whom I merely have political disagreements.

I have far more respect for people who think clearly and express themselves clearly than I have for people who agree with me, but through an illogical or foolish process. After all, I may be wrong, and I'd rather have my ideas well-challenged, and learn that I am wrong (I benefit!), than be allied with an idiot (I do not benefit!).

"Really, the double standard is a bit obnoxious."

Double standards always are, aren't they?

How many blunt remarks have I made here today? Or in the last three days?

Gary is, and I mean this in the friendliest way possible, an equal-opportunity bludgeon.

"Not to mention that his freelance diplomacy in Paris was almost certainly illegal."

Shouldn't we try Henry Kissinger first?

Was Kissinger in the Navy Reserves?

(1) His "Christmas in Cambodia" was completed debunked, despite his claiming that it was seared -- seared! -- into his memory.

I'm not entirely convinced. See my comment at Washington Monthly.

(2) Kerry claims that he went into Cambodia in January or February 1969. Problem is, none of his boatmates (that is the coin of the realm, right?) will back him up. None of his command has stepped up and confirmed it. Kerry has not released all of his military records, so there's no documentation available of him entering Cambodia. His December 1968 and January 1969 records are not available.

Kinda like nobody has stepped up to confirm Bush served in Alabama. Yet Kerry's spot reports to seem to indicate SEAL and PsyOp involvement, and given the location of his Swift, incursions into Cambodia are more than likely. Alas, as we learn in Kerry's biog (page 190):

John Kerry's war journals about his command of PCF-44 may provide the best documentation of the activities of any Swift boat in Vietnam. Some thirty-five hundred American sailors served on Swifts during the Vietnam War, but what each of them did cannot be ascertained, as no deck logs were kept on the boats...The absence of a thorough official paper trail on the Swifts helps explain why so little has been written on the riverine war in Vietnam. The details of what particular boats did and how individual sailors performed come largely from oral-history recollections and travel orders. Fortunately for the posterity of PCF-44, Lieutenant (j.g.) Kerry kept his own records...

So it's unlikely that there's any documentation (hey, at least nobody's claiming it was "inadvertantly destroyed") of his operations, beyond his spot reports and journal entries. Given that he was in command of his Swift, it's also unlikely that any of his crew would even know their position.

(3) Kerry's biographer claimed in the Telegraph that Kerry was in Cambodia a few times some time after Christmas 1968, but where did he get that information? Kerry? His diary? After action reports? We don't know. Brinkley is selling a book but he's jumped into the media cone of silence, which is highly unusual behavior.

See above.

(4) It's been pretty well established that those entering Cambodia did not use swift boats to make incursions.

Sources? Operation SEALORDS seems to have used Swifts to bring inderdiction efforts into Cambodia.

Timmy,

"As for Sadr, take away the Iranian money, and you have another guy who didn't make it to cleric."

Do you have a site for that theory. I think many right-wingers were making the same accusations about Sistani, especially when he kept pushing for early elections, the n when Sadr became an issue, in April, Sistani became a beacon of moderation.

I think the Iranians are supporting ALL Shia groups (from Sistani to Sadr to Shalabi to Alawi, yes even our thugs end up giving mad respect to the mad mullahs of Iran)

As for Sadr, take away the Iranian money, and you have another guy who didn't make it to cleric.

Well, you've also got the fact that he's a Sayyid or whatever and a son of a revered family.

As for Sadr, take away the Iranian money, and you have another guy who didn't make it to cleric.

Well, you've also got the fact that he's a Sayyid or whatever and a son of a revered family.

Bird Dog writes:

(4) It's been pretty well established that those entering Cambodia did not use swift boats to make incursions.

While Cambodia was in theory "off-limits to US troops", in point of fact Admiral Zumwalt (Commander U.S. Navy Forces, Vietnam) had already awarded a Silver Star to Swift Boat skipper Mike Bernique for taking his boat into Cambodian waters to fight Viet Cong — in October 1968.   That same month, Zumwalt implemented Operation SEALORDS, which involved incursions into Cambodia, in which Swift Boat crews participated.

This blog entry quotes Admiral Zumwalt and his son, from their joint biography, My Father, My Son:

Of his action in 1969, Zumwalt III [the Admiral's son] says,
I knew we were a few hundred yards inside Cambodia. I also knew that just by crossing into Cambodia I was in violation of direct orders. But I disobeyed the orders because I knew the VC and the North Vietnamese were infiltrating along this particular river.... - p 84

I knew other U.S. boats had ventured into before so I wasn't the first one to do it. It was one of the best ways to stage an ambush because the enemy didn't expect us there. - p 85
Zumwalt II [the Admiral] says,
When someone disobeys orders the way Elmo did when he ventured into Cambodia, but also succeeds in his mission, you don't know whether to give him a medal or court-martial. Technically, his violation should have been reported up the chain of command, but at the operating level we realized it was done with some frequency both by our boats and aviators. - p 90
In short, the claim that US Swift Boats never entered Cambodia is demonstrably historically false.

I'm with von on the relative importance of the stories.

The Viet Nam dust-up is not completely irrelevant to me, though. That the Pres (and his folks -- including Racicot) is working to change the dynamics of the race -- as Cook recently said he must -- by going massively negative, rather than by talking up an actual agenda for the second term tells me all I need to know about him. Actually, I already knew it from the South Carolina primary race, in 2000. That is that the wrapping in the flag, calls to change tone in Washington, etc etc are posturing, morally exactly equivalent to what Kerry is accused of.

I mean really, as von points out, the dispute over 35 year old facts is not just drowning out talk of Najaf, it's drowning out any positive message the Pres might be interested in putting out. He, of course, can stop the whole thing with a wave of his hand. And won't do so, because winning is more important to him than his honor.

On Najaf, I think there's nothing anyone can say that hasn't been said repeatedly over the past 3 or 4 months. Stakes are high, situation on the ground ambiguous. Young Sadr may live to fight another day, in which case he surely will. Whether it's a significant factor in this particular iteration or not, Iranian money will always find some way to play. And why not: the stakes for us in how Iraq turns out, over both short and middle term, are substantial, but for Iran an order of magnitude more so.

The trouble is figuring out exactly what they are trying to get. I can see how Iran might prefer a weak but democratic state to anarchy. But anarchy to a return to Ba'athism. The rulers of Iran are no dummies, and we should expect them to be doing at least as well as we at interpreting and analyzing events, picking sides, etc. I would expect them to have fully developed and nuanced views on whether a theocratic state is possible. And truly desirable, given subtle doctrinal and personal differences. Looking down the road, vast numbers of Iranians are going to be exposed to civil life in Najaf over the years. What would you -- sitting in the big chair in Teheran -- want these people to be seeing?

Ah...the "Sean Hackbarth" comment above was actually mine. Damned autocomplete.

Kinda like nobody has stepped up to confirm Bush served in Alabama.

Oops. Seems like playing fast and loose with the facts isn't restricted to the SwiftVets.

Sources? Operation SEALORDS seems to have used Swifts to bring inderdiction efforts into Cambodia.

I don't believe the argument is that we were never in Cambodia. So if no one's actually making that argument, I cry strawman. Even if some are, this is not what the SwiftVets are saying.

Slartibartfast writes:

[Quoting NTodd:]
Sources? Operation SEALORDS seems to have used Swifts to bring inderdiction efforts into Cambodia.
I don't believe the argument is that we were never in Cambodia. So if no one's actually making that argument, I cry strawman. Even if some are, this is not what the SwiftVets are saying.
NTodd was replying to Big Dog's "It's been pretty well established that those entering Cambodia did not use swift boats to make incursions."

If Swift Boats weren't used to make incursions, then Kerry's Swift Boat — logically, as a member of the set — likewise wasn't used to make incursions, thus Kerry's story could be judged anything from implausible to provably false.

Except that Swift Boats were used to make incursions, as documented above (by Raven at August 21, 2004 04:17 AM), so Kerry's story is at least plausible on that point.

Some of the Swift Boat Vets for Bush (clearly not "for Truth") have claimed that "SWIFT boats never went into Cambodian waters." Steve Gardner went so far as to say that it was a "physical impossibility" for Swift Boats to enter Cambodian waters.

Which means the photograph on the Swift Boat (Patrol Craft Fast) website with this caption could not have been taken:

The fellow on the right was a freelance journalist and photographer that had caught a ride into Cambodia on a US Swift Boat. He asked to be dropped off on the shore to proceed on his own. It is hoped that he found what he was looking for and survived to tell about it.
So Kerry's accusers have lied on this point, in order to call him a liar.

And it's not the only point they've been caught lying on.

Which helps clarify the question of who's more credible.

If not, wtf are you talking about?

Gary: I'll repeat: others had provided the link already, so the point was mute. Even allowing for your penchant for criticizing those who express their ideas in fragments and/or whom you don't understand, isn't the overall idea the exchange of ideas? If the idea had been exchanged, which it had, further comment seems unnecessary, no?

But this is threatening to hijack the thread, which is one of the best we've ever had (kudos to von), so let me offer another thread on the value of criticism in the blogosphere where we can hash out any differences of opinion in the near future. Promise.

And isn't it of some importance to try to find out what, if anything, Kerry has learned from Vietnam? Will he, for example, cut and run from Iraq, just as he advocated cutting and running from Vietnam?

Excellent spin Fredrik. Truly top notch. And were we living in a cartoon, where the unjustified deaths of tens of thousands of people were just more fodder for bloggers likes ourselves to beat each other up with, you might win a point or two.

I believe the appropriate question is will Kerry's Vietnam service teach him to think the way Eisenhower did when he noted: "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." and that will lead him to not rush to war with piss-poor plans that look much more designed to suit the American election cycle than the task at hand.

Oops. Seems like playing fast and loose with the facts isn't restricted to the SwiftVets.

Oops, looks like it is:

Calhoun has said he saw Bush 8-10 times between May and October of 1972. (Or was it four to six times?) But as the Washington Post has pointed out, "Calhoun remembers seeing Bush at Dannelly at times in mid-1972 when the White House acknowledges Bush was not pulling Guard duty in Alabama yet; his first drills were in October, according to the White House. White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday was at a loss to reconcile the discrepancy..."

Dozens of other pilots have been interviewed and have no recollection of Bush, even those who were aware he was supposed to show up, and were on the lookout for him.

See, when I mean nobody has stepped up to say Bush was in AL, there's an implied "credibly". You know, like this person could have possibly seen Bush. When Calhoun's story first came out, it was riddled with holes almost immediately. Thanks for playing.

I don't believe the argument is that we were never in Cambodia. So if no one's actually making that argument, I cry strawman. Even if some are, this is not what the SwiftVets are saying.

1) As Raven observed, I was responding to Bird Dog, so no strawman on my part.

2) The SwiftVets are in fact claiming that Kerry wasn't in Cambodia at X-mas.

3) I call strawman because I never said anybody was claiming "we were never in Vietnam".

Thanks again for playing.

Fixing the italics.

On the one side, you have documentary evidence, the contemporaneous word of people who were actually on the scene, the original testimony of at least two Swifties. In re Cambodia, on the one side you have descriptions of the mission by the people who were there, which tallies with reports by people on similar missions, as well as background information of how covert sorties were ordered and carried out.

On the other side you have second- and third-person hearsay and two Swifties who said one thing 35 years ago now saying something else, both of which are directly contradicted by documentary evidence as well as known military procedure at the time of the events in question.

There actually is no question at all about who is lying and who's telling the truth. By any rational analysis, Kerry's telling the truth and the Swifties are lying.

Bush partisans believe the lies because they want to. This isn't a matter of who said what. No amount of dancing around the facts can change the facts. Believing the Swifties means refusing to see, hear or think.

Bush partisans who believe the Swifties have abdicated their own mental integrity in favor of propaganda. They have chosen to mindlessly and loudly repeat the propaganda in order to drown out their fading consciences. They have chosen to ally with, and become pawns of, corrupt and honorless men. They have done so to further the career of a man who is a liar, a coward and a bullying braggart.

They have sold their souls, and didn't even get a decent price.

Sorry, Officer Farber. Didn't mean to offend your sensibilities.

I tend to assume that when people rant with name-calling it is because they are unable or unwilling to muster facts. I may be the only person who thinks that way, of course.

I tend to assume that when people claim to be the only ones who are calm rational, informed thinkers that they are more than a little too full of themselves.

Yes, it was an insult, but a deserved one based on facts that are, or should be, known to anyone who wants to discuss this group.

I tend to assume that when people claim to be the only ones who are calm rational, informed thinkers that they are more than a little too full of themselves.

He may be that indeed, but he is also frequently right. I believe this is one of those occasions.

Gary, your disrespect is noted. If you don't like my style, please ignore me from now on instead of being my personal posting police. Did you ever think that i spoke in a colloquial way to you in the above post was because i considered you to be intelligent and didn't feel the need to overstate something? Of course not! It's much easier to call someone lazy and incoherent. And am i to assume you don't think i argue fairly? If so that's a cheap shot or were you just venting on everyone you don't like on blogs at my expense? You have my e-mail address and i would appreciate you using it as opposed to hijacking an otherwise interesting thread.

Fixing the italics.

Yeah, sorry about that messed up tag. Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend...

At Hullabaloo Digby apparently finds SBVTer on the Bush campaign staff.

Edward writes (twice): "The point is mute".
You might change that to "moot" before it raises Gary's blood pressure.

Also, re this thread: "which is one of the best we've ever had (kudos to von)."
To which I say, huh? Except for Raven's comment at August 21, 2004 04:17 AM would one lose much by sending this thread, including my basically unanswered critiques of von's position on Kerry's veracity, to /dev/null?

Bush uses Christianity like Kerry uses Vietnam...now you tell me which is yucky!

See, when I mean nobody has stepped up to say Bush was in AL, there's an implied "credibly". You know, like this person could have possibly seen Bush. When Calhoun's story first came out, it was riddled with holes almost immediately. Thanks for playing.

Speaking of credibly, how's that Christmas in Cambodia thing panning out? So, your point is, this guy misremembering a date on which he saw Bush in Alabama 30 years or so ago automatically means he's lying, but Kerry's telling the truth about this memory of Christmas in Cambodia seared into his memory?

Just wondering what degree of objectivity you're using, here. And thank YOU for playing.

I call strawman because I never said anybody was claiming "we were never in Vietnam".

And I call strawman because I never said you said we were never in Vietnam. Wow, this is fun. Thanks, again.

BTW, the idea (in link supplied by Raven) that these guys didn't serve with Kerry is just about the logical equivalent of saying Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott are on different teams. These guys patrol as a group and barrack together. There may be weaknesses in the SwiftVet's arguments, but this isn't one of them.

Speaking of credibly, how's that Christmas in Cambodia thing panning out? So, your point is, this guy misremembering a date on which he saw Bush in Alabama 30 years or so ago automatically means he's lying, but Kerry's telling the truth about this memory of Christmas in Cambodia seared into his memory?

Panning out quite nicely, thanks. I don't feel like rewriting what I posted over at Washington Monthly, so here are a couple permalinks to my comments:

* Sugarplums in Sa Dec on X-mas Eve.

* What exactly was seared?

Thanks again for playing. Your parting gift: my scorn.

So, your point is, this guy misremembering a date on which he saw Bush in Alabama 30 years or so ago automatically means he's lying, but Kerry's telling the truth about this memory of Christmas in Cambodia seared into his memory?

No, my point is that when somebody comes out of the woodwork and says something that directly contradicts documentary evidence, as the Swifties and Calhoun have done, they are at best wrong and at worst, liars.

I call strawman because I never said anybody was claiming "we were never in Vietnam".

And I call strawman because I never said you said we were never in Vietnam. Wow, this is fun. Thanks, again.

Um, this is what you said:

I don't believe the argument is that we were never in Cambodia. So if no one's actually making that argument, I cry strawman. Even if some are, this is not what the SwiftVets are saying.

That would certainly imply that you thought I was arguing that the Swifties, et al, were claiming "we were never in Vietnam". That would, by definition, be a strawman.

BTW, the idea (in link supplied by Raven) that these guys didn't serve with Kerry is just about the logical equivalent of saying Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott are on different teams. These guys patrol as a group and barrack together. There may be weaknesses in the SwiftVet's arguments, but this isn't one of them.

Here's what David Hackworth has to say about that:

I’ve been in a fair number of battles in my lifetime, first fighting for my country in several hot wars, then covering a dozen conflicts as a correspondent. And I’ve learned that if you can’t see the fight right up close, smell it, hear it and touch it, you can’t possibly bear witness.

This isn't about people who bunked with Kerry saying he had hygiene problems. The Swifties are claiming that they know without a doubt, despite all records to the contrary, that Kerry is unfit to command because of how he behaved in combat.

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