What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The GOP Convention, Night Two: Those Wacky Twins

I have a confession: I did not watch the Democratic convention. Well, maybe about 10 minutes worth. But that's it. So now I'm watching the GOP convention. I'm not sure why, either. Lots of speeches about how George W. Bush has apparently saved the entire world not only from terrorists, but he also, secretly, used the Space Shuttle Atlantis to fend off an alien invasion from a nearby star system. Okay, I'm not sure about that last one.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech was well received and inspiring.

And then there was the Bush twins.

Someone once said children should be seen and not heard. In this case, I agree. Holy crap, someone made a huge mistake in deciding to let Jenna and Barbara "speak" at the convention. Also, and I'm certain I'm not alone in this sentiment, but I don't think America is ready for sex jokes aimed at former First Lady Barbara Bush. Seriously. I'm not sure America will ever be ready for sex jokes aimed at former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Also, the young women spoke for, I believe, a day. At least that's how it felt. Each joke hit the convention audience like a teenage Laura Bush driving through a Midland, Texas stop sign.

Okay, that last part was uncalled for. How about "like a 30-year-old George W. Bush driving drunk into a hedge?" Yeah, I like that one better, but I'm too lazy to change the Laura Bush joke. Sorry.

I suspect we'll never learn the identity of the person who wrote the material for the twins, but if I had to guess, I'd say it was Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. It's a little-know fact that she started her career as a comedy writer for the failed Joan Rivers talk show. Okay, that's a lie, but it's not important.

So, to sum up: parents, if you happen to be the President and First Lady of the United States, keep your kids out of the public eye. Or, in the case of Jeb Bush, keep your daughter away from forged Xanax prescriptions. Or, in the case of Barbara and George H.W. Bush, keep your sons away from booze and banking.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Swift Boat Vets: The Damage is Done

My fellow Democrats will be angry by the following, but here goes:

I don't think John Kerry is going to win this election. At least not right now, if it were held today.

John O'Neill and the Swift Boat group has done their damage. I think Kerry was the recipient of some colossally bad advice and waited way too long to counter the claims of the Swift boat vets. Now Kerry is on the defensive, the media has focused most of its attention on the fight, and George W. Bush is able to use this time to campaign effectively.

Meanwhile, John Kerry has to deal with people suggesting he somehow altered the official U.S. Navy records he has posted at his web site.

The media, who for the most part are ignorant of how the U.S. military operates, passes along each and every damning claim about John Kerry and his records.

For instance, Kerry's DD-214 (that's the form you get after being discharged from the military as proof of your service, your rank at discharge, and what medals/ribbons you're entitled to wear) lists him as having won a Silver Star with Combat "V" device. Obviously a typo. Yes, the military has been known to make mistakes on a DD-214. One of the most common is not listing a medal that had been awarded. And in Kerry's case, his DD-214 was prepared saying he had a Silver Star with the "V" (valor) device. Apparently no one has ever been awarded a Silver Star with combat "V". People read about this and they wonder why Kerry didn't have that corrected. Well, chances are, he didn't know that it was a mistake.

There have also been recent reports about former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, and the fact that his signature is on one of Kerry's citations. Lehman says he doesn't remember signing off on it. And why should he? The military generates lots of paperwork (unless there's been a major change recently). There's a machine that is used to sign signatures to huge stacks of paperwork. It's called an autopen. I've seen it in action, when I was assigned to the staff of the Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor. That position is held by a four-star admiral, which is the top of the Navy's chain of command. He's a busy man, so he has a staff of people to handle the paperwork. I know, when I was a member of the CINCPACFLT staff I drafted paperwork for the admiral's signature. It's actually a complicated process, because so many people get involved, before the draft gets to the admiral. The admiral approves the stack, and that stack is fed into the autopen. I've seen the machine loaded with hundreds of pages of documents. So a busy man like John Lehman would not have remembered a specific military citation, nor would he have written it. The fact that Kerry has a citation that Lehman doesn't recall signing doesn't prove anything.

And why would John Kerry doctor his military records, and then post the doctored paperwork to the Internet for the whole world to see? What kind of sense does that make?

And hard as I might try to counter the Swift boat vets misinformation (not to mention the mainstream media which has also made this attempt), I think the message has gotten through to put a sliver of doubt into the minds of undecided voters.

Hopefully, in the presidential debates, John Kerry will put George Bush on the defensive over his record. And if that message gets through, we may see a different outcome. In the world of politics, a lot can happen in two months.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Etcetera For Thursday

The Smirking Chimp is running my column today. Even if you've read the column I recommend a visit to Smirky to read the other articles posted there.

What's In Scott's Head is about to celebrate its first anniversary. My experience with blogging has been a positive one, aside from the occasional bits of sewage thrown my way by right-wingers, who take me too seriously.

The fact is, an online persona does not necessarily match a real-world persona. For instance, in real life, I'm not political. I don't attend John Kerry rallies or events sponsored by the DNC. I don't discuss politics with family.

My goal as a writer is to both inform and, yes, entertain. What you read online is a sort of exaggerated version of how I really am. Is that dishonest? No, I don't think so. I think people like Ann Coulter act one way on television and in writing, and another when they're not in the spotlight. Look, my job as a writer is to get people to read what I've written. It doesn't matter if someone hates what I've written. I've done my job if I get someone to read a column and react, positively or negatively. My foes (yes, I have foes) seem to think I'm like this all of the time, which just isn't the case. Meet me in real life and chances are I will not bring up the subject of politics, unless the conversation heads in that direction. I don't listen to Air America and I try to avoid shows like Hannity and Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor. It's easier to deal with to just read the transcripts.

I'll be returning to my standard America-hating, Bush-bashing posts soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Politics of Vietnam

I imagine the Bush campaign team is pretty happy with the fight between John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for The Truth. As the Kerry and the Swift boat vets squabble over what happened some 35 years ago, George W. Bush is freed to campaign aggressively.

John Kerry has waited too long to respond to the Swift boat vets, but now that he has, it's shifted some of his attention away from George W. Bush, although yesterday, at Madison Square Garden, he did address the record of his opponent. The question remains, what will be the fallout of the Swfit boat vets campaign against Kerry?

Team Bush may feel some stings over the Swift boat vets and their connection to the Bush campaign. MSNBC reported today that Benjamin Ginsberg, a lawyer with the Bush team, was also counsel to the Swift boat vets. The Kerry campaign and other Democrats were quick to jump on this resignation, claiming further proof of a connection between Bush and the Swift boat vets.

Yes, I have defended John Kerry against the attacks by the Swift boat vets, and will continue to do so, but I also think Kerry is not doing enough to distance himself from the group. Allegations continue to fly back and forth, and Kerry is constantly on the defensive.

I'm hoping that Kerry can turn this around with the presidential debates in September and October. In that forum, he will be able to turn the discussion back to Bush's record, which is what should have been in the spotlight, not questions about Kerry's military service in 1969.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Swift Boat Vets Self-Implosion Near Completion

I wonder what's going through John O'Neill's mind right now? I'll bet he never expected to wake up this morning with a message from President George W. Bush:

Stop the ads.

Pretty amazing. Bush so far has not distanced himself from the Swift boat vets, who have accused John Kerry of lying about his military record in Vietnam and the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby. Okay, that last bit is a lie.


When asked specifically whether the ads by the group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" should be halted, Bush said: "All of them. That means that ad, every other ad. Absolutely."

"I can't be more plain about it," Bush said. "I hope my opponent joins me in condemning these activities of the 527s (political groups that sponsor to ads). I think they're bad for the system."

Bush was not as forceful in condemning the group as Kerry, John McCain and John Edwards had requested, but I think it's at least a step in the right direction.

I suspect the Swift boat vets will not stop their campaign of lies, backed by no evidence, against John Kerry. Another Swift boat liar, Van Odell, admitted on Fox News Sunday he had no evidence to support the claim that Kerry had fabricated reports in order to obtain the Bronze Star. (Note: here is something the Swift boat vets ignore completely: it was Jim Rassmann who put Kerry in for a Silver Star for rescuing him. The Navy decided to award a Bronze Star instead. Kerry had nothing to do with it).

Odell, again from MSNBC:

“I do not have a single document,” Van Odell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I have the fact that I wasn’t wounded in that 5,000 meters of fire that he wrote about. ... There was no enemy fire from either bank.” He said he had seven eyewitness backing up his version of events. Other witnesses say there was enemy fire at the time Kerry made the rescue.

Larry Thurlow had no evidence of Kerry having a "master plan" and now we have Van Odell saying he had no proof, either, of Kerry's alleged duplicity.

In fact, not a single Swift boat vet has any tangible evidence of wrongdoing by John Kerry. On the other hand, John Kerry not only has eyewitness testimony to his version of events, but he also has U.S. Navy documentation to support his claims.

This should make for an interesting story as it develops.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Kerry's Master Plan, Pt. II

Establishing Shot, Gulf of Tonkin
From above, we see a U.S. Naval vessel underway. As we get closer we see the name of the ship, USS GRIDLEY (CG 21).

Cut to:
INT. Officer Stateroom. A card on the door says ENS KERRY ENS WILLIAMS
We move inside the small room. ENSIGN JOHN KERRY is at a table writing in his DIARY.

VO as JOHN KERRY writes in diary
KERRY: Dear diary, I have hit a snag in my MASTER PLAN. Instead of being sent to Vietnam, I am now stationed aboard USS Gridley. We are operating in the Vietnam theater, which is good, but I need to be in, as the guys say, 'the shit.' In a few months we'll be heading back to Long Beach. That might be my way out. Gridley will be temporarily decommissioned when we get back to Long Beach. I think I'll request Swfit boat duty. That will put me in danger and, if I'm lucky, will get me wounded, and I'll also get the Silver Star and Bronze Star.

Satisfied, Kerry closes the diary, locks it, and stores it in a locker with a false bottom he had constructed. From another locker, Kerry pulls out a small typewriter. He sits down, feeds in a sheet of paper, and types out a request for duty in Vietnam. The task complete, Kerry takes his request to one of the ship's clerks for processing.

We FADE OUT, and cut to:
We are in an office. Seated at desk is LCDR GEORGE ELLIOTT. Standing in front of Elliott is JOHN KERRY, now wearing the rank insignia of LIEUTENANT JUNIOR GRADE.

KERRY: Lieutenant John Kerry, reporting as ordered, sir.
ELLIOTT: Welcome aboard, lieutenant.

KERRY hands to ELLIOTT his paperwork.

KERRY: Sir, may I sit down?
ELLIOTT: Certainly.


KERRY: I just had a few questions. I heard from one of the guys that if you get three Purple Hearts, the Navy will send you out of Vietnam?

ELLIOTT: Yes, that's the U.S. Navy's policy.

KERRY: I see. Commander, I wanted to...request something. It may seem a bit unusual.


KERRY: Sir, I'd like to be the main person to write after-action combat reports.

ELLIOTT: What do you mean?

KERRY: I know it's a hassle to have all of these officers writing up different reports, and frankly, I can do a better job. At Yale I was recognized for my ability to write concise memorandums.

ELLIOTT: Oh yeah? Do you have any examples?

KERRY: As a matter of fact...

KERRY digs through notebook and produces several sheets of paper that he hands to ELLIOTT.

ELLIOTT: Why, this is fine work. Okay, Kerry, you can write up all of the after-action combat reports. I don't even need feedback from the other Swift boat skippers, or eyewitness accounts to back up anything you put in writing.

KERRY: Can I write up Purple Heart recommendations?


KERRY: Excellent. It will be a pleasure serving here, sir.

ELLIOTT: Yes, lieutenant.

KERRY: By the way, if in 35 years you are asked about my service here, can you make sure and lie? You know, say I was a bad officer, stuff like that, or that I didn't qualify for medals or awards.

ELLIOTT: Sure, son.

KERRY: Permission to leave, sir.

ELLIOTT: Permission granted.

KERRY turns and leaves. As he enters the hallway, we can hear Kerry CACKLING.

KERRY: The world is my oyster!

Stay tuned for Part 3 of The Master Plan!

Friday, August 20, 2004

John Kerry's Master Plan

Last night on the MSNBC program Hardball, host Chris Matthews interviewed Larry Thurlow, one of the Swift boat veterans participating in the character assassination of John Kerry. During the interview, Thurlow made a cryptic reference to a "master plan" Kerry supposedly had, orchestrated from the moment he set foot in Vietnam, that would, uh, somehow help him get elected to public office one day. Here's a bit of the transcript:

THURLOW: became apparent early on that John Kerry had a master plan that went far beyond the service in the swift boats, and because of the fact that he was trying to engineer a record, so to speak, for himself, he was not a trustworthy member of a very tightly-knit unit that counted on each other at every second. And once it became apparent that he had this plan that kind of excluded what was required of us at certain times, it became apparent to me that you could not count on him.

And this...

THURLOW: I'm saying that he had a plan that included not only being a war hero but getting an early out.

I'm pleased to present the following screen treatment for a film based on Kerry's Vietnam service. I don't have a good name yet, so I'll just call it John Kerry's Master Plan.


We start with an establishing shot of YALE UNIVERSITY, in all of its glory. It is January, 1966.


INT YALE DORM ROOM. It is a large room, but standard Dorm room decor. As we PAN around room, we see the back of someone, seated at a desk. Slowly we move towards the desk to reveal a young man. It is JOHN KERRY. He is writing in a diary. As he writes, we hear Kerry's VO:

JOHN KERRY: Diary, I am about to set the Master Plan in action. Next month I will enlist in the United States Navy. I think the Navy is the best choice -- I will get involved in combat but will not be as vulnerable as the troops on the ground. Now, I'll just have to figure out how to get injured three times so I can leave service early. You know, just be there as long as necessary -- say, four months -- and my goal during those four months will be my being awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. This country rallies behind a president with military experience. Diary, I could be a peanut farmer from Georgia and still get elected president, as long as I have that military background. And I'd be the most popular president ever having served my country in the U.S. Navy.

EXT -- Military Processing Station Cruitsta, New York, NY. A drab, grey building. The camera slowly moves towards a window and glides through. We see a group of young men, including JOHN KERRY, standing, taking the oath of enlistment. We are coming into the room at the very end of the oath.


CU of John Kerry.

KERRY: So help me god.


EXT -- Naval Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island

We observe a group of officer candidates running. FADE TO:

Montage, a few minutes of footage of the officer candidates involved in the same kinds of activities as Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman.


INT -- Barracks. We are in a small room, with two beds. Once again, we see John Kerry at a desk, writing in his diary, and we hear his thoughts in VO:

JOHN KERRY: Diary, the plan is in action. Soon I will be commissioned an officer. And when that happens, I will request duty in Vietnam. And, once in Vietnam, I will create questionable situations that will leave doubt in the minds of my superiors about my fitness as an officer. They will later remember me to be a bad officer. I will be exposed for having orchestrated events that result in my being awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts. This is great press -- the public will eat up the uncovering of my deceit and thus will put me into the White House!

KERRY closes his diary and carefully tucks it into the false bottom of his locker. Kerry begins to cackle.

Stay tuned for part two of John Kerry's Master Plan!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Swift Boat Vets for Lies, Pt. II

The Swift Boat Veterans For the "Truth" have constructed an elaborate fantasy world where John Kerry's service in Vietnam amounts to nothing but a series of lies; medals earned that were not deserved; events that did not occur as Kerry has claimed. Like most deceptions, the misinformation and lies the Swift Boat Vets have built their case on is already starting to crumble under its own weight.

The first to buckle was retired Navy Captain George Elliott, the man who signed off on John Kerry's Silver Star. Elliott signed an affidavit for the Swift Boat group saying Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star. On August 6, in an interview with the Boston Globe, Elliott said he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing the affidavit. But Elliott soon changed his story (again) and signed a second affidavit with the Swift Boat Vets, saying he stood by what he said in their television commercial o' lies ("John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam," Elliott says in the Swift Boat Vets' attack ad, Any Questions?)

Today, the Washington Post reported that it had obtained the Bronze Star citation of Swift Boat Vet Larry Thurlow, who also appears in the Any Questions? ad campaign. The Post filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the DoD's record center in St. Louis to obtain Thurlow's citation.

Thurlow is one of the men claiming that the incident on the Bay Hap River, where one swift boat was rocked by a mine explosion, did not happen as Kerry has described it. This is the attack that caused U.S. Army special forces officer Jim Rassmann to be thrown from Kerry's boat. Rassmann is the life-long Republican who has appeared with John Kerry on the campaign trail because, well, Kerry saved his life that day. Thurlow claims there was no enemy fire; Rassmann maintains that snipers on either side of the river were shooting, and the bullets were flying.

Now, what does Thurlow's citation say? It praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him." The documentation also states that Thurlow's actions took place "under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance" to the disabled Swift boat and crew.

Thurlow's reaction to this? Well, for one, he "lost" his Bronze Star citation 20 years ago (funny, I know exactly where my Navy Achievement Medal citation is, and I was awarded that medal 14 years ago...I have to wonder why Thurlow didn't take better care of his military records?) and that, after being read the citation, still maintained there was no enemy fire, going so far as to say that John Kerry might have provided the original documentation used in writing up Thurlow's Bronze Star. Which is an odd thing to allege, considering that Kerry wasn't in the area when Thurlow came to the assistance of the damaged Swift boat and her crew (Kerry returned to rescue Rassmann). How would Kerry know what had happened?

So, at the moment, we have Thurlow's account, backed by nothing, and Kerry's account, backed by three sources: Kerry's own Bronze Star citation; Thurlow's citation; and Rassmann's account of events. Three different sources, all supporting Kerry's (and Rassmann's) recollection of that day.

Thurlow, who is willing to take part in a campaign to call a fellow vet a liar, told the Post he will not authorize the release of his military records because he feared the records would be used to discredit him.

Think about that for a moment. What's he worried about? If he's telling the truth, the release of his records will back up his version of events. I suspect that what his records will show is that Kerry, not the Swift Boat Vets, is telling the truth.

Privacy laws allow for the release of certain parts of a veteran's service record, and the Post will have access to whatever a FOIA request will provide. I wonder what will happen when the Post obtains military records of other Swift Boat vets? I suspect we'll find more evidence that supports John Kerry.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This week's column is out

This may be a slow news day, which means I may not have an update for the site, but in the meantime, you can read my new column at CounterBias or at The Smirking Chimp. It's about the smear campaign against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Vets group. I value input, so please let me know what you think of the column.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Ignorance is Bliss: Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh

Last night on the Hannity and Colmes program, guest Ann Coulter demanded that John Kerry release his military records and tax records. Here's what she said:

Ann "dumb as a box of rocks" Coulter: ..."secondly, as with all of these disputes, how about Kerry won't release his records? He won't release his tax records. He won't release his records from the military, giving us a little more detail about his records and these alleged Purple Hearts. And now he won't allow the intelligence committee to release what meetings he went to."

Ann, I wonder if you've heard of "The Internet?" I'd hope so, as you have a web site on it. Now, if you had pointed your web browser to John Kerry's web site, you'd find Kerry's military records AND his tax records. Really! The links I provided will take you right to those very records you say he needs to release.

Even Rush Limbaugh has demanded the release of the already-released records. Here's a bit from the Internet-based, Rush Limbaugh web site:

"And that's not the only issue that reporters are curiously incurious about. At least one of Kerry's Purple Hearts has been challenged by his unit's medical officer, who notes that the wound was barely visible and was treated with a Band-Aid."

Note to Rush and other ignorant right-wingers: how many times do I need to repeat this? SEVERITY OF INJURY IS NOT THE CRITERIA FOR BEING AWARDED A PURPLE HEART! Jesus Christ, when will you people get a fucking clue and knock that bit of data into your thick skulls?

Sorry for that outburst. Back to Rush:

"Some questions should also be asked about his Silver Star: Should shooting a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back — as justifiable as it was as an act of war — be worthy of the nation's third-highest award for courage?"

Here we have Limbaugh repeating the bullshit line the Swift Boat vets have fed America. Since Limbaugh hasn't bothered to actually look at the write-up for the Silver Star (it's at the Kerry web site! Really!), I'll have to do his work for him. You'll need the Adobe reader to view the documents. Here's a link to the actual Silver Star citation from the U.S. Navy. Oh, wait, here's another citation! Amazing how easy it is to find Kerry's unreleased military records. If he's been hiding them, he's done a fucking lousy job of it.

Back to Limbaugh's yammering:

"To those of you who say such questions are unseemly, consider that John Kerry's principal claim on the presidency is that he served four months and 11 days in Vietnam. OK, fine. Let's examine the records — all the records, which, unlike Bush and contrary to popular perception, Kerry has not released — and have a debate. We would be if it were George W. Bush. The media would see to it."

Right, Rush, Bush just jumped at the opportunity to release his records. And what did the so-called liberal media do with these records? Go over them with a fine-tooth comb? Nope, the liberal media did not analyze the records.

The crazy thing is, right-wingers everywhere are going to start demanding that Kerry release his military records. It's that whole we-don't-think-for-ourselves aspect of the conservative psyche.

Oh, and Kerry's wife has released her tax records. Just in case someone asks.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Media Is Lazy

Let's face it, the so-called liberal media is lazy. They are not reporters but "transcribers" of events, as Neal Gabler so accurately described it on this weekend's Fox Report. Liberal media, conservative media, it doesn't matter. They present information to us, passing it off as the truth, when in reality, what we seem to get, time and time again, is misinformation.

What happens is, a piece of information will be distorted, and that distorted information is then repeated for public consumption.

I'll use an example I've used before: conservatives who say that John Kerry is the "most liberal" member of the Senate, and John Edwards is the "fourth most liberal" senator. This line has been repeated many times, but when it's said, rarely does anyone say "for 2003." The rankings come from the magazine National Journal. If you were to look over the Kerry/Edwards rankings over a period of years, you'd find that their lifetime average doesn't even place them into the top 10. Rarely does the media challenge this claim when it is made (see The Daily Howler for in-depth analysis of this and other examples of laziness in the mainstream media).

Now, to the Swift Boat Vets for the Truth. John O'Neill, the group's co-founder, has been making the rounds on the news debate shows to present his distortions and outright lies about John Kerry. To his credit, Chris Matthews of Hardball grilled O'Neill pretty hard, and James Carville on Crossfire last week was...well...mad at John O'Neill. It probably wasn't the most productive interview on television. Here's a sample: (you can read the transcript here).

O'NEILL: I'm the guy that took over John Kerry's boat in Vietnam, PCF94. There are 60 people of the people that were in our unit who contributed to this deal, including most of the officers who served with John Kerry no further away than that camera is from me right now. I met and debated John Kerry in 1971. I didn't wait for 35 years.

CARVILLE: Did you wait -- did you meet him in Vietnam?


CARVILLE: You mean you never met him in Vietnam?


John O'Neill and his Swft Boat Vets group are not telling the whole truth. There's just no way around that fact. For instance, a recent television ad attacking Kerry begins with a statement that the men in the commercial "served with" John Kerry. That's not true. The only connection these people have was that they were in Vietnam the same time. So, yes, in that sense, they "served" with John Kerry. Which means I can make a similar claim: during Desert Storm, I served with Colin Powell, who was then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I also served with General Norman Schwarzkopf. See how that works? I didn't have any contact with either general, but since we were in the same theater of operation, I "served" with them.

Sixty men have signed on to smear John Kerry. None were crewmembers of the boat Kerry commanded. This is a pretty important piece of information.

What's more, these are men trying to remember events from 35 years ago. I have my doubts about what they claim to remember about John Kerry. But I'll bet someone helped them to "remember" what they claimed to have witnessed.

The truth in this instance is a bit subjective. In fact, there are three versions of the "truth" to deal with: the Swift Boat Vets; John Kerry and his crew's testimony; and the official military record. Having looked over the DOD records for John Kerry and the circumstances surrounding the awarding of his medals and ribbons, I'm going to go with the official record as being the most truthful account. The Swift Boat Vets I have no use for. I don't believe any of them. The person who gives Kerry's account of events the most credibility is Jim Rassmann, the U.S. Army special forces officer rescued by John Kerry and his swift boat crew.

The non-partisan group FactCheck has analyzed the claims of the Swift Boat Vets and, no surprise, found that most of their claims simply are not true. Give it a read, and you can see for yourself how truthful John O'Neill has been.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Give Me a Good Reason to Vote for George W. Bush

Like most endeavors in his life, George W. Bush's handling of the job of Chief Executive has been a dismal failure. Can someone give me a list of what this man has accomplished? Let's look at his "record" as president.

It's Still The Economy, Stupid
The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report on the impact of Bush's one and only domestic program, Tax Cuts For The Wealthy. It covers the period 2001-2004. Here's how a selection of income groups fared as far as percentage of income paid in taxes:

Top 20% of earners (average yearly income of $182,700): Declined, from 65.3 % to 63.5%
Middle-class (average income $51,500 - $75,600): Increased, from 18.5% to 19.5%
Super-rich, Top 1% (average income: lots of money): Declined, from 33% to 26.7%

Since I fall into the middle-class category, all I can say is, thanks, George. Sure, keep my money, what the hell do I need it for?

Other economic news includes a widening gap in the trade deficit, hitting a record $55.8 billion in June. Analysts had expected the deficit to be about $47 billion.

Crude oil is now at a record $46.58 a barrel.

Only 32,000 new jobs created in July, instead of the estimated 235,000. In fact, Bush's job-creation record stinks.

The War On Terror
Bad news, folks. Al-Qaeda is rebuilding. Could it have something to do with the fact that Al-Qaeda is NOT BASED IN IRAQ? Osama Bin Laden is still at large, and while we fight a senseless war in Iraq -- which has cost 938 American lives and scores of Iraqi lives -- Al-Qaeda is able to recruit and train new members. Which means they could attack us, again, while we have so many resources diverted to Iraq. And while right-wingers have purged their brains of the whole WMD issue, the truth remains that we've found no weapons of mass destruction. Nothing.

So, to sum up: a shitty economy, less jobs, Al-Qaeda rebuilding, almost 1000 Americans dead in Iraq. Other great Bush accomplishments include the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib (with the Department of Defense conducting scores of investigations into other instances of torture) prison; the leaking of the name of a CIA operative to the media; smear campaigns against people who speak out against the Administration, like Richard Clarke; and of course the Bush/Cheney team "changing the tone" in Washington. ("Go fuck yourself" -- Vice President Dick Cheney to Senator Patrick Leahy).

Life is great in George W. Bush's America. Four more years!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Scott's Guide to Politics, Pt. II: Ignore Your Running Mate

When you're off on the campaign trail, you have to score points against your opponent. An easy way to do this is to take something your opponent said out of context and deliver it in a campaign speech. But what happens when your running mate makes the same comment as your opponent -- something you've criticized in your campaign speech? The answer is, you do nothing. Act like it never happened, and hope that no one was paying attention.

Okay, let's roll the tape again, for the "sensitive" remarks

Unity, Journalists of Color Conference
August 6, 2004

"Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is -- we need to be very sensitive on that. Lackawanna, for example, was a -- there was a cell there. And it created a lot of nervousness in the community, because the FBI skillfully ferreted out intelligence that indicated that these people were in communication with terrorist networks. And I thought they handled the case very well, but at the time there was a lot of nervousness. People said, well, I may be next -- but they weren't next, because it was just a focused, targeted investigation. And, by the way, some were then incarcerated and told their stories, and it turned out the intelligence was accurate intelligence."

And once again Dick Cheney's remarks (a different venue than what I posted yesterday, but the same comments):

Dayton Convention Center, Ohio
Thursday, August 12
From the Palm Beach Post

In Dayton Thursday, Cheney said sensitivity is not an asset in a war against terrorists.
"America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive," he said.

"A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity."

You tell 'em, Dick!

Okay, I have a confession to make. I was not completely honest. The remarks from the Unity, Journalists of Color conference on August 6 were not made by John Kerry.

The speaker? George W. Bush.

That's right. The day before Bush spoke of a need to be "sensitive" in fighting a war on terror, Kerry delivered remarks to the same group where he discussed fighting a more, among many other things, "sensitive" war on terror.

So...if you're Dick Cheney, you make fun of your opponent for his remarks on fighting a "sensitive" war, and ignore the fact that your running mate made nearly the same exact statement the next day at the same conference.

That's politics for you. Isn't it great?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Scott's Guide to Dirty Politics: The Out-of-Context Quote

Ah, the out-of-context quote. This has been a staple of politics for a long time. A politician on the campaign trail will use the quote to hurt his opponent. And Americans, being sheep (well, mainly the right-wingers), accept the quote at face value. I think most people (again, right-wingers, who frankly are not the brightest bunch) simply do not have any interest in finding out whether or not their candidate is telling the truth.

Let's take Vice President Dick Cheney as an example. He's out on the campaign trail, giving a standard stump speech. During his speech he lays out the out-of-context line. In this case, saying John Kerry wants to fight a "sensitive" war on terror. Big laughs from the audience.

What did John Kerry say, exactly? First, I'll show Kerry's quote in full context, and then Cheney's version of it.

John Kerry, remarks at the Unity, Journalists of Color conference
August 5

"Now, I'm not going to turn this into a John Kerry book-reading. But let me highlight some of this plan, if I may. The plan has three basic parts. The first part focuses on security.

I will fight this war on terror with the lessons I learned in war. I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president of the United States.

I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history. I lay out a strategy to strengthen our military, to build and lead strong alliances and reform our intelligence system.

I set out a path to win the peace in Iraq and to get the terrorists, wherever they may be, before they get us. To strengthen our homeland security, we're going to do what we should've been doing for the last three years: protecting our ports, securing our chemical and nuclear power plants, and supporting our police officers, our firefighters and our EMTs."

There it is, in context, and yes, he does use the word sensitive, but I think it's a safe bet that he's not referring to weakness. Regardless, the speech discusses far more than fighting a "sensitive" war against terror.

Oh, and before we get to Cheney's out-of-context remarks, let me show an example of Dick Cheney actually lying to people. About John Kerry, of course. Here's the lie:

Dick Cheney Town Hall Meeting
East Grand Forks, Minnesota
August 6

John Kerry is, by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts. (Laughter.) It's true. All you got to do is go look at the ratings systems. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year, it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate.

Yes, the "Kerry is the most liberal senator" lie.

The truth: Kerry was rated as the most liberal senator by the National Journal only for the year 2003. Not overall, and not an average of Kerry's 20 years in the Senate. Cheney is just plain lying. When you look at Kerry's average over a span of years, he's not even in the top 10. The period from 1999-2003, for instance, places Kerry as 12th most liberal senator overall.

Now, to the out-of-context quote. From today's (August 12) Reuter's:

"DAYTON, Ohio (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney mocked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Thursday for pledging to wage a more sensitive war against terrorism.

Cheney's speech in the campaign battleground state of Ohio extended a week of Republican attacks on Kerry's security credentials, and Kerry's camp said it showed desperation in the campaign of President Bush over losing one of its presumed strengths -- a strong military stance.

'America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,' Cheney said.

He accused the Massachusetts senator of having a 'fundamental misunderstanding' of the world.

'Those that threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively, they need to be destroyed,' he said.

He accented some form of the word 'sensitive' a half-dozen times in his speech and drew laughter from the partisan crowd."

See? And now this line will funnel its way down to conservative talk radio, conservative columnists, and on the nightly cable news pundit shows. In fact, I'm going to predict now that the "sensitive" war bit will be combined with "most liberal" by the pundits. It'll look something like this:

Hannity and Colmes
(Cheney's speech is played).
SEAN HANNITY to liberal guest (how about Howard Dean?): Howard Dean, do we really want to have the MOST LIBERAL MEMBER OF THE SENATE fighting a "sensitive" war against terror? We don't win wars by being "sensitive," we win by being strong.

DEAN: Sean, that's not what Senator Kerry said. He was...

HANNITY: Doctor, I have the quote right here: "I believe I can fight a more sensitive war on terror." Do you deny that John Kerry said those words?

DEAN: Sean, again, you took the line out of context.

HANNITY: This comes directly from the Drudge Report, Howard. Are you saying Matt Drudge is a liar?

DEAN: Yes, I...

ALAN COLMES (to Ann Coulter): Ann, I've read the transcript of John Kerry's speech, and he doesn't say we should fight a sensitive war, he says...

COULTER: Shut up, Alan.


That will be the "fair and balanced" coverage we'll see on Fox and on every other news outlet, and the so-called liberal media will play it out as well.

Tomorrow: more dirty tricks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

AWOL Bush: No, it's not a liberal conspiracy

With all of the attention being focused on John Kerry's service in Vietnam, it's not surprising that our so-called liberal media has not fully investigated George W. Bush's own record of service. Earlier this year, the Bush team released hundreds of pages of documents regarding Bush's service in the Air National Guard. Conservatives -- who undoubtedly did not look at any of the documents -- were satisfied that Bush had met his obligations to the Guard. After all, he received an honorable discharge, right?

The fact that Bush was honorably discharged doesn't mean anything. The real truth, which right-wingers will not acknowledge, is that George W. Bush received special treatment in the Air National Guard from the moment he took the oath of enlistment until the day he was allowed to leave active duty several months early to go to Harvard. And while it is true that the Bush family did not pull strings to get young George into the Guard, a family friend did on their behalf. How else to explain that, despite scoring the lowest possible score on an enlistment aptitude test, Bush was allowed into the guard ahead of more qualified applicants? Or the fact that, after completing six weeks of boot camp, Bush was given an officer's commission. Receiving a commission was something that just didn't happen in the Guard, unless the member had completed officer training. In most cases, only flight surgeons received direct commissions. Somehow young George became an officer without any of the training required to be an officer.

While newspapers like the Boston Globe have done some reporting on Bush's military service, no one has really dug into the documents released by Bush and examined them, putting them into the proper context and understanding exactly what each document said and what it revealed about Bush.

Journalists were not willing, or able, to scour through the paperwork and interpret the cryptic military language and codes found on the documents. Paul Lukasiak has. Paul's a researcher from Philadelphia. When Team Bush released documentation about Bush's service, one document struck Lukasiak as odd: a document called "Point Summary for Retention/Retirement," which Bush's spokesman said "proved" that Bush had fulfilled his obligations in the Guard. The memo that was released showed, according to the White House, that Bush had earned the required 50 points towards retirement for a particular year -- meaning, he had fulfilled his service obligation. But the document showed that Bush had, in fact, only received 38 points towards retirement for the year the document covers, 1973-1974.

Paul began his research, which has led to his creation of the AWOL Project and AWOL FAQ, which covers in detail the particulars of George W. Bush's service to his country.

The media may consider Bush's service a dead issue, but I don't. Especially with the smear campaign underway to discredit John Kerry and Kerry's service in Vietnam by a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for The Truth, although they should more accurately be called The Swift Boat Veterans Lying About Kerry. It's worth noting that not a single Swift Boat Vet for the Truth ever served with John Kerry.

John Kerry served his country with honor and put his life on the line. George W. Bush did not. That difference is important.

Dr. Bernard Weiner of The Crisis Papers web site has written a call-to-arms for folks to spread the word about Bush's service. This is something those of us in the blog world can help with -- to get the truth out to as many people we can. The liberal media will not help out in this effort.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The New Column is Up

I've written a piece on the state of journalism in the United States. Give it a read at CounterBias and let me know what you think.

Today is what we call a "slow news day" in the world of journalism. At least as far as my own brand of muckwracking goes. Not surprisingly, the right-wing message boards are buying the Swift Boat Liars Against Kerry fairy tale as truth handed down by God. There's a thread at Conservative Underground. They also fall for Drudge rumors, again, apparently, due to a lack of independent thought. See, conservatives don't use their brains for things like logical reasoning. That's why Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Matt Drudge are so popular. They do the thinking for the confused conservative, telling them how to feel and what to think, and the right-wing robots dutifully parrot what they've been told. Of course none of them stop to analyze the data they've been given to see if it's factual. Because they're stupid.

Actually, there is a bit of news that's worth repeating. It's about the Olympic mascots and how everyone hates them. Enjoy.

Monday, August 09, 2004

How to Lie, by the Swift Boat Vets for The Truth

Step one: find one of Kerry's former commanding officers from Vietnam and have him sign an affidavit saying the Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star he was awarded:

From George Elliott, Captain, USN, retired:

"When Kerry came back to the United States, he lied about what occurred in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back...had I known the facts, I would have not recommended Kerry for the Silver Star for simply pursuing, and dispatching a single wounded, fleeing Viet Cong."

Pretty strong stuff.

Also, in writing a book where you describe incidents about another person, it helps to obtain testimony from someone directly involved. Not surprisingly, the Swift Boats group attempting to smear Kerry does not have amongst its group anyone that actually served under John Kerry.

Back to Captain Elliott. Perhaps he remembered defending Kerry in 1996 from a column that called into question actions Kerry took in 1969 to prevent his boat from being hit with a RPG? He signed the initial affidavit on July 21 where he stated he didn't think Kerry deserved the Silver Star. Now, just a couple of weeks later, he's changed his mind. Contacted by the Boston Globe on August 6, Elliott said, "I still don't think he shot the guy in the was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."

Whoops. Elliott went on to say that he felt "time pressure" by the authors of the book Unfit for Command: "That's no excuse...I knew it was wrong . . . In a hurry I signed it and faxed it back. That was a mistake."

Ah, now the truth emerges. Swift Boat vets for the truth...indeed. If "truth" is defined as "we're going on second-hand information here," the book should be filled with "truth."

Of course, the book was given a shot of publicity by Matt Drudge, and right-wingers everywhere, typically, ate up the charges that Kerry shot a fleeing Viet Cong in the back. Which his CO says never happened. We'll chalk that up as Big Lie #1. I'm sure more lies will emerge over the next few weeks.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

O'Reilly, Conservatives and Mental Health

I used to like Bill O'Reilly. I was a regular viewer of The O'Reilly Factor back in 2001 and 2002. By 2003 I was enjoying his show less and less, as O'Reilly had become a right-wing shill who spouted the same bullshit propaganda that Sean Hannity would spew an hour later on Hannity and Colmes. Eventually I stopped watching both programs. Who wants to be annoyed for two hours? Especially by Sean Hannity, who isn't even annoying in an entertaining way.

Saturday night I was flipping through the TV channels and saw that O'Reilly was a guest on Tim Russert's show. The other guest was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. I started watching because Bill O'Reilly was acting crazy. I mean, literally, crazy. And it was bizarre to watch. Paul Krugman tried to remain calm, but O'Reilly would just start yelling every few minutes, babbling on about...well, I'm not sure, he wasn't making a lot of sense. There was the usual ranting about liberals and the New York Times. And occasionally Krugman would make a comment and O'Reilly would react with "that's just a slam" against Fox News or against O'Reilly himself. And what would O'Reilly do next? He'd slam Paul Krugman and the New York Times. Watching this, I wondered, is O'Reilly even aware of what he's saying? In between the yelling and ranting, O'Reilly seemed convinced that people were out to get him (in writing). O'Reilly likes to talk about Al Franken, but O'Reilly calls Franken "Stuart Smalley," the character Franken played on Saturday Night Live. Why? Who knows. Bill's what, in his 50s? How about growing up, Billy? You know, acting like an adult? But no, O'Reilly would rather ball up his fists and throw a temper-tantrum.

Bill's not just out of touch with reality on television. He's out of it on his radio program. For instance, on June 28, O'Reilly stated that Michael Moore thought America was "evil." Here's the transcript, from Media Matters (O'Reilly hates them as well):

O'REILLY: So this is the United States, who has freed the world from communism, freed the world from fascism, from the Axis powers, freed the Pacific from the Japanese -- OK? All of this, but [according to Moore] we bring sadness and misery to places all around the globe. This is Michael Moore. He believes this. He believes that we are an evil country.

A caller asks O'Reilly about his comment that Moore had said America was evil:

CALLER: I'm going to see the movie (Fahrenheit 9/11) Tuesday night with a friend, and you said earlier in -- in your program that Michael Moore was quoted as saying America's bad and America is evil, and I just wanted to know where (overlapping conversations; inaudible) --
O'REILLY: I didn't say "evil." He says -- he calls America a terrorist state, all right?
CALLER: But you -- you said more than twice on your show -- and you said, quote -- that he said America was bad and America was evil.
O'REILLY: Correct. I didn't say --
CALLER: And I'm just concerned about -
O'REILLY: -- I don't think I use[d] the word, "evil."

Now, O'Reilly has fallen back on the tired old position of "they've taken me out of context." Well, you can listen to the clip and hear with your own ears O'Reilly saying Moore said America was evil. You'll find the link at Media Matters.

O'Reilly's not the only conservative (I think he calls himself a "traditionalist," whatever that is) who has gone crazy. Columnist Michelle Malkin has a new book out defending the internment of 110,000 Japanese in America during World War II, and Ann Coulter, well, she's always been nuts.

What is it about right-wingers that causes mental illness? Could it be all the drinking they do? Some people say conservatives are just plain evil and are puppets to their master, Lucifer. I dunno. More on this in my next column.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

They Don't Cry When They Lie

Over the last several months we've heard the same thing from just about every conservative pundit out there: John Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate, and John Edwards is the fourth most liberal.

The next time Hannity and Colmes is on, watch and listen for Sean Hannity to mention that John Kerry is the "most liberal member" of the Senate.

The rankings are conducted by the National Journal. And yes, in 2003, John Kerry was the most liberal Senator, and John Edwards was fourth.

That's only in 2003.

Not in 2002, 2001, 2000, or 1999.

Funny how pundits like Hannity "forget" to mention that the "most liberal" ranking for Kerry only covered 2003.

Let's look at how the National Journal ranked Kerry and Edwards in previous years:

Kerry -- 9th most liberal
Edwards -- 31st most liberal

Kerry -- 11th most liberal
Edwards -- 35th most liberal

Kerry -- 20th most liberal
Edwards -- 19th most liberal

Kerry -- 16th most liberal
Edwards -- 31st most liberal

Why does Sean Hannity and his fellow pundits leave out these important bits of data? President Bush says it. Vice President Cheney says it. Right-wingers everywhere like to quote the 2003 rankings, without mentioning that the ranking is only for 2003.

Why? Because they know that their target audience -- conservatives -- will not bother to look up the information. Conservatives are like children; they believe everything they are told. Why else do so many conservatives quote Matt Drudge? Drudge "exclusives" are nothing more than rumors, and often they are discredited rumors. Even so, right-wingers eat it up. This is a group that called themselves -- proudly -- "dittoheads," in that they agreed with everything Rush Limbaugh said. Just mindless robots, ready to regurgitate the party line.

Here's an example of how Drudge utilizes misinformation. Drudge recently ran a story about how a Boston Globe reporter covering the Kerry campaign had also been commissioned to write the forward to a book on the Kerry-Edwards campaign -- "just as he is covering the campaign in an official capacity as a journalist for the BOSTON GLOBE!"

Yet, during the 2000 presidential campaign, Fox News chief political analyst Carl Cameron covered the Bush campaign, at the same time Cameron's wife was working for the Bush campaign, and I don't recall Drudge reporting on that bit of information. Why? Because Drudge is a right-wing shill. Also, he's not a journalist. He has no training or education in journalism, and the closest he came in working for the media was when he managed the gift shop at CBS News.

Not that any of this will matter. The Bush campaign will continue to lie and distort the truth, Drudge with continue to report rumor and innuendo as fact, and conservatives will believe it all.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Further Proof Right-Wingers Are Insane

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin has a new book out. And no, surprisingly, it isn't an attack against liberals. In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror, Malkin defends the internment of over 110,000 Japanese, starting in 1942. Two-thirds of the 120,000 were U.S. citizens.

And conservatives wonder why people think they are racist. I don't know, conservatives. Maybe it has to do with supporting a policy that put 110,000 people into camps when they committed no crime? In an interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Malkin says, of the internment, "Anyone who reads my book will see that I'm very sensitive to the sacrifices that were made by many ethnic Japanese, both issei (first generation) and nisei (second generation)...I am not arguing that they didn't suffer or weren't terribly inconvenienced."

Oh, I see, it was inconvenient to be put into an internment camp for several years. Inconvenient to be rounded up and assumed to be guilty. That makes a lot of sense. I'm sure Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps also felt their forced internment was inconvenient.

Unlike Malkin, the United States government actually came to the realization that putting people into internment centers was not a great idea, and in 1990 paid the survivors restitution.

Way to go, Michelle. Mussolini would be proud.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Drudge Continues to Smear Kerry

Matt Drudge's campaign against John Kerry continues, with Drudge yesterday posting highlights from a book called Unfit for Command by a group of bitter Swift Boat vets. This sort of personal attack usually has no actual basis in reality, and a group like the Swift Boat vets are going to count on the ignorance of civilians in their claims. Let's look at some of the charges made against Kerry:

-- All three of Kerry's Purple Hearts were for minor injuries, not requiring a single hour of hospitalization.

I've lost count of how many times this particular charge is brought up. The fact is, the severity of a wound is not the main criteria for being awarded a Purple Heart. It has everything to do being injured as a result of combat. That does not necessarily mean one is hospitalized for any period of time. A soldier getting a concussion would be eligible for a Purple Heart. The Columbia Journalism Review has investigated media coverage of Kerry's Purple Hearts, which can be read here. The Navy's criteria for awarding a Purple Heart is also covered in the piece.

-- A "fanny wound" was the highlight of Kerry's much touted "no man left behind" Bronze Star.

This is a lie. Kerry's Bronze Star citation can be read here, and it says nothing about a "fanny wound" and also describes heroic action on Kerry's part. You can believe the Swift Boat people or believe the actual DOD citation. I'm going to go with the citation, awarded by the President of the United States to John Kerry.

-- Two of John Kerry's three Purple Heart decorations resulted from self-inflicted wounds, not suffered under enemy fire.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Someone doesn't get a Purple Heart by asking for one. Being awarded the Purple Heart requires an examination by a doctor, and I think a doctor serving during the Vietnam conflict would know the difference between a self-inflicted wound and a wound as a result of combat. To suggest a fellow vet injured himself on purpose to get a Purple Heart is just despicable. Of course, issues of morals and ethics have never stopped right-wingers from engaging in their attacks of personal destruction.

And keep this in mind: while John Kerry put his ass, and life, on the line, George W. Bush was in the United States, skating through his tour of duty where the most dangerous thing that could happen to him would be...well, nothing. Maybe getting killed in a drunk-driving accident, or a drug overdose. Or dying from the boredom of leaving active duty to work on the political campaign of a Bush family friend. Bush never put himself in harm's way. John Kerry did.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The New Column is Up

Is Fox News fair and balanced? You can find out in my new column, at The Smirking Chimp.

The quick answer is no. But you knew that already.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

Monday, August 02, 2004

John Kerry, George Bush, and Vietnam

Conservatives are in full-attack mode, making light of John Kerry's record of service in Vietnam ("only four months!") and that he was motivated not by wanting to serve his country, but by his political aspirations. Matt Drudge recently ran with a discredited rumor that John Kerry had re-enacted combat action in Vietnam for his personal record (Kerry, like many others who served in that time, had a Super-8 camera to record what he did in Vietnam); the implication being, Kerry did so in order to make himself out as a hero and thus more viable a political candidate. Right-wingers dismiss Kerry's service outright, claiming he didn't earn the decorations and medals he was award (Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts) and that his whole reason for leaving Vietnam was to launch a political campaign.

But what about George W. Bush? He certainly had no interest in going to Vietnam when he was of age to be drafted. It's not much of a leap to assume Bush also had political aspirations. He couldn't dodge the draft, knowing that would come back to haunt him later, but instead, was given a spot he did not deserve in the Texas Air National Guard. Bush scored the lowest possible score in an aptitude test and was not only admitted over more qualified candidates, but was also commissioned an officer following six weeks of basic airman training.

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes," Bush said, according to MSNBC.

As was reported by the Boston Globe in 2000, there are gaps in Bush's service record. Although Bush released a number of his service records, there are still periods of time unaccounted for.

Talk about political aspirations: in 1972, Bush was asked to help out in the political campaign of Bush family friend Winton Blount, who was running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama. Bush requested time off from his duties and was allowed to work on the campaign. Imagine that. While hundreds of young men Bush's age died in Vietnam that year, Bush skated out of his service to work on a political campaign. I imagine the troops wounded in action in 1972 would have liked to have left Vietnam for several months to work on political campaigns.

Four months of service in Vietnam by John Kerry is four months longer than George W. Bush's service in Vietnam, which was zero days, zero hours, and zero minutes. Bush's mediocre Air Guard test score should have sent his ass straight to the draft board, but Bush had friends in high places who wanted to make sure the former Yale cheerleader didn't have to get himself killed.

Does it matter that Kerry only spent four months in combat? No, it doesn't. What matters is that he volunteered to go to Vietnam, not Bush. Kerry put his ass on the line, not Bush. Kerry earned a Silver Star, not Bush. Kerry was wounded in action, not Bush. Unless the Air Guard awarded its officers a medal for not showing up for duty. If that's the case, George W. Bush would have a chest full of medals and ribbons. He doesn't.