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Saturday August 28, 2004

John Kerry checks the length of his nose today

From The Kerry Spot: Kate O'Beirne in National Review (concerning Admiral Boorda):

“In 1996, a left-wing news service raised questions about two small "V" clips that the chief of Naval operations wore over two of the medals on his chest full of them. The clips are awarded for valor under fire, and there was some doubt about whether Boorda's two tours in Vietnam aboard combat ships qualified him for the awards, although the Washington Post reported that a 1965 Navy manual appeared to support Boorda's right to wear the clips. Unlike Kerry, the awards did not provide grounds for Boorda to shorten his tours of duty.

Hours before he was scheduled to meet with Newsweek reporters to discuss the controversy, the admiral went to his home at the Navy Yard and shot himself in the chest. The CNO had been in command of the Navy during a troubled period and his leadership was being criticized by its senior officers. Still, among the notes he left was one to "the sailors" expressing his fear that the controversy over his decorations might harm the Navy. Boorda had lied about his age to join the Navy and was the first CNO to rise through the enlisted ranks.”

And these Kerry quotes from the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe:

Veterans said yesterday that although they would take offense at someone falsely wearing a "V" combat pin, they couldn't see how this could drive Navy Adm. Jeremy Michael Boorda to suicide. “Is it wrong? Yes, it is very wrong. Sufficient to question his leadership position? The answer is yes, which he clearly understood,” said Sen. John Kerry, a Navy combat veteran who served in Vietnam.

Citing uncertainty of whether Boorda deliberately wore the pins improperly, Kerry added: “If he made a mistake, in my judgment it wasn't worth his life, so I'm very sad about it.”

“The military is a rigorous culture that places a high premium on battlefield accomplishment,” said Sen. John F. Kerry, who received numerous decorations, including a Bronze Star with a "V" pin, as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. “In a sense, there's nothing that says more about your career than when you fought, where you fought and how you fought,” Kerry said.

“If you wind up being less than what you’re pretending to be, there is a major confrontation with value and self-esteem and your sense of how others view you.”

Of Boorda and his apparent violation, Kerry said: “When you are the chief of them all, it has to weigh even more heavily.”

More on William L. Schachte, John E. O'Neill and Douglas Brinkley.

Jonathan V. Last has an excellent piece on the The Not-So-Swift Mainstream Media in the Weekly Standard. An excellent timeline on the breaking of the Swift Vet story and how the Old Media has all but failed in their primary duty--to inform the public--and the rise of the New Media:

STILL, the baying of the Times and the rest of the old media is a sign of capitulation. Against their will, the best-funded and most prestigious journalists in America have been forced to cover a story they want no part of--or at the very least, they've been compelled to explain why they aren't covering it. How did this happen? Analyzing how the Swift boat veterans had injected their story into the mainstream media, Adam Nagourney blamed summer. The Swift boat ad buys, he wrote, had "become the subject of television news shows . . . because the advertisements and [Unfit for Command] were released in August, a slow month when news outlets are hungry for any kind of news."

But Nagourney has it exactly backwards: Even though it was August, network television and most cable news shows stayed away from the Swift boat story for as long as they possibly could.

Instead, James O'Shea is right. An informal network--the new media--has arisen that has the power to push stories into the old media. The combination of talk radio, a publishing house, blogs, and Fox News has given conservatives a voice independent of the old media.

Friday August 27, 2004

Usually, I watch Fox News. Yesterday, however, I decided to spend some time on the dark side. I watched CNN and MSNBC. On CNN's Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff (sp?) covered the run-up to the Republican Convention. Almost entirely negative. JW was worried that the Republicans might play up the 9/11 attacks (and the US response) and exploit the event. Yes, the main concern was that those dastardly Repub's would exploit 9/11 for political purposes. OK, I don't actually watch CNN enough to know if they worried (either beforehand or after-the-fact) if John Kerry would exploit Vietnam, so we'll leave that aside for the moment. The point is: 9/11 is the defining moment in Bush's presidency. It was after 9/11 that we began to take terrorism seriously. It was after 9/11 that President Bush recognized that terrorists cannot simply be treated as criminals (a policy that has been implicitly endorsed since the Carter days). It was after 9/11 that President Bush changed his perspective on "Nation Building", recognizing that failed terrorist states are a direct threat to the safety of the United States. Every day since September 11, 2001 has been all about September 11, 2001. That event changed our thinking, our posture, our strategy. Of course it should be a major component of the convention. To think otherwise is to be stuck in a September 10, 2001 mentality.

Compare that to Senator Kerry's emphasis on his 4 1/2 months in combat in a war that ended more than 30 years ago. "Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts". Say it again, "Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts". All together now: "Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts". Hardly a mention of our current war. Which of these two (Vietnam or the War on Terror) do you think are more relevant to this election? Exploit? Sheesh!

Then there's Chris Matthews. Blatant partisan. That's OK though, he has a right to his opinions. You may not believe it, but I'm fairly partisan too. But at least I don't completely whitewash the facts. Here's Chris Matthews interviewing John Barry, a reporter from Newsweek, on Thursday's Hardball:

BARRY: Yes. And the- well, to answer your specific question, yes, there‘s a lot of digging going on in the archives, and the Navy archives down in the Navy yard are kind of swamped with inquiring reporters. But on the point about—on the point about Cambodia, a group of the swift boat veterans were in town today, and I talked to them, and they focussed on the Cambodia issue. And I think that it‘s pretty clear—and indeed, the Kerry campaign doesn‘t really now deny—that to say he was in Cambodia on Christmas day of 1968 was poetic license, to put it politely.

MATTHEWS: Why is penetration so important here of Cambodia? Why does it matter whether he‘s on the border, the way John O‘Neill says he was, or Kerry was, and Christmas day, rather than Groundhog‘s day or any other day of the year? Why is it important?

BARRY: Because they think it gets to Kerry‘s general credibility, and that has wider political implications.


Does Matthews even know the context of the Cambodia story. Does he know that the claim to be in Cambodia was the centrally relevant point in Kerry's (life changing) disappointment at his government and claims by (the soon to be inaugurated) Nixon that we had no troops in Cambodia. Poetic License indeed! So much more my trip to the dark side. It does, however, make good copy.

Some in the mainstream media are starting to ask some of the same questions that have been circulating in the blogosphere for over a week:

The DD214 form, an official Defense Department document summarizing Kerry's military career posted on , includes a "Silver Star with combat V."

But according to a U.S. Navy spokesman, "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star." Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.

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

Questions about a Combat V. Where have I heard that before?

The nation's top Navy officer, Adm. Jeremy Michael Boorda, died Thursday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after learning Newsweek magazine was raising questions about the legitimacy of some of his combat medals.

Sources said that in the typewritten note to the sailors, Boorda explained that he took his life because of the questions raised about his wearing of "V" for valor medals on his combat ribbon from Vietnam.

I wonder if this chap will be trumpeted as loudly as was William Rood?

Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. said Thursday in his first on-the-record interview about the Swift boat veterans dispute that "I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident which led to his first Purple Heart.

"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 (grenade launcher)," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."

...Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush enemy forces on the banks of Mekong River so that the larger Swift boats could move in. At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.

A "Dear John" letter from Ollie North to John Kerry on who exactly is to blame for his current troubles:

As usual, you have it wrong. You don't have a beef with President George Bush about your war record. He's been exceedingly generous about your military service. Your complaint is with the 2.5 million of us who served honorably in a war that ended 29 years ago and which you, not the president, made the centerpiece of this campaign.

...When you got home, you co-founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War and wrote "The New Soldier," which denounced those of us who served -- and were still serving -- on the battlefields of a thankless war. Worst of all, John, you then accused me -- and all of us who served in Vietnam -- of committing terrible crimes and atrocities.

...John, did you think they would forget? When Tim Russert asked about your claim that you and others in Vietnam committed "atrocities," instead of standing by your sworn testimony, you confessed that your words "were a bit over the top." Does that mean you lied under oath? Or does it mean you are a war criminal? You can't have this one both ways, John. Either way, you're not fit to be a prison guard at Abu Ghraib, much less commander in chief.

Score another one for bloggers (Patterico) for success in urging the LA Times to issue a correction. And also this:

I will continue to read your blog. It's a good one. If you don't think blogs are having an impact on the thinking and work of the White House Press Corps, think again. (Though I suspect you know you guys have influence). They may scoff at blogs that pick on them for bias, but the more honorable ones are actually concerned about how they do their jobs.

Tuesday August 24, 2004

Dead tree media grapple over how (or if) to cover the swifties. They acknowledge talk radio and cable news as driving the story, but consciously avoid recognizing the power of the internet. Selected quotes from E&P:

...Alison Mitchell, deputy national editor for The New York Times, points to the changing media landscape and its impact on what newspapers choose to cover. "I'm not sure that in an era of no-cable television we would even have looked into it," she said. Near the top of a front-page article on Tuesday, the Times' referred to the "mostly unsubstantiated accusations" of Kerry's swift boat critics.

But Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said newspapers can still drive their own agenda. "I don't think we are lessening at all our judgment of the news," he told E&P. "There is much more media, but we still judge for ourselves which facts we report in The Washington Post."

And the acknowledgement of the decline of the old media:

James O'Shea, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, agreed. But he said the critical approach may have been a bit late, considering that the Swift Boat Veterans ads came out two weeks ago. "I don't think there has been enough scrutiny until now," he said. "Prior to this, we weren't giving it enough attention."

But O'Shea also pointed out that giving the anti-Kerry veterans too much attention, in an attempt to hold them accountable, creates a situation of ignoring other issues. He said this may be an instance of a growing problem for newspapers in the expanding media world -- being forced to follow a story they might not consider worthwhile because other news outlets (in this case, Fox News and talk radio) have made it an issue.

"There are too many places for people to get information," O'Shea said. "I don't think newspapers can be the gatekeepers anymore -- to say this is wrong and we will ignore it. Now we have to say this is wrong, and here is why."

Jack Kelly sums it up quite nicely (hat tip: Captain Ed):

It's a triumph also for the blogosphere, which reported on a story the major media were trying to bury. Congratulations to Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit ), Ed Morrissey (Captains Quarters), John Hindraker, and Scott Johnson (Power Line), Hugh Hewitt and many others for doing the job "mainstream" journalists are supposed to do, but wouldn't.

Here's an excellent analysis of Kerry's Bronze Star incident.

Israel's options may now be diminished:

"The entire Zionist territory, including its nuclear facilities and atomic arsenal, are currently within range of Iran's advanced missiles," Yadollah Javani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's political bureau, declared last week.

Foreign and domestic policy expert Babs Streisand has convinced me. I'm voting Nader:

...President Bush is driving the economy into the ground after he inherited a record surplus from the previous administration. We are stuck in a war Bush should never have waged and as a result he has unleashed an explosive powder keg in the Middle East. As a result of our policies, terrorism is spreading, rather than abating after 9/11. Warnings before 9/11 weren't heeded. Airline security wasn't beefed up with the threat of hijackings. The immediate enemy was not Iraq and now we have a terrorist breeding ground on our hands! When Sandy Berger, of the Clinton Administration, told Condoleezza Rice that the biggest threat to America was al Qaeda, the Bush Administration did not heed this warning until after 9/11 and it has taken 3 years to do something about it-our country is still so vulnerable. I am completely flabbergasted and bewildered that when the public is polled regarding which candidate they trust to deal with terrorism, they choose George W. Bush. Those of us who feel that we are not safer with George Bush in the White House, and feel we will be more secure in the fight on terrorism with John Kerry, an experienced soldier and Senator, as President, need to create our own message megaphone to reach the American people, before it's too late!

Monday August 23, 2004

As the lawyers say, if the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If the facts are not on your side, argue the law. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, go for emotion and discredit the accusers. At this point, I think it's clear that the Kerry camp is not arguing the facts. I wonder why. Do I know that the swifties are correct? No. But, clearly both the swifties and Kerry can't both be right. Someone is wrong (lying?). I don't blindly believe everything that the swifties say, but they seem credible. At any rate, they have a clear right (and some would argue, responsibility) to say what they believe. And the media has an obligation (I would argue, responsibility)to ask the appropriate questions. The dam on this story broke last Thursday when the Kerry campaign--finally--launched a defense of the charges. This gave a green light to the MSM to begin embarking on the story. By the weekend, the defense quickly evolved into an attack of the process. The web of ties between Bush and the swifties. The abhorrent practices of 527s. Those dastardly Republicans. And why hasn't Bush condemned these ads? Of course the LA Times, the NY Times and the WaPo took those cues and ran with them. As John Hawkins at Right Wing News writes:

Only after John Kerry attacked the SBVFT did most of the "dead tree" media begin to cover the story, if you consider parroting the line taken by the Kerry campaign on the ads and smearing the Swiftees for Truth for daring to attack John Kerry's war record "cover(ing) the story".

Never mind that: 1) the Kerry camp is much more aligned with the 527s than the Bushies and 2) 527s have spent orders of magnitude more money against Bush than against Kerry. So really the biggest problem is that President Bush has not ordered the SBVFT to stop. But, as Captain Ed writes, this would be illegal.

I don't know what kind of a lawyer John Edwards might be, but he's obviously rather deficient on tax and electoral law. Candidates can't direct the actions of independent 527s; otherwise, it violates both codes. Not only should both Edwards and Kerry know this as lawyers, they should know it as candidates, since independent 527s like America Coming Together and MoveOn have spent over $50 million against George Bush this year, compared to the microscopic $250,000 the Swiftvets have spent on their campaign.

Moreover, it would be ineffectual. John O'Neil (co-author of Unfit for Command and member of the swifties) has said that even if Bush demanded the swifties to stop, they would not. Because the swifties are not necessarily pro-Bush. They're primarily anti-Kerry. They would be doing the same no matter who was the Republican candidate.

But, as some people have noticed the Kerry/Edwards campaign does have ties to certain 527s:

In fact, according to a Kerry campaign volunteer, staff members and volunteers of the Kerry campaign in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles have been in almost constant contact with staffers, including advanced viewing and reviews of television commercials, online ads, and web content. As well, staffers provided the Kerry campaign with opposition research within the past two months, as well as advance looks at speeches made by speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore.

"We're always running into those guys," says a Kerry campaign volunteer in Washington, about staffers. "We socialize with them, we see them at meetings, we can't avoid it. And of course we talk about the campaign. In some cities, we get our volunteers from MoveOn. No one has ever raised an issue about it."

Meanwhile, Professor Instapundit intercepts dispatches from a paralell universe:

EAST HAMPTON, NY (IP) -- Democratic Presidential nomineee John Kerry laughs when told that most voters don't realize that he served in Vietnam, winning three purple hearts, a bronze star, and a silver star.

"Why should they? That's several wars ago," Kerry laughs. "Old stuff. I'd much rather people be talking about my detailed plan to rebuild Iraq, using an oil trust mechanism that would give the Iraqi people a stake in reconstruction. That's why I focused on that in my acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. What was I going to do, rehash events from 35 years ago?"

Kerry's friends say that, like other veterans, he's been known to tell a few tall tales about his service over beers with others who served, but that he seldom talks about his combat experience otherwise. "He's put that behind him," says his wife Teresa. "And he thinks it would be unbecoming to make a big deal about his service when others, like [Senator] John McCain or [former P.O.W.] Paul Galanti went through so much more."

Blogs and blogging. The good, the bad and the ugly.