Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Detroit terror cell not so terrible

That "major victory" in the war on terror? Forget it.
The Justice Department has asked a judge to throw out the convictions of a suspected terror cell in Detroit because of prosecutorial misconduct, reversing course in a case the Bush administration once hailed as a major victory in the war on terrorism, legal sources said Tuesday.

The department told U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen that it supports the Detroit defendants’ request for a new trial and would no longer pursue charges of material support of terrorism. That means the defendants at most would only face fraud charges at a new trial, the legal sources said.

RNC Day 2

Am I the only one who remembered papa's "Little Brown One" comment when George P. Bush came to speak? I guess not. ABC News Noted Now recalls it, too (at least for now).

Sam Brownback claimed the Republicans will fight for the child in the womb as well as the mother carrying her. Unless, of course, those two come into conflict. Then it is mother be damned.

Bill Frist claimed that Bush has bettered the life of every American, particularly on health care. I wonder if that includes the 5.2 million that have lost health care on his watch, including the 1.4 million this year, and the 1.3 million that joined the poverty ranks. I bet they are thrilled by Bush.

And he claims government funding for stem cells is at a record high. Well, we only have Bush's term to compare with. And remember, he has underfunded his promise by about 75 million. The "ban" we have a problem with is the lack of federal funding for those stem cell lines Bush overstated. Hope that helps, Bill.

Arnold (who we learned has something in common with Bush) certainly knows the movies he has been in. It's a bit annoying. And yep, those of you who have lost jobs these past four years, lost health care, and fallen into poverty, Arnold just called you girlie men. Hope that helps you find a job.

Arnold: The President doesn't waver. Except when he says we can't win the war on terror and then says we do. And we can't reason with terrorists except those Axis of Evil members Iran and North Korea.

So watching Arnold, aside from things that are completely wrong, he seems to speak about how great America is. That's something, I think, both parties agree with. Not a great speech, if you ask me.

The kids are awful. That "young and irresponsible" line went over like a lead weight. Probably don't want to be reminded of the drinking and reported drug use of the President. Please put an end to it. Kerry girls win hands down.

Laura recaps all the false statements made so far tonight. You should love Bush because we all love Bush is the message of the night.

Look, Laura, I get that Iraq is now free. That's a fine thing, no doubt. The real question is why we would choose Iraq instead of, say, their Al Qaeda tied nuclear neighbors Iran, of North Korea, or any other country that flounders under a dictatorship. Let's get Pakistan, or communist China. Remember when they were enemy number one, those communists?

To justify the war on Iraq as a war of freedom totally dismisses the real reasons we went. Saddam was a threat according to those Bush let speak to him. To say it was to free the people begs the question why them?

Now she talks of those desk drills that would have done nothing to protect us in relation to a safer America today. We don't hide under those desks anymore because they would not have stopped an inch of radiation and you still would have died. That's why we don't hide under our desks. To compare the Bush policy to desk hiding during the cold war is finally an apt analogy from the Republicans. Neither will offer us much protection.

All in all, unimpressed. Of course, I'm not the target audience. But unimpressed.

Wow. NBC Network leaves with the goofy Sex in the City comment. ABC leaves us with the Guilani claim that the Republicans were the Yankees of politics and the Yankees got beat tonight 22-0. Nice things to remember about tonight.

More on Arnold. He said even if you don't agree with Republicans, you can still support the cause. Which would say to me, Arnold wants you to sell out your views and what you believe in to vote for Bush.

Laura said George agonized over Iraq. I don't buy it.

And still no democrats on the aftershows. Good grief

Another radioactive issue for Bush

You would think a "compassionate conservative" would want to cure sick weapons makers ASAP, right? You should know better than that by now:
The Bush administration is locked in a rare election-year fight with fellow Republicans in the Senate over a troubled program for tens of thousands of weapons plant workers who got sick building nuclear bombs.

The lawmakers say they don't understand why the administration is blocking a Senate-passed amendment to the defense bill that would overhaul a compensation program bogged down by delays and other problems.

"I can't fully understand what their resistance is," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (news, bio, voting record), who is in a tough re-election battle in Alaska. "We've been hammered by our constituents."

Many of the workers are from battleground states in the upcoming presidential election, including Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington state.

"These people are sick and dying," said Terrie Barrie of Craig, Colo., whose husband was sickened while working at the former Rocky Flats plant near Denver. "The administration, the Department of Energy (news - web sites), is just refusing to listen."

Do they really believe this?

As I'm watching Day 2 of the RNC, listening to them talk about the horribly underfunded "No Child Left Behind" and the supposed strong economy, I can't help but wonder if those on the floor really believe what they are trying to sell. At least I know those not on the floor know the truth.
U.S. consumer confidence (news - web sites) sank in August while Chicago-area business activity slowed, according to reports on Tuesday that added to worries the economy's patch of sluggish growth may last beyond the summer.

A four-month slowdown in hiring and record oil prices took a bite out of confidence, with the Conference Board (news - web sites)'s monthly index falling more than 7 points in August to 98.2 from a revised 105.7 in July. The reading was well below economists forecasts of a smaller slip to 103.5.

And they realize that Bush will still be in charge next month, too:
Consumer hopes soured on both the current state of the economy and the outlook, with the present situation index sliding to 100.7 in August from 106.4 the prior month. The expectations index also fell sharply, to 96.6 from 105.3.

Maybe someone should pass that info out on the floor there?

Bush and Arnold have something in common

From an online biography:
Arnold went AWOL from the army to compete and won the with a perfect 300 point score, the first anyone had ever had a perfect score. But his absence did not go unnoticed and while trying to sneak back into camp he was caught and thrown in jail for seven days.

Well, I don't know of Bush trying to sneak back into camp. But the other details are here.

Deserters of a feather...

A couple reading reccomendations

Matthew Yglesias at the American Prospect is on a role. First on the selection of Rudolph Giuliani as a speaker on national defense:
He's never served in the military (or held a civilian job that entailed working with the military). He's never held a job dealing with foreign affairs. He's never held a job dealing with intelligence. Indeed, the closest he gets is time spent as a federal prosecutor working against the Mafia, precisely the law-enforcement model of counterterrorism that the nation has abandoned and that the Bush administration likes to accuse Democrats of being in thrall to. Nor does he have any experience with the problem of post-conflict stabilization, the area in which George W. Bush's policies have most clearly fallen short. The Coalition Provisional Authority even brought Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's favorite police commissioner, to Baghdad to try to help out with security. It didn't work very well. Kerik, like Giuliani, was given a speaking role on Monday evening.

As the mayor of a large city, one that had been the target of terrorist attacks before, Giuliani does have some experience with homeland security. But it's not a very good record.

After the 1993 bombing attack on the World Trade Center, Giuliani decided that the city needed an emergency-management-command center and so he had one built -- in the World Trade Center. Critics suggested that locating the facility in a building that was likely to come under attack wasn't a very good idea. The critics were right. The heroic work and sacrifice of so many members of New York's police and fire departments is made all the more poignant by the knowledge that they weren't even properly equipped for the mission with, for example, interoperable communications systems that would have let them coordinate their work. How much blame can we heap on Giuliani for these failings? Some, though he was no more caught unaware by the attacks than 95 percent of American politicians, so a reasonable person would forgive. But, again, would a reasonable person make him the featured national-security spokesman for a major political party?

Apparently, Bush's political advisers would. After all, their entire security pitch is based on the notion that you should neglect issues of expertise in favor of the sort of strong, reassuring rhetoric that Giuliani offered in mid-September of 2001. This is the campaign of a president who didn't see fit after 9-11 to change up his security team and consider appointing someone with extensive experience in counterterrorism or Arab issues. Instead, he stuck with the same gang of missile-defense advocates and Iraq hawks who, shockingly enough, produced a response oriented around missile defense and invading Iraq rather than counterterrorism and engagement with the realities of the Arab world.

The two men -- Richard Clarke and Rand Beers -- Bush felt were most qualified to run his counterterrorism team before and after 9-11 have both resigned, one to write a book largely about why Bush's policies in this area are bad, the other to become John Kerry's chief national-security adviser. The Democrats, meanwhile, broke with the traditional practice of nominating a charming governor who knows nothing about national security in favor of a combat veteran who, though not a legislative giant, has been unusually engaged for a U.S. senator in foreign-policy issues and combating unconventional threats. Retired national-security professionals -- from the uniformed military, the intelligence community, and the foreign service -- have increasingly turned against the incumbent. The Democratic nominee has received endorsements from an unprecedented number of generals, while others, like Tony Zinni (the man Bush once felt was most qualified to run his Middle East policy), have, without issuing an endorsement, made their displeasure with the current course well-known.

Then, McCain-Fiengold:
As he explained on a March 5 Face The Nation appearance, "There are people spending ads that say nice things about me. There are people spending money on ads that say ugly things about me. That's part of the American process." The Washington Post reported on March 28 that "George W. Bush opposed McCain-Feingold … as an infringement on free expression." He took a lot of heat, both during the primaries and from Al Gore during the general election, for that stance, but he was right. By March 2001, when he was in office and the Senate was considering the McCain-Feingold bill, the president expressed his view in a letter to Republican Senator and noted segregationist Trent Lott that he was open to changing the rules of the game somewhat, but that he was fundamentally committed to "protecting the rights of citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy." Nevertheless, the bill passed the Congress, complete with restrictions on the rights of citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy.

And Bush signed it because, hey, what's signing an unconstitutional bill or two between friends? Indeed, Bush has consistently upheld the principle that nothing should ever be vetoed, and has never used his authority to do so. This has meant signing a lot of bills that increase spending while the president criticizes the Congress for failing to enact spending restraint. Once again, though, he stands on principle: Other people should do his dirty work for him. He's not going to block bad legislation himself, especially not when it's popular.

In the case of McCain-Feingold, the Congress had failed him, but the Supreme Court was supposed to come to the rescue. As the president explained in March 2002, he had "reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election." Why sign an unconstitutional bill? Why not? It's not as if it's the president's job to uphold the Constitution (it's not in the oath of office or anything). Besides, as the Office of Legal Counsel has explained to us with regard to the use of interrogation procedures banned by international anti-torture treaties and U.S. law, the president has the "inherent authority" to break the law if he wants to. Because the Constitution is the highest law of the land, violating it is the very essence of presidential leadership. And the president, aside from being principled, is a strong leader. So he was standing on principle, you see.

The Supreme Court, though, got a bit goofy and upheld the law. As a result, people stopped giving the old kind of soft money and started giving money to these technically independent 527 groups. Most of that money wound up going to 527s that were supporting Democrats, but others were supporting Bush. For example, John O'Neil, an old hatchet man for Richard Nixon, got together a group of veterans who don't like John Kerry and were willing to go on TV and lie about him. O'Neil found some longtime Bush family fund-raisers to give him the cash to put these ads on the air. This was pretty helpful to those in the Bush campaign, seeing as their man's misspent youth of alcoholism and coasting on family connections didn't compare all that well with Kerry's combat service and medals.

Sadly for the president, people starting pointing out that the things being said in these ads weren't true, and that maybe he should speak up and say so. On the one hand, the president didn't want to make it look like he was in bed with a bunch of liars. On the other hand, it would be really helpful to his re-election if people believed the lies. A sticky situation, indeed. So what did he do? What anyone in his situation would have done: reiterated his view that McCain-Feingold was a bad bill. It's a view Bush had consistently maintained except when he was busy signing the thing, so why not trot it out again? Except this time, instead of saying it was too restrictive of issue ads, he would say it wasn't restricted enough.

As he told Larry King, "I haven't seen the ad, but what I do condemn is these unregulated, soft-money expenditures. … What I think we ought to do is not have them on the air."

There's got to be a principle in there somewhere.

Back from nowhere

Question for Arnold. In his speech tonight he will claim that "America is back." I want to know where in the hell we went in the first place.

Bush: We will win the unwinnable war while negotiating with those you can't negotiate with

ABC News:
President Bush will tell the nation's largest veterans' group Tuesday that "we will win" the war on terror, seeking to quell controversy and Democratic criticism of his remark aired a day earlier that victory in the anti-terror battle may not be possible, his spokesman said.
In a speech before the national convention of the American Legion, the president will make it "crystal clear" that America will win the war on terrorism, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

"Not only are we winning it, but we will win it," McClellan said in describing Bush's speech.

That message contradicts Bush's statement, aired Monday in a pre-taped television interview, that "I don't think you can win" the war on terror.

After you sort that one out, help me with this:
And in Tuesday's speech before the American Legion, with popular Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona by his side, Bush himself sought to hit back.

"In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace table," Bush said.

Except for this, when talking about a so-called "Axis of Evil" state:
Calling war divisive for the country, President Bush said he will continue pursuing diplomatic rather than military options to try to get Iran to halt its nuclear program.

Earlier this month, Iran confirmed it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to advanced nuclear technology.

While he's "deeply concerned" by Iran's actions, Bush said diplomatic efforts are just beginning there and he's hopeful they will be successful.

Do I want him to invade Iran? No, not really. But I do want to see his so called "decisive leadership" called into question here. Seems to me to flip-flops in one day on the war on terror.

Instead, I watch Andrew Card deny the existence of negativity at MSG last night. Sickening.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Republicans support our troops

By mocking them:
A GOP delegate handed out bandages with purple hearts on them Monday night at the Republican National Convention in a swipe at Democratic nominee John Kerry's war record, but national GOP officials have asked him to stop.

The bandages were handed out by Morton Blackwell, a longtime GOP activist from Virginia, with the message: "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it."

Kerry won three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a bronze star for his service in the Vietnam War. A group calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking Kerry as a liar through campaign ads and media interviews, but Kerry's wartime experiences have been backed by crewmates and official records.

"It is inexcusable for a delegate to mock anyone who has ever put on a soldier's uniform," said Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe. "It is inexcusable to mock service and sacrifice."

Moore News

We already covered the Moore attack from McCain. Didn't notice this, though:
Many of the delegates faced Moore, who was seated in the press seats at Madison Square Garden because he is writing a column this week for USA Today.

Moore seemed to relish the attention, thrusting his arms over his head, laughing and saying, "Two more months."

Asked about McCain's remarks, Moore said, "I can't believe they're dumb enough to bring up the film and help its box office."

Ron Reagan strikes

A caller to The After Hours show: I wanna know why Kerry doesn't denounce the ads, but when the Swift Boat ads come out he's quick to denounce them.

Ron Reagan: Perhaps because the Swift Boaters are liars.

Of course, that's paraphrase at this point, but nicely done. He also went after Ron Silver for suggesting a terrorist was harbored in Iraq by saying something along the lines of "The guy lived there. There are terrorists living here in America, Osama lives in Pakistan. Maybe we should invade them."

Trippi had some good stuff, too. I just hope someone actually heard them tonight. It really was scary how silent things were tonight.

RNC Day One

So far it has been about attacking John Kerry and odd introductions. Here comes Ron Silver...

Yeah, I realize that I am not the audience this is intended for, but Silver seems full of hate up there. He can look back in anger, but I'd rather look forward with hope. And he just said we'd see victory in the War on Terror, which seems to disagree with the guy he just supported.

McCain's speech was good. Probably hit a few swing voters. I'll post more on it later.

I must say first that having these women speak of their loved ones involved in September 11th is a bit over the top for me. The implication here is that they were all Republicans, and only Republicans can feel the pain of 9/11. Only the Republican party has the rights to 9/11. It makes me f'in sick.

The only good part so far has been the Michael Moore bit. I'm sure there will be a video feed shortly somewhere. McCain called him "disingenuous film maker," which really got the crowd booing. I thought it quite odd to make a mention of him in his speech.

Rudy just told me I'm wrong on almost everything. That's a uniting message. Supporting a uniting President. Good grief.

Alright, first McCain. Probably meaning the war in Iraq, but mentioning it under the war on terror umbrella, McCain declared:
Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.

I'm not sure who I have heard saying the war on terror in general is unnecessary. Certainly some say it on Iraq, but overall, a "straw man" for McCain to knock down.
This was actually a good line:
If we do less, we will fail the one mission no American generation has ever failed - to provide to our children a stronger, better country than the one we were blessed to inherit.

When McCain talked next of how we were united on September 11th after the attack, I thought that if Bush hadn't gone and screwed up all that unity he wouldn't be in the political fight he is now embroiled in. The fact that we have to be constantly reminded of this is a sign not of his greatness, but his lack of leadership in keeping us united.
Then McCain sells the Democratic Party position to the RNC:
My friends in the Democratic Party - and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends - assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation.

I don't doubt their sincerity.

They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy.

They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies.

We agree.

Later, he refers to September 11th again:
But an absence of complacency should not provoke an absence of confidence. What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach. It cannot be taken from us. It can only be surrendered.

Like, I don't know, imprisonment without trial? Search and seizure without court order? The Patriot Act?

Again, a relatively solid speech that will appeal to some, but not to all.

Now Rudy is speaking. What a clown. Republicans will eat this up, but again, moderates probably won't see it that way. More when I find text.

Watching the post day one wrap up on the cable news channels, and I see no Democrats refuting anything, no liberal viewpoint on anything being said. Where are they? Why are they letting the news media fawn all over McCain/Rudy without refute?

Here's Rudy. I have nothing really to say about it. It was very anti-Kerry. Very compassionate. Very uniting. Very ridiculous. Maybe after I settle down we can revisit the thing.

This stuck out to me:
The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There will be no dramatic surrender. There will be no crumbling of a massive wall.

Remember according to our President, it won't be won at all. Of course, there is no one out there right now to point this out.

If this keeps up, then yes, the election was lost Day One of the RNC.

National Journal counters Republican spin.

From Basie:
No doubt by now you have heard the Republican talking point that John Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate and John Edwards is the 4th most liberal senator. President Bush and his cohorts have certainly enjoyed using this National Journal rating to lambast Senator Kerry. You might have even seen Jon Stewart tear into Congressman Henry Bonilla for this claim. Well, it turns out Stewart had it all right at the time, and not the mainstream media that continued to repeat the Republican talking point.

An interesting article today from The National Journal, Charles Green
debunks this myth that John Kerry is an uber-liberal. Here's what they write:

In short, our magazine -- or, more precisely, our annual congressional vote ratings edition -- has become a Republican talking point in the 2004 presidential campaign. And that's been a fascinating, and disconcerting, experience. Fascinating because we're more used to being cited in congressional hearings than on the Today show. Disconcerting because the shorthand used to describe our ratings of Kerry and Edwards is sometimes misleading -- or just plain wrong [italics added by Basie].

Paper withdraws endorsement for Mel Martinez

Earlier I reported on some of the ironies of the Mel Martinez campaign.

So I thought I'd report the latest news:
The St. Petersburg Times rescinded its endorsement of Mel Martinez in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary, accusing him of "hateful and dishonest attacks" on fellow Republican Bill McCollum.

In an editorial published Monday, the newspaper said it took the unusual step of withdrawing an endorsement because the former Bush Cabinet member "took his campaign into the gutter with hateful and dishonest attacks" over McCollum's support of a hate crimes bill and expanded embryonic stem cell research.

"The Times is not willing to be associated with bigotry," the editorial said. The newspaper said it was now recommending McCollum, a former congressman who was defeated by Bill Nelson in the 2000 Senate race.

The newspaper cited a Martinez campaign mailer that called McCollum "the new darling of the homosexual extremists" because he supported a hate crime bill that included protection of gays. It also criticized a conference call of social conservatives arranged by the campaign in which McCollum was labeled "antifamily."

Hmm... A Republican who attacks his fellow Republican much to the dismay of those around him, but is unwilling to denounce the attacks he has made.

No wonder Bush "went out of his way" to praise Mel. Birds of a feather.

Upset with us?

Andrew Sullivan points out another Bush slip of tounge:
I loved Bush's comment yesterday about the smear-ad: "I can understand why Senator Kerry is upset with us. I wasn't so pleased with the ads that were run about me. And my call is get rid of them all, now." "Us"?? I thought Bush had nothing to do with it.

What should be on the lips of every Democrat

Bring the hammer down, folks:
On NBC's Today show this morning, George Bush flip-flopped on whether he thought the U.S. could win the war on terror. Asked by host Matt Lauer, "Can we win it [the war on terror], Bush replied:

"I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are - less acceptable in parts of the world.”

John Edwards released the following statement in response to Bush’s comments today on the war on terror:

“After months of listening to the Republicans base their campaign on their singular ability to win the war on terror, the president now says we can’t win the war on terrorism. This is no time to declare defeat -- it won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but we have a comprehensive long-term plan to make America safer. And that’s a difference.”

Remember when you used to like Bush?

That seems to be another theme of the RNC:
Republican leaders said yesterday that they would repeatedly remind the nation of the Sept. 11 attacks as their convention opens in New York City today, beginning a week in which the party seeks to pivot to the center and seize on street demonstrations to portray Democrats as extremist.

Party aides said the convention would begin with an elaborate tribute to Sept. 11 victims, with speeches by Senator John McCain and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, reminding voters of Mr. Bush's role in leading the nation after the attacks, which took place a couple of miles from Madison Square Garden, home of the convention.

"Winston Churchill saw the dangers of Hitler when his opponents and much of the press characterized him as a warmongering gadfly," Mr. Giuliani plans to say, according to excerpts from his speech released last night. "George W. Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is, and he will remain consistent to the purpose of defeating it while working to make us ever safer at home."

Indeed, the Sept. 11 invocations began even before the convention opened, leaving little doubt of the prominent role the attack on New York will play at the first Republican convention ever held in this city. At a rally yesterday afternoon on Ellis Island, Vice President Dick Cheney recalled the president's visit to ground zero three days after the attack.

Remember when you liked the President, and gave him a huge approval rating? Forget about the job loss, the weak economy, the quagmire that is Iraq, the outing of secret agents, and the destruction of the environment. The President will try and cover up his record of bigotry towards gays and huge deficits, but instead hang his hat on the one post he's got left.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Bush favors illegal voting practices

It takes a while to get there, but I will tell you, the world has got to be somewhat heartened by the fact that now 10 million Afghan citizens have shown up to register to vote.

New York Times:
With the election drawing closer, the high voter registration figures - more than 10 million so far, slightly more than the estimated voting population of about 9.5 million - have been celebrated as a sign of the Afghan people's thirst for democracy. But others say the high registration rate could turn the election into a farce.

Ask more questions

Time Magazine:
Do you find yourself now asking a second set of questions on the intelligence that you might not have asked before?

Look, I asked a lot of questions before. Anytime you put a large group of people into a combat zone, you ask a lot of questions. Yes, obviously, all of us that now look at intelligence say, Let's make sure that the analyst who came up with that information has gotten additional input. We've just got to make sure that as we connect the dots, everybody's voices are heard.

Baltimore Sun:
"It's like you've got five minutes with the CEO," one adviser said. "If you don't have an answer he wants you to have, if you're not crisp in the way you're bringing something to him, not clear where you're headed, not focused on the point, I don't say he's impatient, but you can tell he's not happy."

Toward the end of 2002, with Bush weighing whether to order an invasion of Iraq, the president sought out the views of his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and his longtime Texas friend and confidante Karen Hughes. He told Woodward, though, that he did not, in the final hours, ask for counsel from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who had long urged caution on Iraq.

Washington Post:
But critics say that Iraq illustrates the risks of an approach that narrows the definition of a problem and fails to look at the ramifications of a proposed solution. Accounts of Bush's decision-making about Saddam Hussein describe repeated and detailed briefings on plans for the military assault on Iraq. But no such attention appears to have been lavished on the ethnic and religious differences within that country or on plans for pacification after the hoped-for military victory. In recent interviews, Bush has acknowledged that he misjudged the political and social climate of Iraq and therefore was unprepared for the resistance that has cost so many American lives.

Matt Drudge full of crap

This is another reason that Democrats fall behind. People like Drudge get this crap out ahead of the game and make it the driving belief. The MTV VMAs were on at my house, and the Kerry girls got many cheers mixed with a few boos. When did the largest about of booing occur? When the Bush twins appeared on the screen.

Push that meme forward.

1 million votes

That could change an election, couldn't it?
Nearly 50 delegates and alternates to the convention are openly gay, according to the Log Cabin group, a GOP record. But some say they are torn over whether to vote for Bush in the fall even though they are pledged to support him this week at the convention.

That was not the case four years ago at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, when GOP gay activists viewed Bush as friendly to their cause. An estimated 1 million gays and lesbians voted for Bush in 2000, according to exit polls.

"I want the George Bush of 2000," said Jeff Bissiri, a delegate from Los Angeles.

A fly in the unity ointment:
At a convention where Republicans intend to showcase their unity behind the re-election of President Bush, the party's major gay group isn't exactly sticking to script.

Leaders of the Log Cabin Republicans said Sunday the group is unlikely to endorse Bush next week in the wake of the move by a conservative-dominated GOP platform committee to strongly support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and oppose legal recognition of gay civil unions.

"The president's support of the federal Marriage Amendment, and (political strategist) Karl Rove's decision to use gay and lesbian Americans as wedge issues ... and the outrageous and insulting platform language has jeopardized that endorsement," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.


"The Republican Party can't have it both ways," Guerriero said. "They can't run a radical right campaign strategy that marginalizes gay and lesbians, and at the same put all of Log Cabin's friends out front at this convention.

"This party has a choice to make, about whether it will be the party of (former New York mayor) Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger or the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan,'' he said.

We are in control.

We are not in control:
While American troops have been battling Islamic militants to an uncertain outcome in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, events in two Sunni Muslim cities that stand astride the crucial western approaches to Baghdad have moved significantly against American plans to build a secular democracy in Iraq.

Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge. What little influence the Americans have is asserted through wary forays in armored vehicles, and by laser-guided bombs that obliterate enemy safe houses identified by scouts who penetrate militant ranks. Even bombing raids appear to strengthen the fundamentalists, who blame the Americans for scores of civilian deaths.

Spy in the house of love

I don't know much about espionage(except how to spell it, I guess). For those of you looking to stay informed on the whole story, try Josh Marshall and Juan Cole. Also this Washington Monthly piece will give you a good introduction.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A look at the undecided

Zogby is undecided on how the undecided will break this fall. This article outlines the typical undecided in the election this fall. More proof Democrats need to get past the Swifties and start hammering home the issues:
"If we're talking about issues, then Kerry is the favorite. If we're talking about leadership or values or likability, then score one for Bush. But we don't get a clue from this which way the undecideds are really going to go."

Nationally, the poll found Kerry leads Bush by 50.8 percent to 46.7 percent among likely voters, with only 2.4 percent undecided or so soft in their support of either candidate that they could easily change.

The survey probed at the persuadables' underlying values with cultural questions. For example, if the election were a choice between two characters from the movie "The Wizard of Oz," 48.7 percent would vote for the Tin Man, described as "all brains and no heart," and 13.3 percent would vote for the Scarecrow, described as "all heart and no brains."

That suggests a preference for Kerry, Zogby said.

The prisoner abuse investigation expands

New York Times:
A Central Intelligence Agency review that grew out of the furor over abuses at Abu Ghraib prison now includes scrutiny of the agency's interrogation and detention practices at military-run facilities and other sites across Iraq, government officials say.

The reassessment, which is more far-reaching than previously known, could have implications for the agency's conduct elsewhere, including interrogations of high-level Al Qaeda suspects like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who are being held by the C.I.A. in secret facilities around the world.

Former intelligence officials say that lawyers from the C.I.A. and the Justice Department have been involved in intensive discussions in recent months to review the legal basis for some extreme tactics used at those secret centers, including "waterboarding," in which a detainee is strapped down, dunked under water and made to believe that he might be drowned.

"Policies and procedures on detention interrogation in Iraq and elsewhere have been the focus of intense oversight and scrutiny, and very close attention has been paid to making them lawful," a senior intelligence official said Friday.

It's who you know...

This speaks for itself:
Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes said he is "more ashamed at myself than I've ever been" because he helped President Bush and the sons of other wealthy families get into the Texas National Guard so they could avoid serving in Vietnam.

"I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard ... and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it," Barnes, a Democrat, said in a video clip recorded May 27 before a group of John Kerry supporters in Austin.

Barnes, who was House speaker when Bush entered the Guard, later became lieutenant governor.

The video was posted June 25 on the Web site, but didn't get much attention until Friday, when Jim Moore, an Austin-based author of books critical of Bush, sent out e-mails calling attention to it just days before the GOP National Convention starts in New York.

Bush joined the National Guard in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, and served until 1973. He has said he received no special treatment.

Barnes said he became ashamed after walking through the Vietnam Memorial and looking at the names of the dead.

"I became more ashamed of myself than I've ever been because it was the worst thing I did - help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard," he said. "I'm very sorry of that and I'm very ashamed of it and I apologize to the voters of Texas for that."

More Republican hijinx

This time, in Tenessee:
Third District Congressional candidate John Wolfe is accusing county Republicans of "cybersquatting" in connection with county Democratic web addresses.

Mr. Wolfe said two addresses that might be typed in to try to find the county Democratic Party actually take you to the county Republican website.

Wayne Cropp, county GOP chairman, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Wolfe wrote a letter of complaint to Fran Dzik, election administrator.

A copy of the letter is there, as well.

A preview of the RNC

It may look more like an anti-Democratic convention than a pro-Republican one:
"The time for subtlety is over," said longtime Republican strategist Ken Khachigian. "It should be an aggressive attack. Our speakers really have to paint the picture of Kerry as he is and not as he thought he was. And that means talking about the years in the Senate that he chose to ignore at his convention."

No doubt they will be quick to mention this story from the Washington Monthly.
Two decades ago, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a highly respected financial titan. In 1987, when its subsidiary helped finance a deal involving Texas oilman George W. Bush, the bank appeared to be a reputable institution, with attractive branch offices, a traveler's check business, and a solid reputation for financing international trade. It had high-powered allies in Washington and boasted relationships with respected figures around the world.
All that changed in early 1988, when John Kerry, then a young senator from Massachusetts, decided to probe the finances of Latin American drug cartels. Over the next three years, Kerry fought against intense opposition from vested interests at home and abroad, from senior members of his own party; and from the Reagan and Bush administrations, none of whom were eager to see him succeed.

By the end, Kerry had helped dismantle a massive criminal enterprise and exposed the infrastructure of BCCI and its affiliated institutions, a web that law enforcement officials today acknowledge would become a model for international terrorist financing. As Kerry's investigation revealed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, BCCI was interested in more than just enriching its clients--it had a fundamentally anti-Western mission. Among the stated goals of its Pakistani founder were to "fight the evil influence of the West," and finance Muslim terrorist organizations. In retrospect, Kerry's investigation had uncovered an institution at the fulcrum of America's first great post-Cold War security challenge.

Back to the convention, many conservatives has decried the fact that so many moderates are speaking at the RNC. Of course, the hope is to appeal to the middle of the electorate. But before you get fooled by the lipstick, remember the pig(my emphasis):
Marc Racicot, the campaign's chairman, repeatedly reminded conservatives that two of their own – Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney – top the ticket. "I don't think you probably can find any better or more articulate spokesmen for conservative principles than the president and vice president," he said.

Is there a movie version?

Our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apparently doesn't read reports on things in his control:
In his first comments on the two major investigative reports issued this week at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld incorrectly described one of the reports' central findings about the U.S. military's treatment of Iraqi prisoners by saying there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations.

The reports, one by a panel Rumsfeld had appointed and one by three Army generals, made clear that some abuses occurred during interrogations, that others were intended to "soften up" prisoners who were to be questioned, and that many intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations were implicated in the abuses. The reports were issued Tuesday and Wednesday.

But on Thursday, in an interview with a radio station in Phoenix, Rumsfeld, who was traveling outside Washington this week, said, "I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes." Rumsfeld repeated the assertion a few hours later at a news conference there, adding that "all of the press, all of the television thus far that tried to link the abuse that took place to interrogation techniques in Iraq has not yet been demonstrated."

After an aide slipped him a note during the news conference, however, Rumsfeld corrected himself, noting that the inquiry by three Army generals had, in fact, found "two or three" cases of abuse during interrogations or the interrogation process.

In fact, the Army inquiry found that 13 of 44 instances of abuse involved interrogations or the interrogation process, an Army spokeswoman said. The report itself explicitly describes the extent to which each abuse involved interrogations.

You would think something so important, something that implicates Rummy himself would have caught his eye, or at least garnered a cheat sheet from an aide. I mean before he "misspoke" a few times. I guess that's why I wasn't chosen for SOD.

Swift Boat Blowback

Finally the numbers saner heads have been waiting for:
The public's belief that Kerry did not earn his medals grew to 30 percent when the attack ads got widespread publicity on cable news networks. But that number has dropped to 24 percent now.

Even better:
On Monday and Tuesday when the Kerry campaign was making the accusation Bush was involved, 42 percent said the Bush campaign was behind them and 41 percent said they were truly independent.

After Ginsberg resigned from the campaign on Wednesday, 50 percent said in polling the next two nights that the Bush campaign was connected to the ads and 34 percent said it was not.

Which no doubt explains the sudden Republican call to put Vietnam behind us and move on. Sadly, this comes out on a weekend, and one before the RNC. Hopefully it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Expect economic disappointment: Vote Bush!

The U.S. economy slowed more sharply in the second quarter than first thought as oil prices rose and the trade gap swelled, the government said on Friday in a report that confirmed momentum faltered in the spring.

U.S. gross domestic product -- which measures total output within the nation's borders -- expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter to $10.8 trillion, down from the 3.0 percent pace estimated last month by the Commerce Department (news - web sites).

The downward revision marked a sharp slowdown from the first quarter's 4.5 percent expansion, but was widely expected by Wall Street and markets had little reaction.

Lying Liars

Just in case you still weren't sure that the Swifties were full of liars. You may have already knew this:
French, who said he served in the same military unit with Kerry for two months in 1969, has come under intense scrutiny in the past week as the anti-Kerry ad has become a central issue in the presidential campaign. Suddenly, the well-respected Oregon prosecutor found himself the target of questions about his own credibility and the truthfulness of his statements against Kerry.

French's affidavit supporting the ad accused Kerry of exaggerating his war record, yet French conceded that he was relying on the account of war buddies, not what he witnessed. Since then, he's faced pickets outside his office and complaints of unethical conduct to the state bar.

Add to that, this:
Clackamas County prosecutor Alfred French, who called Sen. John Kerry a liar in a political commercial, acknowledged Thursday that he lied to his boss when confronted about an extramarital affair with a colleague.


French's former boss, James O'Leary, said he asked French about the rumored affair with a secretary about 10 years ago, but French denied it. O'Leary said he would have fired French if he'd admitted the relationship because it violated office policy.


French admitted to The Oregonian that he had the affair and denied it to O'Leary. He declined to discuss details of the relationship, saying only that "it is an indiscretion that occurred during my employment."

Anyone have a running tally of how many of these guys have been discredited yet?

Kerry and Edwards show some teeth

More of this:
...the Massachusetts senator also delivered his most pointed rebuttal to date against Republican accusations that he is a "flip-flopper" or "waffler." The poll put Bush at 49 percent and Kerry at 46 percent, within the sample's margin of error, but a shift from 48 percent to 46 percent in favor of Kerry during a similar survey last month.

When a man in the audience asked him about the labels, Kerry said: "It's the same thing they said about Bill Clinton; it's standard Republican playbook. It's the same thing they said about Al Gore. It's the same thing they said about John McCain down in South Carolina. They just say it, and if you spend enough money and say it, people like you are going to ask the question."

He then added: "Let me ask you something: Is opposing the Homeland Security Department and then suddenly embracing it when the newspapers write something, is that 'flip-flopping' or doing something? Is opposing [the] 9/11 [Commission] and then suddenly turning around and supporting it? Is telling us [national security adviser] Condoleezza Rice is not going to testify, then she does testify, is that a 'flip-flop?' Is telling you you're going to fund No Child Left Behind and then stripping it of $27 billion, is that a 'flip-flop?' I mean, you tell me, ladies and gentlemen. Let's get real here."

and this:
Edwards said that earlier Thursday, he and Bush came within miles of each other in New Mexico on the same day new Census numbers were released that showed the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million.

"It'd be interesting to hear what he had to say about these important issues," Edwards said. Pausing as the crowd roared, he added: "You just heard it. He remained completely silent."

"Sometimes I guess silence is golden. This is not one of those times," Edwards said.

And, Edwards said, Bush told New Mexico residents that "he wanted to be given four more years of George Bush (news - web sites) and Dick Cheney so they could continue the good they're doing for America."

"I just don't know if Americans can take that kind of good anymore," Edwards quipped.

Thurlow over his head

Newsweek uncovers the medal citation for Robert Lambert, the third man to recieve a Bronze Star the day John Kerry pulled Jim Rassman out of the water. Guess what's in the report (my emphasis):
NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the citation for Lambert’s Bronze Star from the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis under a Freedom of Information Act filing. This citation, like the others, says that following a mine explosion that wrecked one of the Swift Boats, the flotilla of five boats “came under small-arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks.” Lambert won his Bronze Star for an action precisely paralleling Kerry’s: Lambert picked someone out of the river. In Lambert’s case, that someone was his skipper, Thurlow.

Thurlow had steered his Swift Boat to the aid of its companion damaged by the mine, personally leaping into the foundering craft to aid its badly wounded crew while Lambert “directed accurate suppressing fire at the enemy,” according to the citation. In the swirling confusion, Thurlow was then knocked overboard from the wrecked launch. Lambert “from an exposed position and with complete disregard for his personal safety” pulled Thurlow back on to his Swift Boat, the citation says. It concludes by commending Lambert’s “coolness, professionalism and courage under fire.”

Lambert’s surviving military records do not include the initial recommendation for this medal, so there is no way to know who filled the required role of witness to vouch for Lambert’s actions. But the citation contains such detail about the actions of both Thurlow and Lambert—actions that Kerry cannot have known since his launch was on the far side of the river—that it seems implausible Kerry could have written the recommendation.

Which would blow a hole in the claim that Kerry drove the reports that claimed there was gunfire.

And speaking of that, I watched Pat Buchanan on Hardball tonight say the fact that none of these man got shot was proof there was no gunfire that day from the enemy. Is he really suggesting that the any soldier who came home from Vietnam (and heck those in Iraq, too) without a bullet wound never faced enemy fire?

The Guardian gets nervous

It sees more similarities between Iran and Iraq than the three letter run:
History is beginning to repeat itself, this time over Iran. Just two years after the notorious Downing Street dossier on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the first efforts to get United Nations approval for war, Washington is trying to create similar pressures for action against Iran.
The ingredients are well-known: sexed-up intelligence material which puts the target country in the worst possible light; moves to get the UN to declare it in "non- compliance", thereby claiming justification for going in unilaterally even if the UN gives no support for invasion; and at the back of the whole brouhaha, a clique of American neoconservatives whose real agenda is regime change.

The immediate focus for action against Iran is the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has produced five reports on Iran in the last 14 months. Part of the UN, with an international board which acts like a mini security council, the IAEA's reports have raised questions about Iran's professedly civilian nuclear programme and its desire to create its own fuel cycle which could eventually be used to produce bombs.

To satisfy its critics, Iran agreed last year to allow so-called intrusive inspections. As a confidence-building measure, it also stopped enriching uranium. In a few days' time the IAEA will issue a new report, and it is its wording which is causing the latest flurry. John Bolton, the Bush administration's point-man, has been rushing round Europe claiming the evidence of sinister Iranian behaviour is clear, even though the IAEA has consistently made no such judgment. It has called for more transparency, but prefers to keep probing and, like Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq in 2003, insists it needs more time.

Support your President

I am pleased that now when people tell me John Kerry lied about his service in Vietnam, I can reply to them, "What, you don't believe your own President? Why do you hate America so?"

Also in the article:
"I understand how Senator Kerry feels - I've been attacked by 527's too,'' [Bush] said...

Someone please point out the ad that attacked Bush so harshly it has become the talk of the campaign for at least two weeks even though its claims have proven to be built on lies.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Economy hums along: "Brother Can You Spare a Dime"

Another 1.3 million people turned the corner last year into poverty, an increase of 12.1 percent from 2002. They all want to thank the man at the helm.
Approximately 35.8 million people lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002.

The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.

Bush's policies also helped to get the job done, if that job was to knock another 2.5 million people off the list of insured:
Nearly 45 million people lacked health insurance, or 15.6 percent of the population. That was up from 43.5 million in 2002, or 15.2 percent, but was a smaller increase than in the two previous years.

And all those tax cuts helped median income do absolutely nothing:
Meanwhile, the median household income, when adjusted for inflation, remained basically flat last year at $43,318. Whites, blacks and Asians saw no noticeable change, but income fell 2.6 percent for Hispanics to $32,997. Whites had the highest income at $47,777.

Oh, and jobless claims came out today, too:
The Labor Department (news - web sites) reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance increased by a seasonally adjusted 10,000 to 343,000 for the week ending Aug. 21. Half of the 10,000 rise was attributed to claims stemming from the hurricane, a Labor Department analyst said.

The increase in claims last week was larger than the rise economists were expecting. Some predicted that claims would increase by around 4,000. The 343,000 level of claims was the highest since July 24.

Now let's get back to Kerry's war record, shall we?

Oh, that Jack Idema!

More proof that that the truth will be free, so why lie in the first place and make yourself look bad. It only weakens the credibility of your new story.
The US Department of Defense has admitted having contact with a former US soldier, Jonathan Idema, charged in Afghanistan with torturing civilians.
But it says it rejected Mr Idema's offer to work together in capturing terror suspects in Afghanistan.

Mr Idema - who was arrested by Afghan security agents in July - says his operation was approved by the US.

He and two other US citizens are being tried for torture, kidnapping and running a private jail in Kabul.

This comes after the flat out denial of contact with him. Does it mean anything? Who knows. That's what trials are for.

Still under fire

Yet another vet from the Swift Boats says he remembers gun fire on that fateful day the Swifties have marred forever:
Robert E. Lambert doesn’t plan to vote for John Kerry.

But the Eagle Point man challenges claims by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that there was no enemy fire aimed at the five swift boats, including the one commanded by Kerry, on March 13, 1969 on the Bay Hap River in the southern tip of what was then South Vietnam.

Lambert, now 64, was a crew member on swift boat PCF-51 that day. The boat was commanded by Navy Lt. Larry Thurlow, a now-retired officer who questions why Kerry was awarded a Bronze star for bravery and a third Purple Heart for the March 13 incident.

"He and another officer now say we weren’t under fire at that time," Lambert said Wednesday afternoon. "Well, I sure was under the impression we were."

Lambert’s Bronze Star medal citation for the incident praises his courage under fire in the aftermath of a mine explosion that rocked another swift boat on that day 35 years ago.

"Anytime you are blown out of the water like that, they always follow that up with small arms fire," he said.

Another Republican All-Star

Again, I'm sure Democrats have their share of these guys, but it's more fun to tell you about the Republicans. This time we head to West Virginia:
A Republican state Senate candidate remains on the November ballot despite his conviction earlier this month on federal fraud-related charges, state election officials said Wednesday.

Through his lawyer, Mark Anthony Reynolds had said he would drop out of the 13th District race after a federal jury found him guilty on two felony counts on Aug. 2.

Toxic to the GOP

First P. Diddy, now Britney Spears gets the Republican cold shoulder:
The belly-baring pop star is being courted to attend the Republican convention in New York next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and that has sparked outrage among some conservative groups.

“Through her immature antics, Spears has probably done more to undermine sexual morality than all the misguided legislation introduced in the United States over the last decade,” the Illinois Family Institute wrote in an e-mail to members. “It would be the height of hypocrisy for a party that claims to represent wholesome values to celebrate her.”

In that case, I'm all for it. I imagine it would also bring C-Span its highest ratings ever. Her only problem would be choosing which snake to dance with. (rimshot)

Thanks, I'm here all week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Maryland malfunctions

Maryland is holding hearings to discuss their new electronic voting machines. They have done nothing to enact safety measures recommended earlier this year by the state computer security consultant. Maryland officials are saying it is too late now.

Folks in Maryland suggest giving voters a choice between paper and electronic ballots. The state says that's a waste of breath as well:
But Assistant Attorney General Michael Berman argued that paper ballots are more error-prone than the electronic system. He recalled problems with punch-card ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential election and questioned the wisdom of fearing "theoretical security vulnerabilities that have never materialized."

In other words, why worry about something that could happen until it actual does happen. It's only your vote we're talking about here.

Some problems that have materialized so far:
A Montgomery County Democratic election judge, Mary von Euler, said that when one voter tried to vote for a specific delegate to the Democratic National Convention, another delegate's name was continually high lighted.

And Jeffrey Liss, a lawyer who lives in Chevy Chase, said that when he voted at his polling place, the U.S. Senate race never appeared on his screen. Officials later unplugged that machine, he said. Liss said he asked to be allowed to vote again but was refused. He was eventually given a provisional ballot, which he later learned was never counted.

See, those things didn't happen to you personally and cause your disenfranchisement, so why should you personally worry about them? Besides, it's only your vote for President or Senator, it's not something important like American Idol or Last Comic Standing. Just relax, okay?

More Nobel Prize winners support Kerry

This time, ten past Nobel Prize winners in Economics say "Hell, yeah!" to Kerry and "Hell no!" to George Bush:
According to the letter, the Bush administration has "embarked on a reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation."

Kerry "understands that sound economic policy requires a substantial change in direction, and we support him for president."

The differences between Bush and Kerry regarding leadership on the economy "are wider than in any other presidential election in our experience.

Bush believes "that tax cuts benefiting the most-wealthy Americans are the answer to almost every economic problem." But the tax cuts "were poorly designed and therefore have given insufficient stimulus to job creation."


In contrast, the Nobel laureates believe that Kerry "will restore fiscal responsibility" and is committed to helping families meet rising the cost of higher education and health care, and is committed "to work with our allies and trading partners to promote global growth that lifts up workers around the world."


Or shameless, whichever you prefer. Josh Marshall points to an article at GOPUSA entitled "If Kerry Can't Handle the "Swiftees," How's He Going to Handle the Terrorists?"
It features this gem(article emphasis):
Everyone else seems to exercise their freedom to speak. But when 254 "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" are on the record questioning John Kerry's fitness to serve as Commander-in-chief, and 64 soldiers make definitive accusations with eyewitness accounts of his service in Vietnam . . . they are called liars; they should not speak; Mr. Bush is accused of coordinating a smear campaign, and the "Swiftees" are challenged to prove every single allegation.

Well, God forbid that the Swift Boaters would have to "prove every single allegation." Why don't I start making outrageous claims that Bush has syphilis or that he still wets the bed? Because I have morals and have no proof of these claims, which according I shouldn't let get in my way.

The outrage here is not that they are speaking, it is that they are lying and have no proof of the allegations they are making. It all borders on slander at this point. And to not come out against it says nothing less than Bush supports slander.

I can't believe anyone would be outraged that people are asking for proof of the allegations. Kerry's story got even more proof today from another Navy report, this one issued by a Task Force headed by none other than retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, the founder of the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

And the article notes how many documents the Swiftees have to verify their claims: none.

Just ridiculous.

Man Overboard

Another Vietnam casuality, thanks to the Swifties:
One of President Bush's top lawyers resigned from his campaign Wednesday, a day after disclosing that he had given legal advice to a veterans group airing TV ads against Democrat John Kerry. The guidance included checking ad scripts, the group said.

"This part of the script that says you guys are Republican fronts for the Bush campaign, and make statements he can't afford to politically say, you need to edit that out. Other than that, lie all you want."
"I have decided to resign as national counsel to your campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice to decorated military veterans, which was entirely within the boundaries of the law, doesn't distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing," Ginsberg wrote.

Yes, those real issues like when exactly was John Kerry in Cambodia, and how many drops of blood came out of his leg when the shrapnel blast was embedded in there?
It's becoming a Josh Marshall link fest as he points out more from a Reuters article:
Now we're on to former Bush-Cheney 2004 lawyer Ben Ginsberg's quote to Reuters: "I was at the nexus of making sure (coordination) didn't happen. To suggest otherwise is flat wrong."

So BC04 is so hardcore against coordination that they had Ginsberg work for the Swift Boat guys to prevent coordination. Or something like that. Anyway, he was at the heart of the battle against coordination.

I just can't dance to it...

Laura Bush apparently is not a big P. Diddy fan:
First Lady Laura Bush stunned organizers at Monday night's grand opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati by refusing to appear alongside rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

Bush -- wife of President George W. Bush -- was scheduled to join actress Angela Bassett and U2 frontman Bono at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but refused to be snapped with hip-hop mogul Combs.

Insiders claim Bush was eager to avoid publicity with Combs, who subsequently axed his appearance at the event after news of the First Lady's decision broke.

I would have liked to see Diddy show up and cause Laura to withdraw myself. Then we'd all be talking about her opposition to the Underground Railroad. Maybe I'll write a letter to Combs and see if he wants to start "Hip Hop Stars for Truth."

Bush changes plan to "A Few Children Left Behind"

Republican love for Air Traffic Controllers shines through once more:
In a stinging rebuke to the Bush Administration, the Federal Labor Relations Authority has issued a charge against the Federal Aviation Administration for abandoning American children of FAA employees in Puerto Rico. The case clearly contradicts the administration's "No Child Left Behind" policy.

The children were unable to start school last week because the FAA, which employs their parents as air traffic controllers in San Juan, refused to certify the children as eligible to enroll in the Antilles Consolidated School System. The Department of Defense operates Antilles and it is the only public school in Puerto Rico in which the children are taught in English.

Many Puerto Rico-based controllers moved to work at San Juan Center -- one of the FAA's most difficult-to-staff facilities -- with the understanding that their children would be able to attend a school that met U.S. standards. The FAA has certified all dependent children of employees as eligible to attend the DOD schools for the last 30 years. But in a sudden and last minute change of policy, the FAA determined that certain children would no longer be eligible. To add insult to injury, the FAA waited to advise the affected employees until it was too late for to enroll the children in other schools.

Word to the father

Who could have possibly seen the cost not only in dollars, but in soldiers and public image that the war in Iraq would cost? Try W's father, George H.W. Bush when he defended the decision not to overthrow Saddam in 1991.
"Incalculable human and political costs" would have been the result, the senior Bush has said, if his administration had pushed all the way to Baghdad and sought to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

"We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect rule Iraq," Bush wrote. "The coalition would have instantly collapsed. ... Going in and thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish.

"Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome."

Or maybe James A. Baker, Secretary of State during Bush I. This was written in 1996, five years after Desert Storm:
"Iraqi soldiers and civilians could be expected to resist an enemy seizure of their own country with a ferocity not previously demonstrated on the battlefield in Kuwait.

"Even if Hussein were captured and his regime toppled, U.S. forces would still have been confronted with the specter of a military occupation of indefinite duration to pacify the country and sustain a new government in power.

"Removing him from power might well have plunged Iraq into civil war, sucking U.S. forces in to preserve order. Had we elected to march on Baghdad, our forces might still be there."

Republicans officially adopt plank of hatred

Republicans endorsed an uncompromising stand against gay marriage Wednesday while struggling to accommodate the views of activists who declared that such a hard line could cost the GOP the election.

A panel made up largely of conservative delegates approved platform language that calls for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposes legal recognition of any sort for gay civil unions.

How will they appeal to moderate voters while doing this? Quick, create a diversion!
Vice President Cheney spelled out his differences with President Bush on the volatile issue of gay marriage Tuesday while making his most revealing public comments so far about the sexual orientation of his gay daughter.

Asked his position on the subject at a town hall meeting here, Cheney replied: "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. . . . With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People . . . ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Cheney went on to reiterate the position he first outlined in the 2000 campaign -- that same-sex marriage should be left to the states to decide. He noted, however, that Bush has endorsed a constitutional amendment preventing the states from recognizing such marriages.

"At this point . . . my own preference is as I've stated," Cheney said. "But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it."


In case you had doubts

New York Times: tracing responsibility for what went wrong at Abu Ghraib, [the four-member panel headed by James M. Schlesinger] drew a line that extended to the defense secretary's office.

The panel cited what it called major failures on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides in not anticipating and responding swiftly to the post-invasion insurgency in Iraq. On the eve of the Republican convention, that verdict could not have been welcome at the White House, where postwar problems in Iraq represent perhaps President Bush's greatest political liability.


Beginning in late 2002, the panel said, Mr. Rumsfeld and his staff set the stage for an environment in which abuses later became widespread. They did this first by sowing confusion about what kinds of interrogation techniques would be permitted, then by failing to plan for the intensity of the post-invasion insurgency, and finally by delaying for months in dispatching reinforcements to help the American guards at Abu Ghraib contend with the swelling number of prisoners.

I propose Swift Boat action figures

That way, you can put them in bed with your favorite GOP/Bush administration member!
Though the Bush campaign insists it has no ties to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, the Dallas Morning News reports that Bob Perry, the "key bankroller" for the group, "is listed as the co-host of a New York City fund-raiser next week... whose guest list includes President Bush's top political adviser." President Bush's father is also on the guest list.

or how about
The Bush campaign's top outside lawyer said Tuesday that he had given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record and antiwar activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news programs.

The lawyer, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, said the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him last month to ask for his help and he agreed. Mr. Ginsberg said he had yet to work out payment details with the group and he might consider doing the work pro bono.

Maybe you can interview them to get to the truth about the whole smear campaign:
Asked his opinion of the Democratic nominee, O'Neill paused, then turned his thoughts back to the day more than three decades ago when he first heard Kerry contend that war crimes were being committed in Vietnam.

"I resent deeply what he did in 1971," O'Neill said.

or ask your Robert "Friar Tuck" Brant action figure:
Robert "Friar Tuck" Brant, a member of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, said Kerry called him Sunday and asked if he was aware of the group's activities.

"I said, `I am one, John,"' said Brant, who had appeared at a news conference announcing the group in May. "There was a moment of hesitation and he said, `I appreciate your honesty.' He said, `Well, why are you?"'

Brant said he told Kerry he was most upset about Kerry's protests after returning from the war, when he accused soldiers of committing atrocities. "I said, `You know that's not true,"' Brant said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "That's been simmering in me about 35 years."

Even the fake media can see this "story" is ridiculous:
"All of us [on 'The Daily Show'] are just blown away by the turn the campaign has taken," [executive producer Ben] Karlin said. "We cannot believe that this is what is being talked about at this juncture. It's so astounding to us. We are trying to work through our amazement and to conduct a meaningful conversation absent of incredulity, because [the interview] is not going to go anywhere if you just say, 'What the [expletive] is going on?' "

Karlin said he will nonetheless suggest that that be the first question Stewart puts to Kerry tonight.

"If you just want to pinpoint the success of the Republican Party and Bush, this is a perfect case study," Karlin continued, "because George W. Bush has put a moratorium on talk about his behavior under the age of 40 and everyone [in the press] is abiding by it. 'Were you or were you not an alcoholic or did you just have a drinking problem?,' 'Were you or were you not a drug abuser?' Meanwhile they're debating whether [Kerry's war] wounds drew blood or were they superficial, or occurred in the same day, or whether he shot a guy wearing a toga. . . . How is that possible?"

The irony? A news story about a story about the inanity of the Swift Boaters. Good grief.

John O'Neill still a liar

John O'Neill reveals he was never in Cambodia except that time he said he was:
O'Neill on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos: How do I know he's [Kerry] not in Cambodia? I was on the same river, George. I was there two months after him. Our patrol area ran to Sedek, it was 50 miles from Cambodia. There isn't any watery border. The Mekong River's like the Mississippi. There were gunboats stationed right up there to stop people from coming. And our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek. So it was a made-up story. [8/22]

As CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns reported on the August 24 edition of CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, "O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river, and he claimed in an audiotape that his publicist played to CNN that he himself had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then-President Richard Nixon." CNN then aired the audiotape of O'Neill telling Nixon that he was, in fact, in Cambodia during the Vietnam War:

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

This is the man who has tied up the media for the past few weeks. Incredible.

Ah, the Swifties

I'll be so happy when ever link I seem to have has nothing to do with this guys. Until that time, another look at the latest Swift Veteran news...

First from Monday's LA Times... well, I'll let them say it:
The technique President Bush is using against John F. Kerry was perfected by his father against Michael Dukakis in 1988, though its roots go back at least to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It is: Bring a charge, however bogus. Make the charge simple: Dukakis "vetoed the Pledge of Allegiance"; Bill Clinton "raised taxes 128 times"; "there are [pick a number] Communists in the State Department." But make sure the supporting details are complicated and blurry enough to prevent easy refutation.

Then sit back and let the media do your work for you. Journalists have to report the charges, usually feel obliged to report the rebuttal, and often even attempt an analysis or assessment. But the canons of the profession prevent most journalists from saying outright: These charges are false. As a result, the voters are left with a general sense that there is some controversy over Dukakis' patriotism or Kerry's service in Vietnam. And they have been distracted from thinking about real issues (like the war going on now) by these laboratory concoctions.


No informed person can seriously believe that Kerry fabricated evidence to win his military medals in Vietnam. His main accuser has been exposed as having said the opposite at the time, 35 years ago. Kerry is backed by almost all those who witnessed the events in question, as well as by documentation. His accusers have no evidence except their own dubious word.

Not limited by the conventions of our colleagues in the newsroom, we can say it outright: These charges against John Kerry are false. Or at least, there is no good evidence that they are true. George Bush, if he were a man of principle, would say the same thing.

Clearly the LA Times is ready to put these spurious claims to rest.

Many have laready pointed out the hatchet job the media has done with the latest claims that Bush called for a halt to the Swift Boat ads. MSNBC reports:
President Bush on Monday criticized a commercial that accused John Kerry of inflating his own Vietnam War record, more than a week after the ad stopped running, and said broadcast attacks by outside groups have no place in the race for the White House.

“I think they’re bad for the system,” added Bush, who had ignored calls to condemn the ad while it was on the air.

Of course when Bush said "they're bad for the system," he was refering to all 527 ads, not the Swifties specifically. That shows that Bush dislikes the idea of 527s, and not the message specifically contained in one of them.

Bob Dole told CNN's "Late Edition" in relation to Kerry: "I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out."

Crewmate Sandusky said today, "I was there when he got wounded. I saw the blood. I don't care what Dole said."

San Fransisco Chronicle:
"It's amazing how similar this type of attack is to the pattern of attacks I have seen over two decades -- in some cases involving Bush's campaigns, in other cases they involved campaigns in which Karl Rove was a participant,'' said Wayne Slater, senior political writer at the Dallas Morning News, who has covered Bush since his early days in Texas politics and is author of the book "Bush's Brain,'' about Rove.

"In every case, the approach is the same: You have a surrogate group of allies, independent of the Bush campaign, raising questions not about the opponent's weakness but directly about the opponent's strength,'' Slater said. "In every case it works."

Enough for now? More from Tuesday in a while.

Call a spade a spade

A judge called Rep. Rodney Alexander's last-minute switch to the Republican Party an attempt to subvert the election process and ordered that the sign-up period be reopened for new candidates for Congress.

Alexander infuriated Democrats this month when he switched to the GOP just minutes before the deadline for getting on the ballot. The move made it virtually impossible for the Democrats to field a promising candidate to run against Alexander.

"Mr. Alexander has attempted to subvert the electoral process for his own personal gain. His action deprived voters of the right to vote for a Democratic candidate," said District Judge Allen Edwards, a Democrat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Finally, a proven link between Afghanistan and Iraq

What do you do with those in charge of an are coming under investigation for suspicious deaths? Send them to Abu Ghraib, of course!
Even as investigators were uncovering troubling evidence of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, orders were cut to transfer the military intelligence company involved to Iraq and to Abu Ghraib. And within weeks of the deaths of two Afghan detainees, the officer in charge at the Bagram Collection Center, where the men died and where others are thought to have been mistreated, was awarded her first of two Bronze Stars for “exceptionally meritorious service.”

Geez. We gave her a medal for running a prison where people were dying under suspicious circumstances? Makes you wonder what you get for bravely taking on the enemy in battle. Oh yeah, lies and attacks on you service record by people who weren't even there. Maybe the Swifties should search for the truth on this story, instead.

Also from the Abu Ghraib side of things, a report on games people played:
Earlier reports and photographs from the prison have indicated that unmuzzled military police dogs were used to intimidate detainees at Abu Ghraib, something the dog handlers have told investigators was sanctioned by top military intelligence officers there. But the new report, according to Pentagon sources, will show that MPs were using their animals to make juveniles -- as young as 15 years old -- urinate on themselves as part of a competition.

"There were two MP dog handlers who did use dogs to threaten kids detained at Abu Ghraib," said an Army officer familiar with the report, one of two investigations on detainee abuse scheduled for release this week. "It has nothing to do with interrogation. It was just them on their own being weird."

Speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report has not been released, other officials at the Pentagon said the investigation also acknowledges that military intelligence soldiers kept multiple detainees off the record books and hid them from international humanitarian organizations. The report also mentions substantiated claims that at least one male detainee was sodomized by one of his captors at Abu Ghraib, sources said.

Words fail me.

Trust me with your most important right

Just imagine I've come up with a new and easier way for you to cast your vote, but I don't offer you any proof of how well it works. I claim I am to busy to explain it, and those that know how well it works are to busy to explain it. Still want to offer it up? And if I fail you, how well will you trust me next time?

You can guess what this analogy relates to: e-voting, the exciting technology that makes casting your vote akin to playing an electronic slot machine. Poor odds all around. So how do you fell knowing your vote is unable to be verified and left in the hands of three big companies who don't want to explain what they do?

Now factor in all parties involved, from creation to testing, are strong Republican supporters. Feel better?

Me either.

Here in 30

Time to watch John Kerry on The Daily Show, then I have two days worth of blogging to catch up on. Wait for me, won't you?

Sorry for the delay

It'll probably happen tomorrow, too, but I've got a lot of stories to read and I'm dog tired. I will say I was excited to read Bush had denounced the Swift Boat ad, only to see he did no such thing. To denounce a group of individuals is different than denouncing the actions of one.

But that's just me.

Hope to be back tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The moral of the Swifties story

Of course this thing will rage on for who knows how long, but the Guardian UK provides the three morals we can learn from the whole situation:
First, there is no level to which Republicans will not stoop to besmirch a character, belittle an issue or befuddle the electorate. Second, there is no level to which the Democrats will not stoop to attempt to neutralise these attacks. And third, that the Republicans will always win in this race to the bottom because so much less is expected of them and, when it comes to muck-slinging, they have no qualms about getting their hands dirty.

A Swift update

Yet another veteran who says he served with John Kerry comes forward to support Kerry's account:
I feel that most of these veterans who are joining this attack are against Kerry for what he did after he was home from the war than for what he did in the war. If they are against him for his stance against the Vietnam War, that certainly is their right, but to spread lies and malicious innuendos about his time on the rivers of Vietnam is not morally right and does a disservice not only to Kerry, but to all those who served and were wounded or died in that war. The people who are using these veterans for their own means obviously do not care about that. They did the same thing to Senator John McCain and Congressman Max Cleland in 2000 with no remorse or care for the consequences.


Since I happened to be along on one of the "excursions" where the boats that we were on were attacked and after which Lt. Kerry was cited for valor, I thought it appropriate to give my recollection of that event. This happened on March 13, 1969. I was assigned as Psychological Operation Officer for the Swift Boat group out of An Thoi, Vietnam, from January 1969 to October 1969. As such, I was on No. 43 boat, skippered by Don Droz who was later that year killed by enemy fire. We were second in line while exiting the river and going through the opening in a fish trap when a mine blew up under the No. 3 boat directly in front of us and we started taking small arms fire from the beach. Almost immediately, another mine went off somewhere behind us. All boats, except the one hit, immediately wheeled toward the beach that most of the fire came from (a tactic devised by Lt. Kerry, I later learned) and commenced showering the beaches with so much lead, that it could probably be now mined there. The noise was of course, deafening.

Three things that are forever pictured in my mind since that day over 30 years ago are: (1) The No. 3, 50-foot long, Swift boat getting huge, huge air; John Kerry thought it was about two feet. (He was farther away from it than I). I think it was at least four feet and probably closer to six feet; (2) All the boats turning left and letting loose at the same time like a deadly, choreographed dance and; (3) A few minutes later, John Kerry bending over his boat picking up one of the rangers that we were ferrying from out of the water. All the time we were taking small arms fire from the beach; although because of our fusillade into the jungle, I don't think it was very accurate, thank God. Anyone who doesn't think that we were being fired upon must have been on a different river.

The picture I have in my mind of Kerry bending over from his boat picking some hapless guy out of the river while all hell was breaking loose around us, is a picture based on fact and it cannot be disputed or changed. It's a piece of history drawn in my mind that cannot be redrawn. Sorry, "Swift Boats Veterans for the Truth"- that is the truth.

To say that John Kerry or any of us were on that river to intentionally collect Purple Hearts really does every soldier and sailor, past and present, a disservice. We were going up those rivers (with an ongoing casualty rate of 86 percent at the time) on the orders of the same people who approved of Kerry's medals and who are now joining in the attacks against Kerry. Unbelievable.

I would hope that the American public sees these evil extreme right wing attacks for what they really are and also pray that the veterans being used by these unpatriotic right wing extremist political operatives will divorce themselves immediately from them and speak to the real issues as to why they oppose John Kerry. I just don't understand how anyone can align themselves with those who intentionally and gleefully painted a decorated triple amputee (Max Cleland) from Vietnam as unpatriotic. I think that this is the most disastrous, un-American thing that can be done to our servicemen and women, especially now with another unending war going on. Your ends cannot possibly justify these means. Come on!

Jim Russell

Vietnam veteran,

USN (1966-71)

Of course this can go on forever. The question will continue to circulate throughout the campaign because there is no discerning end to the thing. As long as the Swift Boaters continue to put out ads, they will continue to be the subject of reports. Interviews will continue to be conducted as new claims arise. And while this cover is laid down, Bush can sneak away from his litany of failures over the past four years.

How relevant is the debate? The Gadflyer answers:
A few months from now, the 2004 presidential race will be over and we'll begin to assess what kind of campaign this was. Something tells me no one will be saying, "It sure was a good thing for the electorate that we spent so much time talking about whether John Kerry deserved all his Vietnam medals. Boy, if we hadn't written hundreds of stories about veterans who were mad about statements Kerry made in 1971, the public would have been much worse off."

After the 1988 election, much of the national political press corps felt that they had failed the citizens they were supposed to serve. They had become consumed with non-issues like the value of the pledge of allegiance and became partners with the Bush campaign in stirring up racist fears. They ignored real issues like the S&L crisis, which will end up costing the American taxpayer well over $300 billion. So reporters pledged to explore issues in more depth, to scrutinize candidate advertising more carefully, and to hold candidates accountable for deception.


There are two and a half months until the election, and it is possible that the issue of Kerry's Vietnam service and anti-war activism will fade quickly to be replaced by a more substantive discussion that actually has some relationship to the next four years of America's political life. In all likelihood, at some point the press will grow bored with the Swift Boat Veterans. For the moment, though, it has all the elements political reporters gravitate toward like moths to a flame: misleading attack ads, expressions of anger and bitterness, accusations of Machiavellian manipulations, and fertile ground for reporters to play amateur political consultant. (Should Kerry have answered earlier? How should he respond? What do the polls say?)

A final note: with all the discussion of the Vietnam War, most people probably have been paying less attention to the fact that American blood continues to be spilled in Iraq. This past week, 19 more families were informed that their worst fears have come true, that their prayers were in vain, that unfathomable suffering is now upon them: their son, their father, their brother or their husband, who did as he was ordered and went to Iraq, is now dead. Needless to say, none of those families was named Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Kristol, Hastert or Frist. The count of American soldiers who have given their lives in Iraq has passed 950 and shows no signs of abating.

Obviously the more politicians, and importantly, the more Republican politicians that come out to condemn this thing the better for Kerry. The message is clear: I may not vote for the guy, but this is politics at its worst.
"I just think it's wrong."

That's not one of Kerry's fellow Democrats talking. It's Terry Musser, a Republican state rep, longtime chairman of the Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, and the co-chairman of Wisconsin Veterans for Bush.

Musser served two tours as a paratrooper in Vietnam, and he's disgusted by these attacks on Kerry. And he doesn't particularly like the Democratic presidential nominee.

"He was there. He did it. My opinion is that anybody who served anywhere is a hero. And we should not as a nation be trying to tear down people who served and are serving," Musser said when I reached him by phone Friday. He represents the Black River Falls area in the Legislature.

Bush ought to condemn the ads from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, even though he can't stop them, Musser said.

These self-proclaimed truth-seekers have questioned whether Kerry was under fire when he turned the boat around and went back to rescue Green Beret Jim Rassmann, and whether Kerry's boat ever was in Cambodia.

They're out of bounds, Musser believes.

"Kerry was saying he was in Cambodia, and you have some of the other ones saying he wasn't in Cambodia. It's like, who do you want to believe. I was in the Central Highlands. They could have sent us into Laos. I wouldn't have had a clue. There are no signs saying, 'Welcome to Thailand,' 'Welcome to Vietnam.'

"Just imagine going up and down any river how easy of a target you are. He was there."

Did Kerry really deserve his three Purple Hearts? Be careful in making that judgment.

"Even if you happen to be running into a bunker and hit your head on it during a mortar attack. I knew a guy who got a Purple Heart that way. Is it related to an enemy action? Yeah, you're trying to get the heck out of the road."

Which answers part of Bob Dole's attack before he even gets there:
Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole suggested Sunday that John Kerry apologize for past testimony before Congress about alleged atrocities during the Vietnam War and joined critics of the Democratic presidential candidate who say he received an early exit from combat for "superficial wounds."


Dole added: "And here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out."

This also generated a response from John Podesta, Clinton's chief of staff:
"Senator Kerry carries shrapnel in his thigh as distinct from President Bush who carries two fillings in his teeth from his service in the Alabama National Guard, which seems to be his only time that he showed up," John Podesta, former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, said on ABC's "This Week."

And finally, I was very surprised as I watched this unfold on FOX News today:
A veteran who disputed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam war record acknowledged on Sunday he had no proof to back his charge that Kerry fabricated the reports of enemy fire that won him two medals.


"I do not have a single document," [Swift Boater Van] Odell said.