Saturday, August 28, 2004

Details at 11

Apologies for not posting during my Big Apple experience...was very busy getting cultured (lots o' museums and such), but I'll be putting my two cents worth in come tomorrow afternoon at the latest...

NYC has its share of "security," not that it really does any good, but...and I did catch a multimedia presentation that was dead-on accurate...

But I've got to run for now...later.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Balancing Act

The media has finally decided to drop other shoe regarding the Swift Boat Morons who lie. I don't know if bloggers had much to do with this, but once again they were out in front.

Juan Cole had enough yesterday:

The true absurdity of the entire situation is easily appreciated when we consider that George W. Bush never showed any bravery at all at any point in his life. He has never lived in a war zone. If some of John Kerry's wounds were superficial, Bush received no wounds. (And, a piece of shrapnel in the forearm that caused only a minor wound would have killed had it hit an eye and gone into the brain; the shrapnel being in your body demonstrates you were in mortal danger and didn't absent yourself from it. That is the logic of the medal). Kerry saved a man's life while under fire. Bush did no such thing.

Cole goes on to suggest that Bush's history of drug and alcohol abuse might explain his propensity for rash behavior and actions--such as the insane siege of Fallujah last April, or his earlier history of showing, um, a certain undue enthusiasm for executing people.

Likewise, The Rude Pundit offered his own take:

And, therefore, what they really want to attack is John Kerry, the "wild-eyed" hippie activist, and not Kerry, the soldier. Check out their new ad, titled "Sellout.".

In "Sellout," Kerry's testimony about war crimes in Vietnam before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971 is quoted out of context. Where Kerry is talking about testimony already given about atrocities, "Sellout" gives only the part of the quote that makes it seem as if Kerry is speaking these things for the first time. (Kerry didn't only say, "They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads," but had attributed the stories to "honorably discharged" vets who had testified at previous hearings.) But that fact's been argued about over and over.

Let's look at a couple of opening paragraphs from Kerry's testimony in 1971:

...we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit--the emotions in the room, and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that, at times, they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam,in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

Unfortunately, the key lines--"...many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes...they told stories that, at times..." will never be cited by the Swift Boat Morons and the morons that love them. Because that would destroy the premise of their argument--that Kerry "betrayed" the veterans of the Vietnam war. Anyone with more than two functioning braincells, though, can see quite clearly what Kerry is doing, that is, RECOUNTING WHAT HE HEARD at a conference in Detroit.

For instance, if I write that David Irving, infamous Holocaust denier, once said, "I don't see any reason to be tasteful about Auschwitz. It's baloney, it's a legend," that's NOT me denying the Holocaust. However, by Swift Boat Moron logic, that could be lifted out of context and presented as if it was.

The Rude Pundit, in the link above, uses a more recent issue to drive home the same point:

Put it this way: let's suppose that Joseph Darby, the soldier who blew the whistle on the torture at Abu Ghraib (and now hiding from death threats), decided to run for office. Let's say that a group called "Iraq Prison Guards for Truth" ran an ad with all kinds of sinister music, with former Abu Ghraib guards saying shit like "Joseph Darby betrayed us." The Rude Pundit would hope beyond hope that the majority of people would decide the "Iraq Prison Guards for Truth" was a bunch of batshit insane, crazed monkeys who should be locked up for the public good.

Anyway, the media, as I said, is finally showing a tiny smidgen of spine--here, linked to from Atrios, are several columns that call the Bush Team to answer for reckless and spurious charges. Because, to be fair, we should compare and contrast BOTH candidates. While Kerry was showing qualities that define leadership (whether you like him or not), Bush was, well, busy partying and blowing off any responsibility. Once again, a link from Atrios:

• Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

• What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

• Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?

This is the backlash I wrote about recently (I don't really feel like scrounging up the link, but it's somewhere below). Because Bush found it necessary to go so negative, so early, he will now pay the price. That said, he did succeed in the sense that Kerry was put on the defensive, and that was at least part of the plan. But the downside is that Bush exposes his own chin, and I don't think it's been proven that he can take a punch.

In the end, this entire week will speak strongly to questions of character, which will find Bush on the short end of the stick--in fact, almost any discussion of the two candidates, be it character or issue-based, will find Bush wanting. His only real chance is to spew smoke and bullshit, and hope for the best.

Well, on another subject, I'm off to the city today. If I find time to post, I'll do so, but can't offer any guarantee. Once again, thanks to those of y'all who stop by to read, and, if nothing else, I'll be back next week. I look forward to not only posting, but to reading what y'all are saying as well. Later.

Monday, August 23, 2004

More on "The Contempt Thing"

Last night, while taking care of a few chores in anticipation of tomorrow's trip up to the metropolis, I considered some of the high-minded rhetoric Bush and his minions spew forth when it comes to their, um, 'plan,' if you can actually dignify the Iraq mess with that term, for the Middle East.

Then I realized: wait a second. They call for "democracy," but the best they've got to actually offer the Iraqi people is Iyad Allawi? What the hell is THAT supposed to mean?

The next time some idiot wingnut waxes pie-in-the-sky about our "good" intentions there, think about just who and what Allawi stands for, besides himself. He's bombed buses, worked for the CIA, worked for Saddam, and recently was alleged to have killed six blindfolded and handcuffed prisoners in cold blood. So much for "democracy."

News to the wingnuts: is Allawi really all you've got? If not, you'd better get your boy Dubya to take enough genuine interest to actually install the best you have, because the shit isn't JUST hitting the fan--it's already hit it over and over. In fact, in Iraq, pretty much everything is turning to shit (yet, last fall, when this began to be evident, the 'nuts kept opting for a "let's put our heads in the sand" approach). On the other hand, if Allawi IS the best you have to offer--well, that speaks volumes as to the piss-poor operation your leaders undertook (sorry to mix my metaphors). Installing Iyad Allawi as the face of US "democracy" in the region is like installing Deal Hudson as guidance counselor at an all-girls high school.

Of course, sometimes it's hard to find wingnuts talking about the "good news" coming from Iraq, because a lot of times it seems these days as if they're mostly gloating about the Iraqis who've been killed in the operation. Gotta love their committment to the operation...
Another Funeral Bush Won't Attend

Link via Atrios. The All Spin Zone has a story about Dave Guindon, age 48, who just came back from a six month Iraq deployment:

“It feels fantastic. It’s hard to explain it, it feels so good,” Guindon said about being home, shortly after he arrived at Manchester Airport. “I’m just going to take today slow, wake up tomorrow, and see what it’s like to be back in a normal place.”

...Sharon Guindon, Dave Guindon’s wife, said she was elated. While no definite plans for his return had been made yet, she said, the two plan to catch up on all the things that have happened during the past six months.

“I tell you, it’s such a big relief that he’s coming home,” Mrs. Guindon said, adding later, “You don’t realize what they go through until you have someone over there.”

Less than 24 hours later, Guindon apparently killed himself.

This is sad enough--Guindon leaves behind his wife and two children. But that's only part of the story. "Richard Cranium," writer of All Spin Zone, links to the online newsletter of Guindon's unit, the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the New Hampshire National Guard (.pdf file).

Note the following:

We were in field conditions for 6 days, the only thing close to home were the 8 Porto potties that were there. No showers or hot food. Only all the MREs that you could eat.

Cranium picks up on this:

The NHANG team was stationed at Camp Anaconda in the Sunni triangle of Iraq. They ran over 100 missions in their short time in Iraq. A quick google search on Camp Anaconda turns up many hits - many of them relating stories of mortar attacks, insurgent activities, convoys being attacked (the NHANG team appears to have been largely involved in convoy escort), and the generally crappy conditions in the camp.

Now, who do you think provisions Camp Anaconda? That's right: Halliburton.

You know, I've already got in my head a topic for my next post, namely, the contempt with which Bush, his neocon henchment, and their supporters hold the Iraqi people. But it's also evident that they hold our own soldiers in contempt as well. Without any qualms or scruples, they deliberately sent young men and women into combat with NO plan to adequately provision them--for months, soldiers were missing basic items like Kevlar vests and night vision goggles, adequate supplies of water, spare parts for equipment, and so on--yet we spend $400 billion dollars plus on the military. Where the hell is the money going?
More Allegations from Swift Boat Vets

John E. O'Neill now claims he saw then Lt. (Jr. Grade) John Kerry kick a puppy:

"We were on patrol about three clicks south of Long Xuyen near the Do Long Bridge early on the morning of February 9, 1969. The silence was broken by a small dog yapping at the riverbank. Disobeying clear orders that came down the chain of command, Lt. Kerry beached the boat, then disembarked--again, in violation of orders that clearly state a boat captain must stay with his ship. Lt. Kerry kicked that dog. Then he wrote up a phony incident about a scratch he received when the puppy tried to hump his leg. This led to his first Purple Heart. Afterwards, he and his crew--who were already campaigning for an eventual presidential run--covered up the incident with the help of the Viet Cong and Jane Fonda."

"And he calls himself an animal lover."

Jerome Corsi adds:

"I once saw John Kerry steal candy from a baby. It was late in 1968 or early in '69--I don't recall exactly. But we were on the coastal patrol near Tra Vinh--in the shit--by the way, do you know how many Vietnam Vets it takes to change a lightbulb? Well, I guess you wouldn't know because YOU WERE NEVER THERE! Anyway, we came across a sampan off the port bow--my own captain, Chief, hollered 'sampan off the port bow, let's have a look.' Lt. Kerry got there first. It was a family plying the river, going upstream to join a strategic hamlet. Anyway, Lt. Kerry boarded the boat, took a look around, but found nothing amiss. Then, as I watched, he grabbed the little child's box of JujyFruits and began poking around for the black ones, because he liked licorice. He even threw a couple of yellow ones in the river, laughing all the time while tears welled up in the kid's eyes. That kid couldn't have been more than six years old--maybe seven. Kerry's actions probably turned him into a communist."

"That's why John Kerry is unfit to command."

George Elliot charges:

"Some people call John Kerry a war hero. But there's another side of him that I saw back in the 'Nam--his penchant for focus groups."

"That's right. Every night--or morning, if we were on nighttime ops--John Kerry put his crew through the humiliation of having to answer multiple choice questions regarding his abilities as boat commander and his decisions. He'd ask things like: 'Regarding last night's patrol, would you say you were a) Very satisfied, b) Somewhat satisfied, c) Somewhat unsatisfied, or d) Very unsatisfied.' If they didn't give an answer that fell within the parameters he chose, he'd try to fit it in one or another category, sometimes even forcing a crewmember to rephrase until he got the answer he wanted. It's clear he was only using his swift boat experience as a stepping stone to a political career."

Finally, the most devastating charge comes from Roy Hoffman, who alleges:

"Lt. John Kerry used his father's political connections to join the Texas Air National Guard, jumping ahead of hundreds of qualified applicants. He received the lowest possible score on his exam, yet immediately received an officer's commission. In spite of the thousands of dollars invested in his training, he eventually skipped out on his obligations, which were minimal at best. Even worse, on the day his country needed him most, September 11th, 2001, he spent critical minutes reading My Pet Goat to schoolkids in Florida..."

"Oh wait--forget that..."