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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Michael Moore Controversy at the GOP Convention: A Photo Montage
posted by Bathus

For readers who have complained that this blog is too highbrow:

Michael Moore finds booger during
break in GOP convention in New York.

Moore worries whether cameras
caught him eating booger.

Moments later, Moore pretends
to wipe booger on baseball cap.

Confronting reporters afterwards, Moore
angrily rebuffs requests to inspect cap.

posted by Bathus | 8/31/2004 12:03:00 AM
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Monday, August 30, 2004

Live, from New York
posted by lostingotham

Like many New Yorkers, I’m headed out of town for the next couple of weeks. I’ve no political motive for going—it’s just that Manhattan with 7th Avenue and 34th Street closed is not a fun place to be if you want to get anything productive done. But before I go, I thought I’d share some quick impressions of yesterday’s big demonstrations (the cab will be here in a few minutes, so niceties like links and editing will have to wait for another day).

1) The umbrella group sponsoring the demonstrations perfectly reflects Kerry’s solid consistency. When they were denied a permit to march in Central Park, they (a) agreed to march in midtown, then (b) decided they didn’t like the agreement and sued, then (c) announced that if they weren’t allowed to march in Central Park, they wouldn’t march at all, then (d) changed their minds and decided to march in midtown even though they lost their bid for Central Park, then (e) decided to march officially in midtown and unofficially in Central Park. I’m sure the flipper is proud of them.

2) If I had to use one word to describe the demonstration, it’d be “boring.” “Disorganized” and “anticlimactic” are close contenders. The thing (“march” would imply that it had more purpose, “meander” is too bucolic) got off something like 2 hours late before making its pointless loop through midtown to Union Square where everyone stood around for a few minutes wondering if that was it. It certainly attracted a lot of participants, but its spectators amounted to me, Rich Galen (he says he was there anyway—I didn’t see him), 300 hungover reports and several thousand bored cops. No cheering throngs, no packed sidewalks, nada. The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade has, if I recall, something like 10,000 marchers and nearly a million spectators. Yesterday there were (generously) 100,000 marchers and me and Rich Galen. Again, a pretty good metaphor for who's watching the Kerry campaign.

3) A few days ago, some rocket scientist at the Democratic Underground floated the brilliant suggestion that the DU contingent should dress all in black. That this idea was even considered should be ample evidence (if any further evidence were needed) of how little contact the DU has with reality, as anyone who has ever spent an August afternoon frying in Manhattan’s concrete canyons can tell you. But, as their pasty white complexions testify, the average DU member has about as much experience with the sun as Count Dracula, so black it was. A fortuitous side-effect of this policy was that the most delusional element were easily identifiable. It also appears that heat-stroke suppressed the urge to indulge vandalism, so never let it be said that the DU never did good.

4) Sixties-style street theater is a lot harder than it looks. The efforts I saw yesterday were just sort of sad. A dozen unshaven young people in batik gathered at the entrance to the Sheep’s Meadow to play tambourines and bongos and sing anti-war songs. Trouble is, no-one could remember any words beyond the chorus, so the whole thing devolved into a lot of nah-nah-nahing, interrupted occasionally by an enthusiastic burst of “Stop, children, what’s that sound” or the like. Keeping time with a bongo or tambourine must also be tougher than I thought, judging from the many abortive starts (“Okay, one, two…Jingle-chuchunga-jingle…no, that’s not right, let Mary start off with the bongo…one, two…chuchunga-jingle…no, that’s not right either…) I was also amused by the dozen or so sad-looking middle aged women who mustered at Strawberry Fields to sing “Imagine.” I can only admire their commitment to diversity—which extended even to the key(s) in which they sang— but from the look of the group I couldn’t help thinking that “Eleanor Rigby” would have been more appropriate.

Of course by now everyone has heard about the silly ACT-UP group who dropped trou on 8th Avenue the other day. As a means of shocking New Yorkers, disrobing is right up there with blaring your car horn or uttering the F-word. After all, we’ve had the Naked Cowboy in Times Square every day for the past several years. [Editor's Note: New Yorkers will happily ignore the Naked Cowboy link, but anyone else who clicks on that link should give it time to load; it's worth the wait!] I also remember that a popular photographer (can’t recall his name this morning) got about two hundred people to not just disrobe, but to lie down naked on 7th Avenue a few years back. While your skin’s still crawling with the idea of coming into intimate contact with the streets of Times Square, consider this: if you’re arrested in New York, you’re not issued jail clothing until after your arraignment (this week, that could be 24 hours). That means that the ACT-UP folks got to spend a very long, naked time in the ultra-hygenic environment of a 1 Police Plaza holding cell. Poetic Justice.

5) Sloganeering is not the left’s strong suit. Some of my favorites:

“A village in Texas is missing it’s [sic] idiot.”
I didn’t get a chance to ask where in Texas the bearer of that gem was from.

“Osama-2, George Bush-0.”
Damning! Kerry could obviously be counted on to knock down at least 3 buildings full of office workers.

“Dick can lick my Bush.”
Classy and original.

“More people were killed in Iraq than at Cheppaquidick [sic].”

6) Strangely absent from the signs and banners yesterday was mention of John Kerry. Bush was everywhere ("Beat Bush," "Lick Bush," "No Bush," etc.) Cheney was even pretty prevalent (the predictable puerile plays on his first name.) But Kerry was hardly in evidence and Edwards was nowhere to be found. My running count was that for every appearance of Kerry's name I saw upwards of 20 Bushes and at least half a dozen Cheneys. I've gotta think the Kerry camp ain't happy about that.

Well, that’s gonna have to do it. My cab’s downstairs, and I’m off for two weeks in a red state!

posted by lostingotham | 8/30/2004 08:10:00 AM
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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Vets Respond to "Let It Alone"
posted by Bathus

Readers' responses to "Let It Alone," republished in The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal under the title "Kerry's Lost Opportunity," included quite a number from veterans. (Responses posted to "Let It Alone" are here and responses posted to the WSJ version are here.) In addition to the comments posted online, I received a slew of emails. Here's a sample of the comments and emails received from vets:
Your recent WSJ story on john kerry (kerry’s lost opportunity) is the best summary I’ve read to date. It is right on glide slope. I know. I am a Viet Nam Vet, retired Naval Aviator who was there during that time. We all knew (even the enlisted men, no women back then) about fonda, clark, hayden and fullbright. They were despised for what they were doing as you described in your article. kerry & his liberal a**holes have opened a festering wound that has blindsided them . . . . for good reason. They are too deep in dodo to easily extricate themselves. To be honest, I hope they drown in their own crap.

No one wanted a Purple Heart back then, because of what it meant . . . . This is not about partisan politics. Veterans of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and the conflicts of the recent 15 years are all affected by what kerry has done. He will pay the price one way or another. This reaction by vets will not be over on his time schedule. He has no idea how deep his stupid idealisms have affected us. All he can do is bend over and spread his lily white buns and enjoy what is about to happen.
I'm a Vietnam vet (1965) and I believe you hit the target. I've never quite gotten over my experience there. While I never experienced any of the things that may did (PTSS, etc), I still on occasion grieve for what might or should have been. The fall of Saigon in 1975 was one of the awfullest days of my life. Seeing all our work and sacrifice evaporate when NVA tanks "liberated" the city is a sight that will always haunt me. That and the FACT that I and thousands of my countrymen were libelled and defamed by a few who cared little for the cause we had undedrtaken.

I think there are a lot of us veterans of 'Nam who have a wide range of feelings about this guy. Most of them are revulsion, anger. I really liked what you had to say in your piece "Let it Alone." It struck a real chord. I don't think that some in the public understand that at all. But I know it's not going to go away. We veterans are in a unique place this election cycle. We may well be the swing voters and Mr. Kerry now well understands that the chickens may be coming home to roost. [Read more by this vet at Another Man's Meat.]
I graduated from the Naval Academy in 19[XX] . . . . I volunteered for the PBR's in 19[XX], arrived in country in September and served a year in the delta. My closest friend in Vietnam was killed "near" the Cambodian border at Chau Doc (about a mile inside Vietnam), and I was given his command, River Section [XXX], which I assumed at Chau Doc. Neither he nor his boats, nor those same boats when they became "mine," ever crossed that border. But that is a mere detail. What is more important is that neither I nor any of my many colleagues in the delta ever saw, let alone committed, an atrocity or war crime. I have known John Kerry to be a liar and a fraud for 33 years. I have known him to be embellishing what he did, and exploiting it according to whatever was the current fashionable nuance, for that entire time. There was never a doubt in my mind that he would run for president, and never a doubt that he would base his claim to the office on his boastful, fabulist accounts of his own exploits. I have waited those 33 years for all of this to come to a head, for his very nature to be exposed, and now that it is happening if he thinks I am going to go away he had god damn well better think again.Your piece as published in the Wall Street Journal this morning is the best I have ever read on this subject. He didn't have to ask for this, but he did, and he's going to keep getting it until this thing is done.
I had the privilege of surfing in to your blog this morning and reading your essay "Let it Alone".

It was a very good - very, very good.

Your essay puts my feelings about the whole thing in an almost perfect perspective.

I was in the Navy at the very end of the Vietnam war (1972-79) and was at sea nearby when Saigon fell to the communists in April 1975. I witnessed first-hand the sufferings of the "boat people". Nevertheless, I think it goes without saying that most of us Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans would have been willing to let the entire issue go, with the assumption that George Bush and John Kerry had both served honorably. However, as a member of the US Navy submarine service - a group that played no direct part in the fighting in Vietnam - I consider the constant din of the Democrats' criticism of George Bush's Texas National Guard service as a personal insult to me. If George Bush's service as an ANG fighter pilot was questionable, then what does it say about mine and thousands of others service?
Your comments were thoughtful, articulate, and highly appreciated by a veteran who spent a year and a half in Vietnam. Thank you, sir. You have nailed the cowardly, whining, arrogant, flip-flopping candidate from the Democrat Party.
I appreciate the article in WSJ "Kerry's Lost Opportunity" . . . I was an Air Force pilot in Vietnam in 1970. We could have won the war if it had not been for inept political leadership and anti-war protesters like John Kerry. If "the truce is over" then let's open up the criticism of the Johnson/McNamara policies which prevented us from winning.
It is inevitable that the debate on Vietnam gets reopened from time to time. It is my hope that some resolution comes of it this time.

However, looking at the rancor that lives on as a result of the War Between the States, I don't think resolution will happen soon. Several generations will likely come and go before the passion ebbs completely.

I was in Vietnam for 14 verifiable months on the ground, and I am of several minds about the whole thing in general and Kerry's role in particular.
Thank you--I served in Vietnam Vet from February 1968 to August 1969.
Brilliant analysis! I'm a two-year veteran of Vietnam with a "real" Purple Heart and more decorations than John Kerry could lift and throw. Two points: G.W. Bush earned all of the federal points necessary for an honorable discharge, so there are no "missing months" of service, and because we had air superiority in Vietnam, we did not need the F-102 interceptor which G.W. Bush flew under the operational control of North American Air Defense Command, not the governor of Texas.
Thanks to Mr. Jacobs for the Opinion Journal piece. I am a retired lawyer and . . . a Viet Nam Vet who was in country from 5 Dec 70 to 4 Dec 71. Those dates are seared, seared into my memory because 5 Dec 70 was my 20th birthday. Your" two prong truce " was brilliant. I made a good living explaining criminal defenses to people too stupid to get off jury duty, but I could never dicuss anything about Viet Nam. Thank you very much.
I guess I am a "draft dodger" the way the Democratic Party defines it, since I joined the Air Force ROTC so I could finish my bachelors degree rather than be drafted into the Army. I was commissioned and served 20 years, from 1973 to 1993, but since I didn't spend four months in Vietnam, I am not qualified to voice opinions on military matters, according to Mr. Kerry.

One of the things Mr. Kerry was defending in Vietnam was clearly not the First Amendment. Let me first say, as a Lt. Colonel, that Mr. Kerry's service record in Vietnam would be insufficient to get him promoted to Lt. Commander/Major, let alone to Captain/Colonel. His number of decorations is on a par with thousands of other veterans. His record, even if you take his word for it, was nothing outstanding. Mr. Kerry now claims he can be an effective commander-in-chief. He is either an idiot or a liar. If he has any awareness of how his 1971 criticism of servicemen still fighting or prisoners in Vietnam is perceived by military men and women, he would know that career military members see him as a male Jane Fonda, someone who gave aid and comfort to the enemies trying to kill his fellow Swift boat sailors and every other American in Vietnam.

While officers would obey orders from the commander-in-chief, they would not go out of their way to sacrifice themselves on his behalf. They will be watching for him to stab them in the back, to condemn them as war criminals the way he condemned his Navy buddies, to blame the members of the armed forces for his stupid strategic errors (like announcing an Iraq pullout date!), to tie their hands in dealing with the enemies of America.

Mr. Kerry will get some generals to fawn over him who want promotion and more power, but the rank and file will know he is not to be trusted, because he has never trusted them. If Mr. Kerry hated Presidents Johnson and Nixon, he has some idea of how the troops will think of him.
I am deeply indebted to you for your article appearing in Opinion Journal on August 26, 2004. I came back to the US in May, 1969 after two years in Viet Nam feeling like an alien in my own country. Your piece answers questions I have held in my mind all those years.
Thank you so very much for your piece in the WSJ. Your analysis should be read by every American. I ended my 2 years service in August 1968 convinced (as most people were, by then) that the war in Viet Nam was a mistake and we needed to extricate ourselves at some point, but was absolutely aghast at the treasonous activities of most of my fellow students at UCLA. When a country is at war, the appropriate moral position is "my country, right or wrong!" The practice of aiding and abetting the enemy, so routinely indulged in nowadays by Democrats, is anti-social behavior, and should be punished. We may, indeed, through our speech and our vote, seek to change our country's policies; we may never assist our enemies, particularly when our soldiers are in harm's way. Jane Fonda belonged in jail, and so did John Kerry. Thank you for your tremendous contribution!
I read your WSJ article this morning. BRAVO ZULU!
Thanks vets!

posted by Bathus | 8/28/2004 02:15:00 PM
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Friday, August 27, 2004

Media Matters (Literacy and Honesty Don’t)
posted by Tom

Looking for a good laugh? Check out the liberal frat house called Media Matters for America, yet another failed Democrat rebuttal to L. Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center, which exposes liberal media bias so successfully a hack like The Nation's Eric Alterman has been reduced to a babbling idiot trying to prove the John Birch Society controls PBS.

Anyway, a recent example of MMFA's media (ahem) analysis is headlined Oliver North denied that atrocities occurred in Vietnam; moments later, anti-Kerry vet said they did occur, and concerns a contradiction that allegedly occurred on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes this past Wednesday evening.

In between sips of beer, MMFA’s editors write:

FOX News Channel host Oliver North [during an exchange with DNC-Clinton-Kerry butt boy Bob Beckel - my note] claimed that atrocities "did not happen" in the Vietnam War. But another anti-Kerry Vietnam veteran, Jere Hill, admitted just moments later that they did occur. Hill turned his back on Senator John Kerry (D-MA) in protest during the senator's August 18 speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 105th Annual Convention in Cincinnati.

DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST BOB BECKEL: Yes or no, Ollie. You were in Vietnam. Did or did not these atrocities happen in Vietnam? To your knowledge, did they or did they not?

NORTH: They sure -- to my personal knowledge, they sure as hell did not in my rifle company, and I was over there two times.

BECKEL: Wait a minute. Ollie, Ollie --

NORTH: They did not happen.

BECKEL: Ollie, you had never heard nor seen of anything about rape, about murder of villagers? First of all, Lieutenant Calley was convicted of that. You never, ever heard of any of these things? Now I'm asking you yes or no. You never heard of this?
NORTH: Sure, I heard about the Calley case. I went back over there and testified in a court --

COLMES: There was a Tiger Force.

BECKEL: And you never heard about rape or burning villages?

NORTH: No. Look, when I was there as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam, not one single Marine that I led or a single soldier that came and bailed me out of a couple of fire fights participated in those kinds of activities. Not one.

The bold-face is MMFA’s own. This apparently functions as their argument that John Kerry did not lie in his 1971 testimony before Congress when he cited the un-sworn statements of the discredited Winter Soldiers that atrocities were committed (since the editors at MMFA like bold-faced emphasis so much) on a day-to-day basis with the full knowledge of officers at every level of command. Confident they had proven their point, the editors no doubt rewarded themselves by surfing to to check out the images on the latest co-ed toilet cam. [Not a real site guys, so finish reading.]

It's a shame Morons Matter for America can't read, or else they wouldn't have missed North's admission atrocities did happen. The first bolded statement of North’s these idiots intend as support for their assertion - “They did not happen” - is not a claim that there were no atrocities. North is emphasizing that he never witnessed any and none were committed by the companies he commanded in his two tours. In the very next statement he acknowledges what Calley did. The second bolded North statement, “No,” isn’t necessarily a response to Beckel’s question, “And you never heard about rape or burning villages?" Anyone who saw the segment knows that Alan Colmes’s “Tiger Force” reference overlapped Beckel’s question [the transcript punctuation suggests this as well]. North responded to Colmes – he was unaware of any Tiger Force while in Viet Nam - then returned to his point that Kerry’s allegations in 1971 are belied by his own two-year tour of duty and that of the marines and soldiers he interacted with over that period of time. North is clearly telling the ass-wipe Beckel that if atrocities occurred at the level and frequency Kerry alleged, then surely guys like North who had served multiple combat tours in Nam with various units would have witnessed at least one.

The dopes at Media Matters, in order to redeem Kerry's now debunked claims, need to make North look like a liar, so they jump to the heavily edited part of the transcript where an anti-Kerry Viet Nam vet is interviewed about his experiences:

CO-HOST SEAN HANNITY: Did you know anybody in Vietnam -- we were talking about this with Ollie [North] -- that committed any atrocities?

HILL: Well, you put me on the spot with that one.

HANNITY: Does that mean yes?

HILL: Yes.

HANNITY: You do know. Were you a witness to it?

HILL: Not during the performance of it. Afterwards.

HANNITY: You had heard about it?

HILL: Yes.

Again, the issue is not and has never been whether atrocities occurred at all. What these DNC-Kerry propagandists leave out is the beginning of this interview where the vet states his feeling that Kerry smeared him personally as well as other veterans who honorably served in Viet Nam. So, he actually echoes North’s and every other anti-Kerry Nam veteran’s beef with the Conqueror of Southeast Asia: They don’t deny that atrocities occurred in Viet Nam as they do in every war; they deny atrocities in Nam were the rule, not the exception, that they were committed on a day-to-day basis with the full knowledge of officers at every level of command. [You can find the whole transcript at the Hannity & Colmes site.]

The whole point to setting up a straw argument, like the one that has Kerry's opponents claiming atrocities in Viet Nam didn't occur at all, is to win the damn thing. These clowns couldn't even manage that.

posted by Tom | 8/27/2004 06:39:00 AM
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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Now you know why it's called "ASSociated Press"
posted by Tom

You see the hysterical headline first, Swift Boat Writer Lied on Cambodia Claim, then read the breathless lead:

The chief critic of John Kerry's military record told President Nixon in 1971 that he had been in Cambodia in a swift boat during the Vietnam War — a claim at odds with his recent statements that he was not.

"I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border," said John E. O'Neill in a conversation that was taped by the former president's secret recording system. The tape is stored at the National Archives in College Park, Md.
The AP hack, Elizabeth Wolfe, one of the many Clinton Kneepadders pining away for the good old days when we were ashamed of being wealthy and capable of defending ourselves, is now no doubt holding her nose as she types up press releases for a Democratic candidate who is not only a Viet Nam veteran, but a decorated Viet Nam veteran who is proud he took part in such "war crimes" as " fire zones and ... harassment interdiction search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground."

Or so she and her liberal democratic colleagues have to believe if Kerry was sincere in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, where he was "...accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers led by that American hero, a patriot named Max Cleland. Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers."

How to commit "war crimes"? Okay, I'll buy that.

Anyway, this Kerry talking-point article is an attempt, as we all know, to discredit the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans For Truth attempt to discredit the candidate's Viet Nam War record, which unravels a little more with each passing day; specifically, his claim that he spent Christmas Eve of 1968 in Cambodia under orders from a President who was not in fact President at that time, Nixon, searching for Marlon Brando while the Khmer Rouge, Viet Cong, and drunken South Vietnamese were shooting at him. (I'm sorry, I exaggerated a little about the Marlon Brando part.)

The speed with which Non-Swift Boat Democrats for Kerry are circulating this O'Neill irrelevancy reflects their desperation in light of recent polls showing that Kerry's critics are taking a toll on what little popularity he enjoyed after the convention.

Why is this alleged "lie" of O'Neill's regarding a sojourn into Cambodia after Kerry left Viet Nam and returned to the United States to smear his colleagues irrelevant to the issue of the Heart of Darkness memories seared in Kerry's mind?

Well, as the AP press release states,

In [Unfit For Command], O'Neill wrote that Kerry's accounts of having been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve of 1968 'are complete lies'... Kerry's campaign has acknowledged that he may not have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve of 1968, as he has previously stated. The campaign says Kerry does recall being on patrol along the Cambodia-Vietnam border on that date, although it's unclear if he crossed into Cambodia."
[Emphasis added]

Pardon us curious folks, but perhaps Ms. Wolfe should ask the Kerry campaign lackeys who dictate AP's stories how O'Neill's statement to Nixon either a.) demonstrates that John Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968, or at any other time for that matter, under orders, especially after his campaign and his own biographer have been compelled to unsear their candidate's memory; or b.) excuse John Kerry's lying about it - a dozen times, in a dozen different venues, including on the floor of the US Senate. Assuming O'Neill "lied" once to Nixon in 1971, as the headline states, how does that demonstrate Kerry didn't lie repeatedly on the subject for at least 20 years?

These cockeyed attempts by liberals to defend a candidate they secretly loathe precisely for the events in his life they are trying to defend makes you wonder if French Absurdists aren't running the editorial desks at the AP, The New York Times, and wherever else Non-Swift Boat Journalists for Liberal Democratic Rule are working. So far they have offered the following reasons why Kerry has not lied about his record even though is own campaign is slowly having to retract what he's put on the record. Kerry is telling the truth because anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans

1. Didn't serve on Kerry's swift boat, only near it. [Lest we forget, though, Max Cleland, a veteran infantryman from Viet Nam who didn't serve with Kerry at all, is an authority on Kerry's heroism as a swift boat commander, and Kerry is permitted to discuss being in Cambodia when he in fact was only near it, and 50 miles away qualifies as near. Go figure.]

2. Received a couple hundred thousand dollars from a Republican. [Pro-Kerry's millions of dollars from Democrat George Soros is, of course, democracy in action. Go figure again.]

Now we find out they're totally untrustworthy because one of them may have once told Richard Nixon back in 1971 the same lie Kerry told everyone who would listen for over two decades. Or perhaps O'Neill told Nixon the truth about being in Cambodia after Kerry came home and threw someone else's medals away in protest against the immoral conflict in Southeast Asia and, see, this proves Kerry was under fire from the not-yet in power Khmer Rouge in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 under orders from not-yet President Nixon.

A blind man couldn't fail to see the logic in that.

posted by Tom | 8/26/2004 07:31:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I Left My First Purple Heart in Cam Ranh Bay
posted by Tom

Okay, Tony Bennett will never make it a hit.

A recent story certain to be ignored or buried by the pro-Kerry media has the Veterans for Kerry wing of his campaign conceding the “possibility” that his first Purple Heart in Viet Nam was awarded for an unintentionally self-inflicted wound. As is true with most of what comes out of the Kerry camp, directly or through various lackeys, what's important about this non-admission admission is what is not said - namely, was that unintentionally self-inflicted wound received during a hostile action?

A self-inflicted wound does not technically disqualify one from receiving the award. According to military regulations the Purple Heart is awarded for wounds sustained:

1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged…
The regs define a wound as

2.) injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above. A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

When contemplating award of the Purple Heart:

...the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

Examples of enemy-related injuries clearly justifying award of the Purple Heart include those caused by enemy bullet or shrapnel. Injuries or wounds "which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are "Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence." [Emphasis added.]

The regs do not intend

...that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:

(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of "friendly fire" in the "heat of battle" will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the "friendly" projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.

(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.

In light of all that, read the anti-Kerry swifties' detailed description of the “action” that resulted in Kerry’s first Purple Heart, which occurred:

"... on December 2, 1968, during the month that he was undergoing training with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. While waiting to receive his own Swift boat command, Kerry volunteered for a nighttime patrol mission commanding a small, foam-filled "skimmer" craft with two enlisted men. The purpose of the patrol, which Kerry later described as "a half-assed action that hardly qualified as combat," was to find Vietcong guerillas moving contraband around a peninsula north of the bay on sampans.

At the target location Kerry saw a group of sampans unloading something on the shore, and lit a flare to illuminate the area. The men from the sampans ran, and Kerry and his crew opened fire. At that point, according to Kerry, "My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down in the boat to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell." (page 147, "Tour of Duty") Kerry and his men strafed the beach, shot up the sampans and returned to Cam Ranh Bay.

As an officer in command (OIC) in training, Kerry reported during this mission to William Schachte, who eventually retired as a Rear Admiral. Schachte flatly contradicts Kerry's claim to have been wounded by enemy fire, saying that after his M-16 jammed, Kerry picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and fired a grenade that exploded too close to the boat, causing a small piece of shrapnel to stick in the skin of his arm. Kerry himself did not report receiving hostile fire that night, which would have been required, and there is no record of hostile fire for the mission.

Kerry succeeded in keeping the small piece of shrapnel in his arm until the following day, when he was treated by Dr. Louis Letson, whose version of the event matches William Schachte's account rather than Kerry's:

'I have a very clear memory of an incident which occurred while I was the Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay. John Kerry was a (jg), the OinC or skipper of a Swift boat, newly arrived in Vietnam. On the night of December 2, he was on patrol north of Cam Ranh, up near Nha Trang area. The next day he came to sick bay, the medical facility, for treatment of a wound that had occurred that night.

'The story he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.

'Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

'That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

'What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.

'I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.

'The wound was covered with a bandaid.

'Not [sic] other injuries were reported and I do not recall that there was any reported damage to the boat. '

… Military regulations state that to qualify for a Purple Heart, an injury must come "from an outside force or agent," and treatment for the wound must "have been made a matter of official record." While John Kerry managed to satisfy the second criterion by insisting that an amused Dr. Letson provide an official Band-Aid, nicking himself with a fragment from his own poorly-aimed grenade fails to meet the first qualification.

I confess that I am an avid right-wing supporter of the swifties, but as I am much more fair (and modest) than your average foaming-at-the-mouth Kerry supporter, I will point out that they are a tad too selective in describing the conditions for award of the Purple Heart. Kerry would more than likely have earned the award even with a self-inflicted wound provided the wound was not the result of his own gross negligence and it occurred during a hostile action against the enemy. Gross negligence would find Kerry picking up and clumsily aiming and firing a grenade launcher when there was no hostile action and he had no reason to think there was. If Kerry were drunk, had no idea how the hell to load, aim and fire a grenade launcher, but picked it up and fired it anyway in a non-hostile situation, then he crossed the line from negligence into recklessness and should have been brought up on charges, let alone not received a Purple Heart. But that’s another story.

This all comes down to the key issue described in (3) above: The degree to which the enemy caused the injury. As I read the regs, Kerry’s first Purple Heart was justified if and only if he was involved in a hostile fire situation and the injury:

1.) Was a direct or indirect result of enemy fire;
2.) If a result of friendly fire (not Kerry's own), that fire had to have been directed at an enemy; or
3.) If self-inflicted, as a result of his firing the grenade at a perceived enemy firing at him (the proverbial"heat of battle"), and the proximity of the enemy made injuring himself unavoidable.

Kerry’s supporters have elected to sort of concede the first part of choice 3.), but have conspicuously not addressed the second part of the condition. What prevented them from adding the simple, “… but he was firing at an enemy firing at him”?

His opponents in SBVFT are going outside the regs in emphasizing the superficiality of the wound. There's no severity requirement. But as we all know, rules and regulations can be a lot more permissive than the judgmental humans who write them. The unseemliness of John Kerry literally making a federal case for a Purple Heart because of a scratch 35 years ago doesn’t comport well with his present Audie Murphy persona. Voters who up until now have been skeptical of SBVFT's allegations will likely give the group a second look were it confirmed Kerry pursued a medal for a self-inflicted wound sustained under questionable circumstances and requiring only a band-aid. Don't forget, when the swiftboat veterans first made this claim, Kerry mouthpieces called them liars.

But when all is said and done, this is Kerry's deeper problem:

His tour of duty in Viet Nam was a third of that required by most of his fellow veterans, and this is directly attributable to the fact he was wounded three times. His wounds not only justify his early out, but narratively make his four months the equivalent of a full tour. His campaign has spent a lot of time building the image of JFK II, bayonet between his teeth, sailing headlong through a hail of enemy bullets. The only way to get this guy out of Nam was to wound him multiple times - albeit superficially, one of them self-inflicted. Okay, if the self-inflicted superficial first wound was received in battle, he earned the Purple Heart.

Doesn't make for an impressive campaign slogan, though.

John Kerry: Technically, he's a hero.

posted by Tom | 8/25/2004 08:57:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Non-Swiftboat Veterans for Non-truth
posted by Tom

The Bush haters have a vague idea why it is that 250 or so fellow swiftboat veterans are challenging John Heinz-Kerry's fitness to serve as Commander in Chief, but being Bush haters, they can't quite bring themselves to examine the anti-Kerry swiftboat veterans' charges in the larger context of Kerry's entire Viet Nam record, including his anti-war, anti-American diatribes before Congress and on national television after his return from Southeast Asia. They instead rely on fellow Bush haters in media and on the web to come up with reasons why a few of the 250 or so anti-Kerry swiftboat veterans, some 60 of whom have sworn out affidavits accusing Kerry of either lying about, exaggerating, or embellishing his four month tour of duty, may be wrong in certain details. The strategy is obvious and we've seen it before with Clinton: Find one contradiction in one of your critics' accounts of this or that and declare all your critics untrustworthy. It's the false-in-one-false-in-all doctrine used by the courts taken to a ridiculous extreme. Whereas a jury is instructed that they may discount the entire testimony of one witness if he is found to have lied in any part of it, in the court of public opinion, Democrats extend this to mean that if one critic who challenges their honesty or character is suspect, every critic is a liar.

The anti-Kerry swiftboat veterans' numerous and varied allegations are listed at their website and in a recent bestseller, Unfit For Command. The coverage they've received from a few media outlets - Fox News, conservative talk radio - has caused the left-wingers who control the Democratic Party to froth at the mouth, not because they respect Lt. JG John Kerry's voluntary service in Viet Nam, for which he redeemed himself by publicly selling out his comrades when he came home, but because SBVFT could possibly remove what was considered Kerry's one advantage over George Bush among red state, middle America rubes the Democratic party appreciates only for their votes and so-called independents - his combat service. The very thought of a leftist, anti-American, anti-war organization like, for instance, defending a Viet Nam veteran who is "proud" to have fought in what liberal Democrats still regard as the epitome of American imperialism compels one to look around for Rod Serling to provide commentary. There was also the DNC's goofy attempt to silence SBVFT by threatening to sue networks and stations that broadcast their "slander". Curious thing, though: If Kerry and the DNC truly believe that SBVFT is engaging in slander, why threaten to sue the networks? Why not sue the slanderers themselves?

The swifties' allegations against Kerry are arguable he-said/he-said stuff for the most part, but as a result of Kerry's attempts to shut them up through legal threats, disingenuous claims that they are a "front" for the Bush campaign and thus violating campaign finance laws (but Michael Moore, canonized at the Democratic National Convention, is totally independent), and other scare tactics, he's raised suspicions in folks with common sense (thus eliminating the majority of Democrats) that he is loath to argue directly with his ex-colleagues because there is more than a little truth in what they say, or less than truth in what Kerry says, or whatever. He chooses to smear men who are decorated combat veterans like himself using the the false-in-one-false-in-all strategy that Clinton employed so effectively. And Kerry's an expert at smearing veterans. Okay, he's been out of practice for about 35 years, but given the vehemence with which his campaign has gone after these guys, it's obviously like swimming and riding a bicycle - he hasn't forgotten how to do it.

Perhaps the most ridiculous of the early attacks on the anti-Kerry swifties was the claim that their criticism of his Viet Nam service lacked credibility because none of them served with him on board the boats he commanded. Funny how being a shipmate of Kerry's on the Mekong Delta for four months back in the 1960s was not a prerequisite for singing his praises as a war hero when Max Cleland, a wounded veteran who not only didn't serve with Kerry on swiftboats, but wasn't even in the Navy, was trotted out on stage during the Democratic National Convention back in July. Cleland never knew Kerry in Viet Nam, yet was proclaimed leader of the band of brothers assembled on the stage prior to Kerry's acceptance speech and deemed qualified to lecture everyone on Kerry's honorable service. Now we're told that the accounts of Kerry's former commanders and other officers who served directly with Kerry during his four-month stint are suspect. Just when you thought liberal Democrats couldn't get any more outrageous with their double standards, they raise the bar a little higher.

An alleged Kerry whopper SBVFT have been pounding away at recently is his claim that during his four-month tour of combat duty in Viet Nam he illegally entered Cambodia. They challenge Kerry's very detailed description of:

"... spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon [sic] claimed there were no American troops was very real." (The Boston Herald, 10/14/1979. We all know at this point that Nixon was not sworn in as president until January of 1969.)
And this one:

"Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared - seared - in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict." [Senate speech opposing President Reagan's policy in Central America, 3/27/1986].
There's also an Associated Press story from 1992:

"But for Kerry, who spent six violent months [sic] commanding a patrol boat on the Mekong River, there's always been a ring of truth to allegations of abandoned Americans. By Christmas 1968, part of Kerry's patrol extended across the border of South Vietnam into Cambodia. 'We were told, "Just go up there and do your patrol." Everybody was over there (in Cambodia). Nobody thought twice about it,' Kerry said. One of the missions, which Kerry, at the time, was ordered not to discuss, involved taking CIA operatives into Cambodia to search for enemy enclaves. "I can remember wondering, 'If you're going to go, what happens to you,' Kerry said."
The one fact everyone finds interesting in Kerry's version of Apocalypse Now is that such a vivid - seared - memory never made it into the contemporaneous journal that Kerry kept during his tour of duty and upon which his biographer, Douglas Brinkley, relied for his book of that name. Note, too that the Associated Press story from 1992 doesn't independently corroborate Kerry's account, but instead relies on Kerry's own words.

Because the story is now refuted by all available evidence, Kerry supporters are doing backflips as they try to explain how he made a mistake - numerous times in various venues. He confused being in Cambodia when he was only near it. Cut through all of the various embellishments of the story over the years - secret CIA missions, Kerry holding off the VC and Khmer Rouge as he heads up river under orders to terminate with extreme prejudice a renegade Special Forces colonel's command, etc - and examine the basic claim: Lt. JG John Forbes Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 being shot at.

One dummy for Kerry on the web posted the following explanation for the total absence of any proof that Kerry ever set foot in Cambodia. I don't like embarrassing people, so I won't post his name or his blog address. But this piece is representative of the nonsense the anybody-but-Bush crowd will stoop to, be they internet bloggers, DNC spokespersons, etc. - in order to fulfill their dream of returning to America's glory days of peaceful co-existence with everyone who wants us dead. Pay attention to how the false-in-one-false-in-all doctrine applied to SBVFT as a means of discrediting them doesn't seem to apply to Captain Willard - I mean Lt. Kerry.

First, the writer admits that

... both Douglas Brinkley's biography of Kerry and Kerry's own war journal mention only that he was near the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve, not across it. (Although the journal entry ends with a sarcastic message to his superiors: 'Merry Christmas from the most inland Market Time unit' - at a minimum a reference to being right on top of the Cambodian border. Then: 'You hope that they'll court marshal you or something because that would make sense' - possibly a reference to crossing the border.)"
Right there you'd think a thinking person would find himself forced to admit, "Hey, there's no proof Kerry was in Cambodia," but such is not the case:

"Brinkley said, 'On Christmas Eve he was near Cambodia; he was around 50 miles from the Cambodian border. There's no indictment of Kerry to be made, but he was mistaken about Christmas in Cambodia.'"
This should pretty much settle it, as well, since not even Kerry's biographer, who had unlimited access to his subject's own diaries, can corroborate the story. Forget for the moment the cockamamie idea that 50 miles from anywhere is near that place. For all intents and purposes, near doesn't mean in. Kerry wasn't in Cambodia, yes? Alas, no:

"The assertion that Kerry's whereabouts in the middle of a night some 36 years ago can now be ascertained with a degree of certainty is ridiculous when he was known to be 50 miles from Cambodia during the day, and in command of a boat capable of traveling more than 25 knots. Thus it is entirely possible Mr. Brinkley is mistaken, not Kerry."
Read that again just in case you have to convince yourself someone actually wrote it in defense of Kerry's disputed claim that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. Unfortunately for the writer, it isn't a question of a "mistake" on Brinkely's part. Brinkley never participated in the Christmas in Cambodia fairy tale, not even when writing the account of Kerry's tour of duty. One has to determine whether John Kerry, who has asserted with a high degree of certainty that he was physically in Cambodia and being shot at while there - the memory is seared into his mind - is mistaken or a liar. What Kerry has said is either true or not true. All accounts of the period in question, a specific day, December 24th, of a specific year, 1968, place Kerry 50 miles from where this seared memory tells him he was.

Note how the writer tries to further obfuscate the issue by discussing the range of a swiftboat, implying that Kerry could have crossed over into Cambodia on the day in question and then scurried back into Viet Nam. Of course, he could have done anything, but this isn't a case of a guy named John Kerry who went missing in Southeast Asia 35 years ago and investigators are trying to piece together his whereabouts at the time in order to figure out what happened to him. John Kerry is alive and well and has repeatedly said this is where he was at a certain time. The question remains, was he there? But the swiftboat part of the story proves equally problematic, as we will shortly see.

"Official records don't support Kerry's claim, which the Swiftvets have said supports their claim that Kerry is lying about ever having gone into Cambodia. But Mr Brinkley rejected accusations that the senator had never been to Cambodia, insisting he was telling the truth about running undisclosed 'black' missions there at the height of the war and Kerry's citations show he was dropping off and picking up SEALs and SF, a normal Swiftboat task."
The first part is (surprise, surprise) misleading. Swiftboat Veterans for Truth have a little more support than the absence of any official records:

"During Christmas 1968, Kerry was stationed at Coastal Division 13 in Cat Lo. Coastal Division 13's patrol areas extended to Sa Dec, about fifty-five miles from the Cambodian border. Areas closer than fifty-five miles to the Cambodian border in the area of the Mekong River were patrolled by PBRs, a small river patrol craft, and not by Swift Boats. Preventing border crossings was considered so important at the time that an LCU (a large, mechanized landing craft) and several PBRs were stationed to ensure that no one could cross the border.

"A large sign at the border prohibited entry. Tom Anderson, Commander of River Division 531, who was in charge of the PBRs, confirmed that there were no Swifts anywhere in the area and that they would have been stopped had they appeared.

"All the living commanders in Kerry's chain of command -Joe Streuhli (Commander of CosDiv 13), George Elliott (Commander of CosDiv 11), Adrian Lonsdale (Captain, USCG and Commander, Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi), Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (Commander, Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115), and Rear Admiral Art Price (Commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116) - deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. They indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there. At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry’s PCF 44 boat - Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner - deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia. The remaining two crewmen declined to be interviewed for this book. Gardner, in particular, will never forget those days in late December when he was wounded on PCF 44, not in Cambodia, but many miles away in Vietnam."
What all this means is that since it's safe to assume Kerry's was not the only swiftboat in Viet Nam, nor was he alone on board his particular vessel, there must be other SB commanders and members of Kerry's own crew who remember covert sojourns into Cambodia, no matter how brief. Particularly the latter would have vivid memories of not only entering Cambodia, but being shot at by friendly as well as enemy troops. Alas, the "band of brothers" who so vividly remember Kerry's whereabouts and his heroic actions at other times during his four-month stint can't seem to recall illegal incursions into Cambodia under fire. The second part of that paragraph is interesting in so far as the biographer who could have been mistaken about Kerry's whereabouts 36 years ago (see above) is now cited once again as a reliable source for uncorroborated information.

Our Clintonian historian now launches into the classic conspiracy theory to explain why Kerry can't prove his claim that he was in a certain place at a certain time under certain conditions and why no one will independently confirm his story:

"Given the mudded history of Vietnam, an official government stance should hardly translate into certain fact - especially now that it's known that the U.S. government conducted numerous secret operations throughout Cambodia during the Vietnam War as early as 1967 (as PBS's 'Frontline,' among myriad others, has reported), but denied it at the time (the point Kerry was trying to make)." [Emphasis added.]
The writer knows full well it's irrelevant what has been documented by "Frontline, among myriad others" [was Kerry featured in such reports?] in terms of who else may have been Cambodia. The question remains was John Kerry in Cambodia when he said he was? Lacking any proof, the writer has to fall back on the classic liberal defense: Even if Kerry lied, he did so in the interest of a higher truth, that the US government lied during the Viet Nam conflict and will always lie when furthering America's imperialist aims. [Well, the Republican President, Richard Nixon, lied, even though he wasn't President in 1968. But Lyndon Johnson, as we all know, was the epitome of veracity, so Kerry had to blame somebody.] And Kerry would not technically be a liar even if incontrovertible evidence disproving his claim he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve of 1968 or at any time during his four-month tour of duty emerged (which isn't required, but more about that later), because the fictional narrative he was weaving was intended to serve a higher purpose: in this case, blowhard partisan politics.

The writer draws the first of many specious conclusions based on his above smoke blowing:

"So we know Kerry certainly operated in the area of the Cambodian border in late 1968, Americans were definitely making border incursions at the time, and the CIA certainly had a lot of people in Vietnam in 1968. That doesn't mean Kerry's story is true, but it's certainly plausible."
You certainly don't need me to tell you how silly the above is, but in the interest of completeness, I will merely point out that a.) we only know through all available evidence that Kerry was 50 miles away from Cambodia, not that he was anywhere near the border at any time; and b.) what other Americans and the CIA were doing around the time in question does absolutely nothing to support Kerry's claims one way or the other. This is not an issue of plausibility, but of fact, plain and simple. The writer then goes on:

"One swift vet for Bush [i.e., Swiftboat Veteran for Truth - my note] and former Kerry crewmember [emphasis added] claims it was impossible to take a swiftboat into Cambodia, but no support for that claim has appeared. Given that he is part of the group known to make blatantly false charges he simply isn't credible."
What is so hilarious about this statement is that a former Kerry crew member is unreliable when Swiftboat Veterans for Truth are deemed unreliable by Kerry kool-aid drinkers because they weren't Kerry crew members. We now have a situation where Kerry cannot be contradicted even by those who were physically with him in the place and time Kerry claims to have experienced certain things. You have to love, too, the patently false charge that SBVFT as a whole make "blatantly false charges" (false-in-one-false-in-all again) since Kerry has been unable to refute any of their claims and is instead seeking every possible means to silence them.

"A Kerry supporter and former Kerry crewmember, Jim Wasser, says, 'On Christmas in 1968, we were close [to Cambodia]. I don't know exactly where we were. I didn't have the chart. It was easy to get turned around with all the rivers around there. But I'll say this: We were the farthest inland that night. I know that for sure.' Wasser's recollection introduces the idea that Kerry and some members of his crew might simply have been confused about where they were."
Note, first, the obvious contradiction (okay, sniveling hypocrisy) that this former Kerry crew member is more reliable a source than the previous one for no other reason than he is a current Kerry supporter. His claim that they were "close" to Cambodia is meaningless since he says in the very next breath that he "didn't have the chart" and it was easy to get confused. The dope citing this as somehow redeeming Kerry doesn't seem to realize that someone who admits total confusion precluding him from saying he was actually in Cambodia can't be trusted to determine proximity to Cambodia. We're to doubt the word of a former crew member because he belongs to a group opposed to Kerry, but accept the words of a crew member who admits he didn't know where the hell he was. "Close" already defined as anything up to 50 miles away doesn't help much, either. It's also safe to say that someone had "the chart", so someone should be able to clear up any "confusion." Actually, a few someones have: Kerry's own shipmates who say they and he never went into in Cambodia. And what's the point of this, anyway? This whole smokescreen of "confusion" on Kerry's part sinks with the rest of the writer's clumsy defense since Kerry never once said incursion into Cambodia was inadvertent, but under orders (you know, like the atrocities he claimed he and the majority of Viet Nam veterans committed).

"On other occasions, Kerry has said he was not actually in Cambodia but rather 'near the country.' In an interview with the Providence Journal-Bulletin that appeared in April, 1994, Kerry said, 'Christmas Eve I was up getting shot at somewhere near Cambodia.' He might have dropped off teams 'near' the border knowing they were headed across it and that is what he meant by 'being' in Cambodia - that he was involved in operations that breached the border while the government officially lied about it."
This clears up everything, doesn't it? Kerry lied numerous times about being in Cambodia, under fire, on Christmas Eve, 1968, but told others he was near Cambodia; therefore, Kerry never lied about being in Cambodia. And all of the maybes, supposes, perhapses, etc. we are asked to come up with here reflects an intention to use Kerry's vague statement in the interview as a means of canceling out the very definite, specific, and detailed claims Kerry made at other times, most notably before the US Senate.

"Sure," the loopy Kerry supporter is saying, "in 1986 he said he was 'in' Cambodia, but he amended that in 1992 by saying 'near' Cambodia."

What accounts for his saying "in" in 86, then? Read the above explanation and all of its assumptions closely: Kerry adopted the experience of others who actually entered Cambodia as his own. I don't know if the writer realizes it, but he makes Kerry out to be either a liar or a nut. The illegal incursion of others into Cambodia was seared into Kerry's memory as his own experience to the point where he believed it and speechified about it on the floor of the US Senate.

The writer then attempts a summation with a series of equally vague and inaccurate assumptions:

"1. John Kerry was in Vietnam serving in the vicinity of the Cambodian border - true."
Well, no. John Kerry was by all accounts - contemporaneous and through the recollections of others - 50 miles from the Cambodian border, especially at the date and time seared into his memory, December 24th, 1968. For the purpose of this discussion, we're asked to accept that 50 miles from equals "in the vincinty of." It's getting to the point where if you've ever read or heard about Cambodia, you can claim to have been "in" the country.

"2. John Kerry has said repeatedly that he crossed into Cambodia - probably true."
Probably true based on what, Number1? Interesting here is that the issue is to prove that John Kerry was in Cambodia when he said he was. This Number 2 should actually be the conclusion drawn after all of the evidence supporting such a claim is provided, but we see there are three more premises:

"3. Some U.S. forces were crossing into Cambodia during the period in question - true; 4. During the period in question it was being officially denied that U.S. forces crossed into Cambodia - true; 5. The disjoint between (3) and (4) was the point of the story John Kerry was telling - true."
Number 5 is a real howler. We have gone through this exercise in examining Kerry's disputed claim that he was in Cambodia under fire on Christmas Eve, 1968, not to establish the truth of his claim, but to show that he was really telling us that some US government personnel were in Cambodia when it was illegal to do so and the government denied their presence. Why did such a subject that was common knowledge in 1986 require Kerry to inject himself - falsely - into the narrative? Could Kerry's point not have been made in the context of the Senate floor debate over Reagan's foreign policy without claiming he was in Cambodia?

This brings us to the Kerry supporter's ultimate conclusion:

"It is possible Kerry exaggerated to make a point - not an outright lie since he was in Cambodia, or very near it [emphasis mine], and perhaps not on [Christ]mas eve."
Kerry claims to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968. There is no evidence to support that he was ever in Cambodia at all, let alone the day in question; indeed, all available evidence refutes Kerry's presence there, including swiftboat crew members who were physically with Kerry on his boat at the time, the Kerry supporters' own criterion for credibility and accuracy regarding Kerry's time in Viet Nam. Here, the writer makes "in" synonymous with "near", and "near", don't forget, can extend to 50 miles away. And finally, he may not have been there on Christmas Eve.

But it's not an outright lie.

We can only wonder how the person who contrived this nonsense would react to someone who claimed he had been "in" the writer's home on July 1st of this year and witnessed the writer commit statutory rape with a teenaged girl. The accuser has no proof he was ever "in" the writer's home, but he can be placed "near" it - say, six blocks away - on several occasions. Perhaps, though, not on July 1st. Once all of these discrepancies are exposed, the accuser says, "Well, statutory rape is a serious problem and I was exaggerating this situation to make a point. It's not an outright lie because there are statutory rapists, and I have been near the accused's home, just not on the date in question."

An exaggerated analogy, because the Kerry lie is not a criminal matter, but our Kerry supporter can't seem to tell the difference between a political dispute and a criminal case, as reflected in his final pompous admonishment to those who would challenge Kerry's version of events, and let's not forget that the courtroom false-in-one-false-in-all doctrine is being applied with a vengeance to Kerry's critics:

"It is also possible that he told the truth. And it is possible he knowingly lied. That charge should be proven before [Kerry's detractors] claim it is proven. And given the false charges flying about Kerry's honorable service, he is guilty until proven innocent - a tough and unfair position to be in for a candidate." [Empahsis added.]
First, this Kerry voter can't seem to distinguish between probability and possibility, using both interchangeably throughout this tortured explanation. While anything is possible, it is probability that governs our judgment and our actions. Of course, what do you expect from someone who thinks 50 miles from somewhere constitutes being "near" that place and that being "near" a place means you were "in" that place?

Second, he engages in a classic fallacy of demanding those who dispute Kerry's claims to prove a negative - that he was not in Cambodia - when it is Kerry who claims he was somewhere in contradiction to all available evidence and the burden of proof rests on him.

Third, and what really exposes the weakness of the writer's position, is the invocation of constitutional protections of the criminally accused in the context of Kerry's apparent dishonesty and its impact on his political viability. Kerry is in no danger of losing life or liberty if he's lying, only the presidency, and that punishment is only a possibility, not a probability. Here the writer is at best disingenuous, at worst, stupid. Your call. But if he wants to apply the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt used in criminal cases to this situation, then in the words of his candidate: Bring. It. On.

We've established that:

No swiftboats ever crossed the border, inadvertently or under orders; the only vessels documented as patrolling in the vicinity of Cambodia and could have crossed the border were PBRs, a type Kerry never was assigned to.

Military records and personal recollections - including his own shipmates assumed by his supporters to be the only credible witnesses to Kerry's Viet Nam service - place Kerry 50 miles from Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968.

Kerry's personal, contemporaneous journal does not mention this illegal incursion under fire even though Kerry has said the memory was "seared" in his mind, and his own biographer doesn't recount the episode in the book describing Kerry's Viet Nam service.

Add to the above Kerry's own mistakes in his accounts of the incident - Nixon wasn't president on Christmas Eve, 1968, the Khmer Rouge did not emerge as a fighting force in Cambodia until long after Kerry's departure from Southeast Asia - and the fact his biographer, trustworthy or untrustworthy depending on this Kerry supporter's mood from one paragraph to the next, has corrected the record.

In other words, Kerry's claim that he was under fire in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968, is refuted by all of the available evidence, and no court in the land would accept as proof of his presence in Cambodia that others were in Cambodia at or around the same time. Anyone would find beyond a reasonable doubt that Kerry lied. Unless his supporters wish to claim, as this one does, that he truly believed he was in Cambodia because others were in Cambodia at or around the same time. In which case, we can find Kerry not guilty - by reason of insanity.

posted by Tom | 8/24/2004 11:14:00 AM
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Monday, August 23, 2004

Let It Alone
posted by Bathus

A couple of weeks ago, when she (along with most of the rest of America) learned about the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign against John Kerry, a solidly conservative internet pal posted the following message to our discussion group:

I really wish they wouldn't do this. It's not going to be pretty and will probably backfire. And the Dems will counter with the missing months of Bush's [National Guard] duty. It was a freaking 30 years ago, let it alone.
In her desire to "let it alone," my online friend expresses a sentiment shared by a substantial majority of her fellow Americans. The subject of Vietnam is one that most of us--especially those of us who came of age during that era-- would very much wish to let alone.

Long ago we had given up almost every hope that the nation would--in our lifetimes--resolve upon anything close to a shared understanding of its Vietnam experience. All the arguments one way or the other had been said and heard so many times that only the most boorish could be foolish enough to think that more talk would change anyone's opinion. Age and experience might change some minds (mine for instance), but further discussion was futile. In the decade following our ignominious withdrawal, communists would potash Cambodia's rice fields with the bones of millions of human skeletons. Of the millions desperately fleeing the daily terrors of communist rule, countless thousands would perish in the Gulf of Thailand or the South China Sea when their pathetically rickety boats capsized under the their own weight. If those millions of deaths weren't enough to convince you that fighting communism in Southeast Asia was a truly righteous cause, then mere words could never persuade you.

Whenever the question of Vietnam percolated to the surface of the nation's collective political consciousness, as it did briefly during Clinton's first presidential campaign, the protagonists on either side only became yet more distrustful and disdainful of the other. And so years ago, wearied by their own arguments as much as by the arguments of their antagonists, sensible majorities of both the supporters and the opponents of the Vietnam war yielded to an unwritten domestic truce composed of two principles:
(1) Those who participated in the war, with the exception of anyone at or above the rank of general officer, are entitled to public honor for their service.

(2) Those who actively opposed the war, with the exception of the most extreme Jane Fonda-types, are not to be branded as cowards or traitors to their country.
Depending on one's political bent, one or the other of the two prongs of the domestic truce might be accepted only grudgingly, but it was accepted none the less, because most of us had become convinced that the best way to handle any question involving Vietnam was just to "let it alone." Yes, there would still be occasional flare-ups when the domestic truce would be tested. Until recently, the most notable episodes involved Dan Quayle and the aforementioned Bill Clinton, who--because they had neither very actively opposed the war nor fought in it--did not seem to be entitled to the truce's honors and amnesties. Those petty skirmishes over Clinton's ROTC dodge and Quayle's "alternative" service stirred up some old antagonisms, but quickly subsided when the larger public declined to enlist. And so, the truce held.

In perfect accord with that domestic truce, a memorial was constructed--an angled black wound cut into the very earth of the nation's capitol--bespeaking loss, but essentially silent on every other question. Even the rules of the design competition for the memorial had commanded that the winning entry must "make no political statement about the war." Thus, the official National Park Service website still proclaims, "The purpose of this memorial is to separate the issue of the sacrifices of the veterans from the U.S. policy in the war, thereby creating a venue for reconciliation," as if true reconciliation could ever emerge from a silence that prohibits public contemplation of what "the sacrifices of the veterans" were for. Of course, each of us individually might still arrive at a personal understanding of what those sacrifices were for, but in the collective consciousness of the nation, for the sake of the domestic truce, the "sacrifice of the veterans" could be attached to nothing beyond itself. Sacrifice unattached to an object is meaningless, and reconciliation cannot emerge from meaninglessness. As a consequence, that self-imposed silence, though necessary perhaps to preserve the domestic truce, has never been a communal experience of national reconciliation. It has always been a divided silence, separating on one side those still too proud to admit their error and on the other side those who know that forgiveness cannot be bestowed upon someone too proud to accept it, much less to seek it. Such silence could never bring reconciliation, but it remained sufficient to permit the continuation of the domestic truce.

Yet out of that silence, the nation's Vietnam experience did produce one apparent lesson that came to be generally accepted on all sides. The lesson was: "We must never ask our troops to fight a war without the 'full support' of the American people." Even more than the domestic truce, this dubious lesson was embraced by both sides, but for rather different reasons. The supporters of the war in Vietnam embraced this lesson because they naively believed that it would always remind everyone how anti-war protests had dispirited the nation and brought on defeat. The lesson would ensure that in the future whenever the nation embarked upon a war, protests would cease, and the nation would come together to "support the troops."

But those on the other side of the divide calculated more correctly that this "lesson" of Vietnam, if taken literally, had granted them a veto against any and every war. They knew that the "lesson" of Vietnam--that America must never fight a war without the "full support" of the people--supplies the easy logic by which a war's opponents, however few, can posit their opposition, however unwise, as the sufficient condition against that war. Understood literally (and this "lesson" of Vietnam is always accepted too literally) the lesson eventually boils down to this: "America should never go to war because there will always be some, usually substantial, domestic faction that opposes it." The historical truth is, that though he should always seek the broadest possible domestic support, it often happens that a wise statesman (Washington and Lincoln come to mind) will lead a war vehemently opposed by a substantial domestic faction. Because "full support" is an impossibility, making "full support" a condition for waging war is a debilitating policy, a policy that transforms the idiocy of Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore into self-fulfilling prophecy:
We must not fight without full support. Because Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore do not support the war, we do not have full support. Therefore, we must not fight.
And so the the "lesson" of Vietnam guarantees that opponents of a war receive instant political legitimacy because their very existence denies the "full support" that is believe to be required according to the "lesson" of Vietnam. If a deeper examination might have yielded better lessons from the Vietnam experience, the wheat seemed not worth the threshing, and most of us thought it best just to "let it alone."

And so the domestic truce has held for decades. But in the passing of those years the nation still found no real peace on the question of Vietnam.

Yet at some brief moments it became possible to imagine, even to hope, that a president who had come of age in the Vietnam era might be exactly the right figure to bind up the nation's psychic wounds from that troubled time. For the president embodies the role most akin to a national priest or national confessor (or, if you prefer a more modern concept, national grief counselor), and so one might hope that a president who came of age during Vietnam, by his own example of transcendence, might lead the nation toward a long-delayed reconciliation. Yet for reasons that seem obvious, Bill Clinton, the first president who had come of age during Vietnam, could not bring about the healing. He could not do it because no man rightly can forgive the sins he has committed against others. Though they are such different men, George W. Bush no better than Clinton could bind up the wounds of Vietnam because he, too, did not fight in that war. So the best Clinton and Bush could do was just to "let it alone," and to their credit, that is what they both tried to do.

After Clinton and Bush, it was clear that only a man who himself had actually fought in Vietnam would be capable of healing the wounds of that war. If a man like John McCain or Bob Kerrey were to ascend to the presidency, he might possess the legitimacy to elucidate a shared communal understanding and to dispense--on behalf of all those who sacrificed--the forgiveness that would be necessary to put Vietnam behind us.

And what about John Kerry? Might he have become the man finally to bind up the wounds of Vietnam? Yes, I believe he could have performed that healing, perhaps more completely even than a John McCain or a Bob Kerrey, precisely because John Kerry was both "sinner" and "sinned against." No one could have better explained to the nation how the world looks different with the passage of time. He could have explained that, although he is remains deeply proud to have served his country in war, he is deeply sorry that in his proudly foolish youth he spoke such vile words about the other men who fought in that war, many of whom were still fighting when he defiled them. He could have explained that there were good men and women who supported the Vietnam war and good men and women who opposed it. He could have explained that, even though he still believes he was right to oppose many things about the war, he now knows he was wrong--unequivocally wrong--to say and do the fraudulent things he said and did when he returned from Vietnam. As a sinner against those who fought in the war and against the nation as a whole, John Kerry could have sought forgiveness on behalf of all those who opposed the war. As a man who fought in that same war, John Kerry could have offered forgiveness on behalf of his fellow warriors to all those who sinned against them. At one and the same time, John Kerry could have inspired forgiveness and received forgiveness.

John Kerry could have begun the healing by saying something like this:
Vietnam has been discussed and written about without an adequate statement of its full meaning.

What is ignored is the way in which our experience during that period reflected in part a positive affirmation of American values and history, not simply the more obvious negatives of loss and confusion. What is missing is a recognition that there exists today a generation that has come into its own with powerful lessons learned, with a voice that has been grounded in experiences both of those who went to Vietnam and those who did not. What is missing and what cries out to be said is that neither one group nor the other from that difficult period of time has cornered the market on virtue or rectitude or love of country.

. . . . The race for the White House should be about leadership, and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions and differences of that crucible of our generation.

We do not need to divide America over who served and how.
In fact, John Kerry did say something like that. The words quoted above are his words.

He spoke them, but he did not mean them.

Yet we do not fault John Kerry for failing to seek the reconciliation that history seemed to have placed uniquely within his power to achieve. In the absence of healing, the nation could have continued to observe the well-established domestic truce. We all would have been content to continue to "let it alone," just as we have done for the last twenty-five years.

But now we can't "let it alone." The reason we can't "let it alone" is that John Kerry won't let us "let it alone."

We can't let it alone because John Kerry has pursued a strategy that sounds out old angers with a dissonant message that takes the two prongs of the domestic truce and makes them serve his own advantage. The domestic truce had required that those who served in Vietnam should receive honor. So Kerry now exalts in that half of the truce--not humbly as befits a genuine war hero, but constantly and immodestly waving the bloody shirt of his Vietnam service in the faces of his critics whenever any connection, no matter how illogical, can be drawn between their criticism and Kerry's Vietnam service.

Thus, when Dick Cheney criticized Kerry's positions on national security (an obvious and fair target given Kerry's voting record on defense issues), Kerry responded by "saying it is 'inappropriate' for Cheney to criticize his military service when he 'got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do.'" The man who not long ago high-mindedly observed that it is wrong to "divide America over who served and how," now tells us:
I think a lot of veterans are going to be very angry at a president who can't account for his own service in the National Guard, and a vice president who got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do, criticizing somebody who fought for their country and served.
Never mind that Cheney has never breathed a word of criticism of Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Also never mind the fact that Bush and Cheney have never even breathed a word of criticism of Kerry's anti-war activities. For them to criticize Kerry's anti-war record would violate the second prong of the domestic truce. So in questioning the service, or lack thereof, of Bush and Cheney, Kerry attempts to turn to his advantage the curious fact, mentioned above, that although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it, those in the middle (like Bush, Clinton, Quayle, and Cheney) receive no protection.

As the above story illustrates, long before the SwiftVets arrived on the scene, Kerry all by himself had succeeded in demeaning his service by transforming it into a crass non-sequitur. As one vet put it, "Nobody who claims to have seen the action he does would so shamelessly flaunt it for political gain." In his run for the presidency, Kerry's Vietnam references became so ubiquitous that one clever pundit adopted the practice of never mentioning Kerry's name without the aside that he had "by the way served in Vietnam." With far less humor, Howard Dean and Kerry's other Democrat primary rivals made the same point, noting that his Vietnam record had "become the stock answer for almost every issue for Kerry's campaign."

The predominant quality revealed in Kerry's spinning and unspinning his personal history in the Vietnam era is that, like everything else in his political life (from the SUVs he owns but doesn't own, to the medals he tossed but didn't toss, to the war in Iraq he supports but doesn't support), he's trying to have it both ways. But because of how the Vietnam era tore this country apart and still cripples the nation's political soul, Kerry's trying to have it both ways about that war is so much more telling than his SUV moment or even his flip-flops on the current war.

When Kerry came back from Vietnam, he said:
we are ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy.
But now he sounds rather proud of what he did in Vietnam, when he proclaims:
We fought for this nation because we loved it . . . I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President.
Please tell me which statement was true. If we believe Kerry's statement from thirty years ago that the war in Vietnam had nothing to do with the preservation of freedom, much less with the defense of America itself, then how can we possibly take him at his word now when he brags constantly that he "defended this country" by fighting in that war? Isn't that exactly the kind of assertion that young John Kerry called "criminal hypocrisy." But old John Kerry has never retracted young John Kerry's claim that the war in Vietnam had nothing to do with the defense of America's freedom. To the contrary, when given the opportunity to explain what he meant back then, old John Kerry contends that young John Kerry's claims were "honest":
Needless to say, I'm proud that I stood up. I don't want anybody to think twice about it. I'm proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I'm proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I'm not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.
So you see, for old John Kerry the only thing really blameworthy about young John Kerry was that he didn't always phrase things "artfully" (i.e., in a way that would make it easier for old John to have it both ways). The fact that these statements are coming back around to haunt old John is just a problem with young John's inartful phrasing.

As for his "band of brothers,"here's a little of what Kerry said about them in 1971:
There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare.
As the SwiftVets have now reminded us, in preening senate testimony before the eyes of the nation Kerry publicized accusations that his comrades had:
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 Genghis Khan . . . . not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
And specifically with regard to the actions of the Swifties with whom he served," here's what Kerry said in 1971 about their service:
We established an American presence in most cases by showing the flag and firing at sampans and villages along the banks. Those were our instructions, but they seemed so out of line that we finally began to go ashore, against our orders, and investigate the villages that were supposed to be our targets. We discovered we were butchering a lot of innocent people.
How can it possibly be that his actions thirty years ago, which Kerry himself described as shameful war crimes, are now so undeniably honorable that no one is allowed to question Kerry's account of those actions, not even the very men whom Kerry accused of committing war crimes?

Why must we treat it as acceptable for John Kerry to have demeaned the honor of thousands of his former comrades in 1971 while those men were at that very moment still in Vietnam's swamps and jungles fighting for their lives, but now, when John Kerry himself is well out of harm's way sleeping comfortably every night on the cushion of billions his wife inherited from her dead Republican husband, it's politically incorrect for the men Kerry called war criminals to raise a question about his anti-war activities?

Why are we are not permitted to consider the possibility, supported by the testimony of credible witnesses, that a man who said he was ashamed to have been involved in war crimes against innocent civilians would not have taken advantage of a few very minor scrapes to extricate himself from further participation in activities he considered to be shameful war crimes?

Why is that in 1971 it was patriotic dissent for John Kerry to tell young men to avoid going to Vietnam (because it was dishonorable), but now an official web site of Kerry's Democrat Party suggests it was dishonorable for George Bush not to go to Vietnam that same year? Yes, the official DNC web site throws down the gauntlet with the statement: "Kerry vs. Bush: Compare their service." To help us make that comparison, the Democrats have for years questioned every last detail about Bush's National Guard record. But as soon as anyone points out the contradictions in Kerry's actions during the Vietnam era, Kerry hides behind his tiny "band of brothers" and wraps himself in the flag with neopatriotic statements like this:

We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of those people here tonight and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with.
Is that the same Old Glory displayed in so mocking a fashion on the cover of Kerry's anti-war book, "The New Soldier"?

Yes, thirty years have passed, it was a long time ago, and many people who opposed that war have quietly changed their views without ever publicly apologizing for the things they did back then that were so harmful to the men who were still fighting in that war. The best Kerry can come up with in the way of an apology for the disgusting things he said about his former comrades is a cravenly vapid statement that his anti-war activities were "a little bit excessive . . .. a little bit over the top." Joe Crecca, whose six years in as a POW must entitle him to some respect on the question, does not recall Kerry's anti-war activities as quite so benign:

The rigors and hardships of being a POW aside, I remember the so-called "peace movement" and peace marches and rallies that were taking place back home in the United States.

Our captors were more than willing, within their means, to provide us with any and all anti-U.S. and anti-Vietnam War propaganda. Without a choice in the matter, we listened to the "Voice of Vietnam" broadcasts by "Hanoi Hannah" and were shown newspaper and magazine photos and articles about those opposing the war back in the states.

One of the peace marchers' standard slogans was, "Bring our boys home now and alive." The warped thinking of such people was that by demonstrating against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, they'd be shortening the war and reducing the number of American casualties. These demonstrators would also try to make one believe that their efforts would bring POWs like me home sooner. They were utterly wrong on both counts, not to mention the detrimental effect their actions had on the morale of our troops and our POWs.

John F. Kerry was not just one of these demonstrators. He was leading them.

These demonstrations for peace had the exact opposite effect of what they purported to accomplish. Instead of shortening the war the "peace movement" served only to protract the conflict, resulting in a vastly greater number of Americans killed and wounded, greater economic burdens and longer periods of incarceration for Americans held captive in Vietnam. The war would have been over much sooner and with a much more favorable result if those in the "peace movement" would have rallied behind the commander in chief to accomplish our mission and then withdraw.

Many fewer names would be engraved into the black granite of the Vietnam Memorial if these people had supported our efforts instead of trying to derail them. After all, fighting against a political regime that up to that time had murdered more than a hundred million people couldn't have been all bad. But Kerry thought and acted differently. How many more names on the wall can he take credit for?

After the war ended, some of the war protesters hung on to their anti-war postures for a while. Some of them realized the errors of their ways almost immediately, but it took others 20 to 25 years.

Some, like Kerry, have not realized there was anything wrong with what he did. Instead, he hopes we will see him as a courageous Vietnam veteran. I do not. He hopes we will admire his bravery. I do not. I remember him more for his misdeeds upon his return from Vietnam.

Jim Warner, also a POW for five years, personally experienced the direct effects of Kerry's anti-war activities:

In late May, two months after our arrival in the punishment camp, I was called out for interrogation. I entered the interrogation room to find a junior officer, a Communist's helper, whom we called "Boris." For some time, Boris rambled on about the anti-war movement and of my "crimes." . . .

. . . .

We sparred for about an hour. Then Boris reached behind his back and pulled out some clippings from a left wing newspaper in the U.S. He showed me several articles about an event, which had been held in Detroit, called "The Winter Soldier Hearings." He left me to read the articles while he left the room. The articles reported alleged "testimony" from people who claimed to be Vietnam veterans who allegedly claimed that they had done things which, if true, would have lead to courts martial for each of them. That is, they were typical communist propaganda.

. . . .

When Boris returned he asked me what I thought. I told him that I was from Detroit, but did not recognize any of the names so I assumed that they were Communists brought in from around the country. "Not so," he cried. Look at this. He showed me a picture of an unforgettable face. "This man was an officer in your navy. He says that the war is illegal, immoral and unjust. Read what he says." I read the words of John Kerry.

What John Kerry said, according to the clippings, was that the U.S. should abandon South East Asia, unilaterally and immediately. This, of course, would not only leave the Prisoners of War in the hands of the Communists, but far worse, there was not a sane person in the universe who did not know that the instant the countries of South East Asia were abandoned, the blood bath would begin. I told Boris "this man should be punished. He says that he did criminal things. America is a free country and a free people do not allow such crimes. We are not like Communists." I told Boris that there would be a blood bath if we pulled out unilaterally.

Boris got angry and began threatening me. He said that my own countrymen, Jane Fonda, Sen. Fulbright, and the subject of the article, John Kerry, insisted that the threatened "blood bath" was a myth invented by the reactionary government of the United States. He told me that Kerry had admitted that we were criminals, as the communists never ceased to tell us, and that we should be punished. The interrogation continued for another hour. Finally, Boris, frustrated, put me back in my cell, while still muttering threats at me. It was the longest interrogation I had without torture. . . .

When John Kerry said that Vietnam vets were criminals, did he not know that the Communists would use his words against the POWs? He feels insulted when someone questions his patriotism. What other conclusion would you come to, if you were in my shoes?
Yes, it's true that under the strict terms of our long-standing domestic truce, John Kerry was not required to apologize for the things he said thirty years ago, even though he himself had more recently tested that truce with his attacks on George Bush's National Guard service. But then in January of this year, to burnish his credentials as a war president, Kerry's authorized biography reported a story implying that his Swift Boat comrades had fled the scene of an enemy attack while he alone returned to rescue the wounded. Honor being such an insignificant thing to John Kerry, he probably had no idea that--with his biography reviving war crimes accusations and, more specifically, implying cowardice on the part of his fellow swiftees--he had broken the domestic truce.

The truce is over. The Swift Vets and all the other vets John Kerry has freshly maligned are determined that this time around he is not going to have it both ways. Men like Michael Benge, Kenneth Cordier, Joseph Crecca, and Jim Warner, who have already lost too many years of their lives to the Vietnam war, would have much preferred that Kerry had not restarted this fight. But now that he has, they are not going to let it alone.

[Note: Because it's been too long since my last post, I've decided to post the above item in a rough draft condition. Some links might not work, and the spelling and grammar are probably sorely deficient, but I'll clean it up as time permits. -- Adeimantus]

posted by Bathus | 8/23/2004 01:49:00 AM
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