Saturday, August 21, 2004

Make Bush pay for his lies....

...his own, and those circulated on his behalf. A cogent observation from Josh Marshall:

This whole Swift Boat episode is entirely in keeping not just with the record of George W. Bush, but, to be frank, his whole family. Think back to the 1988 and 1992 presidential races. Partly, it's in their political DNA. But it's also in the nature of blue bloods trying to ape populist politics -- for the key example, see the 1992 GOP convention in Houston and the sad antics of Bush family retainer Rich Bond.

Marshall's absolutely on target with the 1992 analogy. The Bush family does not give a rat's ascot about the truth and has NEVER hesitated to smear their political opponents. (Just ask the currently-emasculated John McCain, now letting bygones-be-bygones in order to stake out some sort of future in the GOP.)

The difference between 1992 and 2004, however, is that the smears are picked up and amplified by the right-wing echo chamber of Faux News, talk radio, Matt Drudge, etc. That's all the more reason for the Kerry campaign to fight back and fight back HARD. As Marshall points out in his post, Bush is vulnerable on a number of fronts -- his own credibility is in tatters -- and it's time to pound that home. Over and over again.

Swift boat skipper: Kerry critics wrong

From the Chicago Tribune:

The commander of a Navy swift boat who served alongside Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry during the Vietnam War stepped forward Saturday to dispute attacks challenging Kerry's integrity and war record.

William Rood, an editor on the Chicago Tribune's metropolitan desk, said he broke 35 years of silence about the Feb. 28, 1969, mission that resulted in Kerry's receiving a Silver Star because recent portrayals of Kerry's actions published in the best-selling book "Unfit for Command" are wrong and smear the reputations of veterans who served with Kerry.

Rood, who commanded one of three swift boats during that 1969 mission, said Kerry came under rocket and automatic weapons fire from Viet Cong forces and that Kerry devised an aggressive attack strategy that was praised by their superiors. He called allegations that Kerry's accomplishments were "overblown" untrue.

From Rood's first-hand account:

Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Go vote!

Do you believe Kerry or the Smear Boat Veterans for Bush? Go vote at

And while you're there, check out "Hardblogger" with Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews -- who finish mopping the floor with Michelle Malkin.

The truth will out

Today the NY Times does some digging -- and catches the Not-too-Swift Boaters in lies, inconsistencies, and connections to Karl Rove and the Bushes:

A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice....

The strategy the veterans devised would ultimately paint John Kerry the war hero as John Kerry the "baby killer" and the fabricator of the events that resulted in his war medals. But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.

There's a common thread here: Neither the Bushes nor the people who function as their tools could tell the truth if you wrote it out for them in words of one syllable.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

'A front for the Bush campaign'

Big John takes on the Not-too-Swift Boaters:

More than 30 years ago I learned an important lesson. When you're under attack the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attack. That's what I intend to do today....

Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth and they're not telling the truth....

But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know. He wants them to do his dirty work.

Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that.

It's the oldest Bush trick in the book. Willie Horton, the sliming of John McCain during the 2000 primaries, and now this. Dubya learned a lot at Lee Atwater's knee, and he learned it well.

Caught in (yet another) lie

Nice to see the Washington Post engaging in investigative reporting again:

Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

Thurlow and Murdoch handmaiden Michelle Malkin appeared on Hardball tonight. I missed the first airing and will have to catch the rerun, but according to Keith Olbermann, Malkin made a fool of herself. Just keeping Thurlow company, I guess.

Release the hounds!

Jacob Weisberg has the right idea. (I don't know if Kerry will go after Bush's draft avoidance, but "unshirted hell" was definitely today's agenda.)

Perhaps Kerry should try to turn this libel to his advantage, the way an Alfonse D'Amato would have, by loudly proclaiming his injury. Without getting into the substance of the charges (which is a no-win situation), he should give Bush unshirted hell for the sleaze being sent out in his name. Kerry could ask his friend John McCain to stop campaigning for Bush until the Swiftvets ads stop. If Bush doesn't respond, Kerry should loose his own attack dogs and make a bigger issue out of Bush avoiding the draft.

Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam and, once there, volunteered for dangerous duty. He killed enemy fighters, was injured and decorated. Then he came home and distinguished himself in opposition to the war. That a president who shirked any similar duty would try to make an issue out of Kerry's war record is simply amazing.

Actually, it's not all that amazing if you know anything about Dubya.

Bush fails the character test

The Kansas City Star weighs in:

The biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas has financed a smear campaign to not only challenge Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam War heroism but also to portray him as a liar and a coward.

This is based on unsupported charges and transparently deceptive tactics. Yet President Bush has failed for days to denounce it, a decision that he knows gives the ad credibility with some poorly informed voters.

Bush talks a lot about the importance of character. This was a good test of his ability to live up to that rhetoric, and so far he has failed it.

Which is worse: BushCo or the compliant media?

Eric Alterman pulls no punches where the Swift Boat Liars (and their beneficiary in the White House) are concerned:

The people in the Bush administration are competent in only one thing: smearing their opponents and intimidating the media into passing along their falsehoods unedited.

And speaking of the media, Josh Marshall has a point to make:

Really, though, this comes back to the press, whether they'll allow the president to play the silent accomplice in this character assassination and pay no price for his actions.

As [Jacob] Weisberg puts it, "The ad is a carefully crafted lie ... beyond vile."

Unfortunately, lies like this, once uttered, are impossible to counter in their entirety, just as mud thrown against a wall makes a terrible mess even though it doesn't stick. The only way to counter such misdeeds is to shine a light on those cynical and deceitful enough to seek to gain from them. That would be the president and his supporters. But on this front most of the media are content to act as indifferent bystanders to the offense.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Of all people....!

I must admit, I'm astounded. Via Salon's "Right Hook," I discovered this from....Bill O'Reilly?!!

I believe Jim Rassmann when he says that Kerry saved his life by pulling him out of a Vietnam river while under fire. Rassmann is a former Green Beret, a former police officer and a long time registered Republican until earlier this year. If he says John Kerry is a hero, nobody should doubt it. Rassmann has earned the right to be trusted and insulting his testimony is way out of line....

What should we, on the sidelines, make of all this? Well, it's a judgment call. It is absolutely wrong for Americans to condemn Kerry's war record because he demonstrated provable valor. However, those who distrust him do deserve to be heard although facts not emotion should be demanded.

I think the Swift Boat political advertisement calling Kerry a charlatan is in poor taste, and if this kind of thing continues it might well backfire on the Kerry haters. Most Americans are fair minded, and bitter personal attacks do not go down well with folks who are not driven by partisanship....Admiral Elmo Zumwalt pinned a medal on John Kerry's chest. The record is the record, unless rock solid proof refutes it.

Eric Idle weighs in on current events

Thanks to The General for discovering The FCC Song. (Heads up, all you cube dwellers: Not only is there audio, but there are multiple occurrences of the VP's favorite epithet.) In a word, it's hilarious.

Monday, August 16, 2004

An American heroine

The Progressive interviews veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas:

Q: This President has not had many press conferences. Do you think the Bush Administration values the opportunity to talk with the press?

Thomas: Hell, no. He's forced to. It's absolutely necessary because we are there in their face. But he doesn't hold enough news conferences. It's far short of anybody else. And when he appears with a head of state and they try to act like it's a news conference, it's not. He says, "I'll take two questions here and two questions on that side," and there's no follow-up. He gets mad if it is a two-part question. I mean, c'mon. The President of the United States should be able to answer any question, or at least dance around one. At some time--early and often--he should submit to questioning and be held accountable, because if you don't have that then you only have one side of the story. The Presidential news conference is the only forum in our society, the only institution, where a President can be questioned. If a leader is not questioned, he can rule by edict or executive order. He can be a king or a dictator. Who's to challenge him? We're there to pull his chain and to ask the questions that should be asked every day, for every move.

Q: Has President Bush given you a nickname?

Thomas: I'm sure it's profane, but I don't know what it is. I don't blame him for not liking me; I ask very tough questions. He doesn't have to like me. I would prefer that he respect me. We don't have to be liked. We didn't go into this business to be liked or loved. If we did, we're making a big mistake. It's not the point. You cannot have a democracy without an informed people.

I only wish more of Helen's colleagues felt the way she does -- and asked the tough questions she asks.

Humor and derision? Bring it on.

Charles Pierce on the Bushies' plan to "make John Kerry a subject of humor and derision":

It is a wonderment, though, that this president is going to campaign for a while on the platform of making somebody else look ridiculous. The sheer audacity of it, considering that, every time he rises to speak, this president is even money to break an ankle getting from a subject to a verb, and that this president talks about the serious problem of international sex tourism without ever apparently consulting his brother Neil, who apparently lived for several years in Thailand working as a petri dish, and that this president could find neither oil in Texas nor his National Guard unit in Alabama. “Food on your family.” “Make the pie higher.” “Watch this drive.” The Pet Goat. With all the very big fish they have swimming around in their own very small barrels, they’re now going to launch Operation Whoopie Cushion?


Wow, indeed. Do they really want to go there? Because if they do, we're more than ready for them.

Crime family in action

Vito Corleone would be speechless with admiration at the sheer brazenness of the Bush crime family. Molly Ivins reports that after the 2000 voting debacle, Jeb Bush has no intention of cleaning up his act:

This year, same song, second verse. Jeb Bush tried to purge 47,000 supposed ex-felons. A Miami Herald investigation of the new list found that it wrongly listed 2,100 people whose right to vote had already been restored through a clemency process.

The Tampa Tribune produced an even more startling discovery: While half of those on this year's list are black, the list contains the names of few Hispanics. Hispanics in Florida tend to be Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans. Gosh, Jeb Bush was just astonished about the no-Hispanics thing -- except that the state had been repeatedly warned about it.

Florida finally withdrew the list on July 11. Then, on July 14, the 1st District U.S. Court of Appeals in Tallahassee ruled that the state must help felons fill out the form that they need to win back the right to vote after serving their time. Instead, Bush eliminated the form.

One tries not to be alarmist, one tries not to be paranoid, but this doth smelleth. Is there any Republican who would be happy if the role of the parties were reversed here and only Hispanic felons had been on Jebbie Bush's little list, but no blacks? Come on.

The Republican Party in Florida is urging its voters to use absentee ballots so they will have a paper trail in case of a recount. Hey, if it's good enough for Republicans …

I watched lil' Jeb on TV last week when two hurricanes were bearing down on Florida, and I thought: This is God's judgment on Jeb Bush for the 2000 election scandal. The only problem with that line of reasoning is too many innocent people get hurt along with him.

Seriously, the news coming out of Florida indicates two strategic points for Democrats: (1) We have to be vigilant about protecting voters' rights in Florida (and everywhere else), so John Edwards needs to line up lawyers as poll watchers; and (2) We can't let it come down to Florida again. I don't think it will, but I also don't have much faith in the brainpower of the 10 percent who are currently "undecided."

Molly Ivins goes to Canada...

...where they can't figure out what the hell is wrong with about 45% of the American electorate:

What is most striking to me every time I visit this country is how much more Canadians know about the United States and the rest of the world than many Americans do.

Because they are generally less provincial than we and certainly pay more attention to world news, they are acutely aware of how much the Bush administration has increased anti-Americanism around the globe. That's why so many of them are stupefied at the idea he might be re-elected: They perceive him as having done great harm to his own country.

So here I am trying to explain to these politely astonished people how Americans could vote for George W. Bush.

How, indeed? And the other pertinent question is: How in the hell can anyone be "undecided" at this point?