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August 14, 2004

JEFF JARVIS ON MCGREEVEY: "If all McGreevey had done was shtupped a guy named Golan Cipel, he would not have resigned. He resigned because this now explains why he put the guy on the state payroll at a high salary for a job he never should have filled. He wasted our money. Off with his head."

UPDATE: Doc Searls: "Dude, if you're serious about resigning, don't just stand on the trap door for three months. Pull the lever."

THE UNITED NATIONS, HARD AT WORK PREVENTING ETHNIC SLAUGHTER:

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) - Dozens of attackers raided a U.N. refugee camp in western Burundi, shooting and hacking to death at least 180 people, witnesses and local officials said Saturday . . .

The camp sheltered Congolese ethnic Tutsi refugees, known as the Banyamulenge, who fled fighting in Congo's troubled border province of South Kivu, Niyonzima said.

It didn't shelter them very well.

MEDIA COVERAGE (OR NOT) of the Kerry/Cambodia story is analyzed in the Rocky Mountain News: It's certainly possible to argue about whether this story tells us anything useful about Kerry -- but it's quite clear that it tells us a lot about the media.

UPDATE: More inconsistencies in the Kerry Vietnam narrative.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. The self-checking nature of the blogosphere is asserting itself in the comments regarding the inconsistencies above -- which is a good thing, as we try to figure out what happened. On the other hand, the folks at Democratic Underground feel threatened. Stay tuned.

MORE ON THE BLURRING LINES BETWEEN MAINSTREAM JOURNALISM AND POLITICS:

SANTA FE - Say you need a smashing introduction for your political speech. Who can you call?

Apparently you call three Albuquerque TV news reporters.

At this year's Border Governors Conference, Gov. Bill Richardson got one of the most glowing introductions he's ever received.

Monica Armenta, the longtime morning anchorwoman for KOB-Channel 4 bestowed the honors. Armenta was followed at the podium, at other times, by KOB anchorman Nelson Martinez and KOAT-Channel 7 anchorwoman Cynthia Izaguirre. . . .

Last but not least, Armenta said, Richardson "successfully and effectively represented the Democratic Party, New Mexico and the border region as the 2004 chair of the Democratic National Convention in Boston."

After the applause died down, Richardson returned the favor, calling Armenta "the Katie Couric of New Mexico."

But don't worry:

"We watch very carefully how the news gets reported," Burgess said. "Whatever the political leanings of our reporters, it damn sure doesn't come out on the air."

That's a relief! (Via Michael Silence, who opines: "This is not good for journalism.")

AS WE COME UP ON THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of last year's blackout, security is still a problem:

A YEAR after the biggest power blackout in North American history, Canada and the U.S. still haven't beefed-up overall security of the electricity supply, a new report reveals. The report, prepared by Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy and released yesterday, updates progress on efforts to prevent another blackout crisis in the future.

Here's a link to the full report. Naturally, this led me to think of The Knowledge Problem, and sure enough they've got posts here (with lots more links) and here (noting that network reliability is a differentiated product). And it's worth reading this column from Lynne Kiesling. And read this column on hardening systems against disaster, natural or man-made.

I never did get around to buying a generator, though.

SOME PRETTY GOOD ADVICE on what makes for a successful blog. (Via Michael Silence).

COLUMBIA UPDATE: Reportedly, it was a flaw in the foam-gluing process that led to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia:

The fault apparently was not with the chemical makeup of the foam, which insulates the tanks and prevents ice from forming on the outside when 500,000 gallons of supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen are pumped aboard hours before liftoff.

Instead, Otte said NASA concluded after extensive testing that the process of applying some sections of foam by hand with spray guns was at fault.

Gaps, or voids, were often left, and tests done since the Columbia accident have shown liquid hydrogen could seep into those voids. After launch, the gas inside the voids starts to heat up and expand, causing large pieces of insulation to pop off.

Sometimes it's the little things that get you. (Via Slashdot, which has some interesting comments.) And here's an article on related issues regarding Shuttle safety.

THE ROOTS OF FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY: An interesting discovery.

THE COMMAND POST has lots of Charley news, links to webcams, and suggestions on how you can help.

August 13, 2004

Photo from NOAA -- cool, huh?

HERE'S THE LATEST ON HURRICANE CHARLEY: Lots of property damage, but so far not very deadly, in spite of being about as strong as Hurricane Andrew. Let's hope those early reports hold up.

UPDATE: My friend Larry DeWitte emails from Tampa:

We skated by as this thing ramped up to a Cat 4 but took a sharp turn east south of us. Incredible! It is always a waiting game and a crap shoot. I feel bad for all the folks that went inland for shelter and are now getting hammered.

He was always good at skating by trouble. . . .

ANDREA HARRIS IS HURRICANEBLOGGING FROM ORLANDO: She's even posting pics.

HURRICANE POLITICS have already begun.

HERE'S A CRACK IN THE MEDIA BLACKOUT over the Cambodia story:

But like an old fish story in which the catch keeps getting larger with every telling, Kerry didn't stop at telling tales of war crimes.

He also told the Senate, in 1986, that he was illegally in Cambodia.

Kerry said, "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."

Utter lies, total and complete exaggerated lies, the Swift Vets claim. So, this fish tale stinks worse each time Kerry drags it out.

With accusations flying, Kerry's version of free speech has shrunk down to only one veteran: himself. All others must be silenced.

This is called "damage control," folks, and it's in high gear because Kerry knows he's in trouble here. Big trouble.

Of course, this whole matter could be cleared up if Kerry would release his Vietnam records and his personal journal. It's a simple matter to release these records, requiring only a standard Form 180.

I think that Kerry should release those records. (Via John Weidner).

UPDATE: A frequent correspondent sends this:

Mr. Reynolds: In the (unlikely) event you decide to publish this e-mail on your blog, please don't use my name on this one occasion, as I'm divulging some information about a close personal relationship. Anyway, last night I was talking to a friend who is a hardcore liberal Democrat and is, in fact, a first cousin of a very well-known Democratic Senator. He was very upset about the Kerry-Swift Vet-Cambodia controversy. He blamed Kerry for the whole thing, saying he had set himself up for this problem by making Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign. Two things struck me about this. First, this is a guy who gets all of his news from the biggies - the NYT, NPR, and CNN - and yet he knew all about the story. That means the Big Media filter isn't preventing the story from reaching people. Second, he had concluded that Kerry deserves the criticism and is lacking in credibility. This is a guy who, if there were any yes-but talking points in defense of Kerry, surely would have stuck to them. This says to me that if Big Media is in the tank for Kerry, they may actually have hurt him by not covering this story. They've abdicated coverage of a story that is negative to Kerry to the Blogosphere, thus resulting in more damage to their favored candidate than if they'd reported on the story, but with an eye toward knocking it down. They can pretend the story isn't there, but they can't make blogs go away.

Yeah, and they're damaging themselves as more and more people notice that they're ignoring it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to a poll suggesting that the story's having impact despite the Big Media's treatment. Or maybe because of it. . . .

JAY ROSEN has a number of thoughts on how the press didn't change after 9/11, and what that's likely to mean for the future.

He certainly captures some of the things that have frustrated me, and many other bloggers.

LAST NIGHT I said that Chris Matthews appeared to have done a bad job on Hardball.

Apparently, he agrees. Toward the end of the show (I saw the last few minutes of the 11 pm rebroadcast), Matthews got flustered and when John O'Neill complained about Matthews interrupting him, Matthews accused him of trying "conservative tricks."

That's not in the transcript that's posted now. But I saw it, and so did quite a few readers who emailed me about it. (If you taped or TIVO'ed it, it's in the last 7 minutes or so -- I turned on the TV at 11:53, if I recall correctly.)

Kerry may or may not win the election, but he's going through Big Media credibility like a wrecking ball along the way.

UPDATE: Interestingly, there are two transcripts. You can read this one and see the difference:

O‘NEILL: You haven‘t let me talk about most of them. We talked about his first Purple...

MATTHEWS: You talked about each one.

O‘NEILL: His first Purple...

MATTHEWS: One of the oldest tricks on this show is for somebody to come on the show after talking for 20 minutes and say they haven‘t had the chance to talk.

O‘NEILL: Well, the first...

MATTHEWS: I‘ll be glad to clock you, John...

O‘NEILL: OK.

MATTHEWS: ... on how many minutes you spoke on the show. So don‘t try that old trick. It is a particularly conservative trick, OK?

Since the first transcript -- which was all I could find -- is apparently a "highlights" transcript and not the complete transcript as I had thought, I guess it's not fair to accuse them of whitewashing. On the other hand, it certainly gives a very different impression of how Matthews was conducting himself -- read the whole thing.

And here's someone who took up the invitation to clock the series. Reportedly, O'Neill talked for 7.5 minutes out of 21.

Video link to the relevant segment here. (Via this collection of links.)

MORE: I've spoken to the MSNBC folks. The video link above is an unauthorized one (note the tag at the end, which I don't believe was on the show). But MSNBC is going to put up a digitized version of the whole show; I'll let you know when it's available.

STILL MORE: It's here -- scroll down to the video launcher. (But click on the picture, not the "launch" button). Or just click here, which should play both clips consecutively.

MORE STILL: The end, after a commercial, is cut off in the link above -- I just noticed, and the MSNBC people didn't know until I told 'em. They're trying to fix it. In the meantime, you can always follow the earlier link.

STILL MORE: The whole thing is now up here -- thanks to the MSNBC folks, who did this at my request, and who worked hard on the weekend to get it up and running!

HURRICANES, AND OTHER DISASTERS -- over at GlennReynolds.com.

UNSCAM UPDATE: UN Let Oil-for-Food Abuse Occur:

Multiple investigations now under way in Washington, Iraq and at the United Nations center on one straightforward question: How did Saddam amass so much money while under international sanctions?

An examination of the program suggests an equally straightforward answer: The United Nations let him do it.

"Everybody said it was a terrible shame and against international law, but there was really no enthusiasm to tackle it," said Peter van Walsum, a Dutch diplomat who headed the Iraq sanctions committee in 1999 and 20000, recalling the discussions of illegal oil surcharges.

Well, that's a shocker.

"NEAR CAMBODIA" -- here's a graphic illustration of just how much of Vietnam is "near" Cambodia in the sense of being within 50 miles.

Rather a lot, really, as you can see.

Now that even the Kerry campaign has given up on the "Christmas in Cambodia" story, I don't suppose that there's a lot of factual research left to do.

The spin -- and noncoverage -- continues, though. I may do a post comparing coverage of this with the "Bush AWOL" story later. In the meantime, this column makes a similar comparison.

MORE HURRICANE BLOGGING -- from Fort Myers.

UPDATE: Links to more hurricane blogs here.

PERHAPS RELEVANT to the Florida hurricane story:

I had a worrisome conversation the other day with a former administration official about homeland security. My complaint was that things remain futile and stupid, with airport security checks confiscating tweezers and engaging in other pointless but inconvenient measures, while real antiterrorism efforts remain weak. He agreed, but said that there was another problem: So much effort is being put into anti-terrorism efforts (futile or not) that the United States is now less prepared for major natural disasters than it was a few years ago. If we face a major natural disaster this year, he said, it's likely to turn out badly.

We may find out whether he was right, very soon.

KHAANNN! Lynx Pherrett says that the New York Times is the culprit. "Pakistan Intelligence 'Outed' Khan to the NYT. It seems that as far as I or anyone else can determine, the New York Times was the first to publish Khan's name."

MORE HURRICANEBLOGGING:

I'm sitting in Sarasota. All of the barrier islands like Longboat Key and Siesta Key have been evacuated. All the mobile homes, RVs and trailer parks are empty. They estimate that some 300,000 people have been moved out of harm's way along the SW Florida coast. . . .

I'm in a good place: even with a Cat 5 hurricane (think Floyd or Andrew), my apartment isn't in an evacuation zone. In fact, about a block away is a hurricane shelter. And since I'm on the second floor, I probably don't have to worry about flooding. Assuming, of course, that the roof stays on and the windows don't blow in.

Indeed. Er, nobody stay in a dangerous place just to blog, okay?

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there's more to this election than Vietnam reminiscences. Here's an analysis of the Kerry spending proposals.

TOM MAGUIRE LOOKS AT KERRY'S SHIFTING CLAIMS ON CAMBODIA and notes that this is a pattern we've seen before from Kerry, with regard to the stories on Vietnam Vets Against the War, and Kerry's shifting dates of military service. Noting that ABC's The Note called the campaign's explanations of Kerry's behavior "squirrelly and unsettling," Maguire observes:

Like the rest of us, this campaign is on a voyage of discovery into John Kerry's past. And like the rest of us, they are repeatedly learning that their candidate's memory of his Vietnam era is conveniently unreliable. . . . The recurring theme - what Kerry remembers isn't always what is true, but it is self-serving.

Luckily, the media doesn't seem to want to make much of these problems.

UPDATE: But at the Washington Post, it's the readers who are doing the reporting:

The Aug. 12 editorial did not mention one charge that gives credence to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: that Sen. John F. Kerry lied when he repeatedly stated that he was on a mission in Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968. In a floor speech in the Senate on March 17, 1986, Mr. Kerry said the memory of being in Cambodia that day was "seared" in him.

Now that he has been challenged on that by his fellow officers, Mr. Kerry, through a spokesman, says his seared memory is now a "mistaken recollection" and he's not sure where he was that day. His fellow officers say that they and he were 50 miles away at Sa Dec on the Mekong River. Mr. Kerry has been proven to have spoken falsely about one major aspect of his service that he has used to score political points. Rather than pointing an accusatory finger at Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, The Post should give Mr. Kerry's record the thorough vetting Americans need before they decide this year's presidential contest.

It's democratic distributed journalism for the masses!

UPDATE: And the Post is outsourcing its corrections, too -- the author of the letter quoted above emails to note a typo: The Kerry speech was March 27, 1986, not March 17, 1986 as shown above. She's told the Post, too.

HURRICANEBLOGGING: Here's a guy who's blogging Hurricane Charley from the Tampa Bay area.

KERRY'S CAMBODIA STORY IS CHANGING AGAIN: Here's the old story:

I remember spending Christmas Day 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 claimed there were no American troops was very real.

Or, if you prefer, there's this version:

But now that witnesses have come forth saying that these are false, here's the new one:

"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," said Douglas Brinkley, who has unique access to the candidate's wartime journals. . . .

He said: "Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys." The missions were not armed attacks on Cambodia, said Mr Brinkley, who did not include the clandestine missions in his wartime biography of Mr Kerry, Tour of Duty.

(Emphasis added.) Hmm. 50 miles isn't that "near" -- it's about halfway to the coast. That also seems to conflict with this 1992 Kerry statement:

Kerry, who served in Vietnam on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta from 1968 to 1969, said he was involved in a "black mission" near Cambodia. "On Christmas Eve of 1968, I was on a gunboat in a firefight that wasn't supposed to be taking place," Kerry recalled. "I thought, if I'm killed here, what will my family be told?"

It's certainly a convenient change for Kerry, as Ed Morrissey notes, since it's after witness Stephen Gardner, who says Kerry was never in Cambodia, left the boat.

He's said it happened at Christmas for 25 years. I guess it wasn't so "seared" into his memory as he's been claiming . . . .

And what's even more amazing -- and considerably more appalling -- is that I just checked the New York Times and Washington Post sites and there's still absolutely nothing on this story there. A Kerry claim proven false, a retraction, and a retrenchment -- and absolutely no coverage at all. If we were seeing the same sort of questions raised about George W. Bush I think we'd be getting wall-to-wall coverage. It's as is they're letting their coverage be shaped by the fact that they want Kerry to win or something. Kind of makes you wonder what else they're leaving out.

MORE: Jim Geraghty: "50 miles away counts as 'near' Cambodia? Give me a @#$%^& break."

August 12, 2004

FROM TAMPA: My friend and former bandmate Larry DeWitte emails:

Well it's 9:45 on Thursday night and we are starring down the barrel of a Cat 3 hurricane which at current estimates will make landfall in our backyard. We are under mandatory evacuation but for the time being we and many of our neighbors are sticking tight. At the moment there is not a cloud in the sky or even a breeze blowing. I am sure tomorrow will tell a different tale. I am sure once the 110 mph winds start ripping off the second story we will be wishing we were inland. Of course I bought a new boat last week, but hey, it's all good. The "Double Shot" is triple tied in the slip. Maybe we would be better off staying on the boat and riding the storm surge on in to Orlando.

I've suggested that he head inland. More hurricane news here. Is anybody blogging this down there?

IRAQI BLOGGER HAMMORABI is posting regular reports on Najaf.

MY GOODNESS: I didn't see Hardball tonight, but judging from my email, a lot of people think Chris Matthews was rather unimpressive.

HUGH HEWITT: "An interesting juxtaposition: Scot Peterson's lie to Amber Frey about being in Paris, and John Kerry's lies to the Senate about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. Peterson's lie has practically guaranteed his conviction as whatever small bit of credibility he possessed is now destroyed. John Kerry, on the other hand, got a pass this morning from the Washington Post and the New York Times even though his campaign yesterday recanted a central detail of Kerry's Vietnam narrative that he has been peddling for three decades."

Go figure.

UPDATE: Sardonic Views: "All I could think of was Tim Johnson, the former manager of the Toronto Blue Jays who lost his job in '99 after it was revealed that all of his war stories (that he used mainly to motivate players) were complete lies. Johnson was a Marine Corps reservist."

I'm not sure that analogy -- or the Joseph Ellis one -- quite fits. On the other hand, neither of them was running for President.

ANOTHER UPDATE: No, sorry, this isn't quite right either.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Nope. I've already ruled that one out.

DON'T MISS THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES, which is full of rich, bloggy goodness.

JEFF JARVIS has a link-rich McGreevey resignation roundup.

UPDATE: Gayblogger BoiFromTroi has thoughts on McGreevey:

Why is it that when a straight politician is in an adulterous affair *ahem* Bill Clinton, for example...it is is just "private matter"? If McGreevy thought plain old adultery (or even being sued for it) were grounds for resignation alone, he would have called for President Clinton's. Is Governor McGreevy trying to tell us that Gays are unfit to serve in public office? That is certainly the message he's sending!

P.S. Anyone find it funny McGreevy's campaign theme was "Straight Talk"?

Plus many more humorous observations and links.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh is soliciting conspiracy theories.

MORE: "Excuse the expression, but screw Obama. This was the speech of the year. . . . He sort of makes me want to go gay, too."

MORE STILL: Slantpoint offers a history, with links.

ERIC SCHEIE WRITES that the "Republican base" is for losers. (Wrong link earlier -- fixed now. Sorry!)

UPDATE: Craig Henry responds.

THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT says that gay marriages performed in San Francisco are null and void and never had any effect. Howard Bashman has all the links.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh comments here.

ABC'S THE NOTE WRITES:

Let's face it: there is something squirrelly and unsettling and not quite right about the way Michael Meehan answers the media's Vietnam-era questions — something that makes nearly every member of the Gang of 500 think there is still something there.

Vietnam questions? I haven't heard much about those. . . .

More thoughts here.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON DIGITAL CAMERAS from ABC, wondering how they'll affect archiving and memory.

G-Scobe thinks we'll do better, not worse. I think that's right. I store every memory card onto two CDs, and file them. And although I still have all the negatives from my "serious" photography days, I usually lose the ones for family snapshots, and color film negatives have a very short shelf-life anyway.

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO CORRESPONDENT Maj. John Tammes sends this photo, and this report, from Bagram:

I happened to go into one of the camps on our base to take some photos of construction. When I was taking my shots, one of the painters from the villages around base came up to me, and using his 6 words of English (and my 4 words of Dari) he managed to ask me to take a picture. I thought he wanted one of himself, and that was OK. Instead, he brought one of the older fellows from his crew over and I got the message. Here is the photo of them. I went back to the office and printed an 8 ˝ x 11 in color for them, and put it in a plastic cover. Later, I returned to the camp and found the pair. Their reaction was rather enthusiastic. I gathered that this was actually the first picture of himself that the older man ever had (through our 10 common words and many gestures). I ended up doing the same for the whole crew. I guess I am now their team photographer.

The wonder of ubiquitous digital photography. And printers!

UPDATE: Reader Peter Lawrence emails:

When I was in Sudan in 2002 as part of the Joint Military Commission Nuba Mountains* I carried my Olympus Camedia everywhere. I took images of my guards, guys loading the WFP planes (which I was inspecting to ensure no weapons were not being loaded) and anytime I met anyone official. I made it a habit to make hardcopies of the images using my inkjet printer. I would either give the images directly, if the fellow was senior, or pass it to the most senior fellow in the group if there were many (giving the senior fellow status). They were both a form of building friendship and a currency of sorts.

You would not believe the goodwill doing such engendered. Tremendous!

I would, actually.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE is offering its First Annual John Kerry Fiction Contest. Er, shouldn't this year's winner be John Kerry?

I love the first entry, though.

INTERESTING ARTICLE ON black conservative bloggers.

TOM MAGUIRE warns Kerry critics not to get carried away with side issues (in this case, a reported John/Teresa spat).

That's good advice -- and I should note that people are stuffing my inbox with reports that John Kerry went to Red China! Er, on a trade mission, which Senators do all the time. Unless I'm missing something, there's no there there.

There are plenty of genuine questions about Kerry, without descending into moonbattery. Leave that to the Michael Moores of the world.

RACINE RAVE UPDATE:

RACINE - When the City of Racine dismissed more than 400 municipal citations it had given people for attending a rave-like party, it was done to head off a possible class-action civil rights lawsuit.

In return for that, and other steps taken by the city, the American Civil Liberties Union agreed not to bring or help bring such a lawsuit against the city.

Jason Witheril was not part of that deal. . . .

Since the lawsuit was filed, the city tried to keep out as evidence the fact that it had dismissed 440 citations issued at the party. All those citations, save for Witheril's, were irrelevant to the lawsuit, the city claimed.

Packman disagreed, saying the mass issuance, and later dismissal, of citations is crucial to Witheril proving his civil rights were violated, and the city's liability for it.

More background here.

MEDPUNDIT SYDNEY SMITH has more on stem cells, suggesting that my criticism of President Bush is overstated. There's more here, too.

THE NATIONAL DEBATE REPORTS that Amazon has been hacked again. Money quote: "And they want my credit card?"

Ouch.

STEPHEN GREEN'S "GAME PLAN" ESSAY has been revised and published over at TechCentralStation.

NOTHING ON THE KERRY/CAMBODIA STORY in either the New York Times or the Washington Post this morning -- I just searched both sites. Even though the Kerry Campaign has now admitted that Kerry's oft-repeated stories about being in Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968 aren't true. The Post did find the time to condemn the Swift Boat vets, though, without admitting that one of their charges has already been borne out.

They're spending another chunk of their diminishing credibility to help this guy. Hope they still think it was worth it in a few years.

UPDATE: Well here's a report:

For the first time, Sen John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, has been left floundering by allegations that he invented a key episode of his decorated wartime service in Vietnam - a central plank of his election platform. . . . the Kerry campaign was left in verbal knots after a new book accused the senator of inventing stories about being sent, illegally, over the border into neutral Cambodia. . . .

In newspaper articles, interviews and at least one Senate speech, Mr Kerry has claimed that he spent Christmas 1968 inside Cambodia, at a time when even the US president was publicly denying that American forces were inside that country.

He has cited the missions as a psychological turning point, when he realised that American leaders were not telling the truth to the world about the war in south-east Asia.

The Kerry campaign responded, initially, that Mr Kerry had always said he was "near" Cambodia. Then a campaign aide said Mr Kerry had been in the Mekong Delta "between" Vietnam and next-door Cambodia - a geographical zone not found on maps, which show the Mekong river running from Cambodia to Vietnam.

Michael Meehan, a Kerry campaign adviser, told ABC Television: "The Mekong Delta consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol . . . in the Mekong Delta between Cambodia and Vietnam. He was ambushed, they fired back, he was fired upon from both sides, from the Cambodian side of the border and the Vietnam side during that day in 1968."

The map accompanying the story makes short work of that geographical absurdity. I hope that if Kerry's elected, he'll find some advisors who can read a map -- and who understand the difference between "parallel" and "perpendicular." (You can see a bigger, and clearer, map here, if you're interested.)

UPDATE: Harold Eddy emails:

The new "spin" seems to be that the Mekong Delta runs into Cambodia and, as a result, Kerry could have been near Cambodia or accidentially gone over the border. However, that "explanation" is non-responsive to the fundamental basis for the criticism of Kerry. He alleged, again and again, that the US knowingly, intentionally, secretly and duplicitously sent him into Cambodia as part of US policy, while denying the same publicly to the world. . . .

If, now, he is forced to admit that his recollection is untrue, it makes a mockery of over 30 years of his use of his war record. What does this say about his ability to lead? Moreover, how can he criticize George Bush for relying on faulty war intelligence when he has been willing to base policy on his own faulty recollection?

And Craig Henry observes:

Did Kerry vote against key weapon programs? How dare you question the patriotism of a man with three Purple Hearts. Is he too willing to defer to France and the United Nations? How dare you doubt the loyalty of a man with a Silver Star. Faced with this, does the press write about the voting record or about the "hard ball tactics" of the GOP?

Kerry didn't just use his Vietnam experience to enhance his stature as a man or leader. His campaign used it to shut down debate on his Senate record. They made the biography the issue.

Yes, they did.

More here: "And the Post manages to write an entire editorial about the veracity of the Swiftvets without even noting that their first charge scored a direct hit this week."

And Will Collier has a survey of the Big Media outlets that are ignoring this story:

Looks like that American Spectator blurb from a couple of days ago was accurate: beyond Fox News, the press is in full cover-up mode for Kerry on this one.

Yo, Media: Your candidate has apparently lied, repeatedly, over the last 30 years. He did so to embellish his credentials, and in the pursuit of various political ends. His campaign is putting out false spin that doesn't pass the laugh test. Does this say anything at all about his fitness for higher office?

Not to some people, I guess.

August 11, 2004

THE DOOR PAINTING from the back door of the former location of my brother-in-law's coffee house, Cup-a-Joe. (The two images represent different Aspects of Joe.) I just happened by, saw that the new owners had left it up, and snapped a picture with the Sony that I had in my pocket.

MICHAEL TOTTEN writes on being American in Tunisia: "Anti-Americanism isn't quite what it's cracked up to be."

UPDATE: Interestingly, today also brings related thoughts from Bulgaria.

SOME LEGAL ADVICE FOR KENNETH BAER: Worth reading.

UPDATE: Related post here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tom Huheey emails:

On MSNBC at 10:30-10:40pm Lanny Davis. trying to defend Kerry, did the worse job I have ever seen him do. He held up well through all the Clinton scandals but he appeared to be holding a losing hand tonight.

I didn't see it, but my sense is that this has the Kerry folks pretty rattled, as well it should. I think that Kerry was planning on using his Vietnam record as his main weapon in the debates, and now that's likely to backfire.

MORE: Reader Logan Wright saw it, and observes:

Lanny Davis was worse than terrible in that MSNBC appearance. He accused John O'Neill of knowingly and intentionally lying in his account of John Kerry's third Purple Heart. Davis's argument was that Kerry received the third Purple Heart for saving Jim Rassmann's life, and that O'Neill was a bald-faced liar by denying this. I was practically screaming at the TV that he received the Bronze Star for saving Rassmann's life, not the third Purple Heart (after all, Kerry wasn't wounded in the incident). O'Neill had his own version of the Rassmann story. If there were a logical, rational explanation of Kerry's actions, I think we would have heard it by now.

It's unfortunate that the press has had so little interest in looking into these things. But maybe they'll pick up the ball.

MORE: Here's the transcript from MSNBC. Highlight:

JOHN O‘NEILL, SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR TRUTH: If John Kerry can prove that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1968, he should go down and sue me tomorrow morning.

It‘s a lie he‘s told over and over and over again. It libels everybody that commanded him. It‘s the typical prototype sort of war crime charge that John Kerry makes that is a lie.

I think that when a veteran trial lawyer invites a lawsuit, it would probably be a mistake to file. . . .

A BUSH PLAGIARISM SCANDAL: Boy, the dirt just won't stop flying. . . .

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: "An Amtrak conductor has been suspended without pay for telling his train passengers that they should vote against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. . . . Farr told The Associated Press that he used the train's public address system to tell passengers they would be delayed because of Kerry's train and then quipped that they should vote accordingly in November."

It's surely John Ashcroft's fault, somehow.

KERRY THE HERO: Here's a true story of Kerry's heroism:

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Good work!

UPDATE: Boy, everybody's a critic. Reader Norman Hughes takes me to task for running this: "So saving Hecht removes all doubt about the other recent truth's that have been revealed!?! Ergo, all other witnesses are liars! Is that what you are saying?"

Er, no. I just wanted to post something positive along with the negative, for a fuller picture. Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis takes me to task for paying so much attention to the Kerry/Cambodia story, comparing it to his own Howard Stern coverage.

I think that I have a ways to go before I catch up to Jeff's Stern coverage in terms of either volume or tone. But I promise to quit covering this issue so much as soon as the major media -- who certainly didn't ignore the Stern issue, or the bogus Bush/AWOL claims -- start carrying the ball.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In an update to the post linked above, Jeff says that I'm snarking at him, and that I belittled Matt Welch in this post. I certainly didn't mean to be either snarky or belittling -- I was aiming for polite disagreement, and thought I'd achieved it. I like both Jeff and Matt a lot. But I think that this is an important issue, and I would have thought that two champions of the blogosphere like Matt and Jeff would have approved my work to bring in original documents and material not available on the web, and make them part of the conversation. And given that the Kerry Campaign now seems to be admitting that the Christmas in Cambodia claim is false, I don't think I can be accused of raising phony issues. I appreciate Jeff's call to "move on" and address other issues, but I've done that too. I just think that -- given the importance Kerry has placed on all of this stuff -- this sort of dishonesty is worth noting, and I'm disappointed that the big media seem to be covering for him.

BILL HOBBS HAS ROUNDED UP a bunch of interesting galleries of photographs from Iraq.

KERRY/CAMBODIA UPDATE: I promised a while back to see if I could get a look at the October 14, 1979 Boston Herald story -- where Kerry says he remembers spending Christmas, 1968 in Cambodia and hearing President Nixon deny that troops were there -- in original form. The quote's genuine, and here's an image. Sorry it's a bit hard to read: it's a scan of a fax of a photocopy of a microfilm, sent to me by a helpful reader who works at the Herald.

But what's really interesting is the context -- see the full scan here -- which is all about Kerry's Vietnam experiences as they relate to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Unlike Al Gore and Love Story, Kerry doesn't claim that the movie is about him -- but he sure draws parallels. In fact, the passage that everyone has been quoting actually reads like this, when you include the prior sentence that people haven't been including:

On more than one occasion, I, like Martin Sheen in "Apocalypse Now," took my patrol boat into Cambodia

In fact, I remember spending Christmas Day 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 claimed there were no American troops was very real. But nowhere in "Apocalypse Now" did I sense that kind of absurdity.

So Kerry's Vietnam experience was like Apocalypse Now, only it was more so.

How much this adds to the debate isn't clear to me -- but in case anyone was doubting the provenance of this particular quotation, well, I'm satisfied now that its authenticity, if not its veracity, is pretty clear.

Presumably, some big-time journalists are even now interviewing people and combing the records to see if this version of Kerry's 1968 Christmas was correct. (For other, inconsistent, versions, click here.) And for those -- apparently unclear on my age and suspecting me of draft-dodging -- who want to know where I was spending my Christmas in 1968, it was in Heidelberg, Germany. I got a train, and an SST model kit.

UPDATE: Reader Garnet Girl emails:

If Kerry really wants to avoid talking about Cambodia, he probably ought to take the word out of the meta tag on his service page.

And sure enough, if you go here and click "view source" you'll see this:

meta name=target content="military record, cambodia, vietnam, military service"

Bizarre.

UPDATE: The Kerry Campaign is backpedaling now. Guess the memory wasn't that "searing" after all. "Near" Cambodia? Just modify the quote above, or this one, to reflect that Kerry wasn't in Cambodia, but "near" it, and see how that plays.

MORE: Reader Brian Berry emails:

The specificity of the phrase "five miles across the Cambodian border" kinda knocks the explanation of confusion (...maybe he was just near the border and got confused) right out of the picture. If Kerry had said that he was simply "in Cambodia," I think it plausible to say at a later juncture that the statement might have been a bit too concrete and that what he meant to say was that he was near Cambodia-- perhaps he could even claim that he did not know what sovereign territory he was in but fudged it a little for emphasis. However, by claiming to be "five miles" in Cambodia, Kerry created a specificity he can't back out of so easily. His statement suggest he knew exactly where he was, or, exactly where he wanted to claim to have been.

Yep. Expect the spin to seque to the "so what if he lied?" line shortly. And the answer to that comes from reader Daniel Aronstein:

WHAT IF... Porter Goss had lied about going into Cambodia during the Vietnam War repeatedly, over a few decades, in different media, and on the floor of the House)?

Would we want him as DCI? Would he get confirmed? NO WAY!

We should not hold Kerry - who is running for CIC - to a lower standard.

Indeed.

MORE: Michael Demmons observes: "You know? It's come to the point where I'm almost ready to believe that Kerry may never have even been in Viet Nam."

DANIEL MOORE says I'm (partly) wrong on stem cells.

INTERESTING REPORT FROM NAJAF: Funny that this stuff isn't getting more attention.

CHRISTMAS IN CAMBODIA: James Lileks comes up with the proper analogy:

Hugh Hewitt interviewed a shipmate of John Kerry’s on his show today; the transcript is here. Why this happens on a radio show and not in the Washington Post is a question I’ll let you decide. It’s not like these guys live in the Fortress of Solitude, accessible only by messages relayed by carrier pigeon.

It has to do with Christmas in Cambodia – the only aspect of the SwiftVets story I care to comment on, for reasons I think I stated before. If Kerry’s story is a lie, it’s significant, but not because we have a gotcha moment – gee, a politician reworked the truth to his advantage, big surprise. This is much larger than that. This is like Bush insisting that he flew an intercept mission with the Texas Air National Guard to repel Soviet bombers based in Cuba, and later stating that this event was “seared in his memory – seared” because it taught him the necessity of standing up against evil governments, such as the ones we face today. In other words, it would not only be a lie, but one that eroded the political persona he was relying upon in the election. . . . What sort of man bedecked with genuine decorations feels compelled to manufacture a story like this one?

Yes. (Emphasis added.) More thoughts here. I think that the Big Media hang-back on this is significant. It shows that there's not an easy explanation -- how can there be, when Kerry has told different, and mutually inconsistent, stories -- and that they think it will really hurt him.

Covering for him, though, will really hurt them. In fact, it already is, as Evan Thomas's statement is repeated throughout the land.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Kagan emails:

If you think there is a problem with Kerry using his four months as a Swift boat commander as the seminal experience of his life, what do make of George Bush's "born again" experience as the seminal experience of his life, which up to that point, had consisted of a mediocre academic career, mediocre (being kind) business career, and serious problems of alcohol abuse. Say what you will, agree with him or not, Kerry has been trying to make a difference in the direction of American policy since he was a young man. He did it on his own. He has earned his place in the debate. GWB is a Jonny come lately to the party. No one would ever accuse him of policy depth (although he does have "principals") and he spent his formative years trying to find out what it means to be formed.

The Swift boat charges would have substance if they just dealt with the issue of Kerry coming back as an anti-war protester. That is a legitimate debate. The commercial is deceptive and non substantive on its face although as a matter of political theatre it is extremely effective

Well, I haven't heard anyone suggest that Bush's Christianity is insincere. In fact, the rap on Bush from the left is that he's too sincere, making him some sort of an aspiring theocrat.

As for Kerry's "making a difference" in the years since 1968 -- so why isn't he talking about that?

MY EARLIER COMMENTS on the free wi-fi at Panera Bread bring this testimonial from reader Mark Rushton:

Thanks for the tip on Panera. I found one on the Plaza in Kansas City while my wife and I are on vacation. Sure beats the $12.95 a day net access offered by the hotel, or Starbucks' weird situation ("if you're a T-mobile user you can get blah blah blah...") - and the cheese croissant was excellent.

I was there again yesterday. If the competition in this heats up (and Atlanta Bread is now also offering free wi-fi) I wonder how long those T-Mobile deals will last.

UPDATE: Reader Todd Lemmon emails:

While driving back from a business trip in Indianapolis, I needed to check email and decided to give my friend Matt in Santa Monica a call. Why? Because I was on the road on I-65 and I wanted him to do a wifinder.com search for West Lafayette for me. I was hoping a Panera would pop up since I use the Panera in Evanston (forget the Starbucks 3 doors down; they CHARGE for wi-fi!).

Sure enough, there was a Panera in town so I drive in, had a great snack and got my emails and checked out my blog line-up. There's even a Panera in Merrillville just up the road and I stopped there, too, for 90 minutes while waiting for Chicago area traffic to subside.

Panera has the model: Wi-Fi should be no different than air conditioning or Muzak, free. Why can't other places realize that they can monetize the tiny investment by offering tasty treats, coffee and other beverages?

Beats me, but I'm a Panera man, now.

The model's working!

I PRAISE KERRY SOME MORE: Over at GlennReynolds.com.

THE KERRY CAMPAIGN: STILL NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME:

The Kerry campaign first asserted that the Massachusetts senator never said that he was in Cambodia, only that he was near the country. But when presented with a copy of the Congressional Record and asked about Kerry's letter in the Boston Herald, the campaign said it would come up with an explanation. After repeated phone calls, there was still no clarification.

Tom Maguire notes more developments, and offers advice to both Kerry critics and Kerry supporters.

ANOTHER FAILURE FOR MULTILATERAL DIPLOMACY:

The "EU-3" were trying to convince Iranian officials to honour an earlier deal to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment programme, which is ostensibly designed to make fuel for nuclear power stations but could also be used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs.

Iranian officials refused point-blank to comply, saying they had every right under international law to pursue "peaceful" nuclear technology.

They then stunned the Europeans by presenting a letter setting out their own demands.

They've got Chutzpah -- or, at any rate, an accurate sense of how little the Europeans are prepared to actually, you know, do.

UPDATE: More thoughts on what's going on here.

RACINE RAVE UPDATE: I've been writing about the botched drug raid in Racine, Wisconsin for quite a while. Most of the resulting lawsuits were settled quite some time ago, but Progressive Racine reports that one is still going forward.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP: It's an Andy Rooney-esque rant about newspaper website registration.

August 10, 2004

MATT WELCH SEEMS OFF BASE TO ME HERE. He quotes this passage from one of my posts regarding threats to release divorce and psychiatric information about the Swiftboat Vets:

Indeed, if people start dishing dirt about these guys instead of offering factual refutations, it will pretty much serve as an admission that the charges are true.

Matt's question: "Is There a 'Pretty Much' Legal Standard?"

I don't know why we need a "legal standard" here, since the only court involved is the court of public opinion. (Why is it that journalists are so anxious to turn political questions into legal ones?) As I said in another post, "Kerry has faced specific criticisms and questions. His campaign is responding with ad hominems and generalities." And surely threats of personal blackmail against whistleblowers don't cut in Kerry's favor.

I don't see where legal standards enter the picture here. But I'll give it a try. If I were in court and saw a defendant who made inconsistent statements about what happened that were contradicted by others who were there, and when the defendant's response was ad hominems and generalities, I think I'd be entitled to be skeptical. Juries are entitled to draw inferences from a witness's demeanor.

And while I agree with Welch that I'd rather be talking about other stuff, it's Kerry who has built his campaign around his four months in Vietnam (and, he says, Cambodia!) rather than, say, his record in the Senate. We can draw inferences from that, too.

For more on why this might matter, read these comments by my colleague, law professor (and Vietnam veteran) Tom Plank.

UPDATE: More specifics here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bob Gleason emails:

I've always been lead to believe that the standard taught by law professors is: If you have the facts, argue the facts; if you don't have the facts, argue the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, pound your shoe.

OK, so it's hackneyed. But that seems to be the paint-by-numbers Kerry defense at this juncture.

Which is most surprising, considering that he could clear all this up by simply releasing his full military records.

HEART-RENDING CAMPAIGN STORY ON HEALTH INSURANCE turns out not to be true.

KHHAAANN! Mickey Kaus writes:

More important, note that even these Pakistanis sources, according to Reuters, say that the Bush administration "confirmed" Khan's name, not that the Bushies are the ones who leaked it in the first place. It seems entirely possible that once Khan's name was out in Monday's NYT-- and Khan had been moved to a safe house--Bush administration officials felt there was no point in sticking with their refusal to confirm his name. . . .

I'll be quite willing to condemn the Bushies if in fact they outed Khan--even if it wasn't intentional, it would at least be grossly negligent, and someone (maybe Bush) would deserve to be fired for it. But the surface evidence from the original source--the Times' piece--points to a Pakistani official, not a Bush official, as the culprit.

As I said before, we really have no idea what was going on here. But Will Collier isn't happy.

TIM CAVANAUGH IS RIGHT:

The Kerryites should be all over the country applauding their guy for not having a "major piece of legislation with his name on it." . . . And while we're at it why not retire the cockeyed practice of using named legislation as a yardstick of political performance?

Indeed.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS on the Kerry/Cambodia story:

Seriously, in my experience these damaging-looking allegations have a way of turning out not to be true, a fact that never seems to get as much coverage as the initial allegation. But it certainly looks bad from here, and I haven't seen a good explanation yet, perhaps because there isn't one. It's a little hard to see what could possibly be the motive for a Kerry lie on this front, which makes it plausible that there's a reasonable explanation, but also a little freaky if there does turn out to be one. Personally, I've never maintained that John Kerry had a George Washington-esque level of honesty (see, e.g., my article about how Kerry is basically lying about his trade policy) so my world won't be shaken to the core if this turns out to be a fib.

What an endorsement! But he deserves credit for mentioning the issue, as many lefty bloggers aren't. He also links to Campaign Desk, which links to this Frontline item on covert U.S. operations in Cambodia -- though there's not anything there that actually supports the notion that Kerry was in Cambodia. That's not much to offset claims by Kerry's own crewmembers that he was never there.

I agree that it's hard to come up with a specific motive -- beyond simple bragging and posing, anyway -- and it's hard to believe that Kerry could make statements like this and not expect to be called on them. For what it's worth, this unsourced item suggests that the Kerry Campaign didn't expect the media to check. I don't know if it's true, but it would explain a lot. . . . [LATER: Jim Geraghty reports that the Kerry Campaign denies this.]

At any rate, it's far too early to compare Kerry to Micah Wright, as many of my emailers are. Unlike Wright (who's still making lame excuses), Kerry definitely served, and regardless of the Cambodia story seems to have served well -- and if he'd stuck to that and obeyed the usual war-hero conventions of manly humility and self-deprecation nobody (including me) would be paying much attention to this. But since Kerry himself has made his war experience -- and his recounting of it -- the centerpiece of his campaign and invited us to judge him on that (and almost exclusively so), well, it matters.

And Tom Maguire wants the military records released. It seems to me that the Kerry people could clear this up pretty quickly, if they did that.

UPDATE: Ann Haker wonders if Kerry is playing rope-a-dope here. Could be, I suppose. It would show a degree of shrewdness not previously apparent in his campaign, but I suppose that would go with running a good bluff. In some sense, if that were true I would find it comforting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: My colleague Tom Plank, who served with the Marines in Vietnam, emails:

I really appreciate that you are addressing the Kerry in Vietnam issue. As a preliminary matter, I initially thought that Kerry's and Bush's service in the late 1960s and earlty 1970s was irrelevant to the question of who would make a better President.

But, Kerry's emphasis on his service in Vietnam raises issues important to me.

First, as a combat veteran of Vietnam (Aug 1969-May 1970), I was starting to feel that if the Swiftboat veterans questioning Kerry's Vietnam service could not be heard, then this country is not worth defending. Fortunately, they are getting to be heard.

Second, even without the critics of Kerry's Vietnam service, the prominence that Kerry has placed on Vietnam is mystifying. For example, why would any active duty officer go back and restage his activities for film? What kind of person would do that? I had a camera in Vietnam, and I took pictures. But not in combat, and not to recreate my combat experiences. I suggest that this action suggests something important about Kerry's character, and it is not good. Along the lines of a Nixon and Clinton.

Second, emphasize four months in Vietnam and ignore one's Senate record? How can anyone buy that? Can Kerry believe that no one will pay attention to his Senate record? I find it hard to believe that Kerry can sell himself as a hawk now (and criticise Bush) when he has one of the most appeasement-oriented and anti-military and anti-intelligence records in the senate.

Third, if you add all of this together, plus the allegations of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, you get the sense that Kerry will say anything to get what he wants (in this case, the Presidency) whether it is true or not. Everthing points to an uprincipled person along the lines of a Nixon.

I am glad this is being aired. Do we really want a President who has this kind of character?

Well, that's what we have to figure out. And reader Joseph Bator emails:

The point about Kerry's Cambodia service is the context of his claim. He did not simply inflate his service record. He used the claim as a club to bludgeon supporters of Reagan's Nicaragua policy. Nicaragua = Viet Nam. Reagan = Nixon. Support for the Contras = John Kerry sent to Cambodia by his duplicitous government. His indignation gave him not the moral high ground, but an amazing simulation. In 1986 that was all he needed to put defenders of Reagan's policies on the defensive. If his claim to Cambodia service is false it reveals a particularly repugnant form of cynicism. If he can't prove his claim, it speaks very badly indeed for his political character.

Indeed. Context on the Nicaragua issue here.

ORIN KERR notes a bogus privacy scandal at The New York Times.

MY PRAISE FOR KERRY ON STEM CELLS has generated several hundred emails, which I haven't had a chance to digest. But a few points:

1. If you believe an embryo is a human life, I can see why you think research on embryonic stem cells is wrong. I don't believe that. [There goes your shot at a Bush judicial appointment! -- Ed. It was already gone.]

2. I actually think that eventually adult stem cells will do all the work. But I don't know that, and ruling out research involving embryonic stem cells now might keep us from getting to that point, or get us there much later.

3. I realize that Kerry overdraws the effect of the Bush "ban" -- which is really a limitation on federal funding -- but in fact the funding limitation is very harsh, and it's also harder to get private money for research the feds won't fund.

4. I also realize that stem cell research won't cure Alzheimer's tomorrow, or whatever, and is oversold by the likes of Ron Reagan, Jr. But it looks pretty promising, and I don't think we should drag our feet. (I also note that the scientific optimism of the "adult stem cells will do everything" crowd fits poorly with the "stem cells won't do anything" position).

I'll try to do something more detailed on this, but I'm actually pretty busy on a law review article at the moment, so no promises.

I think Kerry's right on this one. If I trusted him on the war, which I don't, it might be a deciding issue for me.

INTERESTING PIECE on blogs as early-warning systems for corporations. Ignore them at your peril!

DIRTY TRICKS UPDATE: The National Debate reports that a phony editorial review on Amazon regarding the SwiftVets book was inserted by someone that Amazon calls "a bad actor."

As TND notes: "This is the second instance of manipulation of an Unfit for Command web page on a leading bookseller web site in the past 24 hours. The Barnes & Noble web site displayed a doctored bookcover image which has since been removed."

Hmm. A "bad actor," eh? Let the Alec Baldwin jokes begin. . . .

UPDATE: More efforts to silence debate here. It's a climate of government censorship and dirty tricks by digital brownshirts. I blame John Ashcroft!

CULTURAL IMPERIALISM in Beijing.

Looks fine to me!

MELANIE PHILLIPS has an interesting post on the British terrorist arrests last week. One interesting bit is that some had been planning operations since before 9/11.

HUGH HEWITT'S SITE, hacked and down yesterday, is up now.

THE ANNENBERG OUTFIT, FACTCHECK.ORG, offers a defense of Kerry that's better than the Kerry Campaign has managed -- citing facts and evidence and everything -- though it concludes: "At this point, 35 years later and half a world away, we see no way to resolve which of these versions of reality is closer to the truth." This piece is about the Swiftvets ad, though, and doesn't mention Cambodia.

But Tom Maguire has more on Cambodia, gleaned from Brinkley's book.

UPDATE: Q&O is fact-checking FactCheck, whose analysis is called "incomplete and inaccurate."

FORGET VIETNAM: Say, did you know that we're fighting a war right now? Shocking, but true.

The Belmont Club has a roundup of how things are going: "Although it may be premature to say that the War on Terror is rising to a crescendo, recent events have imparted a distinct sense of movement, as in 'hey, this thing might actually be going somewhere'. . . . The truism that victory has many fathers while defeat is an orphan may partially explain why the Democratic Party sought to rebrand itself as the War Party during its recently concluded convention in Boston."

Indeed.

UPDATE: Austin Bay emails from Iraq:

Victory has many fathers.. Remember my letter to you where I said we had made the "big move" equivalent to the big moves we made in 1944? I argued there's still tough sledding ahead but we're winning. I was not blowing off steam. . . . I do think we're winning. I'll have more thoughts when I get back in three or four weeks.

I look forward to reading them.

In the meantime, read this essay by Stephen Green, too: "Nobody ever has a plan for the peace. Or if they do, it will prove useless. 'No peace plan survives the last battle' is the VodkaPundit corollary to Clausewitz's dictum that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy."

THE DARFUR SLAUGHTER IS NOT A GENOCIDE, according to the European Union. Because if it were, you know, we'd have to do something about it.

HEY, WHEN THE FRENCH ARE RIGHT, they're right!

TOM MAGUIRE has got your Plame reporters' subpoena roundup. Curiouser and curiouser -- but it seems we're closing in on the truth. And Novak will be talking, apparently.

STILL BLOWING SMOKE: This Rassman oped in the Wall Street Journal does the WSJ editors credit -- imagine the New York Times giving one of the critical Swift Boat Veterans an oped slot to state their charges -- but what it's lacking is any response beyond the "how dare you question his heroism?" line.

Kerry has faced specific criticisms and questions. His campaign is responding with ad hominems and generalities. Perhaps they're just hopelessly out of touch with events (Jim Geraghty asks: "don't these people read Instapundit?" -- they'd be doing better if they did!) or perhaps they can't respond with specifics. It's looking more and more like the latter.

And Rassman looks like a poor choice to defend these charges, as he wasn't there much. In fact, here's something that hasn't gotten a lot of attention:

Jim Rassmann, now part of the Kerry presidential campaign, was a Special Forces lieutenant spending a few days with Kerry when he fell or was knocked off the swift boat while under fire and was fished out of the Mekong River by the future candidate.

So Kerry's main defender can't really know much about the specifics because he was only there for a few days. Why don't they put someone forward who can?

UPDATE: More here:

August 10, 2004 -- WASHINGTON — John Kerry's claim that he was ordered to conduct an illegal combat mission in Cambodia on Christmas Day in 1968 is made up, Navy vets charge in a new book.

The veterans say Kerry "would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there."

Three of the vets quoted in the book were part of the five-member crew that served on Kerry's own boat: Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch and Steve Gardner.

They deny they or their boat were ever in Cambodia.

Well, that's pretty specific. Where's the specific response?

How badly is the Kerry campaign blowing this? So badly that his best defense comes, believe it or not, from Robert Musil, who argues: "Yes, there is considerable evidence - and always has been - that John Kerry has exaggerated certain aspects of his military record but so have a great many very brave and noble combat veterans throughout history - and it has always been that way, in and after every war."

I predict that this will be next weekend's spin from the Kerry camp, but thanks to the magic of the blogosphere you can get it today! And I actually do think that the Cambodia issue is relatively minor compared to other criticisms of Kerry, or even of Kerry's war record. It's just one that's very easy for people to pounce on because of internal and external inconsistencies.

As John O'Sullivan writes in the Chicago Sun-Times today, the truth is sure to come out:

Even if the major media decided to bury this story, they would probably not succeed -- and they know as much. The "blogosphere" -- that voluntary society of unpaid free-lance journalists -- is following the story avidly, correcting errors, producing original documents, sifting through different accounts. Some bloggers are for Kerry, some against, but all are together advancing the story by winnowing truth from falsehood. Unless the bloggers conclusively acquit Kerry before the story migrates outwards, the mainstream media will eventually be forced to devote serious resources to it.

I think the story has already "migrated outward." But what's astounding to me is that the Kerry campaign seems so disorganized, flabby and unprepared in responding to charges that it should have known were coming for months. Would a Kerry Administration be better organized than the Kerry Campaign? We have to hope so.

MORE: Reader John Frederick observes:

It's interesting to note that when the Bush was AWOL/deserter/liar story was in full play a few months back, the press went so far as to interview a dentist that had signed an exam record to question whether his signature had been forged. I guess the point was to try and establish that the record was altered to help Bush. Now we have the Swift Vets' charges and the press can't even be bothered to look critically at what they say actually happened. And there's 250+ of them! I've always felt there is media bias but even I am astonished by
the utter lack of analysis of anything Kerry has ever done in Vietnam or public life.

I guess the Kerry campaign was counting on that. Or maybe it's a brilliant strategy, as reader Joseph Fulvio suggests:

Keeping focus on endless quarrels over Kerry's Vietnam experience could be a net plus for him, as it distracts from examination of his Senate record, which provides unimpeachable evidence that his campaign rhetoric contradicts 15 years of behavior.

You never know.

MORE STILL: Jeff Taylor:

I swear Kerry saw Apocalypse Now during its first run and immediately began grafting parts of the story onto his own life. Boat into Cambodia? Check. Horrors and atrocities? Check. One tortured soul who sees through the lies? Check.

He's no Martin Sheen, though.

And here's more of tomorrow's spin today, courtesy of the blogosphere:

The fact that he made up his covert op time in Cambodia would come under the heading of neccesary evil. . . . He was working for the greater good, so the lie was not bad, it was neccesary. If Kerry didn't actually spend Christmas Eve on an illegal covert op, then someone did, and that rat-bastard wasn't man enough to come forward and admit it, like Kerry was. Yup, Kerry was man enough to admit he had done it, even if he hadn't really done it and was just taking the credit (see "thrown medals" above.)

It's like having a time machine!

COMMENTS ON THE NIGHTLINE SWIFTVETS SEGMENT here ("ABC didn't examine the issue so much as to try and make 'nothing to see here, best to just move along' noises.") and here.

Sounds like they're still behind the blogosphere on covering this.

August 09, 2004

HERE'S A USEFUL SUMMARY of Kerry's Cambodia claims.

NIGHTLINE will be covering the Swiftboat Vets story tonight.

KERRY ENDORSES IRAQ WAR! No, really:

Stripes: The charge is out there that Republicans are much better suited to handle defense issues. How do you counter that?

Kerry: My record counters that, and my friends counter that. . . .

They went into Iraq in a brilliant military strategy, which we all adopted and supported, but they didn’t have a plan to win the peace. They didn’t bring other [countries] to our side. They didn’t give our troops all the equipment — the body armor and the armored Humvees and things they need and deserve.

There’s a great tradition of Democratic presidents who’ve led us in war.

(Emphasis added). Leaving aside the "other countries" bit, which is bogus unless "other countries" is just a synonym for France and Germany, note that this is an endorsement of the war, and seems to completely undercut earlier statements that Bush "misled the country." Will this be the new Kerry position -- the war was justified, but the peace was bungled? And I'll handle the wars I start better? Is it a return to the 2001/2002 pro-war Kerry?

I'm not terribly averse to that, but I wonder how it'll play with the antiwar base? (Via Sarah). Probably no better than this even stronger statement:

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found.

Taking up a challenge from President Bush, whom he will face in the Nov. 2 election, the Massachusetts senator said: "I'll answer it directly. Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have but I would have used that authority effectively."

This really seems to undercut the "Bush lied, people died" line, doesn't it?

THE SWIFTVET BOOK HACKING at Barnes and Noble was probably an inside job, according to this report.

I'M ON HUGH HEWITT: His website is down, though so you can't listen live over the Internet. [LATER: Roger Simon, who was on at the same time, has posted his comments here.]

Via the show, I heard a Carl Cameron story on the Kerry/Cambodia issue that ran last hour. It sounded devastating, and the Kerry campaign sounded disorganized and un-credible. They're now saying that Kerry was "near" Cambodia (58 miles away), but can't explain why he repeatedly said he was actually in Cambodia.

UPDATE: Several readers note that the "near Cambodia" completely destroys the point of Kerry's original statement. This is representative:

If the campaign is really saying Kerry was just "near Cambodia", isn't that phenomenally lame?

When Kerry brought up Cambodia, he was always doing it in the context of presidential lying--i.e. "I was in Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops in Cambodia".

With this re-write, it becomes "I was *near* Cambodia, listening to the president say we had no troops *in* Cambodia, which, okay, was true as far as I could tell, but if I'd been just, like, sixty miles further west, it would've been a LIE!"

I hope he can do better.

Me too. Meanwhile several readers raise another concern, summed up here in an email by John Lucas.

Lucas writes:

Here's another indicator that Kerry's story about being shot at in Cambodia at Christmas 1968 is a complete fabrication: He claims to have been shot at by the "Khmer Rouge and Cambodians," clearly distinguishing between the Cambodian government forces and Khmer Rouge. Not bloody likely.

The Khmer Rouge were a small force in 1968, by all accounts less that 2500 (compared w/ 30,000+ by 1973). They did not launch a major offensive against the Cambodian government until 1970 -- they were too small and lacked the capability. In 1968 ther were virtually unknown to Westerners and were not engaged in operations against the U. S. military. They finally overthrew the government and took Phnom Penh in 1975. Only then did they become well known to most Americans.

Kerry's claim to have been shot at by the Khmer Rouge in 1968 is simply not plausible. Even if he had been shot at by someone from the shore in the dark, he would have no way of knowing if they were Khmer Rouge or Cambodian government troops. The embellehment that he had been shot at by the Khmer Rouge simply added a bit of spice to a fabricated story that implicated a group that was notorious for its brutality by the time he gave his Senate speech, but which was virtually unknown in 1968.

Other people have been looking for evidence of operations by the Khmer Rouge at that time without success. I looked in Jim Dunnigan's Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War, which is chock-full of interesting information, but it's inconclusive here. There's no specific mention of Khmer Rouge activities before 1969, but -- though the book isn't specific -- it seems possible that they were active in 1968. Were they shooting at Kerry? Doubtful, as they seem to have been mostly in the north, and the Mekong river crosses the border in the south. I think we'd have to score this as "unlikely, but conceivable" -- though how Kerry would have known he was being shot at by Khmer Rouge and not the far-more-likely North Vietnamese remains puzzling, especially as Dunnigan says that the Khmer Rouge wore NVA equipment in their early days.

The Khmer Rouge issue is something of a sideline, but it does add to the suspicion that Kerry was making the whole thing up. As another reader observes:

I read your digital camera extract of the 1986 Congressional Record quote from Kerry re Cambodia in 1968, and here's my guess: 18 years after Vietnam he had invented the Cambodia memory. At the time, he really believed it.

From the context of your larger photo, he was making an impassioned speech regarding the Contras, not directly testifying about Vietnam. So instead of checking his facts, he went with his recollection, seared into his memory, which turns out to have been dead wrong. How embarrassing! But as a lawyer you knowsomething about how wrong eyewitness testimony can be, especially after the witness has had time to repeat the story to himself over and over.

BTW, the Congressional Record extract provides no evidence that he was talking about Nixon as President. His fanciful memory could just as well have been referring to LBJ.

The best thing he could do at this point is admit the mistake. That probably won't happen.

Probably not. It's true that the Nixon reference in the Congressional Record passage is oblique. He's more explicit in the Boston Herald article, of which I'm still trying to get a hardcopy. Here's the passage:

I remember 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 killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

I can't personally vouch for the authenticity of this quote, reproduced here, though I have no actual reason to doubt it. I'm still trying to get hold of an original.

While searching, though, I did find more Kerry Cambodia versions here:

June 24, 1992, Wednesday

LENGTH: 876 words

HEADLINE: Senate Committee Says Americans Left Behind in Vietnam

BYLINE: By Kimberly C. Moore, States News Service

DATELINE: WASHINGTON

...

Kerry, who served in Vietnam on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta from 1968 to 1969, said he was involved in a "black mission" near Cambodia. "On Christmas Eve of 1968, I was on a gunboat in a firefight that wasn't supposed to be taking place," Kerry recalled. "I thought, if I'm killed here, what will my family be told?"

(Found on NEXIS, News, All (English, Full Text) Terms: kerry and cambodia and mekong and christmas). So was he in a firefight? In danger of being shot by drunk allies celebrating Christmas? On a covert mission inserting clandestine operatives? ("'My good luck hat,' Kerry said, happy to see it. 'Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia.'") Or -- for the real man-of-action spin -- all at once?

I don't know, but stale brownies were involved, somehow:

Copyright 1994 The Providence Journal Company
Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)

April 3, 1994, Sunday, ALL EDITIONS

SECTION: RHODE ISLANDER MAGAZINE, Pg. 8M

LENGTH: 2914 words

HEADLINE: MAN ON A MISSION Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry got his first taste of politics leading the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. To this day, the Vietnam War drives his activism.

BYLINE: James M. O'Neill

...

Some relief came from home. "I got a great package around Christmas," he says. "Filled with stale brownies. Broken, stale brownies. It was great - they were homemade. Came back in from a five-day patrol. Christmas Eve I was up getting shot at somewhere near Cambodia. Stupid Vietnamese were celebrating Christmas by shooting tracers, fifty-caliber, right up into the air, and the goddamned things were coming right over our head. That was a wild night. That was a night like right out of Apocalypse Now. It was just surreal. Mortars going off. Tracers piercing the sky. People crazy. Flares."

(Via the same Nexis search). Now we're back to drunk Vietnamese -- and now we're "somewhere near Cambodia."

Perhaps -- it being 1968, after all -- the off-taste in those brownies wasn't from staleness, which might explain both Kerry's fascination with the lights, and the confused nature of his memories. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

The NPR woman on Brit Hume's segment on Fox just tried the spin that
maybe Kerry was off course. 58 miles off course on a river system?
What kind of river boat skipper gets 58 miles off course? Just the
kind of skipper we want at the helm of a whole country?

Hey, those Gilligan's Island jokes may be closer to the truth than I realized!

MORE: Apparently, even Kerry's own diary contradicts these claims:

Every living officer up his chain of command says Kerry was never ordered to Cambodia. At least three of his five crewmen say their boat was never in Cambodia. And if you don't believe any of his fellow veterans, read the excerpt from Kerry's own journal published in Tour Of Duty, the recent hagiography by Douglas Brinkley.

On December 24 1968, Kerry was at Sa Dec – that's well inside Vietnam, 55 miles from the Cambodian border – and waxing wistful to his diary about a quiet Christmas far from home: "Visions of sugarplums really do dance through your head and you think of stockings and snow and roast chestnuts and fires with birch logs and all that is good and warm and real. It's Christmas Eve."

Doesn't sound like Apocalypse Now. But it's not inconsistent with the brownie hypothesis. . . .

JIM GERAGHTY is defending Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe:

The publisher, Public Affairs, has just created a big headache for the Globe and Michael Kranish, by initially touting an independent book with a reporter covering Kerry involved, and then publishing Kerry's campaign book under the same number. Now Amazon has the new book with the old cover and Kranish is being called a Kerry campaign shill.

Kranish may have misquoted Elliott — in fact, it seems pretty clear that Kranish interpreted some of Elliott's statements about wishing to reword the specifics of his affidavit about Kerry as a recanting of his entire criticism — but he's not a paid operative of the Democratic campaign.

Well, it may be, and probably is, the publisher's fault. (Full disclosure -- Public Affairs is part of the Perseus Group, which owns one of my publishers, from whom I still get a minuscule royalty check twice a year). My last book -- different publisher -- was put into the databases under the wrong title and that persisted, on Amazon and elsewhere, for a surprisingly long time. And there's no real reason to regard Kranish as a "paid operative." One notes, however, that journalists are quicker to assume innocence when things like this happen to journalists than they are when they happen to people in, say, the (non-media) corporate world.

THE PLAME WALL OF SILENCE CRUMBLES:

A reporter is being held in contempt of court and faces possible jail time, and another was earlier threatened by a federal judge with the same fate, after they refused to answer questions from a special prosecutor investigating whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of a covert CIA officer last year.

Newly-released court orders show U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan two weeks ago ordered Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Tim Russert of NBC to appear before a grand jury and tell whether they knew that White House sources provided the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media. . . .

Both journalists had earlier tried to quash the subpoenas issued by Fitzgerald in May. But, citing a Supreme Court decision, Judge Hogan ruled that journalists have no privilege to protect anonymous sources when the state has a compelling interest to investigate or prosecute a crime.

Hogan wrote in his just-unsealed order that the information requested from Cooper and Russert is "very limited" and that "all available alternative means of obtaining the information have been exhausted." He added that "the testimony sought is expected to constitute direct evidence of innocence or guilt."

The opinion is here. (Via Baseball Crank.) Maybe we'll finally get to the bottom of the "who leaked" scandal once the press -- which has known all along -- tells us. Earlier posts here and here.

UPDATES: Readers wonder where Robert Novak is in all of this? Since grand jury testimony is normally secret, it's entirely possible that he was subpoenaed and testified -- the only way we know about Russert and Cooper is that they refused to comply. But there's no way to know.

OMAR reports on happenings in Najaf.

KERRY GETS IT RIGHT ON STEM CELLS:

"The is not the way we do things in America," Kerry said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "Here in America we don't sacrifice science for ideology. We are a land of discovery, a place where innovators and optimists are free to dream and explore."

"We know that progress has always brought with it the worry that this time, we have gone too far," Kerry said. "Believe it or not, there was a time when some questioned the morality of heart transplants. Not too long ago, we heard the same kind of arguments against the biotechnology research that now saves stroke victims and those with leukemia."

Such work, Kerry said, is too important to risk for an ideological base and must be "a priority" in the nation's medical community.

Indeed.

PROBLEMS AT THE HOUSTON CRIME LAB: I meant to post something on this last week, but didn't get around to it. Jeralyn Merritt has a roundup. (Sadly, this kind of story has been InstaPundit fodder since the beginning.)

ROBERT NOVAK WRITES ON Unfit for Command, the Swift Boat Veterans' book on Kerry:

I have read the book and found it is neither the political propaganda nor the urban legend that its detractors claim. It is a passionate but meticulously researched account of how Kerry went to war, what he did in the war and how he conducted himself after the war. The very serious charges by former comrades deserve answers but so far have produced only ad hominem counterattacks.

Why should details of what Kerry did more than 30 years ago be part of this election campaign? Only because the senator has made them integral to his strategy. Kerry as war hero received more attention at the Democratic National Convention than plans for the future. Thus, what he did in his shortened four months of combat becomes a valid campaign issue.

Read the whole thing. I'm not a particular fan of Novak's but I think that this column is an indicator that the story is developing traction in the mainstream media.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn has it right:

Look, I would rather talk about the war. The current one, I mean — not the one that ended three decades ago. But, insofar as I understand the rules of Campaign 2004, every time any member of the administration says anything about the present conflict, he is accused by Democrats of shamelessly "politicizing" it. Whereas every time John Kerry waxes nostalgic about those fragrant memories of the Mekong Delta, he should be allowed to take his unending stroll down memory lane unmolested. After all, as everyone from John Edwards to Max Cleland to Bill Clinton has assured us, being a Swift boat commander for four months is the indispensable qualification for being president. When Hillary runs in 2008, no doubt she'll be leaning heavily on her four months running a Swift boat up and down the Shatt al-Arab during the Iraq war.

Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Northwestern Univ. law professor Jim Lindgren emails:

What strikes me about Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia" story is not that Kerry almost certainly repeatedly told falsehoods (whether intentionally or not) but that the mainstream press is barely covering the story. If Bush were caught lying about his service in the National Guard, it would be leading the TV news. This is not just a hypothetical. The network news repeatedly led with charges that Bush MIGHT not have been present when he said he was during his National Guard service. Once the pay records were released, it turned out that the charges were false, but few news organizations bothered to correct the earlier false rumors they spread.

This press coverage follows the pattern. Kerry almost certainly falsely stated that he resigned from Viet Nam Vets Against the War BEFORE the fateful meeting at which the plot to assassinate several pro-war US Senators was debated. Yet when both FBI records and some of his supporters verified that Kerry had spoken forcefully against the proposal to murder Senators (to Kerry's credit at the time), most of the press did nothing. Can you imagine if Bush had been caught in such a falsehood, saying that he didn't attend a meeting where others were proposing to murder US Senators when he had been present and helped to persuade them not to do it?

Just yesterday it was revealed that when Kerry heard about the second plane hitting the World Trade Center, he admitted that he was too stunned to think clearly for quite a while. This contrasts with among Bush's first statements to his aides that we are at war (i.e., moving out of the "criminal act" mode of the Clinton administration). Bush was praised for being among the first to understand that the world had changed. Then Kerry had the nerve to criticize Bush for acting calmly in the initial minutes after the attack. If Bush had done this--criticizing Kerry for not thinking clearly when he had admitted that he was paralyzed in shock--the press would crucify Bush. But Kerry will get another pass--just wait and see.

Likewise, the statements that Bush lied about the foreign intelligence reports regarding uranium: It was a big story when the press thought that Bush might be lying, but it was mostly a non-story when it turned out that he wasn't.

If one were just watching the network news, one would think that Bush was the one with the honesty problem. Why doesn't the press just cover the stories on both sides and let the voters decide whom to vote for? Frankly, I find the press bias this year pretty frightening, not because Kerry as president will be so terrible (I doubt that he will be), but for what it says about the future of democracy in a world where traditional media still dominate public discourse. Kerry would not stand a chance if the press bias were reversed.

I think that the press will choose the president this year; I hope that they have chosen wisely.

Evan Thomas famously told us that the press wants Kerry to win, and added "They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."

That's enough to swing almost any presidential election, and -- if it's right -- it raises the question of whether we can have an established press, and democracy, at the same time.

MICHAEL SILENCE is a reporter who's covered the blogosphere for years, and gotten a good reputation among bloggers. Now he's joined the blogosphere himself with a new blog of his own.

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

DARFUR UPDATE: The Arab League is resisting action:

The Arab League has rejected any sanctions or international military intervention as a response to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. Arab foreign ministers at an emergency session in Cairo backed Khartoum's measures to disarm Arab militias and punish human rights violators. . . .

Human Rights Watch has demanded the Arab League "stand behind the victims" in Darfur.

Its Africa division chief Peter Takirambudde accused Sudan of "trying to manipulate opinion in the Arab world to hide the massive crimes it has committed against Sudanese citizens

Gary Silberberg is unimpressed, and says they're "in league with genocide." And read this eyewitness report, too.

"SERIOUS ANTI-AGING SCIENCE:" Lots of interesting stuff on what's going on here and here.

HOLIDAY IN CAMBODIA: Here's a 2003 Boston Globe story by the ubiquitous Mike Kranish that differs from Kerry's earlier tales of spending Christmas, 1968 in Cambodia. Ed Morrisey notes the inconsistencies.

UPDATE: In a related subject, Tom Maguire has some suggestions as to who journalists should be interviewing, if they want to answer some Kerry questions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Duff looks at the spin, and at the questions that aren't being asked or answered.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here.

And N.Z. Bear thinks this will kill the Kerry campaign if not refuted. I wonder why they're not refuting it by releasing Kerry's complete military records?

WITH ALL THE STORIES of intellectual property insanity, it's nice to see a case of courtesy and common sense:

We're moving to correct the situation now ... PocketPCTools was apparently acting within the appropriate bounds of Web etiquette -- actually, doing us a favor by sending us the traffic -- and Ziff Davis was apparently mistaken in issuing this warning.

Bravo.

VIOLENT KIDS IN JAPAN: This actually isn't all that new, as the Insta-Wife wrote a column on this in the Los Angeles Times back in 1998.

CALL ME CRAZY, but I don't find this ad very persuasive, even in a cause I agree with. If I were the Republicans, I'd try to get it broadcast in primetime. Or at least the flying-ninja-Kerry part.

August 08, 2004

DIRTY TRICKS aimed at the Swift Boat Vets? I can't say I'm surprised to hear reports like this, but I suspect that it will backfire if they actually try it. Indeed, if people start dishing dirt about these guys instead of offering factual refutations, it will pretty much serve as an admission that the charges are true.

MORE ADVICE FOR LAW STUDENTS: It looks pretty good to me.

CHRISTMAS IN CAMBODIA: Drudge has more on reports that Kerry was never there as he claimed. For one of the places where Kerry made that claim, go here or scroll down.

UPDATE: The inexorable Tom Maguire has more on Kerry's Cambodian holiday. And it still looks bad for Kerry.

LOTS OF UPDATES TO LOTS OF POSTS, so be sure you scroll down. But you knew to do that anyway, right?

STEVE VERDON says the economy is slowing down. Mickey Kaus, on the other hand, isn't so sure. Neither, apparently, are a lot of other people:

Consumer confidence surged during the past month to its highest level since the beginning of the year, with Americans feeling better about their own finances and more optimistic about the future despite renewed terror threats and rising oil prices.

Consumer confidence has been rising for the past four months as the economy has been on a solid path to recovery.

The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index climbed to 104.8 in August, up from 92.0 in July, led by consumers' perceptions of their own finances and optimism about the future.

On the other hand, Megan McArdle thinks the economy is softening and it's very bad news for Bush. Who's right? Beats me. But given the rapid pace of growth in the past few months, a bit of a slowdown might be a good thing for the country, if not for Bush, as it means that we don't have to worry about inflationary pressures.

JAY ROSEN HAS THOUGHTS on diversity and groupthink in the press.

UPDATE: More thoughts here, from Jeff Jarvis.

DAHLIA LITHWICK: "The legal system is inadequate to the task of resolving acquaintance rape cases, and the media actually exacerbates the original injustice - be that a rape, or a false accusation of rape."

UPDATE: I agree with this: "It's a very thoughtful piece on the unintended consequences of rape shield laws. It is further proof that most of the Times' guest columnists are better than the real thing."

OKAY, WHEN I SAID IT, it was just cute. But when Salman Rushdie says it. . . .

TODAY IS INSTAPUNDIT'S THREE-YEAR BLOGGIVERSARY: And I had forgotten all about it until reader James Davila reminded me. I'll celebrate by, er, blogging!

UPDATE: It's also Emancipation Day. There's lots to celebrate!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thanks!

NIXON NOSTALGIA: Eric Scheie is questioning the timing.


WI-FI WANTS TO BE FREE: At least at my local Panera Bread (actually, I think it's now at all of 'em in the area). And it's totally open -- no login, no fee, just turn on your computer and surf. (And note the comfy chair.)

I spent this afternoon there working on a column -- and I also spent a fair amount of money.

They'll be getting a lot more of my business, and, I suspect, a lot of other people's as a result. I hope that more businesses will follow suit!

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I spent three nights in your fair city's Radisson this spring and I'm still bitter that they charged me for the WiFi. I will now make a point of spending slow afternoons in Panera and eating their tasty although pricey sandwiches. It's amazing every business doesn't understand this simple model.

Yeah. Of course, he could have walked a block from the Radisson and enjoyed the free wi-fi at the Downtown Grill & Brewery.

Meanwhile reader Martin Shoemaker emails:

I love Thai food. I like Panera's food. It's acceptable. On the road between my house and Ann Arbor (where I travel a lot), there's an interesting looking Thai place. A block away, there's a Panera place, the first near me to have WiFi. (Recently, they finished adding WiFi in all their stores in Michigan.)

I have spent somewhere over $200 at that Panera store this summer. I still haven't tried the Thai place. To me, this seems like the smartest move Panera could make.

Yep.

WELL, THIS IS A SWITCH: "Militants in Iraq said Sunday they took a top Iranian diplomat hostage, according to a video shown on the Arab-language Al-Arabiya television station. . . . The kidnappers, calling themselves the 'Islamic Army in Iraq', accused Jihani of provoking sectarian war in Iraq and warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq's affairs, according to Al-Arabiya."

UPDATE: And a warrant for Chalabi's arrest, too. No doubt unrelated.

TOM MAGUIRE has already posted John Kerry's speech claiming to have been in Cambodia on Christmas day, 1968. But because this is a question of importance, and because some people might doubt the veracity of quotations pasted in from NEXIS, I thought I'd go to the law library and check it myself in hardcopy. (The law library was closed and the copiers were off, but I have a key, and -- let this be another lesson to bloggers everywhere -- a digital camera).

Here's a link to a larger version showing the exact page citation and context.

The evidence that Kerry wasn't in Cambodia seems pretty strong (see Tom Maguire's post, along with this letter) which makes Kerry's claim all the more difficult to understand.

It's possible, of course, that there's an innocent explanation for this, even if I can't quite think of one. Maybe Kerry was on a double-secret mission to Cambodia, such that everyone involved continues to deny it today. Except, inexplicably, for Kerry. . . . Or maybe his memory failed him -- though there's that "seared--seared--in" language to contend with when considering that hypothesis. Or he could just have been bragging. Your call. Personally, I remain more interested in what Kerry would do regarding the current war, but since he invites us to judge him on his Vietnam record, evidence that he might not be telling the truth about that record is obviously relevant.

At any rate, posting this should remove any doubt about what Kerry said, if not about what he did.

UPDATE: More here, including another Kerry quote on the same subject.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Wayne Seibert emails: "You forgot about Kerry's mission to kill Col. Kurtz."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers wonder why, if Kerry is really lying about having been in Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968, somebody hasn't made something of it before? Beats me.

On the other hand, if it were false, you'd expect somebody from the Democratic spin machine to be coming forth with evidence that Kerry was in Cambodia then. But what did I get in the daily "Media Matters" email? A complaint that Bill O'Reilly compared Media Matters to the Klan.

MORE: Brian Rogge emails: "A blogger with a key and a digital camera? There's a novel there somewhere. Someone tell Roger Simon!"

Yes, as I photographed the pages with my little camera in the darkened library, it did make me think of old spy thrillers. Though only a particularly masochistic spy would copy the Congressional Record.

STILL MORE: More reports of Kerry's absence from Cambodia.

THIS REPORT SEEMS LIKE MORE GOOD NEWS:

A Pakistani al Qaeda operative believed to have been close to al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was flown to Pakistan after he was arrested in Dubai, Pakistani intelligence sources said.

Qari Saifullah Akhtar's capture may help in the hunt for the al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, the sources said.

Ahktar has been linked to two assassination attempts against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the sources said. . . .

More than a dozen terror suspects around the world have been arrested in the past week.

Their apprehension is believed to have been fueled by intelligence from Pakistan, and many of the suspects are alleged to have strong ties to al Qaeda.

One man arrested in a British roundup of al Qaeda suspects is believed to have been on the ground in New York in 2001 conducting reconnaissance of financial buildings identified recently as possible attack targets, a U.S. law enforcement source told CNN.

On the other hand, the limp response described here seems disappointing.

KERRY AND CAMBODIA: Roger Simon says he's cutting a comic, not a heroic, figure.

THE SWIFTBOAT VETS are responding to the Kerry campaign with some lawyering of their own -- as well as talking about the facts, something the Kerry campaign seems less interested in doing. Ed Morrissey is convinced.

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

The capture, in Pakistan, of al Qaeda communications specialist Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, has apparently unleashed another flood of arrests and alerts about planned al Qaeda operations. Kahn was caught with a laptop computer containing emails and other al Qaeda documents. Kahn is also said to be freely answering questions and cooperating.

Kahn was captured on July 13th. His capture was kept quiet initially. This was apparently so that information captured with Kahn could be used to round up other al Qaeda leaders and operatives. Once these arrests were made, al Qaeda members began to suspect that their guy Kahn was working for the other side. . . .

For the last two years, al Qaeda has been trying to reconstitute itself. This has not been easy, as no nation will openly offer sanctuary to al Qaeda, and most are actively looking for al Qaeda members. Using email, the Internet and a system of couriers, al Qaeda has established contact with operatives, supporters and financial backers. The key leadership of al Qaeda has found places to hide in Pakistan. But the rural refuges in the tribal areas (along the Afghan border) are under attack by the Pakistani army. In the past few months, the al Qaeda people have been detected moving into Pakistan's cities, where many supporters of Islamic radicalism provide some cover, but not as good as in the tribal areas.

This, on the other hand, isn't so good:

COLOMBIA: Drug War Kills People, Not Cocaine Supply

The successful operation against drug manufacturing and smuggling in the past year has not led to a reduction in the cocaine supply in the United States. It is thought that this is because supplies in the pipeline are still being drawn upon, and that the drug gangs have shifted production to neighboring countries. This shift has been going on for several years.

Kind of suggests where our priorities ought to be, doesn't it?

UPDATE: More here:

A Pakistani man whose arrest provided information about the reconnaissance of financial institutions in New York, Newark and Washington was also communicating with Qaeda operatives who the authorities say are plotting to carry out an attack intended to disrupt the fall elections, a senior intelligence official said Saturday. . . .

The arrest last month of the Pakistani, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, had already prompted a search in the United States, Britain and other countries to locate the people behind the surveillance, which took place three or four years ago. Now the authorities say Mr. Khan's arrest is also helping them unravel a threat to carry out an attack this year inside the United States.

It is not clear whether Mr. Khan represents the second channel of intelligence that officials have alluded to in recent days that, they say, convinced them that the reconnaissance of financial institutions was related to current threats.

But he is emerging as a central figure in an expanding web of connections that, the authorities say, indicates that they may have penetrated an operational Qaeda group whose intentions were previously unknown.

And there's this fascinating tidbit:

American officials contacted on Saturday would not confirm whether Mr. Khan was a mole or double agent.

Hmm. Obviously there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Read this, too.

UPDATE: Cori Dauber interviews a homeland security expert and concludes that the press is blowing the story on antiterrorism.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more on the double-agent bit: "The New York Times obtained Khan's name independently, and US officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning."

Why confirm it? Perhaps because they figured the game was about up, anyway, and wanted to get Al Qaeda worried about other moles. Perhaps to cover up the existence of other moles. Perhaps because things are approaching some sort of endgame and they wanted to sow confusion. Perhaps through idiocy. There's no way to tell with stuff like this. All we can be sure of is that we probably don't know the whole story.

More here, including a hint that federal officials favor going public because of "pack not a herd" considerations.

MORE: This post by Michael Young on the "double agent" story seems uncharacteristically unthought-out, but there's interesting discussion in the comments. Biggest point: We really have no idea what's going on here. But let's be clear -- this guy, based on the reports we have, was only a "double agent" in the sense that -- after he was captured -- we let him send emails to people who thought he was still free and operational. There's no way that was going to last very long, regardless, as someone would have noticed. And, again, the whole thing could be a way of messing with their minds.

LESSONS FROM LANCE ARMSTRONG: Interesting thoughts.