August 28, 2004

TOM MAGUIRE IS QUESTIONING THE TIMING of leaks concerning an espionage investigation in the Defense Department. I don't know what to make of this, but if The New York Times is downplaying the importance of the suspect, saying that he wasn't in a position to influence policy, then it's probably not a big deal given the potential for embarrassing the Bush Administration, and the NYT's willingness to stretch things to do so. Needless to say, if the guy's guilty, he should get slammed. Moles, even for friendly powers, can't be tolerated.

UPDATE: Hmm. I'm not sure if this is comforting or not:

"From everything I've seen, the guy's not a spy," the official said. "The guy's an idiot."

On the other hand, this definitely isn't comforting:

An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single midlevel analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said Saturday.

The frightening thought is that Sandy Berger's behavior might have just been par for the course in the national security establishment. Sheesh. Roger Simon has related thoughts.

HUGH HEWITT administers a spanking to Jim Boyd of the Star-Tribune.

RYAN SAGER is photoblogging the convention protests in New York. He's got quite a few photos.

I hope that a lot of people will be photo- and even video-blogging this stuff, as I suspect that it won't get as much attention from the mainstream media as it otherwise might.

Nice smile.


Enthusiasts on Friday unveiled an effort to establish an annual competition for space-elevator technologies, taking a page from the playbook for other high-tech contests such as the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

The project, spearheaded by the California-based Spaceward Foundation, would focus on innovations in fields that could open the way for payloads to be lifted into space by light-powered platforms. Such platforms, also known as climbers, would move up and down superstrong ribbons rising as high as 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) above Earth's surface. . . .

If space elevators could actually be built, the cost of sending payloads into space could be reduced from $10,000 or more per pound (455 grams) to $100 or less — opening up a revolutionary route to the final frontier. Like the X Prize for private spaceflight, Elevator:2010 is aimed at jump-starting the revolution.

I was involved in the early X-Prize work, and I have to say that it has exceeded my hopes.


Here's how "presidential historian" Douglas Brinkley figures it: Various factual inaccuracies and contradictions in Tour of Duty, his famously sycophantic biography of John Kerry, are frequently cited by opponents of Kerry's presidential campaign. On the other hand, the sycophantic parts of the book are just as frequently cited by Kerry's friends. In other words, both parties find his work useful. And what better proof of his academic objectivity and integrity could there be than that?

I mean, seriously: Ouch.

UPDATE: More on Brinkley from Ann Althouse.

ALAN KEYES: Beyond flip-flopping. I'd say he's ventured all the way into the realm of flap-flips.

A LOT OF PEOPLE EMAILED ME about irregularities in John Kerry's citations, including the fact that his Silver Star citation was signed by John Lehman, who wasn't Navy Secretary until the Reagan Administration. I put it down to some sort of paperwork mixup (I didn't even link this piece when everyone was sending it to me).

But now the Chicago Sun-Times' Thomas Lipscomb, who had an article on those records yesterday, has another article out today, quoting Lehman as saying that the whole thing's a "total mystery" to him. ("It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me.")

I think it's far too early to speculate, as some readers are, that this is a case of fraud or forgery, and it's entirely possible that there's an innocent explanation, but I'm glad that someone with Big Media resources is looking into it. It's puzzling that Kerry hasn't simply released all his military records to clear up these questions. Nonetheless, I continue to regard the medals issue as a distraction, though perhaps a better-founded one, on closer examination, than I had originally thought.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Lloyd emails:

When I got a law school transcript reissued to me a couple of years ago, it was certified by someone who wasn't the registrar when I was there. That doesn't mean I didn't graduate in 1997 because someone else signed it in 2002.

I don't know Navy process, but Kerry may have asked for a new certification in the 1980's, and Lehman's signature may have ended up on it as a matter of course.

See, that's what I thought initially. But the language of the citation also changed, suggesting that it's not a simple clerical thing. What's more the "V" on the silver star doesn't exist. You'd certainly be suspicious of a transcript with a different signature and different grades. Or of a Yale Law School transcript from recent years that showed an A+ average (Since Yale doesn't have those letter grades). . . To the extent that analogy applies, anyway.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey:

Just when I think this story may lose momentum, it just grows new legs. The Torricelli option continues to beckon the Democrats the longer Kerry refuses to release all the records and put an end to all the speculation.

Meanwhile, ABC's The Note is looking to the future:

The new joke in Washington -- told by all gallows, quasi-panicked Democrats -- goes like this:

"John Kerry read in The Note that this was his race to lose, and he's giving it his best shot."

Someday, Karl Rove's precocious grandchildren will say to him, "Grandpapa, what's it like to run a presidential campaign against an opponent who has had his own background thoroughly researched well before the general election; who is broadly personable and possessed of great campaign skills; and who projects an image of constancy?"

To which Grandpapa Rove will reply, "I haven't the slightest idea."

(Via Power Line.) Somehow, though, "Grandpa Rove" makes me think of Grandpa Munster, but they're in different parties.

MORE: This John Kerry timeline may be useful in keeping track of what happened -- or didn't happen -- when.

More observations here, making me wonder if Kerry didn't order duplicates and get "crosstalk" between the Bronze and Silver Star citations.

STILL MORE: Meanwhile, Matt Rustler is looking into questions about Bush's medals. Bush had medals? Well, that's the question. No clear answer yet, but we do learn that Mark Kleiman is now getting his stuff from Democratic Underground, which is informative in itself. And certainly Rustler's inquiry is more searching than anything the left side of the blogosphere -- including Kleiman -- engaged in when the Kerry / Cambodia story was appearing.

I'M BACK: Spent the night up at the lake, took the boat to Calhoun's and had barbecue, then hung out with the Insta-Dad, Insta-Wife, Insta-Daughter and the youngest Insta-Brother.

More blogging later, but in the meantime I have some thoughts on blogs, campaign finance "reform," and free speech over at And over at The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru has some harsh-but-true words on Bush's stance regarding free speech and campaign finance "reform":

A brief history: 1) I'm against it, and you should vote for me over John McCain on this basis. 2) Some campaign-finance reforms amount to a restriction on free speech, and I'll veto them on that basis. 3) I'll sign the bill, let the judges sort it out. 4) The bill I just signed bans all those George Soros ads. 5) I'm going to sue to get those ads all banned. 6) I'm going to support legislation to ban those ads that I already banned, even though they used to be free speech. I think (5) and (6) are new this week.

Here's a better idea: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's First Amendment Restoration Act.

It seems that another Scrappleface parody is on the verge of becoming reality.

Ponnuru's link to the bill doesn't work, but this one provides some useful background.

UPDATE: This media analysis column makes some related points.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Readers point out that John Kerry was a co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold act. Yeah, there's lots of blame to go around.

August 27, 2004

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, which means no more blogging today unless something rather major happens. If you're bored tonight, check out the InstaWife's TV show Snapped on the Oxygen Channel. If you happen to be a Nielsen family, please invite several dozen of your friends to watch with you. . . .

BOOKBLOGGING: In what I laughingly call my "spare time," I'm reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and so far enjoying it. It's vaguely reminiscent of Tim Powers' Expiration Date and related books.

EXPLOSIVE TRACES FOUND in crashed Russian plane. Much longer story here, suggesting an Al Qaeda connection.

TOM MAGUIRE IS BACK: The blogosphere can breathe a sigh of relief.

HERE'S MORE on lawyer overlap and 527s. There seems to be rather a lot of it.

"KERRY REQUESTED A PURPLE HEART," says Admiral Schachte. The wound was accidentally self-inflicted, he says. ("'Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 (grenade launcher),' Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, 'Kerry requested a Purple Heart.'")

That's not malfeasance or anything, but it certainly plays to his image as an opportunist who worked the system to get out of combat as soon as possible. ("John Kerry, reporting for duty -- until I can finagle a way out of here!") More here, and Beldar has more analysis, with some interesting stuff in the comments.

That said, the medal issue is really a distraction. It's Kerry's postwar behavior that deserves more scrutiny. Here's his 1971 testimony. And here's a 1971 TV interview where he talks about throwing away his medals, and about opposing the war "right there in Vietnam," and about how veterans, especially minority veterans, remain a menace after returning to America because they're angry and were "taught to kill." He backs away a bit later, in an early version of his signature straddle, but it's still pretty damning stuff.

UPDATE: Thoughts on records that Kerry should release -- from Vietnam and elsewhere -- here, and a review of Kerry's testimony here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More records questions here, in an interesting article from the Chicago Sun-Times.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More on the Admiral here.

IS IT ALL DOUGLAS BRINKLEY'S FAULT? That would explain why he's laying so low.

UPDATE: Or maybe it's all neurochemical evolution.

RECIPEBLOGGING: This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up. Soon we'll need a Carnival of the Carnivals.


BALTIMORE (AP) - When three Baltimore County police officers saw someone aiming a camera from a sport utility vehicle on the Bay Bridge and decided the videotaping looked suspicious, Maryland's intelligence center was notified within minutes.

The state's counterterrorism center has local, state and federal authorities sitting next to each other 24 hours a day at an FBI building in Calverton in Prince George's County. That's why police were able to arrest Ismael Selim Elbarasse, a man wanted for questioning in Chicago about the finances of the Hamas extremist group, so quickly, state officials said.

More on the arrest here and here.


Leaving aside that pesky constitutional prohibition, Clinton could have gotten the nod if he'd wanted. He would have beat George W. Bush in 2000. He would probably beat Bush today, given our nostalgia for the happy, shiny '90s. But perhaps he enjoys retirement. Sure, it's good to be king, but there's something to be said for turning on "Monday Night Football" and letting someone else worry about loony long-beards with nukes. . . .

So why does Kerry want to be president?

The reason is almost tautological: John Kerry wants to be president because he is John Kerry, and John Kerry is supposed to be president. Hence his campaign's flummoxed and tone-deaf response to the swift boat vets. Ban the books, sue the stations, retreat, attack. Underneath it all you can sense the confusion. How dare they attack Kerry? He's supposed to be president. It's almost treason in advance. . . . Inconsistencies are irrelevant, because he's consistently John Kerry. And he's supposed to be president.

That does seem to capture the tone. And don't miss Lileks' conclusion.

August 26, 2004

TRAFFIC: Already way ahead of last month's, which set a record. Just a dollar a pageview, that's all I ask. . . .

Okay, actually I don't ask anything. I'm just glad that someone besides my mother reads this stuff.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ED MORRISSEY, who had a piece in the New York Sun today.

HOWELL RAINES has a piece on Presidential intelligence in The Guardian that isn't all that bad. Perhaps Howell has learned that there's more to management than SAT scores. . ..

However, he can't avoid this line: "Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure their SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead."

Actually, Ann Althouse was doubting that very thing. We seem to know Bush's grades and test scores. But I haven't seen Kerry's anywhere -- release the transcripts! -- and so it's all a matter of inference from things like where he went to law school. Given Kerry's tendency to trumpet credentials he's proud of, the absence of any data here may support an inference of its own.

But we also learn -- well, confirm -- something about Howell Raines. He hasn't seen the numbers. He doesn't offer any real comparison or data. He just knows that Kerry is a lot smarter, and it seems that he knows this because everyone he talks to thinks the same thing. Which is, no doubt, the case.

JOHN PERRY BARLOW plans to disrupt the Republican Convention through spontaneous dancing.

This would work, if the Republican Convention were taking place in the movie Footloose.

TRAITORS to Rock and Roll.

TIME TRAVEL UPDATE: On the Harper's website, an apology for Lewis Lapham's, er, premature account of what transpired at the Republican Convention. There's something a bit odd about the heading, though:

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004.
Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2004.

Let's do the time warp again!

HOW JOHN KERRY COULD SALVAGE THINGS: A helpful observation from Bill Adams.

SET YOUR VCR: Tonight on C-Span at 8:PM - John Kerry 1971 Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

UPDATE: Here's the full text.

Thoughts on the testimony here. I've read it before, but what struck me looking at it again just now is how little Kerry is questioned or criticized. He's really never had to stand up to serious criticism before, which is, I guess, why he's handling it so badly now.


UPDATE: The error is repeated in The New Republic. ("The veterans featured in the organization's TV ad claim to have 'served with Kerry,' but none actually served on the same boat.") The "same boat" claim is dumb -- but forget Clintonian parsing of what "served with" means, it's also not true. I thought weeklies were supposed to have the time to get stuff like this right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Refuting this error is this new ad from the Swiftboat Vets featuring Steve Gardner who says that he spent more time on Kerry's boat than any other veteran, and that the Christmas in Cambodia story is false. It's going to be hard for the Kerry campaign to argue with that, since they've already admitted it.

BLOGGERRIFFIC! This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up. Don't miss it.

JOHN KERRY'S MISSED OPPORTUNITY: "He could have healed the wounds of Vietnam. Instead, he tried to exploit them."

Plus, he made Bob Dole angry. And you never want to do that.


UPDATE: Oh, yeah, that guy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Tabin reminds me that he's this guy, too.

<Burns Voice>"Wolff, eh? I'll remember that name."</Burns Voice>

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, and this guy!

<Burns Voice>"Smithers: Release the hounds!"</Burns Voice>

OUCH: From ABC News:

KERRY CHALLENGES BUSH TO WEEKLY DEBATES: In Anoka, MN, John Kerry challenged President Bush to weekly debates on the issues. MORE

BUSH CAMP REAX: "There will be a time for debates after the convention, and during the next few weeks, John Kerry should take the time to finish the debates with himself. This election presents a clear choice to the American people between a President who is moving America forward and a Senator who has taken every side of almost every issue and has the most out of the mainstream record in the U.S. Senate," said BC'04 spokesman Steve Schmidt.

I guess this is part of the new Bush Campaign Strategy.

SEAN HACKBARTH NOTES that there's a new documentary coming out, called Stolen Honor featuring former P.O.W.s speaking about John Kerry. He's got a link to previews, though the miserable SONICWALL CONTENT FILTER here at Panera Bread won't let me play them. (It's even blocking The Mudville Gazette as pornography today, which is exceptionally lame).

"NEVER PICK A FIGHT WITH A GUY WHO BUYS INK BY THE BARREL:" That's old wisdom. The new wisdom -- being taught to a guy at the Star Tribune -- is don't pick a fight with guys who buy pixels by the passel. And who know how to use Google. Just keep scrolling.

UPDATE: Reader Ken Watson emails: "'Ink?' What is this... 'ink'?"

It's what people used before pixels. Some publications still use it!


IT'S HELL BEING A LIBERAL BLOGGER THESE DAYS: First I'm smeared by Fox News. Then, when I dare to respond, I'm savaged by pro-lifers making Moby-like false allegations. And now I discover that I'm on Orrin Hatch's hit list! It's "fear and smear" all over the place!

Hatch I can handle, though, as I've got secret copies of his efforts at recording rap music. Trust me, he doesn't want those to become public. . . .

UPDATE: Boy, you can't spoof anything without upsetting someone. A reader warns me that I'm developing "Andrew Sullivan disease" and writes:

You're beginning to worry me. First, don't automatically assume that EVERYONE at Fox is "right wing." That is clearly not the case. In fact, I doubt that anyone "right wing" would have any interest in slighting your Kerry fisking. It doesn't make sense and only sounds like you want to cover yourself with a mantle of faux glory. Like, er, Kerry.

Secondly, that's what you call being "savaged"? If a pro-lifer is Christian, he won't swear or make an ad hominem attack, although he may misunderstand and disapprove. Put on your big boy pants.

Lastly, I love your work. But here's the best piece of advice you'll get: it's not about you. Limit your persecution comments and self-promoting photos.

Er, okay. But the "faux-glory" Kerry persecution point was, well, the whole point actually.

And I thought the photo was more "self-deprecating" than "self-promoting." I mean, I don't exactly look like Dylan McDermott there, you know . . . .

VARIFRANK: I will blog no more about John Kerry forever. He explains why.

RON BAILEY WRITES on Transhumanism and its critics. Excellent piece:

In his Foreign Policy article, Fukuyama identifies transhumanism as "a strange liberation movement" that wants "nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints." Sounds ominous, no? But wait a minute, isn't human history (and prehistory) all about liberating more and more people from their biological constraints? After all, it's not as though most of us still live in our species' "natural state" as Pleistocene hunter-gatherers.

Human liberation from our biological constraints began when an ancestor first sharpened a stick and used it to kill an animal for food. Further liberation from biological constraints followed with fire, the wheel, domesticating animals, agriculture, metallurgy, city building, textiles, information storage by means of writing, the internal combustion engine, electric power generation, antibiotics, vaccines, transplants, and contraception. In a sense, the goal toward which humanity has been striving for millennia has been to liberate ourselves from more and more of our ancestors' biological constraints.


MY COLUMN ON DISASTER PREPAREDNESS YESTERDAY inspired this column by Tim Worstall today.


BLOGS YOU SHOULD BE READING: N.Z. Bear is all over the 527 issue -- just keep scrolling. And Michael Demmons is worth checking out, too.

Plus, the Wall Street Journal has published this annotated guide (with pictures!) to the bloggers who'll be covering the Republican convention.

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, of course, is that they need to know when to set the time machine for. . . .


You know, the drifting percentage of undecideds, mostly those who can neither read nor write, will determine the outcome of this election based on their mood on November 2nd. Those of us with strong opinions, pro or con, will not be swayed further in this partisan contest of hype, distortion and obfuscation. :)

I think it's time for something completely different. It's time for a shameless plug for my new book! You may have nostalgia for the 50's, you may have grown long hair in the 60's, and you may have spent time in a Rehab clinic in the '70s, but how many have true nostalgia for WMD?

You've got to admire his positive spirit.

UNSCAM UPDATE: European banks charged with laundering Saddam's money. I suspect that this is just an opener.

DON'T MAKE BOB DOLE ANGRY: You won't like Bob Dole when he's angry:

So this time you’ve got a candidate named John Kerry who had a good record in Vietnam, came back from the service, denounced the war, in effect, trashed the Americans who were still fighting there. Went before a Senate committee in April of 1971, threw away his ribbons or his medals or whatever and now is standing before the American people and saying you’ve got to elect me because I’m this Vietnam hero.

And it’s kind of hard to reconcile all of these things. So it does sort of bring up focus that I don’t think we’ve had in the past. . . .

But this is after we’d had somebody called Vice President Cheney a coward. They’ve called Bush “a deserter” that he was AWOL, that he’s condoned torture, that he’s condoned poisoning of pregnant women. I mean, all these nasty, nasty, over-the-top attacks.

And they spent $65 million trying to defame President Bush. I told John Kerry on the telephone the next day. I said, “John, President Bush is my guy. And when I see all the people dumping on him, and all the misstatements and—and untruths, it kind of riles me up a little.” So maybe I expressed that on Sunday.

And he's angry.

UPDATE: Fred Boness disagrees: "Hey! Bob Dole is beautiful when he's angry, assuming of course that he's angry at someone else."

Bob Dole, beautiful? It's in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

August 25, 2004

ACTUAL, NON-JIGGLE Olympic-blogging.


Perhaps it's because John Kerry provides a - er - "target-rich environment", but I've noticed you are devoting a larger than normal percentage of your blog to politics.

Not that I'm complaining - - -

Well, I'd rather be blogging about something else. Of course, I've felt that way since September 11, 2001 . . . .

And I am pretty tired of blogging about Kerry, and the election (like Steven Den Beste, I was tired of this election in November of 2003), and if Kerry had more, um, definition I'd probably write about him a lot less. But let's recap. Kerry said he was in Cambodia on Christmas, 1968. It has turned out, as even his campaign has admitted, not to be true.

This tells us something that we already kind of knew, that Kerry was way too willing to exaggerate his military experience for political ends. That's not a cardinal sin, perhaps, but as Mickey Kaus pointed out yesterday, it's a bigger deal when the guy gives you so little else to work with. I'm inclined to agree with Lawrence Kaplan (pay-only, but quoted here), about the limited relevance of military service to the Presidency. And I certainly agree with Andrew Sullivan that "The truth is: Biden and Lieberman and Edwards and even Obama were more ressuring on the war than Kerry was." And since that's my single issue, in a way the Cambodia story is not that important a question, since the answer looks pretty clear regardless. Heck, even the LBJ angle might cut in Kerry's favor from my perspective -- perhaps his desire to look macho will keep him from doing what I fear, and Democrats hope, he'll do on the war.

But the press -- and this, to me, is the most interesting and disturbing part of the story -- has been shamelessly covering for Kerry, first by ignoring the story, then by spinning it, and now by confusing it.

A few years ago -- maybe even a few months ago -- I would have looked at a story like this and, if it never got much major play, would have assumed that there was nothing to it. Now I know better. (Question: Was the press more professional decades ago, or was it just harder to tell when they cheated?)

This seems like a big deal to me.

As for the election, well. . . . That's a big deal, too, but actually a lesser deal. The thing is, I agree with Andrew Sullivan that Kerry looks like he'd be bad on the war. But, to be fair, you never know. If in 2000 I had known what was to come, but had known only what I knew about George W. Bush back then, I probably would have supported Al Gore as a more experienced, capable wartime leader. That -- as Gore's post-2000 behavior has shown -- would likely have been a serious mistake. Bush rose to the challenge despite a not-especially-distinguished prior history. That should make me humble.

As N.Z. Bear put it:

Bush is no prize. But he's the devil we know, and a devil who, for all his flaws, takes seriously the threat facing our nation and appears to be trying to do something about it. With Bush, I expect I will have four more years to quibble with and argue about his tactics in the conduct of this war. With Kerry, once the campaign was over, I fear I'd have a difficult time convincing him there was a war at all.

I think that's right. But I could be wrong (and I hope I am). I've been wrong about a lot of Presidents (though usually in the direction of disappointment, not underestimation!). And my experience with hardfought faculty hiring decisions is that, while I'm usually right in my assessments of who's good and who's not, I'm wrong often enough to not treat any one of them as a live-or-die decision. (But unlike academic hiring decisions, we can't declare the candidates inadequate and put off filling the slot until next year. And the stakes are somewhat higher.)

Just as who controlled the Senate in 2002 wasn't the most important thing in the world, who wins the White House in 2004 isn't either, except perhaps to those involved. But if the institutional press is, as Evan Thomas suggested, capable of delivering a 15% margin to its preferred candidate, enough to decide almost any election, and if they're willing to go to almost any lengths in delivering that margin, well, then, we've got a serious problem. (And we don't, really, have a democracy.) To me (and to others) that's a bigger deal than Bush v. Kerry, but it's certainly illustrated by the Kerry issues of the last few months.

Claudia Rosett is, unfortunately, probably right that we'll soon go back to talking about war and terror -- and that's worse, just as going from talk about Gary Condit to talk of Al Qaeda was worse, in September of 2001. But I hope that people will remember what's been demonstrated here, in interpreting the press reports of those, more horrific, events.

UPDATE: For more on the media, read this column by Stephen Green.


Among the documents released is an investigative outline dated March 27, 1998, that details the FBI’s “proposed areas of inquiry” into the actions of Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, including questioning him about meetings Sen. Kerry set up with China Aerospace executives and about a fund-raising event for the senator in Los Angeles. The other document, dated Aug. 24, 1998, requests a polygraph of Chung, mentioning that he laundered contributions for the Clinton/Gore ’96 election campaign and for Sen. Kerry. The documents are heavily redacted, and Judicial Watch is appealing the FBI’s decision to keep secret portions of the documents.

This is all very preliminary stuff that is a long way from any kind of proof, or even evidence. And fund-raisers -- and meetings with foreign companies -- are a normal part of any Senator's work. This seems like more of the same China stuff that I dismissed a while back.

I THOUGHT IT WAS TOMORROW, but you can hear the audio of Eric Muller and Michelle Malkin debating her new book from WHYY by following this link.

DARFUR UPDATE: iAbolish, the anti-slavery outfit, is sponsoring a rally against the Sudan genocide, at the UN in September. I hope it's well-attended, and well-covered.


John Kerry speaking at a Martin Luther King day celebration in Virginia last year said, quote, "I remember well April 1968, I was serving in Vietnam. A place of violence. When the news reports brought home to me and my crew mates the violence back home and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life of Dr. King." That date, of Dr. King's death, was April 4, 1968. According to kerry's website, it was not until November 17, 1968, that he reported for duty in Vietnam.

Sheesh. This was so unbelievable that I looked for the transcript, which seems to be here. [LATER: Same speech here.] Kerry's website says he was on the Gridley when King died. (It shows Feb 10, 1968 as when he "requests duty in Vietnam," but he's still on the Gridley when it "sets sail" for the U.S. in May). Does that count as "in Vietnam?" Seems like a stretch to me.

UPDATE: A reader says that people who served on the Gridley got Vietnam service medals. (Read this ship's history for more on what they did.) Meanwhile, Jon Henke emails:

I think it's fair to assume that the Gridley was "in Vietnam" in a sense. But, I think his statement should have been more precise.

Here's a more accurate statement, for kicks and grins:
"I remember well April, 1968 - I was serving in...well, I was serving fairly near Vietnam--a place of violence...or, at least, that's what I heard in the news reports, which, let me tell you, is scary stuff to hear about from a hundred or so miles away--when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates stories of the violence back home.

I wasn't there, either, but it's like I was. I mean, what with hearing about it on the news reports like that violence in Vietnam, where I almost was."

- - -The above parody is for humorous purposes only, to be taken in the same manner in which Kerry's original statement was intended. A "not literally, but you know what I mean" sort of thing.

Got it. And I'd score this as a stretch, since the image he was trying to provide was a bit different, but not a lie. And as always, the question is -- what would the press be doing if a Republican said stuff like this?

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader with relevant experience agrees that Kerry deserves the benefit of the doubt here:

I am no fan of John Kerry. Far from it.

I know and have served with some of the Swift Vets who have undertaken the effort to get Kerry's embellishments of his Swift boat days and his later anti-war service made part of the public debate. They are straight talkers who have good reason to be offended by his behavior and by his misrepresentations. I trust them and support their efforts.

On the other hand, I have no problem with the statement that Kerry served two tours in Vietnam - one while serving in the USS Gridley and one with the Swift boats. . . .

Not every Viet Nam vet was a ground combat soldier and the war was not fought completely on land or on the rivers. On shore, off shore, in the air--- it was the same war and it was a team effort and it didn't matter where you were. The military awarded Vietnam Service and Vietnam Campaign medals for service ashore and In the waters adjacent to Vietnam.

To take a contrary view is to diminish the dedicated and sometimes extremely dangerous service of a substantial number of sailors at sea who served well and honorably for months at a time during the war. They earned their Vietnam service and campaign medals.

So cut Kerry some slack on this minor point. There are plenty of other - and much larger -targets of opportunity.

Mark Tempest
Captain, USNR (retired)
Served off Vietnam in USS Pyro (AE-24) 1972

Fair enough. And we've gotten to the bottom of this story in under an hour, thanks to the miracle of the blogosphere!

MORE: Or maybe not. Now I'm getting email the other way. Here's one from my Vietnam-Marine colleague Tom Plank:

Service off shore of Vietnam deserves credit and honor (and Kerry is due that). But to say that "I remember well April 1968, I was serving in Vietnam. A place of violence." and not point out that one was serving on a ship in the waters off Vietnam is rank dishonesty.

I spent a few days on a ship off the shore in Vietnam and spent months in the "rear" in Da Nang and in the "bush" southwest of Da Nang. There is a big difference between steaming off shore and even serving in the rear, where a trip to the PX or to downtown Da Nang might be an occasion for an ambush.

I do not not cut Kerry slack on this. A out-right lie. If he had left out Vietnam, his statement would have been noble. All of us 50+ folks remember MLK's death and we were appalled, even before some of us went to Vietnam.

Well, there's room to disagree on all things Kerry-related, apparently.

LAST UPDATE: Capt. Tempest, reading the above, emails: "Tough audience!" Always. And Philip Carter, who served on the Gridley and maintains the history website linked above, emails:

This is another example of Kerry writing for dramatic effect. It would have been more appropriate for him to say that he was in the South China Sea or the Gulf of Tonkin. We were on Northern SAR duty off of North Vietnam, standing by to rescue downed pilots. We did stop in Danang on the way to station, which spawned a whole other fantasy in TOUR OF DUTY. The book is replete with exaggerated references like this.

While service in the Gulf had its dangers, it does not equate to a tour incountry even though GRIDLEY experienced combat and dead and wounded in the previous tour in 1967. Kerry was not onboard then, being in school on the West Coast.

As I said, I score this one as a stretch, though not actually a lie.


A LETTER TO KERRY: Ouch! I'll bet he's regretting that "bring it on" language. Read the whole thing, and note the Medal of Honor recipients among the signatories. (Click "read more" to read it).

UPDATE: Related irony. I think the actual letter is better, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Soxblog has an analysis of the Cleland trip. And interestingly, the list of those signing the letter to Bush includes Tom Harkin.

Seems like a bad choice to me.

Read More ?

CAMBODIA UPDATE: John Cole notes that John O'Neill says he was in Cambodia on a Swift Boat. He says this hurts O'Neill's credibility.

Does this suggest that Kerry might have been there? Maybe it would, if the Kerry campaign hadn't already admitted that he wasn't.

But it's worth noting that O'Neill was in Vietnam longer than Kerry:

After a year on the Woodpecker, O'Neill transferred to the Swift boats in the spring of 1969, serving on them until the summer of 1970. His boat was fired on many times as it patrolled the Cambodian border, as well as the Uminh and Namcan forests in southern Vietnam. In the Swifts, says O'Neill, the average length of service was twelve months; John Kerry was in for four.

Why does that matter? Because he was serving (as Kerry was not) during the Cambodia incursion of 1970, which began on April 29 and lasted two months. (Nixon didn't deny that operation; it was official, and large, and well-publicized, and presumably pre-existing barriers at the border would have been removed.) But Kerry was long gone by then.

As I say, I don't see how O'Neill's presence in Cambodia at some later date -- and it had to be later because O'Neill wasn't in the area yet at Christmastime of 1968 -- can possibly make a difference regarding Kerry's Christmas claims, which are reproduced below for convenience. (And go here to see Kerry's "five miles inside Cambodia" claim.) Especially given that the Kerry campaign has already retreated from the claim that Kerry was in Cambodia in Christmas of 1968. But maybe I'm missing something. And O'Neill, of course, should explain what's going on.

By the way, has anyone looked to see if President Nixon (who of course wasn't President until January 20, 1969) ever denied that we had U.S. forces in Cambodia during the time that Kerry was serving in Vietnam?

UPDATE: Okay, O'Neill has responded. (I'd know that if I weren't boycotting Fox because of it's right-wing smear campaign against InstaPundit!) Here's the key bit from CNN suggesting an inconsistency on O'Neill's part:

O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself, had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

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

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

So that would undercut the "nobody could cross" bit, right? Now here's what O'Neill said on Hannity & Colmes:

O'NEILL: Alan, yes, they are, Alan. It's two different places, Alan. One place is along the Mekong River, right in the heart of the delta. The second place is on the west coast of Cambodia at a place called Ha Tien, where the boundary is right along that border.

Where Kerry was in Christmas of 1968 was on this river, the Mekong River. We got about 40 or 50 miles from the border. That's as close as we ran.

Later, Kerry went, and I went, to a place called Bernique's Creek — that was our nickname for it — at Ha Tien. That was a canal system that ran close to the border, but that wasn't at Christmas for Kerry. That was later for him.

So it's two separate places, Alan, and the story is correct.

Unless there's more to this story, I don't think it undercuts O'Neill's credibility -- and it certainly doesn't support Kerry's Christmastime claims at all.

In fact, the whole thing seems to bear out Ann Althouse's prediction that the Kerry Campaign's strategy would be to try to create a "swirly mass of confusion" to deflect these charges. It's unfortunate that Big Media folks are falling for it. Er, or helping it along.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Manyen emails: "How about we all agree we shouldn't vote for ANYONE that falsely claims to have been in Cambodia between 1968 and 1972?"

Works for me.

I'M NOTICING A DISTINCT THEME in the Olympic blog-coverage. Maybe it's just the blogs I read. . . .

I was, by the way, on NPR's Day to Day program today, talking about Olympic blogging. Follow the link for audio.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK -- and working well. I sent my passport off for renewal on Thursday, and got it back today. Nice work!

UPDATE: More praise for the State Department here. And reader Steve Schonebaum reports a similar experience: "Speaking of passports, mine came within 2 weeks of submitting the forms. Impressive. (I didn't just get a renewal - mine had expired.)"

It's always nice when people get this stuff right.

SOFT DRINKS AND OBESITY: Todd Zywicki does the math and says that claims of a connection are drastically overstated.

Add this to Jeff Jarvis's anecdotal evidence and I guess there's room for doubt. . . .


HERE'S MORE on the crashed Russian planes, one of which sent out a hijack signal.

There's also speculation that these hijackings were the signal to Al Qaeda terrorists elsewhere to commence the next wave of attacks. Speculation is all I'd call it, but it's possible. It's certainly a reason for people to be extra vigilant.

UPDATE: More here, from the sometimes-right Debka. Make of it what you will.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some thoughts on the Russian government's response so far, and what the U.S. government should learn from it.


John Kerry's own wartime journal is raising questions about whether he deserved the first of three Purple Hearts, which permitted him to go home after 4Ѕ months of combat. . . .

Mr. Kerry has claimed that he faced his "first intense combat" that day, returned fire, and received his "first combat related injury."

A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier.

"A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky," wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book "Tour of Duty" by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley.

If enemy fire was not involved in that or any other incident, according to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, no medal should be awarded.

Maybe one of the reporters traveling with him will ask about this, and about Cambodia, now that The Daily Show has given them permission to address the subject. Certainly this answer seems a bit squishy:

A Kerry campaign official, speaking on background, told The Washington Times yesterday that the "we" in the passage from Mr. Kerry's journal refers to "the crew on Kerry's first swift boat, operating as a crew" rather than Mr. Kerry himself.

"John Kerry didn't yet have his own boat or crew on December 2," according to the aide. "Other members of the crew had been in Vietnam for some time and had been shot at and Kerry knew that at the time. However, the crew had not yet been fired on while they served together on PCF 44 under Lieutenant Kerry."

Mr. Kerry's campaign could not say definitively whether he did receive enemy fire that day.

Presumably, Kerry could.

UPDATE: Greyhawk emails:

I wouldn't make too much of that quote - when I first saw it (many days ago) I thought immediately he was referring to the crew as a whole - it is a military frame of reference. I would say "we were inexperienced" refering to any new team I led, even if every member of the team had significant experience individually.

On the other hand - Kerry certainly hasn't exhibited much 'team player' mentality before. But I'd give him this one.

Er, okay -- though do people have to have been shot at as a team to lose the feeling of invincibility? Still, as I've said before, the medals issue is largely a distraction.

But -- as I've also said before -- Kerry could clear this up by doing what everyone from me to the editors of the Washington Post have called on him to do: release his records. By failing to do that, he raises questions about everything, and they're clearly questions that his campaign can't answer.

Greyhawk has posted further thoughts here.

I'VE BEEN TARGETED BY THE RIGHT-WING SMEAR MACHINE! In a FoxNews article on blog advertising by C. Spencer Beggs, several readers noticed this paragraph:

For instance, when Paramount Pictures wanted to hype its recent Denzel Washington thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," it spent some of its budget placing ads on political blogs like — a bit apropos, considering the movie involved shadowy organizations brainwashing unwitting victims.

No doubt they're after me for my unabashedly pro-choice position. . . .

UPDATE: A couple of readers don't like the shirt. It's actually a photoshop by Allah, in response to the Duncan Black Emily Litella t-shirt incident, and I think it's pretty damn funny.

THERE WAS LOTS OF TALK a while back that the Kerry Campaign was buying up copies of his anti-war book The New Soldier -- and there are currently 25 buyers on the waiting list at Amazon. But as Mickey Kaus and I have both noted, the Kerry campaign seems not to have figured on the Internet.

'WERE YOU OR WERE YOU NOT IN CAMBODIA?" John Kerry didn't answer.

UPDATE: Yeah, this is damning for Kerry -- but it's also damning for the professional press corps that the first time he got asked the question to his face was on The Daily Show. Part of that, of course, is because Kerry has been avoiding the press since the issue came up:

Kerry appears to have grown more wary of reporters due to this issue. "He did not come to the back of the plane," Broder said about Tuesday's flight from Boston to New York. "He had been much more accessible." Glen Johnson of The Boston Globe, also in the press travel pool, concurred, saying "that limits the options of what we can write about."

James also noticed a tightening of restrictions on Kerry, adding "they want to be as careful as possible, not having unscripted moments so mistakes don't happen."

But I thought these guys were supposed to be able to get the story, not just take what was handed out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Nathan Lanier says it's worse in context than it was in the news reports:

What's even more damning about the question posed to Kerry on the daily show is the fact that it was asked in a jovial, clearly sarcastic manner as if to downplay it's significance. Stewart gave Kerry a free pass, and he tried to ameliorate the fact that Kerry is a proven liar. Kerry's throat must have dropped into his stomach when he heard that question; Stewart knew this, and he still laughed it off.

Of course, that just makes the press treatment worse. I wonder -- will they use the Daily Show appearance as an excuse to call this "old news?"

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More comments here, from someone who actually saw the broadcast. "It was like Rush Limbaugh interviewing John Ashcroft."

I wonder how the campaign press feels about being upstaged here?

And here's an interesting prediction on how the press will respond, from a commenter at The Belmont Club. "Given that the SwiftVets threaten not just John Kerry but the MSM itself, we must asssume that the MSM will do its best to crush the story. How will it do so? Probably with a 'denial of service' attack: that is, they'll flood the information channels with another story that will drown out the SwiftVets." I don't think it'll work, though. And even if it does, the campaign press corps will still be the losers.

MORE: Cambodia isn't mentioned, but Slate's Dana Stevens writes that Kerry tanked on The Daily Show:

Kerry's charisma was less than zero: It was negative. He was a charm vacuum, forced to actually borrow mojo from audience members. He was a dessicated husk, a tin man who really didn't have a heart. His lack of vibrancy, his utter dearth of sex appeal made Al Gore look like Charo. . . .

Watching Kerry strike out was especially heartbreaking given that Stewart was pitching not just softballs but marshmallows. Puffy interview marshmallows with rainbow sprinkles on them, and Kerry was letting them sail by as if he planned to get to first base on a walk. That may be how he hopes to win the presidency as well, but before he gets there, he'll have to jump through hoops a lot tougher than this exchange.

Ouch. But give Stewart credit -- at least he asked the questions, even if he wasn't serious about doing it.

STILL MORE: Ann Althouse has extended commentary on Kerry's appearance. And Wonkette has a transcript.

IN THE MAIL: All the President's Spin, by the SpinSanity folks. Rather than "Bush Lied!" the thesis is that Bush tells the truth, but in such a way as to leave a false impression. (By the rather low standards of recent Presidential truth-telling, this might seem exemplary, but the Spinsanity folks don't think so).

Being a SpinSanity production, the book is generally fair. What struck me, though, is how hard the publisher has worked to make it look much more like the large crop of Bush-bashing books already out there than the book's content really justifies. I guess that's marketing spin. . . .

LAWYERS, 527s, AND HYPOCRISY: An amusing catch.

PREPARING FOR THE WORST: My TechCentralStation column, which is about disaster-preparedness writ large, is now up. Steve Stirling's new book, and the Society for Creative Anachronism, also play a role.

And TCS's graphics-guru, Ray Patnaude, came up with this amusing graphic. It's almost as good as the Kent Brockman one.

August 24, 2004

JOSH CLAYBOURN HAS LOST HIS MOTHER. He remembers her here. Please send him your sympathy.

AFTER A LENGTHY PERIOD OF IGNORING IT, a question: "Campaign Journalists: Has Swift Boat Story Gone on Too Long?"

Meanwhile John Cole is doing some comparative googling, regarding treatment of the Bush National Guard story. The press seems to tire at different rates depending on subject. . . .

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has expanded the comparison, with predictable results.

A SOBERING PREDICTION from Victor Davis Hanson:

Most see us in a pause, or that the war has gone cold. While we have had successes, I think the next wave will crash soon, and we will be at it again. One cannot read daily of gassers, bombers, and killers arrested hourly worldwide and not imagine that some will not get through. And when they do, there will be a few bold and honest folk who will say, “Who trained them? Who gave them sanctuary? Who wanted them to succeed? Who sent them money” And the answers to all that will inevitably be Iran, Syria, elements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

I'm afraid he's right. I don't know if this is a sign that it's starting: "Two passenger aircraft have crashed within minutes of each other in Russia and a bomb has exploded on a street in Moscow." But it wouldn't shock me if it were.

THE BELMONT CLUB has thoughts on the Internet and news:

Before the Gutenberg printing press men knew the contents of the Bible solely through the prism of the professional clergy, who could alone afford the expensively hand copied books and who exclusively interpreted it. But when technology made books widely available, men could read the sacred texts for themselves and form their own opinions. And the world was never the same again.

Indeed. Which is why, as I've said before, the Kerry/Vietnam story is (at least) as much about the professional media as it is about Kerry.


Sixty years after Paris was seized by the "Allies," and the beginning of the American occupation, France remains a failed nation, mired in political corruption and beset by vast pockets of Muslim extremism, into which the gendarmerie fear to tread. The economy continues to struggle under economic policies driven by failed ideologies, and many of its best and brightest continue to flow out of the country, with only ex-dictators and their families, and hysterical movie stars willing to move there.

Sadly, history has born out the predictions of those who warned against invading in the spring of 1944. Many had pointed out what a poor prospect the region was for any kind of democracy, with its long history of belligerence and arrogance, and failed republics.

It's getting harder and harder to argue with that.

SUSPICIOUS JET CRASHES IN RUSSIA: Two in the same area at about the same time?

HERE'S A NOT-VERY-FLATTERING ACCOUNT of why Bush is bashing the 527s:

While there are prominent GOP-leaning 527s, the vast majority of 527 money is flowing to anti-Bush organizations. As detailed on, most of the multi-million-dollar 527s are lined up against the President. Indeed, only one of the ten largest 527s, the Club for Growth, is anti-Kerry. . . .

The President was wrong to sign McCain-Feingold into law, and he is wrong again here. I would further argue that fewer donors would give to such independent groups -- and we'd have fewer "shadowy" ads -- if it were easier to give larger amounts directly to candidates or to provide traditional "soft money" contributions to political parties. President Bush's position strikes me as rank opportunism -- and it is so , in part, because 527 contributions have overwhelmingly benefitted his opposition.

That seems right to me.

UPDATE: Tom Perry comments:

Bush's position is politics, pure and ugly. It disgusts thoughtful people who value forthright leadership (and freedom of speech), but that's not much of a constituency these days. In political terms, it's pretty smart.


I HAVEN'T DONE MUCH OLYMPIC-BLOGGING, but if you want some, here's a link to the BlogCritics Olympic posting index, offering a cornucopia of Olympic-blogging delights.

JUST THOUGHT I'D LINK TO THIS PAGE SLAMMING BUSH'S NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE, FROM THE KERRY CAMPAIGN WEBSITE, just in case anybody wondered if Kerry had engaged in any attacks on people's military service. (Via Drudge).

Then there's this report:

Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh, speaking moments ago on “Hannity and Colmes”: “George Bush betrayed his country by sending us to war on false pretenses, and George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.”

Yes. You read that right. “George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.”

(Havent' seen a transcript yet, but several readers emailed about this independently, so I think it's reliable.) I think the Kerry campaign's bad month is continuing.

UPDATE: My colleague Tom Plank, who led a platoon of Marines in Vietnam, emails:

Attacking Bush's service is a real dumb move. Most of my contemporaries (including many friends and Bill Clinton) did not fight in Vietnam. I do not consider that they betrayed their country, as long as they avoided Vietnam by legal means, and I do not know any Vietnam veterans who think that those who avoided Vietnam "betrayed their country").

Yes, this seems like a serious error to me. Perhaps born of desperation? Or just ineptitude?


The myth that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry volunteered for swift boat duty in Vietnam knowing it was particularly dangerous continues to spread despite clear evidence to the contrary.

As we have written before, Kerry actually volunteered at a time when swift boats were engaged in relatively safe coastal patrols. They were redeployed to the rivers of Vietnam -- a far more risky mission -- after Kerry's decision. Kerry himself has admitted as much. . . . Yet Kerry's campaign website, vice presidential nominee John Edwards and former president Bill Clinton have all suggested Kerry knew the risks. As Edwards put it, "He volunteered to go to Vietnam and to captain a swift boat, one of the most dangerous duties you could have."

Kerry's campaign continues to encourage this misperception.

And yet Spinsanity notes that a lot of media folks are falling for it. It's like they want Kerry to win or something.

JOHN O'SULLIVAN EXPLAINS how to read the papers these days.

TOM HARKIN IS SLAMMED IN THE DES MOINES REGISTER by columnist David Yepsen, who notes that Harkin, among other things:

• Hurt Iowa. The remark will make it even more difficult for the senator to work with Republicans. Even if Bush and Cheney lose, he will still have GOP senators to deal with. And who in any Bush administration is going to help Harkin obtain grants or programs that benefit Iowa? He already has trouble doing that.

• Hurt himself. Harkin doesn't have to seek re-election until 2008, so perhaps he figures everyone will have forgotten about this remark by then. Not so. The comment has moved the political seismograph more than anything else he's ever said. Republicans won't forget it, and Harkin has assured himself that his foes will come at him harder than ever. His military record - including whether he hyped his own service as a Navy pilot - will again be an issue.

• Is inconsistent. Did the senator ever call Bill Clinton a "coward" because he used deferments to avoid service in Vietnam? No. While Harkin had little time for Clinton in their 1992 presidential campaign, he never carried his words this far. Did Harkin ever call Howard Dean a "coward" for doing much the same thing as Cheney? No. Harkin endorsed him for the presidency. John Edwards didn't enlist. Neither did Tom Vilsack.


PLAME UPDATE: Just got this press release from the folks at Time:

Contact: Diana Pearson, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tues., Aug. 24, 2004

I. Lewis Libby Waives Confidentiality

TIME Reporter Gives Deposition to Special Counsel

New York -- TIME magazine announced today that its reporter, Matthew Cooper, has given a deposition to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in connection with the leak investigation involving Valerie Plame.

Mr. Cooper, who has been held in contempt of court for refusing to disclose his confidential sources, agreed to give a deposition because the one source specifically asked about by the Special Counsel, I. Lewis Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, gave a personal waiver of confidentiality for Mr. Cooper to testify. Mr. Libby also gave TIME permission to release this information to the public.

The deposition, which took place yesterday in the Washington, D.C. office of Mr. Cooper's attorney, Floyd Abrams, focused entirely on conversations Mr. Cooper had with Mr. Libby, one of Mr. Cooper’s sources for the articles he helped author about the leak in July 2003. Following the deposition, the contempt orders against both Time Inc. and Mr. Cooper were vacated.

# # #

Waived confidentiality, eh? Interesting. I don't pretend to understand what's going on here, but I have a feeling we're moving toward some sort of a conclusion.

UPDATE: Here's a story from tomorrow's Washington Post, with a lot more background but without much more clarity on what's going on. Perhaps there'll be a surprise ending. Interestingly, Josh Marshall, who used to be Plame Central, hasn't posted on this yet, though he's posted on some other items since the story broke.

HUGH HEWITT is back after a hiatus, and blogging up a storm.

OLYMPIC ATHLETES ARE FORBIDDEN TO BLOG -- and this sounds particularly lame:

The IOC's rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists - and that the interests of broadcast rights-holders and accredited media come first. . . .

To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time.

So much for the spirit of amateurism, I guess.

DEGREES OF SEPARATION: RedState reports a "What liberal media? moment" for the New York Times. ("Next, the NYT will reveal that the VFW is mostly veterans.")

Call me crazy, but I don't think that the Kerry campaign is going to come out ahead when people start tracing connections to 527s. And if the folks at the Times think that they're the only ones who'll be doing the tracing, then they really haven't been paying attention.

LEWIS LAPHAM, TIME TRAVELER! Next week's Republican National Convention is already seared -- seared -- in his memory. ("Lapham must have written those words in July. Didn't it occur to him that his readers might notice he was claiming to have witnessed an event that had not occurred when the magazine went to press?" Er, or when the magazine arrived in the mail . . .)

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh: "Good thing that people still read the reliable, credible Real Media instead of those nasty inaccurate, un-fact-checked blogs."


Michelle Malkin and I debate tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on Radio Times on WHYY in Philly (Link) and at 9:00 a.m. on WZTK in North Carolina, FM 101.1 in the Triangle and in the Triad (Link).

Tune in. It's likely to be more edifying than Hardball.

UPDATE: Ooops. Muller emails that it's Thursday, not tomorrow.

LOCUS HAS POSTED EXCERPTS from its interview with Neal Stephenson.

ARNOLD KLING: "If employers bear the cost of health insurance, then I'm the Easter Bunny. . . . The right way to think about health insurance is not as something that employers provide but as something that employers sell to their employees. Your employer is an intermediary between you and the insurance company."

JON HENKE IS FACTCHECKING FACTCHECK.ORG AGAIN: " has a good point--one I've made here--that some atrocities similar to what Kerry described did occur. But fails miserably in claiming that Kerry 'was not claiming to have witnessed those atrocities personally'."


Most of the debate between the former shipmates who swear by John Kerry and the group of other Swift boat veterans who are attacking his military record focuses on matters that few of us have the experience or the moral standing to judge. But one issue, having nothing to do with medals, wounds or bravery under fire, goes to the heart of Kerry's qualifications for the presidency and is therefore something that each of us must consider. That is Kerry's apparently fabricated claim that he fought in Cambodia. . . .

Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia." But the point of Kerry's 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was "in Cambodia," as he had often said he was. If he was merely "near," then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.

And, the article notes, Kerry biographer Doug Brinkley's new, improved account has now been contradicted by the Kerry campaign's newest version. (It's a bad week for Brinkley, as Brinkley's Tour of Duty was also the proximate cause of the Swift Boat Vets being organized, according to Michael Novak today.) Fred Kaplan's effort to salvage Kerry's credibility on this issue isn't very persuasive, either -- he's starting to sound like Atrios -- and Bill Adams says he's gone into the tank. ("What Kaplan can't explain is why Kerry would stop boasting and deny crossing the border on that particular day once people began looking into the facts of the matter. So Kaplan doesn't even mention that Kerry's staffers have issued this denial and rendered Kaplan's whole thesis pointless.") He certainly seems to be stretching -- turning "in" to "near" even though that makes nonsense of Kerry's claims, and then arguing that, well, other people went into Cambodia, so Kerry might have, too. Would Kaplan stretch so far for anyone else? I don't think so. I guess he's one of Kerry's fans in the press. ("But what is true for most people is true for journalists, too: When you want something badly enough, it shows.")

DEPLOYED IN FARCE: Greg Scoblete is observing the NYPD pre-convention presence and he isn't impressed: "I'll tell you what the majority of the ones I see are not doing: carefully observing their surroundings, stopping people to check bags, or otherwise doing much of anything other than standing around bullshitting with each other." Sounds like a management problem.

DARFUR UPDATE: The Washington Post editorializes:

Darfur already has become a synonym for dithering by outside powers in the face of genocide. Soon it may also deliver another grim verdict on the ability of the Security Council to back up its own resolutions. Hamstrung by the unwillingness of veto-wielding members, such as China, to intervene, it delayed action for months, then watered down the language it finally adopted on July 30 to omit any direct sanction against the Sudanese regime. Days after that, an agreement between U.N. and Sudanese officials further weakened the pressure on Khartoum: Among other things, it converted a requirement that the government-sponsored Janjaweed militia be disarmed into a Sudanese promise to provide a list of those it admits to controlling.

Not surprisingly, oil interests appear to be behind Chinese and French foot-dragging here.

HERE'S MORE ON STEM CELLS, from Gina Kolata:

But while the work here and elsewhere has touched off a debate reaching into the presidential campaign, a tour through these labs shows that the progress of research is both greater and less than it seems from a distance.

One idea, the focus of about half the nation's stem cell research, involves studying stem cells that are naturally present in adults. Researchers have found such cells in a variety of tissues and organs and say they seem to be a part of the body's normal repair mechanism. There are no ethical issues in studying these cells, but the problem is in putting them to work to treat diseases. So far, no one has succeeded.

The other line of research, with stem cells from embryos, has a different obstacle. Although, in theory, the cells could be coaxed into developing into any of the body's specialized cells, so far scientists are still working on ways to direct their growth in the laboratory and they have not yet effectively cured diseases, even in animals. . . .

As the two lines of research proceed along parallel paths, researchers say it is far too soon to bet on which, if either, will yield cures first. "It's not either-or," said Dr. Diana Bianchi, chief of the division of medical genetics at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston.

Faster, please. And this is why I think that (1) Kerry's right to criticize the Bush funding limitation on embryonic stem cell research, even if he exaggerates its extent, and (2) why I don't buy the argument that adult stem cells will take care of everything. That's just not clear yet. And, since I don't believe that life begins at conception, the embryonic aspect doesn't bother me much either. [Dude, you've got, like, no chance at a Bush judicial appointment now! -- Ed. I've got no chance of a date with Salma Hayek, either. No, Drezner's got that one nailed down. -- Ed.]

JAMES LILEKS: "I had explained the internet the other day: you didn’t need a disk to play it. It’s like a game that’s in the air. I rather like that description, actually, as does she."

VIETNAM BOOMERANG: "Having first questioned Mr. Bush's war service, and then made Vietnam the core of his own campaign for President, Mr. Kerry now cries No mas! because other Vietnam vets are assailing his behavior before and after that war." He should have thought about this earlier.

MICHELLE MALKIN HAS POSTED the latest installment in her back-and-forth with critics of her book. As I noted earlier, the blogospheric discussion is a lot more civil and factual than, say, the Hardball treatment.

MICKEY KAUS on the non-Internet-ready Kerry campaign:

Let's assume that a certain amount of hype is standard procedure in military write-ups, especially when medals are involved. The problem is that Kerry is running for president on this official hype of a more-than-honorable record (one reason he's constantly referring reporters to his official medal citations). He's not only running on the hype but pushing it to the limit, milking it for all it's worth. That's dangerous in, yes, the Internet era! Obsessive fact-checkers can smoke out the exaggerations and get them past the ex-gatekeepers.** Unfortunately, it's more or less all Kerry's got. It wouldn't be so important if Kerry had a) a discernable ideology; b) a political message; c) a record of achievement; or d) an appealing personality!

As Ann Althouse notes, below, somebody should have thought this through. I wonder how many of the problems in this timeline of woe stemmed from not taking the Internet seriously? It's not too late to hire Joe Trippi!

UPDATE: ANOTHER BACK-PEDAL? "Kerry's campaign has said it is possible his first Purple Heart was awarded for an unintentionally self-inflicted wound." It's that dang Internet striking again!

TRAFFIC: Over 260,000 pageviews yesterday, which is a new record, I believe. Now if I could just get a dollar for each one. . . .

August 23, 2004


So it seems that Kerry's idea for how to deal with this huge Swift Boat Veterans problem is to churn up a swirly mass of impressions and imputations and then hope that he is the one who looks clean in the end. The Kerry people seem to be hoping that people are too dim to understand that a group of Bush supporters could operate independently or conspiracy-minded enough to think they all coordinate behind the scenes in plain violation of the law. There is a separate point Kerry has made that Bush should openly denounce the ads and that his failure to do so signifies a willingness to reap the advantages they bring him. That's the clean point, but it has been made, and it apparently hasn't done well enough, because we now see the campaign boat steering over the border into right-wing-conspiracy land.

But what is the solution for Kerry? I'm sure his people are racking their brains now. But they should have thought this through earlier, back when they were so sure that if the candidate stood up at the convention as a war hero that he would be greeted with candy and flowers. They convinced each other that what they wanted to believe was true, and, as a consequence they never had a plan for how to deal with the attacks that they should have known were there.


MORE LOCALITIES SHOULD FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE: "Boulder decided last spring to replace its three-decades-old punch-card voting system with a system that, in some respects, is even more antiquated. Primary voters were handed a 81/2-by-11-inch sheet with candidates' names and told to fill in the squares with a ballpoint pen."

As I've said for a while, it's the way to go.

JAY ROSEN IS SAD THAT WE'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT VIETNAM -- and he's also sad that Douglas Brinkley isn't talking:

This is sad because Brinkley (who is said to be writing an account for the New Yorker) should be in the business of giving out knowledge, and that doesn't include eluding the press when you so often use the press to broadcast your work.

I agree, on both counts. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Several readers email that Brinkley -- who was, as Rosen notes, dodging the press -- appeared on Hardball tonight, where he did yeoman duty as a rather vigorous defender of Kerry. Maybe Mark Steyn flushed him out by remarking that "hagiographer Douglas Brinkley, after an intriguing interview with the Telegraph's David Rennie, seems to have entered the witness protection programme."

MERYL YOURISH notes a very American response to disaster.


The largest Alabama Guard unit to return from Iraq, the 877th Engineer Battalion, had its first weekend drills earlier this month at its northwest Alabama armories. And at those drill sessions, only 19 of the 555 soldiers who attended said they wanted to hang up their helmets or were seriously considering it. . . .

Of the 19 soldiers who may leave, about half had served more than 20 years and were eligible for retirement, while the others had reasons to leave that ranged from job conflicts to their desire to spend more time with their families, Holland said.

When Guard units such as the 877th were deployed for up to a year in and around Iraq, many of their members had never been away from home for such a lengthy period, and more than a few vowed to get out once they got home.

Apparently, some of them changed their minds. (Via The Mudville Gazette.)

I WONDER IF HIS POSITION HAS CHANGED? Roger Simon points to this story from March on New Jersey Governor James McGreevey's opposition to gay marriage.


THE DISAPPEARING TOM HARKIN: The real mystery, of course, is why he ever appeared on that issue, given his history. What was the Kerry campaign thinking?

527 COORDINATION? American Thinker has some observations, and an example. (And here's more -- along with this "web of connections" that you've probably already seen).

Meanwhile Bush is denouncing ads by outside groups:

Bush's campaign heatedly denied any connection with the anti-Kerry group, and called on the Democratic challenger to join the president in a call for all outside groups to pull their ads.

Bush has himself been subjected to a multimillion-dollar barrage of attack ads aired by groups seeking to help Kerry win the White House.

If this election doesn't prove anything else, it seems to me that it's proven campaign-finance "reform" to be even more damaging than the critics feared. And yes, Bush deserves part of the blame for signing it instead of vetoing it as he should have.

UPDATE: Reader Brett Bellmore is much more unhappy with Bush:

Seems to me, Bush has earned more than just a little part of the blame; I'd originally put his signing the BCRA to his inexplicable phobia about vetoing legislation,. (Last President to go this long without vetoing anything was John Adams.) but with his recent statements, it appears obvious he's bought into the whole campaign censorship cause, and become as enthusiastic an enemy of the First amendment as McCain. He's lost my vote over this, I can tell you; I always thought he was at best the lesser evil, but with his embrace of censorship added to everything else, (The steel tarrifs which practically bankrupted my employer, lying in order to get his Medicaid program passed, sabotoging the Armed Pilots program, I could go on in this vein for some time...) he's just not enough "lesser" for me to stomach voting for anymore. I just can't bring myself to care all that much which of the major party candidates wins.

I'm no fan of the steel tariffs, or the foot-dragging over armed pilots, or -- God knows -- campaign finance "reform." (I don't know much about the Medicaid issue). But I'm pretty much a single issue voter here. If Kerry had given me something to work with, I might be comfortable on the fence, or even voting Democratic. But that sure hasn't happened so far.

ANOTHER UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has more thoughts on the 527 issue. And Powerline offers this thought: "President Bush is doing the politically smart thing. I just don't think he's doing the principled thing. Signing McCain-Feingold was smart, but not principled, in exactly the same way. . . . The battle for free speech is one that will have to be fought someday, by a different President. President Bush has enough battles for the moment."

All sorts of people (not me) supported campaign finance "reform" when the bill passed. It's certainly interesting to see the bien pensant crowd turn on McCain-Feingold as this election progresses. Bush's endorsement may serve to accelerate this process. [When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! -- Ed. Only if life also hands you water and sugar. . . .]

HERE'S AN NPR COMMENTARY BY AUSTIN BAY from Baghdad. Follow the link for audio and a photo, taken by Austin with the digital camera I sent him. (Your donations at work!)

It's also worth reading this New York Times oped by a Marine in Najaf:

When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.

Michael Moore recently asked Bill O'Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it's the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. . . .

No, I would not sacrifice myself, my parents would not sacrifice me, and President Bush would not sacrifice a single marine or soldier simply for Falluja. Rather, that symbolic city is but one step toward a free and democratic Iraq, which is one step closer to a more safe and secure America.

Read the whole thing.


In order to move the presidential campaign away from what happened or didn't happen in Vietnam 35 years ago, I offer a suggestion. Since the Kerry camp wishes to argue that official Navy records are conclusive proof that Kerry served honorably and with distinction, I suggest that those of us opposed to Kerry offer to accept that argument, as long as the Kerry people accept the logical corollary: the official Air Force records indicating George W. Bush was honorably discharged from his service is conclusive proof that he properly met his obligations as well.

Sounds fair to me. But will the MoveOn folks go for it?

UPDATE: Here's an interesting argument that Kerry's problems stem from violating the Vietnam truce that had prevailed for years in American politics.

ECONOBLOGARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up!


Financial support for al Qaeda and the size of its operating budget have plummeted in the three years since the Sept. 11 attacks, but the network "continues to fund terrorist operations with relative ease," according to new findings released Saturday by the 9/11 commission.

The report from the panel also says that the Saudi government provided lackluster cooperation in the effort to stanch the flow of money to al Qaeda for two years after the attacks, but began to respond more aggressively after several al Qaeda strikes in the kingdom last year.

Al Qaeda's annual budget appears to have shrunk from about $30 million a year before the Sept. 11 attacks to as little as a few million dollars per year now, the commission reported.

I'm surprised that it's not getting more attention.

MSNBC: "Why Kerry's War Record Matters," from Roger Franklin. Note the LBJ comparison. Great minds think alike, I guess.

UPDATE: Though it's of largely historical interest, here's some background on LBJ's Silver Star -- which, unlike Kerry's, seems quite clearly fraudulent.

SOME INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE ON 527 GROUPS, complete with some useful graphics.

TWO DAMAGING QUOTES for the Kerry Campaign. The first is from Bob Dole:

"One day, he's saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons," Dole said. "The next day, he's standing there, 'I want to be president because I'm a Vietnam veteran,'" said Dole, whose World War II wounds left him without the use of his right arm.

Maybe Dole's mad because Democrats sneered that his World War II wounds were self-inflicted back during the 1996 campaign. Why didn't Chris Matthews put a stop to that?

Then there's this quote from within the campaign itself:

When you're basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem.

Yes, and a predictable one. What's worse is that it didn't have to be this way.

UPDATE: More biography back-pedaling from the Kerry campaign.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This timeline of missteps and fumbles indicates that it's been a month of miscalculations for the Kerry campaign. This is a striking chronology even for those of us who have been following things. My favorite entry is the one for August 12.

THE GERMAN MAGAZINE DIE ZEIT notes the irony of German complaints about American troop withdrawals. MedienKritik has a translation:

Just a year and a half ago the majority of Germans were certain the USA and its President represented a greater danger to world peace than Saddam Hussein, and the US armed forces were considered fearsome executors of the sinister US plans for world domination. Now, however, German politicians and union people, who marched at the very front of the peace demonstrations, are pouting and grimacing like children who feel they have been left in the lurch by Daddy because the number one war-monger wants to deny us the trusted presence of our uniformed American friends.

Heh. Actually, they were totally consistent. Opposition to the war against Saddam was based on a fear that it would cost Germany jobs and money, and so is opposition to the U.S. troop withdrawal. On a related note, read this.

MICKEY KAUS notes an outbreak of "Clintonism" from the Kerry campaign.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has posted his latest roundup of underreported good news from Afghanistan, and once again it's hosted by the Wall Street Journal folks.

THE BLOG-DEBATE between Eric Muller and Michelle Malkin continues with this latest installment from Muller.

It's too bad that Old Media types like Chris Matthews can't comport themselves in the dignified and fact-centered manner of the blogosphere.

August 22, 2004

I BLAME BARNEY. Hey, if Bert could be evil, why not? . . . .

THOSE TRICKY REPUBLICANS: A strategy to lock down the Senate, co-authored by my law school classmate Michael Paulsen. I think, though, that it's about as likely as this scenario was. . . .

BOOKBLOGGING: I enjoyed Steve Stirling's new book, Dies the Fire, which takes place as a sort of flipside to his Island in the Sea of Time books. Though it was a bit disturbing as I drove past the Society for Creative Anachronism guys on Cherokee Boulevard and envisioned them as the inheritors of the earth.

But heck, we could do worse.

LARRY DIAMOND offers a lengthy critique of Bush Administration policy in Iraq.

If Kerry had an Iraq policy that made sense, perhaps he could be making hay out of this. In fact, I want to offer a clipping from a parallel universe, one much like our own except for a different John Kerry campaign strategy:

EAST HAMPTON, NY (IP) -- Democratic Presidential nomineee John Kerry laughs when told that most voters don't realize that he served in Vietnam, winning three purple hearts, a bronze star, and a silver star.

"Why should they? That's several wars ago," Kerry laughs. "Old stuff. I'd much rather people be talking about my detailed plan to rebuild Iraq, using an oil trust mechanism that would give the Iraqi people a stake in reconstruction. That's why I focused on that in my acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. What was I going to do, rehash events from 35 years ago?"

Kerry's friends say that, like other veterans, he's been known to tell a few tall tales about his service over beers with others who served, but that he seldom talks about his combat experience otherwise. "He's put that behind him," says his wife Teresa. "And he thinks it would be unbecoming to make a big deal about his service when others, like [Senator] John McCain or [former P.O.W.] Paul Galanti went through so much more."

"I would have invaded Iraq regardless of the WMD issue," Kerry observes. "Saddam Hussein was a threat, and a menace to his own people. And a free, democratic Iraq will be the first step toward addressing the 'root cause' of terrorism -- despotic Arab regimes that spew hatred to distract their people from their own tyranny. But as I said last year, the reconstruction needed more resources. That was why I voted for the $87 billion in reconstruction money, but urged the Bush Administration to ask for more, to do it right."

Kerry also takes a dim view of leftist filmmaker Michael Moore. "I think that his film 'Fahrenheit 9/11' was scurrilous and dangerous to the morale of our troops. That's why I asked that he be excluded from the Democratic Convention, despite Jimmy Carter's wishes. And that's why he wasn't seen there. In a time of war, we don't need guys like that. We can win this campaign based on our ideas, not propaganda films. That's also why I told Chris Matthews to 'stuff it' when he tried to make an issue out of President Bush's National Guard service."

Kerry's detailed plans for Iraq, and for carrying the war on terror to Al Qaeda and its backers elsewhere, seem to have left the Bush Administration floundering. Sources close to the Bush campaign say that some Bush operatives are considering an attack on Kerry's Vietnam record, but many are skeptical. "I don't think that'll work," says cyber-pundit Glenn Reynolds, who calls Kerry's Iraq plan promising. "Most voters have no idea Kerry was even in Vietnam. He never talks about it, so where's the traction? It's ancient history."

Others are even harsher. "They can't attack the message," says Matthew Yglesias of The American Prospect, a liberal publication. "So they're attacking the messenger. That's because they don't want to talk about Kerry's real accomplishments, the ones Kerry touted at the Convention, like his role in busting BCCI, the terrorists' money laundry. Kerry's talking about that, and his plans for Iraq, and they're talking about Vietnam? Who cares about that? Pathetic."

I'd actually prefer that parallel universe.

UPDATE: Tom Carr observes: "The Kerry 'Parallel Universe' wouldn't be so parallel if you replaced all the instances of Kerry w/Lieberman...including on the ballots. *sigh*"

Yeah. And reader Dave Schuler emails: "You'll make me weep. Why can't our reality be more like that beautiful fantasy?"

Beats me. Because Kerry couldn't have gotten the nomination if he'd sounded like Lieberman?

ANOTHER UPDATE: N.Z. Bear comments on this scenario.

MORE: Chris Lawrence: " Left unpondered is whether or not 'parallel Kerry' has one of those cool-looking goatees like Spock did in 'Mirror, Mirror.'” Yeah, definitely.

THINGS ARE REALLY HEATING UP: "Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole suggested Sunday that John Kerry apologize for past testimony before Congress about alleged atrocities during the Vietnam War and joined critics of the Democratic presidential candidate who say he received an early exit from combat for 'superficial wounds.' Dole also called on Kerry to release all the records of his service in Vietnam."

That would be the easiest way to resolve these things. I wonder if Pat Oliphant will produce a cartoon about Bob Dole now.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse notes that Kerry should have seen this coming:

What is to stop this story from being the central story of the Presidential campaign? . . . It's distressing that the candidate did not take this foreseeable problem seriously. Dole's remarks today (on "Late Edition") included the fact that he warned Kerry that he was going "too far" with his use of Vietnam. How could the Kerry people have blinded themselves to the risks they were taking?



JAMIE KIRCHICK observes that Republicans need to come to terms with gay rights.

Yes, they do.


Arsonists set fire to a Jewish soup kitchen in central Paris early on Sunday morning and daubed Nazi symbols on the building, police said, in the latest anti-Semitic act in France.

But not the funny kind. (Via Eugene David).

MICHAEL BARONE'S LATEST COLUMN looks at the Christmas in Cambodia story: "This month the Kerry Campaign abandoned one claim that John Kerry had made for years about his Vietnam War service and put another into question. The claim that has been dropped: that Kerry was in Cambodia at Christmastime in 1968."


John Kerry says he'll fight claims he lied about or exaggerated his service in Vietnam. The best way to fight such charges would be to stop calling people names and start providing some answers.

He'll have to show that the charges by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are false. That's a tall order. The allegations are numerous, well documented and quite serious. . . .

After all, it was Kerry himself — with the smart salute and "reporting for duty" opening of his convention speech — who made his military service the keystone of his campaign. And it is Kerry who has repeatedly compared himself favorably with President Bush on that score.

In so doing, he's all but ignored his undistinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Senate and his decade as an anti-war activist.

Fair enough. Now we have questions about Vietnam. . . .

If Kerry thinks he's being slandered, he should answer with facts —not with insults, threats and lawsuits.

We have questions, senator. We're ready for your answers.

Read the whole thing. Kerry's campaign would be well-advised to follow this advice, instead of acting as if they've got something to hide.

ON MY WAY INTO THE OFFICE today, I passed a big crowd waving signs. Was it an anti-war protest? I wondered. If so, it would have been the biggest one so far by a substantial margin. But something about the crowd looked . . . not quite right for that.

On closer inspection, it was a big sorority event. So begins the year.

FIRST THEY IGNORE YOU. Then they attack you. Then you win.

THE RIGHT-WING ASSAULT MACHINE has been after Kerry for a while, it would seem. Who knew its tentacles extended so far? . . .

UPDATE: My God, they've been after him since the beginning!

IMPORTANT AUTOMOTIVE ADVICE from Ambra. (Who will shortly have a column.)

A NEW ERA: Thomas Lifson responds to Adam Nagourney. (Via Roger Simon). It's worth reading this column by John Leo from U.S. News, too. Best bit: "When the Los Angeles Times finally decided to notice the story, it had an obvious problem: How should it report news it had ignored for 11 days?"

UPDATE: Varifrank wonders why the press is suddenly so angry. "As long ago as last December, the press was laughing at John Kerry and his chances to win the nomination. Now, they seem deeply offended that President Bush has even decided to run for re-election. Where it gets really weird is to watch the same people who were deriding Kerry just a year ago, [who] now are willing to 'go to the mattresses' for him."