Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Lt. Kerry's Magical Mystery Tour

Hugh Hewitt has an interview with a boatmate of Kerry's who categorically denies Kerry's claim to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. The swift boat vet also puts the kibosh on Kerry's claim to have transported CIA agents into Cambodia. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

HH: Now, Steve Gardner, John Kerry has also been discovered to have been telling a story that he took a CIA man at least one CIA man into Cambodia and that he kept his hat. When you were on the boat with John Kerry, for your two months and two weeks of the tour that he served, did you ever have a CIA man on board?

SG: Number one, no.

HH: Did you ever take anyone to Cambodia and drop them off?

SG: Categorically no.

HH: Did you get near Cambodia and drop anybody off?

SG: The closest we can get to Cambodia, and that's a long swim, is 50 miles.

HH: Alright. Let me ask you about other people on the boat. Could John Kerry have just misunderstood someone on the boat was CIA when it wasn't CIA? Did you ever have any strangers on the boat?

SG: Nope. We always would have an interpreter, or something like that with us, or we would take others and take them in to areas in the Mekong Delta where they would be doing surveillance, but never did we have anybody that we would take close or could take close to Cambodia.

What does it matter, some are asking. These were events that took place thirty five years ago. If he lied about them back then, who cares? Many of the people who are going to be voting in November weren't even born in 1968.

It's of course true that the events occured a long time ago, but Senator Kerry has advanced them as his chief qualification for serving as president. He and his party have made them relevant to this campaign because evidently he feels that what he did back then far outshines anything he has done since. He wants us to believe that it is those deeds which define him as a man and as a leader.

It behooves us then to examine those events. When we do we find that either they didn't happen the way he says they did or didn't happen at all. We are thus left with the conclusion that his VietNam service is a net negative, a serious negative since he himself places such importance on it, and that our consideration of his qualifications should move past VietNam to his record in the Senate. We can't, however, because he keeps bringing us back to VietNam, reminding us often that he fought to defend this country as a young man, etc.

This last refrain is particularly disingenuous, by the way, since one of the anti-war shibboleths from the 1970s was that no American interests were at stake in VietNam and that therefore we had no business being there. This was Kerry's position as a leader of the VietNam Veterans Against the War. Perhaps some journalist might ask him if, by insisting that he was defending this country when he served, he is now of the belief that the VietNam war was indeed a war fought in defense of the United States. If so, when did he change his mind? If not, why does he keep saying that it was?

Character Counts

Mark Steyn has a great piece in the U.K.Telegraph on Kerry's weird story about Christmas in Cambodia. He writes:

I'm Vietnammed out. But it's the centrepiece of Kerry's campaign: the other day, asked a straightforward question about 9/11, he stuck to the current millennium for a good 20 seconds and then veered off into "the war that I fought in was a war where we saw America lose its support for the war, where the soldiers came back having had to do what our soldiers are doing today, carry an M-16 in another country, try to tell the difference between friend and foe. I know what it's like to go out at night on patrol", etc, etc. So, since Vietnam seems to be the only subject on which he has anything to say, it would be reassuring to know that at least he's got that right.

Unfortunately, perhaps tragically, he doesn't have it right. He has insisted for three decades that he spent Christmas eve on an illegal mission in Cambodia, but he appears to have made the story up, and now, like a tar baby, he's stuck with it. Steyn continues:

For decades, John Kerry has told anyone who'd listen that at Christmas 1968 he was on an illegal mission inside Cambodia. On the floor of the Senate in 1986, while attacking President Reagan for turning Central America into another Vietnam quagmire (wrong as usual), 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."

The illegal Yuletide foray was so seared into him that he brought it up at every opportunity.

As he told the Boston Herald in 1979, "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 being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."

LBJ was President on Christmas Eve 1968, but let that pass. Here's an Associated Press story from 1992: "Navy Lt John Kerry knew he had no business steering his Mekong River patrol boat across the border into Cambodia, but orders were orders... By Christmas 1968, part of Kerry's patrol extended across the border of South Vietnam into Cambodia."

Just one problem. It never happened. 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.

For most of his adult life John Kerry has peddled as his central Vietnam anecdote - the one that drove him to turn on his nation's leaders - what appears to be a complete fantasy. Why would he do such a thing? If there's a good answer to that question, maybe someone in his doting press pack would like to ask it.

In the absence of a plausible explanation for Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story, we are left to conclude that the Senator is either delusional or mendacious. If the latter, we have to ask what kind of man would slander his fellow veterans, officers, and indeed his country just to make himself look tall and to advance his own political ambitions.

An interesting question to pose to a Kerry supporter is, Why? Just because John Kerry is not George Bush is not good enough. Indeed, it's incredibly irreponsible. If Kerry supporters cannot give a convincing reason for their support beyond the fact that he's not Bush, they're tacitly admitting that it doesn't matter to them what the man is like. They're acknowledging their willingness to entrust the reins of power to a mediocrity who is either a chronic liar or a sad, deluded man living in a fantasy world if that's what's necessary to get Bush out. How long can a democracy survive in a political climate that spawns such recklessness in its citizens?

Why Bush Will Win

In the first of a pair of outstanding columns for National Review Online Michael Novak offers six reasons why he thinks the Democrats will not win in November. He writes:

1. No one - neither his colleagues nor his wife nor his supporters nor he himself - has anything good to say about John Kerry except that he served bravely in Vietnam. The nearly 30 years since then have generated few boasts on his part, few commendations from others, few successes anyone can seem to remember.

2. The Democratic elite sitting in convention cannot present themselves as they are to the American people, but must stifle their deepest feelings, be silent about their most passionate aims, and hide their turbulent loathing of George Bush Republicans (lest it frighten independents with its ferocity). The Democratic elite is saying as little as possible about same-sex marriage. And guns. And very little about abortion. And not a word about total withdrawal of American troops from Iraq - quite the opposite. Democratic elites do not want the people to know what they really think. On that ground, they fear they will lose.

3. Democrats must hide from the public what they truly think about evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Catholics. They express these thoughts mostly among themselves.

4. John Kerry looks sillier in the pale blue NASA rabbit suit than Michael Dukakis did in a tank.

5. The months of April, May, and June were so heavy with bad news for George Bush - the huge Sorosian expenditures on anti-Bush ads came at him in torrents - and still he held even with Kerry in the polls. It is hard not to believe that there will be at least a slight change in the roaring winds. When it comes (and the change is already underway), it is bound to push Bush's sails steadily ahead as the weeks roll on.

6. The worst lies told by the Democrats about Bush - those of Joe Wilson, Michael Moore, and others, saying that Bush lied about Iraq - have already been proven wrong by the 9/11 Commission (which was supposed to blow Bush out of the water just before the election, but ended up destroying his worst calumniators). These lies were also proven wrong by the British inquiry. Even the Kerry Convention in Boston ended up taking the Bush strategic line in Iraq, except for one thing: Kerry is wistful about the probability of persuading France and Germany to bear some burden on behalf of liberty in Iraq. Good luck! God knows, Bush and Colin Powell tried.

In response to this argument, the persuasiveness of which we'll leave to the reader to decide, he received several hundred e-mails roughly half of which were filled with such hate-filled invective that he was stunned by their viciousness. In a subsequent rejoinder he tells us about them:

Their sentiment was far more animus against Bush than support for Kerry. One said my word 'hatred' was inexact: 'Total disgust' is more accurate. That's what a good many people expressed - an almost inarticulate disgust beyond their powers of speech. Quite a number compared Bush to Hitler, and the present to the early Third Reich.

About half (or maybe only a third) of the 207 letters went into painful riffs, long or short, about the vices of George W. Bush. Several of these are based on untruths - things Democratic speakers such as Howard Dean and Michael Moore say all the time that simply are not true. The revulsion against Bush expressed in these emails does not seem to depend on truth. Even those who actually believe these things could with a little effort find out that they are false. Let me just mention a few of these untruths:

1. The intelligence, academic achievement, and IQ of George Bush are too low for the job. Bush's IQ, measured by his SAT scores and academic achievements, is higher than that of John F. Kennedy and many other successful presidents. Much was published on this in 2000.

2. Bush "lied" when he said Iraq was an "imminent" danger to the U.S. Bush expressly denied that the danger was then imminent, and said when it was actually "imminent" it would be too late to counter.

3. Bush "lied" when he said Iraq had the "potential" to develop weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam must be assumed to possess weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's potential to develop weapons of mass destruction has been demonstrated from what was found after May 2003. And any reasonable leader, hearing the best estimates of all major intelligence services and observing Saddam's behavior, had to assume that he possessed them. Even the anti-war movement employed the same assumption. It used as one of its arguments the claim that war would occasion Saddam's use of WMDs.

4. Bush "lied" when he said in his 2003 State of the Union address that the British had information about the attempt of Iraq to purchase "yellow cake" in Nigeria, as charged by Joseph Wilson. (The famous 16 words.) The British Butler Inquiry said Bush's words were "well-founded." The Senate Intelligence Committee discovered that it was Wilson who had lied.

5. Bush "lied" when he landed on the aircraft carrier under a banner that said "mission accomplished." General Tommy Franks has said he suggested the symbol as a strategic move, to dramatize to reluctant allies that the offensive operations were now over. A new (but still difficult) phase of ending disorder and bringing stable political and economic institutions had begun. On this task, some Europeans had hinted they would help. Franks wanted a dramatic signal sent to them. It was also meant as a "closure" for the main Coalition offensive.

6. A big reason for the deficits are the Bush tax cuts. As even the New York Times has noted, the main cause by far was the great drop of income for the wealthy in the two-year stock-market drop, with a consequent dramatic drop in tax revenues. This was before the Bush tax cuts came into effect. Since then, tax revenues have dramatically increased, especially from the rich. The top 10 percent pay 65 percent of all income taxes.

Both of these essays have much more in them worth reading. I don't know if Bush is going to win in November, but if he loses it will be because of some of the most repugnant political tactics I've ever witnessed. The depth of hatred that justifies any means of unseating George Bush is as frightening as it is repulsive. Heed the words of one of Novak's correspondents: "First we will vote, then if we lose, we will fight." In other words if lies don't work then violence will? This is the language of fascist tyrants and Stalinist totalitarians.


The soldier of the future is going to look like Robocop and be just as formidable according to this article. Some excerpts:

"What we hope to gain from this program is body armor that wears like a traditional textile impregnated with nanomachines connected to an onboard computer, DeGay explained. "So when you shoot a round into the uniform system, it's normally pliable until it senses the strike of a round -- it becomes rigid, defeats the strike of the round and becomes soft again."

A shortcoming of traditional body armor is that it can only absorb so many strikes from machine-gun rounds. "When you have a uniform with this new nanotechnology, it can absorb unlimited numbers of machine-gun rounds," DeGay pointed out.

Another potential development is inserting "nanomuscle fibers" that can actually simulate muscles, giving soldiers more strength. Fabric is impregnated with nanomachines that create the same weight, lift and feel as a muscle. "So I coat the outside of the armor with a nanomuscle fiber that gives me 25 to 35 percent better lifting capability," DeGay explained.

The uniform from the waist down will have a robotic-powered system that is connected directly to the soldier. This system could use pistons to actually replicate the lower body, giving the soldier "upwards of about 300 percent greater lifting and load-carriage capability," DeGay said. "We are looking at potentially mounting a weapon directly to the uniform system and now the soldier becomes a walking gun platform."

I guess this is a good thing. See the article for pictures.