Thursday, August 12, 2004

I read through
the excerpt I linked to below, and it gives me even more motivation to go out and get this book.

Particularly damning is the interview with Kerry's Divison Commander, Grant Hibbard, in which Hibbard categorically denies that Kerry deserved his first Purple Heart. Key quote:
"Q: Did Kerry want you to recommend him for a Purple Heart?

"GH: Yes, that was his whole point. He had this little piece of shrapnel in his hand. It was tiny. I was told later that Kerry had fired an M-79 grenade and that he had misjudged it. He fired it too close to the shore, and it exploded on a rock or something. He got hit by a piece of shrapnel from a grenade that he had fired himself. The injury was self-inflicted, that’s what made sense to me. I told Kerry to 'forget it.' There was no hostile fire; the injury was self-inflicted for all I knew; besides it was nothing really more than a scratch. Kerry wasn’t getting any Purple Heart recommendation from me."
Hibbard follows up by saying that he has no idea how Kerry actually got the Purple Heart, because he didn't deserve it.

One of the entertaining quotes:
"Swiftees have remarked that, if Kerry faked even one of these awards, he owes the Navy 243 additional days in Vietnam before he runs for anything."
Wouldn't that be a sight: Kerry has to re-enlist in the Navy for 8 months because he dodged duty.
I see that MSNBC
has posted a lengthy excerpt from Unfit for Command on their website.
In all fairness to John Kerry,
the Kerry Spot has a lengthy post today about how he may have actually served in a spot around Cambodia in December of 1968. Apparently, Kerry was based in An Thoi (near the legend on this map, there's an island labeled "Dao Phu Quoc;" An Thoi is on the southern tip of that island). Given the relative strangeness of Vietnam's geography, it might be fairly easy to think you were in Cambodia when you weren't.

However, this still doesn't get Kerry off the hook for his Chrismtas in Camdodia story. Why? Well, apparently he was only in An Thoi for about a week, and there are all the accounts of Kerry being in Sa Dec on Christmas Eve -- and that's up a river in the mainland of Vietnam, 55 miles from Cambodia.

The Kerry Spot further points out that Kerry's crewmates still deny being in Cambodia, and the chain-of-command is adamant that Kerry was never there.

It'll be interesting to see if the Kerry camp is able to respond in any useful way to this. All I've seen so far are categorical denials, and then character assassination directed at John O'Neill.
The positive campaign.
From Day By Day:

Normally, I wouldn't care about what what happened so long ago. However, if the Swiftboat Veterans are being truthful (the 200 or so of them), this means Kerry lied then and is lying still. It's an 30-year-old ongoing crime, so to speak, involving events that Kerry has made into the foundation of his candidacy. What's that old saying about houses built on sand?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Something about Kerry's stories
makes me think of Joseph Ellis. Anybody remember him? Biographer and professor of history at Mt. Holyoke College, and winner of a Pulitzer for his book, Founding Brothers. He, for some reason, had a need to completely inflate the activities of his life. Swore that he was a star football player, though he wasn't on the team; said he'd worked in the civil-rights movement, though he never did; said he commanded a platoon in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam and was eventually appointed to the staff of General Westmoreland, though he didn't serve in Vietnam.

What is this? Why do people engage in these kinds of embellishments, nigh delusional fantasies? One can probably guess at Ellis: He was a nerd, and he wanted people to think he'd lived a life of adventure, so he made a lot of stuff up.

But Kerry was in Vietnam, he was on a boat, he was engaged in combat, he really did some things. Why the creation of Christmas in Cambodia? What's with the CIA hat? Cynical and jaded people would say he wanted to create stories for political advancement (hence the typewriter and 8mm camera he brought with him, and the re-enactments he staged). The most generous interpretation would be that he's seriously confused about his own activities -- his dates and facts are jumbled up in his mind. Problem is, he can't reconcile specific memories with reality. He claims he was five miles across the Cambodian border on a very specific day, and he was only in Vietnam for 4 four months, so he can't say he's really thinking about Christmas in 1969.
Over at
Instapundit, you can find the original Boston Herald story, written by John Kerry, stating that he spent Christmas Eve in Cambodia listening to President Nixon deny the presence of American troops in Cambodia. (Good luck reading it; the .jpg is a "scan of a fax of a photocopy of a microfilm.")

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

"In fact, I remember spending Christmas Day of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese Allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real. But nowhere in 'Apocalypse Now' did I sense that kind of absurdity."
To be fair, Kerry seems to be (from the very little I can make out in the .jpg) doing some kind of review of "Apocalypse Now," and doing some comparisons to his own life to draw inform his opinion. Now, it's still strange that a) he doesn't seem to realize that LBJ would have been President in 1968, and b) there's no evidence that he was in Cambodia at the time in question (and a lot of evidence that he wasn't).
Over at NRO,
the Kerry Spot links to story at The Note, which references this:
"Last night, Kerry adviser Michael Meehan responded to the claims in an interview with ABC's Stu Chamberlain.

'The Mekong Delta consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on the Mekong Delta between Cambodia and Vietnam. He was ambushed, they fired back, he was fired upon from both sides, from the Cambodian side and the Vietnam side during that day in 1968...What I've seen in this book is a bunch of people lying about John Kerry did. John Kerry actually did command a boat in Vietnam, ran patrols along the border in the waters, on behalf of the United States in 1968 and 1969.'"
According to the stuff I've been reading at Powerline and Instapundit and everywhere else on the web, the northern-most point that Kerry reached on Christmas would have been Sa Dec, which is 55 or so miles from the Cambodian border (this is confirmed by the interview Hugh Hewitt had with Kerry shipmate Steve Gardner).

How he could have been ambushed from the "Cambodian side," I'm not too sure. If he was, those must have been some damn powerful guns, seeing as how they fired some 55 miles. I admire the ability of the snipers.
I would like to add
that my favorite Kerry camp reaction to the Christmas in Cambodia story is from Fox News:
"The Kerry campaign first asserted that the Massachusetts senator never said that he was in Cambodia, only that he was near the country. But when presented with a copy of the Congressional Record and asked about Kerry's letter in the Boston Herald, the campaign said it would come up with an explanation. After repeated phone calls, there was still no clarification."
Faithful readers,
all three of us, will already know that the blogosphere has been on fire with allegations that John Kerry has seriously exaggerated his war exploits, that his three purple hearts and two medal for bravery were likely awarded under fishy circumstances. There's also the very odd Christmas in Cambodia story, and the CIA hat incident. These stories are superbly covered by Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt and Powerline, and details of these items can be found there.

I watched Hannity & Colmes last night, and they had on the author of Unfit for Command, John O'Neill. O'Neill didn't really say too much, as both Hannity and Colmes repeatedly interrupted him to make various points. His part was interesting enough, but he seemed almost unnecesary in the back and forth.

The more interesting segment was when Kerry team member Jeh Johnson (that's not a typo) came on to emphasize how ridiculous the Kerry camp thought Unfit for Command is. The man said nothing, other than how the 60 or so people quoted in Unfit for Command weren't actually on Kerry's boat.

Now, I understand how that would be a valid point if the book were trying to say that Kerry said some inflammatory thing, and these guys were two boats over. How would they know? But, from what I understand, that's not what's being said. Take, for example, Kerry's account of how he rescued his shipmate. Kerry claims they were under fire and he risked his life to save this man. Well, Kerry's boat wasn't the only one present. All the other people in the area say that Kerry's boat fled the scene and returned when it was clear there was no enemy fire. You don't need to be on Kerry's boat to know that your group wasn't under attack. You don't need to be on Kerry's boat to see him taking off. You don't need to be on Kerry's boat to see that his rescue really wasn't that heroic.

The response of the Kerry camp was silly. I certainly hope they're not proud of the spin they're putting on it. Johnson basically said that we need to consider Kerry's record, but only the heroism. All the other stuff (like the war crimes Kerry has admitted to on tape) should be ignored.

That's their defense? Kerry's war record is important, but not the bad stuff? Please. Kerry has made his military record the centerpiece of his campaign, and it deserves a thorough examination, warts and all.

President Bush was under intense media scrutiny because of allegations that he might have been AWOL during his National Guard duty. Journalists scoured the universe trying to find someone, somewhere who could corroberate this story. Nobody could be found who could say that Bush wasn't on base when he said he was.

Kerry, on the other hand, has scores of vets saying that he was essentially derelict in his duty as an officer. Will the media give this the same attention they gave the allegations against Bush? The big media better be careful. If they don't, it'll be further confirmation to everyone with a pulse how biased they really are.

Update: The interview in which Kerry discusses his CIA-hat can be found here. Byron York has a good run down of the Christmas in Cambodia story here. Check out Hugh Hewitt's interview with one of Kerry's boat mates here (yes, the man actually served ON Kerry's swift boat.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sunday came and went,
and the Reverend Fred Phelps and his merry band visited my home town. I've been given a couple of accounts, and apparently the hoopla was about the same at each church he visited. His people surrounded the sidewalk leading up to the main entrance of the given church and shook their placards and screamed obscenities at the parishioners as they approached.

The local Methodist church had a gentleman wait by the curb to escort some of the older parishioners into the church, lest they be intimidated by the mob.

One of the epithets hurled was (and is suitably redacted here), "God hates a**f***ers." Children were in the Phelps crew, and were seen screaming this obscenity. That's positive child-rearing, I tell ya. And I'm sure the old Swedes at my home church were feeling the love of Christ flowing from the visitors from Topeka that morning.

I'm still fairly confused by all this. Seeing as how the underlying complaint is with the laws of Sweden, and has nothing to do with Lindsborg itself, I have no idea what they intended to prove. Of course, I'm expecting logic from a Phelps supporter.

Silly me.