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Author Topic: SBVFT lay out case for factual basis of ad
Ron Lambert
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The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth represent 97% of the people who served in Kerry's unit in Vietnam. Their stories are consistent. If Kerry and his handful of sycophants are the ones we should really believe, then why can't the Democratic Party dig up a few more people to back up their version of affairs--and why do their own testimonies constantly conflict with each other?

If the accounts of others concerning the truth about Kerry's purple heart injuries should be dismissed as bogus, then why does Kerry refuse to allow all his medical records from Vietnam to be released, and only releases the records and forms that seem favorable and that mainly he himself wrote?

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RickyB
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97%, huh? The band of brothers are what, 14? That means that for them to be 3%, the total would have to be 460 people. I thought the SBVFT were like 250. Fuzzy math, anyone?

You're right, Ron. Kerry's lying, anyone who was undeniably there and says otherwise is a sycophant, and a bunch of people with a chip on their shoulder and a major Bush donor bankrolling them, and absolutely no documentation to back them up, whom every news organization as well as factCheck.org have found to be in error - they're the ones who have it right.

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Ron Lambert
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RickyB, someone provided the 97% figure. I don't recall where I read it now. But let's check the figures and do the math ourselves.

The "band of brothers" is only about 8-13 (the count varies--typically only eight or so appear on platforms with Kerry. As of August 6, SBVFT said on their website their membership was 254.

Taking the maximum number of Kerry crewmates, 13, that gives us:
254+13=267. 254/267=0.9513108. So that works out to 95%.

If we use the number who are usually paraded out on stage behind Kerry, 8, that gives us:
254+8=262. 254/262=96.94656. So that works out to virtually 97%.

I calculated these with my pocket calculator, which does not have a "fuzzy logic" chip.

I suspect you tried to calculate the percentage based on the 14 figure you gave, using algebra. I don't trust my algebra. That's why I used a calculator and regular arithmetic.

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Ivan
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With 14, Ricky's right, with 8, RonL is. It looks like whoever came up with the "97%" figure that RonL read was using the 8. Seems like solid math to me.
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Adam Masterman
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Well, a lotta traffic here in my 24 hour absence, I'll try not to derail.
Javalin, I read back through the threads and am not quite sure what you mean by "facts", if you give me some examples I'll respond. I did find this on the other thread:
quote:
They claim two of the three wounds were self-inflicted and not suffered under enemy fire. Self inflicted wounds would demonstrate cowardice of the highest order.
Which supports my idea that these attacks are designed as a smear. I heard through various sources that the SBVFTs were claiming his
wound was "self-inflicted". I immediately thought what everyone else who hears this phrase thinks: kid chickens out, fires a rifle into his foot, and goes home. Its a pretty serious charge to level against someone. Its not until you actually delve into the reports do you find that what this claim actually is is that Kerry was injured by shrapnel when he failed to take adequate cover after throwing a grenade. Now, there is dispute over whether there were enemies where he threw it, but even so this is a far cry from shooting your own foot on purpose. Saying that his purple heart wound is "self-inflicted" without any qualification is intellectually dishonest. Taking shrapnel from one's own grenade certainly doesnt represent " cowardice of the highest order," so I can only assume that others are taking this claim at face value, and that this is intentional distortion.
Adam

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manji
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Well, velcro, the SBVT do, in fact, bring up Cambodia, in their book and on their website. Go read them if you want to form an actual, legitimate opinion on where the SBVT stands. Or if you'd rather read what MoveOn.org or the Boston Globe thinks about it, that's cool, too.

[ August 18, 2004, 02:03 PM: Message edited by: manji ]

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RickyB
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<sigh>
If 13=3%, then 4.33=1%
Yes?

If 13=3%, then 13x33.33=100%, yes?

The difference between the BoB being 3% or 5% of the total is not a difference of 2%, but rather of 33%, see.

if the SBVFT are about 260, and the BoB are 13, then the ration between them is 20:1. The ratio between 97 and 3 is 32:1. You should try looking at things from an Algebraic PoV. there's a reason it was found to be necessary.

BTW, there were at least 14 people on stage at the DNC.

Now, it's alredy been proven that not everybody in the SBVFT actually served WITH Kerry, meaning being in the same places at the same time. Just belonging to the same unit means jack. Units exist far long after a given individual ceases to belong to them - especially if the individual's tour of duty lasted only 4 months. Even many of the people who appear in the ad have been debunked.

97% indeed.

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RickyB
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Adam, I think there were no enemies for the shrapnel incident. They were blowing up rice storages so that the Vietong wouldn't have food.
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Ron Lambert
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OK, RickyB, let's take the 14 figure. If there are 14 people out of Kerry's entire unit who support him, and 254 members of SBVFT who do not, then that is:

254+14=268

The standard, normal way to calculate percentages that I learned in Grade School is to divide thusly:

254 divided by 268 equals 0.9477611.
That would round off to 95%

Any way you cut it, we're playing in my ballpark, not yours.

I suggest that you reconsider your reliance on algebra. Algebra is clearly not your friend.

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Ivan
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Adam, I think there were no enemies for the shrapnel incident. They were blowing up rice storages so that the Vietong wouldn't have food.

I had not heard that and I'm STUNNED that I hadn't heard it. Kerry got a Purple Heart when there were no enemies around?! What's up with THAT?!
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RickyB
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There's nothing in the reglations against that. But I could be wrong.
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Ron Lambert
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About the rice-fragging incident, I don't know if there was any serious intent to deny the Viet Cong food. Kerry was probably just tossing his grenade into a rice bin on a lark. That's what it sounds like in his account of the incident. He must have turned his back, because he admits in his own account that he got some brown rice stuck in his butt along with a fragment from his own hand grenade. The medic who treated the wound said he had to remove rice as well as a fragment of "shrapnel." Then Kerry claimed a purple heart for this.
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RickyB
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Bill O'reilly comes out against the SBVFT. Either he does have some decency, or he simply understands who's losing the proof battle here and wants to be counted on the fair side when those things get counted.

Do we need to wait for Rush and PsychoGal too?

Oh, btw - Kerry denounced an ad about Bush's ANG service.

Mr Bush? That would be a ball in your court.

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Ron Lambert
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It was specifically stated in the regulations that a purple heart cannot be granted for a self-inflicted wound.
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Adam Masterman
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As I said, even without an enemy, calling this a self-inflicted wound and then pointing to that as evidence of cowardice is a serious distortion, even if we take the swifties at their word. Its like Roy Hoffman stating that Kerry was lying even though he admits he has no way to know this beyond the testamonies of other people. Clearly this organization is willing to stretch the truth and distort to smear Kerry. I am not saying that there is nothing true about their testamonies, only that they are in cases lying or distorting, and that this is not because of patriotic interest but personal and partisan animosity.
Adam

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Ron Lambert
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Bill O'Reilly choose to believe Rassmann because he was a Green Beret, etc. But he ignores the fact that Rassmann was probably dazed after being blown or thrown out of his boat, and that Rassmann claims he was on Kerry's boat, while Kerry claims Rassmann was on the boat behind his.

Basically, O'Reilly doesn't like the negative message just because it is negative, and regardless of whether it is the truth or not.

What about the 254 SBVFT, who are 95-97% of the people who served with Kerry in the same unit in Vietnam, and include 60 medal and purple heart recipents. Aren't they deserving of equal respect and honor?

[ August 18, 2004, 02:39 PM: Message edited by: Ron Lambert ]

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manji
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Well, technically, you can get a Purple Heart for a non-negligent self-inflicted wound if under hostile or enemy fire.

[ August 18, 2004, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: manji ]

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RickyB
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Then maybe there was some. I don't remember. Read that post from Hatrack. It has the official quotes from the three purple hearts and the two stars. I'd do it and quote for you, but the link is right here a few posts above, and I'm feeling my allergy to army-buff stuff acting up.

As for "Served with Kerry in the same unit" - that is apparently half false for the vast majority of them. They may have served "in the same unit", but not "with Kerry". Either not during the same time, or not on the same missions. For instance, there's this dude who says he was in the other boat "yards away", from events, that are described explicitly as having occurred hundreds of yards away from the other boats. He could not have been within eyesight of the material incident.

Eye witnesses with closest proximity to events?
On Kerry's side.

Official record?
On Kerry's side

Impartial and even partisan observers (LA Times, FactCheck.org, O'reilly, the Boston Globe several years ago), having examined the available facts?
Find in Kerry's favor.

Explicit, material statements (at least one) in SBVFT's case?
found to be utterly unbacked by any documentation

It really is amazing how some people will never, ever be convinced, no matter what.

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javelin
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Okay, if you all want to kep prettending that the SBVFT statements have been debunked, then we don't have a discussion going on here. Getting tired of hearing that statement. If you'd like to SHOW how the statements have all been disbunked, I'm right here listening.

Ricky - I'll hold judgement on the hatrack stuff, but I've READ everything else you brought up. To say they "don't agree with the SBVFT" is REALLY stretching it. They all have points against, but to say they debunked them or don't believe them? That's a stretch on most of those listed.

[ August 18, 2004, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Daruma28
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O'Reilly is simply pandering because he's hoping to land a one-on-one interview with Kerry soon that would send his ratings even higher. If he embraced the SVBFT, Kerry would withdraw from his pending apperance he previously agreed to.

Still haven't seen a credible refutation of the original posting of the letter from their lawyer. Only speculation and debates on unrelated issues.

I figured this would happen. Those that support Kerry before the SBVFT came out would continue to do so no matter what came out, those that are against Kerry would be more likely to believe it....but what really matters is if the undecideds all read the conflicting reports and make up their own minds on the veracity and credibility of the SBVFT vs. that of Kerry's.

From as an objective standpoint as I can muster, the SBVFT look pretty damn convincing to me.

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velcro
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Javelin, read the factcheck.org site. It is clearly favoring Kerry over SBVT.

We don't have to "debunk" someone who says they saw Santa Claus. THEY have to PROVE they saw it with evidence. The SBVT have no evidence.

You can get a purple heart for a self inflicted wound if it is in the process of destroying something that would help the enemy, e.g. rice. If someone wants a source for this, let me know.

quote:
Well, velcro, the SBVT do, in fact, bring up Cambodia, in their book and on their website. Go read them if you want to form an actual, legitimate opinion on where the SBVT stands.
No need to get persnickety. I was referring to the ad, not everything else.
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Daruma28
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The Washington Times has printed some excerpts from "Unfit for Command." Kerry's Fellow 'Swiftees' Dispute his Purple Hearts

Interesting......very interesting, to say the least.

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Dan Allen
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quote:
Ricky: As for "Served with Kerry in the same unit" - that is apparently half false for the vast majority of them. They may have served "in the same unit", but not "with Kerry". Either not during the same time, or not on the same missions. For instance, there's this dude who says he was in the other boat "yards away", from events, that are described explicitly as having occurred hundreds of yards away from the other boats. He could not have been within eyesight of the material incident.
As described by who?
And there are at least 19 who served with Kerry who want him to stop using their picture in ads because they do not support his campaign.

Remember, these were small boats; they worked together in teams similar to how armor platoons do - a minimum of two boats went on every mission. You do not have to physically be on Kerry's boat to observe what's happening. The reason two boats always went was so that one could watch & support the other - you can't effectively do that unless you are aware of what the other boat is doing or involved in. I don’t think anyone is claiming that the 250+ members of SBVT were present for all of Kerry’s contested missions, but the testimony of the ones who were present does count since they were there. Van O’Dell, for example, was present for the Rassmann incident, and maintains that there was no hostile fire – we’re now back to eyewitness testimony, and all available public records prove that Kerry has made false statements about his war exploits in the past, so his version takes the hit.

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LetterRip
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Daruma,

you realize that your link is to a piece written by O'Neil, right?

LetterRip

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jt
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quote:
Official record?
On Kerry's side

Ok RickyB, where can I find the "offical record"? Has it been released?

Just a comment: purple hearts with no hospitilization do not carry much weight with me.

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WarrsawPact
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Wow, if there was a "lack of documentation" for a scandal involving Bush, I bet there'd be a bandwagon of people saying that obviously Bush did it.

Why is it you put so much faith in, and add so much weight to, things that you wouldn't accept if the fire was in the other direction?

quote:
THEY have to PROVE they saw it with evidence.
First of all, no they don't. The ad is damning and it gets independents to seriously rethink their plans to vote for Kerry.
They don't "have to" do anything, any more than anyone "has to" prove that Bush did 10% of the maybe-he-did-maybe-he-didn't things he has been accused of in the last four or five years.

Secondly, I don't think Kerry swiftboat pals have evidence in their favor. It's not like someone was there in the middle of the firefight taking pictures of shrapnel in flight coming at Kerry's buttocks.

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Daruma28
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Of course LetterRip.....it's an EXCERPT from his book.

Does that fact that O'Neil debated Kerry on TV thirty years ago and has outspokenly opposed him ever since mean anything he's written, researched or presented is made automatically invalid?

It's a common tactic to attack the messanger than actually deal with the contents of the message....but I prefer to judge the message itself on it's own merits.

I posted the link because it's an actual excerpt from the book - the first of three - and I see that a few have already discounted the book without having read a single sentence within it. So here it is, a section of it verbatim.

If you want to convince the undedcideds, that the SBVFT are being dishonest and smearing Kerry unjustly and falsely, than please address the particular content for the message rather than focus on the messanger.

You can get wrapped up in various semantics and mathematical equations showing that only 95% instead of 97% or whatever -- but the fact remains: the overwhelming majority of Swift Boat Vets that served in the same unit as John Kerry are opposed to him becoming Commander in Chief, and many of them offer compelling and convincing testimony as to why.

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RickyB
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Javelin, for heaven's sake. I referred you to FactCheck, which is so unpartisan I believe even FIJC once used it in an argument. I referred you to the LA Times. I referred you to a thread on another forum that contains links and quotes from the official record of the Navy.

what more proof do you require?

It is you who keeps saying "no proof, no proof", despite much proof having been offered.

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RickyB
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They served in the same unit, but not necessarily in the same time, and the vast majority were NOT witnesses to the events of which they speak. So how relevant is it that they served "in the same unit"? Not very. Hardly at all.

The unit I served in still exists. You know how many people "served in the same unit" as I did?

Oh, and what exactly is a "unit"? A squad? A Company? A platoon? A Battalion? A Brigade? A division? What was the size of this shared unit?

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javelin
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RickyB - please don't misrepresent what I am saying. I've said several times, to paraphrase, "thank you for bringing some information from the "other side" to the table". I'm not saying "no proof, no proof" at this time. I've disputed what you've brought to the table, but I'm not pretending it has no weight. Please check again if you think that's what I'm saying.

[ August 18, 2004, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Daruma28
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I'm not trying to convince those that are unconvincable here.

I'm only saying that I myself find the SBVFT's case pretty damned convincing.

If you actually read the excerpt from the book in the Times article, you'll see that the book offers three different accounts of the events leading up to Kerry's first purple heart. The first is Kerry's own account as related to the author of "Tour of Duty."

I don't know about anyone else, but I find the fact that the book lays out the conflicting accounts and lets the reader make the judgement for themselves a pretty good indicator that the author is not afraid of showing the other side because he believes in the merits of his own argument (compare that to the tactics of a propagandist like Michael Moore - who ONLY shows interviews with Soldiers opposed to the war in F9/11).

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Ivan
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quote:
First of all, no they don't. The ad is damning and it gets independents to seriously rethink their plans to vote for Kerry.
They don't "have to" do anything, any more than anyone "has to" prove that Bush did 10% of the maybe-he-did-maybe-he-didn't things he has been accused of in the last four or five years.

I agree with this. In the war of public opinion, you don't actually need to prove anything. SBVT is helping Bush's campaign immensly by making claims that the Kerry campaign cannot simply dismiss. Whether or not their accusations mean anythign at all is irrelevant, at least when it comes to the election. The truth doesn't matter. Far more important is the perception of the truth.

But since we Ornerians like the truth, then it matters here. And the onus of truth is on the accuseres in this case.

quote:
Secondly, I don't think Kerry swiftboat pals have evidence in their favor. It's not like someone was there in the middle of the firefight taking pictures of shrapnel in flight coming at Kerry's buttocks.
Well, there is the offcial post-battle documents and the citations for his medals, etc. This are about as close to "pictures" as we can get.

But as for all of the recent testemony, I think a lot of it is useless, and I'm talking on both sides here. Take for instance the guy whose life was saved by Kerry. This guy says he was alone in the middle of a firefight and was forced to flee underwater after falling out of a boat (I forget how). Now, I'm willing to bet that most of the events between that and seeing Kerry's elongated face pulling him into the boat are something of a blurr, especially 36 years later, so I'm not inclined to give much credence to what he is saying now.

And as for SBVT, I'd like to hear the memories of the 230 odd vets in that group who wern't featured in a TV add or news paper article. I'd like to see a reporter go to their house and inverview them. I think that would be the best way to see how real the groups claims were...

-Ivan

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Dan Allen
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quote:
Warrsaw: Wow, if there was a "lack of documentation" for a scandal involving Bush, I bet there'd be a bandwagon of people saying that obviously Bush did it.
There already are: Bush was clearly AWOL because there is no documentation specifically proving that he wasn’t – except for that pesky honorable discharge of course. [Mad]
quote:
Ricky: They served in the same unit, but not necessarily in the same time, and the vast majority were NOT witnesses to the events of which they speak. So how relevant is it that they served "in the same unit"? Not very. Hardly at all.
Based on the pictorial evidence there were at least 144 members of Coastal Division 11 (24 OIC’s, times 6 men per crew) who served at the same time as he did – they served “with” him. He also, IIRC, served with CD 13 (the January-March '69 stint), so potentially, there are at least 288 men who could say they served with him - and in close enough proximity to observe him. Not on an individual basis on every mission, but there are certainly enough SBVFT members that they did collectively.

I’ve never claimed that every single one of those who served with him were witnesses of every single event, but out of that large number you have enough witnesses, of one or two events each, to challenge, or not, the vast majority of his claims. Unless the SBVFT are claiming that they all witnessed every event (and there are most likely more than just those currently in the news), you cannot logically discount their claims simply because Kerry has 10 or so men that say otherwise since they can pull an equivalent number for each event from their much larger pool. Their eyewitness accounts are very relevant because they were on hand to personally observe his leadership.

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Richard Dey
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RickB: "By whom? for what end?" You're talking about a Kennedy Klone!
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stayne
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I'd like to say I am surprised by the Kerry supporters here, but in truth, I am simply simply very saddened by what seems a vindication of my growing awareness that many, many of my countrymen are either dishonest, or incapable of resolving contradictory views that they hold. Worse, they are so hateful, so negligent in their partisanship, that they spit in the faces of men who risked everything to preserve their way of life. Vietnam veterans and the military at large are, once again, dishonored and excoriated by the childish, self indulgent left. Plus ca change....

It's interesting how the Kerry suporters are forced to tear the mask from their own faces. They've been holding it forth for some time, a smiling, reasonable image on a stick, hiding the ugly, misshapen truth. Until this, we've only been permitted to see the calculated image, the plastic 'we support the troops' smiles and the gaping, empty eyed stares of 'Kerry is great because men who served in the military are great'. But now...

They tell us that the vast majority of men who served honorably with Kerry are malicious, sefish liars. They want us to believe that the minority of his fellows (and by implication, the minority of servicemen in general) are virtuous and honorable. The rest, they tell us, are vicious brutes who would not only concoct a malicious tale to strike at their political enemies, but willingly assault the very principles of democracy that many of their brethren surrendered their lives to preserve.

The level of dishonesty or self-delusion I have seen from some is shocking. A few cases:

I have seen arguments that the doctor who claims Kerry's injury was slight didn't sign off on the matter. And yet, this has been explained, by the doctor himself. The doctor says that he treated Kerry because he was an officer, but the 'injury' was so slight that he passed it off to a hospitalman, i.e. an elisted man somewhat akin to a nurse. What else would a doctor do in wartime? The signature is, indeed, from an HM1, a hospitalman petty officer first class. There is no contradiction, here. Why do those who raise this point hide this fact?

There are those who claim that the Navy's official recordings are beyond reproach, despite the fact that there was very little oversight of such matters. Do we so soon forget that this is the _same_ Navy that tried desperately to close the books on the Iowa gunmount explosion with the pathetic explanation that it was the result of a homesexual love triangle? What about the Philadephia Experiment and all it's requisite conspiracy theory and non-explanation? The Navy itself, and it's brass, are political animals through and through. Their official records, when in contradiction with large numbers of servicemen, should _always_ be considered suspect.

What disgusts me most is the way Kerry suporters are, like Kerry himself, willing to shift their perceptions as is politically convenient. We are not talking isolated accusers, here. We are talking about _damning eye witness testimony from men who were present_. It would be enough to convict in any court in the land. Rest assured, if this were a case of a racial crime that occurred in the South during the same period of time, we would hear no defense of the accused on the grounds that the accusers bore old grudges, or their memories had faded. We would hear hysterical laughter from them at the ludicrous suggestion that a conspiracy of hundreds could somehow be established and maintained despite the best efforts of an organization as powerful as the DNC.

Truth is truth. When so many men of good reputation stand before you and plead their case, and you turn away because you don't like what they are saying, you're simply foolish. When you call them liars and fools, you cross the line into narcissism and solipsism, not to mention villainy.

Do none of you Kerry supporters take with even a slight measure of seriousness your duty to do no harm to your nation? Politics aside, the simple fact that such a large number of servicemen, the vast majority of his commanding officers, and the vast majority of men who served with him, are clamoring that Kerry is not what he appears to be should be as alarming to you as it is to anyone. These are men who swore oaths to defend you from enemies foreign and domestic, and they are shouting from the rooftops that Kerry is unfit for the job.

I don't know why I even bother, honestly. I am ashamed of my countrymen. I am ashamed of my service. I am ashamed that I ever believed that, as a people, we had any nobility at all. We are nothing but barbarians fighting tooth and nail over the scepter of power, mealy mouthed vultures picking at the still twitching corpse of honor, dignity, and service. No amount of argument, no level of credibility will be enough for true believers.

Feuer frei.

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RickyB
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Another SBVFT member contradicted by those pesky facts:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&e=3&u=/ap/20040819/ap_on_el_pr/kerry_war_critic

[ August 19, 2004, 06:12 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Gaoics79
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It seems to me that if there were not some truth to this story, it wouldn't be a controversy at all. Hundreds of veterans would not have started an organization to go after Kerry and expose him as a fraud. Even if, hypothetically, the SBVFT's were liars, that brings up another interesting issue: why are they so eager to attack Kerry, a man who, according to his campaign propaganda, is some kind of war hero? Even in political campaigns, bona fide war heroes don't get backstabbed by their own peers. I don't recall anyone ever questioning Bob Dole's credentials, for example. This leads to a point which I think to be true, although I don't have any stats to back it up: Kerry does not seem to be very popular in the military. Maybe this is due to the fact that there is reason to believe that he slandered them, or maybe it's simply because military types know that under a hawkish Bush government, they'll probably be better funded. Either way, I would hypothesize that Kerry isn't claiming to be a war hero every four seconds to appeal to soldiers, but to appeal to white collar guys like me. (if I were American, of course)

Personally, I am impressed with SBVFT's testimony. I don't actually have any way of knowing which "facts" are true, but it does seem as though SBVFT's are very detailed, and don't sound like fabrications. And it seems to be accepted fact by both sides that however he got one of those purple hearts, he wasn't really seriously injured in the process. As someone already said, that is not very impressive, right off the bat. The problem with Kerry is primarily that the military doesn't seem to like or respect him. The only people who, ironically, seem to respect him for being a "war hero" are the very people who wouldn't be caught dead within 100 miles of a military recruiter, unless they're shooting a documentary. Bush may be equally or more bad in his war record, as some will no doubt point out, but remember: Bush has not built an entire campaign on the premise that he's a war hero. Even if he was a draft dodger, at least he's not spitting in the face of honorable soldiers by claiming to be something he's not. Am I wrong in my assumption that most military types will be voting for Bush?

[ August 19, 2004, 07:23 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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RickyB
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Because he mortally pissed off many veterans with his testimony, and because this is politics. Don't be disingenuous.

Actually, there are signs of significant disaffection with Bush among the military and their families.

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RickyB
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Oh, as for this:
quote:
And it seems to be accepted fact by both sides that however he got one of those purple hearts, he wasn't really seriously injured in the process. As someone already said, that is not very impressive, right off the bat.
you don't go asking for purple hearts. Somebody as to nominate you for them. Now, in Vietnam, as far as I know, there was a huge inflation of decoration in the US army. But be that as it may, unless you can prove that Kerry campaigned for that purple heart or bribed someone for it, then it has nothing to do with him.

better to get a purle heart for an injury too light than to go around saying that someone didn't get shot at on the very same day and place where you yourself got decorated for, among other things....that's right, boys and girls - getting shot at.

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OhPuhLeez
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A new report from The Washington Post, out today:

quote:
Records Counter a Critic of Kerry
Fellow Skipper's Citation Refers To Enemy Fire

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 19, 2004; Page A01

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

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

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


As one of five Swift boat skippers who led the raid up the Bay Hap River, Thurlow was a direct participant in the disputed events. He is also a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a public advocacy group of Vietnam veterans dismayed by Kerry's subsequent antiwar activities, which has aired a controversial television advertisement attacking his war record.

In interviews and written reminiscences, Kerry has described how his 50-foot patrol boat came under fire from the banks of the Bay Hap after a mine explosion disabled another U.S. patrol boat. According to Kerry and members of his crew, the firing continued as an injured Kerry leaned over the bow of his ship to rescue a Special Forces officer who was blown overboard in a second explosion.

Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was "not under fire" when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry's Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under "small arms and automatic weapons fire," as "totally fabricated."

"I never heard a shot," Thurlow said in his affidavit, which was released by Swift Boats Veterans for Truth. The group claims the backing of more than 250 Vietnam veterans, including a majority of Kerry's fellow boat commanders.

A document recommending Thurlow for the Bronze Star noted that all his actions "took place under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance" to the disabled boat and its crew. The citation states that all other units in the flotilla also came under fire.

"It's like a Hollywood presentation here, which wasn't the case," Thurlow said last night after being read the full text of his Bronze Star citation. "My personal feeling was always that I got the award for coming to the rescue of the boat that was mined. This casts doubt on anybody's awards. It is sickening and disgusting."

Thurlow said he would consider his award "fraudulent" if coming under enemy fire was the basis for it. "I am here to state that we weren't under fire," he said. He speculated that Kerry could have been the source of at least some of the language used in the citation.

In a telephone interview Tuesday evening after he attended a Swift Boat Veterans strategy session in an Arlington hotel, Thurlow said he lost his Bronze Star citation more than 20 years ago. He said he was unwilling to authorize release of his military records because he feared attempts by the Kerry campaign to discredit him and other anti-Kerry veterans.

The Post filed an independent request for the documents with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which is the central repository for veterans' records. The documents were faxed to The Post by officials at the records center yesterday.

Thurlow and other anti-Kerry veterans have repeatedly alleged that Kerry was the author of an after-action report that described how his boat came under enemy fire. Kerry campaign researchers dispute that assertion, and there is no convincing documentary evidence to settle the argument. As the senior skipper in the flotilla, Thurlow might have been expected to write the after-action report for March 13, but he said that Kerry routinely "duked the system" to present his version of events.

For much of the episode, Kerry was not in a position to know firsthand what was happening on Thurlow's boat, as Kerry's boat had sped down the river after the mine exploded under another boat. He later returned to provide assistance to the stricken boat.

Thurlow, an oil industry worker and former teacher in Kansas, said he was angry with Kerry for his antiwar activities on his return to the United States and particularly Kerry's claim before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that U.S. troops in Vietnam had committed war crimes "with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

" 'Upset' is too mild a word," said Thurlow, a registered Republican, of his reaction to Kerry then. "He did it strictly for his own personal political gain, and it directly affected every single one of us as we were trying to put our lives together."

Two other Swift boat skippers who were direct participants in the March 13, 1969, mine explosion on the Bay Hap, Jack Chenoweth and Richard Pees, have said they do not remember coming under "enemy fire." A fourth commander, Don Droz, who was one of Kerry's closest friends in Vietnam, was killed in action a month later.

The incident featured prominently in an anti-Kerry television ad produced by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth earlier this month. "John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star," says Van Odell, a gunner on PCF-23, one of the boats that came to the rescue of the stricken boat. "I know. I was there."

The Bronze Star controversy is also a major focus of an anti-Kerry book by John E. O'Neill, "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," which will hit No. 2 on The Post's bestseller list this weekend. The book accuses Kerry of "fleeing the scene" and lying repeatedly about his role.

Members of Kerry's crew have come to his defense, as has Rassmann, the Special Forces officer whom he fished from the river. Rassmann says he has vivid memories of being fired at from both banks after he fell into the river and as Kerry came to his rescue. The two had an emotional reunion on the eve of the Iowa Democratic caucuses in January, an event that some political analysts believe helped swing votes to Kerry at a crucial time.

The Bronze Star recommendations for both Kerry and Thurlow were signed by Lt. Cmdr. George M. Elliott, who received reports on the incident from his base in the Gulf of Thailand. Elliott is a supporter of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and has questioned Kerry's actions in Vietnam. But he has refused repeated requests for an interview after issuing conflicting statements to the Boston Globe about whether Kerry deserved a Silver Star. He was unreachable last night.

Money has poured into Swift Boat Veterans for Truth since the group launched its television advertisement attacking Kerry earlier this month. According to O'Neill, the group has received more than $450,000 over the past two weeks, mainly in small contributions. The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that the organization has also received two $100,000 checks from Houston home builder Bob Perry, who backed George W. Bush's campaigns for Texas governor and for president.

Bush campaign officials have said they have no connection to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which is not permitted to coordinate its activities with a presidential campaign under federal election law.


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