Saturday, August 21, 2004

Lies About Kerry Exposed Again

The evidence that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are horrible liars has been mounting for the better part of a week now. The fact that they -- and by extension the Bush campaign that refuses to disavow them -- are digging their in heels in even harder into the mud is a sign of either desperation or stupidity. It's probably a bit of both.

I've tried to offer my two cents in compiling the anti-anti-Kerry evidence recently (click here for one example), but I have yet to see evidence of the Bush supporters' lies more damning than this.

William B. Rood is an editor at the Chicago Tribune. In February 1969, however, Rood was the captain of a swift boat in Vietnam. He wrote an account of his service with Kerry for the Tribune.

There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago—three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969.

One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other.
Rood has been asked repeatedly by Kerry to come out and tell his story. Only Rood can definitively put to rest any questions about the circumstances of the day that Kerry earned the Silver Star. However, as a journalist, he's been understandably reluctant to counter the Swift Vets' charges. "I know that what some people are saying now is wrong," he explains. "While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they're saying impugns others who are not in the public eye."

One can only imagine how it feels for the veterans who were with Kerry in Vietnam to have these attack ads rip open decades-old wounds and tell them that their memories are garbage, that nothing happened that day, that it was no big deal, and that no one really deserved any of their awards. Apparently -- and thankfully -- it was enough to make Rood stand up and say, "enough."

I know this topic is being beaten to death in the blogosphere, but some people on the right -- even some who have previously seemed pretty fair to me in the past -- refuse to acknowledge that these charges against Kerry are completely baseless. Such blind adherence to partisan rhetoric -- especially from level-headed folks -- absolutely infuriates me. Yeah, I assume that when John Kerry says something, he's telling the truth. But the minute someone says he isn't, I do my homework and formulate an opinion of my own based on the facts.

Looking back at his Navy records indicates that Kerry is being absolutely truthful about what went down in Vietnam. Those same records also indicate that many people involved with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are not being truthful. So when I hear people -- people close to me, people I care about and respect -- hint that they think there's something to these charges and that they suspect that Kerry's hiding something, I get angry.

But I guess this is what makes me a liberal. I simply cannot understand why someone would be willing to believe such a monumental lie just so they can get another tax cut. It strikes me as horribly hypocritical, willfully ignorant, and blindingly selfish. The willingness to believe in the worst about another human being, even against a mountain of evidence to the contrary, frightens me to death. But what frightens me even more is that good people are falling into this category.

It really meant something when the workers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries asked of their brothers and sisters, "which side are you on?" The same question is being asked today. In New Jersey, there are people who are willing to turn a blind eye to the corruption of some of the state's top Democrats. Which side are you on? Nationally, there are people who are willing to turn a blind eye to the smash mouth political tactics of deceit and hatred. Which side are you on?

I'm afraid that, in many cases on both sides, I don't like the answers I'm hearing.

posted by Scott | 8/21/2004 | |

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Is Schwarzkopf Backing Kerry?

I picked this up from Al Rodgers' diary over at dKos.

Tuesday night on Hardball, former General "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf -- hero of Gulf War I and former vocal supporter of George W. Bush -- refused to endorse Bush/Cheney '04 and offered some sharp criticisms of the administration. Much of this is laid out in Rodgers' dKos diary, but he doesn't even get into half of it.

Matthews asked Schwarzkopf for his take on both the Bush military reshuffling and the current civilian leadership of the Pentagon. Perhaps the most interesting bit is the fact that Schwarzkopf seems to be echoing Kerry talking points.

SCHWARZKOPF: No, you're absolutely right. We can't go in there. We can't blow the place up. We don't want to create a situation where they blow the same place up, like those fellows, 26 of them, I guess, with explosives strapped to their bodies that are prepared to blow themselves up and the shrine at the same time. So you know, once again, be sensitive -— that word "sensitive," that's popular these days.
At first, I took it that Schwarzkopf might have been having a bit of fun at Kerry's expense. But then in answering another question about the impact of pulling American troops from Korea, the General comments that "those sort of sensitivities I don't think were really considered, or may have been considered and just ignored in coming up with the final plan..." This clearly indicates that Schwarzkopf and Kerry (and hell, the rest of the intelligent civilized world who know what the meaning of 'sensitive' is) are on the same page.

But it's not just using the word 'sensitive' in the same context. Again, commenting on the Korea pull out:

SCHWARZKOPF: Saying it's going to happen is one thing, but making it happen is something entirely different.
This is incredibly similar to the 'words vs. deeds' rhetoric the Kerry campaign has been highlighting recently. I don't think Schwarzkopf is working for Kerry on any level, but at the very least, he's paying close attention to him.

At any rate, Schwarzkopf's criticism of the Bush administration is eyebrow-raising. When asked if pulling out US troops from the Korean DMZ sends the "wrong signal" to North Korea, Schwarzkopf went a step further.

SCHWARZKOPF: Yes, well, it's very, very possible. But worse than that, it's going to send a very, very, very wrong signal to the people in South Korea. They're the ones that are going to be looking at what this is going to result in.
Chris Matthews also asked Schwarzkopf about his former colleague General John Shalikashvili, who recently spoke on Kerry's behalf at the Democratic National Convention, but more recently suffered a stroke.

SCHWARZKOPF: A great, great soldier, a great human being, a fine gentleman. I met him the first time when I was a brigade commander in Fort Lewis and he was a Ranger battalion—or artillery battalion commander. And we -— I just had great admiration for him.
So let me get this straight. Schwarzkopf spoke at the 2000 GOP convention, but is now an independent and won't say which way he's voting. He thinks that the Bush military policies are deeply flawed, seems to be agreeing with Kerry on a number of issues, and says that he has "great admiration" for "a great, great soldier, a great human being, [and] a fine gentleman who is actively supporting John Kerry for President.

I'll leave it at that.

posted by Scott | 8/19/2004 | |

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

McGreevey Staying, Corzine Not Running

In a statement made late today, Senator Corzine said that Governor McGreevey "made clear in our conversation his absolute intent to serve until Nov. 15, 2004."

Well, so much for that. Some days I wonder if I shouldn't just keep my big mouth shut. Maybe if I did, Wes Clark would be on his way to the White House and Corzine would be readying a residency at Drumthwacket. Who knows...

As it stands, McGreevey will step down on November 15 and Senate President Dick Codey will become acting Governor and retain his position in the Senate. There is already talk of a Lieutenant Governorship being added to the state's executive branch, which is probably a very good idea, but it will not be effective until at least January of 2006.

Here's why, despite my appeal to Corzine to run for Governor, I think this is a good idea.

The people who want McGreevey to step down the most are the old-school bosses who run the Democratic Party in New Jersey -- John Lynch and George Norcross. They've been flirting with the edges of scandal themselves throughout McGreevey's tenure. It really seems that the Governor sees this as an opportunity to free himself -- and the state -- of the control that the party bosses exert over New Jersey.

McGreevey came into office pledging good governance and a rejection of business as usual in Trenton. He quickly found himself mired in the muck of scandal, making his pledge seem like little more than a hollow promise. What McGreevey did manage to get done -- job creation, environmental protection, the domestic partnership bill, progressive taxation, state support for stem-cell research -- was fantastic and Jersey Democrats (and many, many independents) love him for it. In our minds, McGreevey would have been perfect... if he could just stop muddying the waters with patronage and scandal.

There is a theory floating around Jersey right now. It seems that many of us Jersey Dems have had the same thought clunking around our heads for the past few days. It's a little conspiratorial, so I haven't entertained it publicly, but it seems more credible with each passing day.

What if Charles Kushner -- the crooked McGreevey fundraiser at the heart of every Drumthwacket scandal for the past three-plus years -- had been forcing McGreevey to do his bidding in exchange for not making public McGreevey's homosexuality?

If it sounds far-fetched, consider this: Kushner is currently on-trial for, among other things, sending prostitutes to have sex with his own brother-in-law on video in order to coerce him (the brother-in-law) to not testify against him (Kushner) on charges of fraud. Kushner is the one who introduce McGreevey to his lover, Golan Cipel. Kushner is on the board of Touro College, the institute that Cipel's lawyers wanted McGreevey's backing of in exchange for not publicly outing McGreevey as gay.

I have no idea, mind you, whether this is true or not. But the fact of the matter is that it's a very plausible scenario, especially considering Kushner's modus operandi.

And just to put any question to rest, Governor McGreevey has my full faith and support going forward for the remaining weeks of his tenure. And after that, so does Senator Codey. Hopefully, they can right New Jersey's ship in the same way I was expecting Corzine to.

Hell... maybe even better.

posted by Scott | 8/18/2004 | |

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

An Open Letter To Senator Jon Corzine

Sent this to Sen. Corzine earlier and thought some of you might have some interest in reading it...

Dear Senator Corzine,

I am writing to you as a supporter and a concerned New Jersey Democrat. With the current crisis in Trenton growing more troublesome by the hour, our party needs a champion. Governor McGreevey has been a great force for progressive government in this state, but his accomplishments have unfortunately been smothered by both professional and now personal scandals. I understand his unwillingness to step down immediately in order to facilitate a special election. I believe he sees the next three months as his chance to set in stone the initiatives he has championed and to prove himself as a serious fighter for the people of New Jersey.

This is a noble, but ultimately flawed view. Jim McGreevey's legacy as a great progressive Governor will be recognized in the history books. Unfortunately, it's going to take time and the hindsight that time will earn him for his record and accomplishments to be fully appreciated. It's time, I'm sorry to say, for Governor McGreevey to step down.

Should the Governor not step down immediately, the Republican Party will hammer home the message to New Jersey voters that the Democratic Party in this state is ethically bankrupt and power hungry. Though it's clearly absurd, they will tell a story of a party in crisis, poised to lose power, and ducking the special election deadline just to hang on to the Governor's mansion. This is just as big a lie as when they claimed that Governor Florio did not need to raise taxes, or that Governor Whitman was responsible with the state's budget. Nevertheless, New Jersey voters believed those lies as well.

Only a special election will prove them wrong. In this bluest of blue states, we need a candidate who is not a product of the Democratic machines to step in and restore the peoples' faith in our great party.

Senator Corzine, we need you.

We need you to continue Governor McGreevey's work making sure that the citizens of our state are taxed fairly. We need you to continue Governor McGreevey's work showing the world that New Jersey is at the forefront of science by funding stem-cell research. We need you to continue Governor McGreevey's work ensuring that civil rights are second to none for our gay and lesbian citizens. We need you to continue Governor McGreevey's work defending our state from enemies who recognize New Jersey's importance to the national economy. From protecting the environment to driving new job creation, we need you to continue Governor McGreevey's work.

I appreciate that you may be hesitant to leave your post in Washington. As the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, you've taken on the great responsibility of winning back a Democratic majority in the Senate. However, your responsibility to your fellow Senate Democrats is secondary to your responsibility to the people of New Jersey -- especially those of us who voted for you. I have no doubt that you are a great leader for the Senate Democrats and that you've served them well in your position. But I also have no doubt that Senator Stabenow and others in DSCC leadership are quite capable of continuing your work.

It is my hope that you read this letter and take it to heart. Many letters come in, I'm sure, are read by any number of staffers, and are then answered with a stock, "thank you for writing" response. But I'm not looking for a form letter. I'm looking for a new Governor. I truly hope you heed the call.


Scott Shields

posted by Scott | 8/17/2004 | |

Monday, August 16, 2004

The McGreevey Transition

Did anyone think this was going to be easy? For a minute, I almost did. Then I remembered I was in New Jersey.

State Democrats have added their voices to the chorus of GOP officials demanding that Governor McGreevey step down immediately in order for a special election to be held. From the start, I wondered why Jersey Republicans would be dumb enough to demand a special election. The election will take place on the day of the general election, when John Kerry will trounce George W. Bush by a double-digit margin in this bluest of blue states. That creates a huge coat-tail effect for any Democrat who runs to complete the final year of McGreevey's term. In a non-Presidential election year, McGreevey's scandal-plagued record would hurt the Democratic candidate, depressing turnout among everyone but McGreevey's most vocal critics. But in Jersey, the only person less popular than the Governor is the President.

So when I think 'special election', I think, to quote George W. Bush, John Kerry quoting George W. Bush, and innumerable B-movie action heroes, "bring it on."

Senator Corzine, who has been less than shy about his long-held gubernatorial designs, seems to be poised now to step in to run for Governor in November. He has apparently been approached about the prospect and has expressed willingness to run if asked. Even before this scandal had broken, there was talk of recruiting Corzine to challenge McGreevey for the Democratic nomination next fall. While that would have been difficult, Corzine's prospects at the moment are not ideal, either.

Corzine is currently the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and has been busy orchestrating the effort to take back the US Senate in November. He has been steadily raising his national profile in that effort, campaigning for Democratic candidates around the country. Running for Governor will pull him out of that job and leave the DSCC looking for a new leader. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is currently the DSCC co-chair, making her an obvious choice, but Dick Durbin of Illinois is also a rising star in the national party leadership, having close ties with John Kerry.

Backing an immediate McGreevey resignation and Corzine candidacy are George Norcross, John Lynch, and Congressman Bob Menendez. For those of you outside of Jersey who aren't familiar with Norcross and Lynch, just think of Boss Tweed and then add some power. You get the picture.

But McGreevey's been all but sold out by Norcross and Lynch, who may or may not be closely tied with a number of the scandals hovering around the Governor. It's possible he could reject outright any attempts to manipulate him or change his plans -- especially by the people who have gotten him to the position he's in today.

There are many unanswered questions about exactly what the hell is going on down in Trenton, but the smart money is on Corzine for Governor and McGreevey pulling the rug out from under the behind-the-scenes figures who have undermined his entire administration with scandal and influence peddling.

But what I really want to know is who Corzine is going to appoint to the Senate when he wins. Could there be a replay of the Lautenberg-Torricelli swap with a Bradley appointment?

Early speculation says Corzine will appoint Menendez, so it's doubtful. But a boy can dream, can't he?

posted by Scott | 8/16/2004 | |
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