By now most of you will have seen this. Thoughts tomorrow, as Grim is taking a day off: "Kerry citation a 'total mystery' to ex-Navy chief."
UPDATE: Now that I've had some time to think about it, I really only have one line of questions. I would like to know just when this third citation was composed, and by whom (since it was not the Secretary), and at whose request the Office of the Secretary of the Navy approved it.
Essentially, I'm curious if the thing was composed in order to bolster his Senate run in 1984, or if it was done later. Was it to clean up his record so that he could run on it, at a time when Reagan and the Cold War were highly popular and a left-liberal would benefit from a strong medal citation? Or was it something he had done later, as a sitting Senator, just because he'd always wished the citation said this or that thing it didn't?
Did he write his own medal citation, or was it composed by someone in the Secretary's office?
Perhaps he'd like to say... and to release that third citation, the one he originally had replaced. I mean, it's a Silver Star citation. How bad can it be? Why not release it, like he did the two others?
By now most of you will have seen this. Thoughts tomorrow, as Grim is taking a day off: "Kerry citation a 'total mystery' to ex-Navy chief."
"Did you know there's a plane parked on main street?" my faithful and pistol-wearing wife asked.
"No," said I, having not been down to the center of the small town all day. We live in the little burg of Warrenton, about half a mile from the main street. Like many folks who work for the DoD, we move around a lot; I promised the wife she could pick the house this time. She chose this one, closer into town than I would like, but what can you do? It's a nice town.
She suggested I go have a look at the thing, which was -- so I was told -- parked near Molly's Pub, very much the highlight of life in Warrenton. Since it's only half a mile, I tied on my boots, propped my hat on my head, and went down to have a gander.
Here's what I saw:
Looks like Nathan Zachary has dropped in for a Guinness (one of which I had myself, along with a corned beef sandwich, since I was there). Or possibly it was Sky Captain. Well, if this is what "the world of Tomorrow!" is like, count me in. It sounds good to me. 'Every boy of any account should rather be a sky pirate, than a Member of Parliament!'
UPDATE: Apparently Molly's hosts sky pirates on a regular basis. It's not quite as cheerful as the online menu would lead you to believe: the price of everything is not actually "$0.00" Alas!
B. G. "Jug" Burkett is a fellow who has made a second career for himself investigating suspicious claims to medals. He was cited this morning in an article that got picked up by Drudge: "Plot thickens after checking records."
We'll come back to that. Because it's usual to accuse such persons of having ties to the Bush campaign, I went to see if Burkett has any such. I couldn't find any ties to the campaign itself, but he is a Texan, and he did serve on a committee on Vietnam veteran history that was chaired by George Bush. As a consequence, he can be said to have a personal tie to GWB.
On the other hand, the US military has awarded him its highest civilian decoration for his work on false medal claims. He laid these out in Stolen Valor, both a book and an ongoing project to expose people who falsely claim to be war heroes. The book also won the Colby prize for excellence, and has been positively reviewed by ABC's 20/20, and Reader's Digest.
Now that you know all that, you can evaluate Drudge's story better:
But according to a U.S. Navy spokesman, "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star."This report raises two questions, one which tends to favor Kerry and one that tends not to do so. The first question is, could the Navy's own reports on Kerry really be this screwed up? If so, it would explain his refusal to sign the Form 180: if the records are screwed up due to the bureaucracy, releasing them might give critics unfair, because false, evidence to use against him. As the Marine says, screwups do happen -- I'll be we can all point to at least one in our own records, if we think on it. Burkett says he feels there is cause for suspicion, based on the facts and patterns he's seen in previous investigations (e.g., silver stars with combat Vs having always previously been fakes). Maybe suspicion is too strong a word -- after all, a Secretary of the Navy signed off on it -- but "interest" or "concern" might do. It is curious.
Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.
B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran himself, received the highest award the Army gives to a civilian, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, for his book Stolen Valor. Burkett pored through thousands of military service records, uncovering phony claims of awards and fake claims of military service. "I've run across several claims for Silver Stars with combat V's, but they were all in fake records," he said....
Kerry's Web site also lists two different citations for the Silver Star. One was issued by the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. John Hyland. The other, issued by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman during the Reagan administration, contained some revisions and additional language.... But a third citation exists that appears to be the earliest. And it is not on the Kerry campaign Web site. It was issued by Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam....
Maj. Anthony Milavic, a retired Marine Vietnam veteran, calls the issuance of three citations for the same medal "bizarre."... Normally in the case of a lost citation, Milavec points out, the awardee simply asked for a copy to be sent to him from his service personnel records office where it remains on file. "I have never heard of multi-citations from three different people for the same medal award," he said. Nor has Burkett: "It is even stranger to have three different descriptions of the awardee's conduct in the citations for the same award."
So far, there are also two varying citations for Kerry's Bronze Star, one by Zumwalt and the other by Lehman as secretary of the Navy, both posted on johnkerry.com.
Kerry's Web site also carries a DD215 form revising his DD214, issued March 12, 2001, which adds four bronze campaign stars to his Vietnam service medal. The campaign stars are issued for participation in any of the 17 Department of Defense named campaigns that extended from 1962 to the cease-fire in 1973.
However, according to the Navy spokesman, Kerry should only have two campaign stars: one for "Counteroffensive, Phase VI," and one for "Tet69, Counteroffensive."
Reporting by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs points out that although the Kerry campaign insists that it has released Kerry's full military records, the Post was only able to get six pages of records under its Freedom of Information Act request out of the "at least a hundred pages" a Naval Personnel Office spokesman called the "full file."...
Experts point out that even the official military records get screwed up. Milavic is trying to get mistakes in his own DD214 file corrected. In his opinion, "these entries are not prima facie evidence of lying or unethical behavior on the part of Kerry or anyone else with screwed-up DD214s."
Burkett, who has spent years working with the FBI, Department of Justice and all of the military services uncovering fraudulent files in the official records, is less charitable: "The multiple citations and variations in the official record are reason for suspicion in itself, even disregarding the current swift boat veterans' controversy."
On the other hand, there's that combat "V" and multiple citation issue. That's a whole lot of mistakes for one bureaucracy to make. Both of those issues do seem to call for an explanation from Kerry or his camp.
We know that as recently as last year, Kerry was pursuing changes to his official record. This follows additional changes he pursued with the Secretary of the Navy in the 1980s. We don't know what those changes were, except that one of them was a new Silver Star citation (one of the ones mentioned above) signed by John Lehman, Sec. of the Navy under Reagan. That could be explained by either of these concerns -- because he was trying to fix errors before his run for Presidency, or to eliminate inconsistencies in his medal records.
Perhaps Kerry would like to sign the 180, but also tell us what he considers to be mistaken in his Naval record.
UPDATE: I've been thinking about this some more, and I'd like to clarify two points:
1) I'm bothered by the fact that the Kerry campaign insists that it has posted his entire record, when it demonstrably has not. It has not posted, for example, all three of the medal citations for the Silver Star, but only the two latest ones. The original citation is not there. Nor are these other "96 pages," assuming that the unnamed source is speaking accurately about the number.
Why does the Kerry campaign continue to insist this? Is it a mistake, like when his website listed him as occupying Bob Kerrey's seat on the Intel committee? Or like when he was listed by his campaign as commanding the SWIFT boat in a firefight he didn't?
I'd like to believe that, but it seems unlikely. It seems unlikely because Kerry has been directly challenged on this point. If they said he'd posted the "full" records by mistake, he should have either corrected the mistake by now, or signed the 180 -- which would have proven him right when the released records contained only what was already posted. If that were the case, the 180 couldn't hurt him at all.
2) Do I think Reagan's Sec. of the Navy is in the tank for Kerry? No. I do know, however, that the military generally submits to requests from Senators. For budgetary reasons, as well as the tremendous power the Senate exerts through its oversight duties, a request from a sitting Senator (especially one on a committee like the intelligence committee, which directly oversees some military operations) is almost always approved with all speed.
I'm not suggesting any wrongdoing in the 1980s re-writeup, but I do admit to being curious about it. It's a little odd, twelve or fifteen years later, to decide that the language on your Silver Star citation could use some touching up.
While the political campaign grinds painfully onward, paralyzing the political wings of the government, the military continues to function. The Joint Doctrine for Combating Weapons of Masss Destruction is now complete, and online for the citizenry to review and consider.
From ABC's Political News Digest. This is the Bush campaign response to Kerry's request to begin regular debates this week:
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.Man, that's cruel.
Bush makes it worse. We wouldn't want any unpopular speech going on -- unpopular among politicians, anyway.
This is going to be one of the key issues for the next four years, whoever wins. If the USSC doesn't reverse itself (and why should they, aside from being wrong?), we're going to be in a long fight to force our legislators to unmake these unconstitutional restraints on speech.
One of the thing that I've heard a lot lately is that Vietnam veterans have "earned the right" to have their opinion heard on these questions. Though I sympathize with the sentiment, it's not right. Those veterans were born with the right, just like every other US citizen. It was given to them as an inheritance. It was earned by the veterans of the Revolution.
What Vietnam veterans did -- and our own servicemen continue to do -- was to safeguard the inheritance to the next generation.
We are now seeing our own politicians openly stealing what foriegn nations have shattered trying to take. There can be no compromise on this matter. Free men can say what they want about any politician. They have an absolute right to band together, pool their money, and have their voices heard. Yet here we have a sitting Senator and a US President demanding a court order to silence them. This is what they think of Freedom of Speech.
Any politician who compromises this freedom is a domestic enemy of the Constitution. Very many of us took oaths on that topic. It is time to uphold them. We should try political means first, but one way or the other, this must not stand.
I wish to take a moment to praise my old friend Sovay, who has been in for a rough ride here lately.
I want first to say that I greatly appreciate the change in tone she's undertaken at her own blog. While she remains suspicious of the Swift Vets, she is no longer titling her posts "Swift Boat Liars," and is clear that she wants to be fair to them:
Just to reiterate, I'm respectfully disputing Odell's account of events, because every Navy document unearthed so far and several other eyewitnesses dispute what he is saying.I still disagree with her conclusions, but I greatly appreciate her attempt to show courtesy to these gentlemen.
Moreover, I want to take a moment to thank her in public for her continued friendship and cheerful manner. As important as these political questions are, they are not as important as the personal ties we each have. That, in truth, is what holds the world together and makes freedom possible. In Old English, it was called Frith:
The word frith is related to the words for friend and free. Frith was to our forebears the "power that makes them ‘friends’ towards one another, and free men towards the rest of the world." In their minds, "freedom" did not mean freedom from responsibility toward others. Freedom meant being strong enough to face the evils the world threw at one and being able to overcome or survive them, and for this one depended on one’s kindred. Surrounded by a numerous kindred cognizant of the requirements of frith, the Germanic man or woman was well-armored against all the misfortunes the world could cast, whether poverty, threats of violence, legal troubles, or any other difficulties.Emphasis added.
I had occasion to visit with Sovay yesterday down in D.C. (Indeed, while she was sitting on one of the city's fountains, I filled my Stetson to the brim with water and dumped it on her head. So, we can honestly say that she's all wet.) She came with me when I went to donate at the Red Cross, and then made sure I ate dinner and got on the train back to Virginia without passing out from the heat and blood loss.
We didn't mention or discuss any of these political questions, and that's for the best. The written word provides a certain distance and a barrier to prevent hard words from coming between old friends.
Long after the Republic is crumbled and gone, freedom will be guaranteed by the strength of bonds like this. The bonds of friends and family are what really make us free. They, more than anything else, are what we ought to preserve and strengthen in our lives.
Since we've been pounding on Kerry for a while here, let's do a few criticisms of Bush. He's got them coming.
Sharp Knife has composed an open letter to the President on the subject of freedom of speech, and campaign finance reform. Grim's Hall would like to be considered a signatory.
From the left, the Washington Post writes a version of the same complaint.
And finally, let me register a personal objection to the treatment received by fellow Georgian Max Cleland at Bush's ranch today. Now, in fairness to Bush, Max got just what he wanted out of the venture, which was an occasion for political theater.
Nevertheless, courtesy demands better. If I were the President, I would upon hearing that the delegation was coming have ordered a meal prepared for them, and made them welcome. I would have accepted the delivery of the letter, set it aside unopened, and promised to reply to it in due course. After the meal, naturally, when I would have time to give it the consideration it was due. Or, if I were called out of town, I would have still yet ordered the meal, and told my staff to accept the letter and show the honorable veterans complete hospitality.
Such courtesy would have disarmed the protest, and made the theater impossible to carry off. But that is only a side benefit. The real advantage to it is, it's the right thing to do when honorable guests come to your home.
Amazon.com: Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry: Explore similar items
I managed to locate a copy of this book at a B. Dalton yesterday, in Union Station down in the District of Columbia. Barnes & Noble remains sold out, but you can order from Amazon. It is very detailed, and full of footnotes -- there is a lot more here than I'd been lead to believe, even by newspaper accounts.
For those of you on the left who want to read it for research purposes, but don't wish to give money to the Swifties, you can go ahead and buy it. Unlike donations to their organization, O'Neill has promised that all royalties from the book will be donated to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society:
The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need[.]So you can do your opposition research and contribute to a good cause at the same time.
If you want to contribute directly instead, go here.
BlackFive began this post just by citing the letter to Kerry by Republican veterans, today. However, the updates are more interesting than the original post. Apparently there are three new major intiatives by Vietnam veterans who are opposed to John Kerry:
Lt.Col. Buzz Patterson has a new book, Reckless Disregard which condemns Kerry.
The New Soldier, which has published online Kerry's book of the same name.
And most importantly, Vietnam POWs have banded together and are creating a website that will oppose Kerry. It is called Stolen Honor, and should be coming online soon. Unlike the Swift Boat Vets, which accept as members only people who served with the Swifties, this organization will be composed of servicemen who suffered in the Hanoi Hilton while Kerry told fables about them to Congress.
UPDATE: Stolen Honor is up at this time.
UPDATE: And another:
We later discovered that many of those that he was quoting as witnesses to our 'crimes' had not spent one day in uniform. Others had never served in Viet Nam. None of them, not a single one, would testify under oath, even if granted immunity. Yet our 'crimes' became part of the common knowlege. Our children were given that testimony as fact in their history classes. We all knew soldiers, sailors,airmen and Marines that had died, leaving children behind, we know that those children were taught those same lies as fact. Who sat with those children as we did with ours, explaining that those were lies told for political gain?I once worked on a documentary film dealing with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and in particular a camp they ran near Savannah, GA, that reconstructed a Civil War fortress as a national park. All of them enlisted in the Army when the war broke out, although afterwards they were broken up and sent to different units: one carried a machinegun across the Italian campaign; another was taken early and was a POW in Germany; another fought through the war and served in the Battle of the Bulge.
It's bad enough that we couldn't mourn our dead then. Now we see the same man that stood over the open graves of our brothers and pissed on their bodies is back. This time he's dug up those bodies and is standing on them to give himself the stature for high office.
I am no famous war hero, just one of the two and a half million guys who wore Uncle's suit for awhile in a place where the same truck would splash red mud on your trousers and throw a cloud of dust on your face at the same time. My service was entirely undistinguished but I stood shoulder to shoulder with some genuine heros. Those heros came home in shiney aluminum caskets, they cannot speak for themselves. I hope someone more famous and more eloquent will speak for them soon. Until they do I can only say that not only is John Kerry not fit to command the young men and women that inherited the uniforms but he is not fit to speak of my comrades, much less speak for them. I shall say this as long as I have a breath left in my body.
All of them said exactly that: I was no hero, just a man on a team. But I knew some heroes.
What heroes did Kerry know? To judge him by his own words, he was the hero, and all of his brothers were war criminals.
I've been hearing that CNN is trying to portray O'Neill as supporting Kerry's account of being in Cambodia, by pointing out that O'Neill himself was in Cambodia on a swift boat. The Sage examines the claim, and notes a problem with it: O'Neill's service included a period in which the ARVN and US forces openly invaded that region of Cambodia. No one claims to have run secret missions, however -- no one, that is, but Kerry.
Kim du Toit has been supporting the troops -- a particular team of Army snipers, to be specific. Some months ago, he collected donations and got them not the "built by the lowest bidder" issue scopes, but top of the line Nightforce jobs. Recently, he had another fundraiser for range finders -- one that achieved its goal so fast that by the time I read about it, they'd stopped accepting further donations because they were several hundred dollars over the top.
The next project is body armor. This is going to be expensive, so I'd like to draw everyone's attention to it. If you've donated before, think of it as "protecting your investment." If you haven't -- or if you're one of my liberal readers who didn't know about the project, but wants to support the troops on (and ahead of!) the front lines, here's your chance.
A Marine lawyer writes:
Last night on a talk show…the Kerry spokesman said that the atrocities in Vietnam are well documented matters of record, and Kerry had every right to talk about them in 1972. My blood began to boil again.Today, of course, Kerry and his campaign are making a big deal about how morally horrible they think it is verbally to attack "veterans" who served. By "veterans," they mean only "Congressmen."
As a military lawyer, I knew of the atrocities being committed by Marines in Vietnam. The atrocities were isolated incidents, and they were punished by every level of command at the time and before it became trendy for the media to sensationalize the crimes. They are matters of record because the perpetrators were court martialed, and you can read about them in the court martial reports.
Kerry's characterization of Vietnam atrocities as being widespread on a daily basis with the knowledge of all levels of command is a lie.
The Kerry machine's sending spokesmen out to attest to widespread atrocities in Vietnam multiplies the insult. Not only should Kerry apologize, but every spokesman from the nameless man I saw last night to James Carville should apologize. Until they do, I will support the Swiftvets with my money and with my voice.
Developments since Sunday include:
The Daily Show's Stewart asked Kerry directly what no media reporter to date has had the guts to ask: "Were you or were you not in Cambodia?" Kerry didn't answer. Meanwhile, the Washington Post says he never was, relying on his journals to fill out the last gap in the narrative. Hewitt, looking deeper into MACV-SOG, agrees.
Kerry's campaign has also come under fire because of his journals on the issue of the first Purple Heart. The journals note, AFTER the first PH was awarded, that he had not yet been under enemy fire. The campaign has responded by conceeding a Swiftie claim: that the wound was self-inflicted, although they still dispute the cirumstances, saying that it was a flare and not a M-79. They have admitted, however, that the "engagement" we've read about in several stories, all based on Kerry's testimony, was a fabrication.
The Purple Heart is not awarded for self-inflicted wounds, not even accidental ones:
The PURPLE HEART is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.We remember that Kerry used the three-hearts rule to abandon the men under his command. This has been BlackFive's major complaint about the man all along. Now we find that he did so on the basis of at least one award he did not deserve.
And where did we hear about it first? The Swift Boat Vets, that's where. We heard about it from the doctor who supervised the nurse treating the wound, or says he did, and says the records would show it if Kerry would release them as he had promised to do and never has done. At first we could wonder; but it looks increasingly as if it's true.
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."Hear that, Dad? You're a traitor, since your Army Reserve unit was never sent to Vietnam. You could have enlisted in the Regular Army instead, new wife or no. You served in uniform all through that time, having to teach young men to fight or die as a drill sergeant. Could be you saved many of their lives with patient and careful instruction; but that doesn't matter.
Yes. You read that right. "George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam."
"George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam."
Given an opportunity to correct this rather incredible statement, Ms. Marsh declined, arguing that she had nothing to correct—that it was a fact that George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.
Mary Marsh says you betrayed your country.
Bush used his father's pull to get himself a fighter-pilot spot at Texas Air National Guard at a time when TANG was heavily engaged in Vietnam. The decision to pull it back to the US was made late in his lengthy training period. It wasn't for no reason -- the Soviet Union (you remember, that Cold War enemy with hundreds of thermonuclear warheads pointed at us) was running spy planes out of Cuba to try and suss out our air defenses and other secrets, and we needed TANG to provide air cover. It was a valuable and necessary part of our Cold War survival.
Mary Marsh says they betrayed their country.
And what about those of us who aren't now serving in Iraq? Did you get out of your unit just before the war? During the war? Not re-up when your term was ending, because you had a family now? Did you join some Reserve or Guard unit instead of a front-line combat unit? Did you in fact volunteer for a front-line combat unit, but find that you didn't get sent to Iraq? Surely if not fighting in Vietnam was treason -- Vietnam, that war all good liberals hate -- not fighting in Iraq must be treason times ten. After all, Kerry has said he'd vote to authorize it even knowing what we now know about the state of Iraqi WMD.
You're all, every last man not reading this from the sandbox, a pack of betrayers.
There are three things about this that are just astonishing. The first is that the woman could have been so tone deaf as not to realize that she needed to back off her words, that she had said something outrageous.
The second is the sudden adoption by the national Democratic party, who brought us Bill "I Loathe the Military" Clinton, of the notion that not serving in Vietnam was blameworthy. That is a stunning reversal: until yesterday, it was praiseworthy to have burned your draft card, romantic to have moved to Canada until Jimmy Carter's blanket pardon. Protesting the war instead of fighting it was supposed to have been the right side of history, until now.
The third and most astonishing is the clean misunderstanding of the nature of the Swift Boat Vet threat. The Swift Boat Vets are outraged first and foremost because John Kerry came back from Vietnam and labeled them all criminals. He cast aspersions on their service and their honor. Vietnam was a long time ago, but for them the pain is fresh and new. It is the source of their wrath.
How astonishing, then, that the Kerry campaign has found a way to help us all share that wrath. Until today, I sympathized with the Swifties, understanding how they could feel angry even after all this time. I could read their accounts with detachment, analyzing them and others, trying to find the truth behind the conflicting claims.
Now I know that truth. The Kerry campaign, in its rush to damn Bush, has called my father a traitor. They have damned the service of ten thousands just to raise their one man to higher office. This is just what the Swift Boat Veterans said in their sworn statements, their letters, and their conferences. This is just what they said he was like.
I had adequate reason to vote against Kerry before, policy reasons of a quiet and sober sort. This new reason is neither quiet nor sober, but it is far more powerful.
There has here been a line crossed. I await the apology that I am sure is forthcoming, and which is certainly due, to all the slandered servicemen -- both those slandered today, and those slandered in all these many years in the cause of raising John Kerry to higher office. Ms. Marsh has refused to apologize once, but surely her boss will require it, if he wishes this matter to lie down before it consumes him. If he does not, then he deserves all that comes after.
You've done us all a service, lass, injecting that phrase "betrayed his country" into the heart of the campaign. I'm sure Kerry will thank you for it, when he starts hearing it echoed from the mountains and to the shores of the seas.
Now we can all understand, in a personal way, this story from 1971.
From a friend.
Most Syrians struggle to even read Arabic - much less have a clue about English. So, how does a group of Syrian protest leaders create the most impact with their signs by having the standard "Death To America" (etc.) slogans printed in English?
Answer: They simply hire an English-speaking civilian to translate and write their statements in English. Unfortunately, they were unaware the"civilian" insurance company employee hired for the job was a retired USArmy sergeant. Obviously, pictures of the protest rally never made their way through the Arab TV network, but the results were "Priceless."
JarHeadDad sends: The Unapologetic Warrior
During the monthlong battle in Iraq earlier this year for the Sunni Triangle city of Fallouja, no combat unit did more fighting and bleeding than Echo Company, and during it all—from the opening assault to the final retreat ordered by the White House—Zembiec led from the front. He took on the most dangerous missions himself, was wounded by shrapnel, repeatedly dared the enemy to attack his Marines, then wrote heartfelt letters to the families of those who were killed in combat, and won the respect of his troops and his bosses.That's the Marine Corps I knew.
It was the time of his life, he acknowledged later, for by his own definition Zembiec is a warrior, and a joyful one. He is neither bellicose nor apologetic: War means killing, and killing means winning. War and killing are not only necessary on occasion, they're also noble. "From day one, I've told [my troops] that killing is not wrong if it's for a purpose, if it's to keep your nation free or to protect your buddy," he said. "One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy."
Speaking of Howard Pyle -- a better guide to the good life than any communist folksinger you'd like to name -- here's another quote from him appropriate to the day:
There lies the roadOctober beer was the best of the old-time brewing. Much of the beer was small beer, low-alcohol stuff brewed regularly for immediate consumption. High-quality "keeping" beers and ales were brewed in March and October both, but in October the keeping ale was made with fresh grain and grout ("grout" being the flavoring agents, other than hops), plus hops, if it were beer and not ale. By March, when it was time to brew the keeping beers again, the ingredients had been harvested and aged for six months, leaving the flavor not quite as merry.
to the Blue Boar Inn, a can of brown October, and a merry night
with sweet companions such as thou mayst find there.
These days we can brew with fresh ingredients year-round, if we should choose. Still, we keep to the old ways by celebrating the Oktoberfest, which honors the great October beers of old.
It seems a bit odd even in late August, but today I ran across my first batch of seasonal Oktoberfest beer, stocked in the local grocery. The tomatoes are still running ripe in the garden, and jalepenos too; and we can get Vidalia onions from down Georgia way. All the bounty of summer is still with us; and now, good October beer too.
It's a fine day, and I commend it to you all with a glass of the best.
If you read nothing else this month about the war, the situation in Najaf, or America's fighting man, read this letter.
Here is a review of new book on the law of the sea, which is nothing other than lex talionis, with Mother Nature herself issuing the retribution. Skip down past the environmentalist hand-wringing to get to the real meat of the review. It speaks to reflagging, the ease with which outlaws can change their names and nationalities if only they own a ship, and the perils it all poses for asymmetrical warfighting.
As dangerous as it is, I can't help but think that the freedom of the sea is positively and finally healthy. As Howard Pyle put it:
Is there even in these well-regulated times an unsubdued nature in the respectable mental household of every one of us that still kicks against the pricks of law and order? To make my meaning more clear, would not every boy, for instance -- that is, every boy of any account -- rather be a pirate captain than a Member of Parliament?Is that not true? But we have these dangers to contend with, also. We've as much as admitted that we can't allow an outlaw space anywhere on the land, any land.
In the United States, we have long tried to resolve this question through the mechanisms of Constitutionalism and Federalism. Constitutionalism tries to put certain parts of human behavior beyond the power of government either to do or to refuse to allow. Federalism tries to allow different communities to have different rules governing the remaining matters, so that people may choose a place to live where they can have the life and the particular freedoms they desire.
Both of these mechanisms are collapsing under the stress of the federal judiciary. The law of unintended consequences is the primary culprit: a series of expansions of federal power, each intended to address a specific wrong of particular magnitude, has come to unbalance the entire American project. The 14th Amendment, which is the primary threat to Federalism, was undertaken to address great wrongs; but now it is used to address any deviation from the judiciary's single "correct" path, on any question at all. At last, we shall either unmake the 14th Amendment, or the Republic, or we shall have a single answer to every divisive question: abortion shall be either forbidden or permitted in all cases everywhere; guns shall either be kept and borne in every place, or no place; gays shall marry in every state, or no state; flags shall be burned everywhere or nowhere. This singlemindedness is finally to no one's advantage, and yet it is unavoidable because of the mechanisms of the 14th.
Constitutionalism has been under assault since the Founding, by the process which Lincoln called "the silent artillery of time." Exceptions made in each extraordinary case become precedents for future exceptions; at some point, what finally dies is the idea that the Constitution is real or binding. The recent enaction of campaign finance reform proves it: exactly the speech the founders intended to protect, the single type of speech that mattered most to them and that they most wished unfettered, is the one the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court all agreed to limit and fence. Every amendment (including the 3rd, during the various occupations of the Civil War) in the Bill of Rights has been so often violated that the judiciary now makes only passing reference to them at all.
If we find it necessary to bring all the land and even the sea under the law, and if we find it in our power to do so, we must think carefully about how to retrench on the questions of human liberty. What the federal judiciary is doing at home, the treaty system of the UN is attempting to do abroad: impose a single system on every nation. The treaties of Kyoto and Rome are only two of the more frequently cited examples; all treaties are of this model. We see that the UN is preparing to unveil a "light arms" treaty that would, if enacted and ratified by the United States, repeal the 2nd Amendment without the bother of the Constitutional process, but by simple majority vote. The treaty, intended to provide a mechanism for resolving some of the problems of Africa and the -stans, would be imposed likewise on all people everywhere.
These are the Members of Parliament today, these courts and diplomats. I say that Pyle was right: that not only a boy of any account, but any worthy man, should rather be a pirate.
The New Swift Boat ad, "Sellout," is being carried by NEWSWEEK. There's no conflicting narrative in this one: just Kerry's own words, and some words from men who suffered Communist tortures rather than say the same thing.
UPDATE: BlackFive responds to the ad. In the comments section, there's a letter from a general officer and holder of the Medal of Honor.
From The Command Post:
The Kerry campaign removed a 20-page batch of documents yesterday from its website after The Boston Globe quoted a Navy officer who said the documents wrongly portrayed Kerry’s service. Edward Peck had said he -- not Kerry -- was the skipper of Navy boat No. 94 at a time when the Kerry campaign website credited the senator with serving on the boat. The website had described Kerry’s boat as being hit by rockets and said a crewmate was injured in an attack. But Peck said those events happened when he was the skipper. The campaign did not respond to a request to explain why the records were removed.Now, what would be some good questions for journalists to ask about this?
The DC site is my favorite of the two, because it includes a little quote to help you understand what's being suggested:
"The earth is not dying, it is being killed. And those that are killing it have names and addresses."And so here we have, on offer, names and home addresses; addresses for hotels in NY where delegates will be saying; email addresses, with sites where you can download DOS and email-bomb tools; home phone numbers; and a number of other charming ways to make people's lives miserable, for no better reason than that these folks support Bush and are trying to participate in honest politics.
Speaking of honest politics, I read somewhere that Bush has been asked to "stop" the Swift Boat Vets ads. This request follows a front-page NYTimes piece that the Swiftie funding is coming from people close to the Bush campaign.
Indymedia is funded to the tune of $376,000 by the TIDES Foundation, which is in turn funded to the tune of $4 billion by Mrs. Teresa Heinz-Kerry. I understand that she is close to the Kerry campaign.
I'm sure we'll be seeing the front page NYTimes article on this web of connections any day now.
Hopefully it will not begin, "The anarchists who beat to death several RNC delegates (naturally unarmed in accord with Manhattan's sane and responsible gun control laws) got the addresses from a site called Indymedia. Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from one foundation with very close ties to the Kerry campaign and family." If it doesn't, though, it won't be Indymedia's fault. It'll be the fault of the anarchists who are too cowardly to follow through on their own rhetoric, or of the NYTimes, which treats you very differently depending on who you support.
The Atlanta police have a new motto. I wish I'd known in advance; we could have had a contest.
On the other hand, I don't know if we'd have bettered the one they actually picked: "Answer the Call." Hmm...
[Director Kelly of the APD's foundation] said it didn't help matters when a person was told by a 911 operator to quit calling to report shooting because the caller rang in too much.Aspirational.
"This is aspirational," Kelly said. "The Police Department doesn't want this problem to be there forever. They want to solve that problem."
One of the charges against Kerry made by the Swiftees is that he injured himself with a grenade launcher -- essentially, that he fired too close and took a piece of shrapnel. In the heat of battle, could have happened to anybody, right? Indeed, according to the 35th Infantry, it was one of the "Lessons Learned" in Vietnam: " lot of men have been wounded by their own grenades, when they hit a tree limb or bush. The same is true of the M-79 grenade launcher."
So how to dispute the charge? Well, the easiest way would be simply to say it didn't happen; not many can prove otherwise, unless Kerry releases his full military records as he promised months ago he would, and still has not. The second easiest way, if in fact it didn't happen, would be to release the records.
Or you could have one of your buddies go out and claim that you had no M-79s on the SWIFT boat. That seems to be the option the Kerry camp has chosen:
But they also firmly reject the claim that Kerry somehow wounded himself by using an M-79 grenade launcher. "I am reasonably sure we didn't have an M-79," Zaladonis said. "I didn't see one. I don't remember it."That is indeed an exceptional statement. You can see pictures here of a SWIFT boat in action, with the M-79 front-and-center. Down at the bottom, you'll see that the support craft (the Armored Troop Carrier) had an entire rack devoted to these M-79s; why shouldn't one of them have made its way to Kerry's boat?
Or you can read this account of life on a SWIFT boat, written at a time when Kerry's candidacy was not an issue:
But don't let their small size fool you -- the Swifts were heavily armed. A gun tub was placed above and behind the pilothouse and equipped with twin .50-caliber machine guns. In the afterdeck, on the fantail, there was an 81mm mortar with a single .50 caliber attached to it in piggyback fashion.So the standard load included M-79s, as this source also agrees. There's also this history of an encounter on 12 APR 1969, very close to the time Kerry was in country:
Vietnam: That's quite an impressive array of armament.
Herrera: In addition to those weapons, we had M-79 grenade launchers; fragmentation, incendiary and concussion grenades; AR-15s, shotguns, .38- and .45-caliber pistols. Also, we were equipped with radar, sea-to-shore radio and a PRC-25 field radio.
To this end, a hasty defense perimeter was formed. Campbell, with Piper and Broderick on the fantail, maintained constant M-79 grenade fire into the north bank. Luckily, the 43 boat canted toward the river and provided some natural cover for them. Crew members, discarding the .50 caliber weapons as useless, grabbed M-16 rifles and set up firing positions covering the south bank, thereby providing the stricken unit with a 360 degree perimeter.So, that SWIFT boat was loaded up not just with "a" M-79, but enough for three men to maintain constant fire with these break-action weapons.
So my question is: Why is it that Kerry's boat was so exceptional? The only SWIFT boat ever used for secret missions was also the only one lacking multiple M-79s.
UPDATE: Sovay mentions in the comment that there was more to the story than the quote I'd seen. Apparently this event happened at a time when they were not on their SWIFT boat, but on patrol in a skimmer. This still seems a bit odd, for reasons outlined in the comments, but it is an explanation that explains.
The Washington Post prints today an article of precisely the sort I least expect to see from them. Entitled "It isn't War," it is an account of the problems in Iraq that arise from a failure to understand the lessons of the history of war. It's too short, overly simple, looks at only one example besides Iraq (the American Civil War in the West), but it is nevertheless correct.
The link to the piece on the front page says, "Military Affairs Writer: It Isn't War." I was to say the least surprised to see that, having just finished saying that the Post seems to have no one who understands the military science at all. Does this mean I was wrong? Do they have a military affairs writer?
Well, no. At the end, I saw the tagline: "Richard Hart Sinnreich writes on military affairs for the Lawton (Okla.) Sunday Constitution."
It's rare to find a journalist who understands the business of warfighting. Apparently even one of the nation's two most important newspapers can't keep one of their own on staff, instead occasionally borrowing him from a minor paper in Oklahoma. Maybe the Washington Post ought to think about what that says about their usual quality of reporting. If they want me to take them seriously, they could do worse than to start by hiring this fellow... and a few more like him.