Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 168)

August 30, 2004
Swift Boat Ship Wreck Edition

It's been a busy week for Conservative Idiots - presumably they're rehearsing for the Republican National Convention. And if the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" (1) splitting apart at the seams, Bob Dole (3) tossing his credibility out of the window on national television, and George W. Bush (4) flip-flopping on 527s is just a trial run for the RNC, next weeks' Idiots should be a hoot. But there's certainly plenty to see this week - it turns out that The Bush Administration (5) got caught allowing an Israeli spy to influence American foreign policy, Dick Cheney (7) is faking concern for his own daughter, and Alan Keyes (10) is making even less sense than usual. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

Note: You can now link directly to a Top Ten item by adding "#" plus the number of the item to the URL. So if you wish to point someone directly to, for example, number 6 on this week's list, add "#6" to the end of the URL so it looks like this:

1Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" lying lying lying lying lying just plain evil
With a bit of luck we won't be writing much more about these idiots. The past week has seen most of the organization's claims debunked and many of the members have thoroughly contradicted themselves. Not that you'd know it if you've been watching cable news. So let's do a quick recap of some of the week's more important stories:

  • Alfred French, who signed an affidavit accusing John Kerry of exaggerating his war record, is in trouble after it was revealed that he didn't serve with Kerry and did not actually witness his behavior in Vietnam. Lying in affidavits is obviously not a good idea when you're a county prosecutor. Oh yes, he also got caught lying about an extra-marital affair.

  • After Ken Cordier's departure from Team Bush (see Idiots 167) it was the turn of Benjamin Ginsberg to quit last week when it was revealed that not only was he a lawyer for George W. Bush's campaign, he was a lawyer for - surprise - Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. We hear the door did not hit him in the ass on the way out.

  • Jim Russell (who, unlike the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth," was actually there the day that Kerry pulled Jim Rassmann out of the river) composed a stirring letter contradicting their story. "The picture I have in my mind of Kerry bending over from his boat picking some hapless guy out of the river while all hell was breaking loose around us, is a picture based on fact and it cannot be disputed or changed," he wrote.

  • Larry Thurlow signed an affidavit accusing Kerry of lying about being under fire when he rescued Rassmann, saying "no return fire occurred.... I never heard a shot." This directly contradicts his own Bronze Star citation (see Idiots 167). But a third Bronze Star was awarded that day, to another Swift Boat skipper, Robert Lambert. Lambert's recently-released citation says that "all units came under small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks," and that Lambert "directed accurate suppressing fire at the enemy." The citation praises his "coolness, professionalism and courage under fire." Thurlow claims that Kerry faked the citations by falsely describing events to superior officers. But Kerry is not the eyewitness on Thurlow's citation - Lambert is. Can it be any more obvious that Thurlow is lying?

  • John O'Neill has been making a big stink lately over whether John Kerry was in Cambodia or not during the Vietnam War. It appears that nobody - including Kerry - is really sure. But O'Neill - as usual - made himself look like a complete ass by claiming to CNN that he (O'Neill) had never been in Cambodia and in fact it was impossible to cross the border by river. Whoops! It turns out that O'Neill appears on an audio tape recorded in the Oval Office telling the complete opposite to Richard Nixon. O'NEILL: "I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water." NIXON: "In a swift boat?" O'NEILL: "Yes, sir." Ah, credibility. We hardly knew ye.

  • Even George W. Bush admits John Kerry is a war hero, saying last week, "I think him [Kerry] going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets. He was in harm's way and I wasn't." So now it's clear that either George W. Bush or the Swift Boat Idiots are lying. One or the other. Who can it be?

2George W. Bush chickenhawk cowardice
But while George W. Bush was expressing his admiration for John Kerry's service, doubts about Bush's time in the National Guard were slowly creeping back into the national dialog. Back in June former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes dropped this bombshell, which got proper coverage for the first time last week: "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard ... and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it ... I got a lot of other people in the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do when you're in office, you helped a lot of rich people ... I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam. I became more ashamed of myself than I've ever been because it was the worst thing I did - help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard. I'm very sorry of that and I'm very ashamed of it and I apologize to the voters of Texas for that." (Video of Ben Barnes here.) Add to this the possibility that Bush liked to be photographed wearing medals he did not earn, and it kinda makes you wonder why the hell any Vietnam veteran would throw their support to President Yellow Streak over a guy who actually volunteered to fight there.

3Bob Dole hypocrisy
Meanwhile, the famously impotent former presidential candidate Bob Dole jumped into Bush's Big Bucket o' Slime with both feet last week, criticizing John Kerry's war record on CNN's Inside Edition by saying that Kerry had "three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of." I do hope that from now on Dole is going to intercept American soldiers returning from Iraq to make sure they're injured enough before they're awarded the Purple Heart. He could separate them into two lines when they come off the plane. Not that self-inflicted superficial wounds were a big problem for Dole when he was awarded the Purple Heart of course. In Unlimited Partners: Our American Story, he wrote, "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch - remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them. In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg - the sort of injury the Army patched up with mercurochrome and a Purple Heart." Can it get any more hypocritical than this? Actually, yes it can! During the CNN interview, Wolf Blitzer showed Bob Dole a Kerry campaign ad which highlighted a 2000 primary debate between John McCain and George W. Bush. At the time Bush was refusing to denounce an "independent" smear campaign attacking McCain's record, and the portion of the debate featured in the ad shows McCain telling Bush, "you should be ashamed of yourself." When CNN cuts to the ad, a leaked raw video feed shows Dole saying of McCain, "he was right." Not that Dole deigned to express that opinion while he was live on air, mind you.

4George W. Bush flip-flopping
The Flip-Flop Of The Week Award goes to George W. Bush, who recently reversed his position on 527s, joining forces with John McCain to file suit against them. Here's what he said in an interview back in 2000, when - coincidentally - an "independent" 527 was smearing John McCain's war record. Sound familiar? "That's part of the American - let me finish. That's part of the American process," said Bush. "There have been ads, independent expenditures, that are saying bad things about me. I don't particularly care when they do, but that's what freedom of speech is all about ... You know, let me - let me say something to you. People have the right to run ads. They have the right to do what they want to do, under the - under the First Amendment in America." So how this all jives with "President Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined forces yesterday to seek legal action to reduce the influence of '527' political organizations," as reported by the Seattle Times, we're not quite sure. But it's pretty obvious that Bush's "free speech" argument has fallen by the wayside now that 527s are doing political damage to his campaign. Which is probably why he's making a big fuss about taking everyone to court but still won't denounce the Swift Boat smears. So - does this mean that George W. Bush now supports judges rewriting the law from the bench? I thought he was against that sort of thing...

5The Bush Administration
George W. Bush is losing heavily to John Kerry in many key polling indicators - but still has strong approval for his handling of the war on terror. Of course, when the Bush administration is consistently telling the public that America is safer while simultaneously raising and lowering alert levels and warning that an attack could happen at any time, the public is bound to be confused. But perhaps this will clear things up a little: the FBI revealed last week that an Israeli spy has been "uncovered at the highest levels of the Pentagon." According to the Herald-Sun, "The agent is thought to have played a leading role in shaping US defense policy, raising fears he - or she - may have manipulated information in order to persuade the US to attack Iraq's Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of Israel." The FBI is investigating Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whose shadowy "Office of Special Plans" is widely reported to have been behind much of the false intelligence that pushed America to invade Iraq (see Idiots 136). In case you need reminding, Feith's office had close ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the former Bush buddy who was later discovered to be an Iranian spy. So this is how the Bush administration is handling the war on terror, folks - they were so keen to invade Iraq that they allowed their policies be determined by spies from Israel and Iran. Is anybody feeling safer yet?

6George W. Bush screwing the poor fiscal irresponsibility
The Census Bureau released a report last week which revealed that "The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million," according to the Associated Press. They continued, "It was the third straight annual increase for both categories." Third straight increase huh? I guess we're still waiting for Our Great Leader's Great Tax Cut Plan to kick in. Should be any day now. Meanwhile, the AP also noted that, "The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty." Leave no child behind my ass. George left 800,000 more children behind last year than he did the year before. Great work. Do the math: since George W. Bush became president, 5.2 million people have lost their health insurance and 4.3 million have fallen into poverty. Meanwhile corrupt CEOs make more money than they ever have before. And that's supposed to be leadership?

7Dick Cheney flip-flopping excessive spin
In what appeared to be a moment of compassion, Dick Cheney announced last week that "With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone." He was talking about gay marriage, and everyone oohed and aahed and thought, gosh, maybe Dick Cheney isn't such a heartless bastard after all. Which is exactly what Team Bush wanted you to think. Cheney has previously held the position that gay marriage should be decided by the states, but flip-flopped when George W. Bush decided to support amending the Constitution to discriminate against gays and Cheney "said he'd support whatever decision Bush made," according to USA Today. The media would have you believe that social conservatives are up in arms about Cheney's statement, with Family Research Council president Tony "Psycho" Perkins releasing a statement saying in part, "We support President Bush's commitment to a constitutional amendment on marriage but we are left to wonder why the Vice President is allowed to depart from this position when the top of the ticket is unified on all other issues. I find it hard to believe the Vice President would stray from the administration's position on defense policy or tax policy." Yes - it is hard to believe, isn't it? Let's face it, Dick Cheney's comments make very little difference to the FRC or their followers - they're voting for Bush this year. In fact, despite Cheney's comments, the Republicans' platform committee officially endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment in the party's platform last week, adopting the language unanimously. So why did Dick risk such a fuss just a few days before the start of the Convention? Simple - he was told to do it by Karl Rove. You think it's a coincidence that the Republicans will be hiding the nutcase elements of their party behind Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger this week? You think it's odd that a tiny minority of the Republican party - moderates - will get a majority of coverage at the Convention podium? It's no coincidence - and Cheney's comments were all part of the plan.

8George W. Bush hypocrisy
George W. Bush is having a fine old time bashing John Kerry for proposing intelligence funding cuts in the 1990s. A recent Team Bush ad proclaimed, "John Kerry... proposed slashing Intelligence Budget 6 Billion Dollars." Cue deep and menacing minor-chord keyboard music. But according to Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, "President Bush's nominee to be the director of central intelligence, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), sponsored legislation that would have cut intelligence personnel by 20 percent in the late 1990s." What? Surely not! Milbank continues, "the cuts Goss supported are larger than those proposed by Kerry and specifically targeted the 'human intelligence' that has recently been found lacking..." So check it out - according to the Post, "Kerry, in September 1995, proposed a five-year, $1.5 billion cut in the intelligence budget, about 1 percent of the overall intelligence budget." And Goss? Well, he "was one of six original co-sponsors of legislation titled H.R. 1923, called the Restructuring a Limited Government Act. Among other things, the legislation, written by then-Rules Committee Chairman Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-N.Y.), directed that 'the president shall, for each of fiscal years 1996 through 2000, reduce the total number of military and civilian personnel employed by, or assigned or detailed to, elements of the Intelligence Community by not less than 4 percent of the baseline number' of employees on Sept. 30, 1995." How bizarre. Surely appointing someone like that proves without a shadow of a doubt that deriding John Kerry for proposing cuts in intelligence services is just mindbendingly hypocritical. And if Bush really believes that people who propose cutting intelligence funding are not only dangerous but possibly in league with the terrorists, why does he want to make one of them the head of the CIA? I'm scratching my head here...

9 ABC partisanship partisanship
During the Democratic National Convention, the broadcast networks aired three nights of prime-time coverage - Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This week, for the Republican National Convention, they're airing prime-time coverage on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Okay - that all sounds very fair and balanced and equal-time-ish. Except, except, I should probably mention ABC, who will "carry a special live convention report anchored by Peter Jennings at halftime during 'Monday Night Football.'" Uh, what? That's right - while all the other networks are playing it fair and square, ABC is giving the Republican party free air time on a fourth night of the Convention, and during a show which has one of the most sought-after advertising demographics on television. Zip up your fly, ABC. Your partisan underpants are showing.

10Alan Keyes gun nut gun nut
Before beginning this week's final entry I would like to personally thank Alan Keyes for not only making my job much easier, but for also literally defining the term "conservative idiot." So thank you Alan, you're a star. Now let's find out what you've been up to lately shall we? Over the last couple of weeks Alan has distinguished himself from his opponent by flip-flopping on carpet-bagging (see Idiots 166), comparing abortion to terrorism (see Idiots 167), and suggesting a new reparations plan (after previously opposing reparations) which would involve screwing the poor and rewarding the rich by abolishing income taxes for African-Americans (also see Idiots 167). How to top that? If you're Alan Keyes, it's easy! Last week Keyes announced that he saw no reason why citizens shouldn't be able to openly carry machine guns on the street. That's right! Despite making himself look like even more of a lunatic than he did previously, Keyes clearly holds the belief that "an armed society is a polite society" - and here's his evidence: "Have you ever been to Israel?" Keyes asked a reporter last week. "Because if you've ever been to Israel, you wouldn't ask that question. And in the midst of terrifying dangers, you walk around the streets of Israel and you see every other person carrying arms and Uzis and so forth and so on, and believe me, you do not feel less safe on that account." Oh Alan, only you could hold up Israel as a bastion of safety and security! Classic stuff. See you next week!

The Top Ten Conservative Idiots list is back on the radio! The Air America Radio Network's Ring of Fire show is currently broadcasting "Cuckoo Conservatives" - excerpts from the Top Ten read by 30+ year radio veteran Dean Randall. Dean has worked in broadcast markets from the Midwest to the west coast including an overseas hitch in Wellington, New Zealand, and most of his radio experience was spent as a morning show personality. He is currently employed by a local ABC TV affiliate and is active in politics on a local, state and national basis. Dean says, "My liberal roots went down and deep early when my father hosted a Minnesota state DFL rally in 1961. Ever since I have had a keen interest in politics and the Democratic philosophy and history." You can drop him a line at [email protected].

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