Re: Man, The Times Doesn't Like Blumenthal One Bit

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... "I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse."

I thought the liberal line was that abuse of soldiers is largely a conservative myth. In any case there is certainly room to doubt that Blumenthal personally experienced any.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:20 AM
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There is room to doubt almost anything anyone says ever. When there is no one with knowledge claiming that a statement is false, as no one is on the specific point you raise, we generally let the uncertainty of life go by without pointing it out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:35 AM
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Ronald Fucking Reagan told a bunch of holocaust survivors he'd been at Auschwitz filming the camp after it had been liberated. Blumenthal appears to have misspoken a few times, the error in all the published cases being in the choice of a single word.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:49 AM
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3: And by 'a few' times, unless you know more than I do, you mean once, or if we count the 2003 'we', twice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:51 AM
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4: Yep. Twice at the outside. Once certainly. A thin thread to hang the man with either way.

My initial assumption is that the attacks were well founded, just because I assume that any politician who served during that era is going to dissemble about it (not really fair, I know, but it's my instinct). The more that this story makes the rounds without picking up additional evidence the more it seems like just another political hit job. I've misspoken much worse than Blumenthal has in the published quotes. If he's guilty as charged there will be a flood of additional quotes, but I'm not holding my breath.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:57 AM
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2

There is room to doubt almost anything anyone says ever. When there is no one with knowledge claiming that a statement is false, as no one is on the specific point you raise, we generally let the uncertainty of life go by without pointing it out.

So you think any claim of abuse of Vietnam era soldiers should be endorsed as "absolutely [truthful]"?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 6:58 AM
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Well, I think the claims of mass crucifixions were probably overstated to some extent. That kind of thing would have gotten in the papers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:01 AM
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I thought the liberal line was that abuse of soldiers is largely a conservative myth.

Ooh Shearer you sly dog! You're trying to take the true statement "the stories of people spitting on returning soldiers are a myth unsupported by any contemporary accounts, or indeed anything else before the release of First Blood" and turn it into "liberals don't believe anyone was ever rude to a soldier anywhere ever!"

I have to admire your inventiveness.

But not, you know, a lot.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:04 AM
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It would have been nice if the Times had gone this hard after Powell's UN presentation, but only fools and Frenchmen doubted that one.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:04 AM
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I thought the McMahon campaign fucked up yesterday by so gleefully claiming credit for planting the story and allowing Blumenthal to dismiss it as a partisan attack. But maybe that just convinced the Times to double down to try to prove that it wasn't played and it is so a legitimate story


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:17 AM
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I had never heard of this guy prior to the NYT article and I don't feel strongly about his candidacy one way or the other.

That said, I am boggled that people are OK with calling this "misspoke." Hooey. Misspeaking is when you call your daughter by your son's name.

Saying you went a place you never went is not "misspeaking," it is a lie. And when it's said on a very controversial topic, one that you had every reason to be particularly careful about, you deserve to be called out on it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:25 AM
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In other news, what on earth is up with Amtrak not accepting debit cards secured by PINs? This is some kind of garbage policy dictated by security theater, isn't it?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:26 AM
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Flash poll in the wake of the NYT story shows Blumenthal's huge lead against McMahon has evaporated. Blumenthal now leads by just 3 points.

Yes, it's a Rasmussen poll, but still. Time for CT Dems to wake up and smell the nightmare. Maybe Blumenthal can ride this out and maybe he can't, and McMahon is certainly a better opponent for him than, say, actual Vietnam vet and former Rep. Rob Simmons. But just pointing at the NYT as biased against Blumenthal isn't going to be enough.

Then again, Blumenthal's presser late yesterday was apparently very well done, and who knows whether the poll was mostly conducted before, during, or after that. So who knows.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:29 AM
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You know, Vietnam is the name of a conflict as well as a country. Saying -- once! -- that you served "in Vietnam," when it is in fact true that you were in the service during the Vietnam War, and when you have made it clear many other times that you stayed stateside for that service, really isn't OMG! LIAR! material to me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:29 AM
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13: Yeah, what's odd is that on a couple of those (idiotic) winners-n-losers type lists that pundits publish in the morning, Blumenthal is listed as a winner and McMahon as a loser, because of their respective handlings of this whole thing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:32 AM
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11: I dunno -- saying "Vietnam" instead of "the Vietnam era" in a 2008 speech seems pretty close to a plausible mistake*. This is the tell:

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

Isn't the fact that he eventually joined the Marine Reserve and served worth noting here, like in this very paragraph? I'm sure it's that I just drank the swirly-eyed Kool-Aid, but I can't remember anyone flipping out about this when Bush said he served in the Air Force. (I mean, I'm sure Blumenthal eats puppies, and I don't know that I'd vote for him myself. It's the press reaction that's interesting here.) This honestly reminds me of nothing so much as Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner getting crucified by her local paper for saying she had an economics degree from Harvard when, in fact, she had minored in economics at Harvard.

* "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam. And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it -- Afghanistan or Iraq -- we owe our military men and women unconditional support."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:33 AM
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"Misspeaking" is what noncombatants do. Political candidates have to take as much care with their prepositions as with their nouns, verbs and camouflaged racial slurs.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:35 AM
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BTW, my comment at 13 wasn't meant to suggest that LB was "just pointing at the NYT as biased" -- it was meant to suggest that, given the new polling, Blumenthal's public statement(s) about his military record are now more than a media story.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:40 AM
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The level of coverage is preposterous, and the impact of this on any even moderately intelligent voter should be zero, but do people here not think he was trying to get certain audiences to conclude that he had been in Vietnam while not saying anything technically untrue?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:41 AM
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19: Yes, sort of? Except that he also took great pains to make sure people didn't conclude that on other occasions. I suppose the dishonesty comes in for me, as much as it comes in at all, with someone who got 5 deferments and then a plum position in the Nat'l Guard, appointing himself Mr Vet who gets it. But of course he is a vet, and that behavior, while kind of unseemly to me, is generally unproblematic to most of the population.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:46 AM
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Well, it will be nice when everyone who could possibly have served in Vietnam is way too old to be running for office.

That said, I think there's more nuance here than we're giving Blumenthal credit for. For instance, I was just chatting with a friend of mine about our respective fathers' Army service. Turns out they had both done the same thing -- clerical work related to medals -- but his father was stationed in Saigon, and my father was stationed in California. So presumably, his father could, if he were a candidate, legitimately claim to have served in Vietnam, even though the closest he got to any action was some 2nd lieutenant freaking out and ordering them all to get into combat mode for no reason, for which the officer was reprimanded. But still! He's a Vietnam vet!

Likewise, a friend of a friend joined the military in 1976, which as we all know was after the fall of Saigon, but since he is officially classified as a "Vietnam-Era Veteran" by the military, he's been able to take advantage of extra VA benefits that would not accrue if he had enlisted a few years later.

So I don't think all of this is quite so cut-and-dried.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:49 AM
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Well, it will be nice when everyone who could possibly have served in Vietnam is way too old to be running for office.

I used to think that, but I now I believe that Generations X, Y and whatever comes next will have their own respective nits to pick.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:51 AM
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it will be nice when everyone who could possibly have served in Vietnam is way too old to be running for office

God, that will be a beautiful day, provided we don't swap in Iraq for Vietnam as our all-purpose proxy for the culture war.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:52 AM
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11.2: He said "we" in circumstances where perhaps "they" is better, even though there is a reasonable argument that "we" is acceptable. He also said "in" where "during" was a better choice, but it's still arguable that "in" is appropriate. Calling that a lie is an extraordinary stretch. "Misspoke" is exactly the right word.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:52 AM
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23: Well, yeah. I don't think Gen X will be so bad about it -- we're just so cynical and disaffected, you know? But those Gen Y/Millennial bums are probably going to be exactly the same about their stupid war.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:57 AM
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25 to 22 AND 23


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:57 AM
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23, meet Cal Cunningham.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:01 AM
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1/2: In any case there is certainly room to doubt that Blumenthal personally experienced any.

There is room to doubt almost anything anyone says ever. When there is no one with knowledge claiming that a statement is false, as no one is on the specific point you raise, we generally let the uncertainty of life go by without pointing it out.

LB's conceding too much. "I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse" isn't a claim that he personally experienced them. He could easily remember taunts and insults that were directed at friends he knew from his time in service.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:01 AM
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28 s/b "isn't necessarily a claim that he personally experienced them..."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:02 AM
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"Misspoke" is exactly the right word.

If he said "in" on purpose because he wanted that group of veterans to think he had been physically in Vietnam, "misspoke" is exactly the wrong word. I have no idea whether he did so, but neither do you. As a general matter, politicians try to tell their audiences what they want to hear, and frequently resort to hyperbole or even untruth to do so. They are not misspeaking when they do this.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:02 AM
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I used to live in Connecticut, and I remember Blumenthal as an effective, activist AG. He was on the right side of a lot of issues, and was ranked as the worst state AG by a libertarian think tank.
The list of cases he supported is impressive. I suspect this may be related to the attacks in the Times.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:13 AM
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Reading myleftnutmeg.com is helpful in this situation. Particularly this bit on why Chris Shays might be the go-to guys for Blumenthal bashing:

Shays received the extremely low lottery number of 5 in December 1969, which should have insured that he was drafted. But he wasn't. And as recently as two months ago, Shays told Nick Keppler, editor of Fairfield County Weekly, that he wasn't drafted in 1969 because he was serving in the Peace Corps in Fiji.

Chris Shays then filed for and was granted conscientious objector status in 1972, but wasn't required to perform any alternative service whatsoever, an unusual out for a CO. But again, no one in the Connecticut press corps has ever asked Mr. Shays to explain how he got out of military service, or about the morality of claiming CO status, but supporting enthusiastically the war in Iraq.

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:28 AM
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Blumenthal's record as AG is totally impressive, which is why I was so surprised and disappointed when a couple of months ago he appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show and was incredibly wooden and, if I recall correctly, triangulating like mad towards conservative compromises on issues like finance reform. I was struck by it because I had wanted to like him.

I still don't know exactly what I think about this Vietnam business. It does feel like a hit piece, but I think it's a hit that will land.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:30 AM
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23, meet Cal Cunningham.

Cunningham makes me vaguely uncomfortable, even though I have lots of good friends who are very enthusiastic. He seems, well, light on content and heavy on package. Or something. I mean, I'll vote for him if he takes the runoff, of course, but I'm not as convinced as a lot of people you and I both know that he matches up any better with Burr than Elaine Marshall does.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:39 AM
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34: More or less agreed. BTW, Ken Lewis is endorsing Elaine Marshall today, so there's that.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:43 AM
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I agree this is a hit piece, and am somewhat stunned by how intense a hit piece it is. My guess is that the conspiracy isnt so much politically motivated as that some powerful reporter or editor thought they had a "scoop" in just the kind of way that journalists love, and was able to convince the Times to go all in on this story. That plus the general deep boomer anxiety about service in Vietnam.

With that said, I do think there's a story here, and that Blandings gets it right. "Deliberately allowing an incorrect perception to exist about military service" seems like a completely accurate description of Blumenthal's actual sin, and that's a real sin, if, IMO, a venial one.

Generally, I don't tend to give politicians much slack in these kinds of situations. He's a politician and a political candidate who knows how to play the game, and he should have played it better than this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:48 AM
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I met Cal Cunningham at a tiny fundraiser out here. Can't say enough good things about the guy -- sharp, frank, funny, and impressive. Didn't sound like be has much of a chance, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:51 AM
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Yeah, I know several people who worked with him when he was student body president (or something) at UNC. They all say the same thing. I think both he and Marshall would give Burr a run for his money, though my record on political forecasting is pretty dismal, so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:55 AM
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36: But the rules of the game are that you can lie about your Vietnam service. Except Blumenthal, example.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:00 AM
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30: What flips me toward 'misspeak', and thinking that it really was an innocent mistake, is that it happened once, and he's got later correct and complete public statements. If he were consistently avoiding telling the truth about his service, only saying things that were consistent with having been actually in Vietnam, and repeatedly 'misspoke' by saying 'in' rather than 'during', I'd have trouble giving him credit for it. Once, and in a context where he's been telling the whole truth, and with no indication that the speech where he misspoke was particularly high stakes on this issue, while I can't see into his soul, the balance of the evidence seems to me to be that he made a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:01 AM
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I meant "Except Blumenthal, apparently."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:01 AM
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30, 40: Yeah -- he gave versions of this speech apparently hundreds of times. What the heck else is the guy supposed to do? (The link is only 26 seconds long, but worth watching.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:03 AM
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Interesting: "For those keeping score, there have been seven special elections for U.S. House seats since the president's inauguration 16 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, FL19, and PA12. Democrats have won all seven."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:08 AM
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I think it's more that he quite obviously deliberately allowed an ambiguity about his service to persist, to his benefit, for a long time. Sure, it's nice that he spoke more honestly in a debate in 2008, but it really does seem like he allowed a convenient misperception about his service to persist for a while, and nudge that perception along with some (mostly) ambiguous phrases. You think that he wasn't aware that there was a widespread perception that he was a Vietnam Vet? Yeah right. He may have mispoke, rather than deliberately lied at the event the Times discovered, but that's because he was comfortable with a great deal of deliberate ambiguity on the issue. Again, not the biggest deal in the world, but a real story.

And it may well be that this is an area where the press does use IOKIYAR.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:12 AM
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43: With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Critz had 53 percent, compared with 45 percent for Mr. Burns.

I knew the teabaggers were crazy, but I didn't think they could stoop to running Mr. Burns.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:13 AM
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44: Okay, what's your evidence that 'there was a widespread perception' that he had actually served in Vietnam, other than the Times' slew of hit pieces, which clearly aren't evidence of anything? What's your basis for saying that the speech oudemia linked, for example, is less than is required of a politician in terms of correcting misapprehensions? Who should he have told what when and how many times before he's cleared of 'being comfortable with a great deal of deliberate ambiguity"?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:17 AM
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IS THERE FOR HONEST POVERTY
ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES, AN' A THAT?


Posted by: OPINIONATED MR. BURNS | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:17 AM
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46 cont.: That was testy, and I don't know that there wasn't a widespread misapprehension on the issue. But I don't see any evidence at all, outside the Times stories which are shameless crap, that there was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:18 AM
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The guy apparently served on multiple national committees on Veteran's service issues, went personally to the funeral of every Connecticut soldier killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spoke repeatedly to troops deploying from CT to Iraq and Afghanistan. The military connection was a big part of his public and political persona. There is (apparently, not that I'm an expert on this) a lot of evidence that at many of these events he played up his own service and allowed a perception that he had served in active duty in Vietnam, to the point where most CT political journalists thought that he had done so, and to the point where folks in CT also seem to be mildly surprised by the revelations in the Times story. That's what seems to be driving the issue in CT.

If he was going to go front and center on these issues, more clarity and explictness about his role probably would have been a good idea.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:27 AM
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36: To be clear, I don't think it rises even to the level of a venial sin.

40, 42: That he has been making sure he describes his service more accurately in a closely-watched Senatorial campaign than he did in occasional public appearances as AG in 2008 is a distinct possibility. That's all he is supposed to do, and all he can do, now, but ideally he wouldn't have "misspoken". I assume the claim about the hundreds of times comes from the strongly pro-Blumenthal poster at myleftnutmeg who is nonetheless willing to admit: "did Blumenthal lie about his record in one or several appearances over the years? Yes."


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:27 AM
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There is (apparently, not that I'm an expert on this) a lot of evidence that at many of these events he played up his own service and allowed a perception that he had served in active duty in Vietnam,

When you say 'apparently' (and I'm asking seriously, I don't know) are you talking about anything that predates the Times articles? Not that I'm expecting you to have been paying attention before yesterday, but anything that was written before yesterday?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:30 AM
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46, 51: Well, an interesting aspect of the Times original article is that one of their "charges" against Blumenthal is the portrayal of his service in the media (and that he apparently did not correct it):

But the way he speaks about his military service has led to confusion and frequent mischaracterizations of his biography in his home state newspapers. In at least eight newspaper articles published in Connecticut from 2003 to 2009, he is described as having served in Vietnam.
However, this is as much a point on the way media reports as it is something about Blumenthal. (And I have no idea what % of relevant articles about him in the Connecticut press this represents (nor does the NYT).) The only relevant article from the Tines itself 'I can find is from 2002 which inludes, 'I was in the Marine Corps,'' said state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, ''and we don't give up hope easily". Now if the Times were reporting rather than hatcheting they might have mentioned that. And if you need more evidence that this is an inside-baseball hit job (as if the article allowing Shays free reign to stick in the knife was not enough) the paragraph leading into the one quoted:
Mr. Blumenthal, 64, is known as a brilliant lawyer who likes to argue cases in court and uses language with power and precision. He is also savvy about the news media and attentive to how he is portrayed in the press.
There is indeed a small story here about Blumenthal. The Times behavior is more newsworthy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:34 AM
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Here's a reporter for the Hartford Courant:

In that regard, let me ask you this: Is there one reporter among the dozens who have covered Blumenthal for two decades who has ever heard him say he served in Vietnam? Or who was somehow under the impression that Blumenthal served in Vietnam? It was news to me that he had ever claimed that. But if the Times is correct in arguing that Blumenthal has a pattern of somehow, in public, generating the impression that he served in Vietnam, I assume some reporters have heard him do it. So consider this an online poll. Mark Pazniokas. Chris Keating. Jon Lender. Daniela Altimari. Kevin Rennie. Dennis House. Brian Lockhart. Ted Mann. Tom Monahan. Geg Hladky. Duby McDowell (Ret.). Ketih Phaneuf. Sue Haig Susan Haigh. All of the others. Can any of you remember hearing Blumenthal ever say he served in Vietnam? Did you think he had served there? Because the Times would have us believe that these misrepresentations were habitual and that "idea that [Blumenthal] served in Vietnam has become ...an accepted part of his public biography. True? If you feel like answering, email Colin@wnpr.org.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:38 AM
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I'm also not making any claims about a widespread perception. I just assume that when a politician goes before a veterans group and says "I served during Vietnam", even forgetting about "in Vietnam", without noting he was in the reserves or stateside or whatever, it is because he would prefer that they think he was in Vietnam. And so what? Except that you do run the risk of our ridiculous press corps writing just this kind of article.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:39 AM
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49: The guy apparently served on multiple national committees on Veteran's service issues, went personally to the funeral of every Connecticut soldier killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spoke repeatedly to troops deploying from CT to Iraq and Afghanistan. The military connection was a big part of his public and political persona.

Yes, and an apparently has a well-deserved reputation as someone who fought for Veteran's rights and was very attentive to their problems for years. He is a politician and I am sure there is some element in there of political calculation, but some of the "perception" apparently came from the level of his involvement in paying attention to the welfare of former members of the military.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:39 AM
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While I'm being cranky, for this, from the first Times article:

In at least eight newspaper articles published in Connecticut from 2003 to 2009, he is described as having served in Vietnam.

After looking at the quotes the Times is willing to call deceptive, I'd really love to see links to those eight articles, and see what they really say.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:44 AM
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The examples the Times gives of newspapers getting it wrong are pretty weak tea:

But the way he speaks about his military service has led to confusion and frequent mischaracterizations of his biography in his home state newspapers. In at least eight newspaper articles published in Connecticut from 2003 to 2009, he is described as having served in Vietnam.
The New Haven Register on July 20, 2006, described him as "a veteran of the Vietnam War," and on April 6, 2007, said that the attorney general had "served in the Marines in Vietnam." On May 26, 2009, The Connecticut Post, a Bridgeport newspaper that is the state's third-largest daily, described Mr. Blumenthal as "a Vietnam veteran." The Shelton Weekly reported on May 23, 2008, that Mr. Blumenthal "was met with applause when he spoke about his experience as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam."

That is the very best the New York Times can do? All of that is factually true, with the possible exception of the Shelton Weekly quote. The Shelton event that the Shelton Weekly was reporting is quoted by the Times a few paragraphs up. Blumenthal had said, ""I served during the Vietnam era." Not his fault.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:46 AM
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Seconding 14. The usage is loose, but if you were swept up in the military during the Vietnam War, I could easily see using the shorthand "in Vietnam" to mean the conflict, not the war.

That said, I don't have any opinions about Mr. Blumenthal.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:47 AM
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I totally agree with 55.

I could be wrong about the widespread perception point, but, as Stormcrow pointed out, the Times piece does mention a lot of stories from his home state referring to his Vietnam service. and I took a look at the websites of a bunch of CT papers, none of which seem to be running with the "everyone knew he was in the reserves" line (I doubt he did a lot of boldface lying about his service). If he was careful about that in CT, then the Times piece really is unforgiveable from top to bottom.


Posted by: Rober Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:50 AM
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Well, the blog I link in 53 is a Hartford Courant reporter saying that he'd been covering Blumenthal for a long time, and didn't know of anyone who was confused about Blumenthal's service.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:52 AM
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59: Read the examples that the Times gives of CT papers being mistaken (in 57). Those are -- one assumes -- the excerpts that best prove the point. They're risible.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:53 AM
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57: Also, even if the claims about Vietnam in the articles had been stronger/falser, if the campaign wasn't the source of those claims and didn't subsequently use the claims in campaign materials, what's the obligation of the campaign to correct?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:54 AM
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not the war country.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:54 AM
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The Times behavior is more newsworthy.

Agree fully with this, and it's the only part of this (non-)story I'm interested in. (It was my first reaction in yesterday's thread.) I'd love to see some investigative journalism by a rival newspaper, to figure out who at the NYT has a bug up their ass about Blumenthal, and exactly why.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:03 AM
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Link from 53 is good to see. Even if the Times keeps digging the hole deeper, if a bunch of CT political reporters are pissed that the Times called their reporting into question, the in-state coverage may be positive for Blumenthal.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:05 AM
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I worry that there is no specific, concrete 'why' -- that the opposing campaign handed them something they could make into a story, and they figured it would fill pages and generate pageviews, and just didn't give a damn about whether it was honest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:06 AM
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Well, to 62, the campaign should immediately correct false reporting precisely in order to avoid problems like this. That's not fair, but them's the rules. (And, apparently from my skimming, Blumenthal has been careful about this in other areas).

But: I agree that the evidence for the widespread perception claim is looking increasingly thin, despite extremely unambiguous statements in the Times, which makes the Times story much more of a pure hack job. The story is understandable, if overblown, with that perception; without it, it's just craptastic journalism even under lame journalist standards.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:06 AM
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66 is too depressing to contemplate, so for now, I'm going to keep assuming that Blumenthal had an affair with the spouse of someone at the NYT.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:11 AM
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||

Since we seem to be close to achieving comity, here's a story that's got:

a little bit of everything, from pig-ear coleslaw and pig-heart ravioli to drunken head-butts, a chef being ejected from a local bar and a pair of food-industry pros being arrested by the cops after a brawl over local vs. out-of-state pigs.

In Portland, to boot.

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:11 AM
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First Specter and now Blumenthal. Does nobody else see the pattern? Nobody? I mean, I expect this type of kike-kicking from the likes of Apo or the TOS. (Speaking of which, has anybody ever seen the two of them in the same place at the same time? Just food for thought.) But the rest of you? For shame.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:12 AM
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Also, it does seem odd that men of a certain age feel seem to feel so much pressure to say they were there.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:14 AM
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66: That's what I figured initially, but given how thinly veiled a hit piece it is, and that they may end up dealing with this guy for the next six years, they must know what they are doing.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:14 AM
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Yeah, like the NYT is even going to still be there in six years.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:18 AM
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Aren't there a few too many stories (and editorials, and op-eds) for 66 to be the case? One, I could see. We don't have anything against the guy, but we thought this might make a story, so we went with it. It wouldn't deserve front-page treatment, but I might even be willing to forgive that. But their website yesterday was covered with Blumenthal "scandals". (I didn't see the print editions, but I'm guessing they were similar.) That doesn't seem possible, unless there's someone there who's really out for the guy.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:19 AM
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has anybody ever seen the two of them in the same place at the same time?

uh oh, the Joo-C Davis satanist is onto us. he wants the precioussss.

stfu, ca-pee-shay?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:21 AM
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Did some searching at the New Haven Register which was listed as the source of 2 of the cites in the article. Did not find the 2006 article, but the paper itself described the reference as a parenthetical statement that was not attributed to Blumenthal in its editorial titled "Blumenthal's mistake should be forgiven". The other cite from The Register--Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who served with the Marines in Vietnam, summed up the feelings of most asembled--came at the very bottom of an article about some event concerning an elite National Guard unit. Evidence that The Register was not *really* confused is their characterizations from when he joined the race earlier this year (Blumenthal, a former Marine), and from a debate in March (Blumenthal, a Vietnam-era Marine). And as their editorial summarizes,

His service is accurately described in his official biography, and Blumenthal has stated his role accurately at other events honoring the military and at the debate this year for candidates for the Democratic nomination for the Senate.



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:22 AM
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Blumenthal is a talented and popular former AG of Connecticut who is decently progressive and was expected to win easily. This could be a major blow to Democratic political hopes for November. There's a small outside chance it could switch the Senate if Blumenthal loses.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:22 AM
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While I'm being cranky, Shays is really a filthy, filthy pig on this. Look at this from the article they gave Shays on the front page of the Times today:

Eventually, Mr. Shays said, he began hearing Mr. Blumenthal refer to having served in Vietnam. Mr. Shays said he assumed, wrongly, that Mr. Blumenthal had perhaps been a military lawyer there. That alone, he said, was enough for him to have had the impulse to advise Blumenthal to be careful, that people could interpret his remarks as a claim to have seen action there.

"I felt inclined to go to him and say, 'Dick, in your service in Vietnam, you weren't on the firing line, you don't want to overstate that,' " Mr. Shays said. "I just felt like he was raising the stakes in a way that was inconsistent with what he'd said in the past. I was actually going to go up and speak to him. And I wish I had."

Shays is claiming that (a) he believed, due to Blumenthal's statements that Blumenthal had actually served in Vietnam, but that (b) Blumenthal's public claims about the nature of his service were so broad that Shays was tempted to tell him not to overreach about his service. What and when were these public claims Blumenthal made that Shays doesn't quote, that go far enough past a claim to merely have served 'in Vietnam' (which Shays says he believed) that they made Shays think he was lying?

That the Times put Shays smearing Blumenthal like this on the front page is just disgusting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:23 AM
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To be even more clear: The Times stories depend, 100 percent, on Blumenthal and his communication team's permission or manipulation of a misperception about his Vietnam service. The Times reporter states, explicitly, that a widespread misperception exists. If it doesn't, it's not just "bad" journalism in the Bob Somerby, stupid cliquey Village reporting that is right-leaning and dwells on some trivial issue and doesn't address the important facts sense. It's bad journalism in the "making shit up" sense. I think a lot of my response was based on the assumption that the story was bad in the first sense but not in the second.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:24 AM
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I wonder if Yglesias or Ezra Klein would pick this up. This seems like the sort of story that should turn into a blogosphere thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:25 AM
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My observation (admittedly based on sparse data) is that the Times bends a bit more conservative in its coverage of Connecticut politics than it does New York. I suspect this is a reflection of the suburban skew of their subscribers and advertisers there.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:26 AM
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79: If it doesn't, it's not just "bad" journalism in the Bob Somerby, stupid cliquey Village reporting that is right-leaning and dwells on some trivial issue and doesn't address the important facts sense. It's bad journalism in the "making shit up" sense.

It's exactly a Bob Somerby story, but a lot of those came down to 'making shit up' as well. The fundamental Somerby story was "Gore lies", and that was made up of a drumbeat of little trivial bullshit stories that were too dumb for Gore to effectively refute, because you look like an idiot saying "Eric Segal did so base Love Story on me! He did!" They weren't just trivial, they were also mostly invented.

But they relied on this same move -- "Sure, the facts you can check aren't a big deal, and maybe they're not accurate, but they're just illustrations. The real story is the impression that's out there that (Gore's a pathological liar/Blumenthal served in Vietnam). And we obviously wouldn't be writing this story if that wasn't fundamentally true, why would we do something like that? Trust us."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:32 AM
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78.last: That the Times put Shays smearing Blumenthal like this on the front page is just disgusting.

Agreed. As I implied in 52, the Shays article on its own would convince me this was a hatchet job.

And this all reminds me that the NYT was notoriously taken to task by its own ombudsman (and half the Liberal blogsphere) when they said of Joe Liebermann, Never, in the statements reviewed, did Mr. Lieberman utter the words "stay the course." when in fact it he had used them more than a half-dozen times---- including several instances that were in the Times database.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:33 AM
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76 is making me want to charge the Times building with a pitchfork. Blumenthal must have given a Sulzberger a dirty look at Harvard or something.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:36 AM
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The fact that the NYT and the Washington Post are the two papers most likely to survive the oncoming Great Newspaper Extinction makes me want to bang my head against my desk.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:41 AM
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Yeah, maybe it is like the Gore coverage. But its an interesting retreat in that sense, in that it's NOT like the shitty political reporting we've seen since 2003 or so, which is largely obssessed with trivialities/misleading but rarely affirmatively false. (I mean, they have a videotape here, but the story is the widespread misperception; without that you just have an example of a gaffe).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:45 AM
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85 - There's always the Wall Street Journal! (Actually, I'm not at all sure that the Washington Post survives. Maybe Marty Peretz taps his wife's money again as a reward for Fred Hiatt's job well done.) You'd think there would be room in the country for two national papers, but I have no idea what the second will end up being. One of the Knight Ridder ones? The Toledo Blade? Those are the only ones I can think of that other than the Times that have broken any major stories lately.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:49 AM
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Those are the only ones I can think of that other than the Times that have broken any major stories lately.

Is this supposed to be somehow correlated with their chance of survival?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:51 AM
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86 - You're forgetting the AP stories about Harry Reid's illegal bribe boxing tickets that induced him to vote the way the boxing promoters wanted, except that they weren't illegal or even proper tickets and Reid voted against the boxing promoters. The guy who was pounding that drum later got hired away to run the Moonie/crazypants Washington Times.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:54 AM
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Is this supposed to be somehow correlated with their chance of survival?

Just wishful thinking.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:54 AM
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John Solomon. (In fact, if I recall correctly, Solomon's inaccurate hit pieces on Reid got him hired by the Post, although that may well have just been because he gave John McCain a chance to bloviate about McCain's moral rectitude. Then at the Post he wrote some hit pieces about Reid's real estate transactions, and only then graduated to the Moonie Times editorial desk.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:58 AM
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The only thing I know about him is that he's been fairly aggressive in going after banks and rating agencies on behalf of Connecticut investors (ie hedge funds). I have to admit my first thought on reading the original NYT article is that the banks had been doing some oppo research on him and fed the NYT the story.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:58 AM
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87: One of the Knight Ridder ones?

Sadly, now McClatchy. The fact that the excellent Knight-Ridder* national political desk was marginalized in a national capital whose papers were the Neocon Post and the Moonie Times is a sad testament.

*Not just getting the Iraq reporting right, this story reminds me that they were the only ones who kept their heads during the odious Swift Boat days.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:10 AM
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"Vietnam era veteran" is a well known phrase:

Vietnam Era veteran is a phrase used to describe someone who served in the armed forces of participating countries during the Vietnam War. The term has been used to describe veterans who were in the armed forces of South Vietnam, the United States armed forces, and countries allied to them, whether or not they were actually stationed in Vietnam during their service. However, the more common usage distinguishes between those who served "in country" and those who did not actually serve in Vietnam by referring to the "in country" veterans as "Vietnam veterans" and the others as "Vietnam era veterans". The U.S. government officially refers to all as "Vietnam era veterans".

You can be pretty sure that someone who calls themselves a "vietnam era veteran" didn't serve in Vietnam the same way you can be sure someone who says they "work for the boston red sox" isn't the third baseman.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:27 AM
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You can be pretty sure that someone who calls themselves a "vietnam era veteran" didn't serve in Vietnam the same way you can be sure someone who says they "work for the boston red sox" isn't the third baseman.

You can be pretty sure that someone who says they "play for the Boston Red Sox" isn't the third baseman, even if they're telling the truth.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:31 AM
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You can be pretty sure that someone who says they "play for the Boston Red Sox" isn't the third baseman, even if they're telling the truth.

You can also be pretty sure that someone who says they "play third base for the Boston Red Sox" isn't telling the truth, unless they happen to be Adrian Beltre.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:49 AM
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As I say at my place, I largely agree, but with one major caveat: the fact that apparently some of Blumenthal's misleading claims apparently took place in the context of repeating right-wing stabbed-in-the-back myths. Not only is this disgusting in itself, but I think those instances have to be counted as outright lying. There's a clear implication of service in Vietnam there, not just vague allusions he'd like some audience members to take the wrong way.

The Shays story, though, is a disgrace, no argument. And is bad enough to make me wonder about the claims made in the previous one...


Posted by: Scott Lemieux | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:54 AM
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Hey Scott.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:56 AM
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Another little tidbit.

A video clip from the speech posted by The New York Times shows Blumenthal saying he "served in Vietnam." But a longer version of the video posted by a Republican opponent also shows Blumenthal saying at the beginning of his speech that he "served in the military, during the Vietnam era."

What did the New York Times know and when did they know it?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:57 AM
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Maybe they're out to get him because he eats puppies or something?)

racist


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:58 AM
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99: Wait, he said it right in the same speech? Jesus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:05 PM
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Sorry to eat a dead puppy beat a dead horse, but please do take a look at this compilation of mentions of his military service during the recent March debate. (To be fair one of the quotes was mentioned in the original Time piece, but only as something pointed out in rebuttal by an aide. Watch the video.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:09 PM
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102: Is that from the same debate the Times quote is from?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:11 PM
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You'd think there would be room in the country for two national papers, but I have no idea what the second will end up being. One of the Knight Ridder ones? The Toledo Blade?

It would be cool if a paper from small midwestern city survived the die-off to become a national paper along side the New York Times and Washington Post, and did so because they did actual investigative reporting. But you know, my daughter would also like a pony.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:12 PM
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OT A 13-Year-Old Takes On Everest, and Sets Off a Debate

My take is that thirteen is too young to be allowed to choose to do something that risky. For every ten people who make it to a 8000m summit, one dies in an attempt. That's Russian roulette odds.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:17 PM
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103: I think it is. He at least says something very similar at the end of the clip (3rd segment they cut to), but there is a bit more to the quote in the Times that may be cut off in the video. If you watch the video, you see that he not only says he it, he is at pains to state precisely what his service and unit consisted of.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:18 PM
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That's Russian roulette odds.

I was about to make a crack about the funny revolvers you must have in Poland, but I looked it up, and apparently there are models that accommodate 10 rounds. If I ever played Russian roulette, I'd want one of those.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:23 PM
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And the more I think about it the more pissed off I become about this bit I quoted above, Mr. Blumenthal, 64, is known as a brilliant lawyer who likes to argue cases in court and uses language with power and precision. He is also savvy about the news media and attentive to how he is portrayed in the press. Because if you're a blithering idiot like Bush or a serial fabulist like Reagan both of whom talked all kinds of smack, it wouldn't really matter. Talk about your soft bigotry of low expectations.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:23 PM
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What is 99 quoting?

Also, I feel like 74 has been ignored.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:24 PM
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From the AP:

The crisis erupted when The New York Times reported that Blumenthal had repeatedly distorted his military service. The story included quotations and a video of Blumenthal saying at a 2008 event that he had "served in Vietnam." The newspaper also said Blumenthal intimated more than once that he was a victim of the abuse heaped on Vietnam veterans upon their return home.

A longer version of the video posted by a Republican opponent also shows Blumenthal at the beginning of his speech correctly characterizing his service by saying that he "served in the military, during the Vietnam era."


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:25 PM
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Not sure why the fonts are different in the two paragraphs of block quoted text in 110, but they're both from the linked AP article.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:26 PM
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99/106: I was unsympathetic to Mr. Blumenthal until I learned that aspect. That goes into "ignoring relevant facts" territory.

Even before knowing that, I figured this would be a three-day story that would have no impact on the ultimate outcome of the race (pace PGD). Now I'm even more convinced of that.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:29 PM
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109: 110 has it. Forgot your need to have references cited.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:32 PM
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How else would we check your work, JP?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:33 PM
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Well, to 62, the campaign should immediately correct false reporting precisely in order to avoid problems like this. That's not fair, but them's the rules.

Really, if the guy wanted to avoid problems like this, he should have just enlisted in the military proper in '65 and gotten himself shipped overseas. Anything less is just asking for this sort of scandal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:34 PM
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Forgot your need to have references cited.

"Forgot"? Do I have that reputation? I was just curious.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:36 PM
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How can "the campaign" "immediately correct false reporting"? Blumenthal doesn't have the power to declare an emergency and commandeer the news media.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:38 PM
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117: Well, they could have put out a press release or written to the paper about it or something. Of course, at least some of the press errors seem to have happened at times when Blumenthal wasn't running for anything, so Blumenthal would have had to do it himself, not his campaign.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:40 PM
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Blumenthal had a press secretary/publicist during the entire period, whose job was basically to read the newspapers and see what they were saying about him. It's one of the jobs of those kinds of people (a pretty important part of their job, actually) to call up their contacts in the press and tell them when they're gotten something wrong -- particularly, where, as here, the thing that the press is getting wrong could ultimately be perceived as a problem for Blumenthal. The papers could then either run a correction, or not.

Here, though, with the exception of one newspaper in tiny Shelton, the local stories arguably weren't even innaccurate. And maybe Blumenthal's people were calling with corrections -- we don't know from the Times piece.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:43 PM
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116: Reminded me of a similar demand request you made during the "Downtown" debate. (In that instance I did not cite because I was not claiming any authority for the quotation, rather just using it as some random thing on the Internet that stated my position better than I had, in this case I simply forgot.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:43 PM
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Here's a link to the video of the actual March 2008 speech highlighted in the original NY Times article.

The quote which ran at the top of the NT Times piece is at the 2:37 mark in the video, but I encourage you to listen to the preceding 2:30 of the speech. AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE SPEECH (the 0:15 mark), Blumenthal correctly explains that he served in the military during the Vietnam era in the Marine Corps. His misstatement at 2:37 comes in the context of his contention that America has a way of sending soldiers off to war and then abandoning them when they return ("We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.")

The "in Vietnam" could be read as a misstatement or (perhaps too charitably) as defining the period of time in which America learned that lesson (in which case the transcription omits a critical comma after "served" and before "in"). But it really doesn't come across as misleading, at least to my ear.

The NY Times omission of Blumenthal's correct and proper description of his military service TWO AND A HALF MINUTES EARLIER in an article about how he supposedly mislead people during that March 2008 speech is just atrocious.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 12:56 PM
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May I humbly suggest a third afterthought to the original post with a link to the video?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 1:01 PM
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When I get home tonight. I think it also needs a link to his campaign fundraising page.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 1:03 PM
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123: You go, girl. :)


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 1:10 PM
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Oh, and remember how I said at 14 that former Congressman Rob Simmons would be a more serious opponent for Blumenthal in light of this "story"?

Well, what do you know -- Simmons is out with an attack ad (web only) on the issue: "Blumenthal Lied about Vietnam"


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 1:15 PM
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105: There was an article about this attempt and others in Outside recently. Risks are for taking, even for minors, and kids who are able to climb without endangering other climbers (a judgment for climb leaders, not kids, parents or college application consultants commercial sponsors), but I would feel better about the trend if the parents of the young climbers were less like Balloon Boy's father.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 1:32 PM
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OK, I am now filled with the zeal of a convert on this issue. The Shays story is really shockingly bad. The actual reported content it contains is (a) Chris Shays, Republican, stating that he worried about Blumenthal embellishing his record; (b) a bunch of interviews with veterans who do not claim ever to have been misled by Blumenthal and appreciate the work that he did on his behalf. That's it. There's also this stunningly ludicrous graf:

At a news conference on Tuesday in West Hartford, where he was surrounded by veterans, Mr. Blumenthal, 64, a Democratic candidate for Senate, said he had never intended to mislead the public.
But in interviews, several military historians and social scientists said the Blumenthal story reflected the strained and unsettled relationship some men of his generation have with the Vietnam War. Some of them, driven by guilt or pride, begin to embellish their role, even if they did not serve in the war or played no heroic role, they said.
"There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon of exaggerating military service by people who feel nostalgic because they missed their war," said Brian McAllister Linn, a professor at Texas A&M University who specializes in military history.

Robert Halford has denied fucking chickens. However, in interviews, some psychologists noted that the Halford story could reflect the strained and conflicted relationship that chicken fuckers have with chickens. Some of them, driven by guilt or pride, begin to embellish their non-chicken fucking, even if they actually have fucked chicken for years. "There's lots of anecdotal evidence of chicken fuckers denying that they fuck chickens" said Brian McAllister Linn, a professor at Texas A&M University who specializes in poultry history.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 3:24 PM
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Yay, zeal!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 3:38 PM
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That "But" is really sweet. Fuck you, New York Times.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 3:49 PM
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Shorter Times: Dick Blumenthal killed our dog.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:10 PM
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From 130:

Times spokesperson Diane McNulty emailed a response, claiming the longer vid doesn't change the story:
The New York Times in its reporting uncovered Mr. Blumenthal's long and well established pattern of misleading his constituents about his Vietnam War service, which he acknowledged in an interview with The Times. Mr. Blumenthal needs to be candid with his constituents about whether he went to Vietnam or not, since his official military records clearly indicate he did not.
The video doesn't change our story. Saying that he served "during Vietnam" doesn't indicate one way or the other whether he went to Vietnam.

The fuck?!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:14 PM
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Jesus. I think every word in her first sentence is false. It makes me doubt that his name is Blumenthal.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:16 PM
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"Long and well established pattern"? Let me check... we're still talking about the one quote, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:17 PM
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133 - Former Republican Congressman Chris Shays begs to differ, LB, because no Republican would ever lie for political advantage.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:21 PM
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My favorite might part might be: Mr. Blumenthal needs to be candid with his constituents about whether he went to Vietnam or not, since his official military records clearly indicate he did not.

Good thing the Times was there to dig up his official military records, to prove he didn't really go to Vietnam. He'd said as much, very clearly, plenty of times, but his word is no good at this point, since after all he did one time ambiguously claim to have served "in Vietnam" (two minutes after making a correct and unambiguous claim).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:23 PM
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Right, and they might have found out he was lying about not going to Vietnam too!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:27 PM
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130: If the Grey Lady knows anything, it is how to get bristly and defensive about their reporting. From their ridiculous defense of their own flawed reporting on the fraudulent ACORN tapes:

as he [NYT independent Public Editor, Clark Hoyt - JPS] wrote [emphasis his]: "The story says O'Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time."
This was in defense of their reporting that [O'Keefe] made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn after it had been shown that the video was deceptively edited (he never talked to anyone at ACORN while wearing the getup).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:30 PM
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That's it, tonight I'm burning a copy of the NYT in protest.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:35 PM
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135: Good thing the Times was there to dig up his official military records, to prove he didn't really go to Vietnam. He'd said as much, very clearly, plenty of times, but his word is no good at this point, since after all he did one time ambiguously claim to have served "in Vietnam" (two minutes after making a correct and unambiguous claim).

Also (per the New Haven Register) His service is accurately described in his official biography.

But so what? Other than earlier in that particular speech, in his official biography, several times with meticulous clarity in a recent campaign debate, and at many other appearances when did he ever say it? Not everyone has the resources to request official military records, some people have to rely on cropped excerpts from speeches made two years ago and incorrect parenthetical statements in minor news reports to get their information. Why do you hate America, Brock?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:41 PM
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138: ATTICA! ATTICA!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 4:42 PM
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Do read this blog post at the Hartford Courant with impressions from various press folks who have covered Blumenthal. (But some of their commenters have scary handles!)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 5:03 PM
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LB linked this post from the Hartford Courant over at Lawyers Guns and Money, which settles the issue.

The idea that, as the NY Times wrote, "Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar" is simply false. Connecticut political reporters who have been following him for years agree that he has been consistently truthful on this issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 5:04 PM
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I mean, seriously, shit like this is just embarrassing:

Mark Pazniokas covered Blumenthal for more than 20 years and was the lead political writer for The Hartford Courant when he was laid off as part of massive cuts by the paper in early 2009.

"Every time he talked about his military record, he was quite clear that he had been a military reservist and never came close to suggesting he was in Vietnam," says Pazniokas, now with the online Connecticut Mirror.

The first news article misstating Blumenthal's military service appears to be from April 2003. The Connecticut Post, based in Bridgeport, called the attorney general "a former Marine sergeant who served in Vietnam." The paper used almost identical language in May 2008, in quoting Blumenthal saying, "When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered." In recent years, it referred to him several times as a veteran, even, on occasion, "a Vietnam veteran."

Yet the Connecticut Post's characterization becomes puzzling when one discovers it captured the facts correctly back in May 2003, just a few weeks after that first errant piece, when it published this passage:

Blumenthal, a former U.S. Marine, served as a reservist during the Vietnam War. Although he did not serve overseas, he said he knew many who did.

Why won't Dick Blumenthal tell his constituents the truth?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 5:04 PM
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More hits from pile-on-the-Times day: NYT badly outdone by the fricking Wall Street Journal in reporting on her Oxford thesis.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 5:11 PM
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And here are a bunch of Connecticut journalists saying that they were perfectly clear about what Blumenthal's veteran status was and he never misled them (and, to be fair, one photographer saying he definitely got the impression from a Blumenthal speech that Blumenthal had been in Vietnam). So we have one instance of a clear Blumenthal misstatement, one corroborating report of Blumenthal making a misleading statement of some kind, and some bad reporting listed in 143 that Blumenthal didn't correct, but it is clearly not the case that political reporters in Connecticut were universally tricked by Wily Dick REMF.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 5:18 PM
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The man is attorney general of his state and a candidate for the US Senate. How many times does he need to lie about his service on video before you're willing to admit he's a liar. And yes, "since the days I served in Vietnam" is a blatant, unmistakable lie. Not a misstatement. A lie. No one just forgets they didn't serve in Vietnam. You can pretend this is a one-off mistake, but when there are multiple local newspaper profiles listing him as a Vietnam veteran the evidence is pretty strong that this is part of a larger pattern. He lied. The NY Times caught him and called him out. Get over it.


Posted by: Tweed | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 7:34 PM
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Ooh Shearer you sly dog! You're trying to take the true statement "the stories of people spitting on returning soldiers are a myth unsupported by any contemporary accounts, or indeed anything else before the release of First Blood" and turn it into "liberals don't believe anyone was ever rude to a soldier anywhere ever!"

So it is only the spitting stories that liberals object to? They don't believe stories of abuse have been greatly exaggerated in general?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:06 PM
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There's a whole book about the spitting, James. I actually did a post on it one time, and then the author showed up to defend his reputation (or something). It turned into a pretty interesting conversation. But I can't find it. Oh well.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:12 PM
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28

LB's conceding too much. "I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse" isn't a claim that he personally experienced them. He could easily remember taunts and insults that were directed at friends he knew from his time in service.

So if he said "I remember the shelling and the screams of the wounded" this is not a claim of personal experience?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:15 PM
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148: Possibly because you're LYING, ari. Don't you mean you did a post during it?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:15 PM
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The last time I spat on Vets returning from Iraq, I liveblogged it. That's what I meant to say.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:17 PM
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Jerry Lembcke is the author's name. Controversial book, that one.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:17 PM
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97

As I say at my place, I largely agree, but with one major caveat: the fact that apparently some of Blumenthal's misleading claims apparently took place in the context of repeating right-wing stabbed-in-the-back myths. Not only is this disgusting in itself, but I think those instances have to be counted as outright lying. There's a clear implication of service in Vietnam there, not just vague allusions he'd like some audience members to take the wrong way.

This seems sensible. You all seem awfully supportive of someone parroting war party talking points.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:23 PM
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150: What does it mean to have a contemporaneous account of Ari talking about spitting on veterans?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:28 PM
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You all seem awfully supportive of someone parroting war party talking points.

What? Get a point and make it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:35 PM
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154: Thanks. It always makes me a bit wistful when I realize that my blog used to be somewhat interesting.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:42 PM
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156: wait'll you're my age.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:49 PM
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Hey, your blog has credibility. And Muppets.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:50 PM
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But you repeat yourself.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:52 PM
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I wish it had Muppetibility and crumpets.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:54 PM
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Muppetabilly (for brief parts).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:03 PM
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161: Hey! That's a good example of rock music adopting the twelve-bar-blues form, which I commented about at some point.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:08 PM
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Plus, there's a cameo by one of the chickens!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:12 PM
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94-95-96 is awesome.

Blumenthal is one of the good ones.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:27 PM
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The NY Times omission of Blumenthal's correct and proper description of his military service TWO AND A HALF MINUTES EARLIER in an article about how he supposedly mislead people during that March 2008 speech is just atrocious.

But the first statement ("served in the military during the Vietnam era") does not pre-emptively correct the second statement ("served in Vietnam"). If the second statement is true, then the first statement is also true; but if the first statement is true, then the second statement may or may not be. In this case, it's clearly not true. I think it's a lie, not a misstatement, and I think that Halford shouldn't have converted.

And yes, it is grossly unfair that the media applies a double standard when it comes to examining the veracity of claims to military gung-ho-ness (if you're George W, you can don a flight suit and declare "Mission Accomplished" without fear that an organ like the Times will start asking uncomfortable questions about military service, or lack thereof). But that doesn't mean that Blumenthal's "served in Vietnam" wasn't an attempt to mislead his audience.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:49 PM
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165: I didn't suggest that the first statement pre-emptively corrected the second statement. What I was trying to say (perhaps not terribly clearly) was this: In an article alleging that Blumenthal intended to deceive people about his military service during a speech in March 2008, the NY Times should have mentioned that, two and a half minutes earlier in that speech and before this allegedly intentional deception, Blumenthal accurately characterized his military service. That fact strongly rebuts any suggestion that the second statement was intended to deceive anyone about his military service, and the newspaper's failure to include that fact in its story was, in fact, atrocious.

In other words, if his second statement was intended to deceive the people listening to his speech about his military service, why would he have begun the speech with the truthful description of his service?

I stand behind the sentence you quoted:

The NY Times omission of Blumenthal's correct and proper description of his military service TWO AND A HALF MINUTES EARLIER in an article about how he supposedly mislead people during that March 2008 speech is just atrocious.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:27 PM
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Well, yes, but Blumenthal's "correct and proper description" is also sufficiently ambiguous as to create an impression of someone who served IN Vietnam, given the context of a speech that later introduces a second, less correct and proper description. The "truthful description" neither necessitates nor prohibits the less truthful one; I don't think its existence serves as even a weak "rebuttal" to the deception hypothesis.

I just watched the whole thing at TPM. He initially invokes military experience with the accurate phrase in an inclusive context (doing the "everybody who served stand up" thing); then, as the speech intensifies, says "we have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam"--there's a slight but audible stress on that "I", a stress likely to evoke "man holding in strong feelings." While I agree that the first statement should have been cited by the reporter, making that statement is, IMO, entirely compatible with a speech that "intended to deceive." [I don't pretend myself to know what he was doing....]


Posted by: (damn it Jim, I'm a) lurker | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:54 PM
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If you parse something enough, you can always find somebody guilty of lying. The question is, when should the burden of speaking truth shift towards newspapers misrepresenting an occasional slip of the tongue into a "long and well established pattern of misleading his constituents about his Vietnam War service"?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:31 AM
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149: Shearer, I remember the Beijing Olympics. Doesn't mean I was in the team.

In general, stop trying to derail the conversation, and if you want to have arguments with the liberal voices that you hear inside your head, then inside your head is probably the best place to have them.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:33 AM
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