Who care what happened 25 years ago
September 8, 2004 4:33 PM   Subscribe

"Any day in which Bush's Nat'l Guard service is the dominant news story is a lost day for the Kerry campaign." As another round of media yadayada (see below) is about to emerge over President Bush's National Guard service or lack thereof, Noam Scheiber explains why this is probably very bad news for ... Kerry. We know who Bush is. The election is about the future, not the past. Scheiber's point may have been made in the MeFi thread referenced above, but I'm afraid I lost consciousness after a screen or so.
posted by mojohand (77 comments total)
Why is this not a double post?
posted by caddis at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2004

Wow, the New Republic is pro-Bush? Will wonders never cease?

I wish both camps would get over it, move on and actually talk about issues pertaining to the present day rather than rehashing garbage from 30+ years ago. Kerry served, Bush swerved, let's move on.
posted by fenriq at 4:48 PM on September 8, 2004

we have always been at war with terrorica.
posted by quonsar at 4:51 PM on September 8, 2004

The election is about the future, not the past.

This election is about the past four years.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:03 PM on September 8, 2004

Does anyone on the left bother to read TNR anymore?
posted by crank at 5:05 PM on September 8, 2004

Does anyone bother to read TNR anymore?
posted by solistrato at 5:09 PM on September 8, 2004

posted by Witty at 5:15 PM on September 8, 2004


All we Hear is Media YaDa
Media YooDoo

posted by jonmc at 5:29 PM on September 8, 2004

I dunno. If what I heard and saw on "60 Minutes" was completely accurate, Bush didn't (fully) serve. Clinton caught all sorts of hell for less. I don't want to see that sort of hate aimed at Bush or something similar, but that the media is yapping about the issue bothers me not at all.
posted by raysmj at 5:38 PM on September 8, 2004

It just seems cheesy to post campaign info here. I mean, did you need a link to Our Plan for America? We can get into his plan for his First 100 Days in office. Or we can deal with issues he's working on as a senator. As much as I'd love it if everyone would read and learn all there is to know about the man, I suspect it would put most people to sleep since it takes more than twenty minutes to grok a visionary plan in the face of all the Rove-driven shit-throwing machine. And besides, I hate someone who lies about his military service almost as much as I detest chickenhawks who tell us we don't support the troops while they cut combat pay for our servicemembers while they're in the middle of a war.
posted by jackspace at 5:41 PM on September 8, 2004

As a result, any day in which Bush's National Guard service is the dominant news story is a lost day for the Kerry campaign, since it's a day Kerry can't talk about the things that can improve his chances of winning, like Bush's attrocious record in office. (Which, for whatever reason, voters still don't know nearly enough about.)

I dunno. Why can't we talk about both?
posted by weston at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2004

What TNR says makes sense but then the attack on Kerry did cost Kerry a lot according to the polls. Thus, if the news grabs this stuff it may well balence things out and indicate that Bush is not the "leader" etc his group claims him to be...Yes, focus on the future. But then it is the media and not the candidate that creates The Big Story for thepapers and TV...
posted by Postroad at 6:47 PM on September 8, 2004

The author of the article is right on. Bush got into the guard thanks to family connections and then shirked his duty. So what? Don't you know that everything he did before he found religion doesn't count? He's a new man!

What people need to focus on are his actions since he became president, and his plans for the next four years. Someone needs to ask him whether he'll bring the troops home before or after they have killed more Iraqi civilians than Saddam Hussein. We need the John Kerry of the 1970's. We need a person who is not afraid to say that killing innocent civilians, torturing people, bombing cities, murdering kids is WRONG whether your name is Osama Bin Laden or George W Bush!
posted by miguelbar at 7:01 PM on September 8, 2004


Wash your mouth out.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:15 PM on September 8, 2004

Ahhhh... how's that?
{shifts tongue from side to side}
posted by Witty at 7:29 PM on September 8, 2004

Kerry should interject that we're not wisely spending our time if we keep talking about 30-year old history, if a reporter asks him for his comment on the matter.

Maybe even a quip over whether there'd be an official inquiry into the allegations, should he be elected.
posted by Busithoth at 7:32 PM on September 8, 2004

TNR is absolutley right.

You have got yourself into a pissing contest with a mule that you can't possibly win. I don't care who you are - the mule has more piss than you do.

The sad thing is you could probably win a beauty contest with a mule, but every chance you get, you drop out of the beauty contest and you go back to the pissing contest.

That's why you loose.
posted by Jos Bleau at 7:33 PM on September 8, 2004

Politics as horserace coverage is especially infuriating when you think about it: horceracing is a gambler's sport.

The gamblers only care about making money. Not about which horse they like. As a horse.
posted by kozad at 7:36 PM on September 8, 2004

Jos: A good theory, but the media, on the side of the mule, are the ones choosing what each day's contest will be. If Kerry says five things, four of which are about policy and the fifth is refuting bogus claims made against him, you know which soundbite will make the evening news.

You know how annoying it is when you send more than one question off in an email and the reply only answers one, badly? Kerry's life has turned into the Uber version of this. Imagine if he just threw up his hands and declared that the US deserved Bush they way they are acting. I know I would have chucked a hissy fit by now.
posted by krisjohn at 7:54 PM on September 8, 2004

"People have already made up their minds about the president's character, particularly as it relates to military service. They think he found a not-quite-honorable, not-entirely-dishonorable way of avoiding combat in Vietnam, and, for the most part, they don't think that disqualifies him to be president."

- That's an assertion. Give me a scrupulous poll and I might be inclined to give this some credence.

But, lacking that, I view this as mere chatter.

No, many haven't made up their minds , and that's the point. Many Americans who viewed Mr. Bush's limp passivity, as revealed under the glare of Michael Moore's klieg lights - while plane were smashing into the WTC and Bush opted to read the goat story instead of acting as a leader - have their doubts, and credible evidence that Bush used family connections to evade Vietnam surely now looks a bit sketchy as the 1,000th US soldier's corpse returns (no pictures, please, commands the Pentagon) from Iraq.

Some of Bush's base accept the sleazier aspects of his character, sure. But some in his political base also may question their political loyalties as enough jarring evidence piles up and - in any case - if we are to believe the stock media bromides, the US electorate is neatly split betwixt Kerry and Bush, and so a small percentage of fence-sitters may shape American political fates for the next 4 years.

So, why won't the truth - that Bush cashed in on his family connections to evade serving in Vietnam - while Kerry dodged (and caught a few) bullets there - prove detrimental to Bush's presidential campaign ?

Many in Bush's political base - especially on the religious right and among the top 5 or 10 percent of the US income range - might otherwise have questions about Mr. Bush's integrity but have chosen to hold their noses and vote Republican for self interested reasons.

But - if the chattering classes of the punditocracy are to be believed - those are not the ones who will determine the election. No, it will be the undecideds who make their last minute judgement - for better or worse.

Also, a Diebold software back door might prove crucial in a pinch.
posted by troutfishing at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2004

People have already made up their minds about the president's character

But clearly not about the president, and who's to say character isn't a factor?
posted by weston at 8:41 PM on September 8, 2004

GW Bush is a moral relativist!
posted by troutfishing at 9:09 PM on September 8, 2004

Are we tired of this yet?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:13 PM on September 8, 2004

This is an important story because it plays right into the Two Americas story that the Kerry/Edwards folks are trying to pitch. It works in the context of their strategy not as a debate about 30 year old events.

In his world there's no accountability for your actions. Here's a man who has a long history of letting other people fight his battles for him, from Vietnam, to the current campaign.

This is a president that will send American troops into battle for hazy reasons and with no plan yet couldn't even show up in the ANG unit he was placed in.

And this comes right as the death toll in Iraq tops 1000. It says a whole lot about his values and how he values the lives of others.
posted by euphorb at 9:19 PM on September 8, 2004

PP - euphorb says no.
posted by troutfishing at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2004

What people need to focus on are his actions since he became president

His actions since he became president include flat-out lying and persistent bullshitting about his so-called military service at the same time that he brands himself "a war president." This is very relevant - a hell of a lot more so than how many centimeters of shrapnel Kerry took or how much blood he spilled while saving his comrades' lives.
posted by soyjoy at 9:43 PM on September 8, 2004

Lesseee now.

President "Flight-Suit_Mission-Accomplished" AWOL couldn't be bothered to fulfill his commitments to the National Guard. He's suspended from flight status for not performing to standard. He disobeys a direct order that he get a flight physical. The same powerful friends of Daddy's that get him into the Guard over thousands of other applicants try to pull strings to cover for him. AWOL lies about his service in his public statements to this day, and his service records are so conveniently very hard to come by.

Where's the outcry from our conservative friends about things like "commitment" and "honor" and "honesty" "duty"? They sure seem strangely silent about the obvious character shortcomings of their "warrior President". Just couldn't be that hypocrisy thing yet again...could it?

Simple, poetic justice for AWOL: have him (finally) fulfill his Guard commitment.

In Iraq.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:23 PM on September 8, 2004

AWOL lies about his service in his public statements to this day, and his service records are so conveniently very hard to come by.

But wait! On the same night 60 minutes broadcast them on TV, the Bushies found and released the same memos about his "failing to meet standards of the Texas Air National Guard," which they hadn't been able(?) or willing(?) to release before. What're the odds? And what else still has yet to be released?

Where's the outcry from our conservative friends about things like "commitment" and "honor" and "honesty" "duty"?

Unfortunately, such notions actually pale in comparison to things like "other priorities" and, most importantly, just "not having the time."
posted by soyjoy at 10:41 PM on September 8, 2004

On the same night 60 minutes broadcast them on TV, the Bushies found and released the same memos

Know where they found the memos? Their fax machine. CBS faxed them to the White House. Look at the .pdf linked to in that Yahoo AP story. And, like them or not, the LGF guys are making a convincing case that said memos were sloppily forged in Microsoft Word.
posted by zsazsa at 1:21 PM on September 9, 2004

Yeah, that's clear now that they've added the PDFs to the story, which weren't on it when I posted originally. I've been waiting all damn day to be able to come back in and amend that... shoulda known someone would still beat me to it.

I wouldn't call the LGF case "convincing," though. "Interesting" is as far as I'll go.
posted by soyjoy at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2004

It's generally agreed that Bush was a rich ne'er-do-well fuckup until he was 40, when the blood of the lamb washed all his sins away. Then he became the fearless warrior president we all know today.

Is this unfair, particularly when you consider the treatment Kerry has had to endure from the Swift Boat Liars? Yes, it is. But harping on this stuff could have an adverse effect. Believe it or not, if Dem-leaning operatives continue to push this story, this could result in currying additional sympathy among "undecideds" (in the words of Jason Alexander: "who are these fucking people anyway?") for the beleaguered, but saintly president. As nauseating as I find that possibility, it's a very real one.

I'm about as sick of this as anyone else, but TNR is right. We really need to move on, Kerry needs to take back the microphone get past what happened 35 years ago, and start hammering his issues home.
posted by psmealey at 2:02 PM on September 9, 2004

Here's what I mean by interesting rather than convincing.
posted by soyjoy at 2:38 PM on September 9, 2004

You mean MSWord wasn't introduced in 1971? How many 60 minutes and other media people didn't check out the font issue before they gleefully published these documents?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:45 PM on September 9, 2004

Time for an Upavista Konasana!
posted by y2karl at 5:11 PM on September 9, 2004

So does the Right's insistence that these docs are fake mean they acknowledge that it would be significant if the flight-besuited Commander-in-Chief turned out to be nothing more than a blue-blooded, red-faced and yellow-bellied tinpot generalissimo? Or is that candidate still more patriotic than a bleeding purple-hearted liberal?
posted by liam at 5:19 PM on September 9, 2004

You mean MSWord wasn't introduced in 1971?

...but Times New Roman, and the IBM Selectric were. Personally I don't find it surprising that Word defaults to a government standard, but then I don't have an enormous investment of personal capital in this bullshit.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:33 PM on September 9, 2004

Um, typewriters, even ones with proportionally spaced Times Roman typeballs can't type superscripts in a smaller font size. Word's insistence of turning ordinals into superscripts is one thing that's always bugged me and I always turn it off. I can (with a lot of effort) believe the other arguments for authenticity of these docs, but this one doesn't fly. (Disclaimer: I'm a democrat who is voting for Kerry and I think this is BS.)
posted by AstroGuy at 6:34 PM on September 9, 2004

Word defaults to a government standard
Didn't we have a thread in 2002 about how the Feds had finally switched from Courier to Times?
Also, Times New Roman = TNR = The New Republic
posted by darukaru at 7:42 PM on September 9, 2004

Just keep up the BS, and President Bush looks more and more presidential.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2004

XQUZYPHYR: No, they can't. They can squeeze the character spacing, they can raise the type above the baseline, but they cannot alter the size of the characters. There would have to be a "th" character in a smaller size on the ball. Selectric.org seems to think that character didn't exist. I hate to say this but I have to agree with FreedomParamus's last comment.
posted by AstroGuy at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2004

The moon is made of cheese!

Lalalalalala !
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2004

Oh, and the "th" appears in the 04 May 1972 letter in addition to the CYA letter.
posted by AstroGuy at 9:03 PM on September 9, 2004

AstroGuy - I have a feeling you didn't read XQ's Josh Marshall link, where Josh points you to contemporaneous official Bush documents previously released which contain a typed, small-sized superscript "th." So not only could typewriters at the time type superscript in a smaller font size, but they were doing so in the US Military.
posted by soyjoy at 9:14 PM on September 9, 2004

No, I looked at that PDF too. I zoomed in on it. Like the docs in question, it wasn't very clear, but I'll admit that does look like a special type character. My point was that typebars or typeballs can't print in smaller letters unless those smaller letters are set in the type. And I've never seen that on any typewriter/typeball. Believe me, I'm as anti-Bush as they come and want this to be true, but it still doesn't smell right to me. My own tinfoil hat theories wouldn't put this past the Bush camp to have done this so it could be proven fake to make the dems look dirty. Crap like this tends to backfire. If it is proven to be faked, the GOP will milk this until November. "Look at how desparate the democrats are to besmirch the name of our great president..."
posted by AstroGuy at 9:26 PM on September 9, 2004

Face it guys, this meme is about to die a harrible death and the attempted forgery will backfire hugely. Whoever thought they were doing Kerry a favor may have just finished his campaign chances.

It's already unravelling at internet speeds. Already ABC has a story on the veracity issue and I won't be shocked to see CBS back peddle ASAP. If they turn out to be a hoax then the internet will have proven it's investigative power...

"Tomorrow morning, dinosaur media across the country will be headlining the 60 Minutes "scoop" as a blow to the Bush campaign. Before their newspapers are even printed, not only is the story obsolete, but CBS is in full retreat. As Stephen Hayes reported earlier today, Power Line "led the charge" against the 60 Minutes hoax today. But the credit really goes to the incredible power of the internet. We knew nothing; all of our information came from our readers. Many thousands of smart, well-informed people who only a few years ago would have had no recourse but perhaps to write a letter to their local newspaper, now can communicate and share their expertise in real time, through sites like this one. The power of the medium is incredible, as we've seen over the last fourteen hours." - quote in context
posted by soulhuntre at 11:27 PM on September 9, 2004

XQUZYPHYR: I'm sorry, but you're pushing it. Ever hear of Occam's Razor? The links you posted show nothing to support your contention. What I see is this: 1) Some machines could type at a variable "pitch". Given. I have one that does that. All that means is that the same characters are printed with more or less horizontal space between them. 2) Some machines have interchangeable typeballs. First off, the according to selectric.org, the interchangeble ball machines could not do proportional spacing. Only the "Executive" model with typebars could. But even given that, how likely is it for a typist to type a sentence up to the superscript in "111th", stop, takeout the typeball, put one in with the proper type to do the superscript, type the superscript, take the ball out, replace the original, and then finish the letter, when it would be perfectly acceptable to simply type the "th" in the same type as everything else the way everyone else in the world does it? Even if it is possible to do this why would anyone? Finally, on your contention that "many typewriters not only could superscript, many didn't even need to, having special keys specifically for TM, TH, ST, and/or RD superscripts," citation please. Before I believe that, I want to see authoritative proof, not just what various bloggers are saying.

I'll say it again. You are arguing with the wrong guy. I'm not only a Kerry democrat, I'm a democratic precinct committteeman. I want Bush out as badly as anyone. But this crap is going to backfire on Kerry and the shrub will get four more years in the White House.
posted by AstroGuy at 7:32 AM on September 10, 2004

I don't have any investment in the documents themselves being genuine, because it's clear that what they document is factual. But I still have yet to see a convincing case for forgery, and the notion has Occam's-Razor problems:

  • If the forger was anti-Bush and didn't want the fraud to be discovered, why would they a) do such a sloppy job that it could be debunked by a bunch of freepers and yet b) not make the supposed charges more scandal-worthy - introducing new, highly-charged "evidence" - e.g. some reference, however cryptic, to the "real" reason Bush skipped that physical?

  • If the forger was on the Bush side and wanted the fraud discovered, again, why wouldn't they make the supposed charges something Bush was actually innocent of, so that he, knowing the truth, could say "This is a slanderous smear, these documents must be false," and wait for the Internet or other sleuths to get to that truth? Conversely, why did the Bush team turn over two of them to AP without any comment on their veracity?

  • If the documents, from whatever source, are fraudulent and so easily debunked as to be a simple matter of playing with Word and matching them up, who are the document-authentication experts 60 minutes - one of the country's most venerable, accomplished and credible investigative news operations - used to verify them, and why wouldn't they have caught these? Or, even less credibly, did CBS just decide to put documents defaming the president on the air without doing any serious checking at all?

  • If the documents are fraudulent, whether easily debunked or not, whose signature is on them? Again, did CBS really have the handwriting analyzed and confirmed as they say, or did they just decide to "wing it" on that also? And if the signature is authentic, but swiped from another document, where is that document?

    I'm leaning towards XQ's 3-vs.-1 explanation (which, again, means that the basic underlying charges, such as Bush committing a military crime by disobeying a direct order from his commanding officer, are still as valid as ever), but I doubt that any of us are in a position to speak authoritatively on this, and I enjoy how many people on the Internet believe "I used a typewriter in 1974, and it couldn't do this" is somehow an authoritative counter-argument.

  • posted by soyjoy at 7:33 AM on September 10, 2004

    Hah. Jinx on Occam.
    posted by soyjoy at 7:35 AM on September 10, 2004

    The moon is made of cheese!

    Lalalalalala !

    Some of that is clearly going on, troutfishing. But not from the side you're suggesting. In addition to the "th" and font issues, the documents raise numerous issues about military usage, date format, and signatures.

    What ticks me off is how much this is going to hurt Kerry. One can only hope the source of the documents isn't linked to the Kerry campaign. I'm surprised that people like Josh Marshall are spending so much energy trying to defend the documents, rather than expressing outrage that someone would try to pass off forgeries, thus distancing as much as possible.
    posted by pardonyou? at 7:40 AM on September 10, 2004

    "Saying that this document could not have possibly been produced in 1971 is a flat-out lie."

    Actually, the above statement is a lie, particularly since, in 1971. it's highly unlikely that the typewriters in use by the Navy would have been less than a few years old.

    But again, keep spinning your wheels. You'll be eating the rubber on November 4.
    posted by ParisParamus at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2004

    The Selectric Composer you linked to required everything to be typed *twice*. Why would you do that for a simple memo? Yeah, those proportional fonts sure are pretty but who cares if everyone else at the time was fine with Courier? The models with tape storage that didn't require re-typing were expensive and complicated and probably had no place on some desk in the national guard, unless it was at a printing shop.

    The Emancipation Proclamation can be created just as it was with Word's default settings of 12-point Times New Roman and 1.25" margins? Amazing!

    (And, like AstroBoy, I must say I'm a 100%-behind-Kerry Democrat and I'm saddened by the fact that there's any hint of controversy here. Now that there's even a hint of foulness to this Kerry must distance himself.)
    posted by zsazsa at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2004

    (oops National Guard, not Navy)
    posted by ParisParamus at 8:21 AM on September 10, 2004

    Good link, XQ. I didn't know about the Exective, and the difference in the number 4s is interesting.
    posted by zsazsa at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2004

    Has television taught me nothing, or is it not possible to bloody forensically analyze the documents to determine their age? Because watching the entire interweb talk about kerning at once is a nightmare of epic proportions, the kind of shit you lug a magic ring into the maw of a volcano to stop, and I'm about to explode.
    posted by furiousthought at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2004

    I just tried to replicate the "Word experiment" and I'm more "interested" than ever, but no more "convinced."

    The superscript "th"s in these documents ocur on the 2nd and 4th memos, on "111th" and "187th," respectively. I typed the 111th phrase into Word in Times New Roman and it doesn't even come close to matching.

  • As others have noted, in Word the crossbar of the "t" in "th" is exactly aligned with the tops of capital letters. On both these documents it's clearly above that level.

  • In Word, the crossbar of the "t" clearly sticks out to the left of the letter. On these documents, it does not. It looks, in fact, much more like the "th" character seen on the contemporaneous typed document Josh Marshall pointed us to above.

  • The "1"s also don't seem to match in that word, although there are closer matches elsewhere on the page, so that could be an artifact of the scanning/copying/whatever.

    And another thing: The forger was supposedly adept enough to recreate the non-alignment of the bottoms of letters (e.g. the words "are," "commander," "physical" in the first item of the 2nd document, but: 1) Didn't notice that some of the th's were superscripted by Word while others weren't, and/or 2) Didn't know how to get Word to type "111th" without it being automatically superscripted, other than leaving a space in between them? Even if you don't turn that option off, you can easily just type "111 th F.L.S." and then go back and remove the space between "111" and "th." Also, mysteriously, this clueless forger was able to get "111th" to show up with neither a space nor a superscript on the "forged" letter headings as well as "1st" with no superscript or space in the phrase "George W. 1st Lt."

    Again, I gotta call Occam's Razor. It would have to be an extremely remarkable scenario, for dozens of reasons, for all of these to be forgeries. Doesn't mean they can't be. But if so, the story of how it happened has got to be a corker.

  • posted by soyjoy at 10:13 AM on September 10, 2004

    XQUZYPHYR, you're correct. But the reality is that, try as I may, i'm almost incapable of proofing text on a computer screen, be it Mefi posts, or legal work. I don't really understand the phenom. But I will try harder.
    posted by ParisParamus at 10:14 AM on September 10, 2004

    (oops phenomenon, not phenom)
    posted by mr.marx at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2004

    Seems to me that DailyKOS's research has pretty much established that the document is not an MSWord forgery.

    Maybe folk should focus on what is certainly true: that Bush disobeyed military orders.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2004

    zsazsa: That's AstroGuy, not Astroboy.
    posted by AstroGuy at 12:12 PM on September 10, 2004

    fff: Nope. I just heard NPR report that the documents are possibly forged. It was a nice attempt to bring out the truth and discuss how W disobeyed orders and likely shirked his duties of defending Texas airspace from the Viet-Cong. Instead this is being spun into being a "hoax." Sometimes the Bush campaign is so Satanic I get pretty impressed.
    posted by elwoodwiles at 12:26 PM on September 10, 2004

    XQUZYPHYR: Why all the hostility man? I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced yet. I've seen a lot of crap flying in both directions in this campaign.

    (By the way, I'm more than just "pro-Kerry", I'm a member of the Indiana Democratic Party and have done campaign work for several democrats, and will for Kerry in the upcoming weeks. If you're trying to cast aspersions on my political stand, you can drop it right now. You can keep your cookies.)

    After SBVT (which you'll agree is total bullshit that a lot of people, unfortunately, believe), I don't trust anything like this. It all smacks of dirty campaigning. Like the DailyKos link said, there are people out there that are fond of these typewriters and this will be proven conclusively in the next few days. I can wait. For now, the jury's out in my mind. And your saying that you have used these typewriters does not constitute authoritative evidence. Sorry, but I don't know you from Adam. Just as you shouldn't take my word for it, for the same reason, and you should seek authoritative evidence yourself.

    Oh, by the way, when you say "Here are closeups of a Selectric, which offers proportional spacing and sizing" [emphasis mine] are you claiming that typewriters had the ability to scale type? Because that's what it sounds like you are saying. I've said all along that for the superscipt in question to be possible (since it was set in smaller type in the docs in question) the typewriter must have had a typebar with that character/chararacters on it. It cannot magically shrink characters. The type is metal, man. We're not talking about laser printers here. The question is: did those special characters exist on typewriters of that era? I have yet to see conclusive evidence of that to this point. That's all I'm saying.

    Maybe folk should focus on what is certainly true: that Bush disobeyed military orders.

    fff: Of that there is no doubt in my mind. I have read enough on that issue to believe the evidence. That this document proves it is still not proven in my mind.
    posted by AstroGuy at 12:28 PM on September 10, 2004

    elwood: Exactly my point. As long as there is a possibility of forgery, this whole thing is tainted and will do more to harm Kerry than Bush.
    posted by AstroGuy at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2004

    are you claiming that typewriters had the ability to scale type? Because that's what it sounds like you are saying.

    Don't know if that's what XQ is saying, but I'll go ahead and say it. Note the "leading" feature also - something the WaPo "experts" said was impossible on typewriters of the era.

    Let's see what CBS says tonight. As always, should be interesting.
    posted by soyjoy at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2004

    soyjoy: This is getting ridiculous now. Scalable type on a typewriter? Note that proportional type (your first link) does not equal scalable type. Scalable type is defined by mathematical curves that can be enlarged or reduced in size on a raster device without losing detail. How do you do this on a typewriter? You don't. The second photo in your first link shows a box with typeballs in it. Each one has one font (a specific type face in a specific size) on it. To change type size (that is, scale it) you need to change the typeball. Your second link mentions this on page 4 (in summary--I'm sure it goes into more detail later in the doc but I'm not going to read all 190 pages of this scanned PDF right now).

    Leading, by the way, is line spacing. How much vertical space you leave between baselines. If WaPo said that was impossible for a typewriter to do, they're wrong. Tracking (how closely the characters are printed horizontally) was and is entirely possible on typewriters. I have one that can be changed from 10 to 12 to 15 characters per inch. Varying the tracking with each character makes proportional spacing possible. I never argued any of these things. All I argued was the fact that type is set in metal and it is PHYSICALLY impossible (barring changing the type element, the "ball") for the machine to type in different type sizes. Full justification is also possible on this machine. But being fully mechanical, the operator had to type a line TWICE to use that feature. This machine was used for typesetting documents for later printing, not for routine administrative typing. Its existence does not prove that the TANG used one and it would be pretty silly to imagine it being used for that purpose. Then again, the military has been known to buy $600 toilet seats, so I guess anything is possible.

    Also on the Daily Kos link:

    Now, would the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron have extravagantly purchased typewriters that contained the th superscript key? Would the military want or require typewriters with the 'th', 'nd', and 'rd' characters? Hmm. Ponder, Ponder. What would the 111th need with a th character... I'll leave that to the enterprising among you to deduce.

    I'm sorry, but what this is implying is just plain silly. This military base went out of its way to buy the most sophisticated, expensive piece of typewriting equipment available at the time just so it could superscript its "th" rather than type it like everybody else in the world would at the time? AND that they didn't do so all the time? GMAFB. These arguments are straining credibility.

    Doesn't matter anyway. All I hear on the radio today (WBBM in Chicago, a CBS affiliate) is the story of the possible forgery and CBS' standing by their story. All Joe Sixpack is going to remember is that because the average person out there doesn't have the attention span to delve beyond the headlines and broadcast news teasers. Even if these docs are totally legit, the whole issue is already tainted.

    Now, I'm dropping this lest I be compared to E.B.
    posted by AstroGuy at 2:07 PM on September 10, 2004

    Man, AstroGuy, you're just like E.B.!

    I note you ignore the plethora of other evidence re: not-a-forgery.

    In the secretarial pool, the higher up your boss, the higher up you are. And just as Bosses like to get status items, like bigger offices and fancier company vehicles, Secretaries like to get status items, like better computers, photocopiers, and... typewriters.

    But, yes, forgery or not, the issue has been effectively side-railed. Beautiful bit of work, that.
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2004

    there's also the issue of kerning, and the variance from standard military usage (not to mention variance from authentic Killian documents), and the strange dates, and the difference between Killian's known signature and the signature on these documents, and the lack of hyphens (or, stated differently, the exact same word wrap on a manual typewriter and a Word document), and the curved apostrophes, and the unusual usage of "CYA" as a subject heading, and the fact that the wife and son say no way this could have been his product, on and on.
    posted by pardonyou? at 2:20 PM on September 10, 2004

    OMG! The Constitution is a FORGERY, too!
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:44 PM on September 10, 2004

    I assume you were joking there fff (about EB), since if you look at my posting history here you'll see I mainly lurk and my sole front page post here was nuked by #1 (yes, it was a Bush-is-evil type post so I deserved it). I'm not ignoring the other stuff. I'd like it to be real too. I'm just being realistic. This will backfire and hurt Kerry. The constitution page is funny though.
    posted by AstroGuy at 3:47 PM on September 10, 2004

    You give a guy a good line like that, AstroGuy, and you assume it was a joke? Of course it was a joke: you practically demanded it!
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2004

    AstoGuy - I don't want to be like EB (in that sense anyway) either, so I'll cut to the chase: I agree that however this shakes out, it's probably not a net benefit for Kerry because it's gotten in the way of his presenting himself and his platform to the public. However, on several specific concerns of the technology, and on the issue of what the WaPo experts said vs. what's possible or not, you seem to be reluctant to actually read through to the crucial details. My first link was to show how early the Selectric Composer was available (1966) - meanwhile, the PDF goes into great detail as to how the type can be enlarged or reduced in size, in addition to being proportional type. And yeah, the $600 toilet-seat factor is definitely something to keep in mind, especially given that we have definitive proof that a typewriter that could do the superscript "th" was not just available but was being routinely used by the military on documents relating to George W. Bush.

    And just one more time, none of this proves that the docs aren't forgeries, only that the pro-forgery folks still have yet to present a convincing case.
    posted by soyjoy at 8:03 PM on September 10, 2004

    Sorry... AstRoGuy.
    posted by soyjoy at 8:04 PM on September 10, 2004

    fff: No worries. I thought as much, just wasn't 100% sure.
    posted by AstroGuy at 10:06 PM on September 10, 2004

    soyjoy: OK, I spent some time going through the PDF (just so I could get page numbers to prove it to you since I knew what I would find there). Page 7 explains it, and page 14, at the bottom, even shows a picture of the type element with the point size printed on it and the text there further elaborates on it. The typewriter, like any typewriter that uses embossed type against a ribbon, cannot change the size of the type. To get a different size type (the manual says it ranged from 7 to 12 points) you have to change the ball. This is a manual procedure of stopping, unlocking and removing one ball, putting another in and locking it in place, and then continuing. This is exactly what I have been saying all along. The first link, by the way as I've already mentioned, shows the drawers full of typeballs next to the typewriter. Enough beating this horse already. If you honestly believe that typewriters had scalable type I don't believe you quite understand how typewriters work.
    posted by AstroGuy at 10:17 PM on September 10, 2004

    Authenticity backed on Bush documents

    But specialists interviewed by the Globe and some other news organizations say the specialized characters used in the documents, and the type format, were common to electric typewriters in wide use in the early 1970s, when Bush was a first lieutenant.

    Philip D. Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the documents in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, one in a wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe yesterday that after further study, he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.

    Analysts who have examined the documents focus on several facets of their typography, among them the use of a curved apostrophe, a raised, or superscript, ''th," and the proportional spacing between the characters -- spacing which varies with the width of the letters. In older typewriters, each letter was alloted the same space.

    Those who doubt the documents say those typographical elements would not have been commonly available at the time of Bush's service. But such characters were common features on electric typewriters of that era, the Globe determined through interviews with specialists and examination of documents from the period. In fact, one such raised ''th," used to describe a Guard unit, the 187th, appears in a document in Bush's official record that the White House made public earlier this year.

    posted by y2karl at 11:49 PM on September 10, 2004

    AstroGuy - I think we're continuing to argue over tinier degrees of distinction now. As "scaling" type means enlarging or reducing it in size, I understand a machine with "scalable type" one that can do that, by whatever method. You understand the term to be limited to a certain technological procedure and excluding the typeball system. OK, gotcha on that (though claiming I was confusing scalable and proportional was not particularly helpful). But the documents don't show us how anything was produced, so we're back to the "was this possible at the time?" question, which is the one I've been trying to address.

    The key point I was responding to was this quote which was used to sum up the opinion of the Washington Post's "experts:"

    In addition, Flynn said, the CBS documents appear to use proportional spacing both across and down the page, a relatively recent innovation. Other anomalies in the documents include the use of the superscripted letters "th" in phrases such as "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron," Bush's unit.

    "It would be nearly impossible for all this technology to have existed at that time," said Flynn, who runs a document authentication company in Phoenix.

    I think I've shown that such a statement is exaggerated at the least. Perhaps Flynn meant "it would be odd for all this technology to exist in the one typewriter used for this very document at that time." But that wasn't the quote. However, I must admit after reading it I remembered it as "impossible," but now see it was hedged, so I'll cop to that exaggeration as well.

    I hope we can set this one angle - could this have been done on a typewriter at the time - to rest. The recent allegations from Hodges and others seem like a more interesting, and dare I say more damning, angle. I'm wondering if my Occam's Razor overlooked a third, not too bizzare, possibility - a non-partisan hoaxter who did these just to cause trouble for CBS, without regard to the possible political ramifications to either side.
    posted by soyjoy at 9:38 AM on September 11, 2004

    soyjoy: Did you see the link in the other thread where they had a guy actually try to replicate this on a Selectric Composer? Interesting read. Possible? Yes, sort of. But the differences are still quite noticable. And the work necessary to produce the results are simply not realistic for what the documents are purported to be: simple memos. I think it's fairly obvious now that CBS was duped. (About these docs' authenticity, that is. Not about the story, for which other evidence exists.)
    posted by AstroGuy at 1:43 PM on September 11, 2004

    Possible? Yes

    ...which was, as I said, my only point, other than the veracity of the history behind the memos. Do we need to continue with that minutiae?

    It is, I must say, looking stronger for forgery - I was unaware that the "th" in the Word version would print at a different height than it showed up on the screen, knocking out one of my key concerns - but I'm still waiting for something compelling, something convincing, especially since the early, definitive pronouncements were off-base. Hodges' apparent flip-flopping makes me nervous about trying to settle on either a yes or no answer.
    posted by soyjoy at 10:29 PM on September 11, 2004

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