Kerry Says He’s Prepared to Fight the Swift Boat Liars

I’m not sure why this is news today. Kerry says the record shows that the charges from The Swift Boat Liars were false. The claims have been disputed to the point where only partisan Republicans, who care little about reality, are going to believe them and those who still believe these lies are not going to change their minds regardless of how much evidence is presented. From The Patriot Ledger:

John Kerry said Monday there might be a next time for his presidential aspirations, and if there is, the 63-year-old U.S. senator from Massachusetts says he’ll be ready for the political torpedoes that helped sink his 2004 White House bid.

Kerry, whose service as a U.S. Navy Swift boat skipper during the Vietnam War came under attack in his race against President Bush, said he has compiled a dossier on his war record critics that he wishes he had as the Democratic presidential nominee.

“We have put together a documented portfolio that frankly puts their lies in such a total light of absurdity and indecency, that should they ever rear their ugly heads again, we have every single ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted, and I welcome that in a sense,” Kerry said following a morning address to the South Shore Chamber fo Commerce. “It’s a shame we weren’t able to produce all that at the time.”

Kerry said he regrets his slowness to counter accusations from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which faulted Kerry’s war record and his subsequent anti-war activism.
“I think the bigger problem was the campaign should have spent more money putting the truth out there,” Kerry said. “I think there was an assumption that is was out there, it was sufficiently out there.”

While Kerry is sitting out the 2008 presidential election n he’s instead focusing on his own his race next year for a sixth term as U.S. senator n he expects he’d be dogged by the same war record critics in a subsequent race for the White House.

“I have no doubt at all that some of the people involved on the other side don’t care about the truth, think nothing about distorting it, will not hesitate to say and do whatever they think is necessary to win,” Kerry said. “But I think we are now much more prepared and savvy about those kind of things, and certainly in my own involvement, I will make certain that people don’t get away with that.”

Kerry said he regretted that the term “swift boating” has taken on the meaning of a political attack, but that such attacks have become a part of national politics.

“I hate to see the term become a negative term in American politics, it is what is is,” he said. “Would those same tactics be used against people? Sure, absolutely.”

Remembering the Fifth of November as a Victory for Ron Paul, But Not Necessarily Pro-Freedom Beliefs

Ron Paul’s supporters (and it was his supporters more than the official campaign) raised over four million dollars yesterday in an internet fund raising effort. In general Paul’s supporters, by their violations of the “netiquette” which allows for the wide open internet to operate as freely and effectively as it does, often do their candidate more harm than good. Hopefully this will help encourage his supporters to devote their efforts to such positive endeavors as opposed to their spamming which only creates ill will towards their cause.

As with almost everything involving the Paul candidacy, there are two sides to this fund raiser. While they raised less than half of their goal, which is a reflection of both the depth of support of his followers and their exaggerated sense of their numbers, this remains an impressive achievement. There has been some criticism for the tie in to Guy Fawkes Day, but I see this as far more a matter of appealing to a more symbolic dream of throwing off oppression than to any real advocacy of terrorism.

While some Republicans may not be pleased, there is certainly value to Ron Paul having the ability to remain in the race and challenge the party’s positions on Iraq and civil liberties. This fund raiser does not change the fact that Paul has virtually no chance to win either the nomination or the election, but it does enable him to engage in a far more effective protest campaign. While Paul has many negatives, including many non-libertarian ideas, these are barely a problem in the Republican race where the other candidates share many of these views.

Beyond the Republican nomination battle, Paul presents problems for those of us interested in the philosophy of libertarianism in its broad historical scope, dating back to even before the days of the Libertarian Party. Attempts to move the Democratic Party in a libertarian direction are often complicated by the feeling by many on the left that libertarians are just Republicans who have smoked marijuana. Paul reinforces this view when, while right with regards to both the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, he generally sides with social conservatives in the culture wars which involve many of the crucial issues of today with regards to individual liberty.

Paul’s active opposition to abortion rights, along with his vote for a federal ban on so-called partial birth abortions undermines his claims to support both individual liberty and his support for state’s rights. His absurd claim that “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers” prevents me from taking him seriously as a candidate, or respecting his claims of being a strict defender of the Constitution. Paul has supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. Paul has both criticized secularism and claimed that the Founding Fathers envisioned a Christian America. However, as distasteful as these views are, they echo the beliefs of other social conservatives in the Republican race. Paul at least differs from them in his positions on the war and civil liberties. Movement of the Republican Party in Paul’s direction, even where it is not truly libertarian, would be an improvement over many of their current stands.

Ultimately the Fifth of November should be remembered as a victory for the power of the internet and a victory for Ron Paul’s dedicated supporters, but not necessarily as a victory for pro-freedom beliefs.