John Kerry's use of his Viet Nam record was a loser for him back in 2004. It was a loser for many reasons, none of which the Democrats have yet figured out. I remember being asked why I'd support a TANG washout over a real Viet Nam vet with medals galore. I can't answer for all vets, but I do know that vets voted overwhelmingly for Bush.
It was never about the charges made by the Swift Boat Veterans, or whether he saved a drowning SF soldier, or whether he inflated his own actions during war to get a medal or two. It was always about his Ghengis Khan speech in the Senate, his claim of widespread war crimes among his fellow vets, and his actions as a leader in Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the Winter Soldier Hoax, and what he did with those medals later on.
The Dems were hoping that the public would overlook all that when they presented their war hero candidate against the TANG-hiding George Bush. Say what you will about Karl Rove now that Bush's poll numbers are in the tank, but Rove knew that the best thing that Bush could do would be to compliment Kerry on his service, and bring absolutely no attention to his time in the TANG, neither highlighting it or downplaying.
If Kerry thinks that he can ressurect his national defense bonafides by bringing up his Vietnam service now, as a pre-emptive strike against any future Swift Boat Veteran attacks, he's crazy. The only thing that can happen now is that he gets compared to McCain. McCain was one of the first Viet Nam Vets to jump in Kerry's corner when the SBV ads hit the airwaves. He will likely do the same again.
McCain has nothing to lose if Kerry makes Viet Nam experiences the centerpiece of his campaign. Kerry has everything to lose. McCain was in the Hotel Hilton, getting tortured daily, while Kerry was at the Winter Soldier whinefest. McCain was being starved while Kerry was meeting in Paris with the North Vietnamese delegates. McCain was trying to bang out a few simple messages to his fellow prisoners to keep their spirits up while Kerry was in front of the US Senate, calling McCain and his fellow Viet Nam Veterans war criminals.
There is no way that a few pictures, and a couple of diary entries, can change those facts. Not a one of them is in question. There isn't a ghost of a chance that the SBV will start up a smear campaign if McCain is Kerry's opponent. There won't be a need.
For Senator Kerry to start up a pre-emptive strike this early on, with McCain as a likely opponent, is like showing up at gun fight with a pen-knife.
It might be hard to understand just how sensitive some of us servicemembers are about guys like this Jesse Macbeth claiming to slaughter civilians as a US servicemember. Such killings happen. It may have happened in Haditha, Iraq. Massacres have happened in all wars, from all sides.
It’s not simply that Jesse Macbeth hasn’t earned the right to call himself a soldier, which he hasn’t. I’ve been very tolerant listening to barroom drunks go on about their airborne experiences. It’s pretty easy to tell when their “airborne” experience consists of watching A Bridge Too Far a couple of times. So no, I don’t get upset when there are guys who probably never were in any service, going on and on about their "service experiences." What bothers me most about blowhards like Macbeth is that his claim of service included, and fact was centered around, his claim that he was simply a well-armed, highly-trained, murderer. A hit-man in DCUs. That's what bothered me the most.
There a no units that have the mission of slaughtering civilians to spread fear in the populace. That’s what Macbeth was claiming; that it was his unit’s mission to kill civilians, and it was his duty to do so, and that only later, after much soul-searching, was he able to understand that this was wrong. This is ridiculous. Yes, we train to fight, and we have weapons that are very effective at killing. But that killing, in war, is not murder. All countries recognize this. What Macbeth describes is murder. What the Marines are accused of doing in Haditha, is murder. Macbeth wants people to think that we (he) train for murder, and that the training we go through blurs the line between deaths in battle and premeditated murder. I don’t want my wife, or my teenage children, to think that when I’m at war, I lose all touch with morality. I don’t them to wonder if I can become the animal that Macbeth so cavalierly imagines he had become. The soldiers injured in war, both physically and mentally, are real enough. We don’t need, or want, or deserve, a fuckhead like Macbeth.
If you just walked past a man who was dying, should you suffer "mental stress"? How about if both you and the man you walked by, were above 25,000ft, in what's called the "death zone", a few hundred meters down from the peak of the world's tallest mountain?
Sir Edmund Hillary thinks so.
An experienced Himalayan guide says Sir Edmund Hillary's "harsh criticism" of Mark Inglis and other climbers for leaving a British man to die on Mt Everest could be psychologically harmful to Inglis and his team.
But not everyone agrees.
Mr Darragh said criticising the climbers for not going to assist and support could harm their ability to get over their remorse.
"You don't know people on the mountain and climbers are responsible for their own decisions."
Mr Darragh said with so many parties and climbers attempting to scale Mt Everest, people had become much more focused on their own goals and would not easily be able to critically assess the situation of strangers.
"It's worth listening to Ed (Sir Edmund Hillary - ed) , but Ed comes from an era when there weren't 300 people on the hill."
So what it sounds like is that some high mountain climbers have become as self-indulgent as the rest of the world. That's too bad. If you read The Climb, you'll understand that things weren't always that way. Apparently if you are spending money on a guided climb of Everest, and you don't know the person in distress, you get to ignore them. And if you make it alive to the bottom of the mountain, you shouldn't even face any criticism, because it might "psychologically harmful"!
I've never had the opportunity (if that's the right word) to test any such unwritten rules for helping other rock climbers, thank God. But I would certainly try to help any climbers that I saw in distress. I wouldn't have to know them. It wouldn't matter if it caused me some amount of danger, as much as I'd hope others would try to rescue me even if it caused them some danger. When I take up mountain climbing again (not Everest though) I hope I have the good sense and good luck to climb with people from the bygone era of when you helped those in need because they were fellow climbers....and fellow human beings.
The M2/.50 cal Heavy Machine Gun is a great weapon. I'm no neutral observer, but I do have to say that the sound of a "fifty cal" firing downrange is damn reassuring. It is a heavy, thumping sound. You can actually watch a round go out, watch it the whole way to the target; and the ricochets can bounce way up in the sky. At night it's really cool to watch.
This may not make much sense, but sometimes home is where all the machine guns point outward.