Monday, May 31, 2010

Excuse me, there's a clerical error in my mouth

Mark Kirk claims that his "Intelligence Officer of the Year" award was misidentified in his bio, as if some clerk made a mistake.

But there's video of Kirk using the award as a claim to special authority in a hearing.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The first domino falls?

So, WaPo has started taking on parts of the Mark Kirk story.
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a single individual annually.


In a message on his blog, Kirk wrote that "upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified" and that the award he had intended to list was given to his unit, not to him individually.

Kirk was assigned to a unit based in Aviano, Italy, during the conflict. A professional group, the National Military Intelligence Association, gave the unit an award for outstanding service, according to a revised résumé posted on Kirk's Web site Saturday.

The association's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award celebrates "the exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional," but the citation in 2000 contains no mention of Kirk and instead designates the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano.

Kirk, whose campaign has emphasized his military service as a reservist, similarly misstated the award during a House committee hearing in March 2002. In a remark recorded by C-Span, he said, "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year," an achievement he depicted as providing special qualifications to discuss national security spending.
That's a good start, but readers of this blog know there's more to look into:
  • Why did Mark Kirk claim on his website to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom" when he never deployed to the country?

  • Does Mark Kirk really equate his three-week Annual Training stints in the country with "deployments," which normally require months of service in the area of operations as well as significant pre-deployment training time? (Update: More on this here.)

  • Kirk has suggested he merely "serve(d) alongside our troops" like any other Reserve officer, but told a group of reporters during a press conference this about his mission in Afghanistan.
    "I came up with a number of recommendations that I gave to Gen. McChrystal," said Kirk, referring to the commander of military forces in Afghanistan. "We have a tremendous amount of combat power."
    I find it odd that Gen. Stanley McChrystal--the four star general who had been in charge of the Afghanistan mission for six months by the time Kirk arrived for his second tour, would need the advice of an O-5 who'd been in the country for three weeks. So, what, exactly, did Kirk do in the country? Was he working as a Representative--which would explain his discussion with the general--or as a Navy commander, which wouldn't?
Now that it's clear Kirk has been puffing up his military résumé, will reporters begin to look into this string of tales?

Update:One more thing. His original bio read:
The Navy named Kirk “Intelligence Officer of the Year” in 1999 for his combat service in Kosovo.
But the WaPo story says this about his Naval service record:
An official summary of Kirk's military service, released to The Post by the Navy last week, lists other awards and decorations, including two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Navy Unit Commendation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a National Defense Service medal.
It's possible they left it out, but that list doesn't include a Navy Combat Action Ribbon, which Kirk should have earned if he'd had "combat service."

In fact, despite years of claiming he'd earned this award for "combat service," Kirk has tacitly admitted that he didn't perform combat service. The web site which once mentioned his grandiose award now says:
Kirk was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his Kosovo service in 1999.
The phrase "combat service" is conspicuously absent.

Civilians (and/or Kirk fans) might think I'm nitpicking here, but there's a real difference between being in a combat zone and earning hazardous duty pay and actually being in combat. Just ask the family of Admiral Mike Boorda, who committed suicide when it was discovered he had been wearing a device which had designated him as serving in direct combat, though it didn't show up in his records. David Hackworth, the former soldier who wrote the story on Boorda, wrote this after the admiral's suicide.
I pursued the story because for a soldier or sailor there's no greater disgrace than wearing unearned valor awards. Combat ribbons -- awards for which so many brave warriors have bled -- are the ultimate status symbol to warriors. They bring a special recognition and respect.

And with military leaders, from corporal to four-star rank, there's a larger issue: integrity. The very bedrock of any military organization is honor, doing the hard right over the easy wrong and standing tall in everything that's done.

Midshipmen at Annapolis, cadets at West Point, the Air Force Academy, all the ROTCs and other officer-producing schools in the land are taught the code, "I will not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate anyone who does."

These sacred rules don't only apply to cadets, NCOs or junior grade officers, but to every leader who wears the uniform, from cadet to general, midshipmen to admiral.
While Kirk isn't wearing unearned ribbons, he has time and time again claimed the unearned glory of a veteran of two wars and the exalted status of a combat veteran of another.

You might get the name of an award wrong, but it's unlikely he forgot he wasn't in combat.

Newt Gingrich clarifies

"When I said that Obama was as dangerous as the Nazis and the Soviets, I didn't mean to imply he was a bad guy."

You know what you're getting with Tom Donohue: Screwed

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and C.E.O. Tom Donohue plans on moving from screwing shareholders on behalf of himself and his rich buddies to screwing taxpayers on behalf of BP.

Personal story

When I was 13, I took my first paid journalism job writing crappy little columns for my weekly hometown paper. They were oh-so-precious little things about goings-on in a tiny central Kansas town, but I wrote about real political arguments about which adults were really fighting and I took it seriously.

I remember when my editor decided to name the column "From the Peanut Gallery," which pissed me off to no end. I was a newspaperman, damn it!

Then I realized I might as well get something out of the gig besides a few cents a column inch and talked my editor into letting me write movie reviews. I was completely unqualified, of course, but the trick was this: In Kansas, 14-year-olds can get a "restricted" driver's license that allows them to drive to work and school. This was meant for farm kids who would need to get from school to the farm to bring in the crops, etc. I used it to drive to the movies--the closest theater being in a different town. Yes, my career as a movie critic--an awful, awful movie critic--was a scam.

Still, I became a fan of movie criticism and a year after I began writing reviews, a show called Siskel and Ebert and The Movies debuted. I watched it religiously.

All of this is a roundabout way of pointing out how much I love the damn intertubes. Not only am I tangentially connected to Roger Ebert now (which is kickperiodassperiod), I'm also only two degrees of separation away from Russ Meyer.

/ fanboy

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yet another Kirk post

It's been a week now since I spoke with Kirk's press secretary, Susan Kuczka. I had three simple questions for her.
  • Would Rep. Kirk provide me with a copy of the narrative for the "Intelligence Officer of the Year" award he claims to have received? (See update below.)

  • Has he earned the Afghanistan Campaign Medal?

  • Were the orders under which he traveled to Afghanistan Reserve Annual Training (AT) orders?
Ms. Kuczka was very polite and, as I mentioned, promised to get back to me soon. I've called three times since then, though, and was told each time: Someone is in her office. She'll call you back. I'm not holding my breath.

(Update: More on this here.)

While it's unlikely I will ever hear from Rep. Kirk's office again, Ms. Kuczka did say during our conversation that the Congressman had only spent ten days in Afghanistan during both of his "deployments" there. (He's said publicly he spent three weeks there.) As I've said before, a couple of weeks in country doesn't equal a deployment. Ask any military spouse who's had to do the math in his or her head when looking over paperwork ordering a spouse to duty for 180, 270 or even 540 days. By claiming to have "deployed" to Afghanistan when he merely met his annual training requirement there--an opportunity denied those not politically connected--Rep. Kirk mocks the National Guardsmen and Reservists who have served more time overseas in the last ten years than any time since WWII.

Yet still the media refuses to call him out on this. Even though the goddamn Illinois political press saw him leave one week and come back a couple f-ing weeks later. Did none of them put together in their minds the many stories of hardships on reservists and Guardsmen who've spent years overseas since 9/11 and wonder about Kirk claiming the mantle of veteran?

The truth is, most reservists can't even get from their houses to "in country" in the amount of time Kirk spent overseas. First you have to go pre-deployment training at Fort Riley or Fort Bragg or somewhere and go through three to five weeks of training and then sit around on your ass for a while longer before you get to actually start the countdown that tells you when you get to go home. When my unit went to Afghanistan, for example, we arrived at Fort Riley on February 20th, 2004, but didn't reach Afghanistan until mid-April. That's two-and-a-half to five of Kirk's "deployments" (depending on whether Kirk or his press secretary has the amount of time right) before we even had our boots on the ground and could begin counting down to our trip home.

But look at how Kirk laps up the praise from this Foxhole, proudly declaring himself the "first Congressman to deploy to an imminent danger area since 1942."

I loved my time on active duty. I loved Guard and Reserve duty--even when it became much more than the promised two days a month, one week a year. Hell, if not for a recently discovered kidney disorder, I'd be serving alongside Kirk in the Naval Reserve Officer Corps right now. So I have a great amount of respect for anyone who puts on the uniform, whether they deploy or spend their entire military careers in Guard Armory in Waukegan. But people like Kirk, who make service they didn't really perform part of their personal mythos, who go on TV talking about the tough time they spent "on the front lines" when they couldn't hold a real soldiers jock strap...well, I know I wouldn't vote for a fucker like that.

Update: It seems the request for copies of his "Intellience Officer of the Year" Award helped make some changes in Kirk's story.
Upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified as “Intelligence Officer of the Year.” In fact, as noted in my Fitness Report, I was the “recipient of the Rufus Taylor Intelligence Unit of the Year award for outstanding support provided during Operation Allied Force.” It was one of the honors of my life to lead the Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy – and I am very proud of this award. My official biography will reflect this updated information.
But here's what Kos found out.

Update: Good news.
The Washington Post is apparently hot on the trail of Kirk's military service claims, so expect to see a lot more on this story.
Update: Here.

When I became a man, I put away childish things

Glenn Beck thinks 11-year-old Malia Obama is stupid because she wondered aloud whether her father had "plug(ged) the hole" spewing oil into the Gulf Coast.
BECK: This is such a ridiculous — this is such a ridiculous thing that his daughter– (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: It’s so stupid.

BECK: How old is his daughter? Like, thirteen?

GRAY: Well, one of thems, I think, thirteen, one’s eleven, or something.

BECK: “Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?” Is that’s their — that’s the level of their education, that they’re coming to — they’re coming to daddy and saying ‘Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?’ ” Plug the hole!
Of course, you have Republicans arguing that, somehow, it is the president's job to "plug the hole," including Republican Florida Senator George Lemieux, who thinks Obama should be on the ground running the actual operation.

Republicans: Clearly not smarter than a fifth grader.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues...

What about this Columbia University professor, could possibly make Bill O'Reilly think he looks like a cocaine dealer? Hmmm... I don't think it's his tie...

Good responses from Comedy Central.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fox gets even more obvious

Go watch this Fox clip, starting at 0:41 and watching to 0:56.

Sure is weird how Obama just sits there, staring silently, isn't it?

Now check out the unedited footage, from 10:28 to 10:38.

Yep, that's right. Fox News edited out the applause of the West Point cadets. They simply couldn't stand the fact that he was getting applause for ending their favoritest war ever.

God damn.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jonah Goldberg: Don't know much about....

...this thing on which I'm about to state an opinion.

Goldberg, who gets paid for this shit, is a weird addition to the "know nothing know-it-all" community. You think he'd pay attention.

(By the way, I love this guy.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Blumenthal but not Kirk?

A note to NBC Chicago blog readers: I am not an Illinois blogger. To say I am seems to suggest I have a dog in your political fight. While I lean left politically, my dislike for people who b.s. about their military service, not politics, led me to begin reporting on Mark Kirk. I had no idea how many lies there were to be found. -Terry, 03JUN10

In 2005, a political tussle in Ohio led to Rep. Jean Schmidt claiming that Rep. Mark Kirk (who's currently running for Barack Obama's former Senate seat) was a "veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom." It was news to me that any politician had served in Iraq by that time and, as it turned out, it wasn't true. Mark Kirk was claiming on his campaign site to be "the only member of Congress to serve stateside during Operation Iraqi Freedom," which was true, but on his official web site he claimed to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." To say you have served in a campaign is precisely the sort of falsehood for which Richard Blumenthal has been castigated for the past few days.

Yet, whereas Blumenthal repeatedly pointed out in speeches that he had served "during" Vietnam--with that noteable slip-up--and then corrected the record when the mistake was pointed out, Kirk's office refused to address the falsehood on his web site for more than 50 days after I first contacted him, despite the fact the Navy's Office of Information agreed that, because Kirk had never served in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom, he had no right to claim to be an Iraqi Freedom veteran.

In the end, Kirk's staff simply changed the site without comment or apology.

As a veteran of the Afghanistan Campaign myself, I find it disgusting when people make claims to service they haven't earned. I do believe, having watched the debate over Blumenthal's claim unfold, that the Connecticut Attorney General said "in" when he meant "during." He had even correctly described his service earlier in the same speech. Kirk, on the other hand, made a false claim and then refused to correct it for more than a month after it was discovered, despite repeated contact on my part. That is conduct unbecoming an officer.

And yet, I have been making phone calls to members of the media today, including to producers of Chris Matthews, who have refused to speak to me about the issue. This despite the fact Matthews has been hammering Blumenthal for days now, including saying the following:
  • "...don't (Democrats) have to drop this candidate and get another one?"

  • "The reports were out there that he had served in Vietnam the Marine Corps, he never corrected the record."

  • "He may be, uh, have a real problem with character and the truth, but anyone who helps him become a senator is to me beyond the pale at this point."
Well, Mr. Matthews, by refusing to shine as bright a light on Kirk's direct, stubborn attempt to misrepresent his service--and his failure to apologize for doing so--you are helping a much worse liar than Blumenthal become a senator.

I am awaiting a statement by Hardball producers explaining their reluctance to cover this issue.

Update: It seems Kirk has been obfuscating about his military career for some time.

Update: I received an e-mail which pointed out that Kirk had "deployed" to Afghanistan while in office. Let me call bullshit on that, too. Kirk, it seems, found a way to perform his Annual Training periods in a war zone. Yes, I give him some credit for going over there in the first place, but, he is claiming he was on a "deployment" when he was merely performing his two-week-long bare minimum active duty requirement. The minimum deployment length for Sailors who aren't politically connected is 6-7 months and, for soldiers, a year. Kirk's service amounts to little more than padding his resume. (Update: More on this here.)

It is unlikely, also, that he received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for his service, which, again, is something any "veteran" of the war should have.

I just spoke with Kirk's press secretary for answers to these questions as well as a copy of his Intelligence Officer of the Year citation. She promised a swift response.

Update: Still no word from Kirk's press secretary or Hardball producers.

Update: Here.