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Can this possibly be true?

What does everyone think about the possibility that the Bush TANG documents questioning his fullfillment of obligations are forgeries?

I mean, can this possibly be real? I’ve been hearing the talk all day, and to be honest I dismissed it as improbable. I mean, NO ONE, not even the Kerry campaign, would be so damn stupid as to try and pull this off with forgeries as flimsy as Free Republic says these are. But a discussion with my dad led me to quick glance at a couple of sites and now it’s quarter to midnight and here I still sit.

This is truly amazing. If the forgery theories turn out to be true, it will be the biggest direct influence that the internet has had on something. So far.

And never mind that CBS in particular and Big Media in general fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Egg. On. Face.

I’m still more than a little skeptical about the whole thing. But if the arguments about fonts, justification, kerning, and proportional spacing are bogus, it should be very easy to turn out thousands of documents from 1972 and 1973 TANG with the exact same qualities. Millions, in fact. No hyperbole. Millions of them.

That sound you hear is the chirping of crickets.

The fact that this story might go from headline to trash bin in less than 48 hours is simply astounding. Chris Matthews will barely even have time to melt down on national television before the rug is pulled out from under him.

The fact that someone would forge these documents shouldn’t really be shocking. The fact that they did such a terrible job is simply shameful.

If this is true,

Okay, I don’t even know what it means if this is true. I’m flabbergasted. Or tired. Probably both.

I don’t know if the forgery theory is going to hold up, but after reading a bit about it I’m getting the feeling that the argument on the Sunday talk shows is not going to be about Bush being AWOL but about whether or not the GOP planted forged documents for someone to ‘leak’.

I give the Dems less than twelve hours after widespread acceptance that the documents were forged (if, indeed, such a thing comes to pass) before they charge the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy with falsifying these documents in order to discredit the Kerry campaign and Big Media when they’re proven to be a hoax.

Even MSNBC is now giving the forgery theory some credence. (Does that prove that the theory is wrong?)

Anyway, I haven’t heard one single suggestion from anyone that any of the military records Kerry has released are forged.

UPDATE: The forgery story seems to be gaining traction in the mainstream media. No top billing that I’ve seen, but it’s there. Maybe the plan was to get the buzz about “proof” that Bush was AWOL going, and then have the forgery story break over the weekend when few people were paying attention? Except that the internet accelerated the debunking process?

As you can see, I’m really starting to buy in to the forgery theory.

There’s a very simple way to prove that these aren’t forgeries. Produce all the other millions of documents from the same place and time as these purport to be from and compare the formatting and signatures. Also, since these documents appear to be copies of copies of copies, turning up another earlier-generation copy of the memo would be helpful. I don’t see it happening, and unless it happens quickly not only will these memos be dismissed but I think the whole “Bush was AWOL” angle is going to die off.

As I mentioned, this will leave two stories: A) Who forged these? and B) How on earth did CBS and Big Media blow it so badly?

The short answer to B) seems to be that that’s how most of the mainstream media operates and unless they change their methods they are going to make themselves irrelevant.

A), however, really seems a little trickier to me. A reader commented below that it might be the Clinton people who recently joined the Kerry campaign and that the mission was to sink Kerry in order to open up 2008 for Hillary.

I responded:

I wouldn’t put it past the Clinton people if the idea that they’re torpedoing Kerry to clear the way for Hillary is true, which I might be willing to accept.

But the same reason for the GOP to not release forged papers (backlash when the source is eventually traced down) applies to them as well, doesn’t it? Plus, if the plan was to release this to discredit the Kerry campaign, they have to know that CBS News is all but part of the Kerry campaign. If these are indeed forgeries, Big Media in general and CBS in particular will take a hit. And the Dems have no better friend than Big Media. Especially when a Republican is in the Oval Office. I don’t see why they’d undercut their biggest supporters in an attempt to harm a candidate that already looks like he’s probably going to lose.

Now, just because I’m skeptical about the Dem upper classmen releasing this doesn’t mean that I think I know who DID. No one seems to benefit in both the long term and the short term from this except the GOP, and I really don’t think they’d do this in this way.

Maybe this is the information age version of Lee Harvey Oswald. A lone nutcase gunman out to bring down the Bush Presidency with a magic bullet. Except that people aren’t naive enough to buy that magic bullet nonsense any more.

The GOP seems to be the only likely winner here, but would they do this knowing full well that they’re going to be outed? I’ll contradict myself by saying that they wouldn’t actually be winners in the long-term if they are found out to be responsible for this. That leaves the nutjobs.

This is all more than a little surreal. And the forgeries appear to be so blatantly bad that it’s hard to imagine anyone knowledgeable in much of anything putting them together. And if this truly is a lone gunman, why did CBS swallow it without looking into it with any degree of anything?

Unless I see more documents with the same formatting “irregularities” as these from the same time and place, I’ve moved solidly into the “forged” camp.

This discussion doesn’t even take place without the internet. CBS News was apparently incapable (unwilling is more like it but that’s their fault) of checking this story out. The internet did so in 12 hours.

UPDATE 2: Something gives me the feeling that there are a going to be a lot of posts with a lot of updates as this story develops. Francis at The Shadow of the Olive Tree sums up the claims of “well, it wasn’t IMPOSSIBLE to proportionally space characters in 1973″ rebuttals with this:

Now I’m sure it was possible to produce very similar documents in 1973 but I refuse to believe that the average typewriter on an airforce base in 1973 would produce text with curly apostrophes, superscript and with its lines breaking IDENTICALLY to Microsoft Word in 2004.

Go check out his examples. It’s not that these things COULDN’T have been done in 1973. It’s that they WOULDN’T have been done on that base in that office, or in bases or offices like that one, in 1973.

Again, if these formatting issues aren’t an issue, it should be easy to produce (I mean FIND, not PREPARE) millions of other documents with the same formatting.

UPDATE 3: Wizbang is all over this story.

Well, okay, 90% of the blogosphere is all over the story. Which is a story in itself.

Wizbang has stuff ranging from serious discussion to stinging sarcasm to funny graphics. Here, here, here, here, here, and here. Hell, just go to Wizbang and scroll.

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Comments

  • BigFire says:

    I believe the forgery falls squarely on the Clinton team brought in to right the Kerry ship. Afterall, they’re now calling the shots, and in position to sink the campaign. The Clinton people also rightly assumed that CBS will be too lazy and partisan to accept anything given to them by Kerry Campaign as solid reliable source not worth fact checking. By sinking Kerry in this election cycle, they’re preparing for Hillary Clinton for President ’08.

  • buckethead says:

    I’ve been looking around, and I have some experience with documents – I’m a technical writer – and I have to say that the arguments seem solid. This is a mind blowing development, in several ways. First, that someone would forge the documents. Second, that they would do such a bang up job of it. Third, that CBS fell for it. Fourth, that someone thought this would help the democrats. Fifth, the political feces storm that is about to hit harder than Ivan. While I will not be surprised if some accuse the Republicans of leaking the documents, that idea doesn’t hold for me. Karl Rove is a sneaky bastard, sure; but there is no way he could be sure that CBS would react so credulously, or that it couldn’t be traced back. I can’t really imagine that the public will buy that line either. Aside from the fringes of both parties, the American electorate is not really conspiracy minded. They still think that JFK was killed by one shooter. I think this story will kill the Bush=AWOL meme dead. No sensible democrat will go near that after this. Of course, there are many unsensible democrats. This leaves the floor open for discussions of Kerry’s congressional testimony and his trips to Paris. His media supporters blew their wad too early – I don’t think they are going to ahve much left to shoot at Bush.

  • buckethead says:

    And another thing: Murdoc, your comment thingy never remembers my info.

  • BigFire says:

    Re: buckethead Odd, it remember my info just fine. Do you have cookie set enable? That’s how website keep track of your identity.

  • Francis says:

    At least one of the documents is a fake. I followed the steps recommended at LGF and produced an identical document to the August 18 memo. http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20040909 or download my doc yourself and do your own comparison http://www.di2.nu/18August1973.doc

  • Murdoc says:

    BigFire: I wouldn’t put it past the Clinton people if the idea that they’re torpedoing Kerry to clear the way for Hillary is true, which I might be willing to accept. But the same reason for the GOP to not release forged papers (backlash when the source is eventually traced down) applies to them as well, doesn’t it? Plus, if the plan was to release this to discredit the Kerry campaign, they have to know that CBS News is all but part of the Kerry campaign. If these are indeed forgeries, Big Media in general and CBS in particular will take a hit. And the Dems have no better friend than Big Media. Especially when a Republican is in the Oval Office. I don’t see why they’d undercut their biggest supporters in an attempt to harm a candidate that already looks like he’s probably going to lose. Now, just because I’m skeptical about the Dem upper classmen releasing this doesn’t mean that I think I know who DID. No one seems to benefit in both the long term and the short term from this except the GOP, and I really don’t think they’d do this in this way. Maybe this is the information age version of Lee Harvey Oswald. A lone nutcase gunman out to bring down the Bush Presidency with a magic bullet. Except that people aren’t naive enough to buy that magic bullet nonsense any more.

  • ACE says:

    It now appears DNC staffers fed the documents to CBS without verifying their authenticity, and CBS didn’t do a good verification job, at best. How close this gets to John Kerry’s staffers, and how much he personally knew about it, remains TBD. In any case, the general public now knows who the dirty dealers really are, and will not accept any more mud-slinging at face value. To put in the terms of an earlier ACE post, Kerry’s goat is cooked! Stick a fork in it!

  • Murdoc says:

    Buckethead: I agree that Rove wouldn’t be above this sort of thing but that he’s too smart to do it in this manner. This is ineptitude piled on top of ineptitude. ‘Mind blowing’ is right. This is massive in a way that I think is just beginning to dawn on some people. If one day the Big Media moguls are defeated by the ‘little guys’, this event will stand out as one of the biggies that made it all possible. As for remembering your ID info, some people have had trouble with that. I do if I click ‘comments’ and open up a separate comment window, but I don’t if I open the post itself and enter the comments there. I think it has to do with the fact that the primary address at my new host is a murdoconline.com and that murdoconline.net is really a secondary domain. At least the problem seemed to start when I switched hosts. I can’t figure it out, but my ownership of the .net address is up for renewal and I’m going to try and get it straightened out. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • buckethead says:

    Tom Harkin is on Fox still calling Bush a liar about his Guard service. It seems that the Democrats really can’t get their heads around this whole new media thingy. Allah links to the daily recycler, which has a cached copy of the spectator article Anatomy of a Forgery. Read the article – it puts the source of the documents solidly within the Kerry camp. If this turns out to be the case, this isn’t just the end of the Bush/AWOL meme, but possibly of the Kerry campaign as a whole. The electorate will not be impressed by a maneuver simultaneously so wrong and so inept. Lileks also talks about the death of the old media – typical Lileks, very apt and well written. I’ll shortly have some commentary up over at perfidy.

  • Mystery Poster says:

    These things you’re saying sound a lot like the conspiracy theories that are negative about Bush that you dismiss because they are – conspiracy theories. Note all the things I’m not saying: the documents are real, CBS did a fine job with this, there is no way someone in the Kerry campaign created the documents, etc. I’m saying there is a hell of a lot of speculation going on that I believe is often dismissed in situations that look toward the other side. Forged ‘proof’ of W’s failure to meet his obligations in the ANG is an important story, but the absence of usual records and the absence of a single person who can corroborate W’s meeting his obligations is a NON story? I think they both are, not in a tabloid way, but real investigation.

  • buckethead says:

    MP, I don’t know that this is working like a conspiracy of the loony left. One of the first things suspected on this thread was the possibility that Rove did it. Also, speculation in the absence of hard information is typical in the early stages of any story. However, it now seems solid that a) the docs aren’t real, b) CBS is guilty of gross negligence at best, and c) someone made those forgeries. News reports are floating that the Kerry camp might be the source of the docs, and last night Kevin at wizbang blog thought the timing of CBS’ story was suspicious. CBS got them six weeks ago, and what was happening six weeks ago? And they couldn’t figure out in six weeks what the blog world did in twelve hours?

  • buckethead says:

    Murdoc, going through the page rather than the pop-up window seems to work, thanks!

  • Murdoc says:

    MP: This isn’t really the same as your typical crackpot conspiracy theories (by either side). I was already working on this angle before you commented. I write why this is more than a bit different here: http://www.murdoconline.net/archives/001563.html

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