Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Notes from the Briar-Patch."

It is always fun for one side when a closely fought political campaign is suddenly turned askew, when one of the candidates makes a compound gaffe very close to election day.

What is a compound gaffe, you say? It's like a compound fracture -- not a "greenstick." It's ugly -- for the guy or gal who made it. And, of course, for their campaign.

That is what appears to have happened to New Jersey Democrat Senate Bob Menendez on Wednesday when he assured a Jewish group in New York that he fully endorsed the Senate candidacy of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

He then turned what could have been just a mildly embarrassing gaffe, into a full-blown compound blunder, when he also derisively told the gathering that Tom Kean Jr., who was going to be following him in speaking to the group, would try to tell them that he (Menendez) supports Ned Lamont, implying that they should not fall for the Kean trick.

The trouble was that Menendez does not support Lieberman. And he does indeed support Ned Lamont! Or, at least he did both before and after he spoke to this group!

Political junkies, and perhaps even mildly disinterested observers, may recall that Bob Menendez heartily endorsed the candidacy of Ned Lamont back at the beginning of August, when Lamont won the primary. In fact, a post regarding the endorsements of Lamont by both Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Menendez were posted on The Inside Edge, a regular political "insider" feature of, a popular Garden State website that daily posts links to New Jersey political stories, polls and commentary.

Here is a portion of what Menendez said at the time:
" . . . The voters of Connecticut have spoken and I support their decision. I fully support Ned Lamont's candidacy."

That's pretty straightforward. So now people are asking about today's comments, "What was he thinking?" Indeed, one wonders what his staff was thinking?

Today's events also had a farcical dimension to them as well, and we suspect will provide some real light entertainment for the blogging community. That's because the incident was first reported on a New York Times blog, the The Empire Zone, as if an inexperienced Tom Kean had been the one caught in a trap!

Their piece by reporter John Holl, entitled, "Kean Falls Into Lieberman Trap," related the events as follows:

There's little agreement about anything in the New Jersey Senate race between Tom Kean and Robert Menendez. But they do take the same side on one issue: support for Joe Lieberman.

The two appeared at a candidate forum yesterday sponsored by the Metro West Jewish Federation, and they discussed the usual topics: the Iraq war, Social Security, and stem cell research.

And both candidates were asked about Lieberman's re-election bid. Mr. Mendenez, who appeared first, said he supports Mr. Lieberman's run as an independent candidate. "I wish him well," he said, "and hope he returns."

He then warned the crowd that Mr. Kean, who was to appear second, would try to tell the crowd that Mr. Menendez supports Mr. Lamont.

About 40 minutes later, when Mr. Kean was asked about Senator Lieberman, he said, "I think he is the right individual and I look forward to serving with him." After a pause, he added, "My opponent, by the way, supports Ned Lamont."

So the all too-eager John Holl rushed the post up on the Times blog. "Score!" he must have thought.

Later on, however, having been sheepishly informed by the Menendez campaign spokesman, Matt Miller, that Menendez does indeed support Ned Lamont, the Empire Zone had to post a retraction, of sorts.

Frankly, it should have been a Miss Emily Litella style, "Never Mind!" But far be it from the New York Times to poke fun at themselves.

John Holl posted a straight corrective piece entitled, "Menendez: What I Really Said ..." in which he did note the Menendez campaign's correction, but notably failed to reiterate the Menendez aside to the audience. In other words, he minimized it. And Holl also completely failed to note the humor involved in the Empire Zone being caught up in the gaffe, or even noting that they were making a correction to their failure to check the facts.

Here was the operative portion of that post.

Mr. Menendez's original pro-Lieberman comments before the Jewish group were pretty direct. ("I wish him well," he said, "and hope he returns.") The Kean camp, for its part, stands by its support of Lieberman.

How straight-laced for him, and how droll for the rest of us! Clearly, both Bob Menendez and the New York Times each got a portion of their anatomy caught in the proverbial ringer. Our friends over at Enlighten-NJ caught the original error before the correction was made, and they chalk it up to mendacity all around.

Certainly that's hard to argue against in either case -- Senator Menendez or his obviously ill-informed supporters at the New York Times.

The Empire Zone blog is described by the New York Times in this way:

About The Empire Zone

A blog from the metropolitan staff of The Times about politics in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, supplementing our news coverage. Regular features include Morning Buzz, Blog Blast and Comment Zone.

Hmmmm! Supplementing coverage? One is tempted to suggest that the New York Times should think about sticking with what they already do very poorly -- report political news in an unbiased manner -- and not try to supplement it by tacking up cheap and inaccurate gotcha posts, thus removing all doubt.

And look how they got the folks over at BlueJersey all worked up! If you can stand it -- even briefly -- browsing through the comments there, you'll see that some of them are even addressing the, shall we say, inherent disingenuousness of Bob Menendez, and a few are even looking ahead to the potential need to "primary" him in six years. And also note the panicky reaction of the Menendez campaign, and their need to repeatedly pander to this crowd of thoroughly frenzied folks. It speaks volumes!

One of the more frequent criticisms journalists have leveled at bloggers is that anyone can post something, but that bloggers don't have the institutional editing and fact-checking processes that newspapers do, and therefore, blogging is not inherently a trustworthy medium. But that misses the point. Bloggers, at least the ones who rely on reasoning, have frequently swarmed around an issue, and ultimately focused far more light on it than any newspaper article ever could or would have. The faked National Guard documents story on CBS was a perfect example.

Here, John Holl didn't rely on a fact checker before he took the cheap shot at Kean -- he just accepted Bob Menendez at his word. And by mid-afternoon, Enlighten had picked the Lamont endorsement off of the Menendez website, where Holl could have easily found it himself.

But he was just a little too eager to fire first . . .

There is, of course, an upside to this.

Now, a much wider group of people know that Bob Menendez lies. The attendees at the Metro West Jewish Federation know first hand. The New York Times knows. Even Blue Jersey knows.

And tomorrow, anyone who reads the story about this in the New York Times will know as well. Boy, I can't wait to read it!

Update: And here it is, warts and all, by John Holl.

It is much worse for Bob than originally reported! In the forum, held in front of "several hundred people at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, N.J." (not in New York, as we erroneously indicated above) Menendez was responding to a written question from a member of the audience.

In a written question from an audience member, Mr. Menendez was asked why he supported Mr. Lamont. Mr. Menendez said that his support of Mr. Lamont was a "mischaracterization," adding that he supported Mr. Lieberman’s run as an independent candidate.

"I wish him well and hope he returns," he said.

With that, Mr. Menendez — who 24 hours earlier had been engaged in a tense radio debate with Mr. Kean — warned the crowd that Mr. Kean, who was to speak next, would try to tell the crowd that Mr. Menendez supported Mr. Lamont.

So it now looks like Bob Menendez has how added a curious new definition for "mischaracterization" to his dictionary.

Mischaracterization: "Spot on, accurate statement. One that leaves little or no room for doubt."

With that in mind, we'll just have to go back and check a significant number of his past statements. Stay tuned!

(In an attached Comment, reader "Anonymous" noted the NY Times article as well.)


At 11:03 AM, October 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair (and this is more than the Times usually is), they did do a story on the incident. It is clearly a straight up story writtent by a democrat.

At 7:01 PM, October 20, 2006, Blogger Enlighten-NewJersey said...

Excellent post and thanks for the mention. It’s too bad more people won’t learn the truth about Menendez. Have you read the AP’s account of the story- Connecticut Senate candidates become fodder in NJ Senate race? Talk about “mischaracterization” – the original definition – the article must have been ghost-written by the Menendez campaign.

At 7:41 PM, October 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we wonder why Congress has a 16% rating

At 7:44 PM, October 26, 2006, Blogger Michael Martin said...

Trochilus, I appreciate talking to you because it reminds me how far out of touch many a modern conservative can be. In response to your less than compelling post on my blog, I want to respond in kind.

First you claim that a Stephen Hayes book on WMDs is the definitive word on there being a connection between Hussein and the WMD claims of the Bush administration, who, in fact, lied to the American people about there being a (non) connection between Hussein and al-Queda and there being WMDs (some with nuclear capability!) pointed at us in Iraq. Forgive me if I don't take a book written by the editor of the so-conservative-they-think-creationism-is-real Weekly Standard' and endorsed by Rush Limbaugh as the gospel. The most cursory research reveals Hayes' book to be pastiche of nonconnections: Hayes wrote, "The Shakir story is perhaps the government's strongest indication that Saddam and al Qaeda may have worked together on September 11." But Landay, as well as Pincus and Eggen, reported that, according to a senior administration official, the story was most likely the result of "confusion over names." Further, the Feith memo, which Hayes relies on, was also not verified: The DOD said "The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions."

Factually speaking, we know that the CIA report, filed in 2005, "found nothing" in their WMDs search, and the bipartisan senate commission found no credible WMD reports either.

I feel as if I am talking to a wayward child who keeps repeating the same mumbo jumbo rather than face the facts: Iraq posed no "imminent threat" to the U.S., the Iraq war was an unjust one, no WMDs were found (Hussein had not reconsituted his arsenal), and he did not have a working relationship with Al-Queda.

Some of us have imaginary friends who help us sustain our grasp on non-reality. You have this imaginary principle, based upon nothing, to base your nonfactual assertion that WMDs were found in Iraq. Poorly done, Troch, poorly done.

At 2:28 PM, October 27, 2006, Blogger Trochilus said...

Martin, if you truly wanted to engage in a serious discussion, the first thing you would have done is to post on Inside Edge that you strongly objected to them selectively censoring the legitimate comments of posters there.

It was certainly not the first time it happened to me, and I know for a fact that it has happened to others on several occasions. For example, past comments have shown that it has been done to Dino as well. Someone arbitrarily blocked his comments for a few days, for no explainable reason.

The intent can only have been the purposeful suppression of ideas or facts to inform the ongoing debate. That is censorship, pure and simple.

The only reason I posted my comment on your silly blog was because my October 25th (just after noon) response to you, directed at your evasive prior post aimed at me, was summarily refused posting at the Inside Edge. I again tried to post it after going off line and clearing the cache, and then, having failed, I sent them an e-mail at 2:47 PM questioning why they were refusing to permit the posting of my response to you. I included a copy of the comment as it had appeared on the "preview" screen.

Though I asked for a response, I have yet to receive one, and I tried at least two additional times to re-post my response to you. So, I can only conclude, based on this and several similar experiences in the past, that someone over at the Inside Edge is intentionally engaging in censorship. Your prancing little polemical diatribes, including the subsequent comment where you pretend to know what is in Tom Kean's head -- continue to pop up unimpeded on the thread, however.

If the censor(s) at the Inside Edge are unwilling or incapable of allowing a free discussion, so be it. That’s their business, but everyone should know that someone there is unwilling to permit an open discussion.

Sometime late yesterday afternoon, I did managed to sneak on a short link to my comment, as I had posted it on your blog, but the fact remains that someone who "moderates" the discussion at the Inside Edge, is censoring some, but not all posters. I don’t play that game, and frankly, I’m surprised that someone who publicly claims to pride himself on being "progressive" would tolerate it. The truth is that the left in this country has become increasingly intolerant. And this increasingly disturbing level of intolerance on the part of the left in recent years, is getting thoroughly exposed because of the democratization of discussions on the Internet. Too bad that an occasional bad apple such as the censor over at the Inside Edge, can occasionally spoil the medium.

Now, as to your post here:

As you know, I never once said that Stephen Hayes 2004 book, The Connection, was the "definitive word on there being a connection between Hussein and the WMD claims of the Bush administration." I simply recommended you read it as a starting point for discussion of Hussein's connections to terrorist organizations. Your entire response here is, therefore, disingenuous.

If you want to continue to misrepresent what I said, keep it up – and I'll keep exposing you every single time.

What I said to you, and what you, at one point, attempted to address on the Inside Edge was my assertion that:

"Saddam Hussein was promoting and assisting terror training in his nation prior to us going in there. That is a fact."

You chose instead to respond to me on another topic, i.e., WMD, a topic that I did not address.

So, I tried to submit a post in response containing citations from this year, including published analyses of newly translated documents captured in Iraq, to back up my original assertion, and I was suddenly and repeatedly refused access on the Inside Edge.

So, I posted my response to your blog, noting that I was being blocked on the Inside Edge.

But, unable to help yourself, you have now have chosen to begin calling me names, i.e., "wayward child."

All I can say is, can you spell projection, MO?

Here was my October 24th post on the Inside Edge, which you "responded" to, and which ended my ability to post there. Please, point out where I mentioned WMD in that post.

MO sez - Democrats have a better plan (re: the war on Terror, including Iraq).

Let's examine that.

We are at war with Islamofacism in it's many faces. However many of our major media outlets, and an alarmingly high percentage of Democrat Party politicians and grassroots activists -- some of whom are truly crazed loonies in our midst -- are either utterly irresponsible about how they discuss that war, or outright opposed to the pursuit of it's goals.

Moreover, the simply refuse to accept what is fact. Saddam Hussein was promoting and assisting terror training in his nation prior to us going in there. That is a fact. Iraq is indeed an important battle in that war with Islamofacism.

Bob Menendez is a willing, though not particularly original cheerleader of the pack of deniers. I say not original, because he seems to be satisfied for the most part with just rehashing the latest leftist polemical meme of the day. Representative Murtha offers his idiotic "plan" for re-deployment to Okinawa, and Bob says, "Let's vote!"

The one thing that is absolutely consistent with these defeatist Democrats, including Bob, is that they do not want us to achieve victory.

They want United States policy in disarray for partisan political reasons, and they have actively misrepresented the nature of the threat and the consequences of inaction in the face of the Islamist threat. That is why he and the others demand a specific timetable for withdraw (they say redeployment) of American troops from Iraq. They also know that the adoption of such a timetable would spell certain defeat, and would seriously endanger our troops. And they know that the aftermath of a defeat would be disasterous for our policy in the region.

Yet, networks like CNN, for example are now airing snuff film about the war -- a terrorist propaganda clip showing the assassination of an American soldier.

For the past year, a few newspapers, some networks and their Democrat acolytes have willingly compromised both our electronic surveillance of terrorists communications with their operatives in the US, as well as a program for the electronic tracing of the flow of terrorist money. They do so by lying to the public by calling it a domestic spying program, which it is not. Each of those stories and the mindless and misleading carping, mostly from Democrats, has certainly helped individual terrorists and the groups they belong to, to avoiding detection and possibly capture. Where was Bob? Ever spouting the party line palaver.

People like Bob Menendez could care less. And he and the defeatists dismiss out of hand the real consequences for the people of that region, including of our ally Israel, if we suddenly and precipitously retreat.

The signal to the Islamists would be the same as that given to them more than a decade ago when President Bill Clinton instantly cut and ran in Somalia at the time of the Black Hawk Down incident. We know that Usama Bin Laden saw that as evidence of the cravenness of America, which emboldened him and his fanatical lunatics to attack us again and again, culminating in 9/11 in 2001.

Throughout the Presidency of Bill Clinton, despite mounting evidence known inside the Administration to the fact that al Qaida was becoming an actual military threat, and despite instances of repeated Bin Ladin sponsored al-Qaida attacks on our embassies, such as in Kenya and Tanzania, and our interests worldwide, the Clinton Administration never developed a plan for consideration to destroy the structure of al-Qaida.

In early 1999 he went wobbly over a plan to capture Bin Ladin and inexplicably changed language in a secret Memorandum of Notification that would have given clear guidance with respect to his (Bin Ladin's) killing if his capture was not feasible. The plan was never given the go-ahead, and a subsequent opportunity to capture him before 9/11, in the region of Kandahar in May of 1999, was scratched, with everyone in the Administration pointing fingers at everyone else as to what happened.

So, we know the Democrats with Clinton at the helm, were abject failures with respect to containing the mounting threat. They had no plan. Their idea was to take Bin Ladin to court!

Yet they and their fifth-column holdovers in the government are now likely the sources of leaked information for the anti-terrorist efforts to contain and defeat the Islamist threat today. The legislative Democrats, including Bob Menendez were, and continue to be, the opponents of the Patriot Act, which has saved American lives and allowed us to effectively battle Islamist terrorism here in our country.

During the years when Bob was personally loading his pockets with taxpayer money by renting a building to an organization he was helping receive federal funds, right smack under his congressional nose, radical Islamists, from their Journal Square, Jersey City mosque under the control of the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, were busy building their little nest of hate in America, plotting and executing the first attempt to bring down the Twin Towers in 1993.

Where was Bob's leadership on the issue of immigration and any recognition of the implications for our national security back then? Where is it today?

Yet, he says wants to get your vote for what he claims is the failure of Republican policies in Iraq. The pursuit of his cut-and-run Democrat defeatist policy in Iraq at this point would virtually ensure a power vacuum that would likely result in the spawning of a new terrorist enclave, one that would spell long term problems for us, as well as for all the people of the region.

Yeah, Democrats have a plan! And woe to this nation if they get a shot at putting it into effect!

Posted by: Trochilus | October 24, 2006 02:55 PM

No mention of WMD there, MO! And after your so-called response, here was my attempted response that was refused at the Inside Edge on the 25th :

MO, as theoc quite accurately pointed out, you seem to have little or no respect for the truth in a discussion.

Since I cannot get into your head, I cannot tell whether this arises out of complete ignorance or from purposeful deceit, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and posit that it is probably somewhere in between. Sometimes you seem unwilling to believe facts, so you go into denial and ignore them. Other times you appear to deceitfully attack on an entirely separate issue, hoping to somehow change the subject.

If you personally cannot grasp the relationship between facts and reality, don't embarrass yourself by writing the garbage you spew here for public consumption. Here's a hint: keep it to yourself, and that way no one will ever be able to prove you wrong!

It is beyond question, no matter what you would like or wish to be true, that there was an ongoing relationship between Saddam Hussein and the training of terrorist organizations world wide. So, get over it.

And that was what I said.

"Saddam Hussein was promoting and assisting terror training in his nation prior to us going in there. That is a fact. Iraq is indeed an important battle in that war with Islamofacism."

In addition to Miniter (accurately mentioned above by theoc) Stephen Hayes, among many other writers, have done an excellent job, including during 2006 with translations of captured document after document, of connecting the regime of Saddam Hussein to al Qaida prior to the war, let alone to other Islamist terrorist organizations. You could start by reading his book, The Connection, published back in 2004, but I seriously doubt you will.

For a good current survey piece, bolstered by new documentation, and detailing the pre-war terrorist training camps, including the one at Salman Pak, and the other primary ones in Ramadi and Samarra, and all maintained under Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraq incursion, you should read the thorough survey piece by Hayes published in January of this year called Saddam's Terror Training Camps, but I doubt that you will.

In early March he wrote an extensive piece documenting Saddam Hussein's long standing relationship with Abu Sayyaf, the Filipino-based terror organization, which began in the late 1990s. You should read that, but you probably will not.

In mid-June of this year, Hayes wrote a piece in the Weekly Standard called, Their Man in Baghdad; What Zarqawi--and al Qaeda--were up to before the Iraq war, pointing out that Eguptian Abu al-Masri, who is the last remaining original member of the Mujahideen Shura Council (aka, al-Qaeda in Iraq), and whom many believe has replaced Zarqawi, arrived in the Bagdad area in 2002 to establish an al-Qaeda cell, long before the American incursion. He has been a terrorist since 1982, having begun his life of terror with Ayman al-Zawahri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s. I know you won't read that because you would have to pay a few bucks for access.

If you were intellectually honest, you would get up to date on the current struggle, instead of sitting out there flailing away with uninformed lefty talking points. To be honest, MO, you sound ignorant when you spout your nonsense. Why don't you learn something for once? But I know you won't, because you don't want to believe what is established fact.

As to your comments wholly endorsing the polemics of Reverend Reginald Jackson, please bear in mind that for years now, Jackson has been flirting with the line between his organization's tax exempt status, and open partisan involvement in lefty Democrat party politics. In fact, some, including Green Party candidates, say that Jackson was literally bought and paid for by Jon Corzine with a $25,000.00 contribution pledged back in 1999. And for a good laugh, note in the story, that Corzine henchperson, Tom Shea, laughingly tried to draw a distinction by saying that Corzine's pledge in July 1999, and delivered six months prior to the primary, was to Jackson's Church, and not the Black Ministers Council. Ha, ha, Tom, who is yet another recipient of a substantial tax-free gift from Jon Corzine, is priceless when it comes to such non sequiturs.

To be honest, MO, I think I'm right -- your comments sound half ignorant and half partisan. That's not a good combination.

But you would rather swoon over the words of Reverend Jackson!

That was the end of my attempted post. And below is the tag from my copy of the "preview, at the Inside Edge when I first attempted to post the comment, though it was never permitted to be actually posted.

"Posted by: Trochilus | October 25, 2006 12:38 PM"

So, no mention of WMD there, either, MO, huh?. Gee, you don’t look so credible now, do you? And, I also think it is fair for me to conclude that someone just didn’t want that post up on the Inside Edge because it reinforces the conclusion that so many have come to about Bob Menendez, that he is a complete charlatan.

By the way, if you want more detail on the ongoing attached-at-the-hip relationship between your hero, the Reverend Reginald Jackson head of the Black Ministers Conference, the Governor, and the Governor’s guy, Bob Menendez, one that totally gives the lie to Tom Shea’s claim, go read this where it is pointed out that a mere 7 months into the Corzine Administration, the Governor "forgave" a $50,000.00 personal loan he had previously made to the Reverend Reginald Jackson, thus converting it into a gift.

But I guess you would claim that they are just "imaginary friends."


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