Daily Archives: September 22, 2008

Forced down? By whom? Hillary’s sniper?

Sen. Joe Biden’s helicopter was “forced down” in Afghanistan mountains crawling with al-Qaeda?  That’s what he told a National Guard audience in Maryland today.  From Jake Tapper (emphasis mine):

If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me,” Biden said. “Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.”

… [E]arlier this month at a fundraiser, he made a similar remark, when discussing how he doesn’t care about the Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s controversies like whether she sold a state plane on eBay, or when she went from supporting to opposing the Bridge to Nowhere.

“What I care about is: What in God’s name is she going to do — along with John McCain — about the thousands of people who don’t have health care?” Biden said according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Biden said he would ask Palin about “The superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan where my helicopter was forced down…John McCain wants to know where Bin Laden and the gates of Hell are? I can tell him where. That’s where Al Qaeda is. That’s where Bin Laden is. It’s not in the country of Iraq.”

OK…when Joe Biden tells — actually, no, let’s say, when a normal person tells a National Guard audience that his helicopter was forced down in the middle of what he says is a hotbed of al Qaeda activity, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  Yes, of course, you wonder how he managed to survive the rest of the attack.  In other words, you get the impression that his helicopter was forced down by enemy activity.

What Biden doesn’t mention is that his helicopter was grounded by weather, and he and his travel-mates were driven back to base without incident before they traveled elsewhere.  Tapper again:

In February 2008, Biden — along with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. — was on a chopper that made an emergency landing in the mountains of Afghanistan.

A snowstorm had forced them down.

No one was injured, and the Associated Press reported at the time that “the senators and their delegation returned to Bagram Air Base in a motor convoy, and left for Turkey.

Sen. Kerry was not quite so traumatized by the ordeal as Sen. Biden evidently was:

[Kerry told the AP at the time] We sat up there and traded stories.” Kerry joked, “We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn’t have to do it…Other than getting a little cold, it was fine.”

Given Biden’s well-documented history of creative self-aggrandizement, I doubt he was unaware how his harrowing tale of being forced out of the air in the epicenter of al Qaeda activity might sound, especially in front of a military audience.  You would think that he might have learned something from Hillary Clinton’s “tall tale” about dodging nonexistent sniper fire in Bosnia. I know the prospect of Sinbad making me look stupid would definitely make me think twice about spinning yarns that transform me into a combat veteran.

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Pegging the creepiness meter

Bill Clinton, commenting to the AP on Sarah Palin’s popularity:

“I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there,” Clinton said.

(Via Drudge.) OK, now, that’s the kind of sound bite that makes me just run for the shower.

Joe Biden: Conscience of the Obama ticket? UPDATE: Never mind.

A couple of weeks ago, the Obama campaign released a campaign ad sneering that John McCain doesn’t use a computer.  (Link via Power Line.)  Protests soon arose that the ad was a cheap shot, since the reason McCain doesn’t use a computer is because his Vietnam-era injuries make it very uncomfortable for him to use a keyboard.  (McCain also has trouble with things like tying his shoes, combing his hair, and putting on a shirt, for the same reason.)

Most people had given up waiting for the Obama campaign to apologize, or express regret, or at least disclaim any intent toward horrendous taste, in some buried statement issued over a weekend when nobody would read it.

As it happens, no such statement has been forthcoming from the Obama campaign, let alone Sen. Obama himself, but a surprise confession has issued from what you might think was the unlikeliest of places:  Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden.

Details, plus a whiplash-inducing UPDATE, below the break.

Continue reading

Astroturfing, and fleeing roaches… UPDATE: Smear video maker responds

“Astroturfing” is a practice by which groups or campaigns are able to spread disinformation by sending it virally using non-existent people and “sources.”  An essential element is the use of “sockpuppets,” or multiple forum accounts set up by a single existing user under different names, to imply a multitude where only one person exists.  It’s essentially a way of faking the appearance of a grassroots campaign (hence the reference to fake grass in the name “astroturf”).

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report (via Instapundit) has done an incredible amount of independent research into the people behind a smear video calling Sarah Palin a secessionist sympathizer in Alaska, and uncovers a link to a Democratic PR firm in California, as well as possible links to Obama campaign manager David Axelrod (notorious for past astroturf campaigns):

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign.

The post is long and detailed, but TJR’s findings make it a must-read.  Doubly so given the fact that TJR’s post appears to have made the astroturfers very skittish:

Within an hour of this post going up, YouTube videos implicating Ethan Winner were yanked, sockpuppet accounts deleted, and more importantly, the Wikipedia entry on David Axelrod began to edit out mentions of his well known astroturfing campaigns. Hmmm, it sounds to me like we’re on to something.

We have backups of all the deleted websites, and will update as soon as we can.

As a better blogger than myself is wont to say, “read the whole thing.” I was on the fence as to whether Rusty might be on to something until I had read most of it, by which time I was leaning toward the possibility that he’d caught someone doing something naughty.  With the sudden flurry of yanked videos, deleted accounts, and altered Wiki pages as the sudden switching on of the light by TJR causes the roaches to scatter, I’m not leaning anymore.  I’m simply waiting to find out whose heads are going to roll over this, and whether it will damage the Obama campaign even further.

UPDATE: Hot Air has further commentary.

UPDATE II: Shackleford posts the content of a statement by Ethan Winner, claiming sole responsibility for the video.  The reason he gives for pulling the video is because he says his family was getting threats.  No word as to why he felt he needed to close his YouTube accounts on top of it.