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Red Herring


J.D. Pendry


A Red Herring is what you toss out when the objective is to distract from the main issue.  I believe Senator Kerry’s Vietnam angle is one big smelly Red Herring.  If everyone focuses on Vietnam, then they’re not focusing on his performance in the Senate for the past twenty years, which is clearly more telling of the type of President he’d be.  John O’Neill has debated Senator Kerry since 1971 about their conflicting views of Vietnam.  So this is not new.  He had to know it would come up again.  He billed himself as a hero reporting for duty (complete with Spielberg special affects added to his Vietnam home movie) and now as a hero-victim attacked by rich Republicans linked to President Bush.  Had not Senator Kerry made his four months the central focus of his campaign, I don’t think we’d be talking about Vietnam today.  With any kind of luck, we’re seeing the final battle of that war.  Maybe after this election, we can finally let 58,000 Americans rest in peace and not bring back unpleasant memories to millions more – such as the POWs appearing in the newest ad.  The latest Red Herring is the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the Senator.  Why is it a Red Herring?  There’s a couple of reasons actually and I’ll try to illustrate that for you in a minute.  The prime reason, however, is that if the FEC complaint is the major focus of the mainstream media for a weekend, the new ad and the book isn’t.


The Swift Boat Veterans published one book and produced one television ad, which have appeared in three states.  The second ad is due out this week.  The amount of money they’ve spent doesn’t even register on the scale when compared to that spent by so-called 527 organizations supporting Senator Kerry.  It’s an inexpensive, yet most effective expression of free speech.  I think, during their full tours of duty in Vietnam, they learned well the lessons of guerilla warfare.  They’ve been called liars by most of the liberal media.  Senator Kerry personally called them liars and charged them with being a front for the Bush campaign.  He charged them with other things in 1971, which is at the root of their anger with him.  I thought I’d go looking for facts and make my own assessment about whether or not these “liars” were in cahoots with the Bush Campaign.


Since a book questioning the character of Senator Kerry is the central focus of the controversy, I typed into my Google search engine “anti-Bush books”.  In less than 5 minutes, I was able to compile the following list of 31 books and one movie.  Most all of them question the President’s character and integrity, yet I see more support for those books and the one movie by the media than I do a fair examination of their contents.  I do not see any wild-eyed commentators, like Chris Matthews or James Carvel, with spit flying from their faces questioning the accuracy or validity of the content of a single one of these anti-Bush books.  The authors have every right to present their opinions for public consumption.  Americans have every right to read them and to decide for themselves.  Too many of us, however, choose to let others decide for us.


Stop Bush in 2004: How Every Citizen Can Help, Warrior King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11, Shrub : The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush,  The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President, Bushwhacked : Life in George W. Bush's America, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties, Plan of Attack, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill,  Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, The Bush - Haters Handbook: A Guide to the Most Appalling Presidency of the Past 100 Years, Dude, Where's My Country?, Bush Must Go: The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesn't Deserve a Second Term,  Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq, The Deluxe Election-Edition Bushisms : The First Term, in His Own Special Words, Is Our Children Learning? : The Case Against George W. Bush,It's Still the Economy, Stupid : George W. Bush, The GOP's CEO, Jews for Buchanan: Did You Hear the One About the Theft of the American Presidency?,  The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir,  Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, Stop Bush Now, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else, W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq, Big Bush Lies: The 20 Most Telling Lies of President George W. Bush, Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country--And It's Time to Take It Back, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You.


I don’t believe this is a complete list, but an interesting one isn’t it?  I know that some of you might be typing “anti-Kerry books” into your search engine now in order to fire your list back at me.  I did this already, so save some time.  I came up with a list of bumper stickers and T-shirts on Ebay.  I know there’s a few anti-Kerry books out there and you’ll need to go to conservative leaning websites to find them.  There’s only problem with anti-Kerry books.  None of them was the subject of a feature on 60 Minutes, The Today Show or Good Morning America.


I also visited, an informative website with detailed information on all the current 527 Political Advocacy Groups.  I looked at most of these groups.  I encourage you to visit this website (or others of your choice) and perform your own analysis.  Let me share with you some interesting bits of information on a select few. 



America Coming Together, 2004 Election Cycle
Formed: July 2003


One of the leading Democratic interest groups dedicated to defeating President Bush in November. Run by longtime Democratic operatives and financed in part by wealthy Democratic donors, the group plans a massive voter mobilization effort in 17 battleground states.


Affiliated Personnel:

Ellen Malcolm, president (president, EMILY's List)

Steve Rosenthal, chief executive officer (former political director, AFL-CIO)

Minyon Moore (former Chief of Operations, Democratic National Committee)

Carl Pope, treasurer (executive director, Sierra Club)

Cecile Richards (president, America Votes)

Andy Stern (president, Service Employees International Union)



Peter Lewis (chairman, Progressive Corp.), $10 million pledge

George Soros (financier), $10 million pledge

Sierra Club

$8 million pledged from labor groups, including SEIU



$30 million raised by Jan. 2004, with a goal of $125 million

527 Activity:
Total Receipts: $26,905,450
Total Expenditures: $24,196,532


America Votes, 2004 Election Cycle
Formed: July 2003


Coordinates the activities of more than 20 Democratic interest groups trying to defeat President Bush in November. Coalition partners include labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and SEIU; environmental groups such as Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife; women’s groups such as EMILY's List, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood; and civil rights groups such as the NAACP and People for the American Way. Also involved are America Coming Together, Partnership for America’s Families and the Voter Fund.

Affiliated Personnel:


Cecile Richards, president (former aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and daughter of former Texas Democratic Gov. Ann Richards)



Affiliated organizations contributed $50,000 apiece



$2.5 million raised by Jan. 2004 toward a goal of $3 million

527 Activity:
Total Receipts: $1,937,036
Total Expenditures: $1,176,590
 Note: This data is based on records released by the Internal Revenue Service on Sunday August 15, 2004.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~, 2004 Election Cycle
Formed: September 1998


Begun in 1998 to protest the impeachment of President Clinton, the group has become a powerful political force since then. Its political action committee, the MoveOn PAC, spends millions of dollars to support the election of Democratic candidates. The Voter Fund is raising soft money, which may be contributed in unlimited amounts, for TV ads in key battleground states that are critical of President Bush.


Affiliated Personnel:

Joan Blades, co-founder and treasurer

Wes Boyd, co-founder and president

Peter Schurman, executive director

Eli Pariser, executive director, MoveOn PAC



Money provided by Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Corp., and financier George Soros



Soros and Lewis to give a combined $5 million


527 Activity:
Total Receipts: $9,086,102
Total Expenditures: $17,435,782
 Note: This data is based on records released by the Internal Revenue Service on Sunday August 15, 2004.



Then there is that other book that’s causing great consternation for some reason or another.  Unfit For Command.  A 527 organization put this book together also.


Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 2004 Election Cycle
Formed: 2004


SBVT represents Vietnam Swift boat veterans who are critical of Democrat John Kerry's decision to make his military service a major part of his campaign for president. The group questions Kerry's record in Vietnam and denounces his anti-war activities following his military service. The group's donors include some major Republican contributors.


Affiliated Personnel:

Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (retired), chairman and founding member

John E. O'Neill, founding member

Weymouth (Wey) Symmes, treasurer

Merrie Spaeth, media representative (former Reagan press officer, advisor to Ken Starr)



Bob Perry (Perry Homes), $100,000 View all donors

527 Activity:
Total Receipts: $158,750
Total Expenditures: $60,403
Note: This data is based on records released by the Internal Revenue Service on Sunday August 15, 2004.



There is other interesting information at  For example, there is a list of the top 20 individual (which is actually 25) donors to 527 organizations.  Tied for number ten on the list is a lone Republican (or conservative) leaning donor.  I made that conclusion by looking at the organizations supported.  The remainder of the top 20 is donors who lean toward the Democrat (or liberal) side.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed to the Swift Boat Veterans by a rich Texas Republican “linked to the Bush campaign” that I’ve been hearing about all weekend on the news is a big stinky, smoldering, rotten, Red Herring.  I’m losing all faith in the American News media’s ability to report facts sufficient for Americans to make informed choices.  I can only conclude that their objective is to conceal not report the facts.  It’s absolutely pathetic and frankly, if it accomplishes anything, it adds to the validity of the Swift Vets.  Maybe Congress and the FEC should investigate that.


I’m an old retired soldier, not a trained journalist, and I found this information in about ten Internet minutes.  None of it’s mentioned in the news coverage that I can find on the major networks.  To use the macho phrase of the day, if the Democrats want to investigate 527 organizations and their alleged political contacts, then Bring-it-on!  Otherwise, toss the smelly fish into the garbage and lets Moveon.


That’s my opinion and you’re all entitled to it.




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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.

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