Is It Any Wonder That We Lost the Vietnam War?

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I mean, considering the old-fashioned typewriters we had to work with and all…

As neither candidate seems capable of making a compelling case either for or against the current war, I am uninterested in what they were doing back when Brezhnev was still "alive." But in the interest of attending to this Hot Topic, the latest on President Bush's Air National Guard records:

CBS produces documents indicating Bush failed to obey an order. Rightwing bloggers smell a rat, produce counterevidence indicating the documents are forgeries:

Every single one of the memos to file regarding Bush's failure to attend a physical and meet other requirements is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing (especially in the military), and typewriters used mono-spaced fonts.

The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction high-end word processing systems from Xerox and Wang, and later of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's.

Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang and other systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used mono-spaced fonts. I doubt the TANG had typesetting or high-end 1st generation word processing systems.

I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old. This should be pursued aggressively.

Story is recirculated enthusiastically. CNN reports White House produced copies of two of the docs, weakening the forgery accusation. However, White House copies turn out to be copies of the CBS originals, so forgery issue remains in play.

On the lighter side of the news: Terrorists blow up Australian embassy. Renewed fighting in Iraq. Defiant (and apparently alive) Zawahiri says U.S. losing in Afghanistan.

Update: Killian's son tells ABC one memo looks real, the other fishy.

NEXT: Wireless Router = Hot Plate?

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  1. Hasn’t this bit already been discredited?

    “The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction high-end word processing systems from Xerox and Wang, and later of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90’s.”

    Pretty amazing that this 30 year old stuff is how we’re going to pick one of these losers. Oh well, might as well enjoy the ride. I’m looking forward to the Kitty Kelly stuff.

  2. The White House seems to have accepted them as authentic, and has been working furiously to spin them as unimportant. Not a peep about their not being genuine.

  3. I seem to remember wordperfect allowing proprotionally space fonts back in the late 80s (maybe it was ’91). Pain in the ass wen you were used to multimate!

  4. Yeah, I’m sure the typewriters had small font superscript for “TH” too.

    It’s a blatant, catastrophically amateur forgery.

  5. The only thing that remains unexplained is how a superscript ‘th’ was produced with a typewriter. Oh and also how the IBM typewriter was using the MS Word New Times Roman font about 25 years before the MS Word New Times Roman font was available.

    Asside from that everything is covered. (CBS = Credibility Been Shot)

  6. If these are fake docs it will require the biggest mea culpa since NBC dateline igniting GM pickup truck gas tanks for on-camera effect….ABC/NBC will jump on the story for competitive reasons.

    Joe, would it be a good idea for the WH to trumpet accusations of “forgery!” without first having the claims investigated??

    They may be evil unilateral Nazis, (according to you) but they’re not stupid.

  7. Regardless how this turns out it is amazing to watch the internet in operation.

    Tens of thousands of people, from all kinds of specialties, typographers, former military officers, typewriter repair technicians, etymologist you name it, are parsing the documents down to the molecular level. It will only take days and perhaps only hours to authenticate the documents.

    I half expect to see a 1972 IBM Selectric typeball with proportional font and a superscript “th” appear any second on ebay.

  8. I loathe Bush as much as anyone, but I have been persuaded that these documents are real, real close to what could come off a modern word processor. At the same time, that technology is not new, and (as joe points out) the White House appears to have accepted them as authentic.

    I’m not inclined to buy any convoluted story about how CBS was played for an absolute sucker, nor am I inclined to believe that the White House knows them to be false and is sitting on its hands in hopes of a political payoff.(*)

    In short, to me it still seems more likely than not that the documents are genuine, but I would very much like to see a contemporary document in official records in the same format. If such a document is not forthcoming within a few days, I would likely change my view.

    (* [W]ould it be a good idea for the WH to trumpet accusations of “forgery!” without first having the claims investigated?? No, but they could certainly say something like, “We have some questions about the authenticity of these documents, and we are looking into those issues.”)

  9. If only the talent being brought to bear on authenticating or discrediting these documents could be brought to bear on, say, finding Osama Bin Laden.

  10. Check out this Wikipedia article about IBM’s Executive series typewriters. I’m not plumping for CBS here, but it does seem possible that a military officer’s staff might use an IBM semiproportial typewriter as early as the late 1960s.

    Of course, these documents may still be fakes — that they’re not typed on squadron letterhead is curious, especially the memo for record. Centering header text manually is no fun, even if it’s a commonly-typed header.

    It’d be interesting to try producing these memos with a computer, and with an IBM Executive typewriter, and comparing the results side-by-side. The typewriter wasn’t fully-proportional, but instead offered five character widths. A computer-produced document would be proportional to hundredths of an inch, varying by the exact letter typed.

    It does seem unreasonable that CBS would go live with such a clumsy forgery… but, of course, they’re heavily inclined to take more risks in accepting evidence on one side of the argument than on the other…

  11. *chuckle*

  12. IBM introduced a proportional-font typewriter in 1947, and the “Selectric” famility of ball-type typewriters, including proportional font support, in the early 1960’s.

    A quick Google search on “IBM Selectric Proportional Font” will yield a multitude of hits on the subject. Of particular use are the links to various technology museums that have specimens.

    None of this, of course, proves the documents in question are not forged, or even that an IBM selectric did produce them. The existence of this technology does go a ways towards discrediting the “proof” that the use of proportional fonts in the era in question makes them forgeries.

  13. Shannon,
    Yeah it is funny to see this all show up (though, pace thoreau, I’d like to see it used for something more important than partisan bickering over what happened 30 years ago). The interesting thing is the White House had it for 2 days, so this is either legit or political kung fu. I hope it’s the former, but not because I dislike Bush.

  14. The Selectric was not fully proportional; it was limited to matching the character pitch of the installed type ball (10-, 12- or 15-pt).

    There was apparently a proportional version of the Selectric produced, the Selectric Composer, but it seems unlikely that an ANG staff office would have one of those lying around for casual use. (Not to mention that it sounds like it was a PITA to use…)

  15. Alkali: You and I know that if McLellan even implies something like that, big media splashes “WH says CBS reports forgeries” the next day regardless of the context.

    Thoreau: Interesting point…Wouldn’t it also have been cool if the U.S. would have acted in the late 90’s when Sudan offered Bin Laden to us on a platter??

    Draz: You’re still not dealing with the superscript “th”……

  16. The Selectric was not fully proportional; it was limited to matching the character pitch of the installed type ball (10-, 12- or 15-pt).
    Regardless of what the Selectric was capable of, the IBM Executive Model A (released in 1948, well over a decade before the Selectric) did honest-to-god proportional typespacing, and was available with at least a dozen different typefaces.

  17. Lars writes:

    There was apparently a proportional version of the Selectric produced, the Selectric Composer, but it seems unlikely that an ANG staff office would have one of those lying around for casual use.

    Hard to know. The wild misallocation of resources in the military is a longstanding topic of military comedy.

    Call me snake: I don’t think so. The WH could have said something very low key that would not have been the headline. I’m pretty sure the CBS report reflects WH comments; they had the docs on Monday.

    The more I think about it, it is entirely unproductive to look at these individual documents (though that’s all we in the blogosphere have). If there was a machine that created this kind of output in the TANG offices in the early 70s, then there must be a thousand memos just like these in the files, and it is probable that these are genuine too. If there are no comparable memos in the files, then these documents are fakes, regardless of whether they could have been created at the time.

  18. So has anyone tried reproducing Powerline’s experiment? I mean, who’s to say that this proof that the documents are forgeries are the _real_ forgeries?

    This is so convoluted. I just want an intellectually honest media. Is that too much to ask for?

  19. alkali-

    Damn good point. If this issue really is so important, the easiest comparison would be to look for comparable documents.

    Sure, people can debate about how this document came out of one office and that document came out of another. And sure, finding comparable documents wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of forgery, but it would certainly rule out a major argument in favor of forgery, namely that the technology to produce such documents was not available at the time.

    Conversely, a failure to find comparable documents wouldn’t be 100% proof of forgery. One can always imagine a scenario where a document was typed up in a different office because a secretary was out of town or whatever. However, it would place a huge burden of proof on anybody who wants to base a claim on those documents.

  20. This is just the typical gorilla dust the Bushies always throw when they’re caught in a lie. Throw out another lie and watch the story morph into a fucking typewriter history lesson.

  21. thoreau writes:

    [F]inding comparable documents wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of forgery, but it would certainly rule out a major argument in favor of forgery, namely that the technology to produce such documents was not available [alkali emends: to the purported author] at the time.

    If there are lots of similar documents in official records, the question of provenance remains — where did these particular documents come from? — which cuts in W.’s favor. But there is also the corresponding question of why apparently genuine documents concerning W. aren’t in Texas official records, which cuts against him.

    Conversely, a failure to find comparable documents wouldn’t be 100% proof of forgery. One can always imagine a scenario where a document was typed up in a different office because a secretary was out of town or whatever.

    The documents state that they were created over a stretch of a year and a half. It would be one hell of a coincidence. (“Ms. Belson, please get out the special Lt. G. W. Bush typewriter!”)

  22. Should I be alarmed that what seems to be the salient issue of this campaign is the technical minutae of a word processor rendered obsolete over a decade before I was born?

    Is this normal?

  23. Pseudo: (1) Yes. (2) Yes.

  24. Gadfly-

    Not only will this morph into a typewriter history lesson, but by tonight we’ll probably have pundits on cable news shows taking stances on typewriter history based solely on their partisan preferences.

    Hannity: I can clearly remember the first time I ever saw a typewriter capable of producing a raised “th” after a number. It wasn’t until at least 1980.

    Susan Estrich: Sean, I was using proportional fonts to produce articles for my school newspaper in 1970.

    (notice how they just talked past each other)

    Coulter: I’m too anorexic to actually push a key on an old-fashioned typewriter, but I can assure you that Hannity is correct, because as a pundit it’s my job to be an expert on any trivial subject that assumes partisan significance, and to make sure that the facts support my side.

    Kerry campaign staffer: Our campaign has already released all documents concerning John Kerry’s Vietnam service, and all of those documents were in proportional fonts.

    Coulter: No, they weren’t.

    Kerry Staffer: Yes they were.

    Coulter: Were not!

    Staffer: Were too!

  25. alkali-

    I didn’t realize that these documents were created over a year and a half. If most or all of the documents bear the fonts in question, and if no similar documents are found, that would pretty much rule out coincidences.

    I concede the point.

  26. In my flight ops office circa 1972 there weren’t any IBM Selectrics. We used old fashioned manual typewriters (Underwoods I believe) to type out the ditto master of the daily flight schedule, which was then run off on a ditto machine as old as my father and distributed to the pilot’s ready room among other places. Ditto (pun intended) for every other admin office on the second floor of Hanger 296.

    Anecdotal evidence? You bet.

    Is it meaningless? You bet.

  27. A last comment before I shut my apparently unshuttable yap. Kevin Drum writes that:

    For what it’s worth, I spoke to someone a few minutes ago who’s familiar with how the documents were vetted, and the bottom line is that CBS is very, very confident that the memos are genuine. They believe that (a) their sources are rock solid, (b) the provenance of the documents is well established, and (c) the appearance of the documents matches the appearance of other documents created at the same place and time.

    As the foregoing comments indicate, I’m most interested in (c), because that’s a matter of public record. In an ideal universe CBS would post some comparative specimens (although if they privately have very good reasons to believe that the documents are genuine, I can see why they would not want to facilitate chasing down rabbit holes). In any event, time and the blogosphere will tell.

  28. In my experience it’s a simple case of Catch 22 meets the real military and it works well. Once you get in the loop there is simply no reason to participate in the idiotic crap that the military constantly lays on your table.

    I’m sure GWB skated out of all kinds of stuff. And dimes to donuts, so did many others in his unit.

    Does that taint him as a war time president?

    It’s kind of cheesy, but OTOH I know for a fact that I’d hate to have my character judged today based on my actions at age 22.

  29. The most damning evidence so far is over at Little Green Footballs. He sat down in front of MS Word with its default margin settings, an 11 pt Times New Roman font, then typed out the memo letting it word wrap where it wanted to. He then printed the document to get the printer fonts, scanned it back in, and overlaid it on top of the original memo. The text lines up perfectly. Not only are the line breaks in the same spot, but the text itself perfectly overlays. This means that not only is the font the same, but the kerning of the letters match, the type spacing matches, and the margins match. Even the spacing between the lines is an exact match.

    It seems to me to be highly unlikely that a typewriter 30 years ago would have had identical line spacings, margin spacings, character spacings, and fonts. If this is a coincidence, it’s the mother of all coincidences.

  30. TWC, you sound like a pilot. Ever heard of one who skipped his physical and never flew again? All the ones I know fell in love with it and would do anything to fly jets.

    Hint: 1972 is when they began drug testing as part of the physical.

  31. Dan – not only is the kerning of these memos an almost irrefutable sign that they are forged, so is the fact that the signature on the CBS memo does not match the same man’s signature on a document known to be legit.

    As we speak, the blogosphere is chasing down the addresses used in the memos, and Allah knows what else.

  32. Check Alger Hiss’s Woodstock typewriter.

  33. Kerning is one of the last words I ever expected to be relevant in a presidential campaign.

    Ben Franklin is sitting in heaven with a couple French babes on his lap laughing his ass off.

  34. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out, but I am astonished at how well the partisans prop up their belief systems, with what appear to be incontrovertible “facts”.

    I find myself simultaneously believing the documents are both real and fake.

    And how this issue, like every other one these days, is simply turned into a propaganda-gathering and presentation exercise for people who write well.

    It’s pretty easy to see who the ones are that want to believe one way or the other. They mostly appear to have farmed some fond stretch of cyberspace and driven their oxcart into town loaded up with these facts of theirs which, of course, reinforce their viewpoint and are pretty much a tautological referendum on Bush:

    Bushitler or Brave Leader
    Son of Man vs The Devil Himself
    Borderline Retard vs Crazy Like a Fox
    Scheming Conniver or Straight Shooter
    Liberty Lover or Tyrant

    Take your pick, then go out and traipse across the cyberland, picking posies and daisies that look pretty to you, and bring the basket and dump it out and show the others that what you have proven is inarguably right and undeniably correct.

    You silly fool, better that you had never been given the gift of reason.

    There are many who want to learn the truth, but so many still who want simply to believe in something true.

  35. i love how one’s level of antiforgery expertise on this board (which i never heard any of you mention before — funny) almost exactly gradiates to one’s level of love/hate for dubya.

    acknowledge the truth, people: you will never know for certain because you don’t know anything about forgery. at the end of the day, you’ll have to take someone’s word for it, and there’s likely to be a lot of he-said-she-said crosstalk about that.

    fwiw, i find it unlikely that blatant forgeries would get past the factcheckers — but then, forged yelowcake documents got past the DoD, didn’t they? ideology can blind you to a lot of flaws.

  36. One quick thing on this forgery thing. If it is a forgery, CBS are idiots as are the forgers. Shit, how hard is it to dig up a typewriter? If the lgf claim is true (they used MS Word v.XXX), then the forger either wanted to gotcha CBS or is a douche approaching the size of John Edwards, the guy that “talks” to dead people.

  37. For me as a soon to be Army Officer and the son of a AF Colonel, beyond the questionable nature of the typesetting, the style of writing used in the memo seems inconsistant with a standard military writing tone particularly for a memo for record. Furthermore, the lack of a letterhead and the type of information disclosed (the pressure to ‘sugarcoat’) is very abnormal for such documents.

  38. Galus,

    Anyone who knows anything about the history of typewriters and modern word processing can tell this document is fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.

    Curled quote marks? Kerning? Small-font superscripts? Plus the content is obviously fake, referencing people retired at the time the memo was written as if they were active in the TANG.

    This is the kind of fake a former convicted fraud artist – Democrat fundraiser like Ben Barnes is stupid enough to do — and CBS “News” / 60 minutes is stupid enough to run with. Even many Kerry supporters admit this is just a very poorly done fake.

  39. gaius-

    Fortunately, there is one very simple test that could refute this particular forgery claim, a test that doesn’t require any forgery expertise to understand: If similar Texas Air National Guard documents from the same time are found then we’ll be able to discount the notion that the font is inconsistent with the alleged date of the documents. Of course, it won’t prove authenticity, but it will debunk a major claim.

    On the other hand, it is amazing how much people on this board know about old typewriters and fonts.

    Let’s imagine another plausible claim that might come up in this election: There are people going around making noise about how supposedly W helped a girlfriend get an abortion ages ago. Now, let’s say some alleged medical records turn up. I wonder how many people will suddenly be experts on obstetrics, and in particular obstetric practices of the early 1970’s or whenever this supposedly happened. “No, no, no, the record must be bogus if it says that the doctor administered such-and-such anesthesia, because the drug company didn’t start making it until 1983, and it was always administered with a such-and-such regulator, not the device listed on the medical record.”

  40. If only the talent being brought to bear on authenticating or discrediting these documents could be brought to bear on, say, finding Osama Bin Laden.

    OBL is dead. Dead, Jim. They’re all dead. Been dead since Tora Bora.

    The man was releasing videos of himself every five minutes during that conflict to prove he was ‘just fine’. Then *poof* we’re treated to 20 year old videos of OBL vacationing at the black sea with ‘voice overs’ about the Jihad, getting vested in the Al Qaeda 401k plan, rules for vacation and sick time.

    Sorry… Occams Razor. Al Qaeda NEEDS obl alive to boost the confidence of the troops. If OBL were alive, he’d release a video of him talking with reference to date and time. Hasn’t happened. Oh, and heres this little blurb:

    OSAMA bin Laden’s supporters yesterday issued a statement on the internet saying he was dead.

    The claims, repeated in the Al Bayan newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, said that the al-Qaeda terror chief died when the Americans bombed the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan.

    The details tally with dates of bombing missions in which US intelligence experts suspected that he may have been killed.

    By Mark Ellis, Foreign Editor, Mirror.

    Dead dead dead. They’re all dead

  41. One quick thing on this forgery thing. If it is a forgery, CBS are idiots as are the forgers

    They’re not idiots; 60 Minutes just doesn’t really care whether the stories it sells are true or not. Do any of the other geeks in this forum (current or former) remember when they did a big expose claiming that Dungeons and Dragons was a dangerous game that made kids kill themselves?

  42. Shannon Love,

    Yes. And after the blogosphere has analyzed the minutiae of the evidence, and picked holes in the evidence of one or both sides, the stenographers in the mainstream press continue to regurgitate Bush’s and Kerry’s talking points. No matter how much sifting of evidence goes on in the internet echo chamber, the people who still get their news from Dan Rather are steeped in consensus reality. I only hope that at some point the people who get their reality from the “mainstream” press are the marginalized ones, and “consensus reality” dies behind their backs.

  43. Lemme hit y’all with some ideas on this document forgery/ibm selectric/1948/ancient sumerians using proportinal fonts bidness.

    Fact: Few typewriters had proportional fonts when these documents were purportedly typed.

    Fact: IBM did have proportional typewriters clear back to (1941???).

    However, A does not eq B in this case. (Or, for those of you wanting to throw around a little Programmer Lingo at your next cocktail party: A != B)So… has anyone considered aquiring OTHER documents from the same office of the Nat’l Guard which are KNOWN to be original and see if THEY’RE in proportional font?

  44. Actually what amazes me the most is how bad the forgery is.

    Every copy of MS word has fixed-width fonts. Courier is supposedly close to those old typewriter fonts. Whoever did this forgery is just STUPID or else it’s a Rovian plant (which wouldn’t surprise me either).

  45. Paul,

    While a very few typewriting machines from 1972 had proportional fonts, assuredly none of them did kerning. Not to mention the superscript small fonts, curly quotes, and other assorted clues that prove this is a fraud.

  46. Paul –

    The reports might be correct; OBL might be dead but, did you check the typeface and kerning of the report?

    I’m just saying…. 😉

    -Allen

  47. I invented proportional fonts.

  48. Fonts? You mean there’s more than one alphabet?!? Oh, man, I have enough trouble just with the regular one…

  49. This whole 60 minutes reminds me of a lesson I learned in business school. As part of a class we learned how to deal with the media and or government authorities. The advice from my professor was: Do not talk to 60 minutes if you can avoid it. If you talk to them make sure you have your own independent video and audio recording of the interview. They are notorious for manipulating what interviewees say.

    I am hoping the documents prove to be forgeries. Not for Bush’s sake, but to see the bastards at 60 minutes exposed for the frauds that they are.

  50. I was in favor of proportional fonts before I was against them. I wrote all of my after-action reports with them. A bogus account of heroic deeds that never really happened always looks better with a little kerning.

  51. This simple invitation looks so much nicer with a proportional font. When I beat the crap out of the bitch who runs the cell block and establish myself as the alpha bitch, I’ll be using kerning to give the invites that extra something.

  52. “Kerning is one of the last words I ever expected to be relevant in a presidential campaign.”

    As opposed to “pregnant chads”, which every analyst was predicting would be a serious factor in the 2000 election.

    And while we’re talking about bullshit terms, “outsourcing.”

  53. Interesting to me how quickly the i-net (and all that implies) ferreted out the truth. Sure makes those idiots at CBS look like tired and worn out hacks. One more step down the path to irrelevancy for the major networks. Yippee Skippee! Dan Rather blows anyway.

    Gadfly, not a pilot but I did some time in a squadron of OV-10’s working in close proximity to the pilots. Good point too, it is rare to see a pilot walk away from any opportunity to fly. In that light, your suggestion that GWB took up a different kind of flying kind of makes sense. VBG

    Mo, of course it’s a forgery, there isn’t a single place in the memo where you will find the phrase “one each, olive drab in color”.

  54. Anyone who knows anything about the history of typewriters and modern word processing can tell

    and, mr cromer, how many of us DO know anything about that — or did until a few hours ago? lol!

    they may be real and they may be fake, i have no idea — but one thing is certain: vitriol will flow from every partisan mouth regardless.

  55. Gaius,

    I suspect anyone my age or so (mid 30s) who is and was a computer geek from an early age and who played with typewriters is something of an expert on typewriters and word processors — and could pretty easily tell this memo is BOGUS.

  56. 60 Minutes just doesn’t really care whether the stories it sells are true or not.

    lol — dan, that is almost certainly true.

    Now, let’s say some alleged medical records turn up.

    lmao! brilliant, thoreau — this is an *entertaining* thread!

  57. anyone my age or so (mid 30s)… who played with typewriters

    that fits me and i have no idea. and i still have a 70’s selectric in my office.

  58. and, mr cromer, how many of us DO know anything about that — or did until a few hours ago?

    Mr. Cromer could very well be an expert on type-setting, for all I know.

    But it’s interesting how on issues with partisan significance, everybody is an expert. I remember during the FL recount how suddenly every member of the punditocracy was an expert on FL election law. Every single one of them knew all of the intricacies of what is and isn’t mandated in FL election law, as well as precedents for the circumstances under which a ballot with a particular dubious marking is or isn’t counted.

    And, what do you know, every pundit just happened (surely by coincidence!) to know that FL statutes and precedents exactly coincided with the stances taken by their respective candidates. Now, I don’t want to get into the can of worms of what should or shouldn’t have been done in that recount, but it’s truly amazing to me how every single pundit, including many who had never been involved with an election in FL before, was an expert on FL election law and could tell you with 100% certainty that FL law favored their candidate.

    And now, what do you know, everybody is an expert on ancient typewriters and fonts.

    If anybody produces records of an abortion that W was allegedly involved in, I wonder how many people here will suddenly be obstetricians who can point to technical details proving that the alleged abortion record is a fake, or proving that the record is 100% consistent with abortion practices of that era.

  59. I knew you would be coming up with stuff like this. Kerning? What the hell is kerning? I don’t have have to stand here and listen to you make accusations like that! Hell, boy, if we still had duels, I’d skewer you like an Appalachian mountain man skewers a prettified, city-slicker girlie-man!

  60. It seems to me to be highly unlikely that a typewriter 30 years ago would have had identical line spacings, margin spacings, character spacings, and fonts. If this is a coincidence, it’s the mother of all coincidences.

    Just a few more facts to drop into this soup:

    1) Times [New] Roman dates back to 1932. There are some small variations between the versions produced by different foundries, but they aren’t the kind of thing that would show up at fax resolution, even in the conversion from metal type to digital type. Letter spacing would be extremely similar was well. I don’t have a specific example but it’s conceivable that someone made typewriters that used it.

    2) Word defaults to 1.25″ x 1.0″ margins — hardly an exotic setting for a typewriter.

    3) Most typewriters used 12-point leading on single-space lines. You wouldn’t see any significant difference between the line spacing on a typewritten page and on a Word document using the same 12-point typeface. (1 point = ~1/72nd inch, 12 points x 66 lines [standard typed page w/o margins] = 792 pts, / 72 = a standard 11″ page.)

    I’m not using any of this in an argument for or against the authenticity of these documents, but these coincidences are hardly a stretch.

  61. Thoreau,

    I for one suspect George might well have paid a girlfriend for an abortion. Doesn’t seem unlikely to me.

    This isn’t about Bush and Kerry. This is about the utter worthless of the mainstream media and how they have completely gone into the tank for Kerry. Even if the memos were real, I think they would be no big deal. The fact that they are as bogus as a $3 bill and that 60 minutes whored out for this story is the REAL story here.

  62. Ernie,

    How’s the kerning on those old typewriters?

  63. Ok, errybody in the club. I’m weighing in. (I’m sure you’re all excited to hear my comments).

    Just looked at the documents on CBS’ website. Uhmm, my first impression is.. yeah, they’re forgeries. They’re screaming forgeries. Does anyone find problems with the ‘noise’ on the documents? The little dots all over the place? I just spent the last 1/2 hour looking at dozens of random original typed documents on dozens of sites on the web- all typed around ’71 ’72, and none look AAAANYYTHING like the ‘memorandums’ on the CBS site.

    Yes, I know my research is unscientific. But, I mean, come on. I’ve now seen a two dozen typewritten memos from military headquarters of various stripes during the Vietnam war (1972) and ALL OF THEM are uneven, non-proportional fonts. NONE have superscript, and on many, you can actually see the evidence of an impression from the type head into the paper.

    And here’s another thing. In 1988… YES, year of our lord, nineteen hundred and eighty eight, I was working for a major defense contractor on a military base, using military typewriters (because folks, even in ’88, that’s all anyone had). And just looking at the REAL 1972 documents reminds me of exactly what we had back then.

    CBS better get its money back for those documents because in my opinion, they were robbed.

    Hopefully they guy in the van is still out in the parking lot.

    Paul

  64. This is about the utter worthless of the mainstream media and how they have completely gone into the tank for Kerry.

    mr cromer, wadr, if that’s what you see and hear when you watch the nightly news, you may be more partisan than you suspect. it isn’t that they don’t say things that could be interpreted that way — it’s that you have to interpret it that way to hear them saying it.

    i personally think we lose no matter who wins, and i’m a pretty cynical fellow — but The Media aren’t in bed with either of these yahoos. they’re in bed with Candidate Controversy.

  65. Oh, and anyone wanting to start on a little research of your own, I would try here.

  66. and allow me to couch that further, mr cromer — i mean that all very respectfully and as one who betrays my prejudices constantly. and i find it common that most journalists bias their articles to favor their personal politics, and most jouralists are liberal, statistically speaking. and every media outlet does carry some political bias, imo.

    but i really don’t find that there are immense, egregious, obvious ethical breaches in their reporting except for laziness. too often, in truth, i find they regurgitate the government line without crosscheck as fact.

  67. They are almost certainly forgeries: http://weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=4596&R=9FCD2F192

    And Ernie, as the expert in this piece points out, as well as another expert I read who compiled the type atlas referenced therein, Times *NEW* Roman is not among typewriter fonts. That two of these memos have now been keyed in Word using all default settings, and that they super-impose almost perfectly over the CBS versions — including kerning WHICH TYPEWRITERS CANNOT DO — is very, very strong evidence of incompetent forgery.

    –Mona–

  68. Gaius,

    The bias is consistent, ongoing, and clear.

    Try http://www.thatliberalmedia.com/

    then look at:

    http://www.gargaro.com/bias.html

    http://www.patterico.com/

    just for starters.

  69. And, here’s an excerpt from what AP just put out:

    The personnel chief in [Jerry] Killian’s unit at the time also said he believes the documents are fake.

    Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software, which wasn’t available when the documents were supposedly written in 1972 and 1973.

    Lines, a document expert and fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, pointed to a superscript – a smaller, raised “th” in “111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron” – as evidence indicating forgery.

    Microsoft Word automatically inserts superscripts in the same style as the two on the memos obtained by CBS, she said.

    “I’m virtually certain these were computer-generated,” Lines said after reviewing copies of the documents at her office in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She produced a nearly identical document using her computer’s Microsoft Word software.

  70. Oh yeah. These documents are faker then a very fake thing that someone would fake to fake people out.

    I personally am now waiting for the CBS retraction. Ahem… waiting… still waiting…

    …yep… still waiting.

    it’s comin…

    any second now…

    retractionola… here it comes…

    retraction city… any second now…

  71. no no, mr cromer — more evidence is unlikely to sway me. i read bernard goldberg’s book about cbs. i’m well aware that bias does exist.

    but it can’t be gotten rid of, excised like a tumor. we’re human (even dan rather — amazing, i know!) and we all slant our little morality tales. i’ve yet to hear anyone tell a story without spinning it.

    but the major outlets, imo, are most guilty of a far more fundamental type of bias than right/left — institutional! news is, to any civilization, mythology — it is the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world around us. rarely do they not convey a moral point. most often, that moral is “america is great and powerful, be peaceful, obey the law and don’t do anything out of the ordinary”. someone once wrote a book called “60 minutes and the news: a mythology of middle america” — and so it is! jack lule and herbert gans also wrote wonderful books on the reinforcement of established ideas by the press through current mythology.

  72. I agree with g.marius.

    And I agree with Bernard Goldberg (an excellent book, I might add).

    Bias exists. And liberal bias is the order of the day. But you accept it, roll with it, recognize it, and move on.

    Liberal (or any bias) in the newsmedia is not a conspiracy, it’s based on many factors: institutional (hat tip to gaius), political, demographic. It also has to do with journalistic laziness, and the fact that the media can become its own echo chamber.

    Getting rid of Bias(tm) in the newsmedia can’t happen, and more importantly, it can’t happen safely. Ie, you’ll probably just replace liberal bias with something else– conservative bias!

    I subscribe to the ‘fish don’t feel the water’ version of media bias. There’s tons of evidence of this. Why, just listen to NPR try to analyze whether the media is biased- their conclusions come out completely biased against conservative thinking people- and then they miss the irony of their report altogether.

    Heck, I remember listening to one commentary some years ago, where their conclusion as to why journalism seemed ‘liberal leaning’ is that ‘conservatism is about being part of the establishment, and journalism is about uncovering uncomfortable truths, therefore conservatives are going to feel attacked by journal(ists/ism).’

    Then another report some years later concluded that “conservatives are rather simple, black and white thinkers, and journalism tries to examine the complexities of the world”… hoo boy.

    Paul

  73. Paul, yeah, CBS will be in no hurry to retract. However, ABC is a competitor, and even if most of the journalists there are also anti-Bush, this will be TOO GOOD to pass up. Leastwise, I just read that ABC is now on it like flies on doo-doo.

    –Mona–

  74. in fact lule’s book is kinda outlined…

    … forgive me if i fuck this football…

    here?

  75. Thinking it over, I have got to hand it to the Republicans. They are so fucking good at this stuff. The day after the 60 Minutes thing, they’re on the ground running in lockstep with the talking points. Do these documents even say anything new? We already knew Bush skipped out on a physical the year that the Air Force instituted drug testing.

    But we’re talking about fonts and typewriters.

    Compare and contrast with the Democrat’s fumbling, belated response to the Swift Boat Guys.

  76. damn — i never have figured out the url tags.

    resort to blunt force for lack of elegance:

    http://home.hiwaay.net/~jmcmulle/480NewsasMyth.htm

  77. Dan & Gaius, re: medical records turning up.

    I didn’t like what was in my military medical records so I grabbed them and disposed of them one winter’s night in a cheery fire. Nobody ever even noticed they were gone.

    Perhaps our esteemed president may have had the same foresight.

  78. Gaius:

    “damn — i never have figured out the url tags.

    resort to blunt force for lack of elegance:”

    I don’t think it can be done. The interface between IE and this site is ghastly. One is reduced to the BBS style of 1995.

    In fairness, I tend to think the problem is IE or maybe I’m just an idiot. I’m pretty sure that these guys use Movable Type, which is a really good system that quite obviously works for some people really well.

    Some of the people who comment here (in the old days we used to call that posting, but in blogland the posting is done by the host(s) I guess) can get real slick with itlaics, embedded links, and all sorts of dynamic interaction. Me? I’m lucky if I can get the quote marks to work and god help you if you forget and put less-than or greater-than marks around text you are referring to instead of a quote mark. The text just vanishes. See? I can’t even use the marks, have to describe them.

    Now, dang it, what happened to my glass of wine? Hmm, maybe that’s the problem……

  79. Matthew is right, the forgeries are so amateurish and other sites (littlegreenfootballs, powerlineblog) have nailed these so thoroughly that looking at other TANG documents isn?t necessary. But for what it?s worth the Washington Post says,

    ?An examination of the documents by The Post shows that they are formatted differently from other Texas Air National Guard documents whose authenticity is not questioned.?

    On another note, I just heard that Dan Rather was on CNN standing by the documents and saying there will be no investigation. I haven?t seen this, but if it?s true, what is he thinking? Is The Dan really going to go down with the ship and sink his career over this?

  80. Actually, the most interesting thing on this thread is how the anti-Bush side is suddenly conviced that the principles of typewriter design are beyond the grasp of all but the most delicate genius. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned tougher subjects in a shorter amount of time than would be required to render a judgement, but in this case, I’m not going to bother, since I just don’t care.

    Both men are willing to serve now, and as far as I can tell, it is far more dangerous to be President than to have been a combat soldier in Vietnam. And even if it isn’t, it is by definition dangerous and unhealthy enough to settle the question of whether or not they are willing to sacrifice enough of themselves in order to be President.

    Also, this all happened 30 years ago.

  81. “anyone my age or so (mid 30s)… who played with typewriters”

    And to think I spent my childhood playing baseball and chasing girls. Damn, now I don’t even know what the hell kerning is.

  82. We already knew Bush skipped out on a physical the year that the Air Force instituted drug testing

    You might as well say “we already knew that Bush skipped out on a physical the year that Mark Spitz won 7 Gold Medals in the Olympics”. Those two events have nothing to do with each other, either.

    Bush wasn’t in the Air Force, he was in the National Guard. The National Guard did not screen for drugs during the annual physicals. What the National Guard implemented was random drug testing — something Bush couldn’t have avoided by skipping a physical.

  83. thoreau,

    I also am fairly skeptical of these claims of expertise.

  84. Shannon Love writes:
    Regardless how this turns out it is amazing to watch the internet in operation.

    Tens of thousands of people, from all kinds of specialties, typographers, former military officers, typewriter repair technicians, etymologist you name it, are parsing the documents down to the molecular level. It will only take days and perhaps only hours to authenticate the documents.

    Ah yes, the Internet, that hive of massive collective investigating prowess. News travels fast and experts from all walks of life are at hand to be consulted for free. I trust the Internet will get to the bottom of this matter in no time flat. And when that happens, few will be any wiser because the truth will be submerged under a massive flood of factually incorrect accusations and even more incorrect counteraccusations.

    In any case, if it is indeed found out that these documents are forgeries – I lack the expertise to judge – then the fun will really start. How did CBS get the documents? Who is behind them?

    alkali writes:
    But there is also the corresponding question of why apparently genuine documents concerning W. aren’t in Texas official records, which cuts against him.

    The documents in question are from Killian’s personal file according to CBS. The White House has “found” some new documents in Bush’s file, but these are not those.

    Nick Dubaz writes:
    the style of writing used in the memo seems inconsistant with a standard military writing tone particularly for a memo for record.

    As I understand CBS’s website, there are two memos for record which sound very official and carry Killian’s signatures. Then there are two unsigned memos to file, which have the more informal wording (“talking to someone upstairs”, “pushing to sugar coat it”).

    Paul writes:
    They’re all dead.

    [cue footage of Ayman al-Zawahiri]

  85. JDM-

    I don’t think typewriter design is a matter of genius. I think anybody could learn it. But knowing details is generally a matter of time and exposure. It’s one thing to learn very quickly something about typewriters. I could probably in a day learn a great deal about fonts, kenning, etc.

    However, to say authoritatively that something was impossible 30 years ago requires the sort of person who is really steeped in all of the trivia and details. It requires time and exposure.

    Allow me to compare with my own field of expertise, the physics of disordered optical materials. Any college graduate with a physics, engineering, or chemistry degree can come in and quickly learn the basic phenomena and techniques. But only somebody who’s done it for a few years can see an experiment and immediately say “Oh, they couldn’t have used polystyrene because the glass transition temperature of PS is too high. And they must have used a grating spectrometer rather than a prism spectrometer because you can see a second harmonic. And they must have done the calculations with the S-Matrix method because the T-Matrix method is prone to instabilities from evanescent waves in these structures.”

    A beginner could quickly understand those concepts, but to have that much information at your fingertips and immediately recognize what’s going on requires more than a quick tutorial.

  86. Someone earlier mentioned the 60 minutes story
    on Dungeons and Dragons many years ago. That
    was the first time I had seen a news story on
    something I actually new about, and it was a
    real eye opener. Their interview with Gary
    Gygax, who was portrayed as someone trying to
    get rich off of impressionable kids, was really
    mean. The whole thing was ridiculous, of a
    piece with the fundies who went after D + D at
    the same time as some sort of backdoor recruiting
    tool for satanists.

    I pretty much stopped watching 60 minutes after
    that.

    Jeff

  87. Sure, but as you say, if a more expert physicist made arguments for using PS or not, etc. the neophyte physicist could easily sort through them. In this case, the “degree” necessary to understand the arguments is much easier to obtain.

  88. Fodderstompf: Just to be clear, the question of why the documents aren’t in the records only arises if the documents appear to be genuine, which plainly is in dispute.

    Again, a trip to the archives would confirm it either way: there are either a stack of memos in the same typeface and format in TANG records, in which case these are apparently genuine, or there aren’t, in which case these are almost certainly fakes.

  89. Is understanding the typographic particulars germane to this issue really that difficult? I don’t know that people are passing themselves off as “experts” so much as presenting the evidence they have learned the past 24 hours in context with their own past experience.

  90. After skipping through most of this blog on styles, fonts, kerning, formatting, superscripting etc., I have a much simpler explanation why I believe that these documents aren’t authentic. In 1973 I enlisted and was put on a ‘security’ hold awaiting my first assignment (which required the completion of a clearance before I could be assigned). My training was a communications center operator and as such I knew how to type. There were two choices: Work detail (cut grass, pull weeds, pull trash, etc), or work in an orderly room for a while.

    Having said that I can reliably say that in the early 1970’s Commanding officer’s DID NOT TYPE!!!! That’s what they had orderly room clerks for. I knew once saw a typewriter in a commanding officer’s office.

    The second thing that leads me to believe that the documents are faked is the signature and corresponding signature blocks. Anyone who ever served in the military knows what a “payroll signature” is and how everyone (and I do mean everyone!!) always signed their name that way. The signature block wouldn’t specify Jerry B. Killian and have that half-baked JB Killian signature. On official documents the signature block and the signature had to be an exact match or it would get bounced.

    Check out the document where Bush asked to leave the Guard to go to Harvard Business school – the concurrance by LtCol Killian is a textbook “payroll signature”.

  91. Here’s another point, upon further reflection, building on DLR’s comments:

    There are no typos or corrections on any of the four documents. While it’s not impossible that LtCol Killian was a crack typist (or employed one), it seems damned unlikely.

    Too, I seem to recall that when I received memos from my CO in the 80s, they were generally initialled by the orderly who had prepared them. No such marks on these documents.

    I’m seeing a preponderance of evidence here — these documents are forged, and Rather (by continuing to stand by them) has moved from being a willing dupe to being an active participant in the forgeries.

  92. Y’all be carefull out there. We don’t want a repeat of recent tragic events.

  93. “Compare and contrast with the Democrat’s fumbling, belated response to the Swift Boat Guys.”

    Maybe the difference is that the Swiftboat guys were telling the truth.

    It’s been over a month since Kerry has given an interview to anyone in the media. He stopped giving interviews pretty much the same time the Swiftboat news broke.

  94. Alkali, good idea, but in this case the forgeries are so bad we don’t even need to look at TANG records.

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