"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Monday, February 28, 2005

Shooting down "Bulletgate" -- Part 17

"But we always used to win!"

We're on the second half of page 15, and "Bulletgate" continues to make shit up:
Extraordinary Measures Ordered
Another key point of Mr. Chiou's announcement was that the government had activated the so-called "National Security Mechanism"(NSM) as an emergency measure. Oddly, the sole effect of that alert was to cancel all leaves, so that large numbers of military and police personnel, could not leave their barracks or duty posts, to return home to vote the next day, as was the norm in every past election. After the election, officials in the National Security Bureau(rough equivalent of the CIA), under questioning from lawmakers admitted that the term "NSM" never existed on paper. This unprecedented and indeed fictitious operations plan had the effect of depriving large numbers among the 380,000 armed forces personnel, 80,000 police and 16,000 coast guards of their constitutional right to vote in this particular election. Traditionally the majority of these personnel would vote for the Blue.
Let me begin by dismembering the last sentence of that paragraph.

Could they mean the "tradition" of the "Nakashi-Jazz Discharge Party Hats"?
"Traditionally" doesn't mean "always" or even "now," but if they want to use that argument, it is "traditionally" pan-blues who work at the polls and buy votes! In 2000, the KMT lost power to the DPP in only the second direct election of the president by the people of Taiwan, and they had been in power for more than 50 years by that time. The post just before this one also links to Jerome F. Keating's writings which mention that "[In 8 years], the KMT lost and/or failed to gain approximately 4,197,384 votes." They don't know "tradition" from a hole in the ground.

Counting like sheep
Maybe if the pan-blues throw out some numbers that sound like the number of votes by which they lost, they can fool enough people into supporting them. But this section of "Bulletgate" -- like all the other sections -- is not supported by the facts:
The exact number of military and police personnel forced to remain at their posts became a point of argument. The government at first said only 13,000 military men and women were affected, then adjusted the figure up to 37,000, but those who should know contended that the actual figure was much higher. The Defense Minister, Gen. Tang Yao-ming, tendered his resignation two days after the election, a gesture interpreted by many as his silent protest over the disfranchisement [sic] of those servicemen and women.
This argument has been countered multiple times, but I'll do it once more here, and I'll do it much more simply.

As I hinted at in Part 16 of this shootdown, I had the occasion to speak with a Taiwanese police captain on duty at one of the scenic spots I visited during my Lunar New Year holiday. I asked him about the situation on March 20, 2004 and if any police officers had been prevented from voting because of anything related to the shooting of the president and vice-president. While this captain told me that he didn't vote that day, it had nothing to do with the shooting. It was merely because his regular post is too far from his voting precinct.

More importantly, he told me quite clearly that no police officers were told that they could not vote that day.

There's also the matter of military personnel, but I've got that one covered equally well. My brother-in-law is currently serving in Taiwan's military, doing the mandatory service required of all able-bodied male citizens. Actually, he was "not allowed" to vote, but: 1) He would have voted for the Chen-Lu ticket; and 2) Because a certain number of military personnel are required at their posts on election day anyway, the arrangements regarding who could and couldn't vote were made weeks in advance of the election; therefore, this had nothing to do with the shooting.

Straight from the horses' mouths, so to speak.

Picture this
An image (which I probably should've grouped with the previous post) is centered on this page of "Bulletgate":
[IMAGE: Chen Shui-bian is seen lying on a table while two men in medical garb (scrubs, surgical masks, and latex gloves) tend to his wound.]

[PHOTO CAPTION:] Chen calls home while undergoing gunshot wound treatment. Surgeons have voiced their disbelief that both doctors in the picture are holding scalpels, contrary to professional protocol, and in a serious breach of professionalism, both failed to wear hygienic caps.
So the fuck what?! In emergency situations, all kinds of protocol is breached. To repeat a phrase from the previous post, the pan-blues are clearly grasping at straws.

The final paragraph of this section of "Bulletgate" brings us to page 16:
Reflecting popular sentiment, the Pan Blue alliance asked for the establishment of an independent commission modeled after the U. S. Warren Commission, following President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, to look into all aspects surrounding the alleged attempt on the life of Chen, and its effects on the election. So far, the government has continued to refuse this just demand. The National Security Council also rejected a court subpoena for the NSC minutes of the meeting activating the NSM in the afternoon of March 19.
I've already told you how the so-called "319 Truth Commission" that was created was neither constitutional, impartial, nor interested in the truth, so go back to the archives and read about it (even if you already have, read about it again) so I won't have to repeat myself.

NEXT UP: The World Series of non sequiturs, or "Chen and Lu were shot, but we were (sniffle) insulted -- Boo hoo!"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Shooting down "Bulletgate" -- Part 16

A classic case of those fingers that point back at the pointer

I'm back after a rather long break, including a "loony" Lunar New Year trip during which I dug up some more information related to later parts of this shootdown. In order to satisfy my thirst for verification, I also spent lots of time in search of things that could not be found -- more proof that the pan-blues are simply making shit up.

As logic would dictate, let's pick up from where we left off.

Ziggin' and a-zaggeratin' *
The bottom of page 14 of "Bulletgate" is a low-quality graphic showing polls conducted by Era News and TVBS. "Bulletgate" draws the readers' attention to the lines comparing the Lien-Soong (blue) and Chen-Lu (green) tickets. I will give more details about the graphics forthwith, but in the meantime, let's see what kind of bullshit the text portion presents:
Concealment and Exaggeration

The mysterious shots caused a groundswell of sympathy votes for the Pan Green ticket. According to TVBS and ERA (both are media) polls, the Pan Blue led comfortably with 10 percentage points on March 18. But the two bullets on the following day drastically narrowed the gap. Much of the sympathy seems to have been generated by the Pan Green's deliberate attempt at concealment and exaggeration.
Stop the presses! Let's see whose "ground" is "swelling." Let's see who's "[c]onceal[ing] and [e]xaggerat[ing]."

"Carefully ignore my other hand as I make the truth disappear"
The same way a magician distracts the audience's attention in order to trick them with an illusion, the pan-blues divert readers' attention by narrowing their focus to the day of the shooting and the day before. But let's pull that curtain a bit further back, shall we?

Here are TVBS' numbers for the entire week leading up to the March 19, 2004 shooting (obtained directly from the graphic in the "Bulletgate" pamphlet) to which I've added the difference between each day's number and the previous day's. Look closely with me, and we'll lose the illusion:


There are some completely unremarkable things in the above table that "Bulletgate" makes worthy of comment. Here's my analysis of the numbers above:
* The Lien-Soong ticket went from 40% on March 13 to 39% on March 19 -- a difference of only 1 percentage point. With no shooting having occurred on March 12, what's their excuse for such a "poor showing"?
* The Chen-Lu ticket ends with 38% after showing 37% twice within that same week.
* Although the Chen-Lu ticket sees an increase of 4 percentage points on March 19, the Lien-Soong ticket shows an increase by the same amount on March 15 without the "benefit" of a shooting. They should explain this "anomaly"!
But wait. There's more that I can add to bolster this analysis:
* On Thursday, April 8, 2004, I posted this:
While pre-election polls showed the Lien-Soong team leading Chen and Lu by about 3 percent, the margin of error of such polls (usually around 4 percent), coupled with the fact that these polls were conducted by pan-blue media, makes it rather unsurprising that the incumbent Chen-Lu duo won by 0.228 percent. This is exactly why all the unsubstantiated claims of "election fraud" and "staging" the assassination attempt ring so hollow among thinking individuals.
* Even the China Post had Chen and Lu ahead by 1.7 percentage points in a March 1, 2004 survey. (I'd like to see the pan-blues try to call that paper "pro-Chen.")
* To assume that the bullets caused a "groundswell of sympathy votes" is quite a stretch. Lien and Soong fell from a combined total of 59.85% of the vote in 2000 to 49.8% in 2004 while the Chen-Lu ticket went from 39.3% to 50.2% -- "an increase of nearly 1.5 million votes" -- in the same time frame. (Take a look at Jerome F. Keating's writings for even more analysis of the numbers.)
Kinda ruins the illusion, doesn't it? The truth will often do that.

The "Bulletgate" blather continues:
According to the hospital, Chen's wound was only a grazing wound, which doctors sewed up under local anesthesia. Photos released later by the hospital showed the surgeons at work while Chen, in his normal clothing was speaking on a cell phone. Reportedly, Chen called his wife, mother, Secretary-General Chiou, and Premier Yu within one hour upon his arrival at the hospital to say he was fine. Yet, he chose to remain secluded from the Taiwan people for [page break] the rest of the day. As late as 11:30 PM, he reappeared, not personally, but through a brief pre-taped TV statement to thank the people for their well wishes. The following day, he got up and went to vote at 11 AM, again walking by himself without any help or support. Lu, however, voted in a wheelchair.
What are the pan-blues trying to do here? They're simply slamming meaningless facts together in a way that's supposed to raise suspicion by their supporters that Chen Shui-bian faked his wounds or the shooting. The forensic evidence tells us otherwise, but they won't mention that here. No way!

So where are the pan-blues' clown costumes?
Chen wore his "normal clothing" while surgeons worked on him. So fucking what?! I've had minor surgery performed in Taiwan -- not even in an emergency situation -- and can you guess what I wore? "Normal clothing"!

The pan-blues are clearly grasping at straws.

While "Chen's wound was only a grazing wound," someone still shot both him and the vice-president. It seems again that it would normally be unremarkable that they would both "remain secluded" for the rest of the day. I'm sure that made whoever shot him really mad! (Things that make ya go, "Hmmmm...")

Vice-President Lu "voted in a wheelchair" because she was shot in the leg. (Duh!) While it looked kind of silly, could you imagine how it would look for her to be stumbling through the voting process on crutches?

"For our next trick, we're going to make the truth disappear!"
The pan-blues try more magic with repetition. We're now on page 15 of "Bulletgate," which goes on to tell us this:
Soon after Chen walked into Chimei Hospital, the District Prosecutor for Tainan, whose responsibility is to investigate the crime, rushed to the hospital, but was refused entry for more than three hours.
The "district prosecutor," mentioned here is Wang San-jung. Wang himself explained this away in a Chinese-language article in the March 21, 2004 edition of ETToday News in which he says [translation mine]:
Regarding repeated questions as to why the public prosecutor wasn't allowed to examine the president's wounds, Wang San-jung that as prosecutor he had faith in the doctors. Furthermore, by the time he saw the president, the wound had already been bandaged, so he had not even asked to examine it. As far as doubts about the gunshot wound by those on the outside, Wang said that it is imperative to add that this will be further investigated by other means.
That kind of throws a stick in the spokes of that pan-blue argument.

"Bulletgate" continues directly with this:
At 3:15 PM, about 90 minutes after the shooting, an X-ray photo showed a metal object on Chen's body, near his lower spine.

At 3:30 PM, Chiou I-jen, Secretary-General to Chen, called a press conference to announce that Chen had been shot in his lower abdomen. He repeated three times, misleadingly, that "a bullet was found in Chen's body. " When asked if Chen walked into the hospital, Chiou smiled and said, "Could that be possible?"
I only recently read a Chinese-language version of the words Chiou I-jen spoke that upset the pan-blues so, and one quote above is pretty accurate. "Could it be?" In other words, according to the information he had at the time -- which was a mere 15 minutes after the discovery of the bullet, by the way -- he seemed to be under the impression that there was a bullet in the president's belly; therefore, he doubted it was possible for the president to have walked into the hospital under such circumstances and merely said, "Could that be possible?" (if he actually even said that) -- not "That's impossible."

A "breaking news" alert appearing in the March 19, 2004 online edition of the Taipei Times has this to say about that press conference:
Chen's top aide, Secretary General to the President Chiou I-jen, then held a press conference at 3:30pm, saying that the president and vice president had been injured, but that fortunately their lives were not in danger and that both were conscious.

Chiou said the shooting occurred at 1:45pm, when Chen and Lu, standing side-by-side on a jeep in a Tainan City motorcade, were struck by bullets as they passed near the intersection of Wenhsien Rd and Chinhua Rd cross-road, and thousands of supporters crowded as well as the firecrackers spreading everywhere, none of security guards found the gunshot.
There's the 3:30 press conference, but there isn't a single mention of a "bullet [being] found in Chen's body." The Chinese-language version of "Bulletgate" gives Chiou's exact words as "zai4 zong3 tong3 shen1 shang4 zhao3 dao4 zi0 dan4" Beside the fact that "shang4" could be translated as "on" or could even mean that a bullet was found in the president's pocket, there's the more basic question of whether or not Chiou ever said this.

A Google Taiwan Chinese-language search for the words quoted above comes up with only 14 hits. Of those hits, exactly zero are news sources, and Taiwan's pan-blue media would've grabbed hold of a quote like that and repeated it endlessly if it had indeed been spoken. Some of the hits are from forums such as those on China Times. Other hits come from the People First Party (PFP) web site. The PFP is chaired by none other than loser pan-blue vice-presidential candidate James Soong.

This, dear readers, would seem to make this an outright fucking lie!

When in doubt, make shit up? *
So, what if "Bulletgate" simply got the quote wrong? Just to add an extra layer of icing on this cake, I had already done a bit of investigating before remembering that I could simply check the Chinese-language version of "Bulletgate," and here's what I had discovered.

A Google search for ["Chiou I-jen" "bullet"] turned up the phrase "zi0 dan4 shi4 zai4 shen1 ti2 li3" ("the bullet is in [his] body"), but a search for that exact phrase on pages that also mention Chiou only comes up with 4 hits, one of which is from a "news" (propaganda) site in China. Other searches reveal a plethora of permutations of this so-called "quote," but there's nothing consistent enough to warrant credibility -- and I'm using the original language in most of those searches, not translations.

Manipulating the truth
In walks more "Bulletgate" manipulation:
The Chimei Hospital monitor tape showing Chen walking into the hospital unaided was withheld from public view until after the election. Thus, the public was manipulated into believing that Chen was likely seriously wounded.
To say that "the public was manipulated into believing that Chen was likely seriously wounded," is also a lie. I was able to publish a post at 4:37 PM that day (less than 3 hours after the shooting) saying that "Luckily, the injuries to the president and vice-president don't appear to be life-threatening..." and another post at 1:36 AM the next day (several hours before polls opened) reiterating that "Chen's injury was not life-threatening" and that Chen and Lu "both appeared on local television to urge the public to remain calm in the runup to Saturday's election."

It sounds like the pan-blues are the ones "milk[ing] the shooting to maximum effect" yet again!

"Bulletgate" continues to get hot under the collar:
Outside the hospital, crowds gathered, many in tears, thinking Chen had been the victim of an assassination attempt. No measures were taken to calm heated emotions when Pan Green extremists demanded that no Pan Blue supporters come near the hospital.
The crowds that gathered, we're told, were merely "thinking" that someone had tried to assassinate the president. WTF?! This sounds like the kind of excuse a failed assassin would use to divert attention away from himself!

Speaking of "heated emotions," a vast majority of Taiwan's media outlets are pro-blue, so any "heated" emotional reactions could just as easily be blamed on exaggerators like TVBS.

In the political climate leading up to the election, it's no surprise that people wouldn't want pan-blue supporters near the hospital. It doesn't take an "extremist" to make such a "demand." Why exactly would pan-blue supporters want to be there anyway? Certainly not to support the president! Then again, they offer no proof of this "demand" actually occurring.

Smoke and mirrors
So when the smoke clears, it seems like the pan-blues end up all alone looking into the mirror, pointing all kinds of fingers back at themselves. Pthththththththttttt!

"Hey! What's that smell?!"

NEXT UP: More of the same: election by "tradition"?
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