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After I posted an item yesterday about California Congressman Gary Miller misrepresenting his military service, Miller’s office contacted several of the publications I cited to correct the record. Miller told a local paper that “he didn’t know how the incorrect information got out,” even though a number of the publications I cited — Congress.org and Project Vote Smart — use biographical information provided by the offices of elected officials.
Miller spent about seven weeks in boot camp in the fall of 1967, at which point he was discharged (due to the fact that he had ulcers at the age of ten, he now says). Yet the publications cited above and a number of others — like the official members’ guide to the California State Assembly, where Miller formerly held a seat — reported that he served in the military between 1967 and 1968.
As I noted in the item yesterday, Mount San Antonio Community College named Miller Alumnus of the Year in 2003. An item about his on its website — taken down after my story ran — read, “In 1967, Congressman Miller joined the United States Army and served his country during the Vietnam War.”
And Miller doesn’t know who the incorrect information got out? Who told the college that? And where did the California State Assembly get its information about Miller’s military career, if not from Miller himself?
The local paper also said in its story about Miller:
He said he never makes a big deal of his short military career. “I never bring up anything about it,” Miller said. “I did events all day yesterday (Memorial Day) and never mentioned (Army service),” he said. “I never ran a campaign saying I was in the Army. I never mention it at all. I don’t put out campaign literature … I don’t give speeches like that.”
That’s not quite right either. Miller became more tight-lipped about the subject a few years back, when he received queries about it from the media. And he was featured in “Once a soldier…Always a soldier,” a publication from the Association of the United States Army which highlights military veterans in Congress. “It has been a tremendous honor to have served in the U.S. Army,” Miller wrote in a comment that accompanied the section about him. “The American people owe their freedom and liberties to those who serve in the armed forces. They are indebted to those who have made the ultimate sacrifices for their country in previous world conflicts.”
Note: I mentioned in yesterday’s item that the American Legion website also listed Miller’s military career as spanning 1967 to 1968. I just received this email from Mark Seavey, New Media Manager at the Legion:
You cited The American Legion as a group that has Miller’s incorrect bio. Sort of…..that website is an outside vendor “Cap Wiz” that we use to handle our grassroots online lobbying. We don’t actually have any significant control over the bios etc. We are trying to get it rectified now, but “The American Legion” is only displaying the improper bio by proxy, we don’t tend to verify the bios on there as our lobbying shop is rather small.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”