February 22, 2004

Patrick Sullivan on Bush and the Texas Air National Guard

Patrick Sullivan writes that he believes that George W. Bush's superior officers essentially decided to let him out of all except formal i-dotting and t-crossing National Guard duties in the spring of 1972:

The war was [all but] over, there was a glut of pilots, and Bush's plane was obsolete. The costs of his initial training are sunk. Why incur new costs--including the costs of operating the plane--when you've already got plenty of pilots? Even one of the Generals mentioned in the Boston Globe story that [David] Neiwert so heavily relies on, admits they didn't need pilots in '72.

Given that, in his 1971 and 1972 fitness reports, both allude to Bush's political connections, I think his superiors felt that Bush, as a son of a former congressman, and a potential aide to an Alabama senator (didn't work out though), would be a far bigger asset to the Guard--part of whose funding is authorized by congress--there, than he would be as another pilot trained on an aircraft being phased out. Adam Smith would have understood.... [Neiwert] admits that he was wrong to say Bush took off for Alabama without his superiors' knowledge. That ought to be corrected....

Sullivan goes on to argue that Bush's failure to take or make up his flight physical was merely a formal, not a substantive failure to meet his obligations because his superiors did not really want him back on flight status, and quotes the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A4291-2000Nov2&notFound=true:

Bush had been notified that he needed to take his annual flying physicalby his 26th birthday in July 1972, but the move to Alabama made thatunnecessary. He had been trained to fly F-102 fighter-interceptors, and noneof the units in Alabama had those planes. He could have taken the physicalto preserve his pilot's status but chose not to do so. "Because he wasn'tflying," Bartlett said.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Bush's commander in Houston, Col. Bobby W. Hodges,ordered him grounded for "failure to accomplish annual medical examination."Some critics say this should have triggered a formal board of inquiry, butHodges said in an interview that this was unnecessary because Bush acceptedthe penalty and knew "he couldn't fly again until he takes a physical."

"It happens all the time," Hodges said of the grounding. "That is normalwhen a Guardsman is out of state or out of the country."

The other interpretation, of course, is that it was not George W. Bush's superior officers who decided they didn't need him as a pilot in the spring of 1972, but George W. Bush who decided that he didn't want to be an Air National Guard pilot anymore after the spring of 1972--and that Bush bet that his political influence would allow him to get away with not spending another minute in the cockpit in the two years remaining on his Air National Guard service obligation.

Evidence is scarce. Sullivan could be right. There is only one extant and public document that tells heavily against his interpretation: Bush's Houston commanders' report that they had not seen him between May 15, 1972 and April 30, 1973, even though Bush had moved back to Houston from Alabama by the end of January 1973.

The other documents that would allow us to assess whether it was the Texas Air National Guard's decision or Bush's decision that he could skip his last two years as an Air National Guard Pilot--those documents are not yet released, or are permanently missing.

So whether one accepts Patrick Sullivan's case or not depends on where the burden of proof lies: is it reasonable to conclude that the skimpiness of the paper trail is innocent--that natural sloppiness could easily lead to this being all the paper trail that there is? And that's a question I'm not qualified to judge.

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Comments

The war was almost over in the Spring of 1972? Well, one of the most memorable nights of my life was Christmas dinner 1972 in Athens, and what made it memorable was being in a city with significant anti-American feelings smoldering beneath military rule during the massive air raids on North Vietnam intended to force an end to the bogged down negotiations.

Interestingly enough, the only other party in the restaurant consisted of President Nixon's daughters and their husbands (David Eisenhower in his active duty Navy uniform) and their Secret Service escorts. I'm quite sure no one at their tables felt the war was "almost over."

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on February 22, 2004 08:57 PM

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So why the coverup and cover stories? Why not, "I served fully for four years, then they decided they no longer needed pilots in my classification, deactivated me, and discharged me; here's the proof right here"?

Posted by: Ken D on February 22, 2004 09:25 PM

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"... is it reasonable to conclude that the skimpiness of the paper trail is innocent--that natural sloppiness could easily lead to this being all the paper trail that there is? And that's a question I'm not qualified to judge."

Personally I am incredulous that the government, of all entities, would hold anything less than the most scrupulously complete records on *all* citizens from 30 years ago, pre-computer era or no. After all, who the heck knows who might grow up to be an important person 30 years later?

Where the heck is Big Brother when we need him? How could Brother slip up like this?

(Did you actually use the term "natural sloppiness" referring to the paperwork of low level military personnel???)

As to "burden of proof" we all know that Republicans carry the burden of evil until proven not, which is impossible. "Innocent until proven guilty", if only by a mere preponderance credible evidence, is for Americans, not them.

Now personally I don't care what Bush or Kerry or Clinton did or said or draft-dodged out of 30 years before running for office, when they've later logged a decade or more of actions as adults on the public record in public positions to judge them by.

But I've got to say, it is very amusing to see so many Clintonistas of all people breathlessly parsing 30-year-old military service papers to the nth degree, hoping, hoping, to find something to use against a presidential candidate, eagerly reading every absence of evidence as sure evidence of absence from duty -- and so disbelieving that 30-year old low-level government paper records could possibly be incomplete by *accident*. ;-)

I forget, how complete and readily available were all the papers and letters and statements relating to Bill's draft board and ROTC files? All that was out in the open and the issue settled in 48 hours, right?


Posted by: Jim Glass on February 22, 2004 09:26 PM

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Ah, the sweet smell of a Republican apologist hack in the evening.

Posted by: strawman on February 22, 2004 09:43 PM

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By 1972 the country was in such turmoil that very little effort was made to apprehend draft-refusers, non-registrants, AWOLS, or deserters, and for public relations reasons statistics on these categories were not released (as I remember). So Bush could have figured out that he could pretty much do what he wanted and no one would mind.

"But I've got to say, it is very amusing to see so many Clintonistas of all people breathlessly parsing 30-year-old military service papers to the nth degree" -- I doubt it, Jim. You don't find much of anything amusing, I don't think; you do seem to like to rant, though.

Yeah, Jim, it's just a little bit possible that the attention being given to Bush's military service has a LITTLE bit to do with getback for the various fake scandals about Clinton. Ya got a problem with that? Then get off the field and watch. We got a game going on here.

There are various easy ways that Bush could put an end to this controversy overnight. The fact that he hasn't done so leads me to suspect that there's something he doesn't want us to know. At the moment I'm in the cocaine-bust camp.

A lot of people including many veterans, support Bush because of his supposed good character. They believe that Bush met more than the minimum standard during his military careers. I personally believe that Bush does not deserve this kind of support -- he seems to have lived a life of notably less character than Gore's -- and I'd be happy to see him revealed for what I'm pretty sure he is.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on February 22, 2004 09:44 PM

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I don't know about the availability of Bush's records, but I do know that I've seen the muster records for my great-great-great-grandfather from the Confederate Army in 1862, medical reports from exams my great-great-grandfather took over the years for his disability pension from his service in the Union Army, and the application form for a widow's pension based on the War of 1812 service of another ancestor (the application was rejected, but it's still on file). Militaries tend to keep good records.

Posted by: KCinDC on February 22, 2004 09:49 PM

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I don't think the wingnuts understand the situation. Maybe I don't either, but I will give it a try. But the Republicans have been calling aanyone who disagrees with them on foreign policy traitors for quite awhile. And Bush sells himself on what is almost a personality cult -"is he a good man, is he an honest man, does he have plans?". Yes, and they are Good Plans. And you are Bad for questioning anything he says. Andy disagreement with him is a squalid personal attack on his Great and Good Character.

For political purposes, the main point of the Bush military records is to puncture that mythos of the Good and Noble Man. I don't see why the Dems would want to do anything more than point out that Bush was a party boy who didn't take his service seriously and blew off a physical. That makes it hard for the Good and Noble Man routine to play well. That is all we need, and that is definitely what we got. The heck with AWOL or desertion. Sometimes a loose cannon can do a little good, though.

So the hyperventilating among the wingnuts on this issued completely misses the point. So I hope they continue hyperventilating on it, since it will keep them from making trouble and confusing people regarding more important matters.

Post away, boys! The big point here is miles short of AWOL or deserter, and it has been made, and cannot be unmade.

Whether or not we needed fliers, or they were going to turn them inot balloonists, or short order cooks, Bush was unprofessional and blew off his physical. End of story.

Posted by: jml on February 22, 2004 10:07 PM

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Shucks, Bush himself has explicitly told both the Dallas Morning News (Feb. 1990)and the Ft. Wayne Star-Telegram (Nov. 1998) that he joined the Guard to dodge Vietnam -- but he had no objection whatsoever to other boys going in his place. Clinton, at least, had the minimal decency to protest publicly against that.

And my attitude toward the apologetics of Glass, Sullivan et al is the same as Zizka's: why isn't Bush himself using these arguments? (Also, as Josh Marshall points out, why did Scott McClellan flatly and repeatedly refuse to give Helen Thomas any kind of answer when she asked whether Bush was unable to fly because he was doing court-ordered community service?)

The real reason we awful liberals are using this issue should be perfectly obvious, and is perfectly defensible: Bush has been masquerading as someone far more patriotic than the Democrats, right down to the celebrated Flight Suit performance. We are, I assure you, taking great pleasure in pointing out that he is nothing of the sort, and that no amount of tortured arguments can make him such.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 22, 2004 10:12 PM

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Thank you Bruce Moomaw, I take it you agree with me. So if there is cottage industry of people obsessively combing through his records to find bad stuff, and an opposing cottage industry of wingnuts bloviating that this does *not* mean he was AWOL of a deserter, or just like thousands of other privileged party dudes, fine. No harm done. Whatever... everyone should have a hobby.

Sensible liberals can just watch and smile, and politely explain the real significance of the proceedings. Enough has been shown to puncture his sanctimonious posing.

Posted by: jml on February 22, 2004 10:21 PM

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Gene O'Grady
"The war was almost over in the Spring of 1972? Well, one of the most memorable nights of my life was Christmas dinner 1972 in Athens, ..."

The ANG (Air National Guard) never went to war in Vietnam. Gaurd members did, but their units did not. All of this has an impact on units, their readiness, manning levels and so on.

Sure 'The War' was going hot and heavy but depending on what service you were in, or what your speciality was you might not have noticed.

Posted by: Brian on February 22, 2004 10:29 PM

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My apologies: it was Mark Kleiman, not Josh Marshall, who pointed out McClellan's skiffle dance when Helen Thomas asked him whether the "community service" rumor was true:

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/george_bush_and_campaign_2004_/2004/02/just_wondering.php

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 22, 2004 10:44 PM

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"The war was [all but] over, there was a glut of pilots, and Bush's plane was obsolete. The costs of his initial training are sunk. Why incur new costs--including the costs of operating the plane--when you've already got plenty of pilots? Even one of the Generals mentioned in the Boston Globe story that [David] Neiwert so heavily relies on, admits they didn't need pilots in '72."

There is a very simple test for this: Did other F-102 pilots in the Texas ANG get the same treatment as GWB at that time? Did they go unpunished for not showing up for service or not taking the physical, were they able to transfer to non-flying units, did they get an early discharge?

This should be easy to follow up.

Posted by: ogmb on February 22, 2004 11:32 PM

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"Now personally I don't care what Bush or Kerry or Clinton did or said or draft-dodged out of 30 years before running for office, when they've later logged a decade or more of actions as adults on the public record in public positions to judge them by."

This is in fact the most devastating evidence against Sullivan's interpretation.

Bush has a long public record of not taking responsiblity for his actions, and letting family flacks gloss things over for him.


Posted by: Asymmetric Inflammation on February 22, 2004 11:45 PM

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Just a nit: Sullivan calls Lt. Bush the "son of a former congressman." In 1971, Poppy was appointed the US Ambassador to the United Nations, and remained so throughout all of W's "nomadic" years.

Posted by: boloboffin on February 23, 2004 12:48 AM

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"Just a nit: Sullivan calls Lt. Bush the "son of a former congressman." In 1971, Poppy was appointed the US Ambassador to the United Nations, and remained so throughout all of W's "nomadic" years."

From his bio:
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"Following an unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat in 1964, Mr. Bush was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966 from Texas' 7th District. One of the few freshman members of Congress ever elected to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, he was reelected to the House two years later without opposition."
======

Makes him a former congressman.

As for JML's:

"Yes, and they are Good Plans. And you are Bad for questioning anything he says."

LOL. Reminded me of this:

"I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." -- King George of England

Posted by: Odin on February 23, 2004 01:35 AM

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Jim Glass writes, "As to 'burden of proof' we all know that Republicans carry the burden of evil until proven not, which is impossible. 'Innocent until proven guilty', if only by a mere preponderance credible evidence, is for Americans, not them."

Red herring. "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to criminal issues before a court of law, not things like character issues surrounding political leaders.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 03:12 AM

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And outstanding BS, as well, considering the Clinton years. If there was anything that the right was unwilling to throw at Clinton, I never heard of it.
Being exonerated by a GOP investigator was considered simply to be grounds to get a new investigator.

Posted by: Barry on February 23, 2004 04:46 AM

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If there was widespread disinterest in putting National Guard pilots into the air in the waning days of the Vietnam War, that should be easy enough to document, in any number of ways. (Maybe the big risk will be that there will be too many ways, allowing for months of spin.) If there was not such widespread disinterest, than Baby Bush was apparently given special treatment from the Guard, very likely in response to his family connections.

If you get to jump the line to avoid the draft, that's pretty bad, though lots of that sort of thing went on. If you get to jump the line, then don't even fulfull you obligation in the ill-gotten position, a pattern begins to appear.

This guy did run for office saying he would restore - what was it, integrity? - to the White House. It's just so weird to hear those not on the White House payroll jumping through hoops, picking just the right word to make it alright, when real integrity should be clear to see.

Oh, and just as a matter of good governance, don't we assume that integrity is best supported by transparency? That a little daylight helps keep everybody honest?

Posted by: K Harris on February 23, 2004 04:46 AM

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I don't think this is a very good campaign issue. It is a distraction from the real debate. People really care about jobs (why there are not enough).

The only reason I can think that it has become an issue is because Mr Bush and his party present themselves as the true patriots and everyone else as traitors. By impugning the patriotism of others, Mr Bush has made his own patriotism/military service a subject of debate. The Democrats are not going to roll over on this issue the way Vietnam Veteran Al Gore did last time or the way McGovern did against Nixon. Everytime the Republicans impugn the patriotism of Democrats, the Democrats are going to scream chickenhawk.

Republicans have unfairly tarred the Democrats as weak on the military and defense. The percentages of Democrats and Republicans in Congress that have served in the military is essentially equal. Many people are surprised that this is the case. Equally surprising is the lack of military service among the Republican leadership compared to the Democratic leadership. It is not healthy to tie spending and support for defense contractors to patriotism, especially when Pentagon spending is in a runaway mode and needs hard decisions to reign it in. Not only does it blow a hole in the budget, but it threatens the ability of the military to procure new systems as they come on line in the future. The military will not be able to buy what they need in the future if they are saddled with too many long term contracts today.

Posted by: bakho on February 23, 2004 05:30 AM

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I heard on the radio an important someone with a military title try to make the best of Bush's record by pointing out that, though he didn't go to Viet Nam, he was doing the vital job of defending the homeland from enemy bombers.

Perhaps his superiors did let him go in a why-send-good-money-after-bad kind of decision, though the proof of this is at the same level as the alleged Bush cocaine bust. But, it's interesting that in Oct '73 at a time when Bush was supposed to be ready to defend the homeland Nixon put the military on a DEFCON 3 alert. I believe the only other time our military has been at that level was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bush's superiors probably didn't miss him that October which says a lot about his unremarkable abilities and character.

Posted by: dennisS on February 23, 2004 05:46 AM

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I was drafted in 1958 ( age 23 yrs.9 mos.) It was a six year obligation( mandatory). Two active duty, 2 active reserve( which meant weekly meetings, one weekend a month and two weeks at summer camp and then 2 years inactive duty. I was a college graduate and employed in another state from where I was inducted. I was in intelligence and top secret clearances were needed for those
enlisted men who were volunteering for Viet-Nam duty.( Amazing isn't it..Viet Nam during Eisenhowers time)
The Army was very particulatr about record keeping. Some records were kept in pencil but gradually record keeping was switched over to computers. All my Army pay( 72 $ per month up to $ 122.50 per month) was listed on my Social Security record. As a draftee I was not enamored of military duty but I served. Bush volunteered or joined of hisown volition and appears to have shirked his sworn obligation.
Remember " when I put my hand on the bible"
well, character, hypocrisy , these things count and should matter.

Posted by: G Ward on February 23, 2004 05:59 AM

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Note Marc Racicot's claim on Morning Edition today that "the president volunteered for Vietnam, but was turned down". So, what reason was there for him to stay in the Guard when the opportunity for combat he so much wanted had been denied him?

Posted by: Bob H on February 23, 2004 06:31 AM

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More shameless self-promotion: At my URL I explain that it's Bush, not the Democrats, who has no credibility on the War on Terror. "Who is Bandar Bush?"

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on February 23, 2004 06:45 AM

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Shorter Patrick Sullivan:

"It's OK to be a draft dodger, so long as the draft dodges you first."

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 07:23 AM

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Kudos to Brad DeLong for correcting (somewhat) the record. I'd written an e-mail pointing out that the post on Bush's missed flight physical he'd linked to (David Neiwert's Orcinus blog) on Feb. 14th, was so seriously in error of the basic facts that Neiwert himself had backed away from it.

However, since I wrote to Prof DeLong, the Washington Post has dug up more of Bush's former fellow pilots. So there is even more evidence suppporting Bush's entirely pedestrian ANG career post May 1972:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A60817-2004Feb21?language=printer

--------quote---------
Air National Guard pilots who served with Bush say his quick exit allowed him to pursue a career in politics, as he decided there was no future in flying an aircraft that was losing favor to more versatile fighter jets. Other Air National Guard officials said Bush followed a not-unusual path for young professionals who could not dedicate the time to the rigors of flying as they neared the end of their service commitments.

"We were phasing out his equipment at the time, and he would have had to train for six to nine months to get into the new aircraft," said Maurice H. Udell, of Friendswood, Tex., who was Bush's flight instructor. "He had a full-time job outside of the Guard, and people often left to pursue their jobs elsewhere. He was not disciplined. There was no incident."

[snip]

Air National Guard pilots who served with Bush say his quick exit allowed him to pursue a career in politics, as he decided there was no future in flying an aircraft that was losing favor to more versatile fighter jets. Other Air National Guard officials said Bush followed a not-unusual path for young professionals who could not dedicate the time to the rigors of flying as they neared the end of their service commitments.

"We were phasing out his equipment at the time, and he would have had to train for six to nine months to get into the new aircraft," said Maurice H. Udell, of Friendswood, Tex., who was Bush's flight instructor. "He had a full-time job outside of the Guard, and people often left to pursue their jobs elsewhere. He was not disciplined. There was no incident."
---------endquote--------

Also, the IP (Udell) becomes the third pilot to confirm that Bush volunteered for a unit that went to Vietnam, but didn't have enough hours in the F-102 to qualify.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 07:44 AM

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BOHICAn.

"Air National Guard pilots who served with Bush say his quick exit allowed him to pursue a career in politics, as he decided there was no future in flying an aircraft that was losing favor to more versatile fighter jets. Other Air National Guard officials said Bush followed a not-unusual path for young professionals who could not dedicate the time to the rigors of flying as they neared the end of their service commitments."

Shorter P. Sullivan -

It's OK, all the other politically connected young Republicans did it.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 07:52 AM

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Bob H:

"Note Marc Racicot's claim on Morning Edition today that "the president volunteered for Vietnam, but was turned down". So, what reason was there for him to stay in the Guard when the opportunity for combat he so much wanted had been denied him?"

If Bush wanted combat, going into the TANG was a strange way of seeking it. Also, IIRC, Bush never had the hours to qualify for Vietnam - as a TANG pilot[1,2]. So his request was, of course, meaningless.

[1] If he hadn't gotten into the TANG, the Army would have picked him up, and would have had no trouble at all sending him to Vietnam, hours or no hours. If he wanted combat, enlisting in

[2] I'm assuming that he d*mn well knew this.

Posted by: Barry on February 23, 2004 07:56 AM

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Barry! How dare you clutter the argument with facts. Don't you know that Republicans only understand anecdotes, made up numbers and suppositions which can unreasonably be drawn from anecdotes and made up numbers?

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 07:57 AM

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" The war was almost over in the Spring of 1972? Well, one of the most memorable nights of my life was Christmas dinner 1972 in Athens, and what made it memorable was being in a city with significant anti-American feelings smoldering beneath military rule during the massive air raids on North Vietnam intended to force an end to the bogged down negotiations."

And said bombings accomplished that, the treaty was signed in January 1973. Anthony Lewis made a pretty good case that the Christmas Bombing was directed at the South Vietnamese leadership's reluctance to sign on to the the agreement to end the war. That Nixon wanted to demonstrate that he could be counted on to enforce the agreement.

Lewis claimed that after the bombing, "a few commas" were re-arranged on the treaty, and it was signed. It's hard to argue with that interpretation.

However, the war was all but over for American troops earlier in 1972. On January 1, 1972 there remained only 133,000 Americans in Vietnam. Down from over half a million when Bush enlisted in 1968. Over 70% of Air Force operations were performed by the South Vietnamese AF at the end of 1971. During 1972 another 70,000 Anericans were withdrawn. Again from the recent WaPo article:

-----------quote------------
William Campenni, 63, of Herndon, who was at Ellington with Bush, said the transition to new fighters meant many pilots were forced to make a similar decision: Learn to fly a new aircraft or move on. Campenni also flew F-102s.

"People like me were becoming excess, the same thing Bush was facing," Campenni said. "If there was no airplane for me, I'd sit down for a few months. I'd read safety magazines and manuals."
---------endquote---------

And that's in Texas. Just what Bush was doing in Alabama. And it's the story everyone with firsthand knowledge of the ANG is telling. Occam's Razor: Because it's true.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 07:58 AM

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"...he decided there was no future in flying an aircraft that was losing favor to more versatile fighter jets.."

He decided? How did he get to decide?

"Gee. I don't see the future in slogging through the jungle carrying a rifle and getting shot at. Guess I'll go home and get a job I like."

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on February 23, 2004 08:02 AM

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You are, of course, TOO damned fair minded. Bush cannot, repeat cannot be allowed to blow off his obligations because some other S.O.B. decided, for political reasons, that it wasn't worth the effort to keep him to those obligations. How many other men died who didn't have their daddies influence to get shot to the top of the list in the "Champaign" unit of the TANG. Even if EVERYONE in his life said, "Go ahead, George, take a break.", he should have done the job. PERIOD.

Posted by: fightingdem on February 23, 2004 08:03 AM

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> So why the coverup and cover stories? Why not, "I served fully for four years, then they decided they no longer needed pilots in my classification, deactivated me, and discharged me; here's the proof right here"? <

Posted by Ken D at February 22, 2004 09:25 PM

In fact, that is what Bush has done. But the embittered left refuses to accept the evidence produced.

As to Bruce Moomaw; it's simply a lie that Bush said he joined the ANG to avoid Vietnam. And we have three of his fellow pilots who say he attempted to volunteer to go.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 08:03 AM

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There used to be a saying regarding a person's character that he was no better than ought to have been. GWB was no better than he ought to have been -- at best -- but he has made a career out of suggesting, implying and having others do more than suggest or imply that he was, in fact, much better. He wasn't. No amount of apologizing will change that, and the more apologizing the better, in my humble view, because it makes that fact all the more obvious. That's the utility of all this poring over his Guard record.

Posted by: Barbara on February 23, 2004 08:06 AM

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Again, Patrick, if the explanation is so simple, clear, and righteous, then why weeks of dissimulation and dodging by the WH?

I have 2 solutions: Either it's a lie, and you're wrong in your apologetics, or Bush and the GOP know that your explanation is not exculpatory, but damning. Your explanations are focused on the AWOL charge, as if those discussing the issue wanted to haul Bush before a court martial. In fact, the matter at hand is integrity and service. And none of your explanations make Bush look good on either count. 58,000 American men died. Hundreds of thousands of others risked their lives. Bush flew for a couple years, got bored, and moved on in order to get rich faster. You can just see the GOP campaign ad, can't you?

Vote for Bush. He's better than you are.

Posted by: JRoth on February 23, 2004 08:07 AM

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Patrick Sullivan loves to cherrypick from articles and claim that the case is closed.

Bernard Yomtov has already pointed to the most obvious problem - it wasn't Bush's decision! - a point that somehow Sullivan continues to neglect in each and every one of his discussions of this matter.

My second favorite quote is this one:

The records show only that Bush was suspended from flying for failing to take a required flight physical. Although many pilots would be crushed to lose their wings -- a former high-ranking Guard official said people have committed suicide because of it -- Bush just walked away.

"Anybody that is lucky enough to get the wings, you just don't walk away and don't take a physical," said one former Guard official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There should have been eyebrows raised, and I'm sure there were."

Posted by: howard on February 23, 2004 08:08 AM

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Not that all this stuff about GWB's F-102 flight time really matters in the greater scheme of things, however, being on active duty and flying F-4's from 1968 onward, I have a certain understanding of those days and fighter aviation.
After all, I lived it.

First, I would note that in the early part of 1969, when I was stationed at Da Nang AB (I Corps), there were a few F-102 aircraft there standing air defense alert and manned by Air National Guard pilots on temporary duty. By the later part of 1969, those F-102's had been replaced by active duty F-4's. So ended Lt Bush's opportunity to experience the Vietnam war as a fighter pilot (assuming he really wanted to and I'm sure that people are on both sides of what was going through his mind.)

Starting in January 1970, fighter aircraft units started to deploy back to CONUS as part of Nixon's Vietnamization program. I know. I flew my F-4 all the way back from Da Nang to MCAS El Toro, CA. (Never saw so much blue water in all my life.) Some of my contemporaries flying F-4s at the time never made it into Vietnam basically due to a lack of need for their services.

By the time 1972 arrived, we active duty F-4 jocks were really scrounging for flight time. The operations funding that buys flight hours had really been cut back by the Nixon Administration. (Yes, flight hours have to be paid for and hours in fighter aircraft are very expensive. Don't ask how much. You don't want to know.) I heard similar whining about reduced flight hour funding from others on active duty as well from air guard pilots.

So it seems to me that by 1972, GWB's squadron of the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) squadron could have cared less whether he flew or not. More flight hours for others more deserving and in need. There was a surplus of Vietnam combat pilots recently released from active duty and who were trying to fly with the Guard in hopes of building up flight hours to get on with the airlines. (I had plenty of friends in that catagory.) And, as I noted before there was a reduction in the number of flight hours available because of reduced funding.

So, I think that by 1972, TANG felt something like good-riddance toward GWB, and GWB saw the handwriting on the wall. He probably felt that he wasn't particularly wanted, needed, or even desired any more by TANG, and that might well ought to find himself another advocation. As an economist might state it, "Lt Bush was no longer competitive."

Posted by: Lawrence on February 23, 2004 08:15 AM

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"Gee. I don't see the future in slogging through the jungle carrying a rifle and getting shot at. Guess I'll go home and get a job I like."

First, Bush had completed his active duty in May '72; he was a Week-End Warrior in a unit with excess pilots.

Second, that's what happened to hundreds of thousands of combat infantrymen. The war was "Vietnamized" as early as 1969. Meaning our men were being brought home. And people were not only let out of Reserve requirements, they were given early outs on their active duty. John Kerry being a notable example--in 1970!

I well remember sitting in a college library in December 1969 (after I just looked up the date, that is) when some other students came in with a copy of the Seattle PI that had the draft lottery results. That is when I found out that--my student deferment had a little over a year before it ran out--that I wouldn't have to worry about military service; my birthday came up 330 something.

Give it up, people. Bush's (and his fellow pilots) story fits the facts.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 08:17 AM

____

Thanks to Lawrence for the first hand info that confirms my suspicions about Bush's superiors being more than glad to make use of Bush's potential political influence with a Senator Blount (they couldn't have known he would fail to be elected when they "signed the permission slip" in June '72).

Though I believe he is incorrect about the dates the F-102s flew in Vietnam. There were some there about the time Bush enlisted in 1968. Bush wouldn't have had his F-102 training completed until 1970, I believe, and his IP (himself returning from Vietnam) has him volunteering at that time, if I read his testimony correctly.

Now, this fellow with 8 years AF experience in the 70s, dug up some attrition statistics on the F-102:

http://www.milblog.org/MTA/archives/000827.html

" I found a link to the USAF Safety site, that had the F-102 accident stats from the inception of the design.

" 259 US aircraft lost in accidents. 70 pilots killed. (I've seen stats that the US got about 2/3rds of the production of 1000) So, overall, 1 in 3 aircraft lost, and one in (rounding up) 4 of those took the pilot's life. (And we're not including those who's injuries from ejection precluded their ever flying again.)"

At least one of those fatalities occurred in Bush's unit while he was on active duty.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 08:38 AM

____

"As an economist might state it, "Lt Bush was no longer competitive."

Shorter Lawrence

"Rules are for other people, not favored Republicans."

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 08:40 AM

____

" Bernard Yomtov has already pointed to the most obvious problem - it wasn't Bush's decision! - a point that somehow Sullivan continues to neglect in each and every one of his discussions of this matter."

But Bernard neglects the evidence. There are two documents signed by four of Bush's superiors that show they approved his move to Alabama. One dated May 26, '72, the other June 5, '72. And I've pointed to to them in other threads.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 08:44 AM

____

Right, the transfers to the units he never showed up to.

Shorter Sullivan:

"It's only a paper war for Republicans. Rules are for little people."

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 09:00 AM

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Patrick, this goes round and round. No one - NO ONE - approved Bush missing his physical. That's the decision Bernard was pointing to, not the decision to go to Alabama.

Yes, superiors (who certainly knew who bush was) let him go to Alabama, but as you also know, he didn't show up where he was supposed to in Alabama, and superiors higher up in the Guard rejected his move to Alabama.

As for your 8:17 post, Patrick, i have no idea what it's supposed to mean: Bush signed up for a 6-year committment to the Guard. If the Guard chose to let him go, that's one thing; if Bush choses to make the Guard's decisions for it, that's another, and comparing the Guard to the drawdown of military in Vietnam itself is apples and oranges of a most extreme nature.

Posted by: howard on February 23, 2004 09:04 AM

____

Either way, it amounts to "rules are for little people". Bush was gold bricking, that his superiors allowed it does not change that he, and he alone, is responsible for taking advantage of it.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 09:07 AM

____

Patrick,
As to Bruce Moomaw; it's simply a lie that Bush said he joined the ANG to avoid Vietnam. And we have three of his fellow pilots who say he attempted to volunteer to go.

Of course, when he was filling out his paperwork, young Bush checked the "do not want overseas posting" checkbox. Is this another case of his intellectual deficiencies overwhelming his 'moral vision'?

Bush had been notified that he needed to take his annual flying physicalby his 26th birthday in July 1972, but the move to Alabama made that unnecessary.... He could have taken the physical to preserve his pilot's status but chose not to do so.

Failure to undergo medical examination was also a violation of a direct order for which we have documentation. That is, the Guard did not decide to ground him (although they did allow him to transfer to Alamaba for a few months). He "chose" to ground himself, in violation of his orders.
One need not ask what the consequences would've been for disobeying direct orders for the young men who were serving in Vietnam.
Perhaps the Guard, knowing that he had powerful political connections, chose not to pursue the matter. Perhaps they routinely did not pursue these sorts of matters.
They reflect on the man, to some degree. IMO, the fact that he even now refuses to own up to them reflects on the man he is now a great deal more- a son of priviledge who has never had to take responsibility for his failures.

Wu

Posted by: Carleton Wu on February 23, 2004 10:08 AM

____

Brad,
The other documents that would allow us to assess whether it was the Texas Air National Guard's decision or Bush's decision that he could skip his last two years as an Air National Guard Pilot--those documents are not yet released, or are permanently missing.

I don't believe that this is the case. There are documents indicating that Bush was given an order to comply with the physical. Whether their objections were strenuous or not is unknown, but it seems clear that the decision to skip the physical was Bush's, not the Guard's.

Wu

Posted by: Ca on February 23, 2004 10:10 AM

____

Does the term "attempted to volunteer" bear the same relationship to "volunteer" that the term "related program activies" bears to "WMD"?

Posted by: joe on February 23, 2004 10:43 AM

____

As Howard says, Mr. Sullivan is very good at cherry-picking evidence.

He neglects to mention any evidence that conflicts with his. Two members of the Alabama squadron who said they were told to look for Bush and are certain they didn't see him. Clear evidence that John Calhoun lied to support Bush. Suggestions that Bill Campenni lied to support Bush. Allegations--backed by contemporaneous witnesses-- that Bush's files have been scrubbed, which would be a crime. Statements by National Guard officials that conflict with others he finds convenient. Bush's ever-changing stories.

Anyone will admit that the evidence can be read in different ways... though more and more, innocent readings are implausible. But for Sullivan to accuse others of being dishonest is rank hypocrisy.

Perhaps he can set up a jelly factory. He has so many bloody cherries.

Posted by: Charles on February 23, 2004 10:54 AM

____

Further nit from way back: I didn't say Poppy wasn't a former Congressman - he was. But at the time of Lt. Bush's conflicts with serving in TANG, Poppy was in fact the US Ambassador to the UN. Calling him the "son of a former congressman" spins his family connections down during this period, when in fact his family was even more well connected than ever.

Posted by: boloboffin on February 23, 2004 11:01 AM

____

Charles wrote, "Anyone will admit that the evidence can be read in different ways... though more and more, innocent readings are implausible. But for Sullivan to accuse others of being dishonest is rank hypocrisy."

You should see the stuff he writes on USENET (moniker = susupply).

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 11:39 AM

____

From
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_02_22.html#002594
------------------------------------------
This morning Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot was interviewed by Juan Williams on NPR. When asked about the president's Air National Guard service he said, the president's and John Kerry's service "compare very favorably... He (i.e. the president) signed up for dangerous duty. He volunteered to go to Vietnam. He wasn’t selected to go, but nonetheless served his country very well …"

He volunteered to go to Vietnam?

Marc, no he didn't.

Does he think no one is listening?

(For some reason Williams, made no effort to call him on it.)

Let's set aside the fact that pulling strings to get into the Air National Guard in 1968 is, on its face, quite the opposite of volunteering to go to Vietnam. When the president signed up for the National Guard there was a check box asking whether he wanted to volunteer for overseas service. And he checked off "do not volunteer."

Now, the president's defenders have tried to explain this in various ways, hypothesizing that some unknown other person checked off the box or, more plausibly, that he was instructed to do so since what he was actually signing up for was to fly planes in Texas. Of late, they've brought forward friends or fellow Guardsmen who say -- with no documentary evidence whatsoever -- that Bush at one point or another asked about serving in Vietnam.

Posted by: liberal on February 23, 2004 11:42 AM

____

Another TANG "looey" who did not choose to take the physical was James R. Bath. His name is on the same page as " our boy ".
Later it seems that Bath is CIA and then became financial advisor and investment conduit for the Bin Laden family. Oh and to bring perhaps the prototype overcharging arrangement that Halliburton has taken to such pecuniary heights, Air Force One was overpaying for fuel at Ellington Field when Poppy did Texas. Bath, Harken, Spectrum, Caymans,Saudis. Heck, if your lookin' for some red eye gravy to spice up a " W "stew this AWOL or self directed absence from a person who describes himself as " The War President " is just a little dribble on his neckerchief. We have a real polemicist writing in this block, not quite up to the level of Ms. Noonan or Mr. Brooks but elastic enough with the facts, nevertheless.

Posted by: G Ward on February 23, 2004 12:33 PM

____

Why does all of this remind me of Paris Hilton in The Simple Life?

Posted by: ogmb on February 23, 2004 12:56 PM

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First of all hats off to Prof DeLong for floating this issue again and keeping it alive. The Repubs are big on character assassination and they will doubtlessly being going after Kerry in a big way (it has already started) and so turnabout is fair play. If Bush wishes to position himself as the war president then we are entitled to give his service record, and the character traits it reveals, even closer scrutiny. This is something that should dog him right up to election day.

Also, I am amazed at Patrick's tireless devotion to the small stuff, because it is not all small stuff. Will he be taking on bigger things like the withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the accusations of the Union of Concerned Scientists (including 20 Noble laureates) concerning deliberate distortion of scientific facts, cronyism, the assault on civil liberties, the assault on the environment, the surplus turned into a huge deficit, deception about WMD's and the reason for going to war with Iraq (which now has been reduced to a the-end-justifies-the-means argument), but I digress...

Posted by: dubblblind on February 23, 2004 12:59 PM

____

"is it reasonable to conclude that the skimpiness of the paper trail is innocent--that natural sloppiness could easily lead to this being all the paper trail that there is? "

At risk of repeating myself, I point out that Richard Cohen -- certainly no apologist for the Shrub -- has personal experience of the matter, at the time and in the present. It appears from Cohen's public account of Guard procedures that sloppy paper trails were (and are?) par for the National Guard.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27178-2004Feb9.html

." Along with President Bush and countless other young men, I joined the National Guard, did my six months of active duty (basic training, etc.) and then returned to my home unit, where I eventually dropped from sight. "

I note with no particular emphasis that Shrub served several times longer in active training than Cohen.

"although (darn!) I was not rich."

If there were interested family and friends pulling strings behind the scenes to get Cohen this berth, how would he have known?


" I was, though, lucky enough to get into a National Guard unit in the nick of time, about a day before I was drafted. I did my basic and advanced training (combat engineer) and returned to my unit. I was supposed to attend weekly drills and summer camp, but I found them inconvenient. I "moved" to California and then "moved" back to New York, establishing a confusing paper trail that led, really, nowhere.
For two years or so, I played a perfectly legal form of hooky. To show you what a mess the Guard was at the time, I even got paid for all the meetings I missed. "

" In some units, we sat around with nothing to do "

This kinda echoes accounts of Shrub showing up for weekend drill -- reading magazines and technical manuals.

Again, though, it would be highly interesting to see John Kerry's record of service IN THE RESERVES! Kerry's exemplary service in combat during his (shortened due to his three sepatate combat wounds) Viet Nam were followed by several years of duty in the reserves. Did he accomplish any more during his weekend-per-month and two weeks in summer than did Shrub or Cohen? Will he set an example by dredging up those ancient records (whatever is left of them) and releasing them to the press?

Posted by: Pouncer on February 23, 2004 01:00 PM

____

"Again, though, it would be highly interesting to see John Kerry's record of service IN THE RESERVES!"

Good point. And we're definitely gonna push him to disclose them once he declares himself a "war president" and prances around like John Wayne with the finger on the nucular trigger. You still don't get it, do you?

Posted by: ogmb on February 23, 2004 01:39 PM

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" There are documents indicating that Bush was given an order to comply with the physical."

Some noses are going to be growing. There is no such order.

" Failure to undergo medical examination was also a violation of a direct order for which we have documentation."

Also false. And all you had to do is read Prof. DeLong's post where we can read, from the Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2000:

-----------quote-------------
On Aug. 1, 1972, Bush's commander in Houston, Col. Bobby W. Hodges,ordered him grounded for "failure to accomplish annual medical examination."Some critics say this should have triggered a formal board of inquiry, butHodges said in an interview that this was unnecessary because Bush acceptedthe penalty and knew "he couldn't fly again until he takes a physical."

"It happens all the time," Hodges said of the grounding. "That is normal when a Guardsman is out of state or out of the country."
-----------endquote---------------

Or, we can read the WaPo this weekend:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A60817-2004Feb21?language=printer

-----------quote-----------
...retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald W. Shepperd, who was director of the Air National Guard until 1998, said missing a flight physical happens with many part-time pilots. Shepperd said he once did not take an annual flight physical and was grounded.

"It's not a big deal," Shepperd said. "You're grounded, and you take it again. As a longtime commander, I saw this happen on a regular basis."

Another former director of the Air National Guard, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver Jr., said some "squadron jocks" such as Bush drop their flight status when civilian careers take precedence. Flying a fighter jet is risky, Weaver said, and commanders want pilots to be dedicated to the training.
---------endquote---------

So, who should we believe, Carleton, you or three ANG officers?


Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 01:42 PM

____

One winger response to the Bush AWOL controversy is the tried-and-true "Democrats are just as bad" ploy. Currently they are suggesting that Kerry's three purple hearts, Silver Star, and Bronze Star are all tainted, that Cleland's Silver Star was tainted and that his wounds (requiring three amputations) were non-combat and his own damn fault. Oh, and that Kerry tried unsuccessfully to dodge the draft.

This particular issue has brought our conservative friends, and not only Patrick here, to new heights of creepy looniness. They're working the two stories hard.

Kerry:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/kerry/service.asp

A "'Ann Coulter' + Cleland" Google will get you the Cleland story.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on February 23, 2004 02:11 PM

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Patrick, relative to your dissing of Bruce Moomaw, here are the cites:

Bush on the National Guard:

"I'm saying to myself, 'What do I want to do?' I think I don't want to be an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam. What I do decide to want to do is learn to fly."
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 1989

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1990

"I don't want to play like I was somebody out there marching when I wasn't. It was either Canada or the service. ... Somebody said the Guard was looking for pilots. All I know is, there weren't that many people trying to be pilots."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nov. 29, 1998

http://www.calpundit.com/archives/003336.html#113072

Relative to your continued cherrypicking of the wapo article, i send you back to my 8:08 a.m. comment, in which i posted some of the article that you left out.

Cherrypicking may be sufficient for the bush white house's approach to intel, but for the rest of us, hearing all the evidence is a much better approach....

Posted by: Howard on February 23, 2004 02:25 PM

____

The lie is yours, Patrick. Let's dig out those two Bush quotes to Texas newspapers:

From the Dallas Morning News, 2-14-04 (the Google cache of "http://ice2.king5.com/s/dws/dn/corrections/vitindex.html"):

"A story on George W. Bush and the National Guard in 'Thursday's Elections '04' section misattributed a quote from Mr. Bush to the Houston Chronicle. In 1990, he told The Dallas Morning News: 'I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.' " (Other websites confirm the original DMN news story as being in the 2-25-90 issue.)

From the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 11-29-98: "I don't want to play like I was somebody out there marching when I wasn't. It was either Canada or the service." (As quoted by the Feb. 12 NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/163815p-143464c.html .)

You're a naughty boy, Patrick. As for those three pilots who now say that Bush volunteered for the "Palace Alert" program (and as I pointed out to Sullivan in an E-mail a week ago to which he never responded), there are three possible explanations:

(1) The pilots are lying -- something it would be easy for them to coordinate with each other.

(2) Bush made the request knowing in advance that his lack of flying experience and the obsolescence of his airplane would rule him out for the job.

(3) Bush had developed a sense of guilt over his earlier explicit choice of the Guard to dodge service in Vietnam. Possible -- but in that case, why hasn't he mentioned the fact himself? Personal modesty, carried to the point of flat-out political insanity? Possible, but unlikely. One would think that anyone willing to tell two newspapers that he joined the Guard to dodge Vietnam would be more than eager to say that he did change his mind afterwards.

Is it possible that Sullivan is not entirely reliable as an honest information source? Surely not. (But he never responded to my E-mail on the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram quote, either.)


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 23, 2004 02:58 PM

____

So why, if things are hunky-dory, doesn't the Idiot King explain all of this HIMSELF? Why is it left to all manner of dweebs to do it FOR him?

Posted by: John H. Farr on February 23, 2004 03:02 PM

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>>though he didn't go to Viet Nam, he was doing the vital job of defending the homeland from enemy bombers.<<

Gee, did Mexico buy some surplus Soviet Bear bombers during the '60's that I didn't know about?

Any Russian bombers attacking the U.S. would have come in from Canada. aWol was keeping as far from the frozen north as his cowardly little feet could take him. He certainly wasn't "defending the homeland." He was making sure he'd never end up in Vietnam: "I do not volunteer for overseas duty," signed, My Daddy's A Congressman With Connections, And Yours Is Not.

Posted by: Basharov on February 23, 2004 03:13 PM

____

It would require knowing more about the Texas Air National Guard than Bush ever cared to learn.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 03:16 PM

____

http://users.cis.net/coldfeet/grounded.gif

By the way, Sullivan has been caught in, yet another, one of his interminable lies. This one is the suspension for not getting the physical - and an order to get one.

Which he never did.

Exactly which right wing nut organization is paying Sullivan to shill for them. Or is this the free market of right wing shilling where they do it without giving a tupence for their reward.

Obviously the supply of right wing lies greatly excedes the demand.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on February 23, 2004 03:20 PM

____

I beleive that there was a direct order to Bush from the national commander of the ANG ordering him to comply with (letters and numbers) which translates to -- take the flight physical. Skipping the physical was not OK with that highly ranked superior. I admit someone has to find a 1972 manual to translate to English, but, I think, that the record is complete enough to prove that Sullivan is incorrect.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on February 23, 2004 03:21 PM

____

> Give it up, people. Bush's (and his fellow pilots) story fits the facts.

Which story, exactly? There are so many different ones coming out of the Bush administration.

You may like to throw Occam's Razor about, but you're the one most likely to end up bleeding. It's always easier to stick to a true story, and the White House ain't done it.

Posted by: ahem on February 23, 2004 03:51 PM

____

I can think of two reasons for this appalling display of reading incomprehension by Bruce Moomaw, Howard, and Stirling Newberry; 1. they are lying. 2. they are so consumed with hatred for George W. Bush they are rendered impotent.

First, Stirling Newberry has not produced a document ordering Bush to take his flight physical. The document you have produced is a list of personnel actions, one of which is the suspension of Bush's flying status because he failed to take his physical by July 31st. And, note that there is another pilot who had the same thing done to him.

It is NOT an order TO Bush, but a recognition of a previous order suspending him. There is, as I've patiently explained to you before, no such order for him to take the flight physical.

Second, Bruce and Howard are laughably mis-reading the news stories. They do not say Bush admitted enlisting in the ANG to avoid Vietnam.

They say, IN PLAIN ENGLISH, that he would not avoid military service by self-mutiliation, or fleeing to Canada. They also says he didn't want to be in the infantry. Big deal, neither did John Kerry. Go ahead, read it again:

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

And those planes were in service in Vietnam when he joined. They were dangerous to fly, they were armed with lethal weapons, and Bush later volunteered to fly them in Vietnam.

As for Bruce's options for the three officers and gentlemen who verify Bush's attempt to volunteer, he's left out the obvious: They are telling the truth.

Howard is the one "cherry picking" from the WaPo article, not I. Just after the quote he so loves, it is immediately refuted in the article (and I've pointed it out before):

-----------quote-----------
[But]retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald W. Shepperd, who was director of the Air National Guard until 1998, said missing a flight physical happens with many part-time pilots. Shepperd said he once did not take an annual flight physical and was grounded.

"It's not a big deal," Shepperd said. "You're grounded, and you take it again. As a longtime commander, I saw this happen on a regular basis."

Another former director of the Air National Guard, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver Jr., said some "squadron jocks" such as Bush drop their flight status when civilian careers take precedence. Flying a fighter jet is risky, Weaver said, and commanders want pilots to be dedicated to the training.
---------endquote---------

Nice try, fellas. Now, why don't you stop embarrassing yourselves.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 23, 2004 05:08 PM

____

Re: "I believe that there was a direct order to Bush from the national commander of the ANG ordering him to comply with (letters and numbers) which translates to -- take the flight physical. Skipping the physical was not OK with that highly ranked superior."

IIRC, Mark Kleiman says that the letters and numbers say not "take the flight physical" but "don't you dare draw any flight pay until you've taken your flight physical"...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on February 23, 2004 07:05 PM

____

In the for what it's worth column, put down Marc Racicot as a chickenhawk:
http://www.nhgazette.com/cgi-bin/NHGstore.cgi?user_action=detail&catalogno=CH_Racicot,%20Marc

Posted by: masaccio on February 23, 2004 07:51 PM

____

Please, Patrick. If Bush actually volunteered to fly in Vietnam, exactly why hasn't he said so -- repeatedly -- over the past 14 years? And, once again, are you going to argue with a straight face that Bush decided to join the National Guard because it was more likely that he would get sent to Vietnam that way than if he joined the Air Force?

And, by the way, I DID explicitly mention the possibility that those three pilots were telling the truth, and that Bush really did suffer guilt pangs over originally using the Guard to dodge service in Vietnam and decided to change his mind. I merely mentioned the obvious reasons (see above) why this is "possible but unlikely", to quote my exact words. I was under the impression that you are frequently mistaken, but at least intelligent. Live and learn.

Of course, we also now have DeLong's and Josh Marshall's new revelations, in the thread above, that Bush (1) checked off the "do not volunteer for overseas duty" box when he first joined the Guard, and (2) signed up for Palace Alert exactly one week before the project was officially abolished.

Once again: give it up, Patrick. Just being dishonest and fanatical is one thing. Making a public fool of yourself is another. You're starting to resemble the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", who insists on trying to keep fighting after his arms and legs have all been cut off.

And, once again: all this revelation (along with Kerry's military service) does is to knock out of the GOP's hand, once and for all, a powerful political weapon: the public tendency to believe that all mdern Democrats are half-witted kneejerk doves. Now -- just possibly -- we may actually be able to spend the campaign having a halfway rational debate over which man's actual military policies are more correct. So far I'm not at all impressed with either of them (or with Edwards). My major reason for being hopeful about Kerry is that one of his advisors is Gary Hart, who IS taking this subject seriously. If Bush's Defense Secretary was Richard Lugar rather than Donald Rumsfeld, I would take a far brighter view of him.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 23, 2004 08:12 PM

____

Bush during his "Meet the Press" interview last week:
________________________________

RUSSERT: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?

BUSH: I supported my government. I did. And would have gone had my unit been called up, by the way.

RUSSERT: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

BUSH: No, I didn't. You're right.
______________________________________

Oh, Patrick.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 23, 2004 08:22 PM

____

Ah. I need to make one correction: Bush DID tell Washington Post reporters (July 28, 1999) that he volunteered for "Palace Alert" -- but:

"But there was no chance Bush's unit would be ordered overseas. Bush says that toward the end of his training in 1970, he tried to volunteer for overseas duty, asking a commander to put his name on the list for a 'Palace Alert' program, which dispatched qualified F-102 pilots in the Guard to the Europe and the Far East, occasionally to Vietnam, on three- to six-month assignments.

"He was turned down on the spot. 'I did [ask] – and I was told, "You're not going," ' Bush said.

"Only pilots with extensive flying time – at the outset, 1,000 hours were required – were sent overseas under the voluntary program. The Air Force, moreover, was retiring the aging F-102s and had ordered all overseas F-102 units closed down as of June 30, 1970."

Now, it's possible, of course, that Bush didn't know that the "aging" plane he had trained to fly in had already been retired as obsolete, and that there was exactly no chance that he could get that 1000 hours of necessary flying time to get into Palace Alert before it was cancelled. Possible, but -- to put it mildly -- unlikely.

Two other interesting entries from that article ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush072899.htm ):

(1) "Among the questions Bush had to answer on his application forms was whether he wanted to go overseas. Bush checked the box that said: 'do not volunteer.'

"Bush said in an interview that he did not recall checking the box. Two weeks later, his office provided a statement from a former, state-level Air Guard personnel officer, asserting that since Bush 'was applying for a specific position with the 147th Fighter Group, it would have been inappropriate for him to have volunteered for an overseas assignment and he probably was so advised by the military personnel clerk assisting him in completing the form.'

Odd: I'd think that, if I had been ready to volunteer for overseas duty, I'd remember whether or not I checked that box, whether a clerk told me not to or not.

(2) "After basic training at Lackland and his commissioning as a second lieutenant in 1968, Bush got what amounted to a two-month-plus vacation that enabled him to head to Florida to work for a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Edward J. Gurney. Put on inactive duty status, Bush arrived in early September and stayed through Election Day, riding the press plane, handing out releases, and making sure traveling reporters woke up in time. He occasionally returned to Houston for weekend Guard duty."

Clearly his tenure in the Guard was nervewracking and perilous from beginning to end.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 23, 2004 08:52 PM

____

bruce, personally i think we've reached the point of further returns not cost effective in pursuing this with patrick (he makes a grand defense attorney and a poor analyst/historian), but bless you for trying....

Posted by: howard on February 23, 2004 08:58 PM

____

I agree. Bush's performance in the Guard is starting to remind me of one little boy that Art Linklater interviewed on "People Are Funny":

LINKLATER: What's the bravest thing you ever did?

BOY: I saved my cat from choking to death.

LINKLATER: How did you do that?

BOY: I didn't give him some chicken bones.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 23, 2004 09:39 PM

____

bahko
I need ( but not desperately) your usually impeccable advice: Is this issue raised honestly to support some political view (The War President?!)or is it raised to enlist the support of Patrick to detract from other more deserving issues (issues of economic flavor )?
ie.....Is it Politics or Sport?
I admire your quiet, patient manner and wonder if you feel any urge to toss a little mud Brad's way?
Seems we've lost Pouncer --beneath his contempt I guess.

Posted by: calmo on February 23, 2004 10:35 PM

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I think Racicot's "dangerous duty" line is a bit much, particularly in the form advanced by Patrick Sullivan above that suggests that the President was risking imminent death merely by strapping on an F-102.

Sullivan:
'" 259 US aircraft lost in accidents. 70 pilots killed. (I've seen stats that the US got about 2/3rds of the production of 1000) So, overall, 1 in 3 aircraft lost, and one in (rounding up) 4 of those took the pilot's life. (And we're not including those who's injuries from ejection precluded their ever flying again.)"

At least one of those fatalities occurred in Bush's unit while he was on active duty.'

[...]

'They [the F-102] were dangerous to fly, they were armed with lethal weapons...'

Granted, fighter piloting is a relatively dangerous occupation. However, the statistics are used misleadingly.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there are learning curve effects in military aircraft operations, and accident rates are commonly higher early in an aircraft type's career. The F-102 was no exception. So the F-102's overall pilot fatality rate, approx. 1 per 37,000 flight hours, is the average of a relatively dangerous early period (late-50s/early-60s) and a much safer mature period.

From 1968-1972, the F-102's record was actually better than the other 'century' interceptors:
F-102 1 pilot fatality per 82,000 flight hours (7/575,254)
F-101 1 per 23,000 flight hours (15/338,972)
F-106 1 per 36,000 flight hours (9/323,300)

All from the aircraft safety stats at:
http://afsafety.af.mil/

Posted by: Tom Bozzo on February 24, 2004 05:23 AM

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Thanks to Bruce Moomaw for saving me a lot of time destroying his earlier arguments. He's done a very thorough job with his post 0f 8:52 PM.

However, there a few odds and ends he has missed:

RUSSERT: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

BUSH: No, I didn't. You're right.

Bush is saying he didn't ENLIST TO GO. Not that he didn't ever volunteer.

And this:

" Please, Patrick. .... And, once again, are you going to argue with a straight face that Bush decided to join the National Guard because it was more likely that he would get sent to Vietnam that way than if he joined the Air Force? "

I've explained this to Bruce before, but it apparently didn't penetrate. Yes, it probably was less likely he would get fighter pilot duty had he enlisted in the regular AF. With the ANG he was specifically recruited for a combat plane.

Second, the regular AF was much harder to get into, as it was a ticket to a lucrative career as a commercial airline pilot (in the days
prior to Al Kahn's deregulation of the airline industry).

I also see that I missed Kevin Drum's post that demonstrated the same laughable reading incomprehension as Howard and Bruce. Sorry for the oversight.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 24, 2004 08:20 AM

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"After basic training at Lackland and his commissioning as a second lieutenant in 1968, Bush got what amounted to a two-month-plus vacation...'

Guess what Bruce, the same thing happened to a friend of mine who enlisted in 1971. He had to wait several weeks until a flight training slot opened. My friend's father was a cop with absolutely no political influence at all.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 24, 2004 08:34 AM

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Patrick Sullivan:
"'RUSSERT: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

BUSH: No, I didn't. You're right.'

Bush is saying he didn't ENLIST TO GO. Not that he didn't ever volunteer."

With apologies to Stirling Newberry, not much shorter Patrick R. Sullivan: "Depends on what the meaning of 'or' is."

It's not hard to parse Russert's question -- just two possibilities, 'But you didn't volunteer to go' and 'But you didn't enlist to go.' The President's answer is so much more concise than the hearsay explanation offered by Sullivan.

(Compare the SCO IP license wording over at groklaw.net for more a more challenging sentence parsing exercise.)


Posted by: Tom Bozzo on February 24, 2004 08:40 AM

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" IIRC, Mark Kleiman says that the letters and numbers say not "take the flight physical" but "don't you dare draw any flight pay until you've taken your flight physical"...'

Either you are not remembering correctly or Kleiman is in error.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 24, 2004 08:41 AM

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" And, by the way, I DID explicitly mention the possibility that those three pilots were telling the truth, and that Bush really did suffer guilt pangs...."

The three pilots said nothing about Bush suffering guilt pangs. That's why I said you missed the simplest explanation.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 24, 2004 08:53 AM

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Can it be that Patrick is succeeding in baffling us with the bullshit? If Bush wanted to go to war he would have been successful in doing so. If Bush acted responsibly, with integrity and with a demonstrable revelation of true character it would be self evident. Regardless of who else did or said what and when, Bush's actions speak for themselves (and his failure to recollect what he did while in the TANG should be your first clue). We can't lose sight of the forest for the trees and Patrick has been a very busy landscaper.

Posted by: dubblblind on February 24, 2004 01:02 PM

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Yes indeedy. Not a peep from Patrick about the fact that Bush checked the "do not volunteer" box when he applied to the Guard. Not a peep from him about the fact that Bush himself has never said that when he entered the Guard he was ready to volunteer for Vietnam (he says he "can't remember"). Not a peep from him about the fact that -- when quizzed by Russert -- Bush didn't even think it worthwhile to mention his supposed application to Palace Alert (a week before it ended). And as for Patrick's statement that -- when Russert denied that Bush "voluntered or enlisted to go" and Bush agreed with him, "Bush was just denying that he ENLISTED to go"...please, Patrick. Mistakes on your part are one thing. Deliberate lying is another. Pathetically obvious deliberately lying is still another.

O.J.should definitely hire Pat; I have no doubt that he'd be able to put a name on the Real Killers in no time.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 24, 2004 09:26 PM

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Sum total of Bush's "Meet the Press" comments on the extent to which he "volunteered" for Vietnam service (as described on NBC's transcript):
_______________________

Russert: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?

President Bush: I supported my government. I did. And would have gone had my unit been called up, by the way.

Russert: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

President Bush: No, I didn't. You're right. I served. I flew fighters and enjoyed it, and provided a service to our country. In those days we had what was called "air defense command," and it was a part of the air defense command system.

[No further comments by him on the subject]
_____________________________

Not a peep about his volunteering for Palace Alert. Which, as Josh Marshall says, is decidedly peculiar if he actually DID seriously volunteer for such duty (as opposed to "applying" for it for effect while knowing full well in advance that there was no danger he'd actually be called on).


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 24, 2004 10:38 PM

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"[No further comments by him on the subject]"

That is a flat out lie, Bruce. Scroll up to my post of 8:20 AM.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 25, 2004 09:22 AM

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>>it would be highly interesting to see John >>Kerry's record of service IN THE RESERVES!"

ogmb>once he declares himself a "war president"
>and prances around like John Wayne with the
>finger on the nucular trigger. You still don't >get it, do you?

Well, no, I guess not. When did John Wayne ever portray a character with access to nuclear weaponry, just for instance? I don't get THAT
at all.

As to the "finger on the trigger" bit in real life, it seems to me that one common rationale for cutting spending on programs such as the B-2, M-1, SSI, ("Star Wars") and other military alphabet soup was that the ICBM was sufficient. Why have an Army for invading a place when you can more simply and cheaply make the whole place into a glowing glass parking lot? And why defend against attack when you can deter via massive retaliation? I don't suppose or suggest that Kerry's reasoning was quite so simplistic. But the fact remains that he has voted against most such systems -- if he has military experience that justifies such votes it would be interesting to learn the background. We might stipulate that Republican/NeoCon/Bush-ian love for high-tech gizmos and expensive toys is irrational, but such love IS long-term consistant with the evidence of a young man seeking out a military berth that puts him at the controls of such a toy.
What in Kerry's experience suggests that slogging thru the swamps with a rifle -- jumping OFF his navy vehicle to do so -- is a better way to accomplish military goals?

If Kerry served honorably in the Reserves and never missed a scheduled drill, then it would seem to be in his best interests to bring out the records and demonstrate this area of superiority to the other guy. Why not?


Posted by: Pouncer on February 25, 2004 11:41 AM

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A coward mistakes oppression for peace.

Posted by: Roma Gary on March 17, 2004 10:29 PM

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Ain't no disgrace to be poor - but might as well be.

Posted by: Seely Margaret on May 2, 2004 02:46 PM

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He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not sometimes do nothing.

Posted by: Meschel Judy on May 3, 2004 02:00 AM

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I would like to get more inofs about

Posted by: Manion Kim on June 3, 2004 02:17 AM

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I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.

Posted by: Eisenberg Jenny on June 30, 2004 06:45 AM

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During the mid '70s a fire wiped out hundreds of thousands of military personnel records stored in St Louis. These were all records of personnel seperated from the service and were unreconstuctable.

>

Posted by: Gregg thurman on August 18, 2004 08:19 PM

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