January 12, 2005

Bush's National Guard Service--A Summary

Patrick Sullivan, in a comment at Kevin Drum's weblog, has a nice summary of George W. Bush's military career. I don't know if it's all correct, but it seems reasonable.
In a nutshell, here's the military career of George W. Bush:

1. Over Christmas vacation 1967, Yale senior Bush decides he wants to fulfill his military obligation by becoming a fighter pilot (emulating his WWII bomber pilot father).

He discovers that his hometown ANG unit has openings for fighter pilots. He introduces himself to the appropriate recruiter, Cliff Staudt. Who must have had the recruiter equivalent of a wet dream when a Yalie, physically fit, with a WWII pilot father, who also happens to be the area's congressman walks in and asks about signing up. There are Texas ANG pilots from this group flying in Vietnam at the time.

2. Bush passes his tests about the same time as the North Koreans seize the Pueblo, and the North Vietnames and Viet Cong launch the Tet Offensive. 14,000 Americans die in Vietnam that year. He is accepted in May, just before he graduates. He serves a few months as an enlisted man in Texas while he awaits a slot in Georgia for flight training.

3. He graduates in the top half of his flight class, and is sent to Ellington AFB for his F-102 training in late '69. After he is qualified on the F-102 in 1970 he, along with three other pilots, volunteers to fly in Vietnam. Two of those are accepted, Bush and Fred Bradley, having fewer cockpit hours are not.

4. Bush flies with distinction--according to his annual fitness reports--through April 1972. When--with the Vietnamization of the war well along and pilots fighting for cockpit time in the states--he decides to get on with his life. He takes a job with a Senatorial campaign in Alabama, meaning he has given up flying. He gets the permission of his superior officers to do this.

5. He works in Alabama through November, and his candidate loses to a Democrat. He serves week-end duties at the AFB base in Alabama-with several eye witnesses remembering him being there.

6. January 1973; the Vietnam war officially ends, and our POWs return home. Spring and Summer of 1973 he resumes duties in Houston, building up enough points for the entire year by July (iirc). Applies for a routine out 'early out' to go to Harvard Business School. 'Early out' granted, and Bush is discharged-- HONORABLY--on October 1, 1973.

End of story. Perfectly normal career. No political influence needed, as it mirrors the experiences of thousands of other men whose fathers were carpenters or bus drivers.

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August 19, 2004

American Economic Growth vs. Europe; Anti-Bush Bias in The Economist Magazine

From The Economist's issue of about August 14 comes a depressing view of the U.S. economy that is contradicted by the bare statistics reported at the end of the issue:
Losing its way

Washington D.C. The vigour of America's expansion is once again in doubt

Is America's economy in trouble? With oil prices hitting new highs of over $45 a barrel this week, and with the latest figures showing a measly 32,000 new jobs created in July, the question is fraying nerves on Wall Street and in the White House. ... The article goes on to do lots of back-and-forthing. It notes that GDP growth has been high, but also that it was even higher earlier in the year; that central bankers all seem happy about America's economy; that the payroll employment statistics show a very different picture from the household survey employment statistics that they initially cite. But it also cites what bad news it can find, and the general tone is that America's economy is trouble, in line with the title and introductory paragraph.

The key to the article is perhaps in this sentence:

"Mr. Bush is keenly aware that, in 1992, perceptions of stagnant growth helped doom his father in the election, though the economy had in fact begun to rebound."

Once again, if the press can't defeat a Republican president by true new of slow economic growth, it can try to defeat him with false news.

Consider the following statistics from same issue of The Economist, from the tables that regularly appear at the end:

Economic Indicators
COUNTRY .... GDP (year) GDP (quarter) Economist Forecast (2004) Economist Forecast (2005) Unemployment Unemployment (year ago)
USA .... +4.8 +3.0 (Q2) +4.5 +3.5 5.5 6.2
Euro Area .... +1.3 +2.3 (Q1) +1.3 +2.0 9.0 8.9
Japan .... +5.6 +6.1 (Q1) +4.5 +2.3 4.6 5.3

As these figures show, the U.S. economy is doing far better than Western Europe, with GDP growth in the past year of 4.5% compared to 1.3% and unemployment of 5.5% compared to 9.0%, and The Economist's own forecasts show that The Economist expects U.S. growth to continue to be not just faster, but more than twice as fast. Japan is doing well too, so I've included it in the table, but The Economist's forecast of 8.0% for US growth in 2004 and 2005 is higher than not just its forecast for Japan, but for 10 European countries, Canada, and Australia (countries also in the table from which I extracted the numbers above). Thus, again we find anti-Bush spin contradicted by pro-Bush facts in The Economist. I'm afraid The Economist will have to start a moratorium on printing numbers if they want people not to laugh when they read the words in the news stories.

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