May 10, 2003

Below the blogroll to the right I have added a new feature, a real-time Google search result of random items, mainly topics I'll be discussing. Have fun with it. Go Ducks !!!

An unidentified fan takes exception to the officiating during last night's 110-95 Laker romp.

May 09, 2003

I would be remiss if I didn't follow up my earlier post about the Bush-AWOL flap. In particular, two bloggers have put in the time and legwork to examine the record, and have come up with different conclusions. David Neiwert analyzes the public record and concludes that AWOL or not, young W's service record in the Texas Air National Guard is troublesome, and asks the reasonable question as to whether his political connections greased his path through some difficulties, including the fact that his flying privileges were suspended. Noting that two important facts, that Bush had his flying privileges suspended, and that he later failed to report to his superior officer for at least seven months, are not in dispute, he reasonably asks for Bush to release his military record to the public. [link via Atrios]

Bill Hobbs, on the other hand, builds a case that there was nothing improper about Bush's service record: first, that joining the unit he did was not a fail-safe way of ducking service in Vietnam; second, that his family connections back in 1968(the year he joined) were not that great, as his father had not been elected to Congress or served in government yet, and that the absence of any documentation showing he ever served after he was transfered to a unit in Alabama does not necessarily mean he didn't, since the military loses records all the time.

That National Guardsmen gave their lives for the Domino Theory is beyond dispute, and I will concede that there was a possibility that Bush could have been sent to Vietnam. Joining the Air National Guard was not the same thing as enlisting in the Navy, which his father did days after Pearl Harbor, or the Army, which Al Gore did in 1969. In other words, in the last election, one candidate chose a path that made going to Vietnam more likely, and the other a path that made that destination less likely.

Obviously, the second argument is absurd: in 1968, the future President was the grandson of a former U.S. Senator, and the son of a major player in Texas Republican politics, who had already had a narrow loss in a Senate race and was gearing up to run for a House seat. And that was just on his father's side of the family; his mother had an even more distinguished name. That Bush the Elder had not yet become Vice President didn't mean he was without influence.

The third issue, that records are frequently lost, is really beside the point. After all, it's not like we're talking about him missing roll call on a particular date; it's the fact that there is no documentary evidence in the public record that shows he reported for duty for seven months. Hobbs is on much stronger ground when he reminds us that Bush was honorably discharged, and he has a strong circumstantial argument that whatever Bush may have been doing between 1972 and 1973, no one at the time seemed to give it two thoughts, and he was never disciplined or treated in a manner that would suggest he had done anything wrong.

Anyways, read both blogs, and come to your own conclusions. And demand that the President release his military records before he gets us into another war, or decides to do some more stunt flying.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs responds on his website, and notes that Bush the Elder actually was a congressman in 1968 running for reelection, contrary to my assertion that he hadn't served in public office at the time the President enlisted in the TANG.
The philosopher-king of Baltimore County, David Johnson, passes this little tidbit along about "Mr. Samgrass":
Today's excerpt from Sidney Blumenthal's *The Clinton Wars* on discusses his relationship with Christopher Hitchens.

A choice quote near the end of the story (after a long and detailed discussion of his friendship and subsequent betrayal):

As we walked out of the room, Clinton put his arm around me and made a remark that echoed what I had told him the day the scandal broke, in our Oval Office conversation. "You know," he said with a grin, "you shouldn't be hanging around crazy people." I laughed and said, "You know, that's good advice."

Damn, I love Clinton.

May 08, 2003

George Bush's "Christophe" moment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln last week continues to draw jeers....
A memorial service will be held this Sunday at the Staples Center. In lieu of flowers for the soon-to-be deceased, Laker management asks that the public renew its search for Samaki Walker and Derek Fisher, both of whom have been missing since the start of the year.

May 07, 2003

As I've noted in the past, John Kerry has been the victim of some of the most egregious coverage that any political figure has seen since, well, Al Gore, and conservative critic Ben Fritz takes the media to task here. The comparison between the slurs cast upon Gore by the socalledliberalmedia and those pinned on Kerry is clearly disturbing, with the Boston Globe in particular approaching the edge of anti-semitism in its attacks.
Pride goeth before the fall: The vaunted, unbeatable rugby team from my alma mater, profiled here last month, got its ass kicked in the national semifinals by Air Force, 46-28. Come to think of it, we lost to them in football, too.

May 06, 2003

One of the consequences of President Bush's political stunt last week flying onto an aircraft carrier has been to revive the dormant allegations that he deserted his Air National Guard unit during the Vietnam War. The short story: George Bush evaded serving in Southeast Asia by joining the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 for a five-year hitch. By 1972, with the draft no longer a threat, Bush sought a transfer to a unit in Alabama, where he had been working on a Senate campaign. There is no evidence he ever appeared, and “(h)is final officer-efficiency report from May 1973 noted only that supervisors hadn't seen him or heard from him.

Of course, there is probably a perfectly good explanation, both for Bush’s apparent violations of Articles 885 and 886 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and for his subsequent non-explanations of his “service” during the Vietnam War. More disappointing has been the lack of pursuit in this story by the “so-called liberal media”. Other than a Boston Globe investigation during the last election, no other publication bothered to raise these questions, and with only a few exceptions, the media has failed to put last week’s flight by an unlicensed pilot into context. As with the coverage of the recent hostilities in the Persian Gulf, Americans are poorly served with a “free press” that is little more than a for-profit propaganda wing of the powers that be.

UPDATE: Bob Somerby nails this story cold, and discredits an attempted apologia from Andrew Sullivan on the matter.

May 04, 2003

Howard Owens has a good piece on the "outrage" of the disclosure that William Bennett likes to bet; the outrage, of course, being that any sort of public attention is being brought about a legal activity. Of course, $8 million is a lot to burn, and it seems apparent that he (and his family) might have a problem with his recreational activity, and obviously someone who has been as outspoken about the vices of other people should happen to have one that is condemned by a substantial part of our society is bound for a fall. But I'm troubled by the notion that he's not entitled to have a private life, or that he's not allowed to engage in socially questionable activities, or even that he's not permitted to be a hypocrite.

If there is one moral failing that distinguishes man as a species, it's hypocrisy, the homage that vice pays to virtue. This was something the right ignored when the human being in question was Bill Clinton, but now it seems the left is unfortunately enjoying its own version of payback. To say that Bennett is a hypocrite has got to be the single most worthless criticism under the sun. Anyone who aspires to high ideals will eventually be exposed as a hypocrite; it certainly doesn't discredit either the ideals or the pursuit. I don't happen to buy his judgmentalism on the vices of others, including President Clinton, but I certainly do not feel any less sympathy for having his privacy violated in this manner. As a wise man once said, "don't hate the playa, hate the game."

Of course, Bennett is not alone. Yesterday, the head football coach at Alabama, Mike Price, was fired before he ever coached a game at that college not because he broke any rules associated with the game, but because he purchased private dances at a strip club. His transgression was said to violate the "expectations" as to how an Alabama football coach should behave, an interesting standard for a school whose most famous coach resisted the desegregation of his team until the early-70's. Price's impeccable record as a coach both on and off the field was simply not considered relevant. The other figure in the "Coaches Gone Wild" video, Larry Eustachy, may lose his job coaching Iowa State's basketball team due to his antics on the road the last two years, involving heavy drinking and partying. Neither person violated the law, or did anything other than betray the trust of those closest to them.

But such activities are human foibles. It is precisely for that reason that we have moral and ethical codes, and practice religions; not because we are always saints, but because we are often scum. If Price or Eustachy have a drinking problem, than they should deal with it. If Bennett is throwing his children's college tuition away at a baccarat table at the Bellagio, he should seek help. But I won't judge them, because I know that I am in no position to toss the first stone.