Shrub the Deserter
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Editor, The Konformist
You Say Deserter, I Say More Dessert...
By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com
January 27, 2004
I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as
a "deserter." What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a
deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a
functional illiterate. And he poops his pants. In fact, he "shot a
man in Reno just to watch him die."
Actually, what I meant to say up in New Hampshire last week was
that "We're going to have Bush for dessert come November!" I'm always
mixing up "dessert" and "desert" - I'm sure many of you have that
Well, well, well. As George W. would say, "It's time to smoke 'em out
of their hole!" Thanks to my "humorous" introduction of Wesley Clark
10 days ago in New Hampshire - and the lughead way the no-sense-of-
humor media has covered it - there were 15 million hits this weekend
on my website. Everyone who visited the site got to read the truth
about Bush not showing up for National Guard duty.
The weird thing about all this is that during my routine I never went
into any details about Bush skipping out while in the Guard (it's not
like it's the biggest issue on my mind or facing America these days!)
I was just attempting my best impersonation of that announcer guy for
the World Wrestling Federation, asking the cheering crowd if they
would like to see a smackdown ("debate") which I called "The
Generaaal Versus The Deserterrrr!!" (You can watch it here - hardly
anyone in the media has shown this clip because viewers would
suddenly see the context of my comments.)
When the press heard me use that word "deserter," though, the bells
and whistles went off, for this was one of those stories they knew
they had ignored - and now it was rearing its ugly, truthful head on
a very public stage. Without a single other word from me other than
the d-word, they immediately got so defensive that it looked to many
viewers like they - the press - maybe had something to hide. After
all, when I called Bush a deserter, how did they know I wasn't
referring to how he has deserted the 43 million Americans who have no
health coverage? Why didn't they assume I was talking about how Bush
is a deserter because he has deserted the working people of this
country (who have lost 3 million jobs since he's taken office)? Why
wasn't it obvious to them that I was pointing out how Bush had
deserted our constitution and Bill of Rights as he tries to limit
freedom of speech and privacy rights for law-abiding citizens?
Instead, they have created the brouhaha over Bush's military record,
often without telling their audience what the exact charges are. It
seems all they want to do is to get Clark or me - or you - to shut
up. "We have never investigated this and so we want you to apologize
for bringing it up!" Ha ha ha.
Well, I'm glad they have gone nuts over it. Because here we have a
Commander in Chief - who just took off while in uniform to go work
for some Republican friend of his dad's - now sending our kids over
to Iraq to die while billions are promised to Halliburton and the oil
companies. Twenty percent of them are National Guard and Reserves
(and that number is expected to double during the year). They have
been kept in Iraq much longer than promised, and they have not been
given the proper protection. They are sitting ducks.
What if any of them chose to do what Bush did back in the early 70s -
just not show up? I've seen Republican defenders of Bush this week
say, "Yeah, but he made up the time later." So, can today's National
Guardsmen do the same thing - just say, when called up to go to
Iraq, "Um, I'm not going to show up, I'll make up the time later!"?
Can you imagine what would happen? Of course, none of them are the
son of a Congressman, like young Lt. Bush was back in 1972.
Today, MoveOn.org has put together its response to this issue, and I
would love to reprint it here. It lays out all the facts about Bush
and the remaining unanswered questions about where he went for many,
Here are what appear to be the known facts, laid out recently in
considerable detail and documentation by retired pilot and Air
National Guard First Lt. Robert A. Rogers, and in a 2003 book, "The
Lies of George W. Bush," by David Corn.
1. George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968 when the war in Vietnam
was at its most deadly and the military draft was in effect. Like
many of his social class and age, he sought to enter the National
Guard, which made Vietnam service unlikely, and fulfill his military
obligation. Competition for slots was intense; there was a long
waiting list. Bush took the Air Force officer and pilot qualification
tests on Jan. 17, 1968, and scored the lowest allowed passing grade
on the pilot aptitude portion.
2. He, nevertheless, was sworn in on May 27, 1968, for a six-year
commitment. After a few weeks of basic training, Bush received an
appointment as a second lieutenant - a rank usually reserved for
those completing four years of ROTC or 18 months active duty service.
Bush then went to flight school and trained on the F-102 interceptor
fighter jet. Fighter pilots were in great demand in Vietnam at the
time, but Bush wound up serving as a "weekend warrior" in Houston,
where his father's congressional district was centered.
A Houston Chronicle story published in 1994, quoted in Corn's book,
has Bush saying: "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
3. Sometime after May 1971, young Lt. Bush stopped participating
regularly in Guard activities. According to Texas Air National Guard
records, he had fewer than the required flight duty days and was
short of the minimum service owed the Guard. Records indicate that
Bush never flew after May 1972, despite his expensive training and
even though he still owed the National Guard two more years.
4. On May 24, 1972, Bush asked to be transferred to an inactive
reserve unit in Alabama, where he also would be working on a
Republican senate candidate's campaign. The request was denied. For
months, Bush apparently put in no time at all in Guard service. In
August 1972, Bush was grounded - suspended from flying duties - for
failing to submit to an annual physical exam. (Why wouldn't he take
this exam from a doctor?)
5. During his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush's staff said he
recalled doing duty in Alabama and then returning to Houston for
still more duty. But the commander of the Montgomery, AL, unit where
Bush said he served told the Boston Globe that he had no recollection
of Bush - son of a congressman - ever reporting, nor are there
records, as there should be, supporting Bush's claim. Asked at a
press conference in Alabama on June 23, 2000 what duties he had
performed as a Guardsman in that state, Bush said he could not
recall, "but I was there."
6. In May, June and July, 1973, Bush suddenly started participating
in Guard activities back in Houston again - pulling 36 days at
Ellington Air Base in that short period. On Oct. 1, 1973, eight
months short of his six-year service obligation and scheduled
discharge, Bush apparently was discharged with honors from the Texas
Air National Guard (eight months short of his six-year commitment).
He then went to Harvard Business School.
Documents supporting these reports, released under Freedom of
Information Act requests, appear along with Rogers' article on the
In the absence of full disclosure by the President or his supporters,
only the President and perhaps a few family or other close associates
know the whole truth. And they're not talking.
Bush was apparently absent without official leave from his assigned
military service for as little as seven months (New York Times) or as
much as 17 months (Boston Globe) during a time when 500,000 American
troops were fighting the Vietnam War. The Army defines a "deserter"
also known as a DFR, for "dropped from rolls" - as one who is AWOL 31
days or more.
Well, there you have it. Someone got some special treatment. And now
that special someone believes he has the right to conduct a war -
using other not-so-special people's lives.
My friends, I always call it like I see it. I don't pussyfoot around.
Sometimes the truth is hard to take. The media conglomerates are too
afraid to take this on. I understand. But I'm not. That's my job. And
I'll continue to do it.
And when I'm wrong, like the thing about Bush pooping his pants, I'll
January 29, 2004
There is considerable evidence that Mr. Bush skipped all duty for a
Bush's War Stories Simply Don't Fly
by Joe Conason
George W. Bush lied about his military service record. The lie can be
found in his own 1999 campaign autobiography (as written by Karen
Hughes), where he dramatically describes his experience as a pilot in
the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
On page 34 of A Charge to Keep, Mr. Bush claims that, after learning
to fly the F-102 fighter jet, he was turned down for Vietnam duty
because "had not logged enough flight hours" to qualify for a combat
assignment. Before going on to recall the "challenging moments" that
involved close formation drills at night during poor weather, he
adds: "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years."
In light of what journalists and other researchers have learned since
the publication of Mr. Bush's book, his account is unmistakably
The issue is again relevant because Michael Moore, the author and
filmmaker who supports Wesley Clark's Presidential campaign, recently
impugned the President as a "deserter." During the final Democratic
Presidential debate in New Hampshire, moderator Peter Jennings called
Mr. Moore's statement "a reckless charge not supported by the facts,"
and demanded that General Clark repudiate his celebrity backer.
As the ABC newsman may (or, more likely, may not) know, the facts
about the President's National Guard stint are complex, disputed and,
in many respects, unflattering. To call him a "deserter" was wrong
and inflammatory, even if Mr. Moore was joking, as he now insists.
Although Mr. Bush may well have been absent without leave, he was
never prosecuted for that offense, let alone desertion, and he
eventually received an honorable discharge. But to suggest that the
Bush record is beyond criticism, as Mr. Jennings did, is both
misleading and biased. That bias reflects an enduring double standard
on this topic that has protected Mr. Bush ever since he first
declared his Presidential candidacy.
The facts, established by Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson in
2000, explode the lyrical flights of fancy penned by Ms. Hughes.
George W. Bush graduated from Yale in June 1968. After his father's
influential friends contacted Texas Air National Guard officials,
they awarded young George a safe berth in Houston's famed "champagne
unit," where sons of the Texas elite avoided Vietnam. His very
special treatment included instant admission to flight training and
an extraordinary commission as a second lieutenant. According to his
former superiors, Mr. Bush performed admirably as a pilot while
patrolling the coastal waters of the United States.
But in May 1972, only 22 months after he completed pilot training, he
stopped flying. In August 1972, he failed to show up for his annual
physical examination and was automatically grounded. According to The
Times of London, a conservative newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch,
Mr. Bush's campaign spokesman said he knew that he would be suspended
if he missed that physical.
He never flew a military aircraft again (or not until his flight-suit
photo op last spring, when he briefly took the controls of an S-3B
Viking jet before landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln). Instead, he
left his Guard unit in Houston and went to Alabama to work in a
Republican Senate campaign. He claims to have continued to serve in
an Alabama Guard unit, but there is no evidence to support that
assertion, and much contradictory evidence. The commanding officer of
the Alabama Guard Unit told the Boston Globe that Mr. Bush never
showed up for duty there. Nor is there any evidence that he sought
duty in Vietnam.
In fact, there is considerable evidence that Mr. Bush skipped all
duty for a full year, until April 1973. At that point, his two
superior officers in Houston noted in writing in an official
document: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the
period of this report." They erroneously believed that he had been
completing his duty in Alabama. Yet he somehow received an honorable
discharge eight months before he completed his six-year commitment so
that he could begin attending Harvard Business School.
As the Globe noted, the "champagne unit" and others like it back then
displayed "a tendency to excuse shirking by those with political
So Mr. Bush's claim that he "continued flying with my unit for the
next several years" is an unabashed falsehood. Yet the spotty
coverage of his military record in the mainstream press - aside from
the Globe investigation and similar efforts in the Dallas Morning
News and the Los Angeles Times - elided that lie. Compare his soft
treatment with the media scourging of Bill Clinton, who was held
accountable during the 1992 campaign for every word he uttered about
his draft record.
What the Jennings episode validates is not Mr. Bush's strange
military career, but the Bush method of press management. Treat
journalists like vassals, with nicknames, cheek-pinching and -
whenever they forget their place momentarily - sneering disdain. It
You may reach Joe Conason via email at: jconason@....
This column ran on page 5 in the 2/2/2004 edition of The New York
Joe Conason is the author of The Hunting of the President: The Ten-
Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
50 Reasons Not to Vote for Bush
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Uncovering the `Deserter'
By Lakshmi Chaudhry, AlterNet
June 28, 2004
You might expect the UN correspondent for The Nation to pen yet
another indictment of George Bush's disastrous foreign policy and its
manifold consequences for the world at large. But in his latest book,
Ian Williams decided to take on George Bush himself, connecting the
dots between the president's National Guard record during Vietnam to
his present-day posturing as a man in uniform. Deserter: George W.
Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans, and His Past draws on
extensive research on the President's still mysterious military
career to reveal the real man inside the flight suit.
Why look at George Bush's military record now? We all know that the
President has been less than forthcoming about his Vietnam-era
service in the Texas Guard, but then much the same can be said of
pretty much every aspect of his administration.
Since George W. Bush was a chickenhawk from the get-go, I thought his
experiences in the National Guard -- or lack thereof -- would be
instructive. This is a president who, after all, invokes sacrifice
but never actually made one himself. What's more, there's probably
only Fidel and Saddam who have worn military uniforms as often and
with as much relish as George W.
And while individual reporters have done wonderful work on different
parts of Bush's "Missing in Inaction" saga, on the whole, the media
have dropped the ball. Besides, I wanted to put the whole issue in
its context. There are national guardsmen who have been sent to
brutal war and occupation, and have been charged with desertion for
refusing to return. He went AWOL and was sent to Harvard Business
You mention psychological motivations for Bush Junior's obsession
with all things military in the book -- his desire to emulate his
father in form, if not in substance. Could you elaborate on that
Bush the Elder was a genuine war hero, who actually used his family
influence to leave high school and become the Navy's youngest pilot.
That was when the old East Coast establishment had a sense of
noblesse oblige. With the transplantation of the Bush clan to Texas,
any sense of obligation has clearly been replaced by a double sense
Dubya combines the toxic effects of both, the dynastic East Coast
sense of entitlement and the Texas notion that you're rich and
prosperous because God Loves You -- a Cowboy Capitalist cocktail that
seems to dull noblesse oblige. The result is that Bush the Younger
wanted to be a pilot like his father, but not to risk his life in the
process -- which is why he wangled a place in the Texas Air National
Guard and ticked the box saying "no" to overseas service.
As you note in the book, thanks to Bush's posturing, many Americans
actually believe that he served in the military. What are his -- or
more accurately, Karl Rove's -- political motivations in trying so
hard to create that impression?
The Republican appropriation of the military has a strange and
tangled -- but quite recent -- history. The real point is the GOP's
appropriation of the prestige of the military in order to target all
those in the electorate who think that the military is somewhere
there between apple pie and motherhood, and just as sacrosanct.
The reality, of course, is that those in the military are not
necessarily Republican themselves. The few studies that exist out
there show that while the officer corps tends to the GOP, junior
ranks tend to be at least as Democratic as you'd expect from a body
that is over 40 percent minority.
You obviously think it is accurate to describe George Bush as
deserter, but is what he did any different than say Dan Quayle or
those who fled to Canada during Vietnam?
Those who went to Canada disagreed with the war. Quayle entered the
Guard to dodge Vietnam, but served his term. His deal was six years
in the Guard at home, against two in the field if drafted. That makes
Quayle an evader, as Bush was, and equally hypocritical since they
both supported the Vietnam war -- as long as it was not their
plutocratic butts on the line.
Even by Quayle standards, Bush went a step further. He went missing
in Alabama and defied orders to report for duty. Moreover, he missed
his medical which as a pilot ensured that he was grounded. He was no
different than those who let a shotgun off next to their ear so they
would be deaf and medically unfit to serve.
Others at that time were sent off on active service for failing to
attend to their National Guard duties. But they were not in the Texas
Air National Guard and their fathers were not Congressmen.
How do you think his faux war hero persona will play out now that he
is going up against a real veteran? Do you think John Kerry will be
able to expose him for what he is when the campaign gets truly
The real problem here is the media. Journalists who often think of
themselves as liberal feel it would be unbalanced to actually howl
the rafters down every time the Bush Administration lets loose one of
its shocking lies. It is why the GOP was able to attack paraplegic
war veteran Senator Max Cleland for his lack of patriotism, and even
Kerry about the degree of his wounds. This president has been given
an easy ride -- by most of the media and most of the Democrats.
So yes, Kerry can expose Bush, if he goes at him with the same
assiduity that they have gone after him, not least because he is on
firmer ground. A lot of people are wondering where the ex-officer's
killer instinct has disappeared, and hope it comes out soon!
Soldier of Fortune
By Ian Williams, AlterNet
June 28, 2004
Editor's Note: The following article is an excerpt based on Ian
Williams' new book, "Deserter: Bush's War on Military Families,
Veterans, and His Past."
On a bright and clear afternoon on May 1st 2003, the U.S.S Abraham
Lincoln cruised an hour's sailing off-shore from San Diego,
California, with its 6,000 crew members marshaled on its four-and-a-
half-acre deck. A Navy S-3B Viking roared past, not once, but twice,
and then finally circled around to land on the carrier's flight deck,
snagging the wires that stopped the plane and its participants from
tumbling into the cold Pacific Ocean. The nominal co-pilot had
actually been prepared for just that watery contingency -- in the
White House swimming pool, since the Viking's precious cargo was none
other than President George W. Bush.
As the plane snapped to a halt, the assembled crew, and the peak time
cable TV viewers, could see that "Navy 1" was emblazoned on the body
of the aircraft and that just below the co-pilot's cockpit window,
assiduous Navy sign painters had stenciled "George W. Bush Commander-
in-Chief." In his chic olive-colored flight suit, combat booted,
looking every inch the warrior, with his doffed helmet tucked under
one arm, Bush raised his other in salute to the cheers of the sailors
gathered under a huge banner declaring "Mission Accomplished."
The Republican obsession has never been as deep or more contrived
than under Bush, who has tried to exorcise his somewhat ethereal
military career by appearing whenever he can in front of made-to-
order audiences at military bases or veterans' rallies. The
phrase "commander-in-chief" is rarely off the president's lips,
especially when he speaks to the military. Nor does he often miss an
opportunity to don some form of uniform to further underline his
In eighteen months, more than one in three of his speeches and policy
pronouncements have been at military bases and veterans' gatherings.
Not for him the unscripted happenstance of Town Hall meetings with
voters or un-choreographed press conferences with inquisitive
reporters; he is much happier surrounded by people in uniform,
snappily saluting and calling him "Sir" and cheering dutifully
whenever he pauses.
President Bush's 2003 May Day flight was an outstanding, but by no
means isolated, example of Bush's abuse-by-association of the
military. He had tried for a double the day before, attempting to
conscript both God and the military on his side by hosting 150
military chaplains for a prayer breakfast in the White House. Just as
typical was his staged ceremony on July 1 2003 at the White House,
where he welcomed thirty reenlisting service people. "Like many
thousands of other soldiers, sailors, airmen, coastguardsmen and
marines who reenlist this year, these men and women are answering the
highest call of citizenship. ... As commander-in-chief, I assure
them, we will stay on the offensive against the enemy."
Bush's dress-up pattern was set long ago, as far back as 1970. While
campaigning for his father against Lloyd Bentsen, the future
President wore his National Guard flight jacket, which is, of course,
an uncanny precursor to that flight onto the deck of the U.S.S
Abraham Lincoln. Dressed in military duds, he would then, as now,
attract approbation in a way that a less sophisticated, less well-
connected, long-haired draft evader would never do, which is why it
is a wardrobe choice he now returns to often, from the decks of a
battleship to the parade grounds of forts and camps all over America.
A random trawl of the newswires and Defense Department White House
archives produces the same dazzling pattern of military camouflage.
On August 14 2003, the President was telling it to the Marines, at
Miramar Marine base in California, "I am proud to be the commander-in-
chief of such a fabulous group of men and women who wear our
uniform." In November, he was at it again, issuing a proclamation of
National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, "in honor of
employers across America who have shown their support for our
National Guardsmen and Reservists. ... These companies have the
gratitude of our nation, they have the gratitude of the commander-in-
chief." Oh how he loves that title.
His speech on the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in
Iraq was also before a "conscripted" audience at Fort Campbell in
Kentucky. There, 20,000 men and women of the 101st Airborne paraded
with little handheld flags in their hands and jumbo size banners
flying overhead, to provide a backdrop to the President's latest
photo-op. For the occasion, the president himself, once again, wore a
signature military jacket with "George W. Bush, commander-in chief"
over his heart.
Of the many military bases, Fort Hood is the president's favorite,
more so since it is conveniently close to his dude ranch in Crawford,
Texas. It is also the biggest base in the United States, home to over
40,000 troops. Bush went there during the lead-up to the war in
January 2003 to gee up the soldiery in the huge camp, while
appropriating the title he loves so much. "Wherever you may be sent,
you can know that America is grateful, and your commander-in-chief is
confident in your abilities and proud of your service," he told them.
The Department of Defense's web site says the speech produced "more
than twenty Hoorahs" for the President, who wore a fetching olive
green windcheater emblazoned with the Presidential seal and "Bush,
U.S. Army" across his chest. In a way, he looked like Paddington
Bear, who also had to be labeled in case he was lost, not least since
the commander-in-chief blended so well with the ranks of military
personnel dutifully lined up behind him.
Bush was back that April, greeting returning prisoners of war and
attending Easter Services in the Church there. That meant he missed
the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, which was equally military in
spirit. "The youngsters in attendance were children of military
families, including the sons and daughters of U.S. troops fighting in
Iraq" said the GOP news service. At the Fort Hood Easter Services,
the "commander-in-chief" met with two recently returned POWs from
Iraq, and threw an arm around the shoulder of one of them, Senior
Warrant Officer David S. Williams.
There were not as many waiting to greet him at Easter 2003 as on his
New Year visit: By then half the 40,000 troops normally housed at the
base were in Iraq missing their Easter eggs. When the Washington Post
checked into the neighborhood early in 2004, thirty-five of them were
never coming back -- all but one of them killed after the President
had made his "formalization that tells everybody we're not engaged in
combat anymore," the previous May.
Unctuously, in the face of such casualties, the first lady returned
to Fort Hood on March 8, 2004, and told a group of military wives
that she knows what it's like "having your life turned upside-down
because the man you love wants to serve the country he loves." At
least she did not wear combat fatigues for the occasion.
Since he has persuaded the majority of Americans, if not the citizens
of any other country in the world, that Saddam Hussein was
responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, perhaps we
should not be surprised at George W. Bush's success in passing
himself off as a veteran with so many Americans, including many who
are actually combat-seasoned veterans themselves.
Apart from the obvious political benefits of "passing," there are
deeply personal reasons why George Bush has wrapped himself in quasi-
uniform, which he wears with the same grin of a six-year-old
presented with a cowboy suit for Christmas.
From one way of looking at it, all over the world, men and women are
now dying and being maimed because George W. Bush had lived
through "the war of his generation," without hearing a shot fired in
anger. "Little Googen," as his indulgent parents called him, has been
trying to emulate his genuinely heroic father -- without actually
risking his life. Bush's Freudian self-delusion is apparent in Bob
Woodward's friendly account, "Bush at War." In the days after
September 11, Bush tells Rove, "just like my father's generation was
called in World War II, now our generation is being called ... I'm
here for a reason."
Bush the Elder, however, was a genuine war hero who left school at 18
and used his family connections to become the youngest pilot in the
Navy. But when the government was drafting his contemporaries and
sending them to Vietnam, his son joined the Air National Guard in
Texas, and ticked the box saying "no" to overseas service: a choice
denied most of his contemporaries then, who did not have the Ivy
League connections to enter such units. (More importantly, such
choices are denied now to the National Guardsmen who were not only
called up for service in Iraq, but have found their terms extended
while they were out in the desert.)
Bush the Younger is very much the product of his family's move from
Yale to Texas after his WWII service. In the East, you were rich
because of family but with a concomitant sense of noblesse oblige. In
the South, you were rich because God loved you, personally. The
resulting combination seems to have stripped out any of old money's
sense of obligation in favor of a doubled meme for a sense of
entitlement, allowing him to enjoy the benefits of playing soldier
without taking any of the risks involved in actually being one. It
makes for a draft-dodging president who once told Woodward, "I'm the
commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain
why I say things."
This breathtaking arrogance exemplifies essential qualities that
define George W. Bush: the sense of privilege for being born rich;
the sense of exaltation that God has chosen him to be rich; and the
sexual thrill of being commander-in-chief. To get the same
combination of lightweight intellect and ruthless appreciation of
power, we have to return, as so often in this administration, to
Lewis Carroll, who seems to have anticipated our current president'
philosophy in Humpty Dumpty: "The question is, which is to be master -
- that's all."