Amidst the constant debates about abortion in this country, there’s a fact that seems to get overlooked. Assume that those women who get abortions are in some way less inclined to conscientiously raise the child that they would otherwise have than the average woman (not by any means universally true, but it seems pretty inevitable on average). Now consider further that if the US infant mortality rate was as low as Cuba’s, we’d save 2,212 babies per year.

So we can’t keep the children we already have alive at the same rate as a thirld world evil commie dictatorship, yet we need to introduce millions more into the world? Forgetting any moral objections either way, surely the first thing to do is to fix the leak before trying to bail out the boat?

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For your health

I’ve been somewhat lax on posting recently, but have a stack of links that I’d like to share. So for the time being let’s go with a post a day to clear the backlog. Today’s offering…

There is much discussion over the president’s National Guard service. His supporters point out that he was generally well though of and highly reviewed during his time in the Guard. More importantly, he was honorably discharged, a fact that tends to put a damper on speculation that he didn’t complete his service.

On the opposite side we have arguments such as that put forward in Salon, and quoted here. A few highlights:

  • Upon being accepted for pilot training, Bush promised to serve with his parent (Texas) Guard unit for five years once he completed his pilot training.

    But Bush served as a pilot with his parent unit for just two years.

  • He was supposed to receive a certification of satisfactory participation from his unit.

    But Bush did not.

  • He was supposed to sign and give a letter of resignation to his Texas unit commander.

    But Bush did not.

  • On his transfer request Bush was asked to list his Air Force specialty code.

    But Bush, an F-102 pilot, erroneously wrote the code for an F-89 or F-94 pilot. Both planes had been retired from service at the time. Bush, an officer, made this mistake more than once on the same form.

  • In July 1972 Bush failed to take a mandatory Guard physical exam, which is a serious offense for a Guard pilot. The move should have prompted the formation of a Flying Evaluation Board to investigation the circumstances surrounding Bush’s failure.

    But no such FEB was convened.

  • When Guardsmen miss monthly drills, or “unit training assemblies” (UTAs), they are allowed to make them up through substitute service and earn crucial points toward their service record. Drills are worth one point on a weekday and two points on each weekend day. For Bush’s substitute service on Nov. 13-14, 1972, he was awarded four points, two for each day.

    But Nov. 13 and 14 were both weekdays. He should have been awarded two points.

  • To maintain unit cohesiveness, the parameters for substitute service are tightly controlled; drills must be made up within 15 days immediately before, or 30 days immediately after, the originally scheduled drill, according to Guard regulations at the time.

    But more than half of the substitute service credits Bush received fell outside that clear time frame. In one case, he made up a drill nine weeks in advance.

  • On Sept. 29, 1972, Bush was formally grounded for failing to take a flight physical. The letter, written by Maj. Gen. Francis Greenlief, chief of the National Guard Bureau, ordered Bush to acknowledge in writing that he had received word of his grounding.

    But no such written acknowledgment exists. In 2000, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Boston Globe that Bush couldn’t remember if he’d ever been grounded.

  • Bartlett also told the Boston Globe that Bush didn’t undergo a physical while in Alabama because his family doctor was in Houston.

    But only Air Force flight surgeons can give flight physicals to pilots.

  • Guard members are required to take a physical exam every 12 months.

    But Bush’s last Guard physical was in May 1971. Bush was formally discharged from the service in November 1974, which means he went without a required physical for 42 months.

  • Each of Bush’s numerous substitute service requests should have formed a lengthy paper trail consisting of AF Form 40a’s, with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the signature of the officer who supervised the training and Bush’s own signature.

    But no such documents exist.

  • On July 30, 1973, Bush, preparing to attend Harvard Business School, signed a statement acknowledging it was his responsibility to find another unit in which to serve out the remaining nine months of his commitment.

    But Bush never contacted another unit in Massachusetts in which to fulfill his obligation.

That’s more than I had meant to quote, but there’s lots left I didn’t mention. Any one of them is enough to raise a question, one or two (such as the last one) are enough on their own to require a specific answer from the president. I’m not aware of such answers.

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Cheap for them, free for you

I listened to some of the Minnesota governor’s “State of the State” address this week. Most of it was pretty standard ‘normal’ republican fare about cutting taxes, increasing opportunity etc., and as such I agreed with some and disagreed with the rest. I’m sure Gov. Pawlenty will shoulder the burden of my disapproval quite handily.

Anyway, one section struck me as add for two reasons. He introduced a 17 year old, still at school, who is also a member of the armed forces (I presume through the national guard). Now it may just have been my lack of attention, but the first odd thing was that he didn’t really seem to have a point. Yes, he wanted to thank this person and her colleagues for their service, which is a good and decent thing to do, but the way it played seemed more like a way to get the crowd in a clapping mood before getting into the substance. But I’ll excuse him this, and just assume that there was actually a policy about paying soldiers enough that they don’t have to rely on welfare or something.

The second, even more puzzling thing to my ears was that he picked a 17 year old. Many groups class anyone under 18 as a child soldier. I’m not convinced of that logic (my cousin tried to join up when he was 16, and seemed mature enough to me to make that decision), but if you accept as a nation that people can make that decision when they’re 16 or 17, they should also be able to do all the other things that adults do, like vote, drink, and make up their own minds on Spongebob Squarepants. The fact that we have people who can choose to die for their leader, but can’t choose their leader, is a joke. Only not a very funny one.

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