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And we thought we were the only ones who have, every Thanksgiving at noon for the past three decades, turned on our local radio station knowing that it would be playing our favorite 25 minute version of Arlo Guthrie's version of Alice's Restaurant.
Today it was on at 1pm and the station said demand was so great from people that no longer had the record, that they would replay it at 7 pm. We sang along with every word.
Out here on the left fringe of '60s-style activism, we don't go in much for ritual. We lefties are about freedom, innovation, always finding a new and better way to do things.
Still, there is something to be said for ritual. It creates an illusion that things never change, that we can turn back the clock for a moment and pretend things are still the way they used to be. Maybe it's having dinner with the same folks every Thanksgiving, or fixing the trimmings in the same way each year. In my house, it's turning on our local public radio station and waiting for that magic moment when we can start singing along with Arlo.
Ira, it's a ritual in our house too. Ira continues:
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TAPPED likes our response to its criticism yesterday of our earlier post on Rep. Rangel calling for the draft. Tapped also likes the reply to its post by Liquid List. We do too, in the context of the war against Iraq, which at this point seems inevitable.
We're putting the issue of a future policy for a military draft and compulsory national service on our list of issues to come back to in the near future. When we've thought it through and done some more research, we'll let you know where we stand.
If you are not already reading Tapped on a daily basis, you should be.
Tapped, one of our very favorite blogs, comments on our recent post criticizing Rangel for suggesting a military draft as a means of garnering congressional opposition to a war on Iraq. Tapped acknowledges that Rangel's proposal is ..."clearly a political gambit and not a serious policy proposal," and agrees with us that "drafting people in order to sap support for a war in Iraq is a terrible idea."
That's really the only point we were making. As we said in a follow-up post, "we cannot support risking the lives of this country's youth to make a political point. They should not be used as pawns in the war debate."
Tapped says it disagrees with us that the draft itself is a terrible thing. But, we haven't taken a position on the draft as a concept by itself. We were criticizing Rangel for using it as a political ploy - relying upon our experience with the draft during Vietnam to show how traumatic it is to the kids who are forced to go. What kind of person suggests such a thing when they don't believe the war is necessary or in the best interest of our country? Since Rangel opposes the war, we think it is a cheap political stunt to offer up a draft as a solution, when a draft would be so risky to the lives of all American youth.
If Rangel opposes the war, let him do the job he was elected to do--confer with and convince other congresspersons to see it his way and oppose the war because the war is a bad idea. We were calling on liberals not to let him get away with treating the youths of this country as expendable pawns in the debate.
Were we not on the precipe of a war we oppose, we would sit down and contemplate the issues that Tapped addressed today: Is a draft ever legitimate or desirable? Should we have a compuslory national service plan for those who object to serving in the military? Chances are, we might answer yes, in some instances. World War II would be a good example. But drafting and enacting that kind of legislation is a huge undertaking that should be done over time, after careful reflection and consideration of all aspects. We haven't done that and either has Congress.
However, we can't agree with Tapped that all conservatives (and impliedly, Republicans) are opposed to a draft or compulsory national service. Certainly, not all Democrats are in favor of them.
First, take a look at H.CON.RES.368, introduced on March 20, 2002 by Rep. Ron Paul ® and co-sponsored by Rep John Conyers, Jr. (D), Rep John J. Duncan, J ®, Jr. , Rep Cynthia McKinney (D), Rep George Miller (D), Rep Patsy Mink (D), and Rep Pete Fornay Stark (D). [All references to this bill and the one that follows are available on Thomas, the Federal Legislation Service, just type in the bill numbers.]
The title of the bill states "Expressing the sense of Congress that reinstating the military draft or implementing any other form of compulsory military service in the United States would be detrimental to the long-term military interests of the United States, violative of individual liberties protected by the Constitution, and inconsistent with the values underlying a free society as expressed in the Declaration of Independence."
On March 20, 2002 the bill was referred to the House Armed Services Committee, and on April 5, to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. No further action was taken.
[Yes, we know that Rep. Conyers has now joined Rangel's call for a draft, but you'll have to ask him about his abrupt change of position--we have no explanation.]The text of the resolution reads:
Whereas the Armed Forces have successfully fulfilled the military needs of the United States for almost 30 years solely on the basis of voluntary service;Example Two: Now take a look at H.R. 3598, The Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001, introduced by Republicans Smith of Michigan and Weldon of Pennsylvania on December 28, 2001 and later referred to the House Committee on Armed Services and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Rep Roscoe Bartlett ® is a co-sponsor.
Whereas the Department of Defense issued a report in 1993 titled `A Review of the Continued Requirement for Draft Registration', which stated that draft registration could be suspended without irreparable damage to national security;
Whereas each branch of the Armed Forces has traditionally been able to meet or exceed its recruitment targets;
Whereas the recent success of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan has once again demonstrated the ability of the volunteer military to respond to threats to the lives, liberty, and property of the people of the United States;
Whereas a military draft introduces tensions and rivalries between those who volunteer for military service and those who have been conscripted, thus undermining the cohesiveness of military units, which is vital to military effectiveness;
Whereas those individuals who are forced to serve in the military are unlikely to choose the military as a career or to share the same enthusiasm for military service as those who volunteer;
Whereas the most effective method of meeting the personnel needs of the Armed Forces is to increase the pay and benefits of veterans and members of the Armed Forces; ....
Whereas the reinstatement of the military draft in the United States is opposed by leaders and organizations of various political affiliations, including former President Ronald Reagan, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Noble laureates Milton Friedman and James Buchanan, former Senator Bill Bradley, the American Civil Liberties Union, Minnesota Governor and former Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Veterans for Peace, the Libertarian Party, the Mennonite Church, and the Conservative Caucus;
Whereas the military draft violates the principles of liberty on which the United States was founded; and
Whereas compulsory military service is a form of involuntary servitude: Now, therefore, be itResolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that reinstating the military draft or implementing any other form of compulsory military service in the United States would be detrimental to the long-term military interests of the United States, violative of individual liberties protected by the Constitution, and inconsistent with the values underlying a free society as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
The Title of the bill states it is "To require the induction into the Armed Forces of young men registered under the Military Selective Service Act, and to authorize young women to volunteer, to receive basic military training and education for a period of up to one year."Here is the official summary of the bill:
Makes it the obligation of male citizens and residents between 18 and 22 to receive basic military training and education as a member of the armed forces unless otherwise exempt under this Act. Permits female citizens and residents between such ages to volunteer for enlistment in the armed forces, with acceptance at the discretion of the Secretary of the military department concerned. Limits the period of training to between six months and a year. Permits transfers after basic training of such conscripts/volunteers to national and community service programs to finish the term of service. Provides educational services and Montgomery GI benefits to persons upon completion of their national service.Both of these legislative proposals were introduced after Sept. 11. The one introduced by Republicans calls for mandatory military training/service and compulsory national service for objectors and has no Democratic co-sponsors. The resolution introduced by a Republican but co-sponsored by several liberal democrats opposes a draft.
Uses the existing Selective Service System and local boards for induction. Sets forth criteria for deferments, postponements, and exemptions, including high school, hardship, disability, and health.Entitles inductees to request a particular service branch. Excludes conscientious objectors from combatant training, but otherwise requires them to take basic training before a permitted transfer to a national service program.
Frankly, the whole issue seems to be too politicized to make heads or tails of. But we stand by our criticism of Rangel for suggesting, and promising to introduce, legislation that puts all kids at risk simply to make a poltical point and grab a soundbite.
Our good friend Max disagrees with us on the Draft. He's for it--because he thinks it might reopen the discussion about whether the President should have the power to declare war. [Update: Max modified his position here.]
As a downside to the draft, he says there might be a comeback of Country Joe and the Fish. So once again, two liberals disagree. We love Country Joe and the Fish, and back in October, reprinted the lyrics to the Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag in a post titled War is Not the Answer.
Max also doesn't think that the draft during the Vietnam War had anything to do with anti-war activism. We again disagree. But since there seems to be a lot of disagreement among readers in the comments sections to various blogs on the topic, we encourage everyone to go here and read this series from the BBC containing a succinct and well-documented chronicle of anti-war efforts. The link is to 1969-70, but after reading, scroll down and you will find the links for the other years during the period of 1965-1975.
We responded to Max in his comments section that we cannot support risking the lives of this country's youth to make a political point. They should not be used as pawns in the war debate. For anti-war liberals to support a draft where people would be forced to go to war makes no sense to us--it's a classic cutting your nose off to spite your face, as one of our readers said in the comments section to our earlier post.
One last thing, if Country Joe doesn't grab you, check out Arlo Guthrie's long version of Alice's Restaurant. KBCO, our great radio station in Boulder, used to play it every Thanksgiving at noon (into the 90's at least). The lyrics are too long to print here, but if you click on the more button below, we have included those to the second half about reporting to the draft board on Whitehall Street in New York City--(the first half has to do with Arlo's arrest for littering, at the end it all ties together.)
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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has joined Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) in calling for a national draft. Their reason: "children of the rich should serve alongside less privileged Americans in the war on terrorism."
Rangel and Conyers said they will "ask the House to consider legislation to reinstitute the draft, perhaps as early as next week, at the start of the 108th Congress. The United States has not drafted troops since 1973."
We said our piece on this yesterday and we stand behind it-- in strong opposition to Conyers and Rangel.
We can't believe the number of "liberals" touting Rangel's obscene proposal to invoke a mandatory draft as a means of avoiding a war in Iraq--the faulty premise being if you put the sons of the rich at risk, perhaps the rich will come to oppose the war.
With all due respect to our "liberal" friends, this is sophomoric and dangerous to the futures of tens of thousands of American youth. What right do they have to call for the interruption of the lives of these young men who have done nothing to them? Most of these so-called "liberals" are too young to remember Vietnam--too young to remember the agony that every male college student went through the night of the draft lottery--the scenes in virtually every living room of every dorm and apartment from Berkeley to Ann Arbor to Boston and in between--the anguished cries of disbelief and rushed exits from the room when someone's number was called--all for a war that no one wanted to fight and that history now confirms we shouldn't have ever entered--the thousands of dead youths, the thousands of mothers whose boys came home in a box. We're not exaggerating, we were there and we lived it-- the war, the draft and the lottery--two of those we took the LSATs with never made it to law school, their numbers came up high and off they went--hopefully to Canada, but certainly not to the lives they had dreamed of and worked so hard for. When we went to our 20th high school reunion in 1987, the party opened with a a simulcast of a radio show hosted by a well-known disc jockey of that era acknowledging our reunion and reading off the names of the dead from our high school class.
How crass and unfeeling for these "liberals" to wish such a fate on an 18 - 26 year old who has done nothing to deserve it. So what if their parents have money? Is that their fault? How does that devalue their accomplishments and dreams? If these so-called liberals believe the war should be opposed, let them get out in the streets and demonstrate, get their hands dirty, risk an arrest. How how dare they sit on their comfortable rear ends from the distance of a computer screen and call upon others to do what they would never do themselves--forfeit their freedom in the name of a soundbite.
Sorry, but this is despicable. And anything but liberal.
Update: Oliver Willis agrees with us and notes, "A government that compels one to die for a cause one may not believe in is not a free government, and if the government isn't free... it isn't American."
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