Sukie sent her note on the draft and its alternatives:
It's important for everyone to remember that Rumsfeld has talked about increasing the military representation by 125,000, also that the only campaign promise Bush kept was to cut taxes, and those cuts mostly are for the wealthy and simply transfer more of the tax burden to the middle class and poor while giving a smaller amount of the money back to the middle class to make it look different.
Without the draft here are ways that the military numbers could be increased:
1: End the war or bring in a coalition but Bush has burned bridges with most of our past allies and the Iraqis have about 70,000 fewer police than the number Bush falsely stated in the debate.
2. Improve conditions for the military to get volunteers, but he's been cutting back on their benefits and on VA hospitals so that isn't the route they are working on.
Too bad; those who serve our nation and their families deserve better treatment.
(You know years ago I worked with chimps and in this way they are more moral than current humans. The chimps with highest social standing earn it; they take the greatest personal risks to protect others, so there was a balance instead of those with the greatest privileges also being the safest which is what we are stuck with. Among humans that degree of morality has not been seen for centuries, though it was seen some among the youth of the wealthy in WWII and in fewer cases in the Korean War and Vietnam War. Maybe if the lives of troops weren't so cheap to our leaders -- if they and their own children most commonly faced the risk -- perhaps politicians would not be so willing to turn our families and friends into cannon fodder except when truly needed.
3. Run down the economy so much that people have to volunteer to have an income. The Bush Administration has make great headway in this regard. Who recalls that only 4 years ago we not only didn't have the hugest debt we've ever had, but our nation was working away its debt at the same time that jobs were being created. So, maybe this is being counted on to force the young into the military while jobs disappear.
4. Have mandatory 2 years public service of all types for all youth, or attach a mandatory service time to scholarships. Actually, this idea was recently shot down.
5. Keep the reservists there and call up more retirees. Talk about unfair...
6. Hire mercenaries.
7. Do enough to piss off the terrorists while not monitoring them to ensure a new terrorist attack which would get a lot of volunteers. Given the lack of protection given to munitions bunkers and the resulting thefts this may be among the possibilities. It's truly awful. Do you think the Administration will get serious about true improvements to national protection instead of window dressing?
Here is a NONPARTISAN wonderful site by veterans of this war:
Most people say a draft is very unlikely but it is important to point out a few factoids:
Bush and the rest of the executive say there will not be a draft
the civilian leadership in the Pentagon (Rumsfeld etc) say a draft would not be useful
the war is not going well - in particular turning necessary duties over the Iraqis has been a disaster. some (Cy Hersh for example) suggest the country has started into civil war
under Bush other nations are likely to keep drifting away from the existing "coalition" (like Poland)
recruitment for the military and the guard is down - perhaps below support levels
an additional hot spot may overstress the military
Additionally some suggest there have been issues with openess and honest in the Executive.
If you support the President and the War and are of the right age, the best course of action - perhaps the only patriotic course of action - is to volunteer. The military is in desperate need and you will be putting your life where your mouth is. Consider the draft irrelevant poppycock and speculation and volunteer now.
If you don't trust the President it is best to start acting now. You may consider what your vote on Tuesday means. Before and after the election get in touch with your representatives and let them know you don't want a draft in any form and will hold any move towards one against them. (Note that the vote against the draft last month was nothing more than window dressing and had nothing to do with outlawing a real draft.) Any President who tries to force the issue may not be able to pull it off without considerable support in Congress. Strong opposition in Congress may also prevent a President from opening new theaters of action.
There have been changes to the Selective Service Laws over the past decade and changes to the description of what consientious objector means. At this point registration for the draft is confined to males between 18 and 25, but a new Selective Service plan, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last May, raises the age of draft registration to 34 years old, up from 25, and includes women. People with special skills, such as computers, foreign languages, medical training, etc., will also be subject to being drafted. In effect, if approved, it will be a universal draft where everyone, including the kids of the rich and powerful, will allegedly be eligible to serve in the military. (I actually think this is a great idea if we have to have a draft - bringing some semblance of fairness to prevent situations like those enjoyed George W Bush and Bill Clinton while others accepted greater risk would be healthy.)
With regular deferments gone some people will consider Conscientious Objector status. This is going to be a tough road unless you have deeply held peaceful convictions (my friend Jessica would quality, but she is a rare spirit).
Relevant documents to study include the following (most apply to inside the military, but in the past the description with pre-draft have been identical in spirit)
AFI 36-3204, Procedures for Applying as a Conscientious Objector [July 15, 1994]
COMDTINST 1900.8, Conscientious Objectors and the Requirement to Bear Arms [November 30, 1990]
A Conscientious Objector status will be difficult to get. You need to base it on deeply held religious grounds (although you do not have to believe in a deity - religious (and this was a supreme court case) means a deeply held belief that is fundamental to you as a person. You cannot support any war - not just this one. If you are a member of a religion that supports war (most of the Protestant religions as a starter), you probably need to have a record of protest against their stance (this was common in Vietnam, but I haven't seen anything like it these days). You probably should reach out to serious pacifists and see if you are cut from the same cloth. Being consistent on this issue is tough and few will legitimately qualify.
For most people CO status doesn't make sense. For those who don't support the war the best thing is to begin to protest and vote accordingly. Again - for those who support the war it is a non-issue -- you need to enlist.
I end where I begin. Bush tells us this won't happen on his watch. Like the man says - it is an issue of trust.
Over the past several weeks I've been listening to more than a few podcasts.
Podcasting isn't a new idea - basically you subscribe to audio that is downloaded to your listening device automatically. Many of us played with prototypes of that type of service in the late 90s and the basic idea is much older. What makes it work this time around is the use of RSS and "large enough" hard disk based mp3 players like the iPod.
It is relatively easy (and getting easier by the week) to host a podcast. Still, most of the stuff is probably not worth listening to at this time. (a mp3 clip of a good example from Engadget is here).
Unlike some of the naysayers, I think it will continue to improve and become important over time. I would love to have audio commentary for newspaper and magazine articles that were important, but had to be cut by editors. Audio versions of newspapers would be nice to have for the morning commute. There are any number of extensions of the normal publishing models.
What is even more interesting is difficult to find content. I want story-telling, dramatic readings and any number of items that rarely find their way to the media. I want the pieces that the students of Ira Glass and Terry Gross are creating. I would be very interested in a daily audio blogs by Daniel Pinkwater, David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell
The problem, once the content goes online, is finding the channels that I really want to hear. I presume that this will sort itself out, but it is probably worth someone's time to think deeply about the best ways to arrange for this to happen. It is interesting to note that the list in the last paragraph came from public broadcasting shows. Perhaps this is a natural extension for that piece of the media.
It is also a natural for John Dean style politics.
I note that I rarely use shortwave or am/fm radio these days (at least not from the airwaves) ... mostly I listen to streaming media (from regular am/fm and shortwave stations) with much of it being "tivoed" for time shifted listening on my iPod.
Eventually it would be great to see the emergence of content to see companies like Clear Channel become less important. This is potentially very exciting stuff.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. "I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."
(thanks for the link Jim)
I don't agree with it -- I think the case against Bush is much stronger. The whole Iraq event was stunningly clueless and we will be paying for some time in ways that we probably can't imagine at this point. It is, however, remarkable to see what is essentially a Republican economic journal nix Bush.
The Economist probably sees the Bush/Cheney team as bad management - Cheney's claim that Iraq is a remarkable success story is in the same league as the incompetance and lying associated with executives of Enron, MCI and dozens of the dotbombs and telebombs.
Fernando warns about labels - It's not conservative in the US sense. It's totally free-market, but socially quite liberal.
absolutely correct. Of course that describes many mainstream Republicans in the sixties and seventies.
It is white, has wifi, runs OS X, has usb2 and firewire and goes four to five hours on a charge. The downside is it won't fit in your pocket.
It is called the Macintosh 12" iBook.
Before you laugh consider this. When people study the usability of video players they worry about resolution and solid angle coverage (actually a convolution of the two). For something that is held a few feet away the minimum size is about eight to ten inches of diagonal screen. Lots of factors come into play, but the ability to decipher subtle expressions on the human face is perhaps the most important. A substantial body of research shows that after a few hours of use, smaller screens become very disappointing and even frustrating to use. I have yet to find research that suggests small solid angle video is compelling.
Smaller players will be useful for games as well as highly constricted activity (sitting in a plane, the back seat of a car or in the dentist's waiting room), but small TV screens have generally bombed on the solid angle argument.
An iBook with OS X Tiger (10.4) and H.264 would be a great video machine if you want highly compressed video ... one that plays DVDs is a great video machine today. You can also edit your own video (although very few people have done this), play and rip DVDs, play DiVx and have a competent PC too boot.
Unless you can rewire people, Apple and others would be foolish to think there is a huge market in four inch video screens. (note that video games have different constraints). The issue of format is also critical - at this point being able to play DVDs and or transparently convert them is a major issue. No one is going to buy the sub DiVx quality video designed to play on tiny players.