Thursday, February 24, 2005

Debunking the Draft Scare

I know I had announced a national focus this week, but today's entry finds me talking about the DA again, albeit in a national context. My blogging has been urged by columnist Andrew Stacy's editorial for the paper about draft reinstatement, and if you ask me, this urban legend has gone far enough. Before I go expounding upon my opinions, however, I'll take a semi-objective look at the piece from the perspective of a fact-checker. As you're about to see, I'm probably the only one who's done any fact-checking here.

Stacy's column starts by talking about the Universal National Service Act of 2003, which is a pair of bills introduced by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) [bill S.89] and Rep. Charles Rangel, (D-NY) [bill H.R.163]. Stop and notice for a second that these are both Democrats; more on that later. According to Stacy, "The bills and their co-sponsors can be viewed at www.congress.gov." I assumed the role of an average student who would be clueless about these bills and attempted to find them on Congress's website. S.89 had no co-sponsors and has gone nowhere; the identical H.R.163 had 14 co-sponsors but was crushingly defeated by a 2-402 vote on October 5, 2004. The list of co-sponsors were as follows:

Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands)
William Clay (D-MO)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Jesse L. Jackson (D-IL)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
James Moran (D-VA)
Fortney Stark (D-CA)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

If you can't see all of the Democrats in that list, adjust your monitor. Why would a total of 16 Dems support reinstatement of the draft? Here's the thing: they don't. Confused yet? It's okay, let me explain.

The Universal National Service Act of 2003 was not designed as an honest attempt to reinstate the draft; rather, it was created for the sole purpose of making a point by Dems who were unhappy with the Bush administration's policies towards the war in Iraq. Let me alleviate any fears of a draft held by Stacy (a Navy vet) and others by providing links to two websites -- TruthOrFiction and Snopes -- who are nonpartisan and have already debunked the draft rumor. Note that large chunks of Stacy's editorial appear to have been lifted out of the sample e-mail that Snopes shows...I assume he must have read the chain mail at some point. Also note that the source of said e-mail, congress.org, is not the official congress.gov.

For those of you who are still unconvinced, consider this. Any Congressperson (write it down, I'm being politically correct) who would cast a "Yea" vote for draft reinstatement, unless the country was in dire circumstances (think 9/11, but at least three times as bad), would lose most of their voter support. Obviously, their seat in Congress would follow, which would happen much more quickly to those in the House who only serve two-year terms. Also consider one of Stacy's primary sources, Connor Freff Cochran. Cochran wrote the story I just linked for AlterNet back in March 2004. Most of the points Stacy makes that can't be found at Snopes can be found there.

Andrew Stacy's main original point is that he has received requests to update his personal information from the Navy, whereas his former shipmates have not. Don't sweat it too much, my good man. Everyone listen up: there will not be a draft anytime soon, and it sure as heck won't be by June 2005. Please let this leftover election scare tactic die. If you have friends who are still worried, e-mail them this post so they can see the facts.

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