Fun With Numbers

Let’s see if I can explain this in a way that even a wingnut can understand.

If you have ten apples and eat nine of them, don’t plan on baking a pie with what’s left. Your choices are to get more apples or do without the pie.

Let’s make it a little more complicated: If you start with two dozen place settings of china but break twice as many dishes as you replace, eventually you won’t have enough for a formal dinner party. Your choices are to replace the dishes or forget fine dining.

As math-impaired as I am, I figure that if I understand how subtraction works, anyone bright enough to use a fork ought to catch on. With that in mind, let’s look at a recent news story. Jerome L. Sherman wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A solid majority of American soldiers returning from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan say that U.S. armed forces are stretched too thin, according to a poll released yesterday by a veterans group. , a group headed by an Army reservist based near Pittsburgh, found that 63 percent of veterans of both conflicts describe the Army and Marine Corps as “overextended,” while many soldiers also complained about encountering emotional and physical problems when they came back from active duty.

“We hope that this poll is a wake-up call for Congress,” said Jon Soltz , who served in Iraq in 2003 and is now a captain with a reserve unit at the Charles E. Kelly Support Facility in Oakdale and chairman of VoteVets.

Let’s look at some old news stores. This is a report by Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, March 9, 2004:

Today’s Army is under enormous stress. With ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and dozens of other military missions worldwide, there are more than 320,000 Army troops alone deployed in 120 countries overseas. That’s more than 60 percent of the entire Army.

Former Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who commanded U.S. troops in the first Gulf War, says the Army is being pushed to the breaking point. “We’re running these people ragged,” he said. “Many of them are being deployed three out of four years. They’re not going to stay.”

McClatchy Newspapers, November 1, 2006:

With the military stretched thin fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has lowered some academic recruitment standards and even granted waivers to permit the enlistment of people with criminal records that otherwise would disqualify them.

Jim Hoffer, WABC, November 2, 2006:

Last year, the Army fell short of its recruiting goals for the first time in years. While this year the Army is making its quota, it’s how they’re doing it that’s being called into question because of what we found undercover.

What he found was that recruiters are lying to the potential recruits, telling them there was little chance they’d go to Iraq. One recruiter told a student (secretly taping the conversation) that the war was over.

I bring this up because Rep. Charles Rangel, who in January will be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, plans to introduce a bill to reinstate the draft.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded
Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said.

Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, has said the all-volunteer military disproportionately puts the burden of war on minorities and lower-income families.

Steve Gilliard writes,

This is a way to call the GOP’s bluff.

Rangel has two recruiting stations in his district [which includes parts of Harlem and the Bronx], the neighboring ones have none. When you look at who gets killed in Iraq, no one from Dalton and the Upper East Side is included. But immigrants from Queens, firefighters, and a bunch of working people

He knows it’s shitting the punch bowl, both for the GOP and liberal advocates of national service. People seem the draft is good for other people, but a draft of people 16-42 would take people older than the WW II draft, which ended at 36. Let’s see what they do when a bill is on the floor, vote it down of course. So we need to stop talking about wars as if we’re willing to fight them.

Righties — by definition, people who are too stupid to figure out that if you eat all the apples you can’t make the pie — are hootin’ about it.

But it’s only because of Mr. Rangel’s concern for the troops of course. It has nothing to do with trying to foment an anti-war movement like we had for Vietnam.

“Days Of Rage” here we come!

Say, where is the “Rock The Vote” crowd? Weren’t they and the rest of George Soros’ stooges spreading the lie that the Republicans intended to restore the draft if they won in 2004?

The “youth vote” turned out in record numbers on election day and apparently voted very heavily for the Democrats. (Remember, Rangel was going to retire if the Democrats didn’t win control of the House.)

Do you think they’ll ever notice they were lied to?

For a lot of reasons there won’t be an antiwar movement like the one during the Vietnam era. The biggest reason is that the antiwar movement is working online and within the political system this time, and not on the streets. And it’s not the young people who need to think about what they’re willing to sacrifice, but the politicians who support the war and are running the Army into the ground, yet lack the moral courage to make the hard choices between their wars and the draft.

I don’t know what “George Soros’ stooges” were saying in 2004, but this is what I was saying:

Jonathan Alter writes in Newsweek that the Bush Administration has no plans for a draft. “He knows that a draft would vaporize any remaining support for his Iraq policy,” Alter writes. “This would be of concern to him even as a second-term, lame-duck president. One thing we’ve learned about Bush is that he has never taken a position that he knew beforehand would be politically unpopular, including invading Iraq.”

One thing we know about Bush is that he’s all about winning elections. The governing thing is just a prop. And if he wins in November, why would he care what we think?

And another thing we know about Bush is that he’s not being honest about Iraq. His statements on Iraq are hallucinatory.

But I suspect Alter is right. Bush has no plans for a draft. Of course, he didn’t plan for escalating violence in Iraq, either. He didn’t plan for the car bombs that injured soldiers near Fallujah today, for example.

We can’t be sure what Bush is planning, or even if Bush is planning. There is speculation that he plans a major offensive at the end of the year to pacify the insurgents. Bob Novak says there are plans to cut and run after the January elections. Whatever. Clearly, Iraq is spinning out of his control.

So there’s no point asking if Bush has plans for a draft. The question is, what if he realizes he needs soldiers to actually defend America, and there aren’t enough to go around?

I had forgotten that the Reptile had predicted Bush would get out of Iraq after January 2005. Here’s the quote, from September 2004:

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go. …

Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush’s decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.

I guess the Reptile was wrong. Anyway, back in 2004 righties shoved their fingers into their ears and refused to listen to our warnings that, someday, somebody was going to have to make the tough decision between waging war without end and risking a political firestorm by reinstating the draft. And I personally didn’t think Bush would do it, because Bush is a moral weenie who lacks the courage to make decisions that he knows will hurt him politically.

Now, I don’t think the draft will be reinstated — yet — and I don’t want it to be reinstated. But the nation, and Congress, have to make the tough choice that the President won’t make — either end the war, or restart the draft. The obvious, sensible answer is end the war. Whichever way we go, however, the troops deserve an answer. They deserved an answer two years ago.

And do you think the wingnuts will ever notice they were lied to? I’m not holding my breath.

19 thoughts on “Fun With Numbers

  1. I hope Rangel sticks to his guns and can use his bill to provoke the “how serious are you about winning” discussion with the right. If they aren’t serious, we should all go home. Why risk another soldier if we have no intention of winning?

    And I so want to hear John (100,000 more troops, please) McCain get behind Rangel’s idea or please explain where his troops are gonna come from.

    Billmon has some fascinating historical parallels with the current situation.

  2. because Bush is a moral weenie who lacks the courage to make decisions that he knows will hurt him politically.

    Are you being facetious or is that a typo? Shouldn’t it be… Bush is an “immoral “weenie. ?

  3. Are you being facetious or is that a typo? Shouldn’t it be… Bush is an “immoral “weenie. ?

    No, “moral weenie” is correct, as in being a weenie about morals.The adjective “moral” describes “weenie,” not Bush. It’s like saying “intellectual lightweight” to mean “stupid.”

    ‘Course, he’s an immoral weenie, also.

  4. The right is shaking due to having to put thier money where thier mouth is.
    Have you ever noticed that there is about a 5 to 1 ratio of vets that are democrats in D.C.
    That’s cause the right is good at being big mouths and beating thier chests and strutting about being real Americans but, when it comes to actually putting up they know the cut and run dance personally.
    When they think that thier young repubicans would have to actually get dirty and fight, oh no. Back away.

  5. OK…I got it..English isn’t forte. I just saw moral and Bush in the same sentence and figured it had to be a mistake or a snark.

  6. No draft, period, non-negotiable as far as I am concerned. Charles Rangel is playing a dangerous game that could easily be turned into a Brer Rabbit scenario.

    Here is your hard choice: End the war or end the American military domination of the world. Either way, it ends.

  7. A democratic nation at war (and the pols say we are at war even though Congress never declared it) needs a draft. It needs monetary sacrifice (at the least, a conficactory surtax on high incomes). It needs civilian sacrifice (at the least, gas rationing). If we are in a war, we must act like we are in a war.
    The great advantage of a draft (let’s call it national service) is that everyone coming up will serve some years at low pay in humiliating positions with people whom they might never otherwise associate with lording it over them, or suffering with them, or overlording them in turn. It is a very democratising experience which I and most males of my generation experienced.
    Now there is no reason to think that national service has to be military. There is plenty of other scutwork to do in this nation and the world that American youth is quite capable of doing.
    And it is not just military service that should have rewards of college tuition and the like. All service should qualify (although I agree that the combat arms should get a monetary bonus for their risks of life, limb, and potential future as they do now).
    There was one great problem with the draft in my time. No women. All should be required to serve to their ability and their choice on whether to go the military route or the Civilian Conservation Corps route or something else comparable. It is not just serving in the military, much less in combat arms, that is important. It is serving. It is realizing you are part of a people and a nation. It is not seeing some smug bastard get a head start because he ducked the draft (or had his daddy National Guard him) and went to graduate school while you were cleaning latrines, carrying a BAR, teaching school in Appalachia, hunting rats in the ghetto, or otherwise making your pimply adolescence somewhat useful while getting a better education on the ground for free than you’d ever get for big bucks tuition. You learn to hate sergeants and despise lifers, detest blustering second lieutenants, and vow to frag overweening light birds. Or in mufti, seethe at the bureaucratic idiots. But you grow to love them despite their flaws, for they have taught you. Taught you perhaps the mistakes you should not make, the attitudes you should not have, but taught you nevertheless.
    Hell, yes, a nation at war needs a draft.
    Unless, of course, we are at “war” only for Republican votes and so a yellow-streaked phony cowboy can pretend he has a right to swagger about in the uniform he disgraced.
    Gory, gory, what a helluvaway to die. For Wtf?

  8. Charles Rangel is playing a dangerous game that could easily be turned into a Brer Rabbit scenario.

    No one wants the draft, including Rangel.

  9. Charles Rangel is one very smart guy. There is something loathesome about an economic system that creates more ‘have-nots’ vulnerable to death or dismemberment via a recruiter’s targeting, while creating obscene windfalls for the ‘haves’ via the business perks of war.

  10. You are presenting a logical choice, either end the war or re-instate the draft so that you have enough troops to fight it.

    But, that’s absurd! When has Bush been logical about anything?

    It makes about as much sense as saying “either you have to cut expenditures or increase taxes to balance the budget.” Except that there’s a third option — just run up a gigantic deficit that will destroy the economy in the future — and shrug your shoulders and don’t worry about it.

    Bush can do the same thing about Iraq. He will have enough soldiers one way or another to fight in Iraq for the next two years. That will totally destroy the volunteer military, but who cares? He won’t be President by then and the next administration can worry about it — just like they’ll have to worry about everything else, like getting out of Iraq.

    Bush is like the stupid drunk brother who insists on having a blowout party the entire time your parents are away. Even though they are coming back home sometime on Sunday he insists on setting up the beer-bong once again in the living room Sunday morning and start trashing whatever furniture is left unbroken from the night before. And when you try to tell him that “mom and dad will be coming home anytime now and we’ll both be grounded for life” he just shrugs it off.

    There’s just no way he’s going to start cleaning up the mess and kicking his drunk friends out of the house now. No matter what anybody says, it’s “party on Wayne!”

    If Bush ever really faced up to what he’s done he’d be a basket case. He’s totally in the world of denial and intends to stay there.

    So, he tells the Baker commission “withdrawal is off the table. What else have you got?” “Well, we can re-arrange all the deck chairs on the Titanic and make a public announcement that everything will now be fine.”

    “Sounds good, let’s do that! We’ll call it ‘charting a new course for the Titanic.'”

  11. Pingback: Macsmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense » Blog Archive » Rangel Rumple

  12. As the step-father of a draft-age teenager, I really wish Rangel would just siddown and shutthefuckup.

    I understand the point he is making, and to a certain extent agree, although with reservations … but if his little bout of attention grabbing theatrics manages to get my step-daughter killed in a desert in a god forsaken corner of the middle east, I will never forgive, and I will never forget. Not him, and not anybody who supported him.

    I am already facing the possible loss of a brother, who volunteered. Don’t put the rest of my family at risk, no matter how remote the chance. Find some other way to dramatize the situation.


  13. Hi, Ian,

    I’m nodding and sighing about your brother, and your stepdaughter.

    However, your energetic NO is just what is needed. If Rangel’s proposal is to goad Righties into proving how much they DO want this war, it will also charge the rest of us into showing, screaming, demonstrating how much we DO NOT want this war. As in, insist that the New Congress blare the fact that 1) a draft is instated in a time of war, 2) only Congress can declare war, 3) Congress has not declared war. Pull out the documents and broadcast that detail. Loudly and often.

  14. I do not agree with those of you who are against the draft. The draft wouldn’t mean that everyone drafted would go to war and anyway, I have a problem with anyone who was for the war but would be against the draft. Those people are saying, “It’s okay for you to decide to put your life on the line for ‘me and mine’, just don’t expect any of ‘me and mine’ to return the favor

    My son went into the navy before the conflict and got out. I’m glad he didn’t get into the middle of the Iraq mess, but all in the military are not in the war and he wouldn’t have been part of it – probably.

    The far left that hates the troops do not speak for me and if the draft were to be put to a vote, I would vote for it. I think its an argument the United States should have because I think if we’re going to go to war, we should commit enough troops to win or not go at all. Only if we had a draft would there be a constraint on the decision.

    I don’t like the idea of a mercenary army, which is what we have in some ways; that is, only those who are willing to fight for money. A draft would throw all different types of people in together and I think it would go a long way towards bringing cohesion to the United States -whether it would be in protesting against the draft or for it.

  15. I am a vet from the Vietnam era. I did NOT say I’m a Vietnam vet. The closest I got was 3 miles offshore for the evacuation of Saigon. But I in the military in a bad time and I can tell you: conscription is a bad idea. Here’s why. The essential change in attitude from civilian thinking to military thinking is putting the unit ahead of yourself. Duty. It’s hard to get that change in attitude from a conscript. His life is screwed up; his plans are in the toilet and he resents the military. And you think he’s going to function well in a firefight?

    We are in a war as screwed up as ‘Nam, but look at the troops. They are superb, and you can’t say that about the army of ‘Nam. (This is not an indictment of any individual’s performance in ‘Nam, but look at the quality of the troops as a whole.) We have good troops now but I agree: too many wars and too few troops are stressing the military to the breaking point. Units are rotating into Iraq for their third tour. You can’t do that. They need time to decompress and adjust. There’s gonna be a high price here when Humpty Dumpty comes off the wall.

    To borrow from an old commercial : ‘Sorry, Charlie..”. This is a bad idea. Decades went into building a first-rate military. The draft will degrade the military just as sure as this useless war.

  16. O.K. Conscription is bad. The draft was bad. Although without the Selective Service Act of 1940, WW II would have been an even closer thing. What I advocate is not a military draft, but a form of universal service that could include military service as an option. All young people would have to give up several years of their life to it. There would be no deferments, no National Guard outs, no sex discrimination. Combat arms military pay would be adjusted as necessary to get the bodies needed for the armed services. The professional military corps would remain as always to provide the knowhow and leadership needed. Low-paid, often humiliating, usually dreary, frequently boring, and sometimes dangerous service, civilian or military, would be a socialization breaking down prejudice and class barriers.
    Truman’s integration of the military provided the underpinning of the civil rights revolution. White Southerners who found themselves sharing foxholes and shelterhalves with blacks and Latinos would never again be as certain of their superiority. Learning to take orders from black sergeants just reinforced the lesson.
    The draft, as much as anything else, made continuation of the Vietnam debacle impossible. It cut too close to home when a kid you knew showed up on the casualty list. Like Iraq, we were in a war in which the home front made no sacrifices in their daily lives. Unlike Iraq, the casualties were drawn from an army of ordinary civilians dragooned into service that touched every neighborhood and brought the war home.
    Do we really want a standing army of professionals unchecked by civilian skepticism from the ranks? A much larger army was disintegrating when we finally withdrew from Vietnam. A smaller army is disintegrating from the stress of repeated tours into Bush’s dandy little re-election project. But the home front is almost virtually unaffected except for the families and friends of the few we pay to serve in our stead.
    A democracy needs a broad reach of citizens who have experienced the idiocies and ironies of regimented life. It seems paradoxical that we must give up some freedom sometime in our lives to preserve it. But I submit that it is an important element. We have had a leadership since Vietnam that for the most part avoided military service or any other sacrifice for the common good. That includes most members of the media, Congress, the courts, and, needless to say, the executive branch.
    I think we would be better off as a nation if, when politicians declare an emergency, they would have to know that they are sending citizens who can think for themselves to fight it. Citizens perhaps including their own sons and daughters. I think that even the shameless cynicism that our rulers have displayed of late would be tempered by this. I see no reason to believe that their malignant incompetence would be in any way increased. The military would reap the biggest benefit of all from having to once again cope with civilian attitudes in the ranks. So don’t call it a draft. Call it universal service. It would be good for the military, good for politics, and good for the nation. And it would be good for those who undertook it.

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