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I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like Brian Leiter. He's normally simply too arrogant to bother with, and he's not on my list of favorite reads. But yesterday he wrote a piece entitled: "U.S. Preparing for Military Draft; Could Start by Spring 2005." He doesn't say anything about it, other than to quote this piece. This surprises me, since the whole thing is so bogus, and Leiter's not usually one to be taken for a sucker.

According to the piece quoted by Leiter, again without comment:

Pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills S 89 and HR 163) would time the program so the draft could begin at early as Spring 2005 -- conveniently just after the 2004 presidential election! But the administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed NOW, so our action is needed immediately. Details and links follow.

Leiter is a much smarter man than I, because he's peddling subtle conspiracy theory that I can't fathom. He links to the House and Senate versions of the bills without irony, or any indication that he actually read the links. I mean:

  • Every sponsor of the bills is a Democrat: Reps. Lewis, McDermott, Stark, Abercrombie, and Rangel in the House, and Sen. Hollings in the Senate.
  • Leiter, no big fan of Bush, must also accord him a conspiratorial mindset that borders on the ingenious. The bill which the administration is 'quietly trying to get passed' has been introduced by Charles Rangel. The same guy who today is calling on President Bush to impeach Rumsfeld is also secretly conspiring to move forward the President's initiative on Selective Service. Along with his Quisling Democrats, who know that if a single Republican co-sponsors this Bill, it will be done for.
  • Maybe this is because the otherwise gender-biased Bush has logrolled. Again, Leiter quotes: "[T]his plan would among other things eliminate higher education as a shelter and would not exclude women..." Well, we all know Bush doesn't like the highly educated, right?

Of course, there's another reading of this: a few Democrats introduced a bill into Congress (in January of last year, so this thing's probably already bereft of whatever life it once had) in order to make some political nonsense. Some activists have decided to spread a little fear and apprehension by bringing back the spectre of the Draft, complete with college kids and women. And in so doing, they've crafted the kind of act least likely to get passed in our lifetime.

What I don't get is why Leiter, who even people who don't like him admits is a smart guy, fell for this. Hell, you only had to read the pages he linked to!

UPDATE: After posting this, I did a little Technorati magic and found out that a blogger called the Bad Man had already queried the Prof. about it. Leiter's response:

"By January 2003, it was obvious that war was imminent. Rangel & other Democrats intorduced these bills as a (foolish, in my view) strategic move, to try to dissuade the Administration from going forward by threatening to put rich white kids in the military, along with the poor and the minorities. However, the bills are still there, and could be sent to committee at any time."

I hope there was more to the response than that. Because yes, sure, the bills are still there. So are thousands of legislative pieces of flotsam and jetsam, and I'm pretty certain that if Bush wanted to reinstitute the draft, he'd do better than to ask for two bills written by his political opposition. Especially since a bill's sponsor can withdraw it. These bills "can be sent at any time" in the same way that "I can attend my Perspectives final in a dress." Yes, it's within the realm of the conceivable, but my classmates don't have to worry about it.

The guy got taken in, or he was being deliberately deceptive in not pointing out that the article he posted (which does more than imply involvement by an administration 'quietly trying to get these bills passed NOW') was utter bunk. C'mon, Leiter, 'fess up. The worst bit is that due to his article, other people have been taken in.


Ah c'mon. It's much less serious than trying to convince people Saddam had WMD :-) But yes, there needs to be some rather more clearheaded debate on this than there is at the moment and this rubbish helps noone..

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