Friday, June 18, 2004

A Carefully Constructed Lie

The Shelby County Democratic Party puts out their own newspaper, The Democrat. It's a lot of party boosting, some sympathetic interviews with local Dems, and some articles meant to appeal to the Democratic mindset.

The most recent issue has an article [Not available online. I found my copy at Midtown Video of all places.] by editor Roger Easson, who is a Professor of Literature and Languages at Christian Brothers University, and has a whole host of other credits to his name. Titled "Draft Reinstated by April Of 2005, if Bush is Elected," it is almost a model of taking facts and still managing to produce, through careful writing and artful excision, an incorrect and propagandistic work of dishonesty and disingenuousness.

I've been following this issue for a while now and was at one time convinced a draft was a certainty. Now, after months of reading and research, I'm not, though I do think an eventuality is being prepared for, just in case. I don't think a draft is coming, but I do believe that ducks are being put in a row.

You can also read from the Selective Service System website itself, which explicitly says:
Notwithstanding recent stories in the news media and on the Internet, Selective Service is not getting ready to conduct a draft for the U.S. Armed Forces -- either with a special skills or regular draft. Rather, the Agency remains prepared to manage a draft if and when the President and the Congress so direct. This responsibility has been ongoing since 1980 and is nothing new. Further, both the President and the Secretary of Defense have stated on more than one occasion that there is no need for a draft for the War on Terrorism or any likely contingency, such as Iraq. Additionally, the Congress has not acted on any proposed legislation to reinstate a draft. Therefore, Selective Service continues to refine its plans to be prepared as is required by law, and to register young men who are ages 18 through 25.
Easson, however, wants his readers to believe that a draft will come once Bush is re-elected. He uses deliberately mishandled facts to create a climate of fear and worry, specifically to motivate folks to vote against Bush. If the tactic weren't so common, it would be despicable.

I called Mr. Easson at home and talked with him about this article. He was calm and completely uninterested in defending his article or listening to alternate explanations for his assertions. I mentioned Rev. Donald Sensing's site as a good place to learn why there will be military preparations (appropriations, contracts, supplies, materiel,new construction, etc.) long before a draft is put in place, but he warned me against taking information from the Web. Of course, he later encouraged me to some websites ( and others), and when I joked about his change of mind he let the conundrum pass unaddressed. Easson talked about "dragging forces" from Germany, South Korea and other places to buttress forces in Iraq.

Mr. Easson stressed to me that I should read Richard Perle's book An End To Evil, as a "blueprint" (his word) for the whole "neocon" plan for the war. For him, it was the holy scripture for everything going on. He said that Iran and Syria would be next, which I agreed with. But that's not really a secret either.

In all honesty, I found Mr. Easson on the phone to be frightening and close-minded. He's got his thinking in place and won't let facts alter his ideology. He either wouldn't admit or couldn't conceive that his article had leaps of logic and elisions of fact that led the reader to false conclusions. Speaking always in calm, even tones, but quick to cut off or dismiss thoughts that challenged his. Easson came across as a "true believer" all the way. It was disconcerting; he wasn't interested in discussion so much as lecturing.

Two last notes before we begin the discussion. First, he expressed no interest in who I was, who I might have been writing for (I mentioned the blog.), or what my purpose was. That was strange. He also talked briefly about telling all this to his students in class. Given that he's a professor of language and literature, I wondered how the War on Terror got in there, but remembering my own run-ins with professors at Memphis State University in the 90's, I'm sure he felt completely free, indeed obligated, to correct the impressionable minds of the young. I really got that sense from him in our phone conversation.

Because the article isn't online to cut'n'paste from, and it's moderately long, I'll have to do some summarising. Readers are encouraged to get The Democrat for themselves to check it out.

He begins by noting, correctly, that back in October of 2003 the Pentagon put up a notice on its website calling for new members to serve on local draft boards. I also saw this and it was the first thing that worried me about a potential draft. The official explanation was that a lot of draft board members were retiring or dying off, and that with a war coming it made sense to start refilling these empty posts.

However, Easson goes a bit farther by noting that "many of the members of the nation's Selective Service Boards had retired, expired or despaired." I have no idea where he got "despaired" from, except his own motives and politics.

Easson is also careful to say that "if legislation were to pass, and if the Bush Adminstration chose to reinstate the Draft..." then full Selective Service Boards would be needed. Notice the "if/if/then" construction, which is based on his conjecture, but not on facts. Remember this for later.

Easson describes the process by which he applied for, was interviewed for and got a seat on the local board. Frankly, it concerns me that someone so partisan and ideological got a seat. I would hope that politics didn't come under scrutiny, but I would also think that the interviewer might try to divine motive from potential applicants. It might be worth contacting the local SSB to look into that. He writes that he applied "as much out of respect for the system" as any other reason, but for someone so deeply disdainful of the Bush adminsitration I view that skeptically at best. Investigation might prove fruitful here.

I fear that Mr. Easson will be severely inclined to allow any and all exemptions from service. If his vision of a draft comes to pass, I hope someone will monitor the local board's rate of exemption. On second thought, I'm sure the Armed Forces and the Federal government would do that as a matter of course.

In our conversation, Mr. Easson said he asked the recruiter "point blank" (his words) why the Pentagon was doing this and was told the recruiter was "under orders to fill slots by March 31, 2004," the date that legislation requires the SSS to have fulfilled the job. Easson makes this sound ominous, but it seems less so to me; most military work like this comes with target completion dates. It's how the military works

Easson then goes into an adjective-laden conspiracy plan about the confluence and intersection of several activities. He claims the Bush administration has "quietly...assembled" the budget for the SSS to renew SSB rosters, yet it's widely known. New activity requires new money. And he claims that it is "to launch the military draft as soon as June 15, 2005." I cannot find any information online to support where this date comes from.

He then writes, and you can almost hear the whispered tone, "This process is exactly what I have uncovered personally: I can attest to an unusual speed and determination with which these Boards are being reconstituted. With stealth and haste, the Pentagon is quietly...."

Let's look at this. The call went out in October of 2003 for a draft that might potentially begin in June of 2005. This is "unusual speed?" He filled out a form, waited three weeks, set up an interview, waited three more weeks at least, then had the interview. He then waited three more weeks and got his acceptance; then it was three weeks before he got the document affirming this. Again, haste? Speed? As someone who has worked for the Federal government and the military both, and has had many government dealings in a variety of contexts, I can say that this is not "unusual speed" at all, but about the normal pace of good work.

He then tries to paint our present victories in Afghanistan and Iraq as "long, hard slogs" by co-opting Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's cautionary warning to the press. Easson presents this as reality and therefore justification for his assertion that more troops are called for. He also brings in, without naming them, "military experts and influential members of congress" and then uses all this to claim that "the U.S. will have no choice but to conscript young people in the military."

He next turns his attention to the worst lie he tries to put forth. Back in February of 2003, Democratic members of Congress (specifically Rep. Charles Rangel and fourteen other Democrats in the House; and Senator Ernest Hollings in the Senate), introduced HR163 and S89. Go and read for yourself, and you'll that neither bill has had any action since introduction.

This was during the run-up to our launching the Iraqi War and the only reason these bills were introduced was to goad the President. They were intended not to be plans for action, hence the specific provision that women be drafted, but to challenge the President to call up the necessary troops for "his" war. They baite him by saying if he wanted a war, then he needed troops so they were just helping him out. It was purely political, with no basis in need, request or reality.

Yet Easson treats this as though Congress itself, with secret goading from the White House, was laying bi-partisan groundwork for later needs. Nothing is farther from the truth. That Easson doesn't mention the Democrat provenance of the legislation is proof of that. When I tried to confront him in our phone conversation, he brushed that aside and immediately claimed that "neocons" had somehow caused it to happen and then perverted it to their needs. Easson had no interest in clarifying his point, which is clearly a sign of deception on his part.

He claims the bills are "currently under consideration," but as I said above, there has been no action on either bill in 18 months. That hardly seems to fit with his "haste and speed" assertion, does it?

Easson then reaches all the way back to December, 2001, in the wake of 9/11, to try to paint the "Smart Border Declaration" as a back door way of closing off draft deserters fleeing to Canada. Apparently, the Federal government knew -- more than a year prior to Democrats filing their legislation -- and somehow was able to assist them in their nefarious plot.

He writes next:
Even those voters who currently support US actions abroad may still object to this move, knowing their own children or grandchildren will have no say about whether to fight. Not that it should make a difference, but this plan not only eliminates higher education as a shelter but also includes women in the draft.
(Emphasis added.) Remember, this was crafted by Democrats to make things ugly for President Bush by miring him in arguments about women in the draft and/or combat. It was also founded in Rangel's belief, which he espoused on talk radio at the time, that the military was overwhelmingly over-represented with minorities who would die in disproportionate numbers. Subsequent facts have shown this to be wrong.

Notice the cautionary note in Easson's talk about women being drafted; he raises it like a red flag. When I asked him why draft supporters would put such deliberately controversial langauge into their secret plan, he then switched gears and claimed women would simply be sent to non-combat roles. He's trying to have it both ways.

Easson then goes on to claim that "this legislation is being pushed through congress with energetic Bush Administration backing." It is not. There has been no action on either bill in almost 18 months! Even the SSS denies Easson.

But Easson wants to paint the illegitimate Bush administration as trampling all over a public that doesn't support him in a rush to go world empire building. He flies the old flags of "selected, not elected" and "radical right-wing agenda." He even has the nerve to call the forgotten bills a "juggernaut." What a crock.

What closes this screed is the predictable call to action. You have to oppose Bush, he's going to kill your kids! He's going to militarise America and make your kids jack-booted thugs. If we don't elect a Democrat, it's all over for America.

How sad. I have no problem with people who don't support the War on Terror for good reason, but to deliberately distort and misrepresent truths, then paper over the gaps with inflammatory lies and misrepresentations, is flat wrong. Argue the merits and I'll give you a listen. Lie to inflame the crowds and I'll work to expose you.

I didn't notice it at first, but as I've reread this thing a few times there's one huge thing missing from his article. Something so huge, I was surprised when I realised he was consciously hiding it behind a curtain, hoping no one would remember:

September 11, 2001. The date that changed everything for most Americans. The day 3000 Americans were murdered and terrorists woke up the sleeping giant.

It's little wonder Easson doesn't want to remind you of that, because then most of his fretting goes right out the window. It's important to his desire to see Democrats succeed in the next election that you not remember it. That allows him to spin all kinds of conspiracies and webs of intrigue free of inconvenient facts and realities. Take it from someone who has made a hobby of conspiracy study.

I never once, in reading this or in talking with him, got any sense of shame from the man. He may or may not believe what he says, but he clearly wants you to believe it, to serve his ends.

And remember that the local Democratic Party supports this man and has given him the editorship of its flagship print publication! Think about what that says about them.

Think about it, armed with facts not lies.

No comments: