In this issue:
It has been a couple of months since the last wave of interest in the possibility that the United States may have to turn to a conscripted military to meet all of it various — and growing — security commitments around the globe. Nothing much has changed since then; the same manpower crunch confronts the Pentagon along with the same big hurdles to a new draft.
Any draft would confront two opposing trends affecting American forces. The current force is not built to handle tens of thousands of conscripts who do not want to be in the Army. There is nowhere to stick them where they can do relatively little harm to operations or morale. At the same time, the modern U.S. Army needs recruits with fairly high-level sets of skills. The Iraq operation would have been complete disaster, especially the no-rulebook peacekeeping/occupation phase, absent the smarts and inventiveness of your basic grunt. If the Army cannot recruit people of this caliber to service, then Plan B has to be conscription. Then again, does a conscript function anywhere near as well as the volunteer, given similar skill sets?
The Pentagon's fear that the answer might be no, especially in combat, still militates against a draft. But some sort of domestic "skill set" or "homeland security service" draft might be a fallback way to fill up homeland security spots and free-up National Guard and Reserve volunteers for more active duty. Does that mean we'll someday see a conscripted Homeland Security Force, a kind of paramilitary interior ministry operation? Better ask your block captain.
Reason Express is made possible by a grant from The DBT Group, manufacturers of affordable, high-performance mainframe systems and productivity software.
The Federal Election Commission has come down firmly on the side of allowing bloggers to blog, even about political matters. It seems people are allowed to promulgate their opinions in America. But the FEC has retained the right to sniff around online political ads and so-called unsolicited campaign e-mail.
However, as everyone with an email address knows, what's "solicited" is in the eye of the beholder. If you sign up for one political mailing list and fail to check or uncheck the right box, you may be agreeing to receive email from other interested parities. You may even want to receive more info from other groups about Social Security reform or drilling for oil in Alaska. The FEC seems to be saying that lists of people who explicitly opt-in to receive such communication are subject to FEC rules if money changes hands over the lists.