Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Jim Lingren, Volokh Conspiracy A relatively new group, Service Nation, is planning to kick off a campaign with a Summit for "National Service" on September 11. Time Magazine has signed on to promote the effort. The website trumpets its training of "Change Agents" in cooperation with "Change, Inc." Its blog is called ChangeWire. Does this theme sound familiar?

The website makes it clear that it is not just calling for individuals to get involved, but it is calling for a new National Service Act that will involve the government in transforming American society:

To begin this journey, Service Nation will unite leaders from every sector of American society with hundreds of thousands of citizens in a national campaign to call on the next President and Congress to enact a new era of service and citizenship in America, an era in which all Americans will work together to try and solve our greatest and most persistent societal challenges. This campaign will launch with a Service Nation Summit, Sept. 11-12 in New York City, and build with a national grassroots movement aimed at inspiring widespread public support for a new and transformational National Service Act that will encourage all Americans to step forward and take the lead in bridging our divides, strengthening our communities, and building a more vibrant democracy

The five co-chairs of the Service Nation Summit include Obama aide Caroline Kennedy, Vartan Gregorian (President of the Carnegie Corporation and former Democratic donor), Rick Stengel (Managing Editor of TIME Magazine and former speechwriter for Bill Bradley), Bill Novelli (CEO of AARP and former donor to both Republican and Democratic candidates, including John McCain in 1999), and Alma Powell (Chair of America's Promise Alliance and wife of Colin Powell). Gregorian and Novelli were not originally listed as co-chairs when the Summit was first announced.

What is this National Service Act that Service Nation favors?

Charles Rangel's National Service Act, which is languishing before Congress, provides for a universal draft with two years for virtually all persons aged 18-42, with no deferment for college. The purpose of Rangel's bill is:

"To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security . . . ."

Here is how the civilian service is described in the bill (sec 102(b)):

a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.

Note the interpretation of community service as promoting national defense, just as in Barack Obama's July 2, 2008 speech, a juxtaposition that confused most bloggers. Under Rangel's bill, if one is selected for induction into the military, one may choose instead to do civilian service.

With unintentional irony the bill calls this mandatory service "Voluntary Service."

Sec. 103(e) Voluntary Service — A person subject to induction under this title may--

(1) volunteer to perform national service in lieu of being inducted; or

(2) request permission to be inducted at a time other than the time at which the person is otherwise called for induction. . . .

The Americans for a National Service Act. . . . indicates that it is part of Service Nation' campaign. [The] organization'’s website gives some idea about what the goals of Service Nation are:

Service Nation is a 16-month non-partisan grassroots and grass top political campaign intent on pushing the issue of National Service to the forefront of American life and convincing the next President and Congress to put into law a Voluntary National Service Act by September of 2009.

The secondary goal of Service Nation is to set America on a trajectory to become a nation of universal national service by 2020. . .

Here are service Nation's more specific goals as laid out in Powerpoint slides on their website (number 13 is mandatory universal service for both men and women):

Engage 1 million Americans in full-time service, leveraging an additional 100 million volunteers each year.

1. Enroll one million Americans annually in a revitalized and expanded AmeriCorps national service program. Create new corps focused on education, public health, disaster relief, and energy conservation. . .

9. Create the permanent National Service Council to play a similar role as the National Security Council and National Economic Council.

10. Establish a U.S. Public Service Academy.

13. Launch a debate about why and how America should become a nation of universal national service by 2020: debating baby bond, lottery draft, new GI Bill, etc.

This is a breathtaking set of proposals that would create a bureaucracy that indeed might be "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as our military. It would be much larger than the military. Note the founding of a new National Service Academy like the existing military academies.

Service Nation's short-term goal may be a staggering increase in voluntary national service and the federal bureaucracy, but the ultimate goal of Service Nation is a universal draft by the year 2020, as they openly disclose.


At July 23, 2008 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think these are great ideas! The idea of building a U.S. Public Service Academy in particular is something we should have done a long time ago. The military does an excellent job of developing leaders with a higher standard of excellence and a stronger commitment to country. Certainly, we need more such leaders in civilian life too, and a Public Service Academy would help develop them. Let's do it!

At July 23, 2008 2:43 PM, Anonymous m said...

It is bewildering that Rangel, a black man, and possibly Obama, another black man, are so interested in a return to slavery.

At July 23, 2008 4:20 PM, Anonymous don't fuck with papa bear said...

Of course Obama's, Bush's,Cheney's,McCain's, Rangel's, and those cheerleaders at TIME, their offspring would all be exempt from this farcical scheme.

At July 23, 2008 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that Rangel hoped to halt Iraq/Afghanistan /perpetual war by forcing citizens to choose between Bush policy and their children. However, I think his gambit has been seized upon by the neocon/neolib cabal as a convenient source of new troops. I'm wondering how many people with 18-42 year-old daughters are aware of the incidence of rape in the US military. It's out of control, particularly by US contractors. Some washout special forces contractors who are immune to law will have a new source of meat. If DOD doesn't care if your daughter is raped , do you think the new Civilian Conservation corps will care? Maybe the neocon/neolib cabal will finally get a real shooting war.

At July 23, 2008 7:10 PM, Anonymous We the Sheeple said...

The military does an excellent job of brainwashing people. So do public schools. Adding two years of mandatory social conditioning for every citizen, under the name of "Public Service Academy," will only serve to produce more compliant sheep. The U.S. is already suffering from excessive civil obedience, that only enables the crimes of our leaders. No need for further indoctrination.

At July 25, 2008 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Women make up some 15 percent of the United States active duty forces, and 11 percent of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly a third of female veterans say they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military, and 71 percent to 90 percent say they were sexually harassed by the men with whom they served. "
Be as dead as you can be.
Get your ass shot off in the armeeeeeeeee.(to the tune of well known recruiting ad)

At July 25, 2008 6:28 PM, Anonymous fuck the shitstem said...

Soon we'll all be able to sing that old Vietnam vet hymn:
(to the tune of Battle hymn of the Republic)
Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Draft,
And the day I got the letter
was the day I got the Shaft.
They said young man we need you
'cause the Army's understaffed,
And I'm in the FTA.
Gloreee gloreee hallelujah
The Army's really shoved it to ya.
Gloree gloree hallelujah.
You're fucked, you're fucked, you're fucked!

At July 30, 2008 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is misleading and does not describe the actual policies of ServiceNation. It says specifically on the ServiceNation website ("We do not support mandatory national service requirements". The word "universal" was used on the site (and has now been removed because people misunderstood it)to mean "available to everyone".

At July 30, 2008 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, ServiceNation has stated that it does not support Rangel's bill whatsoever.
(and might I add that Rangel's current bill, like his earlier bill to reinstate the military draft, isn't a serious bill - its supposed to send a message to Congress: what if was you kids fighting overseas?)


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