Rep. Thomas R. Harkin (D-Iowa), who flew Navy planes in combat over Vietnam, is as concerned as the next member of Congress about a strong defense for America, so he has a plan.
For starters, he would build a solar-powered cruise missile. Then he would put the MX missile system on abandoned Amtrak lines, on Mississippi River barges, on mothballed ships.
Then he would require the armed forces to use alternate fuels -- methane, gasohol, wind -- to propel torpedoes, missiles, naval vessels, aircraft and combat vehicles.
Crazy, you say? There's more.
THE real clincher in Harkin's plan is this: any member of Congress who votes to reinstate the draft could be conscripted into special service.
Warrior-legislators would have to undergo periodic training, which would include twice daily trots around the Washington Monument. All would have to eat together at a House cafeteria training table.
Now, there's not the slightest chance that Harkin's proposal will be adopted, but they are among the items of business awaiting the House after its August recess.
Harkin and a handful of other House members have an arsenal of more than 100 amendments -- some frivolous, some not -- ready as part of a campaign against renewal of registration for military service.
The big amendment, however, is sponsored by Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), who proposes deletion of the registration requirement from the pending Defense authorization bill.
If the Schroeder amendment fails, Harkin's Hellions will be ready. Under House rules, each amendment is allowed five minutes' debate, and Harkin will call each one up if necessary, he says.
"A number of us in Congress feel that registration ought to come up as a separate bill. Beyond that, I feel very strongly about registration," Harkin said. "It's a first step to reintroduction of the draft."
So, if the registration requirement isn't stricken from the authorization bill, Harkin said, "We'll fillibuster that thing from now until Christmas."
Obviously, the House has better things to do than debate coal-powered attack submarines (another Harkin amendment), and he would just as soon avoid stalling his brethren.
"We would rather not go our route. We would rather not use the House's time. We're hoping that the Schroeder amendment passes, so we don't have to filibuster," Harkin said.
But, let's say Schroeder fails.What then: Well, Harkin's amendments include some other challenging conversation starters.
For example, one amendment would ban the Army from any public-relations stunts. Another would require half of all U.S. armed forces to complete a course in Transcendental Meditation.
Still another deals with cultural and religious diversity. The Divine Light Mission, the Hare Krishna movement and the Roman Catholics, among others, each would have a 2 percent membership quota in the military.
And Harkin might have thought it was funny, but the best for last: all draft board members would be put through the paces -- situps, jumping jacks, running in place and deep knee bends.