Friday, November 18, 2005

It's not blood for oil - it's just blood for money 
According to an article in the NY Times, the US military is falling far short of its recruiting goals this year
The military is falling far behind in its effort to recruit and re-enlist soldiers for some of the most vital combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new government report.

The report, completed by the Government Accountability Office, shows that the Army, National Guard and Marines signed up as few as a third of the Special Forces soldiers, intelligence specialists and translators that they had aimed for over the last year.

[ ... snip ... ]

The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.

The conventional wisdom is that this is yet another miscalculation by the Bush administration - that Iraq has frightened away potential recruits instead of inflaming the gung-ho sensibilities of credulous 18-year-olds.

I'm not so sure. The administration will argue that these positions must be filled - the security of the United States must not be compromised! So the shortfalls in military staffing must be made up somehow. The 'Publicans, already fearful that they're looking at a political bloodbath in the 2006 midterm elections, are not going anywhere near the topic of re-instituting a draft, and the administration knows that full well - in fact, I believe they are counting on it.

What they WILL do, however, under the rubric of "National Security," is to hire it done, at 5 to 10 or more X the cost of regular military. The Guard and Reserve will, of course, continue to provide the cheap cannon fodder to be killed, 2 or 3 a day, ad infinitum, while private military contractors (let's not mince words - they are mercenaries) will get hugely profitable contracts to perform (at 5 to 10 or more x the cost) the jobs the now- unrecruitable regular-military folks would be doing. Sure, some of this Iraq stuff is probably about oil - but it seems like there's a much higher profit margin in humans. Plus there'sa seemingly inexhautible supply and no pesky capital investment. Further, the more troublesome the war, the higher the price (and the profit margins) can be. Just remember - Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton, is in both the oilfield-services business AND in the private military business.

Are We Not Journalists? 
We are BlogO

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nia Gill? 
Just last Friday, the spouse and I were talking about who Governor-elect Corzine might pick to replace himself in the US Senate. None of the conventional-wisdom candidates seemed particularly compelling - Menendez, Pallone, Andrews, Codey, Donald Payne, Rush Holt. One name did pop up out of the wild-blue yonder that seemed like a great one, though - the State Senator from Montclair - Nia Gill.

Gill is a progressive. She's got good political infighting-skills - after getting kicked off the party line in the 2004 primary, she ran off the line and soundly beat the choice of the Essex County machine. She's African-American - in multi-ethnic, multi-racial Northern NJ (where most of the voters are), that counts for a lot. And, well, she's a she. Women account for a significantly higher percentage of Democratic voters than do men. Essex County was Corzine's brightest bright spot last Tuesday, so her hometown is not an irrelevant detail. However far off in left-field Gill might seem, naming a politically savvy African-American woman from Essex County might score some real political points. New Jersey has never had a woman in the Senate, nor a person of color. Politically, geographically, demographically, Nia Gill seems to have the goods. For Corzine, who'd probably like to start out looking like someone who can think outside of the box, Gill is a choice that wouldn't lack for boldness.

As it turns out, the very day we had our idea about Gill, Scott Shields wrote at MyDD about her as a real Senatorial possibility, and Steve Kornacki was speculating about her at PoliticsNJ. Obviously, great minds think alike - or maybe we just tapped into the zeitgeist.

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