The Liberal Patriot Blog
 The Liberal Patriot Blog is dedicated to collecting and sharing information about National and State [New Hampshire] Political Action, News, and Events.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mission Improbable

Here is a really depressing article about Iraqs Army:

It puts my early post in a grim light.

Dean ready to fight for us... do we have his back?

Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from key supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough. Some congressional Democrats have suggested that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.

"People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."

.....

One of Dean's predecessors at the DNC, Don Fowler said, "The controversy over this statement or that statement is a blip and only a blip." But Fowler complained about leading Democrats who aired their gripes last week. "Even if they don't like it, they should have enough sense not to make those comments," Fowler said.
....

Dean said he is bringing in $1 million weekly and that $100,000 was received, unsolicited, from online donors during a 24-hour period in the past week as the furor over his remarks grew.

Records show the DNC took in $13.8 million over the first three months of 2005, compared with $8.4 million during the same period in 2003, the last year without a federal election. Terry McAuliffe was party chairman then.

Dean has given more than $1 million from the DNC to state parties. He said the DNC plans to share some of the money Dean raises for the national party when he is in a state. Both of these moves are winning him support from state party leaders.


read full article from Associated Press


Relating info From Liberal Oasis:

According to ABC’s The Note:

...some Democrats believe Dean's ascension to party chair has generated unusual ill-will among some of the party's top fundraisers.

While The Hill, in reporting that three DNC fundraisers quit on Dean because of his focus on cultivating small donors, said:

Democratic fundraisers say that there is growing concern over what they call Dean’s lack of attention to major donors and that donors are much less likely to give money if they don’t have sufficient opportunity to meet with the party’s leadership.

All LiberalOasis can say to that is: Halley-Frickin-Loo-Yah.

Dean is attempting to fully put the party in the hands of the people and minimize the influence of corporate interests.

And the big money guys don’t like it.

.the congressional wing of the Democratic Party never liked him...

But Dean can’t succeed in empowering us in the grassroots, if we don’t empower him.

The Doubting Dems are fueling reports that Dean’s fundraising is lagging.

Media Matters shows how that is a “baseless claim,” but perception becomes reality.

Just like in the presidential primaries, the media won’t respect Dean until the money is unequivocally on the table.

When the media attacked Dean then, supporters responded by fueling Dean’s coffers.

Dean is under attack again. Let’s respond by filling the DNC coffers.

You can donate via LiberalOasis by clicking here.

GET OUT THOSE CHECK BOOKS! We have to get behind Dean, this is less about him and more about putting an end to the dominance of the inside the beltway corporate funded permanent minority strategy.


Unprecedented Corruption

From a DCCC @ stake email:

Over the past two years, there has been a growing discussion within the press corps about how to cover the Republicans in power. How does one present a "fair and balanced" discussion when one side is willing to completely disregard the truth, without allowing a "he said - she said" in which ascertaining the truth is a hopeless exercise for the audience? How do you report on shameless deception and corruption when those words are essentially banned from the journalistic vocabulary? All of this came up again with the revelation of the "Downing Street Memo" - and the utter silence that followed for nearly a month in the American media.

The New York Review of Books showed this week that perhaps it is not so difficult as it seems, though, in a long, blistering piece entitled "Selling Washington." Author Elizabeth Drew closes with this passage:

"The effects of the new, higher level of corruption on the way the country is governed are profound. Not only is legislation increasingly skewed to benefit the richest interests, but Congress itself has been changed. The head of a public policy strategy group told me, 'It's not about governing anymore. The Congress is now a transactional institution. They don't take risks. So when a great moral issue comes up - like war - they can't deal with it.' The theory that ours is a system of one-person-one-vote, or even that it's a representative democracy, is challenged by the reality of power and who really wields it. Barney Frank argues that 'the political system was supposed to overcome the financial advantage of the capitalists, but as money becomes more and more influential, it doesn't work that way.'

"Two House Democrats, Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois, and Martin Meehan, of Massachusetts, have introduced legislation to tighten the rules on privately funded travel, strengthen the lobbying disclosure rules, and slow down the revolving door by which former members of Congress take jobs with the trade associations and, after a year, can lobby their former colleagues. Some Republicans are talking about placing more restrictive rules on trips. But the record shows that new regulations can often be evaded.

"Perhaps the greatest deterrent to ethical transgression is that members of Congress don't want to read unfavorable stories about themselves. A Republican lobbyist says that the biggest factor in the growth of corruption has been 'the expectation that all this goes undetected and unenforced.' He added, 'If Jack Abramoff goes to jail, that will be a big message to this town." Since the scandal broke over Abramoff's payments on behalf of DeLay, members of Congress have been scrambling to amend their travel reports, in some cases listing previously unreported trips, or filling in missing details. Public outrage can also have an inhibiting effect: after the Republicans changed the ethics rules earlier this year to protect DeLay, the adverse reaction in the press and from constituents was strong enough to make the Republican leadership back down.

"But the public can't become outraged about something that isn't brought to its attention. The press tends to pounce on the big scandals but usually fails to cover the more common ones that take place every day. Some of the politicians I talked to hoped that the scandal over DeLay and Abramoff might lead to real changes, including more prosecutions and stricter disclosure requirements. But even they admit that, like so many other scandals, it may simply blow over."

Theocracy on the March


President Bush yesterday traveled to Ohio to talk about terrorism, but he arrived in the midst of the biggest statewide scandal in years and to a crowd of angry "Coingate" protesters.

The President made the visit six days after Republican officials said Mr. Bush will return $4,000 in campaign contributions from Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette.

The Republican National Committee will return $2,000 contributed by Mr. Noe, who faces state and federal investigations for allegedly misappropriating millions in state money and allegedly violating federal campaign finance laws for funneling money to the Bush-Cheney campaign through others.

The money being returned by Mr. Bush and the RNC will be given to a charity, but one has not been chosen, said Aaron McLear, an RNC spokesman and a former aide to Governor Bob Taft.

The United Steel Workers yesterday said Mr. Bush should return the more than $100,000 that Mr. Noe raised for the President's re-election campaign last year - a level that made him a "pioneer" in the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Mr. McLear said there are no plans to return those funds.

Toni Brandon, 33, said she hadn't read or heard any news about Mr. Noe or the Bureau of Workers' Compensation scandal. She and her eight-year-old son waited on a small hill near I-70 to try to catch a glimpse of the President as he headed toward the event."We love the President. He's a Christian and these people are evil'' said Brandon.

From Toledo Blade

Are there still any people naive enough to think that we can reason, inform, or win over these Pavlov’s dopes? Their attitude is "I don't know anything but you are evil if you don't like Bush". These cretins must be shamed back into their holes with nothing less than the angry truth!

AND [rant]

Average American's must be made to see and identify these type of frightening fanatics with the Republican Politicians that ride their votes to elected office. We should hang these fruit cakes like albatrosses around the necks of any Politicians willing to court their votes. God knows that the "mainstream media" saddles us with every shallow celebrity or Wackoh Activist they can find [or manufacture]

Democrats [and the Main Stream Media] allow Republicans to use these nuts to will elections and yet don't make them pay ANY price for being associated with such rabid zealot supports. Yet when any progressives get too mouthy Democrats immediately distance themselves from them. An amazing double standard and a republican laid path that leads to a permanent minority for us.

I also getting so sick of hearing from business-as-usual Democrats and Moderates that we have to be respectful and treat these people's insanity, bigotry, stupidity, and hatred as if they are ideas and beliefs worthy of respectful consideration.


Friday, June 10, 2005

More bad military news.

From Yahoo News:

The Army wants to double the top cash bonus for new recruits to $40,000 in an effort to stem a continued recruiting shortfall in the midst of the Iraq war.

As another incentive, the Army is proposing a pilot program to provide up to $50,000 in home mortgage help for recruits who sign up for eight years of active duty, Lt. Col. Thomas Collins said in an interview Thursday. Congress must approve both plans.

The $40,000 bonuses would apply only to a limited number of hard-to-fill and still-undetermined jobs, Collins said.

The Army raised bonuses for some jobs to $20,000 in 1999. It has steadily made more jobs eligible for bonuses this year as the recruiting shortfall has deepened.

From Daily Kos:

The story notes the Army is on pace to miss its annual recruitment target by 14,000. That's an entire Army division.

Mercenaries for US companies firing on US troops in Iraq.

from LA Times:

U.S. Marines forcibly detained a team of security guards working for an American engineering firm in Iraq after reportedly witnessing the contractors fire at U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians from an armed convoy, the military said Tuesday [...]

On May 18, he said, a Marine patrol in Fallouja reported receiving fire from a convoy of late-model trucks and sport utility vehicles. The Marines also saw gunmen in the convoy fire at civilians in the streets of Fallouja, where reconstruction was taking place.

Three hours later, a second set of Marines at an observation post reported receiving fire from vehicles matching the description of the convoy involved in the earlier incident, Lapan said.

Read more at Daily Kos

No room in the shed.

I am losing sleep over this stuff. I attended the very cool Carroll County Dems ho-down the other night and traded wazzupps with New Mexico guvnah Bill Richardson. Very Presidential like I might add. Anyhooo, I also cornered a couple of sellouts in the purported party of the people that sold their souls to the Righty Devil.

I'll start with the big cheeze that claims the "24 high profile members of the Senate are under extreme pressure bla-bla-bla..." Senator Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, recently voted with some other very cowardly solons, to squash the HB55, Industrial Hemp program bill. The word to this political wannabee is that, after the session when asked by a fellow pol that worked very hard to get the bill past the lower House, Hassan said, "I have the next election to think about". You friggin coward. When I asked the Good Senator the other night about her confused logic to the well though out Hemp bill proposal she said "The law enforcement community was putting pressure on us and to vote for something that was not allowed on the Federal level... more bla-bla-bla..." Again, you coward. Now she is scared of the cops and her next vote total. Keep that all in mind whilst we move on to shed recipient number 2...

Representative Tom Buco, D-Conway, really bent over when he gave Gene-I took your money and love it-Chandler a free ride to stay in his job at the State house as a criminally convicted member of the august body. Now if they sent Thievin' Gene home for the rest of the term, great, I can swallow that. In fact I would be the first guy to give another of the human species a second chance. (Righties are humans, yes?) But Tom, man, are you friggin kidding me??? Rep. Buco's answer was... "It could have hurt me in the next election". So the Righty vote is big behind you Tom??? The straight party ticket option in the next cycle will help your delusions fade into oblivion with thinking like that and the posibility that the R's will at all remember you took care of their poster boy for honesty and integrity.

What color is the sky in Concord and who do these 2 sellouts think they are for thinking they are so important and self righteous that they can sell out their own stalwart party faithful, their constituency, not even the party itself, but the voters that got them where they are, and be so power hungry that the next election matters more than their integrity and good solid votes for the people and democracy. Is the elected position so needed, so mandatory to have that you get deaf, dumb and blind to common sense? Lord Acton said power corrupts and I'm seeing that in spades the more I follow this tawdry binezz of politics. My God I will not let that happen to me if I ever win a damn election. That probably won't happen because I put my ass behind my words of truth and don't take the low road to crap by speaking for political expediency!!! You don't have to explain a thing to me but Senator, tell the farmers in Lancaster, Randolph, Jefferson, Northumberland that the view tax they are paying on fallow land is not worth your vote. Tell the manufacturers of sails, for our States recreational and professional boating industry, to keep buying foreign hemp to make their sails for your very constituants, from China and Canada. Tell the folks in Hooksett, Lancaster and Nashua that make paper for Bibles and high end literature that they can make paper with imported rough agricultural product. Hey Tom, tell the youngsters in Civics Class that the reason Thievin' Gene got another free ride is from sellouts to democracy like you and the rest of the bucket heads that voted to give Gene a standing ovation for abuse of power, arrogance and hubris dujour. I'll tell you one thing, if it were you, you would have been impeached, no doubt.

That's this months edition to the wood shed. I have to go screw my head back on after all of this mush got pushed into it from the party of the people. I am soooo glad I am an INDIE. I am sooo glad I don't want an elected office so badly that I will sell my soul to any Devil, lel alone the Righty Majority Cowards. I am all ears to questions and remember, I am the messenger, not the murderer. Shoot all you want. RISE UP!!!

Senate works on budget

It still needs tweaking but the primary budget and education funding are all but law. The run-down in a nutshell is at Boston.com and we can see that poor women needing family planning care, State Troopers, anyone using paying a phone bill, and using coins to get through the tolls are losers. We also see Verizon getting their extended free ride at the cost of the phone customers just the same, (campaign contributions well spent and solons again bought and paid for) the booze advertisers (State taxpayer funded) and some docs getting bigger winnings but the rest of their colleagues in home health care services are getting the shaft. Although the Commish John Stephen in HHS plan has proposals seeking requiring you keep your elederly and sick citizens at home. I don't get it. Check out the facts at the link above. Just 17 months to go.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Get the Iraq Military off the bench and bring our troops home!!!

It takes approx 13 weeks for a raw American recruit to become a trained soldier and go over to Iraq.

There is absolutely no reason why the Iraqi government can not train their soldiers at or near the same rate. Even if they have to fly their soldiers over here [or Europe] for training and fly them back.

The reason they do not is that there is absolutely no incentive for the Iraqi government to take on the tremendous cost and responsibility of defending their own country especially while the best military in the world is doing it for free.

We are giving them hundreds of billions of dollars and the lives of our children, friends, and spouses [and parents] so they can sit around and argue over parliamentary procedures or the wording of their constitution.

The Bush Administration is willing to close schools and fire teachers if they don't meet certain federally mandated standards. Why don’t we have any standards for foreign governments who are living off our “welfare” and the blood of our soldiers? For the amount of money we have spent SO FAR in Iraq we could have hired over 3 million addition new teachers, 13,887 of them in NH alone. With the amount of money we have spent SO FAR in Iraq we could have paid for 23,240,863 children to attend Head Start.

With all this money gone to Iraq and even more planned to go what will we have to give up so Iraq Politicians can twiddle their thumbs some more? Social Security, Public Schools, Interstate Highways?

And that is just the money! What is the value of an American soldier’s life? Somehow I don't think that it means as much to the politicians in Iraq as it does to us. I am beginning to question whether it means very much at all to the politicians in Washington.

The federal government should immediately set quotas for Iraqi troop training that the Iraq government has to meet and for every Iraq troop that is trained and ready ONE AMERICAN TROOP MUST COME HOME!!!!

Of coarse there is the very real possibility that the Bush administration isn't interested in getting out of Iraq. There is much talk about permanent military bases and the American military becoming the permanent defensive force for Iraq in exchange for access to their oil. AS of this writing we have lost 1685 soldiers in Iraq [another 12762 have been wounded] is there anyone anywhere in this country who is willing to see that number go to 1686 so gas prices will go down?


HC16 gaff ITL

This is one waste of time but I think we have not seen the last of it. It got covertly through in the usual Righty Majority Coward fashion and asks our legislature in resolution to support the puppet Federal delegation in pushing for a revamping and privitization of Social Security. It was found ITL and good for that. Hey here's one, leave the peoples money alone and fund your R+D pork projects with private funds. Hey, something else, Medicaid and Medicare are out of dough 2 decades before the false numbers your administration came up with. I see that facts can well be twisted to meet policy but truth is hard come by with these Righties everywhere. Nice. I heard a version of that last P.M. while hearing Bill Richardson speak. Great guy, although I am not usually a good judge of character. I am right on Chandler and his pals though. Tragic.

Screening panels bill SB214, passes lower House

The word from the floor is this was not supposed to be a partisan issue. The insurance companies were uncharacteristically silent and put the onus on the docs and the barristers to fight it out. The Democratic leadership took a position, in my view mistakenly, to whip the party to follow them. The vote shows they were badly led by their lobby. The roll call totals were 218-115 with Representative Bernie- all about the people-Buzzell going with the minority. He fought tooth and nail to keep the facts, contentious as they may be, from being viewed by the any potential jury with respect to a malpractice case. The panel can find the case without merit and introduce their findings in essence skewing a jury opinion to find in favor of the victim. Also, the insurance companies set the rates no matter what the outcome and they are not losing $$$ on malpractice settlements in this frugal state.

The current specifics are to be worked out but the panel hearing cases will rotate and consist of a judge, lawyer and doctor. My problem with this is there is no full disclosure requirement to have the panel inform all parties concerned from whom they are drawing their salaries. One could sit on the very board hearing a case from the same firm the doc or lawyer is representing in private practice. I'm with Buzzell there. This had sister legislation in HB192 that, in subcommittee with Representative Martha McLeod, voted to be killed unanimously. This dead piece would have looked into aspects of the thieving insurance industry and their BOHICA rates. Too bad that got shotdown. Senator John- show me the $$$- Gallus co-sponsored both bills but didn't put nearly as much ass behind the House bill as he did with the SB214. Hmmm, I'll look for that cabbage trail between sessions. It's hot, I'm out. Peace.

ATV- industry bought SB121 passes House

The bill came out of the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee with an OTP and the amendment to remove the Senate approved amendment for the Bear Brook area planners to have review of any proposed ATV trails. The bill passed with a 162-135. This is probably one of the worst (they keep getting worse by the day) examples of a New Hampshire State agency in the Trails Bureau being prostituted out to the lobbyist $$$ of, in this instance, the ATV industry which speaks for less than 2% of New Hampshire residents. The roll call run down is as follows...
YEAS- King, Stohl, Tholl, Richardson, Ward.
NAYS- Mears, Merrick, Morneau, Remick, Lary.
Not Voting- Eaton, Theberge, Buzzell.

I'm not sure when the clean water will run out but I know if the trails run through my well, which is now legal thanks to the aforementioned bucket heads voting to approve, I'm going to look at some stock in the bottled H2O corporations. See you in the mid-terms, 17 short months away.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


How's Iraq going, anyone? Posted by Hello

Hot off the floor

The SB125 bill (to fix the failed SB110 from last cycle) has passed the lower House with a huge majority, 280-89 and no amendment. The Coos delegation present all voted to pass the proposal and end certain limiting, discriminating factors that now are in place and allow insurance companies to cherry pick the best areas and folks for the best profit. There was a half hearted attempt to gut the SB125 with an shady Righty amendment (is there any other kind?) and those in favor on keeping the disciminatory wording and metrics from the original bad bill were King, Morneau and Lary. Now the latter 2 have an excuse, they are newbies and no doubt still confused which way to go. (Hey boys, if you want to follow good leadership, talk with Rep. Scott Merrick, he'll clue you in to reality in your office). Now Fred-hole, he's a different case and just in it for himself. I don't think I've seen someone so excited about seeing his name on a bill and do so much bloviating as Freddie. Although we do have Soltani, Remick and Chandler, Grrr. Not good for the regular folks I'd think. Anyhooo, SB125 passed even with the King et;al attempt to kill a good bill. More as it happens. GET ACTIVE!!!

The DLC is a cancer on the democratic party.....

well maybe not a cancer... more like a carcinogenic leach of some sort.. that while is sucks your blood out it spits back in radioactive poisons that make every remaining second of your life more painful then the last….

The DLC [or democratic leadership council] is basically all the democrats that are corporate whores. These are the politicians that represent the interests of lobbyists and corporations FIRST AND FOREMOST above all others.

These are the politicians that exemplify the concept that “the 2 major parties are the same” that “all politicians are owned by lobbyists for large corporations.” These are the politicians that put a lie to every progressive idea the democratic party tries to stand for.

These are the politicians that most exemplify all the reasons Americans no longer participate or believe in their government.

These are the cowards, the democratic party, that are killing democracy. [Or at least willing accomplices to the murder.]

They have set the democrats on a path to permanent minority status. They have handed over the government to the republicans and corporations. They have betray ever ideal of the democratic party, progressive politics, and democracy at the whims of the highest bidding lobbyists.

ALSO... they wrote this craptastic PRO-CAFTA article

Read all this info about why CAFTA is bad bad bad bad bad bad bad…..

More from sirotablog about CAFTA See here, here, here, here and here.


She'd make a GREAT president!!!

Check out Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D) courageous comments in the New York Times today.

Abetting the conservative agenda, Clinton said in some of her sharpest language, is a Washington press corps that has become a pale imitation of the Watergate-era reporters who are being celebrated this month amid the identification of the anonymous Washington Post source, Deep Throat. “The press is missing in action, with all due respect,” she said. “Where are the investigative reporters today? Why aren’t they asking the hard questions? It’s shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. They don’t stand their ground. If they’re criticized by the White House, they just fall apart. I mean, c’mon, toughen up, guys, it’s only our Constitution and country at stake. Let’s get some spine.”

from thinkprogress blog

I am tired of hearing uninformed people parrot the talking point that Hilary isn't "ready" for the presidency or that she is a "bad choice" because the right wing would go after her. Or that old DEAN cop out… she’s too LIBERAL!!

HEY WAKEUP!! The right wing will go after anyone... even a goody two shoes war hero...

AND guess what a lot of people LOVE her

AND a lot of WOMAN who don't vote would vote for her just because she is a woman.

AND GUESS WHAT... it's about time dems ran a candidate that the public actually gives a damn about.. one way or the other.... instead sticking to ho hum candidates that they think they can sneak under the radar of the right wing smear machine…


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

NEWS

Energy Bill Gives Handouts to Enron Execs

Los Alamos Lab Whistleblower Beaten

Supreme Court Rules against Medical Marijuana

Pentagon Ignored Guerrilla Warfare Warning

Amnesty Chief: US Kills Prisoners in Secret Jails

DAILY OUTRAGE

Citigroup lost a box of computer tapes containing personal information about 3.9 million customers.

from C4AP

Rubber stamp for ATV's and special $$$

I've been busy but I am back for now. I'm just as disgusted as the rest of you at our sham of a government and the special interest lobby, the crooked lying pols, the rubber stamp our Righty Majority Cowards along with some sellout Lefties provide their solon buds. But, I will keep fighting the good fight for you, the 14 regular readers of this truth blog.

The DFNH web site has a several stories today on the SB121 sham ATV bill. It's passed the Senate with flying dark colors and is now on the floor of the pathetic lower House. I have no doubt it will pass. As for DFNH, and the NHCA, I attended a seminar on world view, strategies, framing and building activist organizational infrastructure this past weekend in Concord. If the Democratic party had folks like this with leadership like this, I have no doubt they will survive this next election cycle. I look forward to the demise of the Sullivan/Clemons regime. These 2 groups in DFNH and NHCA are awesome and I'm glad I am a new member of both. Check out their sites and I'll get you the floor gaff on the SB121 ATV gumment shill when it's out. PEACE!!!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Plutocracy on the March

An artcle in the NY Times found:

Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.

Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.

From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000.

The analysis examined only income reported on tax returns. The Treasury Department says that the very wealthiest find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter a lot of income from taxes. So the gap between the very richest and everyone else is almost certainly much larger.

..some of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and Ted Turner, have warned that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much of the nation's capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and innovators.

Bruce R. Bartlett, an advocate of lower taxes who served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations [said] "As long as people think they have a chance of getting to the top, they just don't care how rich the rich are."


And that my friends is how the dumbest president in living memory is able to pull this off. Every Joe Lunchpail thinks he has a chance to get rich. We need to not only make the point that the rich have the game rigged in their favor BUT ALSO that they are keeping everyone else from getting richer.


Iraq War

Read this [in newspeak of all places]

Living and working in Iraq, it's hard not to succumb to despair. At last count America has pumped at least $7 billion into reconstruction projects, with little to show for it but the hostility of ordinary Iraqis, who still have an 18 percent unemployment rate. Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security. Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.

The most powerful army in human history can't even protect a two-mile stretch of road. The Airport Highway connects both the international airport and Baghdad's main American military base, Camp Victory, to the city center. At night U.S. troops secure the road for the use of dignitaries; they close it to traffic and shoot at any unauthorized vehicles. More troops and more helicopters could help make the whole country safer. Instead the Pentagon has been drawing down the number of helicopters. And America never deployed nearly enough soldiers. They couldn't stop the orgy of looting that followed Saddam's fall. Now their primary mission is self-defense at any cost--which only deepens Iraqis' resentment.

The four-square-mile Green Zone, the one place in Baghdad where foreigners are reasonably safe, could be a showcase of American values and abilities. Instead the American enclave is a trash-strewn wasteland of Mad Max-style fortifications. The traffic lights don't work because no one has bothered to fix them. The garbage rarely gets collected. Some of the worst ambassadors in U.S. history are the GIs at the Green Zone's checkpoints. They've repeatedly punched Iraqi ministers, accidentally shot at visiting dignitaries and behave (even on good days) with all the courtesy of nightclub bouncers--to Americans and Iraqis alike. Not that U.S. soldiers in Iraq have much to smile about. They're overworked, much ignored on the home front and widely despised in Iraq, with little to look forward to but the distant end of their tours--and in most cases, another tour soon to follow. Many are reservists who, when they get home, often face the wreckage of careers and family.

read full article here


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