Dishonoring America's Troops

There's the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, and other badges and decorations to honor America's fighting men and women -- but there should be one more medal for some of our top officials who are also so richly deserving of public recognition in times of war: The Dishonorable Badge of High-ranking Hypocrisy.

Among the deserving are George W. Bush and all the other hyper-hawks of both parties who talk so loudly about duty and bravery as they send our troops into their hyped-up wars -- yet fail to provide the necessary gear that these very troops need to do battle. I'm not talking about the super-sophisticated, high-dollar, laser-guided missiles, and other video-game technology that dazzles both the hawks and the fawning media (while enriching the profiteering corporations that sell such sexy hardware to the government). Rather, I'm talking about the mundane, low-dollar basics needed to equip the grunts on the ground -- stuff like good socks and boots, rucksacks, field radios, pistols, and rifle sights.

But these ground troops don't have Gucci-clad lobbyists or make fat campaign donations, so -- as incredible as it sounds -- they've literally been getting shortchanged while the White House and congress hurl billions of our tax dollars at the likes of Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon. An investigative report by the Army tells of our troops in Iraq having to shell out from their own thin paychecks to buy equipment from places like L.L. Bean, because the stuff they've been issued is inadequate, including boots with soles that can't handle the Iraqi terrain, pistol magazines that fail to push the bullets into the chamber for firing, and field radios too weak to reach support units just a few blocks away. One army official complained that a typical mountain climbing expedition is better outfitted than the troops fighting Bush's war.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Anytime these hawkish politicians use America's troops for a photo-op backdrop, they should have to wear their Badge of High-Ranking Hypocrisy.

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