Maybe Iraq Should Just Replace Idaho as Our 50th State

Back when Tony Fratto was arguing that we should shut down post offices because he uses the InterToobz and therefore only ventures into an actual post office once a year, I noted that we would effectively be kicking huge portions of our rural areas out of our country if we presumed everyone could replace the postal service with broadband, as the map here makes clear.

The NYT has a story focusing on one of the places Fratto is apparently willing to lose as part of this country: Idaho, which just got rated as the state with the worst broadband access. The story starts with an anecdote of how bears brought down a manufacturing company’s broadband. But I was particularly struck by this quote.

“We have a guy here who was dropped into remote, isolated areas of Iraq to set up their telecommunications systems,” said Christine L. Frei, director of the Clearwater Economic Development Association in Lewiston. “He told me, ‘We had better communications in Iraq than you have in central Idaho.’ ”

So Iraq can have broadband, but not ID. And Pocatello, ID, the city with the worst download speeds in the nation, stands to lose one of its post offices, as do 22 other cities in the state. Maybe they can just replace the postal workers with bears…

Meanwhile, it’s not just postal services that Republicans would rather build in Iraq than in Idaho. All those Republicans refusing to fund schools and infrastructure to create jobs were happy to use deficit spending to do so in Iraq and Afganistan.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted for over $120 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, funds that were used to construct and repair schools, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

Now, Cantor is opposing President Obama’s proposal to spend $30 billion to modernize 35,000 American schools. Reuters has the story:

U.S. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Monday he will not support President Barack Obama’s proposal to renovate U.S. schools as part of the administration’s bill to spur job growth.

He added that Obama should focus instead on cutting federal regulations that he says kill U.S. jobs…

The president’s proposal is a modest effort. The total maintenance and repair backlog at U.S. schools is estimated at $270 billion to $500 billion. While the funding Obama is proposing is fully offset, Cantor voted to build schools in Iraq and Afghanistan with deficit spending.

These things–schools and highways and post offices–are what make us a country, a country that includes cities and suburbs and rural areas. But Republicans think we can’t or don’t need to afford to be a country anymore.

Republicans are literally choosing to fund our empire over our own country. I guess that makes it clear where their priorities lie.

15 replies
  1. Gitcheegumee says:

    You know, this IS interesting,considering the state just below Idaho is Utah- a veritable hot bed for NSA data mining and storage.

    I would doubt that Utahans(?)-as opposed to Idahoans- have difficulty with broadband access,or do they?

    To wit,a comment from this blog,last year.

    Gitcheegumee July 28th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    University of Utah researchers meeting with NSA on data mining work
    By Paul Koepp

    Deseret News

    Published: Monday, July 26, 2010 10:00 p.m. MDT

    – SALT LAKE CITY — When the National Security Agency’s new information storage center is up and running at Camp Williams, there will be a lot of numbers to crunch. For help, the NSA may turn to a local source: a University of Utah professor who has come up with a simpler, faster method of “data mining.”

    Suresh Venkatasubramanian, assistant professor of computer science, will present his method Wednesday at an academic conference in Washington, D.C. As the government, researchers, social networking sites and businesses gather more and more information, it’s becoming a mammoth task to sort through it all.It’s a paradox, he said. “You want a richer description of your data, but you pay for it. Every time you add a dimension, it slows you down that much more.”Venkatasubramanian’s research has found a way to reduce the variables in any data set to zero in on its most important elements.
    The professor said that while current computer programs struggle to analyze data from 5,000 people, his program smoothly handles information from more than 50,000.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to pick a contractor for the $1.9 billion, 120-acre facility by October. The first stage of construction should take about two years.The Military Installation Development Authority of Utah has already secured a multimillion-dollar contract to develop a master plan for power, water and sewer infrastructure at the site.________________________________________

    U. researchers meeting with NSA on data mining work | Deseret NewsJul 26, 2010 … U. researchers meeting with NSA on data mining work | Deseret News.…/U-researchers-meeting-with-NSA-on-data-mining-work.html?… – Cached

  2. Gitcheegumee says:


    And this:

    The “Other Intelligence Activities” | Emptywheel

    Jul 15, 2009 … NSA, the 6th Circuit Anna Diggs Taylor case. ….. Given Bamford’s reporting on
    the kinds of storage facilities that have sprung up as a ….. way into using all of
    Utah’s power after having used up all the power grid in Baltimore. ……/the-other-intelligence-activities/

  3. emptywheel says:

    @Gitcheegumee: Note the NYT story says there’s an FBI center in ID. But the implication is they pay top dollar to get reliable broadband.

    Also, the mountain ranges work much differently in UT–East-West Wasatch, with very clear skies for the population centers like SLC (there’s a hang gliding site between SLC and Provo where you can glide something like 270 days a year, partly bc SLC has amazingly nice weather IMO.

    I imagine broadband access is much worse in S UT than up north by ID (though Pocatello is the first city w/in ID and is culturally very Utahan).

  4. Kathleen says:

    Soon after the invasion of Iraq I turned to a friend and said soon enough there will be US license plates in Iraq the 51st state
    Motto “the worlds service station” or
    “Birthplace of civilization”

    So so sad to think about the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people that few are talking about here in the states or on our MSM outlets. Oh I know “move on, turn the page, next chapter”

    I think this knowing down deep of what the US has done in Iraq has caused a slow growing depression here in the states.

    Ew think you will be interested

  5. MaryCh says:

    “There are WMDs and terrorists in Idaho!”

    – this ad sponsored by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission and Idaho Economic Development Council

  6. Sojourner says:

    Wow! With all the information yesterday about contractors and out of control spending in Iraq to re-build the country’s infrastructure (that Republicans whole-heartedly supported!!), Idaho is way down the list…

    Stated another way, there just is not enough of a market in Idaho to invest in infrastructure to support free enterprise so people can make money!! I assume that is what it is all about!

  7. MadDog says:

    Funny how a lack of broadband access generally geographically comports with Repug red state constituencies.

    It’s almost if Cantor & Company are desirous of keeping their low-information voters in the dark…ages.

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    While supporting reconstruction for Iraq, and other forms of foreign aid to that country and the region, I thought I would separate out some statistics I saw recently concerning broadband, and then comparing that to Idaho.

    From an article last week announcing Netflix‘s rollout of its movie streaming service currently occurring in Brazil:

    “Only 20 percent of Brazil’s 42 million* Internet users have a connection speed above 500 kilobytes per second, according to a May report from Ibope Nielsen Online. A speed of around 800 kilobytes per second is the minimum required to stream movies online.” **

    * That is, in Brazil 20% of 42 million = 8.4 million internet connections faster than 500 kb/s;
    vBrazil land surface area 3.3 million sq. mi.
    <a href="Total population of Brazil 194 million.
    Brazil is one of the “emerging” economies in the cluster known as BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, China.
    Brazil GDP $2 trillion.

    Idaho, comparisons:
    Idaho’s gross state product in 2008 was $52 billion.
    ID population 1.5 million in 2010.
    Idaho land surface area 82,000 sq. mi.

    ** Even basic wireless is borderline at 700 kbps in a shared topology for three homes; for example to see a US Senate hearing in RealTime, or to view a YouTube video clip, the audio is continuous usually but sometimes is choppy, and the concurrent video freezes every few seconds, although the audio continues. I suppose each home is receiving only 200+ kbps bandwidth in this configuration.

  9. MP says:

    So parts of Iraq have hi speed internet.

    I am sure they are thankful, makes the war worth it.

    Hey MadDog,
    Please share some of your high information ideas with us, I need to see the light.

  10. Mike B says:

    Maybe all of the Islamophobia and hysteria over sharia will turn out to be a good thing. It might convince the US to invade the US and engage in nation building.

    The people in Idaho should convert to Islam.

  11. klynn says:

    So, we go into a false war on 16 words. Members of the GOP were responsible for those sixteen words. The US breaks everything in sight and has to rebuild (key word, rebuild).

    The war breaks our national budget. The war is not a stimulus. Our tax dollars for infrastructure go to another nation. And the GOP stand their ground to cut the budget and not fund infrastructure in the US?

    Sounds like the behavior of an addict. Lie. Lie some more. Indulge in destruction all the while playing the victim and not giving a dam about who you destroy or the cost.

  12. klynn says:



    MadDog was basing his broadband comment @ 7 on the map links in EW’s post.


    I do not think MP realized where you were getting your info from.

    Then again, I could be wrong on bot counts.

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