Frontier Former Editor

February 22, 2009

Army strong-arm?

Having grown up as a military dependent and now working in a profession where I see how the economy is wreaking havoc on soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guarsdmen, I’ve always been a firm believer in giving military personnel and their families needed aid and comfort. Consistently, they face one of the crappiest professional and home enviroments found in American society, and we ask them to do it at a mere pittance while bankers, entertainers and sports figures drain wealth far in excess of their usefulness to society.

I’ve seen how that aid and comfort has been provided over the years, from service relief organizations to the firm yet fatherly guidance of a senior NCO  for a wayward soldier or sailor. But this bit of news is something that our new National Command Authority might want to consider tending to in short order:

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.

Granted, you can’t run a military like it was a democracy. But a democracy certainly can impose some core values conducive to discipline, good order and humaneness toward the troops.

October 19, 2008

W.

I went to see the movie ‘W.’ It was like a five-year old sachertorte. It could have been delicious, but it was five years too late.

I just finished reading ‘Hubris’ by Michael Isikoff and David Korn a few days ago, and much of the film’s 2002-2005 moments track pretty well with that book.

Scott Glenn’s broad-brush portrayal of Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Dreyfuss’s Bela Lugosi-like depiction of Dick Cheney were enjoyable in an “I-told-you-so” way, and Thandie Newman was a well-done characature of Condoleeza Rice.

Toby James as Karl Rove; What an inspired piece of casting! Rove as a malignant Truman Capote.

Josh Brolin as Shrub – it deserves an Oscar for its depth in portraying someone so intellectually shallow.

As for Oliver Stone? Stone is pretty restrained here. Given the proven outlandishness of the real-life cast of characters inspiring, Stone didn’t have to resort (much) to methods already used in ‘JFK’ to move that version of events.

Most of the people I saw in the theater were, based on their demeanor and appearance, probably Democrat. The film’s appeal probably will be partisan and may have little if any real impact on the election.

But it still would have been better for this movie to have appeared before 2004.

January 21, 2008

Maybe the little things do count more

Filed under: Blacksburg, bureaucracy, observations, old college days, rationality, schools, Virginia, Virginia Tech — Frontier Former Editor @ 4:35 pm

I spent part of the coldest day of this year in Blacksburg, Va. Sunday and picked up this little piece of literature: (more…)

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