“The General was controlled by his “Privates” – Franklin Schenk of Fort Worth, Texas + Other Noteworthy NYT’s Commenters

November 25, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. – by Ivy Harper

Maureen Dowd’s latest column entitled, “Turning Brass into Gold” drew some of the best Comments I’ve ever read. Each and every one is worth reading and are proof-positive that “ordinary” Americans possess incredible insight and are outraged at the latest antics of the out-of-control “Military Industrial Complex” that President Eisenhower warned the world about.

Normally, when I read Ms. Dowd’s columns, I scroll down the first few Comments and then move on to another site; however, today, I couldn’t stop reading them because they were so compelling, well-written, and made points that Dowd didn’t cover. One reader even suggested a better column than “Turning Brass into Gold” with “Turning Crass into Gold.” I’m still trying to find that suggestion given that there are nearly 400 Comments the last time I checked and for some reason, I cannot locate that one now. Anyhow, below is just a small sampling of the wit and wisdom of Americans who one wishes were in charge in D.C.


Just curious: Was Gen. John Allen’s job writing e-mails to Kelly or the war?



It was clear to me almost from when this story broke that it was likely ultimately about business interests trying to leverage access to high-level military officials to land fat contracts, with Kelly serving as a socialite go-between, arranging and hosting lavish social events at which company officials and top military brass could shmooze and make deals. The sex, innuendo, infidelity and garish “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” partying were purely secondary (although, predictably, what the media has so far latched on to), by-products of or necessary catalysts for such deal-making. Generals and Admirals are in a position to influence multi-billion dollar military contracts, and with CentCom being based in Tampa, it was natural that companies focused their “lobbying” there, and use ambitious and attractive socialites to arrange meetings with them.

Obviously, Petreaus displayed incredibly poor judgment in having this affair with a married military subordinate and giving her access to his schedule and possibly computer, and he clearly needed to go. But I have to wonder if that is the worst of it, or if there’s more, that makes these seem like trifling infractions. He certainly lived the kind of life normally associated with rich tycoons and heads of state. Was he just a fool, or worse?




The tawdry affairs and catfight are irrelevant, predictable, and dull. What we have not seen addressed is how Kelley et al., social-climbing parvenues embroiled in multiple lawsuits and in debt up to their eyeballs, got access to supposedly secure military bases and high-ranking generals. Were they ever vetted? Clearly, they would do ANYTHING for money, and that is a real security risk.


san diego

Having been in the navy i can only speak about admirals, but the degree to which ascension to that exalted rank drives any recollection of the struggle (if there was one) to get there is truly astounding. The degree to which most officers who achieve their stars forget about or only give lip service to concern for the men and women serving under them is appalling. 
Also, the political nature of the whole promotions process relegates the importance of performance to a very minor role. its probably true that the best admirals and generals are the ones who never had any interest in being one.


Hartford, CT

Spot on – especially perceptive is, I think, your point about the inability of these jamokes “to identify obvious marginal personalities . . . .”

Can they not spot narcissists because they are themselves narcissists or are they just lousy judges of character? Considering what they do for a living, it’s a scary thought either way.


Indianapolis, IN

Why does this country continue to throw countless sums of money at the Department of Offense and the self-serving military “leaders” that abuse their position and power? How much more clear can the picture get to our citizens that the warmongers, military industrial profiteers, parasites and overlords of this out-of-control, over-sized, fraudulent and wasteful war machine do not serve the average American but instead serve only those within the cocoon?

Judy Hennessy


The silver lining perhaps of making public the corruption among the military brass is that it provides a clear starting point for spending cuts.


Valley of the Moon

OK, now we’re just shooting sitting ducks. Let us not be distracted by the soap opera quality of the story. The competency and quality of the highest ranking members of our military is in question. To rise to such a level without possessing the rudimentary savvy to control your personal life, to risk dissemination of critical secure information, to not understand basic internet transparency, to not have the ability to identify obvious marginal personalities after a career of evaluating junior officers… This should be the real concern. Add this story to the evangelical excesses of some Air Force officers and the ongoing blindness to sexual abuses in the ranks makes it imperative that a thorough IG investigation should be ordered. Too bad we don’t have a reliable Congress to oversee it.

Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.



Solvang, CA

As someone else has mentioned along with Ms. Dowd, what about the real stories of the military industrial complex and the hundreds of billions wasted and lost. Equipment unaccounted for, and weapons being sold on the black market. Or equipment being sold without ever being used, with the most common story that if they don’t spend their allotment, they will get less the next year so they waste billions, park the unused equipment somewhere and then sell it off at unbelievably cheap prices. 60 Minutes did a story on this years ago and no one batted an eye…”


Salt Lake City

Those who are critical of all the attention given this scandal might be missing the most critical point: How you achieve success still matters to most of society. The unprincipled career and social climber leaves a wake of damage. People are hurt; institutions are robbed of their capacity. In a country that narrowly avoided a second Great Depression, that point can’t be driven home hard enough. Those of us who believe the cast of characters in this scandal should be exposed for their reckless hollowness aren’t engaging in schadenfreude. We are hoping — perhaps against hope — that all the publicity dissuades others from the tawdry approach to getting ahead that is demonstrated by the men and women involved. Perhaps all the news exposure is akin to locking someone in ye olde public stocks in the square. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. How else will you teach shame to the shameless? Isn’t that what scandals are about?

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