GUARD GENERAL CITED FOR "IMPROPER
Who says we don't have "royalty" in this country? All men are NOT created equal, that is, if you're a general anywhere in the National Guard. When you pin on those stars, you become "immune" to the rules and regulations that govern lesser mortals. It's almost like a "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" card in a Monopoly game. You've got it made. All you need is flag rank and political connections.
Let's look at 67 year-old Alabama Guard adjutant general Mark Bowen. Either he's senile (unlikely), or just plain arrogant in thinking he could get away with what he did. Apparently the two-star figured he had the "authority" to promote a female subordinate officer ahead of her peers; give her expensive gifts; "loan" her money (no chump change, here); hug her in front of the troops - that must have been great for morale - and even kiss her "on the lips" in his office.
Bowen canceled advertising a Guard job opening - clearly against regulation - to make sure his gal pal got the position. Of course this innocent babe was wide-eyed and unaware that she was getting all these undeserved bennies from her much-older boss. She must have been, as the I.G. (Inspector General) whitewash doesn't recommend any punishment for her.
We think it might be fair if this manipulative officer reverted back to her prior rank before her benefactor showered her with all those goodies. And while she's at it, return to the government the difference in pay she received, with interest. After that's done, she can put in her papers and leave, not letting the door hit her valuable ass on the way out! Now that might actually improve morale in the scandal-ridden Alabama Guard.
GEN. BOWEN ANNOYED AT PUBLICITY AROUND I.G. REPORT
The general just doesn't seem to get it.
When the Birmingham NEWS - three cheers for them - did a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request and got their mitts on the I.G. report, they published some of the findings. Why Gen. Bowen had a cow! "How dare they do that to me?" he must have asked himself. "I'm the king around here." Well, almost. Bowen technically comes under the command of his fellow Clay County "good ole boy" and political crony, Gov. Bob Riley. Gotta "suck up" to him, but otherwise, Bowen, you're "king" of the Alabama Guard.
At least you used to be. Not any more. The general claimed he was planning on retiring right away, all along. Yeah, that's the ticket. He must have suddenly grown tired of all the perks of command and sycophants bowing and scraping in his wake. Now the very-much married brass hat can go home and explain to his wife how he got exposed having such an "inappropriate" relationship with a very much younger (and better-looking?) female officer.
Get out the rolling pin! We don't think Mrs. Bowen is amused, especially now that the general has become a laughing stock all over Alabama. But, it was OK when he was much-feared as Guard boss; when one word from him or a stroke of his pen could cut short or destroy a good officer's career. It must be humiliating to have wielded that kind of power and then lose it.
No more hundreds - yes, some 700 personal phone calls to his galpal officer - on a taxpayer paid-for cell phone. The toothless I.G. report revealed Bowen, over a six-month period last year, made 64% of all calls to the lucky female. Aren't you Alabama taxpayers happy you footed the bill for that?
And where was the white-haired Bowen on the day the announcement of his retirement was released?
Why he was testifying on Capitol Hill about how the Alabama Guard was at 50% capacity to respond to a national emergency, like say, another Hurricane Katrina. But not to worry, Bowen assured his listeners. Alabama has arrangements to get replacement equipment from neighboring states for all that gear currently in Iraq. Sure, as if they don't have the same problems with truck and vehicle shortages Alabama has.
Yes, Gen. Bowen can now collect all those fat retirement checks. But if he'd been "Sergeant" Bowen, or even "Captain" Bowen and done what the general did, a pension would be the last thing they could look forward to. It's another case of: "Different spanks for different ranks." And in America, if you're a fat-cat general, you've got it made.
THE TRIPLE-CHINNED "PILLSBURY DOUGHMAN" - AN ALL-TIME EGOMANIAC
We've known some other imperious flag officers in our day. One that comes to mind is a now-retired reptilian who was nicknamed "The Pillsbury Doughman." This triple-chinned brass hat was fond of wearing white dress uniforms like that old South American dictator, Juan Peron of Argentina. Only Juan had it all over the little fat man when it came to height and physical appearance. He and his Hillary (Eva Peron), cut quite an impressive figure as they stood on the palace balcony accepting the adulation of the crowd below.
But "Doughman," the disgusting egomaniac, only inspired fear and loathing in his non-sycophantic officers and men. Strutting around headquarters with a big unlit cigar in his mouth (apparently a "phallic symbol" to compensate for his rumored lack of endowment elsewhere) the general demanded his name and photo appear on every other page of the state Guard magazine. Never mind that the funds for publication were earmarked to promote "recruiting and retention." This roly-poly, cartoon-character decreed he would be worshiped, and he alone! Bow down or pay the piper. We saw him fire brigade commanders who were a foot taller and five pounds overweight.
The general was so full of himself he even ordered all commissioned and warrant officers in his state guard to assemble in the war memorial auditorium - you had to sign an attendance sheet at the door or endure watching a videotape of the proceedings if you were ill or couldn't make it - while the one-time corporal, who was then governor of that state, awarded fat-boy a medal. That's right, everyone was inconvenienced on a non-drill Saturday, forced to come without pay or travel expenses, just to see the 6' 4" governor pin a pretty ribbon on his midget-like adjutant general.
So short was the "Doughman," that when he sat on a chair, his little legs didn't touch the ground. He would twirl his stubby fingers in circles as they rested against his abundant abdomen. We watched with bated breath, hoping and praying one of his gold buttons would "pop off" at an inopportune moment.
If you think this little dictator, whose coterie of flunkies included one brown-nosed incompetent called "Corky," was an exception to the rule, wake up and smell the coffee. Most of the adjutant generals like to "Lord it" from their throne. It's the nature of the beast. Lord Acton said it best: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."