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A night at the movies and a SWAT

Submitted by on Thursday, 12 February 2009 No Comment

There is no denying that overseas service, whether diplomatic or military, can be a cultural challenge.

Many assignments are in time zones when the World Series and Super Bowl are played at hours more often associated with colicky babies than with pizza and beer. On the up side, if you’re soccer fan you won’t have to get up at 3 a.m. to watch the World Cup.

People miss important stateside developments while they’re gone, such as the soldier who was baffled when he went to visit a friend and the porch light kept going on and off. Motion detectors weren’t in vogue when he’d left.

And face it: Armed Forces Network Television has improved dramatically from the days when Europe had two choices and an abundance of vegetables dancing in commercials for the commissary. It’s still not like the land of 57 channels and nothing on, though.

But, really, a half million a year to make sure American movies “that showcase United States culture, society, values and history” at diplomatic missions?

That’s what California Democrat Diane E. Watson’s HR 909 would require. It’s her second stab at it, too. HR 2553 passed the House last year but died in the Senate.

Last year’s bill had only one co-sponsor, though 21 have signed on this year. Maybe $500,000 doesn’t look as steep considering the stimulus sticker shock Congress has been dealing with so far this session.

An analysis isn’t available for this year’s bill, but the Congressional Budget Office said last year’s version would cost $500,000 a year for the movies plus compliance reports. Popcorn and soda are extra.

First off, representatives might consider defining “American films” in an era when a thousand or more a year are filmed in Canada.

Secondly, there are probably as many definitions of “United States culture, society, values and history” as there are members of Congress. Talk about a debate that could drone on for days.

A half million dollars is practically chump change these days considering the heft of the $789 billion stimulus bill. Even in this inflated era, though, it seems that there are better ways to spend the money and more urgent subjects to address.

Rep. Watson, Stop Wasting America’s Time.

Know of someone who deserves a SWAT? Click here to make a nomination.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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