Sunday, January 08, 2012

Fools and Fanatics and Bull Feather Merchants

by Jeff Huber

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves…”

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Public Affairs Victoria Clarke, creator of the
Retired Military Analyst propagansda program:
She'll brainwash you and your little dog too!
When deconstructing the flock of war hawkers who comprise the Pentarchy’s propaganda pantheon, I normally stick to teeing off on the top tier: four-star masters of mendacity like King David Petreaus and ex-Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen, DoD civilian lore lords like Victoria Clarke, and trusty echo chamberlains of the mainstream media’s military beat like Michael R. Gordon, Dexter Filkins and the just god-awful Thomas E. Ricks.  

But under the elite stratum of Goebbelites skulks a collection of players who range from the triple-A to the sandlot levels, commonly referred to as the “military press,” who need a shot from the long club as well. These bush leaguers don’t enjoy the vast market that the major moguls command.  They do, however, have a captive audience among the crowd of fools, fanatics, true believers, ends-justify-means Jesuits, Doublethinkers and outright Cheney-class psychopaths who need to be kept on the straight and narrow warpath so they never examine the absurdities they have subscribed to for, in most cases, their entire lives.    

At the top of this pseudo-journalistic underclass are full-color glossy magazines like Joint Force Quarterly (aka JFQ) and Proceedings that you might mistake at first glance for Gentleman’s Quarterly (aka GQ) or Hustler.

A funny thing happened on the way
to the independent forum. 
JFQ is the Joint Chiefs chairman’s personal propaganda platform, used to promote the military’s budgetary, doctrinal and political agendas.  Then chairman Admiral Mike Mullen famously used it during the 2000 presidential campaign to warn of the adverse affect that a Democrat in the Oval Office would have on the “mission in Iraq,” and he did so in an article with the sublimely ironic title “Military Must Stay Apolitical.”  Mullen, the spin-savvy son of a Hollywood press agent, was cunning enough to frame his political message as a wide-spread concern of “the troops,” but after segments of the alternate press threw the bull roar flag at him, Mullen’s keyboard commandos pulled the article from the JFQ website.    

The U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings, a former pseudo-employer of mine, has for decades billed itself as an “independent forum,” a quizzical claim considering that the Institute’s offices are located on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, and that the magazine’s CEO is a retired vice admiral, and that the editorial board consists of active duty career military officers and NCOs, and that every whole-grain company meme that passes through an admiral’s system and clings to a sheet of paper fertilizes a Proceedings cover story.

Uncle Jimbo (left) and Crush of BLACKFIVE
say "Baghdad blowed up real good!"
In the bottom righthand quadrant of the continuum we have the likes of ex-Army person Uncle Jimbo.  Jimbo is the leading luminary of BLACKFIVE, a compendium of comical commentary from a collection of Free Republican G.I. Joe Sixpacks who, like Jimbo, believe that “America is the greatest country to have sprung up here,” and therefore has a manifest mission to blow the lesser countries that have sprung up elsewhere to more smithereens than you can wag a dog at.  According to BLACKFIVE’s editorial guidelines, “PTSD” is spelled p-u-s-s-y.

Kitty cornered from the niche BLACKFIVE infests we have the military intelligencia who produce scholarly journals like Orbis and the now defunct Strategic Review, both edited by Professor Mackubin Thomas Owens.  Owens is presently an Associate Dean of Academics at the U. S. Naval War College where, during my one year of shore duty in the ‘90s, I drank my way through the graduate curriculum in post-modern imperialism.

Professor Owens:
"No, I don't expect you to do all of the
assigned reading. I expect you to die."
Profiled as a “conservative political figure,” Owens served in the Reagan administration, is a regular contributor to National Review, and is afraid of women in the military.  The crowning milestone of Mack’s multitude of warmongering credentials was his co-authorship of the New American Centurions’ September 2000 monograph “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” the neoconservative manifesto that outlined the Bush administration’s grand strategy for dominating the world by establishing a central military base of operations in Iraq.  It’s little wonder, then, that elevated foreign policy journals like Orbis feature the studied sophistry of full-time war wonks who wage a relentless intellectual battle to preserve the the armed forces, armed conflict and their phony-baloney careers in academia, tank thinkery and the assistant cabinet secretarial pool.  Surprisingly, Mack and many other of these high-toned war drummers are Vietnam veterans.  They apparently figure that since they had to fight in a stupid war everyone else should too. 

Somewhere in the middle of all this mind-bending malevolence lies’s editor-in-chief is retired naval flight officer Ward “Tomcat Guy” Carroll, author of juvenile fiction about juvenile fighter pilots.  Ward spent his active duty career lounging in the back seat of F-14 Tomcat fighter jets, drawing cartoons for in-house naval aviation magazines and playing his electric guitar in rock-and-roll bands. His post-Navy efforts as a double-dipping civil servant public affairs operative make him uniquely responsible for the existence of one of the leading killers of U.S. Marines: the V-22 Osprey. Ward was also a pseudo-employer of mine until he spiked one too many of my op-eds when they pulled the noses of his high-powered pals—most notably the detestable Tom Ricks—out of their sockets. 
"Tomcat Guy" Ward Carroll with Cheap Trick.
And they say irony is dead.

Bringing me on board was probably Ward’s half-acre attempt at pretending to have a balanced editorial policy, kind of like how FOX News kept Alan Colmes around all those years.  But Ward keeps on the bandwidth by rebroadcasting whatever the Pentagon's reality rangers tell him to in a way that draws in Uncle Jimbo’s audience and one or two other viewers who can read with their mouths closed.  A good example is a recent article by staff writer Michael Hoffman titled “Texas Guardsmen Warn of Iranian Influence in Iraq.”  It’s an even thinner than usual information attack on Iran that’s dripping in hysterical accusations and arid on supporting evidence.

“Military analysts and Middle East experts have spent years warning about the growing influence of Iran in Iraq,” the piece begins. “A group of Texas National Guardsmen watched it firsthand,” Hoffman tells us, and they came home to share their observations with “congressional lawmakers.”

The unnamed “analysts” and “experts” Hoffman is talking about are Victoria Clarke’s retired military shills like Barry McCaffrey and Jack Jacobs, AIPAC prostitute David Albright, the fear-and-loathers at United Against Nuclear Iran, and the phalanx of other patriotic psychopaths who persistently demonize Iran without producing a parcel of proof to back their claims. 

“A group of Texas National Guardsmen,” we discover later in Hoffman’s story, are Major General Eddy Spurgin and Brigadier General William Smith, a pair of career weekend warriors looking to score points with the denizens of inner ring of the five-sided Rätselschloss.  We also discover that the “congressional delegation” is Republican Congressman from  Texas Mike Conaway who typically grips and grins with returning guardsmen who are stationed in his district.    

Paragraphs deep into Hoffman’s dreck we find that Spurgin and Smith are concerned about Iran’s “malign influence” in Iraq.  But “the Texas soldiers” presentation to Conaway “didn’t focus solely on advanced military operations out of Iran” because they “didn’t witness” any “brash power displays.” Spurgin and Smith instead spun a scary campfire tale about “how something as simple as groceries allows Iran’s government to gain power in Iraq.”   

Sweet mother of pearl.  Everyone involved in the fabrication of this story is as phony as a blue dollar bill.  Bush crony Conaway is a member of the House Armed Services Committee who gained his military expertise during a two-year Army that he served at Fort Hood, Texas around the same time that young Mr. Bush was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard.  The “infantry division” that Spurgin and Smith command exercises “training and readiness oversight” of other Texas Army National Guard units that, like Guard units from every state, perform combat support functions as doctors, mechanics, clerks, cooks, etc.  The division’s deployment to Iraq was no doubt vital to the care and feeding of the trigger pullers doing the actual fighting, but how it put Spurgin or Smith in a position to observe Iranian infiltration of Iraq will no doubt remain an unsolved mystery. 

Brigadier Smith: Lean, mean, Texas
National Guard fighting machine.
According to General Spurgin’s official bio, he is a conservationist in civilian life, suggesting that his experience in intelligence is limited to unearthing the secrets of preserving wildlife and natural resources.  Brigadier Smith’s bio doesn’t say what he does full time, or give any inkling of how he comes to understand the methods by which Iran is using groceries to take over Iraq, though his official photo suggests that he does have a working knowledge of groceries.

Military journalist Mike Hoffman used to make a living as an Air Force intelligence officer.  As I’ve noted before, military intelligence is to intelligence what Kenny G is to jazz.  Air Force intelligence is to military intelligence what Barry Manilow is to rock and roll.  Maybe that explains why Hoffman didn't question any of the intelligence Spurgin and Smith fed him for the article.  Maybe it also explains how he wound up being a mildly successful military correspondent.  As an intelligence weenie he learned the art of fabricating facts that his warmonger masters wanted to hear, so tapping out hackery--like this cockamamie "report" about a pair of ambitious play-warriors that was transparent excuse to repeat long standing but still unsubstantiated allegations that Iran has been training and arming Iraqi militants to kill American troops--was was a natural transition for him.     

As to the question of whether I’m being a big blue martinet for chaining a fistful of minor league news mongers to the whipping post, the answer is not just “no.” It’s one word longer. These Durham bull feather merchants would snap at a chance to move up to The Show faster than you can say “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”  They’re every bit as eager and able to peddle death, destruction and human misery in pursuit of personal fame and fortune as their counterparts in the Big Brother Broadcast, and they not only deserve to be regarded with the same degree of disdain and ridicule, they demand it. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Wars of Diminishing Returns

by Jeff Huber

“We are engaged in a long war…” – Newt Gingrich

“No nation ever profited from a long war” – Sun Tzu

We continue to hurtle further down the slope that leads to the edge of the same cliff that the Athenians and the Romans and the English and the French and the Germans and the Japanese and the Russians drove themselves over.  I wrote some years ago that empires have a penchant for becoming footnotes in succeeding empires’ history books because they fail to learn that the military power that brought them to preeminence was insufficient to keep them there.  

The United States has arrived at the moment the Romans found themselves in during the reign of Commodus, son of the general and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, the last of Rome’s “Five Good Emperors.”  They say the acorn never falls far from the tree, but someone must have come along and kicked Commodus down the hill and over the dale. 

Dick Cheney circa 1500.
Commodus was the first in a long line of Roman emperors to consolidate his power by bribing Rome’s elite military forces into supporting him.  Eventually, as Renaissance era political science virtuoso Niccolò Machiavelli noted in his seminal work The Art of War, the Praetorian Guard became “insolent and formidable, not only to the Senate but to the emperors themselves” and in time the Guard “put many emperors to death and disposed of the Empire as it pleased.”  That, Machiavelli observed, was decisive point that transformed the Romans into the Italians of his day, a pseudo-confederacy of warring principalities that became a low-hanging-fruit target for foreign interlopers.

Like it or not, the history of humanity is the history of its wars.  Other stuff happened, sure, stuff that enriched human existence rather than debased it, but none of our man-made beauty would have been created without the man-made horror that accompanied armed conflict.  Italy’s Renaissance period that spanned the 14th to the 17th century, a flowering of literature, science, art, education and intellectual growth, could not have occurred without the internecine violent conflict that Machiavelli chronicled (and played a large part in fomenting.  One could justifiably argue that Machiavelli was Renaissance Italy's moral and political equivalent of Dick Cheney, though old Nick leaves dirty Dick in the dust when it comes to cognition).  Conflict is, in fact, the very essence of art, as the core purpose of art is to resolve conflict.  You will never witness a superior work of art, be it visual (painting, sculpture and so on), language (plays, movies, books and the like), musical (including the dreck you see on the annual Grammy awards) or social (politics, war, sports) that is not characterized by an underlying tension created by opposing forces. 

Like other human societies, the America we know today could not have come to be—for better or for worse—without its unrelenting procession of wars.  The birth of our nation was its armed rebellion and revolution against the British.  We then fought a line of internal and external wars of establishment, consolidation and expansion.  The Spanish American War, in which we enlarged and solidified our sphere of influence in the Pacific and the Caribbean, was the war that announced our intention to be reckoned with as an equal of the Old World powers.  

America's intervention in World War I America’s insistence that it would have a say in Europe’s affairs.  It also, in retrospect, proved to be a prime example of how war aims, especially the aims of optional wars, are seldom realized and, moreover, usually give way to unintended and unwanted consequences. 

Neocon Dick after five centuries
of cryogenic preservation.
I subscribe to the school that says we would have ascended to global hegemony if we had stiff-armed “The Great War” and let the Euros slug it out among themselves until they’d lost their taste for war forever.  Then we could have dictated terms by which we fed Europe until it could grow another generation of able-bodied men who could take up the plow again.  That would most probably have preempted the need for a Second World War to mop up the unfinished business of the first one, and would likely have also averted the emergence of the Soviet Union and the Cold War and our dirty little third world proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam and, most relevant to us now, the first superpower substitute war in Afghanistan, in which we created a guerilla force adversary to defeat the Soviets as payback for Vietnam that we ourselves are hopelessly, haplessly grappling with today. 

But we let ourselves get stuck on our zippers in the First World War when peace didn’t produce the results Woodrow Wilson had envisioned, and immersion in the Second World War was pretty much unavoidable, as was the rest of the follow-on fornicating mess. 

Application of military force in World War II established American as a first-magnitude superpower.  Since then, however, our investment in war has produced exponentially diminishing returns.  Our best-trained, best-equipped military has only been effective as a force-in-being that, like a fleet-in-being, can exert influence on world events through the simple fact of its existence.  Our Cold War arsenal clearly deterred another outbreak of general war in Europe and a global nuclear doom Krieg.  But every time we committed ourselves to fuzzy pretext land wars against pathetically inferior forces, we managed to shoot our baby makers off.  

By the time the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, America had been on a wartime footing for a half-century, and the shadow powers that be had no interest in allowing the country to become that kinder, gentler, shining city on the hill that Big Daddy and The Great Communicator talked about.  We’re still on a war economy for the same reasons we’re still in an oil economy and a tobacco economy.  War and oil and tobacco are still making large lucre, and it’s a bad business decision to change products when the old product is still turning a pandemic profit.

The trilateral power elite.
That’s largely why the New American Centurions aka the neoconservative cabal were able to so completely gain the support of the Rockefeller trilateralists and whatever other theoretical conspirators we suspect to be the hidden masters of the known universe.  In September 2000, the Centurions published a neo-imperialist manifesto titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses that proclaimed, in essence, that American had a global leadership responsibility to single-handedly ensure the survival of warfare as a vibrant, ongoing human institution because nobody else had to the oomph to do it anymore. 

Even the neocons must have realized that their stated ambition sounded like so much whack-a-doodle-doo, because they confessed that the American public was unlikely to fall for their shenanigan ideology barring a “new Peal Harbor.”  Then 9/11/2001 came along, almost a year to the day after Rebuilding America’s Defenses polluted the information highway, and the neos got just what they were looking for. 

The grand-sounding doctrines and strategies we were promised would assure victory in the “new kind of war” we were embarking upon—Shock and Awe and Network Centric Warfare and Counterinsurgency aka COIN and the Revolution in Military Affairs aka RMA and Transformation and the Long War and Persistent Conflict and the rest of the unrefined used horse lunch that the Pentagon and its pet newsmongers have been spoon feeding us for roughly the last decade—have been nothing but one big, red, shiny, fat-assed, expensive failure after the next.  Every place we have bombed, boarded, bludgeoned, beheaded and bloodied, from Iraq to the Bananastans to Libya to Somalia to Yemen, looks like a big-city zoo ten minutes after the force-ten earthquake hit it. 

Our generals and the sycophant politicians who grovel at their spit-polished feet would have us believe that we now have to dedicate the next 80 years or so into rounding up all the critters we let loose and putting them back in their cages.  Well guess what, folks.  All them loose critters are making new critters faster than we can give Dick Cheney's pals no-bid contracts to build new cages to put them all in.  You cannot win un-winnable wars.  The longer you pursue them, the longer it takes to lose them.  

We have overreacted to the 9/11 attacks to a degree that must have exceeded Osama bin Laden’s hopes by magnitudes.  In exacting revenge for approximately 3,000 American innocents killed in the New York and Washington D.C. guerilla air raids, we have directly caused the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Asians and have destroyed the lives of millions of others.  We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined to wage wars with vaguely identifies adversaries that have no defense budget whatsoever while our economy follows the birds to their summer retreats. 

G.I. Shmo
Our military’s officer corps has become a culture of Petraeus worshiping yes-colonels who pine to become yes-generals.  The only warriors who count anymore are the bull feather merchant marines who conjure the pro-war propaganda that their echo chamberlains in the media pawn off on us as “news.”  Our country has become the abject servant of the American Pentarchy, that cabal of sandbox generalsbathtub admiralsbeltway banditsAIPAC ratsWarlord FauntleroysNew American Centurions, post-modern PraetoriansLong War legislatorsDr. StrangelovesG.I. Joe Six-PacksPavlov’s dogs of warpatriotic psychopaths and other oligarchs whose narrow self interests and well-funded efforts have made the long dreamed-of permanent American security state a reality.  The military-industrial complex that launched our reign as a superpower is about to grind it to a bitter end.

But heck, who wants to look a 19-year old wounded war veteran in what’s left of his face and tell him all that?

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pentagon Propaganda Programmers Pardoned; Pro-War News at Eleven

by Jeff Huber

The man who was perhaps the last of the true investigative reporters on the Pentarchy beat may have just taken a swan dive into the canvas.

Look at those yo-yos. That's the way you do it.
For years, David Barstow of the New York Times, amid a phalanx of the warmongery’s favorite echo chamberlains, the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexter Filkins and the disgraceful Thomas E. Ricks, managed to dig up unpleasant truths about our Whack-a-Doodle Wars on Evil.  Even more incredibly, Barstow was able to get the truth to us via the NYT, the propaganda conduit of record that abetted Dick Cheney and his malignant mob in selling the snake-oil intelligence to the American public that led to the invasion of Iraq. 

Barstow’s crowing coup against American’s military-media junta was his 2008 expose of the Pentagon’s gray propaganda operation know as the Retired Military Analyst (RMA) program.  The RMA was launched by Donald Rumsfeld’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (aka Head Assistant Bull Feather Merchant) Victoria Clarke in early 2002 to recruit “key influentials” to peddle Operation Iraqi Freedom on the Big Brother Broadcast. 

RMA was a glad-handing, highway-robbing, war-hawking, hootenanny.  Clarke’s spin commandos wined, dined, sipped and supped a gang of retired senior officers who had gone into the defense contracting and tank thinking field, and fed them an endless supply of finely crafted pro-war talking points.  The RMAs went on air and a) palmed off said talking points as their own original analyses and b) neglected to mention that they stood to profit from extension and escalation of the war by way of their business connections in the defense industry.  

That's "General Evil" to you. I didn't slaughter
my way to the four-star level to be called
"Mister Evil." 
Retired Army Colonel Ken Allard, one of the most prominent RMAs who, during his active duty career, taught information warfare at National Defense University, admitted the program was “Psyops [aka ‘psychological operations’] on steroids, a “coherent, active policy.”  If you played ball with your information handlers, you thrived.  If you didn’t, you got shut out and the news networks lost interest in you.  “Night and day,” Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”  (So sad, Ken, but I’d feel a lot sorrier about you getting so wet if you hadn’t jumped up and volunteered right away when Dad asked who wanted to help wash the car.)

Along with Ken Allard, the names that go with the faces on the RMA Wall of Shame include Wayne Downing, Rick Francona, James Marks, Thomas McInerny, Monty Miegs, Bernie Trainor, John Warden, Thomas Wilkerson and Jack Jacobs, the Yoda-like war wonk who has forged a lucrative retirement career out of shamelessly shilling his Vietnam War Medal of Honor.  But the most heinous the RMA rangers was retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey, who so brazenly used his military credentials and his Washington insider influence to reap war profits that Barstow described his racket as a “one man’s military-industrial complex.”

It’s little wonder that McCaffrey stood head and haunches above the rest of the retired war panderers.  During his active duty days, he was one of the most malevolent military men to ever sport a service dress uniform.  If the military had a real judiciary instead of its Uniform Code of Marsupial Justice*, McCaffrey would have been convicted of capital felonies after the first Gulf War for the Massacre at Rumalia during which McCaffrey disobeyed direct orders to commit the premeditated mass murder of retreating Iraqi soldiers during a declared ceasefire. (According to a colleague, McCaffrey exhorted his subordinate commanders over the radio to find a way for him to “go kill all of those bastards.”)  Army investigators later exonerated McCaffrey of wrongdoing, just as Pentagon investigators later exonerated everyone at the Pentagon involved in the RMA Program.

What a bitter sample of uneven-handedness it was that Barstow had to be the one to write the Christmas Eve NYT story titled “Pentagon Finds No Fault in Ties to TV Analysts.”  One has to wonder if Barstow volunteered to write the story or if the onerous task was crammed past his tonsils by the NYT’s war-worshiping editorial staff.  Whatever the case, irony, if it were still alive in the collective American consciousness, would have savored the way that Barstow told the story.  If this was his last round, at least he went out fighting.

Hi.  I'm Jack Jacobs.  Aren't I cuddly?
Do you like my Medal of Honor?
Then please buy more of the wars I sell
here on NBC so I can make more
 money from them.  And don't forget to
You’re not far into the story before you realize that the title should have read “Pentagon Finds No Fault with Itself in Ties to TV Analysts.”  It turns out that the recently completed two-year Pentagon inspector general (aka IG) inquiry is the second such inquiry into the RMA shenanigans Barstow tells us.  The IG’s office issued an earlier report, in 2009, that exonerated Pentagon Public Affairs and the RMAs and everyone else involved in the RMA program after it interviewed Pentagon Public Affairs personnel and RMAs and everyone else involved in the RMA program.

Shortly after 2009 report hit the streets, someone in the IG office who was senior to whoever had put it on the streets pulled it back off the streets, saying that it was so riddled with inaccuracies and flaws that none of its conclusions could be relied upon.  Later that year a second report was ordered, the one just released. 

The investigators who conjured the second report claimed that they could not find sufficient documentation to determine the program's strategy, objectives or intent.  So the “investigation” consisted of interviews with former Rumsfeld public affairs aids, including Victoria Clarke, who created and ran the RMA program.  From those interviews the “investigators” concluded that the “outreach activities were intended to serve as an open information exchange with credible third-party subject-matter experts” who could “explain military issues, actions and strategies to the American public.”

Though Barstow did not offer an authorial judgment statement on the second IG report’s conclusion, a slow child can see that it is the exact equivalent of a police chief pulling over a visibly, audibly and aromatically obviously intoxicated mayor, asking him if he has been drinking, and letting him drive away when he answers “No.”  The second IG RMA investigation has not been recalled, so whoever spiked the first one must have retired and been replaced by a, ah, less principled officer who more suitably conforms to the military's Petraeus-era standards of ethics.  

I didn't make my
first billion until
after I was a general.
Lamentably, much of the American population’s cognizant skills have fallen far beneath the level of a slow child’s. So when standard citizens see the likes of McCaffrey and Jacobs appearing on NBC as military analysts (yes, they’re baaaaaaaaaack), it won’t occur to them that these are the same retired bums who have been lying to them about our Woebegone Wars all along.  Or if they do remember anything about the RMA scandal, one of their FOX News aficionado chums will chime in with “Nah, they had two big investigations of those guys, went on for four years, didn’t find nothin’ on ‘em.  It was all bull roar.”

*The UCMJ is the justice system that sent retarded Army Private Lynndie England to jail over prison abuse while Donald Rumsfeld, chief architect of the prisoner abuse program, retired high on the dole in his mansion on the eastern shore, the one next to Dick Cheney’s multi-million dollar monstrosity.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Moving to Wednesdays

I completed the first draft of Sandbox Generals on 21 December.  Now it's time to take an operational pause for the cause and wait for a better sun angle before I re-attack and revise.  In the meantime, I'll be filling the psychic space with a number of other projects, among which will be mounting a slightly more fully developed version of the weekly P.S. column that I'll post on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays, beginning on Wednesday 28 December.

I hope you're enjoying your holidays.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Newt the Impaler

By Jeff Huber

Newt circa 1465.
President Newt Gingrich (shudder) is likely to have a foreign policy as draconian as his domestic policies were during his reign of terror as House Speaker.  Newt’s cockamamie “Contract with America” that, if successful, would have impaled the nation’s middle and poor working classes ala Vlad Tepes, the real life model for Bram Stokers Dracula, long before young Messrs. Bush and Obama ever got a chance to.  While Newt’s domestic agenda channels Marie Antoinette’s infamous “Let the eat cake” decree, his attitude toward the rest of the planet can be best summarized as “Let them eat shrapnel”—the “them” in that statement being people who are Muslim and living anywhere within a B-2 bomber’s combat range of Jerusalem or American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) headquarters on H Street in Washington D.C., which pretty much includes all people who are Muslim.    

At the top of Newt’s wrong-color, wrong-creed, wrong-color target list are the Palestinians, who Newt claims are an “invented people.”

When criticized by his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls for his remark, Newt responded that what he said was “historically true” and “factually correct.”  That’s only the case if we view the term “true” in the context of Steven Colbert’s “truthiness” rubric, and if by “factually correct” we’re referring to the kinds of fabricated facts that conform to the sort of political correctness that resonates with Newt’s prospective rabid right voter base whose “conservative values” are rooted in cherished traditions like cross burnings and lynchings. (I'm in persistent wonderment at how American bigots who once hated Jews became I-Stand-with-Israelites once they were programmed to hate Muslims instead.)

The “invented people” meme was invented by AIPAC bull feather merchants to refute Palestinian claims of a right to a homeland.  AIPAC’s tank thinkers haven’t bothered to clarify who exactly they think invented the Palestinian people.  I’m guessing it wasn’t Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or Mel Brooks’ either.  

It doesn’t take a historian, either a real one or a fake one like Newt, to realize that the people who invented the Palestinian people were other Palestinian people, and that Palestinian people have been making replicas of themselves since before the days of old testament references to Palestine.  If ever there were an invented people, it would be Americans like Newt whose ancestors, at the time that Old Testament Palestinians were making babies in Palestine, were making babies somewhere other than in America. 

Speaker Newt seduces an intern.
But that kind of clear thinking doesn’t interest a phony intellectual like Newt, who dedicates his acumen not to the acquisition of truth but to the acquisition of power.  And one of the best ways for Newt to acquire the kind of power he’s running for now is to align himself with whatever malignant purposes Israel would have him pursue, and to appeal to a fearful and hateful voter base.  

In that light, Newt’s stance toward Iran is hardly surprising.  Newt says we face a protracted ideological struggle with the Muslim world that will resemble he Cold War, and he casts Iran in the role of the old Soviet Union. 

Just shuck my jive, will you Newt?  Newt reminds me of a hard drinking retired Vietnam era Army veteran of my acquaintance who we’ll call Johnny Shiloh.  About seven Budweisers into lunch not long ago, the subject of refusing to hold diplomatic talks with Iran came up, and well, Johnny came to life and said the best story he ever heard on that there situation was about the hunter who ran into a bear in the woods.

The bear says, hey, don’t shoot, now.  All I want is a full stomach and all you want is a bear coat.  So why don’t you put that gun down and we’ll talk, and I’m sure we can come up with a solution that will give us both what we want.

So sure enough, Johnny said, the hunter put his gun down and the bear got a full belly and the hunter got a bear coat.  Johnny slapped his knee, and said, “Yep, best story on that subject I ever heard,” several times.

I said, “Johnny, in your story, the hunter is the United States and the bear is Iran, right?”

Johnny, taking a slug of Bud, shook his head hesitantly, figuring I was maybe about to shoot his allegory full of large caliber holes.  “Now Iran’s military budget is less than one percent the size of ours," I continued.  "In fact, our total defense related expenditures exceed Iran’s entire Gross Domestic Product.  Iran can’t project conventional power more than a stone’s throw from its borders and regardless of what Israel and its UN Stoogette Susan Rice bullied the International Atomic Energy Agency into saying in its latest report, Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program. 
Newt's lighter side.

So if Iran is the bear in this story, I told, Johnny, it’s not even a teddy bear.  It’s more of a gummy bear.  And how on earth, I asked Johnny to explain, did the hunter manage to get himself swallowed by a gummy bear?

Johnny took another slurp of Bud suds and said, “Best story I heard yet on the subject.”

By comparing Iran to the Soviet Bear, Newt is crafting a comparison every bit as asinine as Johnny Shiloh’s metaphor.  Yet people throughout the country are taking Newt seriously. 

It may be that America is finally ready for the Full Newt Monty.  He brings out the very worst in the very worst element of the American body politic.

So there’s an excellent chance he’ll win the GOP nomination. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dumb, Dumber and Doonesbury

by Jeff Huber

I’ve been mourning the lamentable state of the anti-war movement lately, especially the portion of it populated by the political left, a great percentage of whom appear to be more concerned with the slaughter of baby seals than with the slaughter of baby humans.  And why wouldn’t they be?  We’ve actually seen more images in our warmongering mainstream media of ice floe carnage than we’ve seen of the carnage of armed conflict.  Nobody in the deep-pockets pocket of the Pentarchy really cares if liberals manage to curb baby seal hunting.  There’s not that much money in it. 

Must remember...this is my shoulder,
this is my elbow, this is my shoulder...
To be fair, a considerable number of liberals have enough angst left over for a healthy hand-wringing or two about those pesky old wars after they’re done saving a) wild animals from hunters so they can be killed by other wild animals instead and b) trees that were grown for the specific purpose of being cut down and used in construction.  Lamentably, though, the few progressives who have the staying power to protest the uniquely American brand of man’s inhumanity to man can seldom discriminate between their shoulders and their elbows. 

Doubly disconcerting is that so many of these feckless war protesters are high-profile humorists, comedians, satirists and other makers of malcontent merriness who enjoy the uncritical adoration of The Huffington Post’s circulation, especially of those callow-eyed progressive cadets of Generations X, Y, and now even Z (nine-year olds who can’t stay up to watch Stewart and Colbert can catch them on reruns the next day).  

Case in point is Doonsebury cartoonist Garry Trudeau who, as friend of Pen and Sword J.P. White recently suggested, is living proof that one doesn’t have to be especially funny to be a commercially successful humorist, especially when said humorist attended Yale like Trudeau did.  As our present president and his immediate predecessor have proven, you don’t need talent to succeed in your chosen field if you have Ivy League credentials.    

When it comes to our woebegone Wars on Evil, Trudeau’s heart generally seems to be in the right place, but he has a penchant for letting his head hobble off to some cozy cranny where it’s isolated from the light of day and breathable air, like it appears to have done when Garry penned his 7 December strip in which a junior U.S. Army officer concedes that the omnipresent evildoers in Iraq are still able to bring the fight to us thanks to “a little help from Iran.”

I don’t dig trolling into other people’s web sites, but this couldn’t go unchallenged.  Here’s what I left in Garry’s “Blowback” inbox:
What a crushing disappointment to see in your 7 Dec. strip that you too have chugged the propaganda that blames Iran for our failures in Iraq.  The recent IAEA report was the latest piece of kangaroo courtliness to accuse Iran of malfeasance—this time in regard to its nuclear program—and support the charge with pure poppycock. 
The loop-tape allegations that Iran has armed and trained Shiite Iraqi rebels have never been substantiated.  The only verifiable outside aid and comfort to Shiite militiamen was the training and weapons then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus gave to Iraqi security force recruits—predominantly Shiites—who disappeared into the night with 190,000 AK-47s and other combat gear. 
Shame on you, Garry, for allowing yourself to become one of the warmongery’s leading echo chamberlains. 
 Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired)     
Someone named “Editor” posted my comment, and added the following curious caveat: “This seems a good occasion to remind readers that if GBT shared the beliefs of all of his characters, he would be deeply schizophrenic.”

Holy non-rebuttal.  Knowing it was a waste of effort, I further submitted this:
Satirists, perhaps more so than other literary figures, present a worldview of moral judgments, and owe it to their audience to indicate when their characters’ actions and words reflect their vision of the truth and when they do not.  Mark Twain knew exactly how to do this.  Garry does some of the time.  This time he did nothing to indicate that his character’s “with a little help from Iran” was intended with any degree of sardonicism.
...and dumber...
That submission hasn’t been blessed for live bandwidth at the Doonesbury site.  Maybe they have a one-per-disgruntled-customer policy.  Something that did make the cut, however, was an attempted disproval of my original post by one Dean Mitchell that began: “The evidence of Iranian involvement has been continuous, with lots of reporting.”  If you click on the “lots” and “reporting” links of Mr. Mitchell’s sentence, you’ll discover what kind of “evidence” he considers convincing. 

The “lots” link, as I noted in my second, unpublished Blowback submission, leads to “a story with Iran allegations penned by Michael R. Gordon, one the Pentarchy's very favorite echo chamberlains.  I'm sure [Mr. Mitchell] had no idea that Gordon was one of the journo-cads who helped Dick Cheney's mob pull the Nigergate hoax on us that led to the invasion of Iraq, and has been a go-to war propaganda conduit to this day.” 

...and BlackFive's Uncle Jimbo
The “reporting” link leads to a July 2011 piece from Britain’s right-wing The Telegraph that features the standard laundry list of unsubstantiated charges against Iran straight from the mouth of then Joint Chiefs chairman and Bull Feather Merchant Marine Corps Commandant Mike Mullen. 

It’s downright horrifying to reflect that not only are the likes of Mr. Mitchell gullible enough to guzzle undiluted war propaganda from the likes of Gordon and Mullen but, apparently, the likes of progressive icon Garry Trudeau are too!

Jesus, Mary and Curly Joe DeRita.  With anti-war liberals like these, who needs Pavlov’s Dogs of War like bathetic BlackFive pundit Uncle Jimbo?

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Open Letter to Gary Trudeau

7 Dec. 2011

What a crushing disappointment to see in your 7 Dec. strip that you too have chugged the propaganda that blames Iran for our failures in Iraq.  The recent IAEA report was the latest piece of kangaroo courtliness to accuse Iran of malfeasance—this time in regard to its nuclear program—and support the charge with pure poppycock. 

The loop-tape allegations that Iran has armed and trained Shiite Iraqi rebels have never been substantiated.  The only verifiable outside aid and comfort to Shiite militiamen was the training and weapons then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus gave to Iraqi security force recruits—predominantly Shiites—who disappeared into the night with 190,000 AK-47s and other combat gear. 

Shame on you, Gary, for allowing yourself to become one of the warmongery’s leading echo chamberlains.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired)  

Monday, December 05, 2011

All Aboard for Zombieland!

by Jeff Huber

Elder Lady, a long-time friend of Pen and Sword and a keen observer of the sorry scene playing out across our country and the world, recently shared this quote from British author John le Carré

"God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist."

 -- Published in The London Times, 15 Jan. 2003

Nine years after le Carre published that statement, America and its snippy British lap dog are imposing all new and improved set of draconian sanctions on Iran that, the political theory goes, will coerce Iran into doing things that the old shopworn set of draconian sanctions failed to make Iran do. 

American Diplomacy: It's code for "war."
The pretext for this latest round of “diplomatic” preparations for all out war on Iran was the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report
that said Iraq might still have a nuclear weapons program.  The report, which has been thoroughly refuted in every forum except the war wagging mainstream media, was based on hearsay evidence from “member nations” that could only have been Israel, the UK and the US, and on the activities of a “nuclear scientist” who turns out not to have been a nuclear scientist at all but a pioneer in the field of nanodiamond technology that is use for industrial and medical purposes.

Iranian Students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran, the Brits closed the embassy and hauled scones, and now we don’t even have second-hand diplomatic lines of communication with Iran. Still, the bull feather merchant marines who spin our foreign policy shenanigans can replay the Team Cheney meme that said "we tried diplomacy and it didn't work," even if said diplomacy consisted of refusing to speak directly to parties we were punishing with sanctions until they agreed to pre-conditions that no country in its right national mind would agree to.  (In the case of Iran, we insisted that they give up their UN guaranteed right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  What a surprise that they passed on the offer.  Telling the Iranians they could have a nuclear energy industry if they got their nuclear fuel from us was like telling them they could have an auto industry as long as they made their cars in Detroit and called them Buicks.)

I’ve delineated many times how possession of nuclear weapons would be, for the Iranians, the equivalent a doomsday device that would spell doom for the entire ancient Persian race.  I only know of one group of people crazy enough to take those sorts of risks in the name of acquiring more power, and that group of people is the group of people who led us down the Long War path that began in Iraq and that is about to intersect with the road to ruin.  

Who's your worst nightmare now?
It is perhaps because of the state of the economy and because our  our body politic has become such a FOX News driven menagerie that the American public continues to allow its government to slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocents overseas over…what?  Certainly not 9/11.  The evildoer young Mr. Bush swore to bring in dead or alive is sleeping with the whales.  Certainly not to preempt an invasion of our soil.  Despite what Mr. Bush’s speechwriters told us, the oceans still protect us from that sort of thing.  Nobody has the kind of army or air force or navy required to invade and occupy us the way we’ve made a national pastime out of doing to everyone who is a supposed threat to us, and nobody ever will have that kind of military force.   

We have gone from a mighty nation dedicated to become Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill” to a global bad guy; a global bad guy who is about to dwarf the malignant accomplishments of every global bad guy who came before us.  As le Carré put it in 2003, “America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.”

Countless sages of eastern and western cultures have noted that human events have a way of leveling themselves in the same manner that nature does.  Actions produce opposite but equal reactions among societies just as they do in the physical universe.  As one popular volume of spiritual guidance admonishes us, “ye shall reap as ye shall sow,” and as we used to say in the Navy, “What goes around comes around.” 

The 2012 Tea Party Convention.  
The longer we as a nation stay on this neoconservative, post-modern imperialist crazy-train joy ride, the further we’re going to fall when China calls in our debt or the tea baggers turn the country into Zombieland or a space ship lands and a guy who looks like Michael Rennie steps out of it and tells us to pack our bags for a one-way trip to oblivion.

Say goodbye to hegemony.
My biggest concern regarding our inability to correct our behavior before God, nature or Mr. Spock’s relatives correct it for us is that the anti-war movement has been hijacked by paleo-conservative libertarians who don’t want to pay for roads because they don’t think we need roads and by latter-day hippies who are more interested in legalizing pot than in putting an end to self-defeating wars. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.        

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fog and Friction are Stranger than Fiction

That unnamed "senior
Pantagon official" you're
heard so much from.

by Jeff Huber

I took a long enough oxygen break from the novel project (Sandbox Generals) this week to catch a whiff of the story about how we bombed the smithereens out of some of our little Paki pals.  At least 25 of the Central Asian buggers shuffled off to party with however many virgins it is non-terrorist Muslims shuffle off to when they shuffle off.  One thing you can be sure of is that none of the non-Muslims who shuffled them off the face of the planet could give a gnat’s eyelash less where the Hajis hi-hoed to or how many hoes they had when they got there. 

A gram of war truth that managed to sneak under the radarscopes of the Pentarchy’s echo chamberlains at the New York Times was a November 24 story by Andrew E. Kramer about how many Iraqi widows and fatherless children nine years of war in that country have created.  A UN report states that at the peak of sectarian violence in 2006, nearly 100 women were widowed every day. 

I grow increasingly appalled at the number of people, most of whom likely consider themselves God-fearing Christians, continue to support our overseas armed abominations.  Sure, we can look down our noses at the non-sentient masses who are hooked on a study diet of Fox News, Rabid Radio and the rest of the Big Brother Broadcast, but they aren’t the only ones passively supporting our national atrocities.  All those liberals camped out across the country because they’re mad at the rich could long ago have stopped our psychotic hegemony in Iraq and the Bananastans and Libya and in all the 120 or so other places where we’re freeing peace-loving peoples of all creeds and colors and nationalities by relieving them of the burden of existence.  

The Times, our newspaper of revised record, identified the parties who parted the Pakistani patriots from this mortal coil as “NATO aircraft" that “killed at least 25 soldiers in strikes against two [Pakistani] military posts.”  Two major things are wrong with this take of the story.

The first is that "NATO" is propaganda peddler code for "US." The combatant commander of NATO is, always was and always will be an American four-star and hence NATO's commander in chief is and always was and always will be the President of the United States.  Pointing a blood-stained finger at NATO every time one of our cockamamie conflicts turns another corner for the worse illustrates our psychopathic refusal to bear responsibility for our actions.  

Second, "NATO aircraft" are kind of like guns.  NATO aircraft don’t kill people.  People flying in NATO aircraft kill people.  This business of making war more palatable by framing its human toll in terms of remotely controlled violence needs to end.  People in manned NATO aircraft and/or people flying UAVs over Kabul from air conditioned bunkers in Nevada are hands-on killing their victims as surely as the special ops cats who snipe at alleged evildoers from a thousand yards away or skewer them at something less than arm’s length with a high-tech Ka-bar they bought at the “tactical store” just outside the front gate at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

We have met the barbarians, and they are us.
The more we’ve managed to depersonalize the horrors of war, the more palatable war has become.  Donald Rumsfeld used to cry like a wet wicked witch about how all the “terrible images” the mainstream media were showing us were turning popular opinion against his Morass in Mesopotamia.  That dose of mind detergent flowed through the BBB until everyone, even a majority of the self-proclaimed cognoscenti who should have known better, believed that they had in fact seen all sorts of grisly war zone violence in the popular electronic and tree-centric media.  In reality nobody had seen anything remotely close to the sorts of apocalyptic horror that we have created in the name of the “9/11” meme.  We have killed well over 50 brown and yellow overseas people for every American who died in the Twin Towers and Pentagon air strikes that the multi-billion dollar North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) failed to defend us against (because, I’ve always suspected, they had already tweaked their radars to track Santa’s sleigh and weren’t looking that closely at jumbo jets veering off their assigned courses and altitudes and on hot vectors for national landmarks).  

But they’re brown and yellow people we’re killing, and they’re halfway across the world, and our gutless wonder press has gone belly up for bull feather merchant marines like Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, warriors whose full time mission it is to wage information operations against the American people, culling us into believing that ou fundamental security hinges upon our support of an exorbitant war against enemies who have no armies or navies or air forces or even a defense budget. 

The likes of General Jeff in this man’s military, along with their trusty little Tom Ricks wannabe helpers in the woefully misnamed fourth estate, also have the programmed masses believing that military leaders like “King” David Petraeus actually know something about the art of war when, as the latest bottom burp with the Pakistanis clearly illustrates, they don’t know their helmets from their mess kits from the things that mark their skivvies.  

"That was close!" says "Revoltin'" John Bolton.
One doesn't need a PhD in post-Clausewitzean bebop theory to understand the truth of Sun Tzu’s caution that “No nation ever profited from a long war.”  But what did the tank thinkers at the Pentagon cook up as their overarching post-9/11 strategy?  The Long War and the Era of Persistent Conflict.  Clausewitz admonished that all actions in war should contribute to the war’s political aim.  But the only political aim the Long War seems to further is to make itself as long as possible, possibly forever or until Dick Cheney and John Bolton and the rest of the New American Centurions draw a “Get Out of Hell Free” card, which ever comes first.   

The Clausewitzean concept of critical vulnerabilities is something the military artist is supposed to identify or create in the adversary, allowing friendly forces to attack the tragic flaw in an enemy’s armor and causing him to collapse with relatively minor own-force expense and effort.  Throughout our persistently conflicted Long War, we have take pains to create vulnerabilities in our own armor.  Especially notable among these right now is our reliance on a line of supply that runs through Pakistan, a country that is as much of an enemy as it is an ally, and one that we consistently double-dog-dare to shut down our flow of war material into our primary theater of operations.  If the guys running the Bungle in Bananastan had been in charge of the Normandy invasion, they would have routed Allied supply lines through German occupied Poland. 

I abandoned earlier treatments of Sandbox Generals because every time I dreamt up some incredibly stupid stunt for Prince Albert and Fix Felon and the rest of the Pentarchs to pull, their real life counterparts would pull something incredibly dumber.  It seemed, at first effort (and second and third effort as well, in this case), impossible to write a farce that burlesques real life events that are themselves parodies of human political behavior.   

But then I recalled how it occurred to me once that the most accurate film portrayal of the American west was probably Blazing Saddles.  That gave me the measure of the problem, and I hope to have the current draft-in-progress completed in time for the Baby Jeebus to preview it, or Baby New Year at the latest.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Haitus Humbuggery and Book Leave

By Jeff Huber

I’ll be putting the column on the back burner for the rest of the year in hopes of completing the first draft of Sandbox Generals by Baby Jeebus Day.  In lieu of an actual essay that requires disciplined and organized thought and writing, I’ll be posting a headline or two that’s caught my eye lately and something form the work-in-progress that covers the territory.

This week I came upon this story about the V-22 Osprey, the lean, mean Marine killing machine that even Dark Lord Cheney couldn’t put to death.  Even Big Dick can’t fight Daddy Warbucks.

A comment on the budget impasse:  I used to maintain that the difference between Republicans and Libertarians is that Republicans want someone else to pay for the roads and Libertarians don’t think we need roads.  The gap seems to have narrowed to the width of a gnat’s eyelash toward the Libertarian ideal. 

How dare he say those true
 things about me?  Curses!
When it comes to the defense budget, though, war spending is like Jell-o:  there’s always room for it.  Heck, war’s our biggest job creator!  And on that note, please give your consideration to the following public service preview:

Unknown to just about anyone besides the inner Centurion circle—which included Buzz, which meant Jack knew about it too—was that one of the first things Fix unfarkled, once he found himself in the human skin-upholstered seat of power at the head of the petrified round table in the Voodoo Hunker Bunker at the bottom of the hole beneath the White House, was to get rid of most of that expensive crap like stealth bombers and aircraft carriers and flying submarines and SCUBA tanks and pretend like he hadn’t gotten rid of them. 
Fix got that idea from his trusty but unwitting adviser Jack, who had suggested in his column that the only way to get the Pentarchy to scrap most of its arsenal would be to do allow it to do so in secret while continuing to charge its maintenance and operating costs on the tax payers’ revolving charge account with China.  The way weapons acquisition worked, Jack explained, was that once the arms industry had a contract to build fantastical killing machines, it put the Government in a conundrum, a pickle, a jam, a fait accompli, a Catch-22 if you will. 
As soon as the industry got a contract to make X numbers of Death Doodads for Y dollars per copy, it revised the Death Doodad’s cost estimate to reflect, say, the rising price of suntan oil at Ipanema Beach in Brazil, vacation spot for the thousands of Brazilian workers who grew and harvested the bananas that the riveters who riveted the wings and rudders and keels and tires on the Death Doodad in North Buttplug, South Dakota peeled and sliced and placed on top of their children’s’ bowls of breakfast cereal every morning.  As per federal regulations regarding compensation of employees of firms under federal contract to provide goods and services relating to national security, the inflated bananas necessitated a raise in said employees cost of living allowances (COLAs).  The COLA increase, by law, had to be a set percentage of the annual earnings of the employees, and the increase had to apply to all employees of the company under contract whether that employee worked directly on the Death Doodad or not.  Otherwise an employee might be unfairly punished by being transferred from riveting the Death Doodad to screwing rubber nipples to the tops of baby bottles, thus losing income needed to buy his or her children food sufficiently nourishing to compensate for the ketchup soup and baked bean burgers they were eating at school.    
I'm afraid we've experienced cost
overruns with the Death Doodad.
Darn the bad luck!
The riveters received sufficient extra pay to purchase the pricier bananas.  That alone wouldn’t have had that much effect on the per-copy cost of the Death Doodad.  Things got expensive as the COLA percentage increase was applied to the compensation packages of the chief executive officers and finance officers and operating officers and administrative officers and training officers and safety officers and human resource officers and horoscope officers and presidents and executive vice presidents and vice presidents and executive assistant vice presidents and so on.  When the smoke finally cleared, a half-percent increase in the cost of Brazilian bananas could jack the per-copy cost of X Death Doodad from Z bazillion simoleons to 2Z bazillion or even 3Z.  
And if Congress didn’t play along and pass the 2 or 3Z appropriation, the contracting company’s chief propaganda officers, most of whom by Sandbox Generals day had been trained by Flip or one of Flip’s protégés, launched an ad campaign on the Big Brother Broadcast decrying that Congress was taking the bananas off of the cereal of the children of honest American Death Doodad Riveters. 
As soon as the defense contracting company got the new appropriation for the Death Doodad, its researchers discovered that the Doodad didn’t do what it was designed to do if it didn’t have a Destruction Dealie attached to it.  Destruction Dealies wouldn’t have been so costly except that they had to be made from non-stainless steel, an alloy that could only be manufactured by a process specially invented that took the chromium out of stainless steel.  And no, steel that hadn’t been turned into stainless steel wouldn’t do for reasons having to do with aerospace-age chemistry highly classified (heh!).  

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.