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.


  1. I like to use the phrases, "Manufactured Mendacity" and "Managed Mystification." Put another way: if they had a choice between lying and telling the truth, with no adverse consequences either way, the spokespersons for America's government would lie, just to keep in practice; just so they wouldn't forget how. When they inhale, suspect them of preparing to lie to you; and if they exhale while moving their lips and vocal cords at the same time, consider your suspicions confirmed. And each successive administration considers itself duty bound to surpass in prevarication the perfidious performance of its predecessor.

    1. It's not so much that they lie (although of course they do). The thing that's really galling is that they BULLSHIT (big holla at Prof Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit") - which is to say, they spout whatever they think will advance their agenda, while being completely indifferent as to whether it's true or not.

      THAT's the key in political (and military) life: just say what you have to in order to advance the ball. So when Rumsfeld said "We know where the WMD are etc etc" he wasn't "lying", because lying means saying something that you know isn't true.

      Rumsfeld, Blair, Cheney and Obama (and the rest of them - Perle, Wolfowitz, Yoo, Addiington, Kristol) simply say whatever they WANT, and don't give a solitary shit whether it's true or not. And Brokeback Cowboy 'Gorgeous' George wouldn't know if you were up him, let alone what them thar squiggles on the autocue was tryin' to tell him to say (hence the earpiece - man couldn't read).

      Once you grok "bullshit", you don't get mad about the 'lying'. They're not lying. They're just bullshitting. And they will.not.stop.EVER.

    2. GT;

      Thanks for citing Frankfurt's OBS. I've mulled that over for quite a few years. I'm not so sure, given what we've seen in the last ten years, whether or not the wall Frankfurt inserted between lying and bullshitting hasn't come tumbling down. Once one gets pesky inconveniences like truth out of the way, moral slash ethical behavior becomes whatever your pet lawyers and clergymen tell you it is, and they, of course, will tell you whatever it is you want them to tell you.


    3. The word "lie," meaning the deliberate telling of untruths, for whatever ulterior purpose, simply doesn't do the subject justice when applied to the subject of organized government dissembling. George Orwell, in 1984 got closer to the heart of the matter:

      "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of [Totalitarian Doctrine], since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able -- and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years -- to arrest the course of history."

    4. Thanks for posting this passage. I forgot to include Doublethink in the litany of liars and loonies in the text of this piece. I shall correct that.

  2. I clicked on the Uncle Jimbo link. My mistake.

    Not that Jimbo would care, but one has to wonder what people from civilized countries are thinking when they blunder onto sites like Blackfive (what does that even mean?). They probably take it as confirmation of everything they already suspect about Americans from watching our antics around the globe.

    Hopefully, the French, Swedes, etc. will understand that it's just Uncle Jim that's behind on his thorazine, and not the entire nation.

  3. Yeah, JP, he's a real-life Billy Sol Hurock all right.

  4. Thank you for this outstanding article. Once again, you skewer the nasty assed morons with the dexterity of a highly skilled surgeon who is doing a very delicate micro surgery.
    I also enjoy your choice of words/phrases. I have started using your "five sided puzzle palace" on my own blog. Not sure if the few who stop by my small corner of the net catch on, none have ever commented on it. I may "borrow" a few more of your excellent descriptions as used in this article.
    You are an outstanding word-smith sir. A real inspiration for a blogger like me.
    As to "unca" Jimbo and "Blackfive", those clowns are disgusting putting it politely.
    I am a Vietnam war vet. Did my time in that imperial war with 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. I got out of that war intact. I have done what I can do ever since to try and keep any other young people from going off to any damn fool war. Yes, I am very anti-war. The only two reasons for war were told to us by old Smedley Butler. They are; 1)to defend OUR homes, 2) to defend the Bill of Rights. ALL other reasons for war area racket. I truly believe that and will too what I can physically to deter any invading military that might try to invade the US. I will continue to try and help any person to never go off to any damn fool war of choice.
    I have sent more than a few to your blog so they can get another source for their education regarding the military and how utterly stupid war is.
    Thank you again sir, for an excellent source of truth.
    semper fi,

  5. Thanks for the sentiments, Charlie, and thanks for your support of Pen and Sword.


  6. I came home from Vietnam forty years ago this month, convinced for life of what Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce meant when he wrote in his Devil's Dictionary:

    "Patriotism: Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name," and,

    "Patriot: The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors."

    I do everything I can to discourage erstwhile patriots from falling victim to patriotism. Life has far more and better to offer.

  7. From "War is a Racket" by General Smedley Butler:

    "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

    General Butler would never have been invited to comment on CNN..... or any other American news network.


  8. No, I think old Smedley would have been elbowed out of the RMA program.

  9. I like to call them "death pimps".

  10. Ted,

    How. Very. Well. Put!

  11. We have prime producers of bovine organic fertilizer in the government north of the 49th parallel, too. After Harper said that "Islamicism" whatever that might be, is the major threat to Canada's security, he follows up with this gem.

    "Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that..."[I]ran is a very serious threat to international peace and security. In my judgment, it is the world's most serious threat to international peace and security," Mr. Harper said in an interview Thursday with Calgary radio station CHQR.

    "This is a regime that wants to acquire nuclear weapons, it is clearly trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and it has indicated some desire to actually use nuclear weapons." says the recent actions of the regime in Tehran illustrate Iran is the greatest threat to global security and that the country is not only looking to acquire nuclear weapons but possibly also use them."

    If you get garbage like this from the guy that's supposedly running the joint, it's a cause for despair.

    An aside - I like the "reconstituted horse lunch" phrase so much that I used it in a comment on another blog. Worry not, I gave you full credit for it.

    David Climenhaga's Alberta Diary.

  12. Commander, old Smedley may be gone.... but not forgotten.

    Maybe there IS some hope after all.

    A Smedley Brigade of Veterans for Peace..

    Great article.

  13. You can still get real news, thankfully. Here's a precis on just how dumb our "leaders" really are.:

    China Gets Cheaper Iran Oil as U.S. Pays for Hormuz Patrols

    The article also helps explain why Iran has been so willing to play Hormuz Chicken lately; they need higher oil process to offset the effects of sanctions (given that oil is already 25% higher than it was in 2010, that shouldn't be too hard). It's a dangerous game both sides are playing, as higher oil prices can only lead to greater global instability.

    And pending global instability is no doubt the point of SOCOM and AFRICOM and all the rest of the Pentarchy's nonsense. Our political and military establishments actually believe that they will be able to contain the violence that will erupt worldwide, as a consequence of their harebrained actions in the Middle East. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that there is no nation, no ideology, no weapon more dangerous to human survival than this delusional confidence our "leaders" appear to have in their ability to control world events.