6/08/2006

my semi-regular bullshit round-up, no.2

I've been focused on this rally to keep bus and subway fares fair here in Boston, which is why I haven't been keeping this nonesuch and miscellany blog up-to-date lately. Plus, you know, there's so much bullshit going down every day, sometimes you've got to take a break or you just start stinking of it yourself.

I have no desire to become some kind of activist harpie (ever since I started trying to organize the rally, I've been meeting my share of them, and it's not a pretty fate). Activism, especially for armies of one, is the refuge of borderline personalities attracted to hopeless causes precisely because they are hopeless. They live to rage against the machine, but not really for the sake of justice or the greater good--they rage because it allows them to live out their persecution fantasies in public. Hey, we've all got them, but most of us keep them to ourselves.

I mean, if I told you one of my most nagging conspiracy theories is that the weather is out to get me, personally (like yesterday, when it didn't start raining really, REALLY hard until I got on my bike to ride home from work--what was that? I mean, clearly the weather is out to get me), you would probably think I was nuts.

Lone, self-styled "activists," I am coming to see, not only believe in conspiracies, but they always seem to be the target of them, too, somehow. I saw signs of the cancer of this kind of activism in me when I looked in the papers yesterday and didn't see anything on my little rally, really. And hardly anything on the hearing that followed it, either. I thought to myself, who can I call to demand redress? Why isn't the press covering this? What's really going on here?

But I didn't let myself go too far down that path, because it's like the kid in the bed-wetting commercial says: "I'm not gonna let it rule my life." Politics is a sad substitute for a philosophy of the good life. Politics is, at best, a philosophy for low-lifes.

So now that that's all done and dusted:

The big bullshit news today (aside from the weather in New England--temperatures in the fifties and a nor'easter in June??) is the "termination" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, described in the media as al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, as if al-Qaida needs one. You know, the press has been reporting on this "terrorist cell" in Canada, which authorities have said were "inspired by al-Qaida," but not trained, funded, or connected in any actual way with al-Qaida.

What is shocking, in a bullshit way, about the media's milking the al-Zarqawi hit is that it seems to betray absolutely no notion that the death of its leaders, especially this manner of death, is not a blow to al-Qaida at all. We have no way to quantify "progress" except the body count, but the body count is really progress not for us, but for al-Qaida and the forces of radical Islam.

This is not a big insight. When you are dealing with what is more a philosophy of jihad which can be subscribed to by anyone, anywhere, than a static, identifiable organization--a corporation with Osama bin Laden as its founder and al-Zarqawi as its president and CEO--a philosophy which extols and encourages martyrdom, death, particularly at the enemies' hand, is a victory for them, not us.

Bullshit factor: 9.9/10

A related matter. We are obviously still in revenge mode with our war on terror, which means we are obviously losing it. What is disturbing to me is how easily we have become enured to the idea of "terminating" or even exterminating other people.

An incident like Haditha is not unusual in wars like the one in Iraq, nor is the reaction to it. Because no one in the press wants to come out "against our troops" the media reaction has been somewhat muted. I mean, given the circumstances, and the reaction to it amongst Iraqis. And that's bullshit. If our troops perpetrate crimes, even in war-time, they must be held responsible. Period. Otherwise, to echo that tired old cliche, "the terrorists win."

So we need to investigate not only what really happened in Haditha, but why. Is it the nature of this war? Could it be that the conduct of the war is actually working against its intended goals? Do we know what these goals are? Or is that part of the problem?

Bullshit factor: 9.7/10

The gay marriage theatrics in Congress this week were utter bullshit, too, but very worthy of the drama queens in the GOP. The whole circus shows the complete lack of regard for the dignity of average Americans that has become the main platform of the GOP, a party that has shown itself again and again willing to essentially promote violence against a segment of the population to pander to another segment of the population.

They just don't get it. President Bush, in a political speech on the topic Monday said: "For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them." Hmm. Funny. That's something gay marriage advocates have been saying all along.

Bullshit Factor: 9.4/10

And last but not least:

Bullshit factor: off the charts.

my semi-regular bullshit round-up, no.1

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