Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

November 1, 2006

The endless joys of context-free quotes

Filed under: mediachumps,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 11:57 am

Brad Schader of BlogCritics lashes out at John Kerry for calling all soldiers stupid.

But later on in his article, Schader says:

I was wrong in my belief.

Dude, why write the article if you’re so wrong about it? Sheesh.

Update:

Many conservative bloggers seem to come to Kerry’s defense. For instance:

I hope all these verbatim quotes from conservative outlets set to rest any controversy on what a context-free quote is, how it was applied to Mr. Kerry, and how snap movements — especially from the conservative blogosphere — will join up and resist such childish perfidy with both thought and grace. Thanks, guys, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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October 31, 2006

Simple question: “Where?”

Filed under: Iraq,mediachumps,News,Politics,rants,war — secretmojo @ 12:17 pm

The BBC reports that the Pentagon is launching a new propaganda — oops, I mean “media war” unit — that will attempt to offset — oops, I mean “correct” — unflattering (I mean “inaccurate”) breaking news reports.

My only question, which is blatantly missing in this article, is, “Where?” Who are the targets of this propa — media war? Which stations, which websites? More importantly, which country?

The BBC won’t say. They mention TV, radio, and weblogs, and grant the Pentagon a fully dictated — oops, I mean “reported” — paragraph to sort-of explain the issue:

The administration is particularly concerned that insurgents in areas such as Iraq have been able to use the web to disseminate their message and give the impression they are more powerful than the US, our correspondent says.

But my question still remains. “Where?”

Where will these bold countermeasures be conducted? On Iraqi TV? Iraqi Radio? Insurgent web sites?

Not mentioned. Which forces me to conclude that most of this media warring will be conducted in America, on American radio, on American TV, on American blogs, toward American station owners and American citizens.

Seriously, where else is that scary 24-hour news cycle that keeps Donald Rumsfeld “up at night” located? Where else can lobbyists and politicians (uh, “surrogates”) gear up and appear on a TV show so quickly? (Hint: Baghdad is 6,211 miles away from Washington. New York is 204.)

I will hazard a guess that Rumsfeld and the top brass don’t receive their daily supply of heebie jeebies from Al-Jazeera pundits. If not, who are they afraid of?

On Monday, US Vice President Dick Cheney also made reference to the use of media, suggesting insurgents had increased their attacks and were checking the internet to keep track of American public opinion. [emphasis added]

Ahhhh! That’s who. Never mind.

August 21, 2006

One part of the Middle East puzzle almost completed

Filed under: Iraq,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 10:56 am

From a commenter at Right Wing Nuthouse:

TD Said:

Great post but I still think we are in transition in the Middle East and Iraq is just one part of the puzzle. Therefore, yes we in [sic] the middle of a violent, dangerous time in Iraq but the endgame has not played out.

* * *

Year Four Progress Report

Gettin there

puzzle made at flash-gear.com.

August 16, 2006

Billmon says “trash,” I say “treasure”

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 10:10 pm

Billmon wrote:

Strictly from a humanitarian point of view, it’s both grotesque and repulsive to have to listen to Ehud Olmert, Sheikh Nasrallah and the Boy King all proclaiming victory in their nasty little war — even as the bodies are still literally being pulled out of the rubble.

He has not considered my humanitarian point of view, which is when all sides claim victory, it binds them inexorably to the truce. What “victorious” organization would dare attack again, and prove false their rhetoric on victory while confirming their own brutality?

This is a difference between me and Billmon — aside from his brain dwarfing the jumbled marble bag of mine. I know that some of it is more theater than policy, and must be regarded that way. Lebanon asked for the Shebba farms back, knowing it wouldn’t get them. Israel inserted “defensive operations” in the agreement to keep the scare on. But as we see now, everyone shouts “victory!” through their losses as if destruction were self-validating. Absurd, but a good sign.

I realize Billmon’s post was half rant, but still. Good things can happen despite the embarassing gibberish of those in power. Yes, I’d prefer that everyone compete to see who was more “grown up,” more “human,” more “compassionate” and “reasonable,” but that can happen only in my Utopia, where dead bodies in fact devalue winning. Fact of the zeitgeist is, winning — self-centered, ego-fellating winning — trumps sensibility every time.

Maybe that’s where Billmon finds his frustrated rage. He may see, in these victory cries, the opening sequence to The Last Boy Scout, where a running back needs that touchdown so bad he whips out a nine and blows away two defenders on his rush to the end zone. If only we could be more like the running back, who, instead of psychopathically raising his arms in triumph, comes to terms with his sin, removes his helmet, kneels, and squeezes fire through his own brain.

I don’t see it that way. One has to admit that stopping is something, even if leaders overcome shame with unabashed triumphalism. True, a person can’t beat the living shit out of someone then congratulate his “moral character” for curbing his desire to gouge an eye. Equally disgusting would be to dance in celebration over a writhing victim.

But these guys are politicians, abstract storytellers struggling to fashion a throughline for something that is, at is base, surreal. They can only work within their strength: delivering a more salable form of the truth, one where they aren’t revealed as thoroughly depraved nutjobs.

Therefore, I regard these silly victory shouts as a Cuckoo’s Nest form of agreeing it’s over, and can be thankful — beyond all the absurd proclamations — that we, as the caretakers of ourselves, recently received a backhanded gift, in the form of birds singing again in southern Lebanon.

August 15, 2006

Victory, spelled with a ‘P’

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,News,Politics,terrorism,war — secretmojo @ 12:30 am

Ceasefire is great news. And a humiliating slap in the face for all the warmongers who cheered this conflict as the chance of a lifetime.

It may or may not last. I’ve always thought a good judge of the strength of a truce is whether all sides come from the agreement claiming victory. It may be this way for Hezbollah, somewhat for Lebanon, but not for Israel. The two captured soldiers, the “reason” for the devastation in the first place, remain captured.

One more observation, and I’ll let everyone get on with their own Israel/Lebanon news saturation. After reading a bit on local reactions (here and here), a peculiar phenomenon struck me: while displaced Israelis are afraid to return to the north, Lebanese refugees are jamming up the roads heading back to their homes.

This is fascinating to me, because southern Lebanon and Beirut are decimated. Buildings turned into gravel dumps with twisted rebar poking out of them. If any Lebanese wanted to be afraid, they need only look up.

Israel hasn’t seen this kind of overbearing damage. Yet, the fear to return seems greater. Now, I don’t want this to turn into a debate about who’s the greater victim here, because the way I see it, everyone proved their humanity by honoring the ceasefire, and are victorious over the innate evil of War. Score one for sensibility and compassion.

But it is interesting how uncertainty is one of the main ingredients of fear. And how, after a certain predictability is achieved — even if that prediction is one of death and destruction — fear dissolves.

August 13, 2006

WordPress Gems: Love and War

Filed under: blogging,Blogroll,Love,war,wordpress gems,writing — secretmojo @ 4:01 am

I loitered around the “war” and “love” WordPress tags again, continuing in a weekly enjoyment of mine: finding gems. It’s like prowling the beach with a metal detector—except I always return richer. And less candy-apple red.

Much more war talk than love talk out there in blogland. Probably because war is always an encompassing crisis, demanding attention; while love is a singular blessing, constantly diverting (ahem) attention.

Also, I noticed it was easier to find interesting love posts than war posts (note to self). Love comes personal and generous; war arrives mostly abstracted and angry.

Anyway, here they are. I hope you like them as much as I did.
War

Unitedcats finds contemporary meaning from the book, Guns of August, a history of the Great War.

Raincoaster has some fun with “silly bunt” Ann Coulter, by posting a short video demonstration of her defiant ignorance on Canada re: Vietnam.

Conflicted, Leadingthenextinquisition ambles through aninternal Just War debate that scares, but intrigues me.

They split the heavens: barkowitz sets the might of an air strike to verse in “I Was There.”

Liberalwill unleashes a short rant on the passionate cruelty of war, articulating it so well I thought I’d written it myself. 🙂

Sixteen years ago, Iraqi troops stormed into Kuwait. Some don’t remember, but afroz, as a 12-year-old who woke up to the invasion, does.

Flawedplan offers you blog snippets of a “wry, literate” soldier in Iraq, REV Wayfarer, who always had one foot in the grave.

Love

Witness the sorry state of love triangle dynamics, anonymously laid out by “Tom” in an open letter to “Albert,” who failed to sweep Tom’s “June” away.

I’ve never gotten a post-coital “txt msg” before.

Monisha mourns her beloved father who, after dying of kidney complications, left holes all over.

From eros to philos to agape? Ysabol Ladyhawke designs a shirt for “couple-surfers” who renounce hand-holding and “jack in” to their rather geeky relationship.

Hastydevil details the moment a gay romance started with a handshake.

Sisterly devotion gushes from Melissa when she thanks miss Anna, her angel, for sharing all those rough times (with pictures).

Emmbie, telling the troubles of her friend Lucy, cautions what sex can lead to for a Hmong woman. (link modified to respect Lucy’s privacy)
Richiethepoet longs for more guilt-free, vulgar love with that bitch, Lissa.

Have fun, people.

August 8, 2006

Ceasefire: the whole world minus one

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,News,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 7:44 pm

There were three, but now there’s one.

It’s a pretty crappy deal for Lebanon, who will now have to face two occupiers instead of one. They’ll be tending to both Hezbollah and Israel. And, if you’ve ever positioned yourself between two brawling guys in a bar, trust me, it’s neither fun nor easy.

Furthermore, I call it a “soft surrender” because it asks nothing of Israel but demands plenty of Lebanon. What do you expect when enemies craft peace agreements?

But I hope Lebanon takes the deal. The future may or may not work itself out, and war may explode again, but Lebanon’s getting UN forces—although Bush would like these forces to do more his bidding than Lebanon’s. And yes, I know, Bush says annoying throwaway words like “As these Lebanese and international forces deploy, the Israeli defense forces will withdraw.” These lying words are clearly not in writing, as they should be if you’re to speak them in the first place. Plus, they sound frighteningly like his highly successful “stand up/stand down” Iraq verbiage that have yet to see reality.

But I hope they take the deal anyways. Negotiate, get a couple of concessions perhaps, but take the deal. Otherwise, it gets worse for everyone, but mostly for Lebanon, who’s enduring a 6:1 kill ratio right now.

I realize the current proposal is “We’ll stop shooting if you do what we say,” but when you’ve got both a ceasefire and international troops to enforce it (sort of), take it. Otherwise, be prepared to defend the existence of your country, because this is an offer you honestly can’t refuse. And the crazies are on the verge of conflating the whole of Lebanon into a terrorist encampment, an idea oddly successful with Iraq. And everybody knows how great that’s going.

U.S./France ceasefire prop incites pundits to not call it “an obstructionist flip-flop of the highest order”

Filed under: Humor,Israel/Lebanon,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 12:37 am

When the U.S. joined with France to introduce a draft text for a ceasefire in the Middle East, a non-nonplussed Sean Hannity did not say, “We always came to expect this from a flip-floppin’ Prez.”

“And to flip-flop with France,” Hannity didn’t continue, “it’s just. It’s just embarrassing.”

Not sparking a rare reversal of their support of the president’s rejection of a ceasefire, right-wing pundits didn’t show a break from the situational ethics they tended to embrace in the past.

“Bon jour America,” Jonah Goldberg never said, “we have been conquered by cheese eaters.”

Around the blogosphere, right-wing sites joined in a chorus not against the president, one commenter not claiming that the president “had betrayed the ideals of Americans, and can consider himself a traitor, or rather, traître.”

Even Ann Coulter had a biting essay she didn’t write on the matter: “It becomes clear that the godless Monsieur Bush has now drifted to the Parti Socialiste, offering diplomatic bon bons to an impotent Nations Unies like a desperate housewife trying to win favor with a feral cat. I’m not saying we should poison the champagne at the White House, but it’d be an interesting test of both loyalty and alcoholic relapse, don’t you think?”

Charles Krauthammer, neither, attacked the proposal viciously in his non-recent article, “Why the French Act Isn’t Funny Anymore”, not blasting the French as a “second-class power” and the president as “an obstructionist” for kowtowing to international pressure to stop the violence in the Mideast.

To be sure, Rice, Bush, and Cheney will have hell to not pay with their conservative stalwarts in medialand. David Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, and David Brooks have yet to not weigh in on the matter. The dangerous act of nestling up to both the French and the UN will certainly prove in the days ahead that principles always stand before politics.

Not.

August 6, 2006

War comes with more than victory

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 4:16 pm

Curtis tries to cure my peacenik streak over at Empty Rhetoric. But I think, as many people who encounter my view on war, he receives me wrong.

To be clear: I’m not a pacifist. I recognize that war is an unfortunate reality of being human, and must be executed both justly and mercilessly. But I believe we should all start at the base conception that war is a pock upon us and regret it when it happens, so that we’re emphatically compelled to seek other (perhaps ego-bruising) means of solving our problems. Why? Because war generates horrific unintended consequences that go solidly against our own morality and, furthermore, cannot be controlled once the fists start flying.

In the current conflict, which started with the capture of two (or three, depending on perspective) soldiers, negotiations, even of the backdoor or “assasination” kind, were immediately eschewed in favor of a full-blown attack. War might be good for something, but so far it hasn’t been good at getting those two soldiers back (would it truly stop if they were released?), and has been deplorably inept at stopping rocket attacks. It’s also helped the Lebanese government lose what little control it may have had over Hezbollah, which I guess is something, but something unwelcome to me. Been good at funneling Iranian and Syrian weapons into the area, too, and increasing recruitment and support of Hezbollah. I sense it has also turned some American citizens (let alone the Lebanese), if only briefly, against Israel’s policy. If this is what the world wants, then I suppose it is good for something.

War causes problems; it rarely fixes them. Check out the rousing success in Iraq or indeed the history of the current conflict to see how war spreads its beneficence. As Ben said, “There has never been a good war, or a bad peace,” even as he participated in the Revolution. He’s one who always kept his head screwed on tight, and knew what he was getting into. If we begin with peace, we still have difficult, maybe impossible, problems to solve, which may eventually lead to war anyway. But if we begin with war, we create thousands more problems we most certainly can’t control, let alone solve.

Explicitly promoting the continuation of this war by rejecting a ceasefire as harmful admits diplomatic incompetence. I’m still not clear on what “lasting ceasefire” truly means (I am not psychic, you see), which is probably part of my problem understanding the arguments that create a false choice between “lasting” and “immediate.” I’m also not quite sure why “ceasefire” is conceived as an admonition to Israel, not both sides (Tony Blair flubbed as much in the House of Commons). Perhaps both concepts insinuate complete victory and eradication of terrorism as the only chance for peace. I do not know.

What I am sure of, however, is that if Condoleeza called for an immediate ceasefire and then dug deep into hardcore negotiations, I wouldn’t be hearing much from the right about how a ceasefire is idiotic and useless, but how it was brilliant, bold, and proof that this administration was on the verge of solving the Middle East conflict.

And they’d be right to brag, of course. I could deal with that, even though Ms. Rice and the rest of them irk me so.

August 5, 2006

The word is “failure”

Filed under: Israel/Lebanon,rants,terrorism,war — secretmojo @ 11:59 pm

My god, why?

What I believe has disappeared via this growing compendium of Justification Proclamations is the concept of war as a failure of humanity.

War is a failure. It means we couldn’t work it out amongst ourselves like adults, and punched our sister in the face for the toy. It is not a triumph. All wars are Pyrric victories: you need only count the dead. It is blood and guts, unbound hatred, and immoral to the core.

War proves itself bizarre when we map its qualities onto an individual. It is everything we would despise about a man: solving problems by fist, justifying beating the crap out of someone, bragging about his kill ratio and the blackjack he has in his car.

So why this depraved assumption that war is innately valid, heroic, and beneficial? That stopping war, even briefly, is useless? Actually, I don’t care for the answer to this one; I’ve heard enough “birth pang”-style ramblings to decide the answer comes more from fealty than intelligence or compassion. War is not innately valid, and anyone who acts like it is is someone to steer well clear of.

We should, if we are human, deplore war. It should shame us, embarrass us, and make us cry for our own species. But I suppose this would require too much grace. Too much “bleeding heart” emotions, as opposed the more manly “bleeding body” approach. But if we still have souls, we should recognize that fighting wars are a stain upon us, and that if we dare engage in them, we best do it for the most obvious, self-evident reasons, and know all the while we curse ourselves to hell for it.

In other words, when we justify our wars ex post facto, and furthermore cheer their existence, we’ve gone sociopathic.

War is a failure from its inception. Did I say that already? If a person believes war brings it like King Midas, transforming useless things into gold, perhaps he’s right: King Midas lost his daughter through his greed. But a war, unlike Midas, has no Dionysus to bring back the dead.

Human beings are not based in hatred and violence; our prominent qualities are intelligence, abstract thought, language skills, music, and the undying need to create, love, and have our stories told.

So I think anyone can predict my response to a post that, in order to justify the continuation of death, blithely mentions uber-menschen, racism, sickness, peace as idiocy, hatred, Pol Pot, Hitler, dysfunction, victimization, pathology, blindness, “stopping feeling,” killing Jews; and uses pejorative language like “Pay attention,” “Is this starting to sink in?” and “We just wanted to clear that up for anyone who’s feelings might have been hurt” and “before you puff out your chests with self esteemed indignation”, and so on, and so on, and so on:

Loathe yourself, because you’re part of the problem.

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