Why are some folks so good at repackaging the same old shit for our consumption, and have us love them for it? That's how I feel as I'm playing Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, which is essentially a remix of Wind Waker and all the top-down Zeldas. It's how I feel when I hear Hillary Clinton dredge up the same healthplan that was the biggest failure of the Billary administration, who still has no real way of paying for the darn thing. Oh right it pays for itself, by cutting costs! Just like how I can increase my salary by starving.
I just finished reading Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and I am still reeling from how disappointing it was. Maybe I'm an action junkie, the stem cells of my attention span tinkered with by the cocktails of impulse that video games provide. I went in expecting to read about Blackwater and how it operated, its tactics, training, its harrowing hidden stories of what evils unregulated private armies commit.
What I got instead was a few pages of the good stuff, and four hundred remaining pages of anti-neo-con, anti-right-wing, anti-religious-right, anti-any-religious-con diatribe. What could have been a sharp tale about a frightening, unregulated cult of ex-special forces types selling their warfaring skills fizzled and drowned itself out. Instead, we got a tale about something bad that every person ever connected to anyone remotely related to Blackwater has ever done. The amount of implicit condemnation isn't just infuriating or unfair, it's just plain boring to read. Skeletons can be dug up in anyone's closet. Scahill had plenty of material for Blackwater alone, but each page just got more and more personal, attacking every politician or figure he's hated, until I closed the book, read the back cover, and discovered, to no surprise, praise form Michael Moore, who pioneered these very techniques.
What techniques? Why, the one where first you imply someone is a bad boy because someone else he knows has done something bad at some point in his life. Then, you simultaneously praise and criticize the same people, using them as you see fit. The favorite Moorian target is the soldier, who is described as a dumb lunk of American arrogance sometimes, and as a sensitive family man at others. It just depends on which heartstring they wanna pull. Scahill is a journalist, and should be above this kind of liberal manipulation. Read it yourself, and see how many scandalous things mentioned have anything to do with Blackwater itself.
Even with his personal agenda splattered on top, which would only bother conservatives like me, the book still lacks a good narrative. There are constant detours that leave me wondering what any of it has to do with Blackwater. There's way too much repetitious foreshadowing, and much of the "facts" could have been left in endnotes. I say "facts" because they are facts, but that doesn't make this an impartial book. If he wanted to say privatization of the army was a disaster, I'd wholeheartedly agree, free-market capitalist that I am. But if he was trying to tell a riveting tale of conspiracy, a soapbox was not the best place to spin an engaging yarn.