Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Monday, January 10, 2005

Bad Blog of the Day - CAO's Blog

The Bad Blog of the Day comes to us in a nomination from alert reader CAO, who nominated his own blog Friday in a fit of sudden cognitive clarity. At least, I think he was nominating his own blog. It was not particularly clear exactly what he was trying to say in his comment. However, the charitable interpretation is that he was nominating CAO's blog for today's Bad Blog of the Day.

CAO's blog is a smorgasborg of poorly thought-out interpretations of standard right-wing claptrap, mixed with the occasional undecipherable screed. It is right purty, I will admit.

CAO's most recent post is a reproduction of a piece of RNC Dupemail currently clogging the world's mail servers. For those not familiar with Dupemail, it's an email that's produced and forwarded to mailing lists of sympathetic Dupes who immediately believe what it says because it fits into their normal modes of thinking so effortlessly that it simply must be true.

Thus CAO's blog is particularly apropos given the topic of the day. Note the many fine propaganda points in this clearly made-up story about liberal bitchiness:

The article [in the 'company newsletter'] then continued, listing employees who had a family member serving in Iraq and Afganistan. From what I remember, we’ve got about a dozen of those. There’s a pretty good spread too. From the lowest manual labor job, up through managers and Department heads, there are folks who’ve got a son, or brother, or husband serving in a war zone. That’s what made what I saw later the same day all the more amazing.

How heartwarming. It's not just the poor saps who have family in harm's way, goodness no. Everyone's taking a hit, from those lowly manual labor types up to "Department heads." I suppose alleging that the family member of a CEO was off in Iraq would strain even virtually limitless Dupe credulity.

Later we find out some silly liberal chick has an anti-recruitment poster up at her desk saying that "You can't be all that you can be when you're DEAD" and reminding readers that there are other ways to get money for college than enlisting in the military.

Leaving aside the question of what exactly is wrong with the idea expressed in the poster, let's examine the chances of this story actually being a true account of events that really happened on this planet. First of all, according to the story this company has "about a dozen" employees with a family member serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Since there are about 144,000 such soldiers with family in the states (the remainder are actually foreign nationals offered citizenship and other incentives to join, though I am certain they come from all across the socioeconomic spectrum in their home countries, just like their U.S. counterparts), that means that about 1/12,000th of the soldiers currently serving in Iraq are related to people who work at this company. We can thus conclude that this is a large workplace (or has an unusually high incicence of servicepeople's familymembers), employing many hundreds, even thousands of people. If that's the case, why don't we learn the name of the company? There's no risk of identifying the lone tech support guy who penned the email. Of course, maybe the guy is just a little paranoid.

There are more problems with the story. Personally, I work in one of the most liberal corporate cultures in the country. Several very important senior people at my office are out lesbians. Democrats probably outnumber Republicans at least 5 to 1, and I would imagine Greens probably rival Republicans. Yet I know that even in my office, a poster like that would cause a major stir. The poster is potentially offensive, for the reasons the email alludes to. I am confident that if I put up such a poster in my office, I would soon be asked to take it down, probably by the sculpted ex-Marine (and staunch Democrat) in the office across the hall.

So where exactly is this enormous company with a dozen military family members that has such a liberal office decoration policy that it allows materials that would be considered out of bounds in one of the most liberal workplaces in the country?

Like the settings for innumerable other Dupemail stories, the office doesn't exist. The poster itself might - it was probably spotted at some antiwar protest or another.

Using made-up stories to illustrate pleasing points is a time-honored tradition among politicians of all stripes. But the technique has become so pervasive on the right that a bona fide alternative reality has been created, in which true believers have their worldview shaped largely by fictional events. You'll notice this bleeding over into right-wing logical systems in unexpected ways. In tomorrow's Bad Blog, we'll take a look at a surprising and humorous manifestation of this alarming trend.


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