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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Blogs I wish I'd written
Posted by Jill | 2:24 PM
The problem with wishing you had more time to write better-thought-out blog entries is that nagging feeling that your wish might come true -- in the form of involuntary unemployment. With the months ticking away on my current employer's contracts and the spectre of being a 50-year-old web developer lurking in my future, Oscar Wilde's aphorism that "There are two tragedies in life: one is not getting what you want; the other is getting it" seems more true every day.

But putting the general, gnawing anxiety that chomps away at my guts every day these days aside for a few minutes, here's Glenn Greenwald, talking about the delusions that Bush supporters seem to need in order to get through their day:

As much as anything else, Bush defenders are characterized by an increasingly absolutist refusal to recognize any facts which conflict with their political desires, and conversely, by a borderline-religious embrace of any assertions which bolster those desires. It's a world-view which conflates desire with reality, disregards all facts and evidence that conflict with the decreed beliefs, and faithfully embraces any assertions and fantasies, no matter how baseless and flagrantly false, provided that they bolster the mythology.

Thus, things are going really great in Iraq - just as we predicted they would. When we invaded, Saddam had WMD's and he was funding Al Qaeda. Oil revenues will pay for the whole thing, we will be welcomed as liberators, the whole war will be won quickly and easily. A large military presence is unnecessary because there is no insurgency. Bush is a popular and beloved President. All but a handful of radical fringe subversives in America support the war and believe terrorism is the overarching problem. Americans want to militarily confront Iran, want illegal warrantless eavesdropping, and are happy with how the country is being governed.

It never matters how much evidence arises demonstrating the falsity of these beliefs. They are not susceptible to challenge or reconsideration because they are the by-product of faith and desire and not a critical or rational assessment. They believe these things because they want to believe them, they have to believe them, because the whole world-view on which their identity and purpose has come to be based -- the brave, heroic President leading the great conservative nation in glorious, epic war-triumph over the evil Muslim enemy -- depends upon believing these myths. No facts can shake these beliefs because they aren't grounded in facts and aren't the by-product of rationality.


Soon after 9/11, the Bush movement became driven by much more than a set of political beliefs. It provides its adherents with much more than just a vehicle for political activism. It gives them purpose and a feeling of strength and power that they otherwise lack. In that sense, it is not dissimilar to a religion, and it is therefore unsurprising -- but nontheless ugly and destructive -- that their beliefs and convictions are not grounded in facts and reality but in a resolute faith that cannot be shaken by facts. Every event is interpreted so as to bolster the faith, facts are disregarded which undermine the faith and fact-free assertions are embraced which confirm the faith.

That quote from the Administration about creating their own reality? They weren't kidding. The trigger for Glenn's blog entry is the insistence by Matt Drudge that Crashing the Gate, the book by Kos and Jerome Armstrong, has only sold some 3600-odd copies, despite the fact that this is a book by bloggers and not only does that number not include online sales, but Great Aunt Mary in Davenport, Iowa is unlikely to be rushing out to get the latest book by any blogger, however alpha-dog he may be in Blogistan.

The right does this with Air America Radio too, poring over Arbitron numbers like bookies at the track, trying to draw parallels between a 10,000 watt station like WLIB, whose signal goes in and out on a block-by-block basis with the 50,000 watt WABC and taking numbers out of context to "prove" that AAR is going to be dead by next week -- a claim they've been making for 2-1/2 years.

I haven't seen such silliness since the winter of 1997-1998, when all the Star Wars geeks were all up in arms because Titanic was making money hand over fist and nudging the Star Wars films down in the box office rankings -- as if any of these people were going to see a penny of the proceeds. And is there any difference between "My movie can kick your movie's ass" and "My blogger's book can kick your blogger's book's ass?"

This is probably the worst aspect to the right-wing "tell a lie often enough and loudly enough and it becomes truth" squad -- that it forces intelligent people like Glenn to devote time and energy debunking these myths about things that are relatively trivial in the larger sphere of things.

Why should it matter to Matt Drudge how many books Markos sells? For that matter, why should it matter to him how many books Glenn Greenwald sells? If facts don't matter if they don't fit into Drudge's, or another wingnuts's worldview, let them live in their little world of delusion and shut the hell up.

UPDATE: As if trying to prove Glenn right about the Bush cultists, Pat at Brainster is on a crusade to debunk Kos' claims about Crashing the Gate. And perhaps he's right, though Nielsen Bookscan doesn't say anything about online retailers on its web site.

However, let's take that 3600 and some-odd copies in context, shall we?

AUTHORS struggle, mostly in vain, against their fated obscurity. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks sales from major booksellers, only 2 percent of the 1.2 million unique titles sold in 2004 had sales of more than 5,000 copies.

Two percent. That's not a whole hell of a lot of books being sold by most authors now, is it? 98% of all titles published in 2004 sold 5000 copies or less. Even if Markos and Jerome didn't sell another copy of CTG this year, they'd still be in the company of the authors of 98% of the books published through mainstream outlets every year. That hardly qualifies as "a flop", and Drudge is still full of horsepuckey.

But still -- this is the kind of head we're dealing with on the right. You can flog Air America/WLIB's 1.5 share until the cows come home but when you look at that share in context and you look at specific shows, you'll see things like Randi Rhodes beating Sean Hannity among men aged 25-54 in New York, that paints a somewhat different picture.

But I reiterate: Who the hell cares? Obviously Markos and Jerome care, but why should the rest of us care any more than we should have cared that Titanic knocked the top-grossing film crown off of Star Wars' head? The bottom line is this: the little house of cards that the Bush cultists have built around their own vestigial sanity is crumbling further every day. And they can spin all they want to -- their guy is damaged goods. He's not up to the job, he never has been, and they've been worshipping an empty suit with a codpiece for the last five years. There's help available for this kind of delusion. I suggest that all those whose sanity depends on Bush worship seek some immediately.
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