Three cheers for Kathleen Parker!

MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012

Parker gets it right about a small tiny problem: In yesterday’s Washington post, Kathleen Parker wrote another excellent column about the small misogyny problem found in both major tribes.

Because we live in a tribal culture, we don’t think we had even heard about the fate of Louis C.K.:
PARKER (3/18/12): Like most women in the media, I’ve grown accustomed to vile and vicious attacks. It’s part of the marinade in which we swim now. I’ve always figured, well, that’s the game. Get tough. Hit delete. Deal. But my feelings, raw as they may be at times, are not what matters. What does matter is that our children are growing up in a world that believes it’s okay to denigrate women. They are witnesses to adults laughing at jokes about women being sluts, whores and worse. When the object of derision is Sarah Palin, “jokes” are made even about her child with Down syndrome.

Which brings us back to Louis C.K., whose “jokes” are so beyond anything we should find funny that it’s hard to comprehend how he was selected to amuse a group of journalists. He calls Palin a “retard-making [expletive]” and refers to “the baby that just came out of her [expletive] disgusting,” um, birth canal.

If you’re not disgusted, please leave now. Comedian Bill Maher similarly insulted Palin, though not nearly as graphically. Palin supporters and others concerned with decency have wondered where the outrage was then. Fair question.
Apparently, Louis got disinvited from one of them journalist dinner affairs. Or something. On our side of the tribal divide, such things don’t get discussed.

We knew Louis a tiny bit a long time ago in Boston. (Good decent feller. Most people are.) We are giant fans of Bill Maher, by far the best of a generation. But Bill was very disappointing in this interview with Jake Tapper.

Bill ran and hid behind “I’m a comedian.” Sorry. That’s total crap. And by the way: Stand-up comedy is not “the final frontier of free speech.” That shows how far we can get swept by the need for the tribal defense. (It’s OK when our tribe does it! Here! Just let me explain!)

We see that Parker has over 1700 comments. Let us guess that the judgments rendered will sometimes be highly tribal. Our side is just as dumb as theirs when it comes to the tribal defense.


  1. Louis CK didn't get disinvited from anything. He decided not to perform, so he wouldn't have to listen to disingenuous, whiny bullshit from political hacks.

    Politics is the death of art. CK tweeted some things, while drunk on a plane, that people who apply black-and-white political tests to every aspect of life will never, ever stop talking about, every time his name is mentioned going forward. That says a lot more about them than him.

    1. CK tweeted some things, while drunk on a plane, that people who apply black-and-white political tests to every aspect of life will never, ever stop talking about, every time his name is mentioned going forward. That says a lot more about them than him.

      If Louis CK had been a conservative comedian, and his target was say Hillary Clinton or Sandra Fluke, would we ever hear the end of it? Why should it be any different it his target is Sarah Palin?

      Also, where's the comedy in what Louis CK tweeted? Is there any reason to find it funny at all? People point out that he was (allegedly) drunk when he tweeted it. How is that a defense? He's only a misogynist when drunk, and reveals his deep-down feelings about woman?

    2. Yeah, we would. Just like we quickly hear the end of it whenever Ted Nugent goes on one of his unhinged rants.

      That's because people recognize a crackpot.

    3. Louis CK's defenders certainly do not see him as a crackpot, but as an important comedian/artist who speaks to the concerns of today's America. This includes many liberals, and disturbing, many women (for one see here ). This is just more "false equivalency" nonsense. Certain rules apply to "your" guys, but not "my" guys.

    4. I am certain Louis CK has his cult following who thinks he walks on water.

      But there is no way he can be compared to Rush Limbaugh.

  2. I am really tired of this moral equivalency game in which the outrage over outrageous remarks, regardless of who makes them, must be absolutely equal in all cases or they are are bogus.

    For Mercy's Sake, Louis CK? He's just another cult "comic" in the legacy of Lenny Bruce whose audience and power over a single political power is nowhere near that of Rush Limbaugh, who all of a sudden is a "comedian" and "satirist."

    Come on, Bob. Surely you can did deeper than that. The wife and I recently walked out of a local "comedy club" because the comedian was not only unfunny but absolutely distasteful, racist and misogynist. We reduced his audience from 20 to 18.

    But hey, there was no national outrage over HIS material that night, ergo, how awful it is that "liberals" are picking on poor, poor Rush, who was only trying to be funny when called a law student with the courage to testify before Congress a "slut" and a "prostitute" while asking that she make a sex tape so he could watch.

  3. Anyone notice how Bob picking on "liberals" gets turned into him stating that Rush shouldn't get picked on? Bob has said no such thing. Only a tribal mind reasons this way.

    1. Bob has said no such thing? Good grief, he has said it over and over and over again since the Rush "scandal" broke -- You don't have any reason to be outraged over Limbaugh's crudity unless you are equally outraged over the crudity of other "comedians."

      And good grief, to draw moral equivalency between Limbaugh and Maher, and now Louis C.K., because they are all supposedly in the same line of work is just beyond the pale on its face.

      Well, excuse me, but I am adult enough to choose what I will be outraged over, and if I choose to be more outraged over a national radio voice with the power to bring the GOP to its knees kissing his keister, insulting a young woman coast-to-coast in the most vile terms, vs. the power of a couple of comics I don't even like, well, I'm sorry. Deal with it.

  4. Also hear is the transcript of Tapper's interview with Maher:

  5. What we're watching here is a fascinating case study in -- what else? -- tribalism. Albeit a tribe of one.

    Bob Somerby looks at the political/cultural scene, and what he sees is, well -- himself! That is, his own preoccupations. Perspective, a sense of what's important and what isn't -- it's all lost, because It's All Bob now.

    Bill Maher is just as bad as Limbaugh! So what if one has tremendous influence and the other none at all! Gail Collins is off her meds! So what if he nobody of consequences reads her and she has zero influence on the national discussion! I mean, it could be Al Gore she's talking about! And how bad would that be!

    And, like the royalty he covers, Bob is all but indifferent to actual political reality. It's all about satisfying his standards, don't you see!

    Of course, equal application of those standards would require vast amounts of ink devoted to right-wing disinformation. But since everybody knows that the Fox right-wing does nothing but lie and distort, we really **must** focus all our attention on liberal-leaning comics. So what if they're irrelevant to the national discourse! And so what if Gail Collins' influence is microscopic. They're the worst liberals we can find!

    Because don't you see, it's All About Bob. Maureen Dowd cheated him out of an Al Gore presidency, which would have been just like the 8 glorious years of Clinton, which Bob knows nothing about! We must never, never forget!

    So let's have at -- death to liberal comics and inconsequential NYT columnists....

    1. Boy, is that entire post ever a stupid waste of time for all involved.

  6. Please, pleeeeeeeeease don't take away my ability to feel superior to "those people" by pointing out I'm not, by pointing out that the only reason I don't believe the same sorts of crazy shit they do, but in mirror image, is because my side doesn't have (but is slowly building) the same media apparatus shouting out the same comforting craziness and stupidity that their side has had for twenty years. If you do, I'll get angry.

    Oh, I don't get angry about high employment (unless their side is in control) or cutting social security and medicare (as long as my side is proposing the cuts), or the destruction of what's left of the union movement. Those things are trivial. But attacking Gail Collins for writing the same inane shit for the hundredth time, or this comedian whom I've never heard of but he must be a good guy because he attacked Palin -- that makes me ANGRY. You see, I have no principles, only a side.

    1. I think you'll find that most of us *are* quite angry about the foundational issues.

      Which is why we don't quite understand the preoccupation here with Bill Maher, Louis, and Gail Collins. Even as media criticism, divorced from liberal policy goals, these preoccupations would seem largely irrelevant to what actually goes on in the national discourse.

      On one matter, however, you're quite right: I for one do feel intellectually (or, at least, informationally) superior to those who insist that global warming is a left-wing hoax, that the Bible is the literal truth, that taxes increase revenues, that socialized medicine fails wherever it's tried, that abortion is murder but state executions are excellent public policy, and that Obama's a socialist. The only other alternative would be feeling pity. If you have another suggestion, as to what you should feel, please provide it.

    2. Gail Collins has a thrice weekly editorial column in our most important and trend setting newspaper, Bill Maher has a cable show that's watched by millions of people every week and regularly books influential politicians and journalists. How are these people "irrelevant?"

    3. Since Gail talks about nothing but Romney's dog, I'm not sure what the nature of her influence could be. You'll also recall that William Kristol also had a spot on the op-ed page. And of course David Brooks.... This is hardly Fox News.

      If you have polling to show Bill Maher has a measurable effect on national opinion and voting patterns -- in the same way Fox does, for example -- I'd love to see it.

      Also, I don't watch Maher any longer, but when I did, he used to give frequent air-time to a certain Ann Coulter. There's no equivalent of Coulter on the left (and a good thing, too), but when Maher starts inviting Chomsky and Greenwald on the show, and begins to measurably effect attitudes in the country, then perhaps we can talk about left-wing influence in the media.

    4. Greenwald is appearing on Maher's show this Friday.

    5. @Anonymous at 11:04AM -- Gail Collins used to run the NYT editorial page and is extremely powerful and influential in the journalistic world. If you don't think she matters, you don't really understand how the journalism world works. In addition to whatever influence she personally has on the career directions of young journalists, the nation's newspaper of record publishes her silly shit and in doing so signals that it enjoys and approves of the "Creeping Dowd-ism" Bob so often writes about. This vapid thigh-stroking was a large reason why Bush won the White House. Currently it's aimed against Romney, but the practice as a whole is moronic and Bob has consistently attacked it no matter who it's aimed at.

  7. Maybe I'm not reading Bob correctly, but isn't the larger point that's being made in these posts that misogyny is a large cultural problem, and pretending that one side of the leftist/right wing dichotomy are good guys and the other side are bad guys is a method that leads to nothing getting done. If your responce to a wide-spread obvious problem (e.g., racism, truth in the media, poor schools, health care, endless warfare) is "boy, those Republicans/Democrats are sure out to lunch on that!", you're really just not owning up to our own problems, shared by all.

    When Bob says "why didn't you complain about that liberal when they did it?", he's not saying that they were just as bad, he's questioning your motives. You don't really care about the issue at hand, you're just happy to score points for your team. He is most clear when discussing children in poorer schools. Politcal gamesmanship masked as concern.

  8. Well, it's nice that Bob has finally come clean about Bill Maher, who for years did softball interviews with conservatives that went far beyond anything Lawrence O'Donnell ever did. Maher was also part of the "W and Gore" are the same crowd, and stills never misses a chance to kick Gore to this day. Maher also said his two critical, must read writers were Mo Dowd and Christopher Hitchens.

    And by the by, I enjoy his work too!

    1. When Bob recently slammed Maddow for her lack of prep facing off against Inhofe, I thought of Maher's attempt to interview and discredit John O'Neill, the creator of swift boating. Shamefully, Maher's arrogant presumption that cleverness and timing would trump preparation ended badly, with Maher being fed piecemeal to O'Neill.

      As Twain wrote, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." But, and I think this may be one of Bob's central points, why hamper the truth further with weights comprised of arrogance, ego, and tribalism?

  9. I don't think Bob is really calling liberals hypocrites for them condemning insults from the right, and ignoring the same kind of conduct on the left.
    Charging hypocrisy is not his mission.

    His argument is that big Democrats and big liberal pundits should be challenging outright lies from the right and from so-called liberals with FACTS, in a respectable tone.

    If phony liberals are spreading false propaganda, the whistle blowers should speak out and name names, not just go along with it and mention it in passing ten years later.

    As long as liars go unchallenged by respected people, they are free to misinform at will, and the misinformed will remain ignorant.

    The other side of the coin is when the biggies call the other side ignoramuses and dummies. When that happens, communication is blocked.

    There are lots of people out there that will never change their opinions no matter what facts or logic are thrown at them. They aren't the targets.

    The targets are the ignoramuses that are willing to listen because they admit they don't know.

    1. Gravy, that's what Bob used to do, and that is why I have been loyally following of his blog since 2000, and continue to do so hoping he snaps out of it.

      At one time, Bob used to rail against the false "moral equivalency" argument that searched for the most outrageous thing said by the most inconsequential people on the "other side" as the excuse for "my side" to say and do whatever we wanted.

      There was one memorable column he did in the wake of 9/11 when right-wing pundits jumped all over a high school newspaper editorial as "proof" of how "liberals" are indoctrinating all of America's school children.

      An editorial written by a high school kid. While, as Bob pointed out, people like Ann Coulter were saying and writing "best-sellers" filled with all sorts of direct lies.

      But now, all we seem to read here is how bad Rachel Maddow's last show was, Gail Collins' dog obsession, and now, don't condemn Rush unless you have also condemned Louis CK.

      What I fear most is that he sounds like a comedian who has run out of material.

    2. Yes, it's looking that way.
      The attacks on Rachel make more sense, however.
      She has the largest audience on MSNBC, and a lot of liberals I know think she is important because she mocks conservatives.
      I agree with Bob that she is usually horribly prepared.
      She is too egotistical to accept the fact that she is not well informed.
      There are guests she could bring on to bolster her side, but she won't do it.
      The other hosts on MSNBC do it, and as a result, inform the viewers to a greater degree.

    3. Sorry but I've read Bob since then as well and he has not been inconsistent. Anyone paying attention knows those who were "despised" by the Dowds and Collinses have represented both tribes. The current despised tribe is the GOP, and Bob argues as convincingly as ever that "our" tribe takes it in like soma, which undermines any progressive agenda and rots the political dialogue.

    4. This blog has changed. That is undeniable.

      When I first began reading it in 2000, Bob was practically the only voice that was pointing out how easy it was for the RNC and the Bush campaign to get whatever they wanted to say about Gore into the "mainstream media" without question.

      And he would point out the silence of so-called "liberal" pundits that allowed that to happen.

      And his list of "culprits" at one time included many men -- the late Tim Russert, E.J. Dionne, Clarence Page, Chris Matthews and all of Jack Welch's "boys."

      Now it seems as if his "criticism" is obsessively, if not entirely, focused on three women -- Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd and Rachel Maddow.

      And there is a knee-jerk sameness to his criticism that is really getting predictable and boring.

  10. How infantile our culture is. Isn't it at least conceivable that one might call another person with whom one has strong disagreements a c**t, p***k, w****, a**h***m m*****f*****, b****h, d****b**, d***w**, etc., without being a raging sexist? That these are simply terms of strong feelings, that profanity has always been common currency and that it's up to the speaker to assess the appropriateness of the forum (and suffer the consequences if the choice is wrong)? But no, here in America we take everything literally. Strange that Mr. Somerby, who's so reluctant to see racism in the American heartland, apparently finds sexism everywhere.

    It's not as Maher (for example) was intimating that Sarah Palin was actual enlarged piece of female anatomy or a street walker. Limbaugh's tirade on Sandra Fluke was, by contrast, substantive in its charges. Whether he crossed the line is, obviously, up to corporate America.

    In any case, for those who insist there's a double standard, there *is* indeed one: Maher actually WAS fired from a network job, for speech. He made the mistake of questioning the heroics of the U.S., and the supposed cowardness of the hijackers, in the post-9/11 period. No bad words, no personal insults, no libels, no lies. Just expressing a point of view.

    I wasn't around here then, but was there an outcry at The Howler?

    1. Yes:

    2. Oops, wrong link. Here's Somerby in Sept '01:

  11. That period right after 9/11 was a dramatic one. E.g., Bill Shrempf, a man I had briefly worked for, lost his job when there was a nationwide furor over whether a single clerk in his operation could have an American flag at her desk. See: Flag flap forces CEO at NCCI to resign

    It seems that the culture at that moment was to look for unpatriotic examples to punish.

  12. Bob is a giant fan of Maher? Wow, that's something I won't forget. Setting aside Maher's "comedian" excuse. Let's just note that:

    1) Maher asserted that Limbaugh apologized for what he said about Sandra Fluke. Limbaugh did no such thing.
    2) Maher airs Alexandra Pelosi's videos of stereotypes (redneck and "Welfare Queens") which were nothing more than exercises in sneering.
    3) Maher ifs frequently ill-informed about the topics he discusses on his show. I have watched enough of his round-table debates where he fails to bring up relevant facts - and therefore allows a guest to go unchallenged.
    4) Maher is not especially witty or funny.

    My opinion of Bob has dropped significantly now that he's declared himself a "giant fan" of Maher. So much, that I can't trust his judgement on issues discussed on this blog.

    1. Do you ever get caught in a situation where you like one comedian, but they like an actress that you don't like, but then she likes a director that makes some really great films, but then a talk show host that you don't like interviews him and he makes a funny face, and, like, you really, really don't know who to vote for?

  13. Repetition has always been part of this blog's style, but there are subtle changes in emphasis in each installment of usually weekly subjects. Not unlike Philip Glass' early, interesting work, which some decried as sounding like a broken record. These critics heard the notes, but not the music.

  14. 8:14, since you made a pop cultural reference, allow me one.

    Way back years ago, before the film "Man on the Moon" came out but some years after his death, I watched a biography of Andy Kaufman on the "E!" network, since I was, at one time, a huge Kaufman fan, at least until that awful "inter-gender" wrestling thing went on and on and on. Funny the first couple dozen times I saw it, but it grew boring as you waited for Kaufman to explore new areas of comedy that he was famous for.

    Well, in the "E!" biography, Robin Williams told how all of Kaufman's friends were literally begging him to drop the wrestling schtick and move on, since it was ruining his career. It was not only boring and predictable, but the same schtick had been done far better for decades by people far better at it than Andy Kaufman.

    Then the movie came out, just 10 years after Kaufman's death. It was high budget, widely promoted, and Jim Carrey was scary good as Kaufman.

    And the movie utterly bombed.

    A friend of mine, equally as big a Kaufman fan as I was, wondered how that movie could fail.

    Then it dawned on us that the Kaufman "cult" wasn't nearly as big as the producers of the film thought it was. Then I remembered Williams' words.

    Maybe Kaufman was one of those rare talents who could only burn brightly for a little while, and then he ran out of material and could only repeat himself until he became a caricature of himself.

  15. Law student, eh? Started thinking about that future job yet? May I make a suggestion? Check out JD Match in between the papers and exams. I work with JD Match and it’s a great step for any law student looking for an AmLaw firm job and a little weight off their shoulders.

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