SOURCES OF PARALYSIS: Of our paralysis!


Part 1—Dead horse beaten again: At the risk of (brief) repetition, we’ve become fascinated, in the past week, with the theme of “moral and intellectual paralysis.”

As a young man, Joyce thought he saw such a paralysis among the Irish people, who lived under the cultural, religious, political thumbs of the Brits and the priests.

Can a nation, can an entire people, find itself in the grip of “moral and intellectual paralysis?” In the opening paragraph of The Sisters, the first of his fifteen stories in Dubliners, Joyce announced his interest in exploring the paralysis he saw pervading the Dublin of his youth.

A young narrator describes the impending death of a priest he knows as a friend. In this opening paragraph, Joyce announced his desire to explore the “paralysis” gripping his nation and the “deadly work” it had done:
There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: "I am not long for this world," and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears...But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.
In Dubliners, Joyce explored that paralysis, and its deadly work. Our question:

Can anyone doubt that our own nation is caught in a type of moral and intellectual paralysis? In part, Joyce’s Dublin was caught in the grip of the priests. But our own tribalized society has many such groups of (secular) priests—fatuous beings whose work corrupts our moral and intellectual capacities.

We saw them this weekend, wherever we looked, the priests with their varied corruptions:

We saw Jim Lehrer on C-Span, offering his absurd canned recitations about past White House elections. (We saw a journalism professor affirm every word this high priest drew from the can.)

We saw Maureen Dowd on page one of the Sunday Review, presenting work so fatuous that many commenters stood to complain.

(Commenter from Edmonton: “Why did I read this cotton candy? Why was it written? And what did I learn?” Commenter from New York City: “When did the Times editorial page become Tiger Beat?”)

We saw Professor Williams in The Nation, inventing facts about a trial she plainly hadn’t watched. In our mind, we saw Katrina vanden Heuvel waving that shit into print.

We read this profile of another professor. It helped answer a question we have long posed—where have the logicians been as our clownish public discourse has been turned into a joke?
ZWEIFLER (7/1/13): Colin McGinn is towering above Miami Beach.

The prominent British philosopher, who was considered a star hire by the University of Miami several years ago, is sitting on the deck of his penthouse condo as waves crash onto the shore 43 floors below.

To an outsider, it looks like paradise. Mr. McGinn's home is in one of the most sought-after high-rises on Miami Beach's "Millionaire's Row"; his cabana, where he stores paddleboards and surfing gear, is larger than some city apartments.
Technically, this professor isn’t a “logician,” and, of course, he’s a Brit. But where have the greatest logicians been as our discourse has turned into a joke? Have they been on the nation’s 43rd floors, high above their cabanas?

Who else did we see this weekend? On Sunday, we saw the third installment in the New York Times Potemkin series about the looting which virtually defines American health care. Next April, this series will be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. It has generated no discussion whatsoever—and it seems to have been written to accomplish that goal, to create an award-winning series which no one will ever discuss.

Silence invaded the suburbs! After that, it emanated from the 43rd floors. Then, the front page of the New York Times found a way to advance it!

Over the weekend, we also saw the various people who have refused to discuss the paralysis these priests have created. It’s easy to answer the question posed by that commenter to Dowd, but everyone has agreed that it must never be said:

The New York Times editorial page became Tiger Beat a very long time ago! This is the way that same columnist began her column in the Times on the Sunday before the Bush-Gore election, headline included:
DOWD (11/5/00): I Feel Pretty

I feel stunning
And entrancing,
Feel like running and dancing for joy . . .

O.K., enough gloating. Behave, Albert. Just look in the mirror now and put on your serious I only-care-about-the-issues face.

If I rub in a tad more of this mahogany-colored industrial mousse, the Spot will disappear under my Reagan pompadour.
That was also Tiger Beat, thirteen years ago.

“The Spot” was Candidate Gore’s bald spot, with which the Tiger Beat pundit had been obsessed in recent years. In this column, Dowd had Gore singing “I Feel Pretty” as he stood before a mirror.

It was the sixth column Dowd had built around imagined conversations between Gore and his bald spot.

That produces a form of paralysis; it does deadly work. Two days later, Americans went to the polls and, by an historically narrow margin, a world disaster occurred. But to this very f*cking day, have you seen a single career liberal talk about Maureen Dowd’s conduct during that campaign, or in the thirteen years since? Krugman, Chait, Drum, Dionne? Robinson, Hayes or your darling Maddow? Can you name even one career player who has discussed this endless assault on your nation’s morals and intellect?

Maureen Dowd is a high priest who has dealt in paralysis. But among those who do their writing or clowning for pay, no one has ever been willing to say so! (We could note a few very minor exceptions.) This helps explain the moral and intellectual paralysis found all through our own paralyzed nation.

In our secular, tribalized world, different bands of secular priests surround us. All these priests are creating paralysis. But within each tribal preserve, their conduct is accepted and praised, no matter how crazy, dishonest and paralytic their conduct may be.

On Fox, they give free rein to Sean. In The Nation, they hail that august professor. And yes, the caliber of their work is very much the same.

This morning’s New York Times spills with nonsense from various sets of our own tribe’s pseudoliberal priests. All week long, we’ll sample the bullshit we’ve seen in the past few days, right up to and including this morning. And we’ll sample the bullshit to come.

“I longed to look upon its deadly work.” Borrowing from the young Bob Dylan, we think Abraham Lincoln said that!

Tomorrow—part 1: Where to begin?


  1. TDH often claims Dowd is stuck in the 50's; Somerby alludes to some 50 year old Bob Dylan nonsense.

    TDH often claims Dowd is stuck in the 50's; does anyone recall columnists supporting gay women for mayor in the 50's?

    TDH often claims Dowd is stuck in the 50s; Somerby echoes the 0.5% of NYT commenters who compared Dowd's piece to Tiger Beat -whose circulation peaked about 35 years ago.

    Dowd is being very active in promoting Quinn for Mayor and disparaging Quinn's opponents. One may not like her style, but she is hardly an example of paralysis.

    1. She supports someone you approve for mayor, and opposes those whom you disapprove, therefore she can't be an example of what's wrong?

    2. I don't live in NYC but I couldn't support Christine Quinn for dogcatcher after she tried to get the president of NYU to throw Chick-Fil-A out of their food court because of the personal beliefs of the CEO of Chick-Fil-A. She wasn't the only politician who tried to use the power of her office to attack Chick-Fil-A because the CEO used his First Amendment right. That was an amazing incident.

      Romney should have jumped on that one. What a lame presidential candidate he was to by-pass that opportunity. He could have forced Obama to condemn Rahm Emanuel, Christine Quinn and the mayor of Boston for attacking the First Amendment. It would have helped Romney with his base and given Obama and the Democrats a headache with their base. -Karen

    3. TDH blames the entire press corps for failing to do its job.

      I don't see any place where TDH is claiming that Dowd is stuck in the 50's, so I think that is a straw man. He claims she focuses on trivial, superficial stuff using literary allusions to make herself sound smart.

    4. Anons 1059, 1133:

      Quinn is not my first or second pick for Mayor. But Dowd is knocking herself out trying to make Quinn more appealing to voters--particularly non-gay voters, since Quinn has a pretty good track record on gay issues already.

      How is that paralysis? Or an example of Dowd's supposed 50's Irish catholic take on sexual morality? TDH fails to make a case for either.

      As far as TDH demanding that Krugman speak out on Martin/Zimmerman, well, that's just too hysterical for reasoned comment.

    5. Krugman is good at pointing out the crazy In the GOP. Somerby is merely asking Krugman to acknowledge the crazy on the so-called left as well. In particular his colleague Maureen Dowd and the way she degrades the political discourse.

    6. "too hysterical for reasoned comment"

      Well, we honestly weren't expecting reason from you -- we've read everything you've posted here in the past, you know.

      But your response above does nothing to address the 10:59 criticism:

      By your logic, if Dowd once does a thing which runs against the grain of Somerby's critique, that disproves the critique.

      But of course that's wrong.

      It's cherry picking. Dowd has a very long track record. That she's arguably right about one thing tells us very little about her overall performance. You are as much as conceding this when you demand, for this one example, to know how it fits your characterization of Somerby's theory. It's one data point.

      It simply isn't the case that every breath Dowd takes, every word she writes, must be a confirmation that she's Somerby's "high priest who has dealt in paralysis" -- it is the totality.

      She's awful. As a rule.

      I am sure that a thorough scouring of this site would even produce evidence that Somerby has allowed that Dowd may have occasionally been correct, or been less than hideous upon occasion. That really proves little other than that rules have exceptions.


      But here's one that seems to have no exceptions: The posts of Trollmes are useless trolling.

      No shit, Sherlock.

    7. @trollmes

      some of the best analysis ive read on this blog. you are fearless in taking on one of this cultures most insidious forces for evil, a high priest of darkness, lord robert somerby. may god hold you in the hollow of his hand. i pray for your continued well being,

      On Terra in this fateful hour
      I place all Heaven with its power.
      The sun with its brightness,
      the snow with its whiteness,
      the fire with all the strength it hath,
      the lightning with its rapid wrath,
      the winds with their swiftness along their path,
      the sea with its deepness,
      the rocks with their steepness,
      the earth with it starkness.
      All these I place
      with God's almighty help and grace
      between myself and the powers of darkness.


    8. Anon 1233,

      Somerby cited the most recent Dowd piece in his post as an example of "moral and intellectual paralysis." Since Lord Bob did not offer any actual support for his position in this post, I assumed that his standard critique of Dowd was being assumed.

      So if this is one data point which runs against the TDH critique, then why did Somerby cite this very piece? Why did Bob read the 184 comments on this Dowd piece to find one to highlight?

      Is this useless trolling? Maybe. But I think it alerts readers that what seemed like a fresh and rational blog many years ago has become a daily recitation of a grumpy old man's petty gripes.

    9. Score one for the Trollmester:

      "like her culture-mate, Chris Matthews, Dowd is a hopelessly retrograde throwback to 1950s Irish Catholic culture."

      The Somberby Files December 21, 2006

      This is especially true with respect to Collins and Dowd, the Times’ two female columnists. Truly, they often seem to think they’re writing for the mid-50s “Women’s Pages.”

      Bob's Paralysis Press July 18, 2013


    10. Sory, but how exactly do those quotes help Trollmes? Was Dowd or was she not behaving as a retrograde throwback, a writer for the "Women's Pages," in those cases?

      And in fact, how apt is the present case, this discussed column by Dowd. is it really even an exception itself. Is it one that runs against the grain? Does your argument have ANY merit? Actually, no it isn't -- and no, you don't.

      Dowd continues to be awful.

      And if it weren't for the fact that it's Somerby calling it out, even our resident nutcase lowercaseguy would have to feign offense at the way Dowd trots out the Irish "temper". But yes, this is again, one from the "Women's Pages."

    11. I don't live in NYC but I couldn't support Christine Quinn for dogcatcher after she tried to get the president of NYU to throw Chick-Fil-A out of their food court because of the personal beliefs of the CEO of Chick-Fil-A. She wasn't the only politician who tried to use the power of her office to attack Chick-Fil-A because the CEO used his First Amendment right. That was an amazing incident.

      Romney should have jumped on that one. What a lame presidential candidate he was to by-pass that opportunity. He could have forced Obama to condemn Rahm Emanuel, Christine Quinn and the mayor of Boston for attacking the First Amendment. It would have helped Romney with his base and given Obama and the Democrats a headache with their base. -Karen

    12. Anon @ 4:05

      Re: Score one for the Trollmester

      My quotes were related to the critique of another of us fellow anons who said he didn't see Somerby belittling Dowd for being stuck in the 50's.

      To show I am fair minded, the use of Tiger Beat by Bob shows he is more of a 60's guy, so Trollmes was off on that point, and I think that is the proper decade for the absurd Dylan reference as well. I'll let you be in my comment if I can be in yours.

      rick said that

  2. Bob derides that "Nation" article not because of its flaws but because it so accurately portrays the trial that he is so clueless about himself. Somerby has repeatedly shown virtually no knowledge and zero insight into the subtleties of the case. He relies on opinions from Talkleft, a source that has admitted bias toward the facts for the benefit of the defendant, and deletes comments and bans commenters who stray from the party line. Read it for yourself.,3#axzz2b6bWTS8x

    1. Hmmm. The jury believed that Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman and the prosecution actually conceded that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, bringing out a dummy to represent Zimmerman and the prosecutor got on top of the dummy representing Martin. (I watched an awful lot of that trial.)

      Additionally, the prosecutor conceded that Zimmerman had a a right to be where he was, thus throwing out all the nonsense about "following" Martin or getting out of the car or profiling Martin. Zimmerman had a right to be where he was: in his own neighborhood, on a sidewalk in his own neighborhood.

      The jury members are wise to go silent and let it blow over. But what at least 3 of them believed (the ones who were "Not Guilty" from the get-go) was probably that the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman was that it was a mugging. That is the likeliest reason.

    2. deletes comments and bans commenters who stray from the party line.

      Not exactly. TalkLeft deletes comments that go beyond the facts, and deletes comments that include information not admissible in court. I had a comment deleted, because it referred to the content of Trayvon Martin's I-phone. My comment was factual and it supported Jeralyn's "party line." It was nevertheless deleted because it included facts that the Judge had prohibited the jury from seeing

    3. I encourage everyone to take Anon 11:01's advice and read the Nation article. High on melodrama low on analysis.

  3. I've got to read that NY Times series on healthcare. Someone told me something that was in it yesterday, about the cost of a type of surgery being $36,000 here vs $4,000 in Europe ??? Can that be true.

    I have a tremendous amount of experience looking at hospital bills and doctors bills. Yes, theres a big problem with what they bill but they don't get what they bill, not from the really big insurance companies. I have seen a hospital bill for almost $600,000 get settled for app. $57,000. Took a while and I do wonder how bad it might be for people who don't have insurance or have an insurance company that doesn't have the best negotiated rates. They posted at that hospital that you can't be billed more than the rate Medicare pays. ???? I really do not think Medicare would have paid the $600,000 but how is one to check what Medicare pays if you aren't elegible for Medicare. - Karen

  4. P.S. to AnonymousAugust 5, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    If you want to prove the accuracy of the Nation, you can't do so by simply quoting the Nation as an accurate source. That's called circular reasoning or begging the question.

    1. Not to mention that there is zero evidence that Somerby has "relied" on opinions from TalkLeft.

      Nor does the poster bother to provide any examples of such supposed opinions.

      Likewise for the supposed "subtleties" -- what are they?

      The poster doesn't say, but merely provides a link, the same link already provided by Somerby!

      If there is any evidence here of people uncritically getting their opinions from elsewhere, the Anonymous poster of 11:01 AM is a glistening example.

    2. I think he linked to one of Jeralyn's posts, for which I was thankful. Jeralyn seems to me to be a great trial analyst.

    3. Somerby also linked, with appropriate disapproval, to this same, sad The Nation" piece of which 11:01 Anon is so fond -- "We saw Professor Williams in The Nation" is the highlighted, underlined text of the link.

  5. Jeralyn gives guidelines for what she'll delete so she's up front about it. Far more sneaky is the NY Times: they do not post all of the comments. They pick and choose and might as well be writing the comments that they allow to be posted (maybe they do). It has nothing to do with whether your comment is "offensive;" they are screening comments to present a phony picture of public opinion. So, if you read NY Times comments and they are overwhelmingly one-sided but you think thats odd based on comments you have seen elsewhere on the same topic, know that the Times is not publishing or publishing only a few comments with opinions that the Times wants to marginalize.

    1. Jeralyn is strict about the accuracy of facts cited in her posts and in the comments because she doesn't want garbage sourced back to her blog in any way. She runs a tight ship, and she runs it well.

    2. Yes, that's true.

      But saying so just proves you're in the bag for her -- or so the "thinking" around these comments sections often has it...

    3. What on earth are you babbling about?

  6. Those hysterical, easily manipulated black people and their grievances. So emotional. So immune to facts and reasoning --- an entire race of 'em!

    Black progress would be significantly advanced if all African-Americans studied every word of TDH.

    1. Satire 101:

      In order for satire to be effective, it must mock a real statement. Satire that has no earthly connection to anything that the target of the satire actually said just makes its practitioner look dopey.

    2. AnonymousAugust 5, 2013 at 2:15 PM -- your attempt at satire boomerangs. This tragedy unfortunately does present blacks as being particularly unaware of the facts.

    3. David in Cal

      Which tragedy do you refer to, since Anon. @ 2:15 mentions none. And how does it portray blacks as anything, based on race? Finally, to which facts do you refer?


    4. Better, rick, to what post or comment does Anon @ 2:15 refer? Who is being satirized? Anyone real, or just a made-up fiction from a sad clown?

      It does indeed seem to be a strawman. But maybe you know more?

    5. Anon @ 4:12

      I have no idea. The comment seemed related to black people as a whole without reference
      to any post or comment. Just a statement of their shortcomings and a prescription that reading TDH will cure what ails them.

      David in Cal, however seems to know,and ties it to an event. So I was asking him. Perhaps he will favor both of us with a reply.

      Thanks for asking.


    6. Rick -- The tragedy I referred to was the attack on Zimmerman and the shooting of Martin. The discussion of it portrays blacks badly, because an overwhelming percentage of black pundits and spokespersons have been presenting inaccurate information as fact. A lot of non-black pundits and spokespersons also presented inaccurate info as fact, but the percentage is much higher for blacks. Since the trial, most non-black pundits have cut way down on their errors.

    7. OK then, rick, let's agree: the original post is a sad strawman attack with no basis in reality, sadly responded to by our resident sad right-winger (DinCA), who seems to want to be sure everyone will recognize that he has a race problem in addition to his many other well-documented problems with reality.

      David, of course, you have no (zero, bupkis) real data about how much more or less deceived anyone is or was based on racial background.

      It would behoove you to just admit that.

    8. Fifteen out of seventeen. Counting black spokespersons I've seen on TV and those in print, I'd say at least 15 have mis-presented the facts. Sadly, this group includes our President and our Attorney General. The only black spokespersons I've heard or read who didn't misstate the facts were some panelists on the PBS Newshour. Even there, the 2 blacks who supported the trial verdict didn't correct the gross mis-statents by Professor Cobb, nor did host Gwen Ifill correct the falsehoods.

    9. Congratulations David in Cal!!!

      You have just shown why Trayvon Martin was singled out by George Zimmerman because of his race, and why people like you and Investigator Serino are willing to take him at face value when he denies it after the fact.

      I look forward to your corrections of white people to save your race from being portrayed
      as fact free creepy crackers in the minds of
      non whites everywhere. They can count too.


    10. "Rick -- The tragedy I referred to was the attack on Zimmerman..."DinC

      David, is this the sort of statement that Jeralyn at TalkLeft would delete since it goes beyond the facts? I don't recall Trayvon Martin being convicted of "attacking" Zimmerman. Or do you have a crystal ball and are able to tell us exactly what happened that night?

      But of course, Jeralyn doesn't delete non-facts that have received her seal of approval. This is what she wrote on July 31, 2013.

      "George Zimmerman shot and killed someone who attacked him." Zimmerman's Traffic Stop: Why Wouldn't He Be Armed? by Jeralyn Merritt

      And every comment that challenged Jeralyn's statement of fact that Martin "attacked" Zimmerman was deleted, disappeared, erased from history, because Jeralyn is the final arbiter of *fact*.

  7. robert de somerby, lord high defender of americans not of irish-catholic heritage says,

    "Can anyone doubt that our own nation is caught in a type of moral and intellectual paralysis? In part, Joyce’s Dublin was caught in the grip of the priests. But our own tribalized society has many such groups of (secular) priests—fatuous beings whose work corrupts our moral and intellectual capacities."

    >>> just as i suspected and predicted here, the previous 'dubliner' columns were a setup to link the all pervasive irish-bad infection of ireland to the american sons and daughters of erin (working in the media in particular).

    first he further establishes >the basis< for his singling out (all out of proportion to their representaion in media management or as front people) americans who happen to have irish-catholic heritage:

    "Can anyone doubt that our own nation is caught in a type of moral and intellectual paralysis? In part, Joyce’s Dublin was caught in the grip of the priests. But our own tribalized society has many such groups of (secular) priests—*fatuous beings* whose work corrupts our moral and intellectual capacities. [* * my emphasis]."

    >>> in the above he disgustingly links many great priests, no doubt, who were doing very difficult social and spiritual work for little reward in ireland, to the those he sees as being malfeasant in america today.

    and of course the lord of darkness and confusion singles out, by name, two americans of irish catholic heritage, dowd and hannity, to drive his point home.

    "Maureen Dowd is a high priest who has dealt in paralysis"
    . . .
    "On Fox, they give free rein to Sean."

    1. Your reality seems to be filtered through green colored glasses, which results in a form of paralysis.

    2. and you and somerby orange tint...which results in bigotry.

  8. Poo Poo Platter (Priest Edition)

    "Can anyone doubt that our own nation is caught in a type of moral and intellectual paralysis?"

    Yes. We, of course cannot read minds, or truly know what lurks in them on dark and stormy February nights oin Florida, but we have no doubt such doubters are out there.

    I bet such doubters lack the intellectual capacity to think of Maureen Dowd as a cultural moral priestess.

    And we would wager that such doubters are not so paralyzed they keep stammering about a thirteen year old column about Al Gore singing to his bald spot and ignoring those Democrats who cast a butterflied ballot for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach or inferring the column led to anti bald spot ballots cast for Nader in New Hampshire.

    1. Poo Poo Platter (Priest Edition Update)

      We cannot bear to watch the whole C-Span clip of Jim Lehrer. I take it he did not mention the "I feel Pretty" column, the heresy's of
      the Washinton Post's Style section, or the Silence of the Krugman/Drum/Dionne lambs?

      We did read the Williams piece (damn those professors). In hers the lamb wasn't so silent. He got eaten anyway.

    2. We should, from now on, for all trials, decide which one of Aesop's fables we feel like it closely resembles, and meet out judgment based on that. Then we could sit in the gallery and cry over our perfectly innocent, beautifully young, cute, fluffy animals that have gone away.

  9. the irish of 1907 were coercively* under the control of an outside agent, britain. not at all comparable to the usa of 2013.

    *co·erce (k-ûrs)
    tr.v. co·erced, co·erc·ing, co·erc·es
    1. To force to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation; compel.
    2. To dominate, restrain, or control forcibly: coerced the strikers into compliance. See Synonyms at force.
    3. To bring about by force or threat: efforts to coerce agreement.

    1. When you, yourself, use a word, showing the definition of it does not give it support. But it is a nice, tight circle for your logic!

      Was that yummy food, troll?

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