FRAMEWORKS: The usual suspects go there again!


Our own blue tribe's own goals: We vaguely remember the very first time we heard about "thunder words."

We were a senior at Aragon High. For reasons we can't recall, we were taught about the existence of those words in our AP World Literature class.

Luckily, no one asked us to read Finnegans Wake, the novel win which such words appear. 

Finnegans Wake was Joyce's final novel. The first of the novel's ten thunder words appear in this unforgettable passage, right there on the novel's first page:

JOYCE (1939): The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since dev-linsfirst loved livvy. 

Sic! And that was just the novel's third paragraph. As Joyce proceeds to paragraph 4, things don't get  much simpler:

JOYCE (continuing directly): What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons cata-pelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod's brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykill-killy: a toll, a toll. What chance cuddleys, what cashels aired and ventilated! What bidimetoloves sinduced by what tegotetab-solvers! What true feeling for their's hayair with what strawng voice of false jiccup!...

We're only halfway through that paragraph. But you may get the general idea.

In the passages we've posted, we've highlighted the first of the novel's so-called thunder words. As we learned way back in high school, ten such words appear in Finnegans Wake. For those who might wonder why that is, the leading authority on Joyce's work offers this capsule explainer:

These ten words have come to be known as thunders, thunderclaps, or thunderwords, based upon interpretation of the first word as being a portmanteau of several word-forms for thunder, in several languages. The Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan (with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel) made this connection explicit in his War and Peace in the Global Village, where he identified the ten words as "thunders," reproducing them in his own text...Marshall's son Eric McLuhan carried on his father's interpretation of the thunders, publishing The Role of Thunder in Finnegans Wake, a book expressly devoted to the meaning of the ten words. For [Eric] McLuhan, the total letter count of the above ten words (1001) intentionally corresponds to the One Thousand and One Nights of Middle Eastern folklore, which buttresses the critical interpretation of the Wake as being a book of the night.

Inevitably, that first thunder word was interpreted as being a portmanteau of several word-forms for thunder, in several languages. It was all about the Thousand and One Nights of Middle Eastern folklore—or at least, so the McLuhans have said. 

There's much more to be said about those ten words, but we're trying to keep it simple. Engaging in thunder word-level overstatement, the leading authority offers this overview concerning Finnegans Wake:

Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It is well known for its experimental style and reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the Western canon...Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years and published in 1939, Finnegans Wake was Joyce's final work. The entire book is written in a largely idiosyncratic language, which blends standard English words with neologistic portmanteau words, Irish mannerisms and puns in multiple languages to unique effect. Many critics believe the technique was Joyce's attempt to recreate the experience of sleep and dreams, reproducing the way concepts, people and places become amalgamated in dreaming. It is an attempt by Joyce to combine many of his aesthetic ideas, with references to other works and outside ideas woven into the text; Joyce declared that "Every syllable can be justified."

Due to its linguistic experiments, stream of consciousness writing style, literary allusions, free dream associations, and abandonment of narrative conventions, Finnegans Wake remains largely unread by the general public.

Finnegans Wake remains largely unread by the general public? Among the general public (and almost everyone else), the book isn't read at all! 

How "difficult" is this work of fiction? Among critics, one fan of the book was so thrown by Joyce's obvious brilliance that he ended up saying this:

The text's influence on other writers has grown since its initial shunning, and contemporary American author Tom Robbins is among the writers working today to have expressed his admiration for Joyce's complex last work:

"The language in it is incredible. There's so many layers of puns and references to mythology and history. But it's the most realistic novel ever written. Which is exactly why it's so unreadable. He wrote that book the way that the human mind works. An intelligent, inquiring mind. And that's just the way consciousness is. It's not linear. It's just one thing piled on another. And all kinds of cross references. And he just takes that to an extreme. There's never been a book like it and I don't think there ever will be another book like it. And it's absolutely a monumental human achievement. But it's very hard to read."

The book is "unreadable," this admiring critic said. That brings us back to the greatest film of all time, whose fans have occasionally seemed to suggest or say that this newly-anointed greatest film is basically unwatchable.

So it largely went last week, as over a thousand of the usual suspects enshrined their avant garde views in the latest Sight & Sound survey of academics and critics.

Concerning Joyce, we'll offer this. It's often said that before he went completely avant garde, he had shown himself to be a master of traditional fiction. Admirers point to the stories in his first major volume, Dubliners, and especially to that volume's novella-length final story, The Dead.

To contemporary readers, it isn't obvious where where Joyce was coming from in The Dead, which is sometimes praised as one of the greatest short stories ever written. The reader may have to read around to understand the young artist's views concerning the general cultural backdrop in his native Ireland.

That said, it is completely possible to understand what is happening in The Dead's closing scene, where a weeping Gretta Conroy tells her husband of many years about an incident from her youth, recounting a memory which has been triggered by the singing of a popular Irish ballad:

“I suppose you were in love with this Michael Furey, Gretta,” he said.

“I was great with him at that time,” she said.

Her voice was veiled and sad. Gabriel, feeling now how vain it would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed, caressed one of her hands and said, also sadly:

“And what did he die of so young, Gretta? Consumption, was it?”

“I think he died for me,” she answered.

We'll recommend that you watch Angelica Huston perform this dialogue at the start of the final scene of her father, John Huston's, last film (The Dead, 1991). 

(“Poor fellow,” she said. “He was very fond of me and he was such a gentle boy.")

We'll suggest that you may want to stop watching as Gretta finally cries herself to sleep. We're not sure that Huston's film captures the tone of the way the Joyce story ends.

At any rate, there you see it—a bit of Joyce's more traditional early work. Twenty-five years later, it was largely Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek—but Joyce is still widely regarded as the greatest writer of the long-gone 20th century.

Why is Joyce so highly regarded, while it may be somewhat easy to mock last week's selection of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles as the world's greatest film? We'll answer that one for ourselves:

Fans of the newly-crowned greatest film describe is as an essential offering in the realm of feminist film. They also admit that the film is borderline unwatchable—that the regular people of the world can't really be expected to sit through its incredibly long, incredibly boring patches.

In this way, the usual suspects of our tribe may have performed one of their usual dances. We're amused by the work of this high elite, not by the contents of a film which we, like everyone else, have never actually seen.

Nothing will turn on the critical judgment those academics and critics executed last week—and we aren't even saying they're "wrong." Elsewhere, though, we gain our basic frameworks of understanding from similarly cosseted collections of high elites. 

That includes our basic ideas concerning how to react to such disordered public figures as Kanye West, whose horrible conduct we've long tolerated, and even Donald J. Trump.

One such elite spills out of its clown car on "cable news" each night. They recite one set of scripts on Fox. On our blue tribe's "cable news" channels, these usual suspects perform their standardized dances for Us.

Last week's critical judgment was so obscure it won't even make it to Fox. Trust us! If we the people were ever told that Jeanne Dielman now ranks as the world's greatest film, Tucker Carlson would enjoy a good solid laugh at the expense of these usual suspects.

No one is going to hear such things. The Sight & Sound survey concerning the world's greatest films is simply too obscure.

But in these ways, do our blue tribe's high elites sometimes perform "own goals?" The term comes straight from the world of international soccer. We'll continue our award-winning meditation on this question next week.


  1. "...Kanye West, whose horrible conduct we've long tolerated..."

    Whoa, dear Bob; you and your brain-dead tribe have tolerated Mr. West's "conduct"? ...for too long?!

    Tsk. Whoa. That's a new side of you...

    ...we're almost afraid to ask, but are you suggesting that people whose "conduct" you find "horrible" need to be detained and locked up in a concentration camp somewhere? Interesting... But not entirely surprising...

    1. Shut up you idiot.

    2. Mao weren't you the guy who thought Stalin was good for Russia, industrializing its economy? correct me if I'm mistaken. (You didn't feel that way about Hitler, because he lost). Nobody is going to imprison poor Kanye, but I get the sense, perhaps mistakenly, that once the libs are defeated, you wouldn't object if lots of them were imprisoned.

  2. "The book is "unreadable," this admiring critic said. That brings us back to the greatest film of all time, whose fans have occasionally seemed to suggest or say that this newly-anointed greatest film is basically unwatchable."

    Somerby calls Finnegan's Wake unreadable because he wants to relate it to the film he has called unwatchable. These words do not appear in the critical reviews he has quoted -- they are both Somerby's words. There is a difference between a film that is unwatchable and one that is difficult to watch, just as there is a difference between a novel that is hard to read and one that is unreadable. The term unreadable applies as much to a book that is not worth reading (one that is too bad and awful to read) as it does to a book that cannot be read for other reasons, such as being in a language that one does not know -- as Finnegan's Wake ultimately is. People do not understand the puns and references, which makes it foreign to them, not too poorly written to read.

    If someone wants to learn to read Finnegan's Wake, there are literature classes at the college level that will help. No such course can make a truly bad book more readable.

    But Somerby will shoehorn both this book and the film he has been denigrating this week into the words he wants to apply to them, whether the meaning fits or not. That is one reason why Somerby will not be able to learn to read or watch such works. He doesn't care what the author means or what the words actually say -- he wants it to mean something he has superimposed onto it, for his own reasons, so who cares what is on the page (or the screen)?

    1. Anonymouse 9:53am, have you read Finnegan’s Wake?

      I’m wondering if there’s endless tedium of which a reviewer would warn you about by saying that you will hardly be able to sit through it.

      Would a review of Finnegan’s Wake say that all the hours of reading it are worth it for that one big gasp at the end that brings it all home?

      With the movie, we now all know that gasp comes via an almost subconscious act where the protagonist kills a man who has solicited her for sex, because she has been sent over the top by the inescapable trap of mundane “woman’s work”, the duties of parenthood, and loneliness punctuated by the debasement of meaningless sex for money.

      Tell me now if there’s anything similar in Finnegan’s Wake, because if there is, I’m sticking with Chekhov and Ibsen.

    2. The investment of 3 hrs is a lot less than the time required to read and understand Finnegan's Wake. I tried reading Ulysses because I wanted to know about Bloomsday. I have read The Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I liked.

      I find it interesting that you assume that the point of the movie was to arrive at a startling conclusion. I suspect the point was to present mundane and shocking or unusual events with the same dispassion so that viewers can think about them independent of the film's narrative or auteur's interpretation. Unlike Somerby, you do seem to have attached some meaning to the film. My point earlier was that while Akerman tries to present events without suggesting interpretation, Joyce is too full of meanings draw from everywhere. Finding them all is part of the fun for literary types. Film audiences want to be told things, whereas Joyce enthusiasts want to figure them out. These may be different types of audiences. For Akerman's film, there is perhaps no right answer to what it is about. Calling her film, which tries to avoid messaging, feminist, in any sense except eschewing male-centric approaches, is no more right than any other interpretation. Why should prostitution be shocking? Why should even the murder be shocking? If you ask yourself those things, you will understand more about the film (and your own values and life) than simply dismissing the film as feminist. The film is experimental, not feminist, in its intent.

    3. Anonymouse 12:28, I mentioned authors who have poignantly portrayed the lives of women.

      We both know that you understand that I’m not discounting any thing simply because it’s feminist.

      You’ve got it wrong. The director is not nihilistic. Though the director films long scenes of the mundane routines of life, she is not fatalistic. She is not merely experimenting within her craft.

      Which has inspired me to add John Galsworthy ( who I adore) to list of writers who focus on the plights of women. Two whole sagas of books.

      I wish that these portrayals had been endless.

    4. nihilism definition: "the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless"

      What has been said about the film is not that it is nihilistic (and I didn't say it was). It is that the director intended the audience to think about the woman's condition and formulate their own ideas about how she felt, what was happening to her, why she did what she did. I have now explained this three times here. Meaningless is entirely different from "figure out the meaning yourself, as opposed to being told by the director what everything means".

      fatalism definition: "the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable"

      No one has called the film fatalistic either. I didn't, and none of the reviews posted by Somerby did that. You are saying it isn't fatalistic, but who said it was? And I didn't say she was merely experimenting, but she was definitely experimental and the success of her experimenting is why the film is considered great (among several reasons).

  3. "They also admit that the film is borderline unwatchable—that the regular people of the world can't really be expected to sit through its incredibly long, incredibly boring patches."

    No, they say nothing of the kind. Somerby says this. The critics say it is exceptionally long and shows mundane life. It is Somerby who says the audience may be bored to tears. Somerby focuses on the concern the director expressed about those who walked out during its first festival showing. Those critics go on to talk about the importance of the film, what the audience may gain by watching it. They do not call it unwatchable and they express admiration for it.

    Other critics, not quoted by Somerby, explain the purpose of both the length and the lack of narrative and motivation, the use of camera to avoid common directorial techniques that structure a film. These are deliberate so that the viewer can think about and figure out their own interpretation. And that is why this is not a feminist film but rather uses feminist techniques to eschew superimposing the director's meaning on the protagonist's life. But Somerby refuses to think about the film -- he instead berates it for not supplying him with the easy answers that other films provide, where it is clearer what is happening and why.

    So Somerby winds up calling something "unwatchable" that is actually a gift to his own understanding, if he will make the effort. Learning must be done by the individual, not spoonfed to him by the director of this film (or by Joyce in his final novel). Intellectual laziness cannot be blamed on the creator of art -- it resides in the viewer or reader.

    And Somerby doesn't even try. Instead he complains, and those complaints reveal his sense of entitlement. He seems to think that art works like popular entertainment -- no effort required, just lay back and let the fun begin.

  4. Like My Antonia, The Lady with the Lapdog, certain books about Einstein and Godel, The Dead is one of the works that Somerby has discussed before and returns to periodically. Last time it was for a different purpose, but similarly to justify his own attitudes and beliefs, not the author's purpose.

    One wonders how these specific works became stuck in Somerby's psyche, emerging to discuss other topics to which they have no clear relevance other than Somerby is juxtaposing them. For example, today's discussion of Finnegan's Wake has no relevance to Jeanne Dielman, since there is no similarity to the techniques or purposes of the authors other than both are difficult and both are long. Joyce creates puns and obscure references, a surplus of meaning beyond the surface. Akerman strips her film of all such meaning so that the viewer can watch and create their own meaning for life's mundane occurrences, treating the small and the large equally, emphasizing neither. The lack of meaning provides the opportunity for the viewer to find their own understandings. No one can say that about James Joyce. But Somerby either doesn't see this obvious difference, or he doesn't care about it. For him, the two are alike because they are both difficult. That is probably the most superficial way possible to experience these two disparate works.

    1. One doesn't care how these specific works became stuck in Somerby's psyche. One ignores these works, and one pities Somerby.

  5. "the regular people of the world can't really be expected to sit through its incredibly long, incredibly boring patches."

    Somerby says this -- not the critics. The critics say it is worth it for everyone to make the effort to sit through it but also to think about it while watching.

    Somerby is the one being condescending about what regular people can do. And since when is Somerby a regular person? He seems to think of himself that way, but isn't he actually superimposing his concept of regularness onto an audience who he does not know and is not actually part of? Few of us are standup comedians. Few of us went to Harvard. Few of us were wealthy and went to elite high schools in the nascent Silicon Valley. In what way is Somerby like any of the average shlubs (he called them yesterday)? He isn't, no matter how much he refuses to understand clear Einstein-for-beginners books by invoking Wittgenstein. It is ludicrous for him to appoint himself the spokesman for everyman. He is unqualified for that job -- largely because his approach of refusing to think is not what happens among people who have difficulty thinking due to lack of experience and education.

    The problem with the two works of art that Somerby conflates today is that both are written in different foreign languages, neither of which Somerby knows or is willing to learn.

    There are people who float around in our multicultural society getting irate whenever they hear others speaking in different languages. Sometimes they attack such foreign speakers in public places, shouting "speak English, this is America!" That is what Somerby is doing today. And the problem isn't only that Somerby wants everyone to be alike, as he claims, but that he wants everyone to be like him, with his limitations, and he assumes that regular people ARE like him, when they are not.

    1. Anonymouse 10:29am, regular people are like Somerby.

      They complain when reviewers rave about movies that they don’t appreciate. They roll their eyes at expertise when they think the experts aren’t wearing any clothes.

      They complain about bonehead politicians in their party and in the other one.

      They point their fingers at other democrats they know, or at republicans of their acquaintance, as being over the top.

      Somerby does all this in a highly entertaining and analytical way.

      Anonymices breathlessly read his blog, do 1500 words how much he sucks, and then come back for more outrage the next day.

      So it goes.

    2. What if the expert is a nudist?

    3. Easier to see their shortcomings?

    4. Your ideas about what "regular people" are like don't correspond to mine, nor do they describe the regular people I meet.

      I would agree that Somerby's complaints are entertaining, although also frequently annoying, but I do not agree that he is in any way analytical.

      Somerby delivers the outrage. If he did not call himself a liberal, creating a big lie or fake impression, there would be no need to address what he says at all. He would be just another nut on the internet. He needs to stop lying and perhaps his critics would go away.

      Somerby is a narcissist. For such people, even negative attention is gratifying. They don't need only praise. It is why Trump says outrageous things. Somerby is a version of Trump, which is perhaps why he has been promoting Trump's interests and defending his mistakes lately.

    5. You have to be totally lacking in self-awareness to think that your criticisms of professors or other experts are correct and they are the boneheads. Feeling superior because you can "see through" someone with a Ph.D. is a form of self-delusion, self-pleasuring, reassurance about your own intelligence in the face of subconscious doubts. It is a mental luxury but also delusion and that makes it dangerous.

      The people who felt superior to Fauci because they "did the research" on their favorite internet webpages, no doubt felt safer and less fearful of covid, but they also made themselves more vulnerable to covid and many of them have died because of it.

      No one is going to die because they think they know more about Finnegan's Wake than a professor of literature does. But if they were taking a literature course at university and insisted that their own uninformed reactions to the work were superior to their professor's lecture content, they would get a bad grade and perhaps even fail the course. Rightfully so. You must admit your own ignorance in order to learn from others. There are buffoons proclaiming that their own thoughts about long movies are more correct than those of film critics, and everyone can see their buffoonery, including regular people. It is when their self-serving views come into conflict with reality that there are real world consequences to being such an asshole. Try pretending that you know more than relevant experts in a job interview and see whether you get hired or not.

      Why is Somerby urging people to trust their own ignorance instead of listening to experts? He wants people here to be more open to the next Walkeresque ballot candidate the right wing tries to elect, whether it is Trump (who is deeply ignorant) or a local. Anti-intellectualism (a kind of false flattery) is one of the right's tactics for convincing people to vote against their best interests. And Cecelia is too stupid to understand what is going on here at this blog, just as Republican voters are when they lap up misinformation about Q-Anon and think DiSantis is anointed by God (because he said so).

      We all need to know who to trust. Those who trust Somerby are making a big mistake. His main aim is to undermine trust in the people who actually know things -- those experts, professors, journalists, critics, and other purveyors of knowledge. Why wouldn't someone who has devoted a career to analyzing film know more about it than Somerby does? Or you?

    6. That you’re here every day intentionally misconstruing what Somerby says is not explained by Bob ‘dishonestly’ declaring himself to be a liberal.

      There’s something weirder going on with this. It certainly has to do with a narcissist (they can be very compelling to a lot of people), but that person is on your side.

    7. When you call another person's ideas "intentionally misconstruing", you are not open to different opinions. I get it that you are wedded to your understanding of what Somerby does here. You might benefit by thinking about other people's reactions to Somerby -- not just mine, but mh's and others here.

      If I were actually a narcissist as you clumsily hint, I would have a nym. Narcissists do not typically seek anonymity. The weirdness here is Somerby, whose only consistency is attacking things liberals value.

      I try to explain how and why Somerby does this. You read what I write but only understand that I dislike Somerby. The reasons seem to go over your head. I cannot force you to think, but you are the one who will suffer the consequences of being who you are, not me. Just as Trump's main victims are his own followers.

    8. Anonymouse 1:12pm, you talk about insight and you aren’t aware of your painful to read overreactions to the daily takes on Bob Somerby.

      Somerby is a great blogger, but students of art and science are not countering their professors because the Daily Howler has an opinion on certain works to which those professors might not agree.

      It doesn’t occur to you that those professors may enjoy hearing and briefly discussing such thoughts. Like *real people•.

      No. This is about Somerby saying nobody’s perfect.

      (When we should all know that you are.)

    9. Lame reply full of name-calling and no substantive response to the points I made.

      Professors like discussion because it encourages students to examine their own ideas by comparing them with the thoughts of others. Exactly what you avoid here. When it comes to the exam, a student who insists that their own ideas are correct will be considered someone who doesn't understand the material and given a poor grade. There are many clearly right and clearly wrong ideas in classrooms, and the idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid (irrespective of facts) is not held.

      Professors have already heard all of the ideas students will come up with. They enjoy seeing students learn and grow, but the idea that some student's idea is so earthshaking that a professor will fall down in gratitude upon hearing it is a grandiose fantasy.

      If anyone is bitter, it is Somerby, who appears to still harbor anger that his professors didn't acknowledge his brilliance. He has devoted a lot of time to showing that his professors were know-nothings who wouldn't recognize brilliance if they heard it. This is what narcissistic insult is about.

      I know myself a lot better than Somerby knows himself. That is a side-effect of studying psychology. Somerby's only references to psychology are to use mental illness to excuse some mass-shooter or miscreant such as Trump or Tucker Carlson (who Somerby also encourages us to watch).

      Somerby is not a great blogger. He was once an interesting and useful blogger who has become a joke over the years. Assuming he is not a right-wing shill, he is at best a member of the centrist third-way movement along with other apostate liberals who want to cling to their bigotries. People change over time. Not every change is for the better.

    10. Anonymouse 1:34pm, let me call you another name - Madam Hyperbole.

      Me: It doesn’t occur to you that those professors may enjoy hearing and briefly discussing such thoughts. Like *real people•.

      Look how you have ridiculously extrapolated this statement into scenarios that I never hinted of and then spend more paragraphs tearing down that construction.

    11. hyperbole definition: "exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally"

      I intend my comments to be taken literally (as opposed to figuratively) and I do not think I am exaggerating. In some cases, I am proposing theories about Somerby, which I have no way of confirming since I do not know the man personally. The same is true of everyone else here. I can only support my ideas with evidence drawn from Somerby's writing, which may be serious or may be some elaborate joke that he finds funny instead of tragic. Andy Kaufman did that kind of thing.

      You suggested something about how professors feel about students (or others) discussing ideas, saying "those professors may enjoy hearing and briefly discussing such thoughts". I have been a professor myself and worked with many colleagues with whom I have discussed teaching. I told you my experience of how many professors feel about student ideas, and I explained, patiently, that despite being encouraged to think the students are graded on what they have learned, and that opinions are not knowledge. You conflate the two.

      You now complain that I went beyond what you said. Yes, that's true. Because I tried to explain to you why what you said made no sense in the context of actual professors and students discussing ideas. What you call "ridiculous extrapolation" was an attempt to inform you, which you are clearly rejecting, as is your privilege.

      But it was not exaggerated and it was also far from non-literal. And if you paid more attention to learning (even if it means paying attention to what other people say) and less to expressing your stupidity, you wouldn't misuse words the way you do, constantly.

    12. Cecelia, it is hard not to go beyond whatever you say, since you generally only write quips. You do realize this is not Twitter, right?

    13. Anonymouse 3:45pm, I don’t just write quips and I don’t write arguments that are meant to suggest that anonymices have said something other or more than what they stated.

      That is your tactic.

      I get straight to the point and give anonymouse hogwash the time it deserves.

    14. Anonymous 5:02pm, of course people will make their own judgments about what I say.

      That’s why I take any time at all in correcting your distortions of what I have said and your claims of things I have not said, and to also point out how you then start knocking down these straw men you created.

      Of course you’d love to draw me into writing long posts defending myself over something I never said or even implied.

      That’s the motivation of these sorts of tactics.

    15. Again, telling others what they think.

  6. "On our blue tribe's "cable news" channels, these usual suspects perform their standardized dances for Us."

    The way to prove such a thesis is to provide examples of the standardized narratives, spoken by different cable news guests and hosts on the left. This proof encounters difficulties right at the start because there is no blue tribe cable news, the way Fox represents the right wing. There is mainstream media but it cannot be shown to be left wing in the way Fox is right wing. It is generally categorized as centrist, with guest appearances by occasional progressives among many other viewpoints. Even on the left, there are dissonant voices, in ways that do not appear on the right, where party discipline is still enforced by fear of Trump's retribution. Democrats fight amongst each other over ideology; Republicans jockey for power.

    That's why Somerby's contention that the left speaks only from script is, and has been, ludicrous and unsubstantiated. Only today we have Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Dems to become "Independent" so that she can serve her corporate masters better. Is she like AOC? Obviously not. And which of these women's scripts is being sold by MSNBC?

    Somerby's main intent is to drive his readers away from voting for Democrats, in this case by portraying the right as the party of independent thinkers (ha ha ha) while the left is brainwashing people and selling them narrative. But the idea that thinking for oneself = following Q-Anon and burning your mask, has never been anything more than a huge joke, except it is unfunny, even in Somerby's mouth.

    1. If “scripted” means to assume a
      Repetitive and predictable viewpoint
      robotically so you are obviously
      not considering facts or anyone
      else’s viewpoint….. could anyone
      be more scripted than Bob?

    2. Scripts like these:

  7. "We'll continue our award-winning meditation on this question next week."

    A man who cannot appreciate Jeanne Dielman has no idea how to meditate on anything.

    Somerby has won no awards for this blog. This is his fantasy, sort of like when Trump says he has the biggest brain and the best words. I'd feel sorry for Somerby if he weren't trying to actively undermine our democracy.

    1. At the very least, he provides a warning for the coming week.

    2. It's not real. Everything you think you're seeing is not real.

    3. I may have missed it, but I don't think TDH has ever seen, or claimed to have seen, the Jane Dielman film.(It's also not clear that those TDH "critics" defending the film have ever seen it either, or ever heard of it until TDH brought it up). His point seems to be that a group of critics voted it the best movie of all time. Yet, contrary to what anon above might say, at least some of these critics have noted that the movie is tedious and boring in long stretches (showing, e.g., the actor peeling potatoes for example). TDH's point seems to be that that these "elite" film cognoscenti are alienated from and alienate the mass of people. There is, arguably, something absurd about a boring, overlong movie showing someone doing housework being called the greatest film of all time. TDH is perhaps being some type of philistine here.
      Then he ties it into his nutty idea that there is some type of connection between this and the way the media doesn't focus on how Kanye West and Trump are clinically nuts, as if that would accomplish anything - and TDH haters here focus on how TDH is thereby "excusing" Trump, being similarly nutty. Trump's real defenders don't base their defense on Trump being insane. But certainly, TDH has stirred up some discussion.

    4. So he doesn't like the movie. Big deal. That doesn't make him a Republican.

      What do you think of Hotel Monterey? If you like it, do you get it?

  8. "The term comes straight from the world of international soccer."

    Somerby thinks that occasionally talking about sports nullifies his four years at Harvard and makes him a regular guy. Wittgenstein would not agree.

  9. Here are three pieces right at the front of google, commemorating the Ten Year Annversary Of Kanye Saying That George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People!

    It’s easy to take comments that are unexpected, or seemingly out of character, as being brilliant, simply because they are daring, challenging to stereotypes, or (the biggest factor) they tickle our politics.

    That’s bad judgment. At the time it causes us to be less cautious of any danger signs.

    When it comes to Kanye, both right and left got a lesson.

    1. That was one of the greatest live television moments I have ever seen.

    2. Not surprising.

      Taylor Swift has ex- boy friends who have been slyly referenced in her lyrics.

      They think that Kanye’s best moment was announcing that she didn’t deserve her award.

    3. Kanye is a dork.

    4. Kanye is capable of saying both true and false things. Why is that surprising? Kanye is another narcissist who doesn't care whether he gets negative or positive attention, as long as he gets attention. So what?

      Laziness is involved too. It is easier to get attention by saying outrageous things than by writing more good music, actually being a successful businessman in Trump's case, or doing the work to write a blog that actually analyzes anything or being a standup comedian with funny jokes resulting from new ways of looking at life.

      Somerby is old now. When we get old, we lose the capacities we had at younger ages (to a greater or lesser extent). If Somerby can no longer do what he did 20 years ago, no one blames him. But when he lies and attacks the things he used to value, it is time for him to hang up his pen and find a new way to get attention. He is doing active harm here with the crap he now writes.

    5. Anonymouse 22:42pm, making you angry by criticizing both political parties and by sharing his doubts about particular books and movies that are acclaimed (the first mentioned action being what motives your bitter response to the second) certainly does not qualify as “active harm” to the public.

    6. Kanye needs to take his medication.

    7. I am not "bitter." I am concerned about the well-being of other people and worried about the fate of our planet and our society. I have no vested interest in any of the books or films Somerby attacks, nor does he. Is real target is the idea of expertise -- that some people know more than others do about certain subjects (the ones they have studied). Undermining expertise is part of the right wing agenda, their toolkit for misleading voters. You are being duped by Somerby. He used to call his readers "rubes." Google it.

    8. Somerby is harmless. Very few people read this blog.

    9. “He used to call his readers "rubes." Google it.”

      This sentence is the most revealing thing in your post.

      He also used to mimic the extravagant coying affection/affectation of 19th century novelists by calling his readers “dearest darlings”.

      Get real.

    10. Words matter. What can you possibly mean when you say "get real" as if what Somerby said has no meaning?

    11. Reality matters too. Get real.

    12. Somerby's grandfather, Rufus Somerby, used to pretend to be an expert while presenting moving panoramas on various topics (such as arctic exploration) as part of touring stage shows and circuses. That may be where Somerby acquired the idea that experts are all phonies. His grandfather was one.

      Having a lense from childhood that sees anyone standing on a stage as a fraud, an entertainer with no real expertise, might cause someone to see even politicians, professors, authors and journalists, as pretenders of one kind or another, conning the rubes in a social carnival act.

      That doesn't make such a view true, of course. But it would explain Somerby's attitude toward those who claim to know things.

      There is a clip of Somerby's comedy act circulating on the internet. In it, he talks about a product called Blue Cornflakes, which are made from the blue corn grown by Hopis (a tribe of Native Americans in Arizona). Somerby calls them an extinct tribe. Someone in the audience may have objected because he backtracks and calls them nearly extinct. Are they?

      Today, Hopis inhabit a reservation surrounded by the Navajo nation, in northeastern Arizona (near the Grand Canyon). It is 2532 square miles (1.5 million acres). There are 19,318 members of the tribe as of the 2010 census, a number that is increasing not decreasing.

      Does Somerby care whether he is factually correct in his comedy routine? Not so much -- at least he didn't bother to check his facts. Professors and other knowledge workers DO check their facts. Somerby uses incorrect facts to make jokes -- and this mistake is not even germane to his humor, except that he wants to minimize the importance of the Hopis as nutritional role models. Funnier that way.

      It seems unsurprising that Somerby would now be similarly disparages the idea that facts exist and that people on stages are not all clowns, like he and his grandfather were. But is that true? Trump may not care whether he lies or tells the truth but is that true also of Biden? Not so much. If there is a clown/professor dichotomy among those speaking to the public, Somerby inhabits the former and he routinely attacks those who inhabit the latter space.

      In the battle to protect truth, I side with those who believe that truth not only exists, but it matters. That doesn't include Somerby.

      See his performance here:

    13. point to the doll and show me where Bob hurt you

    14. "On our blue tribe's "cable news" channels, these usual suspects perform their standardized dances for Us."

      Doesn't that sound like the description of what Rufus Somerby did on stage? Or the kind of routine Somerby himself performed in his standup career? But he is actually describing journalists.

    15. @2:29 -- Cecelia complains when anonymous commenters don't use nyms, then conceals her own in order to make a mean remark.

      How do I know this is Cecelia? She is showing her trademark lack of empathy by making an unfunny reference to child sexual abuse.

      (Dolls are how the questioners of child victims used to get kids to tell them where they were inappropriately touched or otherwise molested. Cecelia thinks this is a big joke, in the context of the right wing calling everyone pedophiles and implying that teachers are grooming kids for sexual abuse.

      Ha ha ha ha so funny!!!

      I'll bet Somerby doesn't think it is funny, having been a male teacher, who always must think about whether he might be accused by some confused child or over-protective parent, for something he didn't do. He quite before the 1990s, the heyday of the accusations against men who worked with children, now being revived by the right wing.

      Hysteria over sex and hysteria over harming children -- that's a twofer that is hard to beat for raising fears among right wingers with suppressed urges.

      Ha ha ha ha, so funny Cecelia!

    16. See what I mean.

      If Somerby called himself a Reaganite tomorrow, this craziness would not stop.

    17. Anonymouse 2:28pm, yet another rebuttal of something I have never implied.

    18. As if, get real, fuck off.

    19. So your favorite movie is Clueless.


    20. I was quoting YOU, except for the Fuck Off part, which doesn't exist in the movie Clueless (a teen movie).

    21. You know”get real” is a way of saying f-off …till you can get real.

    22. And you are still here. Go away.

    23. "Somerby uses incorrect facts to make jokes -- and this mistake is not even germane to his humor, except that he wants to minimize the importance of the Hopis as nutritional role models. Funnier that way."

      The Hopis as nutritional role models?

      You ever been there? You'd be surprised at what you saw.

      So he was joking -- about people's fantasy perceptions of the tribe. He wasn't mocking the tribe itself.

      Do some of you people here ever GET it?

  10. Taibbi got shadowbanned.

  11. Still waiting on Bob's favorite movies

    1. Do you really want him to discuss Blue Crush again?

    2. I do in fact want a trip down Daily Howler memory lane. Been reading this blog for a long time and Bob's idiosyncratic tastes often tickle me, but for instance I had forgotten about Blue Crush!

    3. There was an OK movie called “In America” where a cute kid lives next store to a kindly black man. Bob
      really went crazy for that film.
      Way back then it didn’t seem

    4. He used the father’s description of his depression to revile various reporters he disliked. That stinks.

    5. I’d like to read that.

      Any word that you remember that may generate a link?

    6. “Jim Sheridan” works, in the TDH search box for the new blog.

  12. I forget, but when exactly did this become a blog in which Somerby bloviates about works of literature, film, philosophy, science, etc., about which he manifestly knows nothing and about which he manifestly has made no effort to know anything? When, in short, did he decide to become a walking, talking embodiment of Richard Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life? Just wondering.

    1. Evidently, in the mid to late 1990s.

      You’re welcome.

    2. Cecelia, wrong as usual. This blog started in 1998 (according to Wikipedia) and it was pretty good for a long time, back when Somerby was still liberal and paid some attention to politics.

    3. I’m not wrong 2:55pm. That was time his focus broadened from the perfidies of Republicans as he began to see the media and professional liberals as they are.

      Since then, he has been less than optimistic about our future as a country.

      That has been more than a bit prescient.

    4. @3:09 -- In other words, you didn't understand the question. This blog didn't exist in the mid-90s. The question asks when the blog changed. How could it change in the mid-90s when it didn't exist then?

      "...when exactly did this become a blog in which..."

    5. From April 1, 1998:

      "It would be easy enough for a cynic to say that Benedetto had deliberately misquoted Maraniss--that he had deliberately snipped out only part of his view, and thereby misrepresented what the biographer had said. In this view, Benedetto would have been looking for a negative quote, and would have found the makings of one in the passage we cite. So he simply decided to shorten up what “Clinton’s biographer” had said, to reinforce his own negative judgment!

      But of course, that would be an ascription of motive, which we try to avoid at THE HOWLER. So we decided that we’d simply get off a letter to USA TODAY, with our permission to print it for the newspaper’s readers. Surely the paper would want its readers to what David Maraniss had actually said, and to share a good laugh at the way Benedetto had absent-mindedly printed--under Maraniss’ name!--exactly the type of characterization that Maraniss had said would mislead us!

      We faxed off our missive early yesterday morning, after our exhaustive research procedures were done. We’ll let you know when the USA TODAY editors reprint our note for their readers. But in the meantime, here’s our letter, for DAILY HOWLER readers to preview:

      THE DAILY HOWLER Building Baltimore, Maryland 21217 April 1, 1998

      Letters Editor USA TODAY

      To the editor:

      In his March 30 column, Richard Benedetto writes, of President Clinton: “Clinton biographer David Maraniss described him as ‘too eager to please and prone to deception.’ ”

      We thought your readers might want to read what Maraniss actually said, on page 355 of his acclaimed book First in His Class:

      With Bill Clinton, it is often tempting, but usually misleading, to try to separate the good from the bad, to say that the part of him that is indecisive, too eager to please and prone to deception, is more revealing of the inner man than the part of him that is indefatigable, intelligent, empathetic, and self- deprecating. They co-exist.
      In his selective quotation, Benedetto does exactly what Maraniss says is “usually misleading” with Clinton--he calls attention to the negative and fails to mention the positive. He also misrepresents what Maraniss said. There is a part of Bill Clinton that is “prone to deception?” Maybe the same could be said of some journalists.
      Yours truly,

      Bob Somerby
      Managing Editor, Quote Verification Department

      NOTE: We always jazz up our letters with innuendo about motive. Editors love it, because it stirs up debate.

      Postscript (1 May 1998): Wierd! Our letter still hasn’t been published..."

      This is why we all used to enjoy Somerby's blog.

      Notice that he is not attacking Maraniss or Clinton, but Benedetto, the guy who made the error. Today, this error would be used as an excuse to blame the entire press corps, and there would be mention of whether Benedetto is black and which Ivy League school he attended, graduation date included.

      Note the thorough research Somerby did to verify the quote, and notice his follow through by informing the NYTimes of the error! That is the old Somerby. Today, Somerby would be taking Benedetto's place and making the error, not fixing it. And Clinton would be described as deeply flawed, or some such.

      Ah, nostalgia!

    6. Correction, USA Today not the NY Times (Somerby's later nemesis, which is more recently the Washington Post).

    7. Anonymouse 3:25pm, I didn’t give an answer to the request for a “exact number”. I obviously gave a range of dates from the mid to late ‘90s.

      The exact number is well within that range.


    8. Cecelia, this almost saves your bacon except that the comment asked when Somerby changed. To do that he has to go from one way of writing to another. That means he didn't "change" in 1998, when his blog first appeared, but at some later time. I think it was considerably later than when he first started, perhaps after 2010, but I would have to go back and read to figure that out.

      But it cannot be any of the dates you suggested, since starting in 1998 gives him only 2 years to make such a change in focus and we know he didn't do that because he was still defending Gore and the Clintons in 2000, well past your range of dates.

      I suggest reading your comments before clicking on Publish. It might save you occasional embarrassment -- or maybe you don't care when you say something foolish -- but in that case why be so defensive?

    9. Anonymouse 3:38pm, it was a good blog.

      The only difference I see is that Somerby might be less inclined to take the time to write a letter.

      That’s just a guess.

      Somerby was emotionally invested in the administration that was shared by a friend. At that date, Bob and Gore had been friends since the late ‘60s.

      That, and the continued corruption of the media could explain why he may be less inclined to do (or to share with his readers) that sort of action.

    10. Here is a Daily Howler post from Jan 4, 2010:

      "The column appeared on January 2, written by Kevin Huffman, who won the newspaper’s recent, kitschy contest to be “America’s Next Great Pundit.” Note: Inside D.C. journalistic circles, it can be a fairly small world. Huffman is the former husband of Michelle Rhee, chancellor of D.C.’s public schools. The Post has been an aggressive supporter of Rhee’s proposals for Washington’s schools.

      We don’t necessarily disagree with anything Huffman proposed in his piece, though his third proposal for public schools did strike us as odd. “Finally, parents need to take the reins,” Huffman wrote. “There are about 50 million children in U.S. public schools, and their parents can and should win every political battle.” But do “parents” agree about every such battle? In the cases where parents do agree, will they always be right?

      Huffman’s third proposal struck us as odd. But like that New York Times letter writer, Huffman advanced some set-in-stone conventional wisdom, this time about the best ways to improve public schools. No, his claims aren’t necessarily “wrong;” we’d agree with some of his basic views. But was his opening gambit misleading?

      HUFFMAN (1/2/10): Ten years ago, deep in the Rio Grande Valley, two 23-year-old Teach for America teachers opened an after-school tutoring program. Through sheer force of will, the program became a public charter school, housed on the second floor of a local church. Eventually, that school became a cluster of 12 schools, serving kids from Colonias—communities so impoverished that some lack potable water.

      IDEA College Prep graduated its first high school class in 2007 with 100 percent of the seniors headed to college. Last month, U.S. News and World Report ranked it number 13 among America's public high schools.

      For decades now, we have seen these magical stories presented in service to preferred reform strategies. Newspapers like the Washington Post have always loved such inspiring tales. (Remember when the Post ran that inspiring, top-of-page-one story about a school which turned out to have the second-lowest reading score in the whole state of Virginia?) We think these papers would better serve the public interest if they ramped down the novelizing a bit and crammed a few more facts into their inspiring stories. But alas! The novelized claims of various movements drive large chunks of our public discourse. The estate tax taxes your money twice! And: Public school success is a snap if you follow these three simple rules!

      The public interest would be better served if newspapers challenged familiar old bromides. But that would be a different world from the world in which we all live."

      Notice that Somerby has started attributing one journalist's behavior to the entire press and notice he is now talking about how American discourse runs and how politics operate, as if one example characterized everyone. He does that now too, but not when he first started.

      Notice also that he says he agrees with some of Hoffman's ideas but doesn't say which, and that he is not necessarily wrong. He stops short of calling Hoffman a good and decent person. That came after 2010. The focus is on a misleading fact left out of Hoffman's argument. So there is still an actual Howler involved. Somerby has complained about school success stories all along, insisting that they need to be investigated because Rhee inflated her success. Does that make all such stories suspect? In Somerby's world, a tendency that has gotten worse with time. But Somerby isn't yet pimping for Republicans.

    11. Hoffman = Huffman

    12. Anonymouse 3:50am, my bacon ain’t threatened.

      This is a tactic that is used to suggest “what else has she been wrong about”.

      Lots and lots of things, sugar bear.

      Somerby is obsessive about what happened to Clinton during the Starr era. That is when he started changing.

      Changes don’t generally happen overnight. It was a progression that could well have started before he started blogging and was the impetus to his desire to blog.

      Correcting the media seems to have started from jump. hmmmmm…

    13. OK, here is one from January 2015, and I would say that Somerby has changed:

      "The way the public gets conned: This morning’s Washington Post helps us see the way the public gets conned.

      We get to see the way the chimps pimp their “scandals” along. We see the way the public gets affected by all their flinging of poo.

      But first, let’s discuss the dueling anonymous sources who seem to be involved in the story the chimps have agreed to call “Deflategate.”

      To our eye, a pair of dueling Anonymous Sources seem to be involved in this story.

      The first of these Anonymous Sources has been pushing claims which make the Patriots look guilty of breaking NFL rules. The second of these Anonymous Sources responds by contradicting or amplifying the claims made by the first source."

      Notice that the public is being conned and there is poo flinging. Somerby ignorantly excoriated sources that are anonymous in the paper but not to the journalists, repeating a right-wing meme. That isn't the way a responsible media critic writes. It is the way a propagandist writes.

      Here is one from January 2013:
      "Black and Hispanic kids, playing national championship chess—and out of their age division! We wish more people got to see and hear about things like that.

      In one way, that good news story was echoed in this morning's in this morning's horrible news report.

      Last week, Hadiya Pendleton, 15 years old, performed at President Obama’s inaugural as part of the majorette team from Chicago's King College Prep. On Tuesday, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park at 2 in the afternoon. Her assailant was apparently shooting at rival gang members, or thought he was doing so."

      Somerby first describes Kristol's report of a championship chess team from a largely Hispanic and black school, then describes a tragic bystander shooting of a young black girl. The point of his comparison is that the press rarely focuses on achievements of black kids but more often on the gaps in achievement. He urges the press to write about the chess teams.

      Somerby has more recently chastised the press when it writes about black achievements, considering these standard feel-good stories that are not real but cause false hope about black success. Somerby also never writes about gun control these days. He would today have focused on the author of the second report (which he calls horrible because of what happened, not the journalism), listing race, gender and date of graduation. Yaccino is the author's name, but Somerby talks about the refusal to recognize that black test scores have risen. That is the old Somerby. The new one talks about the intransigence of the gaps and the failure to note them.

    14. Here is a Somerby essay from January 31, 2014:

      "A look at that recent report: In Wednesday morning’s New York Times, Kate Zernike reported on the way the Christie political team—

      In truth, we aren’t entirely sure what she did report. To read her report, click here.

      In an earlier post, we chuckled at the way Zernike included detailed floor plans for the New Jersey State House. Beyond that, we’ll have to admit that her piece struck us a mouse that hadn’t roared.

      Others saw it differently. Chris Matthews frothed on Hardball that night. In a much more serious vein, Kevin Drum saw more than we did in Zernike’s piece.

      We don’t know what will turn out to be true about the lane closings in Fort Lee. We could imagine it flat or imagine it round. In our view, investigations exist to answer such questions.

      Drum seemed to think that Zernike moved the ball forward. We pretty much didn’t. Here’s why:"

      Somerby goes through a detailed analysis of the evidence provided by Zernike and Drum's statements and never once calls Zernike a good decent person (or Drum either). He doesn't give us her age, her alma mater, his ethnicity, her years on the paper, nothing ad hominem. It is all focused on the facts and the reporting. That is the old Somerby, not the new one where it would be implied that her Ivy League education and youth were destroying journalism. Somerby is mainly concerned with whether he agrees with Drum or not, on the facts reported. That is media analysis.

      Here is one from December 17, 2014, from a series called The Empathy Files:

      "What was “wrong” with Kristof’s journalism on this heartwarming occasion? So many things that we won’t be able to examine them today.

      For today, we’ll only say this. In our view, Kristof’s column was simple-minded in many ways, some of which we haven’t even mentioned.

      This column was also perfectly built to divide the nation’s tribes—to drive a wedge between groups of people who bring different instinctive reactions to stories of this type. In our view, it’s easy to fashion a column like this—and it tends to make it harder for the nation’s warring tribes to come together to fashion improvements in the society’s practices.

      What makes this column so thoroughly simple-minded? Tomorrow, we’ll look at the way Kristof takes us back to the 1970s—back to a set of simplistic, simple-minded bromides which helped create a conservative era the last time they were bruited about by lazy thinkers from within our own liberal tribe.

      Kristof is a former Rhodes Scholar from Harvard. In our view, it’s very hard to discern these facts from his lazy, unhelpful work."

      Here is the modern Somerby. He disparages Kristof and lists his background. He rejects the story as narrative and feel-good scripting and he says this is what our tribe, blue liberals want to hear. He is skeptical of the details without evidence and claims that Kristof is pleasuring NY Times readers. These are the themes Somerby repeats today.

      In comments, deadrat says: "As soon as TDH explains what he thinks is divisive about these kind of stories, I might get a clue as to what point he's trying to make. "

      To date, Somerby has not explained any of this, and that is part of what differentiates the current Somerby from his past. He used to explain his statements. Now he doesn't.

      Note that this was a tear-jerking story. It seems likely that his emotional reaction is important to his different style in approaching such stories. The key to his change may be that he now responds more emotionally to stories that used to be political to him.

    15. "When, in short, did he decide to become a walking, talking embodiment of Richard Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life? Just wondering."

      You have GOT to be kidding. You ever read that book? You do know that Hof. was a bit of a conservative too, don't you? He wasn't talking about people who think like Bob Somerby.

  13. Anonymouse 4:03pm, does it puzzle you why, that in his blogging, Somerby has consistently been on the back of the media. You loved it then.

    He has stayed consistent in this, but now you spend your time defending journos and media corps.

    What gives?

    1. I love it when he does it based on facts and focused on the writing, not the person doing the writing. I love it when he used to support his claims with examples and evidence taken from the source he was criticizing (or other relevant sources). I was here because I am interested in both politics and media. But Somerby doesn't do that any more.

      As near as I can tell, he changed sometime between Jan and Dec 2014, when he started referring to tribes and claiming that liberals were being tribal in ways that would hurt us politically. In the example above, a story about a white victim who defends her black attacker is consider by Somerby to drive a wedge between tribes. Without explanation of why that should be so.

      Trump formally announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015. It may be that Somerby changed his reactions to politics and media around that time and then shortly afterward became enamored of Trump, perhaps due to some emotion-related change in either his life or his health. Or it may be that Somerby was recruited ahead of Trump's announcement in order to provide support for his soon to be announced campaign.

      Note that this is a random sampling using date, not content, to look at Somerby's writing style and content. It is not comprehensive because time does not permit. Someone with time could do this properly. But the changes I did notice are suggestive.

    2. Anonymouse 4:42pm, TDH always gives sources and evidence. The blog gives links which anonymice posts show they have ignored.

      As Somerby not going after a writer, did you even read this?:

      “In truth, we aren’t entirely sure what she did report. To read her report, click here.

      In an earlier post, we chuckled at the way Zernike included detailed floor plans for the New Jersey State House. Beyond that, we’ll have to admit that her piece struck us a mouse that hadn’t roared.”

      You think that not stating her age and alma mater makes this less critical of the performance of a journalist?

      Accounting for that info makes him seem softer hearted

      I am not arguing that Somerby hasn’t changed over the years. Im sure he has. Sure if it. The world has.

      His tribe has. We all have.

      Often in ways that he predicted.

    3. Here is in 2004 complaining liberals were being tribal in ways that would hurt them politically.

    4. As I said, Somerby uses an analysis of her support for her argument, not ad hominems to criticize her. If you don't understand this distinction, look up the phrase "ad hominem".

    5. @5:41 -- It looks like Somerby is objecting to the press characterizing right wingers as hypocrites and racists and sexists. It appears that Somerby's objections to being called out on bigotry goes back a ways. He apparently has been talking about Bill Clinton's admiration for the Pentecostals for a long time too. Clinton's autobiography, My Life, came out in June 2004, and that is where the description of his admiration of the Pentecostals comes from.

      Notice how, instead of ranting against liberals, Somerby quotes and responds to several emails. Finally he says:

      "Final note, and now we’re making it easy: Dems who might prefer to win don’t have to agree with those who complained. They just have to consider the possibility that those who complained about the promo aren’t racist, or sexist, or hypocritical, and may not be a gang of skank, lying sleazeballs. Of course, this would rob them of the world’s oldest rush—the feeling of tribal superiority. Yes, they get to retain their pose—but it may mean that they’ve been born to lose."

      This is entirely consistent with his theme about why the left should not call out the right for bigotry and that does seem to be an ongoing theme, but now it is discussed less with respect to actual left wing behavior and more as a caricature of our supposed tribalness (always with the left the tribe and the right the victims). He is considerably more details and more articulate in those days, but weren't we all?

    6. Somerby calls out the right: "yes they get to retain their pose [hypocrisy]-- but it may mean that they've been born to lose. I don't hear him saying anything negative about the right's bigotry these days, at all.

    7. Here's a column from 2020 full of details and articulations.

      It's one of hundreds that fit that description. Someone made a complaint that he doesn't criticize the media based on facts and focused on the writing, not the person doing the writing and doesn't support his claims with examples and evidence anymore.

      Which is a false claim.

    8. Anonymouse 5:50pm, you have no problem with Somerby saying that he finds no relevance in a journalist’s report (not ad hominem), but find his later reporting of age and alma mater to be ad hominem (not ad hominem).

      You need to look up that definition.

    9. You said ad hominem twice, exactly the same way, saying “not” the second time. That is incoherent.

    10. How is it incoherent to say that two things are NOT ad hominem attacks?

      The anonymouse thinks that mentioning a reporter’s age and alma mater is an ad hominem attack.

      Ostensively, she thinks this because youth and a degree from a non-elite school would prejudice the readers.

      However, experience and education are elements of professional credentials.

      (It’s interesting to see an anonymouse find that element of expertise to be superfluous.)

      This was not ad hominem.

      On the other hand (and this is assuming the anonymouse actually read the piece she copied, rather than just having scanned for something by a female reporter), stark criticism of the jouno’s skill in reporting the matter (skill, not disagreements over what were facts) was impersonal and was not ad hominem.

      She is correct in not finding this to be as hominem ( it was not a personal attack), but this take (a correct one) reveals her stance on what she does
      find as an ad hominem as the result of some very jumbled thinking.

      Then she tells me to head to a dictionary.

    11. ad hominem definition -- "(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining"

      In the first instance Somerby is attacking her reporting, saying he didn't think she made her case. That is the "position they are maintaining" and thus not an ad hominem.

      In the second instance Somerby is attacking the reporter's age and the school she went to. That is an attack directed at the person, not her arguments. The reporter has no control over and cannot change her age or the school she attended (after the fact). That is an ad hominem attack.

      You, Cecelia, insist that neither of the things Somerby said were ad hominems. You either did not look up the definition or you didn't understand it (the morely explanation).

      And you blather on and on and on, even when you are wrong and everyone can see that you are wrong. What a huge crushing bore you are.

    12. Typo: morely = more likely

    13. "...then shortly afterward became enamored of Trump, perhaps due to some emotion-related change in either his life or his health...."

      The idea that Bob Somerby became enamored of Trump is totally nuts.

      Really, come on people. Drop this weird obsession of him. Do some of you guys get paid money for all this wacky abuse?

  14. Cecelia paints a distorted picture of the
    blog’s history (surprise, surprise).
    Even when Bob did claim the press
    was spinning down the drain on
    Clinton/Gore his overall take was
    that Fox may have been bad, but
    the travesty was only made possible
    by the deliberate distortions of
    “liberal” outlets like the Times and
    The Post. He also centered on the
    echo chamber aspect of the press
    and how they followed each other’s
    false premises based on shared
    distortions. He did NOT ignore Fox
    but would occasionally defend them.
    He liked Marlee Marlin, whatever
    happened to her. He gave a lot
    of attention to “Hardball”, which
    almost everyone has forgotten,
    was a lazy and obnoxious Clinton
    hating show.
    Occasionally he would delve into
    the arts with disastrous results…
    He went to absurd lengths defending
    Mel Gibson’s Jesus movie, insisting
    he could see nothing Jew baiting
    about it. When Gibson was revealed
    as a frothing at the mouth Jew hater,
    Bob simply dropped the subject. A
    major flaw that keeps Bob mediocre
    is he never reassesses anything or
    admits he got something wrong.
    I guess what doomed Bob to
    becoming the sad figure that has
    emerged is that over time it was
    Christ like compassion for the worst
    of the right, truly hateful vitriol for
    the left. It’s as if Bob learned about
    the teachings of Christ from Mel
    Gibson’s film.
    With the gutter the Right has slid
    into,Bob can no longer even comment
    really about the truth. He can only
    gloat when Trump pulls off some
    petty victory, and put on the blinders
    for the rest.

    1. In other words, Joyce Kilmer, YOU don’t think he has ever changed an iota.

    2. You really should stop telling other people what they think.

    3. Huh? Now you make no sense. He who? Told us what?

    4. For goodness sakes, can you bother to read what Robert Frost has written?

      The blog started in 1998. Clinton was embroiled in the Lewinsky investigation.

      From The Bard:

      “Cecelia paints a distorted picture of the
      blog’s history (surprise, surprise).
      Even when Bob did claim the press
      was spinning down the drain on
      Clinton/Gore his overall take was
      that Fox may have been bad, but
      the travesty was only made possible
      by the deliberate distortions of
      “liberal” outlets like the Times and
      The Post. He also centered on the
      echo chamber aspect of the press
      and how they followed each other’s
      false premises based on shared
      distortions. He did NOT ignore Fox
      but would occasionally defend them.”

      In other words, folks— In 1998, Bob was doing all the stuff that you daily come here to chide him over NOW.

      Go on read the rest of it.

      Bob has been pissing off this anonymice from jump till now.

    5. You have forgotten what this discussion was about, if you ever understood it in the first place. The question was when Somerby became a shill for Republicans. It certainly wasn't from day 1. You made a stupid remark about it being before the blog even started and now you keep trying to defend your initial stupidity. Stop digging yourself a deeper hole, you idiot.

    6. Anonymouse 10:26am, I haven’t forgotten the question, you’ve merely rejected my answer.

      That doesn’t matter. I’m not wrong. It’s not a mathematical question.

      Somerby’s departure from anonymouse approval started when he began to see the media and the chattering class in general for the stuff-n-nonsense artists that they are.

      That happened during Lewinsky and he became progressively more critical of the culture.


    7. "That happened during Lewinsky and he became progressively more critical of the culture."

      Yeah 'culture'. Reporting Lewinsky's age off a few weeks and making fun of Demigod Al's pomposity is positively unforgivable.

      ...while well-organized/coordinated russiagate hoax, that's just an unfortunate episode.
      ...and massive brain-dead election fraud denialism is perfectly fine...

    8. C'mon. Bob wasn't always a Right-wing douchebag. That's the character he morphed into about 8-10 years ago.

    9. Lewinsky was during Clinton's terms in office, which ended in 2000. Somerby started his blog in 1998. It is not the case that Somerby was promoting right wing memes and castigating liberals in 1998-2000. I posted excerpts to show that you can go back and see the difference.

      You are incorrect that Somerby has always been like this, since the beginning of his blog. Go back and look. Meanwhile, you are incorrect about when Somerby transitioned into his current incarnation but you keep insisting you are not. That is not only frustrating, but it makes you look like a complete asshole.

      @12:04 is closer than you are Cecelia. It does seem to me, having done the work of going back and reading his blog at various time periods, that the change became noticeable about 8 years ago, just about when Trump came on the scene, but slightly preceding Trump.

      What are the changes: (1) less research and more laziness, (2) accusations without evidence, (3) use of idiosyncratic insults aimed at his own readers, (4) claims that the left has been driving away voters, (5) criticisms based on thinly disguised right wing memes circulating contemporaneously among right wing pundits and blogs, (6) increased bigotry via attacking school integration, making negative remarks about success of black students, focus on negative remarks about black cable hosts and journalists, denigration of black figures, defense of police who have shot unarmed black people, blaming the left for support of BLM, CRT, indigenous people, and so on, (7) increased misogyny via attacking Chanel Miller, supporting Roy Moore, attacking Hillary and Kamala, attacking the gender pay gap, me too, and similar women's issue; (8) increased favorable remarks and quotes from right wing figures such as David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan, saying that liberals should watch Fox because they have better facts over there, (9) excusing Trump and Tucker Carlson and other right wing figures as mentally ill, calling for journalists to investigate mental health issues of candidates, something that cannot happen, (10) increased asperity and use of negative language against the left, worsening name-calling against a variety of left targets, (11) negative remarks against expertise and knowledge, attacks on Einstein and Godel and any experts, criticism of those with college degrees for being educated; (12) explicit attacks on democracy, first against Biden for his call to defend our system and most recently against voting as part of our democratic system.

      None of this is liberal. Somerby did make liberal statements back in 1998-2000. It is not clear when he stopped, but the active promotion of right wing issues, people and memes, has been going on at least since Trump was nominated, a time when Somerby attacked Trump's competitors for the nomination and did not support Hillary.

      Cecelia, you do not know what you are talking about. Please stop defending a statement that has been debunked, that Somerby has always been the guy he is now. It simply isn't true.

    10. What is "liberal" then? How does one learn what constitutes what is liberal?


    11. Liberal is someone who believes in wimmin trapped in men's bodies.

    12. ...also, anyone who calls a pedo "minor-attracted person"...

    13. What is liberal? Start with Wikipedia:

      "Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law. Liberals espouse various views depending on their understanding of these principles."

      Somerby is not liberal because he doesn't support civil rights, he thinks the left is too woke, he objects to concerns about racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia, he doesn't support feminism or women's issues and in fact expresses bigotry himself, which is opposed to individual liberty and equal treatment under the law. He routinely supports police over the rights of unarmed individuals shot by them. He is unconcerned about vote suppression. He is unconcerned about mistreatment of immigrants. He is opposed to the education of the populace which is the foundation of our participatory democracy (consent of the governed above).

      Oh, and he doesn't support Democratic candidates for office. The closest he has ever come, besides complaining about Al Gore's loss, has been to say he might vote for Bernie (who is a Democratic Socialist, not a liberal). There is probably more to say about why Somerby is not liberal, but this should do for starters.

    14. Where do we all go to be judged about how much we concern and support we have for these issues of which you speak? How is the concern and support measured? Who does the measuring?

    15. Idiot posts a broad open ended definition of liberalism and then goes on to make a list of baseless, subjective claims that don't have anything to do with the definition. What a loser.

    16. 4:13 is not a liberal. They are a pseudo liberal who can't stand any dissent from the hive mind.

    17. None of that makes Somerby liberal. His own words impeach him.

    18. Thanks for letting us know psycho pseudo liberal loser troll.

    19. Who are Somerby’s defenders here? Yes, they are trolls, but who pays them to post these one-line non-arguments maligning those critical of Somerby? Yes, they are perhaps bots, but who would bother doing this substanceless commenting in support of Somerby, someone with a feeble, lightly read blog? If Somerby has no influence, why does he have so many fleas?

    20. "Somerby’s departure from anonymouse approval started when he began to see the media and the chattering class in general for the stuff-n-nonsense artists that they are.

      That happened during Lewinsky and he became progressively more critical of the culture."

      You're absolutely right, Cece. Some of these people here are nuts. I can't figure out who they're getting Bob S confused with. Their fathers, maybe?

      They certainly aren't reading him. And for them to spend more than about 50 or 60 words rebutting him for ANY reason is also a sign of an odd pathology.

      It's getting kind of scary, actually.

  15. “If we the people were ever told that Jeanne Dielman now ranks as the world's greatest film, Tucker Carlson would enjoy a good solid laugh at the expense of these usual suspects.”

    You mean, “liberal” film critics mustn’t pick a movie that they like for fear the “disordered child” (Carlson) will make fun of them? What kind of world do we live in where not only does Carlson get a platform to spew his bullshit, but also a self-professed liberal chides, not Carlson, but Carlson’s targets?

    I suppose Carlson “laughing” at transgender or gay people means they ought to shut up, or “laughing” at pro-choice means women should shut up, etc.

    It’s a pernicious idea.

    And, by the way, Carlson doesn’t “laugh” at anything. He attacks and mocks.

    And he is himself a cosseted elite. Is he also ridiculous? Somerby likes to overlook that fact.

    1. I can absolutely guarantee you that most of these liberal fans of that movie hadn't even heard of it 10 years ago. Or not even five.

      JD got no theater release in this country when it first came out (a couple of days at Film Forum in the 80s). So almost all of them are frauds. It was super-obscure for years and years, and it's still misunderstood by most viewers.

      Ackerman btw detested the "feminist" label in the way it was always being used towards JD. She resented the pigeonholing.

  16. Anonymouse 12:51pm: “Please stop defending a statement that has been debunked, that Somerby has always been the guy he is now. It simply isn't true.”

    End quote…

    Anonymouse 12:51pm, please stop distorting what I have said and typing paragraph after paragraph fencing at windmills.

    I haven’t claimed that Bob is the same guy that he was when he began TDH.

    I said that the anonymouse 6:08pm essentially stated this in his “even when Bob was doing this reasonable thing, he mitigated it by doing this unreasonable thing”.

    My contention was/is that Bob started blogging because of what was going on in the media with the Clinton Admin.

    I repeatedly stated that change is a process. If that process had started before he was blogging (I think that is the case.) and had been the impetus for blogging, the change would have taken place over time. It would have occurred incrementally and it would have taken time before anonymices started growing anxious over his disquieting heretical remarks.

    At some point, it ticked off someone or several someones enough that they and their groupies went to war.

    Here we are, with you tilting away in long winded posts full of distortions, appeals to authority, and self-referential declarations.

    It’s hurting your health and it has aged you and you have noticed that.

    This sort intense animus invariably will make you its victim.