Anti-Conspiracy Theorist

I’ve got a bit of a Somerby fixation, I admit, but it is interesting to watch him try to wiggle out of writing what’s apparently, for him, the world’s  most difficult declarative sentence: “Rachel Maddow was right.”

In today’s installment, he first entertains the idea that there really was a traffic study. The target of his piece, Chris Matthews, is certainly worthy of whatever scorn he gets as punishment for inventing the “Tip and Ronnie” meme, but in this case even a stopped Tweety clock is right twice a day, as Kevin Drum points out in a thorough debunking.

Since he can’t go after Maddow for Bridgegate, he’s decided that her latest sin is being too hard on Governor Bob “Ultrasound” McDonnell. He calls her a “genuine nut” for spending a fair amount of time on her program detailing the (in his mind) petty crimes of Mr & Mrs McDonnell, while she should apparently be decrying prosecutorial overreach because they could be facing decades of jail and a million dollar fine.

Two things on that. First, we have yet to plumb the depths of how grotesque those two really are, but today we learned that the Mister rejected a plea bargain that would have gotten the Missus off the hook. These two people are really, really awful, and the awfulness is in the details. As far as I’m concerned, by exposing just how ugly they are, people might start to link the ugliness a law that torments women who want abortions with the ugliness of political corruption.  Maybe next time some political sociopath comes up with yet another way to fuck with women, people will wonder who else they’re fucking with.

Second, a few years in prison and financial ruin is a punishment given to thousands of minor felons every year. If it’s appropriate punishment for some small-time pot dealer or crack addict, it’s certainly what the McDonnells deserve for violating the public trust.

In Somerby’s honor, I put a new tag on this piece: Self-Hating Liberal.






138 replies
  1. 1
    Soprano2 says:

    That’s a good tag for Bob, for some reason he has a fixation on Rachel Maddow. He seems to hate her a lot, ostensibly because he thinks she could be so much better. I agree that her show could be improved, but in Bob’s eyes she can do almost nothing right, and he almost cannot admit she might be right about something or might be justified in the attention she paid to this matter. Somerby is good on education, but on everything else he’s a self-hating liberal.

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Dear SHL:

    Double phooey on people who say that Rachel should shut up. And on people who say that you should shut up, too. Phooey.

    I will, however, try to schedule some time to feel sorry for the McDonnells. How much time do you think I should pencil in?

  3. 3
    Jerzy Russian says:

    I thought jail is unpleasant so that people have some reason to obey the law in order to stay out. It is not like the governor was forced to carry out multiple acts of corruption against his will.

    Typo patrol: it’s certainly what the the McDonnells deserve (get rid of the double “the)”

  4. 4
    rk says:

    what does he have against Rachel Maddow? Also, is there some goldilocks position which she has to take where the amount of coverage has to be a perfect balance to satisfy Somerby.

  5. 5
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Linda Featheringill: How about “never”? Does “never” work for you?

  6. 6
    Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim says:

    I gave up on Somerby when it became clear that he thinks that if he can just purify himself enough, Al Gore will have been president.

  7. 7
    dmsilev says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I will, however, try to schedule some time to feel sorry for the McDonnells. How much time do you think I should pencil in?

    A few nanoseconds ought to be sufficient.

  8. 8
    Betty Cracker says:

    @rk: The durability of the fixation and level of bile suggest professional jealousy, but who knows? I like Maddow — a lot. Like virtually anyone with a high-profile gig and corporate overlords, she could do better. She dumbs it down sometimes, as does anyone who has to consider the lowest common denominator. But Somerby’s anti-Maddow jihad seems pathological.

    And while it’s true that he does highlight education issues and can be very informative on that topic, the timing is often…interesting. It reminds me of GOP scoundrels who resort to “won’t someone think of the chiiiillllldren” when they very much want us to STOP thinking of their recent activities. Or pro bono work to offset less savory projects.

  9. 9
    big ole hound says:

    The Gov and the wife should get “ultrasounds ” to check for hidden money in all cavities. She even looks like a wicked witch and he is the tin man.

  10. 10
    dpm (dread pirate mistermix) says:

    @Jerzy Russian: Thanks, typo fixed.

  11. 11
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Joey Maloney:
    @dmsilev:

    You’re both right. Geez! What crybabies!

    [“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”]

  12. 12
    Llelldorin says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I think I need help from Tiffany Aching here:

    At the end of the world is a great big mountain of granite rock a mile high. And every year, a tiny bird flies all the way to the rock and wipes its beak on it. Well, when the little bird has worn the mountain down to the size of a grain of sand…that’s the day I’ll feel sorry for the McDonnells.

  13. 13
    Dave says:

    It’s obvious we should feel upset for the McDonnells because they are the right kind of people and never thought they could go to jail. Jail if for minorities or low class people. Nobodies. Since the McDonnells aren’t nobodies and they clearly believed they had every right to do what they did then they are the actual victims here. After all it was just assumed that they would never be prosecuted so the likelihood of jail never entered their minds so it’s not fair that they could end up in jail. Won’t anyone think of the powerful?

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @Soprano2: He’s not a self hating liberal though, at all. He’s an liberal who hates liberals or rather a muckraker and political scold who doesn’t like other people horning into his business–if they are women.

  15. 15
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Llelldorin:

    :-)

  16. 16
    currants says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I think maybe if you take one second and keep dividing it in half, you’ll eventually get to the right amount.

  17. 17
    currants says:

    @Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim: love verb tenses.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    Add me to the chorus of people wondering what the hell happened to Bob. In the early years of George W Bush administration, he along with Kevin Drum, and Crooks and Liars were my first reads of the day.

    In other news, the freezing rain here in downtown Houston seemed to have stopped. Maybe civilization as we know it will survive.

  19. 19
    Culture of Truth says:

    I don’t get this guy. A recent Governor and his wife are indicted for corruption, and a political news show shouldn’t cover it? What should it be covering? Has it occurred to BS that whatever his pet issue is is not being addressed because of officials are responding to money rather than regular people? Eh, I don’t care. She has a good show, he doesn’t sound worth wasting a minute on.

  20. 20
    the Conster says:

    @Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim:

    When I read him, which is infrequently, his writing makes me picture him in a tiny damp room tightening his cilice.

  21. 21
    RSR says:

    A friend who lives and is active in politics in NJ told me that screwing around with traffic patterns is a long time tradition there.

    Calling it a ‘traffic study’ was not some deviously crafted misdirection such as ‘hiking the Appalachian Trail’ but simply a well known and often used bludgeon in NJ politics.

    In this case, I think the Ft Lee traffic study was a known option, waiting on the back burner, and when there was enough impetus, it was deployed against multiple targets.

    So, yes, the actors may have always been ready to call it a traffic study, but I don’t think that makes any less of a feint.

  22. 22
    Bobby Thomson says:

    He’s right that the taunting texts and emails after the fact don’t really prove anything. That could have been just gravy. But the lack of any coordination with anyone not in the Christie tent, and the denial of any information to those outsiders while this was going on, is very difficult to square with the “cackling over collateral damage to political enemies from an incompetently executed but genuine traffic study” explanation.

  23. 23
    sw says:

    Somerby is a complete dick. Always has been always will be. If you scratch the surface what you find is simply a blowhard railing in the service of his own contrarian prejudice. That this prejudice so often elides with a progressive perspective often makes him somewhat entertaining reading. But no more illuminating.

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    I agree that everyone should get their tenses right on this, but at this point I think it’s going too far to remain agnostic about whether the Fort Lee lane closures were ever part of a legitimate traffic study. If they were, we’d know it by now.

    This is what I wrote here weeks ago. It’s simple — if there was legit study — the Christie people would have produced it.

  25. 25
    YellowJournalism says:

    Before the McDonnells make any legal decisions, they should be forced to look at ultrasounds of their colons to learn how full of shit they each are.

  26. 26
    flukebucket says:

    the Mister rejected a plea bargain that would have gotten the Missus off the hook.

    I guess that explains that god-awful look she was giving him that I saw somewhere yesterday. She looked like she would have killed him herself if given the chance.

  27. 27
    Culture of Truth says:

    Creepy the way they keep calling it a “traffic safety study” as if they want to make crossing the bridge safer, rather than temporarily making it less safe.

  28. 28
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Culture of Truth: They can’t- It’s been classified.

  29. 29
    moonbat says:

    @YellowJournalism: Well played, sir. Well played.

  30. 30
    geg6 says:

    @aimai:

    Yes, this.

  31. 31
    Cacti says:

    And just a couple of short years ago, Christie and McDonnell were considered the rising stars of the GOP.

  32. 32
    mcfrank0 says:

    I stopped reading Sommersby when it becam obvious that his major criticism against liberals was that their priorities were not the same as his (Public Education). I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that, once upon a time, Rachel said something “wrong” about education/testing in public/charter schools and, for Bob, that torch is still burning.

  33. 33
    mcfrank0 says:

    I stopped reading Sommersby when it becam obvious that his major criticism against liberals was that their priorities were not the same as his (Public Education). I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that, once upon a time, Rachel said something “wrong” about education/testing in public/charter schools and, for Bob, that torch is still burning.

  34. 34
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @currants: Isn’t that a mood and not a tense? The subjunctive clause, that is.

  35. 35
    Chyron HR says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    It was a study of relative levels of safeness. What are you, some kinda genuine nut?

  36. 36
    scav says:

    @Cacti: They and all the other rising stars inability to attain escape velocity and maintain a stable orbit is beginning to rather wear a rut in the political mental map. “Oh. Look. Another one. More or less amusing than 9-9-9? >sigh< Reruns.”

  37. 37
    RSR says:

    @mcfrank0:Interesting point.

    I think Maddow has a pro-ed reform bent. I recall being annoyed by some off her (her show’s) stances on ‘fixing’ public education.

  38. 38
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Is there any evidence Somerby is a liberal?

  39. 39
    Tommy says:

    The amount of graft taken is hard to put to words. Look I can forgive the one golf outing. One flight on his plane. Even some nice shoes. All illegal if not claimed. I can forgive.

    But taken as a whole it is damming beyond words.

  40. 40
    Samuel Knight says:

    Other than always desperately needing an editor – Bob was worth reading in the Bush years – until Valerie Plame. For some reason, he was just obsessed with liberals having to reject all that the Ambassador and his wife said because they had big egos.

    And he seemed to get more and more crazy that every liberal should get every fact perfectly right from his point of view. When added to his need to throw in the 90s war on Gore (yup Whitewater was a joke too) just made him absolutely consistent in a bad way. When you did read him, it was invariably – he really misses the forest for the trees – doesn’t he?

    And why does he go after really smart women so much? And so credolously quote some people and not others?

    Sad really, because I think he could have evolved with other people to work with, rather than becoming that nutty uncle in the upstairs room.

  41. 41
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I liked Atrios’ complaint that for Somerby, everything is a conspiracy. No one is ever just sincerely wrong about an issue, they’re always knowingly pushing an evil line because they’re being paid to. Obviously that does happen a lot, but a lot of people holding illiberal/unprogressive views are just honestly wrong or at least have no direct personal financial motive to be wrong.

    Maddow certainly has faults, but as prominent liberals go she’s pretty damn good and a far cry better than nearly anyone on TeeVee before her show started. I’d give Hayes the current title of best (e.g. most progressive) TV liberal, but he wouldn’t exist without Maddow.

  42. 42
    SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5 says:

    @Tommy:
    The detail that sealed it for me was Mrs. McD dictating to her own Uncle Sugar what she wanted engraved on the Rolex she had just demanded as a nice gift for Bob. Per Rachel a couple of nights ago.

  43. 43
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    … if he can just purify himself enough, Al Gore will have been president.

    The “if” clause is a conditional. The “Al Gore will have been president” clause is in the future perfect tense, not often used in English because it can be tricky. Kudos to the once and current Cheap Jim for using it exactly right.

  44. 44
    WereBear says:

    @flukebucket: I guess that explains that god-awful look she was giving him that I saw somewhere yesterday. She looked like she would have killed him herself if given the chance.

    Did he pull the classic Goodfellas line on her when they decided to take bribes and goodies?

    Kaaaaaren! Nobody goes to jail if they don’t want to!

  45. 45
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: So what is the difference, if there is one, between future perfect and future subjunctive?

  46. 46
    Amir Khalid says:

    @WereBear:
    It gives a whole new meaning to “Take my wife — please.”

  47. 47
    Tommy says:

    @SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5: I think the conversation went like this. That is a nice watch, what kind is it. Rolex. She said I’d like to give my husband one. Then as you noted told him how to have it engraved.

    The other is shacking him down for a dress. Saying they were in debit and she needed it. Like $7,000.

    These folks are evil if half of this is true. IMHO you have to be a socialpath to do stuff like they did.

  48. 48
    Aji says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I think you’ve covered it just by thinking about how much time you should spend.

  49. 49
    bemused says:

    Bob could have taken the deal of just one felony charge nothing to do with corruption in office and his wife would have gotten off. Yet he turned down that deal and now it’s 14 charges and no deal for Maureen, It amuses to wonder if he thought no way he’s going down alone while she walks free. Probably not, these two are not the brightest bulbs in the room. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner would be perfect for the roles of Bob and Maureen in a future movie of the McDonnell’s.

  50. 50
    Keith G says:

    @Amir Khalid: The best comment I have read on this topic.

  51. 51
    scav says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    So what is the difference, if there is one, between future perfect and future subjunctive?

    speaking with 1/2 less than a clue, but doesn’t subjunctive involve choice/preference on the part of the speaker? Also,
    i swear in French, there is a Past Imperative. What is up with
    That?! It’s in Bescherelle.

  52. 52
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    The subjunctive (e.g. “If I were a rich man …”) is a mood, not a tense. So there’s no such thing as the future subjunctive. The future perfect tense indicates an action that has concluded at some point in the future.

    Hey, wait a minute. “English teacher” isn’t part of my job description here!

  53. 53
    redoubt says:

    @Dave: Jail is for Democrats. (Don Siegelman would like a word.)

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    OT, because who gives a rat’s (shaved) ass about Somerby:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/l.....end_family

    Please proceed, Guv’ner. Please do send them all. All of them.

  55. 55
    rikyrah says:

    Maddow spent the first 23 minutes of her program Wednesday on Governor Transvaginal Ultrasound.

    Since she was the one person on tv who was on this story from the beginning, I don’t blame her for making that victory lap.

  56. 56
    vhh says:

    who are we talking about? post does not give a name other than the fictitious Somerby. I thought epistem,ic closure was a right wing disease.

  57. 57
    the Conster says:

    @BGinCHI:

    He’s not saying he will, unfortunately, because he may be a liar but he’s not an idiot.

  58. 58
    scav says:

    @BGinCHI: While we’re doing close readings of text, let us consider the meaning of “I’d send my family . . . ”

    a) not accompany?

    b) are they not grownups with wills and agencies of their own?

  59. 59
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Sounds like it’s time for you to edit the Wikipedia page on the subjunctive, then, as it refers to it in a table which has the following intro: “The terms “present subjunctive” and “past subjunctive”, such as those appearing in the following table, refer to the form and not to the time of action expressed.[3]:p.270 (Not shown in the table is the pluperfect subjunctive, which uses the had-plus-past-participle construction when the counterfactual time of action is the past.)”

  60. 60
    Seanly says:

    I glanced over at Somerby’s post. He’s confused by the fact that there was traffic data coming in. Well, they state that there is always traffic data – it’s information from the toll collectors’ booths. That data is always available.

    I work in the transportation business. We don’t do studies for the fun of it. If it was a legitimate study, there would be a larger project that it was a component of. There would be memos about the maintenance & protection of traffic (abbreviated MOT). Agencies usually hate to restrict traffic and there usually is a long chain of buck-passing, approvals and justifications for restricting traffic this badly.

  61. 61
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    You got me there. I was just faking my knowledge of grammar. I’ve basically spent all my life just winging it in English.

  62. 62
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Amir Khalid: Thank you, Amir *does the “not worthy” salaam in his nym’s honor*. That is spot on grammatical analysis, the way I remember it from way back in grammar school.

  63. 63
    GregB says:

    Bob Somerby is the Pat Caddell of the blogosphere.

  64. 64
    Tyro says:

    @aimai: He’s an liberal who hates liberals or rather a muckraker and political scold who doesn’t like other people horning into his business

    I think we can pretty clearly point to the moment that Sommerby started going off the deep end with the moment of the rise of the liberal blogosphere. Suddenly when other people were selling the same thing he was and ended up preferring their product to his, the wheels came off his wagon.

  65. 65
    Donald says:

    @aimai: Bob is wrong about things and obsessive, but the idea that he’s anti-woman because he dislikes Maddow is a cheap shot. He dislikes everyone on MSNBC as far as I can tell. He despises Tweety (he’s right about that) and isn’t too fond of Chris Hayes (who was, IMO, the only one that didn’t dumb things down when he had his weekend show. Now that he’s on at night that’s no longer true.)

    He’s mostly right to despise the MSNBC hosts–Hayes in his weekend slot showed that a political talk show didn’t have to be mediocre, but OTOH, maybe mediocrity is what the majority of viewers want.

  66. 66
    Lee says:

    The more I read The Daily Howler, the more I feel sorry for guy.

    Reading through his comments I really get the impression half of those comments are him just talking back and forth to himself.

  67. 67
    scav says:

    @Seanly: Wouldn’t they also run different configurations and examine the frontiers of tradeoffs? They had three lanes to play with and didn’t run a test with only one lane closed? In fact, didn’t the emails showed that option was there first in what plans there were and it was somehow ignored during implementation. Absolutely fails to behave like any sane test of about anything.

    @Amir Khalid: And as for winging it in English, just what do you think the rest of us here-bouts are doing? I’m terrified I let anything called a moody pluperfect near my mouth. Might explode if mishandled.

  68. 68
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: I wasn’t trying for a gotcha, I was (and am) trying to understand in an area I also can sometimes use accurately but don’t know all the rules or the proper names for things. English isn’t my first language.

  69. 69
    catclub says:

    I think that democrats should be yelling “GOP CULTURE OF CORRUPTION” from the rooftops.

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @BGinCHI:

    His sons would be exposed to military types there. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.

  71. 71
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Amir Khalid: But damn, you are so good at it. I wasn’t going to tackle the whole future perfect issue (though I’d like some credit for knowing of it and that its use is tricky and was correct on Cheap Jim’s part). I suspect it says a great deal about US education that you are so often the best reference on technical grammatical matters of our native language.

    @Gin & Tonic: Sadly, it is mine, and most of what I learned about mood and tense was in Latin class. Some of it I even remember, and I suspect my often correct usage is sort of vestigial from that study…

  72. 72
    kindness says:

    I used to have The Daily Howler bookmarked and would read it every day. But he pissed me off one too many times and I deleted the bookmark and never went back. I was right to do so as this piece shows me.

  73. 73

    @Amir Khalid: What book did you use for grammar in school, was it Wren and Martin by any chance?

  74. 74
    Marc says:

    Somerby hates Maddow to the point of obsession. I don’t know the cause but it’s pretty obvious that it’s the case.

  75. 75
    Bob says:

    Mickey Kaus and Bob Somerby are the same person, right?

  76. 76
    Sloegin says:

    Bob can be an interesting counterbalance for introspection, because ‘the narrative of the day’ can be BS. The vast majority of the time, the BS narrative is from the other guys, but on occasion it originates from our side.

    Bob has a serious flaw however, he believes the good is the enemy of the perfect.

  77. 77
    Elizabelle says:

    re the Bob and Maureen McDonnell case:

    I think this started because she, in particular, wanted them to save face. Gov and his sister had invested in some fancy beach houses that cost a lot to maintain and were losing value. They don’t want to admit publicly they’re not shewd business people. They may not have wanted to sell out at a big loss, and have that become public knowledge.

    Family is over its head in credit card bills, Bob’s been working government jobs (albeit well-paid ones) to support 5 kids, now in or approaching college age, and Maureen wanted to keep up with a wealthier set.

    So she grifts for a gown to the inauguration, how atmospheric, and then they get deeper and deeper into it. It becomes a tawdry story, as the merchandise and loans pile up.

    Maureen is known for screaming at staff, she may have asked that her official portrait be more flattering and less true to life (she’s a former Redskins cheerleader).

    She and maybe others in her family eventually tangled with the Executive Mansion chef, who blew the whistle on family pilfering of state-paid for food AND the fateful $15,000 catering “gift” to the daughter-bride, which investigators followed to find other instances.

    It’s insane that the Commonwealth of Virginia does not have stricter ethics laws, with teeth, although it’s about to get some. I don’t understand who in this day and age expects politicians to police themselves, for the public good.

    Whole thing is a tragicomedy morality play on greed and keeping up with the country club Joneses.

    The grift starts so the couple can save face, and now he’s known as the first of 71 governors of the New Dominion to be indicted on federal corruption charges.

    Although most of us know him already as “Transvaginal Bob.”

  78. 78
    Cervantes says:

    @Sloegin: “Introspection”? What’s that?

  79. 79
    ice weasel says:

    Somerby is like Greenwald. They’re both hard to take sometimes. They both love the sound of their own voice. They’re also both indispensable voices who do get things gloriously right from time to time, important things, sometimes things no one else is talking about.

    But I can’t read him regularly. Life is too short.

  80. 80
    aretino says:

    I stopped reading Somerby a decade ago.

    I didn’t care much for his tendentious angle on Plame and Wilson. I was particularly put off by his habit of citing compromised or self-interested sources with a credulity that I had not seen since high-school debate. But I could have tolerated that as a bit of contrarianism were it not for three other issues.

    First, there was his constant, malicious insinuation that other liberal commentators had impure motives, were just showboating, etc., when they didn’t have a single-minded focus on his hobbyhorse of the day.

    Second, when he was proven wrong, he seemed to pursue petty vendettas to get even rather than just admitting his mistake (a proclivity which seems to be at play again with Maddow and the George Washington Bridge). Everyone who read Somerby in the day remembers the Plame stuff, but that wasn’t the beginning of Somerby’s WMD commentary. Before the war, he had pilloried liberals who claimed that there was no evidence that Iraq retained any WMDs, claiming that this was an obvious mistake that would shatter the credibility of liberalism for a generation. Not only did he never admit to being wrong about that, but he went on to crusade against people who had been rightly skeptical about the Bush admininstration’s claims.

    Third, his whole conception of reasoning about politics is obviously flawed. He makes out that discussion of incident and character can never be anything but a distraction from the real political issues, which involve reasoned debate of policy. It’s as if polices were Platonic ideals. So he is constantly hectoring people to ignore stories about bad governance or bad doings by conservatives. But even a dim 10-year-old can see the shortcomings of that approach. In the first place, policy discussions depend on evidence, and the honesty and reliability of people providing that evidence are essential questions (see Bush and WMD). Second, policies are implemented by real people, starting with elected officials, and their character makes all the difference in whether they are implemented fairly or maliciously (see Christie and bridges). Finally, it is through examination of particular incidents that we grasp what a policy means, what it empowers and inspires people to do (see Zimmerman and stand your ground).

  81. 81
    Cervantes says:

    @ice weasel: Yes, they are both prolix, and so time is a constraint. I may not always agree with them — but so what?

    Meanwhile, psychoanalyzing them would also take time (and skill) that I do not have.

  82. 82
    Amir Khalid says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    When I went to school, they used locally published English textbooks that didn’t place a lot of emphasis on the technical aspects of grammar. We were never taught to diagram sentences, for instance, and I doubt I could learn to do it now. And my first acquaintance with the word “subjunctive” was when I started teaching myself German a few years ago.

  83. 83
    WereBear says:

    @Elizabelle: Whole thing is a tragicomedy morality play on greed and keeping up with the country club Joneses.

    Sounds like it’s begging to be a trashy miniseries.

  84. 84
    taylormattd says:

    In my opinion, he’s just a little crazy. He reminds me of a hoarder for some reason. Just my opinion, of course.

  85. 85

    @Amir Khalid: How does one diagram a sentence? I have no idea either. Wren and Martin is thick little red book, written in the 19th century in Victorian era. Many schools in India still use it to teach English Grammar.

    ETA: It has tons of exercises to torture school children and burn the rules of grammar into their heads.

  86. 86
    Cervantes says:

    @aretino:

    I stopped reading Somerby a decade ago.

    OK, but if so, how do you know what he has said about “Maddow and the George Washington Bridge” or “Zimmerman and stand your ground”?

    Are you reading him again now, or reading commentary about him, or … ?

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Ugh — diagramming! I was always really good in English classes, but I was never able to get the hang of diagramming. Hated hated hated it.

  88. 88

    @Mnemosyne: I have always used the seat of the pants approach for both grammar and math and so far it seems to be working!

  89. 89
    aretino says:

    @Cervantes: If it weren’t for Balloon Juice, Kevin Drum, and a few others, I wouldn’t know what Somerby is up to these days.

  90. 90

    BTW I have no idea who Somerby is, sounds like a character out of Wodehouse.

  91. 91
    Elizabelle says:

    @WereBear:

    You got it! With some details you would put down to “poetic license”, except they’re in the federal indictment.

    Who do we cast? Greg Kinnear as Transvaginal Bob? Heather Locklear (with prosthetic fat) as Mrs. Transvaginal Bob?

    The Mansion’s chef, and crazy ass attorney general Cuccinelli, could be fun roles.

    Got to be some role for Billy Bob Thornton in there. He could even pull off Maureen.

  92. 92
    SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I quite enjoyed diagramming sentences and was pretty good at it, but in the 60-some elapsed years between then and now, I have never once had either the need or the desire to do it again.

  93. 93
    kc says:

    Ha. Told ya he’d double down.

  94. 94
    WereBear says:

    @Elizabelle: Laws, you got my inner casting director all giddy!

    Kinnear is dead on, but I think Heather is too “nice.” There needs to be a lot of mean…

  95. 95
    Elizabelle says:

    Somebody last night suggested Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner — a political update of their “War of the Roses.”

    It is going to be fun to cast this one. And a great wardrobe, too.

  96. 96
    Anonymous37 says:

    Man, I am glad I’m not the only person who’s gotten fed up with Somerby. I actually hadn’t read him for several years, so I missed his takes on Plame and the Trayvon Martin case. When I picked up where I left off, it was with his stuff on Christie. His line on McDonnell that we should never cheer someone getting indicted was a complete load of shit. He wants to pretend to have attained a level of Olympian detachment — accompanied by the constant and pompous use of the royal “we” — and that wanting people to be punished for the sort of crimes that McDonnell and his wife have been alleged to commit is a characterological defect.

    The man completely lacks self-awareness. He’s ostensibly pushing a line where any journalist who makes a single unsupported claim gets drummed out of the profession in his eyes. I happen to think that this is an absurd standard that would ultimately neuter watchdogs in the media, but let’s take this at face value. The problem with that line is that Bob Somerby had better be purer than Caesar’s wife himself.

    And, of course, he’s not. The amount of sloppy shit he writes, just in the few weeks I’ve read recently is tremendous. To argue that there may really be a “traffic study” because of the existence of continuous traffic data taking is fucking stupid. He wrote the following about the bridge scandal:

    For the record, we’ve postulated a worse possibility than the theories Maddow has presented. We’ve imagined the possibility that he was trying to strong-arm money away from that billion-dollar development in Fort Lee.

    Which (I noted this in his comments section as well) is a sleazy way to imply that he was the first person to publicly float the possibility by using “postulated” and “imagined”. And why is it acceptable for him to do it, but not Maddow, Hayes, and company? Well, because he thinks he’s purer of heart than those guys.

    Somerby really needs to hang it up, or to cut back on his posting frequency so that he can get some perspective on the news stories he’s so eager to criticise.

  97. 97
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    His line on McDonnell that we should never cheer someone getting indicted was a complete load of shit.

    Just curious: Did he distinguish between “we” and “journalists”?

    (For that matter, do you?)

  98. 98
    Cervantes says:

    @aretino:

    If it weren’t for Balloon Juice, Kevin Drum, and a few others, I wouldn’t know what Somerby is up to these days.

    Well, OK, but caveat lector: if that’s how you’re trying to find out what he says these days, you still may not know.

  99. 99
    Anonymous37 says:

    @aretino: If it weren’t for Balloon Juice, Kevin Drum, and a few others, I wouldn’t know what Somerby is up to these days.

    As others have pointed out, he’s no longer one of a small handful of media critics, so people aren’t going to pay as much attention to him as they once did. Pretty much every blogger does that job these days. As well they should.

    The other thing about Somerby is that his blog and his writing is poorly structured. Visually, it’s a mess. You can put too much importance on this stuff, of course, but The Daily Howler is evidence that you can also put way too little.

    That’s a minor point. But even if you copied and pasted his posts into a different style sheet, he’d still be a pain in the ass to read. A big part of this is that despite the blockquotes in his posts, his writing is homogenous. Somerby is going on and on about how the media gets its timelines wrong over and over again. A more imaginative blogger would make a point of periodically posting clear and concise timelines of stories like the Plame affair, the Trayvon Martin case, and Bridgegate, and then following it up with bulletpointed lists so that your readers would immediately have a reference when you later tell them that journalist X was wrong when he or she said Y on date Z.

    But worst of all is the tone of his writing. You can take that shit in small doses. You can even handle it in a longer piece or set of pieces that has a well-defined stopping point. But if you keep at it continuously, on a daily basis, with no promise that it will ever end, then not only is it annoying, but it precludes the possibility of making judgments as to which misstatements of fact on the part of the media are significant, and which amount to jumping the gun (for example, in the worst-case reading of Maddow’s work on McDonnell) or slightly overstating their case. And unlike, say, Brad DeLong, who is always asking “why, oh why, can’t be have a better press corps?” but who also posts “Brad DeLong Smackdown Watches”, Somerby never seems to believe he’s made any serious factual errors or errors of judgment himself.

  100. 100
    Anonymous37 says:

    @Cervantes: Just curious: Did he distinguish between “we” and “journalists”? (For that matter, do you?)

    As of 11:18 a.m., Friday, January 24th, 2014, his site is down, otherwise I’d post the exact quote. If I remember correctly, I think he actually said that he “almost never” cheers on an indictment, so I may have been wrong when I said “never”. But unless Somerby is willing to clearly state the cases where he did cheer on indictments, it’s frankly worse than claiming he never does so. It’s the sort of statement that simultaneously allows him to insult Maddow for “cheering” on McDonnell’s indictment while giving him a pass for doing so on the occasions when he decides he feels like doing so.

    As for whether Somerby made a distinction between journalists and the rest of us, the answer, as best as I can remember, is that he didn’t. And honestly, I don’t think that any significant distinction should be made. Journalists have their agendas, and the fundamental problem with that (as Eric Alterman pointed out years ago in Sound and Fury), is not that journalism should be objective in the sense that people seem to think American journalism should be, but that American journalism clearly is not objective, but hides its biases in ostensibly objective language. Journalists are going to tenaciously uproot wrongdoing when there’s a possibility that they can eventually “cheer” indictments and convictions.

  101. 101
    Anonymous37 says:

    Okay, it’s back up, and below is his quote, from “Governor Ultrasound still hasn’t been charged!”, on January 21, 2014. Hilariously, a couple of hours after he posted that, McDonnell was charged. Anyway:

    Will McDonnell be charged? We don’t know and neither do you; you’ll note that the Post’s February target date hasn’t passed. For ourselves, we almost never root for people to get charged with crimes, and this case doesn’t seem all that heinous, despite the cheerleading Maddow has done in the past year.

    Maddow’s a different breed of cat. She frequently roots for people to get thrown in prison, preferably with their naked, shivering children along for the ride.

    What a fucking asshole. Right, Bob, it’s the media that makes unsupportable claims and attacks on public figures. You would never stoop to that level, would you? And if you want to claim that you “almost never” do something, cut out the royal “we” and say precisely under what circumstances you do “root for people to get charged with crimes”. Or shut up and don’t pretend to be living on a higher plane of existence than the rest of us.

  102. 102
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37: So from what I can see (assuming we’re looking at the same Jan. 21 article), Somerby does the following:

    1. He points out a mistake that Maddow has apparently made twice so far (she apparently mis-states what a WP article (Dec. 19) says);
    2. He points out that Maddow questions the accuracy of the WP article (after haplessly mis-stating it);
    3. He points out that she reports with disapproval the fact that “some Democrats have apparently lobbied the prosecutors not to indict [McDonnell]”

    What do you think? Have I got Somerby right? And hasn’t he got Maddow right?

    From the last item (3), I think he infers that Maddow does not want Democrats to speak on behalf of McDonnell; from which he infers that she is cheering for an indictment.

    I’d have to watch Maddow’s show to be sure, but I expect Bob is right.

    As for my question about your “we,” here’s what Somerby says:

    For ourselves, we almost never root for people to get charged with crimes, and this case doesn’t seem all that heinous, despite the cheerleading Maddow has done in the past year. Maddow’s a different breed of cat. She frequently roots for people to get thrown in prison, preferably with their naked, shivering children along for the ride. True Believers are like that. To us, Maddow seems like a bit of a tribal True Believer, a phase she may yet outgrow.

    You appear to be offended by parts of this. It’s a bit hyperbolic, maybe, but I don’t really see the problem.

    And as for the notion (not yours), that Somerby’s repeated criticism of Maddow is sexist, I have seen no evidence for it, merely accusation.

  103. 103
    Ricky says:

    @Anonymous37:

    Somerby’s most recent post is up. He is quadrupling down on the possibility there was, even if bungled or a hoax, a traffic study done at the GW Bridge. I suggeste you skin the post and go straight to the comments.

  104. 104
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    Okay, it’s back up, and below is his quote, from “Governor Ultrasound still hasn’t been charged!”, on January 21, 2014. Hilariously, a couple of hours after he posted that, McDonnell was charged.

    Not particularly hilarious. If you find it funny, perhaps it’s because you suppose (I can’t believe it, but maybe you do) that he’s asserting in the headline how unlikely it is that McDonnell will be indicted. But he’s not doing any such thing. He used that headline because his article was largely about Maddow’s mis-representing an article in which the likelihood and possible date of the indictment was discussed. So … no joke there, really.

    What a fucking asshole. Right, Bob, it’s the media that makes unsupportable claims and attacks on public figures. You would never stoop to that level, would you?

    Temper, temper.

    And if you want to claim that you “almost never” do something, cut out the royal “we” and say precisely under what circumstances you do “root for people to get charged with crimes”.

    But he does say. Read it again:

    For ourselves, we almost never root for people to get charged with crimes, and this case doesn’t seem all that heinous, despite the cheerleading Maddow has done in the past year.

    Why is “doesn’t seem all that heinous” in there?

    Or shut up and don’t pretend to be living on a higher plane of existence than the rest of us.

    Jeepers. You’re angry with Bob, aren’t you? Your prerogative.

  105. 105
    Ricky says:

    @Cervantes:

    Other than referring to her as a perspiring clown who pimps piddle and wears big orange clown shoes while stroking herself and groaning, I wouldn’t say he has said anything you could label sexist. He says bad things about all of the people he describes as the Children of the One True Liberal Channel.

  106. 106
    Irishguy says:

    @Ricky: @Cervantes:

    Yes, Cervantes. When faced with utter bullshit, some people’s reaction might be anger.

    By the way, do you agree with Somerby that the crimes of which McDonnell is accused “don’t seem all that heinous”?

    Do you agree with Somerby that whatever McDonnell did, it isn’t nearly as bad as what Maddow does five nights a week for the mere fact that she makes far more money?

    Do you agree with Somerby that the whole Fort Lee thing was a controversy created out of little if not nothing that paid-off, partisan hack Rachel Maddow pushed in a conspiracy with the DNC and “some conservatives and Republicans” to bring down Christie?

    That’s been his narrative for quite some time, and by golly, he ain’t giving it up. And he is now reduced to insisting that it is still possible that Wildstein’s motives were pure in ordering on Friday a “traffic study” to begin on Monday.

    And the evidence that the order actually came from Trenton — the “smoking gun” e-mail from Bridget Kelly? Down the old memory hole.

  107. 107
    Irishguy says:

    @Ricky: @Cervantes:

    Yes, Cervantes. When faced with utter bullshit, some people’s reaction might be anger.

    By the way, do you agree with Somerby that the crimes of which McDonnell is accused “don’t seem all that heinous”?

    Do you agree with Somerby that whatever McDonnell did, it isn’t nearly as bad as what Maddow does five nights a week for the mere fact that she makes far more money?

    Do you agree with Somerby that the whole Fort Lee thing was a controversy created out of little if not nothing that paid-off, partisan hack Rachel Maddow pushed in a conspiracy with the DNC and “some conservatives and Republicans” to bring down Christie?

    That’s been his narrative for quite some time, and by golly, he ain’t giving it up. And he is now reduced to insisting that it is still possible that Wildstein’s motives were pure in ordering on Friday a “traffic study” to begin on Monday.

    And the evidence that the order actually came from Trenton — the “smoking gun” e-mail from Bridget Kelly? Down the old memory hole.

  108. 108
    Irishguy says:

    @Ricky: @Cervantes:

    Yes, Cervantes. When faced with utter bullshit, some people’s reaction might be anger.

    By the way, do you agree with Somerby that the crimes of which McDonnell is accused “don’t seem all that heinous”?

    Do you agree with Somerby that whatever McDonnell did, it isn’t nearly as bad as what Maddow does five nights a week for the mere fact that she makes far more money?

    Do you agree with Somerby that the whole Fort Lee thing was a controversy created out of little if not nothing that paid-off, partisan hack Rachel Maddow pushed in a conspiracy with the DNC and “some conservatives and Republicans” to bring down Christie?

    That’s been his narrative for quite some time, and by golly, he ain’t giving it up. And he is now reduced to insisting that it is still possible that Wildstein’s motives were pure in ordering on Friday a “traffic study” to begin on Monday.

    And the evidence that the order actually came from Trenton — the “smoking gun” e-mail from Bridget Kelly? Down the old memory hole.

  109. 109
    Irishguy says:

    @Irishguy: Apologies for the multiple posts. Couldn’t get the clicky thing to work. Or so it seemed. And now I can’t seem to delete the excess.

  110. 110
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cervantes:

    Why is “doesn’t seem all that heinous” in there?

    For ourselves, we are unsure — indeed, the analysts posit that it may ultimately be unknowable! What is “this case” that “doesn’t seem all that heinous”? Is it McDonnells’ relentless grifting that is merely par for the squalid Washington course in the Year of Our Gore 14?

    Or could Somerby be magnanimously giving Clown Maddow a pass, coquettishly winking at her unseemly stacking of kindling on the McDonnell pyre, pardoning the apparently truant Rhodes scholar’s trampling of the former governor’s carcass (and those of his shivering urchins!), excusing the faint “parp parp parp” of clown shoes in the media stampede? Noooooo, howl the analysts!

  111. 111
    Anonymous37 says:

    @Cervantes: What do you think? Have I got Somerby right? And hasn’t he got Maddow right?

    I’m sorry, but no, (in my opinion) you do not have Somerby right. You can evaluate the statements that a journalist like Maddow or a media critic like Somerby makes either by 1) insisting that they be factually correct in everything they report or 2) putting their statements into perspective and dinging them only for serious errors.

    Somerby likes to pretend that he lives up to standard 1, but he does not. If you imply that you were the first person to come up with the possibility that Christie was trying to strong-arm development money away from Fort Lee by saying “For the record, we’ve postulated a worse possibility than the theories Maddow has presented. We’ve imagined the possibility that he was trying to strong-arm money away from that billion-dollar development in Fort Lee”, then you clearly don’t live up to the standards you’re trying to put on Maddow.

    Now, I haven’t watched the Maddow segments that Somerby alleges makes factual errors about what The Washington Post said. But, as I said before, the worst case scenario is that Maddow jumped the gun and her errors were fairly minor. It is entirely possible that despite (possibly) misquoting the Post, she was right all along because she was privy to information on deep background.

    Are you right about Maddow? Again, it depends to what standard you hold Maddow to. And you don’t need to point out to me that Maddow was “cheering” the forthcoming indictment, because I already said that I have no problem with journalists doing so; I have no disagreement with you or even Somerby on that score. What I do have is a problem with Somerby claiming he’s better than Maddow and her ilk because she’s rooting for the McDonnell indictment and he almost never does anything like that by 1) using that pompous royal “we”, which lets him pretend to be in the company of other, unnamed, high-minded folks that think the same way he does and 2) giving himself an out — he never bothers to define the circumstances under which he would root for indictments — should he ever be caught doing it too.

    As for Somerby saying that Maddow “roots for people to get thrown in prison, preferably with their naked, shivering children along for the ride” and seems (another fucking weasel word from Somerby — shocking) “like a bit of a tribal True Believer”, you’re damn right: I am offended by it. If a journalist like Matt Taibbi, wants to say stuff like that, because not only does he not repair to the fainting couch when people say that sort of stuff about him, he looks at the big picture and doesn’t endlessly ding people for minor, inconsequential errors. But if Somerby wants to level his continuous indictment at the Maddows and Hayes of the world for imputing motives without proof, he’d better clean his own house first.

    I also don’t think that Somerby has it out for Maddow due to sexism or homophobia (and despite how heating I’m getting, I do appreciate your measured tones in replying to me, and you should know that I largely view our disagreement as a difference in perspectives; you may feel differently) either. I think it’s largely jealousy about the extent of Maddow’s career attainment (Somerby keeps talking about how rich Maddow is, mentioning things like the money she’s stuffing down her pants). Given the language he uses and the difference in the standards he applies to himself and Maddow, I honestly don’t think that makes it that much better.

  112. 112
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    Yes, Cervantes. When faced with utter bullshit, some people’s reaction might be anger.

    What “utter bullshit”? I have no idea what you’re referring to.

    Look above for my (brief) analysis of one of Bob’s posts. (Notice that his 2 criticisms of Maddow stand; no one here has shown they are misguided.)

    If you want me to respond to your criticism of Bob, you’ll have to be more specific about his text — his actual words, not your attempts at paraphrase. Thanks.

  113. 113
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    And now I can’t seem to delete the excess.

    The excess isn’t in the number of posts.

  114. 114
    Anonymous37 says:

    Me: And if you want to claim that you “almost never” do something, cut out the royal “we” and say precisely under what circumstances you do “root for people to get charged with crimes”.

    Cervantes; But he does say. Read it again:

    Somerby: For ourselves, we almost never root for people to get charged with crimes, and this case doesn’t seem all that heinous, despite the cheerleading Maddow has done in the past year.

    Cervantes: Why is “doesn’t seem all that heinous” in there?

    You seem to think that “doesn’t seem all that heinous” amounts to a clear standard that Somerby’s stated, one which allows him to turn around and bash Maddow. It just isn’t. So, no. He doesn’t clarify under what circumstances he’d root for indictments. Period.

    Cervantes: Temper, temper.

    Cervantes: Jeepers. You’re angry with Bob, aren’t you? Your prerogative.

    You know how I said I appreciated your measured tones in replying to me? That was before I read that. But hey, I’ll reply to those one-liners anyway. Sure, Bob Somerby’s horseshit makes me angry. I never claimed otherwise. Then again, I don’t use the royal “we”, attack people for standards I can’t myself live up to, and pretend some sort of Olympian detachment. But even then, I’m the fucking Buddha compared to Somerby, a man who is free with his insults and his constant complaints. Tell you what, I’ll calm down when he does.

  115. 115
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    Tell you what, I’ll calm down when he does.

    You really want to give him that much power over you?

    Again, your prerogative.

  116. 116
    Anonymous37 says:

    Me: Okay, it’s back up, and below is his quote, from “Governor Ultrasound still hasn’t been charged!”, on January 21, 2014. Hilariously, a couple of hours after he posted that, McDonnell was charged.

    Cervantes: Not particularly hilarious. If you find it funny, perhaps it’s because you suppose (I can’t believe it, but maybe you do) that he’s asserting in the headline how unlikely it is that McDonnell will be indicted. But he’s not doing any such thing. He used that headline because his article was largely about Maddow’s mis-representing an article in which the likelihood and possible date of the indictment was discussed. So … no joke there, really.

    Yes, I did read his endless blogpost with the “we don’t know if McDonnell will be indicted blah blah blah” disclaimer. But that headline was meant to mock Maddow’s suggestions that an indictment was imminent, and it backfired gloriously. And that’s another problem with Somerby: like Mickey Kaus, his sense of humor is miscalibrated to the point where it does a full 360 and become funny again, albeit inadvertently.

    And that’s it for me. Oh, one other thing:

    For ourselves, we are unsure — indeed, the analysts posit that it may ultimately be unknowable! What is “this case” that “doesn’t seem all that heinous”? Is it McDonnells’ relentless grifting that is merely par for the squalid Washington course in the Year of Our Gore 14?
    __
    Or could Somerby be magnanimously giving Clown Maddow a pass, coquettishly winking at her unseemly stacking of kindling on the McDonnell pyre, pardoning the apparently truant Rhodes scholar’s trampling of the former governor’s carcass (and those of his shivering urchins!), excusing the faint “parp parp parp” of clown shoes in the media stampede? Noooooo, howl the analysts!

    Pretty good, Betty Cracker, but a bit subdued compared to the real thing.

  117. 117
    SRW1 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Subjekt, Prädikat, Objekt.

    Oh sorry! Wrong language.

  118. 118
    Anonymous37 says:

    @Cervantes: You really want to give him that much power over you?

    Good point, Cervantes. You seem pretty invested in Somerby yourself, so you should contact him and let him know that he gets way too angry, to the point of losing objectivity and making absurd claims, like there really could be a traffic study. You could point out this thread to let him know you’re on his side, and then explain to him that he’s let Maddow have a tremendous amount of power over him, and he should seek out a qualified therapist.

  119. 119
    Irishguy says:

    @Cervantes: Can you possibly be more arrogant, condescending and pompous, Cervantes?

    Look, I am not taking your bait to defend every, little word Maddow says in your childish search to find something she said wrong that would, of course, make Somerby 100 percent right, 100 percent of the time in your feeble mind.

    But thinking people, you know, the ones with their heads not placed up Somerby’s posterior, can see what Maddow has said, read what Somerby said she said, and reach their own conclusion.

    Which is why his audience is so tiny.

  120. 120
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy: I could not possibly be less interested in your opinion of me, sorry.

    Meanwhile, color me totally unsurprised to find you unwilling to defend your own “criticisms” of Somerby.

  121. 121
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker: Very pretty!

  122. 122
    Irishguy says:

    @Anonymous37: And what added to the humor, after looking up that “McDonnell hasn’t been indicted yet” stinkbomb into the wind, was the few Somerby fans trying to pull a Cervantes by claiming, “When Bob wrote that, McDonnell wasn’t indicted yet. It took two more whole hours. So Somerby was right, and he is still right!”

  123. 123
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    You seem pretty invested in Somerby yourself

    Measured how?

    By word-count you’re ahead by a country mile! (See above.)

    so you should contact him and let him know that he gets way too angry, to the point of losing objectivity and making absurd claims, like there really could be a traffic study. You could point out this thread to let him know you’re on his side, and then explain to him that he’s let Maddow have a tremendous amount of power over him, and he should seek out a qualified therapist.

    Not interested — you can easily tell him all that yourself, I’m sure.

    Me, I just find it remarkable how some people react to his analysis, that’s all.

  124. 124
    Irishguy says:

    @Cervantes: I was wrong. You can be more pompous and arrogant.

    And color me totally unsurprised that you are desperately trying to change the subject instead of answering the very direct questions I asked.

    I’ll try again in plainer language.

    Was Maddow acting as a partisan hack out to get Christie, or was there something to that Fort Lee story worth looking into? Bob says she was, in those very words, and Fort Lee was a “ginned-up” controversy.

    When Bob was trying to fashion the McDonnell scandal into something to bludgeon Maddow with, was it bullshit to minimize it as no harm, no foul?

    On second thought, call those questions rhetorical. I already know your knee-jerk response. You are that predictable.

  125. 125
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    And what added to the humor, after looking up that “McDonnell hasn’t been indicted yet” stinkbomb into the wind, was the few Somerby fans trying to pull a Cervantes by claiming, “When Bob wrote that, McDonnell wasn’t indicted yet. It took two more whole hours. So Somerby was right, and he is still right!”

    That’s not what I said.

    You see why your attempts at paraphrasing Somerby (or probably anyone) are less than useful as well?

  126. 126
    Irishguy says:

    @Cervantes: Measured how?

    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe by the fact that when this blog mentions Somerby, one guy disproportionately contributes to the thread. Every time.

  127. 127
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    But that headline was meant to mock Maddow’s suggestions that an indictment was imminent, and it backfired gloriously.

    You may be right.

    As for my interpretation, you have it already.

  128. 128
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    Oh, I don’t know.

    First sensible thing you’ve said here all day.

  129. 129
    Anonymous37 says:

    @Irishguy: Which made it even funnier.

    It’s funny the different tacks Cervantes is taking with the two of us, isn’t it? When you respond in short comments, he claims that you are “unwilling to defend your ‘criticisms’ of Somerby”. When I respond in detail, (and he then follows up with long asides as to how Maddow really was cheering the indictment, in response to a claim I never made) I’m obsessed with Somerby, compared with Cervantes’ supposedly dispassionate observations.

    Cervantes, you seem really, really eager to have the last word, so go nuts.

  130. 130
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    And color me totally unsurprised that you are desperately trying to change the subject instead of answering the very direct questions I asked. I’ll try again in plainer language. Was Maddow acting as a partisan hack out to get Christie, or was there something to that Fort Lee story worth looking into? Bob says she was, in those very words, and Fort Lee was a “ginned-up” controversy. When Bob was trying to fashion the McDonnell scandal into something to bludgeon Maddow with, was it bullshit to minimize it as no harm, no foul? On second thought, call those questions rhetorical. I already know your knee-jerk response. You are that predictable.

    I’m not changing the subject, I just find myself questioning your ability to discuss it.

    Again: If you want me to respond to your criticism of Bob, you’ll have to be more specific about his text — his actual words, not your attempts at paraphrase.

    Whereas if you don’t need a response from me, you know what to do.

    Simple as that.

    Thanks.

  131. 131
    Cervantes says:

    @Anonymous37:

    Cervantes, you seem really, really eager to have the last word, so go nuts.

    Not at all, but if you have lost interest so be it.

    It’s funny the different tacks Cervantes is taking with the two of us, isn’t it?

    Not funny, just a function of dealing with two people who write differently from each other.

    When I respond in detail, (and he then follows up with long asides as to how Maddow really was cheering the indictment, in response to a claim I never made) I’m obsessed with Somerby, compared with Cervantes’ supposedly dispassionate observations.

    What “long asides”? Show me.

    Who said you’re “obsessed” with anything?

  132. 132
    aretino says:

    @Cervantes:
    Well, OK, but caveat lector: if that’s how you’re trying to find out what he says these days, you still may not know.

    I have not been making an effort to find out what Somerby is saying these days. He convinced me to desist, as I said, years ago. I learn from time to time what bee is in his bonnet at the moment by seeing comments here and elsewhere. Some of the recent hubbub he created brought to mind issues I had with his work from many years ago.

    I was upfront about how long it has been since I read his blog. I thought that would make it evident that my conclusions about the flaws of his approach were made long ago, and that recent controversies reminded me of my earlier assessments. And, of course, it allows those who have actually read the entire Somerby corpus, and believe on that basis that there is a new Somerby who is different than the old Somerby, to know that they can discount what I have to say accordingly.

  133. 133
    Cervantes says:

    @aretino: I don’t read him much, either, these days. Sometimes I see a chorus of complaints about him, pick one complaint to investigate, and typically find that it is not particularly valid.

    Above, for example, someone recalled his article of Jan. 21. Looking at it, I found it contained basically 3 points of criticism, two of which are demonstrably true, the third being a little more subjective. I can understand people thinking that even though his criticisms are valid they’re unimportant — I’d disagree but I could understand that. What I find remarkable is the inability to admit that his criticisms are valid even if seemingly picayune.

    More than anything substantive, his critics seem not to like his tone or his aesthetics. I can understand that, too, though it does not concern me all that much.

    Looking at your original comment, I see you list three issues.

    Re what you call “his constant, malicious insinuation that other liberal commentators had impure motives, were just showboating, etc., when they didn’t have a single-minded focus on his hobbyhorse of the day,” I’d agree (and have said here before) that his wanting to set the agenda for other people is, at best, wasted effort. I can’t comment on “malicious insinuation,” etc., because (a) it’s a free-floating accusation and (b) I have no access to his innermost thoughts.

    Re your second issue, i.e., that when “proven wrong, he seemed to pursue petty vendettas to get even rather than just admitting his mistake (a proclivity which seems to be at play again with Maddow and the George Washington Bridge)” — it’s difficult to comment because I have no idea what specific text you’re looking at. (Similarly I can’t comment on your other examples of this “proclivity,” either.)

    Re your third issue (“his whole conception of reasoning about politics is obviously flawed”), it’s a sophisticated, very broad, generalized critique that I am in no position to discuss because I simply have not read — and most likely will not read — enough of his text to know if your generalizations are valid.

  134. 134
    James E. Powell says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    That was good, damn good.

  135. 135
    Irishguy says:

    @aretino: What did it for me was his obsession with Maureen Dowd.

    I had already begun to realize that Somerby sits at his keyboard and types up whatever thought crosses his mind at that particular moment, without doing the hard work of organizing those thoughts and thinking them through to arrive at a coherent post.

    But his obsession with Dowd was even worse than that. It was boring. The mortal sin of any blogger. Day after day after day, Maureen Dowd’s Sunday column, picked apart and “analyzed” with Somerby saying the same damned thing, day after day after day.

    I used to click on the Howler every day and read his ruminations about Dowd. Then I began skimming them. Then I began reading the headline, then clicking out of the Web site. Then I stopped clicking altogether.

    The only times I ever take note of Somerby is on those increasingly and very rare occasions when a blog I do read mentions something he has done. It used to be that those references were more frequent and complimentary. Much less so these days.

    And it seems these days, when I am compelled to follow a link, that his new obsession is with Rachel Maddow.

  136. 136
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    I used to click on the Howler every day and read his ruminations about Dowd. Then I began skimming them. Then I began reading the headline, then clicking out of the Web site. Then I stopped clicking altogether.

    Sure, I think being bored is a reasonable response to what Bob writes. He does go on — because there is so much mediocrity out there to criticize, even — especially — among the professionals.

    On the other hand, leaving aside his readers, I think his targets usually deserve it, and none more so than Maureen Dowd.

    If he is inaccurate in his criticisms, people ought to be able to specifically point this out.

    So again, I really don’t see the problem.

  137. 137
    Irishguy says:

    @Cervantes: Oh, but I never said I disagreed with anything he ever said about Dowd.

    I said I was bored by it. Same thing. Day after day, week after week, over and over again in long, tedious unreadable posts.

    As I said it was worse than being wrong. It was boring.

    Here’s another thing. I tumbled on the fact that Dowd really didn’t have much to say long before Somerby began blogging. Her column was syndicated in my local daily (it no longer is), and I chose not to read it quite early. I didn’t really need Somerby to convince me how really shallow her work is.

  138. 138
    Cervantes says:

    @Irishguy:

    Oh, but I never said I disagreed with anything he ever said about Dowd.

    Yes, I know you didn’t.

    I didn’t really need Somerby to convince me how really shallow her work is.

    You didn’t need his work, perhaps, but all indications are that many others do. There are people who read, say, the New York Times uncritically and without paying attention to bylines. Even a smallish dose of Somerby cures that ailment toot sweet.

Comments are closed.