Friday, February 09, 2007

The Smart Ones

My last post a week ago about the racist comments of Mark Belling and others after the over-hyped scuffle after a high school basketball game generated a bunch of comments. As usual, my favorites are those posted by a GOP surrogate who insists on being Anonymous. His or her last comment asked a question, and I figured I would bring the answer out in the main body of the blog so we could dissect and discuss.

"Why is it that nobody on the left can engage the arguments made by so-called Right-wing nuts without calling them racists or something? I thought you were supposed to be the smart ones..."

There are several deliberate flaws in this question/comment.

1) You can’t "engage the arguments" of wing-nuts, because they don’t make "arguments". Wing-nuts make assertions and then insist you agree and you are stupid if you don't. They tell lies repeatedly until some believe it, setting up straw-men that they then knock down with derision. They ignore the truth, even when exposed. Finally, they hide behind radio microphones and Anonymous posts so they don’t have to engage in real debate.

When is the last time Belling or Sykes (or, for that matter, Anonymous) exposed themselves to an honest public debate with anyone? Their TV shows don’t count – they drop their loud-mouthed radio personas and act as neutral moderators to the friendly panel that they construct. I would like to see, for instance, Belling show up anywhere in a public forum and spout the racist nonsense he spewed after Bradley Tech scuffle. He knows better, so he hides behind his microphone and his sanctimony. Anonymous hides for another reason. He or she won’t let me know who they are because to do so would legitimize me as a voice they have to deal with. Right-wing bloggers and radio wing-nuts only pick up lefty posts if they want to make fun of someone or show how "extreme" the Dem "base" is. And most of those posts they cite are phony, anyway.

2) I always argue against their ideas and not their person. I can and have without resorting to calling them "racist or something" – except when they are actually engaging in racist behavior. It is the supposedly-cerebral Sykes who has become so discombobulated with being wrong all the time that he has resorted to calling, for instance, Rep. Steve Kagen a "crap-weasel" and calling anything he disagrees with "crappity-crap-crap". It is they who engage in the politics of personal destruction, making up lies to belittle everyone from Pelosi to Hillary to Barak "Hussein" Obama so that they don’t have to engage them in a war of ideas.

In fact, I think I give them too much credit for trying to engage in real discussion at all. Radio wing-nuts don’t really want discussion or debate – they want GOP-friendly distraction and divisiveness. A Democratic politician once told me that he tried to call in to get a word in edge-wise on Sykes show and was told by Sykes that his show was "entertainment", and refused to put him on. I can’t imagine what is so damn "entertaining" about having Scott Walker or Alberta Darling with a direct line to the studio any time they want, but the bottom line is – they don’t care about real ideas and debate. As Limbaugh tells his listeners repeatedly, he is only interested in callers that make him look good. People like Sykes only pretend to be interested in public issues and discussion. All they really care about is the sound of their own voice and the advancement of the GOP agenda.

3) I don’t think we are necessarily the "smart ones" in the war of ideas. The construction of the wing-nut GOP echo-chamber by Karl Rove is a marvel of propagandic manipulation. Somehow, he got a whole roster – hundreds of talk-show sycophants and their enabling program directors – who were willing to do nothing all day long but repeat carefully constructed GOP talking-points. This goes right down to writing scripts for various levels (Limbaugh gets this spin, the local dudes get to talk about so-and-so in support, and the late-night ravers like Mark Levine and Michael Savage get to float trial balloons like nuking Iran). It’s quite something really, not constructed by dummies.

Liberals would never be able to construct that kind of message-discipline – nor should we ever want to. The difference between liberals and wing-nuts is moral, not mental. We have the truth on our side – and the wing-nuts and their puppet-masters are smart enough to realize that. That’s why they lie so much.

4) The question is not why I am calling out Belling for his racism. The question is: Why are he and others making blatantly racist statements and promoting division over understanding of the primary issue in Milwaukee and other cities – the legacy of slavery, segregation and poverty?

We are used to this with Belling, who withstood the use of a racist slur about Latinos several years ago and lived to brag and laugh about it. But, it appears, his entire radio station has gone off the deep end. Filling in for Belling on Thursday (who was off spreading his national nut-wings by subbing for Limbaugh), morning wing-nut Jay Weber tried and failed to counter a column by Eugene Kane of the Journal Sentinel. Kane is a favorite wing-nut lightening rod, because he eloquently focuses on racial issues in his Journal Sentinel column from (gasp!) a black perspective, making him the most important columnist in that paper and, perhaps, in the city.

Kane had the temerity, according to the undistinguished Weber, to try to explain a recent black-kids-hitting-white-guy incident on a city bus in terms that were not sufficiently outraged. Weber went off on a racist – yes, racist – rant about how the Bay View and Bradley Tech schools were being victimized by black kids being bussed-in from other parts of the city and how the inner city owes the "white and suburban community" a lot more than we owe them. It was an amazingly naked tirade by the near-amateur, trying to be Belling and finding himself way in over his head. In the middle of it, Weber recited the tired cliche: "I know this is not politically correct...." No, it’s not correct in any way. It’s racist. And it shows how far the standards have fallen for even already-bottom-feeding Milwaukee wing-nut radio.

But, what do you expect from a radio station that now proclaims itself "Your Conservative Home"? WISN is now running a promotion spot for the station that is a mock-commercial for coverage of City Conference basketball games, which, of course, the station doesn’t carry. "All the action, from center court to circuit court!" it claims. Now, that is the way that serious issues in the city should be handled -- with hate, division and mockery.

Or,as my dad used to say when he didn’t think it was: Idn’t that funny?


Xoff said...

"Screeners" make sure Belling and McSykes only get the callers they want.

If you want a station that takes all callers and promotes real discussion, try Milwaukee's 1290 WMCS.

Anonymous said...


I am the Anonymous who left the comment you enjoyed so much the other night. I'll admit from the get-go that I may well be close minded, and not above distracting personal attacks. I think we all are.

Have you ever logged onto Think Progress or another of the so called "Progressive sites"? If you have, I'm sure you'll realize that racism and hatred are alive and well on the left too. But as I read your response--well written by the way, in terms of style--I have to admit I don't find a lot of substance there either. Couldn't all the comments you make about my post in 1 also be said about your reply? In your reply, those who don't agree with you are "Wing-nuts and pupet masters", but you don't "argue against their person"? Real debate? I don't think so.

In the end, your blog is just the statement of your opinions, just like Sykes and Belling. True, Belling did call people "wetbacks", but people on the left also make occasional slips too. Tolerance requires, however, that we move on, look at the longer track record, and forgive. (we all find it easier to forgive those on our side)I don't know about Sykes calling Kagen a crap weasel, but I do know he was very quick to denounce the false Obama--Madrassa thing earlier this month.

Now, you should know, Rove didn't authorize any of these comments, but if he had, they would be no more or less logical. You have no argument there, just rant. If I quoted Common Sense, would you denounce me for using Paine's talking points?

As far as Webber goes, isn't he free to comment then on the "Black Perspective"? Kane comments on white milwaukee all the time. I think it is quite news worthy that the one white guy on a bus gets attacked by black teens and none of the people on the bus saw anything. Kane should strongly condenm this crime, not minimalize it. But is seems his morality only goes as far as an-eye-for-an-eye; at least we know him. And as a teacher myself, I can surmise that what Bradley Tech needs is stern, unwavering discipline, not understanding and tolerance.

You say the left is moral, and they are. However, I don't believe that morally acceptable behavior is predicated on "The legacy of slavery, segregation and poverty" Immoral acts--like beating a man on the bus or spouting racial slurs--should not be excused, explained, or minimized because the perp is poor and black or rich and white. If my mother was an alcoholic, would it be acceptable for me to hit someone?

Finally, you claim that I'm hiding. Fair enough. But you set the preferences on your blog to allow me to do so. Where is your hospitality? I already recognize your legitimate voice; I read your blog and took the time to reply. That's paying you quite a lot of attention, wouldn't you say. If I provided my name, you would have to recognize me--that's how it works.

Respectfully submitted,

Tom M

Mike Plaisted said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. A couple of things:

1. You can't "forgive" Belling for something he is proud of. When Belling was suspended for the "wetback" slur, he got on the air when he got back and made fun of his punishment and the whole issue. He wore his suspension like a badge of honor and certainly never apologized. The suspension did nothing to affect his persistent race-baiting and poisoning of the most important issue in this city -- that of racism and its legacy. Belling doesn't "slip-up"; he bludgeons.

2. So what, you say, if the talking points come from Rove, if they are legitimate points in the first place. Alright, but, again, wing-nuts don't make arguments. They lie to set up straw men, which they then knock over with a feather. For an example, see the "issue" of Nancy Pelosi and the plane that is or is not being provided to get her back-and-forth to California. She didn't ask for it and said, if it's too much to get a non-stop jet, then she'd continue flying commercial. Even after the matter was clarified by the sargent-at-arms and the White House, radio wing-nuts continue to harp on it, as if she has appointed herself Queen. There is nothing to respect or argue about with this kind of organized campaign to smear and lie. And that's all they do. They are not engaged in the war of ideas; they are engaged in a war of political posturing.

3. Whatever happened on the Mayfair bus and at Bradley Tech (BTW: I watched a replay of the game last night and it was a great basketball game with an excited and orderly crowd, followed by some jostling on the floor after -- no big deal, really. I wonder how many of those calling the crowd "animals" have actually seen the tape.), race-baiting wing-nuts always take anything with a racial angle and use it as an opportunity to beat up on the African-American community. They said nothing about the racist incident on Pewaukee Lake and did nothing but make excuses for the cops in the Jude beating. There may or may not be legitimate points to make about respect that we all should have for each other on the bus or at basketball games. But the last people we should listen to on that issue are Belling and the other racist commentators, who have no interest in racial understanding and only seek to incite and inflame to build their audience and their base.


Anonymous said...

Now that Tom has a name can I be Anonymous? And can I suggest that Tom is right in intimating that you do engage in name-calling. And can I then suggest that you embrace it and say "Tom's a dumbass", instead of signing off with "Peace". Everyone needs a catch phrase.

One catch phrase (cliche)Tom seems to have absorbed is "its just an opinion", and then equates your opinion to stupid ones. As though opinions can't be wrong, dangerous, or stupid. For instance, it is Tom's opinion that there were no other white people on the bus. So he can promote the myth that Mayfair is out of control (because of the black kids of course). And now we have crazy black kids at the malls, at the basketball games, and in the streets and holy fuck what is wrong with Milwaukee?

I pluralized intentionally, of course, because I understand Mike's points completely and Tom never will. Of course white people have fought on buses, in schools, and malls. This is not news, and therefore it is not news.

May I note that I have not in any way condoned beating that kid on the bus. Nor do I cite "slavery, segregation or poverty" as an excuse. Those are his quotes, not mine. Who the fuck are you quoting Tom? Is that the dumbass liberal who is so obsessed with trivia like segregation and poverty. Is that the straw man?

Tom says liberals excuses inexcusable things and thereby suggests that the liberal is a moron. But Tom, you are just making shit up.

And Tom says he is a teacher. OK, then, what if my opinion was teachers shouldn't make shit up. Its just an opinion right? What if I were the principal Tom? Would my opinion mean something then? Of course it would, so lets stop with the idea that dumbasses with opinions are harmless. It was once someone's opinion that___(fill it in your own self).

tom said...


I didn't intent to suggest your opinions were stupid, only that they were yours. Further, I don't want to defend Belling, he's a vain loud-mouth who thinks he's a lot smarter than he actually is. (personally, I think its funniest when he calls himself the "master of the analogy"--I bet we could find some common ground there)

I hope I didn't misrepresent your positions in my responses, and I can't address sll the straw men floated by both sides. I was just as distrubed by the false papers that were presented last year regarding Bush's military service.

I came to your blog a few weeks ago, read a few posts, and found them interesting. I usually didn't agree, but I didn't think they were stupid. But I'm reminded why it is a bad idea to respond--unless you agree with the speaker. I'm sure that you could cite similar cases where Ididots called you a "Dumbass" at conservative blogs. Its too bad too. You do have a good blog. I'll keep reading, but I'll keep my mouth shut.

As for you Anonymous--you truely are stupid. Your comments were incoherent at best. I doubt you understand Mike at all. I'm glad that you could muster a "Do not condone" regarding the bus beating. You're a shining beacon. I know you think you're pretty tough because you can say "Fuck", but I'm pretty sure Mommy will be home soon, so you'd better log off now.

krshorewood said...

Had to stay home from church this morning to work on a project. so maybe as a penance (though I'm not Catholic) tuned in to the local rant shows (Behling/Sykes) . On both of them, you had either the hosts or the guests deriding the morals and behavior of our African-American citizens in this city.

Now yes, there should be a level of personal responsibility. That is of course the typical straw-man charge brought up against liberals so let's flush that one.

The local Sunday morning talk shows paint large the problems in Milwaukee, why on every measure the condition of our minority poor population among the worst in the nation and the most shameful for what, in the most part, a rather socially concerned open-minded state.

These people are typically written off. And please, oh please, don't use any of MY MONEY to solve these problems.

There are solutions that we could try to improve the lot of these people and all of metro Milwaukee. Unfortunately every thing has to be filtered through this small minds.

Anonymous said...

Few things, "tom".

First, just because you don't understand something doesn't make it incoherent. For instance, Archies comics are not incoherent. For instance, I put in some thought to your suggestion that I run home to my mommy because you called me a name. I take that to mean that because you are such a brilliant thinker and maybe even a tough guy I should leave before you beat me up and make me cry.

Liberals don't do that anymore. If I understand the absurdly complex Mike Plaisted I think that may be part of the point of the blog.

Second, sorry I wasn't sufficiently upset about the bus incident. I think the phrase you are looking for is "mighty white of me".

Third, I don't think I'm tough, and so I apologize for using the f-word and for calling you a dumbass before you proved it. If I understand the point of your coherent reply, it was that I suck. But I'm white Tom, don't we have to stick together?

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