Monday, August 27, 2007

Sykes’ Free Ride

UPDATED BELOW

The free ride for Charlie Sykes continued this past Sunday in the Journal Sentinel, where book editor Geeta Sharma Jensen treated the small, thin book like a legitimate piece of homey literature. "And so, we have his rules," she gushes, "spawned by common sense, aimed at parents, and designed to give teens a dose of reality."

Golly, even I might want to read that. Too bad the book itself is a mean-spirited continuation of Sykes’ radio poison, having little of the "common sense" or "reality" proclaimed by Jensen. Sykes has created a world of his own manipulative design, featuring the usual straw-men, phoney assumptions and false "solutions" for problems that either don’t exist or that have since the beginning of time.

But, I guess, if you are a local high-profile media "personality", you get to put out a book and do the media tour without really being challenged for the substance of the product itself. It’s like coddling the local rock-n’-roller who really isn’t that great, but, hey, he’s our guy. Apparently, as long as Sykes shows up with the book, smiles and doesn’t get too smarmy like he does on his radio show, hey, a couple of books will be sold.

The 50 Rules, Sykes’ says, began with 10, then 14, then, whatever. At 50, the book is stretched as thin as the book’s 161 white-spaced pages. "Don’t forget to say thank you" and "look people in the eye" reads more like Miss Manners than the sanctimonious societal scold Sykes pretends to be. My favorite throw-away Rule is "learn to deal with hypocrisy". I think this means Sykes is not going away and we will have to learn to deal with him.

The most-discussed Rule is the one about that great wing-nut canard, dodgeball, which, according to Sykes, is more like life "than your gym teacher thinks". Leaving aside the cheap shot at teachers that Sykes knows nothing about – again, the premise of the book is based on a lie about schools in the first place – this idea that "dodgeball is life" is ludicrous. The kids who succeed in dodgeball are the same who succeed in sports generally – good hands, quick response, good arm. Combine the good athlete with a bully, and you have a pretty obnoxious situation in dodgeball, but those guys are out there acting like jerks anyway.

If you want to say "life is dodgeball", you might as well say "life is sports" (even more so with the dedication, practice and skill development in regular sports), and we know that’s not true. Some athletes succeed off the field and some don’t. Many athletes off the field are not on top of life, as much as they need to get one.

Because Sykes holds himself as some sort of get-over-it tough guy, I’m guessing what he is getting at with the whole dodgeball nonsense is that kids need to deal with over-powering, bullies. Well, sure, and so what? Dealing with bullies is only a part of life, not life itself. Bullies also will need to learn to deal with other types of people, eventually – even the corporate world trains for and demands teamwork and will get rid of punks, no matter how talented. Maybe Sykes, the radio bully with the government-regulated megaphone, thinks that everyone needs to get over his own mostly un-earned media position. "You are offended, so what," goes one of the Rules. But that’s what you’d expect to hear from a bully, isn’t it?

On the polite media tour, Sykes is able to spout the nonsense about dodgeball, coddling teachers and parents and all of the historical sins of youth without being challenged. The questioners nod their heads and take it all in, as if Sykes is only stating the obvious. He walks out of every media studio he enters unscathed, as if his wisdom has been received and acknowledged. Legitimacy is therefore brought for the price of a vanity book, and the rest of the media just plays along.

For his part, Sykes takes his enhanced intellectual heft to the microphone and continues to influence local elections and parrot daily talking points on behalf of Republicans everywhere. Mission accomplished.

UPDATE: In a comment on Tuesday, one Dr. Blogstein invited me to call in to his talk-blog when he was having a discussion with Sykes that night. I did, and here is the audio link. (Push the "play" icon next to Sykes; I start at 35:35). They kept me on for about 15 minutes. Any attempts I made to engage Sykes were rebuffed by Sykes and the hosts (I don't know where they were from -- out East, maybe) by claiming I was taking his words too seriously, apparently. Sykes talks and writes, like all wing-nuts, to reach the level of guys in a bar, and the Blogstein crew was more than willing to play along. Sykes' issues were "apolitical", according to Blogstein. I argued that Sykes sets up straw-men by pointing out anecdotes and extrapolating out to the whole teaching profession. They were having none of it -- they know what they know and, if they think kids are being coddled ("bubblewrapped", according to Sykes), well, that's what they think. It is (or should be) Sykes' motto: Never let the facts get in the way of a good argument. Anyway, I was basically advised to lighten up.

Anyway, this is the kind of free ride Sykes gets on his book tours. He knows that he is poisoning the well for future attacks on public education, but he poses like just some gentle soul commenting on known truths. When you challenge any of his false premises, hey, lighten up. The Blogstein crew couldn't put this in the context of his radio antics, but he knows what he's doing.

Interesting moment: early on, Sykes invited me to write my own book. I said I would, if I had the same kind of corporate support he gets from groups like the Bradley Foundation and the Wisconsin Public Policy Institute. Later, Sykes seemed to plead poverty as a reason to write the books. Ha.

The free ride continues, even on blog-talk-radio.

59 comments:

P. Wolff said...

Someone sounds a bit jealous!

Anonymous said...

Really? It sounds to you like this blogger secretly covets being a manipulator of the truth? This blogger sounds like someone who wants to influence local elections by simply parroting daily talking points on behalf of a Republican agenda?

Uhhhh, no, not this blogger.

So on what basis do you perceive jealousy here? Or was that just parroting on your part of a stupid talking point from high school -- where you didn't follow rules so learned nothing about framing a discussion?

Other Side said...

It's a conservative programmed response.

Mike Plaisted said...

p. wolff:

Yeah, jealous. Just like the people around Faustus were jealous about his success. Boy, if I could just sell out to enough corporate interests, and make deals with the Republicans to broadcast their talking points as if they were my own...oh, the mountains I could climb!

I am indeed jealous of someone who has managed to make a career out of pandering drivel. Silly me, insisting on quality of argument and integrity of message. How dumb to expect the government-controlled airwaves to be used for the public good.

Thanks you calling me out on this p. I am ashamed of my envy. I shall repent, first chance I get...

goofticket said...

Could we ask Charlie to suck on the end of a machine gun? A loaded machine gun?

He could teach gun safety, unlike Ted Nugent's style.

But Charlie will certainly support the Nugent who threatens Presidential cnadidates, if he runs for Michigan Governor or Illinois Senator.

How about Republican men's room behavior in public parks and airports, Charile...what's the proper way to solicit gay sex, these days for kids?

Charlie is a tabloid idiot of the highest level.
Charlie Sykes is BatBoy.

Anonymous said...

Sykes should be banned from radio and TV. We need the Fairness Doctrine resurrected, it's completely unfair that he's allowed to say what he says on a daily basis. How about Mike Plaisted on local talk radio???? :)

patrick said...

Yeah, anonymous 7:59 and goofticket are right. Why doesn't the left finally and forever abandon its pretense of freedom of expression. Then you could take all those stupid people with opposing points of view out and shoot them. That's tolerance.

As far as Plaisted of the radio--I'd listen with genuine interest.

Mike Plaisted said...

Hey, thanks for the support, all. Would love to get some time on the radio, but, strangely, not getting any calls offering same. The studios of TMJ -- like their FCC license -- is locked up tight and right.

I don't think patrick got the reference to the Nug's comments about Obama sucking on the end of his gun and Hillary riding it, comments the ever-friendly Hannity refused to renounce. Ted Nugent is an idiot with bad music who is coddled by the right because he is a gun-totting idiot with bad music. If a leftie had made the same comments on, for instance, the comments section of this blog, it would be discussed non-stop for a week as a prime example of the "Democrat base".

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing, and some have more free speech than others. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, but the public airwaves are another matter, or at least should be. Under a new Fairness Doctrine, Sykes and his ilk could spout all their usual nonsense on the radio -- they just have to allow an opposing view. That's what their really afraid of -- their bullshit can't stand the light of day. It is they that shut people up by shutting them out. Their insecurity speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

So Mike, who's gonna pay for that opposing voice? All talk radio (other than NPR, albeit not completely) is supported by advertising dollars. It's been proven time and again that liberal talk radio has no audience and practically zero appeal, especially to advertisers who pay lots of money to reach a wide audience.

One would think, Mike, that if your point of view is so common and popular that securing an audience, and thus advertisers, would be an easy thing. Why is it not?

Anonymous said...

Why not? Because some right-wing media -- including student newspapers, online and otherwise -- turn out to be funded not by advertising and the free market but by right-wing foundations and similar sources.

And that may be happening locally, considering the similarity in names of some of these media.

Anonymous said...

Do you have ANY proof to back up that claim?

Student newspapers as right-wing media??? That's a complete oxymoron!

Please show me where radio stations like WISN and WTMJ are not majority funded by advertising dollars.

Anonymous said...

Sure. Check out the Collegiate Network, check out Front Page. And I've read of others whose names I forget now -- one funded a paper at UWM. But you can try those terms, if you want more. What I've read already is enough for me to realize that campus media are targeted.

As for the stations you state, I didn't, so you also can check out those.

Mike Plaisted said...

You know what? I can build a web site, start a newspaper, do direct mail -- I can do a lot of stuff to get messages out there. One thing I can't do -- and I'll be put in jail as a "pirate" if I try -- is start a radio station that flies through the air. There are limited spots on the spectrum and the government controls who gets to have those few precious spots.

As a result, radio is subject to regulation. Given the availability in cars, the radio has a reach and power that other media can't match. That's why the Fairness Doctrine kept un-balanced political speech off the air for years, until Reagan, in the most long-lasting act of his administration, dumped it in 1987. Notice all the 20 years anniversaries for wing-nuts like Belling and Limbaugh this year? That's why.

If the angry-white-man demographic that the wing-nuts patronize to liked leftie talk, you'd be squawking like a stuffed bird about how "unfair" it all is. Instead, with wing-nuts cling to their radio entitlement. "Get over it" they say. "Get over yourself", sez me.

By the way, the Badger Herald in Madison was fully funded by the vast right-wing conspiracy when it started and now they have little campus wingnuts are all over the place.

Dr. Blogstein said...

Mike: I have Sykes coming on my show tonight, 8pm CT. Feel free to call up and ask him the challenging questions that you claim the media isn't asking him.

The number is 646-652-4804. I'll keep you on as long as you're interesting, enetertaining and provided you're somewhat respectful.

link to show: www.blogtalkradio.com/DrBlogstein

Anonymous said...

So what about the public television airwaves? Where's the equality? Oh that's right, you don't perceive a liberal bias so therefore it doesn't exist. Nevermind.

If the radio airwaves are truly public and ought to be held to some "fairness doctrine"...who will pay for the technicians, engineers, staff, personalities, etc who fill the thousands of hours of air time?

What happens when an advertiser doesn't want to buy time during the "equal time" liberal viewpoint?

Why can't Air America stay afloat? It's all driven by advertising dollars and, despite the media's best efforts to promote the heck out of it, it still failed miserably outside of liberal bastions such as Madison and Berkley.

Since you can't make it on the limited public airwaves, why not try satellite radio? Then your audience would have country-wide appeal. Good luck finding any advertising support.

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony:

I know this is like beating my head against a wall, but...

Is there anyone on public television spouting his or her opinions 3 hours a day the way the radio wing-nuts do? For every Bill Moyers, there are ten John McLaughlins. So what's your point?

I love this: go get on satellite radio. Wonderful, go get a blog, get a newspaper, get on satellite. It doesn't change the fact that there is no replacement for the power and exclusivity of radio and I can't do that.

AM radio was full of wonderful programs before the Hounds of Wingnut were set free by Reagan. None of those stations went dark. It might be good for them -- they might have to think a litle more about what trash they are putting in the air.

How do you know liberal radio wouldn't work? -- it's never been tried by the mainstream, clear-channel stations. When WISN needs a someone in the morning, they have to go clear to Madison for someone wing-nutty enough for them. When a supposed liberal won the contest last year, they smothered her into insignificance and made sure an actual paid Republican consultant, Brian Fraley, was there to make sure the Right was heard. Now, even she's gone.

Look, the Fairness Doctrine ain't coming back anyway -- wing-nuts are already making screeching, pathetic victim noises to make sure it doesn't.

But it should.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anything about media? Radio is a slowly dying medium. It's slowly fading away because of satellite radio, cell phone use, and iPods in cars.

And what's wrong with my suggestion of getting on satellite radio? Is it not nationwide with a wider potential audience than some local drivel like WISN?

I guess this is basically "affirmative action" for wanna-be liberal radio talk show hosts who can't hack it in the real world market.

I'm seriously starting to question your business smarts Mike. Air America was picked up by several clear channel markets, but when the advertising dollars couldn't support the format, they flipped to another format (music, other talk, etc). It's all about the advertising dollars, not billionaire republican financers who love to hear "hate speech" as you would like to believe.

Can you name me another radio program/format that was promoted/reported on more heavily than the ramp-up to the unveiling of Air America?????

Mike Plaisted said...

Yeah, radio is slowly dying, alright. No one wants anything to do with it. That's why all those wing-nuts cling to their sense of entitlement like I was trying to take away the water that they drink.

Just ask Jessica McBride how much it doesn't matter that she lost her soapbox. She went from a know-nothing blowhard on the radio to a know-nothing pretend-professor blogger over night. Ask her if it makes a difference.

Sykes, Belling, McBride -- if not for their sorry squawking up in our faces on the radio would just be another bunch of ranting lunatics, blogging (badly) about light rail and illegal immigrants in chat rooms where like-minded xenophobes pat each other on the back about how right they are. They have no credentials for anything but pretend to know everything.

patrick said...

Now, Mike, wht are your credentials? You're a criminal defense attorney. So what?

As far as a market place for liberal/progressive radio goes, consumers have been quite clear about this: liberal radio can't hold an audience. Call to mind for a moment that great liberal hatred to corporations. That hatred is (wrongly) based in the idea that they care only for profit. Since this premise is largely true, there is no logical reason to assume Clear Channel and the other media companies would not have put liberal talk into markets to sieze profits and market share. The void of mainstream liberal talk radio itself suggests that it is unprofitable, that there is no audience. Before the fairness doctrine was cancelled, radio stations might have been able to stay lit, but there was never the potential for profit there is now.


The response of the left is that the fairness doctrine should be selectively employed to recind the freedom which the marketplace has granted. This is obviously un-American, but the question you should examine is if the fariness doctrine were to return, would the voice of the left be heard any louder? Who is to say that progressives would be the "other" side of the coin? Why not greens, or libritarians, or moonies?

Mike Plaisted said...

The "marketplace" hasn't granted any "freedom" in radio. It is still a limited-by-nature resource, "free" only in the sense of the choices made by those who own the spots on the spectrum.

Saying wing-nut radio is the Choice of the People is like saying FM music radio fans in the late '70s "chose" to have their music stations destroyed by national consultants who homogenized and destoyed rock radio.

The reason station managers choose only one flavor of talk is because consultants are telling them that's how to reach the angry-white-male demographic. The stations are not independent -- they do what they are told. Bringing in a leftie voice would have the consultants (and the stockholders) storming the corporate gates. But the consultants are not always right, they are just goddamn consultants, paid to play it safe.

I would assume that the return of the Fairness Doctrine would result in less screeching opinion-spouting of all sorts on the radio, as it did before. Except for "public affairs" shows (remember those?), stations in the former FD era stayed out of blatent opinion broadcasts, and I assume they would do the same rather than try to manage the range of opinion that would demand equal time.

That is not a bad result. Then, no one has the unfair advantage only radio can provide and the wing-nuts are really out there on an even playing field in the marketplace of ideas. They lose that game, and they know it. They mistake their dominance of talk-radio for real accomplishment. Like Junior Bush, they were born on 3rd base and think they hit a triple. They cling to their phony entitlement because that's the only way they can "win". Otherwise, they are just like the Moonie-run Washington Times, a marginal player at best and a regular election-loser for sure.

Non-political talk can be done -- WLS in Chicago does it in the afternoon fairly well. It does involve a bit more thought and you don't get your talking-points from the GOP, but it can be done.

Anonymous said...

Radio IS slowly dying Mike, just look at the proliferation of all of the other media choices that people never had in the past. While more and more people are driving, their in-car media options has also increased a ton.

Those hate-speech wing-nut right-wing squawkers (as you call them) are staying ahead of the curve by podcasting nearly all of the shows for download because they realize that traditional, terrestrial radio is going the way of the Dodo. Reaching people via iPods and streaming online broadcasting is the future of radio.

More questions you'll never answer logically:

1) If the FD makes a glorious return (in your wettest of wet dreams), do you actually think MORE people will listen or will listners go away because it has been proven time and time again that liberal talk has no audience? (by the way, that was a rhetorical question)

2) With the decreased audience size, why would advertisers continue to spend money on a station with a declining audience?

3) With less money flowing into the station, who is going to pay the on-air personalities, engineers, technicians, etc to keep the station running?

Mike Plaisted said...

Owning a radio station is a license to print money and they'll get some lowest-common-denominator programming out there, even if they need to go back to playing old music. I don't really care what happens to radio, as long as they are not poisoning the political environment with one point of view. No radio station has ever gone dark -- there is always someone somewhere who will be able to make money by grabbing a space on the dial, if any owner is foolish enough to sell.

So, talk-radio is a full-employment device for radio people? Hardly. The on-air, engineers, etc. jobs that used exist at radio stations are getting fewer by the day as outfits like Clear Channel run several stations in the same and various other cities with a single program director and "news" departments serve more than one city (last I heard, WISN imported their "local" news at the top of the hour from Cleveland). Pretty soon, there may be no one manning local stations -- just someone on call to keep the transmitter warm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for not answering any of my questions.

And also thank you for acknowledging that radio is in fact dying as evidenced by the consolidation of services to cut costs.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the Dr. Blogstein interview. You failed to produce any facts other than to argue that "that didn't happen to my kids." You kept coming back to "this is an attack on the education system," yet offered no evidence to back it up.

Meanwhile, Charlie and the hosts had logical rebuttals and offered evidence and reasons to back up everything they said.

Like it or not, you were trounced. You were a better "straw man" than Charlie could have ever come up with.

Bond said...

I am sorry, but your account of the interview is full of sh**, I made specific references to issues I had fought within my school district, and you wanted to fluff it over...

I was NOT in total agreement with Sykes and when you called me "Phil" and I corrected you, you blew it off as "whatever'...

hey bud... YOUR AGENDA IS JUST AS RABID AS YOU CLAIM SYKES' IS...

Why can't you believe for a second this is happening?

And your comment that 'they are from the East' shows your absolute disregard for anyone who does not live in your little world out in the mid-west.

Why are we any less able to make an informed comment than you are?

patrick said...

If the fairness doctrine is such a great thing why do leftys only want to apply it to radio? Why not TV and print sources too? Personally, I get a little sick of that Oberman fellow and his "special comments". Of course, the ratings for his little channel are far lower that those of Fox, just one more example of the fact that liberal ideas can't sustain an audience. Sure, conservative programming prompts loonies and makes people mad, but it is more often a forum for discussion and a good place for people to come for hard facts and a less emotional look at difficult problems.

Since I work in a school, I can tell you as a certainty that while students arn't exactly coddled in every respect, our expectations in regard for their behavior and work ethic has seriously declined. It is true that we increasingly as a system seek ways to excuse or ignore or forgive them of any responsibility. This habit of shielding them from the consequences of their actions only contributes to our own demise. Sykes is right about this despite the fact that he is often too critical of teachers. But teachers are public servants and deserve close scrutiny.

Mike Plaisted said...

Bond:

Dude, relax. I got a little discombobulated during the talk over that "Phil" thing -- I don't know enough about your show to call anyone there anything, so I didn't call you "Phil". As for guessing you were from out East, that was just a guess -- it doesn't mean anything other than you weren't familiar with Sykes' schtick.

If you want to get rolled by his bullshit because of some goofy parent's group in New Jersey, be my guest. But the idea that kids are "bubblewrapped" by the schools is ridiculous. In fact, kids these days have to work harder, just so they have a chance at decent colleges -- a lot more than I ever did.

The reason I can't believe it's happening is because it isn't. You can list goofy things happening in a hundred schools throughout the country -- and that's being generous -- and that leaves 99,900 school where it's not happening. Where's the problem? Where's the trend? Like I said, like guys sitting around a bar, you don't want the facts (or lack of them) to get in the way of a good bellyache.

And, this is not apolitical. Not for Sykes, anyway. These false notions play into the hands of those who -- like Sykes -- want to destroy the opportunity that public schools provide. That's why he writes this nonsense. Why people like you eat it up is beyond me.

guess said...

I am a mother of three beautiful children, and I can't tell you how much I disagree with the comments made by Patrick and Skykes. Expectations are lower? Lower than when? Lower than they were when half our generation refused to work, cut their hair, or stop getting high. certainly there are kids today who are coddled, what else is new? I am proud of this generation of children. They participate in extracurricular activities where there is 0 tollerance for alchol, drugs, failure in school. These kids are living in a big glass bubble where every mistake they make has potentially enormous reprocussions for their future. How many times did you have a couple of beers as an underage kid? I don't imagine you found yourself in rehab, with thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. If we coddle our kids, its because "the man" is coming down on them and somebody has to keep an eye on them. We were allowed to make mistakes.

As far as lowered expecations are concerned, I think your assumptions are pure crap. The schedule that these kids are expected to maintain while still achieving excellance in school, church, and family is nothing short of miraculous. My son has to be at school every day at 6A to weight-lift or he won't play football. He is in 4 - AP classes. These casses assign homework throughout the summer. He attends practice 5 days a week after school until 5:30. Then he is expected to do mandatory "service hours" for his church group. Certianly homework and family deserve a mention. How about food and sleep. Yes Patrick, they are a wollowing bunch of unmoivated, underachieving, lazy kids. And we were the generation to model!

Bond said...

I know nothing about Mr Sykes. So I am not eating anything up nor am I sitting around a bar giving a good bellyache, and I am well aware of the facts.

Why is a "goofy" parents group in NJ not a threat? Why is a school district in MA not a threat?

School districts ARE banning dodge ball, and insisting sports teams accept anyone who signs up, and also trying to shut down sports all together because it is not good for little Johnny and Joanie...

100 schools becomes a thousand, a thousand becomes ten thousand...

OH and BTW, I am NOT a Republican, so this to me is NOT a political issue. It is an issue of over protecting the children of America and not realizing that when they hit the workforce and their boss gives them a bad review, they will have no idea how to react.

I agreed with some of Mr. Sykes' thoughts, I did not get "rolled by his bullshit".

Sorry, Sir, but I am not a lemming as you suggest. I am a well educated professional who votes and supports our troops, but not the war and sees the real potential for a problem down the road.

You on the other hand want to close your eyes to the fact that it can happen.

Did you listen to anything I said last night? That the district my son was in was more concerned with grades then developing well-rounded individuals. ALL that mattered were grades and band and orchestra.

When you go to a HS game and your teams marching band comes out do you expect to hear pop and rah rah music or classical dreg?

Well all that the band at his HS was allowed to perform was the dreg. WHY? because that is what was pressured on the school (we need to be more mature and playing pop music is SO beneath our children).

It is happening...not in your little enclave...but in the 100's of schools you even admitted to.

Things like this have to begin somewhere and will spread if left unchecked.

If you want to bury your head, be my guest...but do not be condescending to me and tell me to relax. If you do not want contrasting opinions on your blog i will no longer post here, but then you become worse then those trying to push their agenda.

Mike Plaisted said...

Bond:

As you can see by looking at any of my comment threads, I encourage and relish opposing views. Be aware, though, that I use this as a chance to engage those who have views contrary to me. One of the tragedies of Rove-era politics is that the right is encouraged not to engage with the "enemy", other than to try to take them down personally. So, come on in, the water's fine, but be prepared to swim. Talk about not coddling...

One regret (of many) that I had after getting off the phone last night was that I didn't make the kind of points that "guess" does, above. I agree with her that this generation of kids is, in fact, held to much higher standards than in the past; standards that result in very real consequences. To say that this generation of kids are somehow "bubblewrapped" when one missed question on the SAT will keep them out of even public universities and one joint discovered by a cop will keep them precluded from financial aid is nuts.

Even in the area of team sports, the competitive situation is worse, not better, than when I was a kid. Kids who are serious about sports now have to pick one and play it all year long in clubs and travelling teams -- anyone who doesn't and shows up to try out for the high school team is pracically laughed off the field. Everyone keeps score, alright -- with a vengence.

As a casual three-sport athlete in high school myself (jack of all trades, master of none), I think this is crazy. But that's the way it is. There may be a community here or there that is going the other way and one of them might be yours. But that's the exception and hardly a trend to be guarded against.

And dodgeball is a fun game, where those who are good at all the other sports succeed. But it's not life and who cares if a few schools take it out of the phy ed curriculum? It is hardly the end of Western civilization. That will happen when we take the assumptions of radio demogogues and act to prevent things that aren't happening.

Anonymous said...

Guess,

First, it appears you are raising some very well-rounded kids who no doubt will have the values and work ethic to make them successful in adulthood, and you are to be commended for your parenting skills.

However, it seems you are from the Plaisted School of Debate (first lesson: if it doesn't happen to me, it must not happen to anyone). The fact is there are mounting examples of what Sykes is saying, and it can be seen in news stories or personal anecdotes on a daily basis, if you care to look. Do these things represent the majority of kids' experiences? Most likely not. But a phenomenon doesn't have to be in the majority to constitute a trend. Quite the contrary. Trends are phenomena that may be isolated but are highly visible in the culture and gaining in momentum. Trends, with time, either go away, or become the norm. I think Sykes, et. al., is trying to ensure it's the former.

As for you, Mike, your ability to miss the point is breathtaking. You go back to the dodgeball example, criticizing the notion that "dodgeball is life." But that is not what Charlie is saying. He said it's LIKE life in some respects. But you seem to think that he means that if you're good at dodgeball, you'll be successful in life.

Is banning dodgeball by itself a terrible thing? No, but as Bond said, these things add up and pretty soon we have kids graduating from college totally unprepared to deal with the harshness of life. In fact, that's already happening.

Bond said...

http://plaistedwrites.blogspot.com/2007/08/sykes-free-ride.html
----------------------------------------------------------
I am sorry, but your account of the interview is full of sh**, I made specific references to issues I had fought within my school district, and you wanted to fluff it over...

I was NOT in total agreement with Sykes and when you called me "Phil" and I corrected you, you blew it off as "whatever'...

hey bud... YOUR AGENDA IS JUST AS RABID AS YOU CLAIM SYKES' IS...

Why can't you believe for a second this is happening?

And your comment that 'they are from the East' shows your absolute disregard for anyone who does not live in your little world out in the mid-west.

Why are we any less able to make an informed comment than you are?
-------------------------------------------------------------
Bond:

Dude, relax. I got a little discombobulated during the talk over that "Phil" thing -- I don't know enough about your show to call anyone there anything, so I didn't call you "Phil". As for guessing you were from out East, that was just a guess -- it doesn't mean anything other than you weren't familiar with Sykes' schtick.

If you want to get rolled by his bullshit because of some goofy parent's group in New Jersey, be my guest. But the idea that kids are "bubblewrapped" by the schools is ridiculous. In fact, kids these days have to work harder, just so they have a chance at decent colleges -- a lot more than I ever did.

The reason I can't believe it's happening is because it isn't. You can list goofy things happening in a hundred schools throughout the country -- and that's being generous -- and that leaves 99,900 school where it's not happening. Where's the problem? Where's the trend? Like I said, like guys sitting around a bar, you don't want the facts (or lack of them) to get in the way of a good bellyache.

And, this is not apolitical. Not for Sykes, anyway. These false notions play into the hands of those who -- like Sykes -- want to destroy the opportunity that public schools provide. That's why he writes this nonsense. Why people like you eat it up is beyond me.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I know nothing about Mr. Sykes. So I am not eating anything up nor am I sitting around a bar giving a good bellyache, and I am well aware of the facts.

Why is a "goofy" parents group in NJ not a threat? Why is a school district in MA not a threat?

School districts ARE banning dodge ball, and insisting sports teams accept anyone who signs up, and also trying to shut down sports all together because it is not good for little Johnny and Joanie...

100 schools becomes a thousand, a thousand becomes ten thousand...

OH and BTW, I am NOT a Republican, so this to me is NOT a political issue. It is an issue of over protecting the children of America and not realizing that when they hit the workforce and their boss gives them a bad review, they will have no idea how to react.

I agreed with some of Mr. Sykes' thoughts, I did not get "rolled by his bullshit".

Sorry, Sir, but I am not a lemming as you suggest. I am a well educated professional who votes and supports our troops, but not the war and sees the real potential for a problem down the road.

You on the other hand want to close your eyes to the fact that it can happen.

Did you listen to anything I said last night? That the district my son was in was more concerned with grades then developing well-rounded individuals. ALL that mattered were grades and band and orchestra.

When you go to a HS game and your teams marching band comes out do you expect to hear pop and rah rah music or classical dreg?

Well all that the band at his HS was allowed to perform was the dreg. WHY? because that is what was pressured on the school (we need to be more mature and playing pop music is SO beneath our children).

It is happening...not in your little enclave...but in the 100's of schools you even admitted to.

Things like this have to begin somewhere and will spread if left unchecked.

If you want to bury your head, be my guest...but do not be condescending to me and tell me to relax. If you do not want contrasting opinions on your blog i will no longer post here, but then you become worse then those trying to push their agenda.


Bond:

As you can see by looking at any of my comment threads, I encourage and relish opposing views. Be aware, though, that I use this as a chance to engage those who have views contrary to me. One of the tragedies of Rove-era politics is that the right is encouraged not to engage with the "enemy", other than to try to take them down personally. So, come on in, the water's fine, but be prepared to swim. Talk about not coddling...

One regret (of many) that I had after getting off the phone last night was that I didn't make the kind of points that "guess" does, above. I agree with her that this generation of kids is, in fact, held to much higher standards than in the past; standards that result in very real consequences. To say that this generation of kids are somehow "bubblewrapped" when one missed question on the SAT will keep them out of even public universities and one joint discovered by a cop will keep them precluded from financial aid is nuts.

Even in the area of team sports, the competitive situation is worse, not better, than when I was a kid. Kids who are serious about sports now have to pick one and play it all year long in clubs and travelling teams -- anyone who doesn't and shows up to try out for the high school team is pracically laughed off the field. Everyone keeps score, alright -- with a vengence.

As a casual three-sport athlete in high school myself (jack of all trades, master of none), I think this is crazy. But that's the way it is. There may be a community here or there that is going the other way and one of them might be yours. But that's the exception and hardly a trend to be guarded against.

And dodgeball is a fun game, where those who are good at all the other sports succeed. But it's not life and who cares if a few schools take it out of the phy ed curriculum? It is hardly the end of Western civilization. That will happen when we take the assumptions of radio demogogues and act to prevent things that aren't happening.


OH please…one missed question will not keep a child out of a public university. My son was an average student and is enrolled in at Towson University earning a degree in Psychology.

Though he was a one sport athlete (his decision) there were plenty of multi-sport athletes on his baseball team, so do not try and say that it does not happen.

My son played 4 years of HS ball, and played baseball his freshman year at the local JuCO ( a decision made because of things OTHER than grade...and not to be discussed here -) and is now trying to walk on at his new school.

He was able to handle the 4AM wake ups during the off season for team practices and still get good grades to allow him to attend Towson.

There is a thing called CHOICES, and most of these parents are pushing their kids so that they will end up visiting my son when he opens his practice.


The one joint or one beer analogies both GUESS and you use is total crap. I know a number of teens who got busted for both by the police, yet are all attending well known schools, including Ivy League Universities.

And GUESS' comment that my generation 'refused to work, cut their hair, or stop getting high.' is laughable.

My hair was down the middle of my back for 10 years; I did the getting high thing, so did most of my friends and guess what? We are all incredibly successful and have children who are also.

Kids ARE allowed to make mistakes in society…it is the parents who refuse to believe that it is allowed.

Maybe GUESS is putting too much pressure on her kids. FOUR AP CLASSES? Please, that is so out of hand it is not funny. Is that because they MUST get into an IVY league school? Are the other schools beneath them?

Yes, if you want to play HS sports, you must do certain things. Is this taking away from family time? Then drop the football.

When these kids do not get straight A's they go into depressions because they are not a success...that is even worse than anything you can do.

And dodge ball is taken out of the curriculum because we can't have little Johnny or Joanie having their feelings hurt...

Feelings are going to be hurt our whole life, the sooner a child realizes that the sooner they will have the chance to be well adjusted.

THAT has been my point the whole time....simply put, kids need to be kids, and kids will be mean to each other and not every kid can be the most popular or the best athlete or the best student and by dumbing down the way we educate our children, they will never learn this point.

Interesting that you keep spouting your mantra, yet you do not address any of the illustrated points I made other than to brush them off as 'only happening in a couple of places.'

BTW, not once have I used the term 'bubblewrapped', but you keep throwing it at me...

patrick said...

Guess:

I'd also like to commend you on your parenting and sympathize with the rigorous schedule your son keeps. I've known a lot of students like him over the years. I've no doubt that he will be the stronger for it. But my point--as was noted above--is that he is not the normal student. If he were, there would be no need for any of these discussions.

However, I bet if you ask your son, he'll be able to shed some light on "coddling" as well as the darker side of the school; he'll shed light on laziness both in teachers and students, but mostly on a system which does little to encourage responsibility or teach students about the real consequences of their actions.

Finally, I'd like to repeat my esteem for you and your family. When people meet your son, that's what they'll know: that he's the son of a family. But know also, that I'm no rookie teaher nor am I sour or bitter. I love it, but too much effort is made to look after esteem, tolerance, and the idea that every kid is special. The truth is that some are not, and to some extent it is the schools which have made them that way.

Mike Plaisted said...

Hey. Bond, try not to paste the whole thread in your response -- makes it easier to read. Thanks, brother.

Your point the whole time: "kids need to be kids, and kids will be mean to each other and not every kid can be the most popular or the best athlete or the best student". My point the whole time: There is no one I know, in or outside of a school building who is trying to deny any of this. "kids will be mean", yes, and the schools will tell you that. They shouldn't allow violence, but every school knows how mean kids will be, better than we do. "not every kid can be the best" -- and where is it exactly where everyone is pretending to be the best?

Feelings will be hurt, you say, get used to it. Sure. Schools teach that all the time, everywhere. "Bubblewrap" is Sykes word, not yours, but it's the same allegation -- that schools try too much to cushion the blows of life. It's just not true. Especially since they have to teach-to-the-tests of No Child Left Behind, they don't have the time. After kindergarten (do they get to be nice in kindergarten, or do they need the tough-love there, too?), kids are pretty much on their own.

As for your cited incidents, I think recognizing them as isolated is answer enough, but I'll address it further. You say a group of parents in New Jersey wanted to eliminate competitive sports. They failed, school and other parents did the right thing. What's the problem -- good result, right? Should they not be allowed to advocate for this (maybe there is a nightmarish version of the super-competitive club-sports nonsense)? Does the fact they even want to raise it mean that the End is Near? I think that's a bit of a stretch. You believe what you want to believe, but the sky is not falling.

Mike Plaisted said...

Patrick:

Here is your main point, I guess: "too much effort is made to look after esteem, tolerance, and the idea that every kid is special". You exaggerate the "efforts" made, but what is the alternative?

Should we break down kids instead of trying to build them up?

Should we not tolerate differences -- does that include racial, gender, sexual preference, handicaps? -- it that too hard for you?

Kids being "special" is the same as self-esteem, so, how unspecial are the kids in your school? Would you be comfortable with naming names of who is special and who is not in the Brave New World of No More Mr. Nice Patrick?

Well, here is my advice: Fly. Be Free. Go ahead and treat your students anyway you like, anyway you think they deserve. They are not special, anyway, and don't deserve to have esteem they haven't earned, by your standards. And, hey, you don't have to tolerate anything from them or how they are any more.

There. Feel better?

Bond said...

Sorry about the posting of the thread, not sure what happened there.

You miss my point and I am tired trying to explain it to you. It is not isolated, parents are getting away with it around the country and if we are not careful, before we know it, it will be way too late.

patrick said...

Mike:

I treat all students with respect. But I do believe that we do a great dis-service to them when we milk them with false praise. I believe students are to be encouraged to achieve, even bribed, or whatever. But the worst thing we can continue with is creating an environment which praises them when they have done nothing praise-worthy.

Mike, most people in life have to deal with the harsh realization that they are not Michael Jordan or Arthur Miller. They do have to be prepared for a world that in many ways sees them as ordinary, common, forgettable. But what I teach them is this does not excuse them of the moral demand that they make their lives spectacular even if they don't appear to have some valued talent or even if they are born gay and a part of the world hates them just for that. Think of John Proctor from The Crucible for a moment; his moral imperfection does not release him from his duty to do the right thing. When he does, he is redeemed. In the same way its best that we teach children that they have no reason to be proud until they do something. When we praise them for nothing or engage in empty tolerance rituals we lessen the value of these things and students know it. No student has ever learned tolerance by watching a lecture or reading a GLBTGQ poster. Only authentic experience or maybe good parenting produces tolerance. This is because students know that lectures and posters and silence days are, by nature, artificial.

Finally, when students get a compliment or praise in my class they know it is genuine and earned.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time believing ANY of these arguments are related to the inner-city kids I work with. Who in their right mind has the audacity to tell them that they are coddled when there are awakened from their sleep by gunshots? Who is going to tell them they are coddled when playing out in the street is like taking your life in your own hands? Doing homework in the bathroom because there is no room on the table or the music and the TV are too loud. These kids have to work harder than ANYONE else just to make a dent in the world. They learned Charlie's stupid "rules" in the womb. By the time many of the kids I see, get to school they know there place in society and the likes of Sykes likes it that way. Rather poetic yet disgraceful if you ask me. Every generation has its old codgers that react to the behaviors of the youth in their day. Unfortunately, it seems to me the average age of the complainers is getting younger and younger. At this pace in about 20 years perhaps we’ll see students in their own school newspapers complaining about themselves and just how lazy they’ve become. Then the next step of course would be for kids in daycare to be complaining about each other and how they simply aren’t potty trained as earlier as they used to be or walking as quickly as they should be. After all, isn’t that how trends start?

Roland Melnick said...

MikeP has no concern for the future of WTMJ620 or WISN 1130. His only concern is to shut up opposing viewpoints. All his arguments are based on the premise that we live in an Orwellian state and that conservative talk radio is the only voice out there.

Meanwhile, back in reality...part of being in a free society means you can turn off the radio, or just change stations if you don't like it. My gawd, there's the whole FM dial, there's satellite radio, there's books on tape/CD/Mp3, there's all kinds of alternatives to listen to whilst piloting your Prius...and more technologies are just around the corner. YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT YOU WATCH/LISTEN TO!

You claim Sykes is supported by monies other than advertisers. Assuming that's true, why is that a bad thing? How is it different than the foundations and other groups who support PBS? Merely endorsing a view that you do not does not make them evil. You seem to argue that liberals lack the money to support a lefty counter to Charlie Sykes. Well there are no shortage of lefty orgs out there, heck, look at all the money Billary and Obama are raising. Go cry to them and see if they'll tell you why they didn't support Al Franken or the rest of the Airhead Americans enough to keep 'em alive.

But Mike, just to show you I harbor no ill-will, if you'd like, I'll contact WISN and ask them to give you a trial run to prove that Lefty talk can work. Since your audience will likely mirror that of Coast-to-Coast with George Noory, I'll ask them to put you on from Midnight to 5am. Fair enough?

Mike Plaisted said...

Roland:

Once again, we have the denial of the unique power and limited availability of spots on the radio dial combined with a whining plea to let wing-nuts continue to pollute the public airwaves with a single, GOP-driven point of view.

I want to shut them up? Right. The right-wing, just like everyone else, will always have ready access to newspapers, books, magazine, web-sties, blogs, podcasts and every other wonderful new and old technology the Moonies and other wealthy benefactors can and will buy for them. These are all the vehicles we of different perspectives are supposed to be satisfied with and grateful for as we try to get a word in edge-wise to the national and local discussion. I wouldn't want to shut them out of those free-and-open forums. Their twisted naratives, excuses and "logic" is just too damn entertaining to pass up completely.

But the airwaves are different in power and character and you know it. That's why you cling to your radio squatter's rights like an entitlement. Out in the real marketplace of ideas, the right wing fails. It desperately needs the unfair advantage that radio provides.

I look forward to the invitation from WISN to substitute for their current post-midnight programming, "Coast to Coast", which I believe is the successor to moon-bat Art Bell, where hilarilously serious "experts" discuss the aliens living just beneath the earth's crust (I'm not kidding -- I actually heard that one recently).

I always dreamed of being on the radio, albeit as a DJ, back in the day when music radio wasn't programed to death, actually spent some time in front of the microphone in college and at a listener-sponsored station in Cincinnati. Hey, I even got ripped-off by Career Academy of Famous Broadcasters back in the '70s.

So I'm ready, I was born ready. Waiting for that call...

Anonymous said...

"Out in the real marketplace of ideas, the right wing fails"???

If the right wing ideas are failed as you say, then why do advertisers pay top dollar to be on shows like Belling, Sykes, or Rush? Why do advertisers opt to pay more to be on Fox News instead of MSNBC? If their ideas are failed, shouldn't their audience reflect that and become smaller and smaller? If the left's ideas are superior, then why didn't advertisers flock to Air America since, as you believe, a majority of Americans believe what you do?

Dr. Blogstein said...

Colo. school bans tag on its playground

2 hours, 55 minutes ago

An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

"It causes a lot of conflict on the playground," said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus school.

Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

Fesgen said two parents complained to her about the ban but most parents and children didn't object.

In 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

Mike Plaisted said...

The "success" of wing-nut radio has less to do with the acceptance of their "ideas" by more people than it does with the demographics of radio. Wing-nut radio patronizes to the angry-white-male demographic that is apparently available (in the middle of the day...hmmm) and willing to sit (or ride) still for self-righteous demogouges who are willing to play to their prejudices and tell them what they want to hear.

There is not a similar group of liberals sitting around seeking that kind of "entertainment". Those who have tried (I heard Franken a couple of times) have failed to produce the same kind of sparks the wing-nuts can by screeching their black-and-white view of the world. They have too much respect for their audience to think they'd sit still for a lot of bumper-sticker squawking.
Liberals also lack the show prep provided by the GOP and the 24/7 echo chamber that the wing-nuts have of everyone saying the same things, day and night.

People who might happen to be liberal would and have succeeded on radio -- Howard Stern, Larry King and Don Imus come to mind (OK, everyone jump on the Imus reference...there, did you enjoy that?) -- but they succeed(ed) not by spouting liberal doctrine, but rather by providing entertaining controversial (Stern), intellectual (King) and funny/cranky (Imus -- OK, let's hear it again...thank you) content. Now, there's a concept -- creative programming. The wing-nuts should get off the GOP playbook and try it sometime.

Advertising dollars follow ratings. Fox "News" does what it does and gets the same audience as wing-nut radio. MSNBC, with Olberman and Matthews, have built a fairly strong base from scratch. At least the cable battle is a fairer fight, but only because MSNBC has chosen to give Olberman a platform and he has found his voice (after yanking Phil Donohue for being too liberal at the start of the Iraq War).

But the best political show on cable is The Daily Show, and its ratings are practically equal to that of Fox's resident bully Bill O'Rielly. Now THAT'S what I call competition!

guess said...

Patrick:

I would like to thank you for framing your response in a respectful tone, I sincerely appreciate it. And yes, I am blessed with great kids.

Please remember this Patrick; one person can make a difference. If the children at you school are being coddled, don’t be the one to do it. You certainly sound like a man of strong character and I challenge you to continue to challenge your students, we need teachers who keep our kids doing better things than they knew possible. As for some kids not being “special”…come on Patrick, you know better than that. I am not part of the Barney generation. I don’t think all kids are special because they exist, but I do know that all kids take actions, small or large, that make them special. You just have to look harder with some than others. When we take time to recognize the positive ACTIONS of kids, we begin to raise kids with strong character.

Anonymous:

I think you may need to have the first rule of debate clarified. That rule is, don’t say “the fact is…” unless it is a fact. Don’t say “the fact is there are mounting examples of news stories and personal anecdotes on a daily basis.” First, this is not a fact, and second, news stories and personal anecdotes, as you so clearly stated in your response to me, do not make a trend. So, if you have some facts that suggest we are raising a generation of underachievers who are not prepared to enter the competitive world of business, I challenge you to share those “facts”.

Bond:

It’s sad that you believe that a child who is in four AP classes must have an overbearing parent who insists on an Ivy League education. It sounds like you are the sort of parent who must “coddle” their child. “Sweetie, 4- AP classes are just too much for you, take the easy way out, and go for the easy A in non AP and get into any college you want.”

Anonymous said...

Funny, most of the so-called "Angry white males" that I know listen to talk radio as they're driving to and from their full time JOBS and occasionally listen to more talk radio in the background while they are at their full time jobs. Geez, what are all the liberals doing that they cannot listen to their liberal talk brethren?

Liberals lack show prep??? That's your defense as to why liberal talk radio doesn't work??? Come on Mike! You have got to be kidding me. That is LAUGHABLE as a defense.

MSNBC has developed a strong base? Where do you get your stats Mike? Fox News crushes them by nearly double or more.

The Daily Show? You use that as "news"? It figures. I actually enjoy the Daily Show and watch when I can, it's funny and I like poking fun at my own party, we can take it unlike the ilk from your party.

Why don't you watch the "1/2 Hour News Hour" on Fox News? You've probably never heard of it actually. Set your DVR.

Anonymous said...

Guess,

I think you misread my comment. First, it IS a fact that examples of the trend are mounting. Take a look at Dr. Blogstein's recent post. There's an example that can be seen without breaking a sweat. So I would call that a fact. You may deny that that's an example, but that's your perogative.

Second, I did not say that these examples don't constitute a trend, I said they don't constitute a majority of people's experiences. That doesn't mean it's not a trend.

Finally, I did not say we are raising a generation of underachievers, I said "pretty soon we have kids graduating from college totally unprepared to deal with the harshness of life. In fact, it's already happening." I've interviewed enough young people to know this is true. Not all the kids I see are like that - some are quite bright and professional, and most are at least acceptable. But there are some that have no clue how to act professionally and handle themselves in a business environment. Again, not most people, but enough to cause concern.

I'm sure this won't be a problem for your kids, but there are at least a few for whom it's a problem right now. Just a few, you say. No big deal. Most kids are fine. But if the trend is left unchecked, that few will become the majority.

Bond said...

GUESS: OH please, my son knew the real world from the beginning. He knew he had to work for everything he earned, but I also did not put him in a position where he could not eat or sleep as you complain about your child.

He played HS baseball for 4 years and had to be up early to work with the pitchers during the off-season. he played on Legion teams and also worked at a Baseball Academy as an Instructor from the time he was 16. BUT, he also was given the opportunity to be a teen and go out with his friends and have dinner with the family and get to sleep at a decent hour.

This discussion is playing out on THE COUCH today and a majority of the sentiment is that the "everyone gets an award" syndrome is much more rampant (here and in Canada) then any of you cares to admit.

tick said...

Anonymous:

Just wondering, if Guess and Michael's examples of their childrens expreiences are not representative of a sociatal trend...why are the examples Dr. Blostein gave?

tick said...

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has changed its rules, effective this July, to ensure that a student caught drinking, using tobacco or illegal drugs will be penalized. In the past, a student caught in his or her off-season could escape penalty. Now, the MIAA rules carry the penalty over to the athlete’s next sport season.

Anonymous said...

Tick,

Please refer me to where I said Guess's and Mike's children's experiences are not representative of a trend... I'm looking... Can't find it.

They cited their kids' experience as evidence of no "bubblewrapping" trend. But, like Charlie said on the Blogstein show, that's like saying there's no world hunger because my kids just got back from McDonald's.

I'm detecting a reading comprehension problem in this crowd...

tick said...

Talk about your comprehension issues..you suggest that Dr. Blogsein producing a couple of examples of schools behaving outragiously, therefor it's a trend. Why aren't the examples of the above mentioned children equally valid evidence of a trend. All I'm trying to say is that just because a few people say its a trend it doesn't make it one. Every generation of parents worries that the kids of that generation are doomed to some serious character flaw. Gen X, the "me" generation, flower children. Nothing new here!

Anonymous said...

My main point was that their personal experiences do not negate the experiences of many others.

Blogstein gave ONE example. I said there are many examples to be seen. It's more than a few people. Your standard of proof of a trends seems to be that it has to happen to everyone before it can be considered so.

And again, I did not say the other examples were not valid. If you can show me where I said that, I'll stand corrected.

Finally, you're right - every generation worries about its kids. The difference now is the rules are changing, things are getting more competitive, and America is losing its edge. You can point to valid examples that standards here remain high and kids are being prepared, and that's good. But there are also increasing examples of that not being the case, and that is ALL ANYONE IS TRYING TO SAY.

This is exhausting. I keep leading the horse to water, and it's dying of thirst.

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony 10:42 --

I have suffered through The Half-Hour News Hour on Fox "News". It's a joke, and not the way they intend.

They think Rush Limbaugh as president and Ann Coulter as VP is so funny, they have used it at least twice. They seem to think just the mention of the name "Pelosi" should get belly-laughs (and it does from its no-doubt machine-enhanced studio audience).

Where satire and irony are the genius of The Daily Show, the Half-Hour relies on wing-nut-prepped ridicule.

Why aren't right-wingers funny? The prime example of this is Dennis Miller, who has suffered one of the biggest falls from comic grace in show biz history. For a couple of years there (about '99-'00), he was one of the funniest guys on the planet on his HBO live show. He had an HBO special about a year ago, long after he became a Bush shill, and he was as unfunny as you could imagine. He was cranky and sour, seemed to be in a hurry to get off the stage. It's like he knew how wrong and painfully bad he was. Now, he is reduced to being just another wing-nut on the radio, recording spots for SleepNumber beds and gold-as-investment.

It's just sad. But not as sad as someone who thinks the Half-Hour is funny.

Anonymous said...

Of course Mike, anything that pokes at the left CANNOT be funny.

How can you possibly be so myopic??

Anonymous said...

Mike:

You may or may not be right about the need for greater regulation of the airwaves (I wouldn't myself presume to know), but I think you underestimate the potential power of the alternative media. (Your own efforts, which exemplify high values of civic involvement and citizen advocacy, included.)

The tipping point, it seems to me, was Dan Rather. And if you find that example unpalatable, there are any number of other candidates. Early on I stopped trusting the NY Times' account of the Duke Lacrosse scandal, in favor of blog coverage, which was more timely, incisive and, as it turns out, much, much accurate. The leading commentator recently had this to say with reference to the Times' risibly biased and to-date uncorrected erroneous coverage: Wilson’s article had one other important effect: it unintentionally if dramatically increased the influence of the blogs’ role in the case.

I think that's about right. No reason that same dynamic won't increasingly be true on the local level.

-- Bill Tyroler

Mike Plaisted said...

Bill:

Good to hear from you. I think you are right that the alternative media of blogs, etc. have some power and do get attention for things that might not in the regualr venues. However, in at least the two instances you are citing, it remains a re-active vehicle. Blogs that get noticed doing so can take down bad reporting by pointing out flaws and falsehoods in mainstream reports or assumptions, but will still struggle to get anything original out in mainstream discussion.

Also, especially in the two cases you mentioned, blogs need sponsors in the mainstream to make an impact. The re-action to the (mostly accurate) Rather report on Bush's (non-)service in the National Guard did not spring spontaneously from a pajama blogger with a knack for forensic typewriter analysis -- it came from a lawyer with connections to the Bush campaign. Also, un-noticed blogs may have the best information in history, but good info and writing dosen't mean anything unless establsihed figures pick it up and point at it. Again, in Rather's case, the moment the blog issued the challenge to the document, it was all over talk radio and Fox "News".

Same with the Duke case. The right-wing, led by Sean Hannity, were all over the black-woman-accusing-white-student story the day it came out. Anything anyone wrote to support the notion of a bad prosecution would be played up by the wing-nuts, regardless of what the conclusive DNA evidence was months later. In both cases, the blogs weren't as important as the determination by others with mainstream megaphones to use anything to break the enemy.

We all know about these blogger-gets-noticed successes, but for every one of those, I would guess there are 100 with good information that disappear in the internet ether. For example, during the Imus bru-ha-ha, I heard Charlie Sykes call Al Sharpton a "pimp" on the radio. I thought is was interesting, at least -- I think calling black men "pimps" is just as inflamatory as calling black women "hos", but it landed wiht a thud. Even the lefty blogs ignored it, except one by Roxanne Crawford (a black woman).

So it all depends on who you know and who's water you are carrying. The radio wing-nuts has used blogs as a vehicle to support whatever they want to promote. I would guess their blog-supported campaigns would have much less impact if they didn't have the free radio to promote them.

And, besides, Blog Power, if that's what it was, does not always lead to good results. Have you seen Dan Rather Reports on HD-Net? That dude can report, and he has been doing some serious shit on Iraq. His style and substance is badly missed on CBS, and everywhere else..

atarijpb said...

My favorite bit about all of this is that Sykes is a "convienance journalist." He'll bitch and whine about everybody else and act as if he is reporting the news factually, but when someone challenges him on his stances, he claims he is an entertainer. Don't hit him too hard - he may break! Don't take him at his word - it's entertainment! Bull. It dumbs down the real issues we all face.

Shills like this don't care about Conservatives or Liberals - they only care about the almighty dollar.

Anonymous said...

Mike:

However, in at least the two instances you are citing, it remains a re-active vehicle. Blogs that get noticed doing so can take down bad reporting by pointing out flaws and falsehoods in mainstream reports or assumptions, but will still struggle to get anything original out in mainstream discussion.

You make a good point, one I agree with. I'd go so far as to say that the blogs we're talking about are typically (in a descriptive rather than pejorative sense) "parasitic" -- they feed on the analyses, reporting and sometimes silly mistakes of deep-pocket mainstream media precisely because they don't themselves have those same resources.

We presently have only a glimpse, no more than that, of where this is all headed. At least, I'm not brave enough to offer any predictions, only the very pedestrian insight that blogospheric influence, over both partisan politics and the mainstream media, is already large and growing.

But back to your point: Even if purely "reactive," the insights of individuals such as you with the courage of your convictions are critical to this new form of discourse. (Or is it really an older form, a return to broadsheets?) I simply mean that your blog is part of a big experiment, and we just don't know where it'll all end up.

-- Bill Tyroler

Anonymous said...

What a thread! But through all that, best was the post that called Sykes this generation's "old codger."

That just might make him stop cutting and pasting together another "book."