First up is one that ran in Thursday's paper, community columnist Michael King's salvo in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's continuing War on Blogs (see our previous war coverage here):
I admit that I've fallen into bad habits lately. I've been reading local political Web logs.In other words, don't bother reading the blogs, people, since it's not worth your time.
I know my time would have been better spent playing poker online or watching YouTube videos of Japanese teenagers lip-synching to Jessica Simpson songs, but sometimes I just can't help myself. [. . .]
For those who have never poked a mouse into the dark corners of the Cheddarsphere, as the true junkies call the online world of Wisconsin blogs, I'll provide a brief glimpse into the hype of hyperspace. [. . .] About 10% of the local blogs are worthwhile reading. They provide original content, good writing, interesting perspectives and thought-provoking analysis of current events. Avoid these at all times--unless you'd actually like to learn something.
The really interesting action occurs in the other 90% of the blogosphere. As a group, these blogs are basically an electronic version of a rowdy middle school lunchroom. Name-calling, crude insults, insider jokes, petty feuds, wounded feelings, inflated egos and unfounded claims of influence or power are the norm here.
Now, I admit, there are a lot of the blogs out there, on both sides, that don't provide much or strikingly original content, and there are Cheddarsphereans who are, indeed, juvenile morons. But you know how I deal with those blogs? I don't read them. It's really that simple; I don't feel the need to point out how much better I am than they.
I don't know if King reads this humble blog, so I don't know if, maybe, he'd care to elaborate on whether he just thinks he's being funny turning off potential readers to the wide world of quality local independent non-traditional self-published internet-based journalism. Seems to me, this time of year, there are better ways to spend your procious 700 printed words than just slamming the innanity that is some segments of the Cheddarsphere.
I'm also curious if King would care to name names, as I don't think that his 90-10 ratio is even close to accurate.
Whatever King's sins here, they pale in comparison to this essay from today's paper by actual blogger Dan Kenitz of BipolarNation. I think it may be trying to be satire, but it's essentially a series of punches to the face. For example:
• If you believe that it's everyone's responsibility to vote, you're stupid. Don't vote.This is not exactly set-up-roadblocks-and-purge-rolls-of-black-sounding-names levels of vote suppression, but, again, it's a damned big waste of a column just days away from a turning-point election. Calling people stupid (like on those WISN billboards) is not the way to win friends and influence people, or even promote your side to a victory. It makes you look like a bully and a thug, and pretty petty to boot.
• If you're disillusioned with the entire democratic process because you don't like President Bush, voted against him twice yet he still got elected, you're stupid. Don't vote.
• If you understand the depth and nature of the American military's sacrifice from Bunker Hill to Baghdad and its continued importance to our survival as a nation and as a collective soul, you're smart. Vote.
• If you want to re-elect Gov. Jim Doyle because you saw a TV ad that says Rep. Mark Green gives kickbacks to Big Oil, you're stupid. Don't vote. [. . .]
• If you think Milwaukee Republicans got carried away about Democratic voter fraud in recent years while supporting voter ID requirements that make sure votes are being cast by actual people, join the Democratic Party, change your name to John Doe and vote 1,700 times. [. . .]
• If your primary motivation for voting is that someone offered you a pack of cigarettes if you vote for Candidate X, you're an honorary Democrat. Don't vote. [. . .]
• If you get emotionally upset because a columnist called you stupid, don't vote. You're easily excitable and shouldn't have any say over who gets access to The Button.
Well, I don't know, that's perhaps all that's left for some conservatives--the ones who've given up actual conservative values to support the the moral vacuousness that is much of the state and national Republican leadership. They can't really talk about small government or personal liberty any more now, can they? They're just kind of stuck calling names (maybe Michael King's next piece can be about his fellow MJS community columnists!) and metaphorically beating you up for your lunch money.
I'm not bitter that I wasn't selected as a community columnist, that's not why I'm writing this. I have a much better (and more flexible) gig here, that I love dearly, even without the $25 a post, and I'd have this exact same reaction whether King and Kenitz shared newspaper space with me or not. But if this is the best the MJS could come up with for the week before the mid-term Congressional election, before the election for governor, then the editors are in bigger trouble than I thought.
In sum, just because every story needs a good moral: Do vote. Do read the blogs that inspire and inform you, and do spread the word about those blogs and how good they are.
Don't act like a thug in print and think it's funny.
UPDATE! P-Mac came through with a blog post praising the dickens out of Kenitz's op-ed! Calls Kenitz "brilliant"! That means I can impugn the McIlheran on this one, too!
As Rhiannon of Not to be Televised says, in the comments to this very post, "The MJS needs to realize that publishing this sort of thing makes them look like crap journalists." I would add, so does praising it.
And, while you're at it, read Seth on these same topics.