Archive for July 30th, 2004

To My New Friends in the Media


During the Democratic Convention the Dowbrigade (seen here with some
of his vegetable friends)
noticed a certain competetive distrust bordering on dislike between the
Bloggers and members of the more traditional media. Yesterday we tried
to understand the reasons the conventional media feel threatened by the
bloggers. Today we would like to address the Blogger’s distrust of old-line
media, and their occasional depiction as the evil empire which Bloggers
must dethrone.

Basically, get over it, Bloggers.  Conventional media is here to
stay. There is no way we can out-report the reporters. They are professionals,
and some of them are really good at what they do. They have
training, experience, and in many cases temperments, which we do not
and probably never will have.

Bloggers are different.  We specialize in Perspective. At an event
like the convention, we take our readers to the site of the news, give
them a texture and context to help them digest the news, let them feel
what it is like to be there.

One of our personal dreams for the maturation of the Blogosphere is
to arrive at a critical mass, a stage at which blogs will be so ubiquitous
that whenever something important, something newsworthy happens on the
planet, there will be a blogger nearby to give us that context, that
personal touch, that raw feed from the source.

Between events, we analyze, ridicule, parody, and recycle what others
write and report.  Often, we can see connections and follow story-trails
which would otherwise remain unexplored. At our best, we can offer a
variety of viewpoints unavailable in the mainstream media.

We will never replace conventional media, nor should we want to.  We
are not competing with them, we are augmenting them. If we find a way
to work together we can make the American people the best informed in
the world.

Once In a Blue Moon


John Kerry got lucky last night. As a 30-year Boston resident
the Dowbrigade has heard him deliver a lot of speeches. And informal
chats. And press conferences. So we can say with some authority that
he delivers an oratorical gem once in a blue moon.

As unlikely as it may seem, last night there was a rare blue moon hanging
in the sky above the Fleet center.  The first full moon of July
was the 2nd of the month, and so it is one of those months, every three
years or so, when we have TWO full moons. The second one is called a
"blue moon".

That blue moon was shining over our left shoulder like an albino basketball
with acne as we drove our weary way home following Kerry’s stellar acceptance
speech. As we drove, perhaps to stay awake, we turned on a talk radio

A caller named "Gunnar" who was a member of a motorcycle gang and an
elated Kerry supporter, was speculating on the prospects that Kerry issue
a national ruling to abolish motorcycle helmet laws and allow people
to "ride free".

Hey Gunnar, the prospects that Kerry will repeal all helmet laws are
about the same as the prospects that he will repeal the minimum wage

But the caller got me thinking. The Democratic Party has nominated a
guy who rides a chopper.  A hard-core Harley Davidson enthusiast.  What
if he wants to ride his Harley in the inauguration parade? Would the
Secret Service let him? Can you imagine the President of the United States
down Pennsylvania Avenue on a Harley?

What marvelous times we live in.

Kerry Climax Begins Reign of Balloons


Somehow, now that The Man is up on the stage, giving “the most important speech of his life”, it seems like almost an afterthought. But we came all this way, we may as well blog it.

He opens with, “My name is John Kerry, and I am reporting for duty.” This line gets big reaction. He goes on to talk about his mother….always a safe topic, and his Dad. He cadences are relaxed and the emotion is coming through.

We know that Kerry’s rep as a speaker is “arrogant” and “aloof:” but his tone and inflection always sounded pretty natural to us. This is probably due to our spending too much time in effete Eastern universities.

And yet, he seems to be missing that magical empathy with his audience of truly great public speakers. They seem to sense when the audience is about to burst into applause, and pause perfectly, to let the wave of enthusiasm wash over him before going on, as if on cue, just as the sound dies down. Kerry acts that instinctive timing, at least tonight, and occasionally hurries on onto the applause, his words lost in the previous wave of approbation.

Ohh, he just promised to appoint an Attorney General who WILL uphold the constitution, bringing the biggest reaction so far. “Outsourcing” seems to be a powerful negative buss word, eliciting a chorus of “Booos”.

Looks like he’s had some dental work lately, he;s flashing those pearly whites like he wants to show them off. He is now lauding his running mate, an obligatory nod, but it sounds sincere. Camera on Edwards, smiling, thumbs up, projected onto the Jumbotron.

He is starting to drone now, not even pausing to make sure we are still with him, half of each tag line is lost in the applause and no cheat-sheet press copy of the speech to follow along or quote as was the case with the majority of the speakers.

But the crowd seems to be eating it up. Good line “The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to”. Why does he continue talking through the cheering? We can’t hear a word! Is he afraid if he slows down and pauses during the cheering breaks the speech will go so long people will get bored and leave? Is he on a tight schedule because of planned commercial breaks?

“I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as President.” We heard you John, you can move on now.

John just said “Help is on the Way”, which makes much more sense to us than the variation Edwards launched at us repeatedly last night, “Hope is on the way”.

“The future doesn’t belong to fear, it belongs to freedom”

One of the reasons political oratory has seen such a decline in recent years is that politicians, even obviously smart ones like John Kerry, are being forced, or are forcing themselves, to use a limited vocabulary and relatively simple syntax. Someone must have told them they need to talk in language ALL Americans can understand.

But we remain romantically attached to the idea that one of the many roles of President is to raise the level of political discourse, to educate and uplift his fellow countrymen, and to capture with eloquence and even poetry the simple yet profound songs of the American soul.

Suddenly, all around Blogger’s row, a cascade of babble in half a dozen foreign languages has broken out. There are television lights to the right of us and more to the left. What’s happening is that during these few precious minutes that Kerry is on the big stage in the background, every single foreign correspondent in the joint (most of whom seem to have been located up here in the nosebleed section with the Bloggers) wants to grab some face time on camera with The Man visible and audible in the background. They are just jabbering away a mile a minute, making it almost impossible for the Americans in the vicinity to hear the words of their next President.

C’mon guys, you don’t see the Dowbrigade going over to YOUR countries and talking during a presidential campaign speech.

Kerry is talking about jobs now, he is mixing emotional appeal and designed applause lines with a few specific details of the policies he proposes

“We WON’T raise taxes on the middle class, and I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy” Well, that takes care of tax policy

“Treat teachers like the professionals that they are” There’s a line a teacher has to love, although we hope that treatment includes a healthy raise.

“Now I’m going to tell you something that Teddy Roosevelt never said….go to JohnKerry.Com

“Rather than claim that God is on Our Side, I am going to pray reverently that WE are on GOD’S side” GREAT line….

Damn, there he goes talking through the applause again, we missed a couple of points. The fact that that annoys us is a good sign, we guess. Some of the other bloggers seem to be looking at a version of the speech on their screens; maybe we missed it in our INBOX.

“Our best days are still to come” For a final, climatic line this one leaves us limp, that that is even a question smacks of whistling past the graveyard.

So it over, that’s it. The nation, and the world, has been introduced to Sen. Kerry If he can manage to keep from shooting himself in the foot over the next 100 days, he has a good chance of emerging as the most powerful man on the planet. But a lot can happen in 100 days.

We will wait a day or two before we really try to figure out what all this means and how we feel about it. Right now we are so exhausted we could sleep right here in this hard wooden stadium seat. We want to slink down the stairs and into the cool night air, and make our way home to bed and the beautiful Norma Yvonne. But first the balloons…

And here they come……..