Friday, July 30, 2004

The Democratic National Convention

Friends, foes, and those who just happened to stop by: I'd like to apologize for not blogging as much as usual of late. I've been "on vacation" for the last two weeks or so, thus my Open Source production has declined a bit (though I have enjoyed plenty of R&R, so I should be back to a steadier clip forthwith). In my time off, I had the opportunity to watch television coverage of the Democratic National Convention for the four days it was on, and as watching it was the most exciting thing I did over the break, I thought I'd share its best moments with you.

But I've gotta say... it's really a shame that more time wasn't devoted to the convention by the major media outlets. Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I often decry this country's two-party system, but like it or not, it's what we've got. So when Americans are shortchanged the chance to hear candidates speak (both Democrats and Republicans), a message is sent to Americans - politics isn't important. Instead of covering Barack Obama's brilliant speech Tuesday night, the networks were too busy airing reality TV shows.

Robert P. Laurence commented on Comedy Central's take on the whole matter:
[Jon Stewart] also tossed a few well-aimed barbs at the networks for ignoring Tuesday's sessions, observing that they'd offered instead visions of "a more humorous America (NBC's 'Last Comic Standing'), a more attractive America (ABC's 'Extreme Makeover'), an America where your wife goes to live with another family for a week and then they tape it. (Fox's 'Trading Spouses')."

Stewart's jibe was well placed.

The networks have decided that anything, including the sleaziest reality show, is more important to them than making a serious effort to cover the political conventions.

You might think that some sense of duty would prevail. You might think that, for four nights every fourth summer, when ratings are down anyway and there's so little to lose, they could sacrifice a point or two and offer the nation something more substantial and lasting than schlock entertainment.

You might think that, but you'd be wrong.
Never mind the fact that the networks are skirting their responsibility to use the PUBLIC AIRWAVES to inform and educate (remember, the airwaves are not owned by ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox -- they're the property of the American people): what's really shameful about this whole mess is the following comparison I read the other day in the Kansas City Star:
Here's a revelation that should make U.S. network executives blush: The Arab news network al Jazeera is airing at least 90 minutes of live reports each night from the Democratic convention while the American networks are devoting just three hours of live coverage the entire week.
Get it? Those in the Middle East probably have a better idea about what transpired at our country's political conventions than do most Americans. Feeding the public mind-numbing garbage night-after-night is a more effective propaganda technique than anything the Soviets ever invented.

Well, I've ranted about this issue long enough, but good news! Because I love you all, below is my ranking of the top 5 Democratic speeches from the past week with links to their videos on C-SPAN. I really encourage you to watch them, regardless of whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or a completely apathetic individual. They're the cream of the crop. Best first:
  1. Barack Obama
  2. John Kerry
  3. Bill Clinton
  4. John Edwards
  5. Al Sharpton
Quick commentary:
  1. Obamarific. If you watch one thing, watch this.
  2. Could not have delivered a better speech - wanna know Kerry? Meet him here.
  3. Same message as at Harkin's Steakfry. Man, he's good.
  4. Very impressed with his theme - discusses a "Politics of Hope."
  5. Al's on the list for three reasons. First, it's a Sharpton speech (lol). Second, he decided to "ad lib" in response to comments made by Bush and ended up giving a speech for 20 minutes (from memory) that was different from what was given to the teleprompter operator; done well, that takes skill. Finally, because TV pundits are retarded (Chris Matthews took him off the air because he was supposedly "off-message"). Decide for yourself.
Now, I know this is long, but I just had to share one last story from the convention, so bear with me....

From News Australia:
An on-air curse broadcast by CNN after US Presidential candidate John Kerry's nomination acceptance speech has left Democrats and network officials with red faces. After Senator Kerry's speech accepting the Democratic Party's nomination, balloons and confetti were released into the crowd. But apparently there weren't enough for DNC convention centre director Don Mischer, who was heard on voiceover urging workers to release more balloons and confetti.

'No confetti. No confetti yet. Go balloons. Go balloons. More balloons. All balloons. All balloons. Come on guys, let's move it," began a relatively calm Mr Mischer.

Soon afterward however the DNC director begam to panic. "Jesus, we need more balloons. I want all balloons to go, goddamn. No confetti. No confetti. No confetti. I want more balloons. What's happening to the balloons? We need more balloons. We need all of them coming down... balloons.

"Go balloons, balloons... what's happening balloons, there's not enough coming down. All balloons - where the hell - there's nothing falling," Mr Mischer said, before finally exploding: "What the f... are you guys doing up there?"
Ahh... the grand old tradition of Democratic Party Conventions: the failed balloon drop. I'm out for now. G'nite. :-)

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