Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

You Won’t Believe What Trump Did This Time

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Aug 03, 2016 @ 1:47 pm PDT

Trump'd (OperaWorks)userpic=theatre_ticketsDid you hear about how Donald Trump, two Sunday’s ago, took pictures of his private parts and sent them to his gay lover while at a campaign rally? I know, I was there. Evidence, yet again, that Trump had actually sold his soul to the Devil.

(waits for a pause)

OK, it wasn’t really Donald Trump. It was Donald Trump as seen through the eyes of opera singers. Perhaps I should explain.

One of our treats every summer is attending the performance component of the Advanced Artists Program of Operaworks (FB). The Advanced Artist Program is for operatic performers in graduate school or beyond, who want to work in-depth on their repertoire – dramatically, musically, and physically. It’s goal is to teach the performers the “other” side of opera beyond singing. In particular, the not only learn how to address the business and marketing side, but they learn how to act and move on stage as actors and actresses — how to relate to other characters as characters, not just stand in front of a piano and sing. The program culminates with two performance shows of improvised opera. The show consists of three acts, not necessarily related. For each act, the students pick a location and come up with one paragraph bios of their characters and their relationship to the other characters in their act. They then pick arias, from both operas and other musical theatre, for each character to relate to another character. Improvising dialogue, they now put these characters and arias into a show. Here’s an example bio or two from this year’s program:

  • Ivanka Trump (Zeledón) is an American businesswoman, who is dedicated to making America great again, one shoe at a time. She is a staunch supporter of her father, whenever iti s most convenient to her.
  • A dental hygienist, Stephanie Hollenberg has been working for Daughters & Sons Dentistry for six years, where she instigated the increasingly popular “Tooth Fairy Tuesdays.” In her free time, she enjoys frequenting wine bars and shopping at the Container Store.

This year, the three locations chosen were a Subway Station in New York at 4am, an Art Museum, and a Trump Rally at said art museum. There was a connected story line. In Act I, they were getting the area ready for a Trump rally, when some Trump workers indicated they had something on the Donald. Act II focused on how the Devil was controlling the art in the art museum. Act III was the aforementioned Trump rally, where the aforementioned sexting occurred.

It is hard to relate the full details of the story, but here’s a summary of the singers, characters, and arias, in order:

Act One: An Abandoned NYC Subway Station at 4 A.M.

Singer / Character Aria Opera | Composer
Amy Selby (FB), an enthusiastic, youthful hipster, a techie, interested in jamming at NYCRavers events. Je veux vivre Roméo Et Juliette | Charles-François Gounod
/ Emerald Lessley (FB), a domestic engineer with an Etsy business. Come scoglio Cosí Fan Tutte | W. A. Mozart
Colin Campbell (FB), a TMZ sound engineering in a troubled marriage to Emerald. En fermant les yeux Manon | Jules Massenet
/ Glenn Fernandez (FB), a promising accountant at Trump Towers, recently let go during a cost cutting attempt. Si, ritrovarla io giuro La Cenerentola | Gioacchino Rossini
\ Jessine Johnson (FB), a resident of the Columbus Circle subway station. Regnava nel silenzio Lucia Di Lammermoor | Gaetano Donizetti
Maggie Finnegan (FB), part of Trump’s Secret Service detail, into folk music. I never travel without one Postcard From Morocco | Dominick Argento
Stephanie Hollenberg (FB), a dental hygienist dressed as a tooth fairy. Piangerò la sorte mia Giulio Cesare | George Frideric Händel
/ Jon Ellis (FB), an Exec VP of Corporate Finance for Trump Towers Inc. Ch’ella mì creda La Fanciulla Del West | Giacomo Puccini
\ Morgan Harrington (FB), Ellis’ executive assistant and secret lover. Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata Don Giovanni | W. A. Mozart
Margaret Izard, one of the cities finest janitors. Chacun à son goût Die Fledermaus | Johann Strauss

Act Two: An Art Museum above the Subway Station at 4 A.M.

Singer / Character Aria Opera | Composer
Shannon McAleb (FB), who studied art at Columbia University, but is now working restoring the great works of art in NYC. Chi il bel sogno di Doretta? La Rondine | Giacomo Puccini
Aphrodite of Arles (Catherine Leech (FB)), full of love, passion, and desires intimacy with the Devil. Non so più Le Nozze Di Figaro | W. A. Mozart
Sophie (Yoo Ri Clark (FB)), a socialite admired for her timeless beauty and elegance. Glitter & Be Gay Candide | Leonard Bernstein
Bacchus (Adam Cromer (FB)), the God of Feats, of Wine, and of Pleasure. Giunto sul passo estremo Mefistofele | Arrigo Boito
The Devil (Vanja Schoch (FB)), the oldest enemy of humanity. Endless Pleasure Semele | George Frideric Händel
/ Rick (Wes Hunter (FB)), a homeless man who has lost everything. Un’aura amorosa Così Fan Tutte| W. A. Mozart
\ The Degas Ballerina (Hillary Esqueda (FB)), who left the loves of her life to be here. Who Is There to Love Me? A Hand of Bridge | Samuel Barber
Camila (Erin Moran/FB), the Spanish Dancer in El Jaleo. Près des ramparts de Séville Carmen | Georges Bizet
Katya (Ashley Biehl (FB)), the soul trapped in El Lissitzky’s “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” Volta la terrea Un Ballo in Maschera | Giuseppe Verdi
Lady with a Helmet of Hair (Claire Choquette (FB)), from Picasso’s Blue Period Illustratevi o cieli Il Ritorno D’ulisse In Patria | Claudio Monteverdi
ALL Chi il bel sogno di Doretta? La Rondine | Giacomo Puccini

Act Three: The Next Morning at the Art Museum

Singer / Character Aria Opera | Composer
Jen (Zen Wu (FB)), representing CNN and the newest member of the Trump Press Pool, looking for a story amidst the gossip Ah, fors ‘è lui La Traviata | Giuseppe Verdi
Aimee Bobbins (Mackenzie Rogers (FB)), an avid NRA enthusiast and conservative voter. Nobles seigneur, salut! Les Hugoneuots | Giacomo Meyerbeer
Kat Smith (Katrina Deininger (FB)), an advocate for peace in the US and worldwide, who wants to give hugs to everyone. Du gai soleil Werther | Jules Massenet
Kevin Werther (Kimberly Hann/FB), a loyal member of the Trump security detail, faithful to the Trump family. Hence, Iris hence away Semele | George Frideric Händel
/ Julio Ramirez (José Mongelós (FB)), Trump’s official hair masseur, Gertlestein’s assistant. Dies Bildnis ist bezaubern schön Die Zauberflöte | W. A. Mozart
\ Lauren (Lauren James (FB)), a well-known TMZ reporter. Il est doux, il est bon Hérodiade | Jules Massenet
/ Sarah Coulter (Jessie Shulman (FB)), manager of the Trump campaign since April 2016 Svegliatevi nel core Giulio Cesare | George Frideric Händel
\ Rhonda Gertlestein (Kelly Ferguson (FB)), Trump’s celebrity hairstylist. Io son l’umile ancella Adriana Lecouvveur | Francesco Ciléa
Ashley Phelps (Ashley McKinstry/FB), great-granddaughter of Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. I Want Magic A Streetcar Named Desire | André Previn
Ivanka Trump (Isabella Zeledón), Trump’s daughter. Ci’io mai vi possa Siroe Re Di Persia | George Frideric Händel
Donald Trump (Marcy McKee (FB)), a wonderful, amazing entrepreneur Dich theure Halle Trannhäuser | Richard Wagner
ALL Libiamo ne’lieti calici La Traviata | Giuseppe Verdi

Overall, the event was very entertaining, and the singers not only performed well, but they interacted with other players well. This was especially true in the first act.

Technical Credits: Stage Direction: Zeffin Quinn Hollis (FB). Movement Coach: Dr. Paula Thomson. Improvisation Coach: Laura Parker. Artistic Director: Ann Baltz (FB). Additional faculty and Operaworks staff is listed on the Operaworks site.

* * *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and I plan to renew my mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 2016). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:  August is a bit more open in terms of theatre. The first weekend just has a Jethawks game on Sunday; the second weekend has a Bar Mitzvah.  The third weekend brings another event from the wonderful counter-cultural orchestra, Muse/ique (FB) — American/Rhapsody — a celebration of George Gershwin. Late August sees us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. September returns to conventional theatre. The first weekend has a HOLD for Calendar Girls at The Group Rep (FB). The second weekend may be another Muse/ique (FB) event — Summer/Time, a reimagined retelling of Porgy and Bess. The third weekend has a HOLD for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Mark Taper Forum (FB). The last weekend is The Hunchback of Notre Dame at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB).

Continuing the look ahead: October is a bit more booked. The first weekend brings Dear World at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) and Our Town at Actors Co-op (FB), as well as the start of the High Holy Days. The second weekend has another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) event: this time for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The third weekend has yet another VPAC event: An Evening with Kelli O’Hara on Friday, as well as tickets for Evita at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on Saturday. The following weekend brings Turn of the Screw at Actors Co-op (FB) on October 22 and the new Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on October 23. The last weekend of October brings Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom (a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood). Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, October is also the North Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and it looks like a theatre in Pasadena will be presenting the musical Funny Girl. November is still in the planning stages, but we know it will include Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB); a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]; the Nottingham Festival (FB); and possibly Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

Two Big Problems in a Political Summer

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Aug 03, 2016 @ 10:08 am PDT

userpic=political-flakesThis political summer, there are two big problems that I’ve seen. No, I’m not talking about the candidates themselves. I happen to be a strong Clinton supporter, but for those who aren’t, well, please heed the words of PJ O’Roarke.

No, the problems that I see are (a) the Trump supporters; and (b) a failure at the DNC.

The problem with the Trump supporters is that they have been so convinced by the Republican media-machine of the guilt of Hillary Clinton that they can no longer think critically and reason for themselves. They can’t see the flaws in their candidate. They are so angry at the political establishment that they would rather blow it up. They are, essentially, political terrorists, playing into the hands of terrorist leaders and demagogues. It is not good for our country, but they have been wound up so tightly with hate that they don’t care. This is the same thing that ISIS does with hatred for the west, and it may very well produce the same level of carnage in this country if it succeeds. More significantly, their minds are so closed they can’t see the bill of goods they have been sold. Not only is their candidate much much worse than he has been portrayed, but the Democratic candidate does not have the level of corruption and deceit that the Trump-supporting media has been stating. Independent assessors have actually pointed out that she is the most honest candidate, and all of the “corruption” investigations — including the email message — are more smoke than substance.

On the other side, the DNC failed to address the above. Oh, they addressed the problems with Trump. What they needed, however, was to have Clinton come out and straightforwardly address all the lies that have been circulated about her, demonstrating that there is nothing there. Bengazi — nothing. Email scandal — nothing. Clinton Foundation — nothing. Cronyism — nothing. But by not directly addressing the issues, they permit the rumors to live. No, they won’t be able to convince the Trump stalwarts. But they might be able to convince the Sanders supporters and the third-party supporters that Clinton isn’t the corrupt politician she’s been made out to be. They might be able to reach the folks that would vote for her, “if she wasn’t so corrupt.”

This election is one where much of our problems can be placed squarely on the media and its obsession for eyeballs. Trump may be a horrible candidate, one of the worst presidential candidates ever — but he is entertaining and draws the eyeballs to the media. This improves ratings, and helps the media companies. Clinton? She’s never been an exciting candidate or a moving speaker, and is very cautious — and so doesn’t make the mistakes and gaffes that get into the news. Why cover her strengths?

We need to figure out a way for people to think critically. To look at what Trump is doing and his history critically. What is in his tax returns? Why have all his businesses failed? What does his notion of having Ben Carson and Sarah Palin as his foreign policy advisors say about his judgement?

On the other side, for those so upset at Clinton’s emails, ask yourself this: If she was sending classified information against State Dept policy, then why didn’t the recipient’s report receiving the mails? That’s a requirement as well. The answer is that it wasn’t a problem — it was normal practice at the State Department, which does things differently than the DOD. If there was something clearly at the level of prosecution, it would have been prosecuted by now. The evidence of anything other than occasional poor judgement is just not there.

A Los Angeles Tradition: Summer Evenings at the Bowl

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Aug 03, 2016 @ 9:40 am PDT

Hollywood Bowl (Weird Al / Copland)userpic=theatre_ticketsI’ve been remiss in writing up live performances of late — vacation and other issues have gotten in the way. Further, they have been less traditional theatre and more in the category of concerts or other oddities. But that’s no excuse, so let’s catch up a bit…

In the past two weeks, I’ve been out to the Hollywood Bowl (FB) twice: once for the Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory World Tour on Saturday, July 23, and for the LA Philharmonic “Copland and Marsalis” program on Thursday, July 28th.

The Weird Al show was not “Weird Al: A Man and his Accordion”. Instead, it was a collection of costume numbers interspersed with  video presentations either related to the songs, or showing Weird Al mentions in various media.

The setlist (taken from setlist.fm) was:

  1. Tacky
  2. Now That’s What I Call Polka!
  3. Foil
  4. Perform This Way
  5. Dare to Be Stupid
  6. Fat
  7. Smells Like Nirvana
  8. Eat It / I Lost on Jeopardy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon
  9. White and Nerdy
  10. Word Crimes
  11. Amish Paradise

Encores:

  1. We All Have Cell Phones
  2. The Saga Begins
  3. Yoda (with Yoda Chant)

In general, the show was a mix of songs the old-timers (like me) would recognize, and new stuff that was parodies of things we had never heard of. But it was all fun, and the audience was into it.

The Thursday show was completely different. It was far from a sellout, and the crowd was much more of a classical audience. The “setlist” consisted of:

  1. Copland: An Outdoor Overture
  2. Marsalis: Violin Concerto (LA Phil co-commission, West Coast premiere)
  3. Copland: Symphony No. 3

This was a relaxed show: an evening for listening to beautiful music and watching the environment around us (of course, that was impacted a bit when a women near us got quite sick and required medical attention, including a bit of worshiping at the porcelain goddess, without the goddess).

I’ll get a writeup of the Sunday, July 24 show (Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN) up in a bit.

* * *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and I plan to renew my mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 2016). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:  August is a bit more open in terms of theatre. The first weekend just has a Jethawks game on Sunday; the second weekend has a Bar Mitzvah.  The third weekend brings another event from the wonderful counter-cultural orchestra, Muse/ique (FB) — American/Rhapsody — a celebration of George Gershwin. Late August sees us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. September returns to conventional theatre. The first weekend has a HOLD for Calendar Girls at The Group Rep (FB). The second weekend may be another Muse/ique (FB) event — Summer/Time, a reimagined retelling of Porgy and Bess. The third weekend has a HOLD for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Mark Taper Forum (FB). The last weekend is The Hunchback of Notre Dame at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB).

Continuing the look ahead: October is a bit more booked. The first weekend brings Dear World at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) and Our Town at Actors Co-op (FB), as well as the start of the High Holy Days. The second weekend has another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) event: this time for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The third weekend has yet another VPAC event: An Evening with Kelli O’Hara on Friday, as well as tickets for Evita at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on Saturday. The following weekend brings Turn of the Screw at Actors Co-op (FB) on October 22 and the new Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on October 23. The last weekend of October brings Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom (a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood). Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, October is also the North Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and it looks like a theatre in Pasadena will be presenting the musical Funny Girl. November is still in the planning stages, but we know it will include Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB); a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]; the Nottingham Festival (FB); and possibly Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

California Highway Headlines for July 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Aug 01, 2016 @ 9:36 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingJuly. The hot summer. While you are hopefully staying cool, here are some headlines related to California Highways that I noticed:

  • Getting the roundabout from the state. Sometime next year or a little bit later, the intersection of Valley Center Road & Hwy 76 will get be converted into a roundabout. The total cost of the project will be $17.5 million, which includes approximately $9 million in construction capital and $3.5 million in right-of-way capital. According to the Cal Trans website the goal of the project is “Reduce the number and severity of accidents at SR-76 and Valley Center Road and realign the curves just east of the intersection.” Design of the preferred alternative is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2016, with construction to be done in 2017.
  • VTA scales back toll lane plans. A controversial plan to construct toll lanes in the Highway 85 median could be abandoned, after city leaders made clear that the undeveloped strip of land dividing the congested highway ought to be reserved for transit rather than solo drivers in the increasingly crowded Santa Clara Valley. In June, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board of directors agreed to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot. If passed, the tax would generate $6.5 billion over 30 years, and would help to pay for myriad transportation projects throughout the region.
  • Supervisors approve land exchange with Caltrans for 76 widening . The widening of State Route 76 from two lanes to four between South Mission Road and Interstate 15 requires the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to acquire land from the County of San Diego, but the county was willing to sell land and grant easements to Caltrans in exchange for cash and Caltrans remnant parcels. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 June 22, with Greg Cox in Sacramento, to approve the sale of 6.94 acres of county-owned land and the granting of 2.98 acres of easements in exchange for $143,599 in cash and three Caltrans remnant parcels valued at $155,800. The Caltrans remnant parcels total 112,415 square feet, or 2.58 acres.

(more…)

Dangers of an Echo Chamber

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jul 31, 2016 @ 12:08 pm PDT

userpic=bushbabyWhile my wife takes a nap, a few thoughts that have been bubbling through my head whilst reading Facebook….

A big problem today is the echo chamber we tend to live in. Facebook, understandably, wants us to spend more time on the site reading things. They do this by serving us more of the things we like, and we tend to like what our friends have to say, and perhaps what their friends say, and perhaps what they like. This has the side effect of making us see only a narrow view of the world, usually from those who tend to agree with us. We also tend to share news that we like, and that makes us read only from sources that tend to agree with our worldview.

Now, add to that the problem that it is difficult to know more and more what is true news media, what is blogs, what is opinion, and what is satire. We read from biased news sources — on both sides — without realizing they are biased. We read opinion as fact. We read satire as fact. We believe everything we read — especially the hyperbole — as true. More so when we read it on the Internet.

Further, the more we see statements from different sources, the more we believe it is true. It could be a complete biased falsehood, but repeated enough and with enough authority, it becomes truth. Or truthy. Or something like that.

What does that mean? We don’t see the real world. Those of us who are Clinton supporters don’t see what the other side is seeing about Trump in the positive, and Clinton in the negative. Those who are Trump supporters don’t see his negatives and Clinton’s positives. We don’t talk to each other, we talk across each other. This isn’t good. It can lead to complacency, especially when what you are seeing are only biased polls — that can lead you to fail to keep up the effort so that the right candidate wins.

I urge you: break out of that echo chamber. Occasionally see what your friends on the other side are seeing. Learn what are neutral news sources, and what is biased, and work to filter out that biased. Don’t discuss to convince, but to educate. Most importantly, have an open mind. You don’t need to agree with all you read, but you need to hear it.

[And, for the political aside on this: This is a clear difference between the candidates. Clinton extensively listens and learns. Trump appears to listen and react negatively when what he hears disagrees with him or his world view. Candidates, too, can live in an echo chamber. For some, that’s the only place they want to live, and that can be dangerous.]

[And, as a PS: It is also important to understand who may be reading your post. Unless you specifically restrict a post, block a user, or restrict your writing venue properly, you must assume that it is public, and that anyone may be reading it (whether you like it or not). I see that with political posts all the time: if you share an opinion on a candidate, and you are smart to have a diverse set of friends with diverse opinions, you’ll get a good dialogue going. Different venues have different ways of restricting visibility, and some are quite public. Twitter, in particular, is out there in the open for everyone to see stupidity, or profound responses, on display.]

Something Different to Chew On

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jul 30, 2016 @ 6:25 pm PDT

userpic=levysI know my last few posts have been political — it is just that my concerns over the Republican nominee have incited a passion in me that makes me want to ensure his defeat. So a last political note, and then we’ll move on to something different to chew: some news chum about food, medicine, and science.

But first

… to those of you who cannot bring yourself to vote for Hillary because of her character and the character flaws you think you see, please read this article. You’ll learn how you’ve been fed a diet of genetically modified truth, something empty of nutrition and value, and that has spoiled your appetite for something that is actually healthy. Then read this article, and learn why the Clinton that you see in the news is very different than the Clinton those that work with her see, and why those who do work with her are fiercely loyal to her.

… to those who are Republican who still can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton after seeing the truth — those who deny the truth about Clinton just as you deny climate science and the value of vaccines — then read this post. Learn how, as the DNC and Trump’s behavior has shown, he spits in the face of traditional Republican values, and has in fact ceded the Republican values of patriotism, love of country, belief in the people of this country, belief in the quality of the American military and support for Veterans to the Democratic party. The man is clearly not a Democrat, and does not reflect Republican values, and is not deserving of your support. If you can’t vote for Clinton, then vote for Gary Johnson or abstain for voting for President. Don’t vote for a man that clearly does not deserve to be the leader of your Republican party. (I note I say this as a Democrat, but a Democrat who believes we need a sane and valid Republican party, because it is the diversity of sane political views that leads to the compromises that makes this country strong).

And now, on to something different to chew upon:

Hmmm, I guess I do have politics on my mind after all.

To My Republican Friends, and my Bernie-or-Busters: A Lunchtime Request

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jul 27, 2016 @ 11:35 am PDT

userpic=nixonTo My Republican Friends: Yesterday, in a post regarding the upcoming presidential election, I wrote:

This is no longer about personality. It is about positions.

I also implied that if your beliefs and positions were congruent with the Republican Platform and the statements of your nominee, you should vote for your nominee.

I humbly admit that I was wrong. The statements above do not apply when your candidate is batshit crazy.

Perhaps I should clarify this a bit with what I mean by “batshit crazy”. After all, it is a technical term.

Your candidate is batshit crazy if:

  • They invite a foreign power to interfere in our Presidential election. This is true for any foreign power. Just as other countries are rightly upset if America tries to interfere in their elections, other than monitoring that they are fair, it is wrong for a foreign power to interfere in an election in a way that may change the outcome. However, that is just what the Republican Nominee, Donald Trump, has done when he said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
  • They establish a fund to influence an election against a candidate simply because they refused to endorse them. Donald Trump confirmed his plans during an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” broadcast on Sunday, saying “I’ll probably do a super-PAC, you know, when they run – against Kasich for $10 million, to $20 million against Ted Cruz.”
  • They encourage violating the constitutional separation between church and state by indicating they want to permit selected churches to influence government policy. At the RNC, Trump said, “At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community because, I will tell you what, the support they have given me — and I’m not sure I totally deserve it — has been so amazing. And has been such a big reason I’m here tonight. They have much to contribute to our policies.” (emphasis added)

As I said, I was wrong. There are some candidate actions that cross the line, and the above actions have. I am not going to ask you to vote for the Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton. I know that, independent of whether you trust her, you just cannot support the Democratic Platform. I get that.

Here’s what I would like you to do: Abstain from voting for the office of President.  Vote for down office candidates (i.e., Senate, Congress, State and Local) who agree with your positions, but DO NOT vote for the Trump/Pence ticket. Let the world see, by the vote total differential, that you do not approve of this choice of your party, and that you feel the party has lost its reason. Feel free to investigate the third party candidates such as Gary Johnson, and vote for them if there is sufficient congruence (note that Stein, however, is also batshit crazy).  But, Republican friends, please — if you believe that America should be the country that determines its destiny — do not vote for a man that encourages foreign countries to interfere in our elections.

P.S.: Think about this: There is already evidence that the DNC emails that were released had their contents altered. How can you trust the integrity of any email discovered by the Russians, when it is in their interest to skew the election in the direction of a candidate that will have a soft foreign policy towards them.

P2.S.: Of course, I would love it if you voted for Clinton, but I understand.

ETA P3.S.: From the pot calling the kettle department: PC World notes: IT security consultant Kevin Mitnick tweeted: “Donald Trump invites Russia to hack Clinton’s emails. Isn’t that aiding and abetting” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? [I’ll note that I actually went to camp with Kevin’s brother, Steve, who set loads of swimming records]

***

To my friends that are Bernie or Busters: I know you really wanted your candidate to be the Democratic Nominee. I know you believe the system was rigged, and the DNC emails prove it. I know you think that Clinton demonstrated that by giving Wasserman Schultz a cushy campaign job. You need to be aware of these facts:

Here’s what I would like you to do: If you can, follow the advice of your candidate, Bernie Sanders, and support Hillary Clinton. She is your best chance of getting progressives on the Supreme Court, which will ensure your agenda will be met. Vote and organize for progressive down ticket candidates, because they are where you can have the most influence. Legislation starts in Congress, not with the President. Congress will push your agenda.

If you absolutely cannot vote for Hillary, I understand. Do not vote for Trump as an alternative — he’s batshit crazy. Abstain for voting for the office of President, and to vote for down-ballot candidates that reflect your views.  However, you need to be aware that in our system of winner-take-all in most states for electoral votes, your abstention (or voting for Jill Stein, who is unlikely to get a majority and is also batshit crazy) — while sending a message — may throw the election to the bat-shit crazy Trump, and doom the possibility of a progressive leaning Supreme Court for decades. If you want that on your conscience, feel free to abstain. After all, it is better to be idologically pure and not vote for an imperfect candidate than to make progress towards a progressive future.

Standing on a Platform, Waiting for the Train

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jul 26, 2016 @ 11:21 am PDT

userpic=political-signsLast night, I watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention. I was very impressed with the prime time speakers: Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. About the only weak point was Paul Simon; his voice has deteriorated greatly. After the speech, I did a post on Facebook, where I was asked the question: If Hillary Clinton was convicted of a crime, would I still vote for her. After my first response, where I indicated that, were that to happen, I was sure she would resign as a candidate and the party would pick someone else, I thought about it some more. Here’s the realization I came to:

This is no longer about personality. It is about positions.

Personality was significant when we were in the primaries, and we had multiple personalities with mostly congruent positions in each party. By the end of this week, each party will have a formal nominee, whether we think that person is perfect or not.

Here’s the second realization I came to:

I am congruent with the positions of the Democratic Party. I will support whatever candidate supports those positions. I disagree with the stated positions of the Republican party. I will not vote for a candidate that holds those positions. I have no agreement with the third party candidates, nor do I believe that under the current electoral system that they have candidacies that have a chance of winning a majority of electoral votes.

Irrespective of who the Republican candidate is, I cannot support the positions of the party as embodied in their platform planks. I disagree with their outlook regarding where this country is now. I disagree with their statements regarding social issues. I disagree with their plans regarding the economy and social and economic justice. I particularly disagree with the policy positions that their nominee has espoused. I do not feel they are the right direction for the country, and I could not vote for them whether it is Donald Trump saying them, or John McCain, or Marco Rubio, or even the Governor of Ohio whose name I can never spell.

I agree with the positions of the Democratic Party as embodied in their platform planks, and as supported by their nominee.  I would support any Democratic nominee that supported those positions, be they Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or even Eric Garcetti or Antonio Villaraigosa. The identified “problems” regarding the nominee will not dissuade me in this position, for the Democratic nominee is the only candidate for President that will advance the Democratic platform. This is the same way that Republicans are overlooking their nominee’s equivalently problematic issues, because they feel strongly for their platform.

Third party candidates? I’ve supported them in the past: in my first Presidential primary, I supported John Anderson. But now? I disagree with both the Libertarian and Green positions, and cannot support their candidates. In either case, however, neither have a snowball’s chance in Northridge in the summer — to win, they need a majority vote in a large number of states to win the electoral college, and their support just isn’t that strong. Want to get a viable third-party? Read the second link below on how to do it right.

If you want some more specific arguments, I suggest you read Ferrett’s posts on the subject: Oh, For Fuck’s Sake: A Gentle Talk With My Republican, Democrat, And Undecided Friends and Oh, For Fuck’s Sake: Why Your Presidential Protest Vote Is A Wretched Idea.

A parting thought. Cory Booker’s speech last night quoted Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address:  “With malice toward none, with charity for all…”. What would Lincoln say today? His statement reflects Democratic ideals now: With malice toward none, with charity for all. The Republicans? They are the opposite: With malice toward all, with charity for none. Who is the true party of Lincoln today? Where do you stand: on the side of “With malice toward none, with charity for all”, or on the side of “With malice toward all, with charity toward none.”

My ethics and values align me with the former, with Abraham Lincoln’s statement, and with the values, planks, and positions of the Democratic party. I am standing with their candidates at all levels of elected office.

Note: This post is a lunchtime distillation of some Facebook status updates.