Friday, December 10, 2004

  Freedom is on the March
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon moved swiftly to forge a national unity government after winning approval to reshape his coalition and crushing internal opposition to his Gaza pullout plan.
For those of you whom are unaware of the details. Sharon's plan to pull out of Gaza alone with Arafat's long overdue death give a real opportunity for the Palestinians to get their shit together.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

  U.N. Money-for-Peace Scam May Force Annan to Resign
(2004-12-02) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan today vigorously denied allegations that he has overseen a complex, fraudulent scheme to pilfer billions of dollars from 191 nations under the guise of providing "global peace services."
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, said "this money-for-peace scam stinks even more than the oil-for-food scandal which funded Saddam Hussein's murderous regime."
More details Availble at the Economist
revelations that some peacekeepers have been sexually molesting Congolese children. In the latest incident, a senior French civilian with the mission has been handed over to authorities in Paris and the UN has launched an investigation which insiders say will seek to discover whether MONUC has been penetrated by organised paedophiles who recruit their friends.

Morale among the blue helmets is not high. Many regard their posting to Congo as the height of misfortune. Some are ashamed to be part of such an indolent force. During massacres in Ituri's main town of Bunia last year, some Uruguayan peacekeepers suffered nervous breakdowns after watching atrocities they had been ordered not to prevent. One reportedly told his psychiatrist that goats were talking to him. When asked what they were saying, he replied, “They're shouting: ‘Help me! Help me!'”

Monday, December 06, 2004

  Sondheim vs. Sondheim
Have theatergoers stayed away because Sondheim's melodies can be as elusive as anything Leonard Bernstein ever wrote? Yet he can also compose tunes that a stone could hum: "Send in the Clowns," for example, a melody heard in elevators and restaurants around the world.

It's not an on-again-off-again talent that explains Sondheim's strange duality. Instead, the evidence suggests that there are two Sondheims, a mainstream artist and a contrarian, with a willfully perverse wish not to appeal to the general public. That second Sondheim has been in the ascendant for many years.


Yet he owed a great deal to one member of his mother's bunch—Oscar Hammerstein II. Her Bucks County neighbor provided the most important creative influence in Stephen's career. In early adolescence, Sondheim befriended Oscar's son, Jimmy, and began hanging around the Hammerstein house. When the Broadway pro learned that his young visitor wanted to write musicals, he offered avuncular encouragement and advice.

At 15, Stephen thought he was ready for the Big Time. He composed a score for his school musical and showed it to Oscar. In Sondheim & Co., biographer Craig Zadan quotes Stephen's account of that epochal meeting: "He said, 'Now you want my opinion as though I didn't really know you? Well, it's the worst thing I've ever read.' " As the youth's lower lip trembled, Oscar went on: "Now, I didn't say that it was untalented, I said it was terrible. And if you want to know why it was terrible, I'll tell you."

Hammerstein proceeded to rip apart every detail, from stage directions to rhymes. Recalled Sondheim, "At the risk of hyperbole, I'd say in that afternoon I learned more about songwriting and the musical theater than most people learn in a lifetime." Never did the man talk down to the boy. Slowly, deliberately, Oscar spoke of structure and the value of each word; how essential simplicity was; how to introduce character; the interrelationship of music and rhyme. "He was at least as good a critic as he was a writer. Most people think of Oscar as a kind of affable, idealistic lunkhead. Instead, he was a very sophisticated, sharp-tongued, articulate man," Sondheim noted.


Yet it was the New York Times's influential Sunday critic, Walter Kerr, who kept his cool and made the most discerning comments. After praising the cast, the direction, and Sondheim's "sophisticated and pertinacious" work, he concluded, "Now ask me if I liked the show. I didn't like it. I admired it. . . . Personally, I'm sorry-grateful."

  Jan 30 : The day we find out

Over at the New York Times they are pushing to change the election date in Iraq. Despite all the debate on gay marriage the one Moral that elected Bush was doing what he said. He said election in Iraq in January. And that needs to happen hell or high water. If it doesn't his second term is over. Nothing is more important. We can debate whether election was fair or rigged AFTER the election happens. But the election must happen. Could you imagine not having an election in NYC back in the days when it was a violent pit. Or course not.

If Bush allows the elections to be put off, he will go down in history as the biggest failure ever. And it will be true.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

  Hate: Same old Same old
He is a movie star and she won the Tony Award for best actress in a musical. Tonight New York City police are investigating threats against this interracial couple as a possible hate crime.

Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel have gotten at least three letters in which the writer threatens to "burn" and "castrate" Diggs, and calling him a "sellout" for marryng a white woman.
I don't think (in the words of P.E.) "Ignorance is at an all time high". I do think things have gotten better, but that shouldn't stop us from being vigilant.
  Ohio Republicans make strides in reaching out to black voters
"The black vote was very critical in getting Bush over the hump in Ohio," said Dwayne Clark, the coordinator for the Northwest Ohio African American Coalition for the Bush-Cheney campaign. He was one of approximately 40 black political strategists who gathered at Ohio Republican headquarters in Columbus last month for a strategy meeting to further whittle down the Democratic Party's stronghold on the black vote in Ohio.

  Fixing Post Election Myths

The first myth:
Many more churchgoing voters flocked to the polls this year, driven by the Bush "moral values" and the gay marriage referendum.
Second myth: The Bush campaign won by mobilizing GOP strongholds and suppressing turnout in Democratic areas.
Third myth: A wave of newly registered Republican voters in fast-growing rural and exurban areas carried Bush to victory.
Fourth myth: Republicans ran a superior, volunteer-driven mobilization effort.

The reason Kerry lost the election had much more to do with the war in Iraq and terrorism than the political ground war in Ohio. Terrorism trumped other issues at the polls -- including moral values -- and anxious voters tended to side with Bush.

• By 54 percent to 41 percent, voters decided that Americans are now safer from terrorist threats than four years ago, national exit polls said.

• By 55 percent to 42 percent, voters accepted Bush's view that Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism. By 51 percent to 45 percent, they still approved of the decision to go to war (though a majority expressed concerns about how the war is going).

• Just 40 percent said they trusted Kerry to do a good job handling the war on terrorism, compared with 58 percent who felt that way about the president.

The Bush campaign was able to persuade some voters who supported Gore in 2000 to turn to Bush in 2004 on the issues of terrorism, strength and leadership. Bush bested Kerry among those who voted in 2000 by five percentage points -- Bush bested Gore in 2000 by three points.

The other major factor was our side's failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative. Just 45 percent expressed confidence that Kerry could handle the economy, compared with Bush's 49 percent.

The GOP put on a strong mobilization effort, but that's not what tipped the Ohio election. They did not turn Gore voters into Bush voters by offering a ride to the polls. Instead, it was skillful exploitation of public concern over terrorism by the Bush team -- coupled with Democrats' inability to draw clear, powerful contrasts on the economy and health care -- that pushed Bush over the finish line.

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