Santorum Caves In

News outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum, arguably the most outspoken and critical of Mitt Romney’s primary rivals, has sent an email to his supporters endorsing the Romney campaign.

Let’s not forget that it was less than two months ago that Santorum made the following statement about Romney:

“You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch-A-Sketch candidate of the future.”


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Outrage Overload

I guess most of us have become numb to the ‘outrage-a-day’ policies of the Bush administration. The primary tactic of this gaggle of traitors, liars, and thieves seems to have been to do at least one unbelievably stupid, arrogant, questionable, or downright illegal thing each day. While the press corps focuses (for a moment, at least) on that act, they’re already onto the next. The net result is the accrual of a sludge-pile of aberrant behavior so deep that no one can (or wants to) slog through it. It’s virtually impossible to achieve even a modicum of justice or truth. Make the scandal so dense, complex and multi-faceted that few have the time or inclination to attempt to challenge or even make sense of it.

Couple this modus operandi with the general malaise and scandal-fatigue of the American people, and you have a recipe for the deterioration of our government and our very way of life, the likes of which I believe this nation has never seen.

All that being said, there seems to be an escalation of the Bushies’ strategy of scandal bombardment. It seems like they take pride in outdoing themselves, and the events of the last few days seem to confirm that.

First, we have George once again attempting — like a broken record — to justify our continued involvement in Iraq. His entreaties have become less and less convincing, so much so that even many of those who have always marched in lockstep with him are publicly demanding a ‘change of course.’ (Unfortunately, in the Republican’s playbook, that’s not a euphemism for withdrawal of troops but rather for a change in policy. But at least it represents a small amount of progress.)

When George and his cronies realize that he’s not making any headway, welcome to the stage once again Michael ‘Mephistopheles’ Chertoff, our head of Homeland Security, informing us about his ‘gut feeling‘ that we’re about to have another attack by Al Qaeda on U.S. soil. (Am I crazy, or shouldn’t we expect better of our government than that? I seem to recall that the Department of Homeland Security was created and the rest of our government restructured around it so that we would be basing our policies and our actions on something a little bit more sound than opinions, fears, and folklore.)

But this, too, is a familiar play from the neo-con playbook: When public opinion turns against you, fill the populace with as much fear and anxiety as possible. It doesn’t matter whether it’s substantiated or not; in fact, the neo-cons seem to have learned that it’s actually better if it’s vague and unnamed. The more vague the fear is — using the ‘broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day’ analogy — the better the opportunity down the line of using whatever may happen to falsely substantiate their claims.

You may want to take a deep breath here, because all of this is happening against a backdrop of Sara Taylor, the former White House political director, claiming executive privilege in order to refuse to answer any questions regarding the firings and hirings of U.S. Attorneys, in spite of a subpoena by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Then comes the news that Bush has ordered former White House counsel Harriet ‘Love Note’ Miers not only not to answer questions but also not even to appear before the Committee. On the count of three, everybody say ‘Jeezus H. Christ!’

Now add to the mix that former Surgeon General Richard Carmona told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Bush administration demanded that he withhold medical findings from the American public when those findings weren’t in synch with the non-scientific right-wing-religion-driven agenda. For example, he was forbidden from stating that abstinence-only programs don’t work. (Don’t forget, millions of taxpayer dollars got passed along to those faith-based organizations that W loves so much to espouse the bullshit that abstinence is the only way to prevent AIDS. Worse than the loss of taxpayer money is the loss of life that results from their failure to state the truth and consequent dissemination of misinformation.)

Now, I’m still reeling from the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence and the subsequent payment of his fine by an unnamed source. (I can’t seem to rid my brain of the image of some low-level neo-con operative going into an inside-the-beltway 7-Eleven and asking for a banana Slurpee, a pack of Marlboro lights, and a money order for $250,000. Oh, yeah, and one of them scratch tickets.)

So when things start stacking up like this, is it any wonder that most Americans simply short circuit from the overload?

Cured!

It’s amazing. The beloved Pastor Ted Haggard is claiming that he has been “cured” of his homosexuality. In a mere three weeks, Ted and his posse have been able to do what scientists, theologians, philosophers, doctors, and psychologists have never been able to do, as Reuters and other sources have reported.

If you had any uncertainty how out of touch Haggard and his cronies are, this most recent assertion should help clarify things.

I guess we’re s’posed to believe that he was getting busy (for pay) with a male hustler for three years for the purpose of religious and spiritual research.

Right-Wing Hypocrisy Alert

Also just had to weigh in about the hypocrisy of William “Virtue” Bennett and his penchant for high-stakes gambling. I think it’s appropriate for this bloated self-righteous old school fool to be exposed on the 50th anniversary of the HUAC hearings, the transcripts of which have been released this week. It’s not difficult to see the parallels.

Both Bennett and Joseph McCarthy professed loudly and publicly that they knew what was best for America and for Americans, all the while living a totally hypocritical secret life. If these fat losers didn’t wield such power, it would be comedic.

Now that the truth is out, it’s hard to find anyone who will defend McCarthy. But Bennett supporters are still out in force. Is it going to take fifty years before people will realize that he’s just as much of a fraud as McCarthy?

Virtual Broadway

Broadway is all but shut down. The musician’s strike on Broadway raises two major issues One issue is being discussed; the other is not (or, if it’s being discussed at all, it’s hiding under the coattails of the other).

To my mind, the first issue — suggesting that so-called ‘virtual orchestras’ might take the place of live musicians — is a total no-brainer. Who in hell wants to go to the theatre to hear synthesized music? First of all, there’s no way that a machine can replicate the sound of a live orchestra. It’s not just a matter of replicating frequencies at predetermined times. When a singer sings with live musicians, each person is taking risks. There’s a collection of risks that happen every moment of the performance, and those risks, distributed among the participants, are a large part of what creates the excitement of a live performance. Take away the musicians, and you’ve got nothing more than slightly more sophisticated karaoke.

It doesn’t serve the long-term interests of Broadway to lower the bar like this. Let’s face it. Audiences have had the bar lowered significantly in the past couple of decades. They’ve already been lulled into believing that Andrew Lloyd-Webber is just as good as a real composer. Let’s not extend that so that they think that a collection of machine-generated tones are just as good as a real orchestra.

But here’s where I take issue with the musicians union. Let’s say I’ve composed an intimate little musical, scored for 10 musicians. It has a successful off-Broadway run and people are lined up looking for tickets. A Broadway producer picks up the show and moves it to a larger house where a minimum number of musicians is required (25 on average in the larger Broadway houses). As a composer, I have two choices. I can re-orchestrate the show for 25 musicians (which is likely to change the show’s flavor and eliminate the intimacy), or I can keep the original 10 musicians and pay 15 people to sit around and do nothing. Where’s the logic in that?

Extend the concept of enforcing a minimum number of musicians to actors. Can you imagine a world in which a play that has 10 characters would be required to hire 15 additional actors because the theatre had a minimum of 25 actors? The absurdity of the musicians’ union’s arithmetic gets revealed when you attempt to apply it to just about any other endeavor.

Enforcing a minimum number of musicians also implicitly states that there is a single ‘Broadway sound.’ Yes, many musicals of the past did seem to have a common sound. But if you look at the variety of musicals that have been composed recently, there is no single sound. Some scores sound better with large orchestras, some sound better with small ensembles. Why put such restrictions on the creative elements behind musical theatre?

My sense is that, until these two issues get discussed individually, there will be no long-term resolution to this issue.

Don’t Freak Out. Speak Out!

At last, someone has had the opportunity, as well as the courage, to speak frankly and truthfully about John Ashcroft in front of the Senate committee charged with reviewing Ashcroft’s nomination to the post of Attorney General.

I’m referring to purposely-snubbed Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, who was prevented from attaining a federal judgeship because of Ashcroft’s manipulation.

What’s more, Justice White managed to raise the issues and maintain his personal dignity. He refused to call Ashcroft a racist, unlike myself. I would happily be undignified enough to refer to Ashcroft as both a racist and a homophobe. Of course, I admittedly use only the “looks-like-a-duck-quacks-like-a-duck” standard, where others might be held to a more legalistic approach.

Let’s hope when the committee members begin questioning of Ashcroft on this subject that they play hardball a little more than they did when questioning him about Ambassador Hormel.

Check out the full story on MSNBC or the Washington Post. Or read an interview regarding this topic from PBS.