Mind the Gap

In a poll released today, Public Policy Polling shows Barack Obama with a 7-point lead over Mitt Romney in the state of Ohio, a swing state in the fall election and one that has been considered a “must-win” for any presidential candidate.   This is immediately after a campaign push by Romney in Ohio aimed at chipping away at Obama’s lead.

Obama leads Romney 50-43. That 7 point margin is unchanged from late January when he was ahead by a 49-42 spread. Obama also led 50-41 when PPP polled the state in early November so this makes three polls in a row over the span of six months with him leading by 7-9 points. Obama certainly looks like the favorite in Ohio at this point.

This seems to be another example of how voters don’t see Romney as either likeable or believable. The more voters learn about him, the less they want him to be president.

Read the Public Policy Polling news release here:

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.”

Read more:

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.