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Stateside: U.S. Political Briefs

Stateside with Rosalea

U.S. Political Briefs

This week I got to see up close the workings of a Republican gubernatorial campaign. Not a real one - it was a play called Mothers Against, by British playwright David Edgar. Afterwards some audience members stayed for a discussion with the cast and someone said that she'd worked on political campaigns and immediately recognised the campaign manager character, aka The Dark Prince.

The play is one of two that make up a suite, so to speak. I'll be seeing the second play - dealing with the same gubernatorial election from the Democratic candidate's point of view - next week. Audience members are invited to vote for either of the two candidates after seeing both plays, but on the strength of Sheldon Vine's explanation of his republican ideals he's currently in the lead in my estimation.

Of course, the heart of any play is conflict and it's the conflict between what Vine's ideals were and what the Republican Party has become and what its candidates are prepared to become that is the strongest theme in Mothers Against. I assume a similar conflict will be at the heart of Daughters of the Revolution next week.

*** The question of "What is a Democrat?" is on the mind of the third placegetter in the San Francisco mayoral race. Angela Alioto has twice postponed her announcement of which of the two people in the December 9 run-off race she will endorse. She has friends who support both Newsom and Gonzalez, and though her politics seem to be more fitted to Gonzalez's end of the spectrum, she is obviously ill-at-ease with the fact that he is critical of the Democrats when she has received much support from them. Her decision will be announced on Monday - perhaps she's had a chance to go to the theatre before then!

*** California's Secretary of State has instructed the vendors of electronic voting machines to provide a paper print-out that will allow voters to verify their choices. Opponents of such a move say that it creates more equipment liable to fail or jam, needing maintenance and consumables, and that it still doesn't guarantee that election results will be valid.

*** The Kennedy anniversary was somewhat overshadowed by the Michael Jackson trial, but I managed to see a documentary series about the Kennedy clan that just confirmed my perception that politics in the US is little different from those in many African nations where family ties and patronage set the agenda and direct where the benefits go.

*** One local TV news station floated the idea that Governor Schwarzenegger may reduce the number of days that the California legislature is in session. That's an attempt to lessen the damage politicians can do, I suppose. If you ask me, he'd do better to limit the amount of legislation that gets introduced. At present, legislators can introduce enormous numbers of bills to do with petty stuff, just so their campaign contributors - small and large - feel like they've got something for their money.

*** Bushy cat, Bushy cat, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen. Bushy cat, Bushy cat, what did you there? I listened to a Kiwi singing an air. Okay, so it's not nearly as clever as the pseudo-Seuss movie review in last weeks LA Times, dissing The Cat in the Hat, but it was fun to think that perhaps someone in the West Wing subscribes to the Loop mailer!

***And speaking of the West Wing, Martin Sheen has come out in favour of Matt Gonzalez for the San Francisco race.


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