June 27th, 2008

Sgt. Redbeard

It seems to be getting late earlier

Went to Lyric Theater's sing-along night for their production of The Pirates of Penzance. There was lots of win, but also lots of fail. Michael Sommese is super as Frederic. Solid voice, good looking, solid stage presence.  Cara Arellano fits the part of Ruth to a T. Greg Anderson's Pirate King is enjoyable, his big phony beard is not (not his fault). The rest of the leads are adequate. Unfortunately, Alicia von Kugelgen does not quite have the range to sing Mabel,  but when she is singing in her range she sounds excellent.

It was great to see seamoose as a pirate.

Some of the win was in the directing of the first few scenes. There are lots of clever physical bits which added a lot to the tone of the show. All through the show it was clear the direction was "listen to the words" and there was a lot of acting going on, as opposed to just walking around the stage singing. Some of the fail came when choreography became too complex, dizzying, and Just Plain Stupid, as in the Major General's lulabye, where the Major General performs a parody of a ballet which was embarrassing to watch. Maybe more so because my seat was in the front row, center. Another fail is rare in local musical theater - the male ensemble is far more attractive than the female ensemble.

In the win category is a fine orchestra. In the fail column is a conductor whose choice of tempo seemed unpredictable. The Major General's patter song was taken far too quickly, and the policeman's comic lament was like a dirge.

I've been in two productions of Pirates, and never realized how poor a choice it is for a sing-along. There is very little to sing along with in the first act if you're male, and only brief responses in the second act, till the rousing finale.

The biggest fail was Cheryl Blalock's concept design of setting the show in 1717,  in the Caribbean for Act I and North Carolina in Act II. Much of the humor of the show depends on it being set in Penzance, England during Queen Victoria's reign. By shifting the action to a time and place where there were real pirates, she missed the point of at least half the plot, and by changing the monarch to King George III she completely destroyed the punch line.

Back on the win side, there's an amusing Easter Egg at the end.

If you have never seen a live production of Pirates, don't start with this one. If you are a G&S fan, it's worth catching for flashes of brilliant blocking and acting, and seeing how much fun the pirates are having. It's playing at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose through this weekend.

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NASA_bighead

At least my local congresscritter is voting the right way

Dear Howard,

Because you have written to me about the war in Iraq, I thought it was important to let you know that I once again voted against funding for the war.actually twice this year.

On May 15, 2008, there were three amendments to the Iraq/Afghanistan Supplemental Appropriations bill which included 1) funding for the war, 2) a redeployment plan, and

3) funding for domestic programs.

o I voted against funding for the war in the first amendment.

o I voted for the redeployment of our troops.

o I voted for critical domestic spending.

The first amendment provided $96.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2008 and $65.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2009. Totaling $162.5 billion, this would have accounted for almost 90% of the discretionary spending with no timetable for withdrawal attached.

The second amendment required the Administration to begin redeployment 30 days after enactment. It also required specific authorization by Congress for any agreement between the U.S. and the government of Iraq committing U.S. forces, and ensured the troops would have the equipment they needed to be "combat ready" before they are deployed to Iraq. Finally, the amendment prohibited the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and specifically prohibited interrogation techniques not authorized in the Army Field Manual.

The third amendment dealt with critical domestic issues, including the extension of unemployment benefits, expanded veterans' educational benefits to cover a full, four-year college education, as well as provisions to postpone the implementation of seven new damaging Medicaid regulations backed by the Bush administration. (I'm enclosing a copy of my statement in support of the second and third amendments.)

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Most recently, the House considered a similar war funding bill on June 19th, this time with two amendments. Once again, I voted against the provisions which provided funding for the war and no timetable for withdrawal, but unfortunately, the war funding passed by a vote of 265 to 155. I again voted for the amendment which provided more focused spending on essential domestic programs. This provision greatly expands the much needed GI bill, adds a 13 week extension for those receiving unemployment insurance, and provides critical funding to aide victims of the flood-ravaged areas in the Midwest. I'm pleased the amendment passed by a vote of 416 to 12.

I voted against the war resolution five years ago and have fought to end it ever since. Too many lives have been lost and damaged, our international reputation is at an all-time low and our nation's ability to address other important issues including healthcare, infrastructure, education, Medicare and Social Security have been hindered. For these reasons I will continue to vote against any funding for the war unless it is tied to a timetable for the safe and honorable withdrawal of our troops.

Should you have any questions or comments, let me hear from you.


Sincerely,

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress
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NASA_bighead

Congresscritter, mo betta

Dear Howard,

Because of your interest in the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), I want you to know that I voted against H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendment Act on June 20, 2008. The bill unfortunately passed the House by a vote of 293 to 129.

Let me begin by saying that this legislation is a vast improvement over previous law. The bill very importantly establishes that FISA is the exclusive means for electronic surveillance by the U.S. and requires prior approval by the FISA Courts. In some respects the legislation goes even further than the existing FISA statute or the House-passed RESTORE Act in protecting the civil liberties of U.S. persons by requiring the Administration to seek a court order before conducting surveillance on U.S. persons abroad. Until now and under the Protect America Act, the executive branch could conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons without prior judicial approval. I voted against the bill because it allows the lawsuits against the telecommunications companies to go forward in a highly limited fashion.

Over the past year I have fought hard against and voted against granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who participated in the President's secret surveillance program which monitored thousands of U.S. citizens without warrants and in violation of FISA and our Constitution. As a Member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I've personally read the certification letters that Attorney General Gonzales sent to several telecommunications companies and do not believe those letters complied with the existing FISA statute.

While the bill does not explicitly grant retroactive liability protection to telephone companies for information they provided under the warrantless surveillance program, the measure requires federal and state courts to promptly dismiss lawsuits against such communications service providers. The attorney general must certify that 1) the phone companies received written requests that certified that warrants were not required by law to collect such information, 2) the

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information provided was intended to be used to prevent terrorism, and 3) the requests for information were authorized by the President. I believe this threshold is too low and is tantamount to retroactive immunity.

Throughout our nation's history, the judiciary has been the most important check on an overzealous executive, and it is often through the judicial process that we uncover and remedy some of the most egregious executive misconduct. This legislation undermines and effectively nullifies the courts' ability to hold the Administration accountable for its actions, which I believe violated the Constitution.

If you have any questions or comments, let me hear from you. I value what my constituents say to me because I need your thoughts and benefit from your ideas.

I've created an ongoing e-newsletter to keep constituents informed on a variety of congressional issues and legislation. Many constituents tell me how much they value reading it, and if you would like to as well, you can go to my website at http://eshoo.house.gov and click on "E-Mail Sign-Up." Your email address will never be used by anyone except my office to communicate with you, and your tax dollars will be conserved by using electronic communications rather than traditional mailings.


Sincerely,

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress
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