Tuesday Open Thread | Soundtrack Composers | Bernard Herrmann

Today’s Composer is Bernard Herrmann.


bernard herrmann

Bernard Herrmann (June 29, 1911 – December 24, 1975) was an American composer known for his work in motion pictures.

An Academy Award-winner (for The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941), Herrmann is particularly known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock, most famously Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. He also composed scores for many other movies, including Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Cape Fear, and Taxi Driver. He worked extensively in radio drama (composing for Orson Welles), composed the scores for several fantasy films by Ray Harryhausen, and many TV programs including Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and Have Gun–Will Travel.

Collaboration with Orson Welles[edit]

While at CBS, Herrmann met Orson Welles, and wrote or arranged scores for Welles’s Mercury Theatre on the Air and Campbell Playhouse series (1938–1940), which were radio adaptations of literature and film. He conducted the live performances, including Welles’s famous adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds broadcast on October 30, 1938, which consisted entirely of pre-existing music.[5] Herrmann used large sections of his score for the inaugural broadcast of The Campbell Playhouse, an adaptation of Rebecca, for the feature film Jane Eyre (1943), the third film in which Welles starred.[6]

Herrmann also created the music for Welles’s CBS radio series the Orson Welles Show (1941–1942), which included the debut of his wife Lucille Fletcher’s suspense classic, The Hitch-Hiker; Ceiling Unlimited (1942), a program conceived to glorify the aviation industry and dramatize its role in World War II; and The Mercury Summer Theatre on the Air (1946).[7]

“Benny Herrmann was an intimate member of the family,” Welles told filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich.[8]

When Welles moved to movies, Herrmann went with him. He wrote his first film score for Citizen Kane (1941) and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Score of a Dramatic Picture. He composed the score for Welles’s second film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942); like the film itself, the music was heavily edited by the studio, RKO Pictures. When more than half of his score was removed from the soundtrack, Herrmann bitterly severed his ties with the film and promised legal action if his name were not removed from the credits.[9]

Collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock[edit]

Herrmann is most closely associated with the director Alfred Hitchcock. He wrote the scores for almost every Hitchcock film from The Trouble with Harry (1955) to Marnie (1964), a period which included Vertigo, Psycho, and North by Northwest. He oversaw the sound design in The Birds (1963), although there was no actual music in the film as such, only electronically made bird sounds.

The music for the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) was only partly by Herrmann. The two most significant pieces of music in the film—the song, “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”, and the Storm Clouds Cantata played in the Royal Albert Hall—are not by Herrmann (although he did re-orchestrate the cantata by Australian-born composer Arthur Benjamin written for the earlier Hitchcock film of the same name). However, this film did give Herrmann the opportunity for an on-screen appearance: he is the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in the Albert Hall scene.

Herrmann’s most recognizable music is from another Hitchcock film, Psycho. Unusual for a thriller at the time, the score uses only the string section of the orchestra. The screeching violin music heard during the famous shower scene (which Hitchcock originally suggested have no music at all) is one of the most famous moments in film score history.

His score for Vertigo (1958) is seen as just as masterful. In many of the key scenes Hitchcock let Herrmann’s score take center stage, a score whose melodies, echoing the “Liebestod” from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, dramatically convey the main character’s obsessive love for the woman he tries to shape into a long-dead, past love.

A notable feature of the Vertigo score is the ominous two-note falling motif that opens the suite — it is a direct musical imitation of the two notes sounded by the fog horns located at either side of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (as heard from the San Francisco side of the bridge). This motif has direct relevance to the film, since the horns can be clearly heard sounding in just this manner at Fort Point, the spot where the character played by Kim Novak jumps into the bay.

However, according to Dan Aulier (author of Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic), Herrmann deeply regretted being unable to conduct his composition for Vertigo. A musician’s strike in America meant that it was actually conducted in England by Muir Mathieson. Herrmann always personally conducted his own works and while he considered the composition among his best works, regarded it as a missed opportunity.

In a question-and-answer session at the George Eastman Museum in October 1973, Herrmann stated that, unlike most film composers who did not have any creative input into the style and tone of the score, he insisted on creative control as a condition of accepting a scoring assignment:

I have the final say, or I don’t do the music. The reason for insisting on this is simply, compared to Orson Welles, a man of great musical culture, most other directors are just babes in the woods. If you were to follow their taste, the music would be awful. There are exceptions. I once did a film The Devil and Daniel Webster with a wonderful director William Dieterle. He was also a man of great musical culture. And Hitchcock, you know, is very sensitive; he leaves me alone. It depends on the person. But if I have to take what a director says, I’d rather not do the film. I find it’s impossible to work that way.[10]

Herrmann stated that Hitchcock would invite him on to the production of a film and, depending on his decision about the length of the music, either expand or contract the scene. It was Hitchcock who asked Herrmann for the “recognition scene” near the end of Vertigo (the scene in which James Stewart’s character suddenly realizes Kim Novak’s identity) to be played with music.[citation needed]

In 1963 Herrmann began writing original music for the CBS-TV anthology series, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which was in its eighth season. Hitchcock himself served only as advisor on the show, which he hosted, but Herrmann was again working with former Mercury Theatre actor Norman Lloyd, co-producer (with Joan Harrison) of the series. Herrmann scored 17 episodes (1963–1965) and, like much of his work for CBS, the music was frequently reused for other programs.[11]:256–257, 373

Herrmann’s relationship with Hitchcock came to an abrupt end when they disagreed over the score for Torn Curtain. Reportedly pressured by Universal executives, Hitchcock wanted a score that was more jazz- and pop-influenced. Hitchcock’s biographer, Patrick McGilligan, stated that Hitchcock was worried about becoming old-fashioned and felt that Herrmann’s music had to change with the times as well. Herrmann initially accepted the offer, but then decided to score the film according to his own ideas.[12]:673–674

Hitchcock listened to only the prelude of the score before confronting Herrmann about the pop score. Herrmann, equally incensed, bellowed, “Look, Hitch, you can’t outjump your own shadow. And you don’t make pop pictures. What do you want with me? I don’t write pop music.” Hitchcock unrelentingly insisted that Herrmann change the score, violating Herrmann’s general claim to the creative control he had always been maintained in their previous work together. Herrmann then said, “Hitch, what’s the use of my doing more with you? I had a career before you, and I will afterwards.”[12]:674 The score was rejected and replaced with one by John Addison.

According to McGilligan, Herrmann later tried to reconcile with Hitchcock, but Hitchcock refused to see him. Herrmann’s widow Norma Herrmann disputed this in a conversation with Günther Kögebehn for the Bernard Herrmann Society in 2004:

I met Hitchcock very briefly. Everybody says they never spoke again. I met him, it was cool, it was not a warm meeting. It was in Universal Studios, this must be 69, 70, 71ish. And we were in Universal for some other reason and Herrmann said: “See that tiny little office over there, that’s Hitch. And that stupid little parking place. Hitch used to have an empire with big offices and a big staff. Then they made it down to half that size, then they made it to half that size … We are going over to say hello.” Actually [Herrmann] got a record; he was always intending to give him a record he just made. But it wasn’t a film thing. It was either Moby Dick or something of his concert pieces to take it and give to Hitch. Peggy, Hitchcock’s secretary was there. Hitch came out, Benny said: “I thought you’d like a copy of this.” “How are you?” etc. and he introduced me. And Hitchcock was cool, but they did meet. They met, I was there. And when Herrmann came out again he said: “What a great reduction in Hitch’s status.”[13]

In 2009, Norma Herrmann began to auction off her husband’s personal collection on Bonhams.com, adding more interesting details to the two men’s relationship. While Herrmann had brought Hitchcock a copy of his classical work after the break-up, Hitchcock had given Herrmann a copy of his 1967 interview book with François Truffaut, which he inscribed “To Benny with my fondest wishes, Hitch.”

“This is rather interesting, because it comes a year after Hitchcock had abruptly fired Herrmann from his work scoring Torn Curtain and indicates Hitchcock may have hoped to mend fences with Herrmann and have him score his next film, Topaz,” reported Wellesnet, the Orson Welles website, in April 2009:

Of course, once Herrmann felt he had been wronged, he was not going to say “yes” to Hitchcock unless he was courted and it seems unlikely that Hitchcock would be willing to do that, although apparently Hitchcock did ask Herrmann back to score his last film Family Plot right before Herrmann died. Herrmann, who had a full schedule of films planned for 1976, including DePalma’s Carrie, The Seven Per Cent Solution and Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, was reportedly happy to be in a position to ignore Hitchcock’s reunion offer.[14]

Herrmann’s unused score for Torn Curtain was commercially recorded after his death, initially by Elmer Bernstein for his Film Music Collection subscription record label (reissued by Warner Bros. Records), and later, in a concert suite adapted by Christopher Palmer, by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony. Some of Herrmann’s cues for Torn Curtain were later post-synched to the final cut, where they showed how remarkably attuned the composer was to the action, and how, arguably, more effective his score could have been.

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31 Responses to Tuesday Open Thread | Soundtrack Composers | Bernard Herrmann

  1. rikyrah says:

    for my Chicago peeps:
    Paul Mooney: Black Man in the White House Tour
    When: Saturday, July 20, at 9 p.m.
    Where: Harold Washington Cultural Center
    Door time: 8 p.m.

    4701 S King Dr.
    Chicago, Illinois 60615
    (415) 678-0100

  2. rikyrah says:

    SIREN: Elisabeth Hasselbeck to co-host FOX & Friends; joins Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade in mid-Sept.–Gretchen Carlson gets daytime hour

    Apparently this is a surprise to The Vie

  3. rikyrah says:

    Paul Mooney -Obama beat yo momma


  4. rikyrah says:

    10 Real People Who Are Winning Their Fight With Debt


    Business Insider
    Jul 8th 2013 5:00AM

    By Mandi Woodruff and Anmargaret Warner

    As human beings, there are some traits that we all have in common: two
    hands, one heart, red blood, and, unfortunately for most of us, a ton of
    debt. The average American carries a $47,000 debt load, and as a nation, nearly $2 trillion of our collective debt is either delinquent or 90 days past due.

    Part of the problem in figuring out how to begin getting out of the red
    is knowing who to turn to for help. Maybe you’re too embarrassed to fess
    up to your issues or you can’t afford a financial advisor. So you might
    pick up a $20 self-help book or enroll in a $200 debt makeover course

    Save your money. Some of the greatest advice out there can come from the
    person standing next to you in line at the grocery store. To prove our
    point, we’ve rounded up 10 truly inspiring stories of real consumers who
    faced their debt head-on and managed to come out on the other side


  5. rikyrah says:

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama1m
    Presidents included a doubling in the S&P were Obama, Eisenhower, Reagan & Clinton but none came close to the 18% Obama annual return.

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama6m
    Correction, Coolidge’s record is with the DJIA, and Obama has the record with the S&P.

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama7m
    Calvin Coolidge 25.5% annual S&P return, Obama at 18%, Bill Clinton’s AVG. S&P return was 15.2%, with Ike and Reagan in 4th and 5th place.

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama11m
    When FDR died in 1945, the S&P 500 was 141% higher vs 105% for Obama, but at an annual rate of gain was only 7.5% vs 18% so far for Obama

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama13m
    Over all, the world’s stock markets outside the United States have risen less than two-thirds as much as the American one has.

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama13m
    The US stock market has done better since early 2009 than any of the next nine largest economies in the world. Only India came close.

    Jeff Gauvin ‏@JeffersonObama15m
    More than 52 months after Obama took office, the S&P 500 was up 106% during his term in office, for a compound annual gain of 18%. #Economy

  6. rikyrah says:

    Winning More White Voters Won’t Save the GOP


    After Election Day, the conventional wisdom was that the GOP needed to make gains among Hispanics to win in 2016. Fox News’ Brit Hume and Sean Hannity, for instance, quickly assessed the GOP needed to cave on immigration reform. Half a year later, Hume and Hannity have flipped. Hannity doubts that immigration will help Republicans, while Hume says the demographic arguments are “baloney,” since the Hispanic vote is “not nearly as important, still, as the white vote.” Hannity and Hume aren’t alone. Rush Limbuagh, for instance, says white voters stayed home because the Republican Party didn’t stay conservative enough. And as MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin put it, “you can hear the ‘missing whites’ thesis everywhere if you look for it.

    That thesis has led conservatives to embrace a different electoral strategy than their more moderate counterparts: more gains with white voters.

    Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics makes the strongest case for a whiter Republican coalition. In a four-part demographic tour de force, he argues that the GOP doesn’t have much to gain from immigration reform, since Hispanics just aren’t a very big part of the electorate and immigration reform wouldn’t yield big GOP gains among Hispanics, anyway. Instead, Trende says the GOP should deepen its existing coalition by making additional gains among white voters, energizing the missing white voters, and counting on a decline in black support for the next Democratic candidate.

    As a matter of arithmetic, Trende is right: Hispanics were only about 9 or 10 percent of the electorate in 2012, and Obama won the national popular vote by 3.9 points. For the GOP to gain 3.9 points out of 9 percent of the electorate, they’d need to improve by a net-43 points with Hispanics, all but eliminating Obama’s 44 point margin of victory. That isn’t going to happen in a competitive election. The importance of Hispanics is further reduced by the Electoral College, since they are disproportionately concentrated in solid red or blue states: Hispanics represent more than 5 percent of the electorate in only three of the twelve most competitive states.

    Massive GOP gains among Hispanics just couldn’t have elected Romney. Only Florida would have flipped. And since Hispanics are just a fraction of the electorate in many of the most pivotal states—like New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—it’s conceivable that the next GOP victory might not involve big gains among Hispanics. That’s why I’ve argued here, here, here, and here that the focus on immigration reform and Hispanics is misplaced. And that’s why immigration reform is more important as a test of the GOP’s willingness to rebrand than as a means to single-handedly secure the White House.

    But the GOP will have to compensate with gains elsewhere if it forfeits marginal but meaningful opportunities among Hispanics. Demographic changes are turning the Bush coalition—which combined white conservatives with a few targeted inroads among sympathetic groups—into a coffin. Every four years, the non-white share of eligible voters increases by 2 points, requiring Republicans to do a little better to compensate for demographic change. Plugging the 2004 results into 2016 demographics, for instance, would yield a Democratic victory. And to counter demographic changes by 2016, the GOP will need broader appeal than it’s had since 1984—a high burden. And that burden becomes even greater, even if only marginally, without inroads among Hispanics.


  7. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s epic gamble: Winning more white voters can save the party

    By Greg Sargent, Published: July 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

    As I noted this morning, the argument that Republicans don’t really need to improve their standing much among Latinos to be competitive in national elections is gaining real ground among Republicans — posing a serious threat to immigration reform. The emerging case is that Republicans mainly need to do even better among whites — by doing a better job energizing white supporters and by bringing in more “missing” white voters who might be inclined to vote Republican — thus relieving them of the inconvenient need to alienate their base with anything that might persuade Latinos to give their party a second look.

    Today Nate Cohn published what may be the most comprehensive piece yet attempting to debunk this notion, which was perhaps best laid out by Sean Trende the other day. Cohn’s piece is well worth reading in full, but here is the summary version:

    1) If Republicans are going to increase their performance among white voters even further, they will have to moderate on social issues in ways that will be discomfiting to the base in any case; Republicans will have to “pick their poison.”

    2) The whites-only theory of the case depends on the GOP continuing to improve its standing among whites going forward. While this is currently happening, GOP gains among them are largely regional — focused in the south and in Appalachia. At the same time, Democrats may be gaining among whites outside these regions, which, if it continues, could “cement the Democratic edge in the Electoral College.” This is being exacerbated by the aforementioned refusal to moderate on cultural issues — particularly in key suburban areas.


  8. rikyrah says:

    Dems to GOP: Your new anti-abortion push is dead on arrival

    Senate Democrats are launching a preemptive strike against the latest GOP effort to strengthen bans on abortion, and are vowing to make Republicans continue to pay a political price among female voters for pursuing the issue, after a string of awful quotes from Republican officials have revealed the political perils it carries for the GOP.

    Marco Rubio is rumored to be considering whether to become the lead sponsor on legislation that would ban abortion nationally after 20 weeks, which would bring national media attention to the measure. Social conservatives (who play a key role in presidential primary politics) are urging him to do so, after his championing of immigration reform deeply angered the right.

    But in an interview this morning, a key member of the Democratic leadership, Senator Patty Murry, said any such effort is dead on arrival in the Senate.


  9. rikyrah says:

    The IRS ‘scandal’ may have ended, but the partisan vendetta did not
    By Steve Benen

    Tue Jul 9, 2013 12:44 PM EDT

    Remember the IRS “scandal”? The one the political world took extremely seriously for about six weeks, right up until the entire thing devolved into a big nothingburger? Conservatives who had high hopes for the story have been forced to concede there just isn’t much left, and every allegation raised by Republicans from the outset has been discredited.

    But the right’s contempt for the IRS hasn’t diminished in the slightest, and GOP lawmakers’ vendetta against the tax agency is just getting started.

    House Republicans are pushing legislation that would slash the IRS’s budget by $3 billion for its “inappropriate actions” in targeting political groups.

    The bill would place several additional restrictions on spending at the embattled agency and prohibit employees from implementing the individual mandate in ObamaCare

    These are actually two related-but-distinct ideas that are being put into one “We Hate The IRS” piece of legislation. The former, punishing the IRS for “inappropriate actions” by slashing its budget really doesn’t make any sense, since there’s no evidence the tax agency actually targeted anyone for partisan or ideological reasons.

    The latter is arguably more interesting, since it’s long been a demand pushed by some of the more unhinged Tea Party activists — GOP lawmakers can still sabotage the federal health care system if they’d only prohibit the IRS from enforcing the individual mandate. (Jonathan Cohn recently explained why this is “laughable.”)


  10. rikyrah says:

    GOP finds new excuse to oppose immigration reform
    By Steve Benen
    Tue Jul 9, 2013 10:49 AM EDT

    ne of the challenges for Republicans engaged in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform is that they’ve run out of rationales for saying, “No.” The Senate bill gave the right just about everything it asked for, including the so-called “border surge,” leaving bipartisan legislation that doubles the border patrol, shrinks the deficit, boosts the economy, improves the finances of the Social Security and Medicare systems, and help private-sector employers.

    What’s not to like?

    The right has been left to scramble, looking for something to complain about. Yesterday, they came up with a new one.

    The talking point appears to have started in earnest with this Washington Examiner piece from Conn Carroll, who argued that the Obama administration delayed implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act — a move the right should, in theory, love — which proves the White House shows discretion when it comes to enforcing parts of major laws, which proves Obama might not enforce the border-security elements of immigration reform, which proves Republicans can’t trust him, which proves Congress should kill the bipartisan bill.

    As is usually the case, the argument quickly moved from online conservative commentary to the lips of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

    Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said Monday night that Republicans who oppose the Senate’s immigration bill don’t trust President Obama to enforce the border enforcement provisions in that bill.

    “One of the biggest fears we have about the Senate amnesty bill … is we can’t trust the president,” Fleming said on the House floor. “We can’t trust him.”


    There is, in case you were curious, no evidence of Fleming complaining when George W. Bush issued signing statements explaining which parts of laws he intended to ignore.

    Regardless, that’s the new pitch: Republicans have to kill immigration reform because of the delay in the employer mandate in health care reform. Does this make sense? I’m afraid not.


  11. rikyrah says:

    Obama eyeing expedited departure from Afghanistan
    By Steve Benen

    Tue Jul 9, 2013 10:12 AM EDT

    In recent years, we’ve seen occasional reports about a changing timetable for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, some of which have proven accurate, others less so. And with this history in mind, it’s generally best not to overreact to rumors.

    That said, if this front-page New York Times piece is accurate, U.S. policy in Afghanistan may soon receive a major shake-up — and the end of the war may come far sooner than expected.

    Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

    The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

    An unnamed senior Western official in Kabul told the NYT, “There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option. It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”


  12. rikyrah says:

    Rand Paul is a Neo-Confederate

    by BooMan
    Tue Jul 9th, 2013 at 11:01:03 AM EST
    The people who swoon over Ron or Rand Paul because they agree with them on one subject or another really ought to come to terms with the true nature of the Paul family. They have always been neo-confederates or Lost Causers, and that is never going to change.

    A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career. Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

    From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

    During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

    Prior to his radio career, while in his 20s, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”

    “The League of the South is an implicitly racist group in that the idealized version of the South that they promote is one which, to use their ideology, is dominated by ‘Anglo-Celtic’ culture, which is their code word for ‘white’,” said Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research at the ADL. The ADL said it does not necessarily classify it as a hate group

    This isn’t some kind of aberration. The Paul movement has always been intertwined with white supremacists and it always will be. That is who they are.


  13. rikyrah says:

    “Stand your ground” law helps white defendants a lot more than black ones
    As George Zimmerman’s trial begins, the stories of two very different shooters show the inequality behind the law
    By Katie Halper

    A man in Florida shoots a man he finds having sex with his wife, killing him. A woman in Florida shoots the wall to scare off an abusive husband, harming nobody. Guess which one was acquitted? Guess which one was convicted?

    On March 10 of this year, around midnight, Ralph Wald, 70, of Brandon, Fla., got out of bed to get a drink and found Walter Conley, 32, having sex with his wife, Johanna Lynn Flores, 41, in the living room. He immediately went back into his bedroom, grabbed his gun and shot Conley three times. Conley died. Wald claims that he thought Conley was a stranger who had broken in and was raping his wife – despite the fact that Conley lived next door, had been his wife’s roommate and lover, and had his wife’s name tattooed onto his neck and arm. During a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man he shot was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” Wald never used the word “rape” in later reports to police, opting instead for “fornicate.” And while the fact that the two were lovers doesn’t imply consent, Flores has never accused Conley of rape — nor do prosecutors buy that that’s what Wald actually thought was happening. They say that Wald, who suffers from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage. Flores admits that she and Conley had sex regularly before and after her marriage to Wald. While testifying, Wald explained that his erectile dysfunction and his wife’s reluctance to have sex with him made them compatible: “In fact, she would joke a lot with me … that we were a perfect couple … She didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t do it.” On May 30, after deliberating for two hours, a jury found Wald not guilty. After the verdict was announced, Wald continued to show no remorse: “If the same thing happened again, I would do the same thing.”

    On Aug. 1, 2010, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, with a master’s degree and no criminal record, was working for a payroll software company in Jacksonville. She was estranged from her abusive husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him. Thinking he was not at home, she went to their former house to get some belongings. The two got into an argument. Alexander says that Gray threatened her and she feared for her life. Gray corroborates Alexander’s story: “I was in a rage. I called her a whore and bitch and … I told her … if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you,” he said, in a deposition. When Alexander retreated into the bathroom, Gray tried to break the door. She ran into the garage, but couldn’t leave because it was locked. She came back, he said, with a registered gun, which she legally owned, and yelled at him to leave. Gray recalls, “I told her … I ain’t going nowhere, and so I started walking toward her … I was cursing and all that … and she shot in the air.” Even Gray understands why Alexander fired the warning shot: “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her. Probably hit her. I got five baby mommas and I put my hands on every last one of them, except for one … I honestly think she just didn’t want me to put my hands on her anymore so she did what she feel like she have to do to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt, you know. You know, she did what she had to do.” And Gray admits Alexander was acting in self-defense, intending to scare and stop but not harm him: “The gun was never actually pointed at me … The fact is, you know … she never been violent toward me. I was always the one starting it.” Ultimately nobody was hurt. Nobody died. On May 12, 2012, it took a jury 12 minutes to find Alexander guilty of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    Both defendants used the defense of “stand your ground,” a Florida law that holds that a person has “no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.” The man who shot his wife’s lover to death was successful and walks free. The woman who shot at a wall to scare an abusive husband failed and sits in jail.

    The disparity between these outcomes should be shocking. But, sadly, it’s not, once you take into account the fact that Wald is white and Alexander is black. The “stand your ground” law is notorious for being applied in a biased and inconsistent way. The Tampa Bay Times found that defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more successful if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty. Only 59 percent of those who killed a white person got off. The Urban Institute determined that in “stand your ground” states, when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable. When black shooters kill white victims only 3 percent of the deaths are ruled justifiable.


  14. rikyrah says:

    @DylanByers @blakehounshell Greenwald tries to blur Snowden’s work history but the job at BAH is distinct, w/ appl, hire, start & end dates.
    — Only4RM (@Only4RM) July 9, 2013

  15. rikyrah says:

    Oregon Legislature Unanimously Passes Tuition Free Higher Education

    [….] The bill passed the Oregon legislature unanimously on Monday, ironically the same day interest on federal subsidized Stafford Loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor John Kitzaber this month.[….]

    The biggest obstacle revolves around funding the initial program which will amount to 9 billion dollars. Since the first year of students won’t graduate for several years, the committee must find a way to help fund the program. However, since it appears everyone is on board with the plan, concessions are expected to be made in order
    to achieve the planned goal.[….]


  16. rikyrah says:

    Fostering excellence: From underachievers to college-bound scholars

    It is a day 18-year-old Brittney Edmondson thought she’d never see.
    As a foster child, she finished her freshman year with a 0.00 GPA and just didn’t care. And yet here she is four years later graduating from Novato High School, near San Francisco, with honors and going to college. What changed? She got the right foster parents — Roy and Claudia Asprer.[….]

    Over the last 15 years, the Asprers have taken in 90 foster children in addition to their own four. All the kids are loved. But it is the older
    teenagers who have seemed to benefited from staying with the Asprers. Of the dozen or so who have spent their high school years with the couple, beginning with Marjorie in 1997 (“I graduated with a BA in humanities,” she said), virtually all the foster teens that have passed through the house are either in college or have already graduated.[….]


  17. Ametia says:

    Thank you, Smartypants!

    What’s the agenda?
    Boy, there sure is a lot of political noise out there these days! But beyond all that President Obama has an agenda he’s working on. Anyone paying attention?


  18. blksista says:

    BTW, I always thought Herrmann was a genius. He was synonymous with Hitchcock. When you heard his music introducing the film, you knew that this was the final necessary touch, the brand. That “Vertigo” soundtrack made quite an impression on me, especially that dream sequence when Jimmy Stewart’s character goes mad.

    I think that film soundtracks have become the classical music of our time.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Boehner completes his 180-degree turn on immigration
    By Steve Benen

    Tue Jul 9, 2013 8:44 AM EDT

    For those eagerly watching comprehensive immigration reform work its way through Congress, it’s difficult to know what to make of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Are his signals reliable? Does he have any authority? Is he bluffing? Does he have any strategy in mind at all?

    The answers are more than just insider trivia. The fate of the entire initiative may very well rest in the Speaker’s hands, and if we take his words at face value — which may or may not be wise — Boehner appears to be in the process of killing immigration reform.

    The trajectory of his posturing sheds quite a bit of light on how Boehner is approaching the issue. As the process got underway, the Speaker endorsed “comprehensive” reform, vowed the House would “work its will” on whatever the Senate passed, and refused to rule out the possibility of passing reform by relying on Democratic votes.

    That was then; this is now. Boehner now rejects the notion he wants a “comprehensive” bill, refuses to let the House even cast a vote on the bipartisan Senate legislation, has said categorically he’ll only consider a bill most House Republicans support, and yesterday, seemed to drive a nail into immigration reform’s coffin.


  20. rikyrah says:

    The secret weapon that could save the Voting Rights Act
    Adam Serwer, @adamserwer
    12:36 PM on 07/08/2013

    Voting rights advocates are testing whether a little-used provision of the Voting Rights Act could limit the damage of the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of the landmark civil rights law.

    Hours after the Supreme Court’s verdict was announced, representatives for the state of Texas celebrated its demise by announcing that they would move ahead with restrictive voting law changes that will disproportionately disenfranchise minorities. Those changes were previously blocked by the Justice Department, through a part of the Voting Rights Act the forces jurisdictions with a history of discrimination in voting to submit their election law changes to Washington in advance, often referred to as “preclearance,” under Section 5. Preclearance prevented discrimination in advance, rather than relying on drawn out litigation that might not be resolved until long after ballots are cast.

    Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which the high court struck down as unconstitutional, determined which jurisdictions were covered by that requirement. But Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act allows the federal government to subject jurisdictions with recent records of deliberate discrimination to the preclearance requirement. With Congress polarized and unlikely to come together to fix Section 4′s coverage formula, Section 3 could become the primary tool for the Justice Department and voting rights activists seeking to patch the gaping hole left by the Supreme Court’s verdict. Travis Crum, now a clerk for federal judge David S. Tatel, laid out this approach in an article for the Yale Law Journal in 2010, anticipating that the Supreme Court would someday strike down part of the Voting Rights Act. Crum called Section 3 the Voting Rights’ Act’s “secret weapon.”

    Related: How Section 5 stopped a modern day ‘poll tax‘

    Voting rights advocates are already putting the Section 3 strategy to the test. Last Tuesday, attorneys representing the Texas branches of the NAACP, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, and Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis in a legal battle with the state over Texas’ redistricting plan asked a federal court to place the entire state of Texas back under preclearance in accordance with Section 3.

    “What the court found in the case as a factual matter, their findings were that the congressional map and the senate map were both intentionally discriminatory,” says Gerald Hebert, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center who represents the groups who filed the request. “That kind of intentional discrimination violates the 14th and 15th amendments.”

    That high standard of proof is also part of what limits the effectiveness of Section 3 as a replacement for Section 4. To impose preclearance on a jurisdiction not covered by the now-defunct Section 4 formula, you have to prove that officials intended to discriminate. Under the old formula, all that had to be proven was that the election law changes would have discriminatory effects—precisely because most people are smart enough to hide when they’re deliberately trying to discriminate.

    In Texas, state officials weren’t that smart. Nevertheless, the requirement that deliberate discrimination be proven means that it will be very difficult to subject states that try to disenfranchise minority voters to preclearance, because all they need is a superficial “race-neutral” reason for making the change.

    “What you’re likely to see in states where these actions are brought is states trying to avoid an adverse Section 3 ruling by saying, our real intent here is to hurt Democrats. Since that’s our intent, that’s not a racial intent and that’s not forbidden by the Constitution,” says Brenda Wright, a legal expert with liberal think tank Demos. Judges might not subject jurisdictions to preclearance even if deliberate discrimination is proven, or they might do so only in areas related to the discriminatory policy.


  21. rikyrah says:

    eclecticbrotha @eclecticbrotha

    Ed Snowden has disembarked on the next leg of his White Privilege World Tour.
    8:54 AM – 23 Jun 2013

  22. Ametia says:

    I’m beyond the BOILING POINT here. GZ trial defense has some animation expert who reconstructs car accident. Lord help me through this day.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Court blocks Wisconsin’s new restrictions on reproductive rights
    By Steve Benen

    Tue Jul 9, 2013 8:00 AM EDT

    On Friday, when he hoped no one was looking, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) approved sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, including a requirement that women receive a medically unnecessary ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and regulatory measures that would close half of the state’s abortion clinics.

    The law was supposed to go into effect statewide yesterday. A federal court had other ideas.

    A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked part of Wisconsin’s new abortion law and scheduled a hearing for next week.

    The law, which went into effect Monday, includes provisions similar to those in several other states that require women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion and require doctors who provide abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital.

    Specifically, Conley noted in his 19-page ruling that the admitting-privileges provision of the Republican measure serves “no medical purpose” and was rushed into law for no apparent reason. It is up to state officials to prove that it safeguarded women’s health, he wrote, which he said “does not bear even superficial scrutiny on the current record.”


  24. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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