Wednesday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

Today, we focus on Rodgers & Hammersteins’s South Pacific.

south pacific-3

South Pacific is a musical composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The work premiered in 1949 on Broadway and was an immediate hit, running for 1,925 performances. The story is based on James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, combining elements of several of the stories. Rodgers and Hammerstein believed that they could write a musical based on Michener’s work that would be financially successful and, at the same time, would send a strong progressive message on racism.

The plot centers on an American nurse stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with a middle-aged expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A secondary romance, between a U.S. lieutenant and a young Tonkinese woman, explores his fears of the social consequences should he marry his Asian sweetheart. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most controversially in the lieutenant’s song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”. Supporting characters, including a comic petty officer and the Tonkinese girl’s mother, help to tie the stories together. Because he lacked military knowledge, Hammerstein had difficulty writing that part of the script; the director of the original production, Logan, assisted him and received credit as co-writer of the book.

The original Broadway production enjoyed immense critical and box-office success, became the second-longest running Broadway musical to that point (behind Rodgers and Hammerstein’s earlier Oklahoma!), and has remained popular ever since. After they signed Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin as the leads, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote several of the songs with the particular talents of their stars in mind. The piece won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. Especially in the Southern U.S., its racial theme provoked controversy, for which its authors were unapologetic. Several of its songs, including “Bali Ha’i”, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”, “Happy Talk”, “Younger Than Springtime” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy”, have become popular standards.

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The production won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Libretto, and it is the only musical production to win Tony Awards in all four acting categories. Its original cast album was the bestselling record of the 1940s, and other recordings of the show have also been popular. The show has enjoyed many successful revivals and tours, spawning a 1958 film and television adaptations. The 2008 Broadway revival was a critical success, ran for 996 performances and won seven Tonys, including Best Musical Revival.


In the early 1940s, composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, each a longtime Broadway veteran, joined forces and began their collaboration by writing two musicals that became massive hits, Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945).[9] An innovation for its time in integrating song, dialogue and dance, Oklahoma! would serve as “the model for Broadway shows for decades”.[10] In 1999, Time magazine named Carousel the best musical of the century, writing that Rodgers and Hammerstein “set the standards for the 20th century musical”.[11] Their next effort, Allegro (1947), was a comparative disappointment, running for less than a year, although it turned a small profit.[12] After this, the two were determined to achieve another hit.[13]

According to director Joshua Logan, a friend of both theatre men, he and Leland Hayward mentioned Michener’s best-selling book to Rodgers as a possible basis for the duo’s next play,[14] but the composer took no action. Logan recalled that he then pointed it out to Hammerstein, who read Michener’s book and spoke to Rodgers; the two agreed to do the project so long as they had majority control, to which Hayward grudgingly agreed.[15] Michener, in his 1992 memoirs, however, wrote that the stories were first pitched as a movie concept to MGM by Kenneth MacKenna, head of the studio’s literary department. MacKenna’s half brother was Jo Mielziner, who had designed the sets for Carousel and Allegro. Michener states that Mielziner learned of the work from MacKenna and brought it to the attention of Hammerstein and Rodgers, pledging to create the sets if they took on the project.[16]

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Hayward attempted to buy the rights from Michener outright, offering $500; Michener declined. Although playwright Lynn Riggs had received 1.5% of the box office grosses for the right to adapt Green Grow the Lilacs into Oklahoma!, Michener never regretted accepting one percent of the gross receipts from South Pacific. As Rodgers and Hammerstein began their work on the adaptation, Michener worked mostly with the lyricist, but Rodgers was concerned about the implications of the setting, fearing that he would have to include ukuleles and guitars, which he disliked. Michener assured him that the only instrument he had ever heard the natives play was an emptied barrel of gasoline, drummed upon with clubs.[17]


Soon after their purchase of the rights, Rodgers and Hammerstein decided not to include a ballet, as in their earlier works, feeling that the realism of the setting would not support one. Concerned that an adaptation too focused on “Fo’ Dolla’ “, the story of the encounter between Cable and Liat, would be too similar to Madama Butterfly, Hammerstein spent months studying the other stories and focused his attention on “Our Heroine”, the tale of the romance between Nellie and Emile. The team decided to include both romances in the musical play. It was conventional at the time that if one love story in a musical was serious, the other would be more lighthearted, but in this case both were serious and focused on racial prejudice. They decided to increase the role played by Luther Billis in the stories, merging experiences and elements of several other characters into him. Billis’s wheeling and dealing would provide comic relief.[18] They also shortened the title to South Pacific – Rodgers related that the producers tired of people making risqué puns on the word “tales”.[19]

In early drafts of the musical, Hammerstein gave significant parts to two characters who eventually came to have only minor roles, Bill Harbison and Dinah Culbert. Harbison is one of the major characters in Tales of the South Pacific; a model officer at the start, he gradually degenerates to the point where, with battle imminent, he requests his influential father-in-law to procure for him a transfer to a post in the United States. Hammerstein conceived of him as a rival to Emile for Nellie’s affections, and gave him a song, “The Bright Young Executive of Today”. As redrafts focused the play on the two couples, Harbison became less essential, and he was relegated to a small role as the executive officer to the commander of the island, Captain Brackett. Dinah, a nurse and friend of Nellie, is also a major character in Michener’s work, and was seen as a possible love interest for Billis, though any actual romance was limited by Navy regulations forbidding fraternization between officers (all American nurses in World War II were commissioned officers) and enlisted men. “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” originated as a duet for Dinah and Nellie, with Dinah beginning the song and developing its theme.[20] According to Lovensheimer, Nellie’s and Dinah’s “friendship became increasingly incidental to the plot as the writing continued. Hammerstein eventually realized that the decision to wash Emile out of her hair had to be Nellie’s. Only then did the scene have the dramatic potential for Nellie’s emotional transition” as she realizes her love for Emile. In the final version, Dinah retains one solo line in the song.[21]

Joshua Logan, in his memoirs, stated that after months of effort in the first half of 1948, Hammerstein had written only the first scene, an outline, and some lyrics. Hammerstein was having trouble due to lack of knowledge of the military, a matter with which Logan, a veteran of the armed forces, was able to help. The dialogue was written in consultation between the two of them, and eventually Logan asked to be credited for his work. Rodgers and Hammerstein decided that while Logan would receive co-writing credit on the book, he would receive no author’s royalties. Logan stated that a contract putting these changes into force was sent over to his lawyer with instructions that unless it was signed within two hours, Logan need not show up for rehearsals as director.[22] Logan signed, although his lawyer did not then tell him about the ultimatum.[23] Through the decades that followed, Logan brought the matter up from time to time, demanding compensation, but when he included his version of the events in his 1976 memoirs, it was disputed by Rodgers (Hammerstein had died in 1960).[23] Rodgers biographer Meryle Secrest suggests that Logan was compensated when South Pacific was filmed in 1958, as Logan received a substantial share of the profits as director.[n 3][24] According to Michener biographer Stephen J. May, “it is difficult to assess just how much of the final book Josh Logan was responsible for. Some estimates say 30 to 40 percent. But that percentage is not as critical perhaps as his knowledge of military lore and directing for the theatre, without which the creation of South Pacific would have collapsed during that summer of 1948.”[25]

Rodgers composed the music once he received the lyrics from Hammerstein. A number of stories are told of the speed with which he wrote the music for South Pacific ‘s numbers. “Happy Talk” was said to have been composed in about twenty minutes; when Hammerstein, who had sent the lyrics by messenger, called to check whether Rodgers had received them, his partner informed him that he had both lyrics and music. Legend has it he composed “Bali Ha’i” in ten minutes over coffee in Logan’s apartment; what he did create in that time frame was the three-note motif which begins both song and musical. Hammerstein’s lyrics for “Bali Ha’i” were inspired by the stage backdrop which designer Jo Mielziner had painted. Feeling that the island of Bali Ha’i did not appear mysterious enough, Mielziner painted some mist near the summit of its volcano. When Hammerstein saw this he immediately thought of the lyric, “my head sticking up from a low-flying cloud” and the rest of the song followed easily from that.[26]

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52 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    This just breaks my heart


    Boy takes his own life after bullying becomes too much
    by James / September 17, 2014 Black Children, Black Education, Black Men, Black News, Latest Posts No Comments

    Tragedies like this one are just too much to bear. You rarely know that your children are having serious problems coping with their struggles and sometimes we find out too late. This story should tell us the importance of protecting our kids from bullies and also teaching them that taking their own lives is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    Dr. Sinclair Grey III has the story:

    No parent ever wants their child to face bullying. Unfortunately, when bullying leads to a child taking their own life, questions must be raised and solutions must be sought out immediately.

    In Florida, a family is grieving at the loss of Lamar Hawkins, III, a 14-year-old who took his own life inside Greenwood Lake Middle School last week. It appears that the boy was repeatedly bullied and decided that fighting was no longer an option.

    Lamar Hawkins’ mother, Shaniqua Hawkins, told reporters that her family moved from New York to Florida with the hope and desire that Lamar wouldn’t be bullied.

    Lamar, who was called Shaq had stunted growth. Family members believe that made him an easy target to be picked on and bullied. He was described by all who knew him as a ‘happy boy.’

    Authorities say that Lamar use a gun to end his life in the bathroom on Wednesday. The weapon had been stored properly by his father, but the boy got access to it somehow.

    Bullying is tragic no matter the victim. Living in fear everyday of being picked on and in many cases, terrorized can leave many of our youth lost and confused.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Aisha Tyler Of “The Talk” Says Choosing Your Career Over Kids Is Okay
    By: Krystle Crossman

    Actress Aisha Tyler has made it no secret that she is unable to have children. She also has not made it a secret that until recently, she never wanted them. In an interview with Nancy Redd of The Huffington Post she said that she wanted to let women know that if they want to choose their careers over having children, that is a perfectly acceptable choice.

    It seems like everyone these days has someone telling them that they need to have a child. Many people feel that the only way your life can be complete is if you create a life. However for some, that just is not a reality. Some people do not want children and that is a perfectly valid and legitimate choice. Many do not agree with this choice. They berate those who would rather have a career and independence as opposed to starting a family. Why is it the most important thing in life to have a child? Wouldn’t that be worse for everyone involved if someone had a child when they were not ready or didn’t want one?

    Tyler said that ever since her career started taking off she knew that she did not want children. She was having a great time working and always considered herself to be a professional woman, not a mother. After she got married she and her husband began to discuss having children. They realized they didn’t have much time left and so they began trying to have a baby. After months of not being able to conceive they went to the doctor. They were told that it may never happen unless they intervened with IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or fertility drugs. Tyler knew that this was not something that she wanted to do. It is expensive and heartbreaking as most of the women that have IVF treatments do not ever get pregnant.

    • Ametia says:

      The lede is a bit deceptive. If one didn’t read further, they might get the notion that Aisha had a kid and left him/her for a career.

      I support any woman who chooses NOT to have children.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Venus Williams Sells Her House to Her Mom for Just $10
    by James / October 22, 2013

    Venus Williams is loaded, everyone knows that. The benefits to her family are that when you have relatives with plenty of money, some things are free or cheap. TMZ is reporting that Venus has agreed to sell her home to her mother for a surprisingly small amount of money. For just $10, Oracene Williams is taking possession of Venus’ Florida home, which is 2,804 square feet.

    The house is located in Jupiter, Florida and Venus apparently wants to live elsewhere.

    The small exchange of money is probably for tax purposes and keeps the transaction legal. The house was bought for $310,000 back in 2000 and has four bedrooms and three baths. That also happened to be the year that Venus won the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and an Olympic gold medal.

    Due to standard price appreciation, the house is probably worth over a million bucks. But the gift is nothing for Venus, who has an estimated net worth of $60 million.

    But Serena Williams has Venus beat, both on the court and in her bank account. Serena is worth $100 million herself. So, there is plenty of money to go around in this family and both of these ladies enjoy taking care of mama. We love it.

  4. rikyrah says:

    This Is How Vince Young Lost $26 Million In Six Years
    by Staff / September 22, 2012

    Former NFL star Vince Young is now being known for something other than his God-given athletic talents — his ability to spend money. While most people spend a bulk of their money on elaborate vacations, lavish cars, expensive hotel stays, etc., Young spent a plethora of money on food and drinks. That’s right. You read it correctly. Vince Young blew a large sum of money on food and drinks. In addition to spending a bulk of his money on food and drinks, he indulged in expensive travel and other typical things that unintelligent millionaires invest in.

    A reputable writer in Nashville, Tennessee, compiled a list of things that Young spent his hard-earned money on throughout the city. His list includes $6,000 tabs at T.G.I.F, $5,000/week at Cheesecake Factory, he purchased 120 out of 130 plane tickets available for a flight from Nashville to Houston, Texas, and countless $600 shots of Louis VIII after each home game.

    In addition to the local Nashville writer’s list, a popular radio show in Nashville (3HL) asked its listeners to call in with their own theory of where the former Titan’s star spent his money. Young was said to be a very generous man, tipping a guy $200 for carrying his luggage and always picking up the tab at restaurants for his teammates. Will someone be generous enough to help him as he faces his financial woes?

  5. rikyrah says:

    Nerd Rumble


    Nate Silver versus Sam Wang

    By Greg Sargent September 17 at 1:16 PM

    A public argument has erupted between two leading forecasters of the Senate battle — the internationally famous Nate Silver, and the little known Sam Wang, a professor of neuroscience at Princeton who dabbles in election forecasting as something of a hobby. The battle is being treated as a bit of a sideshow — as a duel of dweebs.

    But the underlying dispute between them is actually quite important, and has long term ramifications for how we think about polling and elections.

    Today Silver kicked things up a notch with a broadside aimed at Wang, and in a conversation with me today, Wang responded.

    Wang gives Democrats good odds of holding the Senate, while Silver still marginally favors Republicans.

    In a nutshell, the dispute turns on the difference between their two models. Wang’s model is a “polls only” model that bases predictions on a median of all available public polling data. Silver’s model is premised on the idea that polls alone aren’t enough, and adds in a number of “state fundamentals” to his model, including the generic ballot, Congressional approval ratings, fundraising totals, the background and ideology of the candidates, and so forth.

    Silver explains why he does this, and his differences with Wang’s model, this way:

  6. Liza says:

    So now the FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for half a game on Saturday because he stood on a table at the FSU student union and yelled an obscene phrase that apparently has been catching on. Okay, maybe Jameis is still a stupid kid in some ways because he is supposed to be aware of his position at all times and so forth. He also recently shoplifted some candy if I’m not mistaken.

    But what this really does is to give the ESPN female gasbags another opportunity to refer back to the alleged rape and talk that to death. They want to make sure that is attached to him for his entire life.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Religious right leader ties U.S. ‘secularism’ to Islamic State
    09/17/14 09:26 AM—UPDATED 09/17/14 09:29 AM
    By Steve Benen
    For much of the post-9/11 era, there’s been a strain of thought on the right that holds American liberalism responsible for Middle Eastern terrorism. This was generally applied to al Qaeda, but yesterday, Tony Perkins, head of a powerful religious right group called the Family Research Council, used the same reasoning when talking about Islamic State.
    The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said today that the separation of church and state in the United States has contributed to the rise of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS, arguing in his radio commentary that ISIS has “filled the void left by secularism.”

    According to Perkins, American ISIS militants wouldn’t have left the country to fight for the group if only the government had promoted Christianity over other faiths.
    Right Wing Watch published an audio clip of Perkins’ minute-long commentary, which was about as offensive as you might imagine.

    “Radical secularism that has driven the defining characteristics of our Western culture, our Judeo-Christian heritage, from our schools, our entertainment and even our government has left in its place a void, a vacuum,” Perkins argued. “And we should know from experience that a vacuum will be filled by something. Without a creedal vision that a society can unify around, the people, the nation, will perish. Unless we are content to allow ISIS or some other radical belief system to fill the void left by secularism, we must rediscover America’s founding, Christ-centered vision.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Talking Points Memo ✔ @TPM
    Wang responds to Silver’s critique: “I do not want to turn this into a shouting match — it’s really unnecessary.”
    11:36 AM – 17 Sep 2014

  9. rikyrah says:

    Trendy NYC Hotel Confuses 3 Black Women Out for Drinks at the Bar for Prostitutes

    By Eileen Shim 3 hours ago

    …AlterNet recently reported about three black women — one lawyer and two educators — who went out for drinks at the Standard Hotel in New York City a few weeks ago. After a man approached the women and offered to buy them drinks, a security guard reportedly accused them of being prostitutes and asked them to stop soliciting. According to AlterNet:

    “After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,'” Washington told AlterNet in an interview. “We were like, ‘soliciting?’ He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here.’ We were like, ‘Soliciting what?'”

    Shocked, she asked the security guard if he was accusing them of prostitution. “Don’t act stupid with me, you know what you were doing,” Washington recalls the guard saying.

    “Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators,” she said in reply. “Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?” Washington said he answered, “I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    A blast from an unpleasant past
    09/16/14 04:13 PM
    By Steve Benen

    In Kansas, Republican officials find themselves in the unusual position of trying to keep a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate on the ballot, even though he’s eager to withdraw. Democratic candidate Chad Taylor has tried to drop out of the race against Sen. Pat Roberts (R), leaving the incumbent to take on Independent Greg Orman, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has stood in the way, objecting to Taylor’s paperwork. The case went before the Kansas Supreme Court today.

    But take a look at who’s siding with the controversial Republican Secretary of State.
    One of the officials at the center of the Bush administration’s U.S. attorneys scandal is helping to author briefs for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the lawsuit that could help determine one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

    Bradley Schlozman, who stepped down from the Justice Department in 2007 amid controversy and is now an attorney practicing in Wichita, Kansas, is one of the signatories of a new brief from Kobach’s office.
    Who’s Bradley Schlozman? As an msnbc report noted in March, “During the George W. Bush administration, an internal Justice Department report found Bush appointees had attempted to purge the division of liberals, or as one Bush appointee Bradley Schlozman put it, ‘adherents of Mao’s little red book.’ The report found that Schlozman, who had vowed to ‘gerrymander’ all those ‘crazy libs’ out of the division, replacing them with Republican loyalists, had violated civil service laws with his hiring practices.”

  11. Ametia says:

    NIKE, WHEATIES, RADISON!… Dropped Peterson & Vikings connections. But that’s not why Peterson’s supsended indefinitely, according to the vikings management!

  12. Ametia says:

    Mark Wilf and the Vikings franchise are seeing the GREENBACKS leaving, that’s why they suspended Peterson!

  13. Ametia says:

    Go Quintavious! He’s one of 6 Finalist for AGT tonight

  14. rikyrah says:

    September 17, 2014 8:53 AM
    November Gets Iffier

    By Ed Kilgore

    Just when much of the punditocracy was settling in for a few happy weeks of arguing over the extent of the Republican “wave” in November, while Mitch McConnell figuratively measured curtains for the Majority Leader’s offices, the worm has turned a bit, at least in the polling data, and the GOP victory parade seems a bit premature. WaPo’s Chris Cillizza sums up the confused state of prophecy:

    Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, The Post’s statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.

    Election Lab puts Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago, when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control…..

    The movement toward Democrats in the Election Lab model isn’t unique. LEO, the New York Times’ Upshot model, gives Republicans a 51 percent chance of winning the Senate — but that is down significantly over the past few weeks.

    Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model now has Republican chances of winning the Senate at 55 percent, down from 64 percent 12 days ago.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare: From game-changer to background noise

    By DAVID NATHER | 9/17/14 5:04 AM EDT

    A year ago, it looked like Obamacare was going to have a huge role in this year’s elections. And not in a good way — as a symbol of government incompetence and the Republicans’ main case against President Barack Obama’s record.

    Now, it’s clear that the health care law is not going to be the centerpiece of the November campaigns, in a good way or a bad way. It’s going to be more like the wallpaper.

    Read more:

  16. rikyrah says:

    September 17, 2014 9:43 AM
    Quiet Counter-Revolution on Abortion Rights

    If you’ve only casually followed the law and politics of the abortion issue in recent years, you may wonder why there’s so much activity and controversy when the basic constitutional law of reproductive rights hasn’t really changed. But as Jeffrey Toobin explains in a wonderfully succinct column at The New Yorker, it has changed in subtle ways, mainly because its most recent formulation—Sandra Day O’Connor’s prohibition of abortion restrictions that pose an “undue burden” on the right to choose prior to fetal viability—is capable of being turned inside out.

    [T]he key phrase did not have a fixed, self-evident definition. And as the Court moved to the right, following O’Connor’s resignation, the scope of the constraints on state power began shrinking. In 2007, the year after Samuel Alito replaced O’Connor on the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, for a 5-4 majority, the decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld Congress’s ban on so-called partial-birth abortion. Kennedy quoted O’Connor’s language from Casey, in which she defined an “undue burden” as existing when the “purpose or effect [of the regulation] is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” But then Kennedy went on, essentially, to ignore that definition, since he was approving a law that disallowed what was then the most common form of second-trimester abortion.

    The decision in Carhart was followed, in 2010, by landslide Republican legislative victories that brought several state governments under the full control of the G.O.P. In virtually all of these states, and in several others that were already in Republican hands, politicians sought to make obtaining an abortion even more difficult. In Texas, this meant the passage of a law that required abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, which are more or less miniature hospitals. There were already only forty-one abortion clinics in the state, for a population of five million women of reproductive age, and more than twenty were forced to close because of the new requirements; when further restrictions went into effect, the state was on the verge of being left with only a half-dozen clinics, and none at all in the Rio Grande Valley. This was the very definition of an undue burden—a law whose “purpose or effect” was “to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.” In August, a courageous federal district-court judge in Austin, Lee Yeakel, reached just that conclusion and held that the new provisions violated a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. “The ambulatory-surgical-center requirement is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a previabilty abortion,” Yeakel wrote in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of abortion providers.

  17. rikyrah says:

    The GOP’s ‘not a scientist’ meme keeps spreading
    09/17/14 08:00 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Maybe a memo went out to Republicans, telling them how to respond to questions about science.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for example, was asked how old he thinks the planet is. “I’m not a scientist, man,” he replied. Gov. Rick Scott (R) was asked what he intended to do about the climate crisis threatening Florida. “I’m not a scientist,” he responded. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked about the climate deniers in his conference. “I’m not qualified to debate the science,” he replied.

    And now we have another member of the chorus.
    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dodged three questions on Tuesday about whether he personally believes the theory of evolution explains the presence of complex life on Earth.

    “The reality is I’m not an evolutionary biologist,” the Republican governor and possible 2016 presidential hopeful told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
    Not to put too fine a point on this, but Jindal was a biology major at an Ivy League university before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. The notion that the Louisiana Republican has doubts about evolutionary biology is very hard to believe.

    Which raises the related question of why in the world Republicans keep using this ridiculous response when asked easy questions.

    Jindal actually finds himself in an awkward position. The governor is probably aware of the fact that Republican voters have become increasingly hostile towards modern biology in recent years, and as the Louisianan prepares a national campaign, he can’t deliberately alienate his own party’s far-right base.

  18. rikyrah says:

    September 17, 2014 9:25 AM
    What Could Go Wrong Here?

    By Ed Kilgore

    Before the change in direction of the polls and polling analysis became apparent yesterday, I knocked out a TPMCafe column discussing the various things that could go wrong for the GOP between now and November 4, from a surprising money disadvantage to a candidate gaffe. I was less concerned with prophecy than with reminding myself and others that strange things happen in the final stages of elections that defy both the “fundamentals” and earlier expectations. If historical precedent provided the only guide to how elections will turn out, Terry McAuliffe would not be governor of Virginia (after all, he broke a streak of nine consecutive gubernatorial elections in which the party controlling the White House lost). And earlier expectations didn’t factor in Kansas becoming extremely competitive this year.

    Once the dust settles on November 4 (or 5), I’m sure we’ll continue to have arguments over why what happened happened. After all, we’re still arguing over the true meaning of the elections of 1980, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2008. But sometimes accidents happen, and even predictable developments combine in ways that produce surprising outcomes. That’s what makes politics fun for junkies, even if it drives the determinists crazy.

  19. rikyrah says:

    New Eyewitness To Palin Family Brawl: Bristol’s Actions Were ‘Quite Violent’

    ByAhiza Garcia
    PublishedSeptember 16, 2014, 6:14 PM EDT

    Another eyewitness to the Palin family brawl emerged on Tuesday, telling TPM she was shocked by the violent punches she saw being thrown by the eldest daughter of former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

    Roberta Thompson spoke to TPM by phone from her home in Alaska. Until now, her husband, Eric Thompson, has been one of only two people to go on the record about what took place at the Sept. 6 house party in Anchorage. (Eric Thompson has said he was later fired from his job for speaking to the media.)

    The melees at that night’s party have led to an ongoing police investigation and reports that Sarah Palin’s husband and son were injured while tussling with other party guests before the family was kicked out of the house.

    “It was just so shocking,” Roberta Thompson told TPM.

    She mostly confirmed what her husband told multiple news outlets last week, saying that the two of them were right next to each other during the incident. But she provided her own take on how the events unfolded, including a portion that she said involved the eldest Palin daughter, Bristol Palin, and the owner of the house, Korey Klingenmeyer.

    “What I saw was two girls run past and run towards Korey,” Roberta Thompson said. “And then I just saw Bristol Palin start punching him in the face.”

    “It was quite, quite violent,” she added.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Race and the Reformicons
    The reform conservatives are tackling a number of issues that could change their movement. But there’s one matter on which their silence is notable. A response to E.J. Dionne Jr.
    Joy-Ann Reid

    In tackling the growing vogue of reform conservatism, E.J. Dionne Jr. rightly divines its core challenge: navigating the narrow strait between the need to put forward governing ideas for the health of conservatism and its preferred political party, and the “Hell, no!” nihilism of the Tea Party’s political base. [“The Reformicons,” Issue #33]

    Dionne concludes that the “reformicons” (his coinage) must do something beyond gussying up the packaging of staid policy prescriptions (the usual menu of tax cuts, deregulation, and reduced federal spending) and beat back the reflexive anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party in order to effect real policy change. He spends less time on the fact that the reformicons are operating in this excruciatingly narrow space for reasons that go to the very heart of America’s oldest and deepest divide: race, and the lingering social and political backlash against the federal government’s various attempts to craft interracial decency in a country born in slavery. It is a divide the reformicons largely decline to confront.

    Dionne traces the historical ebb and flow of reform conservatism, from the sweeping, think-tank intellectualism that arose in the 1970s and served as a response to the Great Society (and produced now-hated ideas like the individual mandate, along with well-worn ones like block grants and revenue sharing with the states) to the reformist fits and starts that characterize the long Senate career of John McCain and the nascent one of Florida’s Marco Rubio.

    McCain and Rubio—men of vastly different political eras—embody both the potential and the limits of conservative reform. In McCain’s case, he spent the late 1990s and early 2000s trumpeting the cause of campaign finance reform, which was opposed by almost everyone else in his party and was ultimately crushed under the wheels of Citizens United, after which McCain threw up his hands and abandoned the issue. His principled opposition to the Bush tax cuts is an antique unlikely to be dusted off as a set piece for the conservative mantel. Meanwhile, he and Rubio have had to walk back their own immigration-reform proposals after being beaten down by the conservative entertainment complex. And Rubio’s talk of income inequality largely consists of a thin gruel of still more tax cuts and block grants, along with opposition to popular solutions like raising the minimum wage. McCain can claim one reform victory (besides the short-lived McCain-Feingold law): the end of earmarks, a Tea Party-fueled win for which the defanged leaders of both houses of Congress surely thank him exactly never.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Known Unknowns

    We’re seven weeks out from this year’s elections, and some things remain unanswered.

    By Robert Schlesinger Sept. 15, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. EDT

    We’ve entered the campaign home stretch. I wrote in my last column about the surprises the 2014 cycle has produced. With scarcely more than seven weeks until this year’s elections, here are a half-dozen of the known unknowns, to borrow a Don Rumsfeld-ism – X-factors that bear watching because they could swing races.

    “Bannock Street” bonanza. Midterm electorates are different demographic creatures than presidential ones. If trends hold, this year’s set of voters will be older and whiter – more Republican – than those who re-elected President Barack Obama. Democrats are trying to conjure something more akin to a presidential turnout model. To that end the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pledged to pour $60 million into a voter identification and turnout operation dubbed the “Bannock Street Project,” named after the field headquarters in Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s successful 2010 campaign, from which the sophisticated effort draws its inspiration. That money will pay for 4,000 staffers in battleground states. It’s unprecedented, more than twice what the DSCC spent in 2012. Some of this is familiar territory – Democrats worked Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and New Hampshire in the 2012 race; but they’ve started from scratch in red states like Kentucky, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia. What return will Democrats get? “That’s probably the biggest unknown out there,” says Jennifer Duffy of The Cook Political Report. A strong turnout operation could add two points in tight races. One complicating factor: Obama’s decision to delay his long-promised executive order overhauling immigration policy. “It’s hard to get Hispanics really, really motivated to vote for you when you’ve basically said, ‘I think it’s politically stupid to help you,’” notes one GOP lobbyist. The flip side of the question is how much technological ground Republicans have made up since Democrats whipped them on turnout two years ago.

    The ‘thirds’ strike. The Democratic senate nominee in Kansas dropped out of the race last week, giving independent Greg Orman a clear shot at incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, whom The Rothenberg Political Report promptly declared “the most vulnerable Republican senator in the country.” Orman hasn’t said which party he’ll caucus with if he wins, a choice which could decide Senate control. In North Carolina, Sean Haugh, a pizza deliveryman bearing the Libertarian standard in the Senate race, has been getting 8 to 11 percent in polls – potentially undercutting GOP nominee Thom Tillis enough to save incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. Libertarian senate nominees could also peel off conservatives in the Kentucky, Alaska and Georgia races. In Hawaii, a third-party candidate has also polled in the teens in a tight race featuring a neophyte Democrat who stunned the incumbent governor in last month’s primary. Meanwhile, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Alaska announced last week that he would drop his underdog bid and join a fusion ticket with an independent.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Kobach’s Lawyer Beat Up By Kansas Supreme Court In Senate Race Case
    ByDylan Scott
    PublishedSeptember 16, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s refusal to remove Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor from the ballot came under harsh scrutiny Tuesday from the Kansas Supreme Court, with some of the justices openly wondering whether the Republican official was arbitrarily applying the law.

    At stake is whether Taylor, who attempted to withdraw earlier this month, will have his name appear on the ballot in November. That decision could swing the race between independent candidate Greg Orman and Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts — which could in turn decide which party controls the Senate next year.

    The case hinges on whether Taylor adequately declared that he was “incapable” of serving if elected, as required by state law, and what discretion Kobach has to accept or refuse Taylor’s attempted declaration.

    Much of the oral arguments focused on a trove of previous withdrawal letters filed by Kobach’s lawyers the day before the hearing. A number of the letters, some of which were accepted by the secretary’s office, seemed to be largely in line with the letter filed by Taylor earlier this month. Some of them also had not been properly notarized, though they were still accepted by Kobach’s office. The resulting questioning centered on how much discretion Kobach has in applying the law.

    “It seems pretty loosey goosey. What are we to do with that?” Justice Dan Biles said to Kobach’s lawyer Ed Greim. “It seems like the legislature put some requirements in the statute, and you guys are deciding whether you want comply or not on an ad hoc basis almost.”

  23. rikyrah says:

    Could the public actually be looking at ISIS in a sober way?

    On Wednesday, President Obama laid out his plan for attacking the Islamic State, and the immediate response from Republicans was almost uniformly negative. That wasn’t surprising, given that one of the opposition’s core duties is to say that the President is wrong about everything, but if you expected that all Republican voters would fall in line with their leaders, this appears to be one of the rare instances where you’d be wrong. A new poll from the Pew Research Center taken after the speech has just been released, and it shows a remarkable level of agreement across parties and other groups about this new military undertaking.

    Overall, 53 percent of the respondents said they approved of Obama’s plan, with 29 percent disapproving. That’s solid if not overwhelming support, but what’s notable is that Democrats and Republicans were almost identical: Democrats approve of the plan by 60-24, while Republicans approve by 64-27.

    Two groups of people can come to the same conclusion for different reasons; it might well be that in this case, Republicans are supporting the action because of their inclination toward hawkishness, while Democrats favor it because it’s the policy of a president they support. And there was one significant difference: by 66-27, Republicans say they’re more concerned that U.S. military actions won’t go far enough, while by 54-27, Democrats say they’re more concerned that U.S. involvement will go too far.

  24. rikyrah says:

    Two Cheers for Obama: Nobody Makes the Best Out of Bad Situation Like He Does

    Robert Kuttner

    September 16, 2014

    All of the other options are worse.

    It took President Barack Obama a long time, and multiple stumbles, to back into a foreign policy role that looks something like leadership.

    If Russian President Putin is agreeing to a cease-fire in Ukraine that just might hold, the U.S.-led combination of pressure and restraint deserves much of the credit. Putin considers the loss of the Ukraine one of the great tragedies of Russian history, and before this conflict is over Putin will probably demand and get greater regional autonomy for Russian-majority Eastern Ukraine. But that beats an annexation or a war.


    No president would have an easy time with this mess. It’s easy to imagine a Republican president blundering into a much wider war. And though some critics on the left have embraced a deeper neo-isolationism, calling for the Middle East to solve its own problems, it’s awfully hard to imagine how that would work. The greater likelihood is more territorial expansion by the Islamic State, more civil wars, and more gains for regimes that are either military despots or Islamist fundamentalists. Sooner or later, the U.S. would be drawn back in.

    Obama’s policy of containing and degrading ISIL with U.S. air strikes while he attempts to find local boots on the ground is far from an ideal policy. But as the rare failure of Republicans to second-guess the president suggests, it’s hard to come up with a better one

  25. rikyrah says:

    Democrats now have a 51 percent chance of holding the Senate

    Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, The Post’s statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.

    Election Lab puts Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago, when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control. (Worth noting: When the model showed Republicans as overwhelming favorites, our model builders — led by George Washington University’s John Sides — warned that the model could and would change as more actual polling — as opposed to historical projections — played a larger and larger role in the calculations. And, in Republicans’ defense, no one I talked to ever thought they had an 80 percent chance of winning the majority.)

  26. rikyrah says:

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    Last Call For The Polls Moving Blue
    Posted by Zandar

    All the three major polling statistical models for the Senate: WaPo’s Election Lab model, NYT’s Upshot Leo model, and Five Thirty Eight’s model, have shifted significantly towards the Democrats keeping the Senate in November based on a series of polls out in the last two weeks.

    Election Lab puts Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control. (Worth noting: When the model showed Republicans as overwhelming favorites, our model builders — led by George Washington University’s John Sides — warned that the model could and would change as more actual polling — as opposed to historical projections — played a larger and larger role in the calculations. And, in Republicans’ defense, no one I talked to ever thought they had an 80 percent chance of winning the majority.)

    So, what exactly has changed to move the Election Lab projection? Three big things:

    * Colorado: On August 27 — the last time I wrote a big piece on the model — Election Lab said Sen. Mark Udall (D) had a 64 percent chance of winning. Today he has a 94 percent chance.

    * Iowa: Two weeks ago, the model gave state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) a 72 percent chance of winning. Today she has a 59 percent chance.

    * Kansas: Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R) re-election race wasn’t even on the radar on Aug. 27. Today, Election Lab predicts he has just a 68 percent chance of winning.

    In addition to that trio of moves in Democrats’ direction, Louisiana has moved slightly in Democrats’ favor (from a 57 percent chance of losing to a 53 percent chance) as has North Carolina (a 97 percent chance of winning now as opposed to a 92 percent chance on Aug. 27).

    By contrast, Alaska has moved in Republicans’ direction (Democratic Sen. Mark Begich’s chances of winning are down from 66 percent to 53 percent) and Georgia has become more of a sure-thing hold (a 91 percent GOP win versus an 84 percent hold).

  27. rikyrah says:

    Former DOJ Civil Rights Nominee Debo Adegbile: Principles More Important Than A Job Title

    …”I think if you look into it, it would be a rare situation in which somebody was blocked from public service for having successfully vindicated the Constitution of the United States,” Adegbile said.

    “In our system, you get counsel, you make your case to the court, and then the court rules and we agree as a society, as a civilized society, to abide by that rule of law. Therefore I don’t think that there was a lot of focus in my participation in that defense as being disqualifying in any way,” Adegbile said of the vetting process before his nomination.

    Asked whether he agreed with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who suggested that Adegbile would have been confirmed if he were white, Adegbile said he’d leave that assessment to others.

    “From my perspective, civil rights in our nation have been contested since the beginning of time, and I guess my vote suggests that they’re fairly hotly contested today, amongst other events that are unfolding across the country. So I was not surprised that there would be some opposition,” he said.

    “The chips fell where they did. Whether it’s politics or something else is better for other people to assess,” he continued. “What I have come to focus on is that in life and as a professional, the principles for which you stand are more important than the office that you hold. I’m very proud to have worked to vindicate the principles of the constitution, and I hope to continue to have those opportunities in the future.”

    Adegbile, who will focus his practice in WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department, said he “immediately began to consider” his alternatives after the vote in March. He said he had previously collaborated with WilmerHale when he was at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and that several friends and colleagues have worked there….

  28. rikyrah says:

    Video reveals Baltimore cop repeatedly punched suspect in face, city outraged
    Arturo Garcia
    16 Sep 2014

    The Baltimore Police Department faced both criticism from both city officials and a $35 million lawsuit in connection with footage of an officer attacking a man following an angry verbal exchange this past June, WJZ-TV reported on Tuesday.

    “Much like the public, I’m shocked, I’m outraged, I’m disgusted by what I saw by an employee of the Baltimore City Police Department,” Commissioner Anthony Batts said during a press conference regarding the video showing Officer Vincent Cosom striking 32-year-old Kollin Truss in the face repeatedly.

    The footage shows Truss and Cosom getting into an argument after Cosom allegedly told Truss to stop loitering outside a liquor store. At one point, Truss reportedly went into the store and told Cosom, “F*ck you, I will see you when I get outside.”

  29. rikyrah says:

    Talking Points Memo @TPM · 23h
    Republican chances of gaining control of the Senate have shrunk from 64 percent to 55 percent:

  30. rikyrah says:

    State of the Senate Races
    by BooMan
    Tue Sep 16th, 2014 at 11:27:18 AM EST

    As Sam Wang has been predicting, once there was a more robust set of polls, the other polling models would begin to converge with his own, improving the Democrats’ odds of retaining control of the Senate. The reason? More dependence of the actual average of polls and less speculation about “fundamentals.”

    …[A]s the election approaches, other sites are decreasing the bias that they add by using fundamentals. This will inevitably make them approach the PEC snapshot, day by day. If everything converges on the PEC Election Day prediction, I would score that as an argument in favor of using polls only – or at least letting readers see the difference added by the use of fundamentals.

    Nate Silver speculates that the real reason for the convergence is the Democrats’ money advantage, but that should already be baked in the fundamentals cake. It’s at least as important to Kay Hagan’s reelection prospects that she has more experience than Thom Tillis as it is that she has a lot more money, but both factors should be considered if you’re going to just begin speculating about factors other than the actual polling.

    Another problem with speculating is that there’s no way to really measure the superiority of one get-out-the-vote effort versus another one. People assume that the Democrats have a more robust GOTV strategy, but how do you account for it? Not every close contest is getting the same amount of resources.

    Here are a few other observations on the polls.

    1. Polls out of Georgia disagree about whether Carter and Nunn are ahead or behind, and the differences are explained entirely by different assumptions about turnout. This is also true with recent polls out of New Hampshire of the Shaheen/Brown race.

    2. Sen. Pat Roberts is looking something close to doomed. He has a 29% approval rating, only gets 34% in a four-way race that includes Democrat Chad Taylor skimming 6% of the vote even though he has dropped out of the contest. If Taylor succeeds in getting himself taken off the ballot, Greg Orman’s road to victory looks assured, but he’s beating Roberts by 7% as it is. If they knew for certain that Orman would caucus with the Democrats, the election modelers would all be predicting a Democratic hold of the upper chamber.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Liam Neeson: 10 reasons we love the star

    He’s got legit acting chops (and an Oscar nomination for “Schindler’s List” to prove it), but Liam Neeson also knows his way around a crowd-pleasing action flick. In honor of his latest crime drama “A Walk Among the

    Tombstones” in theaters on Sept. 19, Wonderwall rounds up all the reasons we love him. Keep clicking for more Liam …

  32. rikyrah says:

    Good MOrning, Everyone :)

    • Ametia says:

      Good Morning, Rikyrah & Everyone! :-)

      I’m thoroughly enjoying R & H week! Isn’t it ironic how timely South Pacific is? Still dealing with issues of ignorance and racism.

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