Thursday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

the king and i-1

Today is my favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein Musical: The King & I.

The King and I is a musical, the fifth by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which is in turn derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love that neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. It ran nearly three years, then the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history, and has had many tours and revivals.

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In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon’s book would provide an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant but agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King, a role that he had played in the 1946 film made from Landon’s book, but he was unavailable. They settled on the young actor and television director Yul Brynner.

The musical was an immediate hit, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress (for Lawrence) and Best Featured Actor (for Brynner). Lawrence died unexpectedly of cancer a year and a half after the opening, and the role of Anna was played by several actresses during the remainder of the Broadway run of 1,246 performances. A hit London run and U.S. national tour followed, together with a 1956 film for which Brynner won an Academy Award, and the musical was recorded several times. In later revivals, Brynner came to dominate his role and the musical, starring in a four-year national tour culminating in a 1985 Broadway run shortly before his death. Both professional and amateur revivals of The King and I continue to be staged regularly throughout the English-speaking world.

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In 1950, British actress Gertrude Lawrence’s business manager and attorney, Fanny Holtzmann, was looking for a new vehicle for her client when the 1944 Margaret Landon novel Anna and the King of Siam (a fictionalized version of Leonowens’ experiences) was sent to her by Landon’s agent.[8] According to Rodgers biographer Meryle Secrest, Holtzmann was worried that Lawrence’s career was fading.[9] The 51-year-old actress had appeared only in plays, not in musicals, since Lady in the Dark closed in 1943.[10] Holtzmann agreed that a musical based on Anna and the King of Siam would be ideal for her client,[8] who purchased the rights to adapt the novel for the stage.[11]

Holtzmann initially wanted Cole Porter to write the score, but he declined. She was going to approach Noël Coward next, but happened to meet Dorothy Hammerstein (Oscar’s wife) in Manhattan. Holtzmann told Dorothy Hammerstein that she wanted Rodgers and Hammerstein to create a show for Lawrence, and asked her to see that her husband read a book that Holtzmann would send over. In fact, both Dorothy Rodgers and Dorothy Hammerstein had read the novel in 1944 and had urged their husbands to consider it as a possible subject for a musical.[8] Dorothy Hammerstein had known Gertrude Lawrence since 1925, when they had both appeared in André Charlot’s London Revue of 1924 on Broadway and on tour in North America.[12]

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Rodgers and Hammerstein had disliked Landon’s novel as a basis for a musical when it was published, and their views still held. It consists of vignettes of life at the Siamese court, interspersed with descriptions of historical events unconnected with each other, except that the King creates most of the difficulties in the episodes, and Anna tries to resolve them.[13][14] Rodgers and Hammerstein could see no coherent story from which a musical could be made[13] until they saw the 1946 film adaptation, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, and how the screenplay united the episodes in the novel.[13] Rodgers and Hammerstein were also concerned about writing a star vehicle. They had preferred to make stars rather than hire them, and engaging the legendary Gertrude Lawrence would be expensive. Lawrence’s voice was also a worry: her limited vocal range was diminishing with the years, while her tendency to sing flat was increasing. Lawrence’s temperament was another concern: though she could not sing like one, the star was known to be capable of diva-like behavior.[15] In spite of this, they admired her acting – what Hammerstein called her “magic light”, a compelling presence on stage – and agreed to write the show.[16] For her part, Lawrence committed to remaining in the show until June 1, 1953, and waived the star’s usual veto rights over cast and director, leaving control in the hands of the two authors.[17]

Hammerstein found his “door in” to the play in Landon’s account of a slave in Siam writing about Abraham Lincoln. This would eventually become the narrated dance, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. Since a frank expression of romantic feelings between the King and Anna would be inappropriate in view of both parties’ upbringing and prevailing social mores,[18] Hammerstein wrote love scenes for a secondary couple, Tuptim, a junior wife of the King, and Lun Tha, a scholar. In the Landon work, the relationship is between Tuptim and a priest, and is not romantic. The musical’s most radical change from the novel was to have the King die at the end of the play.[19] Also, since Lawrence was not primarily a singer, the secondary couple gave Rodgers a chance to write his usual “soaring” romantic melodies.[20] In an interview for The New York Times, Hammerstein indicated that he wrote the first scene before leaving for London and the West End production of Carousel in mid-1950; he wrote a second scene while in the British capital.[21]

The pair had to overcome the challenge of how to represent Thai speech and music. Rodgers, who had experimented with Asian music in his short-lived 1928 musical with Lorenz Hart titled Chee-chee,[22] did not wish to use actual Thai music, which American audiences might not find accessible. Instead, he gave his music an exotic flavor, using open fifths and chords in unusual keys, in ways pleasant to Western ears.[23][24] Hammerstein faced the problem of how to represent Thai speech; he and Rodgers chose to convey it by musical sounds, made by the orchestra. For the King’s style of speech, Hammerstein developed an abrupt, emphatic way of talking, which was mostly free of articles, as are many Oriental languages. The forceful style reflected the King’s personality and was maintained even when he sang, especially in his one solo, “A Puzzlement”.[24] Many of the King’s lines, including his first utterance, “Who? Who? Who?”, and much of the initial scene between him and Anna, are drawn from Landon’s version. Nevertheless, the King is presented more sympathetically in the musical than in the novel or the 1946 film, as the musical omits the torture and burning at the stake of Lady Tuptim and her partner.[25]

With Rodgers laid up with back trouble, Hammerstein completed most of the musical’s book before many songs were set to music.[26] Early on, Hammerstein contacted set designer Jo Mielziner and costume designer Irene Sharaff and asked them to begin work in coordination with each other. Sharaff communicated with Jim Thompson, an American who had revived the Thai silk industry after World War II. Thompson sent Sharaff samples of silk cloth from Thailand and pictures of local dress from the mid-19th century.[27] One such picture, of a Thai woman in western dress, inspired the song “Western People Funny”, sung by the King’s chief wife, Lady Thiang, while dressed in western garb.[28]

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Producer Leland Hayward, who had worked with the duo on South Pacific, approached Jerome Robbins to choreograph a ballet for “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. Robbins was very enthusiastic about the project and asked to choreograph the other musical numbers as well, although Rodgers and Hammerstein had originally planned little other dancing. Robbins staged “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” as an intimate performance, rather than a large production number.[28] His choreography for the parade of the King’s children to meet their teacher (“March of the Royal Siamese Children”) drew great acclaim.[29] Robert Russell Bennett provided the orchestrations, and Trude Rittmann arranged the ballet music.[30]

The pair discussed having an Act 1 musical scene involving Anna and the King’s wives. The lyrics for that scene proved to be very difficult for Hammerstein to write. He first thought that Anna would simply tell the wives something about her past, and wrote such lyrics as “I was dazzled by the splendor/Of Calcutta and Bombay” and “The celebrities were many/And the parties very gay/(I recall a curry dinner/And a certain Major Grey).”[31] Eventually, Hammerstein decided to write about how Anna felt, a song which would not only explain her past and her motivation for traveling with her son to the court of Siam, but also serve to establish a bond with Tuptim and lay the groundwork for the conflict that devastates Anna’s relationship with the King.[18][31] “Hello, Young Lovers”, the resulting song, was the work of five exhausting weeks for Hammerstein. He finally sent the lyrics to Rodgers by messenger and awaited his reaction. Hammerstein considered the song his best work and was anxious to hear what Rodgers thought of it, but no comment came from Rodgers. Pride kept Hammerstein from asking. Finally, after four days, the two happened to be talking on the phone about other matters, and at the end of the conversation, Rodgers stated, very briefly, that the lyric was fine. Josh Logan, who had worked closely with Hammerstein on South Pacific, listened to the usually unflappable writer pour out his unhappy feelings. It was one of the few times that Hammerstein and Rodgers did not display a united front.[32]

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Casting and auditions

Although the part of the King was only a supporting role to Lawrence’s Anna, Hammerstein and Rodgers thought it essential that a well-known theatrical actor play it. The obvious choice was Rex Harrison, who had played the King in the movie, but he was booked, as was Noël Coward. Alfred Drake, the original Curly in Oklahoma!, made contractual demands which were deemed too high. With time running short before rehearsals, finding an actor to play the King became a major concern. Mary Martin, the original Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, suggested that her co-star in a 1946 musical set in China, Lute Song, try for the role.[33] Rodgers recounted the audition of the Russian-American performer, Yul Brynner:

They told us the name of the first man and out he came with a bald head and sat cross-legged on the stage. He had a guitar and he hit his guitar one whack and gave out with this unearthly yell and sang some heathenish sort of thing, and Oscar and I looked at each other and said, “Well, that’s it.”[34]

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42 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    ‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers

    SEPT. 16, 2014

    Arianna Trickey was opening a piece of mail in her bedroom during junior year of high school when a pamphlet fell out of the envelope. The pamphlet seemed to offer the impossible: the prospect of a full scholarship to several of her dream colleges.

    She went running out to her father, a house painter, who was sitting on the family’s porch in Grass Valley, a California city in the Sierra Nevada foothills. “You have to see this,” she told him. “This is the scholarship that will get me to the best schools in the country.”

    The pamphlet was from a nonprofit organization called QuestBridge, which has quietly become one of the biggest players in elite-college admissions. Almost 300 undergraduates at Stanford this year, or 4 percent of the student body, came through QuestBridge. The share at Amherst is 11 percent, and it’s 9 percent at Pomona. At Yale, the admissions office has changed its application to make it more like QuestBridge’s.

    Founded by a married couple in Northern California — she an entrepreneur, he a doctor-turned-medical-investor — QuestBridge has figured out how to convince thousands of high-achieving, low-income students that they really can attend a top college. “It’s like a national admissions office,” said Catharine Bond Hill, the president of Vassar.

    The growth of QuestBridge has broader lessons for higher education — and for closing the yawning achievement gap between rich and poor teenagers. That gap is one of the biggest reasons that moving up the economic ladder is so hard in the United States today, as I’ve written before. But QuestBridge’s efforts are innovative enough to deserve their own attention.

    In addition to the hundreds of its students on college campuses today, hundreds more have graduated over the last decade. They’ve gone on to become professors, teachers, business people, doctors and many other things. Ms. Trickey, a senior at the University of Virginia who is also getting a master’s in education, plans to become an elementary-school teacher in a low-income area.

  2. Ametia says:

    She whined and moaned the whole time

  3. TyrenM says:

    Good Afternoon 3Chics,
    Rikyrah. I came to your house to hear your real thoughts on Dr. “Fast Talkin.” on spanking…

    • rikyrah says:

      he’s always trying to get on tv trying push himself as some ‘ authority’. All the while trying to ‘explain’ our community to those that don’t give two shyts about us.

      Don’t get me started on this cooning and tomfoolery.

  4. Ametia says:

    John Elway’s Son — John Albert Elway, Jr. GUILTY in Domestic Violence Case


    John Elway’s son — a former Arizona State University quarterback — has been sentenced to domestic violence counseling after an altercation with his GF back in July … TMZ Sports has learned.

    As we previously reported, the 25-year-old was arrested in Denver back in May after getting into an argument with his girlfriend and allegedly dragging her out of his car by her hair.

    According to the police report, Elway then pushed her down to the ground as she tried to get up.

    Elway was initially charged with assault and disturbing the peace — but struck a plea deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to the D.T.P. and in exchange the assault charge was dismissed.

    In the end, Elway was sentenced to 1 year probation — with “monitored sobriety” — he was ordered to pay fines, can’t own firearms and may not have any contact with the victim.

    He was also ordered to complete 1 year of domestic violence counseling.

    GUILTY in Domestic Violence Case

    Read more:

    • Ametia says:

      Well, well, well, white athletes commit domestic violence? Who would’ve THUNK IT!

    • How fast will the media shut this down?

      • Ametia says:

        already crickets, they’re moving away from domestic violence now and back to Isil, pbo’s weak & other bullshit.

        They have showcased enough of those black, hunky, thuggish negro athletes, and slip in the white dude Elway.

        Won’t even write his full name in the title. Oh look, he’s somebody’s son! Sneaky MOFOS

        … nothing to see here folks, move along.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Post Politics ✔ @postpolitics
    Less than 1 percent of voter registration forms turned in by a Georgia group accused of fraud are actually fraudulent
    10:52 AM – 18 Sep 2014

  6. rikyrah says:

    Teacher-Hating Right-Wing Shill Campbell Brown Deserves All The Criticism She’s Getting

    By: Justin Baragona more from Justin Baragona

    Thursday, September, 18th, 2014, 9:05 am

    You may know Campbell Brown as a former anchorwoman who had regular gigs on CNN and NBC. Brown ended up leaving her job at CNN due to low ratings. Since then, she has kept herself busy writing critical op-eds about President Obama and Planned Parenthood and jumping into the education reform movement. In June 2013, Ms. Brown created the non-profit Parents Transparency Project, an ‘advocacy’ group focused on busting up teachers’ unions in New York. After the Vergara court decision in California, which effectively ended tenure for teachers and gutted the unions in that state, Brown announced a carbon copy lawsuit in New York in the hopes that the same fate would fall upon the state’s teachers.

    On Tuesday, Talking Points Memo published an article by Conor P. Williams titled ‘Campbell Brown Is Getting The Same Treatment Michelle Rhee Got.’ His argument in the piece is that Brown is being treated unfairly by ‘anti-reformers.’ In his opinion, Brown is the target of the same type of ad hominem attacks that Michelle Rhee received in the subsequent years after her rise to notoriety as the head of StudentsFirst, an education reform group focused on busting unions and pushing charter schools. (She has since abandoned this post.) Williams, who is a Senior Researcher at New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program, also feels that Brown’s political leanings (she is a registered Republican and married to Dan Senor, who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign) shouldn’t be questioned when it comes to her true intentions for education reform.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Republicans coalesce around anti-immigration message
    09/18/14 10:48 AM—UPDATED 09/18/14 12:12 PM
    By Steve Benen
    Last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a slightly unexpected attack ad. The NRSC, at least somewhat worried about the Senate race in Georgia, went after Michele Nunn (D) for supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. The problem was with the NRSC’s proof.

    According to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Nunn must support “amnesty” since she’s endorsed the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill, co-authored by four Republican senators – Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake – and easily passed by the Senate last year.

    In other words, according to the Republicans’ Senate committee, Nunn deserves to be condemned for agreeing with several prominent Republicans.

    And this week, it’s happened again.
    On Monday, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell in the hard-fought Kentucky senate race, tried to distance herself from President Obama with an ad showing her shooting a gun. McConnell responded in kind. At the same time, an independent group with connections to Republican strategist Karl Rove began airing this ad blasting the “Obama-Grimes” plan to give “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
    Now, Lundergan Grimes hasn’t been in Congress, so she couldn’t vote one way or the other on comprehensive immigration reform, but the Kentucky candidate did endorse the bipartisan reform package co-authored by some conservative Republicans.

    Then again, so did did Karl Rove’s operations. And therein lies the point: Rove and his pals in the Bluegrass State are now condemning Lundergan Grimes … for agreeing with Karl Rove about immigration policy.

    All of this may seem like business as usual for Republicans in an election year, but I’d argue there’s more to it.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Wehby acknowledges plagiarism problem
    09/18/14 09:35 AM
    By Steve Benen

    When Andrew Kaczynski caught Monica Wehby’s Republican Senate campaign in a fairly blatant instance of plagiarism, the candidate’s team didn’t handle it especially well. Despite clear evidence that the Oregon candidate’s health plan had been copied and pasted from materials published by Karl Rove’s Crossroads operation, Wehby’s spokesperson got a little snippy.

    “The suggestion that a pediatric neurosurgeon needs to copy a health care plan from American Crossroads is absurd,” a Wehby aide told BuzzFeed. “Dr. Wehby is too busy performing brain surgery on sick children to respond, sorry.”

    As best as I can tell, Wehby was not actually performing brain surgery on sick children at the time.

    In any case, Kaczynski dug further and found that Wehby’s economic plan had also been plagiarized, prompting the Republican candidate to drop the too-busy-performing-brain-surgery defense and acknowledge the problem.
    Monica Wehby’s campaign on Wednesday acknowledged problems with plagiarism in some of her issue documents and removed them from her website.

    Her campaign blamed a former staffer, and it was clear from the context that Wehby and her aides were referring to her former campaign manager, Charlie Pearce, who is now running Dennis Richardson’s campaign for governor.

    Pearce, who was clearly irked, denied having anything to do with the problem. “I did not author the health care policy or economic policy plans,” he said in an interview.
    It’s safe to say this isn’t what Team Wehby needed right now.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Cliven Bundy Republicans Campaign To Seize and Sell Off Federal Land

    By: Rmuse
    Tuesday, September, 16th, 2014, 8:50 pm

    There is a good reason for harsh penalties for criminal activity besides punishing a criminal, although suffering harsh consequences is apropos for some crimes. Although it is doubtful whether or not penalizing a criminal will ever have any rehabilitating or behavioral transformative affect, at least the violator is removed from society and possibly serves as a deterrent to other criminal activity. Conversely, when the justice system fails and criminals are allowed to violate the law with impunity, and conservatives praise the criminal as a heroic American patriot, it will just be a matter of time until some Republican candidate campaigns on breaking the law.

    Last April when serial welfare cheat and seditionist Cliven Bundy marshaled heavily-armed militias and incited a dangerous standoff with federal officers executing a federal court order, he claimed the federal government had no right to the federal land it had purchased or authority over that land. At the time there were several Republicans who agreed with Bundy, but then again they are the same malcontents that claim the federal government’s existence is invalid; but that is another story.

    Now, there is a serious movement among Republicans who embrace Bundy’s claim the federal government is forbidden from owning land and the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado is actively campaigning on a promise of seizing all federal land. His plan, like those in several other Republican states, is confiscating national parks, national forests, and all public land from the federal government and selling them off to the Koch brothers for mining, drilling, and logging. As private land owned by the Kochs, federal regulations and environmental protections become null and void and America’s National Parks, wilderness areas, and waterways become dirty energy wastelands.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Mitch McConnell Turns Yellow and Refuses To Debate Alison Lundergan Grimes
    By: Jason Easley
    Wednesday, September, 17th, 2014, 11:36 am

    After appearing to agree to a debate with his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in late October, Sen. Mitch McConnell abruptly flip-flopped and refused to debate the fiery Democrat.

    According to WHAS11, McConnell turned down the debate because he would be on a bus tour of KENTUCKY during the potential dates,

    The chances for more than one U.S. Senate debate in Kentucky narrowed Tuesday afternoon when the campaign of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) declined specific dates agreed to less than two hours earlier by Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

    Senator McConnell will be in the middle of a bus tour during the dates suggested,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. “Ultimately, much like other debate negotiations, neither the timing nor the format could be agreed to by both campaigns.”

    We all know how difficult it can be to turn the bus around, and drive to another location. McConnell has come up with what is easily the worst excuse ever for ducking a debate.

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Daily Edge @TheDailyEdge
    Even though Republicans say we can’t afford to feed at-risk children here in America, they always seem to find unlimited funds for war
    9:25 AM – 18 Sep 2014

  12. rikyrah says:

    Ann Coulter: ‘Idiots’ Who Vote Libertarian Will Cost GOP The Senate

    ByCaitlin MacNeal
    Published September 18, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT 493 views

    Conservative pundit Ann Coulter on Wednesday laid out the strategy she thinks will help the GOP win the Senate, trying to scare Republicans into following her detailed instructions.

    She seems incredibly concerned that libertarian candidates and the people that vote for them will ruin the election for everyone.

    “The biggest current danger for Republicans is that idiots will vote for Libertarian candidates in do-or-die Senate elections, including Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Colorado,” she wrote in her column, adding that the independent candidate in the Kansas race also poses a threat to the party. “Democratic candidates don’t have to put up with this crap — they’re even trying to dump the official Democrat in Kansas to give the stealth Democrat a better shot.”

    Coulter has a point. In close races, libertarian candidates could pull votes from Republicans, helping out the Democrat, especially in states like Louisiana and North Carolina.

    “When we’re all dying from lack of health care across the United States of Mexico, we’ll be deeply impressed with your integrity, libertarians,” Coulter wrote. “Which brings me to my final assignment this week: If you are considering voting for the Libertarian candidate in any Senate election, please send me your name and address so I can track you down and drown you.”

    Coulter also ordered Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts to “spend every day from now until Nov. 4 campaigning” and told conservatives to donate to Scott Brown in the New Hampshire race.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to push vote to deport DREAMers.

    Senate Will Vote On GOP Motion To Block Obama ‘Executive Amnesty’
    By SAHIL KAPUR SEPTEMBER 18, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

    The Senate is poised to vote on a Republican-led measure Thursday to prohibit President Barack Obama from unilaterally granting deportation relief to any undocumented immigrant.

    The “motion to table” will be pushed by outspoken immigration hawk Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) prior to the vote on a House-passed bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 and let Obama arm Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic militant group ISIS.

    Sessions’ office says he’ll bring up the House-approved measure to sunset DACA (Obama’s “deferred action” program for qualified young people) and prohibit further executive actions Obama has promised to take after the midterm elections, which is expected to grant temporary deportation relief and work permits for low-priority migrants.

    “This is the time. It’s either stopped now, or it may never be stopped,” Sessions said, calling the idea “executive amnesty.” “And we need to vote on it, and people need to be held accountable. And every American needs to know where their senator stands on the president’s unlawful assumption of power.”

    The Democratic-led Senate is expected to reject Sessions’ effort.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Snyder touts Michigan Medicaid expansion in re-election bid; Schauer notes delay

    David Eggert | The Associated Press

    LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday touted Michigan’s successful Medicaid expansion as part of his re-election bid, saying 63,000 more low-income adults have signed up than projected this year, with 3 ½ months left.

    The Republican governor said about 385,000 enrolled between April, when the Healthy Michigan program launched, and Monday. His administration had expected 322,000 signups by year’s end.

    “At that level, we’re adding over 9,000 patients a week,” Snyder said at an endorsement event at the Michigan State Medical Society, an East Lansing-based professional association of physicians. “It’s outstanding progress.”

    His embrace of a key component of the federal health care law roiled conservative activists. But Snyder’s campaign is hoping expanded Medicaid’s appeal among the broader electorate helps him in November.

    He called it the “capstone” of health care policies that he said include promoting a wellness and fitness plan, requiring public schools to have epinephrine injectors to treat allergic reactions and focusing on infant health.

    “We have lower-income but hard-working people getting health care that didn’t before. … What a difference in people’s lives that’s making,” Snyder said, contending that the availability of health coverage is a matter of “life and death.”

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, who voted for the health care law in Congress, said Snyder was “right” to propose expanding Medicaid.

    “But it took him a long time to get it done. It cost the state $600 million or so,” Schauer told The Associated Press Tuesday after a campaign event with retired autoworkers in Warren north of Detroit.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Why filibuster a nominee with unanimous support?
    09/17/14 03:26 PM—UPDATED 09/17/14 03:50 PM
    By Steve Benen
    The United States maintains embassies in 169 countries around the globe, and in roughly a fourth of them, the ambassador’s office is currently empty. The main problem is Senate Republicans creating needless delays, regardless of the consequences for U.S. foreign policy.

    The problem is especially striking in Turkey, which is critical to U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, most notably against Islamic State. The Obama administration is giving Turkey the full-court diplomatic press, which is proving to be tricky – there is no U.S. ambassador to Turkey because Senate Republicans haven’t allowed a vote on President Obama’s nominee. (The White House was forced to dispatch the Bush/Cheney ambassador to Turkey in a temporary capacity because of the immediacy and urgency of the situation.)

    Al Kamen reports today that the delays finally ended, at least in this limited case.
    The Senate on Wednesday, moving at what can be called warp speed in the post-“nuclear option” world, confirmed seven more Obama nominees – including career Foreign Service officer John R. Bass as ambassador to Turkey, a country critical to the effort to defeat the Islamic State militant group.

    The Senate held a roll call vote on the nomination – before voting 98 to 0 to confirm him.
    The GOP also graciously allowed a unanimous confirmation vote on career diplomat Thomas Frederick Daughton’s nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to Namibia. He only had to wait 443 days for the vote on his confirmation – which literally no one ended up opposing.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Current Statistics Create Limit to Bias
    by BooMan
    Wed Sep 17th, 2014 at 10:03:37 AM EST

    This morning, Ed Kilgore ruminates on the contrast between non-statistical political prognosticators like Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, and (heh) S.E. Cupp, who are very bullish on the Republicans’ prospects in the midterms, and more rigorous analysts at 538, the Election Lab, and The Upshot, who began as Republican bulls but become more bearish everyday. There’s also San Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium who has been bullish on the Democrats from the beginning, and remains so.

    The thing to remember here is that if you are going to compare the bias of liberal statisticians to the bias of conservative pundits, the statisticians have a built in advantage in that they are mainly driven by data. They may make assumptions based on “feel” but they are less susceptible to letting their heart determine their predictions. In other words, the statisticians have an anchor that keeps them from sailing very far afield from reality. This is not true for Stu Rothenberg, who just last week allowed himself to get caught up in irrational exuberance.

    Both Rothenberg and Cook are well-respected analysts who have a reputation for disinterested prognostication, but they both have a clear record of overestimating the Republicans’ strength. S.E. Cupp is a partisan hack with no demonstrated record of predicting anything accurately.

    A long time ago I predicted that the Democrats would win every competitive Senate race. I’ve had to back off of that because the data in Kentucky don’t support that conclusion right now. Unforeseen events in Montana also caused that election to fall out of the competitive category. And, while I was one of the first to realize that Kansas could become competitive, I only foresaw that about a week before it became a reality, and only with the assistance of Sam Wang.

    But there were concrete reasons that I thought that Kay Hagan, Jeanne Shaheen, Michelle Nunn, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich would win, regardless of what the early polls were saying. And those reasons were a combination of the weakness of opponents and the historical strength of either the candidates or the candidates’ families in their particular states. The Nunn, Pryor, Landrieu, Grimes, and Begich families have a long history in their respective states that gives them strong cross-over appeal. In the case of Landrieu, she has a lot of support from the business community and, as Chairwoman of the Energy Committee, she’s invaluable to the oil and gas industries. In the case of Shaheen, she’s a popular ex-governor with a record of competence free from any whiff of scandal. In the case of Hagan, her opponent is the incredibly unpopular Speaker of the incredibly unpopular North Carolina House. With the exception of Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes, these are also incumbents who have large financial advantages over their opponents.

    These are concrete race-specific reasons for favoring the Democrat in the race, and I am not at all surprised that the polls have stubbornly exceeded expectations, even in Kentucky where Grimes has fallen a little bit behind. Those who relied on historical markers or polls about the president’s popularity have been forced to respond to the difference between their expectations and reality, but the statisticians (excepting Wang, who did not rely on those factors) have seen their models move towards reality. Meanwhile, Rothenberg has to explain why the results he predicted and the momentum he observed have become become less likely (in the former case) and proven non-existent (in the latter) in the models.

    Good analysis requires a reliance on polling analysts combined not with historical markers but with very race-specific inspection.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Vacillations on Discipline Put a Behemoth on Shaky Ground

    SEPT. 17, 2014

    …”When the N.F.L. realized it had a serious problem, it hurriedly hired and promoted women to help lead and shape its policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault, even inventing a position called vice president for social responsibility. But Goodell even got this tokenism wrong. Although the league is largely made up of black players (and families), and the issue has a disproportionate impact on women of color, none of the four women selected to lead the initiative are black.

    On Tuesday, a group called the Black Women’s Roundtable sent an open letter to Goodell requesting a meeting and questioning why women of color — and especially black women — had been left out of the leadership group that he had established.

    “There are cultural issues that impact how you even address violence against women,” said Melanie L. Campbell, the group’s president. “It’s true that domestic abuse affects many players, but right now the people affected immediately are African-American males. Black women are being impacted, and black children are being impacted.”

    She added: “Maybe this wasn’t an oversight. Maybe the N.F.L. didn’t think a diverse group of women was needed to lead this initiative.”

    The N.F.L. responded to my inquiry by pointing out that several black staff members would have a role with the group, but it’s worth noting that none were among the four appointed to lead it.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Business Insider ✔ @businessinsider
    JOBLESS CLAIMS TUMBLE TO 280,000 (305,000 Estimated)
    7:30 AM – 18 Sep 2014

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Calm Before The Storm: Republicans Set Up A New Government Shutdown Battle With Obama

    By: Jason Easley more from Jason Easley

    Wednesday, September, 17th, 2014, 5:54 pm

    The House passed a CR 319-108 today, but the vote was calm before the storm as Republicans are setting up a government shutdown showdown with President Obama.

    It would be nice to think that House Republicans have learned their lesson and will now fund the government, but the temporary funding measure that the House passed was designed to get the GOP through the midterm elections. After the midterms, Republicans plan to unleash a government shutdown frenzy if they take control of the Senate.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell is already promising a massive government shutdown if Republicans win the Senate. McConnell’s strategy as he outlined to it to the Koch brothers is to use the budget process to demand policy changes from President Obama, or else he will shutdown the government.

    Today’s vote was nothing more than Republicans buying themselves some time, and rolling the dice on taking back the Senate. If Republicans fail to take back the Senate, the country could be facing another government shutdown showdown just before the holidays. If Republicans do win control of the Senate, the country will be dragged into a full scale partisan gridlocked war.

    Mitch McConnell is planning on using the budgetary process and government shutdowns to invalidate the entire Obama presidency. The years since Republicans took control of the House have been ugly, but they are nothing compared to what Mitch McConnell is prepared to put the country through in order to carry out his Koch fueled agenda.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Roger Goodell failed, just like he was supposed to

    By Spencer Hall@edsbs on Sep 11 2014, 12:05p

    Remember now what a blank social boffin the NFL strapped to its face to begin with: a Senator’s son from a safety school who quite literally never worked anywhere else but in the sports job he got directly out of college. Roger Goodell’s resume is a hollow blandishment of institutional servitude. He fought in the arbitration wars; he coordinated the events. Calendars were heroically arranged.

    That is who the NFL owners put in charge of their promotional arm and public face. That is not who the NFL owners are, a grab bag of the rich, idle rich, and charismatic psychopaths who end up with the kind of money to purchase an NFL franchise. There are familial dynasties like the Rooneys and Maras. There are lunatic confidence men like Jerry Jones who literally struck it rich, and workaholic basement millionaires like Steve Bisciotti. Capture them and place them in a habitat, and you would have a pretty good exhibition of the diverse ways to become wealthy and totally unaccountable to anyone.

    Wealth doesn’t do that alone, though, at least not in the mechanical sense. You need a vector: the corporation. Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Browns, did not go to jail for taking part in a scheme to willfully defraud minority gas station owners of millions as the head of Pilot Flying J. A $92 million payment was enough to get the government off his back, and get him back to the business of running the NFL’s most benighted front office. Zygi Wilf also used cash to settle a claim he defrauded partners in a real estate scam. Dan Snyder has never met a problem not solved with a fountain of cash, including purchasing the cooperation and/or silence of the DC media. NFL owners, as a group, solve almost all of their problems with cash. (Except building their stadiums, which suddenly becomes a matter of public interest and money, an effort funded and lobbied primarily with more cash.)

    So the first mistake you made in considering any of this was thinking of the NFL as something designed to create accountability. It is not. It is a non-profit* corporation designed to market the NFL and serve as a bargaining front for the league’s franchises, the ones which are themselves giant shields with animal and cartoon faces for logos. Roger Goodell was not playing serious courtmaster from the start. He is, by design, a talking PR and marketing piñata. Get angry and hit him, and he belches out caramels and suspensions until your anger is appeased. Two games? The sound of hitting, and more belching of caramels. How about six games? Hold the stick, and think you’ve done something in the effort.

  21. Ametia says:

    Happy Thursday, Everyone!

    Rikyrah, thanks for a power-packed week of R & H.

    You’re bring all my favorites.


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