Monday Open Thread: American Musical Theater – Stephen Sondheim

This week, we will enjoy the talent that is Stephen Sondheim.

StephenSondheim 1

Stephen Joshua Sondheim (/ˈsɒnd.haɪm/; born March 22, 1930) is an American composer and lyricist known for his immense contributions to musical theatre for over 50 years. He is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre,[1] eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Described by Frank Rich of The New York Times as “now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater”,[2] his most famous works include (as composer and lyricist) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.

Sondheim has written material for movies, including the 1981 Warren Beatty film Reds, for which he contributed the song “Goodbye For Now”. He also wrote five songs for the 1990 movie Dick Tracy, including “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” by Madonna which won the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was president of the Dramatists Guild from 1973 to 1981. In celebration of his 80th birthday, the former Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on September 15, 2010, and the BBC Proms staged a concert in his honor. Cameron Mackintosh has described Sondheim as “possibly the greatest lyricist ever.”[3]



Mentorship by Oscar Hammerstein II

At about the age of ten, around the time of his parents’ divorce, Sondheim became friends with James Hammerstein, son of the lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. The elder Hammerstein became Sondheim’s surrogate father, and had a profound influence on him, especially in developing a love for musical theatre. It was at the opening of South Pacific, the musical Hammerstein wrote with Richard Rodgers, that Sondheim met Harold Prince, who would later direct many of Sondheim’s shows. While at George School, Sondheim wrote a comic musical based on the goings-on of his school, entitled By George. It was a major success among his peers, and it considerably buoyed the young songwriter’s ego; he took it to Hammerstein, and asked him to evaluate it as though he had no knowledge of its author. Hammerstein said it was the worst thing he had ever seen. “But if you want to know why it’s terrible,” Hammerstein offered, “I’ll tell you.” The rest of the day was spent going over the musical, and Sondheim would later say that “in that afternoon I learned more about songwriting and the musical theater than most people learn in a lifetime.”[12]

Thus began one of the most famous apprenticeships in the musical theatre, as Hammerstein designed a kind of course for Sondheim on the construction of a musical. This training primarily involved having Sondheim write four musicals, each with one of the following preconditions:

Based on a play he admired (which became All That Glitters);
Based on a play he liked but thought was flawed, choosing the Maxwell Anderson play High Tor;
Based on an existing novel or short story not previously dramatized (which became his unfinished Mary Poppins entitled Bad Tuesday,[13] not connected to the musical film and stage play scored by the Sherman Brothers);
An original (which became Climb High).
None of these “assignment” musicals was ever produced professionally. High Tor and Mary Poppins have never been produced at all; the rights holder for the original High Tor refused permission and his musical Mary Poppins was not finished.[14]

west  side story

College and early career[edit]
Attracted to the school’s theatre program, Sondheim began attending Williams College, a prominent liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts. While there, Sondheim wrote a musical adaption of Beggar on Horseback, a 1924 play by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, with permission from Kaufman and it had three performances.[15] He graduated magna cum laude in 1950, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. His first teacher at Williams was Robert Barrow, and according to Sondheim

… everybody hated him because he was very dry, and I thought he was wonderful because he was very dry. And Barrow made me realize that all my romantic views of art were nonsense. I had always thought an angel came down and sat on your shoulder and whispered in your ear ‘dah-dah-dah-DUM.’ Never occurred to me that art was something worked out. And suddenly it was skies opening up. As soon as you find out what a leading tone is, you think, Oh my God. What a diatonic scale is—Oh my God! The logic of it. And, of course, what that meant to me was: Well, I can do that. Because you just don’t know. You think it’s a talent, you think you’re born with this thing. What I’ve found out and what I believed is that everybody is talented. It’s just that some people get it developed and some don’t.[16]

He went on to study composition with the composer Milton Babbitt. Sondheim told biographer Meryle Secrest, “I just wanted to study composition, theory, and harmony without the attendant musicology that comes in graduate school. But I knew I wanted to write for the theatre, so I wanted someone who did not disdain theatre music. Milton, who was a frustrated show composer, was a perfect combination.”[17] Babbitt and Sondheim were both fascinated with mathematics and together they studied songs by various composers, especially Jerome Kern. Sondheim told Secrest that Kern had the ability “to develop a single motif through tiny variations into a long and never boring line and his maximum development of the minimum of material.” Sondheim then said of Babbitt, “I am his maverick, his one student who went into the popular arts with all his serious artillery.”[17]

StephenSondheim 3

“A few painful years of struggle” followed for Sondheim, during which he continually auditioned songs, living in his father’s dining room to save money; he also spent time in Hollywood writing for the television series Topper.[5] He devoured 1940s and ’50s films and has called cinema his “basic language.”[6] (His film knowledge got him through The $64,000 Question contestant tryouts.) Sondheim has expressed his dislike of movie musicals, favoring classic dramas like Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, and A Matter of Life and Death. He adds that “studio directors like Michael Curtiz and Raoul Walsh … were heroes of mine. They went from movie to movie to movie, and every third movie was good and every fifth movie was great. There wasn’t any cultural pressure to make art.”[18]

Around 1952, Sondheim was 22 and had finished the four shows that Hammerstein had requested. The play Front Porch in Flatbush, which was unproduced at that time, by Julius and Philip Epstein, was being shopped around by Lemuel “Lem “Ayers. Ayers approached Frank Loesser and another composer who turned them down. Ayers and Sondheim met while ushering a wedding together, and Ayers commissioned Sondheim for three songs for the show. Julias Epstein flew in from California, and hired Sondheim. Sondheim flew to California and worked with Epstein for four to five months. After eight backers auditions, the group had raised half the money. The show had been retitled Saturday Night, which was supposed to open in the 1954–55 Broadway season. The show would have been mounted, but sadly Ayers passed away (in his early forties) from leukemia. The rights were transferred to his widow, Shirley, but since she had no experience the show did not continue on as planned [19] (It would eventually open Off-Broadway in 2000). Sondheim said later of the show, “I don’t have any emotional reaction to ‘Saturday Night’ at all – except fondness,” Sondheim says. “It’s not bad stuff for a 23-year-old. There are some things that embarrass me so much in the lyrics – the missed accents, the obvious jokes. But I decided, Leave it. It’s my baby pictures. You don’t touch up a baby picture – you’re a baby!”[6]


Mr. Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story.

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46 Responses to Monday Open Thread: American Musical Theater – Stephen Sondheim

  1. OUTRAGE! Listen to the terrified child crying after police break glass to taser passenger over a seat belt violation.

  2. rikyrah says:

    From Balloon Juice:

    US District Court just issued an injunction against STL county police prohibiting the “must keep walking while protesting” policy. She originally denied it in August, but today said the police were not doing what they told her they would do.

    IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction [#14] is granted, and defendants, their officers, employees, or agents, and those acting on their behalf or in concert with them, are enjoined from enforcing or threatening to enforce any rule, policy, or practice that grants law enforcement officers the authority or discretion to arrest, threaten to arrest, or order to move individuals who are violating no statute or regulation and who are peaceably standing, marching, or assembling on public sidewalks in Ferguson, Missouri.

  3. rikyrah says:

    SRC revokes teachers’ contract, changes health benefits, redirects $44 million to schools

    By Dale Mezzacappa and Paul Socolar on Oct 6, 2014 09:30 AM

    After 21 months of fruitless labor talks, the School District made a bold move Monday to unilaterally restructure teachers’ health benefits and send $44 million in savings directly back to schools.

    At a special meeting that was barely publicized until hours before its 9:30 a.m. start, with no public testimony before acting, the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to cancel the contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in order to rework its health-care provisions. The District also filed a legal action in Commonwealth Court to establish its right to rewrite the contract based on special powers granted to the SRC.

    “This is our attempt to bring teacher contributions to health care in line with other local and national norms in a way that will allow us to remain able to serve students and avoid layoffs,” said Superintendent William Hite in an interview before the meeting. “If we don’t find additional savings, our children will continue to face inadequate resources. And there’s nothing else to cut from our central office or school budgets.”

    On his wish list of what he hopes principals will restore, Hite included sufficient counseling services, enough personnel so teachers can meet and plan, more aides to monitor cafeterias and recess, teachers to offer more advanced classes in world languages, additional reading specialists for young children who have fallen behind, clerical help, and materials and supplies.

    PFT spokesperson George Jackson said this was a union-busting action, denouncing the stealth move to hold the meeting with virtually no publicity.

    “The manner that they did it in is outrageous,” he said. “We’re going to fight this.” The union learned of the planned action this morning.

    The meeting was sparsely attended. One speaker, retired teacher Lisa Haver, was allowed to give public comment after the SRC’s vote. She denounced the body for acting without publicizing the meeting.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Morning Plum: Could conservative overreach help Dems keep the Senate?

    By Greg Sargent October 6 at 9:20 AM
    The forecasters continue to predict Republicans are marginally favored to take the Senate. But they also agree this battle remains extremely close and that Democrats could still hang on. If they do, it will be partly because of a factor that continues to go under-appreciated: In an election that is supposed to be all about the unpopularity of President Obama and his health law, conservative governance, and conservative overreach, are very much on the ballot this fall, too.

    A new batch of NBC/Marist polls released over the weekend showed Democratic Senator Kay Hagan hanging on to a four point lead in North Carolina, while independent Greg Orman now leads incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts in Kansas by 10 points. The North Carolina finding is in sync with the average, while the Kansas one isn’t, though the Kansas average does show Orman leading.

    It would have been awfully bold to predict six months ago that Republicans would be trailing in North Carolina and Kansas. But what’s notable here is that both these states are home to two of the nation’s leading experiments in conservative state-level governance.

    In North Carolina, the Senate race has turned to an unexpected degree on the hard right turn of the state legislature under Hagan’s opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis. The NBC poll of North Carolina finds Hagan leading even though her favorability ratings are under water, at 42-48. Tillis’ personal ratings are worse, at 36-47, a net of minus 11. Given that Democrats have relentlessly attacked Tillis over the state legislature’s education cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy — and given that Tillis has not committed any noticeably awful gaffes — it seems reasonable to assume the legislature’s priorities might be a key reason Republicans are trailing.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Joni Ernst tries to cover her tracks on ‘Personhood’

    By Greg Sargent October 3
    At last weekend’s debate, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst tried to explain her previous support for a “Personhood” amendment by claiming it was merely a “statement” of “support” for “life.” She voiced that notion twice, as her primary rebuttal to the charge — made in a barrage of ads and attacks from Bruce Braley and Democrats — that her support for Personhood shows she supports outlawing abortion and various forms of contraception.

    “That amendment is simply a statement that I support life,” Ernst said at the debate, adding that it “was a statement on life.” She also said the amendment would never have any impact until subsequent anti-abortion legislation were passed, meaning it was merely designed to ensure that such legislation passed later would not be overturned by the courts.

    Ernst’s overall meaning was clear: Her support for the amendment in no way signaled any real-world policy intent on her part.

    But this appears at odds with the description of the amendment offered by one of its chief sponsors — and at odds with a previous published statement from Ernst herself.

    Iowa State Senator Dennis Guth was one of the lawmakers who spearheaded the Iowa Personhood amendment, which would amend the state Constitution to include the following language: “The inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected.” This is in keeping with the general goal of Personhood measures, to ensure that full human rights begin at the moment of fertilization.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Ernst stumbles on ‘personhood’ basics
    10/06/14 11:01 AM—UPDATED 10/06/14 12:04 PM
    By Steve Benen
    Control of the U.S. Senate in the next Congress will likely hinge in part on what happens in Iowa, which in turn has brought Joni Ernst’s (R) dual-track problems into the national spotlight.

    The first is her ideological extremism, which came into sharper focus on Friday, when the public learned that the Iowa Republican not only believes states can “nullify” federal laws, but also that Ernst endorsed arresting federal officials if they tried to implement health care law in Iowa. It’s the kind of position that puts the Senate hopeful squarely in the bonkers wing of the GOP.

    The second is her general lack of familiarity with the basics of current events and issues she says she cares about. Ernst, for example, said just last week that she believes Congress passed cap and trade (it didn’t), believes Congress sets every state’s minimum wage (it doesn’t), and believes Social Security will go “broke” in “20 years (it won’t).

    And then there’s “personhood,” a policy that would ban abortions and many common forms of birth control, which is a policy Ernst endorsed but is now trying to finesse. At last week’s debate against Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), the right-wing candidate said the personhood measure she helped champion was “simply a statement that I support life.” Ernst repeated the same line for emphasis.

    But a closer look at reality suggests Ernst is either not telling the truth or she’s confused again about the basics of one of her own proposals.

    Greg Sargent has been following this closely.

  7. rikyrah says:

    unemployment truthers see new conspiracy
    10/06/14 10:23 AM
    By Steve Benen
    Two years ago this week, the nation’s unemployment dipped below 8% for the first time since the start of the Great Recession. Almost immediately, Republicans were outraged – the good news couldn’t be real, they said, but rather must be the result of an elaborate conspiracy.

    Friday we learned that the nation’s jobless rate has dipped even lower, dropping below 6% for the first time in over six years. Rush Limbaugh told his audience that the 2012 data was “entirely made up” and “artificially manufactured,” and the 2014 data is worse.
    “[T]his today is just as illegitimate. This 5.9% number is even more illegitimate than the 7.9% number. There’s no way that this country has an economy producing jobs with an unemployment rate of 5.9%. It just isn’t happening…. [I]t isn’t real.”
    Over the course of two years, from Jack Welch to Rush Limbaugh, we just haven’t seen much in the way of progress on the scourge of denialism among President Obama’s critics.

    Indeed, this has come up quite a few times. Whenever the economy improves, a few too many on the right don’t celebrate; they reflexively deny the evidence and point to a conspiracy that exists only in their imaginations.

  8. rikyrah says:

    PragmaticObotsUnite @PragObots

    Raven-Symoné getting that work just like Tiger “I’m Cablinasian” Woods.

  9. Today is the Last day to register to vote in AZ, AR, FL, GA, HI, KY, LA, MI, MT, OH, PA, TN, & TX.

  10. I’ll bet the freelancer for @NBCNews gets the Ebola serum & you won’t hear any talk about not giving it for fear of his health worsening.

  11. I thought the CDC said there wasn’t any more of this experimental drug? Now suddenly it’s available for Eric Duncan? Uh huh!

  12. Breaking News: Ebola patient Eric Duncan may be getting experimental drug. BAM!

  13. rikyrah says:

    Thessalonika Arzu-Embry Graduates College At 14 [VIDEO]

    While other girls her age are navigating their freshman year of high school, Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is only one month away from receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Chicago State University, reports the Daily Herald.

    The teen scholar was home-schooled from 8-11 years-old by her mother, Wonder Embry, a veteran of the United States Navy, and credits her with her academic achievement.

    “My mother is a strong inspiration to my success,” said Thessalonika.

    The dynamic duo are schoolmates, with the elder Embry working on her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology, and spend their days working out, studying and praying together.

    “My college experience is a traditional college experience for me — it is just that I have completed it faster,” Thessalonika said. “I am very excited about joining others in having the opportunity to contribute to society in a significant way.”

    As if graduating at such a young age isn’t achievement enough, Thessalonika has maintained a 3.9 GPA and serves as student senator.

  14. It was days before the @CDCgov moved their ass to take Eric Duncan’s dirty towels and sheets from the apartment and it was only after CNN’s Anderson Cooper exposed it. I don’t like this ish worth a damn.

  15. Hey folks! Pay attention to how the @CDCgov are selective in treating black Eric Duncan with #Ebola and white patients with Ebola.

  16. Ametia says:

    I remember the first time being introduced to “West Side Story.” I was in 7th grade, and our teacher played the FULL album for us to listen to. She said we could use our imagination by listening to it, and she was right.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Geoffrey Holder, Dancer, Choreographer and Man of Flair, Dies at 84

    Geoffrey Holder, the dancer, choreographer, actor, composer, designer and painter who used his manifold talents to infuse the arts with the flavor of his native West Indies and to put a singular stamp on the American cultural scene, not least with his outsize personality, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 84.

  18. Ametia says:

    Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off? YES; THEY TRY, BUT I GIVE THEM THE 411
    You and your teeth could be victims of “creative diagnosis.”

    By Kiera Butler | Mon Oct. 6, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

    My household’s level of confidence in dentistry is at an all-time low. About six months ago, my dentist informed me that my “bunny teeth [1]” were likely getting in the way of my professional success, a problem he could correct with a (pricey) cosmetic procedure. If I let him fix my teeth, he told me, he was sure I would start “dressing better.” A few months later, my husband scheduled a basic cleaning with a new dentist. Once they had him in the chair and looked at his teeth, they informed him that the regular cleaning wouldn’t do at all: He would need to reschedule for an $800 deep cleaning. No thanks.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Supreme Court Denies Review Of Same-Sex Marriage Cases, Bringing Marriage Equality To Five States

    The decision not to decide brings marriage equality to Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah.posted on Oct. 6, 2014, at 8:51 a.m.

    Chris Geidner BuzzFeed Staff

  20. rikyrah says:

    Meet the Former Bike Executive Who Could Crush Scott Walker’s White House Dreams

    Mary Burke is giving the Wisconsin governor the fight of his political career.
    By Andy Kroll Thu Oct. 2, 2014 6:15 AM EDT

    This March, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker launched what, in the post-Citizens Unitedera, amounts to a de facto presidential exploratory campaign. He jetted to Las Vegas for a private audience with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul and Republican Party kingmaker who is said to have spent nearly $150 million during the 2012 elections and may dump as much as $100 million more into this year’s midterms. It was a pinch-me moment for Walker, who in four short years had ascended from county executive to conservative hero. Inspired by his boyhood idol, Ronald Reagan, Walker took on Wisconsin’s public-employee unions and refused to buckle in the face of massive protests and a weeks-long occupation of the state Capitol. When the unions subsequently tried to oust him via a recall election, he barnstormed the state, raised a record $37 million, and won with 53 percent of the vote. Soon the preacher’s son and college dropout began appearing alongside Chris Christie and Jeb Bush on 2016 short lists.

    But these days, Walker’s presidential dreams are hanging by a thread as he battles for reelection against a political neophyte whose only previous electoral campaign was a self-financed 2012 run for the local school board. Why is he vulnerable? Walker devoted his first term to ramming through a chunk of the modern conservative agenda: He limited collective-bargaining rights, slashed taxes on the wealthy, enacted new voter ID requirements, boosted funding for vouchers at the expense of public schools, curtailed abortion access, and weakened environmental protections. These policies have sharply polarized Wisconsin—splitting families, church groups, golf foursomes—with only a sliver of the electorate not firmly pro- or anti-Walker.

  21. rikyrah says:



    we have no-reason Mail Ballot Applications. You do not need to have a REASON to request a Mail Ballot.

    You can apply ONLINE for a Mail Ballot


    Mail Ballot Application for the November 04, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election

    Any registered suburban Cook County voter may request a mail ballot using this online application. Once we verify your registration and process your application, we will send a paper ballot to the mailing address you designate in your application. The deadline to apply, including email verification, is five days before an election.

    To complete an online mail ballot application, you will need:
    •your driver’s license or state identification number;
    •the last four digits of your Social Security Number;
    •the address where you would like your ballot mailed; and
    •an email address.

    If you do not have one of these items, you may download, print and sign a mail ballot application and send it to the Cook County Clerk’s office.

    If we do not have your driver’s license/state ID or your Social Security number on file, you will not be able to complete this application online unless you update your voter registration by calling 312.603.0946. Incomplete registrations are most common for voters who have been registered at the same address for 20 years or more.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Don Young’s anger management
    10/06/14 08:30 AM
    By Steve Benen

    In a debate last week, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) was asked about an incident in which he threatened to kill a reporter who dared to ask the lawmaker about some of his scandals. The New York Republican said last week that he was sorry, but it’s “a stressful job being in Congress.”

    Of course, if the stresses of congressional work are this severe, even in a do-nothing Congress, it’s hard not to wonder why the other 534 federal lawmakers are able to cope without making threats of physical violence.

    As it turns out, some don’t. In addition to Grimm, there’s Rep. Don Young (R) of Alaska, who reportedly had a heated confrontation with his 2014 challenger, Forrest Dunbar (D). The Alaska Dispatch News reported (via Jamison Foser):
    Dunbar, reached Friday and pressed about the encounter, said the two were walking near each other backstage when Young said angrily, “You’re not from Cordova any more than I’m from Fort Yukon. I had you looked into.”

    Dunbar, raised in that Southcentral Alaska town after his family moved there from Eagle in the Interior when he was a child, said he tried politely responding to Young. Young grew up in California and moved to Alaska as a young man, not long after serving in the U.S. Army in the mid-1950s.

    Dunbar, who now lives in Anchorage, said he was puzzled and in a friendly gesture touched Young on his arm lightly and asked: “What are you talking about?” Then: “He freaked out,” said Dunbar. “There is no other way to describe it.”

  23. rikyrah says:


    Cook County Clerk David Orr reminds suburban Cook County residents that the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 Gubernatorial General Election is Tuesday, Oct. 7.

    Any voter with a driver’s license or state ID can register to vote online. Residents may also register in person by visiting the Clerk’s downtown office (69 W. Washington St., Fifth floor, Chicago), a municipal or township office, or one of the Clerk’s five suburban courthouse locations:
    • Southwest suburbs: 10220 S. 76th Ave., Room 238, Bridgeview
    • South suburbs: 16501 S. Kedzie Ave., Room 238, Markham
    • West suburbs: 1311 Maybrook Square, Room 104, Maywood
    • Northwest suburbs: 2121 Euclid Ave., Room 238, Rolling Meadows
    • North suburbs: 5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Room 149, Skokie

    In order to register, applicants must have two pieces of identification, including one containing a current address.

    Qualified applicants must be a United States citizen, at least 18 years old by the Nov. 4 election, and a resident of his or her precinct for at least 30 days prior to the election. Voters who have recently moved must re-register at their current address prior to the deadline



    Chicago Board of Elections
    69 W. Washington, SIXTH FLOOR



    IF you have an Illinois Drivers License or Illinois State ID


    You intend to register to vote from the address on your License/State ID..


    Here is the link:

    HINT: whatever is on the DL/State ID is how you have to apply. Don’t deviate. The way they do paperless is that they use the Secretary of State’s Database to confirm your information. The information you use to fill out the application MUST match what is on the DL/State ID.

    • Ametia says:

      This the ebola hype is getting out of control. The GOP and the rest of bigoted, racist America need to look no further than their own backyards for who/what is the biggest threat to America.

  24. rikyrah says:

    When you wish upon a czar
    10/06/14 08:00 AM
    By Steve Benen

    For the better part of six years, President Obama’s Republican critics have condemned the very idea using federal “czars” to address specific policy challenges. The criticisms have never really made any sense – the Bush/Cheney administration relied far more heavily on czars than Obama – but it’s nevertheless been one of the right’s more common condemnations of the White House.

    That is, until this weekend, when some Republicans decided czars aren’t so bad after all.

    Late Friday, for example, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) demanded the Obama administration have “a single individual in charge of coordinating America’s Ebola response.” Burr didn’t use the word “czar,” but that’s exactly what he was describing. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) was even more explicit in an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner.
    Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said Saturday that while he “hate[s] to invoke the term ‘czar,’” President Obama needs one to combat the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. […]

    The congressman said the United States needs a “George Mitchell type character” to lead “one central office that’s a clearinghouse” to unify the efforts of government entities like the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…. The congressman said he thought the scientists involved were doing well, but “you need a command and control general, a strategic guy.”
    The irony is truly extraordinary. It was none other than Jack Kingston who was so disgusted with the very idea of the executive branch utilizing czars that he introduced federal legislation in 2009 to cut off funding for these officials altogether. The bill didn’t go anywhere in the Democratic-led chamber, but it picked up over 100 Republican co-sponsors.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Senator Begich Tries to Grow the Electorate
    by BooMan
    Sun Oct 5th, 2014 at 09:25:44 AM EST

    There hasn’t been much polling out of Alaska but sometime around Labor Day, Republican challenger Dan Sullivan took a narrow lead in both the individual polls (excepting one partisan poll) and in the aggregate. It’s famously hard to poll Alaska, what with all its far-flung fishing communities and Native villages, but the bias has historically overestimated the Democrats’ support so Senator Begich is beginning to look a bit like a dead duck.

    Before you despair, however, it should be noted that Senator Begich has a massive grassroots organization that is attempting to do what no other campaign has ever done in Alaska. They are aggressively courting the voters in precisely those remote and Native communities that have always been so hard to poll.

    In Alaska, Begich made an early decision to focus on the ground. Retail politics is in his blood. Begich’s father, Nick, served as Alaska’s lone congressman and made frequent rural visits before disappearing in a 1972 plane crash — an accident that still resonates in Native villages. The senator’s siblings travel throughout rural Alaska for their work, as do his mother, Pegge, and wife, Deborah Bonito.

    Begich’s outreach extends into urban precincts as well. Andrew Halcro, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and a former Republican state legislator and gubernatorial candidate, said there is “no comparison” to the Begich operation.

    “I have never seen 20-somethings roaming my neighborhood with iPads with the data they have,” Halcro said. “There’s never been this organized, concerted, backbone effort before.”

    The unique challenge for Begich has been to build a modern campaign in faraway places with severe logistical and communications obstacles. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who oversaw Obama’s 2012 field organization as his deputy campaign manager, made several trips to Alaska this year to help the Begich team adapt modern techniques in rural outposts.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  27. Ametia says:

    Inside South Africa’s whites-only town of Orania
    By Pumza Fihlani
    BBC News, Orania

    I spent a few days in Orania, one of just a few black people to have set foot in the whites-only town since its establishment in 1991.

    Part of a BBC crew, including Zimbabwean journalist Stanley Kwenda, we were given permission to visit.

    And during that time, Stanley and I were the only black people in the town of 1,000 – an unusual experience in latter-day South Africa.

    Racial interaction is not welcome in the Afrikaner-only town, where only Afrikaans is spoken, because of fears about “diluting culture”.

    “We do not fit in easily in the new South Africa. It [Orania] was an answer to not dominating others and not being dominated by others,” says Carel Boschoff Jr, the community leader.

    Mr Boschoff inherited the town from his father Carel Boschoff Snr, an Afrikaner intellectual and son-in-law of apartheid architect, Hendrik Verwoerd.

  28. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)


    Excerpts (listing some of the cases):

    -Alabama redistricting: Democrats and black lawmakers contend that Republican leaders in Alabama drew a new legislative map that illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts to limit minority political power. Republicans say they complied with the law by keeping the same number of districts in which black voters could elect candidates of their choice.

    -Housing discrimination: For the third time, the court has agreed to hear a challenge from Texas to an important tool the government is increasingly using to fight discrimination in housing. Two earlier cases settled before the justices could weigh in on the legality of determining discrimination from the results of a policy that disproportionately affects minorities, rather than by showing any intent to discriminate.

    -Religious discrimination: Retailer Abercrombie and Fitch is defending its denial of a job to a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf by arguing that she did not say during her interview that she wears the hijab for religious reasons.

    -Voting disputes: Identification requirements and limits on early voting are among state voting laws that could make their way to the Supreme Court this term. The court already has jumped preliminarily into a case over early voting in Ohio and seems likely to want a full-blown review. But a decision on hearing that case could come late enough in the term to push back the argument and decision to the following term that begins a year from now.

    -Contraception: The next fight over the new health care law’s requirement that contraception be offered to women among a range of preventive services at no extra cost concerns the responsibilities of religious not-for-profit universities, hospitals and other institutions. The Obama administration already allows those organizations to shift responsibility for coverage to their insurers, but the groups say that so-called accommodation still is a burden on their religious consciences. In June, the justices said family-owned corporations with religious objections do not have to pay for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans.

    -Health care subsidies: Legal challenges to the health care law continue in several states that would drastically reduce the number of Americans eligible for subsidies to make health insurance affordable. One appeal of a court ruling denying a challenge to the subsidies already is pending at the Supreme Court, although the pace of the other cases suggests the justices are more likely to wait, if they even are willing to undertake another high-stakes fight over the health care law.

    -Affirmative action: The court could get another crack at the University of Texas admissions policy that takes race into account among many factors in filling some seats in entering freshmen classes. Lower courts upheld the Texas policy following a Supreme Court decision in 2013 that ordered a new review. The case currently is being appealed to the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

    • Ametia says:

      Good Morning, Yahtzee. I saw these upcoming SCOTUS cases last week. It’s going to be another fight for our already gained freedoms from the Roberts court.

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