Sunday Reads: What shall we hang…the holly or each other?

**Post updated below**

Irish actor Peter O'Toole studying for his role in Lawrence of Arabia.

Irish actor Peter O’Toole studying for his role in Lawrence of Arabia.

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“I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony.”

Actor Peter O’Toole, who died last week at 81, in a note to himself as a young man.

tumblr_lxv6cupJ6V1qhx8k5o1_500“God, he was beautiful.”

So says a minor character toward the end of 2006’s “Venus,” looking at an obituary photo of an elderly actor named Maurice. The actor is played by Peter O’Toole, and God, he was.

Good Morning…

fc613e4495e5519970062aa71f531f37Funny, that quote above about the scene from Venus…its from the Boston Globe, but the thing is that is what I was going to use for the opening of this post. It is the only line I remember from that movie, the one line that stuck with me…that I made a mental note for, remember that one JJ, it is a good one.

f75cf8324d4009fc4f726611f6e6f1bcWhat can I say about Peter O’Toole that hasn’t been said in obituaries and blog post or commentaries posted online the last week since his death. Hell, you will be able to read a bunch of them in a minute, I’ve got plenty of links for you below.

z_otoolePeter O’Toole was more than a magnificent screen presence to me.  I don’t think there has been another actor who had such a profound effect on my life, and I know that sound sappy…but you all know how important film is to me.  I always felt his role as Henry II in both Beckett and The Lion in Winter is one of the reasons I decided to major in Medieval History. (I should say specialize in Medieval History.)

3e8d51ae2c7aaea4a5c57090828a7157Then again, my adoration of O’Toole goes back before college. Way back, to 1981 when he starred in a mini-series called Masada.

At that time girls my age had pictures of the Fonz and Scott Baio on their walls. Me? My walls had photos of Peter O’Toole, Jonathan Frid and Rod Stewart. (What can I say, I was a strange kid.)

My favorite movies star Peter O’Toole…Lawrence of Arabia, My Favorite Year, The Lion In Winter, these films are the kind of movies that I can see over and over again, they are fucking awesome. peter_otoole(Check out some clips down at the end of the thread.)

Other films of O’Toole are outstanding as well, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Stuntman, Creator, hell…the list goes on. But for now we will get to the various links for Peter…starting with his home country of Ireland:

Farewell to hellraiser O’Toole – Independent.ie

16 December 2013

Tributes were paid last night to actor and hellraiser Peter O’Toole, who died at the age of 81.

The Connemara-born actor, who rose to fame in the 1962 Oscar-winning epic ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ (left), died in London on Saturday.

Actors Peter O'Toole and Helen Mirren attend the  Miramax Films pre-Oscar party celebrating  Oscar nominees in Los Angeles...  REUTERS/Fred Prouser   (UNITED STATES)...E

Actors Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren attend the Miramax Films pre-Oscar party celebrating Oscar nominees in Los Angeles…REUTERS/Fred Prouser

showbiz-peter-o-toole-feeds-baby-daughter-kate-1960Although he received eight Academy Award nominations for best actor, O’Toole never won the ultimate accolade. In 2003 he was given a special Oscar from his peers for his contribution to film.

He is survived by his family, including his daughters Pat and Kate, his son Lorcan, and former wife, actress Sian Phillips.

Peter O’Toole and the saucy Dublin nuns – Independent.ie

61dc2db155765cc6a475348ad78e3c24So farewell then, Peter O’Toole, the man who was either born in Connemara or Leeds, depending on who you believe.

O’Toole once said that as a boy he was terrified by “the horrible sexlessness” of nuns.

He later said this phenomenon had changed dramatically.

“They’re sipping gin and tonic in the Dublin pubs now, and a couple of them flashed their pretty ankles at me just the other day.”

Saucy nuns? It is quite possible that the notoriously bibulous O’Toole had a touch too much of the gargle, and was imagining things.

Peter the Great – Independent.ie

PETER_O'TOOLE

Asked once what being Irish meant to him, the legendary actor, Peter O’Toole deliberated slowly, before replying: “It’s almost the centre of my being.”

The occasion was an interview with US talk show host Charlie Rose to mark the release of the first part of his autobiography, Loitering with Intent in 1992.

Peter O’Toole and his eldest daughter, Kate

“Everything I think of is coloured by its history, by its literature, by its people, by its geography,” he continued.

O’Toole went on to recount how a return trip to Ireland in 1946 after the end of the Second World War, affirmed his sense of Irishness.

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“I was a bit of a misfit, a bit of an odd man out, but when I went to Kerry with my friend, Father Leo Walsh, and it all clicked. I wasn’t different at all,” he said.

This particular obit has some good stories, so be sure to read that one in full. This tidbit about an interview with Letterman is something that I remember seeing when it first aired:

131214-peter-o-toole-dead-vert-1387135132He was a chat show host’s dream guest and the theatrical format with its live audience appealed to the actor who knew exactly how to play to the crowd.

He appeared on The Letterman Show in London in 1995, cigarette in hand, astride a camel. As if that wasn’t suitably outrageous, he proceeded to open a can of beer and feed it to the animal.

Asked once by Lettermen [sic] had he thought about a message on his gravestone, he told the story of an old leather jacket he once had, stained “with Guinness and blood”, that his wife had sent to the dry cleaners.

imagesIt came back with a note pinned to it saying, ‘It distresses us to return work which is not perfect’.

“I am having that on my tombstone. That’s my epitaph,” he said.

Which is why I was smiling when I saw this tribute Peter O’Toole obit by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

141944 600 OToole obit cartoons

If any of you get to see the dvd commentary that goes with the film My Favorite Year, you will hear some great stories about Peter O’Toole. He sounded like one of those actors you would love to work with.  One of the interesting things Richard Benjamin said was, O’Toole had not done a comedy, and because of that…

131215170623-13-peter-otoole-horizontal-galleryPeter O’Toole was originally hesitant about doing the film. However, in the script, the date of Swann’s death was, in fact, the date of O’Toole’s birthday. O’Toole phoned Richard Benjamin to find out if they did that with all of the actors they had offered the part to. The director replied that the script had not been given to anybody else, at which O’Toole agreed to do the film.

Anyway, back to the links:

Culture Shock: Peter O’Toole – a great actor undazzled by his own star – | The Irish Times – Sat, Dec 21, 2013

mqdefaultMuch of the British commentary on O’Toole since his death has painted him as a rather anachronistic actor, a 19th-century heroic performer in an age of method psychological realism. It is certainly true that, with his fellow so-called Celts Richard Burton and Richard Harris, he was a rebel against the new method orthodoxy. What is not true is the general depiction of the trio as Romantic, emotional, hot-blooded Celts at odds with the realism that was in the ascendant from the 1950s onwards.

ca87a30b632c83f88073ab7df71aa4b9Quite the contrary: O’Toole’s acting, like Burton’s, was sceptical, cool, intellectual. Far from being a fruity thesp, he was, at his best, almost a meta-actor. His best screen performances all comment on the nature of performance.

[…]

393b56d58076e854b37cffdb36e9f6a3Of O’Toole’s other best roles, two (in My Favourite Year and in Venus) are satiric portrayals of washed-up actors and one, in The Stunt Man, is a satiric portrayal of an insane film director. O’Toole’s best performances have quotation marks around them.

But what of the role that created the star in the first place? It too is a “performance”. O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia is so uncannily beautiful, so eerily mesmerising that you almost don’t notice that he’s just another actor: a strange Englishman, dressed in foreign clothes, pretending to be an Arab. O’Toole’s brilliance is to create a man who is utterly convinced by the role he is playing. But he himself was never so convinced: what made him great was the keen, appraising intelligence with which he seems to stand outside himself, undazzled by his own star.

It looks like O’Toole had two films in production, one Katherine of Alexandria is in post-production according to iMDB.

‘Lawrence of Arabia’s’ Peter O’Toole Dead at 81

380564f9fd66f691fe98833cbd768c14O’Toole announced in July 2012 that he was retiring from acting. “The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back,” he said. He did, however, return with announced parts in Katherine of Alexandria and Mary, two films yet to be released.

Peter-OToole-9430474-1-402During a career that spanned nearly six decades, the son of an Irish father and Scottish mother also received Oscar noms for his turns in Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006). No one else has ever earned as many acting noms without a win.

‘Lawrence of Arabia’ star Peter O’Toole dead at 81 | AccessNorthGa

GTY_peter_otoole_jtm_131215_16x9_992He was fearsomely handsome, with burning blue eyes and a penchant for hard living which long outlived his decision to give up alcohol. Broadcaster Michael Parkinson told Sky News television it was hard to be too sad about his passing.

“Peter didn’t leave much of life unlived, did he?” he said.

peter-otoole-2-300

A reformed – but unrepentant – hell-raiser, O’Toole long suffered from ill health. Always thin, he had grown wraithlike in later years, his famously handsome face eroded by years of outrageous drinking.

But nothing diminished his flamboyant manner and candor.

peterotoole

“If you can’t do something willingly and joyfully, then don’t do it,” he once said. “If you give up drinking, don’t go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt.”

[…]

Lawrence-of-Arabia

His sensitive portrayal of Lawrence’s complex character garnered O’Toole his first Oscar nomination, and the spectacularly photographed desert epic remains his best known role. O’Toole was tall, fair and strikingly handsome, and the image of his bright blue eyes peering out of an Arab headdress in Lean’s film was unforgettable.

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Playwright Noel Coward once said that if O’Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the movie “Florence of Arabia.”

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That is another good Obituary…give it some of your attention too.

I remember another story O’Toole told, about the filming of Lawrence of Arabia. The scene where he walks down the stairs after telling the general about taking Aqaba was shot a year apart. So when he starts walking down the stairs, he is one year younger than the age he is when he reaches the bottom step.

Peter O’Toole’s Most Iconic Movie Roles, From ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ To ‘Ratatouille’

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O’Toole’s last years were quiet, but that doesn’t detract from his stalwart presence throughout much of the 20th century. Here’s a look back at a handful of his most iconic roles.

Peter O’Toole: Tales of the late film icon – People – News – The Independent

peter-o-toole-with-katherine-hepburn-november-1967

Peter O’Toole, who has died aged 81, possessed a prodigious acting talent, heart-stopping good looks, and an enormous capacity for booze. Here, he is remembered by those who knew him

TFCAF00Z

Michael Caine, who had been his understudy for the 1959 play ‘The Long and the Short and the Tall’ at the Royal Court Theatre went out to dinner with O’Toole and woke up in a strange flat days later.

“There was a wild weekend that I don’t remember… ‘What time is it?’ I asked. ‘Never mind what time it is,’ said O’Toole. ‘What fucking day is it?’

I love it!

peter_o_toole_walk_of_fame_daughter_son_2011_19asil4-19asilf

Peter O’Toole with daughter Kate and son Lorcan

More pictures of Peter here: Peter O’Toole’s Life and Career in Pictures Gallery – The Hollywood Reporter

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Postscript: Peter O’Toole : The New Yorker

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The deaths, over the weekend, of Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine reminded us, once again, what a strange principality movie stardom is. Think of it as a kind of Monaco: few are born there, but many arrive, some to disport themselves at the watering holes and gaming tables, others to cultivate that notorious anonymity that is the last redoubt of fame. The church mouse may be the neighbor of the libertine. Costs of living (not merely financial) can be exorbitant, and personal loyalties prone to decay; expulsions are cruel and common, and you dare not appeal against them, for they are ordained not by a court of the land but by the judgment of the world beyond. On the other hand, re-admittance to stardom, after exile, is not unknown; in the case of O’Toole, he would drift away, out of sight but never quite out of mind, and then, just as we—and, by all accounts, he himself—started to ask if he were technically alive, he would stroll back into the light.

Now don’t forget, TCM is going to have a tribute to Peter O’Toole on Sunday, December 29th: TCM Remembers Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013)

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BTW, we lost quite a few people this year…you can find a gallery of pictures here: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2013 Gallery – The Hollywood Reporter

Anyway, enjoy the videos below, some are clips but…the last two are full interviews. One, the Charlie Rose interview. The other is the hour-long interview with Robert Osborne. It is fantastic!

TCM Remembers…

The Lion in Winter:

My Favorite Year:

Lawrence of Arabia:

Interview with Charlie Rose:

Interview with Robert Osborn, at TCM Film Festival April 2011:

The special wraps with O’Toole providing his personal definition of acting: “In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh. That is, to me, is what acting is. You make the words flesh.” Which is exactly what the man did…

Think of this as an open thread.

(Just a note, it is now 4:45 am and I am finally finished with this post. The formatting was a bitch! So I probably won’t be seeing you any time soon…have a great day!)

**Updated post with added links**

Since it is a very slow day, I’ve decided to just update this post with a few newsy links…in a dump-a-roo fashion.

Starting of with a bit of sad news, Claire Davis, the shooting victim from Colorado, has died:

Family of Arapahoe High School shooting victim Claire Davis issues statement – San Jose Mercury News

Photo of Claire Davis. Provided by  Arapahoe County Sheriff
Photo of Claire Davis. Provided by Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. (Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office)

A statement from the Davis family

It is with unspeakable sadness that we write and say that Claire has passed away from the gunshot wound she received at Arapahoe High School on December 13, 2013. Although we have lost our precious daughter, we will always be grateful for the indelible journey she took us on over the last 17 years—we were truly blessed to be Claire’s parents. The grace, laughter and light she brought to this world will not be extinguished by her death; to the contrary, it will only get stronger.

Last week was truly a paradox in that we lost our daughter, yet we witnessed the wonderful love that exists in the world through the tremendous outpouring of support we received. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the first responders, the school resource officer, security guard and vice principal at Arapahoe High School, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office, and the physicians, nurses and staff at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Each played a significant role in giving Claire a chance to live, and demonstrated extreme amounts of professionalism, courage and love. Please know that we will never forget the extraordinary work you did on Claire’s behalf.

We ask that you give us time to grieve the death of our daughter by respecting our wishes for privacy.

With much loving-kindness,

The Davis Family

I don’t know what you can say about that. It is so painfully sad.

There is another heart-wrenching story out there, remember Jaycee Dugard? Jaycee Dugard’s new “terror”: Her father – Salon.com

The road back home hasn’t been easy for Jaycee Dugard. She was only 11 years old in June of 1991 when she was abducted from a California street in full sight of her stepfather, Carl Probyn. Last August, when she and the two young daughters she bore while in captivity were rescued, Probyn described their return as “a miracle.” But while her captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido,  are behind bars and Dugard is quietly rebuilding her life with her mother and children, she now faces a new “terror”: her biological father.

Kenneth Slayton, who has had no prior relationship with the young woman, has been speaking out lately about the child he never knew, and his wish “to be united with my daughter ASAP.” To that end, he’s retained the services of scandal magnet Gloria Allred,  has filed a court petition to definitively prove his paternity of Dugard, and held a press conference last week to plead for an establishment of family ties. Slayton claims that “The first time I knew there was a possibility that I had a daughter was when the FBI told me that she had been kidnapped.”

Dugard’s family, however, tells a different story. In a statement issued last week, they claim that Dugard’s mother, Terry Probyn, “told Mr. Slayton when she learned she was pregnant that he was the father and again when Jaycee was born. He showed no interest. The police advised him when Jaycee was kidnapped and again he showed no interest … At no point did Mr. Slayton offer any assistance beyond what was requested of him while Jaycee was missing. It is now Jaycee Dugard’s turn to express her feelings and she has no interest.”

Read more about this asshole at the link, and then think of the real motivation behind his lawsuit…and how much it must weigh on Dugard’s emotions.

Okay, did you all catch this other news story? Like I said, I’ve been awol from the blog so I don’t know if it has been mentioned.

Climate change expert’s fraud was ‘crime of massive proportion,’ say feds – Investigations

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits  over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his lies were a “crime of massive proportion” and “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

Beale’s lawyer, while acknowledging his guilt, has asked for leniency and offered a psychological explanation for the climate expert’s bizarre tales.

If you want a good report of these “tales” check out the video of Jon Stewart here: Jon Stewart Goes Off on Perhaps the Best Political Scandal of All Time | Mediaite

There are scandals, and there are SCANDALS. And the story of an EPA official who cheated the agency out of a million dollars with an incredibly elaborate hoax might very well be, in Jon Stewart‘s opinion, one of the most amazing and unbelievable political scandals of all time. But despite the sexiness of this story, Stewart said, “this man is a liar and boring as f*ck!” John Beale even lied to get a handicapped parking space, which wasn’t even necessary, because “he could have gotten a handicapped parking space for a legitimate medical reason: his gigantic balls.”

But hey, not all of us can lead exciting lives: Hullabaloo

by digby

Oh boy. Howie has the latest on the Duck Dynasty flap:

Do you know what a fluffer is? The clinical Wikipedia definition: “A fluffer is a person employed to keep a male adult film star aroused on the set. These duties, which do not necessarily involve touching the actors, are considered part of the makeup department. After setting up the desired angle, the director asks the actors to hold position and calls for the fluffer to ‘fluff’ the actors for the shot. Fluffing could also entail sexual acts such as fellatio or non-penetrative sex.” …

Fluffer is also the name of a 2001 gay porn film that got a buzz because Blondie (Debbie Harry) was in it. But it will have a whole new life now because so was Scott Gurney, the creator of Duck Dynasty.

Howie’s got clips at the link. They’re actually quite tasteful, all things considered. Mr Gurney played one of the leads by the name of Johnny Rebel. He’s quite attractive.

Read more about Johnny Rebel at the link…

Since we touch on the subject of right-wing shitstorms…Keep Fox News out of the classroom! Rupert Murdoch, Common Core and the dangerous rise of for-profit public education – Salon.com

Take a look at that, but it isn’t only right wing…a big portion of the for-profit group is Bill Gates and friends.

Following the rich people connection: These 2 Cities Are Now Exclusively For Rich People

Few cities in the U.S. embody the growing divide between rich and poor quite like New York and San Francisco. In just the past 20 years, both have changed from economically diverse melting pots to exclusive playgrounds for the rich.

The change is clear in striking new visualizations from the U.S. Census Bureau, crunching data from its latest American Community Survey of population and income.

In each of the pictures below, the image to the left represents median household incomes in 1990 (“before”), and the image on the right is 2012 (“after”). Darker shades correlate with higher income, and brighter shades represent lower incomes. Use the slider tool (the button in the middle) to go back and forth in time between 1990 and 2012.

That is a fun interactive map, but to be honest…San Francisco hasn’t changed all that much.

Meanwhile: Prosecutors were ready to charge Va. Gov. McDonnell, but final decision delayed by Justice officials – The Washington Post

‘Hobbit’ Star Makes Truly Awful Joke About ‘Rape, or Whatever’

Women’s rights sold out again: McAuliffe’s betrayal – Salon.com

That story about McAuliffe is disgusting and it pisses me off…although it doesn’t surprise me.

Two links on the Boston Bombing brothers:

The fall of the house of Tsarnaev —Tamerlan’s dreams in shards, the voices inside grew louder – The Boston Globe

The fall of the house of Tsarnaev —Dzhokhar, the youngest, was drawn to risk and spiraled into infamy – The Boston Globe

Some history articles for you:

Women in the public life in late medieval England: A study through contemporary sources in the 1400s

Here Be Monsters by Marina Warner | The New York Review of Books

Parallels With The Era That Led To The First World War – Business Insider

And a couple of Christmas stories:

Why It Takes 8,500 Pairs Of Pointe Shoes To Put On ‘The Nutcracker’

pointe shoes

The pointe shoe room

I look at that picture and I know what those new pointe shoes smell like.

But What If Elf Was Remade Entirely With Pugs Though [VIDEO] | Geekosystem

And finally, tomorrow is Festivus!


Thursday Reads

morning coffee book

Good Morning!!

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds is apparently recovering from stab wounds inflicted by his son Gus on Tuesday. The young man shot himself after attacking his father. But state officials are investigating why Gus was refused psychiatric care the day before the attack. NBC Washington:

The incident has raised new questions about the capacity of Virginia’s mental health system. Tuesday, it was reported that hours before the attack Gus Deeds was the subject of an emergency custody order — but a bed at a hospital or psychiatric treatment facility was not available, and he was released home.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that  three hospitals within a two-hour drive of Bath County did have beds available, and two of the three say they were never contacted by the Rockbridge County Community Services Board trying to find a placement for Deeds son.

The state inspector general has now launched an investigation to find out what led to Gus Deeds’ release after the custody order was issued.

“Regardless of whether or not there were beds, there was not a system to determine if there were beds available,” Howell said. “It seems to me we should have a clearinghouse of some kind so that when somebody needs a bed, there is a very efficient way to find out where one is available.”

According to NBC Washington,

Dozens of mentally ill patients at risk of doing “serious harm” to themselves or others in Virginia were denied access to some psychiatric treatment in a span of just three months studied by state investigators, according to agency documents reviewed by the News4 I-Team.

An audit of Virginia’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, performed over a 3-month span in late 2011, found 72 people “at risk for serious harm” and in need of care received less treatment than necessary, in part because of a shortage of available psychiatric beds in the state.

Internal state investigators call the shortfall “a failure of the system” and a “canary in the coal mine” warning for Virginia leaders.

Agency documents show a decline in the overall number of treatment space for the mentally ill in Virginia. A 2007 report found 1,794 available hospital beds for the mentally ill in Virginia, but the number had dropped to 1,699 beds available in 2011.

Internal investigators reported, “Acute and intensive treatment beds in … state-operated psychiatric hospitals have also decreased, while the population has grown by approximately 13 percent during the last decade.”

Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with budget cuts in states controlled by Republicans? From Think Progress:

“Many states appear to be effectively terminating a public psychiatric treatment system that has existed for nearly two centuries,” wrote researchers in a 2012 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a nonprofit group that examines mental health issues. “The system was originally created to protect both the patients and the public, and its termination is taking place with little regard for the consequences to either group.”

According to the report, Virginia eliminated 15 percent of its public psychiatric beds between 2005 and 2010. The state has just 17.6 such beds per 10,000 people — less than 40 percent of the recommended minimum 50 beds per 10,000 people. That didn’t stop Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) from proposing even more cuts to mental health programs in 2012.

But McDonnell isn’t the only one to embrace such cuts. In fact, state governments across the nation slashed psychiatric funding to the point that, overall, the nation’s hospitals had just 28 percent of the recommended minimum number of hospital beds by 2010. Those reductions continued in the following years as states slashed $4.35 billion in mental health services between 2009 and 2012, forcing State Mental Health Agencies (SMHAs) to shutter mental health hospitals and eliminate nearly 10 percent of total available beds in those three years alone.

This is an issue that was discussed during the recent VA race for governor. From the Oct. 23rd Washington Post: Virginia’s mental health system needs money; candidates differ on how to provide it.

The major-party candidates for governor of Virginia agree that mental health systems need more resources. But their approaches differ greatly, based in part on how they view the Medicaid expansion of the new health-care law in Virginia.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe favors a Medicaid expansion wholeheartedly. He says it would provide new health-care coverage for about 400,000 Virginians and would increase money for mental health treatment.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli II opposes a Medicaid expansion completely and says McAuliffe’s estimates of its effect on Virginia are greatly overstated. Cuccinelli wants to increase state funding for mental health, but he would do so by shifting current Medicaid funds from other health-care areas. He also said he would target waste, fraud and abuse and use the savings to bolster options for the mentally ill and the intellectually disabled.

Fortunately for the people of Virgina, Terry McAuliffe won the election, and corrective measures will likely be taken. But they’ll come too late for Gus Deeds and his family. If a wealthy and connected family has this problem, can you imagine what it’s like for poorer people who need mental health treatment in Republican-controlled states?

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This story out of Philadelphia is horrible: Mom of Alleged Teen Shoplifter Accuses Police of Brutality. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the boy is African American.

The mother of the 14-year-old boy, who was arrested for shoplifting, is accusing police of roughing him up.

“The picture speaks a thousand words,” says Marissa Sargeant, who shared several graphic photos with NBC10 that shows her son bruised, cut and swollen.

The teen was arrested by Tullytown Police for retail theft at Walmart on Tuesday night, along with an adult relative.

“What he did was wrong. He was coerced by a 19-year-old. He does know better,” said Sargeant.

“Roughing him up?” I’d say that’s quite an understatement, based on the photo.

Authorities say after the teen’s arrest, and before he was loaded into a police car, he took off running along Route 13 while handcuffed.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler tells NBC10 that police officers yelled warnings at the teen and fearing for his safety, they fired a stun gun to subdue him. The D.A. says the Taser struck the boy in the face and with his hands cuffed, the boy had no way to brace himself against falling face-first.

“That doesn’t sound right. There’s no way, if he was running from behind, that he would get hit with a taser in the front of his face,” said Sargeant.

The mom suspects police probably beat up her son as well, and I’d have to agree with her. Heckler is “investigating,” but he doesn’t think police did anything wrong. Sounds like a really unbiased “investigation,” doesn’t it?

Republicans are still blocking President Obama’s judicial nominees right and left, and Democrats are once again threatening to get rid of the filibuster for appointments. {Sigh…} Do you suppose there’s any chance they actually mean it this time? From The Washington Post:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is poised to move forward on Thursday with a vote on what is known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option,” several Democrats said. Mr. Reid and the senators who have been the most vocal on stopping the Republican blockade of White House nominees are now confident they have the votes to make the change.

“We’re not bluffing,” said one senior aide who has spoken with Mr. Reid directly and expects a vote on Thursday, barring any unforeseen breakthrough on blocked judges.

The threat that Democrats could significantly limit how the filibuster can be used against nominees has rattled Republicans. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has brokered last-minute deals that have averted a change to filibuster rules in the past, visited Mr. Reid in his office on Thursday but failed to strike a compromise.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa took to the Senate floor and denounced Democrats, saying that if they changed the rules, Republicans would consider them applicable to all judicial nominees, including those for the Supreme Court. Mr. Reid has said he supports keeping intact the minority party’s ability to filibuster controversial Supreme Court nominees.

“Apparently the other side wants to change the rules while still preserving the ability to block a Republican president’s ability to replace a liberal Supreme Court Justice with an originalist,” Mr. Grassley said.

At Politico, William Yeomans, an American University law professor and former Justice Department official says “Nuke ’em Harry!”

Democrats, it’s time to bid farewell to the filibuster as we’ve known it. Your restraint has gone beyond admirable to foolish. The institution for which you have shown extraordinary respect over the past four years, as Republicans flouted its best traditions, is no more. Republicans have overplayed their hand by disregarding prior agreements and turning the Senate into a graveyard—or at least a critical care unit—for obviously qualified presidential nominees. Republican obstruction has left you with nothing to lose by bringing the Senate fully into the 21st century and allowing the majority to rule. It’s time to change the rules….

Worried about blowback? Don’t be. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) helped expose the Republicans’ loss of leverage when he threatened that if the Democrats changed the filibuster rule, Republicans would appoint more justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Whoa! Is he suggesting that Republicans won’t appoint more radically conservative justices if Democrats keep the filibuster? That might be a deal worth taking, but it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on. If Republicans regain control of the White House, any Supreme Court nominees will very much be in the model of Scalia and Thomas, and their colleagues Roberts and Samuel Alito—if not worse. That means they will disregard any pretense of judicial restraint to eviscerate civil rights laws, restrain congressional authority to enact social legislation, support states over the federal government and big business over labor, oppose the interests of consumers and make sure the executioner stays in business.

In reality, Republicans have nothing left with which to threaten you. Just stop and think about how unimportant the filibuster has been to you. You chose not to use it to stop Thomas and Alito, even though more than enough Democrats to support a filibuster voted against each. You embraced Scalia (by unanimous vote!) and Roberts. When Republican presidents went too far, you mustered the majority vote necessary to stop them without resorting to the filibuster. That’s why we didn’t have a Justice Bork, Carswell or Haynsworth, or a Secretary of Defense Tower, or an Associate Attorney General Reynolds. Sure, Miguel Estrada would be on the D.C. Circuit, but that hardly justifies tying your own hands in perpetuity.

He’s absolutely right, but do the wimpy Dems have the courage to act? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Here’s your stupid right wing corporate media story for today from Media Matters. David Gregory compares Obamacare to the Iraq war.

Not once but twice in recent days Meet The Press host David Gregory announced that the troubled launch of President Obama’s new health care law is roughly the equivalent to President Bush’s badly bungled war with Iraq. The NBC anchor was quick to point out that he didn’t mean the two events were the same with regards to a death toll. (Nobody has died from health care reform.) But Gregory was sure that in terms of how the former president and the current president are viewed, in terms of damage done to their credibility, the men will be forever linked to a costly, bloody war and a poorly functioning website, respectively.

“Everybody looked at Bush through the prism of Iraq,” Gregory explained. “Here, I think people are going to look at Obama through the implementation of Obamacare.”  It’s Obama’s defining event of their two-term presidency. It’s a catastrophic failure that’s tarnished Obama’s second term, and will perhaps “wreck” his entire presidency, according to the media’s “doom-mongering bubble,” as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones described it.

But like the painfully inappropriate comparisons to Hurricane Katrina that have populated the press, Gregory’s attempt to draw a Bush/Obama parallel is equally senseless. Bush’s war morass stretched over five years, so of course it defined his presidency.  Obama’s health care woes are in week number six and could be fixed within the next month.

Media Matters points out that not only is this “the mother lode of false equivalency,” but it’s a sly effort to “downgrade Bush’s historical failures, and to cover the media’s tracks of deception.”

I’ll end with two fascinating science stories to take your mind off politics and other distressing news.

Mars rock

From BBC News: Black Beauty rock ‘is oldest chunk of Mars’

A rock discovered in the Sahara Desert is the oldest Martian meteorite ever found, scientists believe.

Earlier research had suggested it was about two billion years old, but new tests indicate the rock actually dates to 4.4 billion years ago.

The dark and glossy meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, would have formed when the Red Planet was in its infancy.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

Lead author Prof Munir Humayan, from Florida State University, US, said: “This [rock] tells us about one of the most important epochs in the history of Mars.”

Read the rest at the link.

And from The Sydney Morning Herald: Siberian DNA link to Native Americans discovered.

The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta, near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, about 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.

The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last ice age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed.

The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion – about 25 per cent – of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population.

Amazing, huh?
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please share your links in the coMenusmment thread.

Tuesday Reads: Hillary in 2016?

The face of a President?

The face of a President?

Good Morning!!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of what JJ calls “PAD” or “Political Affective Disorder.” I’ve been finding myself escaping into a haze of detective stories, Criminal Minds reruns, and video games. I’ve still kept up with the news–barely–but I haven’t felt much like writing about it. I feel discouraged about the fate of our nation and I’m paralyzed about my own personal future too.

Beginning in 1993, I focused most of my attention of getting the education I missed out on as a young woman after I left college after only two years. From 1993 to 2010, I lived the life of a full-time student–and I loved it! After I finally achieved my goal–a doctorate in psychology–I had no idea what to do next. I was near retirement age, and faced the reality that the best “job” I might be able to get in the current economic climate was as an adjunct professor with low pay and no benefits.

I had learned after 12 years of teaching that the kinds of teaching jobs I might be able to get wouldn’t allow me to experience the aspects of teaching that I truly enjoyed–working directly with students and leading class discussions–wouldn’t be available to me. Instead I’d be lecturing to classes of 150-200 students with little opportunity for class discussion or personal interaction. In addition, I had serious problems with grade inflation and the “customers are always right” attitude of the universities I had taught at.

I had fantasies of focusing on writing and research, and I thought that might be a realistic goal, but then my mentor died suddenly and shockingly, and I no longer had anyone in academia to turn to for advice or to help me negotiate the publishing process. I was already so exhausted by the effort to complete my dissertation and my father’s death in March of 2010, that I really felt the need to just do nothing for awhile.

I threw myself into blogging, because it gave me opportunities to write and express myself on a daily basis. I’ve always loved following politics and it has been great to connect with so many other people who have the same interests and obsessions. But lately the world of politics seems as paralyzed as I am in my own life. The Republican Party has managed to largely control the agenda despite the fact that they only control the House.

Right now, I have the ability to live on a very low income and still have a decent lifestyle. But the day is eventually going to come when I won’t have a free place to live. I’m also finding myself less satisfied with just recovering from the effort to finish my Ph.D. and the major losses of my father and my academic father figure–my mentor. What will my future look like? I seems wrong not to use the skills and knowledge I’ve gained over the years to give back in some way, no matter how small.

Well, I can’t solve all those problems today. But I can keep on keepin’ on and imagine ways things might change. You might call it, “The Audacity of Hope.” And that’s where Hillary comes in. More and more I see her as a model for survival, for achievement late in life, for looking at problems in new and productive ways. Could she really become the first woman president at approximately the same age I am? Could she be a better, more innovative leader than Barrack Obama has been? I want to take that leap of faith and believe in her ability to win the nomination and general election and succeed as president. I also want to believe that she and we can survive the Clinton hate that we’ll all have to go through to make it happen.

Suddenly Hillary is all over the news! Yesterday Dakinikat posted a link to the first major interview (at New York Magazine) Hillary has done since leaving the State Department. Yesterday I was feeling so apathetic that I didn’t even manage to read the whole thing. But I’ve promised myself I’m  going to do that today. In the meantime, here are some crib sheets and reactions to the New York article:

From NBC News’ First Thoughts:

*** Clinton news — everywhere! If you wanted an idea of what the media landscape would look like the moment we get a clear indication if Hillary Clinton is running for president, we got a taste of it over the past 48 hours. Hillary Clinton gave her first private-citizen interview to a news organization; Bill Clinton is making news ahead of his Clinton Global Initiative meeting; and the New Republic runs a tough piece on Bill Clinton aide Doug Band. It’s a reminder of what comes with the Clintons — excitement, news and attention, and baggage. Now on to these individual stories…

*** “She’s running,” Hillary confidante tells New York magazine: In her first interview with a news organization since leaving her secretary of state post, Hillary Clinton certainly didn’t seem like someone who was shutting the door to a 2016 presidential bid. In fact, it was the opposite. When New York magazineasked if she wrestles with running, Clinton responded, “‘I do,’ she says, ‘but I’m both pragmatic and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.’” It’s a significant step that she’s decided to acknowledge publicly that she’s thinking about it. We may all think we know this and treat it as a given inside the Acela Corridor, but it’s still significant to read her SAYING it. But the article adds, “Some of her close confidants, including many people with whom her own staff put me in touch, are far less circumspect than she is. ‘She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,’ one such person put it to me. ‘It’s just like a force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does.’” Other than sending signals that she’s running, the other unmistakable take away from the Hillary interview: She won’t be surrounding herself with a lot of the Bill alum, a la 2008. More Team Hillary, less Team Bill in 2016. Translation to nervous donors/supporters about a repeat of 2008: Mark Penn and other Bill veterans aren’t running this thing.

From The Daily Beast: Seven Juiciest Bits from Hillary Clinton’s New York Profile. Go read the whole thing, but I’ll excerpt the part I found most intriguing:

7. The future of Clintonworld now lies with Chelsea.

Of course, there’s a third person in the Clinton family: Chelsea, whose name has been added to the name of the foundation, making it the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Chelsea had tried out a number of careers before turning to the family business, first as a consultant at McKinsey & Co., then a hedge fund and a stint NBC. But not everyone at the foundation was happy about Chelsea’s sudden appearance and her decision to bring in an old McKinsey associate as CEO—and Bill eventually stepped out and defended his comrades, a move that hinted there might have been conflict between the three Clintons. “This is an operation that runs on its proximity to people,” one staffer said. “Now it’s three people. How does that work?”

But Hillary says Chelsea’s entrance is simply in her daughter’s DNA (a move that seemed especially true after Chelsea’s Daily Show appearance on Thursday night). Hillary said Chelsea, the family’s now-gatekeeper, “comes by it” at the foundation “naturally.” Ever the proud parents, Hillary said Chelsea is “an incredibly able—obviously I’m biased—but extremely well-organized, results-oriented person, so rather than joining a lot of other groups, on which she could pursue her interests, she thought, I want to be part of continuing to build something I have worked on off and on over the years, and I really believe in it. I was thrilled to hear that.”

A negative note from The Atlantic: Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign Is Already Haunted

Clinton-watchers have an abundance of bedtime reading options this Sunday with not one, but two long profiles aimed at a possible 2016 run for Hillary Clinton. In New York magazine, Clinton herself breaks a mini “press hiatus” to spend some time with Joe Hagan, who then digs into the extensive support system for the family dynasty. But it’s The New Republic’s profile of Doug Band, longtime advisor to Bill Clinton, that hints at one of the challenges Hillary will face in a 2016 campaign: the ghosts waiting in the wings from the Clintons’ long public life.

Band, writer Alec MacGillis explains, is “rarely written about, almost never quoted, and many Clinton associates are loath to discuss him on the record.” But lately, he’s emerged from under the Clinton umbrella to strike out on his own, leaving him more vulnerable to scrutiny. In the past few months, his name has popped up as something of an antagonist in stories of troubles at the family foundation. Even though Band declined to speak to MacGillis for his expansive profile, the piece connects some dots that could be unwelcome for Team Clinton: “the unease with Band reflects an unease with the phenomenon of post-presidential Clintonism itself,” he writes. That Clintonism angst, TNR’s piece posits, could extend to Hillary, albeit with few to no direct ties. Band’s role in the Clinton administration was as the body man, a presidential version of a personal assistant.

Taylor Marsh points out that Hillary is not Bill just because she’s married to himBill Clinton, Hillary, and a Bone Picking Exposé on Doug Band.

The fact is Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a trail to give us an idea what she’d do, let alone if she thinks similarly to her husband on economics. What we know about Hillary in matters commander in chief is that unlike where Bill started, she’s respected at the Pentagon, which is one reason a contingent of progressives will oppose her candidacy. People tried to hook NAFTA to her back during the 2008 season, which I debunked, because not even Carl Bernstein, someone who wrote a fairly tough book on Hillary, would allow that to go unremarked upon, throwing ice cold water on any notion she supported NAFTA, a free trade agreement that exemplifies neoliberalism.

Just because she’s Bill Clinton’s wife doesn’t mean her views are identical to him. You’d think Democratic activists and progressives would understand the insult of assuming Hillary would be just like Bill. Opposing NAFTA also doesn’t mean she won’t approve of other free trade deals. Of course, for many Iraq, then her role in Libya, now Syria, is enough to make her unsupportable.

The other issue is that to people inside the power structure who want to be in charge, pretending corporations aren’t part of politics is to lose your foothold on the ladder taking you upward. You can choose not to participate as a voter and activist, but anyone in the political food chain who wants to rise cannot. This is one of the immovable, unsolvable, implacable truths that create the catch-22 of American politics.

Anyone who wants to change the system can’t get access to power without using the system and by the time they rise within the system they’ve lost credibility with the voters who put them in office to fight the system. Once in the political stream that gives you access to the power as a politician, the corporations who run the world also control the political apparatus you need to get anything done. Thus instead of Barack Obama changing Washington it changed him, as it will anyone governing in the era of international globalization. It gets to the question of whether a person is strong enough to also exact their own pound of economic flesh so that the stacked deck for the wealthy against the middle class at some points starts evening out.

So we don’t talk about neoliberalism when it comes to Democrats, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, and a scorching investigation of Doug Band won’t change that fact, or that Hillary being married to Bill doesn’t tell us anything definitive about what she’d do if she ran for president and won.

John Dickerson at Slate via CBS News: Hillary Clinton: The long game.

Hillary Clinton, in her first interview after leaving the State Department, offered a wise metaphor about the current state of presidential election madness. “This election is more than three years away, and I just don’t think it’s good for the country,” she told New York magazine, referring to the fevered speculation about her possible candidacy. “It’s like when you meet somebody at a party and they look over your shoulder to see who else is there, and you want to talk to them about something that’s really important; in fact, maybe you came to the party to talk to that particular person, and they just want to know what’s next,” she says. “I feel like that’s our political process right now. I just don’t think it is good.”

Clinton knows what it’s like to be on both ends of that exchange. She was a political spouse; the shortsighted looked over her shoulder for many years, seeing her as merely an adjunct to her accomplished husband. Now, she is the person who draws every eye in the room–away from even her husband. (When someone says “Clinton”, it may not be long before a majority of people think of the former secretary of state and not the former president).

Read more at the link.

And finally articles on two important members of the Clinton orbit:

NY Daily News: Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016, friends say — and Huma Abedin will have tough choice

WaPo: McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli in Virginia governor’s race

Soooooo . . . what’s your take on Hillary’s chances? How can we handle the CDS and the rampant misogyny we know she’ll face? 

Of course this is an open thread, so feel free to post your links on any topic in the comments. I promise to click on every one!