Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Casablanca and La Marseillaise

Today marks the 221st anniversary of the French National Anthem La Marseillaise. Written in 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, it is a stirring anthem easily recognizable by most.

One of the striking elements about La Marseillaise is the lyrics. It is most definitely a fight song in every sense. Just take a gander at the opening verse translated to English:

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

Well, that's certainly getting to the point! Kinda makes "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air" seem a bit tame...

The anthem and its meaning are central to a famous scene in the 1942 classic movie Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart. In one of the most poignant scenes in cinematic history, a table of German officers, who have control of the city over the French, are singing Die Wacht am Rhein, (The watch on the Rhine) which is a patriotic German anthem.

Here it is in case you want to sing along in English:

And of course, here's La Marseillaise with English translation:

For those who haven't seen the film (What!?!?!), it is about Nazi occupied Casablanca which at the time was a French colony. Bogart's character, Rick Blaine is an American who fled Paris prior to the Nazi occupation looking to avoid the war which has obviously followed him to Casablanca. In Casablanca, Blaine opens a cafe where he runs a club with an illegal casino and has enough connections and influence to keep himself out of the politics of the day. For a while anyway...

In Rick's Cafe are several French expatriates* including the character Victor Lazlo played by the very underrated excellent actor Paul Henreid. 

Paul Henreid

As the Nazis are singing their anthem, Victor Lazlo goes over to Rick's house band and asks them to play La Marseillaise. The band leader, clearly not sure the the idea of starting up a counter anthem to sing over the jolly Nazis (who really are kinda half-heartedly singing away) is a good idea, looks over at Rick for his approval.

Rick, who has been trying to maintain neutrality, nods and gives the band leader the go ahead, and what results is one of the most powerful scenes ever filmed. Keep in mind that this film was shot at the beginning of World War II.


If that doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will!

*It is notable that several of the characters in the scene were actually French refugees which adds to the emotion that you see in the scene. 

The film's opening monologue is epic too:
With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up – Paris to Marseilles… across the Mediterranean to Oran… then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca… and wait… and wait… and wait.

Great links:

12 Reasons Why Casablanca is the Greatest Film of All Time

Of course, IMDB simply the best source ever for movie info

An excellent synopsis of the film from SparkNotes.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

Charles Barkley Speaks The Truth

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once again nails it with his take on the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict reached in the trial for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Too many people have taken this way too far, including the mainstream media and certain so-called community leaders such as noted race baiters Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Speaking on CNBC's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo, Barkley made some astute observations about the verdict and racism in general.

Barkley is a breath of fresh air and a voice of reason when it comes to these sensitive topics.
Who could have predicted that he would be such?
If you saw Barkley play especially early on his his career with the Phildelphia 76er's, you would never have!

Here is a transcript of that portion of the interview:

Bartiromo: Any thoughts on the George Zimmerman verdict.

Barkley: Well. I agree with the verdict. I'm sorry that young kid got killed. But they didn't have enough evidence to charge him. Something clearly went wrong that night. Clearly something went wrong. And I feel bad for anyone losing a kid. But if you looked at the case and you don't make it – there was some racial profiling, no question about it. But something happened that changed the dynamic of that night. And I know -- that's probably not a popular opinion among most people. But just looking at the evidence I agree with the verdict. I just feel bad because I don't like when race gets out in the media cause I don't think media has a pure heart, as I call it. There are very few people have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any, shape, form. There are a lot of black people that are racist too. I think sometimes when people talk about racism, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don't like when it gets out there in the media because I don't think the media has clean hands.

Bartiromo: I think you are right I am glad you made that point.

Barkley: Yeah I don't think the media has clean hands. And like I said I'm sorry that young kid got killed but just judging by the evidence, I don't think that guy should have went to jail the rest of his life. But something happened bad that night obviously.

Bartiromo: Yeah. I like what one of the jurors said, they both should have walked away. And if there is a shadow of a doubt, there is a shadow of a doubt.

Barkley: And let me tell you Mr. Zimmerman was wrong too -- he was racial profiling.

Bartiromo: Absolutely.

Barkley: But I think Trayvon Martin, God rest his soul, I think he did flip the switch and start beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation. Like I said the main thing, I feel bad for, it gives every white person and black person who is racist a platform to vent their ignorance. You know that's the thing that bothered me the most because I watched this trial closely. And I watch these all people on television talking about it. A lot of these people have a hidden agenda. You know they want to have their racist views, whether they are white or black

Bartiromo: The bias comes out.

Barkley: It definitely comes out. It was a bad situation. We all lost. And I feel bad for his parents. You don't ever want to see anybody lose a kid.

Bartiromo: Charles, you make so many great points. So nice to have you on the program.

Barkley: Thank you for having me on the program.

Bartiromo: Thank you. Do you remember when you were here before and we played golf?

Barkley: well, I played golf. You did something. You made me look like Tiger Woods.

Charles is the man and he is 100% correct that there can be no serious discussion about race without removing the race card. As he astutely points out, there are a lot of black and white racists. We cannot have an honest discussion about race in this country with the polarization that has been created by race baiters like Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Virtually all of our major cities are a disaster. Cities like Chicago are dangerous with murders being committed so often that it is unusual when a day goes by that there isn't one. Forget who is committing the crimes and focus on why it is happening. In the case of inner city crime, it always comes down to one factor: hopelessness. Until that is addressed, this problem will not go away.

Unemployment, under educated, single parents or little parental supervision are all the ingredients for this disastrous recipe President Lydon Johnson called The Great Society that has failed miserably.

This country has spent countless billions of dollars trying to eradicate poverty and the effect has been exactly the opposite. The more money we throw at these problems without addressing employment, education and families, we will continue to keep getting the same results.

So called leaders like Jackson and Sharpton are the problem and not part of the solution in any way shape or form. When kids grow up without any supervision or structure in their lives, they will have no morals and therefore no compassion which makes it easy to kill someone for whatever reason.

This holds true for anyone's race, it's not a black issue. If we continue to allow generation after generation of kids who grow up with little or no parental supervision, a poor, broken and corrupt education system that does them no favors, and little or no hope for meaningful employment, we are raising generations of killers who kill to survive and take what they want without any remorse.

Why is this a surprise? Because we have been lying to ourselves for the past 50+ years and ignoring the truth while Jackson and Sharpton run around blaming white people and society for these problems.

They are half right. It's not a white issue, but it sure as hell is a societal issue.

Until we can have an honest discussion that we as a nation have failed in this regard, we will not resolve these problems.

Now that Detroit has failed, will it be enough for us to take an honest look at the root of the problems?

It will take more people like Charles Barkley to tell the truth. Unfortunately, at this time. it seems there aren't enough.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick Lies Remembered

Mary Jo Kopechne
Today, July 18 2013, marks the 44th anniversary of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in a car driven off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, MA by Senator Ted Kennedy in 1969. A week later, after Kennedy was able to get the full power of his family in action, Senator Kennedy issued a public statement on national television. What follows is the video and the transcript (with my translation of his speech).

The more you read about this incident and the subsequent coverup, you can plainly see that Kennedy literally got away with murder on that night.

If there is any question in your mind that Kennedy wasn't responsible, that it was just an accident and that Kennedy tried his best to rescue Ms. Kopechne, consider the testimony of the diver who recovered Ms. Kopechne's body:
"It looked as if she were holding herself up to get a last breath of air. It was a consciously assumed position. ... She didn't drown. She died of suffocation in her own air void. It took her at least three or four hours to die. I could have had her out of that car twenty-five minutes after I got the call. But he [Ted Kennedy] didn't call."
- testimony of diver John Farrar, Inquest into the Death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Edgartown District Court. New York: EVR Productions, 1970.
It took her at least three or four hours to die

Kennedy did not report the incident to the police until the next day after he had contacted his lawyer.

My fellow citizens:

I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening. This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been improper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me.

Translation: Now that I’ve lawyered up and my family’s political machine has been engaged, I am here to take the first steps to cover up this mess I’ve created and save my political career which is far more important than the life of some low level staffer.

On the weekend of July 18th, I was on Martha's Vineyard Island participating with my nephew, Joe Kennedy -- as for thirty years my family has participated -- in the annual Edgartown Sailing Regatta. Only reasons of health prevented my wife from accompanying me.

Translation: It was a typical Kennedy outing where I and my equally misogynistic nephew could continue on the Kennedy tradition of getting wasted and having an array of young women at our disposal. Wives are never allowed to attend these hedonistic events.

On Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha's Vineyard, I attended, on Friday evening, July 18th, a cook-out I had encouraged and helped sponsor for a devoted group of Kennedy campaign secretaries. When I left the party, around 11:15pm, I was accompanied by one of these girls, Miss Mary Jo Kopechne. Mary Jo was one of the most devoted members of the staff of Senator Robert Kennedy. She worked for him for four years and was broken up over his death. For this reason, and because she was such a gentle, kind, and idealistic person, all of us tried to help her feel that she still had a home with the Kennedy family.

There is no truth, no truth whatever, to the widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct that have been leveled at my behavior and hers regarding that evening. There has never been a private relationship between us of any kind. I know of nothing in Mary Jo's conduct on that or any other occasion -- and the same is true of the other girls at that party -- that would lend any substance to such ugly speculation about their character. Nor was I driving under the influence of liquor.

Translation: Everything you've heard is true. I was looking to get some and I was trashed beyond belief.

Little over one mile away, the car that I was driving on an unlit road went off a narrow bridge which had no guard rails and was built on a left angle to the road. The car overturned in a deep pond and immediately filled with water. I remember thinking as the cold water rushed in around my head that I was for certain drowning. Then water entered my lungs and I actual felt the sensation of drowning. But somehow I struggled to the surface alive.

I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo by diving into the strong and murky current, but succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm. My conduct and conversations during the next several hours, to the extent that I can remember them, make no sense to me at all.

Translation: As I am doing now before you, I did everything in my power to save my ass. Anything that anyone says about what I said or did afterwards that shows what a cowardly drunken scumbag I really am are all lies.

Although my doctors informed me that I suffered a cerebral concussion, as well as shock, I do not seek to escape responsibility for my actions by placing the blame either on the physical and emotional trauma brought on by the accident, or on anyone else.
I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately.

Translation: I had to wait until my family could come up with a suitable cover up to save not only my political career, but my family’s once again tarnished reputation. Only this one was a doozy because someone died so we really had to circle the wagons and call in a ton a favors.

Instead of looking directly for a telephone after lying exhausted in the grass for an undetermined time, I walked back to the cottage where the party was being held and requested the help of two friends, my cousin, Joseph Gargan and Phil Markham, and directed them to return immediately to the scene with me -- this was sometime after midnight -- in order to undertake a new effort to dive down and locate Miss Kopechne. Their strenuous efforts, undertaken at some risk to their own lives, also proved futile.

Translation: After passing out from saving my ass and being so drunk, I woke up and realized that I was in deep trouble. I needed to get someone to help me to whitewash what happened.

All kinds of scrambled thoughts -- all of them confused, some of them irrational, many of them which I cannot recall, and some of which I would not have seriously entertained under normal circumstances -- went through my mind during this period. They were reflected in the various inexplicable, inconsistent, and inconclusive things I said and did, including such questions as whether the girl might still be alive somewhere out of that immediate area, whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys, whether there was some justifiable reason for me to doubt what had happened and to delay my report, whether somehow the awful weight of this incredible incident might in some way pass from my shoulders. I was overcome, I'm frank to say, by a jumble of emotions: grief, fear, doubt, exhaustion, panic, confusion, and shock.

Translation: Let me play on your sympathies about the murder of my brothers and hope that you are gullible enough to swallow the pack of lies that have been carefully crafted by many lawyers, political advisers and cover up experts, all once again specifically designed to save my political career.

Instructing Gargan and Markham not to alarm Mary Jo's friends that night, I had them take me to the ferry crossing. The ferry having shut down for the night, I suddenly jumped into the water and impulsively swam across, nearly drowning once again in the effort, and returned to my hotel about 2:00am -- and collapsed in my room. I remember going out at one point and saying something to the room clerk.

Translation: I knew enough not to call the cops because they would have immediately arrested me for suspicion of drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and probably manslaughter. We needed to get my family’s vast political connections in gear first before the law had an opportunity to investigate the scene.

In the morning, with my mind somewhat more lucid, I made an effort to call a family legal advisor, Burke Marshall, from a public telephone on the Chappaquiddick side of the ferry and then belatedly reported the accident to the Martha['s] Vineyard police.

Translation: Because I am totally incapable of stringing two coherent thoughts together in one sentence and I cannot speak without anyone writing a speech for me, as I am doing now, I was at least smart enough to lawyer up first and carefully follow his explicit instructions on how to wriggle out of this mess following another time honored Kennedy family tradition.

Today, as I mentioned, I felt morally obligated to plead guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. No words on my part can possibly express the terrible pain and suffering I feel over this tragic incident. This last week has been an agonizing one for me and for the members of my family. And the grief we feel over the loss of a wonderful friend will remain with us the rest of our lives.

Translation: We knew that I had to cop to this as there was no way to cover up the timeline. But my feelings are far more important than the Kopechne family who have lost their daughter.

These events, the publicity, innuendo, and whispers which have surrounded them and my admission of guilt this morning raises the question in my mind of whether my standing among the people of my State has been so impaired that I should resign my seat in the United States Senate. If at any time the citizens of Massachusetts should lack confidence in their Senator's character, or his ability -- with or without justification -- he could not in my opinion adequately perform his duties and should not continue in office.

Translation: The people of Massachusetts have been dumb enough to elect me to the United States Senate based on my last name. Of all the Kennedys, I am the least competent and probably the worst of them which is quite an accomplishment considering what a scumbag my father is and was throughout his entire life. So let’s not let this little incident mar my presidential aspirations, after all, I am a Kennedy and have a right to the Oval Office.

The people of this State, the State which sent John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster, and Charles Sumner, and Henry Cabot Lodge, and John Kennedy to the United States Senate are entitled to representation in that body by men who inspire their utmost confidence. For this reason, I would understand full well why some might think it right for me to resign. For me, this will be a difficult decision to make.

Translation: I ain’t resigning.

It has been seven years since my first election to the Senate. You and I share many memories -- some of them have been glorious, some have been very sad. The opportunity to work with you and serve Massachusetts has made my life worthwhile.

Translation: Remember, I’m Jack Kennedy’s kid brother. You loved him, right?

And so I ask you tonight, the people of Massachusetts, to think this through with me. In facing this decision, I seek your advice and opinion. In making it, I seek your prayers -- for this is a decision that I will have finally to make on my own.

Translation: Once again, I ain’t gonna resign.

It has been written:

A man does what he must -- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles, and dangers, and pressures -- and that is the basis of all human morality...whatever may be the sacrifices he faces, if he follows his conscience -- the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow man -- each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of the past courage cannot supply courage itself. For this, each man must look into his own soul.I pray that I can have the courage to make the right decision. Whatever is decided, whatever the future holds for me, I hope that I shall have -- be able to put this most recent tragedy behind me and make some further contribution to our state and mankind -- whether it be in public or private life.

Thank you and good night.

Translation: I’ve read the carefully prepared statement crafted by my political machine which has no moral compass, nor has any other aspirations other than power and influence. After all, this is the way I was raised by my father, Joseph Kennedy who built his fortune by running illegal liquor during prohibition. There is nothing that will stop me as I am the last hope of the Kennedy political machine.

If you bothered to watch the video, you will note that Kennedy actually gets defiant when he talks about the whispers of marital infidelity that were rampant at the time. The speech was careful to mention that his wife was unable to attend the cookout due to her health. (Kennedy's wife Joan was going through a difficult pregnancy at the time and eventually miscarried.) So Ted, being the skirt chasing scumbag that he was, took advantage of the situation. Nice guy, eh?

If this was such a "family event", were any of the other Kennedy spouses and significant others in attendance? Apparently not, it was supposed to be a reunion for the so-called Boiler Room Girls who worked on Kennedy's brother Robert's campaign.

Kennedy showed pretty much no remorse and barely mentions Mary Jo and her family in his speech which ran nearly 12 minutes. It was all about saving political face and his path to the presidency which thankfully was derailed by this incident.
Kennedy claimed that he was driving himself and Kopechne to the ferry (which had stopped running at midnight) so they could return to where they were staying on Edgartown. They left the party at 11:15, plenty of time to reach the ferry, but that wasn't where they were going.

Interestingly, Kopechne left her purse and room key at the party...

She also did not tell any of the other Boiler Room Girls that were there for a reunion where she was going.

Kennedy also employed a chauffeur and by all accounts rarely drove himself.

When you read the accounts and stories along with testimony from not only the diver, but the police officers and witnesses and also consider there were a few houses within 150 yards of the accident scene with lights on, it's easy to see the massive coverup that took place. A coverup that only someone with great political influence, money and power could have.

Why bring this up?
Because this happened 44 years ago, and here we are today with coverups such as Benghazi to save the political hide of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama's reelection. 

It's all about keeping those in power in control at the expense of the country.
Not much has changed.
That's why.