Casablanca quotes resonate in real life

One of my favorite movies is “Casablanca” and, from its ranking on the list of greatest movies, I am not alone in my admiration. A love triangle is set in the context of the outset of World War II after Germany took possession of France. But, it is also filled with an interesting plot and characters played by marvelous actors who say some wonderfully written lines primarily written by Julius and Philip Epstein.

In another list of the 100 greatest movie quotes, lines from “Casablanca” appears six times. These and other lines from the movie still resonate today as a reflection of our times. Here are a few from memory, so I will likely misquote them.

We will always have Paris – Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says this a couple of times to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) as a reminder of their relationship where they met. To me, this reminds us of our own special places that mean so much, whether it is a love interest or a special time in our lives.

Louie, I think this is the beginning of beautiful friendship – A key subplot is the relationship between Rick and Captain Louie Renault (Claude Rains), which is friendly, but with some distance. When they come together at the end to go fight the Germans, it lifts your spirits to see the two walk off together with a mission and true bond of kinship.

I am shocked, shocked there is gambling going on here – Captain Renault is asked to close Rick’s (a bar) at the behest of Nazi Major Heinrich Strasser (Conradt Veight) and used gambling as the reason, even though it is routine. The line is followed by the pit boss handing him his winnings. This reminds me of politicians, who know or allow a problem to occur, and then act shocked when the problem does occur.

Human life is cheap – This evil line is uttered by Major Strasser and gives me chills. People traveled to Casablanca to get transport to America, but must wait to bribe or pay heavily for papers to get out. This reminds me of the refugees who are being exploited by opportunist to sell them unsafe passage to Europe. Whether they get there is irrelevant.

Round up the usual suspects – This is a key line in the movie that is used often. Captain Renault uses it several times to convey that he is doing something about a crime, but actually is doing nothing. It is also how the writers figured out the ending, which they were struggling with. I find this line is also indicative of politicians who are good at pretending to do something, when they are actually doing nothing. Over 50 repeal votes of Obamacare is too easy an example.

Here’s looking at you kid – Rick, who is older than Ilsa, uses this line to show great affection, usually touching her chin lightly to look into her eyes. It plays an important part in Rick’s journey back. It reminds me of lines we use with each other that mean more than the words themselves. In the movie “Ghost” the line “Ditto” had huge meaning in the plot, e.g.

Play it for me Sam. Play “As Time Goes By” – I probably misquoted this misquoted line from Ilsa, which usually is seen as “play it again Sam.” Sam (Dooley Wilson), who has a velvet voice sings this melancholic song which lilts often through the movie. Like Paris, it reminds the two lovers of better times, as Sam who has always accompanied Rick when he sets up a bar, would play it for the two of them. We each have milestone songs that take us back in time. This may be music’s greatest gift.

Play it. Play La Marseillaise – To me, this is the most powerful moment in the movie. You see first hand the leadership and bravery of Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) as he asks the band to play the French national anthem to drown out the Nazi bar singers. In an interview, the Jewish writers said it gave them chill bumps as they wrote it. Leaders like this are few and far between and are much needed, as their quiet fortitude speaks louder than any bombastic chest beater.

Welcome back to the fight – This line is uttered by Victor to Rick as they say goodbye. It is a major moment of recognition of the noble efforts of Rick that are not unnoticed by one who does them all of the time. Today, we need more folks who are willing to speak their mind against tyranny, bigotry, disenfranchisement and hatred.

I realize I left off several key lines for space reasons. I also recognize I left off the contributions of Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet who added so much color to the movie. Let me know what you think and please share your favorites. As time goes by….

 

 

 

 

“Get your money upfront”

Let me set aside the reason the man who uttered the phrase “get your money upfront,” was being asked his opinion. He was describing dealing as an independent contractor with the various companies under one owner using a common way of saying don’t trust them, get paid before you start. He prefaced his comments with “the word on the street,” to define it is not just him who is having these issues.

If you heard this about anyone, your first reaction, would be to hit the pause button. It could be due to bullying contractors to pay them less or it could be due to companies having cash flow issues. There are two sure-fire ways to see if a company is in trouble. The first red flag is they extend their Accounts Payables from 30 days payment to 45 days or more, e.g. The second bigger one is when they stop paying people altogether, be it contractors or employees. They invent reasons to delay or not pay, begging for a lawsuit, to be forced to pay.

Per a USA Today article on June 1, 2016 (see link below), the owner of these companies has had over 3,500 lawsuits and settled at least 100 of them. Usually, when a settlement occurs, there is no admission of guilt or innocence, but it is my experience companies settle when they have a lesser case. The cases range from stiffing contractors, employees, buyers and co-investors, suing to force the eviction of people from their homes under various local clauses of eminent domain and aggressive or fraudulent misrepresentation.

The sad part is many of the folks who sued this owner went out of business or lost significant portions of their wealth. Another sad part is those who could not afford to sue or would get overwhelmed by the owner’s high-priced lawyers, just went away without getting paid or accepted being defrauded and bullied. It easier for the owner to pay $5,000 in legal fees to make a larger Accounts Payable problem go away.

As we speak, one of those lawsuits is not paying a painter contractor $250,000. The reason is the owner did not like the work. I understand that is a fair claim, but a project that large should have had some milestone payments and checkpoints on quality measures and progress. Again, it gets back to the above statement, “the word on the street is get your money upfront.”  But, these failure to pay claims do not even speak to the fraudulent or legal wording lawsuits where the owner takes advantage of unwitting buyers, which are a subject in their own right.

The man who uttered this statement was giving a two-part reason of why, as a Republican voter, he will not be voting for Donald Trump. It is far more than his first reason that Trump is an abhorrent candidate based on his comments and positions. It is also due to this man’s dealings with Trump’s companies. He is not alone and it continues to this day. And, it will continue after the election.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/01/donald-trump-lawsuits-legal-battles/84995854/

Help me understand why I should now vote for you?


As Donald Trump sinks further in the polls, he has suddenly discovered that maybe he should reach out to African-American and Latin-American voters. This is after a consistent campaign to demean the civil and economic rights of these same folks. Plus, he is building off years of his Republican Party’s efforts to do the same.

So, help me understand the following:

– why would any working class people rush to support Trump after he has said people are overpaid and does not support a federal minimum wage, much less an increased one?

– why would African-Americans support a man and party that added voter suppression laws in several states after the Supreme Court said some features of the 1965 Voters a Rights Act were no longer needed, four of which were just overturned as unconstitutional?

– why would Latin-American voters support a man and party who do not favor pathways to citizenship for relatives of American citizens who have been here working and paying taxes?

– why should African-Americans support a man or party who feel that Black Lives Matter do not have valid arguments and try to discredit and diffuse their concerns?

– why should working class people support a man and party that has done everything they can to water down Obamacare and would do away with it hanging over 20 million out to dry?

– why should working class people support a man and party that believe giving more money to rich people will trickle down and create jobs and has shown reluctance to fund significant investments in job growth?

– why should people vote for a man who the National Association of Business Economists say former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would handle the economy better by a 4 to 1 margin and actually place him in 3rd out of four candidates?

Truth be told, President Obama has overseen the creation of 11 million net new jobs, the 4th longest economic growth period in our history, and a more than doubled stock market. It would have been amazing to see the results if the Republican led Congress would have collaborated with him.

A few pertinent quotes on climate change

In the book, “When Climate Change Hits Home,” by Diogo Castro Freire, the impact of climate change on all of us is defined. It ranges from preparing for less ski business in Aspen to lifting houses by two feet in Norfolk to holding back the sea water in Miami as it seeps through the porous limestone to depleted fishing in New England waters to more severe forest fires and droughts.

A few quotes will help speak to the lessening number of doubters that still remain as well as show the severity.

Per the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), 195 countries approved this summary position in November, 2014 in Paris:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen….Anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas emissions….are extremely likely (95% probability) to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell said at a speech at Center for Global Energy Policy in September, 2014:

“Meeting energy demand is a massive challenge. But, so too is the need to tackle the real and growing threat that climate change poses.”

Ken Cohen, VP of Public and Government Affairs, ExxonMobil wrote in “ExxonMobil Perspectives” in May, 2015:

“ExxonMobil takes global climate change seriously and the risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions warrant thoughtful action.”

Katharine Hayhoe, a renowned climatologist working at Texas Tech University said at a conference in DC in the summer, 2015:

“Seven billion people now live on the planet and two-thirds of the world’s largest cities are within two feet of sea level.”

The World Health Organization estimates in 2015:

“There are at least 150,000 annual deaths worldwide that can be attributed to climate change, but most people fail to see the connection.” 

Not included in the book, which is a quick read given the subject, are three meaningful quotes from our leading US Presidential candidates

Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a speech at the League of Conservation Voters in December, 2014,

“The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say. Sea levels are rising; ice caps are melting; storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc. … If we act decisively now we can still head off the most catastrophic consequences.”

Real Estate Developer Donald Trump has referred to climate change or global warming as a hoax on several occasions. Here are just two:

In a tweet on November 6, 2012, Trump wrote “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

On December 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

It should be noted per Politifacts that Trump has backed off, then doubled and tripled down on the hoax issue quite often depending on who is talking with. But, when it comes to money, Trump’s golf development in Ireland petitioned the Irish government in writing for permission to build a sea wall to hold back the rising sea levels due to climate change.

I have purposefully ended with these quotes from the two leading Presidential candidates. In addition to all of the reasons that make Trump a dangerous candidate, what is not talked about enough is we can ill-afford a President who does not see climate change and its man-made influence as a serious matter and who will take further steps to ameliorate its impact.

And, it is not just Trump. Sixteen of seventeen GOP Presidential candidates would not support climate change as a major issue that we need to address. Two Republican governors, Rick Scott of Florida and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, told staffers to not use the words climate change or global warming in public speeches or papers. George W. Bush had his White House Council on the Environment alter any papers that crossed his desk to delete references to climate change or global warming.

In this case, party matters. There are four candidates running for President, but only one who does not recognize climate change for the problem it is – Donald Trump. Let me close with a key reason why I left the Republican Party in 2006 – if they cannot recognize one of the greatest issues facing our planet, then why should I trust them with any other issue. And, that was ten years ago.

 

A few lines from westerns

A week ago, I was sharing in a comment the movie line, “Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges.” This line appeared in two different western movies, “The Treasures of the Sierra Madre” and again in the western comedy “Blazing Saddles.”

The cowboy western genre of movies has been around since cinema began. Many of our movie heroes like Roy Rogers, Alan Ladd, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Clint Eastwood began and excelled in this genre. And, like the above quote, this genre includes some of the best movie lines.

So, sit back and remember with me some great lines.

– Responding to a bounty hunter in “The Outlaw Josey Wales” who said about bounty hunting “It’s a living,” Clint Eastwood’s Wales said, “Dying ain’t much of a living, boy.”

– After Robert Redford said to Paul Newman, “I can’t swim,” in  “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Newman laughed and replied, “The fall will probably kill you.”

– Later in the same movie Strother Martin would say to Newman and Redford on the way down the mountain to get the payroll as they looked for bandits, “Morons. They ain’t going to rob us going down the mountain; we don’t have any money.”

– In “The Man who shot Liberty Valance,” the classic line was uttered by the newspaper editor who had just heard the true story. Tearing up the notes, he said. “This is the west. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

– John Wayne uttered many great lines in his movies. One of his standby lines which appeared in the movie “Big Jake” is when he wanted to emphasize a point, “Not hardly.”

– In the movie “True Grit,” a reason for its success was Wayne called Kim Darby his young co-star, “Baby Sister” throughout showing an affection for her true grit.

– While Clint Eastwood made a nice living in movie westerns, he had an economy of words. Starting with his characters in the series of westerns filmed in Italy called Spaghetti Westerns, there were some movies where he probably uttered fewer than 100 words. The famous scene of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” went minutes without a single word.

– Of course, one of the most imitated lines of this genre occurs as Alan Ladd rides off after saving the day as the boy who idolized him yells “Shane. Come back, Shane.”  Later, in “Pale Rider” a tribute movie to “Shane” starring the effectively quiet Eastwood, the smitten young girl, would shout “Preacher. Come back.”

There are so many I have left off. Please share with me your favorites.

Allow me to be politically incorrect

The Republican Party and its Presidential candidate have a mission to strip away political correctness. In his phone messages, Ben Carson would say it is the biggest problem we have in America. Really?

With the freedom afforded me of removing the air cover of political correctness, let me ask a few direct questions.

– Why is it the candidate who says don’t believe the non-partisan fact checkers is the one who has lied more than any other candidate since the measurements began?

– Why is it the candidate who says if he loses it will only be due to voter fraud and a rigged system represents a party whose state leaderships had four Voter ID laws ruled unconstitutional just this month and as well as several gerrymandering cases on the past year?

– Why is it the man who calls his opponent “crooked” has been involved in multiple thousands of lawsuits when he has stiffed contractors, employees and investors, tried to evict people from their homes or made alleged misrepresentations as he did with Trump University?

– Why have we had eight Congressional committees on Benghazi and not one on invading Iraq to find WMDs? The just completed  UK study on the Iraq invasion  found fault with Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

– Why does Trump talk about “extreme, extreme vetting” when it is being reported by the AP that his campaign manager and now Chair, Paul Manafort, may have helped Russia buy influence in the 2012 election through masked funding of a lobbyist and by NBC News that he had involvement with several nefarious pro-Russian investors and people in the Ukraine?

– Why does Trump talk about taking Iraq’s oil when that would be a crime and make us out to be a pariah? Or, waterboarding, which the CIA says was ineffective and won’t do again after the Bush administration hung them out to dry?

-Why are members of Congress who are funded by the fossil fuel industry wanting to see the in-progress results of New York State’s Attorney General investigation into ExxonMobil for their alleged misrepresentation to shareholders and investors about the impact of climate change on its business?

– Why is it the GOP members of a Congress and 19 states have tried to strangle Obamacare through over 50 repeal votes, defunding the risk corridors for insurers to help with initial adverse selection, not expanding Medicaid in 19 states and naysaying it to constituents? It is working pretty well, but needs improvements in particular the risk corridor payments to insurers like Aetna and BCBS.

-Why did former Speaker John Boehner say jobs were mission one in January, 2015, then not pass any jobs bills that year, with the exception of the Keystone Pipeline bill which accounted for 40,000 temporary jobs?

-Why is it reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie help settle a back taxes case against a Donald Trump casino for only $5 million when Trump owed $30 million for several years, as reported by the New York Times and others? Now, tell us which system is rigged?

I could go on, but these are questions worth asking. And, hearing the answers.

Governor McCrory may want to consider Flint

A few months ago, the state of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality said the water was safe to drink near a coal ash site, only one year after saying it was not. I think many of us were puzzled by this reversal and I am sure that affected residents were in some disbelief.

Apparently, they would have been wise to not believe this reversal per the testimony of Ken Rudo, a state toxicologist. In his testimony, he chastised the leadership of the Department for its reversal saying they were endangering the public and made criticisms of the governor for at least being aware of the change in position.

Last week, the state epidemiologist, Megan Davies, resigned due to the Governor McCrory administration’s “false narrative.” The McCrory administration said Rudo lied under oath and both the state health director and assistant secretary in the Department of Environmental Quality fired off a public statement saying “Rudo’s unprofessional approach…does a disservice to public health and environmental protections in North Carolina.”

Really? I am having a hard time reconciling how being precautious does a disservice to public health. We only need to look north to Flint, Michigan and see what happens when state officials mask the risk of toxic water to a population. Nine current and former state of Michigan officials have been now been criminally charged because of hiding a problem which caused lead poisoning in a number of children and adults. As of yesterday, the problem is still being remedied with an increase in non-lead exposed homes from a low of 9% last fall to 45% as announced by Virginia Tech who is monitoring the progress.

Let’s break this issue in North Carolina down further. A toxicologist testifies under oath to inform the court that people living near the coal ash sites have remained at risk to dangerous toxins in their water. If he is lying, he will go to jail for perjury. His boss, an epidemiologist, resigns in support of the toxicologist’s claims. She left her job at a personal financial cost to protest the misrepresentation to the public. And, we are supposed to ignore these scientists and believe the governor’s administration? It should be noted the governor used to work for and remains a friend of the company whose coal ash is causing the issues.

So, my recommendation would be to believe the scientists who have risked so much to tell the story that the public may have been lied to about the safety of their drinking water. I would also recommend the governor’s administration take this seriously and revisit the issue. Because if they don’t and it turns out that Rudo and Davies are indeed correct, some folks in the McCrory administration may be censured, fired or worse. And, that might include the man running to keep his office, whether he wins or not.

For more on the story prior to Davies’ resignation, please refer to the attached link to a PBS Newshour report.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/state-health-director-may-covered-toxic-water-north-carolina/