Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.
Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:
HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...
Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.
Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.
But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.
Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.
Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…
Ending three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.
The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.
I guess you could say hell froze over?
Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.
“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”
The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?
Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek
More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”
“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”
That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.
For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:
Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups. This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.
“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson. ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”
He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.
Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is. Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.
You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.
I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here: Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in English
And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.
Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”
But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:
It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.
So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.
Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy? I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:
‘Ndrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud
Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.
According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.
As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com
“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.
On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.
What made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.
More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say
The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious
Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.
Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”
I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…
The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.
One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com
Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”
He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”
Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.
The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”
According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”
While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.
One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.
While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse
It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.
The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.
Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.
That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials. (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)
In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…
If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.
And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?
Have you seen this? It seems that Wisner, the envoy Obama sent to Egypt to speak to Mubarak, has been…cough…let go. BBC News – Egypt unrest: US disowns envoy comment on Hosni Mubarak
Mr Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, was sent by President Obama to Cairo on Monday, apparently to urge Mr Mubarak to announce his departure.
“We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes,” he told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“I believe that President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical – it’s his chance to write his own legacy.
“He has given 60 years of his life to the service of his country, this is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward.”
But in Washington, state department spokesman PJ Crowley said: “We have great respect for Frank Wisner and we were deeply appreciative of his willingness to travel to Egypt last week.”
“He has not continued in any official capacity following the trip. The views he expressed today are his own. He did not co-ordinate his comments with the US government.”
With all the praise that we heard about Wisner, it seems strange that he would make a statement about supporting Mubarak without the Administration knowing about it. Then the late coming announcement of Crowley, that Wisner has been fired. For most of the evening Saturday, I heard the US media talk about the effect this has had on the Egyptian protesters. The building of anti-American sentiment. I guess I am too tired to make anything more of it. I would like to hear what you all think about it.
The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power.
Okay, there is a lot going on and I thought I would post an update of sorts to the Wednesday Reads. There is a big storm on the way to the Northeast, the Olbermann has landed on his own FOK News Channel, and more…
One Democratic congressman says he was ready to hit the bottle after hearing the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday night.
This is for Dak: It is written by Ross Douthat. The Politics of Evasion at the State of the Union – NYTimes.com
If you were a visitor from Mars, watching tonight’s State of the Union address and Paul Ryan’s Republican response, you would have no reason to think that the looming insolvency of our entitlement system lies at the heart of the economic challenges facing the United States over the next two decades. From President Obama, we heard a reasonably eloquent case for center-left technocracy and industrial policy, punctuated by a few bipartisan flourishes, in which the entitlement issue felt like an afterthought: He took note of the problem, thanked his own fiscal commission for their work without endorsing any of their recommendations, made general, detail-free pledges to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent (but “without slashing benefits for future generations”), and then moved swiftly on to the case for tax reform. Tax reform is important, of course, and so are education and technological innovation and infrastructure and all the other issues that the president touched on in this speech. But it was still striking that in an address organized around the theme of American competitiveness, which ran to almost 7,000 words and lasted for an hour, the president spent almost as much time talking about solar power as he did about the roots of the nation’s fiscal crisis.
This bit about the US deficit:
The weak economy and fresh tax cuts approved last month will help drive the federal budget deficit to nearly $1.5 trillion this year, the biggest budget gap in history and one of the largest as a share of the economy since World War II, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.
Well, we all knew that he would be back:
Maybe you remember Keith Olbermann from the show Countdown, which ran for several years on cable news’ MSNBC? These days, of course, Olbermann’s perhaps best known as the “The Proprietor” of a new Twitter-based news organization called the “FOK News Channel. At least, he’s been billing himself that way since, well, yesterday.
Olbermann, boasting a loyal group of over 208,000 Twitter followers, is clearly showing every sign of leveraging his tweets.
The sidelined star added a second Twitter account ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, dubbing it “FOKNewsChannel” and quickly attracting more than 18,000 followers (or “Friends of Keith,” hence FOK). According to the account’s bio line, FOKNews can be described this way: “Smokestacks Belching News On Twitter Since January 2011.”
Ah, more proof on Obama’s continued MO, copy crap from someone else and add your own cliches as an added touch.
If I were President Obama’s English professor, I would take points off for not footnoting his sources. These are guys Obama most certainly reads regularly.
Oh, and it looks like Egypt is becoming more intense:
Sharpening the U.S. response to massive demonstrations in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that Egypt must adopt broad reforms and not crack down on the crowds demanding the end of the American-backed authoritarian government.
And here we go again, the weather channel is calling this a category 1 hurricane…with snow…is it another snowicane?
I know it is mostly links, and not much commentary, but I wanted to get this posted as quick as possible.
This is an open thread, have at it!
Yesterday was a trying day for many people…the reports of US Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords assassination attempt and the deaths of innocent people was very distressing. So I am just going to jump in with the latest on this horrible shooting.
“We are not convinced that [the gunman in custody] acted alone, there is some reason to believe he came to this location with another individual, and that individual is involved,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said.
Police said a suspect was taken into custody, and Dupnik described the alleged shooter as mentally unstable. Though the sheriff did not name the suspect, he was identified by multiple law enforcement sources as Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
Dupnik declined to provide more information on the second individual who he would only describe as “white” and “in his 50s.” Authorities have photographs of the person of interest and are “actively pursuing him,” the sheriff said.
There is so much information coming in on this shooting, that I am just going to post a list of links and a few selected quotes below.
From the New York Times: Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics
While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, seemed to capture the mood of the day at an evening news conference when he said it was time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.”
“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” Sheriff Dupnik said. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”
“It is fair to say — in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric — that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired,” said a statement issued by the leaders of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Ms. Giffords is the first Jewish woman elected to the House from her state.
On Crooks and Liars, there is this video: FOX News cuts away from ‘Giffords vigil’ when Sarah Palin’s name is mentioned.
Fox News started covering a vigil that was happening at the steps of the capitol in Arizona in honor of Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot earlier today. As soon as a young man mentioned Sarah Palin’s name, FOX News abruptly cut to commercial. It’s sickening. FOX News will do anything to protect the investment they have made in Sarah Palin, even at the expense of Rep. Giffords.
CNN’s Political Ticker: Giffords had history with Palin, Tea Party
The Hill’s Blog: House postpones healthcare vote after attack on Giffords
AP via Fox News: Sheriff: Suspicious package at Giffords HQ
Christina Taylor Greene, dead in a political drive-by shooting at the age of nine. Dear God, what has all this hate done to our country?
In a final heartbreaking irony, Christina was featured in a book called “Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11.”
This is a tragedy, the loss of this little girl is so upsetting. If you have children, whether they are adult children or young, mine are 12 and 13, to hear about something as sad as this is especially hard. We can’t help to think of this killing with respect to our own children. The thought of this happening to my own kids, I cannot even begin to imagine what Christina’s family is going through now.
More about Christina Taylor Greene is posted over at FDL, Jane Hamsher writes:
Officials have released the name of the 9 year-old girl killed in the shooting of Gabby Giffords and 18 others in Tucson today. Her name is Christina Taylor Green, and a neighbor had brought her along to the Safeway to meet Rep. Giffords because she thought she would enjoy it.
Christina has recently been elected to serve on her school’s student council, and was active in baseball and ballet. And according to the NBC DC affiliate and the Sydney Morning Herald, she was born on 9/11 and was included in the book “Faces of Hope, Babies Born on 9/11.”
I’ve tried to hold back from commenting much today on events, trying to figure out what went on and how the pieces fit together before drawing conclusions. But it is just incredibly tragic that a young girl whose birth was supposed to symbolize hope and rebirth for America in the wake of 9/11 met her demise as she was shot in the chest in the midst of an undeniable culture of violence that continues to hold us all in its grip.
I am sure we will be getting more information on this later on, be sure to check Sky Dancing Blog for further updates.
Because of the shooting yesterday, many might have missed this post by our own Boston Boomer. She has done some amazing detective work, fleshing out the criminal past of Darrell Issa (R-CA), the new Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
When Issa first ran for the House in 1998, the San Francisco Chronicle dug up some embarrassing information from his past. The paper revealed that Issa had either deliberately lied or greatly exaggerated his military record. [Link]
Please give this post a read…not surprisingly BB has more to come, it is very interesting and shocking and maddening.
Looks like the gears are turning in the Wikileaks Twitter Subpoenaes. From the Globe and Mail:
Mr. Assange said the U.S. move amounted to harassment, and he pledged to fight it.
“If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out,” he told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Legal experts have said one possible avenue for federal prosecutors would be to establish a conspiracy to steal classified information.
“They are trying to show that Pfc. Manning was more than a source of the information to a reporter and rather that Mr. Assange and Pfc. Manning were trying to jointly steal information from the U.S. government,” said Mark Rasch, a former prosecutor on computer crime and espionage cases in the Justice Department.
“How do they prosecute?” asked Mr. Rasch. “The answer is by establishing a unity of interest between Pfc. Manning and Mr. Assange. Make it a theft case and not just a journalist publishing information case.”
Mark Conner, from AFP and Reuters has this to say:
Icelandic politicians have blasted US demands for Twitter to hand over a member of parliament’s account details. Birgitta Jonsdottir faces investigation as one of several people connected to the website WikiLeaks.
Politicians in Iceland have hit out at a US request for Twitter to hand over details of a member of the country’s parliament because of her connections with WikiLeaks.
The subpoena obtained by the US Department of Justice in mid-December was made public on Friday after San Franciso-based Twitter won a legal battle requesting a right to inform the individuals involved. Among the information sought are online connection records, session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, emails and residential addresses as well as bank and credit card account details.
I really see this as a step towards getting Assange a lovely windowless room next door to Manning, who is being held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security military brig at Quantico, Va.
The south is having another deep freeze the next few days. I have heard forecast that warn there will be 10 inches of snow in Atlanta. That means up in banjo land, we are really in for it. I’ll post some pictures, I wonder if we will have enough snow for a snowman like one of these:
Minx’s Missing Link File: From Harper’s Magazine this past week, In Texas, 41 Exonerations from DNA Evidence in 9 Years, I believe that Dak mentioned something about this last week.
In a Dallas courtroom yesterday Cornelius Dupree, who had spent thirty years in prison on a conviction for rape, robbery, and abduction, was told that he had been exonerated. DNA evidence had shown unequivocally that he was not the man who had committed the crime in question. The judgment came too late for Dupree, who had already served his full sentence; the court was merely terminating his parole status.
To its credit, the Texas legislature, taking note of the 41 exonerations produced by modern evidence since 2001, passed an act to compensate those who had been wrongfully imprisoned. Dupree will be eligible to receive $80,000 for each year he was imprisoned, plus an annuity, with a tax-free cash value of about $2.4 million.
The string of exonerations in Dallas are possible because of the personal commitment of Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, who announced after he was elected in 2007 that he would take a serious look at DNA evidence in cases in which prosecutors had achieved convictions. Watkins’s decision has not been popular with prosecutors, but it’s a simple fact that even conscientious prosecutors make errors in the rush to secure convictions, particularly for heinous crimes. And many prosecutors are more interested in building a career than in doing justice. Watkins can stand as a model for prosecutors across the country, and particularly in the Department of Justice in Washington.
Let me repeat that bit one more time: 41 exonerations produced by modern evidence since 2001. This is bothersome to say the least, just imagine the number of those wrongly imprisoned that have been executed…Texas leads nation in the number of executions since death penalty was reinstated in 1976. For some more info on capital punishment in Texas, give this link a click.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link: This week TCM showed a fantastic movie staring Peter Sellers, called I’m All Right Jack. You may have missed it, but hopefully TCM will have it scheduled again soon. They have some clips about the film on their website. It is one of the few movies where Peter Sellers plays the “straight” man. By that I mean that he is not the one cracking the jokes.
I’m All Right Jack (1960)
Producer: Roy Boulting, Director: John Boulting, Screenplay: John Boulting, Alan Hackney, Frank Harvey, Cinematography: Mutz Greenbaum, Film Editing: Anthony Harvey, Art Direction: William C. Andrews, Music: Ken Hare, Cast: Ian Carmichael (Stanley Windrush), Terry-Thomas (Major Hitchcock), Peter Sellers (Fred Kite/Sir John Kennaway), Richard Attenborough (Sidney De Vere Cox), Dennis Price (Bertram Tracepurcel), Margaret Rutherford (Aunt Dolly).
Exploding like a case of shook-up canned champagne, the British satire I’m All Right Jack (1959) is what happens when you tamp down a nation’s populace with centuries of emotional repression and monarchal injustice, years of seriously homefront-sacrificial war, and a decade-plus of cheery subsequent postwar commercialization and Americanization. The movie is a geyser of social frustration, all assembled and executed with the brightest of classic comedy grins, disassembling first the fading aristocracy’s seizures of rage and lostness in the postwar culture, then the new union class’s second-hand-Marxist absurdities, and then the new breed of Yankee-ized, anything-for-profit business owner.
The film’s plot – based on a short story by Alan Hackney – hinges on the absolute and almost cosmic guileless stupidity of one Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael), a Candide-like scion of old-money gentry who simply thinks he might like to go “into business”; given his gormlessness, he is encouraged to “work his way up” to a management position, and so Stanley interviews for various working-class factory jobs and gets none, and eventually lands a job at his uncles’ munitions factory, running forklifts and such. Of course, the family see Stanley as their toehold and spy amid the unionized workers, but Stanley is oblivious, just as he is oblivious to everything else, including the principles of union labor and rules. On Stanley’s one hand, we have Peter Sellers as Mr. Kite, an uneducated laborer-turned-Marxist ideologue and shop steward, sporting a Hitler mustache and a glowering suspicion of every management move. On the other, we have Terry-Thomas as Major Hitchcock, the front-line manager who must try to manipulate the union to increase profits. Real trouble begins when the guileless Stanley shows off his new forklift prowess to an undercover “time and motion” manager, unintentionally quadrupling the job-efficiency requirements for the entire factory.
But why has it been more or less forgotten? In some ways, I’m All Right Jack may be too intensely British in social context – in short order, U.S. audiences became ignorant of the particulars of the postwar British industrial scene, which was for awhile one of the most heavily unionized in the world and which was effectively deunionized, disastrously, by the Thatcher administration in the 1980s. But therein lies another glitch in the movie’s arsenal: can a satire take aim at *both* labor unions and corporate ownership? What is I’m All Right Jack actually saying, except that the extremes in both directions are absurd? Is mocking Socialist cant and labor solidarity – which were employed, however ineffectively, for the purposes of treating workers fairly and humanely – the same as making sport of exploitative greed? How can you satirize two opposing ideals at the same time?[Link]
Well, the film does give both sides of the debate between unions and corporate big wigs. It is a laugh riot, and I would say a precursor to many films depicting the epic battle of the workers and corporate management. If you ever see it scheduled be sure to give it a look see…it is fantastic.
If your bookmarks or RSS feeds are acting a little strange, remember we have a new URL for the blog. You can read about that here.
So what is on your reading list today? Be sure to share lots of links, and always put your 2 cents about them in the comments.