“Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party”: Why the “progressives” put Dinesh in jail, but now “I’m free!”

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Name: Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Director, writer:  Dinesh D’Souza, Bruce Schooley
Released:  2016
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Common, 2016/9/7
Length 90
Rating NA
Companies: Pure Flix
Link: official

Dinesh D’Souza (along with co-director Bruce Schooley) makes his latest conservative missive “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” entertaining.  “Who are these Democrats?”

He starts off with a concert in Dallas, about to play an adaptation of the Star Spangled Banner. There is a concert pianist, thin and with specs, who looks intentionally made up to look like classical composer-pianist Timo Andres;  you have to look twice to make sure this is mistaken identity.  The performance returns to end the movie, and ends loudly. (Andres likes music pieces to end quietly, a point Dinesh is too sinful to notice.)   And in the epilogue, Dinesh tells his prison English class to vote Republican, and notes he won’t be allowed to vote anymore.

Then Dinesh entertains us by recreating his experience in jail, where he, literally, went “back to the bay”. This must have taken some doing to recreate for a movie;  it’s rather like Reid Ewing’s filming a little libertarian mockumentary “I’m Free” right in the Los Angeles County courthouse (in 2012) – except that Reid is three decades younger and better looking.   Already, Dinesh seems to be having fun with our mental images of much younger, popular and politically edgy male celebrities.

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Dinesh got sent to prison for violating a “Campaign Finance Reform” act, by giving too much money to a conservative candidate of his choice, apparently in other people’s names.  There was a time, in 2005, when conservative papers (like The Washington Times) noted that some political bloggers were running afoul of the Campaign Finance Law but it blew over legally (my account of this). Dinesh claims he drew the attention of the fibbies (but not John Grisham’s goons) due to the “success” of his earlier movie “Obama’s America”.

After this autobiographical intro, Dinesh layers his storytelling back to the 1820s, to trace (like for an essay question on an American history final exam) the evil history of the Democratic Party (some will call it “revisionist history”), starting with Andrew Jackson.  That president aggressively expropriated native American lands, leading eventually to the development of the reservation system (and today’s casinos).  I got familiar with this personally while living in Minnesota from 1997-2003.  This part of the film has many well-acted skits, with realistic 19th century settings set up in Tennessee for actual filming. The Republican party emerges to oppose slavery and to treat natives fairly.  In one scene, Davy Crocket (as from Walt Disney’s two films with Fess Parker) argues for natives in one scene (see Aug. 27 – my own recent trip to Cumberland Gap, although settler Daniel Boone is the relevant figure).   The film briefly covers the Civil War and Lincoln Assassination, Ted Turner style (like the 1995 movie “Gettysburg”)  It then goes into how the Democrats sabotaged Reconstruction, and supported the Ku Klux Klan, and the resulting lynchings (which this film re-enacts on camera).  All of this history could go into the late Gode Davis’s still not completed film “American Lynching” (my connection to it ).

Dinesh makes a certain jump in a fuzzy account of how the Democratic Party became “progressive” in the 20th Century.  Actually, he could have hit Woodrow Wilson even harder – as Wilson reinitiated sedition laws to jail those who even criticized the military draft.  The modern Democratic Party is thought to have emerged with FDR and the New Deal.   Dinesh points out that by then the idea of “progressivism” was coming to mean state management of everything.  Democrats actually accepted Mussolini-style fascism at first (bachelors were taxed), and some were enticed by communism and the forced expropriation of Bolshevism. Dinesh traces its reluctant but begrudging support of the Civil Rights movement, where LBJ accepted the Civil Rights Act in 1965 to guarantee the loyalty of the “Negro” vote.  LBJ was a racist under the covers, and often spoke contemptuously of “negros”.

But then the Democratic Party moved on to capture the Labor Movement, with the Daly political machine in Chicago becoming the most notorious prize.

Dinesh finally gets to the history of Hilly and Billy, claiming that they want to steal the whole country, with effectively a four-term presidency.  But this seems to be very little a film about Hillary Clinton.  The most effective part of Dinesh’s narrative is the opening (in jail) and his somewhat revisionist American history.

Dinesh does mention a few things Hillary wants to “give” ordinary working Americans without explaining how to pay for them, like mandatory paid family (or maybe just maternal) leave.

There was a fair audience last night at Regal Ballston Common in Arlington, and one older man actually applauded.

(Published: Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 1 PM)

 

 

“Daniel Boone and the Westward Movement”: metaphor for Donald Trump’s nationalism today?

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I made a quasi-pilgrimage to Cumberland Gap, repeating a visit from 1990 when I had just started a new job, this time partly to drive the new tunnel on US 25E.  On the Kentucky (north) side of the tunnel, the National Park Service has a visitors’ center, and plays a documentary film in a curious upstairs theater with rocking chairs.

The film is “Daniel Boone and the Westward Movement” (2000, directed by Gary L. Foreman, with music score (sound rather Copland-like) by Arkenstone.  I didn’t have time to watch it and bought the DVD (Native Sun Productions) expecting a feature.  It turns out to run just the 23 minutes.

The film starts with the history of explorer Thomas Walker, who first found and crossed the gap in 1750.  The gap can be traversed by climbing a minimum of 400 feet, which does raise the question as to the necessity of the tunnel (which does allow returning the passing to its original condition as a trail)   But in the 18th Century the Gap was perceived as the easiest passage to the west in the mid-Atlantic to mid-Southern regions.  Today, the Park Service maintains a visitor’s road to the Pinnacle, which, although “only” 2440 feet at the summit, is very steep to drive, and offers spectacular views of the gap over the tunnel, covering  Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia just to the East.

But Daniel Boone would eventually lead the settling of the land with passages from 1769 through 1782, during the time of the American Revolution.  Boone would lose two sons in fighting with the native populations, especially along “Warrior Path”.  He would convince his progeny of the agricultural richness of the land.

The progressive settlement of lands west of the Eastern Continental Divide, which Daniel Boone’s expeditions catalyzed, has become seen as a metaphor for all of American nationalism — from “manifest destiny” to the ideology of Donald Trump today. It seems like it was predicated on expropriation of lands from the native Americans.  Does this parallel the West Bank of Israel today?

NBC sponsored a TV series “Daniel Boone” with Disney star Fess Parker in 1964.

(Published: Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, 9:15 PM EDT)