Sunday, April 24, 2016

Response to The Two Hollywoods

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Two Hollywoods)

Two items today.

First, there's this one:
The Friends of Abe has acted as a clandestine club for Hollywood conservatives for more than a decade, hosting secret events where they could vent rightwing views and hear speeches from visiting Tea Party luminaries. 
But on Thursday the organization – which counts Jon Voight, Jerry Bruckheimer and Kelsey Grammer among its 1,500 members – made an abrupt announcement: it was dissolving.
I do find it interesting that this group is closing down, and I do wonder why -- although its executive director, Jeremy Boering, claims it's "because we have been successful in creating a community that extends far beyond our events, people just don’t feel as much of a need to show up for every speaker or bar night," although it might also be IRS trouble -- in 2014, Raw Story did a report "claiming that Friends of Abe 'had been gaming the system' by telling members it had 503(c)(3) status years before it did in order to solicit donations".

But I also find it curious that a group of famous conservatives would form an allegedly-conservative organization and name it after Abraham Lincoln, one of our most liberal presidents, at least by present-day definitions of the word.

Lincoln was a Republican, as Republicans keep reminding us -- obviously because, as everybody knows, Lincoln is universally recognized as one of our best presidents, if not the best president. In fact, take Lincoln away from the Republicans and we're hard-pressed to find too many other Republican presidents worthy of admiration. (Okay, well, maybe Teddy Roosevelt, but don't forget that he was an early adopter of progressivism, which today is just another word for liberalism.)

But how could any nowadays-conservative -- who supports suppressing the vote of minorities and doesn't support government spending on public improvements, and favors the sovereignty of states over the national government in all things -- possibly imagine himself going back in time to 1860 and voting for Abraham Lincoln? Could he ever see himself favoring the freeing of all those slaves, the building of all those railroads, much less engaging in a deadly war just to show the states who's boss?

Plainly put, the Republicans in Lincoln's time would be the Democrats of today, and vice versa.

Yeah, I know this "Friends of Abe" thing is small potatoes, but it's very existence should be taken note of as just another example of the conservative Intelligentsia not really thinking this stuff through.

Secondly, there's Kevin Drum, weighing in with this on how and why we all learned that Donald Trump has been putting on this big act all along:
First, I doubt that this recording was leaked. Rather, it was “leaked.” The Trump campaign wanted it to become public. Sure, it will inspire some mockery from liberals and campaign reporters, but that’s never done Trump any harm.
He may be right. After all, doesn't the "leak" actually do the campaign good, rather than harm?
More subtly, his current fans will also take it as a hint that his adult persona will be meant primarily not to con them, but to con centrist Republicans. With a wink and a nod, he’s telling them he’ll do what he has to do in order to appeal to the corrupt establishment folks, but not to take it too seriously.
The point being, he's telling them that he's fooling you, but you, of course, are in on the joke! Don't you understand, that it's really them who are being played for fools? It all depends, of course, on who is them, and also, of course, who is you!

Even though there's something to Drum's explanation, this once again reminds me of my favorite scene in the movie, "The Princess Bride", in which Westley, a.k.a. "The Man in Black", plays a deadly Russian-ruolette-type drinking game with Vizzini, the Sicilian bandit who has kidnapped the princess, Buttercup, in which Vizzini must guess which of two cups does not contain poison. "The Man in Black" offers a vial to Vizzini to smell the contents:
Vizzini: Sniffs vial.  "I smell nothing." Returns vial.  
Man In Black:  "What you do not smell is called Iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadly poisons known to man." 
Vizzini:  "Hmm." 
Man In Black: Turns away from Vizzini with the goblets, to pour the poison in. Goblets replaced on the table, one in front of each.  "All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right ... and who is dead." 
Vizzini:  "But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you:  are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."  
Man In Black:  "You've made your decision then?"  
Vizzini:  "Not remotely. Because Iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you."  
Man In Black:  "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect."  
Vizzini:  "WAIT TILL I GET GOING! Where was I?"  
Man In Black:  "Australia."  
Vizzini:  "Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."  
Man In Black: "You're just stalling now."  
Vizzini:  "YOU'D LIKE TO THINK THAT, WOULDN'T YOU?  You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."  
Man In Black:  "You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work."  
Man In Black:  "Then make your choice."  
Vizzini:  "I will, and I choose -- What in the world can that be?" Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. The Man In Black looks.  
Man In Black:  "What? Where?" Vizzini switches the goblets. Turning back. "I don't see anything."  
Vizzini:  "Well, I -- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter." Smirks.  
Man In Black:  "What's so funny?"  
Vizzini:  "I'll tell you in a minute. First, let's drink. Me from my glass," picks up glass, "and you from yours." They drink.
Man In Black: Pointing. "You guessed wrong."  
Vizzini:  "You only THINK I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this:  never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha" -- Stops suddenly, and falls dead, to his right. The Man in Black removes Buttercup's blindfold.  
Buttercup:  "Who are you?"  
Man In Black:  "I'm no one to be trifled with. That is all you ever need know." He unties her hands and feet.  
Buttercup:  "And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned."  
Man In Black:  "They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to Iocane powder."
So yes, the Presidential Election of 2016 has come down to a guessing game, the object of which is to figure out who is fooling whom -- our final answer being not at all important, since, either way, we're dead.

My own version of the so-called "leak" goes something like this:

Donald Trump may have finally figured out that he can't keep "winging" his campaign, that it's starting to hit the rapids, so he needs to bring in a seasoned professional, Paul Manafort, to put everything right. Manafort, with very little to work with, goes to the Republican National Committee, hoping to mend some broken fences with a "Hail Mary" play -- telling them not to worry, that Trump, clever guy that he is, has been just pretending to agree with all the clueless masses that he's attracted to the party, but just wait, you'll see him pivot during the general election toward being someone far more acceptable to the general public.

It's all just a big act, don't ya understand? It's Trump, being bold and being crazy -- but crazy like a fox! Yeah, that's the ticket! He's been doing all this on purpose!

Will anybody buy it?

Who knows! After all, it's a Hail Mary! Either it works or it doesn't! When you're in a hole, what difference does it make? At least it should keep people guessing long enough to buy time to come up with a new secret plan.

It's as if we now know that, someday, we'll look back and see this "acting" business was a major turning point in the campaign -- until still later, of course, when we find out that, in fact, nothing changed at all, and that they were just pretending when they said it was all an act.

Sort of like Nixon's "secret plan" on how to win the war, we'll learn that Trump's secret plan was that there was no plan.

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