Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Will Follow?

The totalitarian left is fascinating to watch -- in a car wreck kind of way. One gazes at the twisted metal and broken glass of the left and wonders if he'll see any dead bodies amid what was once a shiny, functioning machine.

For the last few weeks we have seen the left attack Rush Limbaugh in the only way it knows how anymore: by lies and character assassination. Whatever you might think of Limbaugh, and I have problems with him, he is not a racist. To stop him from being a part-owner of an NFL team, the left fabricated racist quotes. They didn't just take questionable remarks out of context; they made up stuff that he never said.

This is not just the work of activists or partisan media. It goes all the way to the top of the Democrat Party. As NRO writes,

What makes the ongoing assault on Rush disturbing is that the White House is a participant in it. As Time magazine and others have reported, a small group of Democratic operatives and media figures — Stanley Greenberg, Paul Begala, and James Carville — have colluded with members of the Obama administration — Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs — in a campaign to demonize Limbaugh, using him as a proxy target for congressional Republicans.

The message from the left's campaign to destroy Limbaugh is clear: if they can do it to Rush, they can do it to anyone. I suspect there are many opponents of Obama and socialism across America who are wondering if they should stick their neck out, knowing that if they speak out they put themselves at risk to the smears of the left. It's not a reign of terror, but it is a reign of intimidation. The left doesn't answer its enemies, it shuts them up.

In addition to the smearing of Rush Limbaugh, we have seen various leftists bare their fangs and expose their raw hatred of their enemies with some remarkable statements. If the like were uttered by any Republican, it would mean the end of his career.First, from Congressman Alan Grayson:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) warned Americans that "Republicans want you to die quickly" during an after-hours House floor speech Tuesday night.

His remarks, which drew angry and immediate calls for an apology from Republicans, were highlighted by a sign reading "The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly."

Congressman Grayson has refused to apologize for this statement; his courage in standing by an outrageous insult has made him a hero on the left.

Second Garrison Keillor came up with a mean-spirited quip that any deficit in health care spending could be covered by cutting off health care from the GOP. Not much of a joke, but a glimpse at an old leftist's hatred of the enemy.

Finally, all summer long wise leftists turned their gaze to the town hall meetings and Tea Party protests, and wondered if the Republic will survive. Thomas Friedman fears violence from the right.

I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.

Friedman cites as an example some idiotic poll that a nobody put on Facebook, and:

...Mr. Obama is now having his legitimacy attacked by a concerted campaign from the right fringe. They are using everything from smears that he is a closet “socialist” to calling him a “liar” in the middle of a joint session of Congress to fabricating doubts about his birth in America and whether he is even a citizen.

These examples are laughable compared to the venom spewed by the left in a propaganda campaign that goes all the way to the White House.

Nancy Pelosi was moved to tears as she contemplated the prospect of violence from the right.

“I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw … I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco,” Pelosi said, choking up and with tears forming in her eyes. “This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and … I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.”

Remember, at the massive Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C. on September 12, which had 70,000 people or more, depending on whose crowd estimates you believe, not one person was arrested. It was a peaceful assembly of citizens concerned about their burgeoning big government and the loss of freedom. At the G20 summit in Pittsburgh a few weeks later leftist protesters did what they always do:

Anti-G20 protesters rampaged through the city centre of Pittsburgh tonight, smashing up shops and throwing rocks at police, as officers used tear gas and baton-charges in an attempt to bring them under control.

In riots which continued through evening rush hour, about 300 protesters were reported to have remained from an initial crowd of 2,000 in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s Little Italy.

Frustrated in their attempts to reach the venue where world leaders are meeting the crowd, many of whom wore face-masks and armed themselves with rocks, broke windows at fast-food restaurants, a BMW dealership and a bank in the area, about a mile from the fenced-off convention centre.

If you want socialism and you riot: yawns all around; if you want liberty and you carry an insulting sign: STOP THE MADNESS BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT!


I think we're seeing the death throes of the left here. "Death throes" might be hard to buy, given that the Democrats have control of the executive and legislative branches and are currently toiling to effect Obama's program of "fundamental change" for America. (Ask not for whom those chains clink; they clink for you.)

The left has only ad hominem arguments, lies and smears. That's it. They don't argue the substance of health care, they call the town hall protesters racists, evil-mongers, a mob, and so on. I have to think that Americans outside the Democrat base are noticing. I believe the Democrats are bleeding voters at the margins.

The pollster Alex Bratty says in this PJTV interview that independents are "fleeing" from President Obama. She says a majority of independents want less government intervention in the economy. A Fox News Poll says only 43% would vote today to reelect President Obama.

I would advise the left to ram as many of their programs down America's throat as they can now while they have the power to do it, because that power will not last. Most Americans don't want what the left is selling -- or more properly, what the left is forcing on them.

The $64,000 question: who will replace the left? Yaron Brook in the PJTV interview linked to above says this is an opportunity for the Republican Party to make the case for freedom, individual rights and less government. Will they do it?

It's been observed that great men need the opportunity to rise to greatness. There must be an historical circumstance in which their greatness is wanted. The moment is now for someone in the Republican Party to carry the standard for liberty. Is there anyone out there capable of doing it?

Or will the power vacuum be filled by the religious right? I heard recently from a friend about a career military man who, after decades of duty around the world, retired and returned to Omaha, Nebraska. He said he was stunned at how the place has changed: religious fundamentalism has grown there. The rise of religion, as people turn to mysticism for values they can't find in the radical skepticism of modern philosophy, is transforming America.

They say the chinese character for crisis combines two words, opportunity and danger. We could be at a turning point in America, a point of opportunity and danger.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Secrets and Revelations

When I studied screenwriting at UCLA I was quite dubious about one teacher. I doubted whether he knew what he was talking about. He didn't explain the reasoning behind his principles very well, he just pronounced wisdom as if he were the Oracle of Delphi and we were to accept it on faith. He didn't give you the why behind his pronunciamentos, so they came off as Platonic ideals unconnected to the facts of reality.

One of his rules was "Don't keep secrets from the audience." This baffled me. What about plot twists? Reversals? Surprise endings? Whodunnits? There were enough obvious contradictions to his rule that I dismissed the teacher as a bizarre old coot.

Today I was working on a romantic drama plot that I've been struggling with for months. Part of the plot involves a spy, whose identity is revealed to the audience late in the play. Suddenly it occurred to me how much more interesting it would be to reveal his identity to the audience early and show his struggle with his duel loyalties. The plot twist would come around the end of Act I instead of the end of Act II -- which would give me more substance for those difficult stretches in Act II.

I realized that I was following the old coot's advice! When I kept the secret from the audience, I was creating a coup de theatre: melodrama. Now that I let the audience in on the secret, the spy's story becomes drama, as the audience sees his internal struggle.

I would put the old coot's pearl of wisdom like this: Consider not keeping a secret from the audience. Obviously, there are some secrets that should be kept from an audience, otherwise Agatha Christie would not have had much of a career. However, it is a good exercise to play around in your imagination with those late plot twists and see what happens if you let the audience in on something early.

Ayn Rand makes a fascinating identification in The Art of Fiction. She says suspense is letting the reader in on the author's intention. Little hints of what is to come create expectation -- suspense. You could say suspense comes from not keeping secrets from the audience.

Secrets and revelations tend to be the stuff of melodrama. To dramatize an internal conflict the audience has to be in on the facts and circumstances that create the conflict.