(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the film mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)
I went to see Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America yesterday with with my bride and my son. We all loved it. My review is beneath the fold. The usual caveat as to spoilers is in force.
The film consists of three parts. The first part begins with D’Souza’s conviction of a felony in a donation bundling scandal when a friend of his was running for the Senate from New York and he contributed $20,000.00 to her campaign , (as liberal Harvard Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz has noted: “charging him with a felony for this doesn’t sound like a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion…. I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it…. It smacks of selective prosecution.”) When a House committee subpoenaed the criminal prosecution file of D’Souza, the Department of Justice refused to turn it over. D’Souza believes that his prosecution was political payback for his prior documentaries attacking Obama, and I think he is correct. I have spent 34 years at the bar and been involved as a defense attorney in hundreds of criminal cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, and two cases as a court appointed special prosecutor, and this prosecution stinks to highest heaven. The sum involved is ludicrously small for these type of cases, and D’Souza’s main offense was not setting up a political action committee to properly channel the donation. A US Attorney would not normally waste his time with this type of “small fry” case. The usual procedure would either have the prospective defendant come in for an interview with his attorney for a meeting, scare the hell out of him, and then grandly announce at the end that he is not being prosecuted although he should be, or to file a case as a felony and quickly plea bargain it down to a misdemeanor. Instead, D’Souza had the book thrown at him in the prosecution. When D’Souza decided to plead guilty on the eve of trial, the prosecution wanted to send him, a first offender with no criminal record, to prison for ten to sixteen months. The Judge, Richard M. Berman, sentenced him to eight months of work release in a federal confinement center in San Diego, and five years probation. During his probation D’Souza was also ordered to teach English to immigrants for eight hours each week as community service. The Judge ordered that he receive psychological counseling. In a truly Orwellian turn, the Judge ordered that the psychological counseling continue even though the counselor reported that D’Souza gave no signs of mental illness or depression and did not need psychological counseling.
D’Souza, in hilarious fish out of water sequences, shows himself conversing with some of his fellow cons at the confinement center. In one scene he converses with five other prisoners convicted of serious violent crimes (“I’m here because I beat up a guy in a bar. (Pause) (Smile) “Then I set him on fire!”) who have a hearty laugh when D’Souza tells them why he is in the joint. Dinesh begins to think about the nature of crime when he is playing chess with a convict who was involved in a murderous scam where old people would be paid $5,000.00 to sign up for life insurance, the proceeds of which would purportedly be paid over to a charity on their death. The charity would pay the monthly premiums. Subsequently the scammers would murder the individuals who signed up for the insurance and the proceeds would be paid over to the fake charity. The scheme seemed very obvious to me as I was listening to it in the theater, and sure enough the scammers were subsequently caught and imprisoned for their crimes. D’Souza asks the con what he did then. The convict said he denied everything which is what must be done when a scam goes south. When he got out he would move on to a new scam. D’Souza asked him if it was possible that politicians were just criminal scammers. The convict said sure but only the Republicans who he held responsible for slavery, oppressing minorities and opposing civil rights.
After he gets out of the confinement center, he only spent his nights there, D’Souza goes to a Democrat headquarters to learn about the Democrat party. He sees a portrait of Lincoln in the headquarters which strikes D’Souza as strange since he knows that Lincoln was the first Republican president. D’Souza wanders around the building and goes into an office marked “Employees only” and finds a portrait of Andrew Jackson and records about the true history of the Democrat party.
This device serves as a segue to the next section of the film, a history of the Democrat party. This begins with the founder of the Democrat party who is shown as a monster of a slave master and the man who drove Indians from their land. In regard to the Indians D’Souza is right on target and he is correct in noting that the anti-Jackson National Republican Party, the ancestor of the Whig and Republican parties, opposed the Indian removal, D’Souza including a scene where Congressman Davy Crockett opposed it. The scene lacked the drama of the Disney Fess Parker scene from the fifties, shown below, but it gets the point across.
As to being a slave master, D’Souza is broadly correct, although it should be noted that for his time and place Jackson was considered a slave master concerned for his slaves, keeping families together and doing his best to give his slaves good food, clothes and quarters. In one scene D’Souza implies that Jackson was complicit in the murder of one of his slaves, Gilbert. That is not correct. An overseer wanted to whip the slave for disobedience, and Jackson reluctantly gave his consent. The overseer, Ira Walton, subsequently claimed that Gilbert attacked him and that he killed Gilbert with a knife. Accepting the overseer’s story initially, Jackson eventually grew suspicious, fired Walton, and did his best, albeit unsuccessfully, to have the overseer indicted for murder. On another occasion Jackson hired a legal team to represent some of his slaves accused of crimes. On the other hand D’Souza accurately shows Jackson ordering fifty lashes for his slave Betty for the “offense” of washing clothes for money without getting his consent first.
Slavery was not a major issue in Jackson’s day, but the Democrat party became the defender of slavery, as D’Souza accurately depicts. As Andrew Jackson is the villain of this section of the film, so is Abraham Lincoln the hero. D’Souza calls Lincoln the founder of the Republican party which is not quite accurate. Lincoln helped found the Republican party in Illinois in 1856, but he had hung back from formally joining the movement when it began in 1854, Lincoln having strong loyalty to the dying Whig party that Lincoln had belonged to for all his adult life. D’Souza is more accurate when he calls him the father of the Republican party. His success as president ensured that the Republican party would endure, something unlikely if he had failed. Also, Lincoln’s influence ensured that the new party, made up of a fusion of Whigs, Democrats, Free Soilers, all united by an antipathy to slavery, would take on many of the characteristics of his old Whig party.
In the movie we see Lincoln speaking out against slavery prior to the Civil War and bitterly opposed by Democrat Senator Stephen A. Douglas. During the Civil War Lincoln rallies the country to end slavery, in a sequence explaining to a Union soldier, using language from the Lincoln-Douglas debate, why blacks were entitled to freedom. D’Souza accurately shows how the Republicans passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments over the bitter opposition of the Democrats. Dialogue is taken from actual period debates in Congress and the overt racism practiced by the Democrat party in political campaigns of the day is shown in all its ugliness.
D’Souza goes out into the main office of the Democrat headquarters and hangs Jackson’s portrait in place of Lincoln’s. He then consults with black Vanderbilt law professor Carol Swain who explains how the racism of the Democrat party extended well beyond the days of Reconstruction when the Ku Klux Klan served as the terrorist arm of the Democrat party in the South. In this section of the film, D’Souza focuses on the exploits of one of my personal heroines, black journalist and Republican Ida B. Wells. We see her fighting two white porters on a railroad as they took her from the first class seat which she had paid for to the section of the train reserved for blacks. D’Souza depicts her standing up to a white sheriff during a horrific lynching, bringing out that Republicans constantly brought to the floor of Congress federal bills to outlaw lynching, only to see them blocked by Democrat filibusters in the Senate. He also notes that gun control measures were features of Jim Crow laws throughout the South, stripping blacks of their Second Amendment rights, and leaving them defenseless. After Democrat President Woodrow Wilson segregates the Federal civil service and fires blacks from many positions in the Federal government Wells, along with some other black journalists, confronts him during an interview in the Oval Office. Wilson condescendingly explains: “Segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”
The film then shows Wilson watching the film The Birth of a Nation, which glorified the part the Ku Klux Klan played in Reconstruction. The novel The Clansman on which the film was based was published in 1905 and written by Thomas Dixon, a friend and classmate of Wilson. The silent film was interspersed with quotations about the Klan from Wilson’s scholarly works, a point not lost on D’Souza. Wilson’s comment after viewing the film was, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
D’Souza goes on to show how the Democrats killed Republican Civil Rights bills until the sixties. He shows that a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights bills. He attacks the Democrat myth that the parties swapped places on Civil Rights, with a graphic demonstration that of 1900 Southern segregationists in political positions only 6 would ultimately switch to the Republican party. He correctly points out that almost all the political figures fighting against integration in the South were elected Democrats. He recalls the charming quote of LBJ to two Southern governors aboard Air Force One, Johnson chortling that by getting behind the Civil Rights bills, “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.”
D’Souza asserts that black ghettoes in urban centers serve as the new plantations for the Democrat party where blacks live in squalor and their votes are harvested by their political masters. This point has been made time and again by many prominent blacks not at all in sympathy with the Republican party.
Malcolm X for example in 1964 gave a speech in which he asserted:
Democrats have been in Washington, D.C. only because of the Negro vote. They’ve been down there 4 years and all the legislation they wanted to bring up they brought up and got it out of the way, and now they bring up you. You put them first and they put you last, cause you are a chump (huge applause). A political chump.
In Washington, D.C. in the House of Representatives there are 257 who are Democrats. Only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats, only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed, controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate and still they can’t keep their promise to you, ’cause you’re a chump.
Anytime you throw your political weight behind a political Party that controls two-thirds of the government and that Party can’t keep the promises it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around and identify yourself with that Party, you are not only a chump but you are a traitor to your race.
D”Souza also looked at the urban political machines set up by Democrats that treated new immigrants to America much as they treated blacks, training them to accept one party rule and rampant political corruption as the norm in their new country.
D’Souza then looks at the progressive movement while talking to Jonah Goldberg, the author of Liberal Fascism. They examine progressive support for eugenics and the horrific forced sterilization of tens of thousands around the nation who were viewed as mentally defective. The forced sterilization of Corrie Buck is mentioned along with the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision ruling that the sterilization did not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment with the chilling words of Justice Holmes who wrote the decision, “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.” The sole dissenter was Pierce Butler, the lone Catholic on the Court.
D’Souza takes a swipe at Margaret Sanger recalling her “Negro Project”: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”, and the occasion on which she addressed female members of the Klan in May of 1926. D’Souza also recalls this gem of a quote by Sanger: Birth control is not contraception indiscriminately and thoughtlessly practiced. It means the release and cultivation of the better racial elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extirpation of defective stocks— those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.
The film then shifts into its third part with a look at the career of Hillary Clinton.
He begins by examining Saul Alinsky who a young Clinton viewed as one of her mentors. Alinsky was a piece of work, who regarded himself as a left wing Machiavelli. In the late twenties and early thirties, while a grad student at the University of Chicago, he worked out a con to steal meals at a popular restaurant chain and taught his method to fellow grad students. He regarded his “right” to eat as superior to any moral obligation not to steal. After earning his degree in criminology he became an observer of the Al Capone gang, his amorality even shocking on one occasion hardened killer Frank Nitti, who ran the criminal organization after Capone went to prison for tax evasion. Alinsky remembered these halcyon days in an interview with Playboy shortly before his death:
PLAYBOY: Why would professional criminals confide their secrets to an outsider?
ALINSKY: Why not? What harm could I do them? Even if I told what I’d learned, nobody would listen. They had Chicago tied up tight as a drum; they owned the city, from the cop on the beat right up to the mayor. Forget all that Eliot Ness shit; the only real opposition to the mob came from other gangsters, like Bugs Moran or Roger Touhy. The Federal Government could try to nail ’em on an occasional income tax rap, but inside Chicago they couldn’t touch their power. Capone was the establishment. When one of his boys got knocked off, there wasn’t any city court in session, because most of the judges were at the funeral and some of them were pallbearers. So they sure as hell weren’t afraid of some college kid they’d adopted as a mascot causing them any trouble. They never bothered to hide anything from me; I was their one-man student body and they were anxious to teach me. It probably appealed to their egos.
Once, when I was looking over their records, I noticed an item listing a $7500 payment for an out-of-town killer. I called Nitti over and I said, “Look, Mr. Nitti, I don’t understand this. You’ve got at least 20 killers on your payroll. Why waste that much money to bring somebody in from St. Louis?” Frank was really shocked at my ignorance. “Look, kid,” he said patiently, “sometimes our guys might know the guy they’re hitting, they may have been to his house for dinner, taken his kids to the ball game, been the best man at his wedding, gotten drunk together. But you call in a guy from out of town, all you’ve got to do is tell him, ‘Look, there’s this guy in a dark coat on State and Randolph; our boy in the car will point him out; just go up and give him three in the belly and fade into the crowd.’ So that’s a job and he’s a professional, he does it. But one of our boys goes up, the guy turns to face him and it’s a friend, right away he knows that when he pulls that trigger there’s gonna be a widow, kids without a father, funerals, weeping — Christ, it’d be murder.” I think Frank was a little disappointed by my even questioning the practice; he must have thought I was a bit callous.
D’Souza dramatizes the above incidents. He goes on to reveal that Clinton disagreed with Alinsky on tactics. Rather than organize against the system, it would be better to take control of the system. D’Souza regards the marriage of Hillary and Bill Clinton as being a partnership from the first, with Hillary supplying the brains and driving ambition and Bill supplying the political skills. In exchange for him bringing her power, she was willing to ignore his constant philandering and defend him from allegations of assaults on women up to and including rape. He notes the irony of this stance with Hillary’s pose as a champion of women who have been sexually maltreated by men.
D’Souza finishes his film by looking at the various cons the Clintons have been involved him, including their transparent influence peddling with their Clinton Foundation reaping what should be called huge bribes. D’Souza concludes by wondering how much of the country these “depraved crooks”, as he calls them, get back into the White House.
I found the film vastly entertaining and informative. If the Republicans have any brains, after this film has its theatrical run, they will pay D’Souza whatever he wants in order to post this film on YouTube and to use snippets in ads.