Tea With George Kaplan

Arrrgh, matey!

If you have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, read further. If not, there are inevitable spoilers here and you should probably wait for another blog posting.

You’ve been warned, ye swabs!*

* It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day

If you recall the movie, poor Roger Thornhill is mistaken for George Kaplan by a coincidence when Kaplan is paged at the same moment that Cary Grant (Thornhill) decides to send his mother a telegram. * [* Note to Modern Youth: a telegram was an early form of texting.]

Telegram time

Now the spoilers:

Grant is kidnapped, questioned, a fifth of bourbon is poured down his gullet and he’s stuck in a Mercedes convertable that he manages to keep on the road long enough to rear-end a police car and is “saved” from his would-be assassins.


And thus begins the fruitless pursuit of George Kaplan, who has dandruff, short suits and has been chasing master Evil Person James Mason, supposedly.

Fairly early (a couple of murders and attempted murders later) it is revealed that George Kaplan is a fiction. He’s a “decoy” meant to keep James Mason from suspecting the informant that they’ve got planted in his merry band of thugs.

Whoops! No George Kaplan here …

“The Professor” (Leo G. Carrol) explains it to Thornhill (Grant):

Thornhill: I see. What’s all this got to do with Mt. Rushmore?

The Professor: Vandamm has a place near there. We think it’s his jumping-off point to leave the country tomorrow night

Thornhill: Are you going to stop him?

The Professor: No.

Thornhill: Then why are we going there?

The Professor: To set his mind at ease about George Kaplan.

Thornhill: Oh, you, huh? You’re George Kaplan, aren’t you?

The Professor: There is no such person as George Kaplan.

Thornhill: What do you mean? I’ve been in his room. I’ve tried on his clothes. He’s got short sleeves and dandruff!

The Professor: Believe me, he doesn’t exist.

Now, when you really look at it, the “Tea Party” seems an awful lot like George Kaplan: a series of ginned up “rallies” events and bus tours all meant to convince us that the REAL STORY of this election season is a fiction as purposive as George Kaplan.

It’s meant to divert our attention from the real snake in our midst. I talked about it on Friday, and President Obama talked about it in his weekly Saturday address:

The White House Blog

Weekly Address: The Republican Corporate Power Grab

Posted by Jesse Lee on September 18, 2010 at 06:00 AM EDT

The President explains how the most dire warnings about the Citizens United case have been proven valid as Republicans in Congress have blocked legislation to fix it.


Back in January, in my State of the Union Address, I warned of the danger posed by a Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United. This decision overturned decades of law and precedent. It gave the special interests the power to spend without limit – and without public disclosure – to run ads in order to influence elections. Now, as an election approaches, it’s not just a theory.

We can see for ourselves how destructive to our democracy this can become. We see it in the flood of deceptive attack ads sponsored by special interests using front groups with misleading names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads or who’s paying for them.

Even foreign-controlled corporations seeking to influence our democracy are able to spend freely in order to swing an election toward a candidate they prefer.

As I said on Friday: the REAL narrative [is that] this election is for sale, and the amounts of hidden money slushing around through anonymous donor organizations is already obscene. So who are you going to believe? A carefully mediagenic “Tea Party” narrative, or the narrative of the puppeteers who are trying to throw you off the scent with this “George Kaplan” narrative?

Oh, and there is one more North By Northwest scene that springs to mind when, last week,  Karl Rove was “adamantly against” Tea Party Express candidate Christine O’Donnell, and was then “taken to the woodshed” by Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin … PROVING that this isn’t Karl’s party anymore. (You know,  giving them plausible deniability to say WE’RE not Bush!” and where the heck is Cheney these days? Hmmm.) Leonard (played by Martin Landau) is explaining that Eva Marie Saint (the double agent) has shot Cary Grant in the Mount Rushmore cafeteria, but all is not as it seems. Vandamme (James Mason) is disbelieving:

Leonard: You surely would have suspected. Why else would you have decided not to tell Miss Kendall why our little treasure here has a belly full of microfilm?

Vandamm: You seem to be trying to fill mine with rotten apples.

Leonard: Sometimes the truth does taste like a mouthful of worms.

Vandamm: Truth? I’ve heard nothing but innuendos.

Leonard: Call it my women’s intuition, if you will. But I’ve never trusted neatness. Neatness is always the result of deliberate planning.

Vandamme: She shot him in a moment of fear and anger. You were there, you saw it yourself.

Leonard: Yes. And thereby wrapped everything up into one very neat and tidy bundle. A: She removed any doubts you may have had about her. What did you call it? Her “devotion”? B: She gave herself an urgent reason to be taken to the other side with you… in case you decided to change your mind.

Vandamme: I think you’re jealous. No, I mean it. I’m very touched.

[Suddenly Leonard brings the gun out from behind his back and points it at the startled Vandamm.]

Vandamme: Leonard!

[Leonard pulls the trigger, fires point blank at Vandamm. There is a SHARP REPORT. Vandamm stands there, stunned but unharmed.]

Leonard: The gun she shot Kaplan with. I found it in her luggage. It’s an old Gestapo trick. Shoot one of your own to show that you’re not one of them. They’ve just freshened it up a bit with blank cartridges.

Gee. They “shot” Karl Rove, to prove that they weren’t the old George W. Bush bad guys. Sounds like the kind of stunt that Karl Rove would come up with. But, of course, everything here is on the up and up.

Call it my women’s intuition, if you will. But I’ve never trusted neatness. Neatness is always the result of deliberate planning.

Let’s get out there and find George Kaplan. Er, I mean the Tea Party. And remember, not all pirates talk like pirates are supposed to. Some talk like James Mason. Or Karl Rove.

Vandamme: Rather unsporting, don’t you think … using real bullets?

And, if you don’t think it’s easy to pull the wool over the eyes of a huge chunk of the public AND their self-appointed gatekeepers, consider that North By Northwest ends with such a blatant dirty joke that no one ever sees it.

Having survived the chase on Mount Rushmore,

… Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are now happily married. And as the newlyweds lie into their Pullman sleeper bed, we cut to the outside of the train and see:

Train going into tunnel .. uh, GET it?

It ain’t that tough, mateys. Arrr.



UPDATE: Five years later, the New York Times seems to have caught up. Finally.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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5 Responses to Tea With George Kaplan

  1. You are on a roll Hart! Our party needs to wake up and get to work.

  2. Hart Williams says:

    Thanks Pamela. Yes. We have a little over a month to grow spines and take these bullies on. They have no right to benefit from their utter abrogation of our social contract of honoring the results of elections and agreeing to a government of compromise.

    We have the issues and the facts on our side. We lack only the will to stand up. I think it’s time to.

  3. Peace says:

    Testing plank..12,34 ?

  4. Peace says:

    What treasues do yee seek at sea if not it be old friends ya see ! Hoist the lines and cut off their wind ! Freeze those tax winds blowing in ! Spare Americans in fear of economic tragedy to walk the plank ! Help we’re being eaten by political economic rhetoric sharks that blame the other party and it’s nonsense. Congress get your lights on at the Capital so Americans know you’re home. We’ll send candles but somebody better be burning the midnight oil and get on it. Call Elizabeth Warren’s office and ask for her support. We’ll sick that pirate dog in the picture above I love on Geithner and he’ll chew a hole in his pant leg and sick Bo too. That’s it ! Obama’s down in the polls and Bo walks out in a pirate Halloween costume holding a white surrender flag and compromise on taxes. Woody Wood pecker laugh now. Speaking of Halloween costumes,we’ve got the prize for you. Go as a Frankenstein with Salmon and grab your side kick mad scientist that’s lost his way on ethics in genetics.A balloon made out of a salmon blown way up and get him some weird looking ,goofie eyeballs that pop out. Don’t try to sneak that Frankenstein Salmon into our grocery stores and sell it to the next generation. Call the FDA and we want a warning label on that fish as a possible endangered species. Heads up to the Grocery Store Fish Managers ! It’s a big one on the hook called Frankenstein Salmon and they don’t have to let us know or place a label there has been genetic testing. It’s my understanding this is on hold for now in view of further evaluation and testing .Take me to your leader and they just set up an office to greet the aliens in Washington and I’m not kidding. American citizens welcome ET’s office !
    Park 51,Cordoba Community Center looks like it’s moving right along with Gamel and Iman Rauf as they appeared on 60 min last night. Associations and their connections ? Who knows ? Explain what the organization CAIR is ? Opposed to this location but believe in freedom of religion like most Americans tolerant and culturally respectful. Yankey doodle blew the high wind off the frying pan on that and why there ? The pervasive impact of culture on international negotiations.Imam Rauf’s says last night,”If there is another 911 I hope I’m the first to die.” His message was more clear and understood in the 60 min interview but don’t trust him any further than I could throw him. How about you ? “Crisis of Credibility” No good vibs on Gamel and Imam Rauf but not sure I’m open minded about it. Just move the Islamic Mosque to another location that is not controversial and go pray until your hearts desire. Americans are tolerant and not Islamic phobians ! Draw a picture of what a xenophobian is ? Does it look like that dog above pictured ? Read HS Today by Anthony L. Kimery…Home land Security and CAIR ?
    Manhattan Transfer….”Operator”….Information …get the Mosque a new location. Isreal and Palestine negotiations are not going to fall apart over an apartment building. Isreal is building and the balloons went up in the air today to celebrate that fact but Palestine is still at the table. Peace on….Go Clinton !
    The movie, “Waiting for Superman” is out but haven’t seen it yet,have you ? How about we end PL 107-110 and Scene 11 act 1 could be the reauthorization of that as the state and federal levels get their acts together on Public Education . Rhee reform is melting and Fenty ended in checkmate. ” The wind began to switch,the house to pitch/ and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch/ Just then the witch/to satisfy an itch went flying on her broom stick,thumbing for a hitch.” Take care mates and check ya later !

  5. Hart Williams says:

    Er, thanks for sharing.