[Homestead] Keep the Rube's eyes off the shell with the pea under it

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Sep 28 17:49:56 EDT 2004

Barnum Bush (suckers are born by the thousands each minute) has 
cynically developed the technique to gull voters into believing their 
Hara Kiri is merely tickling their ribs instead of spilling their life's 
blood on the ground.

	by Molly Ivins


All newspaper editors want to know what their readers like. If you would 
like to read this feature in your local newspaper, please do not 
hesitate to share your enthusiasm with your local newspaper editor.


AUSTIN -- Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" is a 
subscriber to the theory that so-called "values politics" and lifestyle 
issues are just sophisticated versions of that old carnival con the 
shell game, in which the object is to keep the rube's eye off the shell 
with the pea under it.

"The trick never ages: The illusion never wears off. / Vote / to stop 
abortion; / receive / a rollback in capital gains taxes. / Vote / to 
make our country strong again; / receive / deindustrialization. / Vote / 
to screw those politically correct college professors; / receive / 
electricity deregulation. ... / Vote / to stand tall against terrorists; 
/ receive / Social Security privatization."

As a result of this gussied up and newly sophisticated political con 
job, Franks sees the country as "a panorama of madness and delusion ... 
of sturdy blue-collar patriots reciting the Pledge while they strangle 
their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting themselves off 
the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their 
children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of 
working-class guys ... delivering up a landslide for a candidate whose 
policies will end their way of life and transform their region into a 
'rustbelt,' and strike people like them blows from which they will never 

So here we are at the ultimate level of the con game -- if you don't 
support Bush's misbegotten war or you object to how this administration 
has fouled up in carrying it out, you're unpatriotic.

I'd like to draw your attention to another example of how you're being 
suckered that's common as dirt these days, but is in the headlines here 
in Texas because three top fund-raising lieutenants to Rep. Tom DeLay 
got indicted on Tuesday, along with eight corporations. They are charged 
on the unlikely grounds of having broken Texas campaign finance law. 
Actually, we don't have much in the way of campaign finance law in this 
state -- anybody can give any amount of any money to anybody, except, of 
course, for corporations and labor unions. Oops.

This was really a beautiful play, kind of a triple bank shot, according 
to the indictment. Corporate money was passed through DeLay's national 
political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, back to 
an affiliate Texans for a Republican Majority, where it was funneled 
into 17 statehouse races that would give Republicans a majority in the 
Ledge and allow the election of Tom Craddick as speaker.

Then, Craddick used the new majority to force an unprecedented, 
out-of-turn redrawing of the Texas congressional districts at the 
instruction and tutelage of DeLay's aides and DeLay himself. Republicans 
are predicted to pick up five new seats under the Craddick-DeLay plan, 
thus helping ensure their party's lock on the U.S. House. Neat, huh?

It's kind of hard to hide all this under one shell, especially since 
Republicans went around bragging about breaking the law after the 2002 
election, but I was interested in the corporate indictments because I 
found a couple of familiar names there.

Westar Energy of Wichita, Kansas -- imagine that. Two Westar executives 
are under already under indictment on 40 federal criminal charges NOT 
including bribery charges stemming from the $60,000 Westar contributed 
to DeLay and three other players in order, according to company memos, 
to buy legislation to excuse the company from federal investment 

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas introduced the provision that Westar wanted 
into the energy bill, and DeLay, the majority leader, and Billy Tauzin, 
on the energy conference committee, both voted for it. The Westar 
exemption was dropped from the bill only when papers reported a federal 
investigation of the company.

Another favorite of mine, also named in the Texas indictment, is the 
Bacardi USA rum company. The company is actually Bacardi Ltd., 
headquartered in Bermuda, and has been involved for years in a lawsuit 
with another rum company over a trademark issue. DeLay first tried to 
change language in the defense appropriations bill in November 2003 to 
fix a section of the bill to Bacardi's specifications.

Bacardi has contributed tens of thousands not only to DeLay's political 
action committees but also to DeLay's "charitable causes." DeLay, a 
born-again Christian, set up a tax-exempt corporation, Celebrations for 
Children, to solicit "donor packages" of up to $500,000 to pay for 
Broadway shows, cruises, golf tournaments and private dinners with DeLay 
and other members of Congress during the Republican Convention. The rest 
of the money was to go to homes for foster children in his district. 
After complaints to the IRS, DeLay cancelled the plans.

For more delicious and amazing stories about how DeLay conducts "bidness 
as usual" while the Republicans get people all worked up over the menace 
of gay marriage, get the new book "The Hammer" by Lou Dubose and Jan 
Reid. I'd recommend it even if they weren't friends of mine, which they 

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators 
Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page 
at www.creators.com.

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