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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-08-31 - 2:00 p.m.

Three-Card Monte – or Bait-and-Switch

Somehow I felt as though I was visiting a Used Car lot last night as I listened to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain – right smack dab in the middle of a bait-and-switch routine or maybe Three-Card Monte.

Have you ever heard of Three-Card Monte, or in Britain it’s called Find the Lady? It’s not really a game, but a scam or swindle. Guess you can see where I’m going with this? I’ve not quite figured out who all the operators of the game are, but maybe you can help:

Typically, there’s:

The Tosser (the sleight of hand man who mixes the cards and takes the bets) – I suppose this is Bush (or maybe it is actually Dick Cheney; I’m never quite sure just who’s running the show, are you? Maybe Karl Rove?

The Shills are the accomplices who pose as punters making bets, to give real punters the impression that the game can be beaten. This one’s easy. Surely, it’s the speakers in the spotlight last night, who showed one face – the more moderate, if not downright socially liberal face, hoping we won’t notice the hypocracy, or trying to prove that Republicanism is all-inclusive, or that fighting terrorism trumps all those social issues. The shills (speakers) would have us believe the latter – that the draft platform approved earlier in the day with its conservative stances on abortion and stem cell research is irrelevant compared to the fight against terror. Likewise the one calling for a constitutional amendments regarding same-sex marriage or that these conservative views will lead to litmus test for the next appointments of Supreme Court Justices during the next four years. In the greater scheme of things we should just put all social issues on hold until the war on terror is over - but, oops! just that day President Bush admitted he doubted it could ever be won. Because he’s got such chutzpah, such determination, we should be willing to give up our ideals for now – that’s what the shills say.

The Lookouts watch for cops and signals their approach so that the game can be “folded up” quickly. This is probably Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

The Muscle Man takes care of anyone who decides to complain. This has got to be Scott McClellan, who quickly reinterprets President Bush’s gaffes and “flip-flops” to make them more palatable for public consumption, e.g. What he meant to say is “I don’t expect there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed as in wars past.”

The Roper seeks out likely punters and encourages them to join the game. Probably FOX News and all the Republican talking heads fit into this category.

I’ve read only a few analyses of the draft platform, but I know a con game when I see it.

While I agree the war on terror needs to be continued – in fact, I think the war in Iraq has just exacerbated it rather than helped, has undoubtedly procreated more terrorists, while allowing al Queda to regroup while our attentions were otherwise distracted, but what do I know? Like one of my on-line friends,Pandionna, I believe there are social issues that must be attended to simultaneously. Our President needs to be able to multi-task. Pandionna as for a show of hands:

How about a quick show of hands? No one else can see you, so humor me. Raise your hand when the answer is “yes,” and keep it up until the final question.

Are you gay, or know and love someone who is? – oops! Right away my hand went up.

Have you ever confronted the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, or known someone who has?
Including yourself, have you ever known someone with diabetes?
Cancer? – [Oh, there goes my other hand!]
A birth defect? [Not enough hands!]
Heart disease?
Your hand is up now, isn’t it?

If it’s not, I promise you there will come a day when, if someone asks you these same questions, it will be. These are things that touch us all, one way or another, either directly or through the lives of those we love. Therefore, banning gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research would also affect us all, one way or another.


Speaking of constitutional amendments, I’d like to see a good debate on abolishing the Electoral College. A recent article in the N. Y. Times gives a brief discussion, starting with:

When Republican delegates nominate their presidential candidate this week, they will be doing it in a city where residents who support George Bush have, for all practical purposes, already been disenfranchised. Barring a tsunami of a sweep, heavily Democratic New York will send its electoral votes to John Kerry and both parties have already written New York off as a surefire blue state. The Electoral College makes Republicans in New York, as well as Democrats in Utah, superfluous. It also makes members of the majority party in those states feel less than crucial. It's hard to tell New York City children that every vote is equally important - it's winner take all here, and whether Senator Kerry beats the president by one New York vote or one million, he will still walk away with all 31 of the state's electoral votes.

The Electoral College got a brief spate of attention in 2000, when George Bush became president even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Many people realized then for the first time that we have a system in which the president is chosen not by the voters themselves, but by 538 electors. It's a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.

I can hardly wait for Arnold tonight. He’ll probably talk about taxes; he’ll probably attack John Kerry and John Edward as “tax and spend” Democrats, likening Kerry to “Davis Light.” Well, let me tell you this about that. While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may think he has imposed no new taxes on his constituents in California, there are many phantom taxes lurking. Entrance fees to parks have doubled. It costs more to get your driver’s license renewed and new car buyers pay extra for their smog check exemptions. Indian tribes are returning more of their profits to the government, and the list of raised state fees go on and on, but Arnold doesn't recognize them as taxes. College fees are up 15 per cent from last year when there was already an increase. Tuition has gone up at every campus. No new taxes? – It’s an illusion. Bait and switch...or Three Card Monte.

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