American politics: The art of the con

Sarah Palin: Conning the gullible (AFP)

Politics has long been the last refuge of con artists, scoundrels and crooks but the rise of scam professionals like Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Barack Obama has completely infiltrated our system of government and the political circus that controls it.

The con is in place and the marks are the fools who follow these demagogues and contribute their hard-earned money for their causes.

The system is out of control and the fate of the nation hangs in the balance.

It doesn’t look good.

Let’s look at the top con artists:

BARACK OBAMA: At the top of the political con game — at the moment — is Barack Obama. He pulled off the biggest con of them all — convincing a nation that an inexperienced, one-term Senator had the ability to run a nation.

Obama raised more money from individuals than any Presidential candidate in history but his administration has become as much a tool of special interests as any that came before.

As America’s economy continues to flounder, the Gulf of Mexico dies under the weight of the worst environmental disaster in our history and too many men and women die in winless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full weight of Obama’s con bears down on a nation struggling to survive.

Obama’s failed policies continue to drive a debt-ridden nation further into the red, leave more Americans out of work for longer periods than at any time in our history and gives us a government defined by chaos, indecision and political madness.’

SARAH PALIN: Easily the centerfold for pop-culture celebrity, Sarah Palin exemplifies the shallowness of politics and the vapid culture that allows a failed governor of Alaska to become a national phenomenon.

Palin is in it for the money. She used her unlikely propulsion into the national spotlight as John McCain’s ill-chosen running mate as a launching pad for a lucrative book contract and fat speaking fees. She dumped her responsibilities as governor so she could cash in on her 15 minutes of fame before her faithful, but brain-dead, minions could catch on to the con.

So far it is working but some feel the Palin star is fading and she may soon head back to Alaska for well-deserved obscurity.

RON PAUL: Populist candidates come and go but twice-failed Presidential contender Ron Paul learned long ago how to mine the ignorance of followers to raise money and generate excitement without results.

Paul’s success comes in raising money, be it from get-rich schemes like newsletters promoting libertarian themes and gold-standard investment scams or political populism that raises millions in donations while producing nothing in return for contributors.

But while Paul’s followers demand accountability from the targets of their wrath, they seem oblivious to the Texas Congressman’s less-than-transparency when it comes to how he spends the money they pour into his coffers.

Paul raised $35 million for his failed 2008 Presidential bid, 99 percent of it from more than 160,000 individual donors.

Yet a lot of his money went to enterprises controlled by Paul, his family or political buddies and failed to produce a single primary win.

So where did all the money go? A few examples:

The Paul campaign paid $120,000 for MPrinting Graphics, a firm controlled by Paul’s Congressional campaign manager and $994,339 to Campaign Marketing Strategies Inc., a firm created just before the money was paid to them.  The company has a post office box in Virginia but their web site does not list a single client.

Paul shelled out $860,000 to political consultants — most long-time cronies; $3 million in salaries, including friends and relatives; $5.7 million for direct mail, much of it to enterprises he controls.

The campaign’s FEC reports list $10.6 million for “broadcast media,” but little of that ever resulted in ads on the air. An analysis by OpenSecrets.Org, a web site that tracks campaign fundraising and expenditures, shows that 14.3 percent of Paul’s campaign spending — about $2 million — was not disclosed.

TEA PARTY: This may go down in history as the mother of all political scams — a phony grassroots movement created by a GOP consultant for a rich energy magnate in Kansas and passed off as groundswell of political hope.

Political hopelessness might be more like it. Koch Industries magnates David and Charles Koch provided the seed money for Citizens for a Sound Economy, which grew into Freedom Works, the well-funded, establishment political entity that created the Tea Party under the direction of former House GOP leader Dick Armey.

The Kochs now claim they had nothing to do with the whole deal by issuing a statement that says they never gave money to Freedom Works. That’s that’s the art of the con. They never gave money to Freedom Works. They provided the funds for Citizens for a Sound Economy, the originator of the whole concept.

From the beginning, this phony grassroots movement had two goals: Provide a platform for the Kochs and their special-interest money and provide a way for their Republican consultant pals to get rich.

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28 Responses to "American politics: The art of the con"

  1. hologram5  June 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

    TEA PARTY: This may go down in history as the mother of all political scams — a phony grassroots movement created by a GOP consultant for a rich energy magnate in Kansas and passed off as groundswell of political hope.
    ———————-
    I have emails that date back to the last presidential election from Ron Paul talking about starting a tea party movement to protest taxes. Your explanation of the origin is incorrect. Ron Paul started the tea party movement right after his slogan of the ron paul revolution.

  2. Gmartine  June 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Ron Paul is not a scam artist. He has done more for the freedom and liberty movement then every single one of the politicians in DC combined.

    This article is a rag!

  3. Ann  June 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Ron Paul and his followers consider his candidacy an incredible success. People are now waking up to the same ideas of freedom that our nation’s founders intended. “Of the people, by the people, for the people” is running through our country with the understanding that the people have been grossly taken advantage of by big government and greedy self-serving corporatism. Millions of us are so grateful for Ron Paul’s clear wisdom and his principled willingness to hang in there for our nation. Thank you Ron Paul!!

    • Kent Shaw  June 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      “People are now waking up to the same ideas of freedom that our nation’s founders intended.”

      Ah, yes, Libertarian Ron Paul. I wish I could properly attribute the following comment, but I have lost the original author’s name, so I post it without.

      Libertarians argue that private property rights are somehow special, being derived from some cockamamie idea of “natural law”, and that governments naturally need to defend, protect, and enforce those rights but virtually no others. However, the right to private property is every bit as artificial and culturally created as any other right the government protects as it does not occur in nature. In nature there is no enduring right to any property but instead an endless fight for possession. What is different about private property rights is that protecting them mostly serves the interests of society’s elites while protecting other claimed rights, particularly those that the left values most, generally serves the interests of non-elites. The basic libertarian position therefore boils down to the assertion that government should primarily serve the interests of elites. Of course the libertarians cannot admit this as it would never sell very well among the general population.

      • griff  June 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm

        Nice quote, although it’s completely wrong. And the cockamamie “natural law” of which you write happens to be the entire basis for our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It served us well for about five minutes. Cockamamie indeed!

        • Kent Shaw  June 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm

          It is interesting, Griff, that all you could find to criticize was the use of the term “cockamamie natural law”. I note that you do not otherwise disagree with anything else in the quotation.

          • griff  June 15, 2010 at 9:54 am

            I did say that the quote is completely wrong. I just chose to single out the cockamamie part.

  4. woody188  June 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    You should continue and do Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Hiliary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, and Dennis Kucinich. Traficant is back in the mix too. Maybe part 2?

    Makes the Alvin Greene’s of the world look better and better. At least Alvin can identify with us common folks.

    • Kent Shaw  June 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm

      Heaven forbid a common man should somehow get into Congress.

  5. Chris Uchman  June 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Sounds like some columist had his corn flakes peed in this morning….. or for that matter———- everymorning…

    I have not heard so much venomous political bigotry in quite some time…
    In my assessment of the writer…. this person is either a former gold plater heir presumptive that has been cut off from their inheritance and is now lashing out at his self loathing and dispised aray of constituents—- or, this person actually lives in HOVEL and needs someone to blame for their own perceptions of being PINNED DOWN by the ELite—

    When in fact….. This person lacks the courage to find the postive things in the world…. and merely pisses on everyones bushes indiscriminantly in thier lofty revolt against the Political machine that is “obviously abusing us all”……

    Not that negativity isn’t waranted…. It’s just that people who come off as if they have estrogen poisioning (PMS) dont effectively communicate what they are trying to convey… They just come off emotional and most of all angry..

    Try taking a calmer and more HEADY approach towards your reporting….

    You might just appeal to a public that is worth writing for…..

    right now…… your as bad as the CRAZY 5% of the Libertarian party that likes to get on TV and tell everybody that the BLACK TRENCH COAT AGENTS are coming!!!!

    How can we even take you serious? At least Lewis Black has the Decency to deliver it in a comedy routine.

  6. Darryl Schmitz  June 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Um… Ron Paul is not a “populist”; he is a Constitutionalist. He does not fit the mold of the left, right, centrist, or authoritarian politician, who needs to circumvent our Constitution (which happens to be a libertarian document) to achieve the leftist, rightist, centrist, or authoritarian aspiration for power or riches. Those are the people we need to be focusing on – not Constitutionalists.

    • woody188  June 14, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      The Constitution is a republican document. The Bill of Rights is libertarian.

    • griff  June 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

      As we saw with Obama and see now with Establishment Republicans, the party out of power always portray themselves to be populists, fighting for the common man. And of course, most of us actually believe them.

      And the cycle continues…

  7. Warren  June 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” —Winston Churchill before the House of Commons, November 11, 1947

    —W—

  8. griff  June 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Did some one change this domain to brokenrecord.com?

    • woody188  June 14, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      Ever since the unmentionable letter I fear.

  9. USAF Vet Dan  June 14, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    On Ron Paul, your hatchet job is void of one thing to give it credibility – and that is substance. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign was by far the most fiscally conservative campaign ever run… no debt incurred at all. To assert that not winning an election is somehow ripping off the contributors is idiotic, and starts to hint that “good” politics amount to bribery for guaranteed delivery. What’s even more amazing is, I actually think you believe your own tripe.

    One more thing, the TEA party movement was started by Ron Paul and his supporters way back in 2007. The Neocon Establishment Republicans tried to (with some success) hijack it only after it became a threat to them (because it slammed the Corporatist Republicans just as hard as it did the Corporatist Democrats). Have you ever heard of “Google”? Try it before your next attempt at writing a blog. Facts are an essential element of a good blog.

  10. Brian  June 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    And you propose what?

    • griff  June 14, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      Doug doesn’t propose, he denigrates any thing and every thing. He believes in nothing and strongly recommends that you don’t either.

      But I do remember a column he wrote back in January, 2009 where he suggested that Obama’s executive order to close Gitmo meant that Obama ends Bush’s war on the Constitution.

      And we all know how that turned out.

  11. woody188  June 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Here’s another shining example Doug, check out Rep. Bob Etheridge! It’s getting pretty ugly!

  12. Bill  June 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    These comments prove that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Or is it all of these fools all of the time? Yeah, yeah, I know the last line is that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but sometimes these blind followers of Palin, Paul, Obamamama, tea parties, Kochniks, or whatever lend doubt to that can’t fool all…

    Graft in politics should not surprise anyone. The media hardly scratches the surface with whatever scandals they “break.” I long for the good old days when the Mafia controlled everything. At least they made no pretensions as to who and what they were.

  13. griff  June 15, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Wizards of the modern age
    Cast spells of electric power
    But the corporate strings
    That make them dance
    Lead up to an ivory tower

    There sit the fates in solitude
    Far from the public eye
    Noone ever sees them smile
    And nothing makes them cry

    Welcome to the kingdom
    The land of bought and sold
    A world of real-life fantasy
    Where truths are seldon told

    Try hard to remember
    All that glitters is not gold
    You can pay the piper
    But you cannot buy his soul

    What do you choose now
    Who do you believe now
    Who are you gonna trust?

    All your dreams
    And fantasy schemes
    Just crumble into dust

    Calm and cool and computerized
    They calculate and collect
    We wait and watch and wonder
    Just which puppet they’ll select

    Like the moth
    Too near the flame
    Who learned his truth too late
    We’re all too deep
    Into the game
    That is the master of our fate

    The poets and the pipers
    Have got their motives
    And you’ve got yours
    No doubt
    And so the game continues
    That’s what it’s about

    It’s just a game
    You’re in it all the way
    It’s just a game
    Don’t let yourself slip away
    It’s such a shame
    I heard somebody say
    It’s just a game
    And all I can do is…

    Play

    - Triumph, just a game

    Yeah I know, I listen to too much music.

    • woody188  June 15, 2010 at 12:58 am

      Corrupt, you’re corrupt,
      and bring corruption to all that you touch.

      Hold, you’ll behold,
      And be holden for all that you’ve done.

      And Spell, cast a spell,
      Cast a spell on the country you run.

      And risk, you will risk,
      You will risk all their lives and their souls.

      And burn, you will burn,
      You will burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell.
      You’ll burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell for your sins.

      And our freedom’s consuming itself,
      What we’ve become is contrary to what we want
      Take a bow.

      Death, you bring death and destruction to all that you touch.

      Pay, you must pay
      You must pay for your crimes against the earth.

      Hex, feed the hex
      Feed the hex on the country you love

      And Beg, you will beg
      You will beg for their lives and their souls.

      Yeah,
      Burn, you will burn,
      You will burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell,
      You’ll burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell,
      Burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell for your sins.

      Muse, Take a Bow

      Art imitates life…

  14. Paul C. Hollon  June 15, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Take a deep breath, Doug! I’m no professional journalist, but I’d like to respectfully recommend re-researching the subject of your article, “American Politics: The Art of the Con”. While you are correct in your statement “Politics has long been the last refuge of con artists, scoundrels and crooks” you limit your citations to present day candidates only. There has been a problem in politics in the US for a long time. A reasonable investigation must include not only recent individuals but also long-standing institutions. A good citation could be from Andrew Jackson, when forcing the closure of the Second Bank of the US in 1836 by revoking its charter:

    “Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the Eternal God, I will rout you out.”

    It does not require much research to discover that the eventual successor to those vipers and thieves is our current Federal Reserve Bank. Under this private corporation, accountable only to its owners, the value of the dollar has shrunk (since 1913) to four cents. Under law they cannot
    be audited. They print the money and charge us interest for the privilege.

    Follow the money, Doug. It seems you recognize the criminality, so be a good journalist, and act like a detective. Take another citation from Ronald Reagan’s Grace Commission report, charged with finding out where the American peoples’ federal income tax money was going:

    “With two-thirds of everyone’s personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 % of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal debt and by Federal Government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services which taxpayers expect from their Government.”

    Keep researching, and you may find that there is more to the “con game” than indidviduals in the media spotight. Try thinking outside the box here. And speaking of which, is it correct to say that Obama “pulled off the biggest con of them all — convincing a nation that an inexperienced, one-term Senator had the ability to run a nation”, without questioning who conned the media for the campaign hype?

    Do you see any logic in this line of reasoning Doug? If not, then please at least remove the most glaring inconsistency in your article, reporting that as “men and women die in winless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full weight of Obama’s con bears down on a nation struggling to survive.” Are those
    lives less important than the disbursement of Ron Paul’s campaign funds? Dr. Paul (who would have ended both these wars) has progressed from being laughed at during the 2008 debates to now being the most interviewed Congressman by network journalists. Paul’s campaign vaulted him to rock star status, and it is only fair to comment that whoever received his campaign funds did their job.

  15. Veronica Calhoun  June 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

    so it’s categories and labels that we’ve come to after all is said and done?

    how simplistic can you get? people and processes are lot more layered than that…and even though sarah palin is most probably a gold digging half wit…I hate like hell to categorize her..mainly because she’s more than that…she’s a symbol of what too many people need to believe in…they obviously can’t believe in themselves and need someone who appears to be in charge. she should be seen as a rather clever lady with a certain blue collar
    charisma who needs to be challenged about the big picture and what she understands about it…to categorize is to label and then to archive…this lady needs to be taken to task for her ‘from the hip’ politics and mean-spirited assessments of the world in general. which brings to mind the anger, hostility and free-floating hysteria seen in these posts…..and those who throw God with threats of damnation are totally in need of therapy…are you aware that you are not very God-like?

    awareness is all….and boy, are we in trouble.

  16. blacksmith  June 15, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Say what you will about Ron Paul, but when it comes to supporting Constitutional restrictions on the government (and therefore the freedom that the people of this country are supposed to enjoy), his voting record speaks for itself year after year after year. Compare it to the voting record of any of the other politicians out there….nobody else comes close.

    Thanks, but I’ll take the guy who uses his vote to support the Constitution and Bill of Rights rather than the lobbys and special interests over any of the statists who dominate our government. He may have flaws, but he has proven that he isn’t interested in turning the people in this country into tax slaves for the government, quite the opposite. You sure can’t say that about any of the others.

    Just for the record, what is it that you want in a politician? It sure doesn’t sound as though the one that supports the Constitution is someone you have any interest in.

    • griff  June 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      The good doctor is also the only Congressperson I know of that not only doesn’t spend his entire congressional office budget but returns the unspent money to the U.S. Treasury every year. Last year the total was $90,000 and this year $100,000.

  17. DejaVuAllOver  June 19, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Thanks for the Tea Party info. It’s been apparent for a long time that the Tea Party has largely been inflated beyond reason by the media. Seems even it’s creation itself is yet another zionist con. A ‘home’ for little more than a mob of loonies which serves perfectly the m.o. of the divide, distract and dis-inform zionist-driven media. Keeping us at each other’s throats so we won’t notice our gradual enslavement to The Chosen is their primary function.

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