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A Shell Game, Changes and Feet of Clay

How politicians and the powerful scam the trusting and unwary.

When my wife, Dee, was a little girl growing up in the Philippines, one day her mother gave her ten pesos and instructed her to proceed to the town market and purchase food for the family. On the way, Dee encountered a group of men on the sidewalk gathered around another man with a small table, three bottle caps and an apple seed. He would place the apple seed under one cap, move the three around hither and yon, then invite the spectators to place bets on which cap now concealed the seed. Dee watched awhile and decided it was simple to track the movement of the cap with the seed and collect double the bet. So, she placed her ten pesos down and when the cap was lifted, lo and behold, there was no seed! Well, quick thinking little girl that she was, she grabbed her ten pesos off the table and ran away through the crowd, much to the shouts of consternation from the game operator and the other players.

The upshot was that Dee learned some important lessons that day about life in general and gambling in particular. Greed leads to loss. Be on guard when “out in the streets” for scammers. And, when someone makes you an easy double-your-money offer, take your wallet and run!

I’ve been reminded of Dee’s childhood experience now and again when listening to the political claptrap bandied about by both parties this election season. Is there any seed to any of their campaign promises or is it all an empty shell game? And if there is a seed, how many times does it change position until what you thought you knew turns out to be its empty opposite? In that regard, I’ve recently undergone some lessons of my own.

A longtime supporter and activist for the FairTax concept and the movement’s local subdivision, I was shocked and confused upon receiving a mass e-mailing from Earl Long, the group’s dedicated president, clarifying to everyone that he was no longer associated with the FairTax organization. I stopped by yesterday to see Earl and get the skinny on what was happening. To my dismay, I learned that the old order, headquartered in Houston, had undergone a mammoth shift since the death of its cofounder Leo Linbeck, Jr. According to Earl—who still supports the national consumption tax approach—Americans for Fair Taxation has succumbed to big money influences and lost its clarity of principle and purpose. Earl and the local officers could no long lend their names and efforts to AFFT. So, they assumed a position like Ronald Reagan’s comment about the Democrat Party, “I didn’t leave it; it left me.” At a time of political upheaval when real progress might have been accomplished concerning tax reform, what a sad and disappointing change and development!

Be that as it may, the real shocker for me had already occurred two weeks before with the sudden, unexpected coup in Turkey. For many years, since establishing a close friendship with the acclaimed Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, I’d been involved in interfaith activities associated with the Muslim Fethullah Gülen movement. I had come to see his followers as humanitarians dedicated to peace, harmony, charity, education and world brotherhood and Gülen himself as more or less the “Mahatma Gandhi” of Turkey. Following the coup’s abrupt failure, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused Gülen of instigating it all from his self-imposed exile in the U. S.

Wanting to get an insider’s view of the crux of the matter, I wrote Mustafa and he responded with a copy of his recent column addressing the situation. In it he asserted, “Given the Gülen community’s hierarchical structure, all of this makes Mr. Gülen a prime suspect.” He further stated that the U. S. should indeed consider honoring Turkey’s request to extradite Mr. Gülen for trial, and he concluded, “It may even be necessary to help many of the innocent people in the Gülen community to know what they are really involved in — and to begin new lives as free individuals.” Well, to say that I was stunned beyond belief would be an understatement. I couldn’t have been more jolted had I just learned new evidence reveals Mother Teresa was actually a madam in a house of ill repute. Talk about “feet of clay.”

Perhaps the most egregious example of the shell game, however, was disclosed in the recent documentary film from Dinesh D’Souza, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. I was disappointed, but not really surprised, when The Kansas City Star in its review refused to award the film even a single star and the short write-up was scathingly negative. That seemed true of nearly all the reviews on the Internet; however, talk radio praised the work as groundbreaking and superbly done. So, as a “seeker of facts,” I purchased a ticket and ensconced myself in the local theater for a personal viewing. What I discovered, in my own humble opinion, was an educational, moving, revealing and entertaining production exposing forgotten facts of history and concealed motivations of the Democrat Party and Clinton duo. While perhaps omitting some historical material that would have been beneficial and in places depicting some scenes slightly “over-the-top,” all in all I’d have awarded it at least three-and-a-half stars out of five. And recommended that anyone from either major political party planning to vote see the film before doing so.

Nevertheless, a serious journalist always multi-sources his/her work, so I phoned my good friend in L. A., black anarcho-capitalist and American history professor Richard Boddie. He once ran for the presidency under the Libertarian label after having formerly been both a Democrat and a Republican. “What’s your opinion of D’Souza’s latest creation?” I asked him. “It’s well done and reasonably accurate,” he replied. So, there it is. Bill and Hillary Clinton have advanced a long, long way beyond the little Filipino man with his tiny table and bottle caps and apple seed. But they’re pulling the same ruse on the unaware, just on a world-class level. And I won’t even mention “feet of clay.”

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Mark Scheel
Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. He attended both Kansas State University and The University of Kansas, majoring in psychology and English. Prior to writing full time he served overseas with the American Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany and England, taught at Emporia State University and was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. His stories, articles and poems have appeared in numerous magazines including The Little Balkans Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, The Kansas City Star, Heritage of Kansas, Samisdat, and Poet as well as many sites online such as Common Ground News. His literary activities have also involved membership in The Kansas Authors Club, a seat on the board of directors for Potpourri Publications Company and an editorial position with Kansas City Voices magazine. He co-authored the book Of Youth and the River: the Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr., and his collection of stories and poems, A Backward View, was awarded the 1998 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award. His most recent book is titled The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.

5 comments to A Shell Game, Changes and Feet of Clay

  • Mark, pardon my bluntness, but I’ve been commenting on most, if not all, of your posts for a long time without reciprocation on your part. I’m not saying I’m looking for you to comment on my posts frequently or even every month or two, but once in a blue moon would show that you don’t take my ‘loyalty’ (for want of a better word) for granted. I know you’re very busy, but so am I, so if this is my last comment on your posts, you won’t have to wonder why.

  • Hi mistermuse,

    Woops! Now hold on, partner. I deeply appreciate any and all comments and, indeed, I do reciprocate, both answering comments and also commenting myself on fellow bloggers’ posts. But, muse, you ain’t posted nuthin’ here in a long time. Come on, man. I had no idea you were still posting anywhere, or where to find you. I asked Richard Cahill here awhile back and he said you weren’t posting here anymore. So I let it go. Now, experimenting around today I did discover a link to what I believe is your own blog site? I’ll check it out and see what’s what there. But, I’d strongly urge you, if posting somewhere else, paste in your stuff here also and I assure you I’ll comment freely! Ha. Yeah, I’m busy, but that’s not it–it’s just a case of not knowing.

    Okay, let’s see if I can find you. 🙂

    Have a good one,


  • Well, after the great “SWI meltdown” a few years back, I said loud and clear that (other than commenting) I was going to do all my future posting on my own blog, which Richard and Don picked up on and have continued to follow ever since. Because I lost more of my SWI posts than anyone (over half were deleted), I made such a stink about it at the time (and on several occasions since) that it never dawned on me that you weren’t aware of my blog.

    In any case, speaking of “letting it go,” I will do the same….with the understanding that I don’t ask or expect you to comment on any of my posts that don’t particularly interest you, and vice versa.

    Sorry about the misunderstanding.

  • D’Souza is the Michael Moore of the right, Sr. Scheel, no more dedicated to truth or reality than Trump is. We all know that the Democrats were historically the party of racism. They gave that up voluntarily in the ’60’s and the Republicans immediately moved in to snatch up the racist vote. That’s where things stand now. The notion that minorities are going to suddenly rise up and punish the Democrats for their racist policies of the first half of the last century is just a pipe dream.

  • Hello Ricardo!

    Good to see your unforgettable face once again in the comment thread! Welcome to your contribution, even if I must set about immediately demolishing everything you say. (Sorry!) 🙁

    Okay, reread my conclusion regarding D’Souza’s film where I sought out the gold standard of authority on his treatment, Mr. Boddie, and he said it passed muster. No further discussion necessary. Have you seen the film yourself? If not, I strongly urge you to before jumping to “left-coast-biased” conclusions (ouch!) (I sit through Moore’s propagandistic mishmash before issuing an opinion myself). As for Trump, he shoots from the hip and tells you exactly what he thinks unrehearsed or poll-tested and sometimes he overshoots the mark, but I’d put his “veracity” quotient above Hillary’s a hundred times over. No, the Dems never stopped being black exploitative and really advanced it surreptitiously under Johnson in the sixties and tore apart the black family with their programs. That’s, by the way, in the film–documented. Also, the Dems supported, and still do, under Sanger’s theories the genocide of the blacks in America. In the film. The blacks should immediately abandon the Dems, but I can’t say they should take up with the Republicans either. Go libertarian, like Mr. Boddie–he’s looked into them all and really knows the score. But the propaganda of the Dems and the “heroin-like” appeal of welfare programs are too seducing for most to break free. Sad. So, I’d end on a note of agreement with you–to the detriment of black America, it IS A PIPE DREAM! 🙁


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