When The Tennessee Mountain Man was a child in a small country school, it was a big deal when a guest lecturer showed up and hosted everyone in the school auditorium as he explained the Bible story of Jesus complete with show and tell pictures manually applied to and removed from a big picture mounted on an easel. It was free and it got you out of regular classes for an hour or so. An even bigger event was when an old man arrived in a big rusty station wagon with a load of noisy show dogs even though it cost a dime to get you out of class for that hour.
Then there was the occasional cowboy who was an expert with his six shooter, throwing knives, and bull whip. His pretty half dressed assistant would stand with a cigarette in her mouth and he would light it from a respectable distance with a quick draw and shot from his trusty revolver. He would then retrieve his bull whip and from half away across the basketball court he would put the cigarette out or cut it in half with one quick snap and pop of the whip.
The assistant would then dutifully step on the cancer stick to extinguish the fire. Thereafter the young lady, who other than getting out of class was the only reason the boys spent a whole quarter to see the show, would be tied to a big wheel and the cowboy would follow the outline of her body as he threw knives at her. This was usually followed by a pony or horse who could ostensibly count and answer yes and no questions. Occasionally there would be a movie shown on a big screen temporarily set up on the stage in the school auditorium for the nominal fee of a nickel or a dime.
And, since few if any students had TVs or access to theaters back then, we all paid our dues and watched in rapt attention for a couple of hours. But, the big draw for the boys were the magicians who came performing. Few girls, for whatever reason, attended these sessions but boys were happy to pay a whopping fifty cents to watch these men and their assistants ply their trade for an hour or so. After which all the boys were trying to emulate the slight of hand artist for weeks. Computer Man was lucky to grow up in a time when everything was new. Electricity distributed by newly formed farmer's co-ops in Appalachia was new to most and on the horizon for the rest to be eventually followed by party line telephone systems.
A boy scout trip to a hydro dam was a big deal. A day ogling over Doctor Warner Van Braun's accomplishments (at least those the young men in snappy spit and polished uniforms would allow you to see) at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama really drove the imagination. It all seemed a bit of big magic back then. We grew up studying slight of hand so when we became adults we should have been well prepared when professional politicians learned the trade and applied it with a slight if dangerous twist to the shady world of politics.
Momma always said, "still waters run deep". Dad always said, "it is the quiet ones you have to watch". They also agreed that most people were practicing deceit, magic, in one form or another.
It has been our experience that you dare not lose site of Shakespeare's Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2: Player Queen: Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife, If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife! Player King: 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here a while, My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile The tedious day with sleep. Player Queen: Sleep rock thy brain, And never come mischance between us twain! Hamlet: Madam, how like you this play? Queen: The lady doth protest too much, me thinks. Companies which protest the loudest that they are not going anywhere have just joined the NAFTA community.
Corporate Moguls assuring employees that their jobs are safe are either in the process of selling, shutting down, moving off shore, or scaling back. And politicians, legislatures, judges, prosecutors and other elite found their own means by which to endanger our way of life. Can you say Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, or Jim McGreevey? How about George Bush, Chaney, or John Ashcroft? Each trying to keep us watching the their right hand while doing their own dirt with their left. Some committed perjury and some sanctioned cover ups and perverted justice while others used fear to steal and curtail the rights and privacy of United States Citizens.
In 1787, shortly after the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a woman interested in the proceedings approached Benjamin Franklin. "Well, doctor," she asked, "what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" The venerable champion of American liberty replied, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it." The question two hundred and twenty-one years later is, "can we?".
The people of the former USSR were safe except from the corrupt state, but they had no freedom. The people of China are safe except from the state, but they are not free. The Bush administration has tried to keep our fear from the 9-11 attacks elevated and distract us with complaints and concerns that Vladimir Putin is slowly sweeping away the freedoms of the Russian people while his administration was doing as much at home. Let us not forget the admonition of Benjamin Franklin (also cited to Thomas Jefferson) "people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both".
Slight of hand is practiced by Politicians, Lawyers, Judges, Bankers and Corporate Moguls, scoundrels all, at the expense of the rest of us. Today it cost more (much more) than the four bits we paid as children and is much more sinister than so called "black magic". It has much deeper and longer lasting negative effects for those who wish to maintain the Republic we love. "These capitalists", said Abraham Lincoln, "generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people". We fear America is in danger of being destroyed from within. Not by some disenfranchised group, but by the very ones who have benefited the most from her opportunities and bounties.
They travel the world of twenty-four hour cable shows explaining why the common man can not be trusted and must be kept under thumb. They must be right because we keep voting against our own interest and keeping them empowered when we manage to overcome our complacency enough to participate at all. Lincoln further observed, "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves". And, again, he opined, "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution". The pendulum must swing sans the same old scoundrels from the court house to the state house to the White House.
Burke Pendergrass publication
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