Have you ever been the victim of a con? Let me tell you about my experience in France. My husband and I took the late-night Chunnel, the undersea train that goes from London to Paris. Tired after a day of sightseeing, we were anxious to get our money changed from British pounds to Euros and head to our hotel.
There was no one else around the terminal when we arrived at the glass-enclosed exchange booth. As my husband handed the man on duty some money, the agent spoke softly but offered to give us a better deal if we exchanged a different amount. My weary husband could not understand him so he bent down and put his ear to the window as he reached for his wallet. In doing so he took his hand off the luggage he was carrying, and when he reached back to grab it, it was gone.
“Where are the police?” I asked in disbelief. The man in the booth pointed and we took off in that direction. We arrived at a dead end only to discover the police station in the terminal was in the exact opposite direction. By the time we reached the exchange booth, the attendant was gone.
It was a perfect setup. There was a large column next to the booth on one side, behind which the thief had been hiding. On the opposite side of the booth was the doorway for passenger pickup. As my husband took his hand off the luggage while being distracted by the agent, the thief simply slipped out from behind the column, made off with the bag and slipped out the door. It was a classic case of distraction and misdirection.
The other essential element in a con is that the mark is offered something he really wants. In our case: a better deal.
That is exactly the kind of con being run by the people you put in office to represent you in Washington. There is a crisis of enormous proportion at our southern border. Hundreds of thousands of people are illegally streaming into the country, and we don’t have the laws or the means to keep them out, turn them back or detain and deport them. Once inside the country, taxpayers are forced to care for their medical needs, feed, educate and house them.
There is another equally important crisis from within. The country is hemorrhaging red ink, and there is no relief in sight. The legislative year will end without the passage of the 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal budget, again. Faced with the now usual government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, Congress will throw up its hands and pass another giant omnibus bill that will contain everything but the kitchen sink and a glut of new spending.
The two most important functions of the Congress are balancing the budget and protecting the citizenry. So how do the people we elect to represent us get away with doing absolutely nothing?
It’s the classic con: misdirection. “Don’t look at these things (that need doing and must be done if we are to survive as a nation). Look over here. We are going to investigate Trump and the Russian collusion. Look, look, we’ve already spent 25 million taxpayer dollars on the Mueller report, but he and his highly skilled attorneys must have missed something. In the meantime, we are demanding the president’s tax returns (protected by our privacy laws) in order to find something, anything, possible that he did wrong. Don’t bother us. Just listen to our rhetoric. We’re busy!”
The con in the House appeals to something the victims want. In the case of Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, Trump’s removal.
The Senate’s con is more complicated, but it’s also classic. It involves gaining the sympathy of the victims. Republicans, who have control of the Senate, cry, “Gee, we’d like to solve these problems, but we can’t because of the filibuster rule which requires a series of votes and a supermajority to pass anything.” All they have to do is vote to change this arcane rule. The filibuster is a shell game allowing members of both parties to hide their votes and their true intentions.
By the time of the 2020 general election, both parties will have run out the clock, again, having done nothing of importance. The two crises we face will be bigger than ever, and misdirected voters will be left, as we were in Paris, feeling helpless.
Who is to blame? We are for falling for the same old cons again and again.