John R. Hall
Little Ricky / John R. Hall

If you know what to look for, the vast majority of politicians and preachers and prophets are akin to amateur prestidigitators; they all share the same traits. Their tells will expose them as charlatans.

It’s easy to tell an artless trickster from a serious practitioner of legerdemain. Even the most unsophisticated lay audience would have no problem identifying a person who’d acquired a few sloppy barroom slights from one who’d amassed vast knowledge of tomfoolery through prolonged and copious study of the magical arts. But even a seasoned magician is susceptible to a performance faux pas, and even the shrewdest politician or the suavest priest, minister, swami, imam, rabbi, or granthi, ad infinitum, is vulnerable to misspeak that renders their rhetoric or dogma or preparation or misdirection moot.

Chicanery is intoxicating, whether used by religious leaders to control the flock(s), or driven by political corruption and greed, or deployed as a populist power grab, or produced as a harmless form of entertainment. It is heady, explosive stuff! In the minds of professional politicians, or ordained preachers, or self-proclaimed prophets, or just your run-of-the-mill con artists, it is dangerous. In the minds of neophyte shysters, it is calamitous. In the minds of professional entertainers, it is amusing. In the minds of people of God, it can ignite Armageddon. Yep, chicanery and sophistry are birds of the same feather, which—when they take to flight—aim to deceive by causing chaotic thought.

Deception has long and dubious roots stretching all the way back to the garden: Eden. Originally, it was there that the wacky ol’ creator of us all (if you subscribe to such nonsense) sent—or allowed (a minor point of contention)—a serpent to deceive Eve and induce her to take a bite out of an apple (this was way before a Malus pumila a day could keep the doctor away).

Eve, upon the realization that she had been teased before being bamboozled by a forked tongue, decided that she’d use her sudden knowledge of good and evil to mislead Adam into joining in her shenanigans. Soon after Adam had tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree, he was evermore controlled by his pursuit of another forbidden fruit buried between two limbs and hidden in a bush at the southernmost curvature of Eve’s torso. Cain and Abel soon followed—and thereafter blood began to flow upon the ground . . . where it’s been flowing unabated ever since, spewing forth from Eve and her lot because of niddah (or in contemporary terms: menstruation). It seems, according to Judaism’s Genesis Rabbah 17:8, that women have been cursed by God because Eve led Adam astray; hence Aunt Flo’s monthly visitation.

Jealousy and lust (bedfellows, to be sure) are the supposed and recorded reason(s) for Cain spilling the blood of his brother, Abel, which has continued flowing, unabated, and led to twenty-first-century bloodletting between civilized and uncivilized peoples alike. It seemed that Luluwa (also known as Aclima), who was Adam and Eve’s oldest daughter and consequently Cain and Abel’s sister, had caught the attention of more than just her brothers’ incestuous eyes. Both boys greatly desired to engage Aclima and by doing so hoped to penetrate the veil of carnal knowledge. Obviously, a family ménage à trois à la Trump was not in vogue yet . . . so one of the brothers had to die: “Bye-bye, Abel. Hello, Aclima” was Cain’s battle cry. Hence the first sacrificial lamb—or in contemporary terms, the first taking of a life, aka murder, aka execution.

Anyway . . . that’s where all religious hustling begins: Once upon a time God said and did. And we have been screwed and screwing one another ever since.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” is when America’s political hustling of her masses began. How our ancestors were beguiled into believing that “created equal” applied only to White, European males is both beyond the pale and my comprehension. To be sure, it is the second-greatest con (or magic trick) of all time—the first being “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’”

The performance of magic relies on understanding how the cognitive mind has been assimilated and operates. That’s why it’s a bit harder to get a drunk to drink a magician’s (or anyone else’s) Kool-Aid, and it is why, I suspect, religions take such a dim view of getting inebriated by liquid or smoke-filled spirits. It’s harder to shove bullshit down another’s throat when something more desirable is already being consumed and which frees the mind from its societal constraints. But as any Bible believer or attendee of Alcoholics Anonymous will tell you, “A head full of Jesus or AA and a belly full of booze is a volatile combination.” Once one has been imprisoned by being shown the way, breaking free is tedious, at best.

Every so often, when good god-fearing GOP American politicians need to rally the White moral majority Right masses, they prop up the third time ain’t a charm and four-time groom Lee Greenwood to spew his political bullshit to a jingoistic mass of American humanity. In good ol’ boy Lee’s dirge, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” comes the refrain reflecting that his American pride, and by extension that of those in attendance, comes from at least being free. They sing in unison that they’d stand next to one another and defend America, and then they drive right by military recruiting stations and homeless veterans.

Another thing that confounds me about the “If this flag offends you, leave” crowd is that they buy non-American-made flags . . . and they purchase T-shirts and bumper stickers that display “Buy American” and other pseudo-patriotic slogans on products made in other nations, and they religiously shop at Walmart, where more times than not the products on the shelves were imported. Causation seems to be a tough concept for some when it comes to consumerism and the loss of American-based manufacturing jobs. Maybe that’s why Trump loves—or better stated loved, now that he lost the election—America’s uneducated masses.

Here’s what I have been getting at: I don’t need to be told what should be obvious. In fact, being told the obvious should raise red flags. That’s why it is a cardinal sin for a magician to say, “Here I have an ordinary deck of cards” or an ordinary whatever because, justifiably, the word ordinary raises suspicions. I can see it is ordinary. Being told that it is ordinary does nothing to reinforce that the object is ordinary. Au contraire, it instills the exact opposite.

And the same thing happens when I hear politicians bleating the unrelenting refrain that we are free in America and that America is the greatest nation on Earth. Or when preachers spew “God loves us but hates homosexuals.”

Politicians, preachers, and magicians are kin. Each is attempting to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Each manipulates words and actions to get its audience to believe in something that does not exist in the real world. They want us to subscribe to the unbelievable. When that is done for entertainment, it is fun. When it is done for political or religious gains and ends, it is serious business and has deadly ramifications.

The 2020 election cycle is over—Biden, who is no bargain, won. The non-Right has retained control of Congress and is poised to control the Senate, with the tiebreaking vote being held in the Vice President’s hands. The White House’s Oval Office and its presidential bully pulpit has been passed to a new administration.

How will it be used?

Will it be deployed to promulgate the same old bullshit about freedom and greatness? Or will Biden rise to the occasion and be a real leader?

Will “Joey from Scranton” be mature enough to alleviate the burden that Greta Thunberg’s young generation has bravely shouldered—to tell it like it is!

“Humanity is now standing at a crossroads. We must now decide which path we want to take” (Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion; London, England; April 20, 2019).

Hopefully, Bullwinkle (Biden) will shock Rocky (Americans) this time around and actually pull a rabbit out of his hat. But being a betting man, I’d have to place my money on again hearing, “Wrong hat.”

Come on, Joe. Say it ain’t so—because this is one bet I would happily rejoice in losing.

To my fellow citizens, I say: Love America enough to make it change its politically, economically, and societally divided ways!

That’s patriotism in action.

Make America the United States at long last. Or continue to suffer the consequences of a poorly executed political illusion performed by, at best, rank amateurs—or at worse by charlatans masquerading as politicians . . . especially the good god-fearing, gadfly, ones.

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Copyright © 2021 – Hunting For Thompson – All Rights Reserved

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John R. Hall is the author of Red, White, and the Blues: A Long and Hard Ride over Treacherous Terrain. He is a James Copley Scholarship for Journalism recipient. John studied journalism, psychology, communications and the dramatic arts at City College, San Diego, California. John has largely traveled through life as a single and childless rolling stone, collecting little moss. He has been employed in numerous industries: first as a KFC dishwasher, then a Red Lion busboy, followed by soda jerking for Dairy Queen. All of that occurred before Uncle Sam whispered in his ear and he donned the olive drab green as a soldier in the U.S. Army. After that non-Yankee Doodle Dandy duty was over, he attempted a career in entertainment, performing comedy and magic. When those opportunities disappeared, John reappeared in the transportation industry as a taxi and truck driver. He's been a barkeep, a hotel manager, a street performer, a professional student, a business manager, a dispatcher, an oil field professional, an IT/IS professional, and a self-imposed gig economy prisoner (aka worker); he's even been a procurer of substances. John developed and maintains Hunting For Thompson.com, Red White and the Blues.com, and John R. Hall.com. All of this basically makes him an omnipotent . . . (in his own mind, which, as he says: "Is all that counts.")