I drove a truck for many years in the San Francisco Bay area. I usually ended up in Oakland about 2 a.m. to change trailers. Oakland at 2 a.m. isn't a nice place. You'll never go more than, say, 20 seconds without hearing gunfire. Everything smells like urine, smoke, beer and ashes. There are piles of trash in the streets that will persist for months or years without being moved or cleaned up. Burned out car hulks litter the boulevards. About ten percent of all cars that are out cruising on Friday or Saturday nights have at least one window busted out.
I had a lot of bizarre experiences there, but probably the most interesting, from a sociological point of view, were the ones that involved the local con-men. There's no shortage of regular, run-of-the-mill con artists there. Those are the people, usually men (99%) and usually black (75%) who have put together little scams to wash your windshield while you're trapped at a traffic light, then demand $5, or who are just simple panhandlers with a good and practiced pitch.But there's another strata altogether of con-artists plying their trade in Oakland at 3 a.m. I call them "The Masters".
The first time I came across one, I was sitting in my truck in the parking lot of a local truck scale in a bombed-out downtown area. I was concentrating on my logs and bookwork and so was surprised to hear a voice hailing me from about 50 feet away.I looked out the side window to see a reasonably well dressed young black man standing there facing me with his hands in the air. I thought for a moment that someone was behind him, sticking him up, or that perhaps a robber had him at gunpoint just out of my view, in front of my truck. I was wondering if a timely lurch of the truck might squash the robber and save this guy's hide. But he was looking straight at me and presently I rolled my window down to see what he wanted. He asked if he could approach my truck. I asked him why he had his hands up, and why he thought he couldn't approach my truck. He replied that he didn't want me to shoot him. I asked if he had done anything to make me want to shoot him. He said you just couldn't be too careful in downtown Oakland at 3 a.m. I agreed.
I motioned for him to come ahead and so he stepped up onto the fuel tank and, smooth as hot honey, started in on his pitch.
It seems he was just discharged from the military and was on his way home to Georgia to see his wife and kids after two years of combat. His car had broken down and -- and at this point I might normally have simply rolled up my window and motioned for the orator to simply get the hell off my truck. But this guy was different. His spiel was so smooth, so believable and appealing that even though I knew he was lying through his teeth, I found that I wanted him to finish his story. Maybe I'd slip him a few bucks just for the entertainment.
When he was done I decided to play along for a few minutes to see how he'd handle it. I told him all about the Salvation Army and how he could hoof it right over to one of their centers and that they would, I promised, help him financially to get home. It was clear this had never been suggested to him and he didn't have a comeback for it, so he listened, feigning great interest -- well, interested he was, but only in how he might con the Salvation Army. I finally informed him that they would, of course, need to see his discharge papers (which he had conveniently lost), and would need to verify that he had family in Georgia (he said it had been so long he wasn't sure he could remember his own wife's phone number), and I assured him that once he jumped through those relatively simple hoops, they WOULD help him get home.Finally he shuffled off, mumbling something about going to find a Salvation Army center, and I got back to work.
Over the years I ran into a lot of those guys. There's a class of them that are SO damned good that it almost takes the professional observation of a clinical psychologist to see them for what they are -- cons. There's not an honest molecule in their bodies or brains. This upper crust of shyster is an enigma. They're polished, professional, experienced. They should be in show business, and I mean that sincerely. To get as far as they have, they need to have been naturally gifted, and they were. The trouble was, conning was their one and only skill. They had never interacted with the real world in any other way, for any other purpose. It's all they knew, all they would ever know; they couldn't stop if they wanted to, and, frankly, while they were absolutely brilliant at the business of conning, they were too damned dumb to realize that there was a whole universe out there that operated in reality -- a place they had never been, and didn't feel the need to visit. I came to recognize those guys more and more quickly and efficiently. I admired their determination. I admired their dedication to craft. They were truly impressive.
And so it was that, the first time I heard Barack Obama speak, I recognized that very same talent -- to the utter and complete exclusion of any shred of wisdom. The man, Obama, is a con. It's ALL he knows. If not for lucky happenstance, he'd be down there in Oakland, pawning his soul 53 times per night, eeking out a meager living conning the dumb and the gullible.
As it stands, he is down there every day, in Washington D.C., pawning his soul 153 times per day, raking in a good living by conning the dumb and the gullible. It's all he can do. He has no other talent or skill. Little by little, the absolute absence of wisdom is beginning to shine through in his administration. He surrounds himself with morons and other cons, because those are the people who "feel right" to him. Those smarter than him will see it in time. Those dumber, never, ever will. The man's credibility hype is breaking down because he has no substance whatsoever, and never has.
Obama is a big, disorganized wad of hot cotton candy. But it's starting to rain. God help America.