, Corbin, KY


November 4, 2013

Plenty of tricks, few treats

CORBIN — Halloween comes but once a year for most people. But if you live and work in the state capitol and write about government and politics, it sometimes seems as if it goes on year round. No one ever gets around to celebrating All Saints Day around here, probably because the saints seem in short supply.

The average person who looks to Frankfort or Washington for policies that improve the plight of all our citizens always seems to end up having tricks played on him while the well-off, well-connected who need little help always seem to get the treats.

Things are never quite what they seem on the surface. Or as the three weird sisters or witches in Macbeth put it: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.” Someone is always planning some sort of political intrigue.  “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” as the witches say.

Ghosts aplenty haunt the hallways, hallways full of smoke and mirrors. In addition to memories and shades of past governors, power brokers, BOPTROT and Kent Downey, zombie legislation every year returns from the grave. Come January, we’re likely to see gambling yet again rise from the dead as well as attempts by Republicans to resurrect right-to-work laws and efforts to repeal the prevailing wage law. People retire, begin to draw a pension and three months later magically reappear in their old jobs.

It’s even more frightening out on the campaign trail. Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate try to scare the wits out of us with horrific tales of “Obamascare.” We must vote for them to stop the boogeyman in the White House from destroying coal and Kentucky jobs. The Democrat says the Republican incumbent will burn our house down and paints him as that scary goblin, the guardian of gridlock.

Democrats are drowning us in debt; coddling the lazy. Republicans declare a war on women while Democrats cozy up to other Democrats from Nevada and Hawaii (or is he the one from Kenya?) who declare the war on coal; those mean, heartless Republicans will take away our Social Security and starve the poor. Big Brother is listening to our phone calls and wants to use eugenics to cull from our future those who won’t measure up. If you don’t believe me, well, check it out for yourself. It’s all right there in the movies or in Wikipedia. But you may wish to double-check the footnotes.

When the government isn’t trying to get in our bedrooms (goblins and boogeymen under your beds, kids) it’s trying to take over our healthcare and keep the insurance companies from choosing our doctors for us like they did before “Obamascare.” Grown men show up for tea parties dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers and carrying downright scary signs with snakes on them. Aliens are taking over our country and taking our jobs. One of them even stole the White House. But then if you listen to some, our elections are routinely stolen by voters without photo identification who pose as real voters.

Scared yet? It’s a wonder we can bear to get up in the morning or leave our houses.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. But I’ve actually heard politicians say most of those things, often with straight faces. Halloween goblins seem fairly mild and unthreatening compared to some of the dire pronouncements of those who would represent us. Maybe we should do as Gov. Steve Beshear suggests: “Take a deep breath and chill out.”

Otherwise, we’re stuck with nothing but trick or treat.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort, Ky. He may be contacted by email at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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