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A Conmenist Takeover

The Conmenists began their rise to power in the 1950s with the infamous Marlboro Man ad campaign. Marlboro cigarettes had originally been promoted as “mild as May” and perfect for sophisticated women. But sales were dismal, and by the fifties the public had begun to suspect a link between smoking and cancer. To calm smokers’ fears, the tobacco industry began adding filters to cigarettes to trap some of that nasty cancer, and used actors dressed in lab coats to assure the public of their product’s safety. Philip Morris decided to add a filter to Marlboros and relaunch the brand. But how would they sell them to their best customers, young men, and overcome the perception of Marlboros as a sissified woman’s brand? The great advertising con man Leo Burnett came up with the answer. “I said, ‘What’s the most masculine symbol you can think of?’ And right off the top of his head one of our writers spoke up and said a cowboy. And I said, ‘That’s for sure.'” And thus was born the Marlboro Man, and the cigarette moved from being a nearly defunct brand to number one in the world, with a U.S. market share of 41%. This means that the Marlboro Man alone accounts for 180,000 of the annual deaths from smoking in our country (of 440,000 total). Go Cowboys! Or should I say, go Con Boys!

The Conmenists continued their inexorable rise to power, increasing their hold over the economy throughout the sixties and seventies by utilizing the greatest weapon ever created for conning people: television. With an endless series of ad campaigns for products ranging from the relatively benign Crest toothpaste (“Look Ma, no cavities!”), to nutritionless, cavity-causing sugar-water (“It’s the Real Thing!”), the con men used the most sophisticated scientific methods combined with the almost unlimited resources and industrial might of multi-national corporations, to take over an increasing share of the shelf-space in markets, the market share of every product sector, and the psychic space of their target audiences, the American public, who were soon given a new name: the consumer. Whatever the con men wanted to con the consumer to consume – from the savory cardiovascular time-bombs of McDonalds (“You deserve a break today!”) to bitter, watered down beer (“Tastes great, less filling!”) – they found ways to make us willingly line up to buy. They got us to fill our giant sized shopping carts with antibiotic pumped animals raised in suffocating death camps (“Frank Perdue: it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”), overpriced shoes made by virtual slave labor (“Just do it!”), and even toxic chemicals to change our physical appearance (“Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure”).

But the turning point in the Conmenist takeover came when the con men hired a Hollywood actor to turn the Marlboro Man persona into a presidential candidate. With the help of the greatest advertising minds of their generation, the con men managed to sell their candidate the same way that they were able to sell crappy hamburgers, beer, or breakfast cereal (“Reagan for President: It’s morning again in America!”). From that point on they realized they didn’t need to find a real leader in order to take over the U.S. government, just somebody who could play one on TV. America has never been the same since.

George Bush, the latest hack chosen to play the part of Marlboro Man, wasn’t even an actor, although he did perform as a Yale college cheerleader. Since this faux-cowboy came to power, he has given his con men creators carte blanche to write the laws governing their own industries, and then come up with slogans to sell to consumers. To gut the Clean Air Act, highly polluting energy industries secretly wrote the Clear Skies Initiative. To encourage clear cutting of wilderness areas the timber industry wrote the Healthy Forests Act. Gutting civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution became The Patriot Act.

Every lie the Conmenist Politburo wanted us to believe was turned into an ad slogan. When they wanted to sell us a war in Iraq they waited until September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of 9/11. “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August,” explained Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card. And he should know, since his previous position was as head of the trade association for the Big Three automakers. Then the ad campaign began in earnest. “The smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” “Shock and Awe.” “Mission Accomplished.” “Bring ’em on!” “The insurgency is in its last throes.” And now that the whole war has gone to shit, and all the reasons for starting it revealed as lies, “We must fight the terrorists where they live so we don’t have to fight them where we live.” In the meantime, our incredibly gullible consumer representatives in congress just bought another $100 billion worth of this worthless product with our credit cards (“I can’t believe I bought the whole thing”).

Right now the Conmenists are eavesdropping on our private conversations (“Reach out and touch someone”). They’ve turned the U.S. Treasury into a piggybank for special interests (“Have it your way”). They’ve invaded Iraq to try to pillage their oil (“Good till the last drop”), and are debating whether to attack Iran, another oil-rich country (“Betcha can’t eat just one”). No one in the mainstream media seems to care that our leaders are out of their minds (“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”). This will probably continue as long as most countries around the world continue to front us more consumer goodies (“Visa: Don’t leave home without it”).

So the con men running things will keep reading Forbes (“Capitalist tool”), driving their “ultimate driving machines,” and buying the latest, coolest toy available (“Because I’m worth it”). The Conmenist takeover is complete. Everyone is completely under the con mens’ spell. They’ve even managed to con themselves.

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