I'm not a big gambler. Maybe this is because I can't stand taking a carefree risk, or maybe it's because the pain of losing is always greater than the joy of winning. I know at least part of it is that I hate being patronized.

Take a moment to think about the casino experience: You are given a hotel room that is many times larger and far more opulent than the cost of the room reflects. You're served free alcohol by scantily clad women. The slot machines ring every five seconds; and, right above the roulette table is a screen that tells you the results of the previous eight spins of the wheel, as if to suggest that the tiny little silver ball could certainly not land on black one more time.

The casinos do all of these things for a very calculated reason: to delude gamblers into believing they can get something for nothing. It is the old bait-and-switch. Give them a little of what they want with one hand while you take something far greater with the other.

The modern day Republican party is much like a swanky Vegas casino. The controlling elements of the party pump the disenchanted with an intoxicating brew of anti-government rhetoric, paranoia and social conservatism all in an effort to increase their stranglehold on wealth and power.

One of my closest friends loves casinos. He says my problem is that I expect anything at all. Drink the drinks, enjoy the comps and hope you win. If you don't, then all you did was give the casino the money you would have spent elsewhere. He says my problem is simply perspective: It is not something for nothing. It is something for something.

I must say, my friend has a point. But, not everyone can afford to lose money in a casino. What happens when your casino losses are far greater than what you consumed? You lose and many times don't appreciate how much until it's too late, since you're so intoxicated on the free booze.

I'm afraid this has been the problem with Republican politics in Mississippi for far too long. The intoxicating brew of social conservatism has made it difficult for many to appreciate the damage the party has inflicted elsewhere.

I sure hope the razzle dazzle wears off soon. The Beau Rivage just hasn't been as nice since Steve Wynn got out. Here's hoping the Mississippi Republican Party will suffer a similar fate when Haley Barbour exits the stage.


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