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Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's Alive!


I don't remember exactly when Idaho potato magnate J. R. Simplot moved from my mental living to dead folders. It's been so long since his oversized flag was sued out of existence because of its horrendous flapping noise twenty-four hours a day. When you think "flag", most folk think of the cloth emblem flying in front of the post office or high school. Simplot's American flag was more like the mainsail of an old square rigger, except bigger.

Simplot bounced back into my field of vision when Forbes Magazine ran an article on the oldest billionaires in the US. There was JR. At ninety eight the old cranky coot looks just like what one would think a crusty hyper right wing billionaire should look. Damn, he's still alive. Now I was raised in Dallas in the days when one of America's first billionaires, H.L. Hunt, wielded his oil money like a blunt political weapon from his pseudo Mount Vernon mansion.

We have a healthy population of kooks from sea to shining sea, and odds are some must be billionaires. Simplot, in the Daddy Warbucks tradition, felt himself above the law in his little puddle of Idaho politics. With a bit of jiggery-pokery he funded several house and senate campaigns in excess of federal and state limits. He was caught, prosecuted and convicted. As a convicted felon he lost his voting rights and right to own firearms. With the election of Reagan Simplot was quickly pardoned and by vote of congress, had his right to own firearms restored. Lets see a black kid busted with a with a couple of joints in his pocket pull off that little trick.

Anyway, he's not dead. He's breathing and still financing hyper right wing politics of the sort only found in Idaho.

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