Friday, February 27, 2015

The Buck Stops Way Over There


Harry Truman, who apparently really didn’t wish to be President, but was thrust by FDR’s death into the job, had a sign on his desk that announced “The Buck Stops Here.” It meant that if you had a problem with his administration, you took it up with him, not one of his underlings.

So, if you didn’t like the fact that dropping two atom bombs on Japan brought World War II to a quick and satisfactory conclusion, your problem wasn’t with Secretary of War Henry Stimson or Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, but with the man who ordered them dropped. It was Truman’s way of saying that if you can’t take the heat, stay the hell out of the Oval Office.

In Barack Obama, we have a man who never takes responsibility when something goes wrong, such as ISIS filling the vacuum he left behind in Iraq, but credit for anything that goes right, such as the execution of Osama bin Laden. When he reported the good news to the world, judging by the number of times he said “I,” “me” and “myself,” you would have thought that, like Brian Williams, he had been the first Navy Seal, guns blazing, into bin Laden’s compound.

I will now confess that I am so bourgeois in my taste when it comes to art that I really only like paintings or pictures that have recognizable people in them. Whereas I understand that some people hate it when their friends bring back snapshots from their trips that show themselves standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, in my case, I prefer to see the friends.

That, no doubt, is why I prefer, say, Rembrandt and Norman Rockwell to Picasso and Pollack.

On the other hand, it might explain why I can never recognize embryos in sonograms or archers, scorpions and crabs, in the evening sky.

Moving on, I hope you all understand that nobody holds the Second Amendment in higher regard than I do. But why on earth did Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield think it was a good idea to take Eddie Ray Routh to a gun range and stick a loaded gun in his mitts, especially in light of the fact that during the drive to the range, they exchanged text messages agreeing that Routh was obviously a dangerous loon?

I get it that they were two terrific guys who wanted to reach out to a fellow veteran, one suffering from PTSD, and let him know that he wasn’t alone. But was the zoo closed? Were there no bowling alleys in town? Was taking him for a quiet walk and talk in the countryside out of the question? Would playing a game of gin rummy have been in violation of the macho code?

Long before Routh murdered the two Samaritans, I was confounded by the fact that Andrew Tahmooressi, who wound up spending months in a Mexican jail, and had also been diagnosed with PTSD, had set off on a hunting trip with three loaded guns in his truck.

We are repeatedly told that these victims of battle stress can be set off by loud noises, so don’t their friends and loved ones have a responsibility to keep guns out of their hands the same way they would do everything in their power to protect a child?

Speaking of Eddie Ray Routh, why is insanity a legitimate defense against murder? Whether a person kills you because he wants your money or because he hears voices telling him you’re in league with the devil and are trying to steal his eternal soul, you are still dead as a doornail. To me, that simple fact would trump his motive, no matter what it was.

Speaking of which, the lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are naturally seeking a change of venue, feeling that he might not be able to find an impartial jury in Boston. To my way of thinking, if he didn’t want to be tried in Boston, he and his brother should have set off explosions somewhere else. Preferably, I’d suggest, in Teheran.

In addition, the Sixth Amendment states, among other things, that "...the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."

Defense attorneys will insist that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in the district where a particularly heinous crime has taken place. Well, it may take a tad longer to find 12 people in the specific area who are genuinely unaware of what's been going on around them, but eventually they'll turn up. And inasmuch as 70 million Americans voted to re-elect Barack Obama, I'm betting it won't take long at all.

There are times when liberals say such silly things when trying to defend their sleazy actions, I’m almost willing to give them a pass because I find their excuses so pathetic and so amusing.

For instance, when Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her husband were discovered having used her congressional campaign funds to attend the recent Grammy Awards, Rep. Wasserman-Schultz, head of the DNC, announced she just happened to be in L.A. on a fact-finding mission to learn the issues most important to the music industry. And of course, being a congresswoman in Florida, which isn’t all that far away from Nashville, that would be of utmost concern to her.

I expect that the main fact she carried away that evening was that Kanye West didn’t think that Beck David Campbell, who calls himself just plain Beck, should have accepted a Grammy that West was convinced Beyonce deserved. When West ran on stage to make his objection known, Beck, who looks like a combination of Don Knotts and a used mop, must have thought West was after his milk money.

Proving himself to be one Beck that you can judge by its cover, Mr. Campbell quickly assured Mr. West that he, too, thought Beyonce deserved the award.

Once she realized that there were no Republicans involved in the contretemps, Mrs. Wasserman-Schultz saw no reason to take sides, and went home.

©2015 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Growing Up in California


Shortly after I turned six, my family left Chicago and moved to L.A. Because even at that age, the smell of wet woolens hanging in the kindergarten cloakroom was already a stench I found as unappealing as my mother’s Friday night special, barley soup, I was happy to move to the land of eternal sunshine.

In those days, California was the state that was to be the model for America’s future. Its schools were the best, industry was booming, the San Joaquin Valley produced most of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, Hollywood was still a magnet for the most talented people in the world and Republicans were winning most of the statewide elections.

Over the decades, all of that changed, but it is still a template for much of the nation. The problem now is that the schools are indoctrination centers for the Left; there is no industry; thanks to the environmentalists, the San Joaquin Valley is now the San Joaquin Desert because the water has been cut off from the farmers for the sake of a two-inch inedible fish known as the delta smelt; Hollywood has become a magnet for zombies spewing left-wing talking points; and no Republican can even come close to winning a statewide election.

On top of all that, we now have about 40 million people, many of them here illegally, tying up traffic, overcrowding schools and jails, and pushing up tax rates.

The state legislators, 70% of whom are Democrats, naturally believe that feeding and clothing illegal aliens is more important than jailing criminals and has adopted the fishing technique known as catch-and-release. Only instead of releasing fish too small to catch legally, they’re releasing car thieves, drug dealers and child molesters, by simply declaring certain felonies to be misdemeanors.

In their endless search for ways to decrease the prison population, one fully expects that the next logical step will be to simply decriminalize bank robberies, rapes and homicides.

When you see how casually Obama and Kerry are carrying on negotiations with Iran, refusing to even threaten increased sanctions as a means to apply pressure, one might assume they don’t see any reason to fear a nuclear Islamic theocracy. Pushed for an explanation, they might argue that nuclear bombs have been with us for a long time and so far nobody has dropped one in anger. And when you realize that among the nations that have nuclear bombs – the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – four are vile and one, North Korea, is pathological, they might seem to have a point.

However, the reason that none of the nine, however sorely tempted, has done so is out of fear. No matter how Kim Jong-un may feel about South Korea, he’s not about to drop the bomb because he doesn’t want to risk having one dropped on his head. In diplomatic circles, it’s called the nuclear deterrent.

But Iran is a whole different can of worms. Its leaders are as crazy as Kim Jong-un, but it’s a different sort of crazy. Kim Jong-un wants to continue living, if only to keep having Dennis Rodman over to talk basketball. But as we’ve seen after decades of suicide bombings, including 9/11, Islam is not a religion whose practitioners place a great deal of value on life -- their own or anyone else’s.

Perhaps because Obama and Kerry never had reason to learn that you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, they don’t understand that you never let the guy who doesn’t mind dying for his religion, get his hands on a nuclear bomb. As policy, the rule in such a case is that you nuke him first and send a condolence card later.

Because Scott Walker not only stood up to the unions in Wisconsin, but has sprinted to the lead in a great many polls, the Democrats have already begun attacking him. But if the attacks are going to gain any traction with most Americans, they’ll have to do better than point out, as they recently did, that he dropped out of Marquette University before graduating and that his worst subject was French. For some of us, those are two additional reasons to vote for the guy.

Sometimes even I am taken aback at the stupidity of liberals. For instance, how is it that so many of them continue to promote socialism as a way of life? I mean, if it was merely a theory, I can see how it might appeal to some. However, we have not only seen how it inevitably morphs into communism, but we have seen the ugly results in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Cambodia and Cuba. Even in places that started out with socialism, such as China and Israel, the leaders eventually saw the error of their ways and converted to capitalism.

But, then, leftists simply aren’t very bright. Otherwise, they would have asked themselves just how was it possible to provide health care for 40 million uninsured Americans and still manage to save the average family $2,500.

Because I take baseball more seriously than I take a great many other things, I was disgusted when I found out that the Little League baseball team from Chicago had cheated its way to the national title by using out of the district ringers on the team. Furthermore, the fact that the team was named after the great and courageous Jackie Robinson made it even more shameful.

But, as often happens when politicians and the media get involved with any story, it only got worse. I was hearing TV news people and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel spinning the story as only they can. The conclusion they came to was that the coaches should have been punished, but it was wrong to take the title away from the kids because they had done nothing wrong.

Of course they had. They had stolen the thrill of honest victory from the teams they had defeated. I can assure you that every single kid was aware of the fact there were players on their team who had no business being there. They knew they had cheated in order to win, and they were just fine with it.

Then, compounding the problem, instead of being chastised for cheating, the grown-ups, including their parents, essentially told them that their only mistake was getting caught. But, then, that’s the same message that San Francisco Giants fans sent Barry Bonds when they cheered him for breaking home records they knew were tainted, and just as fans of the Cubs, Cardinals and Yankees, did when they rooted for Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez.

Finally, when I heard that without warning, Jon Stewart suddenly announced he was leaving his show, my initial thought was that the man who had been born Jonathan Leibowitz had belatedly come to his senses, and decided that he could no longer, in good conscience, spend his life ridiculing conservatives.

But after thinking about it, I realized that he would be leaving his show at Comedy Central at just about the same time that Brian Williams would be ending his six month suspension at NBC. Wouldn’t it make sense that Williams, who regards himself as a born comedian, and Stewart, who takes himself very seriously as a political pundit, would simply swap jobs?

©2015 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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