Friday, January 23, 2015

Tidbits & Ironies

I am like a squirrel but instead of storing nuts in a hollow tree trunk for future consumption, I store idle thoughts away in my in-box. Then one fine day, I decide it’s time to empty the contents on an unsuspecting world. This is that day.

To start with, a doctor friend of mine informed me that while taking a patient’s history before performing an appendectomy, he discovered she was receiving Social Security disability and was on Medicare/Medicaid, but the only ID she had other than the benefit cards was a Mexican voter photo ID.

When my friend, who speaks Spanish, asked her if photo IDs were required to vote in Mexico, she said they were because the Mexicans didn’t want people who were in Mexico illegally to be able to vote. Apparently she thought that was only sensible, as do I, but unlike her, I’m aware of the irony.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, a black lawyer named Larry L. Archie has paid for a billboard that reads: “Just Because You Did It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty.” Now that’s what I call an honest lawyer, though not necessarily an honest man.

It doesn’t mean anything, but I find it odd that a century ago, Russia was saddled with a creep named Rasputin and today it’s run by a creep named Putin. At this rate, in another hundred years, they’ll probably be stuck with some schmuck named Tin.

I’ve heard that HarperCollins is reconsidering its decision to print an atlas to be sold in the Middle East that doesn’t include Israel in its pages. It makes for interesting speculation. Would HarperCollins be willing to remove South Korea from atlases sold in North Korea? Would they be open to Putin’s request to place Ukraine within Russia’s borders? Or to the Islamic demand that London be renamed Londonistan?

In “Fiddler on the Roof,” one of the songs has a lyric: “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.” Perhaps the folks at HarperCollins could adapt it to “Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map” and use it in their commercials.

Recently, I heard rumors that Hillary Clinton had a hissy fit when she heard that her husband had been involved with teenage sex slaves. I can’t imagine why at this late date she would have a reaction to anything involving Bill’s penis. But it did get me pondering how rarely politicians and their wives get divorced. Only a few come readily to mind: Newt Gingrich, Mark Sanford and Ronald Reagan. And in Reagan’s case, he and Jane Wyman split before he entered politics.

It doesn’t make sense. I mean, millionaires get divorced, movie stars get divorced, divas get divorced, so why not politicians? The fact is that some of those other people are not only rich, but, unlike politicians, are good-looking and have discernible personalities. It makes you wonder: When politicians tie the knot, do they merely pledge vows like the rest of us or do they take blood oaths?

In the wake of the recent French massacres, while Obama was on the hustings campaigning for no-fee community colleges and President Hollande was assuring everyone that the jihadists spilling all that innocent French blood had nothing whatever to do with Islam, it took Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a Muslim, to confront his nation’s imams and call for a religious revolution.

Of course Obama already disapproves of Sisi because, as a general, he had led a military coup that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood. Whereas any other American president would have applauded the action, Obama cut off foreign aid to the one Muslim nation that isn’t a theocratic sewer led by those determined to kill us.

Speaking of Muslims, I am getting awfully tired of those in the West, nearly always liberal secularists, who insist they can tell the difference between good Muslims and bad ones. To me, pretending that most of Allah’s followers are MINOs (Muslims in name only) is as childish as pretending Islam is a peaceful religion. Still, I agree that there are two kinds of Muslims, though, those who’d slice the throat of any infidel and those who would merely applaud their efforts.

Like most “wealth distributors,” Elizabeth Warren talks the talk, but takes a nap or gives a speech whenever it’s time to walk the walk. As of 2012, when she had to disclose her finances because she was running for the Senate, her net worth was $14.5 million and she lived in a home valued at five million dollars. In 2009, when, between her Harvard salary and her stock investments, she made $980,000, this great champion of the poor and needy donated a measly two percent to charity.

Speaking of money, I suppose we’re all aware of the trick that inflation can play on finances. In one era, a man can raise a family comfortably on an annual income of $2,000 and years later, he wouldn’t be able to pull it off on $25,000. But I recently saw a couple of movies that really drove the point home.

In “The More the Merrier” (1943), before falling for Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur is engaged to a stuffy government bureaucrat whose most notable selling point was his $8,000-a-year salary.

In “Charade” (1963), four thieves spend the better part of 18 years in pursuit of a treasure worth $250,000. It’s true that by the end of the movie, three of them are dead, along with a fifth thief who had gotten to the gold first. But, still, four men devoting 18 years in hopes of splitting $250,000 works out to $3,472-per man-per-year. Keep in mind that in 1963, the average income was $4,396. So, if instead of chasing around Europe and giving Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn a hard time, they had gone to work for the Post Office, they’d have had homes, cars and a little something put away for a rainy day.

I saw a photo of Mt. Rushmore recently and found myself wondering if, early on, Jefferson’s nose had fallen off, they would have cancelled the entire project.

A reader, Tanya Caligiuri, sent me a joke I thought worth sharing: It seems Al Sharpton was at Sears shopping for a new washing machine and, as usual, raising a ruckus with a salesman. Hoping to calm things down, the manager rushed over and asked Sharpton what the problem was.

“The problem,” Sharpton replied, “is that all the machines are off-white, egg-white or white-white.”

“Well, Reverend, it’s true that the machines are white, but if you’ll open the lids, you’ll be happy to see that all the agitators are black.”

It occurred to me that a man needs two goals: One that he can actually achieve and one to which he can merely aspire. The first will convince him that anything is possible, while the second will prevent him from resting on his laurels.

In emptying my in-box, I have achieved my first, leading me to momentarily believe I can prevent it from ever getting that crowded again.

©2015 Burt Prelutsky. Comments?