Friday, June 26, 2015

"A Mess of Pottage" and "Playing the Trump Card"

Although it doesn’t appear in any English translation of Genesis, “a mess of pottage” has come to mean something precious, such as Esau’s birthright, which he surrendered to his twin brother, Jacob, in exchange for something essentially worthless, “pottage” referring to a thin gruel.

That is the bargain that the liberals have made, trading away the glorious endowment handed down by our Founders for the gruel of the welfare state, which demands nothing of the individual except that he continue to vote for more of the same.

I fully understand that the Confederate battle flag raises hackles among a great many people. I also understand that for a lot of Southerners, people who tend to have a great love of their region and a respect for those who fought and died on its behalf, the Stars and Bars represents a connection to their ancestors, most of whom did not own slaves or even necessarily favor slavery.

I, myself, don’t have a dog in the fight. If those who are offended by seeing the flag fly over their state capitals or see it emblazoned on their license plates decide that enough is enough and decide to fold it up and stick it under glass in a museum, I’m fine with it.

But I would like to point out two salient facts. One, whereas slavery existed under the Confederate flag for a scant four years, it existed under the American flag for seven long decades.

Two, as my friend Steve Maikoski reminds me, if the Confederate flag is so odious that it has to be removed from the sight of decent people, isn’t it time to do something about West Virginia’s obsession with naming things after Robert Byrd? After all, Byrd was a man who rose -- if that’s the proper verb to use in noting ascension in such a vile gang -- to the rank of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan. In case you don’t remember him, Byrd served six years in the House before moving to the U.S. Senate, where he spent 52 of his eventual 92 years representing West Virginia. Through guile and seniority, he managed to become something on the order of the Kleagle of that not so august body.

Anytime you turn around in West Virginia, you are going to see an institute, a bridge, a street, a library, a high school, a community center, a courthouse, a hospital or a park, named in his honor. If you then walk a few feet in any direction, you will then see a research center, a museum, a school or a garden, named after his wife, Erma Ora Byrd.

I mean, it’s not as if there haven’t been any notable people born in the Mountain State. Just a few of them were Chuck Yeager, Pearl Buck, Jerry West, Mary Lou Retton and Don Knotts. Okay, so maybe that’s most of them, but I’d say they are all more worthy of having stuff named after them than an Exalted Cyclops. On top of that, Byrd wasn’t even born in West Virginia. The swine who grew up to be the acknowledged “King of Pork” in the U.S. Senate was actually born in North Carolina.

I keep hearing from delusional Republicans who are already letting me know that if they don’t absolutely love the GOP candidate in 2016, even if it means Hillary Clinton gets elected, intend to stay home on Election Day. I simply don’t get it. The truth is I dislike Rand Paul almost as much as I dislike his father, but I would climb off my death bed to vote for him rather than allow Hillary to get within a country mile of the Oval Office.

If for no other reason than that the next president is not only likely to name Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court, but also Antonin Scalia’s, Clarence Thomas’s, Anthony Kennedy’s and Stephen Breyer’s. After all, on Inauguration Day, 2017, Ginsburg will be 84, Scalia, 81, Kennedy, 80 and Breyer 79. And by 2021, they will all be four years older or deceased.

(I wrote that paragraph prior to the Court’s pigheaded justification of the subsidies. It now becomes clear that I was wrong in defending John Roberts back in 2012 when, in spite of the government’s arguing that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t a tax, he decided it was. At the time, I believed he voted the way he did because with the presidential election just months off, he felt Mitt Romney would do away with the ACA, and the Court could thus avoid making a ruling that would be every bit as controversial as Roe v. Wade and the 2000 presidential election.

So, while I would still prefer that a Republican president be the one to nominate justices, I would urge them to do a great deal more vetting than George I did in seating David Souter and George II did when it came to John Roberts.)

For better or for worse, the Supreme Court is the legacy that every president leaves us. When you realize that Bill Clinton gave us Breyer and Ginsburg, and Obama has given us Kagan and Sotomayor, I can’t begin to fathom how any rational human being can accept Hillary Clinton getting to pack the Court with three or four more of these uber-liberal pinheads.

Did everyone notice how eager the very same people who pretend that “separation of church and state” actually appears in the Constitution glommed onto Pope Francis’s encyclical regarding global warming, wrapping themselves in the cozy folds of the papal vestments?

Naturally, they didn’t refer to or even pause to consider his objections to abortions and homosexuality. As they see it, even those officially deemed infallible can be forgiven for being occasionally fallible. For them, the important thing is that Francis parroted Al Gore’s lies about what they both pretend is the greatest danger facing mankind.

The major differences lie in their motives. Gore promotes the hoax because doing so has made him enormously wealthy. Francis’s motivation is even sleazier. He pushes the Doom’s Day narrative because he is a South American communist who despises capitalism and has nothing but contempt for the industrial nations.

Just like Obama, who vowed to destroy the coal and oil industries and send our energy costs soaring, Francis wishes to destroy capitalism even if the end result is that millions of poor people, a great many of them Catholics, will inevitably freeze to death.

In the end, such blatant cynicism may deny the Pontiff sainthood and even, for all I know, keep him out of Heaven, but in the meantime is very likely to garner him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Playing the Trump Card

Like everyone else, including Charles Krauthammer, I assumed that Donald Trump was merely promoting his brand when earlier this year he announced he was considering a run for the presidency. Like Lucy yanking aside the football just before Charlie Brown can kick it, Trump had yanked America’s chain four or five times in the past by pretending he was going to toss his hair in the ring.

Now that he has finally done it, I celebrate his candidacy for a number of reasons. First, you need to understand that I think that everyone who runs for the office is certifiably insane. Imagine waking up one day and deciding that in a nation of 320,000,000, you and you alone should be in charge.

Although you will, once you plant your keester in the Oval Office, surround yourself with advisors and policy wonks, you will be the person responsible for making final decisions about sending the military to fight and die on your order; about Supreme Court judgeships and appointments to the departments of State, Agriculture, Education, Interior, Health and Defense; about tariffs and subsidies; about the federal debt; and on and on it goes.

To seriously believe you are up to the task is to proclaim yourself the single wisest and most competent man or woman in the entire country. Such a person, I suggest, should go directly to an asylum for the terminally cuckoo, not the White House.

I recently saw Paul Ryan on TV being interviewed by Chris Wallace. Mr. Wallace reminded Ryan that he had run for the vice presidency in 2012, and wondered if he were the least bit tempted to join all the others running for the top spot in 2016. The congressman said he wasn’t, not the least little bit. Ryan told Wallace that he had spent the previous day playing basketball with his sons, implying that was something none of the others who were already wearing out the ground between Iowa and New Hampshire would have time to do for at least the next year.

That reminded me how tough it must be to be the son or daughter of a politician, having to live in a fishbowl, knowing that any slight blemish on your own record could sink your parent’s career. But as bad as it is if your mother or father is in the House or the Senate, if he or she winds up in the White House, you wind up in the custody of the Secret Service.

Although four of Trump’s children are in their 20s or 30s, his son Barron is still only nine. The one redeeming factor is that the son of Donald Trump can’t help living in a glass house, so by now little Barron may already be accustomed to the role. It’s even possible that he’d see more of his old man once Donald was ensconced in the White House and not zipping all over the globe building towers and golf courses.

Speaking personally, on the plus side, if I’m going to be stuck with seeing the First Lady on every magazine cover in America and being interviewed every ten minutes on TV, I’d prefer it be someone like Mrs. Trump. One thing you have to say about the Donald is that his wives are always lookers, and nobody ever has to pretend that her best features are her biceps and her manly shoulders.

Besides, if Donald’s wife, like all the other First Ladies, is compelled to have a pet project, it will probably involve something a lot less boring than beautifying Washington, D.C. or making everybody’s kids eat their veggies.

I initially came to like Trump many years ago when he was trying to make it his mission to get the U.S. out of the U.N., and get the U.N. booted out of the U.S. He even offered to pay a fair price for the building, which he proposed to tear down so he could build a five-star hotel on the site.

Something else Trump has going for him is a nine billion dollar fortune. Even if it's only half that amount, allowing for Trump's usual hyperbole, I am getting sick and tired of GOP candidates having to go hat-in-hand to the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson for campaign contributions. I have nothing against the Kochs or Mr. Adelson, aside from their reluctance to invest in the media, which would benefit conservatism far more than simply handing millions of dollars over to a Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to waste.

Yet another plus for Mr. Trump is that he stands 6’3”. In nearly every presidential election, the taller candidate wins. One can rail at height bigotry -- and God knows I do! -- but it’s a reality and in a presidential race, nothing should be left to chance.

At the very least, even if he doesn’t garner the nomination, Trump’s brand of plain speaking about everything from immigration and trade deficits to Islam and China's evil ways, has to have a beneficial effect on the other Republican candidates. One hopes he can move them further to the right, in much the same way that Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and even an undeclared Elizabeth Warren has prompted Hillary’s lurch leftward.

I'm not saying that Trump is my first choice, but he is certainly in my top tier along with the likes of Walker, Rubio, Perry, Jindal and Fiorina.

Speaking of Carly Fiorina, assuming she doesn't get the nod, I would endorse her to be our vice-presidential candidate because, like Trump, she is someone who has achieved great success in the real world, where the competition is fierce and it’s for something more than face time on the 6 o’clock news.

As I see it, the worst thing about politics in America is that far too often we leave it in the incompetent, self-serving, hands of career politicians.

Probably the very best things I can say on Donald Trump’s behalf are that he is as politically incorrect as I am and that, unlike the other contenders, he doesn’t feel the need to take a poll before voicing an honest opinion.

©2015 Burt Prelutsky. Comments?