TRUST, BUT VERIFY
by Burt Prelutsky
I recently lied in an article. I didn’t know I was lying, but I did, and several people rightly called me on it. I praised Clark Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, for having backed President Trump in his admonishment of the NFL’s players, owners and Commissioner Goodell, for expressing their collective contempt for the flag and the National Anthem.
My mistake was in relying on someone who, in the past, had never steered me wrong. I’m sure he believed it was true when he passed the story along. For my part, I knew nothing about Mr. Hunt, aside from the fact that he is the son of the late Lamar Hunt. I simply assumed that there had to be at least one team owner who understood, if not as a patriot, at least as a businessman, that it‘s a very bad idea to insult the majority of your fan base. It also made sense to me that if there were one such team owner, the team would very likely be situated in the middle of what has come to be known as flyover country.
This doesn’t mean I will never again make the mistake of passing along fake news. It merely means that, unlike the other news and commentary outlets, if I discover that I blew it, I’ll let you know about it as soon as I can. I wouldn't want to be the reason any of my readers lost a bet.
● On the other hand, my brain doesn’t always cooperate with my eyes. Or vice versa. For instance, I recently typed “prostate” when I meant “prostrate,” and didn’t spot the mistake until after I had posted the article.
Then, the other day, I was typing up the names of the liar-nObama team I wanted the Justice Department to indict. When I read the paragraph over, instead of seeing liar-Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Lois Lerner, Ben Rhodes, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, I saw liar-Clinton, Abedin, Lerner, Rhodes, Samantha Egger and Rice.
Samantha Egger?! Where the heck had that come from? She was a mediocre English actress I probably hadn’t seen in a movie in over 40 years and here she popped up in place of our former ambassador to the U.N. So, not only do I have to deal with my failing eyesight and my inadequate typing skills, but a subconscious I can’t help thinking is out to sabotage me.
● I confess I don’t know why those connected with professional football have allowed themselves to act as stooges on behalf of the rats who spend their every waking hour trying to drive a wedge between various groups of Americans, based on race, religion, gender, class and even geography. But, then, even before this recent brouhaha, there were those who referred to the NFL as the National Felons League.
Although there are exceptions to the rule, the reason that so many guys pulling down millions of dollars for playing a game are so resentful of the cops isn’t because they or their male relatives have been stopped so often for DWB (driving while black), as they invariably insist, but because so many of them have been charged with possession of drugs and/or illegal weapons, sexual assault and domestic violence.
That still doesn’t explain why the owners of the teams seem to have decided it makes sense to stand united with their employees, while expressing contempt for the nation, the President and most of the fans.
The only theory I’ve come up with that makes the slightest bit of sense is that the owners feared the players would no longer invite them to the sex orgies with nubile young groupies.
● I thought President Trump made a big mistake when he traveled to Alabama to campaign on behalf of Luther Strange. It’s not because I favored Roy Moore. I didn’t. I don’t really care who the senator from Alabama happens to be. All I ask of any senator at this point is that he help Trump pass tax reform and tax cuts, that he back the building of the Wall, that he support Trump’s travel bans, the build-up of the military and the repeal of liar-nObamaCare.
All of those things, Strange promised to do. Senator Moore will very likely be more of a loose cannon, and in McConnell, Ryan, RINO-McCain, RINO-Flake, Paul, RINO-Murkowski, RINO-Collins and Cruz, Trump already has more of those than he needs.
But my main reason for thinking Trump should have stayed home is because by favoring Mitch McConnell’s choice, who out-spent Moore by a seven-to-one margin, Trump not only aligned himself with the so-called establishment, but let people like Rand Paul, RINO-Lisa Murkowski, RINO-John McCain, RINO-Jeff Flake, Paul Ryan and RINO-Susan Collins, know they can continue to oppose Trump’s agenda without risking political suicide.
● Sen. Bob Menendez and Secretary Tom Price exemplify political bi-partisanship; two corrupt hacks, one a Democrat, the other a Republican, who decided along the way that the rules don’t apply to them.
I suppose if you become accustomed to having your face on TV, being interviewed by the media and pandered to by your underlings, you come to regard private jets, luxurious hotels and even cash bribes, as perfectly legitimate perks of the job.
When I consider what a sacred privilege it should be to hold public office in the United States and I see guys like Menendez and Price behaving like a couple of unrepentant sleazebuckets, it makes me long for the old days when the Roman punishment for such political malfeasance was being sewn up in a burlap bag with a wild cat and tossed in the river.
● Although I have been a baseball fan for nearly 70 years, I am still puzzled by certain idiosyncrasies of the game. I have no idea when these particular things began or even why. I welcome any and all theories.
Why do teams celebrate World Series victories by congregating at the pitcher’s mound and piling on top of each other? I am always surprised when the pile is eventually untangled and those on the bottom don’t emerge with broken limbs and career-ending injuries.
Why, when a batter hits a home run, does he point skyward as he crosses home plate? If he’s thanking God, wouldn’t that suggest that God has money on the game and therefore has a rooting interest in seeing the other team lose?
Why, when in the bottom of the 9th inning, someone scores the winning run for the home team and the entire squad greets him as he crosses the plate, do they all hop up and down like little girls at the sighting of a teenage heartthrob?
And, finally, why is there so much spitting in baseball? They spit at the plate, when on base and even in the dugout. Why is it that no other group of athletes engage in such a nasty habit? Even professional football players, as we’ve seen, make certain they only spit in the direction of the flag.
● With all the big talk about draining the swamp, has it occurred to anyone else that in opening the door to the likes of Mike Flynn, Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort and Tom Price, Trump has added to the mosquito population?
● I don’t read the NY Times because, as I confessed, I prefer making up my own fake news. But Penny Alfonso alerted me to the fact that in a recent piece about Trump’s tax cut plan, Binyamin Applebaum wrote the following sentence: “The plan would not benefit lower-income households that do not pay federal income taxes.”
That being the case, nobody should be too surprised when in the coming debate, Chuck clown-Schumer and Nancy Pulosi voice their moral outrage over poor people who pay no income taxes not receiving the same tax cuts as the very rich, who pick up the tab for roughly 70% of the money Internal Revenue collects.
● Speaking of collecting, at times I have been as relentless as the IRS. Back in my 20s, I received an assignment from the Sunday supplement of the Chicago Tribune. They wanted me to do a piece about the coming TV season. The big news was that the networks were going to cut down on dramas and sit coms, turning over the time slots to two-hour TV movies.
The editor was quite specific. He told me that he wanted to hear from producers how the change would affect them; I wasn’t to delve into the specific economics. It was enough that some TV producers, those with experience turning out hour-long dramas, would naturally profit, while those who specialized in half-hour shows would take a hit.
I didn’t think it was a terribly fascinating story, but I thought I got some interesting quotes from producers, actors and studio executives, and mailed in the article, knowing I had done what was expected, and perhaps even a little bit more than expected.
You can imagine my shock when the editor let me know he was disappointed. The shock turned to anger when he said he had no intention of paying me because I hadn’t even mentioned the economics.
It was his turn to become infuriated when I pointed out I had been following his orders to avoid what he had referred to as the “dry as dust” financial details.
No sooner had he hung up then I addressed my complaint to his boss, the managing editor of the Tribune. He said he made it his rule not to override the decisions of his editors. He believed in granting them complete autonomy, especially, I gathered, when it came to bilking freelance writers.
By now, it was no longer just the money, it was the principle. They felt they had the right to lie and cheat simply because they could get away with it, and they weren’t even politicians!
I came up with an idea. Because both the editor of the Sunday supplement and his superior had unusual last names, I wrote to a cousin who still lived in Chicago. I asked him to check out the local phone books and let me know if he could find home addresses for the two schmucks.
He got back to me a day or two later with two addresses. I then sat down and wrote letters, not to the editors, but to their wives. I spelled out the events exactly as I shared them with you. Only at the end of the letter, I pointed out that at some time in the future, if they pursued writing careers, their own sons might be dealing with editors 2,000 miles away, and how would they, as mothers, feel about it if they were treated as shabbily as I’d been.
I never heard back from the wives or the editors, but a week later, I received a check from the Chicago Tribune for the entire amount I was owed.
● Richard Ryan is the lucky winner of the September book drawing. A copy of “Angels on Tap” is on its way to Lamar, MO.