Idle and Not So Idle Thoughts

| August 28 2013
Burt Prelutsky

When older people compare contemporary times with days gone by, they usually report that when it comes to child-rearing, general civility, education, popular music and patriotism, things were far better in the 40s and 50s.  The areas in which modern times tend to win the day are life-saving pharmaceuticals, dentistry and surgical procedures.

One of the worst things about modern life, I think we’d all agree, is the four-hour window we have all come to accept.  Whether it’s some form of home repair or having a major appliance delivered and installed, you have to decide whether you want to wait around from 8 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to five.  I have no idea when it happened that we not only had to pay these people, but allow them to dictate our lives.  Especially in this economy, you would think it would work just the opposite, with the person writing the check getting to say “I want to see you at my front door at 2:30 or forget about it.”

Ariel Castro, the creep who kept the three women captive in his basement for a decade, received a prison term of a thousand years.  My first reaction was, why not a million years?  My second reaction was the usual rhetorical one: Just why are we keeping him alive if it’s not to use him as a human guinea pig?

Next, I wondered why judges ever add, “Without the possibility of parole” to the sentence when we all know that those five words are as meaningless as a politician’s sacred vow.

After all, probably the single most notorious crime in the last century was the murder of Bobby Franks by Leopold and Loeb.  Plays and movies were made about the crime.  When they were sentenced to life in prison in 1925, lawyer Clarence Darrow was hailed as a magician for saving the two creeps from the electric chair.  Naturally, nobody at the time could ever imagine either of them being released.  But, although Richard Loeb was killed by a fellow inmate five years into his life sentence, Nathan Leopold was paroled in 1958, at the relatively young age of 53.  He then moved to Puerto Rico, where he died in 1971.

More recently, Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted 160 death sentences not too long before he was sent up the river on a variety of corruption charges.  Only a deeply cynical person would ever suspect that Ryan simply wanted to have as many friends as possible waiting for him in the big house.

My point, though, is that in the final analysis, a sentence is nothing more than a suggestion.

The one thing I’ll say on Ariel Castro’s behalf is that he didn’t pretend to be remorseful.  For the life of me, I don’t know why judges insist on calling for these hypocritical words of contrition, when we all know that the only things these monsters rue is having been caught.

However, even I was taken aback when Castro said there was “a lot of harmony in the house” and insisted that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were “happy.”  If I had been sitting on the bench, I would have taken him at his word and seen to it that he spent the first 10 of those thousand years chained to a wall and raped repeatedly.  I guess that’s why they always hide the black robes and wooden gavels whenever I’m anywhere near a courthouse.

Although I often find myself wondering where the heck they find federal bureaucrats, whenever I see Daniel Werfel, Principal Deputy Commissioner of the IRS, testifying before a congressional committee, I can’t help thinking they had no business taking him out of junior high for the day.  For one thing, his voice hasn’t even changed yet.  For another, he obviously had no big boy clothes of his own and had to wind up wearing his dad’s.  As a result, the suit is a few sizes too large and the shirt cuffs come all the way down to his fingernails.  I just hope the congressmen give him a note for his teacher so he doesn’t get into trouble.

Obama is taking bows for the unemployment rate dropping to 7.6 while ignoring the fact that another 500,000 people have taken themselves out of the work force.  Another relevant fact is that 21 million people in their 20s are still living with their parents.  Only the realization that at least 70% of them helped re-elect Obama allows me to sleep at night.

Speaking of Obama, if a TV show had numbers plummeting like his, it would be canceled.  I believe that helps to explain why so many people prefer TV to reality.

One can’t help noticing that all those things that Obama swore to get to the bottom of, but which he personally couldn’t address because of those darn ongoing investigations, suddenly morphed into “phony scandals.”  For those with short memories, they included Operation Fast & Furious, the Benghazi massacre, the spying on journalists and the IRS hit list targeting conservatives.  As it happens, it was the investigations that were phony.

My idea of a phony scandal was the one regarding the state of health care concocted by Obama when he decided to take control of one-sixth of the nation’s economy.  In shoving ObamaCare down our throats, Obama and his stooges in Congress kept weeping crocodile tears over the millions of uninsured, when they knew most of them to be illegal aliens who weren’t entitled to taxpayer-funded health care in the first place and healthy young Americans who preferred living in their parents’ basements and spending their money on booze, clothes, dumb movies and electronic gizmos.

Finally, it occurs to me that the biggest problem with our elections is that however you vote, you wind up electing a politician.

Speaking of one of the worst of those, apparently when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would return from one of her frequent trips abroad, Washington insiders were wont to say, “The ego has landed.”

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