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Trump and Elephants and Elephant Jokes

After the past two years or so of close observation we can usually predict President Donald Trump’s “tweets,” but over the weekend he surprised us by “tweeting” some misgivings about allowing trophies from elephant hunts into the United States.
The practice was forbidden by one of President Barack Obama’s gazillion or so regulations, and that’s usually reason enough to expect Trump would insist otherwise. Elephants are also one of those politically correct bleeding-heart liberal causes, which is ironic given America’s political symbology, so Trump would typically be even more opposed to the idea. Trump’s two elder sons are fond of posting pictures of themselves with the kills from their frequent big game hunts in Africa on the internet, too, so it’s triply surprising that Trump would deny them a tusk or two to show off to their friends.
Trump’s “tweets” aren’t in any way definitive, and he might yet go along with his own administration’s proposal to end the prohibition, but even Trump’s harshest media critics admit he seems to have a soft spot in his oft-questioned heart for elephants. Back during the campaign his sons were widely criticized by the politically correct bleeding heart types for all those pictures of the big game animals they’d killed — we recall chuckling at Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s defense that they were actually aiming at the natives — and Trump surprised us by failing to come to their defense. The politically correct and bleeding-heart liberal diva Cher was a particularly outspoken critic on “twitter,” and a particularly inviting target for Trump’s “twitter” counter-punching, but Trump responded with “Old story, one of which I publicly disapproved. My sons love hunting, I don’t.”
At this point we don’t what to make of it. There’s a persuasive conservative argument to be made that managed big game hunting offers the natives with economic incentives to perpetuate the species, but even Trump seems sympathetic to the politically correct and bleeding heart argument against shooting elephants. We have no fondness for Trump or his two elder sons, and we’ve been railing against politically correct bleeding-heart liberalism and Obama’s over-regulating tendencies for a lot longer than any of them have, so for now our favorite characters in this tale are the elephants.
No elephant has ever done us any harm, and they’ve provided us many jokes. Every time we’d see one of the younger Trumps posing over a dead elephant we’d recall Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding bragging that on his African safari he’d shot an elephant in his pajamas, “and how he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.” There was that great Jimmy Durante moment when he was being followed by an elephant and told a questioning passerby, “What elephant?,” and after looking over his shoulder said, “Oh, that elephant.” There are countless others, but our favorite elephant joke is about why the elephant drinks, and the punchline is “to forget.”
On a memorable visit to the Sedgwick County Zoo we once saw a zookeeper running a couple of the elephants through their daily calisthenics, which is really something to see, and they seem such magnificent examples of God’s creation that we can’t imagine any reason some rich kid would want to travel all the way to Africa to kill one. There are some stupid rules about selling pianos with ivory keys cut from the tusks of elephants that were killed a long time ago, and we wouldn’t mind seeing that deregulated, and a there are lot of those politically correct bleeding-heart regulations about animals that we’d also happily undo, but we won’t mind a bit if those rich kids who go all the way to Africa to kill an elephant don’t get to bring a trophy home.
If that puts us in the uncomfortable position of being on the side of both Trump and those politically correct bleeding-heart liberals, then so be it.

— Bud Norman

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About that Dead Lion

Although we were genuinely sorry to hear about that poor lion being killed somewhere in Africa, we’re not so sorry about it that we’ll be making any additional death threats against the Minnesota dentist who killed it. We understand that the big game hunting business is providing an incentive for Africans for to keep their continent’s big game plentiful, and we can’t quite rid ourselves of an old-fashioned prejudice that human lives are of greater value than the lives of other mammals, and we note that lions are big game hunters themselves, and we figure that humans have the same God-given right to hunt as any other predatory-by-nature beast along the food chain, so we’ll let that poor dentist be.
The dentist apparently thought he was shooting an arrow into some anonymous lion rather than a celebrity lion, so far as we can gather from the voluminous news coverage, and since we have to admit even at the risk of of being accused of species-ism or some other damning ism that all lions look alike to us we are sympathetic to his defense. We’re also so very uninformed about celebrities these days that we didn’t even know there were any celebrity lions, at least since the one that used to introduce all those old MGM movies, and if for some reason we were inclined to commit a random murder we could easily wind up knocking off one of the Kardashians or Lady Gaga or one of those other people on the covers of the magazines at the grocery store checkout line rather than some less newsworthy victim, so his mistake strikes us as easily forgivable. We’re also skeptical of the widespread notion that celebrity lives are somehow of greater value than others, whether leonine or human, so that is also a mitigating factor in our decision not to threaten that Minnesota dentist’s life.
Nor can we understand why the public is more outraged about the life of a even a celebrity lion than about the lives of the zebras and gazelles and maybe even the ¬†human beings that the lion would have eventually taken had he survived that Minnesota dentist’s safari. There’s an old Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine about how people always root for whatever animal is starring in a nature documentary, with people cheering on the hawk as he swoops down on a field mice to provide food for the adorable baby hawks back in his nest but hoping for the field mice to outrun those deadly talons and get back to his own adorable children when the show is about field mice, and we think some gruesome footage of even a celebrity lion chowing down on a zebra that had been given a top-billed role might even make that Minnesota dentist seem heroic. It’s a rough world of kill or be killed out there, and we’re genuinely sorry about that, too, but the attention being paid to the killing of a lion somewhere in Africa seems outrageously inordinate.
There’s a late night comedian out there who reportedly teared up as he tried to make mean jokes about that Minnesota dentist, even though he’s never been so choked up about the Christians being routinely beheaded by the Islamic State, and some of our Facebook friends posted that the lion’s death makes them ashamed to be human, even though they’ve previously been unashamed by the far more common slaughter of their fellow human beings in the daily crime reports, and a liberal but otherwise delightful woman we ran into at a ballgame Wednesday night was saying that she hopes all of the beasts of Africa slaughter all the African people, even though at the ballgame the night before she was defending the “Black Lives Matter” movement that shouts down anyone who dares say that all lives matter, and it all seems rather silly. We are genuinely sorry that lion was killed, but at the moment we’re more worried about the lives that will be lost when Iran gets a nuclear bomb due to soft-hearted and even more soft-headed western sensibilities, and the black lives that will be lost when the police go into full retreat for fear of well-intentioned reprisals, and the aborted lives whose parts are being sold for scrap on the open market by an organization that enjoys millions of taxpayers’ ¬†dollars and the support of all the right people, and the sorrier state of all the lives that will somehow survive America’s cultural and political and economic and spiritual decline into a broader array of soft-hearted and even softer-headed good intentions.
There’s every reason to hope that the death of that poor lion in somewhere in Africa will soon be forgotten, and that the soft-hearted and even softer-headed among us will soon move on to something else to be outraged about, but there’s little reason to hope that the same good intentions that are currently threatening the death of a Minnesota dentist will move on to something useful.

— Bud Norman