Friday, August 22, 2014

"Riots & Racism" and "Inconvenient Truths"

Can we all agree that , the recent riots in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO, had as much to do with the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown as it did with a hurricane in Hawaii or a square dance in Iowa?

As I have written in the past, a legitimate protest consists of tossing tea into Boston Harbor; it doesn’t involve stealing a TV. Time and again, young black thugs in Detroit, L.A., Philadelphia and now St. Louis, have taken advantage of an event to run amok, turning over cars, looting stores and setting fires. They do it because they are bottom-feeders who feel empowered by corrupt politicians, a liberal media and race hustlers like Al Sharpton, to carry out the sort of violence which when committed by one or two individuals results in jail time, but when committed by a mob results in liberal pundits justifying the mayhem.

A reader, Bob Alton, wrote to me, posing the following question: Now that Hillary Clinton is speaking out against Obama’s foreign policy, can we expect her to be branded a racist? It’s a fair question when you realize that her husband was labeled one in 2008 for no other reason than that he campaigned for his wife during the primaries, and “racist” has been branded on the rump of every Republican who has voiced an objection to anything Obama has said or done over the past six years.

It’s no secret that Democrats, including Obama, have been pressuring the older liberals on the Supreme Court to retire ASAP so that Obama can leave a longer lasting impression on America. I think it’s a move that can wind up biting the Democrats in the butt in 2016. After all, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, Anthony Kennedy, 78, and Stephen Breyer, 76, are too old for the job, which pretty much consists of sitting around reading briefs and occasionally casting a vote, it might be hard to convince people they should run out and vote for Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 when the 2016 election takes place, and a ripe 77 by the time her second term would conclude. But perhaps they simply assume that being the commander-in-chief is as easy a gig as Obama makes it seem: rounds of golf, interspersed occasionally with expensive vacations and fund-raising galas.

Speaking of things that have not only ripened, but dropped off the tree and are well on their way to being mulch, we have Jimmy Carter. According to a recent article in the Washington Times, the reason that Carter, who once condemned Israel as an apartheid nation, is such a vociferous fan of Hamas is because he blames his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980 on Jewish voters.

As a Jew, nothing would make me prouder. However, inasmuch as Reagan garnered 43 million votes to Carter’s paltry 35 million, and 489 electoral votes to Carter’s infinitesimal 49, and that Jews represent a mere 2% of the population, it’s a bit far-fetched. What’s more, although he did better than other recent GOP presidential candidates, Reagan still managed to lose the Jewish vote 39% to Carter’s 45%.

If Carter is going to be pissed off with anyone, it should be with John Anderson, the third party candidate who sucked off the other 16%. But I guess Carter figures it’s cooler to be an anti-Semite than to target Anderson, a member of the Evangelical Free Church. It certainly explains why he’s so revered in the Middle East and why the Carter Presidential Library owes its very existence to Arab and Muslim donors.

As you have no doubt heard, Donald Sterling has been deprived by a confederacy of sharks and skunks of his legal ownership of the L.A. Clippers, all because of the public exposure of his private comments to a girlfriend. I only hope that when, inevitably, the racist comments of black basketball players are made public by their disgruntled ex-wives, business associates, former teammates and publicity-hungry groupies, they, too, will be slam-dunked by the NBA. But somehow I doubt if any of us will live that long.

Finally, when I see all the terrible mischief taking place in the world, much of it the result of Obama’s feckless foreign policy, I long for the time when America spoke softly but, like the beat cops in the old days, carried a big night stick.

Alas, we’ve gone from a time when our allies relied on us and our foes feared us to what we have today, a world in which our allies feel betrayed and our enemies are emboldened.

In short, we have gone from the Monroe Doctrine to what can only be called the Moron’s Doctrine.

Inconvenient Truths

I had always thought that the greatest marketing strategy ever devised was the one the shampoo industry came up with when they advised people to shampoo, rinse and then repeat, thus doubling their sales. That one word, “repeat,” was worth billions of dollars. But “Hope and Change,” which was used to sell Barack Obama as a unifier was an even greater example of marketing legerdemain.

For, far from unifying us, he has devoted every moment that he hasn’t been golfing or fund-raising to dividing us. Franklin Roosevelt who, ideologically, had far more in common with Joseph Stalin than he had with Winston Churchill, succeeded in separating us along class and race lines, but he was a piker compared to Obama, who has added age, income, gender and religion, to the list of dividers.

Speaking of religion, in the wake of Obama and Kerry deciding that Israel is no more moral and upstanding than the barbarians who target both our nations, I counted up the number of Jewish members of the House and Senate, all of whom have kept their yaps shut during this shameful period. It seems there are 10 Jewish senators representing nine states, and 21 House members representing 10 states, and not one of them has had the moral integrity to call out the President or the Secretary of State.

In the meantime, Obama claims he has no sympathy for Hamas, but great respect for the PLO and the Palestinian people, somehow ignoring the fact that the Palestinians elected Hamas to govern Gaza and just this past April, the PLO officially linked up with Hamas.

And how much longer must we continue to pretend that the so-called civilians in Gaza are all innocent victims in this conflict? Surely I’m not the only person who has seen videos of Palestinian children parroting the words of their elders, vowing to kill the Jews, and proudly posing with pretend belts of explosives strapped around their little bodies – at least I hope they’re fake – emulating suicide bombers.

But we’re told by the U.N. and the vile world media that it’s Israel that’s breeding future generations of terrorists by attempting to protect its own people from terror tunnels and missile barrages.

I say it’s high time for the United States to tell Arabs and Muslims, the present day Nazis, that “Never again!” means “Never again!”

When Obama talks about the GOP House doing nothing, he never mentions the fact that Harry Reid refuses to allow House bills to be voted on by the Senate. For those of you who can’t imagine why Reid would stick all such bills in his wastepaper basket when it’s the Democrats who control the Senate, it’s in order to protect those members from being forced to cast a vote that is certain to antagonize either the White House or their own constituents.

It seems that 47 of the 73 independent federal watchdogs known as inspectors general, whose mission is to sniff out fraud, waste and mismanagement, have signed a letter to Congress complaining that government agencies including the Justice Department, the EPA, Homeland Security and the Peace Corps, are refusing to divulge information, classifying it as confidential.

In case you might be wondering what the Peace Corps could possibly be hiding, apparently it’s the large number of volunteers who have been sexually attacked. I can see where the Peace Corps might wish to conceal that piece of information from fathers and mothers, who might otherwise wish to dissuade their idealistic daughters from running off to dig wells and plant taters in Somalia or Botswana.

Speaking of Africa, if Ebola is not an airborne disease, as they keep telling us, and can only be transmitted through bodily fluids, would someone please explain how the American missionaries, Dr. Kent Brantly and his nurse, Nancy Writebol, contracted the loathsome disease?

Although I am not a fan of Rand Paul, and not simply because he shares the same smug smirk as Kirsten Powers, I do agree with him when it comes to foreign aid. I mean, even Santa, the biggest soft touch in the world, keeps track of who’s naughty and who’s nice. But America, like a rich guy on a drunken binge, doesn’t care who it’s buying drinks for when it shouts: “Drink up. It’s on me.” when it tosses billions of our tax dollars on the bar.

I have no patience with those who oppose capital punishment, insisting it is cruel and unusual. There is nothing even slightly cruel about executing someone who has murdered others, and if liberal judges and lawyers didn’t make it such a needlessly long and complicated a process, it wouldn’t be so freaking unusual.

Here in California, where we have so many really embarrassing politicians that even I can’t keep track of them all, occasionally one will pop up from nowhere to claim their moment in the spotlight. So it is that the formerly anonymous Rep. Julia Brownley, representative from the 26th congressional district, recently made her presence known by sending out a mailer which included a photo of a young woman wearing what Brownley’s re-election team assumed was a U.S. Navy uniform. Apparently it’s the uniform of the German Luftwaffe.

The good news for Rep. Brownley is that it’s the current Luftwaffe and therefore comes without a swastika. Otherwise, even in California, that would have constituted a major whoops.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments?

In the 2 1/2 years I've been requesting donations from readers who might feel guilty about reading my hundreds of essays for free, I have yet to receive even a single response from the following 13 states: Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Unlike Abe Lincoln, I'm not looking to provoke some unseemly competition between the states, but I'd hate to think that these 13 states are so lacking in pride and patriotism that they'd sit idly by and be outdone by Puerto Rico, Canada and even Thailand!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tender Hearts & Soft-Boiled Brains" and "Death & Taxes

We Americans like to think of ourselves as 320 million humanitarians. While it’s true that we tend to be charitable, even going so far as to help our enemies around the world when they’re hit by a natural disaster, sometimes our better nature flies in the face of commonsense.

For instance, in recent weeks, we have welcomed thousands of Central Americans into the U.S. and then transported them around the country even though we know that many of them suffer from chicken pox and tuberculosis. In the old days, when America actually had borders and a sense of self-preservation, even legal immigrants were turned away if they were found to have communicable diseases. In some cases, sick children were separated from their nuclear families and sent back to their relatives in Europe and Asia until they were healthy enough to return.

Now we go so far as to allow those suffering from Ebola to be brought back from West Africa. While it’s true that the doctor and the nurse in question are not only both Americans, but are heroic examples of humanity, having become infected while treating others who had the disease, it is sheer insanity that they were brought home to be treated. If they could treat others in Africa, there was no sensible reason they couldn’t have been treated there, rather than risk introducing the disease to North America.

Speaking of the Central American border-crashers, George Will has pointed out that there are 3,143 counties in the United States, and then used that number to suggest how easily we could accommodate the newcomers, as if the solution to the problem was to simply divide the 65,000 kids, dispersing, say 20 or so to each county. For my part, I think there is more than enough empty space between George’s ears where we could safely stash them.

What I would be willing to consider is dropping those kids off at the White House and at the homes of Hollywood and Manhattan liberals who are sobbing into their crying towels over their plight. That way these select few could adopt, feed, house and school, the kiddies on their own, without expecting the American taxpayer to pick up the tab for these mini-freeloaders.

Speaking of kids, I have come to the conclusion that the move over the past few decades to remove competition from sporting events involving youngsters, lest anyone come to regard himself as a winner or, worse yet, a loser, has infected our military. Whereas in the distant past, we waged wars with the idea of winning them and making our enemies say “Uncle!” we now play for ties, lest others think badly of us or are embarrassed for having lost.

Speaking of the military, I am in no way an isolationist, but I think before we enter into defense treaties with other nations, we require that they maintain the largest military they can possibly afford. If they’re going to keep relying on our military to protect them, thus treating us as mercenaries, we should send them a monthly invoice, payable on demand. At least that way, we could afford to restore the military force that our own gutless administration, using sequester as an excuse, has decimated.

One last word on the subject of children: I am getting sick and tired of seeing men on TV whining that their rights as fathers have been usurped by a system that favors mothers. The problem is that in most of these cases, the man never bothered marrying the child’s mother. Simply being the sperm donor doesn’t entitle you to any say in the matter, and I say that as a veteran of a custody battle. But it was a battle between a husband and a wife. It was lengthy, expensive and excruciating, but a marriage certificate entitled me to my day in court.

As I see it, planting a seed in a field you haven’t title to doesn’t make you anyone’s father. Not even a sharecropper. At most, it makes you a fieldhand.

Although I have on occasion taken the Catholic Church in general and Pope Francis in particular to task, I don’t harbor ill-feelings towards the Church. But I did think that a couple of comments by Catholic friends were worth sharing. One friend, Tony, at the height of the pedophile scandals, was being attacked by a mutual friend. I thought his response, “The Church is greater than the sum of its human parts,” made a great deal of sense. More recently, another friend, Steve, suggested that a lot of Catholics believe more in the confessional than they do in the Commandments.

Finally, while it may surprise some of you, I have yet another friend, Tom, who is a great lover of old movies and often, against my advice, uses one of Leonard Maltin’s various books as his viewing guide. It so happens I’ve met Mr. Maltin. On one occasion, I ran into him soon after I found that he had given a TV movie I had written just two stars out of a possible four, even though my script had won a Writers Guild award, been directed by multiple Emmy-winner Gil Cates, and starred Sharon Gless, Richard Thomas, Lillian Gish and Jack Warden.

I asked Maltin why he had scored it so low, and he explained he hadn’t even seen it, that it had been farmed out to one of his young subordinates. I offered to send him a video so he could judge it for himself. He begged off, saying that he would then have to second-guess every movie critique in the book. I pooh-poohed that fear, pointing out that he would only have to reconsider movies written by writers he had the misfortune of running into at parties. And besides, inasmuch as the guides all carried his name alone, he owed it to his own reputation.

In reporting all this to Tom, I concluded by saying that I considered Maltin something of an inspiration. He’s a person, I pointed out, without wit, above average intelligence or even, by my lights, character. Furthermore, he looks like something left out in the rain, and yet he managed to carve out a successful career both in print and on TV.

His value can’t be denied. In a world in which most of us aspire to be superior, and are foiled by our own limitations, Leonard Maltin, like Barack Obama, is an inspiration to mediocrities everywhere.

After all, if those two can succeed, surely there is hope for everyone.

Death & Taxes

A while back, Theodore VanKirk died in Georgia at the age of 93. His death would have gone unnoticed except by friends and relatives if 69 years earlier he hadn’t been the navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

As the last living member of the historic crew, he was interviewed in 2005. At the time, he said that his experience showed that wars and A-bombs don’t settle anything. I would have understood if he’d said something about the terrible emotional toll that delivering that bomb had taken on him personally. But to have suggested that it didn’t settle anything was absurd. That bomb, along with the one dropped on Nagasaki three days later, ended World War II. The two bombings led to Japan’s unconditional surrender and eliminated the need for the allies to invade the islands, which, according to reliable sources, could have cost a million lives.

It so happens I had friends and relatives who were stationed in the Pacific, dreading what everyone knew would be a long and bloody invasion, and fell to their knees, thanking God and Harry Truman, not necessarily in that order, for sparing them the inevitable bloodbath.

There are times when you have to wonder if a prerequisite of working at the State Department is proving yourself to be an anti-Semite. The latest example was the Department’s decision to honor Samira Ibrahim as a 2014 Woman of Courage. Ms. Ibrahim, you see, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Far from being courageous, her own statements show her to be a sewer-dweller. She has not only contended that Jews are behind every evil act committed anywhere in the world, but in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, said that every 9/11 should be celebrated in similar fashion, with America burning.

It’s only because the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, acting as a referee on behalf of basic human decency, threw a flag that the State Department backed off at the last second. And in case you were wondering if Mr. Kristol had a secret source of information, he didn’t. All you have to do is Google Ms. Ibrahim, which, one presumes, the State Department already had.

Although I have made a point of cutting down on my Fox viewing habits, in part to avoid wasting time with Alan Colmes, Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel and Geraldo Rivera, so long as I continue watching Bret Baier’s “Special Report” and Chris Wallace’s Sunday morning show, I can’t seem to avoid Juan Williams.

Barack Obama has no more ardent defender than Mr. Williams. He is always Johnny – make that Juanny-on-the-Spot – when it comes to denouncing those who oppose Obama’s policies as racists. But never do I hear anyone suggesting that his kneejerk defense of everything Obama does, no matter how blatantly unconstitutional it happens to be, is race-based.

A reader recently let me know that he disagreed with my contention that the rich and poor should pay their income taxes at the same rate. His far more radical plan is that everyone should pay the same amount. That struck me as so bizarre, I wrote back to make certain he meant what I thought he meant. It turns out he did.

He actually felt that if a poor person paid $100 to the IRS, that is also what Warren Buffet and Bill Gates should pay.

As politely as I could, I pointed out that was sheer lunacy, and that the federal government couldn’t survive on that pittance. He, in turn, dared me to come up with federal departments that deserved to exist. I explained that the military would vanish under his system. I added that there are agencies which should continue to function, but on a limited budget and without the Gestapo-like powers Obama has given them.

For openers, even under my reader’s plan the IRS would be required to ensure that Gates and Buffet mailed in those $100 checks. Also, there is nothing intrinsically evil about the EPA. I mean, do any of us really want factories to be free to poison our water and pollute the air simply because the factory owners want to maximize profits?

To which, my reader replied: “Where in the Constitution do you find any mention of these agencies?”

Well, there are any number of federal bureaucracies that I would immediately shut down if I could, including the Commerce Department, Education, the “Human” part of Health and Human Services, and even the Justice Department so long as Eric Holder is taking his marching orders from Barack Obama. But, instead, I replied: “The Founding Fathers were a remarkable group of individuals, but just because they lacked the foresight in the 18th century to imagine jetliners, radio stations and TV networks, doesn’t mean that the FAA and FCC are unconstitutional.”

To which Reader replied: “This is what amendments are for. If something is to be added, amend the Constitution. The Founders did foresee modifications to address new items; that is why Madison included Article Five.”

To which I countered: “Amending the Constitution is a long and laborious process. Commonsense would dictate that Congress creates legislation and agencies to deal with new inventions, and that we don’t start amending the Constitution every time someone like Steve Jobs comes up with a brainstorm.”

Finally, I just saw a show produced in 2007 that dealt with the Mayan Calendar. Back then, in case it slipped your mind, there was a lot of attention focused on the mysterious fact that the last date on the ancient calendar was December 21, 2012. The pinheads took that to mean the world would cease to exist on that day.

When the show ended, I found myself wondering if those who were convinced of the world’s end awoke on the 22nd of December happy to still be alive or miserable because they knew that anyone in their circle who was anything like yours truly would never stop teasing them.

But then I found myself wondering if perhaps those Mayans foresaw that six weeks prior to that date, Barack Obama would be re-elected, and that for millions of Americans, although the world hadn’t really ended, it sure felt like it had.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments?