Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jesse Helms And Me

by Burt Prelutsky

Although I very much regret that I never had the chance to meet Jesse Helms, we did have what you might call a peripheral connection. The first took place nearly 20 years ago, when I was serving the second of my two terms on the Board of the Writers Guild of America.

Because the Board had the authority to mete out any sum less than $5,000 without putting it to a vote of the membership, groups and individuals were constantly showing up at our meetings and requesting $4,999. Often, they wanted it to help defray legal expenses in censorship cases, and because censorship is always a hot button issue with writers, and because most of the Board members were liberals, with a liberal sprinkling of ex-Communists, it figures that we usually coughed up the dough. Leftists, after all, are notorious spendthrifts when it comes to other people’s money.

On this one particular occasion, it was Robert Mapplethorpe’s lawyers who came hat in hand. Mapplethorpe, in case he’s slipped your mind, was a pornographer -- whoops, I mean a photographer -- whose work mainly consisted of frontal nudity shots of homosexual males and prepubescent boys and girls. He had also wowed the effete snobs who inhabit the art world with his Crucifix in Urine.

In any case, Sen, Jesse Helms had used the work of Mr. Mapplethorpe as a reason to cut off government funding of the National Endowment of the Arts. Inasmuch as I agreed with the senator’s low opinion of the NEA, and as I have always opposed tax dollars going to fund art, I voted against forking over good money to help Mapplethorpe fight an obscenity charge.
To convince a liberal that something is art, I came to realize, you merely have to put a frame around it. On more than one occasion, that “something” has not merely figuratively, but literally, been human excrement.

I’m not certain after all these years what Sen. Helms said when he railed against the NEA, but it goes without saying that he was excoriated by the New York Times and the rest of the liberal press. For my part, I was opposed to the NEA for two main reasons. One, in a country this large and prosperous, any artist who couldn’t support himself was in need of vocational guidance, not a government handout. Two, any no-talent poseur who applied to the NEA and didn’t get an endowment could be counted on to insist he was a political martyr being censored by Big Brother, and would inevitably show up in our boardroom, demanding $4,999 of the members’ money.

I wasn’t terribly surprised when I was out-voted 18-1 that evening. Heck, Sen Helms didn’t succeed in eliminating the NEA, either, and he had a lot more influence than I did. Even before the vote was taken, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. It was enough that Jesse Helms was on the other side. So not only did my fellow Board members get to align themselves with the headline-grabbing artiste, but got to thumb their noses at a Southern conservative. They were getting a lot of bang for their 4,999 bucks.

For my part, I got a lot of funny looks from my colleagues. It was as if I had shown myself to be one of those pod people from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It was probably just as well that my second term was drawing to a close.

The second time the senator’s path and mine nearly crossed was when I was trying to line up people for my book of interviews, “The Secret of Their Success.” Even though I was eventually able to interview the likes of Gerald Ford, Billy Wilder, Henry Mancini, Gene Kelly, Steve Allen, Ginger Rogers, Art Linkletter, Michael Medved, Dinah Shore, Dennis Prager, Bernard Goldberg, Pat Sajak, George Carlin and Ward Connerly, it was never easy lining up subjects.

The most surprising thing is how often people would simply ignore my query letters. These were people, after all, who had scads of secretaries and platoons of personal assistants to take care of such matters.

My own attitude was that nobody owed me an hour or two of their time, but, as I wasn’t asking to borrow money, I felt I deserved the courtesy of a response even if it was no more than a “Thanks, but no thanks.” At least I could then scratch their names off my wish list.

Frankly, you’d be amazed at the hundreds of people, men and women, young and old, liberals and conservatives, who never bothered responding.

The fact is, Jesse Helms didn’t agree to be interviewed. However, he did have a letter sent to me in which he thanked me for my interest, but said that his busy schedule prevented his accepting my kind invitation to join such distinguished company, and wishing me luck with the book. As if that wasn’t enough, a few days later he had his secretary phone me from Washington to again thank me for my interest, while passing along Sen. Helms’s best wishes.

So far as I’m concerned, he was not only a great senator, he was a very nice man. A real mensch, as we say. And I’m only sorry that I never had a chance to meet him and tell him so face to face.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ssshhh!

To: letters@latimes.com

Dear Editor:

Why do I get the feeling that if John Edwards was a Republican, the Times and the rest of the mass media wouldn't be burying the story about his girl friend, Rielle Hunter, and their lust child? I understand the kid has her eyes and his hair stylist.

Burt Prelutsky

Obama: Guilt By Association

by Burt Prelutsky

Seeing how thrilled so many of my fellow Americans are that a black man -- even a half-black man -- is going to be on the presidential ballot in November I can’t help wishing I were one of them. It’s as if there’s a great big party taking place and I’m stuck outside with my nose pressed against a window. But, frankly, I don’t know what the hoop-de-do is all about.

I mean, it’s always nice to be reminded that America is the place where anyone is free to achieve his dreams, although perhaps not quite yet her dreams. But when it comes to being president of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the best and the most powerful nation on earth, I don’t think we should be getting quite this excited. To me, Barack Obama seems like nothing more than the end result of affirmative action run amok.

His fans insist that it’s unfair to question his qualifications or judge him by his associations. That makes sense because if I were a fan of his, I sure wouldn’t want anyone scratching beneath the surface of a pleasant smile and a soothing voice. And, believe me, if he were auditioning for a job as a TV announcer, I’d hire him.

The Obamans insist that mentioning any of the man’s disreputable friends and religious mentors is a no-no that smacks of McCarthyism. This is an odd complaint because, one, McCarthy was right when he pointed out that the folks who associated with other people at Communist cell meetings were in fact Communists, and, two, every child is told that he’s going to be judged by the company he keeps. So, let’s face facts -- John Dillinger ran with a nicer crowd than this guy.

The first screwball we found out about was Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the gutter mouth whose swinish sermons Obama lapped up for a thousand Sundays. Then there was Bill Ayers, the mad bomber who should have wound up sharing a cell with Ted Kaczynski, but instead was apparently offered the option of becoming a professor. And let us not forget Tony Rezko, who was recently found guilty by a Chicago jury of just about everything except kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. It’s still up in the air whether he’ll be offered the same deal as Bill Ayers, but there’s no getting around the fact that “Professor Rezko” has a nice ring to it.

It probably isn’t cricket to include Michelle Obama in this dirty laundry list of Barack’s associates, and yet it’s hard to simply overlook the fact that he chose to marry this nasty, bitter, openly racist ingrate.

Finally, when it appeared that we couldn’t sink any lower in the barrel, out popped Obama’s longtime friend and religious mentor, Father Michael Pfleger. The first time I became aware of this fellow was when I heard segments on the radio of the speech he delivered at Trinity United. When, later that day, I saw him on TV, I was shocked to see that he was white. Although he seems to have forgotten much of his religious training while serving at Faith Community of St. Sabina, on the South Side of Chicago, he has certainly mastered the black patois. He actually sounded blacker than either Rev. Wright or Louis Farrakhan, but he obviously thinks along the same unsavory lines.

Later in the week, Father Pfleger apologized for his performance, saying, “I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life message, and I’m deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them.”

Apology not accepted. I, for one, am getting sick and tired of being played by the Obama crowd. Michelle didn’t mean she’d never been proud of America, Barack didn’t mean Iran was a small country we had no reason to fear, and Father Pfleger didn’t mean a word of his racist screed. Right…and a bear doesn’t make do-do in the woods.

Pfleger, by the way, not too long ago urged a crowd of blacks to drag a gun shop owner, John Riggio, into the street “like a rat” and “snuff him,” along with any Illinois state legislators who voted against gun control legislation. When accused of trying to incite murder, Father Pfleger, who prides himself on his street creds, claimed he had no idea that “snuff” is a synonym for murder. So far as I know, nobody bothered asking him, that being the case, exactly what it was he was exhorting the mob to do. Drag Mr. Ruggio out of his place of business and make him sneeze until he agreed to close up shop?

Frankly, I can’t fathom how it is Pfleger still has a job. But, perhaps after what it’s gone through in the past decade, the Church is so grateful that he’s not a pedophile costing them millions of dollars in lawsuits, this creep could walk down State Street at high noon wearing nothing but his turn-around collar and playing a harmonica and still be in line for a red hat.

Some of Obama’s other questionable associates are the thousands of blacks who flock to Trinity United every Sunday, eager to soak up their weekly dose of racist swill, laughing and applauding and shouting their heart-felt “amens;” thousands of nicely dressed black Americans who don’t have to pretend they disagree with a single ugly word of it because, unlike Barack Obama, they don’t happen to be running for president.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pacifism: The Last Refuge Of Hypocrites

By Burt Prelutsky

It amazes me that Barack Obama continues to score points for having opposed the war in Iraq. But, considering how much the left-wing media adores this guy -- and let us never forget that Obama has managed to send shivers up Chris Matthews’ leg -- I suppose nothing should surprise me. I mean, Sen. Obama is a man who’s been around for nearly 47 years and apparently every single person who is near and dear to him is a creep I would cross the street to avoid. Also, isn’t it high time that people quit oohing and ahing about his oratorical skills? I’m willing to grant that so long as he is reading the work of his speech writers, he’s okay. But ask him a question off the cuff and he turns into Mortimer Snerd. Still, I suppose if I were desperately trying to pass myself off as a centralist when I was really a left-wing radical, I’d get nervous, too.

Much has been made of Sen. Obama’s reluctance to meet with General Petraeus and his refusal to travel to Iraq with or without Sen.McCain, but I, personally, don’t blame him. After all, what could he possibly say afterwards when all the evidence suggests that, thanks to the surge, things are turning out just swell over there? It’s one thing to pat oneself on the back for being the most prescient member of the Illinois legislature and quite another to admit to having been a nincompoop. I know I sure wouldn’t want to go into a general election as the candidate who’s still insisting on a deadline for troop withdrawal, thus ensuring that we and the Iraqi people would suffer the same sort of ignominious defeat that we and the South Vietnamese endured 35 years ago

The left makes no secret of the fact that they hate war. But the truth of the matter is that their opposition to armed conflict is situational. It depends entirely on the party affiliation of the commander in chief and, of course, on the politics of the enemy. For example, the left was eager for the U.S. to enter the Spanish Civil War in order to fight Franco and his fascist allies because the Soviet Union and the Communists were lined up on the other side. However, as soon as Hitler and Stalin signed a mutual non-aggression pact, the American left decided we had no business getting involved in European affairs, even as Poland, France and Holland, were being swallowed up by the Nazis. Of course that changed just as soon as Germany invaded the Soviet Union. As that icon of the left, Lillian Hellman, was reputed to have announced to a group of fellow Communists on that fateful day, “We’ve been attacked!”

During the Cold War, these were the same people, as devoted as ever to serving the interests of Joseph Stalin, who insisted that America unilaterally disarm itself and turn its atomic arsenal into plowshares.

When Bill Clinton sent U.S. troops into Kosovo, a place where no American interests were involved, the left raised no objections. And heaven knows that the MSM never embarrassed him by calling attention to the fact that although he promised that the troops would all be home within 12 months, they were still there when he left office. I suppose he was so busy granting last minute presidential pardons to his campaign contributors that it simply slipped his mind.

And isn’t it odd that nobody, including the New York Times, John Murtha or Barack Obama, ever asked Bill Clinton if he actually had an exit strategy?

These days, it must be apparent even to the goofiest liberal that victory in Iraq has been snatched from the jaws of defeat by the U.S. military. Aside from the obvious reason why it gladdens the hearts of most decent Americans, that would be wonderful news if only because it meant that Cindy Sheehan had once and for all been condemned to that shadowy world inhabited by the likes of Amy Fisher, Heidi Fleish and Lorena Bobbitt, and gone from being front page copy to simply being old-what’s-her-name.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Striking Oil

by Burt Prelutsky

Sometimes, I swear, when I see what our tax dollars get us in Congress, I feel like asking for my money back. But, other times, I find myself thinking that the laughs those clowns provide us nearly, but not quite, make up for their incompetence, hypocrisy and mendacity. The Marx Brothers, at their goofiest, couldn’t hold a candle to these self-important bumblers, although I’m sure that Groucho would have been sorely tempted to try.

You see nincompoops like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and John Murtha, bloviating on TV and you realize that when poll after poll indicates that these political hacks have an approval rate only half as high as George Bush’s and only a point or two higher than measles, they somehow assume we don’t have them in mind.

Because of their arrogance and pomposity, they can’t help being amusing, but they are never more hysterical than when they hold hearings and sit in moral judgment of those they regard as lesser beings. Which, when you get right down to it, includes virtually everyone who pays their salaries.

A couple of years ago, we got to watch them chastise baseball players who’d been accused of using steroids and human growth hormones. As a lifelong baseball fan, I resented these guys for breaking long-standing records they never would have approached if they hadn’t cheated. But I got no satisfaction from watching a bunch of puffed-up mediocrities, who prostrate themselves to lobbyists on a daily basis, lording it over a bunch of athletes who, steroids or no steroids, had spent 15 or 20 years standing in a batter’s box just twenty yards away from iron-armed freaks hurling baseballs 98 mph in their direction. What’s more, I knew darn well that after performing for the TV cameras, these same politicians were lining up to get autographs for their grandkids.

More recently, I got my year’s quota of laughs when Congress decided to grill oil company executives because, I guess, the price of gas was higher than it had been in 1958.

There’s nothing that rich, pampered politicians like better than putting rich, pampered business executives on the hot seat…at least until they have to go, hat in hand, to grovel for campaign contributions.

I actually found myself sympathizing with the executives because they pretty much had to sit there and take it. God forbid they opened their yaps and pointed out that we’d not only have cheaper gas, but not have to toady to the Arabs, the Russians and Hugo Chavez, if these same politicians would quit caving in to the environmental fascists and allowed American oil companies to drill in Anwar, in the Dakotas and in the deep blue sea. It would also be a good idea if we finally began using nuclear power in a big way. Heck, if France can do it without turning Paris into Chernobyl, it can’t be that hard.

In the meantime, thanks to these buffoons, I’m stuck paying $4.15-a-gallon for regular. Which is bad enough. But what makes watching these windbags flap their gums even more disconcerting is the realization that Washington could easily supply us with energy for the foreseeable future, if only someone could figure out how to replace fossil fuels with hot air and snake oil

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

That’s No Man, That’s My Wife!

by Burt Prelutsky

As you may have noticed, the California Supreme Court recently decided by a 4-3 margin to green light same-sex marriages. In doing so, they over-turned a ballot measure that 61% of the voters approved in 2000, which stated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.” Although there is nothing in the state constitution that warrants that vote being set aside by four jurists, these days there’s nothing unusual about 56% of the judges over-ruling 61% of the electorate.

It’s no big surprise that the three judges who demurred had been appointed by Republican governors. What is odd and rather troubling about this turn of events is that three of the four judges who think same-sex marriages is a swell idea were also appointed by Republican governors. And lest you leap to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that this can all be laid at Gov. Schwarzenegger’s doorstep, the only judge he put on the bench was Carol Corrigan, and she was one of the three who dissented. Chief Justice Ron George and Kathryn Werdegar were appointed by Pete Wilson, and Joyce Kennard by George Deukmejian. In fact, of the seven justices, only Carlos Moreno owes his black robe to a Democrat, Gray Davis.

When you realize that David Souter was placed on the U.S. Supreme Court by George Herbert Walker Bush, you begin to wonder if Republicans bother paying any attention at all to such matters. When it comes to picking judges, do they flip a coin or do they just pick names out of a hat.

I realize that many people, after several years of unrelenting gay propaganda in the media, have been brainwashed into believing that to oppose same-sex marriages is to be the worst kind of bigot. They have cleverly insisted that it is akin to being opposed to bi-racial unions. That, of course, is sheer sophistry. What marriage of a man and a woman of different races is akin to is marriage between a man and a woman of different religions or different nationalities. Marriage between two men or two women, on the other hand, is the end result of political correctness carried to its ludicrous extreme.

If you disagree, please let me know on what particular basis, you could legally or morally oppose marriage between a sister and her brother or a father and his daughter or, for that matter, between a man and a female softball team, so long as they were all consenting adults. I can’t wait until justices George, Werdegar, Kennard and Moreno, are asked to adjudicate just such a case in the future. And, believe me, having swung open that particular door, it’s only a matter of time until a parade of human oddities come marching in.

It is fascinating how completely the heterosexual world has come to accept homosexuality as a norm. Back in the 1890s, Oscar Wilde sued the Marquis of Queensberry, the father of Wilde’s male lover, for daring to call him a sodomite. Three days into the ill-advised libel suit, Wilde’s lawyers decided to call it off when it became all too apparent that the Marquis was going to be able to prove his case.

At that point, Wilde was arrested on the charge of gross indecency. During the trial, Wilde was asked to explain what the Marquis’s son, Lord Alfred Douglas, had been referring to when he wrote to Wilde of the love that dares not speak its name. “It is beautiful,” said Wilde, who was notorious for picking up sailors, servants and young male prostitutes, “it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists betweenan older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.”

The trial ended with, you should excuse the expression, a hung jury. There was then a second trial and Wilde was found guilty and sentenced to two years at hard labor. Apparently, the jury didn’t regard Wilde, who was in his mid-30s when he took up with Lord Douglas, as sufficiently avuncular to buy his old graybeard defense.

It’s strange from our vantage point to realize there was a time before same-sex marriages and gay pride parades when homosexuality was the love that dared not speak its name.

These days, it’s the love that never shuts up.fff

Letter: Afghan Terrorist

To: letters@LATimes.com

Dear Editor:

In the story about the Canadian-born Omar Khadr who threw a grenade in Afghanistan that killed one American soldier and blinded another, you write about this detainee at Guantanamo, "Peeling off his prison shirt, he shows his wounds and complains he cannot move his arms, saying he has not received proper medical attention." Aside from the fact that enemy combatants who do not wear uniforms or carry a flag are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, and that Khadr should have been executed long before now, if he can't move his arms, just exactly how did he peel off his damn shirt?

Burt Prelutsky

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dealing With The Foreign Question

by Burt Prelutsky

It seems to me that when it comes to foreign policy, the U.S. has two separate problems. To begin with, there are those two billion foreigners in places like China, Russia, North Korea and all the various Islamic nations that give America and much of the rest of the world non-stop migraines.

But compounding the problem for us are the millions of illegal aliens who have been flooding across our southern border for the past 25 years or so. It’s bad enough that they’ve placed a terrible burden on our schools, our prisons and our health care system. What makes it even worse is that they actually believe they’re somehow entitled. They don’t even think twice about demonstrating in the streets, demanding more and more of what I refer to as un-entitlements. I mean, who in the heck do they think they are? American teenagers?

If these folks are even stopped in public or in the workplace and asked to show proof of citizenship, the riff-raff at the ACLU scream “racism” and threaten to turn every traffic stop into a federal case. All I know is that after dealing at the same bank for the past eight or nine years, I’m still being asked for identification. I figure if I can live with it, so can they.

My wife gets upset every time she hears about all the foreign aid we’re bestowing on countries that hate our guts. God only knows how much national treasure we’ve doled out to the ungrateful likes of the Palestinians, the Yemenites and the Syrians, just so they can continue biting the hand that feeds them. If you think that’s not the case, just check out how infrequently they vote with us at the United Nations. It would be one thing if we were bribing these chiselers into compliance and putting a nice face on it by calling it foreign aid. But it’s obviously not working, so why do we continue handing out billions of our tax dollars? All it does is make America look like a little pisher who keeps having to fork over his milk money to the schoolyard bully.

In the case of Mexico, I’ve long suggested that we deduct the medical and penal expenses that their illegals are costing us from the check we stupid gringos send south every year. I haven’t the slightest doubt that Mexico would very quickly erect a 30-foot wall on their own side of the border. What’s more, President Calderon would probably man the machine gun nest personally.

Finally, there are two things I’d like to know. One: Why, with all their oil revenue, are we footing the bill to repair Iraq’s infrastructure, while I still have potholes on my street? And, two, I’d appreciate it if someone could explain why, after we’ve rescued the Iraqis and the Kuwaitis from the non-too tender mercies of Saddam Hussein, and have protected the worthless hides of the Saudi royal family for, lo, these many years, I’m paying more than 25 cents-a-gallon to fill my gas tank.