Friday, December 26, 2008

Wit And Wisdom Through The Ages

by Burt Prelutsky

Today, while making my way through a supermarket parking lot, I nearly got clipped when I didn’t hear a car backing out from its space. I assume it was one of those silent hybrids. Once I got done thanking God for providing me with my cat-like reflexes, it occurred to me to wonder why every vehicle doesn’t come equipped with those back-up beepers one finds on trucks.

That, in turn, reminded me that a friend recently informed me that she and her husband had just purchased a hybrid and that it ran as silent as a tomb. When I commented that such cars must be particularly dangerous for blind people, she said, “Well, they shouldn’t be driving in the first place.”

It’s not often these days that I laugh out loud except at my own remarks, but that one got a full-fledged chuckle. This being the season for gift-giving, and few gifts being as precious or as inexpensive as laughter, I will take this opportunity to share a number of time-honored witticisms which should at least warrant a grin, if not necessarily a guffaw.

Among Mark Twain’s numerous sage observations: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” “There is no distinctly Native American criminal class save Congress.” And, my personal favorite, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Winston Churchill, when he wasn’t otherwise occupied trying to warn the world about Hitler and Stalin, and doing what he could to defeat both, found the time to declare “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle” and “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings, while the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

George Bernard Shaw, although an avowed Socialist, was bright enough to acknowledge “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

G. Gordon Liddy, probably the only person to emerge from the Watergate scandal with his manhood intact, described a liberal as “someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”

Douglas Casey, an economics guru and one-time college classmate of Bill Clinton, described foreign aid as “a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”

P.J. O’Rourke, the American who’s probably done the most to promote the cause of booze, cigars and political cynicism, is the fellow who said “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys” and “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!”

Ronald Reagan, the last first-rate president we’ve had and very possibly, at the rate we’re going, the last one we’ll ever have, wasn’t called the Great Communicator for nothing. Among his many memorable comments: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” And the even more graphic “The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”

It was Thomas Jefferson who warned that “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have,” while it was Pericles who, nearly 2500 years ago, uttered these rather blood-chilling words: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

But you needn’t go back quite that far for honest, pithy words of wisdom. It was Steve Downs, of Wisconsin, who, in a recent e-mail to Townhall magazine, struck a resounding blow against the corrupting influence of politically correct speech when he insisted that “Words have meanings! Calling an illegal alien an ‘undocumented worker’ is like calling a drug dealer an ‘unlicensed pharmacist.’

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why I Became And Remain A Conservative

by Burt Prelutsky

[Related: A Long Night’s Journey Into Day]

People who know that I was once a Democrat occasionally ask me, depending on their own political beliefs, when I came to my senses or, alternatively, when I lost my marbles. Usually, I give credit to Ronald Reagan for providing a positive role model, and to my ultraliberal colleagues on the Writers Guild Board of Directors, where I served two terms from 1987-1991, for providing me with a laundry list of negatives.

But the other day, I suddenly recalled a phone call I received one morning about 40 years ago. The night before, the first TV script I had ever written had aired. It was for “Dragnet.” When I answered the phone, it was sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison. We weren’t close friends, but we had known each other for a few years and had always gotten along reasonably well. The conversation was brief. I said, “Hello.” He said, “I never knew you were a fascist.” Then he hung up.

Although it didn’t fully register at the time, that was my first inkling of how self-righteous, judgmental and intolerant, I would eventually discover liberals to be. It was enough that I had written a pro-police script for Jack Webb to be branded a fascist. So it now comes as no surprise when those on the left defame their neighbors and erstwhile friends for opposing same-sex marriages and illegal immigration and/or defending the 2nd amendment and Christmas traditions.

As I have admitted on other occasions, I am not a religious man. But even I can plainly see that a great many people who pride themselves for not believing in God have no problem whatsoever believing everything and anything else, ranging from man-made global warming to socialism as a viable political and economic system. That is, so long as they hear it from a member of their secular ministry, some indisputable fount of truth and wisdom such as Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi or Michael Moore.

The irony of this is that while reasonable men can argue till the cows come home about the existence of God because it comes down to a matter of faith, there is empirical evidence that whenever nations have opted for socialism over capitalism, oppression and human misery have inevitably followed.

Speaking of which, nothing has delighted me more in recent weeks than hearing that in the wake of being lionized by America’s homosexuals for starring in “Milk,” Sean Penn was pilloried in the Advocate. The gay magazine condemned Penn for visiting Venezuela and Cuba, and then praising Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro. As everyone but the ditzy Mr. Penn seems to realize, both men are tyrants. What’s more, Fidel Castro was well known for sending Cuban homosexuals to concentration camps, where his brother, Raul, apparently decided whether to execute them or simply work them to death.

It’s always difficult with Sean Penn to tell if he’s evil or merely stupid. Inasmuch as he consistently defended Saddam Hussein, it’s certainly possible that he’s both. He obviously has a sweet spot for dictators and I guess so long as Chavez and Castro continue rolling out the appropriately red carpet for him, he’ll keep showing up and kissing their behinds.

So, while the gays couldn’t muster the votes to defeat Proposition 8, they definitely have enough clout in the Motion Picture Academy to make sure Penn doesn’t win his second Oscar next February.

I honestly wish I could be more optimistic about the future of the human race, but when I look around and see left-wingers gaining more and more influence in America, while Islamics continue terrorizing much of the craven world, it’s hard to spot the silver lining. Sometimes, I wonder if the only chance that decent, sensible people have to survive is if they wind up, along with certain bears, bugs and whales, on a list of endangered species.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The New And Improved Ebenezer Scrooge

by Burt Prelutsky

Once upon a time, Santa Claus was a very popular figure around this time of year. Edmund Gwenn even won an Oscar for portraying him in a movie. But along the way, it was Scrooge who kept gaining in favor. His role has been played by a galaxy of stars, including Reginald Owen, Albert Finney, Kelsey Grammer, Tim Curry, Walter Matthau, Fredric March, John Carradine, Ralph Richardson, Cyril Ritchard, George C. Scott, Alastair Sim, Jack Palance and Basil Rathbone. I guess the allure of the role is that Ebenezer Scrooge goes to bed a mean and nasty creature, and by morning has undergone a dramatic epiphany and found spiritual redemption.

But time has taken its toll on his story, which first saw the light of day in 1843. These days, Scrooge strikes us as nothing more than a slightly eccentric old codger. His constant refrain of “Bah! Humbug!” suggests he’s just a little bit cranky, sort of like the loveable old grouch who lives down the block and grouses every year about firecrackers on the 4th of July and trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

I’m sorry to say that Scrooge’s day has come and gone. Which means we’ll probably never get to see Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Leonardo DiCaprio in the role.

But, really, how can Scrooge hope to compete with the ACLU and like-minded idiots who have a hissy fit at the mere sight of a Christmas wreath, who insist that the holiday doesn’t really celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but is merely a recognition of the winter solstice? I’m not even a Christian, but wishing someone a merry winter solstice not only sounds lame, but to my ears sounds pretty darn sarcastic.

I’m not sure just when a handful of self-righteous biddies decided to make an annual tradition of attacking Christian symbols and traditions, but this year the flash point has been the state of Washington. That’s where Governor Chris Gregoire has permitted a group of atheists to post a sign that reads in part “religion is a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds" in the capitol rotunda next to a Christmas tree and a Nativity scene. The governor claims she couldn’t object because of the First Amendment, but that merely confirms she wins the prize as 2008’s biggest Christmas fruitcake. It is, after all, the atheists whose belief system constitutes an extremely rigid religion of its own, and one that surely hardens hearts. Speaking as a Jew, I doubt that if there was a Chanukah menorah in the capitol rotunda, the goofy governor would have given the American Nazi party a thumbs-up if they had wanted to display an autographed copy of “Mein Kampf.”

But even Ms. Gregoire isn’t this year’s meanest grinch. That title belongs to Bernard Madoff, the man who managed to fine tune the Ponzi scheme to such an extent that he was able to steal 50 billion dollars from banks, charities and individuals.

Theoretically, such financial shenanigans are not supposed to be possible in this day and age. After all, there are all sorts of federal safeguards regulating the stock market. I mean, these are some of the same eagle-eyed bureaucrats who have seen to it that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac toed the line for all these years, thus serving as shining examples of financial integrity to the entire world.

None of this is intended to take the onus off Mr. Madoff, a man who should be roasted over an open fire and served up with an apple in his mouth.

Years ago, when my son was still at an impressionable age, I told him that even though movies often depicted thieves as charming, witty and glamorous, in real life they were scum. But I also told him that at least bank robbers risked being shot down in the process of trying to take things that didn’t belong to them, whereas there was no lower or more cowardly form of animal life than a con man. I pointed out that he was the most contemptible of thieves because he stole by pretending to be someone’s friend, simultaneously taking their money and betraying their trust.

I admit I know next to nothing about making, let alone investing money. For me to even be in the running for the Nobel Prize in Economics, roughly seven billion people would have to die. So how is it that even I know that when a financial investment sounds too good to be true, Prelutsky’s one and only rule is to grab your wallet and run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit?

Related: The Jewish Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2008

Captain Chandler & Me (classic)

by Burt Prelutsky

Recently, I received an e-mail from a young associate pastor in Maryland. He introduced himself as an avid fan of “M*A*S*H.” He said that one of his favorite episodes had been one I wrote, Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler? and that he was considering using the show as an inspiration for an upcoming sermon. He wanted to know how I had come up with the idea. He also wanted to know how my own faith and understanding of God or Christ had informed my writing.

I must confess that I am not usually given to thinking of my writing in such grandiose terms, and it shocked me to find a man of the cloth doing so. It took some thinking on my part, especially as the writing took place over 30 years ago. At the time, my TV writing career was at a standstill. Because my agents were a man and wife team who were well-meaning, but highly ineffective, it appeared that things weren’t likely to change for the better any time soon.

Fortunately, I was still a print journalist, writing a weekly humor column for the L.A. Times. Because I would occasionally mention having gone to Fairfax High School, I was invited to host an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school’s founding. As part of the event, someone representing each of the five decades would reminisce about their years of internment. Larry Gelbart, writer-producer of M*A*S*H, spoke about the 1940s. I did double duty, hosting and talking about life at Fairfax in the 50s.

One day, some months later, I got a call from my female agent. She wanted me to know that they’d taken in a third partner. The new guy would specialize in sit-com writers. She suggested I come down and meet him. I did, and regretted it almost immediately. The guy was totally obnoxious. It seemed he wanted to be a producer more than he wanted to be an agent. He proposed that I should write up his ideas. I pointed out he didn’t seem too crazy about the way I wrote up my own. He said that was true, but this time he would be around to help. I told him that I would think about it, but in the meantime I had a family to support.

He asked me what shows appealed to me. I mentioned “Bob Newhart,” “Mary Tyler Moore” and “M*A*S*H”. He looked at me as if I were insane. “You’re only talking about the hottest shows on the air.” I told him I was fully aware of that fact, but those were the ones I wanted to write for, and, besides, I was merely answering his question. I told him that, inasmuch as I had to earn a living, I would gladly write for any shows that would have me. He told me that at least now I was being realistic.

When I got home, my wife told me I had a phone call from Larry Gelbart. I called him back. He started out by thanking me for having mentioned him in a column I had written that past Sunday in which I argued that for a quarter of a century the best comedy in America wasn’t in books or movies or on Broadway, but, rather, on TV. I then mentioned ten of the anonymous talents who were most responsible for writing “Sgt. Bilko,” “The Sid Caesar Show,” “Mr. Peepers,” “The Honeymooners” and “M*A*S*H.” Gelbart was one of the ten.

He went on to say that when he and his wife had attended the Fairfax event months earlier, they had assumed they’d be bored to tears, but that I had been very funny, and that he felt remiss for not having dropped me a note.

I thanked him for the kind words and was ready to hang up when he said, “By the way, I hear on the grapevine that you sometimes write for TV. If you ever get a notion for a ‘M*A*S*H’ episode, please send it along.”

Some of you will wonder why I hadn’t broached the possibility of my writing a “M*A*S*H” script. It’s not as if it didn’t occur to me, but I would have considered it impolite. I mean, Gelbart was calling to pay me a compliment and to thank me for mentioning him in my column. Taking advantage of his courtesy to ask him for a job simply struck me as rude.

In any case, as soon as we hung up, I called my new agent and told him he was now my ex-agent -- that “M*A*S*H” apparently wasn’t as locked up as he’d insisted it was half an hour earlier.

For a few seconds, I felt just great. Then it hit me that I was not only unemployed, but now I didn’t even have an agent. Talk about your Pyrrhic victories!

In a panic, I sat down in a chair with a steno notebook and my pen and hoped (prayed?) that a terrific idea would magically appear on the page. The idea that arrived within minutes was that a wounded soldier would arrive at the M*A*S*H unit without dogtags, claiming to be Jesus Christ. I took another twenty minutes or so to fill in the details pitting good Dr. Freedman and evil Col. Flagg in a battle for the man’s body and soul. I even came up with a title, Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?

I typed it up and mailed it to Gelbart at 20th Century-Fox. A day or two later, he called to say that he and his producing partner, Gene Reynolds, loved the idea.

The final script got nominated for a Humanitas Prize, and led to my writing seven more “M*A*S*H” episodes, and totally resuscitated my TV career.

At the time and to this day, although I am a non-observant Jew, I felt the idea was divinely inspired. How could I not? After all, when I sat down with pad and paper, I had no reason to suspect that Jesus Christ was going to wind up in a sitcom episode.

Although there is no way to really explain how the creative process works, typically a notion buzzes around in a writer’s head until the opportunity to use it comes along. But that was certainly not the case here.

With “Captain Chandler,” there was no notion, no buzzing, just a timely Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Jewish Grinch Who Stole Christmas (classic)

by Burt Prelutsky

Dec. 17, 2008 - It has become an annual tradition for America’s Scrooges to attack Christian symbols and traditions. This year, the flash point has been Washington state where Governor Chris Gregoire has allowed a group of atheists to post a sign that reads in part that “religion is a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds” in the capitol rotunda next to a Christmas tree and a Nativity scene. The governor claims she couldn’t object because of the right to free speech, but that only proves she is the world’s largest Christmas fruitcake. It is the atheists whose belief system constitutes an extremely rigid religion of its own that hardens hearts. If the Jews of Washington had a menorah in the rotunda, would the goofy governor have given the American Nazi party a thumbs-up if they had wanted to display a copy of Mein Kampf? -BP

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. You think it hasn’t? Then why is it that people are being prevented from saying it in polite society for fear that it will offend?

Schools are being forced to replace “Christmas vacation” with “winter break” in their printed schedules. At Macy’s, the word is verboten even though they’ve made untold millions of dollars from their sympathetic portrayal in the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Carols, even instrumental versions, are banned in certain places. A major postal delivery service has not only made their drivers doff their Santa caps, but ordered them not to decorate their trucks with Christmas wreaths.

How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? And in case you find that designation objectionable, would you deny that India is a Hindu country, that Pakistan is Muslim, that Poland is Catholic? That doesn’t mean those nations are theocracies. But when the overwhelming majority of a country’s population is of one religion, and roughly 90% of Americans happen to be one sort of Christian or another, only a damn fool would deny the obvious.

Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn’t, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in. Assimilation wasn’t a threat to anyone; it was what the Statue of Liberty represented. E pluribus unum, one out of many, was our motto. The world’s melting pot was our nickname. It didn’t mean that any group of people had to check their customs, culture or cuisine, at the door. It did mean that they, and especially their children, learned English, and that they learned to live and let live.

That has changed, you may have noticed. And I blame my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.

Being Jewish, I should report, Christmas was never celebrated by my family. But what was there not to like about the holiday? To begin with, it provided a welcome two week break from school. The decorated trees were nice, the lights were beautiful, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a great movie, and some of the best Christmas songs were even written by Jews.

But the dirty little secret in America is that anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity. For example, the hatred spewed towards George W. Bush has far less to do with his policies than it does with his religion. The Jews voice no concern when a Bill Clinton or a John Kerry makes a big production out of showing up at black Baptist churches or posing with Rev. Jesse Jackson because they understand that’s just politics. They only object to politicians attending church for religious reasons.

My fellow Jews, who often have the survival of Israel heading the list of their concerns when it comes to electing a president, only gave 26% of their vote to Bush, even though he is clearly the most pro-Israel president we’ve ever had in the Oval Office.

It is the ACLU, which is overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that the phrase “separation of church and ” actually exists somewhere in the Constitution.

You may have noticed, though, that the ACLU is highly selective when it comes to religious intolerance. The same group of self-righteous shysters who, at the drop of a “Merry Christmas” will slap you with an injunction, will fight for the right of an American Indian to ingest peyote and a devout Islamic woman to be veiled on her driver’s license.

I happen to despise bullies and bigots. I hate them when they represent the majority, but no less when, like Jews in America, they represent an infinitesimal minority.

I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

I should point out that many of these people abhor Judaism every bit as much as they do Christianity. They’re the ones who behave as if atheism were a calling. They’re the nutcakes who go berserk if anyone even says, ?In God we trust? or mentions that the Declaration of Independence refers to a Creator with a capital “C.” By this time, I’m only surprised that they haven’t begun a campaign to do away with Sunday as a day of rest. After all, it’s only for religious reasons — Christian reasons — that Sunday, and not Tuesday or Wednesday, is so designated.

This is a Christian nation, my friends. And all of us are fortunate it is one, and that so many Americans have seen fit to live up to the highest precepts of their religion. Speaking as a member of a minority group — and one of the smaller ones at that — I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours.

Merry Christmas!

Related: The Grinch, Revisited

The Grinch, Revisited (classic)

by Burt Prelutsky

Nothing that I have ever written has provoked as huge a response as a piece I wrote recently called The Jewish Grinch That Stole Christmas.

In the article, which brought me roughly ten times as much e-mail as I’m accustomed to, I suggested that my fellow Jews were at the forefront in waging war on the values and traditions of Christian Americans.

Predictably enough, the response from gentiles was uniformly positive. The feedback from Jews was somewhat less positive, roughly two-to-one in my favor. What I found most telling was that those who damned me didn’t, as a rule, refute what I had written; they were merely angry that a Jew had written the piece. They accused me of lending aid and comfort to the Jew-haters.

Because I make it a rule to write back to anyone who writes me, and because I assume that those who took the time and trouble to write were representative of many more who didn’t, I’d like to share some of my responses.

The term that nearly every Jew used in condemning me was “a self-hating anti-Semite.” A few accused me of not really being a Jew. That didn’t mean they thought I was a Catholic or a Baptist flying under false colors; no, they meant that my sole claim to being Jewish was that my ancestors were Jewish. The fact is, they’re right.

As I have written on other occasions, I am not a religious man. I do not keep kosher. I do not help make up the morning minyan at the local synagogue. I do not even attend High Holiday services. So what? I’m Jewish because I say I’m Jewish. And because, quite frankly, with my face, who would believe me if I bothered to deny it? Furthermore, most Jews in America are not orthodox and can not read Hebrew or even speak Yiddish. For the most part, American Jews are circumcised, have a bar mitzvah, attend a reformed or conservative temple twice a year, and vote the straight Democratic ticket.

Finally, I say I’m Jewish because Hitler would have said I was Jewish, and then sent me off to Auschwitz, if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to have been born in America.

That was my whole point. I was lucky to have been born to a Jewish family in a Christian nation. It was, in the main, Christian soldiers who liberated the Nazi death camps. Even if I’m not as Jewish as some of my critics would like, I still believe it behooves us to be openly grateful to our Christian neighbors -- not because we fear future pogroms -- but because it’s the decent thing to do.

One of the very few points for which I was specifically taken to task was for referring to America as a Christian nation. To those people, I pointed out that Christians of one denomination or another compose 90% of America’s population. That is 10% higher than the percentage of Jews in Israel, but I am willing to wager that none of my critics would deny that Israel is a Jewish state.

The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in large part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas. What makes it particularly unfortunate is that most Jews are not only opposed to the policies of the ACLU, but are embarrassed and ashamed of the organization.

As one of my respondents put it, “An anti-Semite used to be someone who hated Jews, but it’s become someone whom Jews hate.” The problem with that truism is that Jews, in the great majority, don’t hate gentiles. Sometimes it just seems that way. In fact, most of us are well aware that Israel has no more devoted allies in the world than America’s most devout Christians — starting with George W. Bush.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with black Americans, those who are high-profile and get most of the media attention are the radicals and the rabble-rousers.

When my critics accused me of promoting anti-Semitism, I pleaded not guilty. I asked them if they thought that gentiles were so stupid that they didn’t recognize that the ACLU seems to have nothing but Jewish attorneys on staff who spend most of their time insisting that Christians get Christ out of Christmas.

Finally, the problem is that if Christians complain that the minority group is trying to bully the majority, they stand condemned as bigots. If I, a Jew, suggest that Christians should be free to celebrate one of their holier holidays in any fashion they like, and not have to feel guilty about it, I’m accused of being a self-hating anti-Semite. In short, nobody can be critical of Jews. Well, it so happens that Jews aren’t perfect. And, believe me, I’m not just talking about my relatives.

Many of us, Jews and Christians alike, have been annoyed with American Muslims because they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time whining about racial profiling at the airports, instead of condemning the world-wide butchery of Islamic fascists. Well, to me, the silence of American Jews when it comes to Christian-bashing has been equally deafening.

What truly astonishes me is the patience and good grace with which Christians have dealt with this attack on so many things they hold dear.

It is, I think, a tribute to their religion.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Liberals Under A Microscope

by Burt Prelutsky

If I had a bigger ego, I could easily imagine that liberals say and do the things they say and do simply to perplex or annoy me. But I know I shouldn’t take it personally. All sane and sensible people are equally dismayed.

For instance, Rep. Charlie Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has been accused of failing to report income on a rental house he owns in a Dominican Republic resort, used one of his four rent-control New York apartments for campaign activities, mailed letters on official congressional stationery soliciting funds for an educational center to be named after himself, and used government property to store his Mercedes.

In response to the accusations, the congressman said, “I don’t believe making mistakes means you have to give up your career." I agree. When a congressman makes these many “mistakes,” he should go to jail.

Even the New York Times called Rangel an embarrassment. House Speaker Pelosi, who vowed to rid Capitol Hill of corruption -- bringing to mind a picture of someone trying to drain the Pacific Ocean of water using a teaspoon -- said that she “saw no reason why Mr. Rangel should step down.” Of course not, Nancy. It’s not as if he’s a Republican.

Whatever you might say about Democrats, you can’t deny that they’re often good for a laugh. Back when he was the crack-smoking mayor, Marion Berry proudly announced, “Outside of the killings, Washington, D.C., has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” Now that’s what I call a half-full glass kind of guy.

Apparently nobody is immune to the financial meltdown. In return for endorsing Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton got him to promise to help pay off her campaign debt. Towards that end, Joe Biden recently sent an e-mail to three million of Obama’s donors, nagging them for contributions. What’s more, this is the second time the suckers were being hit up on Hillary’s behalf. Of course it’s not for me to say how people spend their hard-earned money, but the last I heard, the Clintons were worth upwards of a hundred million dollars. Are they saving it all for a rainy day? Do these people even pay for their lunches?

It’s said that cynics know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Look up “cynic” in the dictionary and you’ll find a photo of the Clintons.

A while ago, I observed that sometimes it seemed to me that the people most anxious to get married were homosexuals. But I was conned. We now see by the low number of marriages that have actually taken place that the entire campaign was more an excuse to stage demonstrations and whine about inequality than a sincere desire to tie the knot that motivated them to make an issue of the issue.

It’s worth noting that Hollywood, as you would expect, is filled with people who believe fervently in same-sex marriages, but not so much in opposite-sex marriages. Even when there are kids involved. Just a few of the parent couples who have decided that marriage didn’t fit in with their plans are Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Chris Noth and Tara Wilson, and, of course, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

I must confess I got a kick out of Pitt’s excuse for not proposing to the mother of his children. He said that until all the gays in America were given the right to marry, he wouldn’t marry Angelina. I mean, I’ve heard of guys using wars, the economy and even the nuclear bomb, as an excuse not to march down the aisle, but this one takes the cake. Just not the wedding cake.Bur Joe

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sheep And Goats

by Burt Prelutsky

The other day, I read a letter to the editor in the L.A. Times written by an irate homosexual. Come to think of it, is there any other kind? In any case, he was quite upset over the fact that a great many people are blaming gays in general for the actions of what he regards as a few. It was his contention that in the wake of the vote in favor of Proposition 8, only a tiny percentage of gays were vandalizing churches and intimidating shopkeepers.

What he says is probably true. But it is equally true that only a relatively small number of homosexuals have bothered tying the knot in Connecticut, Massachusetts or even in California, where such marriages were permitted until the recent election.

I don’t have a problem with homosexuals boycotting businesses because they found out that the owners had contributed to the “Yes on 8” campaign. That is certainly their prerogative. But the few shouldn’t think for a moment that they’re winning the hearts and minds of straights when they behave like vicious louts. At the same time, the majority shouldn’t think they deserve our respect when they don’t condemn the behavior of the barbarians, but, rather, try to convince us we shouldn’t judge them all by the actions of a minority within the minority.

I’m reminded that it wasn’t all that long ago that America’s Muslims were telling us that they weren’t all terrorists. And if you recall, a lot of us, gays included, I’m willing to wager, were asking why they weren’t busy condemning the cold-blooded brutality of their co-religionists instead of telling us not to judge them all alike.

This being the holiday season, the word “tolerance” gets tossed around like a beach ball at an L.A. Dodgers game. By and large, it’s liberals who carry on as if they have the word copyrighted. Which would be funny if there weren’t serious repercussions. One of which is the misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which hangs by a slender thread, like the sword of Damocles, over the heads of conservative talk show hosts.

Liberals are so intolerant they often can’t even bear to have people say “Merry Christmas” in their presence. In fact, they can’t even bring themselves to recognize it as a celebration of a specific event. Instead, they dismiss it as the holiday season. Well, in spite of Kwanzaa and Chanukah, this is Christmas season because most Americans are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Even though I’m Jewish, even I have to acknowledge it’s a special occasion, and those who feel entitled to disparage it are worse than Scrooge. They are bigoted, intolerant, ignoramuses.

Where liberals are concerned, one thing you can always count on is that they regard themselves as morally and intellectually superior to those who disagree with them. And, yet, surely there must be liberals somewhere who possess enough commonsense to realize how absurd it is when the city council of Berkeley, California, instead of dealing with potholes and street vendors, came up with a resolution condemning the Iraq War, or when a grand jury in Willacy County, Texas, recently decided to indict Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez. Aren’t there any liberals who find such things even faintly amusing?

It does occur to me now and then that we are well on our way to becoming a banana republic, but with a lot more bananas than republic.

The other day, during an e-mail exchange with one of my readers, Don Melquist, he explained how a Judas goat would be used to lead a herd of sheep aboard a railroad boxcar. I said I understood the goat’s function, but I could never figure out how the animal could then make its way past all the sheep and out the door. Mr. Melquist, who had been raised on a farm, explained that goats are extremely agile and could easily get through a bunch of bleating sheep in order to receive its food reward. He finished up his report, stating, “Goats and sheep may seem rather similar, but there is a huge difference in their habits and intelligence.”

I wrote back, “Sounds a lot like liberals and conservatives.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Like Cats And Dogs

by Burt Prelutsky

All those pundits who were forecasting the November election, busily analyzing blue states, red states and those all-important purple swing states, were spinning their wheels. At the risk of sounding even more presumptuous than usual, I contend that they were wasting their time and yours.

If you ever want to know who’s going to win an election, all you really need to do is find out how many people have cats living with them and how many have dogs. The cat people, I have decided, will go overwhelmingly for the liberal; the dog lovers will vote for the conservative.

It isn’t simply that single women, who often prefer felines to canines, tend to vote Democratic. It really goes to the nature of the animals, themselves.

Cats are finicky. Which is just a Madison Avenue euphemism for being snooty, snobbish and stand-offish. Dogs are honest, friendly and loyal. Just looking at them makes people feel good. Which is why you even find them appearing in TV commercials that have nothing to do with kibble or flea collars. It also explains why so many of them, including Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Asta, Old Yeller and Benjy, have been movie stars.

Cats speak French. Or are you going to insist that “meow” doesn’t sound like something nasty a Parisian would say behind your back? Dogs speak English, and they’re plain spoken. Cats arch their backs and hiss. Dogs wag their tails and let you know you’ve been missed when you’ve been out of sight for all of thirty seconds.

With a cat, you can’t do anything right. With a dog, you can do no wrong.

If you want to get your cat’s undivided attention, you have to turn on the electric can opener. If you want to get your dog’s undivided attention, you merely have to be breathing.

A dog’s favorite toy is a ball. A cat’s is either a living mouse or a toy filled with catnip, his drug of choice.

A dog will dive into a raging river to save a stranger’s life. A cat wouldn’t step into a puddle to save yours.

A dog, if he were your next door neighbor, would be the kind of guy who’d come over and fix your plumbing. A cat, if he were your next door neighbor, would borrow your lawn mower, and not only would he not return it, but would try to sell the darn thing at his next garage sale.

In fact, the only apparent difference I can distinguish between liberal politicians and a cat is the latter’s ability to clean itself with its tongue. But, I, who take nothing for granted, wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Barney Franks, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton, are known to occasionally cough up hairballs.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Death Of Logic

by Burt Prelutsky

The problem with being a logical human being is that every day, sometimes every hour, you get blind-sided like a quarterback cursed with an underachieving offensive line.

It’s bad enough when a movie or a mystery novel scores a big fat zero on the logic meter, but when it happens in real life, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself wondering if you have somehow followed Alice down the rabbit hole.

For instance, one day not too long ago, a headline in the sports section of my local daily, the Los Angeles Times, insisted that black players were underrepresented in major league baseball. On the face of it, that is one of the silliest examples of race-baiting that one could possibly come up with. That was the same day they ran 17 photos in the section, and all but four were of black athletes, and one of the four was a race horse. (I was moved to write a letter to the editor, asking if perhaps black athletes were over-represented in the paper.)

The fact is, professional baseball is one of the only true meritocracies left in America. If you can hit, catch or throw a baseball better than 99.9999999% of the human race, the team owners want to make you an instant millionaire, and the folks signing your paycheck don’t care what color your skin is or whether your name is Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Ishiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui.

Still, one can’t help but ponder how the Times would go about making things right. Would they begin by getting rid of all the Latino players from Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic?

But as asinine as that article was, the Times sports section managed to out-do itself more recently. They ran a piece suggesting that racism was the reason that there were only four blacks coaching football at the major colleges. That particular story ran on November 5th, the day after a black man was elected president of the United States, garnering 66 million votes. But I guess the Times missed the news because they were so busy fretting about football coaches.

This kind of focusing on presumed racism is enough to give a person pause. While everyone, well perhaps not everyone, was celebrating the election of Barack Obama, I found myself wondering what happens in 2012 if Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal defeats Obama in his bid for re-election? Will that mean that we are back to being a racist society? I’m dead certain that will be the conclusion of the Times, and one shared by Chris Matthews, Alan Colmes and Michelle Obama.

Still, as absurd and illogical as my newspaper is, that’s nothing compared to the lunacy taking place in our courts. To take a recent example, 100 Somali Muslims sued Gold’n Plump, a meat processing outfit with plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the Work Connection, an employment agency, for $350,000…and, quite naturally, won. It seems the Muslims took five prayer breaks a day, which resulted in the non-Muslim workers complaining that it was unfair to them, while the employment agency had asked the Muslims to sign a form acknowledging that they might be required to handle pork.

The lawsuits, by the way, were filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Your tax dollars at work. It occurs to me that the motto at the EEOC, like that in Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” is that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Why anyone in his right mind would hire people who feel entitled to five prayer breaks a day is beyond me, but clearly the folks at the EEOC have way too much time on their hands. Come to think of it, perhaps that would be a good place for the Somalis to go looking for new jobs. But I suppose Washington is not the place to settle if you can’t risk coming in contact with pork.

In conclusion, as most of you are aware, homosexuals have been rioting pretty much non-stop ever since California’s electorate once again put the kibosh on same-sex marriages. They have picketed and vandalized Catholic and Mormon churches to display their displeasure, which suggests to me that, instead of “gays” being their euphemism of choice, perhaps “cranks,” “louts” or “bigots” might be more appropriate.

The one group of churches they haven’t gone after are the black ones, even though 70% of blacks voted in favor of marriage being limited to one man and one woman. What’s more, blacks were very vocal about objecting to homosexual marriages being touted as a civil right. The fact that, in spite of all this, homosexuals have given black churches a wide berth suggests that while gays may not always practice safe sex, they certainly practice safe demonstrations.Bobby JindalE

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recent Musings

by Burt Prelutsky

I admit I am not an economist. The truth is, I have trouble balancing my checkbook. Having said that, I can’t figure out how we can compete in a global economy. When China uses slave labor and other countries pay their workers a few dollars a day, it seems to me that we’re trying to fight with one arm tied behind us and a small dog biting our ankles.

I know even less about cars than I do about economics, so I have no way of knowing if American cars are as good as those produced by the Germans and the Japanese. But I did hear recently that when pensions and benefits are factored in, a UAW union member makes about $78-an-hour. That works out to about $156,000-a-year. I’m not suggesting that an American factory worker isn’t worth it, but how can the company paying out that kind of money possibly sell a car at a competitive price?

I don’t have answers, you understand, I’m just asking questions. Another question that comes to mind relates to George W. Bush. One of my readers took me to task for suggesting that the president didn’t do anything to ward off the financial crisis. He claimed that Cal Thomas, among others, had written about Bush’s attempts to do something about Fannie Mae before the crisis hit. My response is that it’s not the job of Mr. Thomas to carry the president’s message to America. The presidency is not supposed to be a covert operation. The president is the man with the bully pulpit, and if he isn’t prepared to use it, he probably shouldn’t have it. And I’m not referring to those dog-and-pony press conferences. I don’t need to see Helen Thomas hogging camera time, but I do need to hear what the president thinks and why he thinks it. Which is why I hope Obama makes it a practice to give weekly or bi-weekly reports, and I don’t need to see the first lady, the first kids or even the first dog while he’s doing it.

Next, I don’t ever want to hear a Democrat claim, as I believe Joe Biden did, that paying taxes is patriotic. Paying taxes is about as patriotic as going to the bathroom. In other words, at times, it’s necessary, but it’s always compulsive. I believe that for a thing to be patriotic, it has to be done on a voluntary basis. I suppose a case could be made that if a person paid more than he owed, he was being patriotic. So, as an example to the rest of us, I would love to see such tax-loving liberals as George Soros, Mr. and Mrs. John Kerry and all the various Kennedys, pay at the rate they would if most of their income didn’t come to them in the low-taxed form of trusts and off-shore accounts.

By the way, aren’t there any liberals who are embarrassed by the fact that their single biggest benefactor, George Soros, not only doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes, but made his billions the old-fashioned way -- through the tawdry practice of currency manipulation? Instead of using his ill-gotten gains to promote his left-wing agenda, I keep wishing Soros would simply buy an island where he could build a palace, plunk a crown on his fat head and make all his subjects call him King George.

Most people have an odd relationship with money. For one thing, they seem to take it personally when an athlete makes, say, $20 million-a-year. They carry on as if it’s coming out of their pocket. I mean, would you all feel better if the Steinbrenners kept all their moolah to themselves instead of paying it to Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez? It reminds me of when people used to carry on as if they’d been mugged when it came to the costs of the space program. I used to point out that NASA wasn’t taking that money, sticking it in a space capsule and shooting it to the moon. The money stayed right here on earth and went to buy materials and pay salaries.

On the other hand, even I know there’s a time to flaunt it and a time to keep a low profile. A while back, a lot of noses were out of joint because three fat cats flew from Detroit to Washington, D.C., on private jets in order to beg for money. Not only was it unseemly, but they blew a golden opportunity to garner decent publicity. Did nobody in the PR departments at Ford, Chrysler and G.M., even consider having the CEOs form a convoy and drive their company’s cars 520 miles to the nation’s capitol? While I am aware that, after having been severely scolded, the three stooges left their jets at home the second time they went begging, that only made them look like wimpy snobs.

Still, when AIG, after getting bailed out by the American taxpayer, hands out bonuses to its executives, and when the world’s leaders gather for dinner at the White House and toast each other during a financial meltdown with wine costing $500-a-bottle, you can’t help wondering if Paris Hilton or perhaps Lindsay Lohan is handling everyone’s PR these days.

It’s no secret that I am not looking forward to an Obama administration. The notion that the liberals will control the House, the Senate and the Oval Office, for the foreseeable future makes my blood run cold. The mental image that first comes to mind is a bull in a china shop, but the ensuing damage in that case would be inadvertent. The bull, after all, isn’t looking to destroy the crockery. It is merely looking for the quickest way back to the farm and the cows, whereas the liberals are looking to create an America in their own cockeyed image. That makes me think of vandals taking knives to the Mona Lisa or firebugs burning down a virgin forest.

Many people are questioning why Obama, the alleged agent of change, is filling his administration with a lot of Clinton re-treads. I am reminded of what took place in Germany after World War II. Suddenly, it seemed like all the mayors and bureaucrats were former Nazis. The explanation was that after a dozen years of Hitler, only the Nazis had the necessary leadership experience. Well, when you realize that since 1980, the only Democratic president was Bill Clinton, it figures that Obama would be forced to furnish his White House with second-hand goods from the Clinton thrift shop.

With that said, I have found one reason, other than not having to hear John McCain begin every other sentence with “My friends,” for cheering Obama’s election. As of this moment, he has removed Rahm Emanuel from the House, Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano from their governors’ mansions, and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Senate. Now if he can only find new jobs for Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, Dick Durbin, Barney Frank, John Murtha and Charles Schumer, heck, even I might vote for him in 2012!AIG