Monday, November 30, 2009

Clearing The Decks

by Burt Prelutsky

Periodically, I find that my random thoughts begin to pile up and threaten to overflow from the dusty attic I call my brain. At such times, I have to decide whether to wrap them up and pass them off as gifts or place them curbside for the trash collectors. Inasmuch as we are fast-approaching Christmas season, try to consider the following remarks with the same equanimity you do those holiday fruitcakes that keep showing up on your doorstep year after year.

To begin with, could somebody please explain why they keep churning out one version of “The Christmas Carol” after another? Now, I have nothing against Charles Dickens’ little fable and, in fact, back in the third grade I portrayed Tiny Tim in a class production that is still spoken of in hushed tones. But isn’t enough ever enough? This December, Jim Carrey is taking a crack at Ebenezer Scrooge. The question is why. In the years since the 1914 silent film starring Charles Rock, there have been over 50 versions produced for either TV or the movies. Six Oscar winners -- Michael Caine, Albert Finney, Fredric March, Walter Matthau, Jack Palance and George C. Scott -- have bah-humbugged their way through the part, and another four Oscar nominees -- John Carradine, Basil Rathbone, James Whitmore and Sir Ralph Richardson -- have given it a go, while a fifth, James Earl Jones, had to settle for merely narrating a version.

Next on the agenda is the recent election in New York’s 23rd congressional district. That was the race in which ACORN’s favorite “Republican,” Dierdre Scozzafava, dropped out at the last minute, throwing her support to the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, who managed to defeat Doug Hoffman, a conservative candidate with the personality and verbal skills of a guppy, by a scant three percent. Interestingly, nearly six percent of the goofballs in upper state New York trooped out and cast their votes for non-candidate Scozzafava. Which strongly suggests that when Mr. Owens goes to Washington, he should rent, not buy.

In the wake of GOP gubernatorial victories that same day in Virginia and New Jersey, Nancy Pelosi bragged that Owens had won in a district that had elected one Republican after another ever since the Civil War. As usual, she lied. Although the area has been gerrymandered any number of times over the years, Republicans haven’t been elected with any regularity even since the Vietnam War. In fact, 11 of the past 15 representatives from the district have been Democrats!

Speaking of House Speaker Pelosi, do you think she would be quite so determined to shove Obamacare down our throats if members of Congress had to live under the same system as the rest of us? Do you think for even one minute that she would agree to a health care plan that rationed plastic surgery?

For that matter, can you imagine Obama’s Hollywood groupies supporting cap and trade if it meant they could no longer gad about in private jets, Hummers and limousines or had to turn off the air-conditioning in their palatial villas?

Recently, I came across a quote by one of the better Scrooges, Ralph Richardson: “I have put on so many make-ups that sometimes I have feared that when I go to wipe it off, there will be nobody left underneath.” When you couple that notion with the fear some camera-shy aborigines have about their souls being stolen when their pictures are taken, I think we all have a clearer idea of why people like Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, say the nutty things they do.

That brings us to Barack Obama, who’s never seen a TV camera or a teleprompter he didn’t lust after. Come to think of it, it’s too bad that his administration isn’t a TV show. If it were, we could at least hope it would be canceled after one season instead of four.

In case you missed it, he recently lifted the HIV Treatment and Immigration Ban, thus throwing open our borders to the diseased of the world, including that part of the world where many men believe that AIDS can be cured by having sex with young female virgins. But, really, who amongst us hasn’t at one time or another entertained the notion that what America really needs is an influx of foreigners with highly infectious diseases requiring really expensive, taxpayer-subsidized, health care?

Finally, allow me to introduce you to Diane Metcalf-Leggette, a first year student at Princeton, who is demanding that she be allotted twice as much time to take tests as her classmates. It’s her contention that she suffers from four separate learning disabilities; namely, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, disorder of written expression and developmental coordination disorder. These conditions, according to her complaint, hinder her ability to process information and communicate in writing.

Well, heaven knows I’m as sympathetic as the next fellow when it comes to those poor souls cursed with mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, a group that I assume includes Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd and Henry Waxman, but, frankly, I find myself in a muddle. I believe, by the way, that my condition is known in medical circles as the hopeless search for common sense in a world gone mad disorder.

For instance, in spite of my best efforts to ward them off, a number of questions come to mind and refuse to leave. One, I ask myself what is this doofus doing at Princeton; two, what would she do with a degree even if they gave her a month and a half to take each and every test for the next four years; and, three, what the heck is a person with her particular problems doing carting around a name containing 20 letters and a hyphen?