Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Myth Of The Indispensable Man

by Burt Prelutsky

Lately, it seems every time I turn around I hear about some politician or bureaucrat who is absolutely indispensable. As often as not, these people are talking about themselves. And, frankly, if this keeps up, I’m going to have to stop turning around.

The first of these braggarts was New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In demanding that the city council do away with term limits, Bloomberg insisted that, thanks to the financial crisis, New York needed him, and him alone, at the helm.

When people say these kinds of things, we assume they’re either a Cuban dictator or an inmate at an asylum with his hand tucked in his jacket, claiming to be Napoleon.

In spite of the fact that he was a tax-cheat for several years, Tim Geithner, according to Barack Obama, was the only guy in America who could be trusted to be Secretary of the Treasury, the man whose duties include running the IRS. As I see it, after years of overlooking his own taxes, he will now be charged with overseeing everybody else’s. I guess this comes under the heading of “It Takes a Thief.”

Next we have William Lynn III, President Obama’s choice to be deputy Defense secretary, in spite of the fact that Obama had vowed to make his administration a lobbyist-free zone. Mr. Lynn just happened to have been a major lobbyist on behalf of defense contractor Raytheon Co.

Now I have nothing against Bloomberg, Geithner or Lynn. For all I know, they may be nice guys and maybe even competent. But the notion of being indispensable rubs me the wrong way. Americans such as, say, Aaron Copland, Andrew Wyeth and Tennessee Williams, can be called indispensable to a certain degree because if they’d never been born, “Rodeo” would never have been composed, “Christina’s World” never been painted and “The Glass Menagerie” never been written. But when it comes to mayors, cabinet members and deputy Defense secretaries, I refuse to believe that in a nation this large, we can’t find three other fellows who could do the job, and probably for less money.

Speaking of money, I think Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may have been on to something. Understand, I don’t like him any better than you do. But the way I see it, he had a senate seat to fill and he figured he might as well make a few bucks off it. And, really, when you get right down to cases, whoever was going to wind up being the junior senator from Illinois, be it Roland Burris, Jesse Jackson, Jr., or Oprah Winfrey, was going to be a knee-jerk liberal. So what’s the big deal if Blagojevich was going to wind up being able to afford box seats at Wrigley Field, a new Lexus and a haircut?

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing governors selecting all the senators. When you look at a lineup that includes Pat Leahy, John Kerry, Dick Durbin, Robert Byrd and Harry Reid, you know they couldn’t do any worse than the electorate. And if the seats got auctioned off for a million or two, it would be a lot cheaper than it is now. To run for the U.S. Senate in my state costs tens of millions of dollars, and we still wind up with the likes of Dianne Feinstein, she of the thin skin, and Barbara Boxer, she of the tiny brain.

In conclusion, let me just admit that while I totally reject the idea of the indispensable man, I am entirely open to the notion of the indispensable dog. The dog I have in mind isn’t our own Maltese, the philosopher Duke, who first barked, “I sleep; therefore I am.” Rather, it’s a distant relative of his, the Maltese known as Sumo.

It seems that Sumo, who has been treated for depression, recently bit his master, the former French president, Jacques Chirac.

Mrs. Chirac said that Sumo bit her husband for no apparent reason. Ha! The woman probably also believes the dog was depressed for no apparent reason.

As a rule, Malteses are jovial, light-hearted, happy-go-lucky little fellows. If Sumo is depressed, I suspect it’s only because he has had to share living space with the insufferable Monsieur Chirac, a man who seemed to believe he could walk on water and raise the dead. Which of us, I ask, wouldn’t have bitten him?

Which got me to thinking….if Barack Obama is still looking for a First Dog, might I suggest he consider a Maltese with a French accent?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Calling Off The Boston Tea Party

by Burt Prelutsky

I’m sure that most of us have heard the inspiring story of the Boston Tea Party. At least when I was in school, they were still relating the tale of a handful of American patriots, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, who, weary of taxation without representation, dumped large amounts of English tea into Boston Harbor. Well, if I could include time travel among my many talents, I just might go back to 1773 and try to persuade them to reconsider. “Boys,” I’d say to them, “I understand your frustration. But you have no idea what this is going to lead to down the road. I know that King George is as crazy as a loon, but a couple of hundred years from now, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren are going to have to answer to Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Compared to them, King George looks as wise as King Solomon and as congenial as Ben Franklin.”

I mean, when you start adding up what it costs the typical taxpayer to keep councilmen, aldermen, mayors, assemblymen, state senators, governors, congressmen, U.S. senators and the president -- not to mention their legions of secretaries, assistants, consultants, pollsters and assorted mistresses -- clothed, housed, fed and pensioned, the colonists were getting off dirt cheap. I’d gladly pay a few extra cents for a cup of tea if it meant that these thousands of freeloaders would be forced to leave their cushy fiefdoms and go find honest work.

The bottom line is that taxation without representation is bad, but taxation with representation is worse.

Speaking of politicians, in a letter to the editor, a reader of the New York Times grumbled: “It’s amazing that Albert Cuomo, who owes his whole career to his dad, may not get the Senate seat of Hillary Rodham Clinton (who owes her whole career to her husband) because David Paterson (who owes his whole career to his dad) may give it to Caroline Kennedy (who owes her whole career to her dad). You would think a state as large as New York could find someone who deserves something on his or her own.”

This merely points out how far America has come in recreating a monarchy of our own. But instead of our kings and queens relying on the European rule of progenitor to inherit their crowns, they have chosen to adopt the Hollywood version, better known as nepotism.

As I sit here, nobody is certain who is going to be the senator from Minnesota. That hasn’t prevented Al Franken from claiming victory with a margin of 225 votes, in spite of the fact that in at least 25 precincts, there were more ballots than voters!

I am of course hoping that Norm Coleman manages to convince the court that it would be embarrassing, to say the least, to have an election decided by ballots miraculously turning up in car trunks and cellars cast by voters whose last known address was the cemetery. At the very least, Chicago would likely sue over copyright infringement.

On the other hand, there’s that devilish little rascal lurking inside me that would like to imagine those other Democratic senators having to put up with the surly, ignorant, arrogant, ill-tempered, unfunny Sen. Franken for the next six years.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do Either God Or Al Gore Exist?

by Burt Prelutsky

Human beings like to believe they’re totally rational creatures. To take an extreme example, atheists are convinced they can prove that God doesn’t exist. This is a particularly fascinating phenomenon because among those who believed in God’s existence are such brainy people as Albert Einstein, Rene Descartes, Albert Schweitzer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johann Sebastian Bach, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Thomas Aquinas, John Milton, Michelangelo, Herman Melville and even the deeply cynical Graham Greene. While representing the opposing point of view, we have the likes of Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Bill Maher. And yet, any number of atheists who have to take off their shoes in order to count up to 11 are absolutely convinced they’re right.

In our own time, a great many people who are deeply skeptical when it comes to God are zealots when it comes to man-made global warming (aka climate change). Al Gore, who isn’t any more intelligent than Joe Biden and got worse grades in college than George W. Bush , is the high priest of what we might call the weather religion.

Now, in the distant past, mankind believed all sorts of things we now discount. For instance, people used to believe the earth was flat. They were also convinced that the sun revolved around the earth. While both beliefs have been proven wrong along the way, I’d say those people had far better reasons for believing hogwash than we do today.

I mean, it makes sense to believe the earth is flat. People are accustomed to flat surfaces. I can see a natural reluctance to accept the notion that the earth is round. After all, you can balance yourself on top of a large ball, but not on the bottom. So, if I lived hundreds of years ago, I would wonder why if the earth was round, people in places like Australia and Brazil and southern Africa didn’t fall off.

In the same way, it’s far more reasonable to believe the sun is revolving around the earth than to accept the notion that it’s vice versa. If the earth is spinning around and flying through space, how is it we don’t feel it moving? If we ride on a horse and we go only, say, ten miles an hour, we feel the wind in our face. But the earth is traveling thousands of miles an hour and we don’t even feel a slight breeze? Horsepockey! I would have said to Galileo Galieli. Balderdash! I would have said to Nicholas Copernicus.

But Al Gore is no Copernicus and he’s certainly no Galileo, and, furthermore, he’s making money hand over fist, not to mention copping Oscars and Nobel Prizes, peddling his malarkey to the besotted.

The fact that through all of recorded history, the earth has gotten warmer and cooler long before the internal combustion engine was even a gleam in Nicholas Cugnot’s eye, should suggest to everyone that Gore is peddling month-old fish. But so long as there are enough true believers to make it profitable, not to mention chic, the weather zealots will continue to trample truth and logic underfoot.

All hope is not lost, however. Quite recently, Sammy Wilson, who represents East Antrim in Parliament, and also serves as England’s environmental minister, dismissed man-made global warming as a gigantic con game. But, of course, I’m sure that Gore’s galoots will discount his judgment. After all, he’s merely a politician, whereas Al Gore is a…..god?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear Oprah:

by Burt Prelutsky

Although I suppose it verges on heresy, I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey. As a writer, I suppose I should cut her some slack because she encourages her viewers to read. On the other hand, any adult who depends on Ms. Winfrey to determine their reading matter is the same sort of goofy person who’s going to rely on her judgment when it comes to voting in a presidential election.

Recently, Ms. Winfrey was embarrassed because a Holocaust memoir she had highly recommended, Herman Rosenblat’s “Angel at the Fence,” turned out to contain fictional elements. This is the second time she’s fallen into this trap. The first time was when she swooned over James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces,” which purported to tell the life Frey lived as an alcoholic/drug addict/petty criminal before pulling himself out of the gutter. On that occasion, she had Frey back on her show in order to verbally draw-and-quarter him in front of her cheering audience. I figured if he hadn’t been an authentic lost soul when he wrote his book, he probably was after being so brutally pilloried.

In order to spare Queen Oprah future embarrassment, I’ll give her a tip. Fiction is nearly always better-written and usually much closer to the truth than that which is passed off as factual. So, instead of shilling on behalf of current heart-tuggers, it might behoove her to encourage the ladies to read the classics. Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Booth Tarkington and Raymond Chandler, have all survived the test of time -- and, best of all, they’re all dead and can’t possibly embarrass her excellency.

I would point out that it’s only logical that, most of the time, fiction is better written than non-fiction because whereas professional writers write fiction, it is generally researchers and academics who churn out the other stuff.

So, instead of worrying whether little Roma Radzicki actually came to the Nazi concentration camp where little Herman Rosenblat was confined 70 years ago and handed him apples through the barbed wire fence, I think Oprah’s time would be better spent if she were ever outraged by the obvious bias of the MSM and the partisan lies it spews out on a daily basis, lies masquerading as objective news reporting.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Slobbering Sycophants Of The MSM

by Burt Prelutsky

It wasn’t that long ago that my friend Bernard Goldberg told me he was never going to write another book. It was just a lot of hard work, he complained, and while he was working on one, virtually all joy was sucked out of his life. It made perfect sense to me. Besides, books take a lot of time to write and Bernie, who wishes he’d grown another foot-and-a-half so he could have competed in the NBA, still needs to work on his hook shot.

Well, he lied. But at least it was in a good cause. I just read his latest slice-and-dice of the liberal media, “A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media),” and I was reminded what a travesty the MSM made of the 1st amendment in its desire to ensure Obama’s victory.

There was a time, after all, when Americans actually had a rather high opinion of those who brought us the news in a fair and reasonably objective manner, and when editors and publishers didn’t allow their opinions to bleed all over the rest of the newspaper. But those days are long gone. Today, nobody trusts print or TV journalists. Liberals may have been delighted to find the MSM working overtime to get their guy elected last year, but in the final analysis nobody respects a whore. Americans, whatever their politics, have no more reason to believe what they’re told by the members of the fourth estate than the Russians had when their news source was Pravda, Stalin’s propaganda machine.

As Goldberg makes clear, the shame of the MSM during the presidential election wasn’t simply that they couldn’t mention Barack Obama’s name without swooning, although it did get awfully embarrassing. Giggly teenage girls at a Jonas Brothers concert behaved with more restraint than Chris Matthews.

Worse yet was the way the media kept anything negative about their Lochinvar under wraps. So it was that although Rolling Stone, as early as February, 2007, in a profile of Sen. Obama, wrote about his friend and religious mentor, the loony racist, Jeremiah Wright, the MSM totally ignored the connection until bloggers and Sean Hannity forced the issue. Even then, the media merely took its lead from Obama. When the candidate claimed that in 20 years, he’d never heard his minister say anything hateful about America or white people, they went along with it. When Obama dismissed Wright’s rants as sound bites taken out of context, that was good enough for the MSM. When Obama said that he would never turn his back on Wright, they praised him for his loyalty. Then, when Wright kept repeating those “sound bites” and Obama hurled his worthless carcass under the bus, the MSM praised him for his resolve.

When some people questioned how Obama could have sat in that cesspool of a church for a thousand Sundays, Obama said that anyone who would ask such a rude question was obviously a racist, knowing full well that the MSM, aka the amen corner, could be counted on not only to parrot his words, but to clap hands and shout “Hallelujah!”

If some of us began to confuse news stories about Obama with his campaign press releases, it’s because they were interchangeable, although the press releases tended to be more restrained and, usually, better written.

When Geraldine Ferraro dared to point out that if he were white, the inexperienced Obama would not be running for president, there was such a firestorm of media outrage that Hillary Clinton had to toss her under the bus. Clearly, though, when 90% of blacks were voting for Obama when he was running against someone as liberal as Sen. Clinton, it should have been pretty obvious to one and all that the allegedly post-racial candidate was about as post-racial as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or Jeremiah Wright. Considering how cynical the members of the press like to consider themselves, it’s rather amusing how naive and, well, slobbering the members of the press can be when they really put their minds to it.

The members of the MSM, as Goldberg makes perfectly clear in 173 very readable pages, went completely in the tank to ensure that Obama would be the 44th president of the United States. But they paid a terrible price. They showed themselves to be nothing more than partisan hacks. And in the end, Obama owed his victory more to the financial meltdown than to their ethical meltdown.

Is it any wonder that newspapers are barely hanging on, that network news shows are seeing their audiences evaporate like the morning dew, and that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann could double their ratings if only they could finally convince their fathers to tune in?

The MSM reminds me of Marlon Brando’s character in “On the Waterfront.” By taking a dive, they’ve forfeited their chance to be contenders…for our respect. Instead, like Terry Malloy, they’re just bums.

The Washington Times quoted from this article.

Icons Of The Idiotic Left

by Burt Prelutsky

The only real difference between liberals and teenagers is that the people the teens idolize can sometimes sing, dance and/or play a musical instrument. Lefties would say the very same thing about conservatives, but, as usual, they’d be wrong.

Consider our icons for a moment. They tend to be people like Washington, Jefferson and Adams. In modern times, we have Ronald Reagan. When he was president, liberals demeaned him as an ignoramus and called for his impeachment. They claimed he was just another dumb actor, whereas Jimmy Carter, they insisted, had the IQ of a genius. Somehow, they managed to overlook the fact that the genius had allowed the Islamics to take control of Iran and hold American hostages for years. On the home front, he gave us 21% interest rates, 13.5% inflation and 7% unemployment. On the misery index, which is how economists measure such things, that’s a miserable 20.5%. In human terms, that would probably be the equivalent of losing your dog and your left arm. Not only did Reagan get the economy off life-support, but he managed to hammer the final nail into the Soviet Union’s coffin.

Liberals, on the other hand, will put people such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Charles Schumer, Barney Frank and Patrick Leahy, on pedestals. Compared to the likes of them, teen idols Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, don’t look so bad.

But if grown-ups think it’s absurd and unseemly for the MSM to pant over Barack Obama, whose major achievement consists of having won a popularity contest against unpopular John McCain, that’s nothing compared to their longstanding love affair with left-wing despots and traitors. Back in the 30s and 40s, the American left went gaga over Joseph Stalin. In the 50s, they demonstrated on behalf of the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss. In the 60s, they wore little hats adorned with a red star and carried around Mao’s Little Red Book in homage to mass murderer Mao Tse-Tung and, for good measure, sang the praises of the Black Panthers and Abbie Hoffman.

Then along came Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara, better known to his adoring fans as Che. By the way, people began calling him “Che” because it’s the Spanish equivalent of “Hey,” something he apparently said with even greater and more annoying frequency than John McCain said “My friends” or Caroline Kennedy says, “You know.”

Castro, lest it be glossed over by Sean (“Milk”) Penn’s infatuation with the bearded one, dealt with Cuba’s homosexual population by either killing them or sticking them in concentration camps. Odd, isn’t it, how much more noise the gay community makes about Reverend Rick Warren’s giving an invocation than they ever have about the bloody tyrant who’s spent the past half century presiding over a reign of terror a scant 90 miles from Florida?

In an article he wrote for the American Thinker, Humberto Fontava reminded us what some of the leading lights on the left have said about Castro, the man on whose behalf Che Guevara happily executed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Cubans for no bigger sin than their not wishing to replace a dictator named Batista, with another named Castro.

It was extortionist extraordinaire Jesse Jackson who said, “Viva Fidel! Viva Che! Long live our cry of freedom!”

Historical revisionist and sometime movie director Oliver Stone claimed, “Castro is very selfless and moral. One of the world’s wisest men.” Right -- as if druggie Stone would know the first thing about morality or wisdom.

Ted Turner, who drinks a lot, informed us that Castro is “One helluva guy!”

Harry Belafonte, Hugo Chavez’s favorite calypso singer, sounding like Howard Dean at his goofiest, insisted, “If you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro.” Well, inasmuch as Castro has ruled over Cuba for 50 years without holding an election, you’d hardly regard him as the poster boy for democracy, but facts rarely get in the way once a leftist goes into his cheerleading routine.

Jack Nicholson informs us that “Castro is a genius,” but that’s understandable because in Hollywood, any jackass who directs a movie is hailed as a genius.

Speaking of jackasses, another Hollywood ninny who doesn’t worry about embarrassing family and friends by opening his yap, proclaimed, “Fidel, I love you. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes.” The speaker was not, as you might have guessed, Barbara Streisand or Arianna Huffington, but Francis Ford Coppola.

Never one to leave his lack of intelligence in doubt, Chevy Chase claimed, “Socialism works. I think Cuba might prove it.”

But it’s not just those on the left coast who have made goo-goo eyes at Castro. Colin Powell, who should have faded away, as was the lot of old soldiers, according to a British war ballad, instead took the time to tell us, “Castro has done some good things for Cuba.” Powell never got around to telling us what those things were. Instead, he wound up sounding like the apologists for fascism during the 1930s who never got tired of reminding the world that, thanks to Mussolini, the Italian trains ran on time.

The late Norman Mailer, the moral conscience of New York’s upper Westside, who stabbed his wife and also led the campaign to get killer Jack Henry Abbott out of jail, so that, quite predictably, he could murder again, unequivocally stated: “Fidel Castro is the greatest hero to appear in the Americas.”

Not one to be left out of any major gathering of morons, George McGovern proclaimed, “Castro is shy and sensitive, a man I regard as a friend.”

The fact that Castro has probably defiled more women than Saddam Hussein and his sons, Qusay and Uday, put together doesn’t mean a thing to his legion of fans, male and female alike, any more than the fact that Stalin and Mao had more blood on their hands than Hitler. For that matter, I’m sure that the millions of innocent Vietnamese and Cambodians who died at the hands of the Viet Cong and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge never caused Jane Fonda to lose a single night’s sleep.

The final irony is that a great many of the same fools who have spent the last eight years carrying signs in the streets condemning George Bush as a warmonger, a man who trashed the Constitution, traded American blood for Arab oil and who, worst of all, mispronounced “nuclear,” go home to walls that are covered with pin-up pictures of Castro and Guevara.

For that matter, would any of us be terribly surprised to learn that just looking at his Che poster sends a shiver up Chris Matthews’ leg?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Antidote To Obama

by Burt Prelutsky

I have written with an air of despondency about the bleak future I see for conservatism in America. For one thing, Obama won the election by capturing the votes of virtually every demographic group imaginable, except for older white guys. And the one thing you can say about us, individually and as a voting bloc is that, alas, we’re not getting any younger.

The most discouraging sign was that Obama, the pro-choice candidate, defeated McCain, a pro-lifer, by a 2-1 majority among Hispanics. Apparently, their bishops had no more influence over them than I did.

During his upcoming administration, Obama has promised to out-do FDR by putting an additional 2.5 million people on the federal payroll. He has also threatened -- I mean, promised -- to create some sort of civilian paramilitary group that sounds suspiciously like Hitler’s brown shirts, but I could very well be mistaken. For all I know, Obama may dress them in blue.

One can easily see that President Obama intends to follow FDR’s game plan by creating a population dependent on the government’s largesse, and thus beholden to the Democratic party. If anything, Obama’s own plans can be even more ambitious than Roosevelt’s were, thanks to those dependable enablers, Pelosi and Reid.

I know there are conservatives who are counting on the Democrats fumbling the ball, as Jimmy Carter did, and then having someone like Ronald Reagan ride in, much like the cavalry in a John Ford western, to rescue America. But I think a far likelier scenario is that the liberals will pass the 28th amendment, nullifying the 22nd, so that Obama won’t be limited by term limits.
After all, if New York’s Mayor Bloomberg could do away with term limits because he decided that he and he alone was up to the job of running the Big Apple, what’s to prevent the folks who seem to think that the second amendment isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on, and that the Fairness Doctrine trumps the first amendment, from doing whatever the heck they want?

This is not to suggest that despair and anguish should be the order of the day for conservatives. I know that armed insurrection is a notion that has occurred to a quite a number of right-wingers, and while I admit that popping off a round or two in the general direction of Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell and any number of left-wing politicians is undeniably appealing, I really wouldn’t to promote a second war between the states. At least not so long as there was a viable option.

And, fortunately, there is. There’s Canada!

During the American Revolution, Americans who were loyal to England crossed the border. I suggest that we conservatives who are loyal to the America conceived by our forefathers pack up our principles, our values and our Constitution, and move north.

We may not have the numbers to win a presidential election here in the United States, but our 58 million votes in Canada (current population: 33, 500, 000) would be more than enough to ensure a conservative plurality for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, having learned from experience, I propose that our first order of business should be to erect a large wall along our southern border in order to keep out the riff-raff.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Taking Sides In The Middle East

by Burt Prelutsky

Just for the record, I am a non-observant Jew. That means that my mother’s father, Max Lashevsky, who kept kosher and attended an orthodox synagogue every day of his life, would probably have considered me a heathen, while Adolph Hitler would have exterminated me in a gas oven.

I want that to be perfectly clear so that when I declare my concern for Israel, nobody will simply assume it’s because I’m Jewish. I am on the side of Israel because it’s a western democracy, an ally of America, and because I regard her enemies as the scum of the world.

Israel’s foes believe in targeting women and children just so long as they’re Jewish or Christian. They are not only intolerant of the freedoms we take for granted -- speech and religion -- but they are polygamous, treat their women as chattel and encourage their children to achieve martyrdom as suicide bombers. Moreover, so-called honor killings are part of what passes for their culture.

In order to realize what a paternalistic society they have, you need only look at a photo of an Arab mob carting a corpse through the streets of Gaza; even when it’s the corpse of a child, I challenge you to find a woman anywhere in sight. So far as the Arabs are concerned, the mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters, are of absolutely no consequence.

Yet here in America and even more so in Europe, you will find millions of theoretically civilized people who find a moral equivalence between Israel and her sworn enemies -- and even more millions who favor the Arabs.

In a recent Rasmussen Poll, 62% of Republicans in America sided with Israel, while a mere 31% of Democrats favored Israel in the current conflict.

As you may have noticed, the world’s media rarely if ever remarked about the thousands of missiles Hamas fired into Israel over the past few years. However, once Israel finally got around to announcing that enough was enough, and went on the offensive, Condoleezza Rice and the European Union didn’t waste a second before crying “Foul!” and throwing a penalty flag.

This same pattern is followed each and every time that Israel responds to unprovoked attacks. You can invariably count on the nations of the world agreeing that Israel is out of line. While it’s nice they can agree on something, it’s a shame that “something” never seems to be Islamic terrorism, Arab barbarism or slavery in modern- day Africa.

Can you imagine anyone in his right mind 67 years ago claiming that America was over-reacting to Pearl Harbor? Would anybody but an idiot have suggested that once America had sunk an equal number of Japanese battleships or killed an equal number of Japanese soldiers and sailors that we should have ceased hostilities and turned things over to European diplomats, especially after seeing how well those fellows had kept Hitler and Mussolini in check?

The fact is, only Arabs would continue to call the human refuse of Gaza refugees. The only reason that there were any Arab refugees back in 1948 was because Egypt, Jordan and Syria, promised to exterminate the Jews and divide the spoils, not because the Israelites had exiled its Arab population. Once Israel fought off the invaders, no Arab nation would open its doors to the refugees, and to this day no Arab nation ever has.

But that was 61 years ago! Who ever heard of people being refugees for six decades? How can people who have never lived in Israel, whose fathers and mothers never lived in Israel, continue to lay claim to a place where they’ve never set foot -- and which, according to Arab textbooks, doesn’t even exist? They might as well insist they have a claim to Oz, Atlantis or Brigadoon.

Frankly, I marvel at Israel’s spiritual fortitude, at her reluctance to seek Biblical retribution. Even one missile would be enough to get me riled up. To absorb 10,000 missile attacks strikes me as verging on the masochistic. I honestly think Israel continues to be far too concerned with world opinion. After 61 years of hearing one’s enemies repeating Hitler’s plans for the final solution, collateral damage would be the least of my concerns.

I understand that civilized societies are supposed to worry about the deaths of women and children. But in civilized societies, parents don’t raise their youngsters to be suicide bombers and they certainly wouldn’t dance in the street when 3,000 innocent Americans were incinerated on 9/11.

There are still people who regret the A-Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am not one of those people. That’s because it’s estimated that if the bombs had not been dropped, if, instead, America had been forced to invade Japan, as many as a million lives -- Japanese as well as American -- would have been lost. Coincidentally, like the Arabs and the Muslims, the Japanese had their own version of youthful suicide bombers -- the Kamikaze pilots who sacrificed their lives by crashing their planes into American ships.

One of the young sailors who was in the South Pacific at the time, on his way to the planned invasion, was later to become a dear friend of mine. Last week, he died at the age of 81. Perhaps the reason that Joe X Price got to live those additional 63 years was because when it really counted, America didn’t overly concern itself with collateral damage.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gays And Atheists: Joined At The Lip

by Burt Prelutsky

Recently, I noticed a similarity between atheists and homosexuals that hadn’t occurred to me before. It has to do with the way they wage their wars. Basically, they erect straw men, put words in their straw mouths, and then engage in battle with these creatures they’ve cobbled together with spit and glue.

It just seems to me that it’s high time we began setting the record straight. To begin with, there is no such thing as homophobia. A phobia is defined as a fear or anxiety that exceeds normal proportions. Concocting the word was simply a rather sly way of suggesting that it is heterosexuals who are deviant. The other lie that is parroted with some frequency is that those who don’t fully support the gay agenda are most likely latent homosexuals, which is supposed to suggest, I assume, that lurking inside every heterosexual man is an interior decorator screaming to get out and do something about those curtains.

Odd, isn’t it, that you never hear about latent heterosexuals?

Even the ancient Greeks, to whom modern-day gays enjoy comparing themselves, never engaged in anything quite as bizarre as same-sex marriages.

The proof that heterosexual men aren’t all sitting around fantasizing being seduced by Boy George or Richard Chamberlain is that every heterosexual man I know prefers having his cavity worked on by a dentist than by a proctologist.

Homosexuals like to picture themselves as the innocent victims of the oppressive majority. The recent unpleasantness on behalf of same-sex marriages doesn’t happen to be a response to laws depriving gays of any rights or privileges to which they are otherwise entitled. They are as free as they’ve always been to marry members of the opposite sex. For several millenniums, everyone has understood marriage to mean the sacred union of a man and a woman. I have asked on more than one occasion if the institution of marriage is to be turned on its head to accommodate the ludicrous demands of a very small number of people, on what moral or legal basis does society than deny fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or, say, your cousin Phyllis and a dozen Elvis impersonators, from tying the knot. If the parties merely need to be consenting adults, on what basis could you prevent Hugh Hefner and his bevy of blonde companions from pledging their troth before man and God? I have yet to receive a response.

One other point should be made. In spite of all the rioting and all the whining in the wake of Proposition 8, only a few thousand same-sex marriages have taken place in Massachusetts, Connecticut or even here in California, where it was permitted for a while. And most of those marriages involved lesbians. Yet the way their male counterparts have been carrying on, you’d have thought the gay bars had all been padlocked.

This brings us to atheists and their own brand of hypocrisy and lies. It’s silly enough when they feel they can use logic to disprove the existence of God. But it’s worse when in voicing their angry opposition to organized religion, they begin sounding exactly like the religious zealots they claim to despise.

Still, it’s when they begin blaming all the evils of the world on religion that my own sense of reason and logic kick in. Inevitably, they bring up the Spanish Inquisition, as if the new year we just rang in was 1478. Ask them to make a slightly more contemporary case and they’ll bring up Nazi Germany with a “gotcha” gleam in their eye. While it’s true that Germany had been a traditionally Christian nation, Hitler was neither German nor Christian. He and his followers were pagans. They didn’t march and murder under the cross of Jesus Christ, but under the swastika of Adolph Hitler.

Whenever atheists blame religion for causing most of the world’s mass murders, they merely prove that they’re not only bigots, but ignoramuses. While nobody knows exactly how many millions of innocent people have been butchered in the past 90 years, we do know that the vast majority died at the hands of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot, atheists all.

The only exceptions to that rule, of course, are those who have been gassed, beheaded and blown up, by the Muslim faithful. And yet Islam, interestingly enough, is the one religion that doesn’t seem to incense atheists! Could the reason possibly be that, for all their huffing and puffing about how awful all religions are, even the atheists understand that Jewish and Christian martyrs will die for their beliefs, whereas Islamics will kill you for theirs?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Liberals, Liars And Cheats

by Burt Prelutsky

In high school, pretty girls and even those who are only so-so in the looks department will sometimes surround themselves with unattractive acolytes because they wind up looking so much better by comparison.

Such things don’t always occur by choice, but through circumstances. For instance, consider Laurel and Hardy who were teamed up by the legendary Hal Roach. Because Oliver Hardy was so heavy, he was called the Fat one, and Stan Laurel, who wasn’t all that thin, was therefore referred to as the Skinny One.

The reason that relativity is on my mind is because in the past few years, we have seen any number of rather obnoxious individuals called to our nation’s capitol so that members of the House and Senate could grill them in front of the TV cameras. And while I would normally enjoy watching tobacco, oil and car company CEOs, along with steroid-using baseball cheats, publicly embarrassed, that’s not how it’s worked out. Instead, because the politicians are so disgustingly arrogant and self-righteous, it’s hard not to view their victims in a sympathetic light. All I know is if I were ever guilty or even suspected of a crime, I would certainly want to be attacked by the likes of Christopher Dodd, Charles Schumer and Barney Frank.

Recently, the Los Angeles Board of Education was so eager to fire School Superintendent David Brewer that they bought out the last year-and-a-half of his four-year contract. Because Mr. Brewer is a black man, certain parties are suggesting that the Board’s decision was racially motivated. One can’t help wondering how it’s possible to accuse the same people who hired the incompetent to a $300,000-a-year job can now be accused of being racists for dumping him, even though they wrote him a check for about half a million dollars. They can certainly be regarded as nincompoops for hiring him in the first place, but that’s a whole different can of worms.

Yet, we find the same pattern repeated each and every time a black baseball manager, football coach or corporate executive, loses his job. Are different rules supposed to apply for blacks and whites in the work place? Are they both supposed to compete equally for the job, but only one of them can never be fired if he gets the job and then fails to measure up? It seems to me that if I’m going to be labeled a racist if I ever have to cut a black employee loose, I’d be a darn fool to hire him in the first place.

Martin Luther King spoke about the day when people would be judged by their character, not their color. Well, we also need to be free to judge people on their competence and on results, and it’s high time that America’s blacks started saying this out loud, instead of providing a braying chorus for the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Speaking of people who have made a career out of spouting nonsense, if Chris Matthews carries out his threat to run for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, in 2010, will Barack Obama feel obligated to announce with a straight face that the mere thought of Matthews becoming a senator sends a thrill up his leg?

Finally, according to a recent poll, 30% of America’s youth admit they’ve stolen from stores and 64% confess they’ve cheated on tests. Frankly, I’m neither shocked nor surprised. After all, as borne out by the recent presidential election, young people tend to be liberals. The unsettling thing is that they hold themselves in such high esteem, giving themselves top marks when it comes to ethics and honesty. But, I suppose that’s what comes of grading on the curve.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Surviving 19 Hours, 58 Minutes, Of Year-End Movies

by Burt Prelutsky

This is the time of year when the studios send DVDs of their movies to the members of the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild and, in my case, the Writers Guild. It’s not altruism. They’re hoping to garner our votes for the various awards being handed out in the near-future.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an annual pattern to the release of motion pictures. During the first few months of the year, the studios dump out most of the movies they suspect won’t do very well at the box office and which certainly won’t be competing for Oscars and Golden Globes. During Easter vacation and the summer months, with kids out of school, they start screening animated features and most of the big action movies based on comic books. Once September rolls around, there’s usually a lull until Thanksgiving kicks off the start of the homestretch.

That’s when they finally let loose all those movies they expect will knock the critics on their keesters. These are the movies you see advertised with quotes from the New York Times and the news magazines. Suddenly, every other movie or, as they prefer being called, film, is “an unforgettable work of art,” “a profound, often disturbing, cinematic experience,” “reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman,” “quixotic and intriguing,” “luminescent,” “heartfelt,” “emotionally overwhelming,” “absolutely electric,” “truly inspired,” “galvanizing” and “a once in a lifetime thunderbolt!” The thesaurus gets more use in one month than it gets during the entire rest of the year.

A person could come down with the vapors just from reading the ads.

So far, I’ve seen nine of the movies that will be fighting it out for the various plaques and statuettes over the next couple of months. Among those I haven’t seen are “Doubt,” “Seven Pounds,” “Gran Torino” and “Rachel Getting Married.”

Now, I understand that except, perhaps, for food, there is probably nothing as subjective as one’s response to movies. All I can offer is my honest opinion and the promise that I will not resort to using a thesaurus.

To begin with, even though I appreciate the studios saving me the price of admission and the bother of leaving my house for the local Cineplex, I have to say that if these nine movies are the cream of the crop, 2008 is the worst year in movie history.
The nine are “The Reader,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Milk,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Changeling,” “The Wrestler,” “Defiance” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Before I get into specifics, I should confess that I have very little tolerance for long movies. Back in the 30s and 40s, movies typically ran between 75 and 100 minutes. Because theaters offered double features, newsreels, cartoons and shorts, they rarely ran much longer, unless they had “Gone With the Wind” on their hands. But once TV came along in the 50s, the studios felt that in order to compete, they had to increase the size of the screen and try to turn every movie into a special event. Unfortunately, most of the movies, such as “Cleopatra,” “The Longest Day,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Ben-Hur” and “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” were only epic in length, not in content.

In time, as the stars and directors usurped the power previously held by the likes of Darryl Zanuck, Harry Cohn, Jack Warner and Louis B. Mayer, movies started to run longer and longer because of the various inflated egos involved. Aside from Woody Allen, they all began to think that running time reflected their own importance. If they took the better part of a year making the damn thing, they weren’t going to let you leave the theater until they were good and ready.

The shortest of the nine movies is “The Wrestler.” I was actually anxious to see it because I had read the raves it had garnered at various film festivals, and I was curious to see Mickey Rourke’s performance. I had been a fan of his when he started out in “Body Heat” and “Diner,” and hoped he was returning to his early form. Frankly, I’m not even sure how I feel about him in the title role because I thought the entire movie was so amateurish. If I had been told that the movie had been written and directed by a couple of 20-year-old theatre arts students at UCLA, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Sometimes, I’m afraid, even a movie that runs just 109 minutes can seem like it takes a day and a half. If Einstein hadn’t beaten me to it, I’m sure that somewhere along the line I would have mentioned that time is relative.

“Revolutionary Road,” which comes in at a minute under two hours, is one of those typically depressing depictions of a modern marriage. A lot of the scenes between Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio play like auditions for the Actors Studio. It’s not that they’re performed badly, just that they seem staged. Of course that may seem like a naïve statement when we all know that movies are staged, but the good ones don’t appear to be.

“The Reader” also stars Ms. Winslet. Of the nine movies, I found this one the most effective. It was certainly the saddest. I could imagine Winslet possibly competing against herself for the Oscar, although I noticed that the Weinstein brothers, Bob and Harvey, who are rather clever when it comes to accumulating Oscars, are claiming in their promotion material that she and Ralph Fiennes are both supporting actors, as are Lena Olin and David Kross. So, the Weinsteins would have us believe there are only supporting players in this movie and that I lied when I claimed that Winslet is the star. Believe me, if they manage to pull off this ploy, it’s Bob and Harvey who should win the Oscar.

I thought “Slumdog Millionaire” had the most interesting premise of the year -- and should certainly kill off India’s tourist industry -- but I, for one, found it dragged a good deal of the time. Still, if I were a betting man, I’d probably pick this one to cop top prize at the Academy Awards.

Frankly, I don’t understand why so many of my friends were impressed with “Frost/Nixon,” especially as most of us are old enough to have witnessed the actual event. Nothing about this recreation struck me as being particularly interesting or illuminating. What’s more, I was put off by the height differential between Nixon (Frank Langella) and Frost (Michael Sheen). In real life, the men were virtually the same height, but there’s a six-inch difference between the two actors, and seeing Nixon loom over Frost just looked weird to me. Also, Sheen, whom I had enjoyed as Tony Blair in “The Queen,” never convinced me he was the insipid womanizer he was portraying.

“Defiance,” about a group of Russian Jews trying to elude the Nazis during World War II, runs 137 minutes, although “runs” is about as inappropriate a verb as one could use in connection with this snoozearama. Daniel Craig, however, proves that he can be as stoic and one-note as Bielski, Tuvia Bielski, as he’s been as Bond, James Bond.

“Milk” provided me with one big surprise. I thought that Sean Penn, who generally strikes me as hammier than pigs feet, was absolutely believable as Harvey Milk, the homosexual activist who was the first openly gay American elected to public office. But the movie, itself, plays like a, well, fairy tale. Every gay character is decent, witty, warm, wise, charming and courageous. In a year or two, I fully expect that “Milk! The Musical!” will open on Broadway, with Nathan Lane in the lead.

“Changeling,” directed by Clint Eastwood, stars Angelina Jolie in one of those dowdy roles that glamour girls take on in the hope of snatching up an Oscar. Eastwood seems to feel that if he leaves “The” off his titles, as in “Unforgiven” and the 141-minute “Changeling,” he’s made enough of a concession to the Philistines. Speaking on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I say it would be better if he edited his movies instead of his titles.

That brings us to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” If you think the title is a mouthful, you ain’t seen nothing. The movie is 159 minutes long. That’s just 41 minutes less than “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon” put together! “Button” certainly has its nice moments, but at that length, how could it not? Briefly, it is the life story of a man who, for no discernible reason, is born old and becomes younger as the years go by. On the other hand, if you happen to be young when you sit down to watch it, you’ll be eligible for Social Security by the time it’s over.

Didn’t I see anything this past month, you’re asking yourselves, that I could recommend without reservation? It so happens I did. For about the sixth or seventh time, I watched “Bachelor Mother,” a 1939 comedy with Ginger Rogers, David Niven and Charles Coburn. It’s perfectly delightful, has a terrific script, and, not coincidentally, it’s just 81 minutes long.