Saturday, March 28, 2009

Movies I’ve Loved

by Burt Prelutsky

Recently, I wrote an article in which I listed my favorite 100 movies, broken down by decade. Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the response, both positive and negative. Even though I stated at the outset that it wasn’t my intention to suggest that they were the best movies ever made, a number of readers took me to task. They couldn’t get over my rotten taste. Others, who were in the proper spirit, merely suggested movies they assumed I had overlooked. I hadn’t. After all, I have been going to movies for over 60 years and, for a dozen of those years, I was a movie reviewer. I have seen just about every movie, both foreign and domestic, worth seeing and thousands of them that weren’t.

Some of the movies other people mentioned nearly made the list, while others, such as “Papillon,” “A Little Romance” and “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” didn’t even come close. There are two movies that failed to make the list because, at some point, I liked them too much and wound up seeing them once too often. As a result, even the thought of ever watching them again makes my blood run cold. They were “A Walk in the Sun” and “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Then there were two other movies that I loved the first time I saw them, but found I couldn’t even manage to sit through them a second time. They were “Arthur” and “The Big Country.”

In order to make amends to those movies for which I have great affection, which almost, but not quite, made it onto the original list, here are my next favorite 120 movies, broken down once again by decade.

1920s/’30s:
“The Invisible Man”
“Sons of the Desert”
“The 39 Steps”
“Meet John Doe”
“Gunga Din”
“Nothing Sacred”
“The Lady Vanishes”
“Of Mice and Men”
“Tovarich”
“Dinner at Eight.”

1940s:
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”
“Naked City”
“The Big Sleep”
“This Gun for Hire”
“Palm Beach Story”
“Woman of the Year”
“The Glass Key”
“Sitting Pretty”
“House of Strangers”
“Letter to Three Wives”
“Shadow of a Doubt”
“The More the Merrier”
“Double Indemnity”
“Laura”
“The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek”
“My Girl Tisa”
“The Miracle on 34th Street”
“The Devil and Miss Jones”
“A Foreign Affair.”

1950s:
“Sunset Boulevard”
“The Men”
“Cinderella”
“Strangers on a Train”
“The Model and the Marriage Broker”
“Father of the Bride”
“The Quiet Man”
“The Bad and the Beautiful”
“Shane”
“Marty”
“The Killing”
“The Bridge on the River Kwai”
“The Incredible Shrinking Man”
“Desk Set”
“The Green Man”
“Full of Life”
“The Horse’s Mouth”
“Indiscreet”
“Home Before Dark”
“North x Northwest.”

1960s:
“Divorce-Italian Style”
“Alfie”
“Hot Millions”
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
“Lolita”
“Life Upside Down”
“The World of Henry Orient”
“Goldfinger”
“The Luck of Ginger Coffey”
“Two for the Road.”

1970s:
“Lovers and Other Strangers”
“The Out of Towners”
“Sleuth”
“Friends of Eddie Coyle”
“The Last Detail”
“The Gambler”
“Three Days of the Condor”
“Lifeguard”
“Bugsy Malone”
“Soldier of Orange”

1980s:
“Tender Mercies”
“Only When I Laugh”
“Never Say Never Again”
“All of Me”
“The Woman in Red”
“Back to the Future”
“A Room With a View”
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”
“Hope and Glory”
“Moonstruck”
“The Witches of Eastwick”
“Lethal Weapon”
“Raising Arizona”
“Black Widow”
“Naked Gun”
“Big”
“A Fish Called Wanda”
“Crossing Delancey”
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
“Parenthood.”

1990s:
“Memphis Belle”
“Postcards From the Edge”
“Beauty and the Beast”
“The Crying Game”
“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”
“Peter’s Friends”
“Four Weddings and a Funeral”
“Clueless”
“A Family Thing”
“Apollo 13”
“Cold Comfort Farm”
“Secrets and Lies”
“Waiting for Guffman”
“Grosse Point Blank”
“Bound”
“Waking Ned Devine”
“Out of Sight”
“An Ideal Husband”
“Run, Lola, Run”
“Election.”

2000s:
“The Squid and the Whale”
“Enchanted”
“Juno”
“Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang”
“Being Julia”
“Meet the Parents”
“Iris”
“Snatch”
“Shattered Glass”
“Matchstick Men.”

Even if the Motion Picture Academy refuses to give comedy its due and even if most of the “Greatest” lists usually only pay lip service to something like “Bringing Up Baby” which stopped being funny after its first 10 or 15 minutes, or “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” which wasn’t funny at all, I refuse to play the culture snob. Nearly 50 of these 120 movies, I’m delighted to say, are comedies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Schmoo Is Alive And Well

by Burt Prelutsky

Although I would like to believe that every single article I write springs full-grown from my brain as Athena was alleged to have sprung from the head of Zeus, such is not always the case. Sometimes the notion results from a confluence of events, which is a fancy way of saying I don’t pay for other people’s ideas. I steal them.

For instance, in the past couple of weeks, I received e-mails from two far-flung friends that sparked an observation. In the first, Steve Finefrock of Oklahoma reminded me of the shmoo, a creature introduced over 50 years ago by Al Capp in his comic strip, “Li’l Abner.” The shmoo was a magical little pear-shaped entity that lived only to serve man’s wishes. If it even thought a person was hungry, it would die happily to feed him. It had the ability to taste like chicken or steak, its eyes could be used for buttons and its whiskers made fine toothpicks.

Another friend, Don Melquist of Arizona, reminded me of cargo cults. During World War II, many such cults sprang up in the South Pacific. When thousands upon thousands of G.I.s suddenly showed up on sparsely populated islands, mysteriously appearing from the skies and the ocean, bringing with them food, radios, medicine, watches, candy and Coca-Cola, the villagers naturally thought their prayers had been answered. In much the same way that dogs are said to be awe-struck by the hunting abilities of their masters, who come home bearing armloads of edibles, the natives had good reason to assume that the gods had taken up residence. Long after the war ended, the islanders constructed piers and carved out airstrips in hopes of their return.

It’s difficult to see much difference between the denizens of Dogpatch, the cargo cultists and Obama’s disciples, all of whom seem to believe they’re entitled to health care, day care, food stamps, college tuition, abortions, a house, a car, a plasma TV and collagen-enhanced lips. It isn’t enough that Obama is a messiah for the non-religious and the number one fantasy sex symbol for America’s women and Chris Matthews, he’s also Santa Claus.

When I see what Obama and his elves, Pelosi and Reid, are doing to America, spending money like a teenager who’s stumbled upon Paris Hilton’s Platinum Card, it makes me fear that, thanks to the last election, America has done to itself what no foreign invader could have hoped to accomplish. If we’re not a Third World nation by the time 2012 rolls around, it won’t be for lack of trying.

Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t have been better off in the long run if we had remained an English colony. After all, for all the rotten stuff that the Europeans did in Africa, it seems to me they did a better job of educating the people and utilizing the natural resources than the native leaders have done since gaining independence. I’m sure that will be construed as a racist statement, but I’ll stick to it until someone shows me how Africans were worse off under the English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese, than they’ve been under the various black tyrants who have turned the continent into one huge cesspool of ignorance, poverty, slavery and all-around barbarism.

Lest you think I only have it in for black leaders in the U.S. and abroad, let me hasten to say that California, where the majority of leading villains are Caucasians, is hardly heaven on earth. The entire state is one huge asylum, and the inmates running the place are named Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown, Henry Waxman, Gavin Newsome and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although it appeared six years ago that Schwarzenegger would be a big improvement over Gray Davis, it turned out he only had bigger muscles. But, then, so does Barbara Boxer. The fact is we’d have been better off electing Mrs. Schwarzenegger. At least with Maria Shriver running things, we’d have been spared all these years of having to listen to her hubby’s annoying voice.

As most of you probably know, Herr Schwarzenegger and his liberal chums in the state legislature recently hiked state and sales taxes to record heights because they had run up huge deficits in recent years. Things got so bad, the lawmakers announced at one point they were going to fire nonessential state employees. Nobody seemed to wonder why, if they were nonessential, we taxpayers had been paying their salaries for, lo, these many years.

In conclusion, it occurs to me that termites and bees do a far better job of selecting their queens than we humans do electing our leaders.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Madoff And Obama: Partners In Crime

by Burt Prelutsky

First, let me make it clear that I despise Bernard Madoff and wanted to see him fry. Still, I must confess that when I first heard that they were sending this elderly rat to jail for a hundred years, it struck me as absurd. But if it’s true that the good die young, I suppose it’s possible that Madoff just might walk out of prison a free man in 2109.

On the other hand, I kept asking myself why anyone would invest with this schmuck. When I was a kid, I used to watch a TV show called “Racket Squad.” Every week they would dramatize a different con game. (Obviously, while young Burt was just sitting home watching, young Bernie was busily taking notes.) As varied as the cons were, the moral was always the same. As the show’s narrator, Reed Hadley, patiently pointed out week after week, if something sounds too good to be true, turn around and run, don’t walk.

The con artist doesn’t use a gun, he merely appeals to people’s greed and the innate human desire to get something for nothing. So, while Obama’s adoring fans want their mortgages, their health care and their college tuition paid for by other people, so Madoff’s suckers wanted to gobble up preposterous profits on their investments. The money aside, I’m certain, knowing human nature, that it fed their insatiable egos to be able to boast to envious friends and associates how much better they were doing than the sluggards with their boring treasury bills and money market accounts. I guess some of us weren’t paying attention to Reed Hadley.

Never having met Mr. Madoff, I don’t know how much he lied and how much he merely left to the investor’s overwrought imagination. But I suspect that he didn’t tell as many fibs during his entire criminal career than President Obama rattles off before lunch.

For instance, didn’t he tell us that Joe Biden was going to be in charge of overseeing the so-called stimulus package? I could swear I heard it. I even recall waiting for the punch line, but it never came. Perhaps the TelePrompter malfunctioned and the president simply said the first name that popped into his head.

It now turns out that Earl V. Devaney will be Chairman of the Recovery Act Transparency Accountability Board. And wouldn’t you love to be the person who answers their phone and has to say that three or four hundred times a day?

I suppose Biden could always make himself useful by getting coffee and Danish for Devaney and the members of the Board or perhaps he could make better use of his vast experience by simply telling them the best places to go for teeth whitening and hair plugs.

To give Obama his due, he did carefully select his appointees, making certain that most of them owed back taxes. He even got Tom Daschle to pay up before letting him slink back to South Dakota. Unfortunately, the tax money only came to a few hundred thousand dollars, not close to the two trillion Obama had in mind. Alas, he had a backup plan to make up the difference.

A lot of people, including Alan Keyes, keep insisting that Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore not, according to the Constitution, legally entitled to be president. For several months, people have been saying that nobody has laid eyes on his actual birth certificate. Some folks have even suggested that state officials in Hawaii, a place only slightly less left-wing than San Francisco, have lied about the existence of the elusive document.

But I say, “Bosh!” I say, “Piffle!” Conservatives, a notorious bunch of nitpickers, are always asking for proof of one thing or another. One day, it’s John Kerry’s military records; the next, it’s Al Gore’s credentials as a meteorologist; and now it’s this damn birth certificate. What’s the big deal? I say, as Obama very well might, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Besides, as the mighty media keeps telling us, Barack Obama is more than just another corrupt Chicago politician; he’s royalty.

And the way I remember all those swashbuckling movies of my childhood, kings and princes never had to show no stinking birth certificates. Instead, I say, he should just flash us the royal birthmark, and be done with it!

Islam And The Death Of Western Civilization

by Burt Prelutsky


Two news items caught my attention this past month, and although they occurred 3,000 miles apart, they are definitely connected.

In New York, Muzzammil Hassan, who started a cable TV network after 9/11 to prove to America that American Muslims are a moderate, peace-loving people, beheaded his wife, Aasiya, because she was planning to divorce him. In moderate Muslim circles, that happens to be grounds for a so-called honor killing. I believe other grounds include daring to touch the TV remote and over-seasoning the hummus.

At nearly the same time, a Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, was invited by a member of the House of Lords to come to England and screen his 17-minute film. The documentary, “Fitna,” links text from the Koran with footage of Islamic terrorism around the world.

Well, a funny thing happened on his way to Parliament. It seems that England’s Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, uninvited Mr. Wilders. On the grounds that the Dutchman would incite civil unrest if allowed entry to the country, Wilders was met at Heathrow and sent packing back to the Netherlands.

Although his own government has raised an official objection, England hasn’t budged. They feel that Wilders and his little movie would be the equivalent of someone’s yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The question that’s always plagued me is what is a decent person supposed to do if he smells smoke and sees flames in a theater? Grab his coat and sneak out?

The English politicians are defending their craven act on the grounds of cultural sensitivity. Which is of course a highfalutin’ euphemism for censorship. But, then, you can always count on bureaucrats to pass off cowardice as principle.

When I see the way that Muslims have bullied one country after another into kowtowing to their demands, one can’t help thinking that Hitler’s biggest mistake was being born 70 years too soon.

That whirring sound you hear is Winston Churchill spinning in his grave.

As for Mr. Hassan, some people have wondered why he’s only being charged with second-degree murder, while others are naturally puzzled by the fact his grisly crime hasn’t captured more media attention. While I can’t claim to know the answers, I am willing to hazard a guess. Even though nobody, aside from a defense attorney, would dare suggest that it wasn’t a clear-cut case of premeditated murder, I suspect Hassan has been charged with the lesser crime because, as is often the case, a double standard is in play. It’s as if, in spite of all our lip service to the contrary, we all know that people given to suicide bombings, treating women as chattel and honor killings, are not really civilized -- and therefore can not be judged by civilized standards.

As for the fact that the media hasn’t given this story the gruesome attention one would normally expect, the most obvious answer is that the MSM is as lily-livered as the English government when it comes to offending Islamics.

Believe me, if Mr. Hassan had been a Christian, he’d have gotten more coverage than Obama’s trillion dollar redistribution of wealth, and long before now we’d all know how to spell Muzzammil.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He's My President, But I Don't Have To Like It

by Burt Prelutsky

If I hear one more person point out that Obama is the president and that it’s our duty to support him, I just might run amok. For one thing, I resent being reminded that he actually won the election and that it’s not all a bad dream from which I’ll awaken as soon as the alarm clock rings. For another, there was a very good reason that I voted for John McCain, and it certainly had nothing to do with my having great expectations of the man, and everything to do with my conviction that Obama was a left-wing ideologue.

Judging by the early days of his administration, I have had to reevaluate him. He’s even worse than I feared. It’s been one disaster after another. His appointments have been a series of embarrassments. His hard sell of the Pelosi-Reid trillion dollar earmark makes him look like the worst sort of fear-monger. And, considering the fact that he was sold to us as eloquent and a fellow who could think on his feet, his use of a teleprompter at his press conference reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, the con man behind the curtain. I guess you can take the man out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the man.

Frankly, I don’t know why anybody continues to hold Obama in high esteem. Maybe it’s like those women who marry charming fellows only to discover after the vows have been exchanged that he’s an abuser. In spite of the black eyes and split lips, the ladies are just too embarrassed to call the cops and have their friends and relatives discover what a dunderhead they’ve been.

The way Obama has been jetting around on Air Force One, which costs the taxpayers a bloody fortune every time it lifts off the tarmac, you’d think the environmentalists would be reading him the riot act. But as we’ve learned with Al Gore and Robert Kennedy, Jr., so long as you’re a liberal, you only have to say the right things about fossil fuels, you don’t actually have to believe them.

The question that keeps begging to be asked is whether Obama ever says anything with honest conviction. Even when he championed the so-called stimulus bill, he indulged in double talk. Obama swore that it would create or save four million jobs. Now I can’t swear to be an expert in Obama-speak, but to me that sounds like he gets to claim, if at some time in the future there are four million Americans who are still employed, that he lived up to his word.

What truly astounds me isn’t that the Democrats, along with three feeble-minded Republicans, Specter, Collins and Snowe, voted for the pork pie, even though nobody had had the time to wade through its thousand pages. After all, even without knowing the details, they knew that the actual purpose of the legislation was to suck up even more money and power for themselves, thus completing the job begun 75 years ago by FDR. What I found profoundly depressing was that, according to a recent poll, a majority of Americans approved its passage even though they were convinced that it would hurt, not help, them. Perhaps the politicians are entitled to regard us as contemptuously as they do.

One of the provisions of the bill, the one dealing with health care, pretty much gives the federal bureaucrats the power to determine how much money and effort is expended on behalf of the elderly. If you thought HMOs were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. When I heard about it, I was instantly reminded of a 1973 movie called “Soylent Green.” The title of the Charlton Heston-Edward G. Robinson movie referred to the product turned out by the mysterious Soylent Corporation. It took Mr. Heston most of the movie to discover that Soylent Green was the end result of old people being turned into protein wafers.

As if Obama isn’t annoying enough, the way he is constantly jutting his chin skyward as if in homage to Benito Mussolini, he saddles us with an attorney general who calls white Americans cowards because, to his way of thinking, we don’t engage in frank conversations about racial matters.

I get the impression that Eric Holder is confused about the nature of his job. He is only the government’s chief lawyer. Being the public scold is, in the immortal words of his boss, above his pay scale.

It seems that while Holder grants that these days the workplace is integrated, he is troubled that there’s “not much significant interaction between whites and blacks in social settings. On Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago.”

This arrogant twit who, in spite of playing a part in Bill Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich and commuting the sentences of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists and a handful of Arab troublemakers, got the job for no other reason than that he’s black. He wants frank talk? Fine.

One, most white Americans don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on anyone’s race. They’re much too busy trying to make a living and raising their kids. Two, in case you were out of town, white people just got done electing the first black president. Three, most people, black and white, spend their weekends with their families, who, even now, tend to be of their own race. Four, many Americans belong to churches open to all denominations, even though Holder’s boss attended an all-black church for 20 years. I have no idea what sort of church, if any, Mr. Holder attends, but if spending quality time with white people is so important to him, that might be a good place to begin.

Five, does our new attorney general spend much time with Asians or Hispanics, or is it only whites he yearns to hang with? Six, does this mean that he intends to start inviting lots of non-blacks over to the house for weekend barbecues and sleepovers? And has he run this plan by Mrs. Holder?

As I recall, Barack Obama insisted he was going to be the first post-racial president. Perhaps sitting down and talking turkey with this turkey would be the place to start.

Some people have wondered why I, who take so much interest in politics and politicians, have never run for public office. Aside from not wishing to spend much time with politicians, the only job that would appeal to me is the top one. I mean, who wants to be one of 435 congressmen and have to listen to Nancy Pelosi day in and day out or be one of 100 senators and try to stay awake while Harry Reid, Robert Byrd or Barbara Boxer, droned on?

As for being president, I’m afraid the deck is stacked against me. It’s not that I’m Jewish or a conservative, but that I’m bald, short and have a beard. The fact is it’s been 53 years since we last elected a bald president, and Eisenhower had the advantage of twice running against bald Adlai Stevenson. In nearly every presidential election, the taller candidate wins. And, for good measure, the last man with facial hair to be president was William Howard Taft, who only had a mustache, and that election was in 1908. The last man with a beard to be elected was James Garfield, in 1880, and he was shot and killed shortly after he was elected. Even I can see the writing on that wall.

Just possibly the reason we wind up with so many oafs in the Oval Office is because, down deep, it’s far more important to us that they be tall, clean shaven and with a full head of hair, than that they be honest, honorable and patriotic.

Finally, lest I be accused of only picking on left-wingers, let me confess that I recently sent an e-mail to Sean Hannity. Although I think dumping Alan Colmes was a smart move, I let him know that I thought the “Hate Hannity Hotline” videos on his TV show were a ridiculous waste of time. After all, if I wanted to listen to a bunch of loudmouth, left-wing ignoramuses sounding off, I wouldn’t be tuned to Fox, I’d be watching MSNBC.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This War Is Not The Answer

by Burt Prelutsky

I believe it is long past time to end the War on Drugs. That’s not because I approve of drug use or have any desire to encourage it. But this particular war has already gone on longer than the ones in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, put together, with no end in sight and far less to show for it.

I would not only decriminalize drug use, I would give it the same legal status as tobacco and alcohol, and with the same age restrictions. For one thing, this would provide a great source of new tax revenue. Also, it would free up jail space for non-drug related crimes.

With the legalization of drugs, the profits that currently accrue to dealers, who use a portion of their ill-gotten gains to pay off politicians, judges and corrupt cops, could go to American companies and American workers.

In Mexico, the majority of murders and kidnappings can be traced directly to the illegal drug trade. Here in the U.S., just in the past two years, over 700 kidnappings-for-ransom have taken place in Phoenix, Arizona, and those are just the ones we know about. That city can now boast that in addition to all that sunshine and all those golf courses, it is the number one drug gateway to America.

In spite of what the bleeding heart liberals would claim, it’s not poverty, but greed, that has turned most of our big cities into shooting galleries where innocent bystanders seemingly get plunked more often than the punks battling over drug turf.

I realize that among those people opposed to my suggestion are those who’d see it as the government’s endorsing drug use. Considering all the rotten stuff the government has been up to, ranging from the confiscation of private property to the redistribution of wealth, I don’t think many people look to the government for their moral guidance. I would suggest that such people are not only na├»ve, but dangerously shortsighted. First of all, the War on Drugs has been going on for decades, and the good guys aren’t winning. I wish we were, but that’s simply not the case. Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s and it’s not working any better today. And as was the case 80 years ago, it only works to the advantage of the criminal class to keep the price of the product so much higher than it would be if the drugs were made legal.

One of the most irksome aspects of the War is that we Americans are always claiming the moral high ground, righteously condemning the poppy growers in Afghanistan, the drug czars in Colombia and the Mexican cut-throats, as if they all conspired to turn us into a nation of junkies. The fact is, if so many of us weren’t infantile hedonists who can’t even go 24 hours without snorting, shooting or smoking, this crap, the Afghanis would start planting potatoes and the Latino criminals would have to find another way to make a living.

Besides, when millions of us go through as much booze, nicotine and Prozac, as we do, we’re hardly in a position to be casting stones at someone else’s habit.

Furthermore, without the high cost that goes with the stuff being contraband, there wouldn’t be such a major campaign to hook school children. Actually, if the drugs were as legal as soda pop, a good deal of their present allure would evaporate. And not just for the kids, but for most of the overpaid louts in Hollywood and on Wall Street.

If drugs were legalized, we could all finally stop pretending that addiction is an illness, and that those who commit crimes while under the influence are automatically entitled to a Get Out of Jail Free card. Using drugs in the first place is a choice, not an imperative. By this late date, even 10-year-olds know that the damn things are addictive.

I would think that rational people, whatever their political affiliation, could agree that legalizing drugs would be beneficial. After all, Libertarians don’t think it’s anybody’s business -- let alone the government’s -- what people elect to do to themselves. Conservatives, who already believe in smaller government and individual responsibility, should also be delighted by the additional tax burden that would be carried almost exclusively by liberals.

But even for Democrats, there’s a huge upside to my proposal; namely that there would be far fewer laws for scofflaws to scoff at and, as a result, far fewer of these pinheads would be sent to prison. And, as a result, they’d be free to vote.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Israel: A Lamb Among Wolves

by Burt Prelutsky

When I was very young, people were accustomed to saying that the only two certainties were death and taxes. Over the years, there’s a third item that could be added to the list: Every American president will try and fail to bring peace to the Middle East. Obama is merely the latest to put it at the top of his to-do list. My guess is that four or eight years down the road, long after he has managed to cure the leper and raise the dead, it will still be at the top of his list.

I hate to be a pessimist, but I see no reason not to be. While the folks in Gaza didn’t have two great choices during their last election, much like the electorate here in the U.S., they opted for the greater of two evils, much like the electorate here in the U.S.. They voted for Hamas, a terrorist group sworn to wipe Israel off the map -- the actual map, that is, not merely the fantasy maps they use in their schoolbooks.

It confounds me when people in America and non-Muslims in Europe attempt to find a moral equivalency between Israel and her enemies. For one thing, they invariably find Israel culpable. Israel may not always be right, but that’s far better than always being wrong. I mean, how does anyone living in a civilized nation dare argue on behalf of people who treat their women as chattel and who treat Christians and Jews even worse?

The same bigots who condemn Israel for killing Arab children when they respond to countless missile attacks never seem to condemn the Arabs for either firing those missiles or for using women and children as shields when Israel finally retaliates.

Israel has had nuclear weapons for a good number of years, but has never once used them. Is there anyone anywhere who honestly believes that if Israel’s enemies had nuclear capability, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem would be anything but moonscapes by this time?

Those who claim to find a moral equivalency between the two sides in the Middle East are those who, themselves, have no sense of morality. Decades ago, Abba Eban observed that Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He was of course referring to their failure to seek a peaceful resolution. But it isn’t peace the Palestinians want. Neither is it statehood. Even Clinton, who had Yasser Arafat sleeping in Lincoln’s bedroom far more often than Lincoln ever had, got the Israelis to offer up 97% of what Arafat was demanding. The way Arafat stormed off, you would have thought the Israelis had asked to have sex on a first date.

People who believe that Israel was wrested from the Arabs by the U.N. in 1948 are simply ignorant of the facts. Zionists had been buying up desert property at wildly inflated prices for several decades by then. All that happened in 1948 was that the U.N. recognized Israel as a sovereign state. Although the Arabs were invited to remain where they were, they were told by Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria and Iraq, to leave so that the invading forces wouldn’t have to worry about collateral damage when they eradicated the Jews. The departing Arabs were assured that they’d soon be free to return and share in the spoils. At the time of the invasion, Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, left no room for doubt when he declared: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” That was 61 years ago and the grandkids and great-grandkids of those who fled and wound up in Gaza are still waiting for that Great Come and Get It Day.

Recently, Pat Buchanan, sounding, as usual, an awful lot like Jimmy Carter, wrote a piece advising Israel to surrender still more land for peace. Well, why not? It’s always worked so well in the past. Whenever I read Buchanan on the Middle East conflict, I find myself wondering if his solution to the problem of illegal immigration in America would be to hand Texas, Arizona and California, over to Mexico.

Perhaps next time, just as a change of pace, Mr. Buchanan might consider giving the Arabs the benefit of his wisdom. Perhaps something along the lines of “In case you haven’t noticed, it’s 2009, not 1009. Stop behaving like bloody savages!”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Raking Liberals Over The Coals

by Burt Prelutsky

Over the years, so many people have asked me how I’ve managed to maintain friendships with liberals that I had considered writing a book on the subject. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to expand my one and only rule, which is to limit discourse to sports, movies and the weather, to book length.

I have already gone on record to suggest mother of 14, Nadya Suleman, should be committed to an asylum, and that Dr. Michael Kamrava who, at taxpayer expense, performed the in vitro procedure, should be committed to the county lockup. But that still leaves those 14 innocent children to be considered. Perhaps because I kept hearing that Ms. Suleman was obsessed with Angelina Jolie, a solution occurred to me. Instead of adopting a kid here, a kid there, wouldn’t it make more sense if Ms. Jolie went whole hog and adopted the entire litter?

In a piece devoted to excoriating liberals, it might strike some folks as odd that I’d include John McCain. If that’s the case, they just haven’t been paying attention. Not only did Sen. McCain push through the McCain-Feingold Bill and try to sneak through the McCain-Kennedy Amnesty Bill of 2008, but when he was running for president, he was far kinder and more respectful to Barack Obama than he was to Sarah Palin. I know he has already announced that he’ll be running for re-election to the Senate in 2010, but, along with a great many other people, I’m wondering who the Republican candidate will be.

The majority of the 535 senators and congressmen voted to pass the Pelosi and Reid Pig Trough Bill of 2009, which will not only burden our grandchildren with a big fat I.O.U., but should finish the job begun by FDR of turning America into a socialistic state. What is particularly noteworthy about all this is that we are moving further and further to the left at the same time that Europe, which has been suffering from the economic malaise of socialism, has begun moving to the right.

Isn’t it strange that left-wingers, who always love to pay lip service to Santayana’s line about those who don’t learn from history being doomed to repeat it, never seem to learn a damn thing? FDR, the patron saint of the secular left, kept the Great Depression going long after it might have ended if only he and his beloved Brain Trust hadn’t been more interested in promoting a leftist agenda and making American voters dependent on the federal government than in solving the economic crisis. Talk about history repeating itself!

What the American left has never acknowledged is that socialism has never succeeded or been able to compete with capitalism, and that communism, wherever it’s been tried, has quickly shown itself to be a blood-thirsty dictatorship -- be it in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cambodia or Cuba.

Although I usually rail against the blatant hypocrisy of Al Gore whenever I touch upon the monumental con game known as man-made global warming (aka climate change), I would be remiss if I didn’t focus some attention on his cohort, Robert Kennedy, Jr. For the longest time, I had been aware that Kennedy, like most left-wingers, a sterling example of “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” traveled by private jet as he flew hither and yon scolding the rest of us for driving to the supermarket.

What I had not been aware of until recently is that he’s been arrested twice. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind discussing, probably even boasting about, his arrest in 2001, when he was guilty of trespassing at Camp Garcia, the U.S. Navy facility in Puerto Rico. In that instance, he and a few of his fellow ecological fruitcakes were demonstrating against the Navy firing guns on the test range. No doubt the noise was interfering with the sleep or mating habits of some plague-bearing insect.

The arrest I have in mind was the one in 1983 that took place at the Rapid City, South Dakota, Airport, when he was nabbed, at the age of 29, for possession of heroin. Being a Kennedy, he got off with two years probation and several hundred hours of community service. He chose to perform his service with the Riverkeeper, an organization dedicated to suing alleged polluters of the Hudson River. As soon as his community service term ended, Kennedy was hired as the Riverkeeper’s chief prosecuting attorney. And thus a high-priced environmental activist was born. You have to hand it to those Kennedys. Whether it’s somehow turning what might have been a manslaughter conviction into a half century in the U.S. Senate or a heroin habit into a career, those boys sure know how to turn lemons into lemonade.

In trying to see an upside to the current financial crisis, I’m afraid the best I could come up with is that a lot of parents can no longer afford to blow their hard-earned dollars financing their children’s indoctrination by an army of left-wing professors.

Frankly, it’s always perplexed me when well-meaning adults blithely send their impressionable kids off to be force-fed four years of lies, such as the perils of global warming; the notion that America’s hog farmers, according to Robert Kennedy, Jr., being a far greater threat to the nation than Osama bin Laden and his terrorism network; that all countries are equally good, except, of course, America and Israel; and that all religions deserve equal respect, except, of course, for Christianity and Judaism.

And, what’s more, four years and $100,000 later, the young grads, as often as not, still can’t do simple arithmetic or write a coherent sentence. But, like the Scarecrow of Oz, they have that liberal arts diploma which qualifies them to sneer at their parents’ values and beliefs, and to flip burgers for a living.

Speaking of what we jokingly refer to as higher education, the one question I am asked far more frequently than any other, aside from whether I owe my stunning good looks to my mother or my father, is why so many well-educated Jews are Democrats, socialists and communists. The question isn’t usually meant to be insulting. Those who ask it know that I’m Jewish and they are sincerely puzzled as to why Jews, who place such an emphasis on education and who are so well-represented in the arts, the sciences and the various professions, constantly parrot left-wing sound bites on any and all subjects. They are simply at a loss as to why such people vote by a 4-1 margin for any idiot so long as he’s a leftist.

In response, I start out by stating that religious Jews are usually conservatives, whereas it’s secular Jews who tend to be devoted to the left. I have tried to explain the seemingly inexplicable division between I.Q. and wisdom with historical and sociological references. But it so happens that I needn’t have bothered. A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt, who wasn’t speaking specifically about Jews, summed it up with the following observation: “Educate a man in mind and not in morals and you educate a menace to society.”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Favorite Movies, Least Favorite Awards Show

by Burt Prelutsky

When I first thought about writing this piece, I was only going to list my all-time favorite movies, breaking them down by decade. I was going to explain that these weren’t my idea of the greatest or most innovative films of the past 80 years or so, but merely the ones I have enjoyed the most, and in most cases have seen more than once.

Because the choices are totally subjective, a lot of movies you might expect to find -- movies such as “Gone With the Wind,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “The Godfather II,” “Easy Rider,” “All That Jazz,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Bringing Up Baby” -- aren’t included. The reason is that I didn’t enjoy them.

But before I got to it, along came the Oscars, and it would seem like a serious oversight not to comment.

For openers, I had even less interest than usual because I thought 2008 was the worst movie year in history, but I did make my annual wager with my wife, and so I had a vested interest -- 25 cents and bragging rights. For the record, I won, but that’s because she tends to pick the candidates she’s pulling for, whereas I put sentiment aside and go for the gold.

Having sat through Oscar shows hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and David Letterman, I naturally assumed these things couldn’t get any worse. I was mistaken. The entire production was one big mishmash. I could never quite figure out what film clips I was looking at. Some of them seemed to be scenes from the nominated movies, some seemed to be from old classics and still others seemed to have been culled from my worst nightmares. But even harder to take was listening to all those former Oscar-winners paying fulsome praise to the nominees seated in the audience. The nominees kept clasping their hearts and mouthing “I love you” back at them. I hadn’t seen so many kisses blown since Carol Burnett went off the air.

Other loathsome moments included Bill Maher’s juvenile remarks about God and religion, and Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Oscar for his mawkish “Milk” screenplay. It struck me as he droned on that he was simultaneously propagandizing for same-sex marriages and trolling for a date for the next Gay Pride Parade.

Once again, I was reminded that the Best Song category should have been retired decades ago when Hollywood stopped producing musicals. In the old days, Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers, Porter and Kern, competed for Oscars. This year, two songs from “Slumdog Millionaire” duked it out with a song from “Wall-e.” If you’re curious why three songs without a discernible melody between them would be competing, it’s because the folks in the music division of the Motion Picture Academy insist on retaining the category. You would have thought that embarrassment would have trumped professional ego back in 2006 when the Oscar went to “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” but that’s only because you don’t realize how impossible it is to embarrass Hollywood.

That brings us to Sean Penn, who picked up his second Oscar in six years. His victory was viewed as a major upset. Mickey Rourke was considered a heavy favorite to win even though Penn had portrayed Harvey Milk, a heroic figure in homosexual mythology. The truth is, even I was slightly surprised by his victory. However, I had told several people that I believed Rourke had shot himself in the foot a while back when he won the Golden Globe and took the occasion to say he refused to condemn George W. Bush, urging people to consider the pressure the president was under in the wake of 9/11. Hollywood doesn’t forgive and Hollywood doesn’t forget.

Without a comedian host, the laughs were even fewer than usual. In fact, one of the few chuckles I had all evening was when Sean Penn, in collecting his Oscar, took a moment to pay homage to Barack Obama, calling him, of all things, elegant. Naturally, the audience responded with great applause. Apparently, neither Penn nor the trained seals at the Kodak Theatre considered it worth noting that the president is on record as being opposed to same-sex marriages!

And now, my 10 favorite movies for every decade, except the 1940s, 80s and 90s, when the best I could do was cull my list down to 20 favorites.

1930s: “It Happened One Night,” “Alice Adams,” “The Gold Rush,” “Destry Rides Again,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Bachelor Mother,” “Make Way for Tomorrow,” “My Man Godfrey” and any one of these four Astaire-Rogers films, “Top Hat,” “Carefree,” “Gay Divorcee” or “Swing Time”

1940s: “My Favorite Wife,” “The Shop Around the Corner,” “The Thief of Bagdad,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Ball of Fire,” “The Lady Eve,” “The Major and the Minor,” “Casablanca,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Hail the Conquering Hero,” “Apartment for Peggy,” “Mildred Pierce,” “The Best Years of Our Lives,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Great Expectations,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Farmer’s Daughter,” “I Remember Mama” and “Force of Evil”

1950s: “All About Eve,” “The African Queen,” “The Ladykillers,” “People Will Talk,” “High Noon,” “7 Brides for 7 Brothers,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “On the Waterfront” and “Sweet Smell of Success”

1960s: “The Apartment,” “School for Scoundrels,” “The Hustler,” “A Cold Wind in August,” “Charade,” “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Pumpkin Eater,” “36 Hours” and “Divorce, American Style”

1970s: “The Godfather,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Paper Moon,” “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” “Rocky,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “House Calls,” “Time After Time” and “Breaking Away”

1980s: “Atlantic City,” “Diner,” “Ordinary People,” “A Christmas Story,” “Terms of Endearment,” “The Natural,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Midnight Run,” “Die Hard,” “Field of Dreams,” “The Tall Guy,” “Witness,” “Murphy’s Romance,” “Lost in America,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Hoosiers,” “The Princess Bride,” “Tin Men,” “Roxanne” and “The Untouchables”

1990s: “Green Card,” “Galaxy Quest,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Mumford,” “Dead Again,” “Defending Your Life,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “Peter’s Friends,” “Housesitter,” “Swingers,” “Sliding Doors,” “Enchanted April,” “Groundhog Day,” “Falling Down,” “Remains of the Day,” “The Fugitive,” “Fargo,” “Sense and Sensibility” and “Nobody’s Fool”

2000s: “The Dish,” “About a Boy,” “Chicago,” “The Matador,” “Love Actually,” “The Upside of Anger,” “The Lives of Others,” “Thank You for Smoking,” “Gran Torino” and “Taken”

I just noticed that it adds up to a hundred movies, with roughly 40 of them being comedies or musicals. So even if you think I have lousy taste, you should at least give me points for not trying to impress you with a lot of pretentious hooey.