Friday, October 30, 2009

Questions Even Glenn Beck Hasn't Asked

by Burt Prelutsky

I have a few questions on my mind and, judging by the questions asked by the likes of George Stephanopoulos, David Letterman and the mainstream media, if I don’t ask them, there’s a very good chance that nobody else will.

First off, I’d like to know why the 535 members of Congress have to congregate in Washington, D.C. As Dick Morris and Eileen McGann made perfectly clear in “Fleeced,” they don’t do very much in the nation’s capitol that they couldn’t do just as well or just as badly if they stayed home in their bathrobes. Half the time, the sessions are devoted to naming post offices and other equally earth-shattering events.

So far as I can tell, the actual motives are to allow senators and representatives to have fiefdoms both in Washington and in their own state or district; to make things more convenient for lobbyists – one-stop shopping, as it were; and to keep our representatives as far away as possible from their constituents.

I keep hearing commercials for teleconferencing systems and I think they’re worth a try. With my plan, there is even an advantage for the politicians because they wouldn’t have to waste time and money flying back and forth. What’s more, they wouldn’t have to spend all that extra dough sending their kids to private schools, thus ensuring that their offspring be spared having to attend public schools in Washington, D.C. You know, those schools that politicians are always raving about when they’re out seeking campaign contributions from the Teacher’s Union, the ones where liberal candidates pose for photo ops during presidential campaigns.

My second question is how it was that of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, only 24 were lawyers or jurists, but of the current 100 senators, 60 are lawyers? While it’s true that there are slightly more than a million lawyers in America, that is less than one percent of the adult population. So how is it that 60% of the U.S. Senate and slightly over 30% of the House members, in addition to their party affiliation, are entitled to put Esq. after their name?

I believe the problem is two-fold. One, it’s just too easy and too much fun being a politician; two, it’s just too hard and not enough fun being a lawyer. If people enjoyed being lawyers more, they wouldn’t be so darn eager to run off to Albany, Sacramento, Springfield, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. Frankly, I don’t know how to make the practice of law a more exciting career. So, instead, I think it behooves us to come up with ways to make politics a less attractive option. The one notion that popped into my head was to take a leaf out of the Aztec playbook and initiate human sacrifices. Would any of us really have strong objections to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Arlen Spector, Susan Collins, Henry Waxman, Charles Schumer, Olympia Snowe, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, being offered up to pacify the angry spirits of the Founding Fathers?

My final question is, why, in 2009 America, are mulattoes invariably identified as blacks? Surely there is nothing wrong with being a mulatto. There is no stigma attached, as once there was. It merely refers to those who have one white parent and one black. There are many notable individuals who are mulattoes, including Halle Berry, Derek Jeter, Lisa Bonet and Barack Obama. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, is a true amalgamation, being one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter black, one-eighth Native American and one-eighth Dutch. And, yet, with the possible exception of the New York Yankee shortstop, we insist on identifying all of them as black.

It’s as if there is something shameful about their being half or even one-eighth white. If there is, I’d sure like to know what it is. If, on the other hand, there isn’t, why do we insist on acting as if there were?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waxman Responds

by Burt Prelutsky

A while ago, I wrote a piece titled “Blowing the Whistle on Waxman.” In case you missed it, I explained that Henry Waxman and I had been friends beginning almost 50 years ago at UCLA. I also said that we had seen each infrequently over the intervening years once he went to Sacramento as a state assemblyman and later to Washington as a member of Congress.

Over the years, I moved politically from left to right, while Henry moved from left to far left to over the edge. Still, I had a soft spot for him and, as a result, refrained from including his name when I would list the usual suspects, those left-wingers like Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Boxer and Murtha, who were doing their utmost to destroy America.

However, once Obama was elected and began pushing his radical agenda, while simultaneously surrounding himself with advisors who should never have been allowed within a mile of the White House, and who, for the most part, belonged either in jail or an asylum, Henry began feeling his oats. Suddenly, with the Democrats in control of the House, he was no longer a back-bencher. He even got to have his name on a piece of major legislation, the Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade bill, a singular disaster that would send all of our energy costs soaring while simultaneously providing China and India with a tremendous advantage over what remains of our industrial industry.

That was bad enough, but even after those notorious ACORN videos aired on Glenn Beck’s TV show, Waxman and 74 of his left-wing cronies on Capitol Hill voted to continue funding ACORN, and that cut the Gordian knot for me. At that point, even old school ties weren’t enough to dissuade me, and, in a very sad frame of mind, I wrote the article.

An hour or so after it was posted, I received an email from Waxman’s office in Washington. It began: “Dear Burt, I can understand that we have disagreements about politics. I can see that you have some embarrassment about our past friendship, but you are not responsible for me and I am not (thank G-d) responsible for your views or actions. But I do resent that whatever I may have said to you in a conversation years ago is now being dredged up (and maybe made up) to make me look bad. I never thought I had to remember things I may have said to you to be provocative at the time, would be repeated and distorted, as if it were ‘on the record.’

(Note: Just for the record, I made up nothing and I distorted nothing. What I said he said about the steroid-using baseball players he called before his committee was exactly what he said; namely that he had no idea they were even famous until he saw his fellow congressmen lining up for their autographs; and, in response to a question I posed strictly out of curiosity, replied that he had no idea how long after an athlete stopped using steroids, they would continue to show up in drug tests. Besides, neither of those statements is particularly provocative. They merely indicate how unqualified and unaware a congressman can be and still feel himself entitled to sit in judgment of other people. The other thing I addressed in the article was Henry’s boasting that he and his colleagues were going to investigate Fox for biased news reporting, and my responding that I thought it was a swell idea so long as they then did the same with the NY Times, the three major networks, CNN, MSNBC and the Washington Post. That time, I even had a witness, my wife Yvonne.)

Responding to his first paragraph, I wrote: “Dear Henry, I don’t blame you in the least for being angry. But you can imagine how I felt when I saw your name included with the other 74 Democrats who voted to continue funding an organization as corrupt and vile as ACORN. For the life of me, I could not think of a single reason why you would wish to align yourself, even for partisan political reasons, with a group that has not only been guilty of election fraud, but, as those now famous videos made clear, have no objection to assisting a pimp to set up a brothel. And not just any brothel, but one employing abducted 13-year-old girls from Latin America. Also, I did send you a note some months ago wishing you a speedy recovery when I heard that you had been rushed off to the hospital, so even though you never acknowledged it, it would suggest I’m not entirely heartless.”

Waxman’s email went on: “As I recall our poker friendship, you used to keep a card with every cent I ever lost to you to be sure you were paid. When you sent out a letter pleading for your friends to help you out at a difficult financial time in your life, you promised that you would repay every cent. I sent you $100. I never asked you for the money, nor have you offered to repay it. I did not want to embarrass you then or now. But since you have no hesitation to try to publicly hold me up to scorn, I see no reason not to ask you to repay your debt to me. I would like to use that money to donate to the ACLU or some other group that will defend your rights, along with everyone else, to free speech and other Constitutional protections. Sincerely, Henry Waxman.”

To this, I replied, “The card you mention was not for poker losses. Those were always minimal because none of us had any money, and were invariably paid off at the end of the game. The card was to keep track of the money I loaned you, and which you took an extremely long time to repay. It was to help you continue playing blackjack during one of our occasional trips to Tahoe or Vegas. I am truly sorry, though, that I did not pay back the $100. That was an oversight because in moving from one rental to another, as circumstances forced us to do several times once Hollywood ageism made me unemployable, I lost the IOU list. When, some years later, I was finally able to earn some money, I did pay back those whose names I remembered and those who subsequently reminded me. I regret that I forgot your generosity. I will have the check in the mail to you this afternoon. You are free, of course, to donate it to the ACLU, to ACORN or even to help pay for Nancy Pelosi’s next facelift. It’s your money, after all, unlike the money that Waxman-Markey will cost American taxpayers and American businesses. Regards, Burt.”)

Do I regret that Henry Waxman is one of 250-odd Democrats who are only too happy to rubberstamp every piece of legislative lunacy concocted by Obama, Axelrod, Emmanuel, Jarrett, Holdren, Sunstein and Jeff Jones? Of course. Do I regret that Henry Waxman has so totally lost his moral compass that even when 172 of his fellow liberals voted to stop funding ACORN, he stood steadfast with the sleazebags? You bet.

Worst of all, he probably sees it as being politically courageous. On the other hand, normal human beings, who haven’t spent most of their adult lives feeding at the public trough, recognize it as aiding and abetting.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blowing The Whistle On Waxman

by Burt Prelutsky

I have come clean in the past about having been friends with Rep. Henry Waxman. We had met in the late 1950s at UCLA and wound up spending a lot of time over the following decade playing cards. In fact, once, some years later, I received a phone call from a guy profiling Waxman for the Washington Post. He wanted my impression of the young, pre-Congressional fellow. I told him that Henry was a terrible poker player, but was very astute at hearts. I said it made perfect sense because poker is a cut-throat game, every man for himself, whereas hearts is a game that involves constantly changing alliances. I regarded it as a perfect metaphor for a career in politics.

I knew from personal experience that Henry was a fish when it came to poker, but it was some time later that I found out how truly awful he was. Before being elected to Congress, he had gone to Sacramento as a state assemblyman. Wherever politicians congregate, you will find two things -- poker games and lobbyists. As you can imagine, lobbyists are not there to win money from those they spend their lives trying to influence. But it seems that Henry was so inept that, in spite of their best efforts, they kept beating him. This so embarrassed the lobbyists that they finally banished him from the game.

Naturally, once Mr. Waxman went to Washington, I saw him less and less frequently. Periodically, he would return to L.A., but that was in order to spend time meeting with constituents and holding political fund-raisers.

Over the years, Henry continued to be a liberal. He continued to think FDR was a combination of Moses and Santa Claus. I, on the other hand, who had been raised in a similar middle-class Jewish home, spent the intervening years wising up.

So it was that while attending a party a while back, a celebration of Henry’s 30th year in the House, I asked him what he was up to. When he said that one of his committees was preparing to investigate Fox News for biased reporting, I couldn’t keep my yap shut and maintain my status as a polite guest. Instead, after telling him that I thought it was a swell idea, I went on to suggest that when he and his colleagues finished investigating Fox, I trusted they would turn their eagle eyes on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and our own Pravda wannabe, the L.A. Times.

Henry simply gawked at me. He looked even more than usual like a fish out of water. It was as if he thought his old school chum had been replaced during the dead of night by a space pod.

I assume he had heard from mutual acquaintances that I was no longer a Democrat, but he was so obviously unprepared for my transformation into a conservative that I almost felt sorry for him. There was a moment of shocked silence, almost as if he was hoping I was going to laugh and admit I was just pulling his leg. Then the moment passed, and he moved off to be among those who thought three decades of Waxman in the U.S. Congress was something worth celebrating.

For old times sake, I have generally left Waxman out of my attacks on liberals in the House. After all, with the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, John Murtha, Barbara Lee, Linda Sanchez, Bernard Sanders and Barney Frank, taking up space, I didn’t think it was necessary to focus on my old college buddy.

But things have changed. First there was the totally irresponsible Waxman-Markey cap & trade bill, which would destroy America’s industrial capacity and send energy costs soaring for every American household, while simultaneously providing our competitors in China and India with every possible advantage.

But, for me, the final straw was Waxman’s voting along with 74 other House Democrats to continue funding ACORN with our tax dollars. Just as there’s no need to catalogue all of ACORN’s crimes and sins at this time, there’s no reason to bother trying to find a good excuse for Waxman’s defending this gang of creeps and thugs.

At this late date, I am not easily shocked, but I was so shocked and disgusted to find Waxman siding with ACORN that I decided I was going to share a piece of information that should add a measure of embarrassment to his well-deserved shame.

A few years ago, Henry garnered a great deal of publicity when he chaired a committee investigating the use of illegal substances in major league baseball. I suspect there were a lot of people who had never even heard of Waxman prior to the hearings. For my part, being a lifelong baseball fan, I was glad to see Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro, sweating on the hot seat.

Those punks had done everything in their power to destroy the national pastime by cheating, thereby erasing such honorable names as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Roger Maris, from the record book.

Shortly after the hearings, I had lunch with Henry. He confessed that he knew so little about baseball, he had no real idea who the players were, and that he was amazed to discover they were so famous that members of Congress and their staffs actually crowded into the hallways to collect autographs.

That was bad enough. But I then asked him, “If a minor leaguer uses steroids or human growth hormones in order to reach the majors, but stops once he gets there, how long will he continue to test positive?”

Henry admitted he had no idea.

So here was a congressman investigating baseball who not only had no idea who its most famous players were, but no pertinent information about the substances they were being condemned for using.

Now, seriously, do you really think that he knows any more about energy than he does about baseball or poker?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Liberals: America’s Termites

by Burt Prelutsky

Back when I was a kid, the two major fears in America revolved around polio and Communism. Because the first disease was so prevalent and so often fatal prior to the miraculous cures wrought by Dr. Albert Sabin and Dr. Jonas Salk, neither of whom managed to garner a Nobel Prize for their heroic efforts, children were kept out of public swimming pools and were discouraged from having too much physical activity. It’s a wonder that our entire generation didn’t grow up to be hypochondriacs because if you were even slightly fatigued or had an aching back or a stiff neck, anguished parents started measuring you for an iron lung.

The second disease, Communism, created its own form of hysteria. During the late 40s and early 50s, we had A-bomb drills in public schools. We grammar school kids were led to believe that in case the Russians hit L.A. with an atomic bomb, we would be safe so long as we dropped to the floor and huddled beneath our desks with our hands clasped tightly behind our necks. As everyone knows, there’s nothing better than tiny hands to ward off the effects of atomic radiation. To this day, I wonder who came up with that particular brainstorm.

On the off-chance that the Russkies elected not to vaporize us, a lot of people were convinced that the plan to prevent tooth decay by introducing fluoride into our reservoirs was a Commie plot. The fluoride, we were warned, would turn our brains to mush and make us easy prey for the Soviet Menace. It’s taken about 60 years, but I am now convinced that the scaremongers were right. How else to explain American liberals except by accepting that the Commies contaminated our water supply?

The fact that most Americans haven’t turned into brain-dead zombies muttering “hope…change…hope…change” like those scary creatures in horror movies only goes to prove that people have different tolerances to tainted water, just as they do to alcohol, various viruses and Barack Obama’s voice.

I mean, seriously, when Obama, during the campaign, spoke about judging him by the people he surrounded himself with, he pointed to Richard Lugar, Joe Biden and Warren Buffett, while drawing the curtain on Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi. These days, though, he surrounds himself with such visitors from a strange planet as Van Jones, Jeff Jones and Sass Sunstein. I’m just wondering if it’s still okay for us to judge him by his associates.

The MSM likened Obama to Abe Lincoln. I guess their confusion was caused by both men being skinny and from Illinois. One major, rather obvious difference, though, is that Lincoln waged a war to preserve the Union. Obama, on the other hand, would go to war to preserve such unions as the SEIU and the UAW.

Liberals get all in a tizzy when they’re accused of hypocrisy, but it’s hard to escape the fact that while arguing for the redistribution of wealth, you never see such kazillionaires as George Soros, Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller, Charles Schumer or John Kerry, redistributing any of theirs or even paying a penny more in taxes than is absolutely required. And, as we discovered when he was putting his administration together, Obama’s friends and colleagues quite often try to avoid paying any taxes at all.

You also don’t see any of his political allies signing up for Obamacare or trading in their outrageously generous pension plans for Social Security. These phonies are far worse than Marie Antoinette, who allegedly joked that if poor people couldn’t afford bread, they should eat cake. What these creeps would have us eat is nowhere near as tasty or nutritious.

Consider the fact that the late unlamented Ted Kennedy was a hero to the green movement even after he used his considerable clout to make certain that windmills, those essential items that would free us from our dependence on fossil fuels, didn’t interfere with the view from his estate.

To fully appreciate how contemptible the left is, you merely have to note that whenever people oppose any item on Obama’s radical agenda, liberals follow Jimmy Carter’s lead and label them racists. The majority of Americans voted for Obama last November and now, apparently millions of them, according to recent polls, are suffering from buyer’s remorse. Is it really possible that they simply failed to notice on election day that they were voting for a black man?

It reminds me of those various black basketball and football coaches who insist, when they’re fired for not winning enough games, that it’s because of their race, even though the people firing them are the very same people who hired them in the first place.

Recently, some Americans were outraged when movie director Oliver Stone made a laudatory documentary about Hugo Chavez and then showed up with the Communist dictator at the Cannes Film Festival, where they bumped fists and naturally received a standing ovation. It was enough to make me wish that Major Aldo Rayne had been there with his Inglorious Basterds to deal with Stone, Chavez and the assorted Euro-trash in attendance.

Speaking of Stone and Chavez, there are those who wonder why lefties are so often drawn to tyrants. Why is it, normal people ask, that those on the left looked so fondly on Stalin; why they adorn their walls with Che Guevara posters; why they wore those dopey caps with the red star and carted around Mao’s Little Red Book in the 60s; why Sean Penn went to Iraq to show his solidarity with Saddam Hussein; why, to this day, they will flock to Cuba and kiss Castro’s behind; why they will side with Hamas and Hezbollah, while accusing Israel of crimes against humanity; and why Thomas Friedman of the N.Y. Times will feel free to extol the virtues of one-party autocracies such as China.

The answer is that they identify with tyrants. They don’t oppose gulags on principle; they simply don’t wish to be sent to one. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to run one. They also have a soft spot for dictators because they, themselves, are miserable excuses for human beings who look down on the masses as being ignorant, religious, peons who, in a just world, would exist only to serve them.

Don’t you ever find yourself wondering why liberals are happy to see Obama expanding the power and influence of the federal government, of appointing three dozen regulatory czars who answer only to him, of gobbling up major industrial and financial entities in a way reminiscent of Stalin and Hitler? I mean, wouldn’t you think they’d dread the thought of a Republican president having all of that authority in the future? After all, we have presidential elections every four years. It’s not as if Obama could rule for 27 years like Mao, for 29 years like Stalin or for half a century like Castro.

Shouldn’t those on the left be the least bit concerned that a Mitt Romney, a Rick Perry, a Bobby Jindal or, God forbid, a Sarah Palin could inherit all that power?

After pondering that question, how can you avoid concluding that they simply have no intention of ever allowing that to happen?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Not-So Secret Secret Service

by Burt Prelutsky

Maybe because I was laid up with the flu, my defenses were down. Otherwise, even though I’d checked it out of the library, I probably wouldn’t have broken down and read Ronald Kessler’s “In the President’s Secret Service.” You see, when it comes to books, I tend to prefer novels to non-fiction. The reason is that novels are the work of writers, whereas non-fiction is written by people whose strength lies in research, not in writing with any sense of style.

Mr. Kessler has turned out a great many books over the years. In fact, about 25 years ago we met because there was the possibility I was going to adapt one of them as a TV movie. As is often the case, nothing came of it. We’d had no contact since then, but I heard him being interviewed on Michael Medved’s radio show. It was a good interview in the way that some movie trailers are very good. That is to say, just about all the best parts, the gossipy parts, were covered.

One of the intriguing things to me was how Kessler managed to get past and present agents to go so candidly on record. After all, there is a reason they call it the Secret Service and not the Blabbermouth Society. It didn’t take me too long to figure out the carrot Kessler employed as motivation. It seems that the agents are sick and tired of being treated like an abused stepchild. Because so many agents have taken early retirement, either to make more money in the private security sector or to join a better run organization such as the FBI, the agents who remain are angry about being spread too thin. Additionally, being patriots, they fear that the end result of the Service being undercut is that assassinations are almost inevitable.

It seems that those who head up the Service are reluctant to complain that their ranks have been so seriously depleted that they are cutting dangerous corners. Also, the agents feel that far too often, they are shown no respect by those they are sworn to protect, and that they are treated like gofers and babysitters.

Unfortunately, while the trade-off resulted in agents betraying confidences they had vowed to keep, it resulted in Kessler’s turning out a book that, aside from the gossip, often reads like a plea to Congress for additional funds and manpower. Others may feel differently, but I felt like the book was twice as long as it needed to be and as redundant as a Sham-Wow! commercial.

Some of the presidents and their families come off well, others come off as…well, pretty much the way you would probably guess.

The Obamas both get high marks, as does Cindy McCain, but not her husband. It seems John was irascible, short-tempered and just plain rude. So, apparently, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin he treated like dirt.

Although it’s not mentioned in the book, I still recall the first time I fully understood what a punk John Kerry was. It happened during the 2004 campaign, on one of his skiing vacations. It seems he took a tumble on the slopes and, no sooner did he get up, than he began bawling out a Secret Service agent for having gotten in his way. I recall thinking that instead of being grateful that these guys were prepared to take a bullet for him, he couldn’t resist getting on the case of a man who hadn’t really chosen to freeze his ass off on a mountainside. I suppose if a Secret Service agent had been shot while trying to protect the man who resembles the front end of a horse and who behaves like its back end, Kerry would have expected to get a Purple Heart for being in the general vicinity.

Not too surprisingly, the Clintons had similar manners. Hillary, we’re told, never once in eight years said “Thank you” to a member of the Secret Service.

Al Gore, while chastising his son over a mediocre report card, indicated the Secret Service agents in the room, and said, “If you don’t straighten up, you won’t get into the right schools, and if you don’t get into the right schools, you could end up like these guys.”

Of all the kids who have called the White House home over the past few decades, Chelsea Clinton gets the highest marks, while Amy Carter gets the lowest. On one occasion, she crushed a package of soda crackers, dumped them on the floor and told her Secret Service agent to clean them up. When the agent complained to her father, Jimmy Carter told him to do as he’d been told. “It’s your job.”

I don’t suppose anyone will be too shocked to learn that Carter was the biggest phony of them all. For instance, he would make a big deal of showing up to work at the Oval Office at 6 a.m., but by 6:30, behind drawn curtains, his reputation properly burnished, he would be taking a nap.

Neither Jimmy nor Rosalynn would speak to the agents. Jimmy wouldn’t even say “Hello” or “Good morning.” Because image was everything to Mr. Peanut, if there were photographers around when he was getting on or off an airplane, he would insist on toting his own carry-on bag, but it would be empty! Sort of reminds me of all those photos of Carter posed holding a hammer at those Habitat for Humanity building sites. I was always willing to lay odds that the hammer was a prop and had never struck a nail.

His son, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, would pick up women at bars in Georgetown by asking them if they wanted to have sex in the White House. Sounds a lot like Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton, doesn’t it?

All the Bushes, but especially Barbara and Laura, were well-liked by the people whose job was to protect them and their families.

George W. Bush felt so guilty about taking the agents off to Crawford, Texas, at Christmas time, he began spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Washington, so that the agents could be home to celebrate with their own families.

Ronald Reagan, it seems, not only enjoyed riding horses and shmoozing with the agents, but he would employ army jets to transport children who needed to travel for kidney transplants. He was also known to write checks for $3,000 or $4,000 to people with hard luck stories. Unlike liberal politicians, who are only generous with taxpayers’ money, he would simply say to those who knew the truth, “Don’t tell people. I’ve been poor myself.”

Perhaps the best thing about the book is that it might make future presidents behave decently to those who are sworn to take a bullet for them, even if they might not in a million years vote for them. After all, Kessler might write a sequel some day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Catching Up With The News

by Burt Prelutsky

I wasn’t surprised that Rep. Joe Wilson felt compelled to apologize to President Obama for calling him a liar. I also wasn’t surprised to hear that within 24 hours, thousands of liberals had sent in over $200,000 in contributions to Wilson’s opponent in next year’s election even though they knew nothing about him except that he was running against Wilson. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the other 434 members of the House had censured, expelled or ridden Rep. Wilson out of Washington, D.C., on a rail. I mean, where the heck does this guy get off speaking the truth in the hallowed halls of Congress?

Speaking of Congress, although the research isn’t yet complete, the early indicators are that, rumors to the contrary, you can not get swine flu from exposure to Henry Waxman.

Scientists at London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine confirmed that 50 years of research found that, aside from price, there was no difference between conventionally-grown foodstuffs and the ugly, under-sized items you find in the organic section at the supermarket.

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy made his name explaining how you could tell if you were a redneck. I trust you understand that fame and fortune such as he achieved aren’t my motivation. But merely as a public service, I thought I’d point out how to recognize if you’re a racist. For instance, if you think that Jesse Jackson is an extortionist; that Al Sharpton is a con man; that Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones are three of a kind; and that the Black Congressional Caucus, ACORN, the SEIU, the Black Panthers, Eric Holder and Barack Hussein Obama, present a clear and present danger to our Republic, you are what passes for a racist in 2009.

Frankly, I keep waiting for Obama to doff the mufti and start appearing in some nicely tailored uniform, for clearly, the cult of personality has been introduced successfully for the first time ever in our nation’s history. If you disagree, what would you call that red, white and blue Obama symbol that has pretty much supplanted the presidential seal in the past year? And outside of such places as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, have you ever seen so many posters and pictures of a national leader?

Perhaps because I don’t watch very much TV, I’ve only recently become aware of a TV commercial which could easily have been written and produced by the White House, possibly under the auspices of the NEA. In the spot I saw, a black deliveryman for Miller High Life shows up in a private box at the race track and confiscates all the beer from the rich white people and then hands the bottles over to the regular folks at the track, all the time muttering that the people who actually paid for the stuff don’t deserve it because they’re “hoity-toity.”

I realize it’s only a commercial, but if we have redistribution of wealth and health care, can redistribution of brewskis be far behind on that great-come-and-get-it-day?

Like everyone else, I noticed that in his address to Congress, Obama, who had been insisting all along that there were about 45 million people in America without health insurance, was suddenly, without explanation, referring to 30 million. It seems to me that if he can miraculously make 15 million people just disappear, all he has to do is give two more speeches to completely eliminate the problem.

Finally, I recently saw Obamacare summed up rather succinctly by a picture of an elderly American set adrift on an ice floe. Of course, knowing David Axelrod, Rahm and Ezekiel Emmanuel, John Holdren, Cass Sunstein and AARP, as I have come to know them, I’m sure they’ll find a swell way to sell it to us. My guess is that they’ll simply call their final solution to the problem of all those pesky old folks wanting medical attention Obama’s Magical Ocean Cruises.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Not-So Noble Nobel Prize

by Burt Prelutsky

There is probably nothing that people would rather have mentioned in their obituaries than the fact that along the way they had won a Nobel Prize. And it’s not just the money, either, although 1.4 million smackers is nothing to sneeze at. No, what makes the Nobel Prize so prized is the prestige it gives the recipients. If you are lucky enough to win one, you will forever be known as Nobel Prize winner Burt Prelutsky or whatever your own name happens to be, and your words, even those on subjects far removed from the field for which you were honored, will be taken terribly seriously by a very gullible public.

I mean, you only have to look at some of the folks who have taken home the Prize to recognize its hallowed place in the world. The list includes the likes of Ivan Pavlov, Sir Alexander Fleming, Marie and Pierre Curie, Harold Urey, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Francis Crick, James Watson, and Albert Einstein. Personally, I have no problem with such honorees. I mean, even though what I know about chemistry, medicine, physiology and physics, could be inscribed on the head of a very small pin, I am willing to accept that their contributions were remarkable. And if dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel had left it at that, I’d have no problem with the Prize; I mean aside from my never having won it.

Of course I’m aware that even in the sciences, people grovel for glory and will happily stab a colleague in the back if it improves their chances for Nobel recognition. But at least these folks are responsible for actual achievements. They discovered such things as penicillin, radium, heavy hydrogen, and the double helix.

I suppose because they had all this extra dynamite money lying around, the Scandinavians felt the need to invent a new category called economic sciences. Suddenly every two-bit economist woke up to discover that no matter how loony an economic scheme he came up with, he stood a good chance of winning a cool million in the Swedish lottery. In fact, one woman, in her divorce settlement from a professor of economics, insisted that she get half the loot if he copped a Prize within the following ten years. Sure enough, nine years and a few months later, the woman was several hundred thousand dollars richer!

I don’t remember the honoree’s name, but it’s a pretty safe guess that he was on the faculty at the University of Chicago. A slew of its professors have won the Prize just in the past few decades. By this time, the administration can pretty much promise new recruits a parking space, a discount in the faculty lounge, and a Nobel Prize of their very own.

But my real beef with the Nobel enterprise is with two other categories -- Literature and Peace. And, no, I’m not bitter that in spite of my sterling prose, I haven’t been invited to don white tie and tails and give a stirring, but humorous, acceptance speech in Stockholm. For one thing, I don’t own a pair of tails, and, for another, I hate flying. And while I have no argument with such recipients as Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw and John Steinbeck, and am even willing to grant that writers such as William Faulkner, Eugene O’Neill, and Jean-Paul Sartre, just might be acquired tastes that I never acquired, how did they come up with Giosue Carducci, Yasunari Kawabata and Shmuel Agnon?

I’m not suggesting that Carducci, Kawabata and Agnon, aren’t worthy of literary laurels. How could I? I’d never even heard of them. What I do know is that they wrote in Italian, Japanese and Hebrew, respectively. Are you going to tell me that anyone at the Swedish Academy read them in their original language? Baloney! It’s my hunch that periodically the Swedes simply decide it’s Japan’s turn to win or Italy’s or Israel’s.

What makes me even more convinced this to be the case is the hooey they concoct as a reason for lavishing fame and fortune on the poor sap. About Carducci, they rhapsodized: “A tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces.” About Kawabata: “For his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind.” And in praise of Agnon: “For his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people.”

And then there’s poor Wole Soyinka, the pride and joy of Nigeria, who had to stand there in his best bib and tucker and keep a straight face while some Swedish gentleman actually said, “Mr. Soyinka, who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones, fashions the drama of existence.”

I suppose the fellow who writes this stuff will some day win a Nobel Prize of his own “for churning out high-sounding bilge year in and year out, expressing the Scandinavian fondness for unfathomable twaddle.”

For good measure, between 1901 and 1910, which was when Sam Clemens died, they managed to give the Prize to the likes of Sully Prudhomme, Christian Mommsen, Bjorstjerne Bjornson, Frederic Mistral, Jose Echegaray y Eizaguirre, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Rudolf Eucken, Selma Lagerlof and Paul Heyse, but not the author of “Huckleberry Finn” and “Life on the Mississippi.” I wonder if Sully or Jose or Bjorstjerne thought, when they received the good news, that they might have gotten Mark Twain’s mail by mistake.

But even the obvious shortcomings of the Literature award can’t compare to the absurdity of the Peace Prize. It isn’t simply that the award has gone home with such villains as Le Duc Tho, Kofi Annan and Yasser Arafat. It has also left Sweden in Jimmy Carter’s suitcase and Al Gore’s handbag, and in the luggage of scores of other self-righteous, lame-brained pacifists over the past 108 years.

This isn’t to suggest that people like George Marshall, Elie Wiesel and the Dalai Lama, don’t deserve our good thoughts, but I’d have thought better of them if they’d simply said thanks, but no thanks. I mean, the chairman of the Peace committee, in honoring Carter, made it clear that they were using him as a means by which to vilify President Bush for invading Iraq. And there you have a clue to the reason I despise Carter and the Norwegian Nobel Committee -- and please don’t ask me why the Swedes out-sourced the Peace Prize selection to Norway, keeping the important ones for themselves. Perhaps the Swedes figured that the Norwegians simply weren’t up to any heavy lifting. In any case, I hate Carter because he was so hungry for the tawdry honor that he grasped it to his bosom even though he knew he was only getting it because the presenters needed a stalking horse in order to insult his president and his country.

But, Carter aside, I hate the Peace Prize because it never goes to anyone who is waging war. These knuckleheads refuse to acknowledge that sometimes peace can only be achieved by those willing to confront and defeat evil. Peace, after all, is easy enough to achieve. All you need is to never oppose tyranny. So it is that no awards were presented between 1914 and 1919, except in 1917, when it went to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Then again, no peace awards between 1939 and 1943. Then, in 1944 -- surprise, surprise -- the International Committee of the Red Cross won again.

Inasmuch as they often honor groups and not merely individuals, wouldn’t you think the Scandinavians would have acknowledged their own debt to the R.A.F. and to the British civilians who risked their lives to rescue the English army at Dunkirk, or to the U.S. military, for that matter? After all, the Nazis were well on their way to weaning the Swedes and the Norwegians off meatballs and herring and on to bratwurst and sauerkraut.

Why didn’t they give it to FDR or, better yet, Winston Churchill? No, Sir Winston didn’t win a Nobel Prize for helping to defeat Nazi Germany. He finally got it in 1953 -- for Literature, for-crying-out-loud! -- “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted humansvalues.”

I can’t help thinking that Sir Winston would have preferred winning it “for having tied a tin can to der fuhrer’s fanny.”
As for the latest recipient, how can anyone dare suggest that Barack Obama, who, in spite of not even being able to bring the Olympic Games to Chicago, hasn’t done every bit as much to bring peace to the world as Carter, Le Duc Tho and Yasser Arafat?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Letters To The Editor

by Burt Prelutsky

I hear from readers all over America complaining that their local newspapers seem to be nothing more than house organs for the Democrats. You have to wonder if every last daily is being subsidized by George Soros because they all seem to be losing readership and ad revenue at record rates, and yet they persist in reviling half of their potential subscribers.

My wife often wonders why I continue subscribing to the L.A. Times. There used to be three reasons, but that was before I discovered that I could access box scores at MajorLeagueBaseball.com. One, because I kept threatening to cancel my subscription, they finally offered me a rate that comes close to their paying me to take it. Two, it lets me know exactly what lies and propaganda the other side is trumpeting without my having to tune in the likes of Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann.

It isn’t simply the editorial page and the op-ed page that is devoted, Pravda-like, to heralding the greatness of our glorious leader. It is every single section of the newspaper, including book and movie reviews, business and even the letters to the editor. It was bad enough when, for eight years, one couldn’t escape the constant harping on George Bush, but now that Obama is president, all the jeers have turned to cheers.

I find it very telling that although I wrote a humor column for the Times for 11 years in the days when it took its journalistic responsibilities seriously, I can no longer even get a letter published.

Just recently, I had occasion to write a couple. Although I am not the most ecologically-minded person in the world, I do hate to waste perfectly fine letters just because the Times refuses to acknowledge that there are any conservatives in Los Angeles.

In the first case, I was responding to a piece columnist Steve Lopez had written about traveling out to the north end of L.A. County to find out what sort of jackasses liked Glenn Beck. Naturally, he managed to find exactly what he was looking for. In response to his column, which was headlined “Looking for Common Ground in Glenn Beck Country,” I wrote: “After reading Steve Lopez’s not very subtle attack on Glenn Beck. It occurred to me that Beck’s combined radio and TV audience is probably in the range of five or six million, which is several times larger than the circulation of the Times. Still, I am willing to wager that if I drove out to Santa Clarita or any other community in Southern California, I could find many more numbskulls who read the Times than tune into Beck. Attempting to demean Mr. Beck, who is far less partisan and far more fact-based than your newspaper, by holding up a few of his fans to ridicule neither makes Lopez’s case nor burnishes your own tarnished image.”

In the second instance, I responded to a news story headlined “Obama Aide Quits, Slams Critics.” I wrote: “It is quite obvious why an avowed radical community organizer like Van Jones would be appointed a czar in the Obama administration. That comes under the heading of birds of a feather. However, inasmuch as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah, have been reporting about this guy for a long time now, the question is why the Times never even got around to mentioning Jones until the day after he walked the plank. You have to admire the gall of Mr. Jones, though. Not everyone would refer to a number of videos in which he declared himself a Communist who despises all Republicans, and announced his intention to radically transform America, as ‘lies, distortions…and a smear campaign.’

“By the way, in case it, too, has escaped your attention, Jeff Jones, who co-founded the terrorist group, the Weather Underground with none other than Bill Ayers, the fellow presidential candidate Barack Obama could barely recall ever having met, is currently a close advisor to President Obama. Sincerely, Burt Prelutsky”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First, Kill All The Politicians

by Burt Prelutsky

Back in 1954, a lawyer named Joseph Welch became famous virtually overnight when he looked contemptuously at Joe McCarthy and said, “Have you no decency, sir, at long last?” As clumsy as the line was, he said it so effectively that the next thing we knew, Otto Preminger had hired him to play a judge and deliver equally sanctimonious lines in “Anatomy of a Murder.”

The question of decency runs through my head every time I see or hear a celebrity or a politician these days. For instance, I keep asking myself if I am more disgusted by what Roman Polanski did some 30-odd years ago or what his legion of defenders are presently saying in his defense. Just because he directed a couple of good movies and a lot of lousy ones, we have most of Hollywood signing petitions on his behalf. Whoopi Goldberg, who was apparently paying close attention when Bill Clinton was parsing the word “is,” has gone so far as insisting that what Polanski did to the 13-year-old girl wasn’t really rape. The problem with calling these Hollywood freaks on the carpet is that the more repulsed that normal human beings are with them, the more convinced they are that they’re as sophisticated, not to mention morally superior, as their press releases claim they are.

Some time ago, I suggested that when John Huston’s degenerate character, Noah Cross, dragged his young granddaughter off into the night at the end of “Chinatown,” Roman Polanski was the only person who actually believed he had directed a movie with a happy ending. Now, thanks to the 150 show biz celebrities who have signed a petition demanding that the child-rapist go free, I see how terribly na├»ve I was.

Or consider Jimmy Carter, who has spent the past three decades cozying up to the likes of Yasser Arafat and working overtime to prove that people who call him America’s biggest anti-Semite aren’t just whistling “Dixie.”

But, not content with merely condemning Israel’s Jews, he branched out a while ago and condemned Southern Baptists for oppressing their womenfolk, going so far as to turn his back on the church he has belonged to for his entire life. No word yet whether Mr. Peanut plans to join up with the Sunnis or the Shi’a.

Then we have an ex-vice president, Al Gore, who has spent the past several years getting rich in a way that would have had Charles Ponzi gnashing his teeth in envy. First, Gore announced that the earth was heating up and that people in Kansas would soon be up to their knees in the Pacific Ocean. Then, when Mother Nature pulled a fast one and cooled things down slightly, as is her wont, Gore didn’t miss a beat. Instead, he said we were undergoing climate change. People didn’t know what that meant, but Gore, in those ominous tones he has mastered, said it was every bit as bad as global warming and, so, the money just kept rolling in.

Well, far be it from me to miss out on a good thing. So it was that I, too, began paying close attention to the weather. After all, it was obviously a growth industry. What I found to my horror was that things were far scarier than Mr. Gore, at his spookiest, had suggested. For instance, even here in Los Angeles, where we generally take weather for granted, I noticed that between January and July, the median temperature rose from 63 to 93, an average increase of five degrees a month. The increase was so gradual that, like the frog in the pot of boiling water, I’m not sure I would have even noticed if I hadn’t been paying such close attention. Now, it’s not my wish to panic anyone, but if the trend continues at that rate, by the end of 2010, the average temperature will be close to…180 degrees!

In order to do further study, I’m hoping to obtain a federal grant so that I can get a really good thermometer and several notebooks and pencils. I believe I can handle the entire job for about $10 million.

While we’re on the subject of numbers, and while I’m waiting for my $10 million piece of the stimulus package, I recently checked out the ages at which our 43 presidents were first elected. (Note: Even though Barack Obama is the 44th president, he’s only the 43rd individual to hold the office. The problem is that one man, Grover Cleveland, a born troublemaker, was both the 22nd and the 24th president, having been elected in 1884 and then again in 1892.)

In any case, as I was saying, I discovered that 26 of our presidents were elected in their 50s, while nine of them were first elected in their 60s. Some of those 35 men were fine, and included the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Lincoln; while others, such as Wilson, Harding, Hoover, FDR, LBJ, Nixon and Carter, left a good deal to be desired.

What I found most telling was that the half dozen men who were initially elected in their 40s (Pierce, Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, Clinton and Obama) don’t make a very impressive case for youth. On the other hand, the only one who was elected in his 70s was Ronald Reagan. Now I’m not saying I’m another Reagan, but I will be in my 70s by the time 2012 rolls around and, assuming I’ve completed my weather study by then and have somehow avoided being burned to a crisp, I would consider it an honor and a privilege to run against that young whippersnapper, Barack Obama.

In addition to my age, two other things I’d have going for me are, one, I didn’t attend an Ivy League school and, perhaps best of all, I’ve never been a lawyer.

Finally, I fully expect that any day now Robert Gibbs will announce that Rio de Janeiro has been named Chicago’s sister city and, so, thanks to the efforts of Barack, and the sacrifices of Michelle and Oprah, Chicago will, in a sense, be co-hosting the 2016 Olympics.

And in other totally unrelated news, Gibbs will inform the media that President Obama has declared war on Denmark.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Days Of Infamy

by Burt Prelutsky

There are certain dates that are indelibly etched in our minds because they were drummed into us in school, such as the 1066 Battle of Hastings; some because they commemorate joyous events such as July 4th, December 25th or the births of our children; and some because they remind us to never forget how quickly everyday life can be turned into something horrific.

The first of three such dates for Americans is 12/7/41. That was, as FDR put it, a day of infamy. It was a Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas when, without warning, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, killing 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians.

The second of the nightmarish dates was 9/11/01 when 19 Islamics hijacked four airliners and murdered 2,998 human beings, most of whom were Americans.

The third such date was 11/4/08, when 64,385,746 American voters decided it would be a fine idea to vote for a man with an Islamic name, an Islamic upbringing, a man who said that if push came to shove, he would side with Islamics.

If you lost loved ones in Hawaii 68 years ago or in Manhattan 8 years ago, I can fully understand why you would disagree with me when I insist that the third of those dates is the most tragic. The reason I voice that opinion is because, aside from the 5,401 innocent lives lost, ships, planes and skyscrapers can always be re-built. But once lost, freedom and liberty can not always be regained.