Monday, March 29, 2010

Words To Live By

by Burt Prelutsky

Every so often, I read something written by other people that I wish I had written. For instance, Thomas Paine observed over two centuries ago: “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, is like administering medicine to the dead.” In 21 words, Paine perfectly summed up the frustration faced by a conservative every time he attempts to debate an issue with a liberal.

Lately, Andrew Young has been all over radio and TV hawking his book, “The Politician,” which recounts the contemptible role he played in trying to cover up the John Edwards sex scandal. Mr. Young is bad enough, but, frankly, I’m nearly as disgusted by the way the media, including the right-wing media, has rolled out the red carpet for this weasel. This is the guy, let us not forget, who forced his wife and kids to take part in the tawdry charade that it was he, not Edwards, who was having the affair with Rielle Hunter, and that Ms. Hunter was carrying his child.

Worst of all has been listening to interviewers asking this amateur pimp why he went along with the sick farce, and then allowing him get away with insisting he did what he did because he was convinced that Edwards was simply the best man for the presidency. As we all know, John Edwards wouldn’t be the best man for any job on the planet that didn’t involve hawking hair products for men. Mr. Young, like every other political aide, is in it for himself. These people tie themselves to some hack’s coat tails in the hope that their guy will wind up in the Senate or the Oval Office and that he, himself, will then wind up rich and famous like James Carville, Dick Morris and George Stephanopoulos.

Being politically ambitious, as Mr. Young was, is not a crime, but it should never be allowed to pass for a calling.

One thing that constantly amazes me is how often even the most ambitious and cut-throat politicians are brought down by their libidos. As is the case with actors, athletes and rock stars, large numbers of women are attracted like moths to the flame of celebrity. In fact, I am even willing to wager that there are women who have convinced themselves that Harry Reid and Henry Waxman are hotties. Strange women? Certainly. Left-wing women? Absolutely. Blind women? Indubitably. But, women, nonetheless.

Still, when you consider that the political prospects of Wilbur Mills, Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford and so many others, have been destroyed or at least derailed to some extent by their extracurricular activities, I’m reminded of that old truism that behind the rise of every great man is a woman, and behind his fall is another woman.

Speaking of sexual entanglements reminds me that I read recently that some new honor is headed Jane Fonda’s way. Some people, some intolerant, unforgiving people, continue to refer to her as “Hanoi Jane” because of her traitorous activities during the Vietnam War. Okay, I happen to be one of those people. But my point is that even if you didn’t recall the way she lent aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese while John McCain and so many other decent Americans were held captive and tortured by the Communists, the mere fact that this ditz has been married to the likes of Roger Vadim, Tom Hayden and Ted Turner, would tell you what an airhead she is, even if you knew nothing else about her.

Speaking of prominent airheads, it seems our commander-in-chief, who’s such a blithering idiot when it comes to our military and national security that he almost makes Bill Clinton look adequate, wants to allow women to serve on submarines and allow gays to serve openly in the military. The Pentagon doesn’t think these are particularly good ideas, but I understand that he’s gotten two big thumbs-up from Iran and China.

Obama clearly believes that his agenda trumps common sense and human nature, and for his next trick plans to nullify the law of gravity.

Recently, someone sent me a message that was posted on the Internet by a retiring soldier that sums up the prevailing insanity: “When I joined the military, it was illegal to be homosexual. Then it became optional. I’m getting out before it becomes mandatory.”

That took all of 22 words, but Tom Paine couldn’t have said it any better.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Obama, The Cellophane Man

by Burt Prelutsky

For a long time, I was a member of the chorus that faulted Barack Obama for not carrying through with his campaign pledge of transparency. But now that he’s been in the Oval Office for well over a year, I realize how wrong I was. I actually owe the man an apology. He is the most transparent president we have ever had, and by now even a blind man can see through him.

Furthermore, even those people who disagreed with his politics, but regarded him as a good guy, must have surely had second thoughts when, during the health care summit, Obama turned to John McCain and curtly reminded him that the election was over. Talk about your sore winners! Being the sort of imp I am, if I had been Sen. McCain, I might have asked the president if he was referring to the one that recently took place in Massachusetts.

Speaking of the health care summit, the highlight of the seven hour snooze fest for me was when Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, NY), shared the anecdote about the woman who wound up wearing her dead sister’s dentures. My initial reaction was to wonder why a liberal would object to the practice; after all, they’ve made recycling a major tenet of their religion. My second reaction was the realization that Henry Waxman (D, the Moon) might be a terrible congressman, but he’s a first-rate straight man. I was watching Waxman, who was sitting next to Slaughter, and when she related her tale of woe, he not only didn’t begin to cackle the way I did, he didn’t even crack a smile. But I guess after sitting in Congress for 40 years, you stop reacting to idiocy.

It’s almost as if Obama and Tiger Woods have been competing to see which of them can lose the greatest amount of goodwill in the shortest amount of time. There is, of course, a major difference between the two look-alikes. Tiger’s precipitous plummet in popularity affects only his fortunes and those of his sponsors and agents. Obama, on the other hand, has wasted his political capital as recklessly as he’s wasted America’s financial capital, thus bringing the entire nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

It’s at times like these that I wish America had followed Britain’s example to a greater extent. If Obama, Pelosi and Reid, were forced to call for a vote of confidence, I can guarantee they’d have a lot more time to devote to their kids, their grandkids and their various hobbies.

While watching Obama chair the summit, it occurred to me that he really does believe he’s the smartest man in America. But, then, I suspect that if any of us spent a lot of time hanging around with the likes of Joe Biden, Robert Byrd, Charley Rangel and Barbara Boxer, we, too, would wind up with an inflated ego. Of course, Obama was equally infatuated with himself when he was still in college. I mean, why else would someone write his memoirs when he was barely out of law school? The truth is, I have a 27” TV in the bedroom and the two things that don’t fit on its relatively small screen are CinemaScope movies from the 1950s and Barack Obama’s ego.

Some of my readers, I must confess, have accused me of having an over-inflated ego. But I demur. I’d readily agree that, as egos go, mine is healthy, even robust, but surely not over-sized. After all, when people refer to me as a political pundit, I vehemently deny it. I know pundits when I see them, and I am definitely not one. Rush Limbaugh is a pundit. Sean Hannity is a pundit, and so are Karl Rove, Juan Williams and Dick Morris. So far as I can tell, the one thing they all have in common is that day in and day out, they devote the same time and attention to reading the New York Times that an orthodox rabbi devotes to the Torah. That means that on a regular basis, they are reading and apparently memorizing every stupid thing that such highly respected lunkheads as Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, write.

Personally, I would prefer reading the telephone book. For one thing, it’s factual. For another, it’s better written.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Great Obama Debate (Part Two)

by Burt Prelutsky

When we left off at the end of Part One, you may recall that I was suggesting that if Homer wouldn’t constantly ballyhoo Obama’s intelligence on his radio show, he might not have to constantly deal with listeners questioning his own.

He went on: “Remember how appalling it was when libs all insisted that Bush (despite good grades at both Yale and Harvard Business School) was a moron? Did they advance their cause with these attacks? And as to the “Obama wants to wreck the economy” line, how destructive and idiotic is that? Can you imagine the president going to sleep at night and just hoping that the next day he’ll wake up to see the unemployment rate soaring? Oh, great, that’s a sure way to get re-elected!” (I don’t think FDR wanted to destroy the American economy, but he did want to radically transform the nation. Which he managed to do by putting more and more people on the government payroll, thus guaranteeing that large blocs of voters would become registered Democrats. I believe that Obama would like to be re-elected in 2012, but I take him at his word when he said that he would rather be a great one-term president than a mediocre two-term president. Based on his first year in office, I would say that just as you and I have a different take on the word “brilliant,” Obama and I differ when it comes to the word “great.”)

“The only way to appeal to the American mainstream (which is incurably sane) is to show them why Obama is wrong, not claim that he is a dullard, or a devious kamikaze on a mission of destruction.” (Most sane Americans don’t have to listen to your show or read my articles to know what Obama’s mission is. Everything from his America-bashing speeches in foreign lands to cap and trade, to the redistribution of wealth, to Cash for Clunkers, to trillion dollar pork-laden spending sprees, to lying about transparency and keeping lobbyists out of the White House, to bashing Goldman Sachs out of one side of his mouth while inviting them into his administration from the other side, to using the NEA as his personal PR firm, tells people everything they need to know about the man.)

“The beginning of this stupidity, I’m afraid, was Limbaugh’s battle royal over ‘wanting Obama to fail.’ I know, I know -- Rush just wants the agenda to fail, to avoid a socialistic takeover, and so forth. But try talking to normal Americans who aren’t kool aid (or tea) drinkers -- the kind who decide elections. Anyone who says he wants to see the president fail at a time of crisis has marginalized himself and his cause. Rush misspoke. He should have acknowledged it and dropped the line. Instead, he doubled down, suggesting that Obama himself wants the economy to fail in order to achieve total power. This is the same paranoid nonsense (which Rush doesn’t even believe) that characterized those who predicted Clinton (or Bush) would impose martial law rather than relinquish the presidency.” (I’m not about to defend Rush. I don’t even listen to his show. For all I know, he may be on opposite you. It was the MSM that tried to make a big deal out of what Rush said, mainly by twisting his obvious meaning. What Rush said and meant is exactly what most normal Americans believe in their hearts, and that explains the election results in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.)

“Republicans are doing well right now for the simple reason that we’re not Democrats. Sooner or later, the public will start focusing on us and the alternative we offer. I hope and pray that when the time comes, we don’t look like lunatics who clearly aren’t ready for prime time.” (That’s always my hope. But at this time, anyone who stands up against Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Waxman, Barney Frank, ACORN, the SEIU, the UAW, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Van Jones, is aces in my book. p.s. I hope you enjoy “Liberals: America’s Termites” if you ever find time to read it.)

In his follow-up, Homer wrote: “By the way, the fact that you claim ‘I’ve never heard anyone question his (Obama’s) intelligence’ is stunning. On my radio show, that is the most common call we get -- and we only take a few of those frequent calls in order to keep the subject matter diverse. I’ve also gotten impassioned emails on the subject. My assistant could forward some of them to you. You could also talk to him about the sick obsession (yes it is sick, and very possibly racist) that some people have to deny the President is bright.” (Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. I didn’t mean to suggest that I never heard anyone question Obama’s intelligence. I hear them on your show all the time. What I meant to convey is that I, myself, have never received a single email or had anyone say anything to me about his intelligence, even though I am constantly berating Obama. But I attribute that to the fact I never focus on his intelligence in my work. On the other hand, you often refer to his brilliance, and, so, people who believe that wisdom and common sense are major ingredients when it comes to intelligence wind up taking you to task.)

“Concerning his experience at the University of Chicago, you ought to know that it’s famous as a center of conservative thought -- remember the late Alan Bloom, Saul Bellow, Leon Kass (who worked with Bush), and many others from the U of C faculty? I spoke with Richard Epstein, who’s a member of the faculty (and a very well-regarded conservative legal scholar, you can look him up) who expressed only the greatest respect for Obama and his work with students.” (I find it hard to believe that Obama would be your idea of a great teacher. I very much doubt that a left-wing ideologue would employ the Socratic method. I doubt that when he lectured about Saul Alinsky, he gave anything like a balanced or objective picture of the madman and his ideas to his young, impressionable students. Furthermore, while I don’t believe that Prof. Epstein ever sat in on any of his lectures, I have every confidence that if he bothered to ask the youngsters what they thought of Obama, they would have assured him that the O man was one very cool dude.)

“The idea that he was ‘only’ a lecturer -- not professor -- at one of the world’s best law schools is laughable.” (I don’t know why it would be laughable. For one thing, you’re the fellow who referred to him as a professor when you were trying to establish his intellectual credentials. For another, a great many screwballs lecture at a great many universities, and the tokenism that has become a large part of American academia could well have played a role in getting Obama his slot. I can’t claim to know what he knows or doesn’t know about the law, but if one judges by his former associates in Chicago and his present agenda in Washington, I can only assume that it is long on ideology and skimpy when it comes to wisdom and an appreciation of the Constitution. If I were running a university, I wouldn’t allow someone who has stated that the failing of the Constitution and the Civil Rights movement is that they didn’t deal with the redistribution of wealth to proselytize the student body. Speaking of which, inasmuch as he has made that socialistic ideal the centerpiece of his presidency, why do you think it’s wrong for people to call him a socialist? What else would you call someone who is dedicated to expanding the federal government into every facet of American life and using the power of the state to confiscate wealth from those who have it and giving it to those who want it?)

“Obama remained a ‘lecturer’ because he could only work there part time, while very understandably pursuing big money and (less understandably) big power through his day jobs.” (And, God help us all, he finally got one that was way above his pay scale. Regards, Burt)

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Great Obama Debate (Part One)

by Burt Prelutsky

I know someone who hosts a very popular radio talk show. Even though we’re friends and political allies, it’s been years since he’s invited me on as a guest. That wouldn’t be so bad, but when you realize that nobody at Fox, where I have no friends, has ever invited me on, you might better understand why my wonderful books don’t tend to wind up on best seller lists.

But let us get back to Homer, an alias I’m saddling him with because he asked that I not use his real name. It all began a week ago when I was driving on the freeway and, for what seemed like the millionth time, I heard Homer refer to Barack Obama’s brilliance. In the past, I have taken Bill O’Reilly to task for this very same offense, but I don’t know Mr. O’Reilly and if I wrote to him for any reason other than to rave about “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” or buy some of his paraphernalia, he would ignore me.
But because I’ve known Homer for several years, I decided to send him an email. He replied. Then I replied to his reply and he replied to mine. Because he’s a good guy, he agreed to let me devote an article to our exchanges.

He only asked that I change his name. The way he put it was that “It’s better to keep it anonymous because otherwise it’s another pointless feud between prominent people who agree on everything important.” I would only disagree about our both being prominent people. Honesty, not modesty, compels me to say that while Homer is prominent, I am not. I should be. I should also be rich and handsome, but you play the hand you’re dealt.

It all began with my writing “Although I generally agree with you, I found myself agreeing with the caller who took you to task for constantly referring to Obama as brilliant. I understand that you don’t wish to be seen as an Obama-basher and that you simply wish to give him credit whenever the rare opportunity offers itself.

“I do agree with you about brilliance not necessarily being a prerequisite to winning elections or being president. I also agree with you that Eisenhower was smarter than Adlai Stevenson, a man I always felt was born to play Hamlet in real life.

“Still, I don’t think you need to keep calling Obama brilliant in order to prove that you’re not overly partisan. Okay, he graduated from Harvard. But if attending an Ivy League school is proof of brilliance, then, as Mandy Patinkin’s Montoya said to Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini in The Princess Bride, I don’t think the word means what you think it means.”

By the next day, I hadn’t heard back from Homer, but on his show, I heard him lash out at a caller who dared call Obama’s brilliance into question. That led me to send along the following email: “Perhaps my earlier message set you off because you sounded angrier than I had ever heard you when you took on the caller who disagreed with you.

“But for the record, I have never heard any conservative claim that Obama is stupid. That isn’t the basis for their reasonable objections to him and his administration, so when you and Bill O’Reilly keep insisting that Obama is brilliant, it has an air of condescension. It’s similar to Joe Biden’s assuring the world that Obama is clean.

“However, if your defense of his brilliance is based, as you indicated on Thursday’s show, on Obama’s having been a professor, I think you’re wandering off on a very slippery slope. Bill Ayers, after all, is a professor; Ward Churchill, the faux Indian, is or at least was a professor; Angela Davis is a professor. If these folks are your idea of brilliant people, I would have to assume that you and I speak different languages and that in your language “brilliant” is a synonym for asinine.”

In the following, I have combined Homer’s comments along with my rebuttals.

“No,” Homer began, “your email didn’t set me off.” (I’m glad)

“What sets me off is the utter inability of some conservatives to understand how foolish they look, and how foolish they make us all look, when they take truly absurd public positions suggesting that A) Obama is less intelligent than he is or B) Obama wants the economy to tank and thereby destroy the country.” (A: I haven’t heard conservatives say that Obama is stupid; and B: Perhaps he doesn’t want to destroy the economy, but if that’s the case, one has to wonder why he is pursuing a course that seems to have no other possible result.)

“Concerning all the people you mentioned -- Ayers, Churchill, Angela Davis -- all are clearly bright, if not brilliant.” (I’m really at a loss, Homer, when you say these people are bright. What is your basis for believing that? If it’s simply that they were hired by numbskulls to teach, I can’t argue with you; they were definitely hired. But I find it hard to believe you regard that as proof of their extraordinary brilliance. It’s reminiscent of Hollywood, where any schnook who is hired to direct a movie is automatically granted genius status.)

“As Jimmy Carter memorably proved -- and as I’ve said repeatedly on the air -- there is a world of difference between intelligence and smarts.” (I’ve heard you say it and I agree completely.)

“The difference in the academic record with Obama (and Ayers or Davis or Churchill) was that he taught constitutional law (not “Ethnic Studies” or “Marxist Philosophy” or “Educational Policy”) at a top five law school and even his conservative colleagues thought he was good.” (What conservative colleagues did he have at the University of Chicago? And when Obama says that the problem with the Constitution is that it didn’t deal with the redistribution of wealth and when, in placing Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, he said that a justice should be, first and foremost, compassionate, I have to wonder if you really think that indoctrinating youngsters with left-wing propaganda is the appropriate role of a constitutional law lecturer. He wasn’t actually a professor.)

“More to the point, his first book (not so much the second one) is beautifully written, which means the only way to go on denying the guy has a first class mind is to claim he didn’t write it -- an absurd proposition given that he got his contract before he even graduated from law school, before any real celebrity status, and in a situation where a ‘ghost writer’ would be very weird, if not unthinkable.” (But the major reason that people are aware of him and his beliefs is because of his life in politics, not because of his non-fiction. So far as I can tell, his belief system hasn’t changed at all since he was a pot-smoking nitwit, seeking friends and mentors among revolutionaries and communists, as he wrote in those books you so admire.)

“The deeper point here is that those who cry racism on this issue actually have a point. Imagine if the president were named Baruch Schwartz, and he had the same credentials – Columbia, Harvard, acclaimed books, twelve years as lecturer in Con Law at the University of Chicago. If someone called President Schwartz a dummy, it would be laughable. But because Obama is black, people can claim that he’s merely the beneficiary of affirmative action, etc. In other words, they are responding to him differently (more negatively) because he is black. And what do we call that?” (Again, I have to repeat that I don’t know anyone who has taken him to task over his intelligence. I hear from a great many conservative readers and in the past two years, I have not had a single one who has questioned his intelligence. I don’t know where you are running into all these people who give a damn about Obama’s brain power, although I personally find it difficult to regard anyone who parrots left-wing claptrap and pursues a leftist agenda as being truly intelligent. It certainly suggests that he lacks wisdom, horse sense and the ability to recognize that the policies he’s pushing have failed everywhere that they’ve been tried. Far from proving he’s intelligent, that sort of behavior suggests he’s insane.)

“The main question here is, what’s the point? Arguing over Obama’s intellect doesn’t make him look bad, it makes us look bad. Could any sane observer doubt that the President has at least 25 IQ points over Governor Palin? That doesn’t make her a bad politician and him a great one, but it does suggest how pointless and pathetic it is to even raise the issue.” (I don’t pretend to know what either of their IQs happens to be. Moreover, I don’t care. It was annoying enough when because of my own lofty IQ, high school teachers and counselors would constantly nag me, insisting that I should apply myself more strenuously in classes that bored me. God, how I came to hate the importance they attributed to that damn number! However, I happen to agree with you about raising the issue of Obama’s intelligence, which is why I wonder why you keep raising it. Frankly, I don’t know if Obama is brighter than a 40-watt bulb, but what difference does it make? The bottom line is that he’s a disaster.)

“And conservatives do raise the issue, and harp on it. You should see my mail.” (Obviously, it is much different from my mail. But perhaps that is simply because you keep bringing up his alleged brilliance. I never do and, so, I never get that kind of feedback. I am willing to wager that if you ever go an entire week without saying “Obama” and “brilliant” in the same sentence, your mail will soon begin mirroring my own.) To be continued....

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Straight Talk About Ron Paul And Glenn Beck

by Burt Prelutsky

When I wasn’t invited to address the CPAC convention, I didn’t take it personally. I merely assumed they knew how much I hate flying and, besides, I don’t do well in cold weather.

But it’s always nice to see so many conservatives in good spirits, especially during these hard times. Still, I have to admit I found their straw vote worrisome. My own feelings about Ron Paul as a prospective presidential candidate don’t enter into it. My main concern, speaking as a conservative, is winning elections. Some Republicans love the guy, while others can’t stand him. I like some of his ideas and, as with Newt Gingrich, I’d hope he’d have the ear of the next Republican in the Oval Office. But as for his being the GOP standard-bearer in 2012, forget about it.

For one thing, he’ll be 77 at the time, meaning he’d be 81 at the end of his first term. As I’m also in my 70s, though just barely, I can assure you that’s the time to start taking things a little easier, not the time to start running a country. For another thing, he spent tens of millions of dollars in 2008 trying for the presidential nomination, and wound up garnering a tiny handful of delegates. That told me two things: one, outside of his own congressional district, he’s not much of a vote-getter; and two, he’s hardly the fiscal conservative he claims to be.

And, finally, in some parallel universe, looks may not matter, but here on earth they do, and Rep. Paul looks like his favorite pastime is sucking lemons. In fact, to me, it appears that he and Harry Reid popped out of the same womb.

Although I would love to see actual hardcore conservatives win every single election in 2010 and 2012, my greatest wish is that hardcore liberals, those pinheads who support Obama’s loony agenda, don’t win any. That’s why I’m afraid that the Tea Party crowd, a wonderful group of concerned Americans, might turn goofy and form a third party. If they did, I can assure you that their biggest source of financial support would be George Soros. That’s because a split on the Right would mean that leftists could win elections with just 40-45% of the vote.

Keep in mind that Bill Clinton won the keys to the Oval Office while collecting only 42.9% in 1992 and 49.2% of the vote in 1996, thanks, in good part, to the misguided efforts of Ross Perot.

Understand, I happen to be a big fan of Glenn Beck. I tune in every night. But when he keeps insisting that there’s no difference between the two major parties, I want to shake him until his teeth rattle.

For the past year, the Democrats have been gobbling up banks and car companies, and while raising their own salaries, have capped how much corporate executives are allowed to earn. Furthermore, they have been pushing trillion dollar stimulus bills, ObamaCare, cap and trade, Cash for Clunkers and, all the while, Obama has been turning Communists into czars and turning the NEA into his own personal pep squad. In the meantime, the GOP, although greatly out-gunned in Congress, has been pushing back. Even John McCain has been atop the ramparts engaged in battle with Barack Obama, something he refrained, for some unknown reason, from doing during the presidential campaign.

All I’m saying is that perhaps Beck should stop worrying so much about Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and start paying a little more attention to modern American history.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

That Old Black Magic

by Burt Prelutsky

I guess it’s because I never thought that Barack Obama was charismatic or a particularly effective orator that I’m at a loss when it comes to other people’s reaction to him.

I readily confess to being something of an odd duckling. For one thing, I don’t even regard charisma as a good thing when it comes to politicians, let alone presidents. Frankly, when I hear the word applied to a public figure, the people who leap to mind are Mussolini, Hitler and Castro, men in love with the sound of their own voices, men accustomed to making long-winded harangues, full of sound and fury signifying nothing more than the self-aggrandizement of demagogues.

I acknowledge that the president of the United States isn’t just another politician, but is also during his time in office, for better or worse, the symbol of our nation. I just happen to prefer symbols that remind me why America is not only great, but good -- people like Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

I also don’t like double standards. I don’t appreciate it when left-wingers accuse other people of being racists for no other reason than that they happen to oppose Obama’s policies, while turning a blind eye to those who call people the caliber of Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Condoleezza Rice, Oreos or Uncle Toms.

When those on the Left label Tea Party participants extremists, fascists, hooligans and screwballs, but take umbrage when those on the Right suggest that a president whose first order of business is the redistribution of wealth is a socialist, I have to wonder if, one, they are even aware of their own hypocrisy and, two, what they think socialism actually entails.

Something else that puzzles me is the polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans oppose the closing of Gitmo, oppose trying Islamic terrorists in civilian courts and are in favor of water-boarding terrorists. Mind you, they don’t want them water-boarded just for the sake of causing them pain, but in order to garner whatever intelligence they might be able to supply. That’s where I differ from most decent Americans; I’m happy to see them tortured simply because I believe they have it coming.

But something else that separates me from most of my fellow citizens is that, in the main, even though he disagrees with them about Gitmo, water-boarding and using military tribunals to try terrorists, polls indicate a majority approve of Obama in that one particular area.

That is so weird that I can only assume that they think that Robert Gibbs, John Brennan, Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, are all independent contractors who somehow got their jobs and kept them in spite of Obama’s disagreeing with everything they’ve said and done with regard to Islamic terrorism.

Perhaps the explanation for this obvious disconnect from reality is the good nature and basic fair-mindedness of the American public. Maybe they figure they’ve hurt Obama’s feelings so much by speaking out against his stimulus bill; his lying about transparency; his gobbling up car companies and lending institutions; his loony health plan; his buying into the global warming hoax; his affiliation with ACORN and the SEIU; and his turning the NEA into his own personal PR firm; that they figured enough was enough, and they decided to cut him some slack and not give him an F in this one particular area.

I hope that’s not the case. Islamic terrorism isn’t the class in which I ever want to see America’s commander-in-chief being allowed to pass with a gentleman’s C.

© 2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Time To Stop The Bleeding

by Burt Prelutsky

Until Glenn Beck set me straight, I naturally assumed that people who worked in the private sector earned more money than those who worked for the government. It only seemed logical that those who settled for security rather than pursue careers in the riskier, more competitive, real world, earned less. So once again, logic gets worked over like a conservative trying to get past SEIU and Black Panther goons in order to vote.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the poor schlimiel working in the private sector earns on average $19.45-an-hour in wages and $8.08 in benefits, whereas a comparable government employee pulls down $26.24-an-hour and $13.60 in benefits.

Okay, I’m not Ben Bernanke. I’m not even Timothy Geithner, for which I give thanks on a daily basis, but one hardly needs a Ph.D in economics to know that civil servants are paid way too much. For one thing, you can’t fire these people, no matter how rude, lazy or incompetent, they are. Instead, they receive the kind of pensions and health plans that congressmen and senators provide for themselves, but at least the poor beleaguered taxpayer can occasionally vote those louts out of their cushy jobs. Have you ever tried to fire a school teacher for, say, ineptitude or even inappropriate sexual behavior with a student? You might as well try to cut down an oak tree using a butter knife.

When you combine the job security along with the salaries and the pensions, it’s a wonder that there is anybody left in the private sector who’s willing to work to support those folks. By the way, whoever it was who dubbed them civil servants must have had a very droll sense of humor. After all, they are, by and large, neither civil nor servants. But of course if Obama and the Democrats have their way, there will be fewer and fewer of us paying the freight. Right now, there are roughly 15 million unemployed people in America, but, as you may have guessed, those are people who were working in the private sector. In just the past few years, while every other segment of the population has gone through a financial nightmare, government employment has jumped by 10%. And don’t be surprised when later this year, billions of those still unspent stimulus dollars are used to hire even more government employees just in time for the November elections. The more people that draw government checks, as any child knows, the more likely they are to vote for liberals. It’s straight out of the FDR playbook.

If I had my way, there would be an end to pensions for civil service employees. I might even raise the pay scale for those, such as firemen and cops, who are actually serving a purpose, but no more lifetime checks for people who quit at 50 and then start new careers. What kind of a nutty system pays people a salary for 20 or 25 years and then sends them a check every month for the next 30 or 40 years for not working?

Speaking of nutty, consider Social Security. It is the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world. When FDR and the liberals concocted it in the 1930s, most Americans, according to the actuarial tables, were supposed to be dead and buried long before they were 65 and ready to collect. These days, people in their 60s are taking up bullfighting and buying bonds that don’t mature for 30 years, for God’s sake. Of course Social Security funds were supposed to go into a locked box. But, unfortunately, like Harry Houdini who used to amaze the rubes by getting out of handcuffs, Uncle Sam held on to the key.

The problem with simply shutting down Social Security is that people have been paying into it for over 70 years, and the IRS takes enough of our money without the feds simply stealing what little is left. So my suggestion is that when people reach whatever age they decide on, they are permitted to accept a one-time buy-out, sort of the way that large companies handle downsizing when circumstances force them to lay off employees. Furthermore, the recipients wouldn’t pay income taxes on the money they received at the time or from any money that might accrue as the result of investing it. It’s bad enough that the feds tax the employer for making the money in the first place, tax the employee for receiving a portion of it in salary, tax them both when they spend what they’re left with, and then, for good measure, tax them one last time when they die.

I won’t pretend to know how much money each person would receive, but it would obviously depend on how much he or she had paid in over the years and at what age they were cashing out. But, then, I also don’t claim to know how to steer an ocean liner or how long it takes to change its course, but I do know that the time to make plans to avoid colliding with an iceberg is before and not after you hit it.

© 2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Hero’s More Than A Sandwich

by Burt Prelutsky

One of the good things that came out of the tragic events of 9/11 is that heroism reacquired some of its original luster. I'm not certain when it lost it, not at all certain when bravery above and beyond the call of duty gave way to meaning nothing more or less than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Looking back, I have an idea it happened during the Jimmy Carter administration when hostages were taken in Tehran. People who had been abducted by the minions of Ayatolah Khomeni, and held captive by Iranian thugs, were being widely hailed as heroes by the American media.

I'm not suggesting that a hostage can't also be a hero. Apparently Sen. John McCain behaved as one when he was a POW, volunteering to be beaten by the Vietnamese in order to spare the men in his charge and refusing to be repatriated before they were. But I'm afraid that your run-of-the-mill hostage is no more a hero than were any of the unfortunate passengers in the planes that were crashed into the World Trade Center.

It is appropriate to grieve for innocent victims, but we should stop short of lionizing them. Otherwise, how do we distinguish between those who simply die and those who perish trying to save others? For instance, the U.S. Air Force pilot who was shot down behind enemy lines several years ago, surviving on bugs and swamp water in Kosovo, was not a hero for merely trying to stay alive; the pilots who risked their own necks flying in to save his, were.

In our society, we even call football players and Olympic skaters heroes, further confusing the issue. The most you can say for some guy who's looking to win the Super Bowl or a gold medal is that he's a darn good athlete, and leave it at that.

In the main, the 3,000 people who were massacred in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, were no more heroic than you or I. On the other hand, the cops and the firemen, those who ran into the blazing infernos in order to rescue perfect strangers, were the ones who exhibited the requisite bravery and self-sacrifice to deserve the honor.

The point to all this is that you do not turn anyone into a hero simply by calling him one. All you really accomplish is to so totally cheapen the word as to make it nearly meaningless when the real thing comes along.

© 2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Left Is Never Right

by Burt Prelutsky

During his State of the Union address, with eight of the Supreme Court justices sitting right in front of him like clay pigeons, Barack Obama told the world that he would have to correct their mistake by bringing back McCain-Feingold. Well, why wouldn’t he say such a stupid thing? After all, he’s been wrong about everything else.

It’s perfectly reasonable that Obama would oppose corporations donating money to political campaigns. Where do oil, coal and pharmaceutical companies, get off thinking they should have the same right as the UAW, the SEIU, ACORN and George Soros, to finance elections? For that matter, while whining about some corporations playing a role in the election process, I haven’t heard Obama say boo about the role that such corporations as NBC, CBS, ABC, the Washington Post or the New York Times, have played in creating and burnishing his image.

But, then, who are regular, run-of-the-mill, tax-paying Americans to question Obama? He’s brilliant, after all. It’s not just liberals who say so, either. I keep hearing people like Bill O’Reilly saying so day after day. The problem is that I keep looking for signs of his brilliance, and looking and looking. It doesn’t help that the O’Reillys of the world never point out any examples.

Still, if Obama is so brilliant, why does he parrot the words and thoughts of a bunch of schmucks like Karl Marx, Saul Alinsky, Al Gore and Michael Moore? Why does he insist that the trouble with the Constitution and the Civil Rights movement is that they didn’t focus on the redistribution of wealth? Why would he hand over the federal budget to a couple of morons like Pelosi and Reid? And why on earth would he put Henry Waxman in charge of his energy program? A brilliant person wouldn’t trust Waxman to bring baked beans to a picnic.

When someone decides to model a health care plan after such dismal failures as England, Canada and Cuba, while exhuming the failed economic policies of FDR, why would anyone suggest he is anything but a left-wing ignoramus?

This is an American president, for heaven’s sake, who has more in common with Noam Chomsky, Hugo Chavez and some Berkeley hippie than he has with Washington, Jefferson and Adams. Except that he is now 30 years older, Obama seems to think exactly the same way he was thinking back in college, when he was a pot-smoking idiot who sought out students who were self-professed revolutionaries and professors who were communists.

If we have come to a point where the ability to read scripted lines off a Teleprompter is considered a sign of brilliance, no matter how fatuous the actual words may be, we are in even worse shape than I imagined.

In a movie I loved, “The Princess Bride,” the villain, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), keeps saying “Inconceivable!” each time something happens that he failed to anticipate, mainly because, in his arrogance, he underestimated his adversary. Finally, after he has said “Inconceivable!” once too often, one of his cohorts turns to him and says, “I don’t think that word means what you think it does.”

But I wouldn’t want to leave liberals and some goofy conservatives entirely speechless when it comes to describing the president. So to fill the void, I’m happy to supply them with some options, such as stubborn, pompous, inflexible, dishonest, officious, partisan, unpatriotic, duplicitous, socialist, untrustworthy and dictatorial.

Any of those words is far more fitting than brilliant, as are self-enamored, egotistical, narcissistic, long-winded and boring.

You want to know who I think is truly brilliant? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, that’s who. His demeanor is pleasant and his decisions are invariably sensible and well-considered. And that includes his most recent decision, which was to skip Obama’s State of the Union harangue.

© 2010 Burt Prelutsky

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