Thursday, July 29, 2010

Politics: A No-Logic Zone

by Burt Prelutsky

Down through the years, people have constantly reminded me that nature abhors a vacuum. But I always felt that was overstating the case. While nature may not be too crazy about vacuums, I doubt if it really abhors them. On the other hand, it’s evident that politicians hold logic, not to mention honesty, in utter contempt.

Consider, if you will, that after meeting with the president, Sen. John Kyl said that Barack Obama told him he wasn’t going to do anything to close the Mexican border because he planned to use the closure as leverage, thus forcing the GOP to go along with “comprehensive immigration reform,” which we all know is left-wing code for amnesty.

The president denied saying any such thing, painting the Arizona senator as a bald-faced liar.

 Now, I wasn’t in the room with the two of them, but logic tells me that senators don’t make a habit of lying about the president, whereas Obama has spent the past year and a half telling one whopper after another. Also, if he didn’t say what Kyl says he said, what other reason would Obama have for not closing the border, and why would he sue the state of Arizona for simply attempting to do what the federal government hasn’t done?

Frankly, the only thing that surprises me about the entire episode is that Obama actually told Kyl the truth. I can only assume the moon was blue or hell had just frozen over.

Everyone knows that Obama is happy to see millions of Mexicans sneak into America because eventually most of them, being poor, illiterate and obviously quite willing to break the law, will vote for Democrats.

When you attempt to apply logic to liberals, you wind up with a brain freeze, much like when you bite into a Popsicle. For instance, ask yourself why liberals will promote marijuana, but go to war over soft drinks. Why do they hate Jan Brewer, Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck, but idolize Fidel Castro, Mao tse-tung and Che Guevara?

Why do they hold Hugo Chavez in high esteem, but want to put Dick Cheney in the clink and Sarah Palin in the corner wearing a dunce cap?

Why did they carry on so when Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd died when normal people knew that one of them was a drunk who should have wound up in jail, not the Senate, and the other one joined the Ku Klux Klan so he could win elections and then quit for that very same reason?

Why are liberals more hostile to Tea Party members than they are to Islamic terrorists, and more frightened of secondhand smoke than they are of Iran nuking Tel Aviv?

Why were they so proud of themselves for giving fugitive from justice Roman Polanski an Oscar for a piece of cinematic claptrap like “The Pianist” and so triumphant when Switzerland, no doubt terrified that he’d transfer his fortune to the Bahamas, refused to extradite him for having drugged and raped a child?

But it’s not only liberals who treat logic as if it were a contagious disease. For instance, how is it that Newt Gingrich could go on TV and claim with a straight face that he was surprised to find that, as president, Obama has shown himself to be a radical leftist?

I realize that Gingrich didn’t run in 2008, but was he living in a cave during the entire campaign? It seemed pretty clear to me, along with about 58 million other American voters, that when Obama swore he’d have us out of Iraq and shut down Gitmo inside a year; when he declared war on the coal industry and announced that under his watch, energy prices would soar; when he lamented that the problem with the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights movement was that they didn’t deal with the redistribution of wealth; when he gave speeches demeaning America and religion; didn’t voice an objection when Michelle confessed that she’d never been proud of this country until her husband ran for president; and when he wrote in his book that the college students and professors he was attracted to were socialists, communists and other assorted airheads, Obama certainly made every effort to make things crystal clear. Had Newt Gingrich simply been lulled to sleep by the mantra of Hope and Change?

All I know for certain is that if I were going to pass myself off as a political pundit, I wouldn’t go around admitting that I was taken aback to discover that when Mr. Obama, friend of racists, radicals and terrorists, went off toWashington, it wasn’t in order to establish a boy’s camp on the banks of Willet Creek.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Obama’s Chosen People

by Burt Prelutsky

Apparently, one of Obama’s orders to NASA was to reach out to Muslim nations, celebrating them for their contributions to science, math and engineering. So, in short order, we’ve gone from reaching for the moon to reaching for Tehran.

I say if we’re going that far back in history, we should also take a moment to thank whomever was responsible for coming up with shoes, because in living memory, the only contribution to science made by the Muslim world was turning human beings into delivery systems for bombs.

But it’s not just Obama who seems to be taking his directions from Mecca. The town council of Darlaston, England, painted over the windows at its public swimming pool at the insistence of the local Muslims.

One elderly Englishwoman complained that after her recent cataract operation, she had looked forward to seeing the trees outside the facility while swimming her daily laps. Instead, thanks to the paint job, she felt as if her cataracts had returned.

Several questions occur to me, aside from the most obvious one: Why are the English kowtowing to Sharia law?

To begin with, why are Muslim women swimming in public? Even if those outside the pool can no longer ogle them, what about all those randy English blokes who are splashing around inside? Will they be forced to don blindfolds? How about reaching a compromise by removing the paint and making the Muslim women swim in burqas?

Even though Obama seems to regard Muslims as God’s chosen people, and by “God” he obviously means himself, I’m here to remind everyone that the most important off-year election in our history is now less than four months away. Even if the Republican on your ballot isn’t your conservative ideal, please keep in mind that he or she is part of the antidote to ObamaCare, Cap and Trade, increased taxes and additional stimulus bills.

If nothing else impels you to get out and vote on November 2nd, remind yourself that if the GOP regains control of the House, Nancy Pelosi will not only have to surrender the Speaker’s gavel, but that jumbo jet she’s grown to love. Surely that should be enough to get you off the couch, come Election Day.

Additionally, if the GOP takes back the House, the Republicans will control the nation’s purse strings, which will help transform the turkey in the Oval Office into a lame duck.

It’s hard to believe, but after the 2008 elections, I worried that the Whigs would make a comeback long before the Republicans. But, then, I never imagined that the Democrats in Congress would enter into political suicide pacts on behalf of Obama’s loony, leftist agenda.

In a way, Obama reminds me of an old-time movie director named Mitchell Leisen. Although Leisen was only moderately successful, he inadvertently played a major role in the history of motion pictures. In the 1930s, Preston Sturges was a screenwriter at Paramount Studios. He became so dissatisfied with the way Leisen directed his scripts, he begged the higher-ups for the chance to direct them himself. They finally capitulated, and Sturges went on to write and direct such comedy classics as “Hail the Conquering Hero,” “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” and “The Lady Eve.”

As if that weren’t reason enough to earn a nation’s gratitude, Leisen also managed to aggravate screenwriter Billy Wilder, who then used Sturges’ success as leverage with the studio bosses. That, in turn, led to “The Major and the Minor,” “Lost Weekend,” “Double Indemnity,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “The Apartment” and “Some Like It Hot.”

So, just as Leisen led to Sturges and Wilder, and Jimmy Carter led to Ronald Reagan, one can only hope and pray that, in 2012, Obama leads to someone who is man or woman enough to clean up his unholy mess.

Finally, even in the gloomiest of times, I like to find something that will lift my spirits and make my soul sing. So it is that between now and November 2nd, no matter how bleak things may look, I know that I’ll get through it by reminding myself that a Portland masseuse got to call Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore “a crazed sex poodle.”

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bumper Stickers for 2010

by Burt Prelutsky

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read, “Everyone who is in favor of abortion has already been born.” I’m not sure that’s the best argument I’ve ever heard made by those opposed to the practice, but it did get me to thinking about other facts of modern life.

For instance, the Supreme Court will soon determine whether it is an infringement of free speech if the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are prevented from demonstrating at the funerals of our fallen warriors. What I find astonishing is that it is even a question that requires a Supreme Court ruling to stop these obscene lunatics from disrupting such solemn ceremonies. What the heck ever happened to common sense and common decency?

The bumper sticker also led me to consider the hypocrisy of those who favor affirmative action. I’m not referring to the beneficiaries who obviously have a vested interest in taking advantage of race-based entitlements in order to leap-frog over better, more deserving, students. No, the folks I have in mind are white students, white professors, white politicians, white reporters, editors and political pundits. No matter how loudly they trumpet their liberal rhetoric, I have never -- not once -- noticed any of them stepping aside so that a black or Hispanic student, professor, politician, reporter, editor or political pundit, can take his place.

Instead, their role is to stand on the sidelines with a megaphone and a social engineering agenda, and tell others to sacrifice themselves in order to bring about this left-wing notion of Nirvana. So long as nothing but good intentions is demanded of them, they promote the Marxist ideal: “From everyone according to his abilities to everyone according to his needs.” But that’s only so long as it’s everyone else.

God knows I can be as self-righteous as the next guy, assuming that the next guy isn’t a liberal, but there are few things that gall me quite as much as those nincompoops who show up any time a serial killer is about to be executed in order to hold a candlelight vigil outside a prison.

They’re such a smug, sanctimonious bunch of ninnies, I’m always relieved when I fail to see my friends or relatives among them. Invariably, I find myself thinking these loons should get a hobby, get a dog or get a life. They so obviously believe they control the moral high ground, I just want to smack ‘em.

Short of that, I’d at least like to suggest another bumper sticker: “Nobody who has ever demonstrated against capital punishment has ever been a murder victim. (But there’s still time.)”

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

$5 Million Going Once... Going Twice...

by Burt Prelutsky

Until recently, I had been totally unaware of Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim’s existence, and had never heard that, through his foundation, he funds the world’s single largest cash award.

The Prize for Achievement in African Leadership bestows $500,000-a-year for the first 10 years and $200,000-a-year for life thereafter to the African leader or former leader who delivers security, health, education and economic development to his constituents, and who democratically transfers power to his successor.

Mo Ibrahim, who is a Sudanese-born English mobile communications entrepreneur, is a billionaire, and can probably come up with the annual prize money by looking under the cushions on his couch. However, in the years since he established the Prize in 2006, it has only been handed out twice. Once it went to Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, and once it went to Festus Mogae of Botswana. But in spite of the fact that there are 34 nations in sub-Sahara Africa, not to mention all those Arab and Muslim countries above the great desert, two years have gone by without a new honoree.

That would indicate a couple of things to me. First off, for all the lip service, not to mention foreign aid, paid out by the western nations to Africa, it’s all been for naught. The dark continent is pretty much one enormous cesspool of murder, tribalism and corruption.

What’s more, Africa’s thugs control 53 votes in the United Nations, which dwarfs the number of votes the western democracies possess. So much for the “international community,” which left-wing lunatics are always claiming is, rightfully, the world’s moral arbiter.

Another thing I’m able to glean from the fact that not a single African leader has shown himself to be worthy of the Prize in the past two years is that even with all those millions of dollars being dangled before them, it’s chump change compared to the amount they can steal running the show in Yemen, the Sudan, Kenya, and all the other ganglands.

Something else that occurred to me is that if there was a comparable prize for American leaders, it, too, would go begging.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Shoot ’Em With Guns, Not Cameras

by Burt Prelutsky

I have heard there are native tribes who refuse to be photographed because they fear the camera will snatch away their souls. I used to wonder where they got that quirky idea, but that was a long time ago.

Since then, I have heard Carrie Fisher say, “Obama is brilliant. The thing is, he’s half-white, but that’s not enough for the Tea Bag crowd. For them, it’s all white or (expletive deleted)-off!”

Sean Penn hopes his right-wing critics “die screaming of rectal cancer.”

Julia Roberts pointed out that “Republican” in the dictionary comes just after “reptile” and just before “repugnant.”

Susan Sarandon observed that “Sarah Palin’s views are so limiting, they set the women’s movement back years. When you get a woman in government, you want the right woman. You don’t want just any vagina.”

Michael Moore said: “I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a ‘deserter.’ What I meant to say is that he is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar, and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants.”

Janeane Garofalo declared that the world was better off when the Soviet Union was a superpower, and, never satisfied to leave bad enough alone, went on to say, “The reason a person is a conservative Republican is because something is wrong with them. That’s science -- that’s neuroscience!” About the folks in the Tea Party, she insisted, “It is all about having a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up and they’re nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks.”

Joy Behar not only defended creepy Joe McGinniss’s decision to purchase a house next door to the Palins, but seconded his comments comparing Palin’s criticism to the behavior of Nazi storm troopers. It reminded me of California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown’s comparing his opponent, Meg Whitman, to Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Is it just my imagination or do some people never give a second thought to Nazis or Islamic terrorists except when they’re looking to compare Republicans to something bad?

Danny Glover, who despises America and adores communism, blames global warming for the earthquake in Haiti. Together with Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and Sean Penn, Glover is a charter member of the Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez Fan Club. Odd, isn’t it, how these people subscribe to all things socialistic except when it comes to their paychecks?

According to George Clooney, “It started with the witch hunts in Salem. The conservatives’ point of view was ‘Burn them at the stake,’ and the liberals’ point of view was ‘There are no witches.’ And that’s how it continued with the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage. The liberals were always right in the end.”

Harry Belafonte slandered Condi Rice and Colin Powell, calling them house slaves. He told Hugo Chavez that he and millions of his fellow Americans supported his Chilean revolution. Then, for good measure, Belafonte called George W. Bush a terrorist, saying he was far worse than the jihadists responsible for 9/11, and labeled the Dept. of Homeland Security America’s Gestapo.

Rosie O’Donnell stuck up for Helen Thomas after the 89-year-old gargoyle told the Israelis to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Poland and Germany.

It took me a good long time to realize that the tribesmen were correct in thinking the camera had a magical way of stealing people’s souls, but, so far as I know, they remain unaware that it can also make off with their brains.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Wizards of Ooze

by Burt Prelutsky

It’s no wonder that Rahm Emanuel, who could play the villain in a James Bond movie, looks a little bit like the Wicked Witch of the West, and who famously said that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, has found a home in Obama’s White House. When the president suggested that the oil leak could lead to his raising taxes at the gas pump, I could easily imagine Mr. Emanuel standing off-camera chuckling like a crone and rubbing his hands together.

One thing you have to say for Obama is that he thinks big. Not satisfied with merely destroying our economy and jeopardizing the well being of older Americans, he did the same to England and its seniors when he began threatening British Petroleum with criminal charges. The value of BP stock, which had already been teetering because of the tragic events in the Gulf, plummeted, and with it, the dividend checks of English pensioners. I could almost hear Emanuel’s chortling, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”

If he could, I am convinced that Barack Obama would tax the air we breathe. In fact, with Cap & Trade, I think he can. After all, in cahoots with Pelosi and Reid, he has already found any number of ways to tax our patience.

Although I still entertain the hope that Harry Reid will be sent off into the Nevada sunset in November, I know that Nancy Pelosi will be re-elected. But however I feel about her, it really is a wonder that San Francisco, the only freak show in America with its own city charter, has a congressional representative who so closely resembles a normal human being. Still, every time I look at her awe-struck face and hear that spooky little girl voice, I recall a storyline from the “Li’l Abner” comic strip. The long-time senator from Dogpatch, Jack S. Phogbound, was facing certain defeat in an upcoming election until he gave one final campaign speech. He told the voters that if he lost, he would be moving back home, whereas if they re-elected him, they wouldn’t see hide or hair of him for another six years. He won in a landslide.

I’d like to think that helps explain why people like Charles Rangel, Henry Waxman and Robert Byrd, haven’t had to do an honest day’s work in their entire lives.

The two main reasons I want to see the GOP take back the House in November is that I want the brakes applied to Obama’s radical transformation of America, and I want to see Pelosi, as the ex-Speaker of the House, have to hand over the keys to that colossal jet that she’s been using as her personal cross-country shuttle, all the while prattling on about America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If It’s Not Bush’s Fault, It’s Israel’s

by Burt Prelutsky

My wife told me she saw a TV show about a fellow who had survived being trapped in his car during a snowstorm for 14 days. That, alone, seemed amazing, but the part I couldn’t believe was the survivor’s claim that he had forced himself to stay awake all that time, lest he fall asleep and never wake up.

The truth, of course, is that I have no idea how long a person can keep going without sleep. The longest I ever managed was three days when I crossed the country on a train years ago and discovered, to my considerable annoyance, that I was unable to sleep sitting up. But even I, I’m certain, would have managed to doze off long before two weeks had elapsed if I had been taking a choo-choo to, say, Tokyo.

Thinking about the guy in the snow got me to wondering how long a normal person could survive without food and water, and how long Obama could go without giving a speech.

But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that the world can’t go even three days without a scapegoat. It is therefore perfectly understandable that Obama can barely begin a sentence without blaming something or other on his predecessor.

For most of the people of the world, Israel serves the same function as George Bush. Unfortunately for the world, that requires them to align themselves with Arabs and Islamists who are not, under normal circumstances, the most endearing of people, given, as they are, to religious intolerance, brutality towards their own women, a general antipathy to education and free speech, and an affinity for blowing up anyone who takes exception to the Quran, draws a picture of Mohammad or questions the historical accuracy of the Protocols of Zion.

Recently, a half-dozen boats left Turkey bound for Gaza. Turkey, by the way, is an Islamic nation, which has over the past half dozen years reneged on its claim to being either secular or civilized. The lie about the flotilla, widely promulgated by a corrupt world-wide media, was that these boats were filled with humanitarians accompanying food and medicine to the suffering souls being oppressed by the Israelis. The fact of the matter was that Israel had long established a policy of trucking in such supplies once they had made certain that the Syrians, the Iranis and the Turks, weren’t smuggling in replacements for the thousands of missiles Hamas had showered upon them.

In the wake of all this, Helen Thomas, the grand old doyen of the Washington press corps, whose own parents were immigrants from Lebanon, suggested that all the Israelis should go back where they came from. When pressed as to where that would be, she laughingly replied, “Poland or Germany.”

It so happens that by now a very large percentage of Israelis were born in Israel. Most of their parents and grandparents didn’t migrate from Germany or Poland after World War II because the majority of those people had been murdered in Nazi concentration camps. Many others came to Israel from the Soviet Union, Hungary, Ethiopia and the United States. Even more came from the Middle East nations that had exiled them and confiscated their homes and businesses in the wake of Israel’s successfully defending itself in 1948 against the Arab legions representing Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Also, in case it escaped Ms. Thomas’s attention, after the end of World War II, a number of surviving Polish Jews tried returning to their homeland. Well over a thousand of them were killed by Poles, who were not only a notoriously anti-Semitic people, but many of them had taken advantage of the War to confiscate Jewish property and feared they might have to give it back.

As for post-war Germany, it was under the command of Gen. George Patton, who confided in his diary, as reported on by Allis and Ronald Radosh in their book, “A Safe Haven,” that Jews “are lower than animals.”

Frankly, considering what a left-wing propagandist Helen Thomas has been during her entire career, I am delighted to see her damn herself to the same sort of media purgatory reserved for people like Walter Duranty and Dan Rather, who confuse celebrity with omnipotence, and personal bias with objective reporting.

Normally, after witnessing Ms. Thomas’s spectacular fall from grace, I would say that Christmas came early this year, but I know that would be premature on my part. Oh, Christmas will definitely come earlier than usual in 2010, but it won’t arrive until November 2nd, otherwise known as Election Day.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to:  

Monday, July 5, 2010

God Has a Sense of Humor

by Burt Prelutsky

The worst thing about the oil leak, assuming you don’t live and work in the Gulf, was having to keep viewing the same stuff on TV day in and day out for months. It got so bad, I began seeing the undersea footage, the oily pelican and Thad Allen, in my dreams.

Speaking of Mr. Allen, if he’s retired from the Coast Guard, why does he get to wear his uniform on camera? I always thought veterans only got to take their uniforms out of mothballs for parades. Apparently, Mr. Allen wears his to the supermarket.

With the 24/7 media attention that’s been devoted to the ecological disaster, it is easy to regard the leak as the worst thing that’s ever happened to the environment. But even now it only ranks as about the 35th worst oil spill in the past hundred years. Something else that we should not lose sight of is that the Gulf is a magnet for hurricanes, just as California is one for earthquakes and New York City is one for Islamic terrorists. That means that bad stuff is always going to be happening and if people are going to live in such places, they have to accept the risks. British Petroleum will not always be around to pay for the cleanup.

The leak has led to Obama’s declaring a 6-month moratorium on deep sea drilling, which should pretty much finish off the Gulf’s economy for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, our president did send $2 billion to Brazil to help finance deep sea oil exploration by Petrobar, a company in which George Soros had recently invested. And, yes, Brazil is the very same country that recently joined with Turkey in proclaiming its alignment with Iran’s Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

A lot has been said and written about Obama’s handling of the crisis. None of it has been good. Even some of his erstwhile acolytes have taken him to task. I can understand their disillusionment. The man did announce, after all, that with his election, the earth would be healed and the oceans would recede, and nary a word about oil pollution. The magnitude of the leak has certainly confirmed that BP knew what it was doing when it sank a well there. Unfortunately, the leak also emphasizes how stubborn and short-sighted Congress has been in its refusal to drill in Alaska or anywhere else that is currently inhabited by caribou, jackrabbits, elk, snakes or snails.

The fact is, Obama has brought it all on himself. When he was courting us, he spoke of transparency and of uniting the right and the left; he rhapsodized about a post-racial America and an America that would be respected around the world. Well, I guess we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we bought the lies. Even someone as bright and successful as Sandra Bullock fell for Jesse James’ line of bull hockey.

I almost feel sorry for the president. I mean, it must seem as if God, Himself, is pulling the rug out from under him. After all, it was only five years ago that all the left-wing creeps, including Obama, were mugging George Bush over his handling of a natural disaster and, suddenly, we have Obama tripping over his own feet in the same general area.

Understand, I don’t blame him for ignoring the disaster in the early days. After all, the media had given him a pass for ignoring the recent flooding of Nashville. They had ignored it, too. But once the oil leak became bigger news than North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean ship, bigger news than the unholy Muslim flotilla and even bigger news than the arrest of Joran van der Sloot, I would have assumed that Obama would have done all in his power to give the illusion of competence and concern. Instead, he golfed and partied while Governor Jindal’s request for material and equipment were ignored. We had the Coast Guard ordering skimmer ships shut down because they didn’t have a prescribed number of life jackets on board. We had offers of assistance from Norway, Holland and 11 other nations, being refused because of something called the Jones Act, for no other reason than that Obama didn’t want to upset the maritime unions and their insistence that only ships flying the U.S. flag -- and employing U.S. union crews! -- be allowed to function in U.S. waters.

The way I see it, British Petroleum was the perfect boogeyman for liberals. After all, their executives owned yachts and either spoke with snooty English accents or referred to “small people.” Red meat, indeed, for congressional committees chaired by the self-righteous likes of Henry (“I voted to continue funding ACORN because they do a lot of good work”) Waxman.

The bonus is that BP has very deep pockets, so that Obama can grandstand and demand that the company pay everyone on the Gulf more money than they would have ever made renting motel rooms and fishing.

After insisting that there will be a six-month moratorium on off-shore drilling, which would do far more long term damage than the oil leak, Obama then tried to turn the screws on BP, by insisting they pay all of the laid-off oil crews, not just those working for British Petroleum, for income he, himself, was causing them to lose. Even BP finally had enough, and said they would only pay their own workers, but not Exxon’s or Shell’s.

If Obama had gotten away with it, I’m sure he planned to solve America’s unemployment ills by forcing BP to put the other 20 million out-of-work Americans on the company payroll.

I submit that there is one consolation for Barack Obama. If much more crud is released into the Gulf of Mexico, this two-bit messiah might actually be able to walk on water.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to:   

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Flag & I, 2010

Burt and Yvonne wish each and every reader -- even the ones who disagree with him -- a happy and healthy Fourth of July. We hope you'll pause during the day to honor all the Americans who built this great nation.

As is our tradition, here is Burt's paean to the American Dream, "The Flag & I." Enjoy!

Kenn Fong, Editor

by Burt Prelutsky

In the days and weeks following 9/11, friends and neighbors saw the American flag flying by my front door and assumed it was in remembrance of the people murdered by Islamic terrorists. I didn’t bother correcting them because, by then, that was certainly part of my intention. The thing is, the flag had been out there for several months, but they just hadn’t noticed. Or maybe they just thought it was corny and didn’t want to comment. But, now, I think, is a good time to set the record straight.

I went out and bought the flag because of my grandparents. I should explain I had never known my dad’s parents, both of whom died before I was born. I knew my mother’s parents, but could never speak to them. Although they had come to America in 1921, they never learned English. They could speak Russian and Hebrew, but they preferred Yiddish. I couldn’t converse in any of those languages. And, so, to me, my grandmother was this little old woman who would give me a wet kiss on the cheek and slip a quarter into my hand. My grandfather was a very quiet, bearded man who always wore a black frock coat; he looked like a short Abe Lincoln. He went to shul twice a day. When he was home, he was either reading the Torah, shelling lima beans or sipping tea through a sugar cube held between his front teeth. In short, if my life were a movie, they’d have been dress extras.

So why did I buy a flag because of those four people -- two of whom I had never met and two of whom I had never spoken to? It’s simple. Because of sheer, unadulterated gratitude.

You see, one day, on my way home, I began to think how lucky I was to have been born in this country. Through no effort of my own, having made no sacrifice, taken no risk, I was the beneficiary of freedom, liberty, education, comfort, security and, yes, even luxury. It was not the first time I had acknowledged this good fortune. The difference this time is that, for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me that my good luck hadn’t just happened. It had been the direct result of these four people pulling up stakes and moving thousands of miles, across an entire continent and the Atlantic Ocean, to a new country, pursuing a dream that their children and their children’s children, of whom I am one, might, just might have better lives.

There were no guarantees. That was my epiphany. They had been denied the assurances of hindsight. They had done all this on a roll of the dice, only knowing for certain that there would be no going back.

My father’s parents were illiterate peasants. My mother’s parents not only never spoke a word of English, but her father -- although he owned a small grocery store in Chicago -- never, in 30 years, spoke on a telephone because he didn’t want to embarrass himself. But their grandson, bless their hearts, has enjoyed a career as a successful writer. I doubt if any of them imagined anything so specific or anything quite that wonderful when they snuck across the Romanian border in the dead of night, but they had certainly heard a rumor that in America anything was possible.

The fact is, had those four people, all of whom were poor and barely, if at all, educated -- their little children in tow -- not somehow found the courage to make the journey, I would have been born a Jew in the Soviet Union. Between Stalin and Hitler, the odds are likely I would have wound up a slave in Siberia or a bar of German soap.

So it happened that day when I was out driving and thought about the enormous debt I owed those four immigrants, a debt I could never possibly re-pay, I decided to pull in at the local hardware store and buy a flag. I thought it was something they’d have wanted me to do on their behalf. It wasn’t nearly enough, I know, but it was something.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to:  

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Used to Love America More

by Burt Prelutsky

I love America, but honesty compels me to admit I used to love it even more.

I loved it more when people could admit they were patriots without being called xenophobes. I loved it more when a person could say that nobody should be allowed to sneak into the country without being labeled a racist. I loved it more when one could point out that if people aren’t allowed to profit from a crime, why are the parents of so-called anchor babies the exception?

I loved America more when a person could say that he thought a culture that had given the world Shakespeare, Rembrandt, DaVinci, Dickens, Bach, Beethoven, the telephone, the electric light, the automobile, the jet plane, rockets to the moon, cell phones, radar and a cure for polio, was superior to one that gave the world Sharia law, suicide bombers and clitorectomies, without being called a jingoist.

I loved America more when people didn’t worry so much about infringing on the rights of convicted pedophiles, and someone besides me wondered why the average prison sentence doled out to a child molester was a scant three years.

I loved America more when people listened to music filled with melody, harmony and decipherable lyrics, and went to movies about recognizable human beings coping with recognizable human problems.

I loved America more when if the phone rang, it was very likely someone you wanted to speak to, and not some shill calling on behalf of some hack politician trolling for money.

I loved America more before baseball players used steroids, and before millions of fans cheered them on as they cheated their way into the record books, erasing the achievements of people like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Roger Maris.

I loved America more before parents thought winning was so important they’d hold their kids back from entering school so they could be bigger and faster than their classmates and wind up being high school football stars.

I loved America more before other parents considered honest competition so destructive, they decided scores shouldn’t be kept at their kids’ sporting events, and that pass/fail should replace grades in the classroom.

I loved America more when youngsters had to earn respect, and high self-esteem wasn’t considered a birthright.

I loved America more before Barack Obama told us a pack of lies in order to get elected, and when the lies were eventually exposed, many millions of Americans really didn’t care.

I loved America more when vulgarians, bullies and half-wits, were people to be avoided, and not admired, mimicked, and rewarded with their own TV shows and fan clubs.

I loved America more when people came here to fit in, learn the language and change their national loyalty, not merely their address.

I loved America more when Supreme Court justices were expected to be experts when it came to the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of bleeding hearts who could moonlight as social workers or, God forbid, community organizers.

I used to love America more when we all admired people who shouted “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” to King George and “Nuts!” to the Nazis, and not someone who bows, scrapes and apologizes to our enemies.

Finally, I loved America more when America seemed to love itself more.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to:   

Thursday, July 1, 2010

McChrystalizing the Situation

by Burt Prelutsky

While I understand why so many conservatives were opposed to Obama’s accepting Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation, I am not one of them.

Although I have a source who tells me that the general was held in low regard by the troops, I have no way of confirming that. The retired brass -- at least those who have found post-military careers as TV pundits -- seem to believe he was highly competent. But, again, I’m in no position to judge. Which, now that I think of it, unfortunately puts me on a par with the commander-in-chief.

There are a few reasons, though, that I thought it was time for McChrystal to put (ret.) after his name. I mean, aside from my conviction that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

The problems we have over there are, I believe, four-fold. One, the government is even more corrupt than our own. Two, the economy is drug-based, which strongly suggests that the people are no less corrupt than Karzai. Three, unlike in Iraq, where the enemy combatants, for the most part, came from places like Iran, Egypt and Syria, our foes in Afghanistan are indigenous to the country. And, finally, even if it weren’t for the first three reasons, we won’t win over there because Obama confuses military campaigns with political ones and seems to believe both come with preordained stop dates.

While I suppose we could win the war if we employed some of the nuclear arsenal that Putin has allowed us to keep, there’s no way that’s going to happen. Besides, frankly, I’m not sure that after being nuked, Afghanistan would look much different than it does today. After all, when talking about using such weapons, one usually says, “We’ll send them back to the Dark Ages,” but when they’re already there, the threat has a rather hollow ring to it.

The reason that I don’t regret McChrystal’s expulsion is because, for the life of me, I can’t come up with a single rational reason that he or his aides would have given the time of day to a reporter from Rolling Stone. It is, after all, a left-wing, anti-U.S. military rag, as it has always been. So, unless McChrystal was choreographing his own martyrdom in order to run against Obama in 2012, it makes no sense that he and his colonels would have unburdened themselves in such unseemly fashion to so unsuitable a journalist.

That said, the only rational explanation I can come up with is that McChrystal is either very dumb or he was very drunk.

If I had to choose between those two possibilities, I suppose I’d prefer the latter. A man can always sober up.

I’m reminded that when some cabinet members complained about Gen. Grant’s being an alcoholic, Abe Lincoln allegedly said, “I wish someone would tell me the brand of whiskey he drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”

Whether or not he really said it, it’s a terrific line. But it’s not a terrific military policy. Not when, unlike Lincoln, we have someone as competent and sober as Gen. Petraeus available.

©2010 Burt Prelutsky Write to: