Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Prelutsky Vs. Gallup


I'm wondering if I should become a professional pollster. For one thing, it must pay quite well, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people doing it. For another, whereas I trust my results, I’m not so sure about those other guys because they tend to be paid by people with a vested interest in the results, whereas I’m just a chap cursed with the curiosity of a cat.

I mean, am I really expected to believe Gallup when he insists that 47% of Americans still think Obama is doing a bang-up job? Really? Is that why his party has lost 14 seats in the Senate and another 70 or so in the House over the past four years, along with several governorships and a slew of state legislatures? It’s certainly not because the voters have been mesmerized by those two dullards, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

Also, unlike some people, I don’t make my poll questions tricky. When I want to know which of the Fox News hosts and contributors my readers like and hate the most, I don’t pussyfoot around. I just ask them and they tell me.

What surprised me the most is that 35 different people at Fox were somebody’s favorite and 17 were judged the most obnoxious. Interestingly, there were eight names that showed up on both lists.

There were five who achieved double digits on the Favorites list: Megyn Kelly, 49, Bret Baier, 31, Charles Krauthammer, 26, Jeanine Pirro, 13, and Greg Gutfeld, 11.

They were followed by Neil Cavuto, 9, Bill O’Reilly, 9, Brit Hume, 6, Bernie Goldberg, 5, Andrea Tantaros, 5, Sean Hannity, 5, Chris Wallace, 4, and Dana Perino, 4.

Catherine Herridge, Harris Faulkner, Molly Line, Laura Ingraham, Greta Van Susteren, Steve Hayes, Ed Henry, Bill Hemmer, Jon Scott, Anna Kooiman, Ann Coulter, David Hunt, Shepard Smith, Jedediah Bila, Steve Ducey, Kimberly Guilfoyle, John Stossel, Kristen Powers, John Bolton, Andrew Napolitano, Ralph Peters and Lou Dobbs, all received one, two or three votes.

When it came to the worst of Fox’s talking heads, it was no contest. Juan Williams led the pack with 72 votes. He was followed by Alan Colmes, 33, Bob Beckel, 29, Geraldo Rivera, 23, Bill O’Reilly, 14 and Shepard Smith, 11.

Those receiving between one and four votes were James Carville, Megyn Kelly, Karl Rove, Kirsten Powers, Martha McCallum, Greg Gutfeld, Laura Ingraham, Eric Bolling, Bill Hemmer, Leslie Marshall and Sean Hannity.

One voter mentioned that he had a separate list that mentioned Dick Morris and Marc Lamont Hill as the two people he was happiest to see gone from Fox.

Because I have pretty much limited my Fox viewing to Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly during the week and Chris Wallace and Howard Kurtz on Sunday, I have to admit I had neither seen nor heard of some of the people on the lists.

For my part, although I would have a difficult time choosing between Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly as my favorite hosts, I’d have no problem casting a 71st vote for Juan Williams because as hard as I try to avoid Obama’s number one toady, he keeps popping up on both Baier’s and Chris Wallace’s panels.

If New York City was any other city, there would be a recall movement to dump Mayor Bill De Blasio, who kept referring to the human vermin calling for the killing of cops as peaceful demonstrators. But if New York City was any other city, a former community organizer would not have been elected with 73% of the votes.

In the aftermath of the killing of two cops -- one Hispanic, one Asian – by a black sociopath who had traveled from Baltimore to kill white cops, De Blasio paid lip service to the brave men and women of the NYPD. It reminded me of the liberals who would invariably claim to respect members of the military during the Iraq War, while simultaneously reviling their actions, which they deemed cold-blooded murder.

We hear such a constant refrain about poverty in America, especially when the Democrats start calling for a raise in the minimum wage or for additional tax dollars going to welfare that one might actually get the idea that Americans are starving to death. However, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy, those allegedly living at or below the poverty line have a great many items I suspect are missing from the homes of people who actually work for a living.

For instance, 92% have microwaves, 81% have air conditioning, 74% have a car or truck and 31% have two or more. Over 50% have VCRs, DVD players, cable or satellite TVs and/or video game systems. Thanks to the generosity of the American taxpayer, it’s no wonder that so many of these louts prefer staying home or, when the mood strikes, marching and chanting for blood in the streets.

If Time Magazine ever gets away from naming the Man or Woman of the Year and decides to devote a year-end issue to the Sucker of the Year, the honoree will be a middle class American wearing a barrel.

In a recent statement, Obama decided that North Korea’s cyber-attack on Sony wasn’t an act of war, but merely an act of vandalism. I imagine that if the schmuck had been president in 1941, he would have dismissed the attack on Pearl Harbor as a joint Japanese-American construction project intended to renovate the Hawaiian waterfront.

In the aftermath of the cyber-attack, North Korea’s own Internet connection went down. Kim Jong-un is boiling mad and has vowed to find out who was responsible for cutting the string between the two tin cans.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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Monday, December 29, 2014

I've Got Their Numbers


I began going to movies when I was about four years old. I still recall that two of the first ones I ever saw back in Chicago were an Abbott & Costello comedy and a pirate movie involving galley slaves. That was 70 years ago, and although my love affair with the movies didn’t have a particularly auspicious beginning, it even managed to survive a 13 year period during which I reviewed them, first for the UCLA Daily Bruin and then for Los Angeles magazine.

To suggest, in the words of Cole Porter’s “It Was Just One of Those Things,” that the love affair was too hot not to cool down is putting it mildly. Over the past 25 years, I have rarely liked more than one or two movies a year. By this time, I would probably stop seeing new ones altogether except that, because of my membership and voting privileges in the Writers Guild, the studios continue to send me a batch of DVDs at year’s end.

Alas, this year was no exception. They sent me 16, all of which, I assume, they believe are worthy of writing awards. I, on the other hand, think, judging by this assortment, 2014 may be the worst year in movie history. And that’s no easy trick, as I assumed 2013 would retire the crown. It’s a lot like assuming that Jimmy Carter would be our worst president ever, and then along comes Barack Obama to snatch away the title.

One failing that most of the 16 shared is that they were under-lit. In recent years, directors and cinematographers have come to believe that movies should resemble radio shows as much as possible. But assuming it isn’t for demented aesthetic reasons, my only other conclusion is that after over-paying the actors, there’s nothing left in the budget for light bulbs.

Another thing these movies have in common is that they’re all too long, considering their plots or what has come to pass for a plot. The shortest of the 16 is also probably the one that will get my vote, “Still Alice” (Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin). I can’t say I enjoyed it because it deals with the early onset of Alzheimer’s. As soon as you know the subject matter, you know it’s going to be a very sad movie with a tragic ending, but at least at 101 minutes, it didn’t milk it for an additional hour, as the others did.

The other 15 were “Foxcatcher,” “Into the Woods,” “Unbroken,” “A Most Violent Year,” “Boyhood,” “Love is Strange,” “Whiplash,” “The Judge,” “Wild,” “Nightcrawler,” “American Sniper,” “Inherent Vice,” “Get On Up,” “Chef” and “The Hobbit.” I will first confess that in the case of “Boyhood,” which was apparently 12 years in the making, I gave up after about 12 minutes because it already felt like 12 years. Also, I skipped “The Hobbit” because I already knew that I wouldn’t care for it. “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” belong to a genre that I refer to as pretentious fantasy, which I simply can’t abide.

People who buy their books by the pound might appreciate the fact that the movies make up in length what they lack in quality, averaging 130 minutes. By comparison, during the same few weeks, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I saw the following seven movies: “Meet Me in St. Louis (1944),” “The Shop Around the Corner (1940),” “The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer (1947),” “City Lights (1931),” “Hoosiers (1986),” “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and “Bachelor Mother (1939).” Not only did they star the likes of Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Charlie Chaplin, Gene Hackman, Ginger Rogers, David Niven and Charles Coburn, but the seven classics, which included a musical and four comedies, genres that have pretty much disappeared over the past few decades, averaged a civilized 103 minutes.

While we’re on the subject of numbers, I am getting sick and tired of hearing liberals dismissing the GOP as the party of old white men. It is certainly the party of this old man, but the evidence, by and large, is that the Democrats are the party of old white men and elderly white women, although one of them advanced her academic and political career by pretending to be a Native American.

Consider that the three frontrunners for the Democrats in 2016 are Hillary Clinton, 67, Elizabeth (“Pocahontas”) Warren, 65, and Joe Biden, 72. On the other hand, the leading Republican contenders include Jeb Bush, 61, Chris Christie, 52, Rand Paul, 51, Scott Walker, 47, Ted Cruz, 44, Paul Ryan, 44, and Mike Lee, 43.

These days, the GOP isn’t even particularly WASPish. Unlike the Democrats, who have no minority senators or governors to point to, the GOP can boast of the aforementioned Ted Cruz, along with Senators Marco Rubio, 43, and Tim Scott, 49, and Governors Susana Martinez, 55, and Bobby Jindal, 43.

Even when it comes to party leadership, Harry Reid is 75 and Nancy Pelosi is 74, whereas Mitch McConnell is 72, and John Boehner, a sprightly 65, making the Democrats equally white, but 12 years older.

Finally, a friend of mine let me know that it annoys him when I refer to the Democratic Party when, as he insists, it should be the Democrat Party.

Assuming he’s not alone in his objection, I will explain myself. It so happens that the Democrat Party sounds awful to my ear and looks like a misspelling to my eye. So while I acknowledge that my friend is correct, I’m not about to change. In time, I can only hope that my way prevails.

It’s not that I’m a grammatical scofflaw. It irks me when people confuse “me” and “I” or write “there” for “their” or “their” for “they’re,” but it bothers me just as much or more when people ignore the music of words, treating them as mere utensils. For me, reading what passes for political commentary, even when I agree with the perspective, is often as painful as listening to a tone-deaf singer who confuses sharps with flats.

Although I believe most of the rules governing grammar and syntax are sensible, I think the one that insists it’s a sin to end a sentence with a preposition is the sort of thing only a terminally constipated pedant would impose on an unsuspecting world.

As far as I’m concerned, if the least convoluted way to end a sentence is to end it with, say, “with,” one would be silly not to end it with with.

Which reminds me that when Richard Loeb, one half of the thrill-killing duo, Leopold and Loeb, supposedly made sexual advances on a fellow con at Statesville Penitentiary, and was killed for his troubles, a Chicago newspaper reported that the well-educated Loeb should have known better than to end his sentence with a proposition.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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Friday, December 26, 2014

"If I Were Emperor" and "A Bush League Candidate"


For several years, Barack Obama insisted that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to change our immigration laws. No matter how Hispanics put the question to him, his answer was always the same. He kept pointing out he was the president, not the emperor. Then one morning he woke up, discovered an ermine robe hanging in his closet, and decided that he was either the star attraction in a gay musical revue or he was the emperor, and decided that either way he had the authority.

Well, I don’t have anything better than a flannel bathrobe in my closet, but I would certainly like to be able to make or remake the laws to my liking. And to start with, I would pass a law ensuring that no congressional bill would ever run more than two pages or deal with more than a single issue.

It is simply too easy to shove everything including the kitchen sink into one of those 1,500 page monstrosities, knowing that nobody in Congress is about to spend a month reading the damn thing, meaning that, in the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi, people will simply have to pass it to find out what’s in it.

We all know that these gargantuan pieces of legislation are merely Trojan horses used by both parties to conceal pork and to play politics. How many times have we heard that the Democrats will tie, say, military allocations into bills dealing with things they need Republican support to pass? And, let me add, vice versa. I say let each and every bill stand alone. If either party can’t muster the votes to pass its pet legislation, we can probably live without it.

For the longest time, I was aware that certain high-profile people have only a passing acquaintance with the English language. I mean, it’s downright embarrassing listening to most Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes, members of the Black Congressional Caucus and pinheads like Patty Murray, Barbara Boxer and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, attempt to express a single coherent thought.

Recently, I had occasion to add to the list Bill Cosby, who chose to refer to the two dozen accusations of rape as “innuendo,” and Jonathan Gruber, who dismissed the numerous occasions when he called Americans stupid for believing the lies about ObamaCare as his attempt at “glibness.” As any dictionary would have been only too happy to explain, being glib is to be facile and linguistically fluent. I, Herr Gruber, am glib; you, on the other hand, are a lying piece of egotistical chicken poop.

Speaking of liars, Obama strove to put the best possible face on partisan hack Sen. Feinstein’s CIA-flaying report by declaring, “When we do something wrong, we acknowledge it.” Come again? This putz hasn’t even come clean about his travel visa or his college application from 35 years ago, let alone Benghazi, the IRS targeting of the Tea Party or his unconstitutional reversal on amnesty.

While the widow and the daughter of Eric Garner have gone out of their way to state that in their opinion, the unfortunate death of their husband and father at the hands of white police officers had nothing to do with racism, we had Obama and his lackey Eric Holder leading a crusade against so-called racial profiling. The irony is that if such profiling is a sin, it’s one the president and his attorney general never tire of committing, so long as those being profiled are white men wearing blue uniforms.

Instead of attacking racial profiling, how about suggesting to those allegedly being profiled that Muslims stop waging war against all us Jewish and Christian infidels; that Hispanics stop sneaking across our border and making themselves wards of the American taxpayer; and that urban blacks stop committing violent crimes at a rate far exceeding their percentage of the population?

Something else that I would like to see changed is the kid glove approach that the media adopts with our presidents. I didn’t like it when the press pretended that FDR wasn’t an invalid. I also didn’t approve of the media’s concealing the fact that JFK, who not only suffered from back problems that had him addicted to pain pills, still managed to carry on like an over-sexed fraternity boy. It didn’t help that in addition to winking at his sexual shenanigans, they propagandized on his behalf by showing him posing for Hallmark cards at the Kennedy compound, pretending there was nothing he enjoyed more than playing touch football with his dysfunctional clan.

The media also provided cover for Clinton, who was not only a sexual predator, but had a foul mouth and a hair-trigger temper. But the media conspired to portray him as a good old boy who was all “shucks” and “golly gee whiz,” and could have stepped right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

The only reason I now know that Barack Obama behind closed doors is even more appalling than the one I’d come to despise over the years is because news reporter Ann Compton is retiring after 40 years of underreporting the news for ABC, and finally let on that Obama hurls obscenities at members of the media who even dare refer to his numerous scandals as scandals.

For reasons that elude me, my wife and I continue to receive requests, seemingly on a daily basis, to donate to Ben Carson’s bid for the presidency. As I’ve written in the past, I have nothing against the man. He has a pleasant voice, we agree about ObamaCare, and he seems like a nice guy. But, heck, the very same things can be said about me, and I know I’m not qualified for the job.

I’m sure Dr. Carson would advise people who haven’t attended medical school not to perform surgery, but he thinks someone who has never even been a mayor is just what we need in the Oval Office. Isn’t it enough that we’ve gone down this amateur road before with Herman Cain and Barack Obama?

Finally, every time I see Arabs and Muslims firing their guns into the air, I’m reminded once again that these schmucks are so backward, they’ve never even heard of gravity.




A Bush League Candidate



I must confess I wasn’t surprised that Jeb Bush announced that he is considering making a run for the GOP nomination in 2016. When properly translated from politician-speak that means that nothing short of a nuclear bomb will derail his ambition. But when all is said and done, I can’t help being fascinated by his apparent strategy.

Inasmuch as he has essentially rubberstamped Obama’s granting clemency to illegal aliens and endorsed Common Core, his plan, I take it, calls for him to receive the nomination after losing every single Republican primary and then going on to win the general election when a lot more idiots are allowed to vote.

I imagine the Democrats are as anxious for Jeb to head up our ticket in 2016 as we are to have Hillary Clinton carrying the banner for the pinheads. If both sides get their wish, it could be the first time in history that “None of the Above” receives more votes in a presidential election than either of the candidates.

Speaking of wretches named Clinton, someone should remind Bill that Eric Garner isn’t dead because he sold untaxed cigarettes, any more than Hillary’s husband was impeached and disbarred for having sex with a White House intern. In Garner’s case, he wound up on a slab because he resisted arrest. In Clinton’s case, it was because he committed perjury while testifying before a grand jury.
But I guess when you’ve spent your entire adult life spinning the truth and sucking up to minority voters, those are tough habits to break.

It seems a court affiliated with the European Union has concluded that Hamas, whose charter calls for the extinction of Israel, is not a terrorist organization, as we’ve all been led to believe…mainly by their terrorist activities. But, then, most of the European nations have had a warm place in their hearts for any group, no matter how odious, that hated Jews as much they did.

In related news, the member states of the EU have determined that Adolph Hitler wasn’t really evil, but merely misunderstood.

A reader, Brian Harmon, sent me a report that measured the business ethics in four nations, Mongolia, Japan, Korea and the United States. The respondents were business leaders who were asked to compare the rise or decline of ethics over a 10 year period. In the case of Mongolia, they were comparing 2010 to 2000; the Japanese were comparing 2004 to 1994; the Koreans, 2005 to 1995; and the Americans, 2000 to 1990.

The Mongolians were split 50-50 between those who felt things had improved or remained the same and those who saw a decline. In Japan, the good outweighed the bad 84% to 16%. In Korea, a mere 0.8% thought ethics were getting worse, while a resounding 99.2% thought things were getting better or at least staying the same. In the U.S., however, a scant 14.3% saw improvement, 50.3% thought things were getting worse.

Keep in mind that the polling of our business leaders took place in 2000. One can only imagine how awful the numbers would be today, with the schools, the media and a great many parents having had an additional 14 years in which to undermine traditional values, compounded by six years of Obama’s cynical, self-serving lies and immoral scandals.

Consider that in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio (born Warren Wilhelm, Jr.), who, like Obama, is a former community organizer, has accused the NYPD of being a gang of racists, even though, in the words of the old American Express slogan, he never leaves home without them. But it just goes to prove that once a community organizer, always a putz.

Black thugs and white morons clog up New York’s streets, chanting “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” And the best that the city’s mayor can muster is a resounding “Yeah, me, too!” It’s no surprise that a great many New York police officers are now signing documents in which they state that if they should die in the line of duty, De Blasio is forbidden from attending their funeral services.

But none of this should come as a surprise to the voters in New York, who knew that this schmuck was a communist lamebrain when they gave him 73% of their votes, and would no doubt do the same today. Some of us assumed that New Yorkers couldn’t do much worse after electing Michael Bloomberg to three terms, but it just goes to show that one should never be too quick to overestimate the intelligence of the New York electorate.

Speaking of morons, even though I try to avoid watching football and basketball games on TV, there has been no way to avoid seeing LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and a bunch of Cleveland Brown players wearing their “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts. Clearly they can all breathe. Therefore, a more appropriate sentiment would have been “I Can’t Think.”

The world of technology has now come up with the Luce X2 Touch TV vending machine. Apparently it has the ability to identify customers and remember their snacking patterns. That enables the machine to deny would-be customers certain items it deems unhealthy for them. It sounds as if the folks at Luce have somehow managed to turn nanny Bloomberg into a annoying little vending machine.

It’s reassuring to know that some research scientists have retained their sense of priorities and aren’t wasting all their time seeking a cure for cancer.
Finally, I am happy to report that I have received hundreds of holiday greetings from my readers, some of whom take pains to wish me a Happy Chanukah instead of a Merry Christmas. For the record, I actually prefer Christmas, which has been a national holiday for as long as I’ve lived and will continue to be one, no matter what the ACLU claims to the contrary.

What’s not to love? The music, both sacred and popular, is great. The decorations are beautiful. .The classic Christmas movies are among the best films ever made. Plus, the sense of universal brotherhood is quite moving, even for those of us who actually had older brothers and should know better.

Let’s face it -- you Christians know how to throw a holiday!

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"You Call This Torture?" and "Cruz Control"


Some people have been wondering about the timing of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s release of her committee’s report condemning the CIA’s interrogation of Islamic terrorists. After all, the practice of waterboarding had ceased several years ago, so why bring it out when one knew it would lead to the U.N. condemning the practice and insisting that those who took part be indicted and tried by the World Court? They also had to know that it would endanger the lives of our spies around the world.

There is nothing odd about the timing. One, the Democrats had to release it before the end of the year when the GOP would take control of the Senate, and relegate the report along with Mrs. Feinstein to the nearest dustbin. But, two, and even more essential to the Democrats, was that it be released on the very same day that Jonathan (“The American people are stupid and had to be conned into supporting ObamaCare”) Gruber would be testifying before a Republican-controlled House committee.

Anyone who believes that was just a coincidence must also believe that it was coincidental that Clinton ordered the bombing of a benign Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal. You can carve it in stone that there is no such thing as a coincidence in Washington.

As for the report itself, I would like to point out that our constitutional rights and protections do not apply to our enemies and even the Geneva Conventions don’t protect illegal combatants, aka terrorists. As for those who keep hollering about the Conventions, the fact is that they were first drawn up in order to guarantee for both sides that one’s captured soldiers would be treated humanely by their captors. However, in the case of Islamic terrorists, one, they are not signatories to the Conventions; and, two, they not only don’t have POW camps, but they torture and murder those, including civilians, who suffer the misfortune of falling into their hands.

In short, the Conventions were never intended to be a suicide pact.

Furthermore, while I don’t happen to believe that most Americans are blood-thirsty, even if our legitimate motive hadn’t been to extract information from those villains who were waterboarded or deprived of sleep, I doubt if many of us would have minded their being gnawed on by rats. That would especially have been the case with the memory of 9/11 and of innocent people leaping from the roofs of the Twin Towers to escape the flames fresh in our minds.

I know it’s not entirely fair to just pick on Feinstein and her liberal cohorts. After all, John McCain has long been a loud critic of enhanced interrogation techniques, and because he was a POW during the Vietnam War, he is believed to hold the high moral ground on this issue. Unfortunately, Sen. McCain has never seemed capable of differentiating between the Vietcong torturing Americans for the hell of it and the CIA torturing jihadists in order to extract information that could prevent a repeat of 9/11 or lead to the extermination of Osama bin Laden.

I realize that Fox pundit George Will happens to agree with Sen. McCain, but that’s because he believes that whereas others merely rent the moral high ground, he holds the actual deed.

When it comes to Sen. Feinstein, whom I have heard even some conservatives describe as a non-partisan grown-up in the Senate, I have to question the integrity and even the patriotism of someone who thinks it’s essential to rehash events from long ago that serve no other purpose than to give America a black eye and endanger those currently trying to protect the homeland.

On top of that, the self-righteous senator has managed to ignore every scandal connected to Obama, ranging from Operation Fast & Furious, through the Benghazi massacre, the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s bias against Israel and his promoting the alleged rights of illegal aliens while ignoring those of American taxpayers.

At the very least, you would think that a U.S. senator would object to a president who, for all his denials of having the power and authority of an emperor, has chosen to ignore the separation of powers enumerated in the Constitution that both he and Mrs. Feinstein have sworn to defend. In addition, he has made it a practice to lie to the American people and has turned Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney and now Josh Earnest into real life Pinocchios to fabricate on his behalf whenever he had a round of golf to play, a fund-raiser to attend or simply wasn’t in the mood to face the press and do his own lying.

In other news, I wasn’t even slightly surprised that Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown, law schools have all agreed to allow students who claim to have been traumatized by the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island to postpone taking their exams, knowing that college administrators have the spines of jellyfish.

Still, can you imagine how these self-indulgent young milksops will react when a few years down the road a judge or jury rules against them? Will they burst into tears, faint dead away, take to their beds with a case of the vapors or merely insist on a re-trial?

Finally, the way Bowe Bergdahl has disappeared from the radar, in spite of his news-worthy exchange for five high-ranking jihadists, you might think he had been aboard Malaysian Airline flight 370.

Is it any wonder that Obama has come to believe he can get away with absolutely anything when even the newshawks at Fox never ask about the Army’s alleged investigation of Bergdahl’s desertion?

In my opinion, it isn’t only members of the military who should stand trial for dereliction of duty.



Cruz Control


I know that for a lot of my readers what I’m about to say is sheer blasphemy, but I wish that Ted Cruz would stop seeking the spotlight. More and more he reminds me of a creature from a sci-fi movie, but instead of turning into a giant fly, Cruz morphs into a giant moth. The only difference is that in his case, it’s a TV camera not a flame that serves as the object of his obsession.

I realize that for a great many conservatives, Cruz represents their ideal, but that’s because they place a premium on symbolic gestures, no matter how futile they happen to be. In fact, they celebrate that very futility because they believe it confirms the senator’s purity of purpose. I, on the other hand, who am every bit as conservative as Cruz, believe that politics should be rooted in reality and that before setting out on a crusade, one should not only have a specific and achievable goal in mind, but should be aware that failure often comes at a very steep price.

In Sen. Cruz, I see a man possessed of such naked ambition that his primary goal is self-promotion. I don’t happen to care for showboats in any field. I never liked football players who pranced around after sacking the quarterback or spiked the ball after scoring a touchdown. I never liked Barry Bonds or any other baseball player who stood in the batter’s box watching in awe as his home run cleared the wall. In short, I admire professionals who get the job done with a minimum of fuss and self-aggrandizement.

Cruz, on the other hand, seems interested in maximizing the fuss even if it accomplishes nothing more than garnering him TV exposure. In 2013, his prominent role in closing down the government achieved nothing except that it helped the Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, win the gubernatorial election in Virginia.

This year, Cruz was at it again. This time, his pigheadedness allowed Harry Reid to get liberal zealots Sarah Saldana appointed to head up Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Tony Blinken to be the new deputy secretary of state. In addition, Cruz provided Reid with the opportunity to appoint a number of left-wing judges to the federal bench and saddled us with a surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, an anti-gun zealot who believes that the Second Amendment is the single greatest threat to the health of Americans.

Ted Cruz is an egotist who subscribes to the loony notion that whatever furthers his personal agenda is what’s best for the nation. It’s a psychosis he happens to share with Barack Obama.

I understand that some of my readers regard it as traitorous when I attack Republican politicians, whether it’s a conservative like Ted Cruz or an idiot like John McCain. I happen to believe that if you can’t write honestly about those in your own party, nobody should trust you when you write about your political opponents. On the other hand, I happen to sympathize with all of them, Republicans and Democrats alike. I mean, imagine if your employment depended entirely on really dumb people deciding every two, four or six years, if you get to keep your job. It’s no wonder that most of them wind up as crazy as poodles.

Recently, I was reading about painters and it got me thinking about the astronomical prices that some paintings fetch. It doesn’t bother me that some people can afford to pay $75 million for a single work of art any more than it bothers me that some people own their own jet planes or own mansions on three or four different continents. I readily admit that there are some very wealthy people I despise -- people such as George Soros, Ted Turner, Tom Steyer and Warren Buffet -- but it’s not their bank balance I resent, but the issues and individuals they choose to promote with their money.

I understand that the cost of most things is determined by the price people are willing to pay for them. It’s just that while I understand why mansions and jet planes cost a fortune, I’m at a loss when it comes to paintings.

After all, the paint, frame, canvas and varnish, are not very expensive, so that doesn’t explain it. And unlike sculpting, which requires intensive labor, painting is so easy, it can easily be done while sitting in a chair.

One painting can’t cost more than another because of its rarity because even an amateur’s work is unique. Also, most paintings aren’t even what you would call aesthetically beautiful. And what’s more, even the greatest forgery, no matter how faithfully rendered, is essentially worthless once it’s found out. In a way, that’s something of a shame. After all, whereas the original painter merely used the materials at hand, the forger is required to duplicate it centuries later, while disguising the fact that his own work only dates back to last Thursday.

So what is it that makes some paintings – paintings such as Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” or Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” -- worth tens of millions?

All I can come up with is that they’re famous. In a sense, they’re the equivalent of our own celebrities, people like Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber and people named Kardashian, who are famous for no other or better reason than that they’re famous.

In a logical world, or so it seems to me, a painting of a bowl of fruit would be worth far less than an actual bowl of fruit because you can’t eat a painted banana.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.


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Monday, December 22, 2014

"Our Constitutional Scowler" and "Kim Jong-Un, Movie Critic"


I think it’s high time the media stopped referring to Barack Obama as a constitutional scholar. Judging by the contempt he has displayed towards our most sacred document, he is better described as a constitutional scowler. I am probably being overly generous, but I think a case can be made that over the past six years, Obama has ignored or acted in violation of at least eight Amendments, the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh, tenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.

The reason I spend so much time denigrating liberals isn’t simply because it’s so much fun, but because I sincerely believe they are working overtime to destroy America. To maintain a polite silence in the face of it is my idea of moral cowardice.

For instance, Obama and his hand maidens in Congress have long maintained that Gitmo must be shuttered because it is used as a recruiting tool by Islamic terrorists, although they themselves refrain from referring to our existential enemies in such clear terms. However, they didn’t hesitate when it came to releasing a partisan report that tarred the CIA. One may agree or disagree with what the CIA did in defense of the country, but both sides acknowledge that the techniques ceased five years ago.

Therefore, the report will have little or no effect aside from leading to countless hours of handwringing by the self-righteous likes of John McCain, Juan Williams and George Will, and endangering the lives of those engaged in intelligence gathering on behalf of our nation.

It seems that Sen. Feinstein was deeply troubled that the CIA apparently spied on her Senate intelligence committee, and determined it was a violation of the separation of powers. Inasmuch as she and her liberal colleagues then went on to release a damning report on the Agency, one can see that the CIA had good reason to fear and distrust the committee. That was especially so when we learned that the senators never bothered interviewing anyone connected either in the past or currently to the Agency.

However, when, in clear violation of his enumerated powers, Obama legislates with his pen and his phone from the Oval Office, the sanctimonious Mrs. Feinstein doesn’t utter a single word in defense of the Constitution she has sworn to defend and protect.

I keep hearing that America longs for a Congress that works in a bi-partisanship fashion, but I don’t believe it. Liberals have no desire to see Democrats compromising with Republicans, and conservatives certainly have no wish to see Republicans compromising with Democrats. As I see it, the only people who call for bi-partisanship are the know-nothings who have so little understanding of the major issues that they think that it is only mulishness that keeps members of the two parties from joining hands and singing a few choruses of “Kumbaya.”

When one party is convinced that the federal government should control everything from education and health care to the environment and the economy, and the other party thinks the single greatest threat to our freedom and liberty is that very same central government, which is basically that which existed with such disastrous results in the Soviet Union, bi-partisanship is merely another word for treason.

In other news, the liberal media is beside itself over an alleged epidemic of rape taking place on college campuses. They keep referring to a poll that suggested that one in five coeds is sexually assaulted. What they don’t do is make it clear that the poll, which only had a 40% participation rate, was limited to two campuses and included such “assaults” as compliments, ogling and kissing.

I’m not going to suggest it’s not possible that under certain circumstances, all of these things can be mildly distasteful -- although I must confess I’ve never felt personally assaulted by a compliment -- but they hardly constitute rape, and by including them, the feminists trivialize a despicable crime that, frankly, I would make a capital offense.

Far from supporting the poll that indicated 20% of coeds are being raped, government statistics claim the rate is about .6%, which translates to six coeds in a thousand being victimized by campus rapists, not 200!

In news from the Orient, I have heard that most of the prescription drugs we use in America are being produced in China. Keep in mind those clodhoppers can’t even manufacture non-toxic dog food. Knowing they’re probably responsible for my rheumatoid arthritis pills is enough to make my blood run cold. Still, I think I’d prefer to suffer from terminally chilly blood than have to trust a product made in China to warm it up.

On the other hand, I owe North Korea a shout-out for hacking the computers at Sony Pictures. Otherwise, I’d never know that in an ill-advised email, a well-known producer called Angelina Jolie not only a mediocre actress, which I already knew, but a spoiled brat, which I merely suspected.

I also found out that even those Hollywood elitists who line up to attend Obama’s $35,000 fund-raisers can’t resist making racist jokes about him when they think nobody’s around.

In exchange for my tax dollars, that’s the sort of stuff I want to hear from the government snoops at the National Security Agency. I mean it’s bad enough I have to depend on the damn Chinese to fill my prescriptions without also having to rely on that schmuck Kim Jong-un for my Hollywood gossip.



Kim Jong-Un, Movie Critic



I've had some bad months in my life, but none has been quite as gruesome as the one that Sony just endured. First, there was the leak of those embarrassing emails in which uber-producer Scott Rudin trashed Angelina Jolie, and Sony head Amy Pascal made racist comments about Obama’s taste in movies. Ms. Pascal made it even worse by then going to Al Sharpton, begging him for dispensation. Frankly, I’d fire her for that alone.

If Rudin and Pascal have one reason to envy me, it’s that I can never be embarrassed by leaked emails. You see, whenever I have a politically incorrect thought to share, I don’t waste it in an email; I work it into an article.

Anyway, as bad as the leaks were, the studio made things worse when it backed down in the face of North Korean threats. I guess Sony was afraid that Kim Jong-un was going to have his pal Dennis Rodman set off stink bombs if “The Interview” was released. Frankly, judging by earlier Seth Rogen comedies, I’m sure this one didn’t need any help when it came to stinking up movie houses.
For weeks on end, every news report claimed that North Korea was allegedly behind the hacking. Allegedly? I kept wondering who the other suspects might be. Who else might object to the chubby guy with the bad haircut being humiliated on the world’s movie screens? Luxembourg? Monaco? The Vatican? The word, itself, has become something of a joke. Simply because nobody has stood up, like on an old “Perry Mason” episode, and confessed in open court, doesn’t automatically turn the perfectly obvious into the alleged.

Considering how little it took to make Sony chicken out, we shouldn’t expect to see a comedy in which the Ayatollah Khomeini mistakenly eats a ham sandwich, thus damning his soul to the eternal flames any time soon.

Still, if I have to choose between an administration run by either Amy Pascal or Barack Obama, I’ll take Amy. As dumb as she may be, I doubt if she would explain reopening diplomatic relations with Cuba by saying that “If you keep doing the same thing for 50 years and not getting anywhere, it’s time to try something new.” After all, if Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Bush, hadn’t realized that there should never be a time table when it comes to doing the right thing, the Soviet Union might have won the Cold War.

When asked if this détente meant that Raul Castro might soon be visiting the Obamas, Liar-in-Chief Josh Earnest didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no. Instead, he said that Castro wouldn’t be the first Communist leader who has ever set foot in the White House. And, so far as I know, he wasn’t referring to Barack Obama.

In other Washington news, the Pentagon has decided that simply because someone is a member of the Taliban doesn’t mean he’s an enemy of ours. Heck, no. Not when the EU decides that Hamas isn’t even a terrorist organization. And not when you have Obama rushing to the financial aid of a dictatorship in Cuba that is barely hanging on because its two major sponsors, Russia and Venezuela, are suffering the effects of freefalling oil prices.

Speaking of boneheads, the one person who agrees with the EU when it comes to Hamas is our own Jimmy Carter, who followed up four disastrous years in the White House by spending the next 34 years reminding us of the debt the nation owes Ronald Reagan for giving the sanctimonious creep his walking papers.

It seems that once, when asked why he believed Hamas was a group dedicated to peace even though its charter calls for wiping Israel off the face of the earth, Carter replied that when he met with its leaders, he gave them DVDs that featured pacifists like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, and they thanked him. I guess when you’re an anti-Semite with the brains of a mashed potato, it doesn’t take much to persuade you that the killers of babies and rabbis are the good guys.

It also doesn’t hurt when most of the money donated to build your presidential library was contributed by Arabs and Muslims, grateful that a former U.S. president would condemn Israel as an apartheid state, while turning a blind eye to those dedicated to murdering Christians as well as Jews.

As for Gandhi the pacifist, let the record show that he hated African blacks, was an anti-Semite and, for good measure, chose not to take sides when it came to World War II. Respect him if you like, but where I come from it takes more than wearing an adult diaper to prove you’re one of God’s nobler creatures.

Finally, I should let you know that I have received several emails from people affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project. They claim that I slandered the enterprise when I shared a report that indicated that they misspent a sizable portion of the charitable contributions they receive on things other than wounded warriors.

If the report I quoted didn’t have the numbers right, I sincerely apologize. But even the new set of numbers didn’t really change my overall opinion. I should explain that, except for the Salvation Army, I don’t entirely trust big name charities. I’m not saying they’re dishonest. What I am suggesting is that once an organization is taking in well over a hundred million dollars a year, you’ll inevitably find that it’s spending a huge amount on inflated salaries, travel, promotion and general overhead. I’m not claiming that anyone is fiddling with the funds. It just strikes me that donating to major charities is a lot like sending tax dollars to the federal government and expecting the money to be spent prudently.

Perhaps I’m naïve, but it seems to me that, like the Salvation Army, which relies mainly on volunteers, the Wounded Warrior Project could call on millions of older Americans, especially patriotic veterans, to volunteer to do a lot of the heavy lifting. It seems to me that would save millions of dollars that could then be spent exactly the way the donors intended, to serve the needs of those brave Americans who sacrificed so much on our behalf.

And now it’s time for one last poll before the end of the year. I would like to know which Fox News personality, be it a host or a regular contributor, is your favorite and who is your least favorite. Please send the two names to me as soon as possible at BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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Friday, December 19, 2014

I Love A Mystery


Sometimes people are surprised to learn that my favorite books are mysteries, many of which are written by Brits. I particularly enjoy those that are leavened with humor, but those are extremely rare. The reason I like the genre is because mysteries tend to be logical and they invariably end well with justice being meted out to the guilty -- unlike real life.

I also prefer mystery novels because, unlike most non-fiction, which is either ghost-written if it has a politician’s name on the cover or is the work of an historian or an academic, mysteries are written by actual writers with an eye to style, not by those whose long suit is research.

I can’t possibly list all of my favorite mystery writers, but my English short list includes Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Barnard, Simon Brett and Agatha Christie. Among the Americans, I like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Aaron Elkins, Lee Child, Donna Leon and Elizabeth George.

I have a special regard for Daniel Silva who, through his protagonist, Gabriel Allon, art restorer and sometime Israeli assassin, acts as the Elie Wiesel of the mystery world. His targets are invariably Islamic terrorists or neo-Nazis out to do Israel, the U.S. and England, great harm. Along the way, acting as a witness for the victims of the Holocaust, Silva shines a spotlight on those nations, mainly France, Holland, Austria, Poland and Switzerland, where huge portions of the population collaborated with the Nazis, either because they agreed that Europe’s Jews should be exterminated or, in the case of the Swiss, because they stood to gain so much financially through the looting and killing of six million Jews.

But there are other mysteries whose solutions often elude me. For instance, I recently wrote a piece titled “Dear Chairman Rogers…” in which I admitted being confounded by the whitewash of the Obama administration by his House committee’s report on Benghazi. Fortunately, a couple of readers quickly solved the mystery for me. It seems that his wife, Kristi Clemens Rogers, who is now the CEO of Aspen Health Care, was at the time of the Benghazi attack the President and CEO of Aegis Ltd., an English-based company that had a $10 billion contract with our federal government to provide security at U.S. diplomatic posts around the globe! That would definitely include Benghazi.

Mike Rogers is leaving Congress this January. Apparently he has always had his heart set on hosting a radio talk show. I hope that once he’s settled in, you’ll all call the show and ask him a few of those embarrassing questions that he neglected to ask the members of this administration.

Recently I watched an old movie on TCM called “The Dark Horse.” It’s a 1932 political satire that starred Warren William as a political fixer and Guy Kibbee as the nitwit William has been hired to get elected governor. At one point, William describes his client as “the dumbest human being I’ve ever known. Every time he opens his mouth, he subtracts from the sum total of human knowledge.” It definitely rang a bell for me because every time Barack Obama opens his mouth, I feel he subtracts from the sum total of human decency.

These days, parents and grandparents are often dismayed to discover that many youngsters are no longer taught cursive writing in public schools. Combined with the fact that so much of what now passes for communication takes place on some sort of electronic gadget that only prints words, cursive writing may soon go the way of cave paintings. The mystery in this case is why we actually pay public school teachers more than we pay babysitters.

God knows that by the time the kids reach college, where 63% of professors admit to being liberals and only 12%, mainly those in the hard sciences, are conservative, they are already propagandizing on behalf of global warming, abortions on demand and same-sex marriages and against Christianity, capitalism and Israel… I, for one, say it’s time to start sending the young blighters to trade schools before we sacrifice yet another generation of Americans to the untender mercies of academic pinheads.

After the GOP takes control of the Senate in January, one of the first items on their agenda should be to rein in the EPA. I don’t happen to believe that those who churn out thousands of regulations, most of which result in the loss of jobs and property rights, are evil. Instead, because Obama has granted these environmental zealots unlimited power, they assume they are doing God’s work.

As a result, they end up behaving like spoiled brats, but instead of running up and down store aisles, eating too many sweets and making minor, but noisy, nuisances of themselves, they manage to destroy the nation’s economy while doing irreparable harm to individual property owners.

Someone wrote to me last week and asked why black urban dwellers – generally the least educated and least productive members of society -- representing a mere 14% of the population, garner so much of our time and attention, not to mention our hard-earned tax dollars.

The answer is pretty simple. It’s because the Democrats and the liberal media have colluded to make them our answer to the sacred cows of India, and the obvious motive behind this hanky-panky is to ensure that 95% of them continue to give their votes to the party of slavery.

The fact is that not since 1964 has any Democratic presidential candidate received a majority of white votes. Without that lopsided black vote, Carter, Clinton and Obama would be mere footnotes in the history books, just like Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry.

Without that dependable vote from the modern plantation dwellers, the Democrats would have long ago joined the Whigs, the Greenbacks and the Prohibitionists, in the political boneyard.

Still, at the rate they’ve been losing elections since 2008, it’s just possible we’re getting close to the reading of the last rites of the Democratic Party. That will be one burial service I won’t want to miss.

Because I suspect seating will be at a premium, I’ll plan to get there early and hope to God it’s a closed casket so I don’t have to view Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charley Rangel, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Elijah Cummings and the rest of the sorry crew, lying in state.

I shudder and my blood runs cold at the mere thought of the undertaker’s assuring me that they look absolutely lifelike.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Connecting The Dots


I suspect I'm not the only person who looks around these days and feels as if the United States fought a war I wasn’t aware of and is now under the thumb of a foreign dictator named Barack Hussein Obama. You must admit that even sounds like the name of a foreign dictator.

Surely a duly-elected American president wouldn’t be bending over quite so far to accommodate a vile theocratic state such as Iran while simultaneously doing everything in his power to throw a traditional ally like Israel to the Islamic wolves.

Come to think of it, though, Obama only throws a baseball like a little girl. When it comes to tossing allies and underlings under the bus, you would think the schmuck was trying out for a spot on the pitching staff of the NY Yankees.

He first exhibited this tendency towards disloyalty by dumping Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the man he was proud to call his friend and religious mentor after 20 years of faithful attendance at his racist church until the day he thought the relationship might cost him a handful of votes.

Then, in relatively short order, he sent General Shenseki, Kathleen Sibelius, David Petraeus, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, packing. Even after being publicly humiliated by Obama, James Clapper hung on, but that was only because Clapper is a gamer who doesn’t seem to mind eating poop so long as he can keep his corner office.

After Bill Cosby was accused of drugging and raping 26 women, Hugh Hefner said he was saddened if the accusations were true. “I would never tolerate this kind of behavior, regardless of who was involved.”

What provoked Hefner’s response was that one of the latest of Cosby’s accusers, Judy Huth, claimed the drugging and raping took place in 1975 at the Playboy Mansion when she was just 15 years old!

Now unless Ms. Huth was there as part of a ninth grade tour of L.A. landmarks, it sounds as if Hefner was providing jailbait for those of his celebrity buddies who like them young, although not necessarily drugged. I suppose there’s a statute of limitations on pandering, although I can honestly say I have never understood the logic behind a law that says if you can get away with a crime long enough, you’re home free. And that’s the case even if your home happens to be the den of iniquity known as the Playboy Mansion.

Thanks to recent events in Ferguson, MO, and Staten Island, NY, every liberal in America feels entitled to scapegoat the police. You’ll never see Obama or any of the current crop of so-called civil rights leaders point a finger at urban blacks, who have opted for a societal norm that is not only terrible for America, but resembles an asylum run by the inmates for its inhabitants.

If anyone had intentionally set out to ensure that blacks would fall further and further behind every other group in the country, including illegal aliens, they couldn’t have had more satisfactory results.

First, you get the fathers out of the homes, threatening to cut off welfare to the women and children if they don’t leave. Then, having removed a father’s discipline, thus forcing young black women to try to curb the natural aggression of young males, and inevitably failing, you watch as the boys drop out of school and pursue a life of crime, drugs and unbridled promiscuity.

That, in turn, guarantees that the next generation will also be raised with an inherited contempt for education, women and all forms of authority, be it in the form of teachers or, especially, the police. Add to that the constant torrent of hate speech directed towards white society by bottom-feeders like Obama, Holder, Sharpton, Jackson, Farrakhan, Wright and Mayor De Blasio, and it doesn’t take much to set off the smoldering powder keg.

What makes it all the more tragic is that in fact it was all planned by Lyndon Johnson, who predicted that he would wrap up the black vote for the Democrats for the next hundred years, although instead of “black,” he used the “N” word, as this hero of the civil rights movement so often did. It’s only been 50 years so far, but the schmuck’s prediction looks pretty solid at the halfway point.

As Polish novelist Joseph Conrad once observed, “A belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men are capable of every conceivable wickedness.”

Everything about liberals is terrifying. One of the scariest things about them is the ease with which they lie. Whether it’s Obama insisting on two dozen occasions that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to grant amnesty to five million illegals and then doing so, or Nancy Pelosi denying she had ever heard of Jonathan Gruber in spite of videos showing her praising him to the skies, these people treat the truth with the same contempt they exhibit towards Republicans. Whoever came up with the line “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” clearly had Democrats in mind.

Speaking of which, Chuck Schumer now rues the day that Obama pushed the Affordable Care Act on America. Unfortunately for Sen. Schumer, we all got to see a jerk named Schumer standing behind Obama the day he signed the bill and applauding like a trained seal. He then spent the next few years selling ObamaCare with the same zeal with which Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz, now peddles reverse mortgages to us old guys.

To give you some idea how evil and how powerful the EPA has been under Obama, in the past year, Congress passed 72 bills, the bureaucrats -- those Washington pashas that nobody gets to elect or boot out -- imposed its will in the form of 3,659 regulations.

Although I have always regarded myself as a movie fan, and for 13 years was a movie critic, I very rarely go out to see them these days. With few exceptions, I’m not very interested in what Hollywood has to offer. However, because I am a member of the Writers Guild of America, the studios continue to send me DVDs at year’s end because I get to vote for the writing awards my guild bestows. Still, even for free, I often find the price in terms of time wasted too steep to pay.

One of the recent turkeys was called “Whiplash.” For reasons even I can’t figure out, I watched it to the bitter end. It’s about a young drummer enrolled in a prestigious music school, where, for reasons I also could not fathom, a sadistic, tyrannical, instructor is allowed to make every student’s life a living hell.

After watching it, I sent email to my friends warning them that it was two hours of loud drumming interrupted occasionally by a bald man shouting obscenities at his young charges. To my shock, one of my friends wrote back to say he might see it anyway because, as he explained, “I like drum music.”

After getting over my initial shock, I congratulated him on coming up with “drum music,” which I regarded as the first totally original oxymoron I’d come across in years.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Let's Shut Down The Government!


As I sit here, it’s the 8th of December and I have no idea if the government will be shut down before the end of the month. For my purposes, it hardly matters because the threat of a shutdown is always lurking in Washington. That is especially true now that the two parties are hunkered down in their respective trenches as if reenacting the bloodiest days of World War I.

For a long time, as my wife just reminded me, I opposed such shutdowns. But I only opposed them because the media is always quick to blame it on the Republicans and because in one case, the 2013 shutdown did lead to the Clintons’ bagman, Terry McAuliffe, defeating Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. That was because northern Virginia is home to so many federal bureaucrats that they took the work stoppage personally.

My own inclination is to bring the federal government to a halt as often as possible, if simply to slow down the rate at which Obama and Congress are destroying the nation. One of the problems with a shutdown, however, is that it’s the president who gets to decide how the available money is spent. And Obama being Obama, he loves to shut down things like the World War II Memorial and the national parks, knowing how much normal Americans resent such closures.

At the risk of being labeled a flip-flopper, I have changed my mind. That’s because I finally came to the realization that it’s only the mass media that blames the GOP, and fewer and fewer people, including Democrats, are paying any attention to the NY Times and the major TV networks.

Furthermore, I came to see the upside of the two major shutdowns in the recent past. The first took place in 1995, the second in 2013. In both cases, the GOP got the lion’s share of the blame, but so what? In 1996, although Clinton won re-election, defeating the zombie-like Bob Dole, the GOP picked up two seats in the Senate and only dropped two seats in the House.

In 2014, less than a year after the second shutdown, the GOP picked up nine seats in the Senate and a dozen more in the House. So perhaps I’m not the only one who approves of politicians having less opportunity to stick their noses into our business.

Speaking of politicians, I would love to have reporters conduct the same sort of exit polls after those in the House and Senate cast their votes for majority and minority leaders that they do during normal elections. For instance, I’d love to know why the Democrats keep re-electing Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. I mean, why would anyone wish to have his party represented by Reid, a guy Hollywood would typecast as a mortician? As for Mrs. Pelosi, she speaks like a backward teenager and has had so many facelifts, my friend Steve Maikoski fears that the day will come when her face will snap in front of the TV cameras and roll up like a window shade.

The Republicans are no better. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may be nice guys, but they are equally boring to listen to and have the personal magnetism of a pair of sheep. I know that my more conservative readers don’t like them because of their middle of the road politics and their unnatural desire to compromise with liberals. Still, politics aside, wouldn’t you think that with 54 members in the new Senate and 246 members in the new House, they would come up with a couple of people easier on the eyes and ears than two fellows who should be bottled and sold as surefire cures for insomnia?

I’m not a Washington insider, so I have no way of knowing, but is there an unwritten law which states that to be a Congressional leader, you have to be able to pass for an attraction at the waxworks?

In the aftermath of the demonstrations over the recent incidents in Ferguson and Staten Island, there were so many statements by politicians, so-called race leaders, demonstrators and commentators, to refute and despise, I hardly know where to begin.

But as I have already covered the first two groups in previous articles, it’s time to rat out the latter two. Not since the Occupy Wall Street movement was in full swing have I seen so many self-righteous creeps out in full regalia. Show me a group of chanters and I’ll show you a pack of morons. And what could be more moronic than chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot” when Michael Brown, as the grand jury witnesses testified, not only never raised his hands, but decided it would be a good idea to rush a cop who had stopped firing his gun?

Then we have the commentators who kept telling us that those marching on behalf of Eric Garner were peacefully demonstrating while the cameras showed us the lunkheads tying up traffic on streets and bridges and preventing Christmas shoppers from entering Macy’s Department Store. What is peaceful about doing everything you can to frustrate innocent bystanders trying to get to work or home to their families, raising the blood pressure of thousands of people who are already mentally and physically frazzled by the holiday season?

And of course even those disseminating the peaceful protest propaganda had to eat their words when the thugs in Berkeley began hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at the cops.

Chris Rock, the black comedian, summed up the case for the aggrieved by quoting W.E.B. Dubois: “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”

For me, the question Rock raises is just how stupid do you have to be before you think the real problem facing blacks in America isn’t lack of education and a nonexistent work ethic or men refusing to marry the mothers of their children; and it isn’t a generational reliance on welfare and thousands of blacks murdering and raping their fellow blacks. Instead, Chris Rock and his like-minded enablers in show business and the media would have us believe the problem boils down to a couple of white cops killing a pair of black scofflaws.

These days, if you hold the victims even partially to blame, it makes you a bigot. But inasmuch as it only takes speaking out against Obama, Al Sharpton or Eric Holder, to be branded a racist these days, the term for some of us has inevitably become a badge of honor.

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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Friday, December 12, 2014

"It's All Black & White"
and
"I Hate The Sins & The Sinners"


When I saw all those people marching in large cities across America, tying up streets, bridges and even clogging up entrances to department stores, making Christmas gift shopping an even bigger headache than usual, it occurred to me how far racial relations have declined over the past six years. And it’s all because race hustlers like Obama, Holder, Sharpton and New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio, have tried to cash in on the unfortunate deaths of a couple of 300-pound thugs named Brown and Garner, who would still be alive if they hadn’t tried to resist arrest for their crimes.

A lot of people are at a loss when trying to figure out why blacks continue to elect those who kept slaves; who formed the KKK; who enacted and enforced Jim Crow laws; who maintained separate schools and lunch counters; who turned cities like Detroit into American versions of Hiroshima; who turned the dogs and fire hoses on them; but who nevertheless continue to vote for the party of George Wallace, Robert Byrd, Orville Faubus and Bull Connor.

The answer is really quite simple. In the bad old days, in exchange for food, clothing and shelter, plantation blacks had to pick cotton in the hot sun. These days, in exchange for food, clothing and shelter, they just have to keep voting for Democrats.

When it comes to illegal immigration, it’s as if we rid America of tuberculosis and then watched it make a lethal comeback simply because our open borders allowed ailing illegal aliens to reintroduce it. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what happened. But you didn’t hear even a murmur about this epidemic from the Department of Health and Human Services.

A reader suggested that once the GOP gains control of the Senate, their first order of business should be to shut down the border. I agreed. I added that their response any time some pandering politician, including presidential wannabes in their own party, begin yammering about comprehensive immigration reform, should be “First build the fence.”

Liberals claim they want to repair America’s infrastructure and want good-paying jobs for the middle class, but they have refused for the past 30 years to erect a two-tier fence with a paved road running between the two portions that could easily be patrolled by federal border agents.

The reader also mentioned that a guy he knew slightly, a world-renowned wine expert, had died, and admitted that his initial reaction to the news was that there was now one less Democrat. I then confessed that when I read about a national disaster striking anywhere in the nation, my first thought is whether liberals or conservatives are more likely to be the victims. Only then do I decide how I honestly feel about it.

Hillary Clinton insists that America should respect our enemies and “empathize with their perspective and point of view.” When it comes to chutzpah, you can’t beat her, much as you might wish to with a two-by-four. This is coming from the same person who insulted every woman who ever complained about Bill Clinton’s sexual boorishness and who dismissed any critique of his policies as the result of a vast right-wing conspiracy. Well, just for the record, I regard Mrs. Clinton as my enemy, and I can neither respect nor empathize with her. Furthermore, I happen to feel the same way about those ignoramuses who are already relishing her return to the White House.

Frankly, how she can even bear to show her face after dismissing the massacring of four Americans with “What difference, at this point, does it make who killed them?” let alone run for the highest office in the land, is beyond me. But, then, as Samuel Butler once put it, “Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.”

Speaking of those without consciences, I am hearing rumors that Obama, who refuses to sanction Iran, is considering leveling them against Israel. It is a classic case of déjà vu. If your memory is still functioning, you’ll recall that the last time Israel had the gall to actually erect buildings within its own borders, Obama threw a major hissy fit.

Back then, I wrote that the next time Obama visited Bethesda for his annual checkup, the doctors should perform a brain scan because there was surely something terribly wrong with an American president who was more concerned with Jews building apartment houses in Israel than with Muslims building nuclear bombs in Iran.



"I Hate The Sins & The Sinners"

Ihave never understood why people ever feel compelled to say they hate the sin, but not the sinner. I believe it was Jesus who first said those words, so I suppose Christians want to present themselves in the best possible light in hopes of getting a place with a pool in Heaven. Even though I’m not a Christian, I’m certainly willing to grant that Jesus was a much nicer guy than I am. Still, it seems fairly obvious that without sinners, those pesky sins would quickly disappear.

To my way of thinking, Barack Obama is the single biggest sinner in America. I don’t believe that anything he says or does is in the best interests of our nation. Instead, everything comes down to partisan politics with this schmuck, whether it’s attacking the police, refusing to green-light the Keystone pipeline or trashing the Constitution. On top of everything else, he sets a bad example for young people by being a hypocrite and a serial liar.

When George Bush doubled the national debt to roughly $10 trillion, Sen. Obama said it was unpatriotic, and, frankly, I agreed with him. However, over the past six years, Obama has encouraged it to soar an additional $8 trillion. On the traitor meter, that makes him a combination of Benedict Arnold, Tokyo Rose and Alger Hiss.

At the same time, his idea of a legacy when it comes to foreign affairs is to make nice with Iran. Even Obama isn’t so dumb that he actually believes that after a year of Iran’s stalling tactics, allowing them an additional seven months in which to keep their centrifuges spinning will end well for the United States, Israel or any of our allies in the Middle East. What is particularly galling is that Obama, taking a page out of Jonathan Gruber’s playbook, thinks we’re all so stupid that we actually believe that by his lessening the sanctions on Iran, he is increasing the pressure on the mullahs.

As you must have heard, another black 300-pounder has gotten himself killed in New York. At least unlike what happened in Ferguson, there does seem to be a legitimate question as to whether the cops handled Eric Garner appropriately. But is it really too much to expect black parents to tell their offspring that if you commit a crime, you should expect to be arrested. And when the cops come to place you in handcuffs, it is wise to be cooperative and not try to shove a cop around simply because you out-weigh him by 200 pounds.

Also, where is Michelle Obama in all this? I would have thought that by now, she would have gotten the word out in the black community that unless you’re seven feet tall, you have no business weighing 350 pounds.

So far as I know, Dorian Johnson, who lit the fuse in Ferguson, first by being an accessory to the robbery at the convenience store and then by lying about Michael Brown’s having his arms in the air and being shot in the back by Darren Wilson, has not been arrested. Where are all those protesters demanding equal justice under the law?

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that blacks never seem to demonstrate on behalf of anyone else’s causes or injustices? I see plenty of white fatheads all over America marching around with their hands raised, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” but I never see blacks taking part when illegal aliens hold demonstrations or when white people are chanting about global warming or the International Monetary Fund. And I sure as heck never see them marching in a circle, condemning the hundreds of thousands of abortions of black babies that take place year after year.

I don’t even see them demonstrating on behalf of the honest, hard-working black citizens who are murdered every year by black thugs in places like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. It’s only when white cops are on the hot seat, the very people who risk their own lives to protect them from their thuggish young drug-dealing neighbors, that they take to the streets in protest.

Well, there is the occasional exception. For instance, in the wake of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, some demonstrators carried a banner that read “Occupation is a Crime in Ferguson and Palestine. Resist U.S. Racism. Boycott Israel.” Anyone who believes anti-Semitism is limited to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, hasn’t spent a lot of time in black churches.

In spite of the forensic evidence examined by the Grand Jury in Ferguson and the fact, as County Prosecutor pointed out, that all the early witnesses who had parroted Dorian Johnson’s lies finally admitted they hadn’t even seen the confrontation, and that six black witnesses described it going down just the way Darren Wilson had, only 9% of blacks polled believed the verdict.

Speaking of sinners, Bill Cosby, in response to all the damning accusations hurled in his direction, said, “I won’t comment on innuendo.” Inasmuch as Mr. Cosby was a college graduate, as he used to constantly remind us, I would think he knows that “innuendo” is an indirect or subtle reference to a subject. When 20 women swear you’ve drugged and raped them, it’s not an innuendo, it’s a damnation.

For the most part, Cosby’s fellow celebrities have maintained a polite silence, which is so unlike them. Although on balance, you’d have to say it’s preferable to the overwhelming support they gave Roman Polanski when they petitioned the U.S. authorities to grant the fugitive from justice a travel visa in spite of his having drugged and debauched a 13-year-old girl.

The best thing that has come out of the Ferguson mess is that America has finally had the opportunity to meet Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a black man who has had the guts to take on Eric Holder and label him a race hustling troublemaker. I predict that in the near future, the voters in Wisconsin will see to it that law enforcement’s loss will be Congress’s gain.

Finally, I’ll share two signs that have recently gone viral. The first was “I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.” The other appeared on a placard held by some nitwit in Ferguson that read: “No mother’s son should have to fear for her son’s life every time he leaves home.” At least that’s how it read until some rascal with computer skills changed the last two words to read “robs a store.”

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Words & Music


Recently, someone called in to my weekly webcast (K4HD.com, Wednesday at noon, PST) and, knowing of my high regard for motion picture scores asked me about my favorites. One thing led to another and I began relating anecdotes about some of America’s great composers and lyricists, some of which had been told to me by the men themselves and some of which I had merely read about. They struck me as worth sharing.

There is a reason I have always wished I had had a musical education and could have been a composer. For one thing, nobody needs to translate your work to be appreciated in foreign countries... For another, if you’re lucky enough or talented enough, the music just seems to flow out like spring water.

For instance, I once heard about an occasion when Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics to a song before Richard Rodgers had started work on the tune. Hammerstein left his partner’s New York apartment and took a taxi to his own. By the time he opened the door, his phone was ringing. It was Rodgers playing the song on his piano.

Another time, it involved the team of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. They, too, had apartments in New York City. Each morning, lyricist Koehler would walk over to Arlen’s place, and together they would walk to their office. But this one morning, it was extremely cold and blustery, so Koehler suggested they take a cab. But Arlen was in the mood for walking, so while swinging his arms for warmth, he started marching up the street and humming to his own beat. The music he was humming turned out to be “I Love a Parade” by the time Koehler put words to it.

I once had occasion to interview Henry Mancini, the man who with collaborator Johnny Mercer created history when they won back-to-back Best Song Oscars with “The Days of Wine and Roses” and “Moon River. I asked him the same question I invariably ask every composer: How do you know when you write a song that someone else didn’t write it first? I mean, you start out with a few notes and one thing leads to another and, voila! you have a song with your name on it. But how can you be sure it’s not something your mother sang to you when you were an infant?

Whenever I ask that question, I always worry that the reaction will be, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” But Mancini assured me he worried about that very thing every time he wrote a tune. He did go on to say that his wife Ginny had been a band singer, and if he played the song and it didn’t ring a bell with either of them, he felt he was on pretty safe ground.

It was the same question I put to Michel Legrand, who was visiting from his home in France. He started off saying that he didn’t concern himself with such things, but then paused and said, “Well, there was this one time.”

Legrand, whose work was pretty much reserved to writing film scores for the likes of “Brian’s Song” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” also wrote songs for movies, including “I Will Wait for You,” “The Windmills of Your Mind” and the entire score of “Yentl.” But, once, as he recalled, he had a piece of music in his head that wouldn’t leave him in peace until he put it to paper.

He then proceeded to invite all of his friends to his Parisian studio, so he could play it for them. They were all very impressed, but the next day, one of them called Legrand and said he thought it had sounded familiar. It seems that Legrand had been the second person, the first being Pierre De Geyter in the 19th century, to compose “The Internationale,” the anthem of the Communist Party!

When I interviewed Sammy Cahn, the four-time Oscar winning lyricist, I asked him if he had ever considered writing the music as well as the words. He said the dye was cast when he was still a child and his family moved from one cold water flat in New York to another. When they got to the new place, they discovered that the former tenant had left behind a piano and a violin. When Mrs. Cahn saw the musical instruments, she pointed at Sammy’s sister and said, “Piano,” then at Sammy, “Violin.” He said that if she had reversed her decision, he’d have been able to play the piano well enough to compose at it.

Cahn also told me why he liked Prince Charles so much. It seems that the Reagans once invited several musicians to perform at the White House in the Prince’s honor. They invited Sammy, but only as a guest. And anyone who knew him knew that singing his own songs was what he loved most in life.

He was seated right behind his old pal President Reagan. Knowing that Reagan wasn’t one for late hours, he saw his opportunity ticking away by the second. Suddenly, just as Reagan appeared ready to call it a night, the Prince who was seated next to him, said, “I noticed that Mr. Cahn is here tonight, and I was wondering if you could persuade him to sing for us.”

Knowing Sammy Cahn, he was probably out of his chair before Reagan even had time to think about it.

Some years later, Cahn was in London at one of those royal command performances where all the celebrities stand in line in the foyer waiting for some member of the Royal Family to pass by and say a few cordial words.

This evening it was Prince Charles and Lady Di. As soon as Charles spotted Cahn, he leaned over and began whispering in his wife’s ear, no doubt informing her that Cahn had written nearly one hundred of the songs Frank Sinatra had recorded, about three times as many as the person in second place.

But Fate will have its little jokes, so naturally when the royals reached Sammy, Lady Di stuck out her hand and said, “I’m very pleased to meet you, Mr. Cahn, I just love ‘I Did It My Way.’” Close, as they say, but no cigar. That one just happened to have been written for Sinatra by Paul Anka.

When I interviewed David Raksin, who wrote memorable scores for “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Forever Amber,” but was never even nominated for an Oscar, even though his Hollywood career stretched from 1936, when he helped arrange Charley Chaplin’s score for “Modern Times,” to his 1983 score for “The Day After.”

His best shot at an Oscar came in 1944 when he composed the haunting score for “Laura.” Unfortunately, in those days, a studio could only submit one score for consideration and because studio boss Daryl Zanuck had personally produced “Wilson,” a cinematic ode to his favorite president, Zanuck opted to go with the pedestrian “Wilson.”

The story Raksin told me about how his score came to be sounded like a corny 20th Century-Fox concoction. He claimed that he had already submitted music to producer-director Otto Preminger, but Preminger had been disappointed and decided to use the Duke Ellington composition, “Sophisticated Lady.” But Raksin begged him to hold off until after the weekend.

When Raksin arrived home that Friday evening, he found a letter from his wife, who was vacationing in New York. She let him know she was getting a divorce. According to Raksin, he placed the “Dear David” letter on his music stand and used it as his muse. Monday morning, he delivered the score to Preminger.

At the time, I must confess it sounded a little too Hollywood to be true, but then I realized that even in Hollywood, guys don’t often boast about being dumped by their wives.

Next we come to the remarkable Johnny Mercer, one of the three or four greatest lyricists who ever lived, a singer, a sometime composer and one of the co-founders of Capitol Records. He was also the fellow who wound up writing the lyrics to “Laura.”

In some ways, he was a model citizen. For instance, when his gambler father died, leaving a lot of debts in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, Johnny paid off every one of them. However, he drank too much, and when he’d get in his cups, he would insult everyone in the vicinity. The next day, he would send a dozen roses to those he’d hurt.

Once, when I was interviewing singer Jo Stafford, I asked her if she had ever met Mercer. She had. She liked and naturally admired his talent. But one night when they were having dinner in a restaurant, he started drinking too much. She stood up and when he asked where she was going, she said, “Home, and don’t send me any roses tomorrow morning.”

It almost sounds like a Mercer lyric.

Finally, I was good friends with Harry Ruby, the fellow who wrote such hits as “Three Little Words,” “Who’s Sorry Now?” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” as well as a few of the tunes made famous by Groucho Marx, such as “Hail, Hail, Fredonia” and “I’m Against It.”

In fact, he once told me that the perfect marriage would unite him and Groucho in holy matrimony because they were two elderly men of means who both loved baseball. He loved it so much that he never forgave Jack Norworth for writing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” As he put it, “I should have written it. That son of a bitch didn’t even like baseball!”

And once when I asked him what he imagined Heaven was like, Harry said, “It’s where someone has to pay you a nickel every time you catch them whistling one of your songs.”

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.


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