Every year, I watch the Oscars and every year I swear it’s for the last time. Mainly what keeps bringing me back is the 25 cent bet I make with my wife and the bragging rights that go with it. As you can see, ours is not the most exciting household in the San Fernando Valley.
Still, I hasten to mention that I have won the quarter every single year. This year, however, after jumping off to a 5-2 lead, Yvonne came clawing back. In fact, coming up to the final three categories, she led 9-8. Worse yet, we had agreed on two of the three – each of us picking Julianne Moore to win as Best Actress for “Still Alice” and “American Sniper” as Best Picture. My only way of even tying was if Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.”
Still, when Redmayne won, I actually felt I had cheated. I mean, neither of us had seen the movie. But I knew that Redmaybe had portrayed a man with ALS, which meant he would spend two hours scrunching up his face and slumping in a wheelchair. How, I had asked myself, could the sappy Academy members not vote for him?
We also didn’t see the evening’s big winner, “Birdman,” so the fact that we each somehow managed to pick 10 of the winners in the 24 categories is rather impressive in a totally unimpressive sort of way.
The worst thing about the Oscars weren’t the awful movies vying for the gilded statuettes or seeing the gay host of the event, Neil Patrick Harris, appearing onstage in his Jockey shorts, but the banalities spewed by presenters and victors. For instance, we had Patricia Arquette bitching that actresses aren’t paid the same as actors, and then had to watch the usually sane Meryl Streep leap to her feet to applaud the inanity.
The fact is that Hollywood is fairly egalitarian when it comes to paying actors and actresses. The problem for the ladies is that the big money goes to those whose movies rack up huge grosses at the box office. So the fact that Ms. Streep has been Oscar-nominated something like 400 times doesn’t count for very much when compared to the money that Matt (the “Bourne” series) Damon, Johnny (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series) Depp or Robert ( the “Iron Man” and “Sherlock Holmes” series) Downey, Jr., have made for the studios. In Hollywood, this is what passes for penis envy.
But we also had to see yet another tuneless, pointless, song, “Glory” cop an Oscar. It was possibly not as offensive as the 2005 Oscar winner, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” but, musically, it may have been even lousier. Worse yet, was having to listen to the singer-songwriters John Legend and Common complain about the way blacks are treated.
They may have been referring to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, but were probably parroting Al Sharpton’s gripe that no black actor or actress was nominated for an Oscar this year. But to compensate for that terrible offense, the Academy, ever sensitive to its politically correct image, saw to it that every black in Hollywood got to accompany a white presenter to the microphone. By the end of the evening, I fully expected to see Eric Holder and Barack Obama strolling out with Lady Gaga or Julie Andrews on his arm.
Some of you may be wondering why, when Hollywood has stopped making musicals and such talents as Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Gershwin, are no longer knocking out tunes, they continue to hand out Oscars for the Best Song. It’s because there’s as much jealousy between the various branches of the Academy as there is between actors, writers and directors. Even though the award-winning songs are, unlike the often terrific dramatic scores, a constant source of embarrassment, the music branch of the Academy will surrender one of its two categories the same day Russia cedes Crimea.
♦ In other news, I view ISIL in spite of its televised atrocities, as a distraction employed by Obama in order to take our focus away from the fact that he and Kerry are apparently agreeing to allow Iran to move forward with its nuclear program.
Anyone who compares the danger posed by a ragtag crew of 30,000 creeps driving trucks and SUVs to an Islamic nation numbering 80 million that has sworn to obliterate Israel and the United States is peddling you a load of malarkey.
If we were really serious about wiping out ISIL, we could do it in a week, and that would be the end of their caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The caliphate we should be worried about is the one that already exists in Iran.
It’s not an exact parallel, but it’s similar to what took place in the 1930s when people were focused on the Spanish Civil War and Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, while ignoring the fact that Hitler was putting together a massive war machine in Germany.
Today, Obama and his hand puppets at the State Department explain away Islamic terrorism by pointing to “the legitimate grievances” of those who are unemployed in the Middle East. Well, thanks to the penalties laid on Germany by those who won World War I, Germans had a lot to gripe about. That was why Hitler had such an easy time trading on their anger and frustration to gain power.
But in retrospect, who cares if German grievances were or weren’t legitimate? The important thing was to defeat them, not to ponder their motivation or provide excuses for their butchery.
♦ Finally, whether the subject is climate, economics or the unemployment rate in Islamic nations, whenever a so-called authority tells you something you know to be a lie, you can bet you’re in the presence of a mountebank.
In my own case, when Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman ballyhoos Obama’s policies, Pope Francis announces that global warming is the greatest threat facing mankind or Barack Obama tells me what time it is, I cover my ears and start humming as loud as I can.
America Needs A Shrink
BARACK OBAMA insists we can’t identify the enemy because if we utter the word “Islamic,” even if we modify it with “extremists,” “jihadists” or “fundamentalists,” every Muslim will assume we’re at war with them. Not only is that absurd and condescending, but it doesn’t come close to passing the smell test.
There are factions of Muslims who are constantly at war with one another, so why would Muslims assume that if we attack, say, ISIL or Boko Haram, but not Jordan or Egypt, we can’t distinguish between our friends and our enemies? Instead, it’s Obama, with his constant attacks on Bibi Netanyahu, who seems unable to make that particular distinction.
Besides, Obama never tires of telling us that the barbarians who are slitting throats and bar-be-cuing Christians, Jews and their fellow Muslims, have nothing whatever to do with Islam, so why his reluctance to wage war on them?
♦ In related news, the ISIL beheader has been identified as Mohammad Emwazi of London. It seems he is from a well-to-do family and has graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. So I guess he didn’t become a throat-slitting jihadist, as Obama and Marie Harf recently suggested, because he couldn’t get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
♦ Meanwhile, in Denver -- formerly known as the Mile High City, but now, thanks to the legalization of marijuana, more of a Ten Mile High City – a black thug called a black police officer a nigger. In response, rather than bounce a billy club off the punk’s noggin, he said, “I am not a nigger.” As a result, the loons running Denver have reprimanded the cop for saying the n-word,” ignoring the context, thus ruining his future chances for promotion.
I’m reminded that Marco Rubio observed: “Every day Joe Biden says something that would end my career if I said it."
♦ I heard someone on the radio the other day claim that one of the worst things George W. Bush ever did was come up with the term “compassionate conservative,” and to an extent I agree. The term, after all, distinguishes between those compassionate ones and all the rest of us, as if conservatism is as nasty and diabolical as liberals insist it is.
But inasmuch as Bush also approved of amnesty without building a fence at the border; promoted No Child Left Behind, a precursor to Common Core; and banned incandescent light bulbs, I would say that the schmuck was about as conservative as his kid brother.
♦ For some years now, one public official after another has lied about his military service. It probably started with John Kerry, who came back from Vietnam and managed to forge a political career out of slandering his fellow soldiers as sadists and baby-killers, and lying about his alleged injuries in order to cop a couple of Purple Hearts.
The latest offender is, not too surprisingly, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Bob McDonald, who claimed to have been a member of Special Forces. With such despicable creeps at the top, is it any wonder that wounded warriors continue to die while under the so-called care of the V.A.?
♦ It seems that in 2014, there were 16,900 federal employees who were paid over $200,000. Keep in mind that was only counting base salary, and didn’t take into account overtime and bonuses. Most of them were working at – you guessed it! – the V.A. For the record, more than 1,600 federal employees made in excess of $300,000.
Lest you think those bonuses were the kind – say a week’s salary -- you might get if your company did really well, Lois Lerner, late of the IRS, collected $110,000 in bonuses during her last three years on the job. As you see, her efforts to target Tea Party groups between 2010 and 2012 were greatly appreciated.
♦ As you may or may not have noticed, as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, carried through on their promise to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General. That is akin to re-confirming Eric Holder to another two years on the job. If the voters in Utah, Arizona and South Carolina, don’t at least attempt to recall these three idiots, they should be denied the right to complain about Ms. Lynch in the future.
♦ I often listen to Dennis Prager when I’m in the car, which is the only time I listen to the radio. He is another of my fellow Jewish conservatives and I often agree with his take on topics. However, he has one belief that he brings up on a regular basis, with the intention of setting straight those who deign to disagree with him.
The moral question he poses is this: If your pet dog or cat and a stranger are both drowning, and you can only rescue one of them, which would it be?
To Prager, the obvious answer is the stranger. His reason is that only human beings have souls and are created in the image of God. I have heard this from him for a great many years and each time I hear it, steam spews out of my ears.
Now I’m willing to grant that if the stranger is a baby or a child, I would, with a heavy heart, allow my pet to drown.
But, assuming we’re talking about an adult, I am willing to take on Prager and deny him the moral high ground. For one thing, I don’t believe that every human being is created in the image of God. Was Hitler? Was Stalin? Was Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein or Idi Amin? Anyone wish to argue that Mohammad Emwazi, aka "Jihadi John," was created in God’s image or even that he has what most of us regard as a soul?
But even if the person drowning isn’t a notorious villain, we all draw conclusions when we see a fellow human being. If the guy going down for the third time fits my notion of a meth dealer or a tattooed thug, why would I rescue him and allow my dog Angel to die? My wife and I have, after all, accepted responsibility for Angel’s well-being, and we take that responsibility seriously.
♦ Speaking of people of questionable worth, hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about some idiot trying to outrace a train. In spite of lights, bells and closing gates, some people simply refuse to be warned off. In certain quarters, I believe this phenomenon is commonly referred to as a thinning of the herd.
God forbid I should rescue one of those morons and allow our beloved dog to drown.
2015 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? BurtPrelutsky@fastmail.com.