Discredit Where It’s Due

Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of people taking bows because, let us say, they’re the first members of their families to go to college (even though they can’t spell or do simple math); or the first person to do the backstroke across the English Channel (there is a tunnel, you know); or the first woman to be the Speaker of the House (while ignoring the fact that she is the worst of the 51 people who have had the job).

Here in California, where we are renowned for our goofy firsts, we recently celebrated the election of Victoria Kolakowski to the Alameda County Superior Court. Judge Kolakowski, you see, is the first transgender judge in the country. At one point, Ms. Kolakowski had applied to the Louisiana State Bar Association, but been denied because “they said I was not of sound mind.” Well, God knows that’s never been a handicap in California, where time and again we elect and re-elect Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Henry Waxman and Barbara Boxer.

An added twist is that Ms. Kolakowski married Cynthia Laird in 2004. So not only was there a woman screaming to get out of her previously male body, but she happened to be a lesbian.

Lord Acton really nailed it when, a century ago, he observed that power corrupts. For proof, one need only consider unions. There was a time when unions were the only protection that workers had against heartless and avaricious employers. But those days are long past. Now it’s employers and taxpayers who need to be protected.

The worst of the unions are those representing teachers. However noble their original intention, they have morphed into organizations dedicated to feathering the nest of their leaders; funding the DNC in a symbiotic relationship that closely resembles that of sharks and pilot fish; and safe-guarding the jobs of those in their ranks who are stupid, lazy and incompetent.

I swear, any time members of that union have the gall to claim that anything they’re doing is “for the good of the kids,” I’d very much like to see their heads explode.

Although these days, there is very little that politicians can do or say that has the power to shock me, I must confess I was a little taken aback when I saw that Bill Richardson had spent five days in North Korea.

Although I know that Berkeley, California, has its own foreign policy, I had no idea that New Mexico had followed suit. But then it hit me that the next presidential election is less than two years off, and it’s never too soon to begin running when you’re from a little backwater state, even if it’s only for the second spot on the ticket.

Inasmuch as simpleton Joe Biden had gotten the job for no other reason than that he’d served on the Senate’s foreign relations committee, where he’d been wrong on virtually every issue that came before them, it only makes sense that the governor of New Mexico would promote himself as a foreign policy maven.

The fact is that Richardson, being Hispanic, was already on the short list of candidates likely to send Biden packing in 2012. Speaking of Richardson’s heritage, it is probably the bane of his existence that it was his father’s last name he got saddled with. His mother’s name was the far more politically-potent Maria Luisa Lopez-Collada Marquez. Instead, he answers to William Blaine Richardson III, which makes him sound like a candidate for the House of Lords.

One fascinating footnote to Richardson’s resume is that until 2005, he had claimed that as a college pitcher, he had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago Cubs. But after the Albuquerque Journal checked out the facts, Richardson claimed he’d made an honest mistake. It seems he had never been drafted. In the political lexicon, an honest mistake is any lie you’ve been caught telling and any bribe you’ve been caught taking.

It’s funny how these things work with politicians. They are always merely misspeaking about their backgrounds when they claim to be scholars, super athletes and war heroes; they never have a slip of the tongue that results in their confessing to be liars, womanizers and chiselers, although that is so much more often the case.

Ben Affleck

Finally, we get to Ben Affleck. Recently, I saw him mouthing off about how much money CEOs get paid. He claimed that whereas they used to be paid eight or nine times what regular workers got paid, they now typically get paid 200 times as much.

I’m not here to argue about whether or not corporate executives are overpaid. I figure that’s between them and their stockholders. Inasmuch as I don’t own any stocks, it’s really none of my business.

His big mouth, though, did lead me to check out Mr. Affleck’s earnings. Although this is nothing like a complete list, I discovered he was paid $10 million each for Changing Lanes, The Sum of All Fears and Jersey Girl. His paycheck for Paycheck” was $15 million. Heck, he even got $12.5 million for Gigli. (I assume he wasted no time making sure the check cleared before the producers discovered that not even Matt Damon was going to buy a ticket to see that turkey.)

So, here we have Ben Affleck banking nearly $60 million for what amounted to about a year’s actual work. How many times the salary of a grip, a stuntman or a makeup artist, would you imagine that is? More than eight or nine times would be my guess.

Also, any CEO who had that many flops in a row would be out on his rear end, whereas Affleck just keeps acting, if that’s what you choose to call it.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky

Write to: BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.
Can’t get enough Burt? Go to: BurtPrelutsky.com.

Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
Author website: http://www.burtprelutsky.com/
  • http://BurtPrelutsky.com Burt Prelutsky

    Mr. Duke: My dog is about eight years old. My understanding is that each of the first two years of a dog’s life is equivalent to seven years for a human; after that it’s 5-1. So he’d be around 44. Assuming that you are 60ish, he would still have to call you “Sir.”

    Konrad, it’s Burt. How many times must I tell you? I am glad I don’t live in Canada, that bastion of free speech, where a man can speak his mind about anything and everything…except Islam.

    Ace, you could also have pointed out to Mario that Christine O’Donnell is not an elected official, but I guess there’s no point in piling on.

    Regards, Burt

    • MarioP

      Mr. Burt,

      Go ahead and pile it on; I enjoy it. By the way, Christine O’Donnell did win the Delaware US Senate Republican primary in 2008 and 2010. Although not an elected official, she was elected by the Right further than she should have gotten, twice!

      With all this loud criticism coming from the Right, attacking the Left, one would think due to such overwhelmingly poor economic record the Right would sit quietly in the back of the bus and let the Left drive. After WWII ended Germany and Japan admitted defeat, and probably wrongdoing; those nations have been pretty silent militarily since. The Right should give it a rest for a decade or two, or three, with their attacks. Those business friendly and fiscally responsible Republican presidents just couldn’t deliver over the last several terms, while the Democratic presidents, on average, beat them at every major economic indicator. Again, I am not claiming every Republican is not capable to run this country, but so very often the elected candidates the Right presents into a political race is nothing short of an embarrassment. Had the Republican presidents at least tied with the Democrats in operating the economy, the Right would have a leg to stand on with their attacks, but how can the side that is generally failing be taken seriously? By constantly defending the incompetent Right, even when the Left makes the right choice, your blind allegiance shows through and your judgment is questionable.

      When I vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, you Mr. Burt can thank me for the lower unemployment rate, the creation of jobs, the smaller deficits, the greater growth in the stock market and the GDP, the lower inflation, and the smaller number of recessions. What should I thank you when you vote for the Republican candidate? Lower taxes? I would rather have a job or a business with a constant and predictable economy rather than pay lower taxes and worry about having my job or my business. Even though the tax rates may be higher under the Democratic rule, the profits are higher as well. Thank you for nothing, Mr. Burt.

      P.S. Just think of the extra taxation under the Democrats as an insurance premium for a better economy. 😉

  • Tymor

    Mr Goldberg..Why the American administration doesn’t understand that what’s happening now in Egypt is not a people’s revolution,but Muslim brotherhood organization work with the cooperation of other radical Islamic groups in the middle east. ? Where are their analytical intelligence that understand deeply the Egyptian culture? Why they doesn’t recognize that the Egyptian government is an Allie, peace partner and the first line of defense with Israel against radical Islam. Why they doesn’t recognize that there are many radical Islamic organizations and groups under many names and they are spread all over the middle east,usa,canada,Europe,astralia and East Asia and their goals are one. 1- Take over all Arabic governments . 2- Transform to Islamic governments. 3-Implement Sharia law. 4-Evacuate Christians because they are infidels.
    5- All of them will unite under the name of (Islamic Khilafah state). 6- Forming Islamic army. 7- control Swis Canal and the exit to the red sea.8-The main goal to surround Israel, and you know the rest of the stupid dream…
    8- Take over America,Europe and the rest of the world.
    Why the American administration didn’t get the lesson from what happened in Iran in 1979 ????
    Through my experience with radical Muslims for more than 20 years in Egypt, I have to tell you that, the only solution is destroying radical Islamic Organizations and groups under any names anywhere and everywhere in the world by all ways,means and tools. They are the real threat to the world now.

    • MarioP


      You are asking why doesn’t the current US administration recognize Egypt as our ally? Of course the current, and the past, US administrations recognized the present Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, as our nation’s ally. He has been on our side for 30 years as the Egyptian president, and several years before that as vice-president. But doesn’t such lengthy presidential reign strike you as odd? It should. President Mubarak has been reelected as president every election since he replaced the assassinated president Sadat in 1981. That’s a pretty impressive reelection record, unless you realize there was no one running against him until the 2005 elections. In 2005 after the Egyptian constitution was amended due to international pressure so the ruling president will actually have some competition during elections, someone did step up to the plate. The brave candidate was Ayman Nour, a member of the “Tomorrow Party”. But when Mubarak won yet again in the 2005 elections due to thousands of illegal votes, Nour demanded a repeat election. Instead Nour was somehow found guilty of forgery and was sentenced to five years of hard labor, a move widely sees as political persecution. This year, 2011, is an election year in Egypt, and the Egyptian people had enough of Mubarak’s rule, which he plans extending through his son.

      So Tymor, what do you expect the current US administration to do? Are you suggesting that we help out Mubarak extend his “dictatorship” or should the US push for a clean and honest election? Isn’t it our purpose to liberate oppressed peoples around the world and prepare the nation for a true democracy? We did that recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. But somehow we overlook certain dictatorships and aristocracies elsewhere. Why aren’t we pushing for democracies in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait? Those nations’ leaders aren’t elected, as they are the kings appointed by their predecessors. So maybe the US mission is not to spread democracy throughout the entire world but only to nations whose leaders do not oblige to our politics. “If you are a dictator or a king of a nation and are siding with our views, you are alright with us!” Hey, sometimes we even plant a puppet ruler/government (Shaw in Iran and Noriega in Panama) just so the people will be oppressed and we don’t have to worry about our enemies taking over.

      I think it’s time for Egypt to put an end to Mubarak’s dictatorship, and the current US administration views it that way as well. The US involvement needs to be minimal, of any, in a situation where the majority of the population is ready for a change. There is no need for extending the control of a disliked/hated and corrupt government, regardless whether its politics side with ours.

  • http://bernardgoldberg daryl duke

    How dare u give your dog my last name. or it could be I took his name. Say is your dog older than 60ish.

  • Konrad Lau

    Bert, you should be ashamed. First you line up all those self-proclaimed “main stream Americans”, then label them accurately (first crime…no labels, please), then you use insightful invective to stir the lame brained among us (Yep, count me as one of your target…Ooo, see, you are beginning to make me talk that way too… audience) to harbor less than warm and fuzzy feelings toward these poor, defenseless folk.

    “I swear, any time members of that union have the gall to claim that anything they’re doing is “for the good of the kids,” I’d very much like to see their heads explode.”

    “It’s funny how these things work with politicians. They are always merely misspeaking about their backgrounds when they claim to be scholars, super athletes and war heroes; they never have a slip of the tongue that results in their confessing to be liars, womanizers and chiselers, although that is so much more often the case.”

    Thank God you don’t live in Canada. I am quite sure you are guilty of using “hate speech” in public.
    I’m going to call my lawyer on Monday to see if I have any liability associated with reading your column.

  • Jan

    Nancy Pelosi. Barbara Boxer. Transgendered lesbians. Joe Biden. Ben Affleck. All proof that we’re living in a bizarro world.

    • MarioP

      George W. Bush. Sarah Palin. Michele Bachmann. Dan Quale. Christine O’Donnell. All elected into our government. Proof that approximately half of our nation is unable to vote in a competent politician.

      I’m not claiming all Republicans in our government are incompetent, since Colin Powell and George Bush Sr. were very capable and intelligent elected officials. But the above political disasters should have never made it into our government, and definitely not as high as the presidency.

      • Ace

        The four you condemned are all vastly superior to Carter, Obama, Pete Stark, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, and a host of other folks of their ilk. By the way, it’s Quayle, not Quale. Colin Powell is and never has been an elected official. You are batting .000, Mario. Go back to your video games.

        • MarioP

          Hey Ace,

          My point about Colin Powell was to show that not every Republican in our government is incompetent. But I can not believe you place Obama below the Republican disasters I mentioned. We have yet to see Obama fail, or at least as badly as those Republican clowns.