The 1960s Live Again

I have long insisted that the decline of America began roughly 50 years ago. That was the decade that saw the liberals take a hacksaw to the black family, as LBJ and thousands of social workers did everything they could to drive black husbands and fathers out of the household. It also saw the advent of the Free Speech movement that started out in Berkeley and culminated in Kent State.

Snapshots of the decade would include the Yippies rioting in the streets of Chicago, the Black Panthers murdering people in Oakland, suburban couples engaged in wife-swapping, and parents all over the country looking to swap places with their children, while extolling the hedonistic life style summed up by the odious phrase ”sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”.

Had it all ended with January 1, 1970, it would have been bad enough. Unfortunately, far too many of the young folks grew up to become the judges, professors, journalists and politicians, who are still causing immeasurable mischief. For good measure, their ignorant grandchildren helped elect Barack Obama in 2008 and will try to get him re-elected in 2012.

One of the most quoted lines from the 60s was uttered by lifelong political activist Jack Weinberg, who along with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden, helped make it such an execrable period: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Thanks to those guys and their latter-day equivalents in the Occupy Wall Street movement, it’s fair to suggest that a wiser course of action is to trust nobody under 30 unless they happen to be wearing an Army, Navy or Marine, uniform.

The pain of inflation, the sort brought about by the Federal Reserve running the printing presses 24/7 ever since Obama came along; was brought home to me after watching a couple of old movies recently. Both of which were scripted by Peter Stone. In the 1963 release, “Charade,” four crooks devote nearly 20 years to trying to get their hands on $250,000. Even if you forget about the dough they had to spend tracking their prize all over Europe, you can’t help thinking that if they’d just opened up a garage or a coffee shop, the guys would have made a lot more money. Then, in the 1965 movie, “Mirage,” Gregory Peck goes into an upscale bar in Manhattan and orders a Scotch. “That’ll be 90 cents,” the bartender reminds him when he shows signs of leaving without paying.

This being the holiday season, I found myself thinking about a few of those we annually celebrate. Thanksgiving is an oddity because we wind up eating a lot of stuff that we apparently have absolutely no interest in the other 364 days of the year.

For some stupid reason, we went from honoring our two greatest presidents on two separate days to celebrating President’s Day, a generic term that suggests that along with Washington and Lincoln, we’re also tipping our hat to the likes of Wilson, Carter, Clinton and Obama.

But perhaps the oddest of all is Labor Day, when we pretend to honor hard work by taking the day off to listen to long-winded speeches by the likes of Richard Trumka, Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., and Barack Obama, quite possibly the three laziest men in America.

Speaking of Obama, I realize that back in 2008 he was called The One. Now that we know him so much better, I’m having a hard time deciding on a more appropriate moniker. A few that I’ve considered are Nanny Barack, the Preacher, the Great Pretender, the Scolder-in-Chief and Chairman Obama.

But, here’s hoping that after January, 2013, we’ll be able to simply refer to him as the Dearly Departed.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky.Comments? Write!
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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.
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  • Peter

    Yippies should be hippies = Fail

    From Wikipedia

    The Youth International Party, whose members were commonly called Yippies, was a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

  • T Geloso

    First off, are you kiddin’ me… yippies ? It was hippies.
    That’s unbelieveable for somebody who was of that generation to make an obvious mistake like that.
    How many serial notstalgic non sensitites can you come up with Burt ?
    After WWII America was a “button downed” society where there was stratification with the WASP males on top, and the burgeoning control of the military industrial complex in control of them. Many times, the two could be the same. Remember Eisenhowers Iron Cross speech when he was stepping down. Problally not, that’d be too much for you.
    Women, blacks, and anybody else that wasn’t a WASP were automatically inferior.
    The 60’s came along to challenge that and more.
    Why don’t you (both singular and plural) who don’t like looking at Americas political/ economic underbelly just admit that you don’t know “squat” about it and stop all the verbal masturbation about a supposed son of it, that draws your half baked ire.
    The decline you people bemoan wasn’t anything of the sort, at all. Yes, it was a convulsive, and was an upheaval that was inevitable, given the suppression of different sectors of society for so long.
    If a shark doesn’t move it dies, the same goes for societies. If they don’t move towards a more equitable division of weallth and power it dies.
    That time period (the 60’s) was another one of others in this country that occured.
    People like you Burt, and many others aren’t equipped to handle it emotionally and intellectually which really isn’t anybody’s problem but your own. But that does get to be others problems when you “shoot from the lip.”
    Try a disinfectant by removing your head from your postierior and get it out into the light to breath some fresh air as an antidote to your motley self righteous aggrandizing.

    • ph16


      There were definitely positive changes in the 1960s like blacks and women getting equal rights, I’ll grant you that. However, are you saying that the breakdown of the family, the sex without consequences, the whole drugs thing, and basically leading to more children being raised by single mothers was a good thing?

    • Steve Angers

      You seem like a glass-half-full kind of guy, T, and that’s not a bad thing. The Sixties brought about many changes in American society. Some of them were good and necessary. We’re a little caught up in the negative influences of the decade in this thread, so it’s probably a good thing you dropped by. You seem to have some interesting insights and I’m sure I’d enjoy a discussion with you if time permits.

      Fwiw, Burt is right with the Yippies reference. It was Abby Hoffman and company, the Youth International Party, having some good, clean fun in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

      Take care.

  • Rick Daniel

    Burt, I hope you’re right. I agree that nobody who voted against Obama will vote for him this time, he didn’t win by all that much and a lot of people who did vote for him are disenchanted — I know several myself. You give me hope.

  • robin in fl

    Another great take on it Burt.

    Since I can only remember from early 60’s ,it’s no wonder I tell people I was born “old soul”….I mean I was always drawn to things that were around before I was even born..and now I know why.At times all I can do is shake my head when I listen to certain people and think are they kidding,?? do they really believe what they are saying?? I am just glad I only bought into certain things for a short time ,at least until I found out for myself that SO many were full of……well you get the idea..

    keep up the good work..and remember some of us that have only been around since 60’s can still think and see clearly :)….

  • Cybergeezer

    Is it just me, or do people really seem more polarized now than back then?

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Wallace, you’re right.

    Rick: You didn’t miss much. As parties go, the 60s was pretty much a washout.

    Drew: No Party ever looks good during the primaries. And we always think that the opposition will use one contender’s words against another, whoever the nominee turns out to be. But Obama managed to survive Hillary’s attacks and I’m sure Romney will be able to survive Newt’s and Rick’s.

    What we have to keep in mind is that Obama did not win big in 2008. In fact, he trailed in the September polls to McCain, who ran a terrible campaign. I contend that nobody who didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 is going to vote for him in 2012, and a great many people who voted for “Hope and Change” learned their lesson and will not make that mistake this time around.


  • Rick Daniel

    The thing that really annoys me abut the ’60s is that I was in engineering school and missed the whole thing! Didn’t have time. By the time I graduated, the party was over! I did end up with a marketable skill, and managed to remain gainfully employed for 35 years or so, so I guess that’s some consolation …

    I would truly love to see BO take a severe drubbing, but his apparent plan to pander to the lowest common denominator has me worried. As they say, if you plan to rob Peter to pay Paul, you can usually count on Paul’s support, and there are lots of them out there. There are a lot of people out there who try to do the minimum thinking they can, and they’ll take a good slogan over a rational thought every time!

  • Drew Page

    Because Obama has never left campaign mode, Republicans have been attempting to find the right candidate to defeat him for over a year now. Aside from the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls, we had those who flirted with the process like Sarah Palin, Jon Bolten, Trump and even Rudy Guiliani. We had those who dropped out early, like Pawlenty and those who hung on awhile longer, like Cain and Bachman. We have had an endless series of debates and interviews where candidates criticized each other and political analysis of all of this. While this provided a public vetting, it made the Republicans look foolish and in disarray. It also provided the Democrats and endless number of campaign soundbites that they will use against whomever the Republican candidate turns out to be. I hope that when these primaries are over, we can come together to support the Republican nominee and remove from office the most dangerous president in the history of the U.S.

  • Wallace Flint

    Hi Burt,
    The 1960’s nearly did this great country in!
    If this country had to go thru this again, then God help us! Why those clowns got away with what they did is beyond me. A swift boot in the ass is what they should have gotten!

    In God We Trust!
    Wally Flint- BoonVille, NY

  • Wallace Flint

    Hi Burt,
    That statement by Obama that he is kinda lazy reminds me of an old song back in the 30’s called “Lazy Bones”. It seems to fit Obama pretty damned good.

    In God We Trust!
    Wally Flint- Boonville, NY

  • Florida Jim

    Giving money to any group makes them depenent and useless.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Marina: It is amazing that all those people spend all those years chasing $250,000 in “Charade.” But another oddity is that Audrey Hepburn and her husband lived lavishly in Paris and she had a Givenchy wardrobe on her Swiss vacation, and yet the $250,000 is still intact by the time that the crooks catch up with them. Very odd.


  • Webmaster

    Yes, I had written about LBJ’s program on a Web page that is part of my research module titled, Fascism Comes to America. This page’s URL is below and discusses, for instance, how the media focused on those who were trapped in New Orleans by Katrina while ignoring others who, having immigrated to America, worked it out for themselves, not wanting our government involved in their lives. It was a story virtually buried by almost all of the far-left agenda-driven mainstream media that continues to push for a huge liberal progressive government taking over our lives instead of highlighting the need for individual responsibility, the foundation of this Republic if we still have one.


    Hi Burt,

    I am not making this up.

    I watched Charade one evening and couldn’t believe it was about $250,000! Maybe, it is in
    some way “six degrees of separation.”

    Bottom Line: Liberals make me ill, but I agree with the comment that BHO is not the problem, it is the people that voted for him.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Mehootie: I’m thinking if you can just deliver all the votes of your kids and grandkids next November, Obama is a sure loser.

    Steve Angers: Your comment is longer than my article. Maybe next time you can write the article and I’ll write the comment. That’s not to say I disagree with you.

    Best wishes, Burt

    • Steve Angers

      Sorry, Burt. As has been pointed out before at this site, I can be quite long-winded at times.

  • Steve Angers

    As you point out, Burt, the 1960s was a seminal decade in American history; much of it not in a good way. We can trace the roots of many things that are not going well in this country, forty and fifty years later, to that one decade. It was a decade of new developments in culture, politics, technology and in international relations. And it was a decade of changing attitudes about our institutions, about each other, and about ourselves. The Sixties also saw the development, or substantial growth, of technological phenomena that have helped to amplify the negative effects of the social developments of that era. All these changes have had a profound influence on American life.

    In addition to the Great Society and other examples you addressed, and in no particular order, are many Sixties-era developments that made an impact we can still feel today:

    The 1960s saw the beginning of the California education reforms sweeping across the country. Whatever their modest benefits, they have also contributed to a steady decline in fundamental academic skills that has impacted the competitiveness of our work force and our ability to function effectively as individuals in our society.

    During the Sixties, we experienced the beginning of the decline of American manufacturing that would eventually lead to major shifts in emphasis in our economy and would increase transience in worker-employer relationships.

    The decade witnessed a rapid growth of consumerism and the real birth of the two-earner family, with attendant breakdown in the connections between parents and children.

    The 1960s were also the decade of the Vietnam War, an experience of great human tragedy, that helped to undermine Americans’ belief in our ability to do good in the world as well as our trust in our government.

    The 1960s, with growing concern about nuclear weapons, was a decade when Americans became increasingly fearful of technology and our ability to use some of those tools to make the world a better place.

    The decade saw the emergence of music as a powerful and distinctly youth-oriented cultural experience, increasing the strength of divisions between generations in our society.

    The 1960s witnessed the birth of the drug culture, with its manifold social and economic costs.

    Television became an increasingly pervasive cultural influence during the 1960s, opening Americans to a wide range of events, ideas, values and attitudes, both good and bad. Television significantly amplified the effects of other phenomena by making us more aware of what was going on in the world without providing sufficient tools to evaluate and understand that information.

    The transistor radio became popular during the Sixties, inexpensive and portable, marking a real beginning of the ability to personalize entertainment, increasing demand for similar technology, and making entertainment more of an individual experience.

    The 1960s was a time when America’s love affair with the automobile became much more intense. It was wonderful for our personal freedom, but also helped accelerate the decline of our connectedness to region, community, and often to family.

    And the 1960s were the formative years of the computer revolution which, decades later, would help further individualize, and remove the human connectedness from, entertainment, information, and sharing ideas.

    The Sixties, as a decade, saw a dramatic expansion of personal freedom, but an even more rapid growth in the pressures on individuals, along with a reduction in the amount of human support available from institutions, community, and family. The early years of the directionless decade that followed, with confidence in our government and social institutions further eroded by the Watergate scandal and similar events, helped to cement the baleful influence of much of the worst of the Sixties experience.

    1960s America was the setting for a confluence of significant events and developments that have shaped our lives for the worse in the years that followed. Like no other decade in my lifetime, it influenced our ideas about American institutions, our relationship to our country, and our relationship to the world around us. It produced changes that have contributed to making us less connected to our institutions and to each other, and less connected to our sense of being Americans with a common mission to make our nation and our world a better place. The Sixties began a process that has undermined our confidence in our country, in our cultural institutions, in our communities, and in ourselves. We have lost faith in our ability, individually and collectively, to live up to the ideals we once had for ourselves. We have lost our connection to, and our faith in, each other.

    But while we have wandered off course, we can still find our way back. The Sixties have left us their example and a wide range of communication tools. If we use them wisely, they could still enable us to make a better future. We need to understand what has gone wrong and why. We need to recognize who we were and who we now are. Then we need to find common ground with the great majority of our fellow Americans around who we want to become. And we must have the wisdom to use our knowledge and technology to make sure we arrive, together, at the destination of our choosing. Despite the legacy of the Sixties, there’s still a brilliant future waiting for America if we can find our way there.

  • Iklwa

    In the 60’s, liberals wanted to get control of society.
    The smart ones worked within society’s structure and placed themselves in positions of power…namely they inundated the educational system.
    They worked tirelessly to indoctrinate students with liberal ideologies and mindsets and were eminently successful.

    A generation later, those well educated people filled with liberal ideologies made their impact on society.
    Those same students now adults entered educational fields, became government employees and elected officials to local, state and national office.
    They implemented those liberal agendas and spending programs learned about not so long ago in our prestigious schools.

    The one problem is: they never took any economics while studying.

    I find it ironic that now those generous spending programs have come back to haunt the self-same professors lodged in those prestigious institutions of higher learning.
    Their jobs are now on the chopping black along with the rest of the Great Unwashed.
    Case in point…Western Washington University.

    It is also ironic that the only solutions proposed by that esteemed body (WWU) is…wait for the drum roll…here it comes…Da Ta Da Da…raise taxes.

    • Steve Angers

      Good points. In the 1960s, liberals definitely seemed to flock to fields that had great influence on how we all thought. Many ended up in academia, the press, the entertainment industry and as government bureaucrats. And their placement in those fields has made it so difficult to generate any traction to change public perceptions about our society that, in my more paranoid moments, I often wonder if it wasn’t done by design.

  • Shane

    With all the left wing radicals in the Obama administration and with the OWS protests, today does seem a lot like the 60’s. Let’s hope Obama has the same trouble Humphrey had with rioting protestors at the Dem nominating convention!

  • Bill Hurdle

    I would like to second your setiments sir! I am 67 and only recall the radicals as being oddities on TV. I thought at the time that they were abberations of large metropolitan areas. But it seems these free thinkers have an affinity for academic institutions and over the course of 40 years have come to dominate higher education. Not only do they disagree with self reliance they also feel that any personal financial success was gained through exploitation – they view life as a zero sum game.
    Barrack Obama may be at the extreme edge of this thinking, but I believe we now have a country where this thinking is very near 50% – all it takes is a few converts to win an election. As I saw in a recent opinion piece, BHO is not the problem it’s the people that elected him.

  • IndependentLasVegas

    I think the real name for Obama is the Anti Christ!

  • Mehootie

    I look forward to your column and the insight you impart..
    Having been a child of that period I remember it well..I wish I didn’t..
    Now at 65 with 15 grandkids I see our country headed to point that if BHO isn’t stopped in Nov., Our country will be lost forever..
    They have taken away 90% of our freedoms saying that we need to be protected..What we need, is protection from the government and their overreaching into our lives..
    I didn’t protest then, but I am ready to now!
    Stop the madness!

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Ken: Actually, the unilateral disarmament movement even predated Jimmy Carter. All through the Cold War, there were leftists demanding that the U.S. set a good example for the Soviet Union. Our misfortune is that those people mated and today, their children and grandchildren are judges, reporters, editors, college professors, congressmen, senators and the president.

    cma: Obama is indeed trapped in a virtual time capsule. The tragedy is that it’s not an actual one.


    • Steve Angers

      Those unilateral disarmament folks and genetics sure had an interesting effect, at times. I had a good buddy who I think was the product of a unilateral disarmer and a strident anti-communist. He was a huge fan of unilateral disarmament during the ’80s. He just couldn’t decide, from day to day, whether we should accomplish his goal by dismantling our warheads or by launching them at the Russians. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

  • Randy

    We are really suffering under the rule of the radicals of the sixties. They have lived long enough to have gotten the power they used to protest against. And now they are in power, they are the only right people in the room and anyone that disagrees with them are to be destroyed. Witness the treatment the tea party has enjoyed. Isn’t it ironic that they are now “the man”? Isn’t the old saw that absolute power corrupts absolutely now proved so painfully true? If a president in Obama’s old “organizing” days would have behaved as he has behaved, there would have been hell to pay!

  • Ken Besig

    A lot of people still see the youth rebellion of the 1960’s as the template for America’s renewal.
    I would only remark that the “rebellion” ended with the end of the draft, and many of the kids who participated in it have grown up but they still believe that those were the best years of their lives, you know, the drugs, the “free” love, the seemingly endless adolescence. Unfortunately, Barack Obama himself was raised on this pap, as were his wife, his Reverend Wright, and most of Obama’s advisors. The 1960’s is what rules Obama and his most ardent followers and they are not going to give up a chance to repeat those years no matter that it may destroy America. Just look now at how Obama wants to unilaterally disarm the American military, shades of Jimmy Carter and Viet Nam!

  • cmacrider

    Burt: You touch on a issue which I am surprised has not received more criticism in the Media. If you look at Obama’s positions since he became elected there is nothing “hopey and changey” about it. State medicine is an old old concept instituted in Canada in the Sixties and in Europe in a similar time frame.His mild experimental moves into protectionism is hardly a new revolutionary concept. He stimulous package is based on Keynes who formulated his thougts in about 1934 to deal with a liquidity crisis when states had much higher trade barriers. Obama is caught in a time capsule built in the 1960’s and his socialism is completely outdated when foreward thinking people are seeing a paradigm shift away from the traditional welfare state. Point: Why is every right wing writer and publisher not depicting obama as he is …. a person caught in a time capsule built in the 1960’s and his insistence on the status quo makes him totally unqualified to deal with a global economy in the 21st. century.
    Cameron D. MacKay

  • Burt Prelutsky

    I really do believe that Obama will be defeated in November. The important thing is that the other contenders don’t turn on the eventual GOP nominee and that loony Ron Paul doesn’t play the spoiler as a third party candidate. If he even tries it, I hope someone will finally have him committed to a nursing home.


    • Rick M

      Burt; while I do believe the 2012 election is for us to lose; I have yet to hear a Republican line of attack that will undermine the likely Democrat appeal to voters. That is, Barack is a victim of circumstance and Republican malfeasance. If that is allowed to take root in the popular culture, He’s Back.

  • A. K. Steele

    Dearly departed would be a nice name to call him, but I fear it will be Mr. second term. I can still recall the days BO (before Obama) when I had a good, steady job, fuel and food prices were at least affordable, and there was hope for the future rather than looking what else to cut from my budget (I remember going out to eat in 2008). At least he hasn’t done anything to bulk rice sales…yet. I am cynical, to say the least and just hope that the boobs trying to unseat him can come together for that goal. I am even willing to go cold for a month if the money would help push him out of office.

  • Shirl

    I hear that BO’s campaign theme is to be that he couldn’t get the Republicans to go along with his policies and that is why our economic situation hasn’t turned around. The GOP should all boldly agree that they will never go along with his socialist agenda for America; and there lies the GREAT DIVIDE. He could also be called the great divider just to put it mildly. We are on the edge of an eddy about to be sucked in an abyss, never to recover if we don’t turn this mother ship around and no one can tell me that he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing. I’m sick of people giving the benefit of the doubt or excuses.

  • Glen Stambaugh

    Burt, great piece as you amazingly can do routinely. It’s too bad that when BO can be called “Dearly Departed” (electorally), he can’t take all those other losers with him. I’m sure the nature of politics would still be ugly & disagreeable, but it would be on much more constructive issues than those served up by the left.