2018 Midterms: A Tale of Self-Owning

As God as my witness, I fully intended the primary focus of this column to be on all of the unforced errors Democrats have made in recent weeks to squander their once ginormous midterm election advantage over the Republicans.

I planned to spend several paragraphs pointing to the public backlash prominent Democratic politicians have created with their disgusting conduct throughout the Kavanaugh confirmation process, as well as the vitriolic campaign rhetoric put forth by people like Hillary Clinton and Eric “Kick ’em” Holder.

Heck, I was even going to echo some of the fun my fellow righties have been having at the expense of Senator Elizabeth Warren, over her colossal misstep of publishing the results of a DNA test revealing that pretty much anyone reading this column is more likely to have Native American blood in them than she is.

Actually, I’m still going to have some fun with it…

I mean, think about this for a minute. Warren, who has clearly been eying a presidential run for 2020, voluntarily subjected herself to a DNA test to prove — once and for all — that she is indeed of the Native American heritage that she has longed claimed (in the face of conservative skepticism and heckling) to be. And then she pridefully broadcasted the results on social media, apparently not realizing that they actually suggested that the opposite was likely true.

Make no mistake about it. This was a political catastrophe. President Obama’s 2012 campaign manager even seems to agree:

Warren’s claim of Cherokee ancestry wasn’t just some trivial tidbit she threw around at parties. She advanced her career off the premise.

As National Review’s Jim Geraghty pointed out, Harvard Law School touted Warren as their first “woman of color” law professor.

“Warren self-identified as a ‘Native American’ in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of law professors in every edition printed between 1986 -1995,” noted the Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson.

Additionally, Warren identified herself as a Native American to both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard for purposes of federal reporting. And don’t even get me started on the romantic family story she’s been telling for years about her parents having to elope because of her mother’s Cherokee heritage.

Anyway, back the broader topic: In today’s political landscape, self-owning is clearly a bipartisan activity.

The GOP has been seeing a notable rebound in the polls over the past few weeks. House races are tightening, the enthusiasm gap between parties has narrowed, and fewer Republican seats look to be in jeopardy. Keeping the Senate majority now looks to be a safe bet, and with the economy and job situations continuing to show strength, the Republicans appear to be in a good position to minimize their losses.

So, on cue, President Trump took to Twitter this morning to refer to a woman as “Horseface”:

Aside from the irony that Trump trashed the appearance of a woman he cheated on his former-model wife with, this is the last thing Republican politicians (especially those up for election in a few short weeks) wanted to be asked about by the media. But now they will be, and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to suggest that this was counter-productive (at a sensitive time) to a party that’s been having serious trouble attracting women voters.

Twitter had some good takes:

Now, do I think that this single tweet will be a political game-changer come next month? Probably not. After all, we’re at a point in our politics where a President of the United States can publicly trash the appearance of his former porn-star mistress, and have it easily be forgotten within a couple of days.

Then again, when you’re in the final lap of a race, and the runner you’re rooting for is building momentum toward the finish line, I’d love to hear the political logic behind dropping a banana peel onto the track. Yet, that’s what Trump does to his own party — nearly every time. And it’s always up to the rest of his team to navigate around the unnecessary pitfalls.

Fortunately for Trump (and the Republicans), the Democrats have adopted the same strategy, and thus the same pitfalls.




If She’s a Native American, then I’m Chinese

It’s not exactly breaking news that Donald Trump can be petty. That he can be needlessly vindictive. That he can sound like a kid in fifth grade when he puts down opponents with dopey, demeaning names like Crazy Bernie (Sanders) and Jeff Flakey and Psycho Joe (Scarborough) and Little Rocket Man. But I have to admit to a guilty pleasure: When he calls Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas, I laugh. Out loud.

If Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts, is an American Indian as she claims, then I’m Chinese. For the record, I’m not. Though I have eaten at Chinese restaurants a few times and visited Shanghai once.

But, of course, I could be wrong about the senator’s claim. Maybe she’s telling the truth. Politicians don’t always make stuff up. So a cheap and easy DNA “spit in a tube” test would settle the matter once and for all. But she won’t do it – because Ms. Warren has evidence proving her Native American heritage. What evidence? What she calls, her “family’s stories.”

“As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage,” she has said. “What kid would? But I knew my father’s family didn’t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware, so my parents had to elope.”

A DNA test would be a lot more convincing than that “family story.”

But her tale does get credence in some quarters. On CNN, Jim Acosta, a White House reporter who prides himself on his toughness and skepticism – at least when it comes to anything related to President Trump — asked the senator if the Pocahontas jab annoys her. “Doesn’t that bother you because of your family’s heritage?”

Huh? What family heritage? The one she claims without any proof beyond “family stories”? Memo to Jim: You’re a reporter. Try to act like one.

And then there’s Harvard, where she taught at the Law School. Here’s an excerpt from a CNN story:

“Harvard Law School in the 1990s touted Warren, then a professor in Cambridge, as being ‘Native American.’ They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory. Critics note that she had not done that in her student applications and during her time as a teacher at the University of Texas.

“Warren maintains she never furthered her career by using her heritage to gain advantage.”

Sure!

But wait, it gets better. Some scholars at the most prestigious school in the solar system reportedly said Elizabeth Warren was the Law School’s “first woman of color.”

Only at an elite progressive institution like Harvard could such nonsense pass as a serious observation. Besides, if she’s a woman “of color” what color would that be?

The scholar, Victor Davis Hanson makes an interesting point about the progressive obsession with race and ethnicity. “But what if indeed the pink and blond Warren were found to have 1/32nd or even 1/16th Native American ‘blood’?” he writes in National Review. “Why would that artifact magically make her ‘Indian,’ much less a victim of something or someone, or at least outfitted with a minority cachet?”

Think about it. In the bad old days of the Old South, anyone with a drop of “black blood” was considered not white – and relegated to the second-class citizenship.

Now, one drop of “Indian blood” doesn’t get you a seat in the back of the bus, but in progressive circles it just might help you get a seat on the faculty of the Harvard Law School.

Senator Warren has been doing a lot of TV lately, and while that doesn’t automatically mean she’ll be running for president in 2020, it at least suggests she might be paving the way – even though she claims she’s not interested in the job.

Whether the senator is speaking with a forked tongue or not remains to be seen. Stay tuned.




Are Liberals Racist for Calling Obama Sexist?

racistThis morning, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that President Obama is expecting an apology from Sherrod Brown, a fellow Democrat and U.S. Senator from Ohio. What did Brown say or do that the White House feels warrants an apology? In a nutshell, Brown accused the president of sexism.

You see, President Obama has been receiving some push-back from his own political party lately over some trade policies he’s been pursuing. One of his biggest critics on the matter has been Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic Senator and a darling of the far left. In response to some of the stinging rhetoric Warren has been using to attack the president’s policies, President Obama has publicly taken Warren to task, calling her out for dishonesty.

“She’s absolutely wrong,” Obama said in a recent interview. He added, “The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else. And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there.”

Well, those words didn’t sit well with Sherrod Brown, who backs Warren’s position on trade.

“A number of those phrases he [Obama] used, I assume he wished he hadn’t said them because he shouldn’t have said them,” Brown told reporters the other day. “I’m not going to get into more details. I think referring to her as first name, when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps? I’ve said enough.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) agreed with Brown. They heard sexism in what the president said as well.

“Yes, I think it is sexist,” Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, told a reporter. “I think the president was trying to build up his own trustworthiness on this issue by convincing us that Senator Warren’s concerns are not to be taken seriously. But he did it in a sexist way.”

O’Neill added that Obama’s “clear subtext is that the little lady just doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I think it was disrespectful.”

So do Brown and O’Neill have a point? Is it sexist for our male president to refer to a female senator by her first name? Is it sexist for him to swat off her concerns as being invalid? If there is to be any shred of consistency under modern-day progressive standards, the answer has to be…Yes.

After all, the liberal movement has taught us in recent years that lots of things are sexist…

If you criticize a female member of the Obama administration, you’re certainly a sexist. If you clumsily say “binders full of women” instead of “binders full of women applicants,” you must view women as objects and not people. If you don’t share Sandra Fluke’s dream of free birth control for all, you’re not only sexist, but you’re also waging a “War on Women.” If you’re a female senator who loses her seat in Louisiana, it’s because of sexism. If you don’t believe we need new gender-based anti-discrimination laws to do what current laws already do, you must be in favor of discrimination. If you’re a woman waiting in a long line to use a public restroom, it’s because of sexism. And of course, if you dare scrutinize a candidate who could become our first woman president, you might as well be a male character from the television show, Mad Men. I could go on all day with this, but I think you get the gist.

We all know from Barbara’s Boxer’s famous 2009 exchange with Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh just how important the title of “Senator” is to our elected representatives, so why would our president publicly refer to Senator Warren by her first name, and in such a dismissive way?

Well, since she’s not a conservative (which would of course negate all such logic), the answer has to be sexism.

But here’s where things get messy: Modern day liberalism has also taught us over the past seven years that public criticism of President Obama is inherently racist. Thus, aren’t Warren, Brown, and O’Neill all racists? After all, that’s the standard that’s been applied to everyone from the Tea Party to Bill Clinton.

So how does one sort all of these accusations, in the land of identity-politics, victimization, and politically correct sensibilities? After careful analysis, I created a points system that gave me the answers as to which progressive leaders are right, and which ones are wrong:

Senator Sherrod Brown earns one point for being a liberal. That affords him many PC protections that would never be granted to a conservative, but it doesn’t get him particularly far on his side of the political spectrum.

National Organization of Women president Terry O’Neill gets two points: One for being a liberal and one for being a woman.

President Obama gets two points as well, for being a liberal who happens to be an African American.

The big winner today is Senator Elizabeth Warren who earns a decisive three points for being a liberal woman who’s also a Native American from the Cherokee Nation. Well played, Senator. Well played.

Blood Trade by John A. DalyThe science is settled then: Our president is a sexist… and possibly even a racist… against Native Americans. And if you’re offended or insulted by my analysis, you now know what it’s like to be a conservative who is vilified with this nonsense each and every day.

I’ve got to tell you…I don’t know how those who subscribe to this methodology can mentally keep up with it. I tried to get into the head of a bigot-baiter for the sake of writing this one column, and it left me totally exhausted. Wouldn’t it be much easier and far more productive to just weigh conflicts and disagreements based on the merits of the actual arguments, rather than viewing everything through prisms of gender and ethnicity? What a novel idea!

I guess that when your arguments and ideas aren’t any good, the presumption of bigotry is your last resort.

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If you’re interested in a signed, personalized copy of my novel ‘From a Dead Sleep’ you can order one from my website. It also makes a great gift!




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.

Burt’s Webcast is every Wednesday at Noon Pacific Time.
Tune in at K4HD.com His Call-in Number is: (818) 570-5443

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




Divas & Demons

When it comes to divas, the ones who would generally come to mind are Beyonce, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.  But one who is clearly entitled to her rightful place on any list of arrogant, demanding, wildly overpaid female celebrities is none other than Hillary Clinton.  It’s true that, unlike the others, she can’t carry a tune in a suitcase.  But to be fair she has a talent they lack.  She has the ability to crack glass with her unnerving cackle.

It’s bad enough that Mrs. Clinton went on TV and claimed that she and Bill were flat broke when they left the White House in 2001, trolling for sympathy from all us yokels who are struggling to survive Obama’s economic policies.  Apparently Hillary’s contempt for everyone who isn’t Hillary is so great that she assumed that none of us were aware that both she and Bill had multi-million dollar book deals just waiting for them to turn off the lights in the White House.

But it now comes out that if you’re goofy enough to write her a check for $300,000 so she’ll deign to show up and give one of her boring lectures, you better keep your checkbook handy.  It seems she is every bit as demanding as Michelle Obama on a bad hair day.  For starters, you will have to provide a private jet with seating for 16 for the roundtrip to your venue.  You will also have to set aside 20 seats at the event for her entourage.  Next, you’ll have to provide her with a presidential suite at the hotel of her choice, along with three adjoining rooms for her various stooges.  Finally, you’ll have to pony up enough to pay for all their meals and phone calls, along with $1,250 for madam’s stenographer.

In return, she will grant you 90 minutes of her time, the taking of no more than 50 photos with no more than 100 guests, and absolutely no press coverage.

In the meantime, the man she’d like to replace in the Oval Office is behaving even crazier than usual, giving speeches in which he goes from vowing to decimate the terrorists in Iraq to suggesting he would be willing to simply manage them.  This is a wimp who couldn’t manage a Pony League baseball team pretending he can manage the barbarians in the Middle East.

Speaking of those barbarians, why is it they can’t settle on a name?  First, they were ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).  Then, a couple of days later, they were calling themselves ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).  The next thing I knew, they were simply IS (the Islamic State.)  But the day isn’t over.  Nobody’s gone through so many name changes since Elizabeth Taylor wound up with a tombstone engraved Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky.

The way that Obama is dithering around, when even his vice-president, his secretary of defense, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Elizabeth Warren, and the Pope, are calling for decisive military action against the head-hacking butchers, I’m wondering if he thinks that voters this November will be sufficiently distracted by the Middle East – foreign policy being something that generally doesn’t sway many voters – to forget about the economy, the racist policies of Eric Holder and ObamaCare.  I’m reminded that George Will recently channeled Lily Tomlin’s bag lady character who was wont to say, “No matter how cynical you are, you just can’t keep up.”

If Obama really sought advice when it comes to foreign affairs, he’d be wise to heed John Slawinski, who sums it up this way : “Whenever there’s trouble in the world, foreign nations and their people should either say, ‘Thank God the Americans are here’ or ‘God help us, the Americans are here.’”

Instead, we’re stuck with a schmuck in the White House who insists that the world is safer than it’s ever been, while acknowledging the world is always a messy place.  Dismissing what is going on in Ukraine, North Korea, China, Iran, Syria and Iraq, as “messy” would qualify for a gold medal if the Olympics included a competition for English understatement.

I was recently ruminating about Israel’s bleak future.  One needn’t be Nostradamus to see a vicious cycle of being attacked by her neighbors; eventually striking back and being condemned by the world community for doing so; agreeing to a ceasefire; then agreeing to go through the motions of negotiating with people sworn to annihilate you until the talks are inevitably interrupted by the next attack, which eventually will involve Iranian nukes.

I realize that Jews have lived there for thousands of years and that the Bible refers to Israel as the Jewish homeland, but in my head I see God tearing his hair out and hollering, “Can’t anyone take a joke?  Why on earth would anyone think I’d expect my Chosen People to live among evil, swinish cultists whose only purpose in life is to kill Jews and — oh by the way — settle on the only land for miles around that has no oil under it?  Who in his right mind would move into such a neighborhood?  Actually, when I was talking about a Promised Land, I had Des Moines in mind.”

Burt’s Webcast is every Wednesday at Noon Pacific Time.

Tune in at K4HD.com His Call-in Number is: (818) 570-5443

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