Trump’s Remarks About the Media Aren’t Harmless

Last week, prior to the release of details on Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent torture and murder, Ben Rhodes wrote a piece in The Atlantic linking President Trump’s foreign policy to the Saudi Arabian journalist’s abduction. Rhodes, a former deputy national-security adviser to President Obama, essentially argued that Trump mishandled a changing of the guard within the Saudi government, and in effect loosened restraints and lifted pressure in regard to how the regime approaches human rights.

But it was this statement from Rhodes that particularly got under the skin of some on the political right:

“Sadly, we know where this is likely to lead: a further consolidation of power under MbS in Saudi Arabia, and a decisive victory for the counterrevolution that has carried the day since the early days of the Arab Spring; more danger for journalists around the world, who can no longer count on the support of the world’s most powerful nation from a president of the United States who has branded journalists the ‘enemy of the state’…”

Some commentators believed that Rhodes was implying that Trump’s harsh critiques of the American media have demonstrated a kinship or somewhat of a parallel between how our president and authoritarian regimes regard the role and value of journalists. I’m not convinced that’s what he meant. I suspect he was trying to make the point that Trump’s perceived vilification of the press in our country sends a dangerous message to authoritarian regimes that the U.S. government may not be all that interested in addressing (in any meaningful way) the violent targeting of journalists abroad.

If that was indeed Rhodes’ point (and perhaps I’m being too charitable in my assessment), I don’t think it’s a point we should reflexively dismiss. Regardless of how you feel about Rhodes (who spends a lot hours on social media these days hurling breathtakingly hypocritical insults at Trump), there’s something to be said about how other countries interpret our president’s rhetoric.

Over the past couple of years, Trump’s loyal supporters have pushed the notion that people shouldn’t take what Trump says literally, but rather assess his presidency exclusively by his actions (his policies and the results of those policies). It isn’t any secret why they’ve been saying this: they understandably get tired of trying to rationalize every stupid thing that comes out of Trump’s mouth.

Aside from the obvious double-standard of this “deeds not words” philosophy (no other U.S. politician, let alone a president, has ever been afforded the luxury of having no accountability tied to what he or she says), the premise is a fallacy. Of course a president’s words matter. They always have and they always will. The leader of the free world is one of the most influential people on the planet. Pretending that what he says isn’t of any consequence is ridiculous.

When a U.S. president calls the media “the enemy of the American people,” or when he makes excuses for Vladimir Putin’s murdering of journalists, or when he lauds a politician from his party for physically assaulting a reporter (as he did last Thursday in Montana), the world hears that. And no amount of partisan rationalizing on cable news is going to keep bad actors in other countries from drawing their own conclusions as to what it means.

It’s one thing to call out the media for its biases. That’s healthy for democracy, and the critiques are tied to specific behavior. It’s a very different thing to present the press as an enemy, or journalists as people not worthy of being protected.

Trump said on Thursday that if the Saudi Arabian government was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder (pretty much a certainty at this point), they will face “very severe” consequences. If he holds true to that threat, there should be less room moving forward for global interpretation of his views on free speech and human rights.

And that would be a good thing.

Biden, Baloney & Beheadings

On the chance that for one reason or another Hillary Clinton decides not to run in 2016, Joe Biden wants us all to know that, after spending most of his adult life at the public trough, he is willing to sacrifice his golden years to being president. It’s worth noting that he would be 72 years old when he’d move into the White House, meaning he would be 80 when he moved out. One look at Obama’s white hair should remind everyone that even a president who’s always taking off for Martha’s Vineyard or Hawaii, seems to age at supernatural speed.

Inasmuch as I’m 74, I wouldn’t want to hold his age against him, especially when there are so many other, even more compelling, reasons Biden shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office, even as a member of a tour group.

For one thing, although he was sold to us in 2008 as a man with a great deal of experience when it came to foreign affairs, as a senator he was inevitably wrong. And for the past six years, his chief function was cheerleading for the worst president in U.S. history. Will any of us ever forget the moment when the biggest potty-mouth in Washington leaned in close to Obama’s left ear and told him that the Affordable Care Act was “a big f—–g deal!”

In “The First Family Detail,” Ron Kessler’s latest book about the Secret Service, Kessler reminds us that in 2011, Obama put Biden in charge of cutting government waste. As executive decisions go, that ranks right up there with putting a fox in charge of the White House chicken coop. At least a fox wouldn’t cost taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars a year flying between the coop in Washington, D.C., and his den in Wilmington, Delaware. Furthermore, I very much doubt that — unlike Biden — any self-respecting fox would charge the Secret Service $2,200-a-month for the cottage that the agents assigned to protect him are forced to rent.

This is the same vice-president who spent Labor Day telling UAW members in Detroit: “It’s time to take back America.” His rallying cry drew predictable cheers from the assembled louts. But how is it possible that not even one person in the crowd raised his hand and asked, “Do you mean take it back from you and Obama?”

A Missouri state senator, Jamilah Nasheed, has been all over TV, insisting that Robert McCulloch can’t be trusted to prosecute the Michael Brown case for the novel reason that he didn’t win a majority of the black vote. I found that fascinating because Barack Obama didn’t win the majority of the white vote in 2008 or 2012. In fact, no Democratic presidential candidate has done so since LBJ back in 1964, which explains the Democrats’ endless pandering to black voters during the half century since then.

One of my readers, Penny Alfonso, has suggested that one of the most over-used expressions in America is the one that goes “We need to have a national conversation about (race) (guns) (police violence),” pointing out that, in spite of what Eric Holder claims to the contrary, we already have these conversations. They take place all the time at dinner tables, in the workplace, in taverns, ballparks and churches.

The fact is I hear from more people than most congressmen. What’s more, they hear back from me. In my experience, writing to one’s representative is a waste of a postage stamp. You either get a canned one-size-fits-all-occasions note or nothing at all.

Generally, when people call for a national conversation, they, like Attorney General Holder mean, shut up, listen to my litany of grievances, apologize for being (a racist), (a misogynist), (a homophobe), (a patriotic gun owner) or (a Christian) and admit the error of your ways.

Equally annoying is the statement to which so many members of this sleazy administration are addicted: “I can’t possibly comment in the midst of an ongoing investigation.”

Frankly, I don’t know why people decide to run off and be war correspondents, but I would suggest that anyone who decides that his destiny demands that he venture into Middle East conflicts pack a poison pill along with his toilet paper and bottled water. It would sure beat getting beheaded by some Muslim creep. And it certainly makes for a better obituary than one that happens to mention that your last words were propaganda statements attacking America.

Speaking of the Middle East, the king of Saudi Arabia recently said that people shouldn’t support terrorists. I’m not sure if you file that one under Irony or Hypocrisy. After all, the Saudi royal family has been paying off Muslim extortionists for decades in the hope that the Islamic alligators will eat them last.

Between Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Syria, the world has become a very wicked place. But the truth is that since 1988, we’ve elected two Bushes, one Clinton and an Obama. So not only haven’t we been part of the solution, we’ve been a major part of the problem. I would suggest that you’d do better than that quartet by randomly picking four names out of the phonebook.

And as much joy as I get from kicking Obama in the shins every chance I get, and ridiculing his constant need to be playing golf and attending fundraisers, the only people I know who think they’re entitled to take five week summer vacations are the French and the members of Congress.

But at least the French know how to speak French, whereas most members of Congress can barely ask for directions to the bathroom in English.

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

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write

“Where, Oh Where, Is Barry Goldwater?”

I realize that the late Sen. Goldwater is anathema to liberals, even to those who only know him as the unfortunate victim of a famous TV spot in which a little girl picking a flower appears to be vaporized by a nuclear bomb. The vile message in 1964 was that Goldwater was a nutburger who was anxious to get us involved in a nuclear showdown with the Soviet Union. Because most voters 50 years ago were just as dumb as they are today, 61% of them voted for LBJ, who took that as a signal to sink us even deeper into the quagmire of Vietnam.

What more people should remember about Goldwater is based on fact, not a slander perpetuated by a cynical political operative; namely, that he was the man, the Republican senator, who went to Richard Nixon and told him to his face that it was time to resign, that he was an embarrassment not only to the nation, but to the political party to which they both belonged.

Isn’t it a shame that there is no Democrat of equal stature who will go to Obama and point out that what he is doing by ignoring the Constitutional limits on the executive branch, by racking up one scandal after another and by unleashing the dogs at the IRS and the EPA on innocent Americans, is not only bad for the nation, but will be a disaster for every Democrat seeking election this coming November?

Instead, such influential senators as Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Boxer, Sanders and Levin, like parents who choose to subsidize their son’s heroin addiction, clap Obama on the back and tell him he’s doing a swell job.

To better judge just how great a job Obama is doing, the son of a friend of mine drew up a comparison between 2008 and today. Six years ago, we had 118 million fulltime workers, today there are a million fewer. Because we now have more people, that means that workplace participation back then was 65%; today it’s down to 62.8%. Home ownership has dipped from 67.5% to 65%. Median income has gone from $53,644 to $51,017. The poverty level has risen from 13.2% to 15%. Obama has increased the number of people receiving food stamps from 28.2 million to a ridiculous 47.6 million. And, finally, and perhaps most disastrous of all, the debt to GDP ratio has soared from 64.8% to 101.6%.

With the midterm elections now less than four months away, it bears my repeating myself that a vote for any Democrat is a vote for more of the same from Obama and his acolytes. And if you happen to have been one of those Republican brats who stayed home in 2012 because Rick Santorum, Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich, wasn’t the nominee, or because Romney was a Mormon, you have no right to blame a biased media or voter fraud for saddling us with four additional years of the worst president, and the most corrupt administration in American history. The fault is entirely yours. We had enough registered voters to win, but far too many of you ignoramuses were at home, sulking.

In defending his loony foreign policy as it pertained to Iraq, Obama said, “Just because something was stable two years or four years ago doesn’t mean it’s stable today.” True. After all, even America was pretty stable as recently as five years ago.

The one statement that annoys me nearly as much as the lie about Islam being a religion of peace is the one that insists Saudi Arabia is an ally. Everyone knows that Saudi royals subsidize Islamic terrorists as a way of paying protection money in the hope that they’ll be the last item on the alligator’s menu.

Another thing that irks me no end is when our politicians carry on about how they overcame the poverty they were born into or when Hillary Clinton wipes away the tears when she looks back 14 years and $150 million ago to the sad day when she and Bill had to temporarily borrow millions from their pal Terry McAuliffe in order to buy a couple of mansions, while waiting for her bank to clear the $8 million check from her publisher.

Of course it’s not just Democrats who play up the born-in-a-log-cabin saga. I seem to recall Rick Santorum referring to his own underprivileged background. My question is why we should care how poor someone’s folks happened to be. It seems to me that unless you worked in the private sector the way Mitt Romney did, the only way that people like Joe Biden, John Edwards, Harry Reid, John Kerry or Dianne Feinstein, ever get to be kazillionaires is by being ambulance-chasing shysters, taking graft or marrying rich people. It’s certainly not, as they invariably insist, the result of good, honest, labor.

For a while, I couldn’t even imagine anyone being more obnoxiously arrogant than Barack Obama, but that’s only because I had never laid eyes on IRS Commissioner John Kiskinen. After watching him testify before Congress and turn his icy gaze on Paul Ryan for daring to doubt his veracity, I fully expected Rep. Ryan to be turned into a block of salt. In fact, I would warn anyone who even considered shaking Kiskinen’s hand that he stood a good chance of losing one or more fingers in the process, either through theft or frostbite.

Speaking of the IRS, any Democrat who dares spring to its defense needs to be reminded that when she was called to testify before a congressional committee, former IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner decided to plead the 5th Amendment. That was her right. But inasmuch as the whole purpose of the 5th is to protect oneself against self-incrimination, and thus face possible criminal charges, nobody can be blamed for assuming the worst, whether the person is a Mafia don or a federal bureaucrat.

It recently came to light that not only was this administration not caught by surprise when tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American kids showed up at our southern border, but they had advertised back in January for contractors who would be willing to transport 65,000 of them to other parts of the country.

Naturally, Obama hasn’t seen fit to comment on this exploding humanitarian crisis. But, then, as you may have noticed, whenever the going gets tough, Obama goes golfing.

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

©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write

Winners & Losers

All in all, 2011 provided us with some pretty good news. For one thing, our military took care of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, God got rid of Kim Jong-Il and, for good measure, Barney Frank finally got around to announcing his retirement.

Kim Jong-Il

It was to be expected that Jimmy Carter, who insisted on paying his last respects to the otherwise unlamented Yasser Arafat, was probably the only person in the civilized world demented enough to send his sincere condolences to North Korea on the passing of its longtime dictator, the aforementioned Kim Jong-Il. So it is that although Carter’s claim to the title of Worst President of the United States has been usurped by Barack Obama, Mr. Peanut retains clear title to being the Worst Ex-President of the United States.

Speaking of titles, I had been unaware until reading his obituary that among Kim Jong-Il’s own honorifics were Best Leader Who Realized Human Wisdom; Master of Literature, Arts and Architecture; Humankind’s Greatest Musical Genius: World’s Greatest Writer; and, contrary to Al Gore’s opinion, Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.

One of the titles I fully expected to see, but didn’t, was Greatest Golfer in the Universe. After all, even the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Arnold Palmer, could only fantasize about shooting a round of 38 that included 11 holes-in-one. Although I have no reason on earth to doubt the North Korean news agency that reported such a miraculous round of golf, I have always wondered why Jong-Il required 27 shots to complete those other seven holes. I can only imagine that those damn little windmills threw him off his game.

An odd coincidence is that I believe 38 is the same score that Obama once reported bowling, a score that justifiably earned him the title of World’s Biggest Wienie.

Speaking of the man who is destined to take his place with the likes of James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding and Jimmy Carter, as America’s most inept one-term presidents, Obama has been accused of picking winners and losers in the business world by subsidizing the winners with our tax dollars. Furthermore, cynics claim that he selects them solely on the basis of the owners’ financial contributions to his re-election campaign. Pshaw! Even someone as openly partisan as I am can see how unjust that is. If that charge had any merit at all, Solyndra, as well as several other green energy concerns handpicked by this administration would be flourishing. So where, I ask on Obama’s behalf, are all these alleged winners? Instead, I say that Obama has exhibited the exact same questionable instincts when picking winners in the world of commerce that he’s shown in picking cabinet members, friends and religious mentors.

Finally, in all the squabbling between Republican presidential contenders, I have yet to hear anyone utter the unfortunate truth about Arabs and Muslims. For all the joyous blather that greeted the so-called Arab spring, the world has had no reason to rejoice over the results in Egypt, Libya or Syria. For their part, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, continue to be the same cesspools they were before America sacrificed blood and treasure in the hope of protecting one group of medieval terrorists from another.

In Saudi Arabia, one of our alleged allies in that part of the world, school textbooks continue to promote the official Islamic bilge that women are “weak and irresponsible,” that homosexuals “should be killed,” and that “the hour of judgment will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”

In the meantime, any Christian unfortunate enough to find himself in the Middle East is fair game for jihadists.

But all the while, we Americans are trained to parrot the lie, so often repeated by George Bush and Barack Obama, that Islam is a religion of peace and that America’s Muslims — in spite of Major Hasan’s murderous rampage at Fort Hood, the campaign to erect a victory mosque at Ground Zero, and the Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, who, along with their friends and relatives in Gaza, celebrated on 9/11 — are every bit as benign and patriotic as the folks in the Tea Party movement.

Until we get a president who is willing to acknowledge that we are at war with Islamic fundamentalists; that Muslims played absolutely no role in the creation of the United States; that they are dedicated to a worldwide caliphate, whose primary goal would be the extermination of Jews and Christians; and that in any war waged between one Muslim sect and another, our place should be on the sidelines, cheering them on; we will continue being drawn into one bloody and ultimately futile enterprise after another.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky.Comments? Write!

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