Victimless Crimes

It’s been called to my attention by a few readers – a little too gleefully in a couple of cases – that I goofed when I recently passed along the news that Barack Obama had opened up gas stations in certain urban enclaves that, thanks to a little known section of the Affordable Care Act, were offering free gas to poor people.

Apparently it was part of a satirical piece that had been posted on the Internet and red-flagged by Snopes. Okay, mea culpa. I wish I hadn’t spread misinformation. In my defense, I can only say that it certainly sounded like a stunt that Obama would pull off in order to rev up his base in preparation for the 2014 elections. Besides, as we all know, my mistake today could easily be an Obama brainstorm tomorrow.

In fact, when you take a close look at Obama’s policies, they’re reminiscent of that old folk song, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Although in its earliest version, it was a raunchy song about a hobo’s raunchy life, the words were cleaned up and turned into a song for children, filled with lyrics about birthdays that occur every week and every day being Christmas, where you never have to clean your room or put away your toys.

You have to admit that it could serve as Obama’s theme song, crooned, as only he can, to childish college students, single women, illegal aliens and blacks.

When some people – nearly always liberals – dismiss burglary, shoplifting and embezzlement, as minor offenses simply because they don’t involve physical violence, I dismiss them as knuckleheads. After all, if some lout steals your $400 TV set and you earn, say, $20-an-hour, he’s essentially made you his slave for 20 hours. And before anyone mentions insurance compensating you for your loss, even on Obama’s Rock Candy Mountain, that insurance isn’t free and there are no federal subsidies.

So perhaps nobody will ever make a movie called “20 Hours a Slave,” but I also don’t think anyone is about to dismiss slavery as a minor offense.

Being a weak and incompetent executive, Obama naturally surrounds himself with the likes of Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Chuck Hagel, Katherine Sebelius and, of course, the only nincompoop capable of replacing Hillary (“What difference does it make?”) Clinton, John Kerry, who somehow manages to simultaneously resemble both ends of a horse.

Recently, while laying down the law to Vladimir Putin, Kerry had this to say about sanctions: “None of what we’re saying is meant as a threat, not meant in a personal way.” What he neglected to say was “Please don’t hurt me. I had to say something about sanctions, but believe me, I had my fingers crossed,” but that’s what I heard and it’s certainly what Putin heard.

Speaking of Putin, I have to admit I thought Rand Paul was every bit as loony as his old man. But that’s easier said than done, as proven when Ron Paul said that Crimea should be able to break away and join Russia. “That is how our country was started. It was the right of self-determination, and voting, and asking and even fighting for it, and seceding.”

Okay, the syntax lacks a certain something – something like coherence – but I think we all got the gist of it. Not content to give every English major in America a migraine, he went on to say that the U.S. had engineered a coup in Kiev against the Yanukovych tyranny. “Our hands are not clean,” he said, which sort of suggested that he thought our hands were dirty, unlike those belonging to Yanukovych and Putin. He also insisted that any sanctions against Moscow would be “an act of war.”

To his credit, Rand said, “If I were president, I wouldn’t let Putin get away with it.” That doesn’t mean I’d vote for Rand, just that I’d vote for him if he were running against Ron.

Finally, I recently saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time One of the striking things about the movie is that Jimmy Stewart, who was 38 when the movie was made in 1946, was called upon to play a high school senior at one point. His high school sweetheart, though, portrayed by Donna Reed, was only 25, as was Todd Karns, who played his brother.

That led me to think about other occasions when the movies have ignored age discrepancies when it came to siblings. Because one of my two older brothers was 12 years my senior, I am aware that such things happen, but sometimes the differences are downright ludicrous. For instance, in the 1947 release, “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer,” Myrna Loy, 42, was 19-year-old Shirley Temple’s big sister. In “Sweet Smell of Success,” Burt Lancaster, 44, was big brother to the 19-year-old Susan Harrison. Three years later, in “The Unforgiven,” Burt was at it again; at the age of 47, playing big brother to the 31-year-old Audrey Hepburn.

But taking the cake was the “The Mountain” (1956), in which Spencer Tracy, 56, was cast as the brother of Robert Wagner, 26.

The closest that TV has come to matching the madness was on “Bonanza.” There were clearly strange things happening on the Ponderosa, where Pa Cartwright, Lorne Greene, was a respectable 21 years older than Little Joe (Michael Landon), but only 13 years older than Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Adam (Pernell Roberts).

As we all know, age is relative, but never more so, it seems, than when it comes to Hollywood’s casting of relatives.

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©2014 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write BurtPrelutsky@aol.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/
  • Concernedmimi

    You gave me a coughing spell, from laughing so hard! Hilarious, but soooooo true!!!

  • Todd Zaino

    Burt, why would Obama’s base need “free gas” in the first place? I always thought moonbats rode their unicorns to run errands.

  • SAWB69

    Funny stuff as usual, Burt. Particularly liked the part about the age discrepancy in movies. Someday, on a slow news day, I think you should write a piece about your interaction with Carlotta Monti, girlfriend of W. C. Fields. There’s got to be some good stories there!