Burt Prelutsky / Mar. 28, 2020

The Two Viruses

We have a couple of viruses currently putting Americans at risk. The first is the variety China has exported to the world.

We have a couple of viruses currently putting Americans at risk. The first is the variety China has exported to the world. The other was on display during the two-man debate carried on CNN last Sunday night. It goes by a variety of names, ranging from liberalism to socialism to communism. Watching Sanders and Biden, a couple of wacky septuagenarians try to convince us that even in their 80s they’ll be up to the task of governing this nation, would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so serious.

Although they occasionally attacked each other’s past voting records, at some point they would break it off, remembering that their real target was Donald Trump.

They spent a good part of the two hours repeating clichés about the coronavirus, but the moderators politely refrained from asking them if they supported free healthcare for all illegal aliens. They also refrained from asking Joe Biden, the self-proclaimed champion of the middle class why he spent so many years lobbying on behalf of the credit card companies, ensuring that they could continue bleeding their customers to the tune of 21% per annum.

If it had been possible to ban the mention of “crisis,” “most vulnerable people,” “Trump,” “Ebola” and “unprecedented,” the debate might not have lasted 45 minutes.

Even without being asked, Joe Biden vowed to place a black woman on the Supreme Court and also vowed to name a woman to be his running mate. When the challenge was then put to Sanders, the best he could come up with was “In all likelihood, I will pick a female vice-president.”

I assumed he would have checkmated Biden by promising to select not just any female, but a black or Latina woman. Instead, he let his golden chance slip through his fingers. If he were serious about winning this election, he would tossed caution to the wind and promised, if nominated, to get a divorce from Jane O'Meara Sanders and marry a black or Latina woman.

The moderators, for their part, went out of their way not to embarrass the two old codgers. So when Sanders brought up the Green New Deal and yammered on about how climate change would place parts of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina, under the ocean within seven or eight years, nobody pointed out that in 1995 the weather seer Al Gore predicted even worse things were going to happen before 2005, none of which had come to pass.

Speaking of 1995, way back then the Democrats were talking about the 11 million illegals living in the shadows. Now, 25 years later, Joe and Bernie are still tossing around that same number, as if nobody else has snuck across the border in the past quarter of a century.

The fact of the matter is that both of them are insane. Here are a couple of guys who have devoted their lives to avoiding work telling working stiffs that they know what they’re going through. Working stiffs don’t have armies of assistants to drive them around, collect their dry cleaning, write their speeches and be defended by big men with big guns while the two of them prattle on about revoking the Second Amendment.

When Biden called Sanders out for praising Castro’s literacy program in Cuba, Sanders doubled down by praising Red China for lifting so many Chinese people out of abject poverty. He added that there’s nothing wrong with praising even the worst authoritarian regimes when they do something right.

Not too surprisingly, it’s not a courtesy he has ever extended to President Trump.

Perhaps the worst thing about sitting through the two hour snoozefest is that both of them take themselves so seriously. They carry on as if they – two shmoes without a functioning brain between them – were born to be the leader of the free world.

They were actually born to clean out the cages at the monkey house.

In his attempt to come to terms with the coronavirus, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, takes a backseat to nobody. Especially not a backseat on a crowded subway. He advises one and all to check a subway car before boarding. If it’s crowded, “Wait for a less-crowded one.”

Some New Yorkers have, of course, waited a lifetime for that less-crowded one. But it’s still good, sound advice, as is “Don’t dash out into the street wearing a blindfold, especially during rush hour.”

This has nothing to do with the virus, but I bit my tongue this morning. I was actually about to say that I bit my tongue accidentally, but would anyone ever do such a thing on purpose? Which doesn’t mean that Governor won’t warn his fellow New Yorkers not to do it. I do wish I would stop interrupting myself.

Anyway, what I planned to say was that it happened while I was walking Angel and it made me wonder if dogs ever bite their own tongues. You’d assume they would, particularly those breeds with the tongues that are always hanging out of their mouths or trailing behind them like scarves when they’re running.

Yet, I’ve never heard Angel or any of her predecessors suddenly yelp with pain the way I do.

After returning from the supermarket this afternoon, it occurred to me that I felt I had not only traveled through time, but space. Suddenly, it was 1959 and I was in downtown Moscow.

Thanks to hoarding and breakdowns in the chain of world commerce, there were empty shelves that were bereft not only of toilet paper and cleaning solvents, but just about everything else, including pasta, bread and canned goods.

Fortunately, most people lined up at the checkout counters with their carts were friendly and good-natured. But we’re in the early days yet. I’m wondering how long that will last if they’re deprived of athletic competitions, movies, weddings, restaurants, get-togethers with friends, and church attendance.

I think if things continue as they are, people are going to decide that the authorities have been over-reacting to a disease that only seems dangerous to those who are as old as me or have serious pre-existing health problems and will elect to take their chances with the over-hyped virus.

Over the weekend, I saw 1985’s “That’s Dancing!” one of a series of films that began with “That’s Entertainment!”

If you haven’t seen it, try to catch it the next time TCM runs this tribute to the golden age of screen dancing.

Although you won’t see any of the dance scenes from “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” or “An American in Paris,” probably because they were used in those earlier compilations, you will see the work of the unbelievable Nicholas Brothers, Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Bobby Van, Bob Fosse, Ann Miller and the often over-looked, but incomparable, Eleanor Powell.

I remembered all over again why I never really cared for Cyd Charisse, who was probably the best-looking one in the bunch. She always made dancing look like work. It is, of course, extremely hard work, but the great ones not only make it look easy, they make it look like fun.

I once had the good fortune to interview Ginger Rogers. By the time I met her, time had taken its toll and she was in a wheelchair.

I mentioned that part of the reason I admired her so much was that unlike every other actor or actress I could recall, who, when being sung to, merely looked starry-eyed at the singer, she actually reacted to the words that Astaire was singing.

“Yes,” she agreed, giving me the old stink eye, “that’s called acting!”

“Actually, I was trying to paying you a compliment.”

“I know. I’m just having fun with you.”

Eighty-three years old, stuck in a wheelchair and still sassy as the dickens.

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