Right Opinion

Papers Fit for a Birdcage

Burt Prelutsky · Aug. 8, 2020

As bad as the New York Times and the Washington Post are when it comes to publishing the news, straight and without a chaser of lies and propaganda, the other day I got a double whammy when my Armenian neighbor left the L.A. Times for me so I could do the Sunday crossword puzzle.

Although I tried not to delve too deeply into the rag as I made my way to the crossword, I couldn’t help but notice that on the front page of the California section, there were four articles that could have been published in the Beijing Times. First there was columnist Steve Lopez questioning the shooting of a guy armed with a razor-edged box cutter who was rushing towards a 23-year-old female police officer named Toni McBride. Although it had been ruled a justifiable shooting by use-of-force expert Ed Obayashi, Lopez felt entitled to question it because the young cop has posted videos of herself “blasting away at targets.”

So if you’re a cop who actually enjoys target-shooting, that in the mind of Lopez is reason enough to suggest you’re a trigger-happy menace to the people (particularly those who are black or Latino) of Los Angeles. And especially, it seems, if your name in McBride.

On the other side of the page, Erika Smith, a black reporter stationed in Sacramento, strongly objected to federal agents arresting rioters and carting them off in unmarked vehicles, neglecting to mention that the vehicles have to be anonymous in order to avoid being attacked and set ablaze.

On the top right side of the page, Maura Dolar celebrated the fact that the California Supreme Court has decided to lower the passing score for the state’s bar exam, in the hope of increasing the number of black and Latino lawyers.

UCLA’s Law School Dean Jennifer Mnookin is quoted, saying: “There is absolutely no evidence that shows having a higher score makes for better lawyers. But there is significant evidence that it reduces the diversity of the bar.”

Ms. Dolar makes Dean Mnookin’s lamebrain case for her by pointing out that whereas only 40% of Californians are white and 60% are people of color, 68% of the state’s lawyers are white and only 32% of them are shysters of color.

What neither of the ladies bothered to explain is why we even have bar exams if they only serve to hurt the feelings of a lot of not very bright people. Is the problem that we have a state-wide shortage of dumb lawyers? In my experience, that isn’t the case.

While they’re revising or even doing away with tests as a prelude to a career, why shouldn’t blacks and Latinos be allowed to become doctors and surgeons for no other reason than that it would make their mothers happy?

And anyone who doesn’t want mothers of color to be happy is nothing but a racist, a misogynist and was probably the kind of rotten baby who put his own mother through 36 hours of excruciating labor.

The fourth of the reports on the page was titled “Gatherings of Faith and Defiance,” sub-headed “Outdoor church event flouts safety rules, concerning health officials.”

The photo showed a lot of happy people responding joyously to music provided by a religious band.

What the article by Alex Wigglesworth and Cindy Chang didn’t mention is the fact that over the past several months, no story regarding the BLM riots would have dared refer to “defiance” or mention “safety rules” or “masks” or “social distancing,” for that matter.

But the Times threw up yet another road block as I made my way to the beckoning crossword.

There was an eight-page Sunday supplement called China Watch, which boasted “All You Need to Know,” which is pretty honest as newspaper mottos go. They’re not interested in printing what you’d like to know, only what China feels you need to know. In a way, they’re the same as American papers, just more honest when it comes to their mission statement.

There was a notice on the front page that read: “This supplement is printed and distributed in select areas by the Los Angeles Times Media Group. It does not involve the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times.”

But that’s only because their staff is busy slandering cops and churches and promoting the notion that what is supposed to be a colorblind society, standards should be lowered simply in order to accommodate members of certain races who can’t cut the mustard.

Actually, China Watch was an improvement over the Times because, by ignoring the slave labor camps; the military intrusions into the South China Seas; a biochemical lab that leaks like a sieve; hacking the military and medical computers of the U.S. and Great Britain; stomping on the people of Hong Kong and Singapore; they have put out a paper that celebrates pandas, their college graduates, the recovering of the ecosystem in Tibet and the miraculous return of the once-thought extinct crested ibis.

I am in favor of Capitalism and free enterprise, but sometimes even I have to question some of the excesses. For instance, the other day, when I went shopping for toothpaste, I decided I’d change from “Crest Scope,” which promises “Whitening,” and go with Crest “Tartar Protection,” mainly because I know tartar is bad because my lady dentist told me so, and, besides, my teeth didn’t look any whiter than before I fell for the advertising.

But the Crest display at the supermarket took up several shelves. Not only did you have to choose between regular paste and gel, but you also had to select among Radiant Mint, Cavity Protection, Charcoal, Clean Mint, Deep Clean Mint, Whitening, Extra Whitening, Tartar Protection Whitening, Sensitive Enamel Shield, Outlast, Baking Soda and Peroxide, and 3D Arctic Fresh.

There were an equal number of Crest Mouthwashes.

And for what it’s worth, both the “Crest Scope” and the “Tartar Protection” boast the exact same ingredients or, rather, ingredient: Sodium fluoride 0.243% (0.15% w/v fluoride ion). Both only promise that “Use helps protect against cavities.”

Heck, just brushing without paste can make that claim. Which leads me to conclude that if they only made drinking water minty tasting, Crest could be put out of business overnight. What’s more, the water wouldn’t come with a poison warning the way that Crest does, letting us know that swallowing too much paste requires a call to the Poison Control Center, but not bothering to explain what constitutes “too much.”

I am reading Woody Allen’s autobiography, “Apropos of Nothing.”

I read it because I assumed it would be funny, not because I’m a fan of his movies. I’ve only liked two of them, “Broadway Danny Rose” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

But I figured that writing about his own life would allow him to make jokes and not worry about plotting. And I was right, but only up to a point. The point is where he and Mia Farrow got into a fight over custody of a few kids.

I must confess he convinced me that she was a certifiable loon who, like many women involved in a custody fight, will eventually accuse the ex-husband of being a pedophile. If even half the things he writes about her are true, she should have been jailed or institutionalized. And since she hasn’t sued him, I choose to believe his description of the angelic-looking harridan.

By comparison, my two ex-wives might as well have been June Cleaver and Marion Cunningham.

The problem is that once Woody Allen got to the custody wars, the book became as slow and plodding as Napoleon’s retreat from Russia.

That’s why in my own literary ego trip, “The Story of My Life,” I concentrated on those times when my life intersected with the lives of famous people – that is, people that other people would have heard of and, I assumed, be interested in reading all about.

The book sold very few copies, which made sense. To have been a best seller, one of those people would have had to have written a book in which I appeared as a minor, but amusing character.

Still, I was happy with the way the book turned out because it was the book I set out to write.

It was my life with all the boring parts left out. Which is the way I have tried to live it.

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