Burt Prelutsky / Dec. 5, 2020

While Idling in Traffic

Notions come along when they feel like it and all I can hope to do is jot them down before they take off for warmer climes.

When people ask me where I get my ideas, I will reply that sometimes they occur to me in the shower, while walking Angel, sometimes while stuck on the freeway. If they think I’m pulling their leg because they meant something magical involving a muse or some such fantasy, I’m sorry to disappoint them. But that is why I’m rarely too far away from a pen and paper. Notions come along when they feel like it and all I can hope to do is jot them down before they take off for warmer climes.

For instance, as I passed a Wendy’s or maybe it was a McDonald’s, it got me thinking about how fast-food restaurants have radically changed the way that Americans eat in the years since I was a kid. Just like that, it occurred to me that the Chinese equivalent would be those disgusting open-air markets where they peddle bats, cats, skunks and snakes. It made me wonder if they call their fare the not-fast-enough food.

Then it occurred to me that it was no accident that when the Chinese got around to breeding a dog, they called it the Chow.


Although I enjoy reading mysteries, I dislike the ones I can’t solve in real life. So I am reaching out to all of you for help. I never, but never, touch the lens of my eyeglasses, but by the end of every day, they’re smudged and I need to clean them. Where the heck are all those smudges coming from? Is Angel gaslighting me? Has she found a way to drive me nuts because I have cut back slightly on her daily allotment of treats?


G.K. Chesterton, who was one of the wisest and wittiest of writers, as well as most religious, was the gentleman who pointed out: “When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing. They believe in anything.”

Which explains how it is that so many nincompoops continue to promote Socialism.

If you point out to them that the bloody, genocidal left-wing regimes that have plagued mankind for the past hundred years, have left hundreds of millions of people dead and their societies in ruins, they parrot the line about those others not “doing it right.”

They pretend there’s a magic elixir only they know about that will transform human nature so radically that taking from the productive and handing it over to the slothful will be equally appealing to both.

Sometimes, we forget that these loons walk among us. Then we hold elections and are once again reminded that these brainless zombies are lurking out there in the millions just waiting for the chance to screw up our lives.


Picking up on my remark that the Chinese virus is so smart it can tell time, figuring out that we’re at our most vulnerable between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Bryan Nielsen wrote to say: “Those corona cooties are crafty little buggers. I’m still trying to figure out how they know that unmasked restaurant patrons are in the apparent ‘cone of safety’ while seated at the table but have to don a mask when they head to the latrine. And apparently, those cheeky critters know the difference between church gatherings and ‘mostly peaceful’ riots and lootings. Clearly, we’re dealing with a virus with higher intelligence than your average flu bug.”

I replied: “Right you are. Flu bugs hate the viral know-it-alls because they’re always raising the class grade curve. It figures that since China turns out the brightest students, they’d also turn out the smartest viruses.”

The Florida-based Mr. Nielsen also passed on the good news that he’s hearing from friends in New York that most people are disobeying the edicts of Cuomo or di Blasio. “And this is what it’s going to take if we’re ever going to put an end to this nonsense: massive civil disobedience.”

The man is right. And I say, as Sinatra sang, if they can do it in New York, New York, they can do it anywhere.


Patrick Miano, a friend of Sicilian heritage, and I were discussing the bigotry aimed at Italians and Jews.

We agreed, as I have often said, that hating someone for his religion, his race or the national origin of his ancestors, is just a sign of ignorance and sloth. Get to know a person well and you will nearly always find a far better reason to despise him.


Steve Duncan wrote to say that he, too, finds the Joe Namath commercials for the Medicare Coverage Hotline as objectionable as I do, but for somewhat different reasons.

“I see that commercial,” Mr. Duncan wrote, “numerous times a day and wonder just how the hell a guy like Joe Namath who is worth millions can supposedly qualify for the additional Medicare benefits (free vision, free dental, free meals, free rides to the doctor, etc.) at no additional cost. Like you, I wonder if anyone ever calls that hotline number.”

I confess it never occurred to me that the hucksters were supposed to use the items or services they get paid to peddle, but I will watch them with renewed interest. I’m sure it will open up new vistas of hilarity when I actually start picturing these celebrities using the things they’re hustling to the rest of us.

But I suggested to Mr. Duncan that perhaps some people do call in, but just to report that some crazy person who affects a Yiddish accent and throws his hands around as much as Nancy Pelosi is pretending to be their spokesman.


Pat Miano, who is never gone for long, came back with another email in which he acknowledged, vis a vis his own national heritage: “In Europe, there is an old saying that a Gypsy steals whatever is not nailed down. A Sicilian steals the nails.”

He continued with: “I can’t say anything about your four crooked uncles who operated in the black market during World War II, but my great-grandfather was a smuggler, as were nearly all Sicilian fishermen back then. Most probably still are.”

I acknowledged that I was ashamed of my mother’s four brothers but said that, as a rule, Jews aren’t overly critical of smugglers. “Assuming we’re not talking about missile launchers, heroin or fentanyl, Jews, at least those of the Orthodox persuasion, don’t typically adopt a holier-than-thou attitude toward smugglers. Being political Conservatives as a rule, I believe they see it as the government encroaching on the free market economy.”


After pointing out all the magnificent accomplishments that have been created by American scientists and technicians, Dan Parker bemoaned the fact that those same people have devoted so much time and energy to producing “the most corrupt voting system in U.S. history.”

I shared his pain, adding that “any system can be corrupted and that is basically what the Left does, whether it’s our voting process, reporting the news of the day or even something as formerly benign as the Boy Scouts of America. If the schmucks had been around at the very beginning, we would now be referring to the Swamp of Eden.”


Sandra Duncan began her email by quoting from one of my recent articles: “The Wuhan virus may not be as dangerous as China wished and Dr. Fauci predicted, but apparently it can tell time. At least that’s what Democratic governors are telling us by instituting curfews. Somehow they’ve discovered that the virus tends to sleep a lot during the day, just like Dracula, and then spring into action between 10 p.m. and daybreak.”

To which, she commented: “I think they just have it mixed up with Antifa and BLM.”

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