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It used to be that if I couldn’t get to sleep, it was usually because I’d had coffee with dinner. How I miss those halcyon times when it was simply caffeine that had me awake at 3 a.m. Nowadays, it’s all the imponderable mysteries that have turned me into the poster boy for insomnia.

One night, not too long ago, I found myself pondering how it was that the Greatest Generation of Americans had come to have such sluggard kids and grandkids. How can the men and women who battled their way through the Great Depression and World War II even stand to sit across a dinner table with these squirts? I realize that it’s a clich? that each generation is said to look askance at the next – to question its intelligence, its speech, manners, its taste in movies and music, its clothing and even its intestinal fortitude. But you know what? When you take an objective look at the past 50 years, it’s been one long steady decline.

Americans used to be raised to believe in the individual’s striving to succeed. At what point did everybody decide they were entitled to entitlements? The latest example of this was hearing the resounding cheers of young people that greeted John Kerry’s promise of a free college education. Even if we overlook Kerry’s shameless trolling for votes, what makes these teenagers believe they deserve such largesse from the American taxpayer?

It’s bad enough that in a country where more youngsters should be encouraged to attend trade schools, most college loans are never paid back. But at least there’s a chance of reimbursement. But a free ride just because a kid would rather go to school than get a job? And as for those outstanding loans, if it were up to me, I’d hire the Mafia to start collecting them.

As for Kerry, what can one say about such obvious politicking? At least when the ward heelers in Chicago bought votes, it was strictly cash on the barrelhead, none of this pie in the sky business.

But there’s no end to the demand for what I refer to as unentitlements. Take gas prices and the current so-called crisis at the pump. In recent weeks, the price of a gallon of gas has gone up about 40 or 50 cents. Well, for openers, that would at least suggest we didn’t invade Iraq, as the Bush-bashers have contended, in order to gobble up all their oil. But, then, that crowd never quite got around to explaining why the president so often sides with Israel, the one country in the Middle East whose only oil supply comes from olives.

To get back to the rising cost of unleaded, one would think, judging by the squeals from the American consumer, that the world was coming to an end. You would get the idea that there is a passage in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing that Americans will pay the same price for gasoline as their grandfathers. I’m not going to suggest that extra quarter or half buck a gallon isn’t a hardship for some folks. But not for most. We have a country filled with people who will spend over a hundred dollars to buy brand-name sneakers for their kids, blow ten bucks on a lousy movie and another few dollars for seven cents worth of popcorn, squander a fortune on play stations – and, most telling of all, forty grand on an SUV that gets about four blocks to the gallon!

When I point out that gas wasn’t free before this, and that people managed to survive, I’ve had friends say that the problem isn’t just at the pump, but the additional costs added on to everything we buy because of the added costs of shipping them. To them, I point out that, inevitably, the price of gas will go down, but the added-on costs of all those other items won’t – but nobody will raise a stink about it, just as nobody will say anything nice about the falling price of petrol.

Speaking of SUVs, how is it that everyone who interviews Arianna Huffington, archenemy of those over-priced, over-sized vehicles, never nails the lady for her blatant hypocrisy? Let’s face it: The only reason anybody has even heard of her is because she once married a wealthy bisexual and then derived untold millions from dumping the shmoe. With all that money, she has been able to set up shop as the reigning doyen for L.A.’s limousine liberals. None of which, I hasten to point out, makes her a hypocrite. No, what makes her an Olympic-caliber phony is the fact that this single lady lives alone in a Brentwood mansion with her two tots, and I am willing to make a good-sized wager that it requires a lot more energy to heat and cool the Huffington homestead than a squad of soccer moms consume driving to and from the playground.

There are those who suggest I count sheep as a cure for my sleeplessness, but it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on four-legged sheep when there’s such an abundance of the two-legged variety making me crazy. For instance, it strikes me that there is no lie, no matter how obviously false, that won’t be taken up by those on the left and repeated ad nauseam. Both Joseph Stalin and George Orwell pointed out the effectiveness of the oft-repeated lie, but even they would be astonished at how gullible Americans have become.

As I earlier pointed out, those opposed to the toppling of Saddam Hussein claimed that America was merely after Iraq’s oil – and insisted that we would do well to take our marching orders from the French and the Russians. All these many months later, in spite of the fact that Iraq is deriving all the income from its oil sales – and it’s been established that Russia and France, for all their moral posturing, were simply out to protect their billion-dollar oil deals with Saddam – the left continues to parrot those same silly slogans.

Another big lie floating around is that in the wake of 9-11 the entire world loved America, but George Bush squandered all that good will. What malarkey! For one thing, most nations don’t love America and never did. We are rich and powerful. Rich, powerful individuals, let alone nations, are not beloved. They are feared and respected and, more often than not, envied.

Sure, we received a certain amount of sympathy after 9-11, but it was temporary in nature and, in many cases, not even terribly sincere, and that would have been the case no matter who was in the Oval Office. Heck, for a while, New York City, of all places, was looked upon fondly, and even Red Sox fans refrained from booing the Yankees when they came to play in Fenway. It’s the same way with certain widows. For a period after their husbands are buried, people can’t do enough for them. Inevitably, though, things return to normal and people once again allow themselves the luxury of treating the women like the rude, annoying pests they’ve always been.

If America is as awful as her critics claim, why is the U.S. the country with the biggest immigration headache? I mean, maybe you know a lot of people packing their bags and moving to France and Germany, but I don’t.

Some cynics would claim that foreigners only want to move here for financial reasons, but I don’t buy that. Still, even I’m not such a Pollyanna that I believe that our constitutional guarantees of freedom, liberty and religious tolerance are the total answer, either.

Rather, I believe that so long as somebody who looks, speaks and thinks like James Carville can achieve such enormous success in this land, America will remain a beacon for every geek in the world.

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