One of the stranger aspects of the Iowa primary was seeing Sarah Palin snubbing the two tea party combatants in the race, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and instead endorsing Donald Trump.

It was mind-boggling to hear her going on and on about a man who would not pass for a conservative among any conservatives I know. That doesn’t mean I can’t understand those who respond to his siren call of tough talk and big promises. But it does mean that I, personally, don’t respond to a siren who has flip-flopped within just the past few years on just about every major issue.

Nobody has yet diagnosed Palin’s odd behavior or determined her motive, if one rules out cold hard cash. But why rule out the most obvious motive? Although she has become very wealthy in the eight years since John McCain plucked her out of obscurity, it’s always possible that the billionaire was in a position to make her an offer she couldn’t refuse. After all, Trump has admitted to donating millions of dollars to dozens of liberal candidates over the years. Why would he do less for himself than he has done for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, when she was running for the Senate?

Heck, Trump even paid the Clintons $100,000 just to show up for his wedding.

The other possibility is that the sound of her own voice has finally driven Palin insane, much as it threatens to drive me whenever I hear that high-pitched whinny.

We live in strange times when people of even less actual accomplishment than Mrs. Palin have cashed in on being famous for little more than being famous. Over the past few years, we have seen this phenomenon played out with the likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Bruce/Kaitlyn Jenner.

But it’s not only pop culture that reflects this form of lunacy. For instance, if a painting can be authenticated as the work of Van Gogh or Picasso, people will pay tens of millions for it. However, if it is later determined to be a fake, it is worthless, although nothing about it has changed, and it may even have required an X-ray to establish its inauthenticity. In other words, aesthetics never entered into it. The painting was worth a fortune simply because it was painted by somebody famous.

Speaking of art, I once heard the difference between the amateur and the professional described thus: Amateurs – as well as the critics, I would add – discuss aesthetics; the professionals discuss the price of paint and canvas. It is the difference between a hobby and a livelihood.

Which reminds me, George Gershwin, composer, and Oscar Levant, pianist, were once traveling by train from New York to L.A. At bedtime, Gershwin told his friend to take the upper bunk. When Oscar asked why he had to take the less comfortable one, George explained: “It’s the difference between talent and genius.”

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Politics in America has become increasingly frightening over the past several years, and it’s not entirely due to Barack Obama, although heaven knows he seems to constantly go out of his way to send cold chills down my back and, I suspect, yours.

For instance, any president might feel the need to show his support for American Muslims by visiting a mosque. President Prelutsky wouldn’t, but others might. But if I did, I would make sure I wasn’t showing up at a Baltimore mosque that has been closely connected to terrorists for the past decade and that even now is on the FBI’s watch list.

Unlike some, I do not believe that Obama is a follower of the Islamic faith, but that’s partly because I don’t see him abiding by any of the rules, which include not only praying five times a day, but not smoking, not boozing and not lying down with men. Besides, being a faithful Muslim would require Obama’s acknowledging a god greater than himself.

On the other hand, it’s obvious that because of his upbringing in Islamic Indonesia, he continues to have a soft spot for the religion. So don’t expect him to ever dismiss the followers of Allah as “those who cling to their religion and their suicide bombs.”

While pandering to the followers of Allah, he said that he would like to see some Muslim characters on TV who aren’t terrorists. For our part, we’d like to see some terrorists in real life who aren’t Muslims.

But at least he’ll be out of office in less than a year. What’s terrifying is that 43 percent of the Democrats polled in Iowa described themselves as socialists. Nationwide, 56 percent of Democrats have a positive view of socialism. And they’ll still be around and voting for whomever does the best impression of Santa Claus.

In case you’re not sure what socialism is, a cartoon on the Internet shows Bernie Sanders as a grandfather, holding a book, sitting beside the bed of a small child. On the wall is a college banner reading “Millennials,” identifying the tyke as a representative of the group that includes Bernie’s most fervent supporters.

The child is saying “Read the part again how you’re gonna make evil rich dudes give me a free pony, a free Xbox, a free hoverboard, a free …”

That not only sums up socialism, but the mindset of far too many young voters. They have been raised to believe they are entitled to everything the world has to offer, except, of course, pain, discipline and deprivation. They have scooted through a public education system that promotes the notion that good grades are a fundamental right so as not to jeopardize anyone’s self-esteem. And once in college, the young knuckleheads are handed off to aging left-wing propagandists, who, armed with tenure, are free to spout the same anti-American crapola they were spouting 40 or 50 years ago.

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