The ‘right’ sort of hate

In a nation that can’t reach a consensus on pizza toppings, we do occasionally blunder into near-total agreement. Case in point: the Westboro Baptist Church. There are serial killers who inspire less unanimity of negative opinion. I even conducted a brief Web search to satisfy my own curiosity. The only people I can find who have anything positive to say about the apples that fell off Fred Phelps’ tree are the apples themselves and a few stray worms.

Tuesday afternoon, the Westboro-ites took to the Web to share their displeasure with Ireland’s recent vote granting legal recognition to same-sex marriage. While there is no shortage of people worldwide who opposed the Irish ballot measure, the Westboro folks were the only ones who voiced their anger by protesting against the wrong country. In their haste to let Ireland know they disapproved of its vote, Westboro put together a protest depicting the flag of the Ivory Coast, which at last check remains farther from the Emerald Isle than Westboro’s hometown of Topeka, Kansas.

Their geographical misadventures aside, the Westboro-ites always manage to accomplish two things:

  1. They force even people who agree with some of their professed principles to reexamine their positions, lest they be linked to Westboro.
  2. They unite people who would otherwise be at odds to unite in their enmity for Westboro.

And God love them for it. Don’t get me wrong; on my personal scale, I like Westboro almost as much as I like the stomach flu. But wouldn’t it be just smashing if all wingnuts, bent wheels and moody loners literally identified themselves with ill-worded, cringeworthy signs hand-lettered in Day-Glo colors? Moreover, wouldn’t the American experience be that much more fun if the bottom feeders, lunatics and sideshow rejects were as noisy as they are noisome? Unfortunately, some of the ugliest of our fellow free people somehow manage to escape the downward gaze in which Westboro spends most of their time.

On Wednesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. While Santorum’s announcement elicited muted enthusiasm from the conservative and libertarian side of the spectrum, his hat-toss was greeted with cheers by unlikely cheerleaders. Leftist hate blogs breathlessly resurrected an attack aimed at Santorum. Back in 2003, a leading Democrat “intellectual” named Dan Savage conducted what’s known as a Google bomb, the purpose of which was to link Santorum to a particularly loathsome definition. What should have been dismissed as bigoted bile was instead deployed across the liberal spectrum with twisted glee. And now that Santorum is back in the race, Savage’s crude barb has reemerged.

Savage, who is infamous for a variety of indecent and frequently anti-Christian utterances, ought to be as universally reviled as Westboro. Instead, he’s touted as a cultural expert and frequently appears in the media with nary a mention of his appalling resume. The difference seems jarring. Two instances of equally unacceptable misbehavior, and one is not only forgiven, it’s exalted as an asset. The only real difference between Westboro and people like Savage is that Westboro pretends to adhere to Christianity, while Savage proudly admits he hates it.

Savage’s fellow liberal icon Bill Maher, on whose show Savage once stated, “I wish all (congressional Republicans) were <expletive deleted> dead,” is perhaps best known for calling former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a “<expletive deleted.>” While Maher’s misogyny is well-documented, his outright disdain for Christianity is more so. The Democrats’ favorite standup vulgarian expressed his hatred of the Almighty thusly: “A more psychopathic character you will not ever find in fiction. Just the idea that people worshipped the God of this Bible is insane. There is no more psychopathic mass murderer than God.” During their 2012 confab in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Democrats collectively booed the Lord. Even President Barack Obama considers Christians to be dangerous troglodytes: “(I)t’s not surprising, then, they get bitter; they cling to guns or religion.”

Westboro Baptist Church members have earned nearly every bit of the animus we direct toward them. Nobody really wants them around, and nobody really should. But Savage is no less of a cretin, and he enjoys the tolerance — if not the endorsement — of liberal intelligentsia from coast to coast. Maher is one of the Democrats’ leading “thinkers.” And of course, Obama occupies the White House.

Ben to the Westboro kids: You’re doing it wrong. Take the “Baptist Church” out of your name, and you’ll at least move up on the Democrats’ scale from “Santorum” to “ISIS.” Take “God” out of your fluorescent placards, and you’ll get booked on a speaking tour — if not the next HBO panel. The Democrats don’t mind that you hate; they even share some of your prejudices. You just hate the “wrong” people.

–Ben Crystal

Getting what we pay for

Most of us agree that when it comes to “groups whose members we collectively trust to make decisions with wide-ranging consequences,” Congress ranks somewhere between “trial lawyers who advertise on park benches” and “mayors of Washington, D.C.” With Congress sporting a shiny 20 percent approval rating, I’m comfortable making the statement that just shy of $200,000 per year is one hell of a paycheck — especially since only one-fifth of Americans think they’re worth it.

With the exception of being a Kardashian or Michael Moore’s personal trainer, there isn’t another profession on Earth that pays more in return for less than being a member of Congress. Not only do our esteemed representatives knock down $174,000 annually, their perks are better than the annual salaries of the people they routinely fail to represent. And unless they’re colossally corrupt or colossally stupid, they’re pretty much guaranteed permanent employment if they should ever lose their grip on the federal brass ring. Being a member of Congress is a sweet gig. You’d think that people of such low character and high maintenance would at least be grateful, if not gracious.

Silly taxpayer, you’d be wrong. Last week, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) decided he wasn’t going to bear such Spartan privations for another moment. Hastings, who began his congressional tenure in 1993 after sitting on the federal bench from 1979 to 1989, said: “We aren’t being paid properly.” I would be remiss were I to omit that the gap between the end of his judgeship and beginning of his congressional service was due to the fact that Hastings has complained about the size of his paycheck before. Back in 1988, Hastings, having been caught taking bribes, was impeached and dismissed from the bench in disgrace. Fortunately, his constituents are the sort of people who elect cretins like Alcee Hastings; and Hastings turned that impeachment frown upside down just a couple of years later.

At some level, one almost has to admire the pure chutzpah of a guy like Hastings. He hasn’t earned a legitimate paycheck outside the public sector since Obama was blazing up with the “Choom Gang,” and he’s just not being properly compensated for his time. Granted, Hastings is one of Congress’s least financially stable members, but that’s a consequence of his own personal failings. It’s hard to justify billing his shame to our credit card. But Hastings wants to get paid, and he wants us to know it. “Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution.”

Hastings is certainly not alone. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who as House minority whip is the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the House, said: “I agree with Mr. Hastings.” Michelle Obama, who has won precisely zero elections, has made no secret of her belief that she ought to be pulling down her own ducats. Between toting four dozen or so of her BFFs on five-star spa getaways and sucking the flavor out of a generation of school lunches, she is stretched to the breaking point. Aspen or Vail? Nantucket or Hawaii? I’m humbled by her strength.

Of course, Hastings, Hoyer and Obama are hardly breaking new ground. And there is neither a partisan nor racial monopoly on being unworthy of our trust. Ask Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about Charles Keating or former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) about — oops; too late. And since we keep electing these wire-pullers, we get, as Joseph de Maistre put it, “the government we deserve.”

But it’s worth noting that yesterday was Memorial Day. Of course, we’ve done to Memorial Day what we’ve do to almost every holiday: turned it into an opportunity to hold an inventory blowout at rock-bottom prices! It might be part of our uniquely American charm that we can mark the most magnificent sacrifices in our nation’s history by taking advantage of incredible financing, but I’d like to think we can do slightly better on behalf of that “last full measure of devotion” than a self-disgraced political remora whining about how rough life can be when you’re pulling down only 174 large, plus expenses. (Hastings also takes full advantage of the $24,000 congressional car allowance, and he is consistently ranked at the top of Congress’s nepotism standings).

When American kids, generations hence, watch virtual reality holo-simulations of our chapter of the national tale, I’d like to think that they would learn we were the ones who brought an end to the cronyism and corruption that infects the political profession like a stubborn fungus. I’d like to think that those kids would learn how the 2010s were the last decade in which the people did the bidding of the politicians, and not the other way around. I’d like to think that they’ll learn how this era of Americans finally swept Washington clean of kleptocrats like Hastings. If we don’t owe it to the people in whose magnificent honor Memorial Day was created, then we owe it to the Americans of the future. And if that doesn’t convince you of the need to do better than guys like Alcee Hastings, then ask yourself this question: If we don’t owe it to those who’ve gone before nor to those to come after, don’t we at least owe it to ourselves?

–Ben Crystal

Faking it

Politicians pursue power. Whether in a free society or one ruled by Democrats, the pursuit of authority defines nearly everyone who seeks to wield it. That, of course, creates a permanent political class made up almost entirely of people who can’t be trusted. Therefore, scientists and the media are both supposed to pursue truth, both for truth’s own sake and as a counter to the control-at-all-costs politicians. Knowledge is power, after all. But when politicians, academics and media are all united in the common pursuit of power, then no one is left to pursue truth.

So you’ll pardon me if I’m not stunned to learn that another “groundbreaking study” has turned out to be as valid as an Obamacare promise. First published in Science magazine, the work by Columbia University professor Donald P. Green, Ph.D., and graduate student Michael LaCour documented a sociological experiment in which canvassers attempted to talk people into abandoning support for California’s Proposition 8 barring legal recognition of same-sex marriage and pro-life policies. Green’s and LaCour’s findings revealed that canvassers who have a personal stake in legalizing marriage equality and/or abortion could alter the subject’s attitude toward those topics.

The media repeated the revelations at the tops of their lungs. Here was academic proof that just a few minutes a day needling Great Aunt Esther could swing her into the leftward column. Finally, science provided a way to crush those stodgy old homophobes once and for all. One teensy little problem: Green’s and LaCour’s “groundbreaking study” was bogus. Despite hitting the media last December with all the fanfare of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour, their “work” was as short on facts as it was long on hype. As of Wednesday morning, it had been formally retracted due to academic malfeasance on the part of co-author LaCour.

I’ll leave the moral issues surrounding marriage equality for another column, mostly because they’re tangential to the growing crisis of American academics and journalists willingly subjugating themselves to politicians. To be honest, the idea that someone would conduct a study on the effects of repeatedly needling Great Aunt Esther is nearly as silly as concocting such a study. You shouldn’t need a months-long academic experiment — real or otherwise — to tell you to stop bothering Great Aunt Esther. But the saga of Green and LaCour isn’t new. It’s hardly the first time professional academics and professional journalists huddled together with professional politicians to produce amateurish results.

We shouldn’t be surprised at the disintegration of yet another liberal pseudo-scientific-turned-pseudo-journalism snipe hunt. The left has been using academia, journalism and often both in concert since Karl Marx was just another spoiled rich kid backpacking his way through Europe on his old man’s nickel. We can put the Green/LaCour fabrication up on the shelf with “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” “What difference does it make?” and whatever they’re calling “global warming” this year.

Sadly, we also shouldn’t be surprised the MSM that baked up this piping-hot serving of crow now refuse to eat it. Exposure of the Green/LaCour fraud made hardly a ripple compared to the tsunami the release caused back in December. Left-leaning commentators have already cued up the “taking liberties with the facts doesn’t undo the Greater Truth” narrative. Green himself told one reporter: “Maybe the thing to convey … would be something to the effect that just because the data don’t exist to demonstrate the effectiveness of this method of changing minds doesn’t mean the hypothesis is false.”

Actually, “Dr.” Green, the only relevant “thing to convey” is that yet another liberal invented yet another lie to push yet another leftist ideal.

It’s disturbingly familiar refrain. Other than writing what I expect will be a check with more zeroes than a “Ready for Hillary” coffee klatsch, Rolling Stone suffered no lasting effects from its spectacular self-immolation over the University of Virginia rape hoax. George Stephanopoulos remains employed at ABC “News” despite his personal, financial and not-just-a-little-bit-creepy entanglements with the Clinton family and their money trough — er, “Global Foundation.” Perpetually embattled NBC, including its idiot stepchild MSNBC, has been caught fudging the facts so frequently that the disgrace of talking hairdo Brian Williams didn’t really hurt its cache, mostly because it had none left to damage.

Scientists faked data to advance politics; and the media not only failed to spot the fraud, they gleefully advanced it. In that pipeline, there’s no room for the truth. Consequently, there’s no room for us. When academics and journalists all willingly kneel before politicians, we the people lose big.

Think I’m overstating the case? Perhaps. But the same day Green and LaCour were forced to retract a study published with all the hype of a campaign kickoff, President Obama told the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that “denying” or “refusing to deal with” so-called “climate change” constitutes a “dereliction of duty.”

–Ben Crystal

Obama and the great divide

After 50 years and northward of $22 trillion spent on America’s “war on poverty,” we have identified the root cause of poverty in America. President Barack Obama made the official announcement at a Tuesday confab his handlers billed as a “Poverty Summit.” According to the man who has presided over the largest expansion of poverty and government welfare rolls in history, the root causes of American poverty are Fox News and rich people. Quoth Obama: “I think that the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. And look, it’s still being propagated. I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant venue.”

Say what you want about Fox News, but I can find no record of any of its personnel referring to poor Americans as sponges, leeches or any other household cleaning tool or segmented annelid. I’m pretty sure they’re not pro-poverty. Poor people don’t buy the stuff Fox advertisers hawk during Fox programming. But hey, maybe Obama’s right, and poverty is a consequence of a basic cable channel’s infrequent mentions of a government-backed plan to give people cellphones. In that case, maybe he should consider not giving people free phones. Or perhaps he could simply sign an executive order forbidding reporters from asking Obama campaign volunteers where they got their phones. Or perhaps he should just ban Fox News. He could claim that it’s “inciting” some of the “religion of peace’s” adherents to shoot up Marvel Comics headquarters and that shutting them down is vital to the blockbuster summer sequel industry.

Obama managed to spare some blame for the people who sign all the private sector paychecks, referring to the wealthy as “society’s lottery winners.” While a few Americans were born chewing on sterling flatware, most of us aren’t Kennedys. Personally, I can’t imagine a bigger winner of life’s lottery than a nobody who managed to get from Chicago’s south side — or Hawaii, or wherever — to the Oval Office without leaving behind so much as a college transcript. But if we assume that Obama’s right and that Jay-Z, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton are, in fact, just supremely lucky, that still in no way mitigates the fact that poor people are poor; and Obama has done nothing to improve their lot.

Obama’s plan to end poverty centers on homogenizing society. In his considered opinion, we’re all too comfortable reclining amid our filthy lucre. “Those who are doing better and better … are withdrawing … kids start going to private schools; kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks.” I wonder if that occurred to him while he teed off at any one of the magnificently manicured private golf courses he’s subjected to Secret Service lockdowns. Perhaps he should pull his two daughters out of the nearly $40,000-per-year Sidwell Friends School and send them to one of Washington’s fabulous public schools, lest they become too accustomed to the trappings of privilege, follow in his purported footsteps to Columbia and end up joining John Kerry’s yacht club. For that matter, if Obama is so concerned about a supposed growing divide between “society’s lottery winners” and the saps who keep buying losing tickets, maybe he should personally bridge the gap by planning his next family vacation in East St. Louis instead of Martha’s Vineyard or Majorca.

While the president worked the wealth-envy angle, his wife attacked on the cultural front. First lady Michelle Obama recently took to the proverbial dais to complain about the lack of minority access to cultural attractions like museums. “(T)here are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me.” I can’t wait for Mrs. Obama to whine about the lack of minority access to winter sports in between runs down the mountain in Aspen. Meanwhile, her message about some inherent museum-on-black racism rang especially hollow. On one hand, I doubt the Smithsonian would be well-advised to start abducting inner-city tots and dragging them to see the Gemini capsule. On the other, Obama delivered her complaint while standing in the Whitney Museum. Mrs. Obama, who is far from the most graceful first lady, is proving to be one of the least grateful. When she’s not spinning fantastic tales of racism in the Target laundry aisle, she’s complaining about how hard it is to be — um — first lady.

There are more poor people in Obama’s America than there ever were before. He and his wife live like pharaohs and/or rock stars, and then they tell the people who have been consigned to poverty by decades of unrelenting Democratic policy failures that their lot is rich white people’s fault. His approach to ending the plague of poverty is to blame, divide and inflame. He claims that “you didn’t build that” and that successful people are “society’s lottery winners.” In a sense, he’s right. When he and his lovely wife bill their next five-star vacation, they should remember the following:

Barry, you didn’t build that. Michelle, congrats on your victory in society’s lottery. Now, go pick up your kids from their private school and enjoy your visit to the museum.

–Ben Crystal

The khanzeer, the cartoons and the killers

TNS/According to ISIS, Pamela Geller is a “khanzeer” (pig).

Whatever you might think of Pamela Geller’s loud cheering for Israel, there’s no doubt that earning the enmity of Islamofascists represents a real accomplishment. Of course, by being a strong, independent and seriously Jewish woman, she was already crossed off their Ramadan card list. But now, she’s moved up to the big time. According to ISIS, Geller is a “khanzeer” (pig), and “we don’t care what land she hides in or what sky shields her; we will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter.”

And what did Geller do to earn such provocative, incendiary and violent threats? She sponsored a contest — specifically, a drawing contest. Last Sunday, contestants lined up to deliver their best depictions of the prophet of Islam. A few hours into the festival, a couple of followers of that so-called “prophet” showed up to kill Geller and the assembled because depictions of Muhammad are considered capital blasphemy by the kind of people who open fire over cartoons. And where did that “khanzeer” stage her sacrilegious affront to a surprisingly thin-skinned Muhammad? Surely, such a direct assault on basic human decency could happen only in one of those fabulous Muslim-dominated countries where 12-year-old girls get stoned to death for showing too much ankle to their uncles. Then again, it could have happened in a medium-sized city named Garland, just outside Dallas. Chew on that one for a minute, kids. The terrorist group that President Barack Obama has previously dismissed as “decimated” and “junior varsity” just ran a play on our end of the field.

Whatever you might think of her methods, Geller’s event proved that living in accordance with the wishes of a religion that considers the 8th century “the good old days” to be a serious drag. She sponsored a contest to make fun of a guy who presumably ought to be above such petty jibes, and ISIS reacted like rabid dogs. Well, they got thumped by a 60-year-old cop; so maybe they reacted like rabid gerbils. But still, she tweaked Muhammad’s nose; and they got their dishdashas in a twist.

It doesn’t help that Geller is brazenly Jewish and brazenly female. I suspect ISIS finds that latter fact at least as galling as the former. But that ought to rally the left to her side. Instead, they’re asking her to tone it down. “See here, madame! Not only are your thoughts ‘Islamophobic,’ but they’re having a terrible effect on the rabid gerbils!” I cannot for the life of me recall another instance in which the modern left allowed a proud, strong woman to be shouted down by a religion that makes the Japanese geisha culture look like “The Vagina Monologues.”

Yet the same people who shout themselves hoarse over every patriarchal, rape culture-perpetuating, phallocratic microaggression they can wring out of a fake story cooked up by an attention-starved coed have rolled out the heavy artillery and taken aim at Geller. In the days since ISIS’s failed assault, Geller has been called “incendiary,” “controversial” and even “provocative.” While the Garland attack says a great deal about the most visible branch of modern-day Islam, liberals’ reactions thereto say a great deal about the most visible branch of modern-day liberalism. It’s worth noting that in scolding Geller for being targeted by ISIS, they’re rhetorically telling her that if she gets raped, it’s her own fault for wearing such a short skirt.

Apparently, no one noticed the Michael Moore-sized irony that wandered in right about the time their “Geller went too far” talking points were echoed by Islamofascist Anjem Choudary. Choudary took his personal war on women to Fox News, claiming during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s program Wednesday evening, “(Geller) should be put before a Sharia court and tried and, of course, she would face capital punishment.” Take a good look, liberals who think Geller is the problem. Choudary is on your team.

In recent years, Christians have endured insults bordering on outright abuse from the port side of the political sphere. Obama himself managed to throw a few stones across the separation of church and state, even working in a cute little barb about the Crusades. According to Obama, 21st century Islamofascism should be tolerated, even protected, because of 12th century Christianity — but not Geller, nor anyone else who incurs the wrath of people like Choudary and ISIS. Those “provocative” and “controversial” khanzeer deserve to die.

–Ben Crystal

Call a thug ‘a thug’

Photo Credit: Tribune News Service

If you looted, stole, robbed, assaulted and/or set fire to something/someone in Baltimore, you’re a thug. Torching the neighborhood pharmacy doesn’t make you a revolutionary. Stealing Air Jordans from the local shoe store is not a cry of freedom. And throwing trash cans at passersby will not release you from the bonds of – whatever bonds you believe are holding you back.

A coordinated effort to resist the increasingly militarized storm troopers employed by the government to crush the life out of liberty is social activism. Throwing a brick at tourists who made a wrong turn on the way to Inner Harbor is not.

There’s no nobility in wanton destruction. And pretending otherwise diminishes the sacrifices made by those who were actually motivated by the greater good. Looters, thieves and violent savages not only deserve no respect, attempts to suggest otherwise elevate them beyond their station at the expense of those who manage to challenge the forces of tyranny without looting the Sports Mart. Acting as if Thuggy McThuggerston pinching Pringles from the Quik-E-Mart is “sticking it to the Man” makes a mockery of those who “stuck it to the Man” without knocking over a convenience store.

It’s time to stop parsing words in order to provide cover for the parasite class. “Thug” is not a racial slur. It doesn’t take a genius to notice there were white punks gleefully taking part in the Baltimore carnage; although I can’t attest to what percentage were there on the latest edition of the George Soros Loot-n-Burn scholarships.

In ascribing racial animus to “thug,” the left is actually asserting a moral and logical vertex between “thug” and “black.” The only people who seem to be fixated on a racial undertone are the liberals. I believe the textbooks call that “projection.” Hey Democrats: not all looters are black. And you’re the only ones who seem to think otherwise. Check with President Barack Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. They have both quite comfortably described the rioters in Baltimore as “thugs.” And if they don’t convince you to climb off your racist donkeys, ask Baltimore City Councilman – and black man – Carl Stokes. He rocketed past “thug” on his way to “n*gger” during a recent appearance on CNN.

There are no Horatios at the bridge amongst the looters. And those who have stood up in the midst of the chaos to demand even slight return to human decency have become targets of ridicule, threats or worse.

Toya Graham, the “mom of the year” who publicly took her son to the woodshed after catching him joining the thug brigades, has been singled out for criticism; with some of the same liberals who cheered the rioters suggesting she face criminal charges for smacking Junior upside his head. Even longtime Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, who took a break from whining about the racism inherent in expecting the Obama Administration actually adhere to the rule of law, discovered firsthand how interested the rioters are in social justice when his pleas for calm were loudly rejected by his own constituents.

The real story of Baltimore is the same as the stories of Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, Oakland and pretty much every American city overrun with crime, poverty and despair. They’re all run by Democrats; and have all been run by Democrats for decades. Baltimore has elected precisely one non-Democrat to the city’s highest office in nearly 70 years, and that one was 50+ years ago.

There is no doubt that the government has grown into precisely the sort of menace the Founding Fathers warned us about. The litany of abuses by federal, state and local authorities, much of which has been dutifully recounted by the Personal Liberty Digest™, is longer than the “shady foreign donations” section of the Clinton Global Foundation’s bank statement.

The suffering inflicted on the people by the increasingly arrogant state has cost us more than the Qatari Royal Family blew on buying Al Gore’s failed TV channel. Acting like an overgrown 12-year-old not only does nothing to advance to the defense of liberty, it provides the state with precisely the justification it needs to exert even greater control.

If you want to make a statement against the arrogant tyranny of government, raise your voice when the government acts arrogantly tyrannical. IRS political targeting, job-and-business killing regulations and Obamacare are excellent examples; arresting thugs for setting their own neighborhoods on fire – again – is not.

-Ben Crystal

Intolerance will not be tolerated

They made the poor saps apologize. If you take nothing else away from the recent spat between the self-appointed arbiters of what is and is not acceptable in the world of liberal politics, remember that.

Multi-millionaire real estate moguls Ian Reisner and Matt Weiderpass, who have employed their considerable wealth and influence not only to advance the cultural stability of the theater, but the search for a cure for AIDS, a disease which has struck the theater community particularly hard, were forced to apologize this week. Their crime: Breaking bread with Senator Ted Cruz.

Late last week, the charity group Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS announced the sudden cancellation of their annual burlesque soiree “Broadway Bares Solo Strips.” At issue, Reisner and Weiderpass’s decision to associate with people whose political ideology was not approved by Broadway Cares.

According to the group’s Executive Director Tom Viola:

We… accept fundraising support from a variety of people across a wide spectrum of political and religious affiliations. The rich diversity of our community makes what we do together so special. It is a rare instance where the actions of a donor negatively impacts us as an organization and potentially jeopardizes our relationship with others whose support is integral to our success. But when it does occur, in a way that’s blatantly against all we stand and work for, we can’t pretend it doesn’t come with consequences…

Because “Broadway Cares” doesn’t approve of Cruz’s politics, Reisner and Weiderpass had to be punished for associating with him.

The theater is no longer the artistic force it once was. Much like its even more refined cousins, classical music and opera, theater struggles to compete in an increasingly artificial world of entertainment. Looks long ago replaced talent. Now, where even looks can be digitally altered and talent is merely a few keystrokes away, theater’s low-tech staging, production values and even effects seem almost quaint. To generations unable to recall either movies without CGI enhancement or music without “sampling” – a cute way of saying “taking something someone else did, adding some voice effects and lyrics about “bitches” – the stage might as well be reruns of “Murder, She Wrote” on the Dumont Network.

With that inexorable slide towards irrelevancy in mind, it strikes an odd chord to send one of Broadway’s biggest supporters to the proverbial gallows for having friends whom some of the crowd find unpalatable. More to the point, it belts out a hell of an off-key note to drop the curtain on a major event designed to raise money to search for a cure for AIDS simply because one of the financial heavyweights backing the event has friends in places in which some LGBT activists wouldn’t be caught dead ordering a white wine spritzer. At the very least, I have a hard time imagining how Broadway Cares will break the news to AIDS patients that their hatred of Senator Cruz is more important than the fight to eradicate the disease which is literally eating them alive from the inside out.

Reisner and Weiderpass have learned their lessons. There is no room for multi-millionaire real estate moguls who use their considerable wealth and influence to boost cultural recognition of the arts and a cure for one of the ugliest diseases in human history; unless their guest list is pre-approved by the “right” people. The real message from the left: Intolerance will not be tolerated.

But Reisner and Weiderpass should count their lucky stars. Sure, they were publicly tarred and feathered for allowing Ted Cruz to enter their home; but by comparison, they got off light. Out in Gresham, Oregon, the proprietors of Sweet Cakes bakery learned a disproportionately larger lesson about crossing the left’s cultural revolutionaries.

Aaron and Melissa Klein discovered the current cost of freedom last Friday when a judge ordered them to pay a fine of $135,000. The crime for which they’re being punished: First degree refusal to bake a wedding cake. That means not only did they refuse to bake a cake, they refused because they have a moral objection, based on religious beliefs, to the event for which the cake was intended.

In the court of liberal tolerance, that constitutes special circumstances. And since they can’t claim the “muslim” exemption, they’re facing court-ordered financial oblivion.

And the tolerance brigade salted the earth after burning the crops. While hordes of online thugs filled sites like Yelp with fraudulent negative reviews, a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help Sweet Cakes avoid bankruptcy – or worse – was shut down after threats from the same “activists” who nailed Sweet Cakes to the proverbial cross in the first place. Apparently, the left’s cultural revolutionaries missed the delicious irony inherent in destroying Sweet Cakes for refusing services by forcing GoFundMe to refuse services. It should be noted that Gresham is not some isolated rural hamlet. It sits adjacent to the exceedingly liberal metropolis of Portland. It apparently never occurred to the cultural revolutionaries to check their little red books for another bakery. The message: Intolerance will not be tolerated.

Reisner and Weiderpass will survive the assault they endured. They can afford it. The Kleins may not. According to the same people who think AIDS is less important than their own petty prejudices, none of them deserve better.

Reisner, Weiderpass and the Kleins didn’t say they hate gays – or anyone, for that matter. Hell, Reisner and Weiderpass have sunk tens of millions of dollars into gay-friends, and even gay-specific endeavors.

And the Kleins were – and are – small-town bakers; hardly the wild-eyed bigots they’re being portrayed as. No matter; they crossed the left’s cultural Rubicon. If they’d torched a major American city and then blamed their thuggish behavior on white people, they’d be lauded as heroes. If they’d looted and burned a drug store, they’d be considered praiseworthy. If they’d emulated gay “leaders” like the repulsive rhetorical terrorist Dan Savage, they’d be swimming in proverbial dough.

Murder, treason, assault, rioting, looting, theft, hate and racism are all allowed, and even encouraged; as long as the perpetrators – not to mention the victims – are of the right color and/or religious persuasion. But let a conservative into your house or refuse to bake a cake and prepare to suffer. Your intolerance will not be tolerated.

Another year, another Earth Day

For those of you who were pressing your carbon footprint into Mother Earth’s jugular, Earth Day has come and gone. Fret not, dear friends. While you were busy being busy, the global warmists swarmed out of their dorm rooms, activist meetings and parents’ basements to shout to the rafters about the impending doom that haunts humanity. And when I say “shout,” I mean “roar like a crowd at a medieval public stoning.”

While Earth Day is nominally a day of celebration of all things earthy, it has devolved into the same shrieking hatefest that replays every time more than a few liberals occupy the same real estate. This year’s event featured pretty much the standard menu. Demands were made, speeches were given, warnings were levied, press conferences were held and enough non-recyclable garbage was piled up to shove the Styrofoam industry into the black for the rest of the year. There were concerts and cultural events attended by celebrities who were so moved by the plight of Mother Earth that they gathered their posses, ventured out of their Malibu compounds, landed their private jets and rolled up in their limos to lend their voices to the caterwauling. President Obama was so distraught that he flew 2,000 miles round-trip in a 747, burning nearly 10,000 gallons of jet fuel, to declare: “[C]limate change can no longer be denied. … And action can no longer be delayed.”

Say what you want about the American left, they are nearly as hysterical about “climate change” as they are about making sure no one derails the “climate change” express. What these guys lack in conclusive evidence, they more than make up for in sheer volume. Granted, a theory that is less than 50 years old and has already undergone multiple name changes to patch over five decades of being woefully wrong isn’t likely to gain much ground on merit. Perhaps that’s why the global warmists need to stage rock concerts and press conferences. Presumably, they’re hoping to make enough racket to drown out the considerable, and considerably growing, science that threatens their beloved theory.

They certainly can’t rest on their academic laurels. Even without counting the multiple scandals in which leading warmist researchers have been caught doing to their data what reputed Earth Day founder Ira Einhorn did to his girlfriend, these guys have a worse track record than an apocalyptic cult. After five decades of unbelievably dire prognostications, global warming remains farther from validation than I am from the guest list at the White House. The world didn’t cool off radically, relegating icebound cities to Dennis Quaid movies. The crops didn’t fail on a global scale, leading billions of people to not starve to death. The atmosphere’s balance of oxygen to nitrogen didn’t tilt, touching off a worldwide respiration epidemic. The icecaps stubbornly refused to melt, inspiring the seas to refuse to rise in solidarity. Legions of class-5 hurricanes failed to conduct endless bombardments of North American coasts, producing a boon for citrus farmers, insurance brokers and Disney World.

In fact, even a cursory examination of the so-called “science” behind the global warming industry reveals that global warmists are almost as reliable as one of those late-night TV psychics. “Call me now!”

That the climate is changing is a matter of scientific fact. However, the cause thereof is anything but. The big secret of the global warming industry is that it literally cannot prove anything more than an anecdotal relationship between human activity and weather patterns. The warmists are fond of pointing out that “97 percent” of scientists agree that “climate change” is real. While that figure is dubious in and of itself, it leaves out the rather important fact that the research used to “prove” that number has been conclusively proven to be as seriously flawed as the hackneyed theory it was constructed to defend.

Planet Earth has undergone radical climatological changes on a globally catastrophic scale on no fewer than five occasions over the course of 4.4 billion years. Of those five incidents, not one of those mass extinction events was tied to the exhaust from your SUV. Even if humanity were engaged in a conscious effort to murder Mother Earth, our results suggest we should have hired a specialist. We’re terrible at it. Despite what the warmists would call our best efforts, humanity has barely dented the biosphere.

In the five extinction-level events that have scarred the planet, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent to 75 percent of species shuffled off to the natural history museums. Outside some weird cultural affinities for powdered rhinoceros appendages or what have you, we actually make coordinated, multinational efforts to protect species deemed “at risk.” I can promise you the meteor that packed in T-Rex and his gang made no effort to gauge the environmental effects of whacking the Gulf of Mexico at 45,000 mph.

Unfortunately for those of us too informed to spend a perfectly good Wednesday bloviating about whatever they’re calling global warming this week, the warmists do not exist in a vacuum. Because “climate change” replaces science with politics, it also replaces scientists with politicians. And politicians replace the pursuit of knowledge with the pursuit of power.

Among the throngs who have turned “Earth” Day into “Global Warming Is Real Because We Say It Is” Day are more than a few activists who believe laws should be made to not only ensure that Global Warming Is Real Because They Say It Is, but punish people who don’t believe in it. Obama even considers warming the single greatest threat to humanity’s survival — even though the number of people killed by a political ploy masquerading as science is significantly lower than, say, the number killed by the beneficiaries of Eric Holder’s arms trafficking program.

Lust for power plus dishonesty plus willful ignorance almost always means trouble for the rest of us. And the warmists are as flush in all three categories as Al Gore is in cash ever since he sold Global Warming TV to Big Huge Oil. If there’s one thing Obama’s disastrous occupation of the White House has taught us, it’s that there is no lie the Democrats won’t tell, no crime they won’t commit, no pseudoscientific claptrap they won’t push as gospel in order to expand their control over your life.

According to more than a few of the warmists’ high priests, dissenters — currently known to warmists as “climate deniers,” a moniker that makes as much sense as the rest of their “science” — shouldn’t just be shouted down; they should be made to suffer — or worse. If you forget the actual science that has forced global warming to undergo more name changes than Prince, remember that next Earth Day. The warmists are willing to kill you to save the Earth from an imaginary threat: “Happy Earth Day, Climate Denier. Hope you die.”

–Ben Crystal

Death, but not taxes

Daniel Defoe said it first, and Benjamin Franklin rather famously reminded us that there is little in this world as certain as “death and taxes.” Those twin ghouls haunt every home from the meanest hovel in Detroit to the grandest palace in Malibu. With the possible exception of Keith Richards, no one escapes the reaper. And with the possible exception of the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, there’s no escaping paying his government goons beforehand. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyone who thinks they can stave off dying indefinitely is probably sillier than a chubby intern who accepts an invitation to hang out in Bill Clinton’s hotel suite. Despite the equally low odds of escaping the long arm of the tax man, I still run across people who claim to know of some method by which Americans can escape forking over a goodly portion of their hard-won dough to the Internal Revenue Service. My response is always the same. Try to avoid the latter long enough, and you’ll meet the former sooner than you might expect.

As I’ve noted before, all government mandates carry with them the implicit threat of force. The government operates in virtually the same manner as a crime syndicate. You pay more than you should for less than you deserve in order to line the pockets of people you don’t know. If you refuse, you dramatically increase the likelihood that armed goons will be deployed to “help” you find your wallet.

Now that we’ve put April 15 in the rearview mirror for another year, let’s take a moment to examine why we should all be embarrassed that we allow it to continue to darken our days. The truth we so often either forget or ignore is that the government that so intimidates us does so with our explicit consent. We employ people we know we can’t trust and then bemoan our fate when they betray us. “Jeez, we got these rabid dogs, and they keep trying to bite us!”

I have neither the time nor the bandwidth to list even a fraction of myriad ways in which the federal government flushes away our cash like a Beverly Hills trophy wife. But I don’t need to slog through a budget infested with fiscal deer ticks like IRS agents who unwind from a hard day punishing taxpayers for donating to Tea Party groups with a nice workout on their $8,000 stair climber while admiring their new Thomas the Tank Engine wristbands. All I need to do is offer a couple of suggestions that will lighten the load on us while tightening the leash on them.

Firstly, it’s time to eliminate the IRS. If there is one agency that serves nowhere near the purpose it was intended to, it’s the IRS. Tasked with collecting the nation’s taxes, the agency’s glowering thugs have become the ultimate boogeymen. And Obama’s war on liberty has turned them into the federal version of mob enforcers, a role made possible by a comprehensive lack of competent oversight. When disgraced IRS stooge Lois Lerner took the 5th to protect the IRS’s political targeting scandal, she should have immediately been not only disavowed but denounced by IRS honcho John Koskinen — if not Barack Obama himself. Instead, Koskinen sneered at congressional investigators with the full backing of Obama. At this point, it’s entirely likely that no one will ever face justice for Obama’s strong-arm tactics.

But the real tragedy isn’t the abuse we suffer at the hands of our own public servants; it’s the fact that there’s no need for any of it. The institution of a FairTax-style consumption-based system would bolster both personal and corporate income and boost government revenues. There is literally no reasoned argument against it, which is probably why the Democrats won’t discuss it. The elimination of the annual April crushing of the souls would boost national morale, as would the elimination of an agency that has proven to be dangerous when guided by the wrong principles. At the very least, it might be nice for our government to stop treating everyone except Obama’s cronies like they’re the same sort of criminals as so many of Obama’s cronies.

Declare a general, onetime tax amnesty. Lerner walked away from her role in the IRS targeting scandal with a full pension. Why not give Americans a taste of that honey? Obama is rather fond of issuing illegal executive orders when the law and/or the people get in his way. If he can wave a magic wand and turn millions of illegal aliens into “Dreamers,” he can wave the same wand for a good cause. And — bonus — he’d actually be doing something for the people instead of to us.

Given the fact that Obama has managed to add nearly $10 trillion to the national debt in 238 fewer years than it took his 43 predecessors to ring up the same amount, it’s hard to argue that we’re not getting much return on our forced investment. With Americans owing somewhere between $80 billion and $300 billion, such a move would be expensive; but we could make up the shortfall with relative ease. The annual budget for the IRS runs north of $100 billion. Since IRS agents clearly are not all that good at their jobs to begin with, the binning of the IRS would cover one-third of the amnesty bill in one fell swoop. If you want to make sure we stay in the black, then consider the fact that the so-called “war on poverty” has cost close to $25 trillion and produced Detroit. That kind of math isn’t complicated.

Obviously, those two ideas barely scratch the surface. The Feds will always find a way to waste money faster than they can steal it from those of us who actually work for a living. But in an America in which the next presidential campaign will end up costing billions of dollars, I’m quite comfortable saying that not only is the system bent to the advantage of the wrong people, but it’s beyond repair.

Americans have been paying income taxes since at least the Civil War, with peacetime income tax a reality since the passage of the Revenue Act of 1894. The 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913. The IRS has existed in its current form since 1953. In all that time, Americans have managed to fund a fully operational government that has spent wildly in excess of revenues and then shaken down Americans for more cash. Rather than fix the obviously broken system, we keep shoveling more money at it. Scrap the IRS, stop treating Americans like criminals while treating criminals like Americans and, for God’s sake, tell Sharpton to break out his checkbook.

–Ben Crystal

White man’s burden

Allow me to offer my condolences to the friends and family of Rolling Stone magazine. In these final weeks before the once-respected magazine is presumably taken over by the brothers of the University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, try to focus on the good times. Remember the good old days of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Take solace in reminiscing about how Rolling Stone reporters used to write about music and musicians, although those efforts seem as far gone as the days of MTV showing the music Rolling Stone used to write about. Hell, there was even a time during which the magnificent P.J. O’Rourke contributed short bursts of sense.

Sadly, those days are as long gone as cassettes, hair metal and “reporter” Sabrina R. Erdely’s credibility — soon to be joined by a sizable chunk of RS publisher Jann Wenner’s sizable personal fortune. As of Monday, Rolling Stone, Erdely, Wenner and the usual players to be served later are likely facing a lawsuit bigger than the budget for Metallica’s next tour. And unless the courtroom is filled entirely with disgraced pseudo-journalists and man-hating abortionista-types, they are going to fork over more cash to the men of Phi Kappa Psi than a Saudi sheikh buying influence from the Clinton Foundation.

As it turns out, running a more than 9,000-word story without bothering to see if it contains more facts than Lois Lerner’s congressional testimony is generally frowned upon — a memo Rolling Stone clearly forgot before publishing the very publicly debunked “A Rape on Campus.” But Rolling Stone didn’t stop there. It ran Erdely’s now completely discredited hoax as a direct result of what an independent investigation by the Columbia School of Journalism termed “journalistic failure that was avoidable” and followed up with a months-long effort to hide from its own culpability.

While Erdely busily dug her own journalistic grave by attempting to frame her critics as part of a so-called “campus rape culture” and complained that scrutiny of cases like hers might serve to frighten potential victims of sexual assault into silence, Rolling Stone dawdled over acknowledging the systemic failure of their editorial chain and then responded to the CJS report by changing absolutely nothing. The magazine libeled the living crap out of dozens of boys whose only crime was being selected as dupes in an insane scheme cooked up by a lovesick girl, did everything it could to avoid admitting it and then demonstrated a total lack of contrition. Indeed, Wenner has publicly announced that Erdely and her colleagues will not be facing any real disciplinary actions.

The question remains: How could this happen? Granted, Rolling Stone isn’t exactly the Wall Street Journal; but surely one or two of the staff members should have wandered past an ethics lecture during their six years in college. While Erdely’s own post-disgrace performances leave little doubt as to her motivations, the entire Rolling Stone organization won’t fit behind the “narrative is more important than facts” excuse. So how, exactly, does a team of people from proofreader to publisher and back fall into what will probably be a stupendously expensive trap?

The answer is as simple as Vice President Joe Biden, and it ought to be as recognizable to liberals like the Rolling Stone staffers as process servers are about to be. This whole situation — from the still-unidentified mastermind “Jackie” to Erdely’s feeble attempt to fit facts into a narrative instead of vice versa to the “king of rock ’n’ roll”-sized check everyone’s going to have to write to Phi Kappa Psi — is a consequence of racism.

And I mean “racism,” not some one-off like “reverse racism.” No matter how you spin this record, the tune is the same. The original perpetrator picked the Phi Psis because the Phi Psis look like the stereotypical, out-of-control, spoiled frat boys we’ve all loathed since the Omegas gave Bluto and the gang a hard time in “Animal House.” Erdely turned “Jackie” into a heroic stand-in for all the unheralded victims of all the Omegas everywhere. Rolling Stone let it reach the newsstands without asking either Erdely or “Jackie” to provide anything even approaching actual evidence beyond an accusation. Rolling Stone and Erdely appear to have met every legal definition of “libel” in the dictionary, and they did it all because their targets were college fraternity brothers at a Southern university. Throw in a couple Justin Beiber-style haircuts and a few pairs of boat shoes, and the Phi Kappa Psi boys might as well be the models for the next Ben Silver catalog. They’re white. And as the sad saga of Rolling Stone’s rather public journalistic suicide revealed, they neither received nor deserved a presumption of innocence.

Truth be told, Rolling Stone will probably get away with simply writing a check with more zeroes than their newsroom contains. After all, the left-wing media’s descent into malpractices like the UVA rape hoax is neither new nor unexpected. And the perpetrators in this case have no more reason to fear for their futures than their fellow flacks who flunked basic reporting. The victims of Rolling Stone’s and Erdely’s fraud fall into the same category as the 2006 Duke Lacrosse team and Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson: AWW, accused while white.

Mumia Abu-Jamal gets a legal defense fund and the adulation of liberal icons like terrorist Bill Ayers. The Tsarnaev boys were driven to bomb the Boston Marathon by rampant Islamophobia. Christopher Dorner was a “black superhero.” Michael Brown had his hands up. Even O.J. Simpson was framed. And criticism of Barack Obama is, of course, racially motivated. But the Phi Kappa Psis are guilty as charged — if not of the crime of which they were falsely accused, then certainly of “white privilege.”

–Ben Crystal

A large pizza with extra tolerance

(Scene: Interior. Hakim’s Halal-Hut. Daytime.)

HAKIM: How may I help you?

CUSTOMER: I’m a transgendered Zoroastrian, and I’m marrying my omnisexual Ba’hai boyfriend. We love your food, and would like to have you cater our nuptials. By the way, we’d like bacon-wrapped scallops served, as well.

HAKIM: Um, no.

CUSTOMER: Bigot!

THE IRS AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: We will be calling soon to schedule your rectal exam.

Such a scenario is supposed to be impossible in this lad’s America. That isn’t because an American Muslim wouldn’t object to serving non-halal food at an event that pretty much douses the Koran in gasoline and sets it on fire. It’s because an American Muslim shouldn’t have to face legal repercussions for his refusal to violate his religious convictions. Yet some rather unfortunate cases in New Mexico, Oregon and elsewhere have demonstrated that not only would Hakim face civil liability, but he could face far worse. If Hakim were a Christian serving pizza, he almost certainly would.

As I’ve pointed out before, anything that involves the threat of government force is conducted at gunpoint. Even matters as pedestrian as parking tickets can put you on the business end of the barrel, if you dodge the meter maid for long enough. Therefore, if Hakim refuses to go non-halal for the apostate’s wedding, he faces fiscal and personal ruin — not to mention potential loss of not only his civil freedoms, but his physical freedom.

Enter the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was first introduced by then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Chappaquiddick). The federal version of the act read: “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” It rocketed through a Congress dominated by Democrats in both Houses and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton (D-Jeff Epstein’s private island). The act engendered little objection at the time. In fact, it lived a fairly quiet legislative existence until someone pointed out that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited federal imposition of such a law on the states.

Meanwhile, multiple states enacted similar laws on their own. In some cases, the laws read almost verbatim like Schumer’s and Kennedy’s federal version. Among the states that enacted such legislation was Illinois, in which a then-unheralded state senator from Chicago supported it. The 1st Amendment guarantee to freedom of religious practices, which ought to have been law enough, was reiterated by a federal statute and state-level statutes.

And then, a New Mexican photographer and Oregonian baker got sideways with the LGBT crowd. Suddenly, the RFRA returned to the public consciousness, only the social environment had changed drastically. The Democrats who had conceived and pushed identical laws suddenly forgot their prior positions. In some cases, prominent Democrats found themselves unintentionally decrying laws on the books in their own backyards. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat whose state made RFRA a law in 1993, called his Indiana gubernatorial counterpart Mike Pence “incredibly stupid” after Pence signed the Indiana version into law. Putting aside the fact that Indiana’s version is essentially identical to the Democrats’ own federal edition, Malloy’s declamation of Pence also constituted a kick to the face of the Constitution State (Connecticut).

The sudden shift in scrutiny on RFRA laws also trapped some business heavyweights in their own corners. Mega-corporations like Volvo and Apple, among others, announced that they were reconsidering doing business in places that pass — or even consider — RFRA laws. Never mind that both companies have deep financial ties to some of the biggest human rights violators on Earth in the personae of China and Saudi Arabia; they were outraged — outraged, I say — at the troglodytic behavior of the Hoosiers and others.

The Democrats’ reversal on RFRA laws also puts their “foreign policy” in the crosshairs. Liberals found themselves in the position of attacking American Christians for their perceived intolerance, while simultaneously cheering Islamofascists who make the most rock-ribbed Christian fundamentalist in America look like a Unitarian “pastor” by comparison.

Of course, the newly anti-religious-freedom left couldn’t stop at venting their righteous indignation at the idea of small-business owners refusing to participate in events they found religiously objectionable. A restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana, became the first Hoosier state business to invoke the RFRA to protect themselves from legal action over their refusal to cater a same-sex wedding ceremony. Within hours, the liberals’ tolerance brigades donned their rhetorical jodhpurs and jackboots and goose-stepped Memories Pizza into submission.

The small-town pizza joint was attacked online. And increasingly wild threats to profit, property and person drove the shop’s owner to shutter the place, thereby reminding us that, according to the left, the proper response to perceived intolerance is actual arson and/or murder. Imagine how much we’re all going to have the first time the aforementioned gay Zoroastrian says, “Because intolerance,” when asked, “Why did you firebomb Hakim’s Halal Hut?”

In one noteworthy example, the golf coach at a high school not far from Memories Pizza took her tolerance to Twitter. “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” That particular steward of the nation’s future was suspended with pay — a significantly better fate than the one she planned for Memories.

Unfortunately, anytime those on the left whip themselves into a fervor over some alleged affront to one of their preferred, perpetually aggrieved faction, they deploy propaganda to cover the shock troops. But Indiana’s RFRA, like the other RFRA laws nationwide, allows for no discrimination. In fact, because the RFRA is a totally passive law (legal armor but not a legal sword), it can be invoked only in a defensive manner. Business owners cannot compel customers to purchase their wares (restrictions may apply; see federal government/Obamacare for details). Therefore, the true power remains in the hands of the potential clients, since potential clients can simply choose to take their business elsewhere.

I warned people this would happen. If our port-side compatriots began systematically abusing and encroaching on liberty through nefarious fiats and judicial wrangling, someone would object.

The best part is: The Democratic Party is at both ends of this snake. Democrats are fighting against laws they created. They deserve no better; but it’s a bit of a shame that decent, hardworking people are once again caught in their crossfire. Maybe Memories Pizza and the like should consider offering falafel and abortions. Then they could cater the next White House State Dinner.

–Ben Crystal

Black Brunch in America

On Palm Sunday, a restaurant worker confronts shouting protesters who entered an Atlanta-area restaurant and shouted at diners as part of #BlackBrunchATL.

I don’t live in Atlanta. It’s not that I bear the “City too busy to hate” any personal animus. I even lived there for a stretch, in a tiny place in Midtown. Its limited benefits included a rooftop deck from which one could reach Piedmont Park with a 5-iron, presuming one was so inclined.

But Atlanta has become one of those cities with a subpopulation of self-important, “socially conscious” types. They all have the same three-step M.O.:

  1. They gentrify the hell out of an urban area surrounded by gut-wrenchingly poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods.
  2. Then they talk with their eyes closed about the plight of the people in the gut-wrenchingly poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods.
  3. And they desperately hope none of the people from the gut-wrenchingly poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods actually come to visit.

Essentially, Atlanta has become the East Coast’s answer to San Francisco, or, more accurately, the Southeast’s answer to Brooklyn.

Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t resist the urge to smile just a bit Sunday afternoon as I watched news footage of the latest left-wing temper tantrum disguised as “activism” streaming in from the Peach State capital. Since their first engagement was such a rousing success, the “Black Brunch Atlanta” mobs swarmed the cafes of the Greater Atlanta area again Sunday. Following in the footsteps of those great social ground shakers as the self-proclaimed “Occupiers” and the original disrupters-of-midday-meals, “Black Brunch NYC,” the Black Brunch Atlanta mobs took to the streets to vent their frustrations over mistreatment at the hands of evil white racists by forcing those evil white racists to closely examine their own inherent white racism while listening to righteously indignant recitations of crimes against black people, such as the murder of angelic, innocent Michael Brown by evil white racist Darren Wilson of the evil white racist Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department.

Well, that’s sort of what happened. To be sure, there were swarms of angry mobs. But they didn’t exactly take to the streets. Once again, they invaded private property with the sole intent of harassing guests therein. Unless I missed a memo, that’s not “protesting.” That’s “criminal trespass.” And throw in a couple of the unsubtle remarks I picked up from some of the voices in the din — my favorite being, “Why is #BlackBrunchATL so disturbing to white people? They’re lucky blacks are just interrupting their brunch and not killing them” — and Black Brunch Atlanta graduates to “terroristic threats.”

They were easy to spot, too. All I had to do was look for the people not wearing heavy-framed glasses, ironic T-shirts and jeans cut for 9-year-olds. I noticed many of the pro-Black Brunch Atlanta types on Twitter gloating about intimidating the diners. I also noticed no one seemed to have the heart to tell them that the urban hipster subspecies can be intimidated by my Labrador retriever. For that matter, screaming at the top of your lungs about perceived bigotry in a place that takes pride in free-range, farm-to-table, organically grown anything is as worthwhile an endeavor as passing out Black Panther flyers in Nancy Pelosi’s ritzy San Francisco neighborhood. Sure, most of them are “down for the struggle,” right up until the moment “the struggle” crosses the bridge from Oakland and interrupts their soy lattes.

Frustrations were indeed vented. Only, the frustrations that were being vented were largely imaginary. One of the uncomfortable realities from which our Black Brunch pals seem intent on hiding is this: From a statistical standpoint, the greatest physical threat to black people is other black people. To put it another — and probably equally uncomfortable, but no less true — way: From a statistical standpoint, a black male between the ages of 16 and 49 is safer in the whitest neighborhood in America than in virtually any majority-minority neighborhood from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Compton.

To further belabor the uncomfortable truth, the worst examples of gut-wrenching poverty, whether they be the Atlanta neighborhoods that don’t have a Williams-Sonoma or the spots in Oakland from which Pelosi’s house isn’t even visible, all share things for which even the most socially conscious hipster in the whole coffee house can’t be blamed:

  • Stunning rates of black-on-black crime,
  • Stunning rates of fatherless households,
  • And deeply entrenched Democratic Party political control.

And to stick a pin in their other “frustrations,” even President Barack Obama’s own Igor, Eric Holder, has acknowledged that Brown was a thug who committed suicide-by-cop by forcing Wilson to fight for his life. “Hands up; don’t shoot” is as legitimate a narrative as “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

And white people were forced to examine stuff. Video from one of the eateries invaded by the Black Brunch Atlanta folks showed white people, along with black people, Asian people, Hispanic people, Indian people and probably a few Muslim people, examining their menus, their cellphones, their bills, the exits and their decision to start eating Sunday brunch at home. Other white people, along with black people, Asian people, Hispanic people, Indian people and probably a few Muslim people who work themselves to the bone keeping up with packed houses full of demanding yuppie customers, get to wonder if they’ll soon be examining pink slips while other people of all colors examine whether they can stave off bankruptcy if the Black Brunch Atlanta mob targets their restaurant again.

I noticed Black Brunch Atlanta and their fellow racist “slacktivists” never show up at truck stops or the roadside diners, only in the mid-to-upscale eateries with parking lots filled with Priuses. The left is fond of claiming that white conservative men are the cause of so many of their perceived troubles. If they were serious about confronting their tormentors, they wouldn’t storm upscale Atlanta eateries; they’d storm the Cracker Barrel. They’re not only blaming the wrong people; they’re doing it in the wrong place. It’s the rhetorical equivalent of looking for your car keys a block away from where you lost them because the light is better there.

I’m sure Black Brunch Atlanta, just like its ideological siblings in the “Occupy” movement, will return. More “racism” will need decrying. More “oppression” will need exposing. And more meals will need ruining. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here, enjoying the “white privilege” of dining in relative peace and quiet. The Black Brunchers should try it. I’d invite them to join me, but they would refuse. I’m white and conservative, and they are the ones with their eyes and ears shut to the world. They are blind to any other view or opinion. Better they stick with the hipsters.

Happy anniversary, Obamacare!

Has it been five years already? With, ahem, absolutely nothing else of consequence clogging up his schedule, President Barack Obama took center stage at a Wednesday party celebrating Obamacare’s fifth anniversary. The White House put together a ceremony only slightly less choreographed than his Rose Garden victory dance with the parents of alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

I watched Obama brazenly congratulate himself for perpetrating a fraud on the American people like some gangsta-rapper wannabe braying about knocking over a 7-11. “This law is saving money for families and for businesses… This law is also saving lives. It’s working, despite countless attempts to repeal, undermine, defund and defame this law. It’s not the fiscal disaster critics warned about for five years.”

As has become customary for this administration, Obama’s minions even produced one of their nifty little hashtags, “#ObamacareIsWorking,” to commemorate the event because self-congratulations in 140 characters or less are much easier that way. I must admit, at first I found his unmitigated gall almost impressive. Claiming a disaster like Obamacare as a signature domestic-policy achievement would certainly require nothing less than spectacular hubris, if not outright sociopathy. But then, something occurred to me. Obamacare is Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Obama has certainly stumbled through his tenure so far. His watch has sent a record number of Americans into permanent unemployment and sentenced unprecedented masses to life on the welfare rolls. He’s engaged in a pattern of abuses of Americans’ civil liberties that would make the KGB blush. His accomplices, including such worthies as Lois Lerner, John Koskinen, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, have clearly committed breaches that normally end up in front of juries, while fouling the public discourse with the sneering mendacity that made MSNBC every bit the “success” Obamacare has been.

While liberals continue to crow about Obamacare and its rather dubious “successes” like the oft-repeated claim that “(insert grossly overinflated number here) people who didn’t have insurance now have it” or something to that effect, they’re very carefully not discussing the side effects, which in many cases are far worse than any of the myriad diseases Obamacare won’t — and can’t — cure. Someone ought to remind Obama that it’s not really an accomplishment if you forced the subjects to buy something you didn’t really plan on offering and that they didn’t want in any case. It’s even less so if you forced them at gunpoint. And let’s not beat around the bush, kids. Anytime the federal government makes you do something, it’s at gunpoint. A group of Americans who had no choice in the matter are currently learning that lesson the hard way as they discover their Obamacare subsidies are headed back to D.C. via the Internal Revenue Service.

Someone should also remind Obama’s devoted followers that Obamacare and actual healthcare are not — nor were they ever supposed to be — the same thing. If you had cancer before Obamacare, you still have cancer. The only difference is that you might need to see a different oncologist — in the event that your previous doctor was on the surprisingly long list of those whom you couldn’t keep, even if you did like them. However, if you were a fit, healthy, nonsmoking triathlete whose plan was suitable for your needs, you’re now not only paying more for the same thing, thanks to Obamacare, you’re paying more for less, since you still don’t need the extra coverage and the doctors whom you did like left their practice thanks to Obamacare.

Of course, even when Obama makes a mountain out of a fraud-riddled molehill, he can’t do it without making a fool of himself in the process. During his remarks, Obama jabbed at conservative opposition to his criminal enterprise, presumably joking when he asked: “Kicking millions off insurance will somehow make us more free?” Evidently, the president forgot the millions who were kicked off their insurance by Obamacare, despite his promises to the contrary. The Democrats are fond of discussing Obama’s “presidential” demeanor. And nothing says “presidential” to me like sophomoric jabs from a lame-duck has-been whose paper-thin ego is more important to him than his own party’s future.

Notably, among the hordes of attendees — and by “hordes” I mean “number lower than Joe Biden’s IQ score” — were three whole Democratic legislators. Despite their professed admiration for the lumbering legislative behemoth, the bulk of our port side legislators skipped the big day to attend a speech to a joint session of Congress by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. It’s not that they didn’t want to be there for the big anniversary photo op; it’s just that they were dying to hear from a guy whose name Obama apparently can’t remember on a bet. Say what you want about most Democrats, but they’re smart enough to shore up their alibis.

Unfortunately for them, those alibis are thinner than Obama’s delicate self-image. Last fall, Obamacare extracted a heavy toll from the legislative side of the Democratic machine. With their party trapped in a death spiral heading into 2016 — their top contender remains the laughably unelectable Hillary Clinton — the last thing they need is Obama nailing a copy of Obamacare to the electorate’s door. And yet that’s precisely what he’s doing. Happy anniversary, Obamacare; you’re the gift that keeps on giving.

–Ben Crystal