The liberals’ ‘heroes’

I seldom pay much attention the supermarket tabloids. It’s not that I’m not interested in Oprah Winfrey’s secret plan to splice Bat Boy’s DNA with space aliens to create a body double that will take over the world. It’s just that I figure that I have little chance of surviving the coming Oprah-Bat Boy-alien war, and I’m wondering if whatever I forgot is close enough for me to make a mad dash to aisle 2 and back without infuriating the guy behind me in line. It’s not that I don’t want to see the latest pictures of Kim and Kanye West’s baby; it’s just that I’m trying to figure out if I have enough beer for the week. And It’s not that I don’t care what Pitbull said to T.I. at the annual Hip-Hop Awards “ho-down” (and they do mean “ho”). Actually, I’ll admit it: I don’t care what Pitbull said to T.I.

However, one of the fashion glossies caught my eye during a recent trip to the grocery store. Just to the right of the candy bars, batteries and mini-containers of hand sanitizer was the latest edition of Elle. Staring back at me from the cover, with what I’m guessing was either smoldering sensuality or gastrointestinal discomfort, was the reputed face of modern liberal feminism, Lena Dunham. Once I shook off the surprise of learning that Elle is still a thing, I realized I was looking at the ultimate demise of actual women’s rights — and a perfect example of why the Democrats not only took a beating last fall, but are likely to take another one in 2016.

Dunham is famous, a consequence of critical adoration of her HBO series “Girls.” She’s politically influential, thanks to the creepy-to-everyone-except-Democrats “First Time” video extolling the virtues of now-President Barack Obama. And she’s a magazine cover model because — well — she’s famous and politically influential. But she’s also the same person who not only falsely accused an innocent man of rape in order to push book sales, but admitted in that book that she molested her own sister. Full disclosure: I watched an episode of Dunham’s acclaimed show. It reminded me of a bush-league “Seinfeld.” Nearly every character is more a collection of neuroses than an actual human; and despite its New York City setting, black people are either invisible or plot devices. She’s a liar. She’s a slanderer. If her show is anything to go by, she’s a racist. And — and I don’t think this can be overstated — she’s a child molester. But because she’s an outspoken liberal, she’s a hero.

And Dunham is not alone in the pantheon of liberal demigods and demigoddesses. Obese war profiteer Michael Moore managed to squeeze his considerable bulk back into the spotlight recently. According to Moore, the Chris Kyle biopic “American Sniper” lionizes “cowards.” Moore, who piled up a reported $50 million by vilifying excessive wealth and who enjoys first-rate American healthcare by vilifying American healthcare, has never been closer to combat than the occasional scramble for the last bear claw. It’s bad enough that Moore thought it was possible to burnish his own reputation by insulting men like Kyle. It’s far worse that Moore thought it was necessary to do so. It’s absolutely appalling that anyone took him seriously. But because he’s an outspoken liberal, he’s a hero.

Of course, Dunham and Moore are merely avatars of a much larger collection of freaks, weirdos and creeps who would likely be shunned by society were it not for the fact that their politics list drastically to the port side. Al Franken, who headed the writing staff of “Saturday Night Live” during the very lean post-Eddie Murphy days, is now a U.S. Senator. Gwyneth Paltrow, who once unfavorably compared “cheese from a can” to smoking crack, recently hosted Obama at a first-class fiesta. The Oscar-winning actress said: “It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass.” Jay-Z and Beyonce are virtual royalty. Sen. Elizabeth Warren considers her ancestors’ cheekbones sufficient proof of her Native American roots. Hillary Clinton is planning to run for president on the “I dodged imaginary sniper fire, but what difference does it make?” ticket. The Rev. Al Sharpton is practically the co-president.

Behind the famous faces are the big-money heavyweights. These are the new world order types who flocked to Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum. They required an air force of private jets to congregate with their super-wealthy pals. Once in Davos, they were treated to another ridiculous slide show about so-called “global warming” by former Vice President Al Gore. Already wealthy by virtue of his family’s tobacco farming, Gore is awash in dough. In fact, his biggest score was the sale of his failed “Current TV” cable network to Al Jazeera. Gore used Current to push his pet science-fiction project. Al Jazeera is owned by the House of Thani. In case that rings no bells, the House of Thani is the royal family of Qatar. Mr. Global Warming sold Global Warming TV to Big Oil.

And then there’s former President Bill Clinton, who has somehow managed to avoid being mentioned on the sex offender registries despite fighting a personal war on women since the days when global warming was known as global cooling. Yet new reports on the Virgin Islands estate of Democrat sugar daddy Jeffrey Epstein indicate Clinton was not only a friend of the disgraced billionaire, he hitched a ride on Epstein’s private 727 to what the media are now calling “Sex Fiend Island.” I’ll leave the goings-on at Epstein’s tropical man cave and massage parlor to your imagination; this is the Personal Liberty Digest™, not HBO.

Yet Clinton remains one of — if not the – most popular Democrats in America. Dunham’s creepy mendacity hasn’t prevented the abortionistas from continuing to sing her praises. Moore’s hypocrisy hasn’t prevented the “America last” crowd from cheering his proclamations. Paltrow’s intellectual vacuity hasn’t prevented Obama from grubbing for cash at her 24-carat, canned cheese-free trough. And as I noted earlier, little needs to be said about Sharpton that isn’t already common knowledge. I understand why the Democrats gravitate toward people of this caliber. They share their values, twisted though they might be. More importantly, they have a lot of money, which they’re willing to share it in return for photo ops, stays in the Lincoln bedroom and/or political influence. The thing is that for all they share in common with people like Obama, they have absolutely nothing in common with the people upon whom they rely for book sales, viewership and the money they need to keep living their lifestyle of the rich and famous. They complain about things like money and influence in politics, while spending enormous sums of money in order to gain influence in politics. They decry the plight of the poor while living like pharoahs. But they’re outspoken liberals, so they’re heroes.

–Ben Crystal

Open mic night at the State of the Union

I despise watching the State of the Union address. The President’s annual command performance is the Super Bowl of speeches. For every epic tilt involving the scrappy underdog New York Giants spiking a previously undefeated New England Patriots with a game-winning drive as time expires, there’s a yawner featuring a Mike Ditka-led Chicago Bears throwing the Patriots off the roof of the stadium. No matter who wins, the winner’s fans will cheer their masterpiece of a victory. Meanwhile, the losers’ fans will blame the conditions, the referees or, in the case of the Patriots’ victims in their three victories, deliberately underinflated footballs. Likewise, no matter how well the president follows the teleprompter, his supporters will declare the speech a feat of Ciceronian quality, while his detractors will proclaim it the worst thing they’ve endured since their last visit to the doctor’s office.

Actually, that’s unfair, albeit not to the Patriots. Even blowouts usually sport someone putting on a show for the ages. In fact, the State of the Union is really the Super Bowl halftime show of speeches. Barring a colossal blunder or epic roof-raiser, both productions are largely overproduced, underperformed and forgettable. Sometimes, Prince rocks the house. Sometimes, FDR delivers “The Four Freedoms” (a terrific piece of wordsmithing, politics be damned). But mostly, both productions are merely a brief respite before the two opponents get back to tearing each other to pieces.

The State of the Union is a constitutional requirement. The president of the United States accepts a pro forma invitation from the speaker of the House of Representatives. He shows up in late January. He shakes hands with the party faithful types who set up for aisle space like sci-fi nerds staking out places in line for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie. He then delivers a speech somewhere between “Thank God that’s over” and “Does this guy ever shut up?” President Nixon brought home his 1972 address in just under 29 minutes. In 2000, President Bill Clinton made the nation squirm uncomfortably for an hour longer. Neither speech would make either disgraced chief executive’s top 10 lists, proving only that Nixon was much more efficient about lying on national television.

On the surface, Obama’s sixth edition was as forgettable as most. He laid out the usual partisan platitudes, unfulfillable promises and outright lies — in his case, “women’s health” (aka abortion), “free” community college and some argle-bargle about whatever they’re calling global warming this week. He took credit for things with which he had nothing to do and blamed his own failures on other people. That’s no partisan dig. Obama hardly broke new ground in that department.

But then, well into the speech, Obama spun out. What had until then been a fairly unremarkable parade of applause lines and filler turned into a nasty, hypocritical rant. He crowed about his electoral invulnerability, “I have no more campaigns to run,” with the supposedly ad-libbed suffix, “I won both of them.” The president of the United States, standing in the chamber of the House of Representatives, addressing the nation he serves, decided to test out his skills for improv night at the Ha-Ha Hut — because that’s treating the office of the presidency, and the people by whose assent it exists, with the respect it deserves.

In what will be, barring impeachment, eight years in office, Obama will have countless fundraising dinners, special interest bull sessions and backroom deal-making soirees in which to work through all his best one-liners. And he can make jokes about how much he hates conservatives all evening when he grubs for dough at some Hollywood superstar’s Malibu beach palace. Maybe he could leave the late night audition material for those occasions.

Upon further examination, Tuesday’s effort was actually a new direction, even for Obama. Beyond the sudden “nah-nee, nah-nee, boo-boo” moment, Obama also managed to set marks for new levels of hypocrisy. The same speech that contained his now-infamous “ad-libbed” moment contained a plea for more bipartisan compromise, “I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.” He whined about the endless dialing for dollars of campaign life “constant fundraising” while his wife simultaneously used the speech to dig for ducats and his party followed the speech with an emailed, Obama-signed fundraising plea before the rest of his party could fire a hailstorm of almost shocking misogyny at Republican respondent Sen. Joni Ernst.

He also managed to argue against himself. Mere moments after he lifted his chin over the success sanctions have had in keeping Russia from overrunning huge swaths of Ukrainian territory, he warned congressional Republicans from imposing similar measures against Iran. He railed against armed interventions and then demanded authorization to arm up and intervene in the Mideast. He repeated delusional claims about inroads against islamofascism but avoided acknowledging the existence of islamofascism. He acted as if the newly dropping gas prices — over which he claimed no influence when they hovered near the $4-per-gallon mark — were a product of his will and then yammered about Al Gore’s inconvenient science fiction project, avoiding acknowledging the price-kiting effects of so-called “climate change” measures, the war on America’s coal industry and his party’s stated plan to try to impose new taxes on fuel, thereby raising prices on middle- and lower-class Americans before they get too comfortable with affordable gasoline.

He even made the claim “middle-class economics works.” At best a passable bumper-sticker slogan, it loses adhesion pretty quickly measured against the record numbers of Americans permanently exiled from the workforce, working multiple “McJobs” to stay afloat and looking across a wealth gap that has widened by leaps and bounds as a direct result of his policies. Obama also included a boast about Wall Street’s unprecedented success, an unsubtle elbow in the ribs to the hundreds of millions of Americans who have never seen a bonus check from Goldman Sachs.

Obama’s sixth State of the union was clearly not what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when they penned Article 2, Section 3. He’s not the first president to turn the address into a sideshow, and he likely won’t be the last. But he is the first president to turn the address into an opportunity to turn to the opposition — and the majority of the people whom they represent — and smugly flip them the proverbial bird. At some level, I suppose I can understand his motivation. After all, the people just did the same thing to his party and him last November. The difference is, as he’s so fond of reminding us: We’re not the president; he is. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer invited guests refrain from publicly insulting their hosts while standing in their house. Dude, you’re the president. Act like it.

–Ben Crystal

Charlie Hebdo: Is this the end?

Before ululating lunatics murdered a dozen people in and around their offices, the French parody magazine Charlie Hebdo meant as much to me as a tween pop star’s Myspace page. Let’s be honest, kids: Their brand of humor makes Seth Rogen/James Franco stoner comedies read like Aristophanes. There’s more than enough sophomoric yammering to be had in this country to keep me from seeking it out au français.

In fact, Hebdo’s depictions of Muhammad, infuriating to the jihadi set though they might be, pale in comparison to much funnier lampooneries by “South Park” and “Family Guy.” And they barely scratch the surface of offensiveness when compared to some of the treatment faced by the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who have also figured into comedic storylines in the aforementioned animated sitcoms and in many, many others that clock in well down the laugh-o-meter. But being unfunny isn’t a capital crime, not even in France. According to more than a few of you dear readers, I should join the surviving Charlie Hebdo staffers in being glad for that.

If my detractors among Personal Liberty Digest™ readers are right, I might need to cut my celebration short. If presidential spokeshole Josh Earnest is to be believed, the party is already over. As Earnest acknowledged during Monday’s White House press briefing, albeit in mangled verbiage that made me wistful for President Bush’s comparative eloquence, President Barack Obama “will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform.” As relayed through the opening in Earnest’s face, Obama’s rationale for future attempts to repress things that get al-Qaida’s keffiyehs in knots lies in his belief that poking fun at Muhammad endangers American service personnel. Far be it for me to enlighten one so wise as Billy Ayers’ best pupil, but if anyone — American soldier or Nigerian ditch-digger — is in danger because Muslims can’t take a joke, the punchline isn’t the problem.

I’m far from the only person who thinks so. None other than HBO comedian and Obama mega donor Bill Maher has noted, “When there’s this many bad apples, there’s something wrong with the orchard.” By threatening to crack down on Americans’ free expression in order to protect them from Muslim lack of compunction, Obama is pre-emptively blaming the victims for potential acts by the aggressors. Car thieves lack compunction, so maybe we should all drive 2007 Chevy Malibus in “rental fleet white.” Burglars lack compunction, so maybe we should all live in identical homes. Bill Clinton lacks compunction, so maybe we should make all women wear some kind of all-covering garment and submit to genital mutilation.

According to the 1st Amendment, Obama doesn’t have to be shy about expressing himself. Likewise, I neither want nor need Obama’s permission to express myself, even if it offends Obama. Like every other citizen of the United States, Obama is perfectly welcome to come out and admit he thinks my right to mock Muhammad should be subjugated to spare Muhammad’s evidently porcelain-delicate feelings. I, in turn, have the right to tell Obama to get bent. But both of our respective liberties end there. No matter how much it might offend the delicate sensibilities of some Boko Haram, al-Qaida or ISIS serial killer, Obama doesn’t have the right to actually stop me from mocking Muhammad, just as I don’t have the right to actually smack Obama upside his oddly undersized head.

In these enlightened days, we’re not supposed to pronounce our cultures superior to others, even if in cowering from islamofascist rage we’re pronouncing theirs superior to ours. But by any reasonable standard, the human condition in countries that offer actual freedom of expression is vastly superior to the one endured by people in (insert name of Muslim-dominated country here). And if you count yourself among those who think I’m just Bob Livingston’s resident Charlie Hebdo, then don’t take my word for it. Go ask a teenage girl in Nigeria. You might want to step on it. Thanks to the islamofascists in Boko Haram, teenage girls are in increasingly short supply in Nigeria; and the ones who are still around aren’t particularly chatty.

Not only are those who would quash mockery willfully trying to stuff us all in burqas rather than risk offending people whom they simultaneously claim represent a tiny fraction of Islam, they’re also willfully being racist as hell. There are close to 2 billion Muslims on the planet. Their geographic and ethnic range extends across every race and continent. By repressing expression — even the sophomoric, crude and/or offensive-to-Muslims kind — those who seek to blame the victims of islamofascism for being victims of islamofascism are not only suggesting all Muslims are islamofascists, they’re also suggesting Muslims are as much a separate species as a religion. I can’t help but notice the unspoken bigotry that courses through every attempt to censor images that might offend “some” Muslims. The assertion that we all have to watch what we say about Muhammad in front of Muslims carries with it a nasty subtext: Muslims are by nature violently insane and will respond to provocation with insane violence.

In the days since islamofascist psychopaths turned the Charlie Hebdo offices into a shooting gallery, media worldwide have publicly — and strenuously — avoided repeating any of Charlie Hebdo’s behavior. When the Parisian jokesters followed up with an all-new edition that again featured an image of Muhammad, news outlets took advantage of the story — not to rally behind the idea of free expression, but instead to test out their cool new onscreen pixellating software.

As I watched Earnest explain his boss’s increasingly cowardly response to threats from guys who seriously need to work on their senses of humor, I thought: “Obama is so terrified of a 7th century ideology, he’s willing to send us all back in time. This is how it begins.” And then I realized: “Obama is so terrified of a 7th century ideology, he’s demanding we all go back in time; and self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ around the world actually agree with him. This isn’t how it begins. This is how it ends.”

–Ben Crystal

Charlie Hebdo and the innocence of Islam

TNS/Paramedics wheel a victim to an ambulance in Paris after an attack where masked gunmen attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven.

Seven billion souls share space on our big blue marble. Of those 7 billion, approximately one-quarter consider themselves to be adherents of Islam. That means about 1.7 billion people think there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.

Taken as a whole, only Christianity outweighs Islam on the global religion scale. However, the world’s Christian population is fractured by theological divisions as narrow as the real estate between the first and third Congregational churches in a New England village, and as wide as the theological canyon between the Vatican and Salt Lake City. Identifying the world’s Christian populations as a single monolithic entity is as ludicrous as expecting the pope to deliver Holy Communion to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

However, Islam experiences far less diversity of interpretation of the divine. Of those 1.7 billion Muslims, between three-fourths and four-fifths are Sunnis, while most of the remainder are Shiites. Furthermore, the nations that consider Islam to be founding governmental principles are wholly dominated by Islamic doctrine.

While the largest officially Christian nation, England, boasts a population of some 55 million people, fewer than 60 percent of our best pals cross the pond consider themselves Christians. And anyone who has observed the queen’s subjects of late knows that the Muslims in that country are punching well above their weight. Meanwhile, the largest officially Muslim nation, Pakistan, boasts a population of nearly 200 million — of whom 96 percent pray five times daily toward Mecca. In fact, the places where Islam officially reigns supreme all feature nearly unanimously Muslim populations.

But, I’m a fair guy. Therefore, I won’t hold the actions of a handful of homicidal lunatics against — say — the 210 million Muslims in Indonesia. They didn’t storm the offices of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo in a coordinated attack that ended the lives of 12 people, including a police officer whose execution was broadcast endlessly around the world. I shouldn’t expect any sort of condemnation from the people of Iran, 99.6 percent of whom are Muslims. They didn’t launch a death strike against the staff of a print comedy troupe. Just because a group of ululating mass murderers turned a parody paper’s offices into a shooting gallery doesn’t mean that the 76 million Muslims who comprise 95 percent of the population of Egypt should proffer condemnation. Just because Muslims in Afghanistan think being a rape victim is a capital offense doesn’t mean they just hosed down a French lampoon with hot lead. Just because Muslims in Somalia think every 9-year-old girl dreams of her very own genital mutilation for her birthday doesn’t mean they sent a dozen innocent people to a violent death. Just because Palestinians danced jigs of joy on 9/11 doesn’t mean they busted out a soft-shoe Wednesday morning.

I certainly shouldn’t bear any ill will toward the Muslims and Muslim-related groups in non-Muslim countries. Anjem Choudary, the fire-breathing, Sharia-preaching, radical islamofascist who leads the U.K.’s growing jihadi movement, wrote in a USA Today op-ed Wednesday evening: “So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?” But he didn’t actually shout, “We have avenged the Prophet,” after mowing down 12 people because they drew a mean ol’ picture of Muhammad.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that members of other islamofascist groups deserve no blame for the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s house of humor. While an al-Qaida representative told The Associated Press the attack was “inspiring,” the group itself wasn’t taking credit for the crime. The members of al-Qaida might be islamofascist sociopaths bent on world domination, but they’re not responsible for every act of terror committed by everyone who shares their mission but not their methods.

Heck, some would even go so far as to suggest the perpetrators themselves aren’t to blame for their crimes. Even the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who famously claimed, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” said of Charlie Hebdo’s iconoclastic humor as recently as 2012: “Obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this.” Try to see it from the shooters’ perspectives. If the people at Charlie Hebdo hadn’t pushed the limits of satire, as suggested by the Nobel Prize-winning president, then they wouldn’t have been targeted. If the victim hadn’t been dressed so provocatively, then her rapists — wait, that’s totally different.

Except that it isn’t. Despite the leftists’ repeated slurs, there is no other campaign of mass killings being committed in the name of religion anywhere else in the world; and there hasn’t been in quite some time. Even the Israelis, whose detractors consider the lowest of the low, aren’t campaigning in the name of God as much as the name of real estate. The Israeli response to its neighbors is generally a national belief that good fences make great neighbors, especially in crappy neighborhoods. Islam’s public face is increasingly becoming a twisted mask of bloodthirsty rage. There is hardly a nation on Earth that hasn’t felt the sting of Islamic-inspired terrorism. Counter that with the actions of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians, who haven’t engaged in a war of religious significance since before the boys in the Mideast realized the stuff they were standing on could fund wars of religious significance and pay for really bitchin’ sports cars, dude!

Even when someone does commit an act of barbarism in the name of Christianity, he’s a pariah outside the wacko fringe. Consider the general attitude towards Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church crowd. They may well be the most roundly despised people in North America, and they haven’t even killed anyone.

Christianity — even twisted, weird, Phelps-ian editions thereof — doesn’t regularly inspire the sort of madness that visited the world on Wednesday. When so-called “artist” Robert Mapplethorpe unveiled a crucifix in a jar of urine, no one machine-gunned his “studio.” When cartoons like “Family Guy” and “South Park” lampoon the Savior, no one storms their offices with murderous vengeance on their minds. But when they poke fun at Muhammad, they’re behaving “irresponsibly.” It’s worth noting that by making special allowances to protect Muhammad’s evidently thin skin, the world is essentially saying Muslims lack the ability to behave according to modern civilization’s basic rules.

In the past few years, I — along with many of you — have been called everything from a “Nazi” to an “American Taliban” for holding and/or espousing ideals that run counter to Obama’s professed beliefs. I’m a “gun nut” because I don’t think the 2nd Amendment was meant to cover only muskets. I’m “anti-woman” because I don’t think the proper response to a positive pregnancy test is a visit with Dr. Dilation N. Evacuation. I’m “racist” because I think Obama has been to the presidency what athlete’s foot is to a locker room. When some nut shoots up a school or a movie theater or a shopping center, I’m supposed to shoulder some of the blame, since I’m part of the “gun culture.” By that logic, not only do the billion-and-a-half Muslims who didn’t shoot anyone at Charlie Hebdo’s offices still owe an apology; they deserve part of the blame.

But what the hell do I know? I’m a racist, sexist, islamophobic, gun-worshipping, poor-people-hating, right-wing lunatic.

–Ben Crystal

Admiring Hillary

According to a poll released Monday by the Gallup organization, the woman most admired by Americans during 2014 is Hillary Clinton. Soak that in for a moment. Of the approximately 165 million or so members of the fairer sex who call America home, the one who most inspires the people of this great nation is — according to Gallup — a woman who actually blamed her husband’s endless scandals and the fallout therefrom on a so-called “vast right-wing conspiracy.” With so many impressive, successful and even inspirational women from whom to choose, the most respondents selected the ex-first lady, U.S. senator, presidential also-ran and secretary of State.

As if Hill-dawg’s hold on the top spot isn’t enough to make us wonder about Gallup’s polling samples, leafing backward through the years to Hillary’s arrival on the national stage reveals an even more troubling trend. The woman, whose entire resume comprises four decades of being humiliated by her husband, pretending “first lady” is an elected office, and then cashing in the humiliations and hubris on a senatorial seat in a state in which she didn’t live, has been the most admired woman in Gallup’s annual poll on the topic in 17 of the past 18 years. I’m curious if Gallup polled anyone outside the Wellesley College Womyn’s Club and the MSNBC interns.

Hillary Clinton was an enormously divisive first lady who used her husband’s position to enrich herself, empower herself and abuse the living hell out of anyone who got in her way. From stunning commodities trading successes, to an attempt to place trial lawyers in charge of the nation’s healthcare system, to her proclamation that the millions of people who felt the pangs of revulsion at her husband’s appalling behavior were part of a massive and coordinated cabal, Clinton turned an unearned, ceremonial position into a battering ram. Dubiously accumulated wealth, cronyism at the potential expense of human life and enabling grotesque male chauvinism hardly seems “admirable.”

Following her husband’s tenure in the Oval Office, Clinton left behind her Chicago and Arkansas homes to become a “lifelong” New Yorker. She ran a campaign that capitalized on both her husband’s fame and her husband’s career, and she won the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Nestled comfortably in Congress’s upper house, she set to work running for president. Unfortunately, her 2008 bid was sidetracked when Barack Obama trumped her “lady card” with the political ace of spades: the race card. Thereafter, she dumped her adopted home state to take up residence in the State Department as a member of Obama’s cabinet. She ditched Illinois, then Arkansas and then New York just to get closer to the White House. I find it hard to describe that as “admirable.”

Her tenure at the State Department was an absolute disaster, marked by a precipitous decline in America’s image in the eyes of allies and enemies alike. The shrill harpy of a first lady became a placeholder of a Senator and then an ineffectual blip of a secretary of State. And, of course, she abandoned Obama’s ship of State to prepare a 2016 presidential bid — but not before she helped steer it onto the rocks of worldwide derision. Two years later, she has yet to demonstrate any real political acumen or qualification other than respiration and a pulse.

If you have a daughter, I’m sure you harbor hopes and dreams of a future in which she lives a long, happy life. And I’m sure that you hope that she rises to the very top of whatever field she chooses. She could emulate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a widely respected jurist who shattered the glass ceiling using her own wit and wisdom. She could emulate Condoleezza Rice, who emerged from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful people on Earth through sheer will and then succeeded her diplomatic service by becoming not only a top official at Stanford University, but a major player in the boy’s club of football, even making the short list of candidates for commissioner of the NFL. Your daughter could also emulate the millions of stay-at-home mothers, proudly and determinedly raising generations of children to become far more worthwhile citizens than someone who rose to fame and fortune by standing next to — and enduring — a disarmingly buffoonish sexual predator.

My niece is wandering perilously close to the edge of her teenage years. Ahead of her lies an endless sunrise of possibilities. She could save lives as a doctor. She could work for peace as a diplomat. She could fly to the stars as an astronaut, presuming we stop bumming rides from the Russians. She will almost certainly be an amazing human being. She will absolutely give my older brother multiple coronaries before she does any of that. When I think of the women she admires, I prefer to tell myself that she thinks of women — of people — truly worthy of admiration, her own mother and grandmother among them. I’m sure her cheers are currently reserved for some movie star, pop music star or some combination of the two. And, to be honest, I prefer that to Hillary Clinton.

–Ben Crystal

Hooray for Pyongyang-wood!

Sony Pictures spent just under $50 million to get a formulaic “stoner” comedy to multiplexes worldwide. “The Interview” follows what appear to be a mentally challenged interviewer and his even more mentally challenged sidekick as they journey from asking celebrities idiotic questions to venturing to North Korea to assassinate a thinly disguised parody of Kim Jong Un in the guise of interviewing the reclusive dictator. Hijinks presumably ensue along the way.

Prior to the film’s release, hackers — allegedly working on behalf of North Korea — broke through Sony’s Web security and leaked information meant to both embarrass the studio and warn against releasing “The Interview.” Sony pulled the film from distribution rather than risk either the ire of North Korea’s head lunatic in charge or any further damage to the paper-thin egos of Hollywood’s elite. A global uproar ensued, with everyone from the kid manning the popcorn machine at your local 11-screen to President Barack Obama decrying Sony’s decision to err on the side of cowardice. The otherwise forgettable film, featuring James Franco and Seth Rogen as James Franco and Seth Rogen, went from one step above direct-to-DVD to the biggest word-of-mouth push since the girl from the Blair Witch Project blubbered into a Handycam. In an effort to soothe any ruffled feathers, Sony added professional race pimp and grievance monger Al Sharpton to their future filmmaking processes — because he apparently represents not only Obama, but overly sensitive bridge trolls who own weird Asian countries. Sony ultimately reversed its field, releasing the film online to critical derision tempered only by nods to film’s bizarre political relevance. The entire saga dominated the news cycle for days.

I could almost cut off my column right there. The mere fact that those events actually transpired says more about the plight of this boy’s America in 2014 than any retro-spectacle the lapdog media is likely to produce to close out the year. An indubitably lousy film starring indubitably lousy actors offended the delicate sensibilities of the indubitably lousy dictator of an indubitably lousy country, so the movie studio caved and then un-caved to pressure brought by someone who might have been working for the lousy dictator of the lousy country. And the ensuing hubbub became one of the biggest stories of the season, if not the year.

Even politicians and their grubby little minions managed to jam their snouts into the trough. Obama, who once jailed a guy for making an equally terrible film that almost no one ever saw, took a firm stand against restricting artistic expression — even if the expression barely qualifies as art. For days, the world was positively transfixed by the tableau — although not so transfixed that people stopped murdering, raping, maiming and otherwise making life miserable for other people. The United States, wracked by the worst racial divisions since the Democrats were drawing their “line in the dust,” continued to burn in the wake of ethnic brush fires set by social arsonists and professionally aggrieved malcontents, blazes which have claimed lives from Los Angeles to Missouri to Brooklyn, New York.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan suffered another death-filled month, thanks in part to a resurgent Taliban, perhaps boosted by the reacquisition of five of their serial killers in return for a sniveling alleged deserter in what was the most lopsided trade since the Vikings swapped a decade of future talent for Herschel Walker. A decidedly non-decimated al-Qaida continued to threaten humanity with all sorts of mayhem. ISIS continued to spread like cancer through a newly raging Iraq, perhaps bolstered by weapons the terrorists obtained from Obama before he decided he didn’t like them. A record 100 million people have permanently left the workforce while millions more work multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet. Both groups anticipate the sudden competition of millions of illegal aliens the way middle-aged guys anticipate a visit to the proctologist. Eric Holder will leave the Justice Department without ever accounting for his role in and perjury about Operation Fast and Furious. The IRS may never account for playing the heavy in Obama’s politically motivated audits. America’s place in the world is as inconsequential as any time since the 19th century. The same president who squeezed out a statement deploring Sony’s lack of spine — in between rounds of golf, natch — will certainly never face justice for deploying the NSA against pretty much everyone. And an increasingly powerful Al Sharpton is making movies.

But certainly, a bad movie featuring marginally talented actors that offended the delicate sensibilities of a profoundly spooky martinet deserves more attention than anything that might make Obama look bad. And there’s no doubt it deserves more attention from Obama and his Democrat elite than boring stuff like Jon Gruber’s admission that Obamacare is the biggest financial fraud in American, and possibly human, history.

As 2014 stumbles to the finish line, “The Interview” spent days as the top news story in the nation and possibly in the world. It took the murder of two police officers, a racially motivated hate crime incited by the incessant shrieking of anti-law-and-order rabble-rousers like Obama and Sharpton, to bump the dramedy off the top of the cycle. And somehow, no one seemed to notice that the same people who incited the Brooklyn murders have consistently pushed for a federal law enforcement complex straight out of an Orwellian acid trip.

Of course, the possibility exists that North Korea had nothing to do with the Sony hack and subsequent release of embarrassing documents and communiques. The idea that the North Koreans, who have serious trouble keeping on the lights on a regular basis, could successfully pull off such a plot strains credulity nearly as far as the idea that Sony would drop eight figures on another idiotic shlockfest. And Obama used the sordid affair to push for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act-type government oversight and involvement in the Internet, an awfully conveniently timed move that would essentially legitimize his administration’s well-known misuse of the NSA to spy on innocent Americans.

I’m not going to watch “The Interview.” There’s no way I would have paid to watch two guys act out a script they probably scribbled on a pizza box while 10 bong hits into a Ziploc bag of Maui Wowie. And Kim Jong Un flipping his kimchee over it doesn’t really jack up the cost-benefit analysis. Besides, I’ve got more important stuff to focus on, as do all of you. I’ll catch “The Interview” when it hits basic cable.

–Ben Crystal

All the cool bigots shop at Target

In a recent interview with the hard-charging newsmagazine People, first lady Michelle Obama opened up about a recent incident in which she was confronted by the same caustic racism that is eating a hole in the heart of our nation. Despite her husband’s meteoric rise from the lowly confines of Bill Ayers’ living room to the highest office in the land, Mrs. Obama says racism still lurks, waiting for the right moment to ruin her reverie.

And the evil bigotry bandit isn’t waiting all that patiently. Although she is years removed from the humdrum of middle-class life, Mrs. Obama claims the psychic scars left by those dark days are as vivid now as they were then. Indeed, Mrs. Obama told People that racism kept its boot on her family’s throats until the day President Barack Obama occupied the Oval Office. “Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.” Perish the thought. I’ve waited for cabs in major cities across the planet. I’ve watched as available cabs blew by me like I had a barbed tail, horns and pitchfork. I’m not sure they ignored me because of my race, but I suppose it’s possible. To be honest, if I were a cabbie, I’d be more likely to pick up a pencil-necked lawyer like Obama than a larger-than-average guy with a “face for radio” like — say — me.

But the Obamas (the President deigned to sit with his wife for the piece) have faced far greater indignities. “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.” I’d be willing to bet that quite a few black males, who are professionals, have come out of quite a few restaurants and were met with compliant valets eager to pocket a couple of bucks in return for bringing the ride around quickly. Without pressing the immodesty too far, no one has ever mistaken me for a parking valet (although I’m pretty sure a few people have mistaken me for a car thief — or worse). And Mrs. President has had to witness the vicious bigotry hurled at Mr. President. “He was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.” Christ on His Throne! That’s almost as embarrassing a faux pas — for the offender — as mistaking one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a waiter, not that anyone could be so incredibly ill-mannered.

Of course, the first couple’s recollections were part of a hard-hitting interview with the respected media outlet. Indeed, the president was careful to note that he got off easy. “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse….” It would be awful if Obama’s son were to… hey, wait a minute.

And then, there was the now-infamous Terror at Target. During a shopping trip, the first lady stumbled into double-discrimination when a woman asked her for assistance. “(D)uring that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.” What backwoods, hillbilly, redneck Target allows such monstrous patrons? Not only did the woman mistreat the First Mrs. out of racial animus, but the act of assuming that someone of Mrs. Obama’s height — she’s a hair under 6’ — would naturally be able to assist her wounds the soul. Come to think of it, Mrs. Obama herself acknowledged the trip was “not too highly disguised.” That means not only did the woman treat Obama differently based on her race and height, she neither bowed nor scraped. Of all the nerve!

If that last story seems oddly familiar, that’s because it is. Mrs. Obama has told the same tale before. In fact, she told the exact same story to David Letterman 2½ years ago. But it seems time has yellowed the pages of Mrs. Obama’s internal diary. Back then, it was a heartwarming saga of the graceful first lady “giving back” to the little people. “I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’… And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good.” In the space of 30 months, the little lady in need of assistance was transmogrified into a fire-breathing — albeit petite — racist.

Pardon me for pulling the handbrake on the first lady’s trip down memory lane, but who does that? If Michelle Obama has indeed suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous racism, shouldn’t she be able to feed a celebrity gossip glossy a more harrowing tale than one of an encounter at Target with an undersized Klanswoman — especially if the story has undergone more revisions than Lois Lerner’s sworn testimony? For that matter, if their road to riches took them through such racist neighborhoods, then why do the president’s stories involve imaginary children? For that matter, are the fabulously wealthy first couple so desperate for “street cred” that they need to invent incidents in which they and the kids they don’t actually face bigoted trolls who don’t actually exist?

Following the most racially divisive presidential campaign since Jesse Jackson took America down to “Hymietown,” Obama took office in 2009 and immediately set about driving a wedge right through the heart of America. Despite a presidency stained through the floorboards with scandals borne of Obama’s and his minions’ reflexive dishonesty, the nation has spent six years listening to administration spokesholes claim everyone who notices Obama’s lies is as racist as that vicious ferret who attacked the poor first lady in the dungeons of Target’s laundry aisle.

Over six years, the president has blundered into — and vastly inflamed — tense situations. We’ve been treated to “beer summits” in Cambridge, Massachusetts; riots in Ferguson, Missouri; and murders in Brooklyn — all easily traced back to the racial divide Obama has simultaneously exploited and decried. And Obama’s disdain for the truth is really the only legacy he has established. Compared to Obamacare, Operation Fast and Furious, the NSA spying scandal, the IRS auditing nightmares and the ascension of Al Sharpton, weaving a tale at Target out of whole cloth doesn’t seem like all that big a deal. But I can’t help but think: “If they’ll lie about this, they’ll lie about everything.”

And they have. But I’m a racist for noticing. And you’re a racist for reading this. I’ll see you at Target; that’s where all the cool bigots shop. At least, that’s what the first lady says.

–Ben Crystal

Obama’s Cuba gambit will fail

TNS/Abdel Rodriguez protests at Versaille’s Restaurant in Miami after President Obama’s decision to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.

In 1989, I was just a bright-eyed young American lad who had decided to put the time between high school and college to better use than simply learning how many beers he could successfully “funnel” before introducing his face to the floor. So I set off for southern Africa.

By the late 1980s, South Africa had long been cut off from much of the world, the subject of an increasingly comprehensive international economic embargo. As a result, the countries surrounding South Africa, writhing in post-colonial chaos and already inextricably linked to their southernmost neighbor, were forced by geography, history and demographics to share South Africa’s enforced solitude. And that solitude produced the land that greeted me. What I discovered upon my arrival was a place far uglier — and stranger — than I had imagined.

At its best, Africa is as magnificent a work of art as the Almighty has ever created. The Drakensburg mountains rise so empress-like, an ’80s band ought to write a song about them. The Indian Ocean shores at Durban look like board of tourism postcards. The Kalahari’s almost Martian emptiness is somehow made even lonelier by Camelthorn trees waiting for National Geographic to photograph them. And to the eye of an American teenager, meeting the animals from the zoo on their turf is nearly as cool (“How much does that bull elephant weigh?”) as it is intimidating (“how fast does that bull elephant run?”).

Even the cities had their high points. At its center, Johannesburg was a modern, glass and concrete affair not entirely dissimilar to any mid- to large-sized American city’s business district — Charlotte, North Carolina, with weird food. The better neighborhoods in Pretoria were half a world away from affluent American suburbia, but could have been right next door. The safari lodges in Botswana were as nice as any 4-star hotel in which Michelle Obama and 40 or so of her friends have stayed on the taxpayers’ nickel.

But at its worst, Southern Africa is closer to hell than Detroit. The townships and homelands outside South Africa’s cities were glorified prison camps. In some places, the poverty was so shocking, it could nearly shake your faith. Illness, death and their evil friend, grief, didn’t hide in the shadows; they drove bulldozers right through whole villages. And oh, dear God, the smell! A trip to an economically embargoed land would change even the most pampered child’s appreciation for regular municipal garbage-hauling and the people who do that job. Bless you, “garbage man.” (Author’s aside: Because garbage-removal is as rare as meaningful personal liberty across most of Southern Africa, people burn their refuse. While it creates an unholy stink, it has the odd effect of producing almost cartoonishly vibrant sunsets, proving that the Almighty can create beauty out of almost anything and is, indeed, everywhere.)

As a direct consequence of the economic prison sentence imposed by the globalist-led United Nations, the elite in sub-Saharan Africa held onto virtually all of the wealth and resources, while the poor lived in conditions that make the Motor City look like Monte Carlo.

In the early ’90s, apartheid collapsed in on itself, and the region was suddenly thrown open to the world. Money flowed in like water. And lo and behold, the once-downtrodden masses mired in unspeakable poverty enjoyed the sudden influx of foreign capital by — remaining downtrodden and mired in unspeakable poverty. In their haste to congratulate the new governments of places like South Africa and Zimbabwe, no one bothered to take note of who the new governments were. Moreover, no one bothered to notice that the only people capable of handling large inflows of foreign currency and investment were the same people who had handled inflows of foreign currency and investment. The end of the embargo in southern Africa spread some money around some new people who were largely as greedy for authority (and, therefore, unsuited to wield it), gave the rest of it to the same people who had it before and left the overwhelming majority suffering from monstrous diseases, dying ridiculously young and burning their trash.

Here’s the thing: Trade the click consonants and glottal stoppages for Español and dress everyone in T-shirts proclaiming loyalty to a Major League Baseball team, and Southern Africa is Cuba. Cuba is a Marxist hellhole. Worse: Cuba is precisely the hellhole Marxism always produces, albeit with tropical-getaway foliage. A ludicrously tiny minority of the people — in Cuba’s case, the Castros and whichever of their cronies hasn’t been sent to “rehabilitation” for “crimes against the state” — not only own nearly everything of value, they essentially own everyone else. While the Castro boys party with Hollywood stars, the average Cuban scrapes and claws his way to a subsistence living. And, as is always the case in a communist dictatorship, the average Cuban knows: Someone is always watching.

Now, more than a half-century after President John F. Kennedy — himself perhaps the most undeservedly praised foreign policy leader of the 20th century — decided to prove to Cubans the merits of freedom by forcibly divorcing them from the merits of freedom, President Barack H. Obama — clearly the most deservedly reviled foreign policy leader of just about any century — has decided to skip the dating phase and just go steady with the younger Castro brother. In a Wednesday announcement, Obama proclaimed “(W)e will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” He offered as a rationale: “(I)solation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.” Rather than form a cohesive plan for reintegrating the communist holdout (the diplomatic version of “getting to know each other”), Obama is going to give the Castros the keys and hope they’ll be gentle.

It’s reasonable to conclude that Obama’s decades of tutelage at the knees of Marxist firebrands like Bill Ayers, F.M. Davis and Saul Alinsky, acting in concert with of decades of unfettered American globalism, has produced a president who lacks not only the will to make hard choices, but the wisdom to know the difference. By conducting the negotiations under the same shroud of secrecy that he used to cover up his trade of five Taliban serial killers for one (alleged) sniveling deserter, Obama sold out not only the American people who deserve better than to be repeatedly ignored by his increasingly imperial stylings, but the victims of stunning communist oppression in Cuba. And in haste to do something — anything — on the foreign stage that didn’t end in his abject humiliation, Obama has simply repeated one of the two failed strategies that have defined most of America’s foreign adventures since JFK was still sneaking Marilyn Monroe out the back door of the White House.

Just as embargoes punish only the already-oppressed, suddenly unfettered global investment enriches only the already-wealthy. The average Cuban isn’t likely to see much of a new dollar from overseas. But he’d be overjoyed to learn that he won’t be sent to “re-education camp” if he somehow manages to snare one. But it’s a fool’s errand to think a president like Obama, who has willingly lied to, spied upon and harassed his own people, would understand the plight of the average Cuban, especially since he clearly doesn’t care about the plight of the average American.

Sadly, most American politicians tend toward hawkish intervention or mewling appeasement. They either can’t — or, in Obama’s case, won’t — open their eyes to the lessons of fairly recent history. All “stick” produces Iraq and Afghanistan. All “carrot” produces South Africa and Zimbabwe. The careful balance produces post-unification Germany. Instead, Obama has chosen to pour carrots into Cuba, ignorant of the fact that the communists will simply eat what they want and bury their people in the castoffs. In fact, I’ll predict that Cuba, with its peculiar confluence of European and African cultural heritage steeped in decades of brutal communist hegemony, will end up being a lot like another bastard creation of too much money without enough liberty: Russia. Given Obama’s personal humiliation at the hands of current Russian oligarch and Soviet holdover Vladimir Putin, and his barely concealed admiration for precisely the sort of government that made Cuba such a party for the past half-century, it’s likely Obama won’t figure this one out until it’s too late.

–Ben Crystal

DiFi and the real bad guys

I suppose there are some lessons we can all glean from the sensational report released by the Senate earlier this week. Actually, there is a lesson we can learn just from the title: “Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” The “Senate Report” isn’t so much a “Senate” report as a “Senate Democrats’” report. The whole thing was compiled by Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority staffers, whose research methods are every bit as painstaking as Rolling Stone’s or Lena Dunham’s ghost writer’s.

Furthermore, the report’s findings, which were reached without interviewing any of the CIA officers implicated, are rife with speculation and conclusions reached without factual bases. Since Sen. Dianne “DiFi” Feinstein’s (D-East of Abbottabad) fabulously well-staged reveal, the nation — well, the media’s idea of the nation — has been afire with outrage — outrage, I say! — at the idea that the agency tasked with fighting the spookier parts of the war on terror got a little handsy with the houseguests.

We can also learn that torture ain’t what it used to be. We’ve replaced the archaic methods with far more creative and diabolical techniques. Gone are the thumbscrews and Judas chairs. Instead, islamofascist serial killers — other than the ones President Barack Obama trades for deserters — are subjected to “constant white noise, no talking, everyone in the dark, with the guards wearing a light on their head when they collected and escorted a detainee to an interrogation cell, detainees constantly being shackled to the wall or floor, and the starkness of each cell.” Sounds like prison in Alaska in the wintertime.

The “white noise” playlist included the Barney & Friends theme song, the BeeGees’ song “Stayin’ Alive,” the Sesame Street theme song, the jingle from the “Meow Mix” ads, and a recording of Janeane Garofalo and Ben Stiller reading selections from a book they evidently co-authored. I’ll admit: Listening to Garofalo for more than 30 seconds is more than any human should have to endure. But there’s a pretty big gulf between “torture” and “mild annoyance.” When my oldest nephew was just a wee lad, he loved the Disney cartoon “Finding Nemo.” Before he reached his 5th birthday, I’m fairly certain my older brother had memorized the entire film by osmosis. If he could endure not only that, but every entry in the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series, I expect Akbar the Unbathed can hold up under the stress of the grooviest hits of the 70s, Kermit the Frog and cat food.

The more lurid of the allegations levelled at the CIA by the decidedly partisan report include verbal abuse, ice water baths, sleep deprivation and the infamous waterboarding. Most of the really gory stuff is either noted as occurring “while in CIA custody” or is anecdotally sourced, meaning the Democratic staffers who stitched the report together either couldn’t prove it or, more likely (considering the Democrats’ habits), it never actually occurred. As for waterboarding, it sounds pretty awful. But it’s hardly the iron maiden. Indeed, our own special operations group members in the U.S. military and CIA face waterboarding during their survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training.

As I noted earlier, the Democratic staffers who scripted the screenplay failed to interview any of the key players involved. When that fairly significant omission was put to Feinstein, she covered by claiming the staffers didn’t have access to those witnesses due to a concurrent Department of Justice investigation. She left out the part about that investigation wrapping up two years ago. If even Attorney General Eric Holder’s goons could find the time in between arms shipments to narcoterrorists, it’s hard to buy the idea that Feinstein’s couldn’t.

The Democrats also want us to believe that they’re infuriated by allegations that CIA personnel lied about aspects of the enhanced interrogations. I’d find that more credible if they hadn’t spent the past six years telling Americans that we’re stupid racists for noticing all the other times federal employees — including the president — lied to us.

Torture is a very real issue, grappled with by very real victims on a very real basis. Across the territory that produces the bulk of the guys who end up in places like Gitmo and deepest darkest Romania, men and women grow up in constant fear of not only cloying commercial jingles, but mutilation and even death for crimes ranging from “being female” to “not being Muslim.” American citizens whose only “crime” is “refusing to bow to statist lunatics” face warrantless searches, politically motivated IRS harassment and — as Eric Garner would attest if he could — death. What the purported victims outlined in Feinstein’s partisan pet project faced was bad DJ-ing, sub-5-star accommodations and excessive bathing.

Even the timing of the Democrats’ release of their report raises eyebrows. While Feinstein was whipping the faithful into an anti-American frenzy, Obamacare architect Jon Gruber was busy admitting under oath that not only is Obamacare is riddled with fraud, but its very basis is fraudulent. A record 92 million Americans have been permanently bounced from the labor pool, and Obama responded by waving his imperial scepter and granting amnesty to 5 million new competitors for the jobs they no longer have. People who strung “tea” and “party” together in the same sentence faced ruinous examinations by IRS storm troopers. They’re probably downloading a record of your visit to this site in the NSA. So Jerry Jihadi got nabbed by the CIA and was subsequently forced to endure hours of insipid children’s programming. Before he was grabbed up, he was planning to murder as many children as possible. Cry me a Euphrates.

What sort of people would deliberately try to bury a scandal the magnitude of Obamacare’s primary architect admitting to lawmakers that the very basis of Obama’s signature “achievement” is both a literal and figurative fraud? What sort of people would release a report compiled using methods that could make a Rolling Stone fact-checker shake his head, simply to distract their employers from noticing the president just violated the Constitution and his own oath of office again? What sort of people would move to gin up partisan fury on behalf of terrorists, while calling and treating law-abiding American citizens far worse? Now there’s a question that deserves an honest response.

–Ben Crystal

The race-media complex

Darren Wilson did it. We know he did it because perpetually aggrieved loudmouths who have taken control of the left wing of American politics say he did it. After all, why would the same people who blame white people for nearly everything lie about something like a murder?

Surely, those proud drum majors for peace at the NAACP wouldn’t exploit a young man’s tragic — albeit self-inflicted — death just to raise money, would they? The esteemed members of the Congressional Black Caucus wouldn’t actually limbo under the already abominably low bar for political rhetoric by taking to the House floor to pantomime the “hands up, don’t shoot” routine, which Michael Brown never did in the first place, would they? And certainly a man of the cloth such as the “Rev.” Al Sharpton wouldn’t abuse his position as de facto co-president to incite riots, looting and murder out of racial spite, would he? No, of course not. Wilson did it. And because he did it, he deserves to suffer mightily for doing it. In fact, it doesn’t particularly matter what Wilson did; he did it.

In the wake of what I expect was a nightmarish encounter in which he was compelled to use deadly force against a large attacker intent on doing him harm, Wilson is looking at his career as a police officer in life’s rearview mirror. I suppose he might get work guarding sled dogs in Alaska, or something; but his life’s calling is history. Some very influential people stuck him with the bill for their pursuit of money and power. Instead of focusing on the incredibly poor choices Brown made, which led to that fatal moment, they’ve chosen to push a fanciful tale in which Brown was an innocent victim of a homicidally racist cop. They even thought up the strategy of constantly referring to a large and clearly dangerous criminal as an “unarmed black teenager,” as if Brown was just a harmless Urkel-type character, merrily trotting home after a day of reading, writing and arithmetic. Wilson is white, whereas Brown was — well — brown. Therefore, Wilson is automatically the bad guy, evidence be damned.

Unfortunately, Wilson is far from the lone victim of what ought to be called the “race-media complex.” Last week, the University of Virginia, one of the nation’s oldest and best-respected institutes of higher learning, was rocked by a story in Rolling Stone magazine by a reporter named Sabrina Rubin Erdely. According to Erdely’s story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia was gang-raped during a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The account is so harrowing I literally couldn’t read the whole thing in one sitting. It is magnificently written. It features a sympathetic victim, a compelling plot and a flow that borders on art. Erdely buckles the reader in next to the ill-fated “Jackie” as she rockets from from giddy college co-ed preparing for her first big college party to battered victim afterward. No detail is spared, from the color of “Jackie’s” dress to the color of most of the UVA students’ hair (“overwhelmingly blond”) to the bizarrely Neanderthal utterances of “Jackie’s” alleged attackers.

“A Rape on Campus” has all the trappings of a well-tuned true crime novel. It has also come under severe scrutiny for what may well be a series of hugely egregious violations of journalistic ethics. The story features a single anonymous source, the accuser “Jackie.” And Erdely has since acknowledged that she contacted for comment neither any of the accused nor any of the women who reputedly counseled the victim. In fact, Erdely’s report offers such a paucity of sourced material, it’s almost as if Rolling Stone published a note it intercepted in study hall. Nonetheless, despite holes big enough to fit the egos of a year’s worth of Rolling Stone cover models, the story has caused UVA to shut down the fraternity system and open a massive investigation into the incident. “A Rape on Campus” at best has seriously impacted a huge number of people and possibly damaged the alleged victim’s pursuit of justice. At worst, a group of young men have been unfairly smeared; an entire university’s worth of young people have learned that journalists are liars; their school is more concerned about its own image than their well-being; and, worst of all, people’s reputations and livelihoods are entirely disposable when the accumulation of money, power and/or notoriety is at stake.

Much like Wilson, the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi did it. They’re “overwhelmingly blond.” They even have a “reputation of tremendous wealth” and a palatial fraternity house with “the undisputed best real estate along UVA’s fraternity row known as Rugby Road.” White men behaving badly. Case closed. That’s the same script race-pimps like Sharpton are following in Ferguson. It’s the same one the same crowd — including Sharpton and others — followed at Duke University in 2006, when false accusations of rape against seemingly privileged white men cost the men their good names, their lacrosse team a season and a shot at a national championship, and their coach his job. It’s the same script the already-credibility-challenged NBC News employed to run over Richard Jewell in 1996, when a man acting heroically was thrown off the roof by a news organization that places ratings and fame over right and facts. The only exceptions to the race-media complex rules seem to be conservative black men, who evidently deserve whatever befalls them, and liberal white men, who can — judging by the lionization of former President Bill Clinton — do whatever they please.

There is no shortage of people who have suffered unfortunate, even grievous, damage to their reputations and lives based on woefully inaccurate innuendo. The overwhelming majority of them suffer in relative silence. But give the media an angle involving white men behaving badly, and they’re off to the races. The story is the same in Ferguson, in Harlem, in Atlanta, at Duke and at UVA. We know the identities of the guilty parties because those eminently trustworthy guardians of the public commonwealth tell us who they are. We don’t need minor distractions like direct physical evidence to focus the light of justice in society’s darkest corners, we have the American left. Gunpowder residue testing is no substitute for Jesse Jackson’s feigned outrage. Eyewitness testimony hardly rises to the credibility level of catchy Twitter hashtag. And exhaustive analysis by a grand jury doesn’t meet the standard of a narrative that includes reflexively describing a violent NFL-sized thug as an “unarmed black teenager.”

The cancer-like growth of the race-media complex has consumed the men who didn’t attack Tawana Brawley, the man who didn’t bomb the Atlanta Olympics, the men who didn’t rape a woman at Duke University and the man who didn’t “murder” Brown. It may soon swallow up the men who may well have done absolutely nothing to “Jackie.” And it propels the knee-jerk reaction to any criticism of Barack Obama, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder and any other black person. The white guy did it. Case closed.

Ferguson’s forgotten victims

While millions of Americans spent this week reuniting with family and friends, gorging themselves into tryptophan-induced comas, and watching football, others spent this week in fear for their lives and property. Most of us had no trouble finding the kids, the food and the remote. But others had trouble finding their stores, their stock and their stuff.

For some, this holiday will be forever marred by the memory of watching their livelihoods burned to the ground by an aggrieved mob. What was the crime they committed to deserve such a fate? They live in Ferguson, Missouri. That’s it. Jay Johnson, the owner of the Queen’s Royal Touch beauty salon and barber shop, didn’t shoot anyone. He was never subjected to a grand jury inquiry after an incident involving a monstrous attacker and him. No hordes of frenzied miscreants descended on his town seeking his blood for some imagined crime. He built a small business in Ferguson, for Fergusonians, staffed by Fergusonians. And then, because a grand jury on which he didn’t serve voted not to indict a police officer for a crime Johnson didn’t commit against a man who didn’t deserve his sympathy, rioters destroyed his shop.

Johnson wasn’t the only victim of the perpetually aggrieved swarms who descended upon the St. Louis suburbs this week. Led by the usual suspects, vast herds of race pimps, tragedy vultures, professional victims, anarchists, layabouts and good old-fashioned thugs poured into Ferguson to exploit what may well have been the most famous “no true bill” in judicial history. Once the grand jury returned a decision that Officer Darren Wilson would face no trial for his role in the death of 6-foot-4-inch, more than 250-pound Michael Brown, they let their outrage be known. They burned; they stole; they looted (aside: the guy who stole the crossbow on live TV is either the greatest criminal mastermind of all time or the biggest idiot of all time); and they destroyed property with abandon. Neither national chains like Walgreen’s and McDonald’s nor local outfits like Johnson’s beauty salon and Natalie Dubose’s bakery Cakes ’n’ More were safe.

Months from now, no one will remember Johnson’s dark day. President Barack Obama won’t be delivering speeches about his plight. The “Rev.” Al Sharpton won’t be barking racist platitudes at permanently angry minions. The Democrats won’t be pushing a “#Justice4Jay” hashtag on Twitter. There won’t be any $32,000-per-plate fundraisers at Gwyneth Paltrow’s palatial estate to raise money for Queen’s Royal Touch. The shrieking loons who turned Johnson’s business and a good portion of his city into a pile of debris will be long gone; and he’ll be facing an uphill climb to rebuild his modest, but hard-earned, life.

Wilson didn’t commit a crime in killing Brown. In fact, as the grand jury clearly recognized after examining reams of evidence in which Sharpton was never interested, Brown essentially committed suicide by cop, though that wasn’t his intent. A huge man assaulted a police officer, tried to take his weapon and paid for the mistake with his life. And in return, a bunch of people who were, at best, tangentially connected to the tragedy and, at worst, merely taking advantage of the situation out of nefarious intent put Johnson’s life to the torch.

The protesters have largely moved on to greener and less-smoldering pastures. Obama is back to defrauding the nation with untenable healthcare boondoggles and issuing illegal executive orders. Sharpton is back to dodging taxes and struggling with pronouncing multisyllabic words. Paltrow is back to being washed-up and preferring smoking crack to eating cheese from a can.

And back in Ferguson, Johnson has been left behind, collateral damage in the professional victims’ attempts to victimize Wilson because Brown victimized himself. You and I will enjoy what remains of this holiday weekend, eat some leftovers, bark at the television, maybe brave some Black Friday and holiday weekend sales, and sail on into December.

I’m sorry Brown is dead. I’m sorry Wilson’s life has been torn apart because Wilson made such disastrous choices. I’m sorry the same cravenly partisan vermin who turn tragedy into outlets for their own failings and destructive appetites turned what happened in Ferguson into a national embarrassment. I’m sorry that Johnson’s future was run over by the Left’s racial animus. And I’m sorry that none of the politicians, actors, comedians and “clergy” who gleefully set Ferguson ablaze will be sticking around to help clean up. Sorry, Mr. Johnson. They can’t score any political points off your plight, and they already stole everything of value you might have had.

For what it’s worth: Need a haircut?

Jay Johnson
Queens Royal Touch Massage, Barber & Beauty
1451 Chambers Rd
St Louis, MO 63135

–Ben Crystal

Death of the ‘Mayor for Life’

Far be it for me to point this out, but I could write 10,000 words on Marion Barry and merely scratch the surface of his bizarrely significant impact not only on Washingtonian politics, but on American politics. Forget about the sinister misdeeds of graft machines dating back before William M. “Boss” Tweed made New York his own private piggy bank. Wipe away the image of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s sneering his way through a sexual harassment scandal that ultimately brought him down. Ignore the lurid details from former mayor and current convict Kwame Kilpatrick’s years-long Detroit house party. Don’t bother calling ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin off the school bus. Throw out even the best efforts of North America’s current heavyweight (and I do mean “heavyweight”) champion of municipal merriment, Toronto’s soon-to-be-ex mayor Rob Ford.

As many people have pointed out in the hours since he pulled his final ace of spades, there was no one quite like Barry. However, there was no one quite like Tweed either. What Barry really represented were the final touches on the brick wall Americans have built around African-Americans, specifically African-American politicians. After four decades as city councilman, mayor, inmate, mayor and then city councilman again, Barry took a city on the edge and completely missed out as it plunged into nearly unmatchable depths of crime, drugs and fear. While Washington, D.C. turned into an absolute hellhole, Barry developed a crippling drug habit. As single motherhood became the most common family situation in his city, Barry shamelessly chased women to the point of an arrest for stalking a paramour. And while Washington’s unemployment rate rose from “sad” to “Detroit,” Barry so abused his power over the city payroll that he was ultimately stripped of almost all direct authority outside Parks and Recreation.

Prison not only didn’t reform the man, it gave him a sense of entitlement. He returned to the mayor’s office after a stretch in the corrections system and so blatantly mismanaged city finances that President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Senate stepped in. More womanizing, fiscal skullduggery and drug- and booze-related arrests followed, but dented neither his local popularity nor his self-awareness. Barry won a City Council seat by a landslide and then resumed his personal war on decency, culminating in his fellow D.C. councilmen stripping him of nearly everything but the nameplate on his office door. In 2012, not long after he resoundingly won another term on City Council, Barry warned against an increasing Asian presence in his council district, the infamously depressed 8th Ward: “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops. They ought to go, I’ll just say that right now, you know.”

The man was a walking monument to himself. The sobriquet “Mayor for Life,” which wasn’t quite as complimentary as he evidently thought, became his calling card. He lied. He cheated. He gamed the system. He abused the public trust in ways that would make even former President Clinton blush. While I wish no ill upon his family and friends, the idea that Barry’s death is a tragedy beyond their circle is somewhat embarrassing. Sure, a man died; and people will mourn him. But he was no saint. In fact, Barry was a seemingly proud sinner. Yet upon his death, adulation poured in from across the country, if not the world. President Barack Obama issued a statement honoring Barry’s tenure, as did disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder. Meanwhile, those who dared show the temerity to question the sudden whitewashing of Barry’s considerable yellow sheet were accused of racism in much the same specious way that critics of Obama, his repellent crony the “Rev.” Al Sharpton, Holder and nearly every other black political figure are regularly smeared.

If there’s one lesson America ought to take from the late “Mayor for Life,” it’s a reminder that “powerful” and “effective” are no more synonymous than “famous” and “infamous.” Men and women like Senator Tim Scott, Secretary Condoleezza Rice and surgeon Dr. Ben Carson are routinely reviled for their lack of “authenticity.” Scott is barely known, despite being the senior member of a very small group of African-Americans in the Senate. Rice has been subjected to virtually stunning displays of racism, including cartoons by nationally syndicated trolls like Ted Rall and Jeff Danziger, which would have earned roars of disapproval had they been directed at someone like Barry. And Carson, one of the premier neurosurgeons on the planet, has been called an “Uncle Tom” more often than one might think possible.

If there’s an overt racism in unfairly assigning blame to black politicians because they’re black, then there’s also a slightly more subtle racism in shielding them from deserved criticism for the same reason. There is no shortage of prominent African-Americans who ought to be considered role models for everyone, regardless of skin color. Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson is one of the foremost scientific minds on Earth. Kenneth Chenault worked his way from Penn State University to become CEO of American Express. Robert Johnson worked tirelessly to earn his way into becoming the first African-American billionaire. Ask anyone in D.C.’s 8th Ward whom they admire more, and I bet Barry’s name comes up well before any of them.

And there’s something else: Just hours after the paparazzi site TMZ touched off a firestorm with a somewhat artless, but entirely reasonable, headline about Barry’s demise: “Crack Mayor Dead,” another former mayor of an American city met his maker. H. Foster Pettit, who served as mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, from 1972 to 1977 died following a brief illness. Pettit never once made headlines for smoking crack. He never did a stretch in the pen for drugs. He was never arrested stalking anyone. The biggest deal in Lexington when he took office was University of Kentucky basketball. The biggest deal in Lexington when he left office was University of Kentucky basketball. Nearly 40 years after Pettit’s tenure in Lexington City Hall, the biggest deal in Lexington is University of Kentucky basketball.

Pettit may not have turned Lexington into a world-famous city during his time in the city’s big office, but he also didn’t get stoned and doze in his chair while the city turned into a globally noted tragicomedy. Obama didn’t issue a statement noting Pettit’s many accomplishments. Holder didn’t interrupt a weapons-trafficking operation to eulogize him. And TMZ didn’t create a banner headline about him — in good taste or bad.

–Ben Crystal

What’s Spanish for ‘dumb?’

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA/President Barack Obama works on his immigration speech with Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan and Senior Presidential Speechwriter David Litt in the Oval Office.

Sometime between the moment I’m writing this and the moment you read it, President Barack Obama will have granted amnesty from prosecution to somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million criminals. While we can generally agree that Obama has wandered well off the Constitutional reservation, at some level, you almost have to admire the sheer gall of the guy. With the roar of the electorate’s disapproval still echoing through the Washington air, Obama is doubling down on his own imperial delusions. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest can make all the “badge of honor” jokes he wants, but the idea of a president attempting to rule by fiat isn’t actually all that funny. The idea of a presidential spokehole turning his arrogance into a standup routine is even less so. And that’s why the overwhelming majority of Americans stopped laughing quite a while ago.

According to most reports, Obama plans to issue a long-threatened executive order granting a get-out-of-jail-free card to a group of lawbreakers the size of metropolitan Atlanta. By the time you read this, he’ll have told you as much — unless you’re among the dozens, if not hundreds, of millions of taxpayers who didn’t catch his speech because it didn’t air on any of the channels most of us watch. Interestingly, Obama’s speech will be aired live on Spanish-language Univision during the Latin Grammy Awards, lest you think the most cravenly partisan administration in history would pass up a chance to pander shamelessly to the lowest common denominators among its zealous base. It’s worth noting that following the White House’s announcement of the coming presidential decree, the major networks declined to carry it, with one network insider telling Politico’s Mike Allen: “There was agreement among the broadcast networks that this was overtly political.” Try to wrap your head around the idea that NBC is skipping an Obama speech because they don’t think it’s bipartisan enough.

Scant weeks have passed since every aspect of his platform — which he personally welded to his party’s campaign by reminding voters to “make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them” — was resoundingly repudiated by his employers. Mere days have passed since Jon Gruber, the key player in the construction of Obamacare, admitted that some fairly high-ranking members of the administration ought to be preparing not for the next two years in office but for the next five to 10 years upstate, setting the stage for a Supreme Court spanking next year that may well send Obama’s biggest bust to the boneyard. And the Democrats have spared no quarter in reminding us that they think their detractors are suffering from some sort of intellectual defect.

So of course Obama chose this moment to announce his plan to wildly overstep his executive authority and unilaterally abrogate federal law on behalf of federal lawbreakers. The People have done everything but engrave “disapprove” on the White House door; current polling data show fewer than 4 out of 10 Americans support unilateral amnesty for illegal aliens. However, the Wall Street banksters and Obama’s cronies think it’s a swell idea, as do Obama’s political allies for whom race — racism — is the primary motivating factor. Even victims of Common Core’s tortured arithmetic can add simple sums. The Democrats are on the canvas after Obama tied their hands together for the 2014 midterms. The People’s opinion of the President has slipped from “mild distaste” to “nauseated.” There’s an odds-on chance that Obamacare, already in ICU, is going to meet that great death panel in the sky next year. The number of people out of the workforce has reached record high numbers, and the jobs that are being created are largely the same low-paying gigs for which Obama’s 5 million new best friends will now be openly competing. And the one sector of the economy that Obama promised to rein in is doing better than ever. In a twisted sense, it’s fitting that Obama would now turn his back on the people who pay his salary despite a job performance that includes high crimes, misdemeanors and outright abuse of the law-abiding populace for whom he purportedly works. It’s even more fitting that he would abandon them on behalf of the millions of illegal aliens whom he plans to make legal with a stroke of the imperial pen.

With his party’s political future now looking very much in doubt, his own legacy crumbling like the house of cards it has always been and America’s position in the world tottering precariously as a result of Obama’s almost impossible incompetence, he’s going to deploy what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called a “partisan bomb.”

Of course, we didn’t really need another reminder of Obama and his accomplices’ low opinion of us. As we learned from Obamacare architect Gruber, who was paid up to $400,000 to perpetrate Obama’s signature fraud on an unwilling nation, not only do they think we’re all morons; they count on it to impose their twisted ideology despite our repeated demurrals. Though he’s now struggling to earn better approval ratings than Senator Harry Reid in a grade-school parking lot, Obama was elected and re-elected by a majority. It is, therefore, possible that a great many of us aren’t as bright as we think. However, Obama’s party just suffered through a visit to the electoral woodshed, and he is responding by booking it a return trip. It’s more likely that the Democrats aren’t as bright as they think.

–Ben Crystal