The Dream Deferred

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the greatest oratorical performances in modern history. Despite venal and often violent attempts by Democrats across the Nation to halt King’s charge to throw open the doors of freedom to those who had suffered under the racist hegemony created and maintained by people like Senators Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and Albert Gore Sr. (D-Tenn.), King’s march attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans. But King didn’t stoop to anger and recrimination; although, I could hardly have blamed him for doing so. He spoke of the eternal American promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Five years after King’s legendary cry of freedom, an assassin’s bullet ended his life.

Imagine what King might have thought if he were still around to watch the spectacle that unfolded last weekend — a spectacle that disingenuously billed itself as a National celebration of the 50th anniversary of that famous march on Washington. Instead of a clarion call for “the solid rock of brotherhood,” King would have witnessed the repulsive Al Sharpton, publicly disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder and a host of other examples of the very racist divisiveness King had fought. All these self-styled heirs of King’s legacy have wilfully perverted his message from one of peace into one of discord, manipulating King’s unassailable public image like a marionette. At one point, King’s own son, Martin Luther King III, exclaimed: “[T]he tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that, far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to… murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.” Far be it for me to point out that according to the courts, Martin wasn’t murdered — although the man who killed him in self-defense, the Hispanic George Zimmerman, was threatened with the same by people like Sharpton.

Head teachers’ union thug Randi Weingarten did some shrieking of her own before yanking the microphone out of the hand of one of the people she claims to be fighting for: 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who was not only the youngest speaker at the event, but easily the most impressive. I never did catch on to why one of the speakers was a shrill, possibly unbalanced white woman from an organization that has essentially served as guards at the prison in which liberalism has interred the black population. Nonetheless, Weingarten had a starring role. The lily-white, multimillionaire harridan of the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, didn’t even blink under the weight of irony as she asked: “Are you ready to beat the drum for that beautiful symphony of brotherhood? Are you ready to realize the dream?” The same woman has called the Tea Party’s goals “hostage-taking” and claimed its members are “acting like terrorists.” A few more whining liberals complained about conservative white people being racist, and one of two lower-echelon race pimps auditioned for a spot as one of Sharpton’s backup dancers. I missed Jesse Jackson’s performance, but I did catch a picture of him flashing enough jewelry to pay for his illegitimate daughter’s tuition to the school of her choice.

Fifty years ago, an inspirational young minister from the Deep South went to Washington, D.C., to deliver a sermon of peace, love, tolerance and freedom. Last week, those who would claim to be his successors came back to Washington, D.C., and gunned it down in broad daylight. I like to think that King made it to the Promised Land. But Saturday’s carnival of anger makes me think that his dream died here.

–Ben Crystal

Weapons Of Mass Repetition

In 2003, then-Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency James Clapper told reporters that Saddam Hussein moved his stockpiles of chemical weapons to Syria in advance of the second Gulf war, calling it the “the obvious conclusion one draws.” Clapper’s assessment was echoed by a general with the Iraqi Air Force, Georges Sada, who noted as many as 56 flights and multiple truck convoys carted the weapons of mass destruction across the border. The pre-invasion WMD pipeline is further touted by Israeli intelligence, Syrian dissident accounts and even American satellite imagery. Though there was no doubt Saddam had possessed and used chemical weapons (a fact to which the victims of Iraqi chemical attacks in both Kurdistan and Iran would doubtless testify were they not dead from chemical-weapons exposure), they had vanished from Iraq. Putting aside the hotly debated veracity of President George W. Bush’s infamous rationale as well as the eyewitness accounts of those few people who survived the aforementioned war crimes in Iraq and Iran, the question requires an answer: Where did Saddam’s stockpile of chemical weapons go?

Last week, the Syrian government of Bashar Assad decided to cross whatever line comes after the “red line” that President Barack Hussein Obama declared uncrossable more than a year ago. In a move that seemed only slightly less desperate than would one by the Comcast flack assigned to make MSNBC palatable to the viewers who avoid it like it causes brain cancer, Assad deployed chemical weapons — which he likely borrowed from his fellow Ba’athist wacko, who used to live next door — against his own people.

The body count from Assad’s chemical attack remains unclear, but the reaction was spectacular. By Sunday afternoon, sources were indicating the Obama Administration was preparing a naval strike package against Syrian government targets. By the time you read this, there may well be neighborhoods in Damascus that are even more depressingly miserable than they were before.

But how did the United States of Barack Obama find itself in such a predicament? I was under the impression that the election of Obama in 2008 permanently ended war, oppression and religious intolerance. I mean, they gave the guy the Nobel Peace Prize without a shred of collateral. I’m willing to admit that dealing with the Mideast at a diplomatic level would test the mettle of even a marginally competent statesman — something to which Obama can only aspire.

The Democrats spent most of the 2000s shrieking to the rafters about the warmongering failures of President George W. Bush. Some of their criticisms, although issued for the wrong reasons, were correct. Once it became apparent the WMDs were gone, the whole endeavor became a replay of Vietnam — only with much cooler action scenes and a lower number of wasted American lives. In Iraq, we whacked a homicidal islamofascist and replaced him with a group of homicidal islamofascists because the former was becoming increasingly troublesome and because he had used WMDs before.

Then, Obama got elected in no small way as a result of being one of the few candidates who could say they said “no” to the war. Well, Dennis Kucinich could say that, but he talks to space aliens. And I think Hillary Clinton still says it, but Clinton has always had kind of a weird relationship with reality. Darn it all, Bush had lied to America about WMDs; and any candidate who wasn’t either Obama or the spaceman from Ohio with the semi-hot wife was clearly in on the sham with Bush. We were done with war and done with using phantom WMDs to justify it.

Though he ended direct combat operations in Iraq, Obama replaced them with indirect and somewhat indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Yemen. And despite an apparent media blackout on the topic, combat operations in Afghanistan are still very much a going concern. We certainly remember the recent unpleasantness in Libya — although everyone in the Obama Administration short of the postmaster general lied about it, some of them under oath. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Obama’s idea of hope, change, peace and improving America’s standing in the eyes of the world seems oddly similar to Bush’s. The only real difference appears to be that Bush was more discerning about spying on his own people and was whole let less “droney” — at least over domestic soil.

Look, we can all have a big discussion about the merits of America’s self-assigned role as policeman to the world’s crappiest precincts. I happen to believe there is logic to neutralizing those who seek to do us harm before they can board Air Jihadistan for their flight to Allah’s secret grotto via Cairo; Tel Aviv, Israel; Berlin; Paris; Oslo, Norway; London; New York; Shanksville, Pa.; and wherever else all the hippest suicide bombers are pressing the “send” button on the hotline to the afterlife. I also happen to believe that not everyone who disagrees with me is necessarily enabling islamofascism like Al-Jazeera. But it’s worth noting that we spent nearly 10 years stomping on islamofascists in Iraq — and are still doing so in Afghanistan — over WMDs we knew existed and thought might have been moved to Syria. The guy who won the White House in 2008 and again in 2012 swore up and down that not only was he was going to deliver peace in our time, but he was going to make the world unite in harmony. (Calls to mind that old, cloying Coke jingle.)

In this late age of Obama, countries upon which we could generally count to not completely devolve into an ululating rendition of the Hatfields and McCoys have devolved into open warfare. The Egyptians — evidently not content with behaving like medieval Christians — are now targeting 21st century Christians. And now, we’re gearing up for war in Syria because some lunatic islamofascist used WMDs against a bunch of lunatic islamofascists. Scroll past the endless speeches about hope and change. Ignore the pronouncements by every Democrat from Central Park West to Malibu that Obama would be the most awesome thing short of the second coming, if not even cooler than that. The Navy is preparing to engage in direct action against the homicidal islamofascist running Syria, presumably to replace him with a group of homicidal islamofascists, and all because he used WMDs, which Administration official Clapper says he got from Iraq. “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

–Ben Crystal

Remembering Delbert Benton

Delbert Benton survived the slings and arrows of this world for 88 years. Benton survived the Great Depression. He survived the deprivations of the Dust Bowl. He survived the multiple ailments, such as polio, which lay in wait for so many of his generation. He survived World War II, although the Battle of Okinawa left him with the parting gift of a Japanese bullet in his leg. After risking his life to save the world from the threat of fascism, Benton returned to his home and lived a peaceful life as an employee at Kaiser Aluminum.

Benton survived far more than most people are ever asked to endure. He never wrote a bestseller, recorded a chart-topping tune, starred in a blockbuster Hollywood movie, sat on the board of some multinational conglomerate, ran for public office or hosted a syndicated TV show. The footprint Benton left on the world was comparatively small.

Indeed, Benton may have lived a life that seems, upon examination, to have been fairly unremarkable. But it likely meant everything to those who loved him — among them a cancer-stricken son who learned of his father’s fate while fighting cancer in the same hospital to which his dying father was rushed following the fatal assault. The sacrifice he and his compatriots risked on the beaches of the Pacific absolutely meant everything to a grateful Nation. And while he may have lived a life quite ordinary by a celebrity-obsessed culture’s standards, he deserved a better end than being beaten to death by a couple of junior varsity thugs in a parking lot.

As a father, Benton deserved to bid farewell to his family. As a man, he deserved to meet his maker on his own terms. As a warrior who put his life on the line for his country, he certainly deserved better than to meet his maker at the hands of flashlight-wielding trash who ought to have been offering him a light for his cigarette, if not the respect worthy of a survivor of so much.

At the very least, he deserved better than to have his commander in chief ignore his senseless and brutal demise. In the wake of the equally senseless and brutal murder of Chris Lane, President Barack Obama’s mouthpiece claimed he was “not familiar” with the case. I remarked at the time that Obama seemed at far less a loss for words following the death of a kid who apparently reminded him of his imaginary son. The murder of Benton elicited nary a peep from the President and his front men.

Mr. President, I’ll remember Delbert Benton; but he still deserved better than to be forgotten by you.

–Ben Crystal

Reefer Madness

Attorney General Eric Holder has so thoroughly disgraced himself during his occupation of the big chair at the Department of Justice that those extremely rare moments during which he doesn’t sell weapons to Mexican narcoterrorists or perjure himself in front of Congress often go unnoticed. So let me say this: Holder got one right — sort of.

On Aug. 13, Holder announced a Department of Justice (DoJ) plan to curtail mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level, non-gang affiliated, nonviolent offenders. According to Holder, the aforementioned category “(W)ill be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.” Of course, being Holder, he couldn’t resist the urge to work some imaginary racist element into the scenario, calling the higher rates of African-Americans incarcerated “shameful,” without noting the higher rates of African-Americans committing crimes.

There is a down side to a Holder-commanded DoJ removing its considerable surveillance and enforcement apparatus from the hemp-sandal set. Doritos and Taco Bell will almost certainly face shortages. And people who mention Jesus in their blog posts will notice an increase in the unmarked vans parked randomly across from the houses. But look on the bright side; the perversion factories and gladiator schools we call prisons will get less crowded, meaning the yard fights will be much more exciting.

According to the DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the DEA arrested 5,911 people for marijuana-related offenses in 2005 (the most recent year for which I could find reliable statistics). Marijuana-linked offenders represent about 13 percent of America’s prison inmates, or just less than 50,000 inmates nationwide. Throw in those awaiting trial or currently on probation for nonviolent marijuana-linked offenses, and the number jumps to more than 1,000 percent. That means the real bad guys — the rapists, the murderers and the Democratic mayors of large cities — have to share unnecessary space behind bars.

The cost of imprisoning every Cheech and Chong wannabe with grow lights in their hall closets comes in at about $1 billion annually. If America were to declare general amnesty for nonviolent marijuana offenders, we would save enough to fund every “green” energy boondoggle Obama’s cronies cook up and still have enough left over to bail out one or two auto manufacturers who’ve been driven into the wall by the union thugs.

On the social side, taking weed out of the criminal equation would spare millions of people from a future of checking the “yes” box under: “Have you ever been convicted of something that guarantees you have already peaked as a member of society?” That’s especially thoughtful, considering the fact that some of those millions of people smoke pot to relieve painful medical conditions like cancer and glaucoma.

Now, don’t mistake my intent here. I am not suggesting that we legalize all drugs. As an example, heroin should remain as illegal as assaulting Hispanic neighborhood-watch captains. “Meth” routinely turns users into hollow-eyed zombies who are capable of shocking acts of crime and/or violence against anyone at any time. Add cocaine to the mix, and the zombies may well include Hollywood producers, pop music stars and mayors of Washington, D.C.  The “hard stuff,” as it were, tears apart families, lives and communities. But marijuana doesn’t send potheads into drug-fueled crime sprees and tabloid headlines. According to the FBI, 86 percent of all marijuana-related arrests are for simple possession.

Granted, if you smoke enough weed over a long enough period of time, you may suffer some deleterious effects. Witness President Barack Hussein Obama’s understanding of American geography.  But if you do enough of almost anything, you’ll have a price to pay. Too much water can upset your electrolyte balance. Too much food can make you look like Michael Moore. Too much voting for Democrats can create Detroit.

In 1919, America got its puritanical panties twisted into enough of a knot to amend the Constitution to ban alcohol. While the demon rum has certainly done plenty of quantifiable damage over the years, the banning thereof not only didn’t kill our taste for a good stiff belt once in a while, it added colorful characters like Al Capone and his mafia pals to the popular lexicon. It took 13 years of unprecedented crime before the 18th Amendment met its end in a hail of nanny-state-induced gunfire. Fast-forward nearly a century, and we still have yet to understand why.

–Ben Crystal

Flunking Liberty 2: Obamacare Boogaloo

Late last week, President Barack Hussein Obama identified “health insurance” as a Constitutionally guaranteed right. While educated people from sea to shining sea perused the text of the Constitution in a vain search for the previously undiscovered right to be forced to purchase health insurance if so ordered by the President, Obama’s accomplices took to the blogosphere to celebrate the newly decreed “right.” Obama transmitted his proclamation through the White House’s Twitter account.

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I have read the Constitution from “We the People” to “…shall have intervened” on more than one occasion, and have yet to find any mention of Presidential authority to subsidize insurance companies by decree. Call it the Eleventy-third Amendment.

The right of the President to impose fiscal burdens upon The People shall not be infringed. Nor shall the right of the President to excuse his kleptocrat cronies from said impositions be abridged, unless the President is a conservative — in which case, all bets are off.

Of course, Obama has made his disdain for the most important document since the New Testament of our Lord abundantly clear. Given the fact that the Constitution was designed to affirm the rights of the individual in a free society and that Obamacare was designed to terminate the same, it’s hard to imagine anyone still harbors delusions about Obama’s attitude toward individual liberty. But this new Constitutional fiat that accompanies the Obamacare Ponzi scheme marks a new direction. No longer content to treat the Bill of Rights as a cage liner for Bo, the first dog, on those long MV-22 flights, Obama has now bestowed upon himself the authority to substitute his own whimsy for the rule of law — hence, the announcement of the hitherto-unknown “right.”

Here’s the hitch, and it’s a doozy: Obama clearly doesn’t understand the definition of “right.” You have the right to speak your mind. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to worship the Almighty in whatever way you wish. You have the right to deny His existence, although I’d be doing you a serious disservice if I didn’t caution you against that. You have the right to arm yourself, lest the forces of tyranny arrive unmolested at the gates of freedom — or at your door.

According to the Constitution, you have no right to buy things just because the President demands you do so. The Constitution delineates rights, not requirements. Obamacare’s fraudulent expectations fall squarely into the latter category. Sorry, Mr. President, but you’ve flunked liberty. Again.

–Ben Crystal

What Obama Did On His Summer Vacation

It’s fitting that President Barack Obama is vacationing this week with his private-jet-setter cronies in the wealthy Democrats’ enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. With the hypocrisy that defines liberalism letting its freak flags fly from San Diego’s city hall to Carlos Danger’s Twitter feed, where better for President “Better Bargain for the Middle Class” to cool his heels than the sort of place where members of the middle class are welcome only if they’re waiting tables or carrying golf bags?

Obama’s absence from the Nation’s capitol has clearly not hindered his assault on the Nation’s capital. Since he hit the links, the comedy of errors has continued unabated. I can only imagine what they have in store for us over the next few days, other than creepily fawning White House press corps photos of the President missing three-footers for bogey.

Among the sewage Obama left behind:

  • Another key section of Obamacare is being delayed. Does anyone else suspect they’ve given up even pretending Obamacare is anything other than the biggest scam since whatever they’re calling “global warming” this week? The latest hitch has suspended Obamacare’s caps on out-of-pocket costs until at least 2015. That means the insurance providers just joined the union thugs, a sizable number of Obama’s cronies, Congress (of course) and Congressional staffers in the “lucky” line. Guess who’s left to do virtually all of the heavy financial lifting on Obamacare? Why that would be you, Marty and Mary Middle Class. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claims the delay doesn’t represent a “bait and switch.” Actually, Madame Secretary, “bait and switch” might be a bit mild.
  • A rodeo clown lost his livelihood for making fun of Obama. During last weekend’s Missouri State Fair, a rodeo clown donned an Obama mask and ran around the ring. He’s now banned for life from the event. His colleagues have been ordered to attend “sensitivity training.” I’m one of the many people who find clowns plain old creepy. However, they’re not half as creepy as an America in which hurting the President’s feelings can terminate your career and get your friends sent to re-education camp. I’d still rather watch a rodeo clown play chicken with a bull than watch a Democrat whine about how mocking Obama the way they mocked President George W. Bush is different because of racism.
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sold us out on amnesty for illegal aliens quite some time ago. Tuesday, he blamed his treachery on Obama. “[I]f nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order… he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen.” Gee, thanks, Senator! We should give up, because Obama will cheat regardless. What a terrific Presidential campaign slogan that will make: “Rubio 2016 – Why Bother?”
  • The purported terrorist threat that required the closing of American embassies around the world evaporated as quickly as it arose. I’m sure it wasn’t a ploy to distract attention from Obama’s “Benghazi, Libya, to al-Qaida supporters in Syria” arms pipeline, secret drone strikes against civilians in Yemen or any of the other scandals that define Obama’s tenure; because that would be just wrong.
  • A private vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) ride for Bo, the first dog. Bo didn’t get the whole MV-22 to himself. He had to crowd in with a Secret Service detail and a bag of Presidential basketballs. Apparently, there were no basketballs available on Martha’s Vineyard. To be honest, I don’t really think Bo’s wild ride is so much a scandal as it is a perfect example of how completely out of touch with America Obama really is. You want a “better bargain for the middle class?” How about you cut back on the canine airfare to the playgrounds of the rich and famous in which you luxuriate? Besides, what kind of guy goes on vacation and completely forgets about his dog?
  • Something bad happened to Oprah Winfrey. The real scandal is that Winfrey’s shopping travails are newsworthy. Soon to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in return for picking up Obama’s dinner check, Winfrey has backpedalled from her accusations of racist treatment by a store in Zurich, Switzerland.  Winfrey has done this before, attacking the Hermes store in Paris after it dared to close on time rather than hold special shopping hours for her. From reliable accounts, nothing particularly bad actually happened — unless you count “being treated like a normal human” as “something bad.”

I can’t speak for everyone, Mr. President. But the next time you go on vacation, we’d rather just get the lousy T-shirt.

–Ben Crystal

Presidential Fraud

On June 29, 2009, Federal Judge Denny Chin sentenced disgraced financier and prominent Democratic Party donor Bernard Madoff to 150 years in Federal prison for his leadership of what has often been described as the largest financial fraud in human history. Thanks to a combination of his advanced years, the length of his sentence and the fact that the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, N.C., doesn’t offer the therapeutic comforts of Madoff’s oceanfront estate, Madoff will leave prison toes first. It’s hard for me to suggest he deserves better. It’s also hard for me to ignore the only reason Madoff didn’t get away with it: he’s not a politician.

Barring yet another setback, Obamacare detonates in less than two months. With the employer mandate already delayed until the proverbial 12th of Never; the Obama Administration is now quietly admitting that the armies of flunkies they’re training to herd Americans into Obama’s insurance abattoir are nowhere near ready to take on their appointed task.

Although they were only expected to complete 30 hours of education on the 2,700-page legislative behemoth, they’re apparently lagging behind the curve like the Washington, D.C. government schools matched against the private citadel to which Obama and other super-privileged liberals send their own progeny. So, rather than delay implementation to avoid a General Motors bailout-type disaster, the Feds cut the training requirement by a third. With half the program already in the trash, Obama took the other half and handed it over to people who will be almost as well-trained as the overweight police department reject who strip-searched your grandmother at the airport.

At least you’ll get to keep your existing plan. When Obama rammed his healthcare folly down the throats of the majority of Americans who have never supported it, he tried to allay our fears by promising: “If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you’ve got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Like most of Obama’s promises, his healthcare guarantee ran like a Chevy Volt: short-lived and highly flammable. According to the current Department of Health and Human Services website: “Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may (emphasis mine) be able to keep your current doctor.” And if you purchased your insurance after 2010, “may” becomes “DOA.” Post-2010 plans are not eligible; meaning the newest entrants to the market — on average the youngest — lost the biggest.

But Obamacare will reduce the cost of keeping healthy. Obama first made that promise in 2008. Then, this past March, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged that those least able to afford higher premiums would be exempted from the lower cost promise like Congress and their union thug cronies have been exempted from Obamacare entirely: “These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market…”

Former Democratic Party fuehrer Howard Dean admitted last week that the death panels they’ve been denying for six years not only exist, but are nothing but bad news. Congressman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) acknowledged this past weekend that “we are going to be tweaking Obamacare for a long, long time.” And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fessed up to the fraud last Friday thusly: “…Obamacare is…a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever…”

Every promise Obama and his accomplices have made regarding every major facet of Obamacare has turned out to be as honest as a Lois Lerner deposition. What’s more, thanks to the Democrats’ machinations last week, they bear none of the risk and none of the cost. If that’s not fraud, then Bernie Madoff was just a misunderstood philanthropist with a slight gambling problem. Madoff ran a scheme which torched somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 billion. If he served every minute of his sentence, he wouldn’t walk until his 201st birthday. As it stands now, Obamacare will lift nearly $2 TRILLION from our collective wallets over the next decade. By the time Obama finally vacates the Oval Office, he will have served no time at all. Let this be a lesson to future Ponzi, Bunko and flim-flam artists: Get elected first.

-Ben Crystal

One Week Of Shock, 68 Years Of Awe

As a phrase, “shock and awe” appeared in the lexicon of the U.S. Military in the late 1990s, following the 1996 publication of “Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance” a strategic doctrine developed for the National Defense University by retired Naval Commander Harlan Ullman and former Jimmy Carter Administration adviser James Wade. Most of us first heard the phrase in reference to the fast-forward beating we delivered to Iraq’s military in 2003. But the concept is ages old. In the 20th century, the world called it “Blitzkreig” — although the Nazis’ high-speed success could well be attributed to the rest of Europe’s failure to comprehend that the millennia of trench warfare and fixed emplacements like the Maginot Line had ended 20 years prior to World War II.

While the Nazis conducted a strategically sound campaign of rapid dominance against the Benelux nations and France, it’s worth remembering that they were operating against the Benelux nations and France. Give me the 1st Ranger Battalion and some air support, and I could march in the shade on the Champs-Élysées. If the purpose of “shock and awe” is a swift end to hostilities, I would argue that the greatest show of “shock and awe” happened just more than five years and two continents away from Herr Hitler’s party in Paris.

By late July 1945, World War II was trudging toward a conclusion. Adolf and Eva checked out of their bunker more than two months earlier, leaving Japan as the lone Axis power still standing. Nonetheless, the Japanese ignored the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, despite already considerably shocking and awesome firebombing campaigns over Japanese cities. In fact, the March firebombing of Tokyo remains the single most destructive aerial bombing raid in military history. Nearly six dozen Japanese cities were similarly leveled in the first six months of 1945, all as a result of conventional-weapon campaigns necessitated by the ultimately futile Japanese strategy of dispersing military and industrial assets throughout civilian population zones.

But still, they refused to surrender. As Allied commanders prepared for Operation Downfall, the potential invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, the Japanese remained defiant, planning their defensive Operation Ketsu-Go. Conservative casualty estimates placed total military and civilian losses in the millions. The world steeled itself for what could well be the bloodiest fighting yet to come.

And then, the defining example of “shock and awe” debuted on the world stage. Sixty-eight years ago this week, at 8:15 a.m. local time, the people of Japan — specifically, the people of the city of Hiroshima — met “Little Boy.” As many as 100,000 people died in an instant, with thousands more doomed within months. Lest the shock not be awesome enough; 68 years ago tomorrow, the people of Japan — specifically, the people of the city of Nagasaki — met “Fat Man.” Six days later, the U.S. Navy prepared the U.S.S. Missouri for a famous photo op.

Sixty-eight years later, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain the lone combat detonations of nuclear weapons in history. Despite wreaking unprecedented destruction, they prevented many times more. The world has rolled to the edge of nuclear madness repeatedly since then, with brushfires nearly raging out of control from Berlin to Cuba and virtually all points in between. Arsenals have filled with destructive force beyond the worst nightmares of Hiroshima survivors. But none have been detonated.

Thanks to the proliferation of the progeny of Little Boy and Fat Man, the world sleeps every night underneath a nuclear blanket. But thanks to four days of “shock and awe” 68 years ago, the world doesn’t sleep underneath 6 feet of radioactive dirt.  In defining “shock and awe,” Ullman and Wade assert that such a campaign must include “the threat and fear of action that may shut down all or part of the adversary’s society or render his ability to fight useless short of complete physical destruction.”

As a direct consequence of one week in August 1945, the threat and fear of total nuclear annihilation have shut down human society’s desire to inflict upon itself complete physical destruction. Though we can use nuclear power for war, we mostly use it for energy these days. That’s a bit shocking; it’s absolutely awesome; and, most importantly, it’s historical fact.

–Ben Crystal

From Phony To Phonier

Last Tuesday, I noted what I presumed would be a short-lived strategy by President Barack Hussein Obama to duck responsibility for the multiple scandals that will define his legacy by insisting those scandals are “phony.” However, judging by the defiant attitude Obama and his assorted accomplices, lackeys and lapdog media sock puppets have collectively displayed since then, it would appear that “phony” is the word they’re sticking with to deflect attention from their unprecedented war on the Bill of Rights — not to mention on our collective sanity.

Operation Fast and Furious was “phony.” The murders of Brian Terry, Jaime Zapata and hundreds of Mexicans were “phony.” Attorney General Eric Holder’s hostile perjury before Congress was “phony.” The factual revelations that Obamacare is an outright fraud are “phony.” Repulsion at the Democrats’ craven exploitation of tragedies from Connecticut to Colorado (but oddly, not Chicago) is “phony,” as is the Democratic war on the Bill of Rights. The National Security Agency’s illegal wiretapping of Americans is “phony.” The deployment of the Internal Revenue Service as a political weapon against Obama’s perceived enemies is “phony.” And, of course, the terrorist murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, are “phony.”

As Inigo Montoya noted in the great film “The Princess Bride”: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Obama, Jay Carney and a host of other backroom wire-pullers, shady politicos and cable network talking hairdos use “phony” to describe the aforementioned events — even though we’ve all watched them unfold on the very same networks (in the case of the fading hate-net MSNBC, with some rather creative editing).

Hell, the Democrats can keep calling these very real and very sad disgraces they have deliberately wrought upon their own people “phony” until Carney finishes puberty. But that won’t change the fact that Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius lied about every aspect of Obamacare; Holder lied about Operation Fast and Furious; Lois Lerner and others lied about the scope of Obama’s transformation of the Internal Revenue Service into the SS; Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and even Obama himself lied about Benghazi; and all the shrieking nitwits on Dailykos.com (or wherever) make complete fools of themselves every time they claim someone was “killed by a gun.” Again, “phony” simply doesn’t fit the bill.

I suppose the few liberals who still occasionally stumble across their consciences try to ease their disquiet by telling themselves their lies are part of a greater good or that their masters really are breaking the rules now in order to save them later. Surely, not everyone at The New York Times is either a mewling liberal peon or an unhinged leftist wing nut. After all, someone has to refill the toner cartridges; and I’m guessing Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman would be afraid they’d mess up their nails. Unfortunately for those conflicted souls, silence isn’t golden; it’s consent.

History is littered with those who either actively or passively collaborated with the forces of evil. The lucky ones managed to play their cards into billion-dollar empires, like former Nazi collaborator and current liberal hate group sugar daddy George Soros. Others hung on long enough to outlive the communist dinosaurs of the former Soviet Union. They live on as corruptocrats who imprison crappy rock bands, because Pussy Riot is dangerous. Actually, I’ve heard Pussy Riot. They’re not dangerous; they’re terrible.

Far more often, however, those who stood up to be counted with the enemies of liberty have disappeared into the mists of history — either because the Allies didn’t have the manpower to arrest every German who looked the other way when the trains rolled into the death camps, or their names were lost somewhere between Kiev and the Gulag, or Al Gore sold their network to Qatari oil barons.

They lie; they illegally surveil; they harass; they even kill. And then they tell us that it’s for our own good. It’s the same tale tyrants have been telling to cover their crimes since the biggest Neanderthal in the cave started hoarding all the fertile females.

But this is America, not some fictional country invented by Hollywood. And these scandals are all too real, not some fairy tale concocted by Rob Reiner in between visits to Spago. Ask yourself: What would Inigo Montoya do?

–Ben Crystal

Howard Dean And The Death Panels

In Monday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean offered up the opinion piece “The Affordable Care Act’s Rate-Setting Won’t Work: Experience Tells Me The Independent Payment Advisory Board Will Fail.” At first glance, Dean’s dense argument seems to be both for and against one of Obamacare’s most basic principles. But closer inspection reveals yet another in the myriad cracks which have appeared in Obamacare’s wall like a web spun by a meth-addicted spider.

The trick lies in the language. When Dean refers to the “so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board” as “essentially a health-care rationing body,” he’s not describing the unworkability of some random bureaucratic tumor, the likes of which always sprout from obese Federal programs. He’s talking about something with which we are all far more familiar. Dean is admitting that the “death panels” are bad politics incarnate. And that’s one hell of an admission, considering the fact that Obamacare proponents have been denying the very existence of death panels since they began assembling Obamacare in their Frankensteinian laboratory.

Of course, Obamacare has stumbled before. Its first iteration, 1994’s abominable “Hillarycare,” collapsed under the weight of the enormous unpopularity not only of socialized medicine but its most visible proponent: the unelected and, therefore, unaccountable Hillary Clinton. Well aware what Barack Obama was planning, the worthwhile half of the McCain/Palin 2008 Presidential ticket — then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin — in 2009 pointed out Obamacare’s inclusion of what Dean refers to as “essentially a health-care rationing body” but she more accurately termed “death panels.”

Like most of her pronouncements, Palin’s “death panels” remark drowned in the roar of the Democrats’ campaign of appallingly misogynist hatred. She was, as is every woman who defies the Democratic syndicate, subjected to bone-chilling venom for her forthrightness. The “death panels” remark engendered exceptionally crude liberal attacks on everything from her intellect to her sanity. The left-wing propaganda site Politifact even called her remark its “Lie of the Year” for 2009. According to the Democrats, the death panels were a fiction, a figment of Palin’s imagination with no more connection to reality than a Piers Morgan monologue.

And yet, there was Dean in Monday morning’s WSJ, arguing that not only are the same death panels Palin identified — and was excoriated in often violent and/or pornographic terms for mentioning — real; but they’re a bad idea.

Given Obamacare’s background, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there might be some bureaucratic bits and pieces that lean toward “bad.” Indeed, Obama’s first attempt to impose it upon the people failed, but it returned immediately like a zombie in a George Romero movie. Following a long and brutal run through the courts, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the lightning strike needed to get Obamacare up off the table and out where it could terrorize the villagers. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the villagers — the American taxpayers — wanted to grab the pitchforks and torches left Obama unfazed.

Now, one of the most prominent Democratic firebrands of the past decade — and certainly one of the loudest — Howard Dean has come out against the Obamacare death panels his Democratic Party accomplices insist don’t exist. That prompts me to offer one of the rarest statements ever uttered in human history: “Listen to Howard Dean.” It also prompts me to point out that the Democrats need to take a break from waging their actual war on women to offer an apology to a woman upon whom they have waged actual war. Palin got it right. And they should be very contrite.

Granted, if the Democrats had to apologize for every lie they told about Obama’s fraudulent folly, they’d never have time for much else. All things being equal, that might not be such a bad conclusion.

–Ben Crystal

Girl Power: 10 Feminist Icons Who Probably Shouldn’t Be

Am I really supposed to believe that Huma Abedin is a feminist icon? According to a number of lapdog media types, her decision to stand by the side of her cyber-creep husband, Anthony Weiner, at the most awkward press conference in New York since Eliot Spitzer admitted to being “Client 9” was “brave.” Pardon me for saying so; but if this is the current state of feminism, then you have not come a long way, baby.

But Abedin is hardly the first traveler on the path to gender equality who bailed on the sisterhood in order to hitch a ride on the proverbial “Weiner Express.” Take a gander at these ladies: 10 women who are feminist icons, but probably shouldn’t be.

Hillary Clinton

Abedin’s big buddy, Hillary Clinton, allowed her husband to treat her like a doormat in return for the privilege of participating in policy decisions and throwing things in the White House residence. The rich girl from Chicago married a pot-smoking fat kid who accepts the word “no” as well as a Kennedy. She then turned an activist liberal law career into the first ladyship of Arkansas, followed by a Senate seat in New York, followed by a failed Presidential campaign that included the original “birther” stories, followed by a turn in the Secretary of State’s office, followed by resignation in disgrace after shockingly callous and dishonest testimony in front of Congress regarding Benghazi, Libya. When Sarah Palin tried to push Senator John McCain into the White House, she endured misogynist attacks from Democrats who were more infuriated by her refusal to accept the liberal idea of “feminism” than a Taliban imam catching a woman reading an actual book. Palin didn’t cling to her husband’s trouser legs while he dropped them on women’s floors from Wasilla to Washington, D.C.; nor did she ever lie to Congress. Liberals decry the very idea of a Palin Presidency.  They’re too busy buying Hillary2016! T-shirts.

Nancy Pelosi

If you’re a young lady thinking about her future, I’ll grant you this: Be Nancy Pelosi. But don’t be like her. Make an impact on your world, but don’t let it be negative. Pursue your dreams, but not at the deliberate expense of others. Wield what authority you can, but not for authority’s sake. At least, try to cut back on the insider trading. Also, maybe don’t use Botox so much.

Oprah Winfrey

Hey, I get it. Oprah Winfrey gave away lots of free stuff on her show. But Winfrey is precisely the wrong person to present as a role model for girls. It’s not that I think Winfrey is all that bad a person. I just recognize that she’s a small-town girl who hit it big in an extremely unlikely fashion. If a little girl starts to work toward a career as an overpaid talk show host who’s essentially famous for being famous, she still won’t get farther than a guest hosting gig on “Good Morning, Tacoma.” Liberals like to whine about radio talk show hosts. At least radio talk show hosts can churn out multiple hours on a daily basis. Take away the commercial breaks, and Oprah couldn’t do more than 44 minutes per episode. Take away Drs. Phil and Oz and Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping performance, and she’s got just enough time left to call Hermes’ Paris store racist for closing on time.

Michelle Obama

I will say this: I have seen no evidence to suggest she’s not an excellent mother. Her children seem pleasant, bright and well-behaved. That is not something we could honestly say about some of the more recent inhabitants of the White House kids’ table. Raising children who don’t make their Secret Service detail cringe every time they pass a liquor store is a real accomplishment. But being first lady is decidedly not. Until Hillary Clinton Tammy Wynette-d her way to a “co-Presidency,” no one had ever turned the unelected position into more than a charity-focused and ceremonial role. Some would retort that Obama built a promising career as an attorney on a foundation of an outstanding education. I can’t argue with that. Nor can I resist pointing out that she gave it up to hitch a ride to stardom with a community organizer who conned his way onto Air Force One.

Margaret Sanger

This woman is the pro-abortion lobby’s Joan of Arc, Boudicca and Wonder Woman all wrapped up in one neat, compact, eugenics-spouting, racist, genocidal little package. Sanger is considered the mother of Planned Parenthood and spiritual godmother of the pro-abortion movement. Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin are generally considered the heavyweight champions of intentional genocide, combining to send more than 1 million people to the final gulag. If we split their total right down the middle (and I suspect each would claim the top spot), they come in around 50 million apiece. If you count only the abortions performed since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, then Sanger’s monstrous legacy has caused the deaths of somewhere around 55 million people. In fact, that number relies on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records, which don’t include New York and California totals. Both States legalized abortion years before Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, the CDC readily acknowledges that it hasn’t received a count of abortions from California in years, meaning its total is likely short by a number close to the cost of an Obama family vacation. In addition to the fact that a woman who openly advocated for the extermination of people like her fellow feminist icon Michelle Obama doesn’t seem like a particularly positive role model for anyone, thanks to her parentage of Planned Parenthood, there are a whole lot fewer women around to consider her a role model at all.

Sandra Fluke

Real feminists stand proudly and demand the respect to which they are entitled. Fluke sat pathetically in front of a fake Congressional hearing organized by Pelosi and demanded free birth control — quite a lot of it, in fact. Since her staged appearance at Pelosi’s sideshow, Fluke has gone on to play to adoring crowds which, in some cases, comprised adoring fans numbering in the tens. Here’s something to share with the little faces of the future: Sandra Fluke is famous for demanding the American taxpayers subsidize her rather healthy sexual appetite. That’s right, girls; you, too, can be free from the shackles of the patriarchal phallocracy (or whatever) and have lots and lots of sex. For free! Yay, feminism!

Lady Diana Spencer

Yes, I’m aware that she’s dead. So is Baroness Margaret Thatcher, and “feminists” cheered her passing as if Thatcher had stolen the crown jewels. At least Thatcher actually did something for the British economy other than spend a hefty portion of it on designer threads. The only reason Lady Di came out of her marriage to Prince Charles looking like the victim was that she looked better in those designer threads. I’m not celebrating her death the way liberals did Thatcher’s demise; I am pointing out that Di’s death overshadowed that of Mother Teresa’s, which occurred just six days later. If only the Blessed Mother of Calcutta had tended to the least among us while wearing Armani.

Jane Fonda

She sat for propaganda photos with the enemy during a war. But she’s a really important actress and, therefore, should be granted more leeway. It was a different time in America; and, therefore, we should ignore her petulant outbursts. We were fighting ourselves as much as communism; and, therefore, we should be more understanding of the fact that she committed treason. Hey, sure. I’ll forgive her for openly fondling an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American pilots. I’ll even forgive her for naming her kid after the guy who tried to murder U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. I will not forgive her for her autobiography, My Life So Far, which rose above the din of the usual ghost-written celebrity memoir only through torturing the language. Here’s Hanoi Jane on her supposed rediscovery of Christianity:

It was more an experiencing of His presence, a psychic lucidity, that was allowing me access to something beyond consciousness. It wasn’t long, however, before I found myself bumping up against certain literal, patriarchal aspects of Christian orthodoxy that I found difficult to embrace.

So she recognizes God is a He, but she doesn’t want to accept Him as a He. I’m beginning to understand how she managed to both apologize for treason and not apologize for treason.

Madonna

I’ll be completely honest. I don’t know who that spider-limbed, leathery creature on stage these days is; but that’s not Madonna. Remember when she pretended to have a British accent? Remember how it didn’t really matter what she said; because the accent was so distracting, you couldn’t follow her actual words? Remember thinking that was the smartest she ever sounded? This new iteration says things like:

Y’all better vote for f–king Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right? We have a black Muslim in the White House. Now that’s some amazing s—t…It means there is hope in this country. And Obama is fighting for gay rights, so support the man, goddamnit.

And the “feminists” think Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is crazy?

Lilith

According to mythology, Lilith was either a female demon or Adam’s first wife. And now, she’s the namesake of a failed traveling music festival founded on the idea that women were underrepresented in music. The first Lilith Fair took place in 1997, at which point women like Madonna had managed to sell a couple of records despite the patriarchy of the evil recording industry. Hell, by 1997, a woman had served as co-President for four years. And I’m struggling to see the value of encouraging girls to emulate someone who is either the worst ex-wife in history or a soul-crushing hellspawn. But then, that’s almost as redundant as “Crappy Lilith Fair lineup.”

I’m willing to acknowledge both my politics and my plumbing preclude me from membership in the sort of intellectual sorority that produces admiration for Abedin and animus for Palin. But that doesn’t preclude me from recognizing that some of these girls are just plain mean, man!

So by the definition of the kind of people who like to decide for everyone else how things should be defined, I guess I’m not a feminist. I actually already knew that. After all, I turned down free tickets to the Lilith Fair a ways back.

–Ben Crystal

President Phony

With his poll numbers plummeting, President Barack Hussein Obama used some of the last days before he departs for another multimillion-dollar vacation to try to deflect attention away from the scandals that have defined his tenure in the Oval Office. According to the President: “With an endless distraction of political posturing and phony scandals and Lord knows what, Washington keeps taking its eye off the ball.”

While his Thursday remarks do not represent the first time a Democrat has tried to minimize the damage Obama’s mendacity has done to his credibility, they do beg a rather obvious question: To which scandal was he referring?

In trying to hide from the consequences of his failures, Obama issued a blanket “phony.” But last week, his press secretary, Jay Carney, used “phony” to describe the Obama Administration’s very real deployment of the Internal Revenue Service as a political weapon. That particular assault on liberty began in Cincinnati and has now stretched all the way to the White House Counsel’s office — all despite a series of paper-thin denials from the President and his accomplices. However, given that the scandal is actually currently growing, I’m not sure “phony” works in this scenario.

Back in May, at a joint conference with a visibly uncomfortable British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama called the continuing probe into the Administration’s ever-changing narrative on the Benghazi, Libya, massacre and subsequent cover-up a “sideshow” borne of “political motivations.” I suppose the murder of four Americans was political — at least from the terrorists’ perspective. And there’s no doubt that the decision to throw Ambassador Susan Rice under the bus following her YouTube2012 tour was absolutely political. Throw in the fact that Obama allegedly missed the whole thing because he was busy grubbing for cash in Las Vegas, and I suppose you have a sideshow. But there is no doubt that Benghazi happened, so “phony” doesn’t really apply.

Attorney General Eric Holder has recently developed distaste for violence, as evidenced by pronouncements to the NAACP in the wake of the acquittal of assault victim George Zimmerman on murder charges. However, Holder was found in contempt of Congress for his repeated fabrications and stonewalling regarding the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, a so-called “gun walking” program that cost the lives of two Federal agents and hundreds of Mexicans while arming narcoterrorists at our expense. Operation Fast and Furious and its subsequent fallout certainly meet the definition of “scandal,” but certainly do not meet the definition of “phony.”

The National Security Agency eavesdrops on Americans without cause. The Justice Department wiretaps, hacks and surveils journalists. Hell, your name was probably red-flagged for visiting Personalliberty.com. We live in an era during which the President of the United States has declared war on the Bill of Rights. Our resistance to his tyrannical aspirations is “politically motivated,” but it is hardly “phony.”

–Ben Crystal

The Cosmic Joke

Peruse the photograph that accompanies this column. Taken last Friday by the Cassini probe currently orbiting Saturn, it’s one of those pictures NASA likes to release to the public in an effort to remind us that they A) exist and B) can do stuff besides bum rides from the Russians to the International Space Station. Recalling the famed “family portrait” that the late, great Carl Sagan led the Voyager team to create in 1990, the Earth is in the picture. And much like the “pale blue dot” section of Sagan’s famous photo mosaic, the Earth is very, very small.

saturn0724

This latest photograph, which shows Saturn in all her majesty, actually includes the Earth only as a cosmic afterthought. Of course, our beautiful blue marble is a cosmic afterthought. Heck, Saturn is neither the largest of our planets, nor the farthest from home; those honors belong to Jupiter and Neptune, respectively. Nonetheless, the photograph is as humbling as any image that accurately depicts our infinitesimal smallness against the backdrop of God’s infinite creation.

But forget the metaphysical stuff. In fact, let’s put all the really cool regular physics aside, as well. Focus on the photograph. It was snapped by Cassini just six days ago. And that simple act of clicking the shutter on a plutonium-powered camera is amazing all by itself.

See, it took 14 years of development and construction, 16 years flying via remote control across more than a billion miles, nearly $4 billion and the cooperation of some of the most brilliant humans available in more than a dozen separate countries just to take that picture. Even the Italians, the same guys responsible for Fiat, pitched in. To be sure, there have been a couple of hiccups. A European Space Agency programming error caused the loss of one of the Huygens data channels and about 350 images of Saturn’s moon Titan. But given the fact that Cassini is about the size of a school bus and is assigned to cover a neighborhood even less hospitable than South Central Los Angeles, a minor transmitter failure is cosmically small.

The usual suspects nearly derailed Cassini years before its launch date. As zero hour approached, a far left eco-loon group named the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice tried to scrub the project on the grounds that its plutonium fuel posed a threat to the human race (or something to that effect). The Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice still exists, and it has continued its mission of scaring people with pseudoscience claptrap. Sixteen years after getting it all wrong about Cassini, its website is currently a mélange of so-called “global warming” babble and advertisements for something called “The Sustainable Living Center,” which sounds an awful lot like a “campground.” Beyond that, an impassioned campaign by astronaut Sally Ride and some luck at the budgetary butcher shop barely saved the program. And it still had to achieve escape velocity from the entropy that afflicts nearly everything that wanders too close to Washington, D.C.’s wild orbit.

Cooperating nations spent billions of dollars to make what amounts to a really amazing car that has functioned just about flawlessly for nearly 20 years — all despite worse working conditions than those faced by Keith Olbermann’s limousine service. Think about that for a moment; I mean, really let it sink in. Right now, as you’re considering the magnitude of the scientific, technological and bureaucratic success that is Cassini as well as the many parts of the incredible journey that produced that amazing photograph, the United Nations is spending many billions more Cassini cost to combat so-called “global warming.”

On the one hand, a group made up of multiple nationalities and specialties worked on multiple levels over multiple years to advance our understanding of the actual universe. On the other hand, a group made up of multiple nationalities and specialties is working on multiple levels over multiple years to advance our understanding of pseudoscience that averages a name change per decade.

The next time President Barack Hussein Obama and/or one of his liberal cronies goes into hysterics over global warming or suggests throwing taxpayer dollars at another “green” energy boondoggle, think of this photograph. Then ask yourself: “Could the same guys who came up with ‘global warming’ and Solyndra pull this off?”

–Ben Crystal

The Democrats Destroyed Detroit

Don’t look now, kids; but while you were laughing at the irony of the same Democrats who ignored the bloodcurdling murder of Baby Antonio Santiago gathering to demand “justice” for Trayvon Martin, Detroit provided one of the greatest “teachable moments” in American history. Despite enjoying the better part of a century’s worth of compassionate, caring and community organized leadership by the best Democrats money could satisfy — in combination with a primary industrial base shot through with the very soul of Big Labor — Detroit skidded through the safety cones of taxpayer-funded bailouts and slammed back into the bridge abutment of bankruptcy.

And let’s be clear about this: The Motor City isn’t dying. It’s dead. Sure, there are still residents skulking around the once-proud burg; but census figures show that their numbers are nearly 60 percent lower than they were a half-century ago. What remains is an urban zombie, a hollow-eyed corpse shuffling along in a mindless search for taxpayer funds.

But this isn’t news. Detroit’s demise didn’t sneak up from behind us while we were distracted by exploding Chevy Volts. Actually, in a sense, it did. We were told that Detroit had put its troubles in the rear view mirror. Thanks to a government takeover led by President Barack Obama, the worthless executives were expunged from the model line like Pontiac Azteks. In their place, even more worthless bureaucrats whose private-sector experience extended to coffee with the Undersecretary of Commerce’s scheduler joined hands with Big Labor to continue churning out the mind-numbingly depressing fleet cars that combine none of the competitors’ pizzazz with none of their quality control. Case in point: Pre-bailout, the Chevy Malibu versus the Toyota Camry. Post-bailout, the Chevy Malibu versus the Toyota Camry.

In truth, Detroit’s downward spiral began decades ago. Following the post-World War II boom; the Nation’s industries underwent an inevitable downturn. Since the Federal government had yet to get into the “saving union thugs from their own incompetence” business, companies like Packard shuttered their plants. Not long afterward, as the city reeled from the economic blow, a police raid of an illegal speakeasy so enraged the patrons that they started a race riot, which would ultimately hold the “burning down our own city” title until South Central Los Angeles claimed it a quarter century later. Not only did damages exceed $80 million (about $560 million in 2013 dollars); but they sent 2,500 businesses to “quitsville,” 43 people to the morgue and a huge portion of the productive population to the suburbs. Universally respected economist Thomas Sowell noted:

Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent. It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair.

Following the riots, an oil crunch took its toll. The auto industry, plagued by Big Labor attacks since the 40s, responded to rising gas prices with a series of incredibly awful automobiles and incredibly bad concessions to the unions. After GM essentially launched the Japanese import market with horrendous cars like the Vega, the United Auto Workers actually managed to exact the infamous GM jobs bank, a program in which laid-off workers were paid nearly full salary and benefits to not work. Over the next few decades, the jobs bank cost GM just less than $1 billion per year.

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While the city’s major employers desperately tried to keep their heads above water despite the unions’ attempts to drown them, the remaining denizens of Detroit decided to salt the fields they had so badly plowed under in 1967. Given the choice to elect redoubtable stewards of the public trust, the Motor City’s voters elected kleptocrats like Kwame Kilpatrick — twice.

Bad planning, bad production, bad employees, bad politicians and bad people took control of a city named Detroit. By the time they were through with it, Detroit was the city we see now: Democratted to death.

–Ben Crystal