A Majority Of Fools

By the time President George W. Bush had finished his second term in office, the same voters who had re-elected him had tired of him in then-record fashion. With the exception of the Watergate-befouled latter years of President Richard Nixon’s second term, one needed to search back to the dark days of the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression and “Hoovervilles” to find a chief executive the electorate disliked as much as “W.” Of course, the Democrats and their corporate media lapdogs played up Bush’s unpopularity as often — and as loudly — as a “tween” girl who just downloaded the new One Direction single.

When Bush finally pulled up his Presidential stakes, his approval ratings were mired in the low-30s, including a slight bump upward from the 25 percent number he scored at the same moment President Barack Obama won the 2008 election. Despite murky political origins and a backstory that featured holes large enough for Michael Moore to waddle through, Obama rode into the Oval Office on a wave of “hope and change.” Obama’s approval rating on Jan. 23, 2009, was a gaudy 68 percent.

Bush’s extreme lack of popularity created a “negative coattails” effect in advance of Obama’s miraculous ascension. Obama took the executive reins bolstered by a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Nothing but smooth sailing lay ahead for the liberals.

Yet despite a seemingly unbreakable hold on the American political rudder, the Democrats managed to founder the ship of state. An incredibly badly planned bailout of the auto industry cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. Sketchy loans in the nine- and 10-figure range disappeared into fly-by-night rackets run by Obama’s cronies. Obama attacked the coal industry, Boeing and even Gibson Guitars with regulatory gestapo tactics. He deployed the National Security Agency and the Internal Revenue Service against his political opponents in almost Stalinist fashion. And of course, he reanimated “Hillarycare” as “Obamacare,” forcing Americans to endure what is indubitably the biggest and dumbest fraud in human history.

Obama’s pursuit of his own political utopia at the expense of virtually everyone else on the planet sent the economy into a further tailspin. His virtually unprecedented incompetence in the foreign affairs arena made Bush seem Disraeli-esque. And back on the home front, he turned the 68 percent approval he enjoyed on his first day in office into 43 percent. By comparison, Bush finished off the first year of his second term at 47 percent.

Granted, the self-destruction of Obama’s veneer of feigned competence during his first two years in office cost the Democrats control of the House; but national polls still indicated a distrust of Republicans. The Democrats, led by Obama, had a majority. And according to Democrat logic, circa the Senate Democrats’ recent murder of the filibuster, a majority translates to unfettered freedom to do anything — up to and including the failing Obamacare fraud.

Presuming the Democrats are correct in believing that a majority trumps everything, then I have some very bad news for Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the wire-pullers, corruptocrats and outright criminals who run the portside party: You’re done. Finished. Kaput. Sh*t-canned.

As of this moment, Obama has the approval of only 43 percent of his employers. That’s 4 points worse than Bush at the same point in his Presidency. That’s actually 1 point better than Obama’s polling solely on the economy. That’s 9 points better than the rating sported by Congressional Democrats. As the Democrats are fond of reminding us, Bush’s second term was the political equivalent of a BASE jump without a parachute. So I suggest we learn from our mistakes. Since Obama is even worse than Bush, why prolong the fall?

Come to think of it, the Republicans have done such a grand job of almost standing up to Obama and his accomplices on everything from profligate spending to personal privacy, they’re polling as poorly as the Democrats. Someone tell Obama to pick up Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congressman Paul Ryan and the rest of the spineless ninnies who prove with every idiotic “compromise” that they’re essentially interchangeable with their supposed opponents. I’m sure he has room for them on Air Force One.

I am well aware that governing by poll numbers is a poor substitute for governing by principle. But the current political elite either don’t or won’t understand the difference. They wanted a simple majority rule. Let’s give it to them. Pink slips all around!

–Ben Crystal

Obamacare Gets Worse

I didn’t really need another reason to deplore Obamacare. The almost daily litany of fraud and failure, from the Oval Office to the Healthcare.gov programmers who apparently got their IT training from the back of a matchbook, has taken my confidence in Obamacare out behind the barn and put a bullet it in its head. Nonetheless, President Barack Obama’s signature achievement coughed up more reminders late last week that it would probably work just as well had it been implemented by whoever writes all those kicky one-liners for Vice President Joe Biden.

As it turns out, the incredibly lucky few Americans who have managed to navigate the byzantine Obamacare enrollment process might not be so lucky after all. Washington Post reporter Sarah Kliff posted a story delivering all-new bad news for nearly 15,000 applicants who beat the odds, error messages and web glitches for a spot on the business end of a scam that makes the average Ponzi scheme look like a Faraday cage full of Krugerrands. Their Herculean display of endurance was all for naught. Somewhere between Healthcare.gov and the insurer from which they planned to purchase coverage, their information fell down the memory hole. What’s worse, thanks to one of the many peculiarities of the Obamacare disaster, the Federal government has only a general idea of how many applications disappeared into the data gulag; they don’t have any idea who those 15,000 or so taxpayers might actually be. Since the poor saps who stood in the digital line for this legislative crap sandwich can’t be warned, they may not know they’re in violation of Obamacare’s regulations until they get fined. That’s Federally mandated “double secret probation.”

But wait; the hijinks don’t end there. One of the Democrats’ favorite defenses of Obamacare involves blaming the States that refused to set up their own exchanges for complicating the system. By itself, that’s the logical equivalent of blaming a convenience store for hurting tax revenue by not selling lottery tickets. The State of Washington did set up its own exchange: Washington Healthplanfinder. And it works almost as well as everything else connected to Obamacare. The site, which is routinely down, has reportedly begun debiting some customers’ bank accounts on the wrong dates, creating even more severe financial hardships for people already victimized by the cancellation notices, premium hikes and provider restrictions Obama promised would never be a part of Obamacare. Others report that the system has double-charged them. Unfortunately, they can’t contact the State for relief because that would require going through the site, which doesn’t work. According to a report by Seattle’s KING 5 News, one family had to resort to posting a complaint on the Healthplanfinder’s Facebook page following the failure of both the website and the telephone helpline.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website PolitiFact.com announced last week that Obama’s infamous “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” promise had earned its dubious “Lie of the Year” honor. In “winning” the award, the statement outran other Obamacare nuggets, including Obama’s almost comically ridiculous: “What we said was, you can keep (your plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” “Pants on fire!” was the tag PolitiFact gave that whopper.

These latest horror stories, combined with the insane asylum’s worth of nightmares that Obamacare has already thrust upon us, force me to ask one question: Why the hell do we still have Obamacare? I’m aware the Democrats consider the survival of Obamacare, from which they’ve conveniently exempted most of themselves, more important than life itself. But I’m seriously perplexed as to how we’re still having a national discussion about a clumsily executed enterprise that is as unpopular as the man for whom it’s named.

Not long ago, I joked that if a private citizen were to try to defraud a few hundred million people out of more than $2 trillion, he’d be facing hard time in a Federal penitentiary. I now realize I erred. If someone tried a scam as embarrassingly inept as Obamacare, we wouldn’t lock him up; we’d laugh him off the porch. With the government behind him, Obama didn’t bother to wait on the porch. He’s downstairs, stealing the Krugerrands from the Faraday cage.

–Ben Crystal

Funeral Disservice

No matter what your opinion of Nelson Mandela, you can’t argue that he was super-duper famous. His funeral was the biggest-ticket event of year. Nearly 100 heads of state jostled with truly important people such as Bono and Oprah Winfrey for face time at the former South African president’s memorial service and celebrity gala. If a man’s measure can be taken by his funeral, then Mandela leaves the world with a gaping hole in its A-list photo ops that not even Jay-Z can fill.

President Barack Obama attended. It’s difficult to tell if he knew much about Mandela beyond some study packet provided by his minions; he spent much of his time snapping jocular “selfies” and generally having a grand old time. He did deliver a speech that touched on his usual themes of blaming wealthy people (other than he and his cronies, of course) for the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (other than the people of Detroit and Washington, D.C.). During his turn on the main stage, Obama also exhorted the assembled thusly: “Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.” The irony of a President expressing such magnanimous concerns while illegally snooping on and/or using the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency to harass Americans who don’t share his politics was predictably lost on the cheering crowd and the fawning media.

Obama also made time to shake hands with murderous Cuban tyrant Raul Castro, another unfortunate moment which Obama’s cheering section — an increasingly hard bunch to find within American borders — thought worthy of praise instead of deserving of scorn. At least Senator Ted Cruz was there to represent the Americans who actually oppose tyranny; he pointedly walked out on Castro’s own oration.

Not all the proceedings were marked by the usual preening. The E! Network didn’t have some washed-up comedienne stationed out front of the venue, asking the attendees about their wardrobe choices. In at least two instances, the festivities took a decidedly less festive tone. Boos and catcalls met the introduction of current South African President Jacob Zuma, who appears to be almost as unpopular in South Africa as Obama has become in the United States. Another round of boos reportedly rained down on former U.S. President George W. Bush when his face popped up on the Jumbotron. Apparently, the boobirds are unaware that Bush’s Global Health Initiative has probably done more to combat illness and suffering in Africa than any other entity on the planet — all without so much as a decent write-up in People magazine.

The global celebrity set wasn’t alone in bathing in the adulation. The cheering section came alive for Palestinian martinet Mahmoud Abbas and Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie. Abbas is an Islamofascist who has built his career on the corpses of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Winnie Mandela is a convicted criminal. She’s a monstrous coattails passenger whose entourage of thugs and killers (known to the unfortunate residents of Soweto as the “Mandela United Football Club”) was notable for its use of “necklacing,” a particularly brutal method of execution involving tires, gasoline and a total lack of even basic humanity on the part of the perpetrator.

Nelson Mandela’s own legacy is, and will remain, a topic of significant debate. For the purposes of this column, however, his legacy is entirely immaterial — mostly because he’s dead. Let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and presume that Mandela was an outright saint. I hardly think a hero who believed in freedom and justice for everyone — regardless of race — would be all that pleased to see his admirers cheering those who have done the least for his people, while jeering those who have done the most.

–Ben Crystal

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Most of us first met President Barack Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, back in 2011. At the time, Onyango found himself in a scrape with the authorities in Framingham, Mass., following a drunken jaunt behind the wheel of his SUV. By the time Framingham’s finest managed to drag Uncle Onyango to the station, his blood alcohol level had subsided to a mere .14 — just a bit under double the legal limit. And then, the real fun began. As it turned out, not only was Uncle Onyango behind the wheel illegally, he was in the United States illegally. Much like the President’s Aunt Zeituni Onyango, who eventually “earned” asylum, Onyango Obama was an illegal alien.

These days, Onyango is still here, somehow securing his own stay of deportation despite his criminal record and the fact that he dodged immigration authorities for nearly two decades before the boys in blue popped him on the DUI charge. According to what little press coverage there has been on the wayward first uncle, Uncle Onyango told arresting officers that 2011 night, “I think I will call the White House.” It’s possible that was the booze talking; because the White House not only didn’t acknowledge taking Uncle Onyango’s call, but chief Barack Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney told reporters that his boss expected no special treatment for his drunken relative. In fact, the President did everything short of an extraordinary rendition to distance himself from his Uncle Onyango.

What confuses me is not that President Obama has an uncle who occasionally makes him wince. Onyango Obama is hardly the first first relative to flit across the headlines over the years. There is no “Uncle O’s Kenyan Lager” to compete with “Billy Beer.” The first daughters have never tried to buy hooch at the Gas’n’Go while their Secret Service detail lingered uncomfortably on the sidewalk. And I’m fairly certain Uncle Onyango hasn’t tried to lobby his nephew for any Presidential pardons for drug convictions.

What confuses me is why Barack Obama lied when asked about his Uncle Onyango’s adventures in driving. In November 2011, just a couple months after Onyango Obama’s arrest, the White House claimed the President had never met the uncle to whom he referred in one of his oddly premature memoirs as “Uncle Omar.” And then, last week, Uncle Onyango embarrassed his nephew again. According to Onyango Obama, the President lived with his uncle while a student at Harvard Law School. And the reason for the latest ever-changing story from the White House strains credulity to the breaking point. The Boston Globe reported:

On Thursday, a White House official said the press office had not fully researched the relationship between the president and his uncle before telling the Globe that they had no record of the two meeting. This time, the press office asked the president directly, which they had not done in 2011.

The Obama White House denied any meeting between the two men, without bothering to ask Obama. If you believe that, I have $30 million dollars waiting in Nairobi. Let me transfer it through your bank account, and I’ll give you 10 percent. Honest!

The truth is: Uncle Onyango hardly qualifies as all that big a deal. Nearly every family has a resident Uncle Onyango. Most of us simply keep him away from the liquor cabinet. If he’s particularly unappealing, we send him a lovely card at Christmastime and cross our fingers that he doesn’t roll into the driveway unannounced like Uncle Eddie from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Most of us handle troublesome relatives that way, but not President Obama. Confronted with a vexing relative, Barack Obama automatically defaulted to dishonesty. Barack Obama lied. Barack Obama always lies. He lied about Obamacare. He lied about Benghazi. He lied about Operation Fast and Furious. He lied about raising taxes on the middle class. And he even lied about poor Uncle Onyango. If Barack Obama were just another liquor store clerk, his lying would be creepy and sad. But Barack Obama is the President of the United States. When Barack Obama lies, people die.

Drive-Thru Economics

It’s almost as if the left simply refuses to comprehend it, despite its simplicity. Americans will not pay more for the borderline-toxic trimmings and unidentifiable animal parts that we call “fast food.”

Liberals can kick up all the dust they want over the fast food industry’s average hourly wage of 8 bucks or so. They can demand every burger-flipper, fry-cooker and order-screwer-upper in the solar system be paid $45 per hour with full medical and dental benefits, two weeks paid vacation and stock options. They can even picket outside the Taco Bell from now until the Tex-Mex-ish chain offers a free-range chicken burrito with organically grown heirloom tomatoes and handmade guacamole. But they’re never going to convince anyone that a “McRib” should cost $14. Therefore, they will never convince anyone that assembling a McRib from whatever its actual contents might be is anything other than an entry-level job.

Yet our liberal friends from such notable organizations as the Service Employees International Union have retaken their places on picket lines in front of thousands of fast food emporia across the fruited plain. Their demands haven’t changed, nor has their chosen method of shrieking at the top of their lungs. They want the government to mandate the fast food industry pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Should they win this battle — and their access to virtually unlimited resources from spigots like George Soros and even the Barack Obama Administration (your tax dollars at work) suggests they’ll certainly continue the fight — their victory will result in either fewer fast food workers or no fast food workers.

Raising entry-level salaries in the fast food industry will do more than just jack up the cost of the No. 2 Super Combo with a Coke. It will force a reciprocal wave of cost increases throughout the industry. If the lettuce guy gets $15 per hour, then the assistant day manager will immediately demand an increase in her salary. After all, she worked for her promotion. Of course, once she gets a raise, the day manager will be in the boss’s office and so on, up through the chain until the company is left choosing between raising prices, lowering labor costs or simply shuttering operations. Since profit margins for the average McDonald’s franchise hover somewhere between 6 percent and 8 percent, something’s gotta give; and I doubt it will be the percentage of actual chicken in Chicken McNuggets. It’s worth noting that more than 50 percent of the labor force of McDonald’s is drawn from minority groups, meaning big labor’s assault on Big Mac will send a disproportionate number of minorities to the curb.

Liberals operate under the mistaken presumption that if a business makes a profit, then its workers must suffer. In fact, the only causal relationship that exists between a fast food company’s profits and its workers’ wages is a positive one. Without fiscal successes, McDonald’s doesn’t expand to become the largest company in the industry and one of the most ubiquitous icons on the planet. Without that expansion, there are 14,000 or so empty commercial spaces providing taxable income to the Federal, State and local — not to mention global — economies. Without that expansion, there are 14,000 or so fewer entities providing jobs. Including the corporate staffers of McDonald’s, that’s just shy of a half-million more Americans cast onto the government dole — a dole that would supported by a half-million fewer Americans. And the 1.3 million McDonald’s employees outside the United States would be thrilled to learn the American big labor movement turned their jobs into collateral damage.

But there is good news for the fast food industry’s millions upon millions of customers. Should big labor manage to force a 100 percent increase in the minimum wage, thousands of fast food employees will be replaced by hundreds of automated order-takers and -makers, dramatically increasing the odds that you’ll actually get what you ordered.

–Ben Crystal

Black Friday

I know I should already expect them, but they still surprise me every year. Whether it’s a crowd trampling some poor security guard to death at the 5 a.m. Doorbuster Black Friday sale at the mall or someone stabbing someone else over the chance to buy an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, I’m still routinely unprepared for the holiday season headlines of mayhem and manslaughter amid the mirth and merriment.

In Philadelphia, a small group of women got into a closed-fist, prison-yard rumble — complete with the deployment of a stun gun — that may have involved at least one of their children. A mall in Sacramento, Calif., hosted a barn burner of a beat down, which began over a pair of panties at a Victoria’s Secret. And Wal-Mart stores nationwide saw their yellow smiley faces splattered with blood as Black Friday shoppers turned the electronics departments into Mixed Martial Arts cage fights.

I forget these seasonal reminders of just how ridiculous our consumer culture can make some of our less inhibited compatriots. They do such a marvelous job of proving themselves throughout the rest of the year by blaming their problems on productive Americans, shrieking into their “Obamaphones” and voting for Democrats. Nonetheless, in modern-day parlance: Really?!?

The only way I might get violent at a mall would be if they wouldn’t let me leave. And I’m smart enough to stay the hell out of stores like Victoria’s Secret; they have a website, for cripes sake. I shop at Wal-Mart on at least a semi-regular basis, and I have yet to encounter any of their wares that are worth another shopper’s blood — much less his life.

But don’t read this as an indictment of the American love of stuff — especially stuff we can’t afford. At least these melees break out over people’s sense-occluding desire to buy stuff, as opposed to just stealing or looting it (New Orleans not included). Through most of the year, we tend to buy, sell and/or lease with a minimum of bloodshed. While our pursuits might well make many of us debt-ridden fools who are trying to drown their sorrows in professional-grade espresso makers and theater-style popcorn machines, they also partially fuel an economy that has withstood the broadsides of President Barack Obama’s bumbling for nearly six years. Of course, it would be lovely if Americans were motivated by more altruistic factors. However, consider that comparing the poorest Americans to the poorest people in places where “stuff” means “foliage near the hut” is like comparing Stephen Spielberg to a film student with a broken 8mm Bell and Howell — meaning our consumer-driven culture provides even its non-producers with the chance to be consumers.

And even amid our most murderous mall-marauding moments, we can’t sniff the title for “Most Likely to Kill Each Other Over Something Truly Ridiculous.” We can’t compete with the Mideast, where they’ve been fighting the same battle since at least the 7th century. We can’t compete with Asia, where politics trumps life to the tune of Tiananmen Square (although we are catching up with the Chinese in the state-sponsored infanticide standings). We can’t compete with Central and South America, where murder is often considered a hobby, if not a legitimate vocation. We can’t compete with Europe, where homicide is an acceptable response to an adverse result in a soccer game. In fact, we can’t even compete with Detroit, where life is worth slightly less than the price of the newest Nikes.

The annual American Black Friday free-for-all is weird, sad and — most importantly — tragic. But it could be worse; at least we get some lovely parting gifts. Now, who wants an espresso?

–Ben Crystal

Thanks For Thanksgiving

When I was just a lad, my parents would open our home each Thanksgiving to a wide variety of friends and family members. The house would fill to the rafters with the joyous noise of literally dozens of people, ranging in age from infant to — in at least a few instances — close to centenarian. Babies cried, children played, teenagers hid in the basement and adults swapped stories and told jokes to which children already knew the punch lines. After the meal was gone and before the tryptophan took its inevitable toll, the men would retire to a corner room to smoke cigars, drink amber liquor and tell jokes to which the children better not have known the punch lines.

Although our Thanksgiving Day celebrations might have been routine, they were never rote. The sameness called to mind a favorite sweatshirt more than a threadbare hand-me-down. The timeline got to the point that it was beyond predictable, but I cherished every moment as if it were brand-new. Looking back on all those holidays, I wish I had spent less time trying to sneak beer with my teenage pals, and more time just being around the goings-on upstairs.

Therefore, allow me to share with you a few suggestions:

Take pictures of anything that seems remotely worth remembering. When my older brother was still in diapers, my great-grandmother attended the annual Turkey Day soiree at our house. By all accounts, my great-grandmother was a seriously formidable woman. Imagine my mother’s horror when my older brother took the familial matriarch’s purse and dumped its contents out on the floor. Now imagine my mother’s sigh of relief when this prim and proper empress of the fold leaned down and said “that’s wonderful, dear. Now do it again!” No image exists of that moment outside my parents’ memories. I’d pay a king’s ransom to see one. I bet they would, as well.

Turn away no family. Thanksgiving is well known for its status as the most-traveled day of the year. Children, many toting grandchildren, make annual pilgrimages across the fruited plain to spend the holiday with family. Mothers and fathers well into their twilight years turn back into their former parental selves at the sound of their progeny’s feet in the halls of the family home. If they’re anything like my parents, the presence of grandchildren delivers more joy than Publisher’s Clearing House could imagine.

Watch the parade. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an overwrought, over-produced homage to consumer waste. It’s kitschy and corny, and it occasionally features Kathie Lee Gifford. But it also includes the Rockettes and concludes with Santa Claus, and that’s purely awesome.

Bring no politics to the table. That means not only should the college kid with the nose ring leave to the dormitories the tales of smallpox-infused blankets, trails of tears and genocide, but the fathers should resist the urge to point out to the ungrateful little twerps that their sociology professor is an overpaid, under-bathed ninny who “teaches” because he couldn’t keep a private sector job for more than 20 minutes. Pops should also take the night off from wanting to rip the jewelry out of Junior’s nostril and holding him down and shaving that rat’s nest off the ungrateful little jerk’s head. For those of you so twisted by liberalism that you refuse to acknowledge the holiday, or call it something like “Rape of Native Cultures Day,” it is perfectly permissible to give the talking points a rest — at least until after the younger kids get the table cleared. If you struggle to endure the national holiday commemorating the white man’s desecration of a previously verdant paradise and its innocent inhabitants, consider how much everyone else will enjoy it when you spike a drumstick in Grandma’s gravy boat while calling the assembled “Euro-fascist murderers” (or whatever).

I wish you all a sincerely happy Thanksgiving Day. May your holiday be filled with family, fun and enough caloric excess to keep you in a permanent food coma through the New Year.

–Ben Crystal