Losing the war on poverty

As I scrolled through Twitter the other day, a blurb on the Democratic Party’s feed caught my eye.

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Fifty-one years later, and the Democrats took time out of their busy schedule of lying, cheating, stealing and calling everyone who notices “racist!” to raise a soy latte in honor of LBJ’s war on poverty. Obviously, if the Democrats manage to squeeze it into 140 or fewer characters a half-century after the fact, they must consider LBJ’s grand vision for a more prosperous America a real highlight on their resume.

And who can blame them? While marking the 51st anniversary of anything other than a wedding seems a bit contrived, the rest of the 1960s hardly represent a high water mark for the Democrats. They turned Southeast Asia into a killing field that consumed nearly 60,000 American souls. They double-talked on race following Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s policy of using federal might to force an end to racial segregation, while simultaneously “drawing the line in the dust” to protect the Jim Crow laws they created. By 1968, their national convention descended into chaos as protesters turned Chicago into a massive cage match. So I suppose it’s fair for them to focus on President Johnson’s Special Message to the Congress, a footnote in Johnson’s larger Declaration of War. Of course, Johnson never declared war on North Vietnam, nor their Soviet backers, nor the globalist banksters who used the carnage of Southeast Asia to diversify their ever-thriving death industry. In 1964, Johnson declared war on poverty.

In 1964, the United States was indeed a war-weary nation. Four generations of Americans had bled on battlefields from France to the Pacific Rim and back to France and back again to the Pacific Rim. Meanwhile, the “bloodless” Cold War filled everyday life with the excitement of knowing the other half of the world was being run by guys who’d piled up Black Death-sized body counts in fewer than 50 years without leaving their own countries. And the aforementioned Vietnam situation was beginning to show signs of making Korea look like a cakewalk. So Johnson brought war home.

Using the Democrats’ own calendar, America’s war on poverty has now gone on longer than every other war in which America has been involved since the American Revolution, combined. Sadly, that fact dovetails rather neatly with the fact that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 poverty report, America’s war on poverty has consumed an inflation-adjusted total of nearly $23 trillion — triple the money we’ve spent on the actual wars in which we’ve fought since the American Revolution.

Moreover, our return on investment is worse than the last guy who cut a check to Bernie Madoff. According to the federal government’s own numbers, the poverty rate in America is just under 15 percent. A look back through the annals of the war on poverty reveals that the poverty rate is actually on an upswing, but it hasn’t wandered more than a few points in any direction since LBJ fired his opening salvo in 1964. Essentially, the war on poverty, which the Democrats consider one of their greatest victories, is, at best, a tie.

And I’m not the only person who’s noticed poverty remains a real problem five decades after LBJ put it in his crosshairs. The darling of the far left, Massachusetts multimillionaire Sen. Elizabeth Warren, thinks endemic poverty lurks around every corner. According to the Democratic Party’s rising Bay State Star, “a momma and a baby on a full-time minimum-wage job cannot keep themselves out of poverty.” And Warren’s not alone.

Another prominent Democrat also missed Tuesday’s big anniversary. None other than President Barack Obama said:

If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.

I’d feel just awful if I set the Democrat dogs a-yapping at one another, but it seems as if they’re having some internal communications issues. They’re simultaneously celebrating and lamenting the expenditure of 23 trillion bucks to fight a disease for which we have yet to dent the symptoms, and that’s according to their own people. Keep in mind, the figure I’m citing does not include government schools, Medicare, Social Security the war on drugs, green-energy boondoggles, amnesty for illegal aliens, the various incarnations of “global warming” or the current Democratic president’s signature “achievement,” the abominable Obamacare. Add it all up, and the federal government has spent dozens, if not hundreds, of trillions of dollars on programs specifically touted as social benefits.

Yet society, arguably more socially fractured than ever, is largely economically unchanged — unless you’re black or (in a paradox that could be engineered only by liberal action) supremely wealthy. After more than 50 years of pitched battle against poverty, not only has the percentage of Americans living in poverty remained unchanged, the percentage of black Americans living in poverty now stands at nearly double the rate of their white compatriots. Meanwhile, the concentration of wealth in the hands of the mega-wealthy few has actually increased, with the Obama “recovery” actually producing a net gain for the “1 percent” and net loss for the “99 percent” since Obama took office. Give Obama credit; no other president since the dawn of the industrial age actually managed to take from the poor and give to the rich as effectively.

It’s been 51 years since LBJ declared “war” on poverty, and little has changed for the better; for blacks, the situation has gotten worse. A visit to any one of the most depressed and violent cities in America reveals the Democrats’ war has created massive casualties, almost all a result of friendly fire. So why are they celebrating? LBJ already told us: “I’ll have those n*****s voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” Congratulations, Democrats. You won the election; America lost the war.

–Ben Crystal

President Grahamnesty: The losing choice

The biggest price the Democrat Party will have to pay for their devotion to President Barack Obama is roster depth. Our man Barry has made quite a mess of things; and his soon-to-be-erstwhile accomplices have spent nearly all their political loot just keeping his head above water.

In a bit of electoral déjà vu, the woman whom Obama whipped in 2008’s battle of the 3 a.m. phone call is back for another beating; and it’s already getting ugly. As Hillary Clinton’s Presidential aspirations disappear faster than her husband at a plus-size models convention, it’s difficult to discern which of her junior varsity teammates will step up and fill the pantsuit.

I suppose Hillary’s demise might signal the rise of ultra-left wing multimillionaire, college professor, Massachusetts Senator and possessor of some of the finest cheekbones east of the Mississippi: Elizabeth Warren. Of course, Warren’s track record might sing arias to the left; but to anyone right of the Berkeley “Gender Studies” Department, Warren’s Marxist caterwauling sounds as soothing as Howard Dean bellowing his version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” at a crowd full of abortionistas.

Determining the understudy for a diva like Hillary is a fool’s errand. The list of people who have no shot – real or imagined – at the Democrats’ 2016 nomination is longer than the list of emails Hillary deleted from her illegal server. I’m sure Senator Bernie Sanders (Actual Socialist – VT) thinks he has enough game to make the starting roster. I’m also sure I’m probably as likely to nab the Democrats’ nomination as a hoary old communist throwback from the land of Ben & Jerry’s. The rest of their field looks like a random sampling of the late-night crowd at an “Occupy” riot.

Oddly, the Republican field, while only slightly less repellent, is no less clear. Fortunately, one Republican whose name has been floated did everyone a favor this week by disqualifying the crap out of himself. South Carolina’s senior Senator Lindsey Graham, during an appearance at the Concord, New Hampshire, City Republican Committee, shared his plan for how best to handle the growing threat presented by the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS). According to Graham, not only are ground troops are an absolute necessity in order to defeat the Islamofascists, they’re an absolute necessity in order to make Congress obey him.

(I)f I were President of the United States, I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to.

A South Carolina Senator doesn’t visit New Hampshire during mud season because he’s got a sudden jones for the world’s best maple syrup. Graham’s Granite State tour is a clear signal that he’s at least in the presidential chute. But remarks like that one make me think he should stay out of New Hampshire – and Presidential politics – forever. And if Graham ends up winning the 2016 Republican nomination, then the GOP ought to, as well.

Look, I’ll be the first guy to agree that a nuclear-armed Iran represents nothing but bad news. Islamofascists + AK47s = trouble. Islamofascists + nuclear weapons = radioactive trouble. Obama’s ham-fisted handling of the aftermath of President George W Bush’s all-thumbs approach to the Mideast has made a bad situation tragically worse. And the reemergence of Russia as a regional player in the vacuum created by Obama’s dithering adds only more intrigue, especially considering Russia’s central role in Iran’s nuclear aspirations. But Graham’s threats are insane.

A candidate for the Presidency in 2016 just said in 2015 that he would not only deploy the full force of the U.S. military in 2017 to a highly volatile region, but he would deploy them against his own People in order to accomplish the task. There’s a lot of real estate between appeasement and total war. Just because Obama has proven the former makes no sense doesn’t mean the next Republican contender for the office formerly known as the Leader of the Free World needs to immediately try out the latter.

Graham’s lieutenants have since explained that Graham was merely making a joke. If that’s the case, Graham needs not only new material, he needs new writers. With Obama demonstrating an almost total disregard for the Constitution, making jokes about ordering a military crackdown are less “ha-ha” funny and more “re-education camp” funny. It certainly doesn’t burnish Graham’s Presidential qualifications in my estimation.

Graham, who also thinks granting amnesty to everyone who successfully coyotes their way across the border is a swell idea, thinks that sending our service personnel into a powderkeg carrying a lit match is equally brilliant. Moreover, he thinks the using those same service personnel to roll heavy on anyone who stands in his way is – wink,wink — hilarious.

In 2012, Obama won reelection thanks in no small part to the Republicans’ decision to counter him with a candidate who had virtually indistinguishable political ideals, albeit better hair. If the GOP heads into 2016 with yet another “RINO” leading the charge, they deserve no better than a repeat of 2012. Unfortunately, we the People deserve better; a fact both parties have either forgotten, or are willfully ignoring.

– Ben Crystal

Boehner did it

House Speaker John Boehner probably thought he would get away with it. I’m sure he expected the noise surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Congress would allow him to surrender the fort on immigration without anyone noticing. He could simply wait until the Democrats started hitching up their panties and goose stepping around in front of the cameras because that dirty Israeli hurt the delicate feelings of their beloved President Barack Obama, and then he’d wave through Obama’s 5 million or so new best friends. I’m certain Boehner and his fellow globalists-first-Republicans-second-and-Americans-a-distant-third honestly believed we’d be so transfixed by Netanyahu’s rather public thumb in Obama’s eye that we wouldn’t notice the sudden green light at the border.

As has been the case more often than not, Boehner was wrong. And his assent to Obama’s amnesty-by-fiat has served to remind me that Boehner’s single strongest attribute may well be his ability to reach down victory’s throat and yank out defeat. With the Senate’s Democratic minority using every procedural trick in the book to block progress on funding the superfluous-at-best, dangerous-at-worst Department of Homeland Security, Boehner could have simply dug in. He could have told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to take a powder and Sen. Harry Reid to get bent and left the increasingly self-destructive Democrats to bang their heads against the wall of public opinion.

The Democrats responded to the drubbing they endured last November by throwing the kind of tantrum that earns kids a few minutes in timeout and a Ritalin prescription. They called Americans “stupid,” and then began acting as if they’d actually won a majority. Emboldened by Obama’s clear lack of compunction regarding ruling by fiat, they dug in on everything from the Obamacare Ponzi scheme to Obama’s other signature achievement: crippling our border security for votes through decrees like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Boehner could have stopped them with relative ease. The Democrats were the ones holding the DHS funding bill hostage; and their tendency to use Twitter hashtags as negotiating ploys was alienating everyone who’s ever dealt with, or even observed, a petulant teenager. The Republicans didn’t have to move on immigration or on any of the president’s harebrained and/or criminal scheming. The Democrats were — and still are — campaigning down their noses at the electorate, somehow unaware that’s precisely the attitude that sent Americans reaching for the “Not Obama” lever last fall. Boehner and his Republican cronies, who were elected on promises of putting an end to Obama’s and the Democrats’ war on liberty, needed only to let the Democrats blow themselves hoarse while the public continues to watch their histrionics with bemused disgust. The talking point was pre-written: The Democrats are willing to shut down Homeland Security in order to deliberately make the homeland less secure.

Unfortunately, our man John might be a Republican; but he’s a globalist pawn first and foremost. So Boehner, with the Democrats dead to rights on Obama’s plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens with a wave of his imperial scepter, folded like a cheap lawn chair. By herding his — not our — Republicans in line, Boehner gift-wrapped a yes vote on a clean bill to fund the increasingly ill-named Department of Homeland Security, thereby giving the go-ahead to DACA.

Amnesty for illegal aliens, along with its even-uglier sister Obamacare, defined the 2014 election. The American people cried out in a resoundingly clear voice for an end to Obama’s increasingly virulent lawlessness, and Boehner and the Republicans swore up and down that they had the cure. And now, when the symptoms threaten to overwhelm the host, they’re withholding the medicine we so badly need.

Boehner can’t really justify the betrayal — at least not to the betrayed. His corporate donors will be pleased to know their supply of cheap labor will actually increase, even as Americans’ prospects for anything better than a “McJob” decrease in virtually direct proportion. His deep-pocket backers will be pleased to know that their grip on the reins of power — and the throats of Americans — will tighten as those corporate profits rise. In globalist gatherings like Davos, Switzerland; the boardrooms of finance houses like Goldman Sachs; and the palaces of supranational billionaires across the world, Boehner’s backstabbing brought tears of joy. And of course, the mood at Democratic Party headquarters is undoubtedly somewhere between “Onesie Friday” and “Transgender Slam Poetry Night at the Sustainable Coffee House” now that Boehner sent them a love note.

It’s entirely possible that Boehner, without realizing it, may well have done more than simply waved the flag in front of the electoral bull. By approving the Democrats’ naked vote grab — and let’s not delude ourselves into assigning any noble intentions to the people who call their own countrymen “American Taliban” and “domestic terrorists” — Boehner may well have signed the Republican Party’s electoral death warrant. At the exact moment the Democratic brand is circling the drain — their best hope for a 2016 White House victory is Hillary Clinton’s email server — Boehner and his party boys just shoved millions of potential new voters into the Democrats’ clown car. At best, it narrows the margins of victory. At worst, it could precipitate a terrorist attack on our soil. If Hollywood can envision Islamic terrorists sneaking across our increasingly porous borders, then ISIS and al-Qaida certainly can. And now, Boehner is essentially an accomplice.

But Boehner’s perfidy has served to remind an increasingly liberty-minded populace that the while some Republicans are quickly becoming indistinguishable from their left-leaning colleagues, others are standing firm. With the Democrats struggling with their own crisis of confidence, perhaps this is the perfect time for a changing of the guard in the GOP. At the very least, it might be nice if the Republican leadership wasn’t embodied by a guy who practically glows in the dark but somehow thinks he’s stealthy. I saw you, Speaker Boehner. And I’m not the only one who did.

–Ben Crystal

The truth of ‘net neutrality’ and Obama’s Internet takeover

The deadline for this column fell before the Federal Communications Commission’s historic vote on so-called “net neutrality.” However, barring an unforeseen “global warming” catastrophe, the Democrat-dominated, yet supposedly independent-by-statute, regulatory agency will have voted, probably 3-2, that the federal government should envelop the Internet in its smothering embrace. In a world where the Internet is freely and easily employed by everyone from President Barack Obama to the lowliest jihadi warming the bench for the “junior varsity” Islamic State, the Democrats have decided that they need to step in, lest “@AkbarUlulates4Allah” has to wait an extra millisecond to post to his Twitter feed.

Through a misinformation campaign conducted with almost breathless expertise, Obama, backed by groups funded by nearly $200 million of George Soros and Ford Foundation resolve, has managed to convince an inordinate number of Americans that a lack of so-called “net neutrality” will result in evil, faceless telecom companies forcing you to wait hours to upload the family Kwanzaa pics to Instagram, while evil, faceless telecom executives can log on to evilfacelesstelecom.com in the blink of an eye. Of course, anyone who is reading this is rolling down the information superhighway at speeds that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Those speeds, which would presumably continue to improve on the same curve they’ve followed since the days of AOL dial-up, are possible only because of the continued improvements made by the same companies that are now being accused of throttling the life out of the Web. As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai noted earlier this week, net neutrality is “a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“Net neutrality” isn’t what you think it is. It won’t “level the playing field.” It will introduce government regulation to a nearly flawless model of free-market growth. Telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon and content providers like Netflix push an almost geometrically higher amount of traffic onto broadband than they accept. As a result, the broadband providers have responded by raising rates and/or lowering speeds (aka “slow-laning”) some content. Essentially, monster telecoms and content providers — Netflix is the most famous example — are demanding first-class seating in a 747 while paying jump seat-in-a-Piper prices. And they’ve managed to convince millions of people — not to mention the Democratic Party — that they’re the proverbial little guy, standing up to the corporate fat cats. Having successfully played themselves into the hearts and minds of every selfie-posting hipster from Brooklyn to Berkeley, they’ve further pushed the idea that the FCC should force the broadband providers to adhere to a federally structured framework of service and fees. Gigantic content delivery networks (CDNs) will now be able to dictate the terms of their agreements to broadband providers upon pain of civil — or even criminal –prosecution.

Think of it this way:

You run a courier service. You charge customers a rate to run documents across town. As often as not, those documents need to be signed and returned — also a part of your service.

One day, one of your customers, a massive operation many times the size of your company, adds something to the outgoing deliveries. But it’s not a letter; it’s a package weighing close to 20 pounds. The next week, you deliver a few files; the massive operation sends out a filing cabinet’s worth, then a storeroom’s worth and then a warehouse’s worth. All this time, you’re using the same delivery vehicle. As the customer’s outgoing load increases in volume, your delivery times begin to lag. The customer immediately complains. Your slower delivery times are causing its customers headaches. You inform the customer that in order for you to prioritize its increasingly large deliveries — which are also increasingly larger compared to its incoming service — you’re going to have to buy a bigger truck. In order to do so, you’ll have to raise its rate. The only alternative is slower delivery times, a consequence of its (ab)usage.

Rather than either agree to contend with slower — but still extremely quick — deliveries, buying its own vehicles and handling its own courier needs, or paying a higher fee, your customer joins with some of your other heavyweight customers and a consortium of exceptionally well-funded and tax-exempt activist groups to lobby the government to declare your courier “common carriage,” set your fee schedule to benefit the customer and threaten you with fines — or worse — if you fail to comply. And their push is effective, because the top regulator for your industry used to be one of their lobbyists.

Six months later, you’re out of business; and the customer ends up signing with UPS, which had the resources to move in and grab up the local business after “courier neutrality” stomped it out of existence — for a much higher rate anyway.

Or, think of it this way:

Obamacare.

That is “net neutrality.” It’s the ultimate globalist fantasy: corporations and government working together to dictate the flow of a vital resource. in this case, it’s the most vital resource of all: information. By the time this is published, the FCC, chaired by former telecom lobbyist and Obama campaign flack Tom Wheeler, will have voted its version of net neutrality in regulatory existence. Consequentially, and only consequentially, the public will finally have access to the somewhere between 300 and 350 pages that comprise the misleadingly monikered bureaucratic monstrosity. Prior to the vote, Wheeler, who was appointed to his position by Obama, stubbornly refused to allow the public access to Obama’s vision of “free and open.” Furthermore, he refused to discuss it publicly with the people’s elected representatives in Congress. In fact, Obama-by-Wheeler refused to let anyone other than Internet superpowers like Google, which reportedly exerted direct control over some of the final language, see this magical Internet takeover plan until after it was approved without congressional or public oversight. Of course, we all remember how well “pass it to see what’s in it” worked out for us last time.

Net neutrality as imagined by Obama and Wheeler will not result in faster Internet speeds, an expansion of Internet service provider choices available to home consumers, a lowering of fees or even a reduction of lag times for those of you playing “Call of Duty” online. It will add government oversight where it is neither needed nor wanted. In actuality, by reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, net neutrality will add little more to your online experience beyond added fees (federal “common carrier” status always includes federal taxes). Down the road, those taxes fees will indubitably increase, as will government involvement with content. Ultimately, we’ll end up with the Ministry of Information issuing “blogging licenses.” But hey, at least you won’t have to deal with buffering the next time you watch “House of Cards” on Netflix.

–Ben Crystal

Is Obama a Christian?

To borrow a phrase from our beloved leader, President Barack Obama: “Let me be clear.” I actually don’t give a tinker’s damn about Obama’s faith. Today’s column is not about the nature of the God to whom Obama does or doesn’t pray. Whether Obama chooses to acknowledge the facts that a) God exists and b) His only begotten Son died for our sins is of significantly less import to me than — say — his outright refusal to acknowledge the facts that a) our nation is guided by Constitutional dictates and b) he doesn’t outrank them. Obama’s own relationship — or lack thereof — with the Almighty might cause him a few headaches closer to the finale of his mortal coil, but his relationship — or lack thereof — with the rule of law has caused the American people to reach for the aspirin on a fairly regular basis. Simply put: Obama’s belief in God can’t possibly be any less sincere than his relationship with the millions upon millions of Americans who have suffered mightily as a result of his belief in himself. Lying to God is a futile endeavor. Lying to the American people is clearly not.

Indeed, ever since Obama sprung fully formed from the brain of the terrorist Bill Ayers like a minor Greek deity emerging from Zeus’ forehead, any questions regarding any aspect of Obama’s character, whether they wonder about his upbringing, his compatriots, his grades and/or his spirituality have been met with the same response: “That’s racist.” When Americans heard the shocking anti-American and even anti-human bile that passed for homilies in Jeremiah Wright’s “church,” the media dutifully dismissed Obama’s decades of attendance as meaningless. Besides, only rubes, rednecks and embittered gun-owning hicks actually believe in such outdated concepts as “God” and “religion.”

Yet last week, the same media that has dutifully shielded Obama from criticism — or even basic interrogatives — on the topic of religion suddenly decided they simply had to know how Barry got on with God. After more than six years of insisting Obama’s spiritual fiber had no bearing on Obama’s presidential acumen, The Washington Post changed its mind on the topic. And thus did it seek out the ultimate font of all knowledge regarding Obama and religion: the governor of Wisconsin.

While Walker was attending the National Governor’s Conference in Washington, he was asked to render an opinion on Obama’s faith. Said Walker: “I don’t know… I’ve never asked him that… You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”

In reality, the question was a blatant attempt to “get” Walker. And in reality, the only people who — pardon the phrase — got “got” were the same liberals who consider Obama above reproach. By attempting to ensnare Walker in a rhetorical trap, they made Obama’s spirituality an acceptable topic. By trying to trip Walker, they shone the spotlight on Obama — and not the nice, professional, spot/key/fill lighting they use to stage Obama’s photo ops. In asking Walker about Obama’s religious beliefs, the Democrats have managed to reintroduce spirituality to the list of qualifications a presidential aspirant requires. Furthermore — and this one’s the real doozy — by asking Walker whether or not he believes Obama is a Christian, they’ve made Walker an expert and put Obama’s religion back in the arena. After all, if the governor of Wisconsin is expected to render an informed opinion about the Christianity of the president of the United States, then the rest of us can certainly be expected to render informed opinions about the same.

To his credit, Walker demurred. I doubt he spends much time reflecting on the topic. Walker has been at or near the top of the liberal hate list for a few years now. Given the unprecedented amount of cash the Democrats’ sugar daddies and mommies are willing to shovel into any effort to damage anyone and/or anything that threatens their grip on our collective throats, that has translated into some busy days for Walker. The man has a state to run. When union thugs are actively trying to turn your home — and even your parents’ house — into a cold-weather California, the religious preferences of a lawyer from Chicago are meaningless.

I know a great many people — some of whom are far from stupid — who are convinced Obama is a Muslim. Interestingly, I know of no one, conservative or not, who insists Obama is a Christian. As I’ve noted before, I’m of the opinion that Obama ascribes to no religion of any sort. He was forged in the kiln of socialism; educated at the altar of leftist icons like Alinsky, Davis and Drew, themselves all products of standard communist indoctrination. Add to that mix his deliberately murky background, his Ayers launching pad and the vehemently anti-everyone and -everything babble to which the aforementioned “Reverend” Wright subjects his parishioners, and then top it off with the weirdly egocentric behavior that has produced more presidential “selfies” than national successes. The result is a man who almost certainly must be an atheist. To phrase it the way my grandfather — who, like most of his generation, said only what they meant and nothing more — might have: “Anyone that far up his own posterior has no room for God.” (Papa would not have said “posterior.”)

Some would take Obama’s “laser-like focus” on protecting the evidently thin-skinned followers of Muhammad from any sort of offense as proof that Obama is just a Hajj from being a full-on, five-times-a-day, prayer-rug-in-the-Oval Office Muslim. His odd fixation on refusing to identify Islamic terrorists as either Islamic or terrorist does allow for the question to be asked. I would respond by noting that Obama has the same affinity for illegal aliens, tax cheats who work for MSNBC, rappers who use “b*tch” when they mean “woman,” and violent criminals who may or may not resemble his imaginary children. If it runs counter to the basic concepts of decency, tolerance and/or America, Obama reflexively supports it. That’s not religion; that’s politics. And in the world of leftist political thinking, religion is at best a malady, at worst the enemy. Obama is likely no more a Christian than he is a Muslim, Jew or Zoroastrian. Obama believes in Obama.

Walker’s response when asked to assess Obama’s religion was perfect. He deflected the topic to Obama, who will spend the next two years dreading having to provide a response, should anyone actually decide to ask him instead of the governor of a Midwestern state. He furthermore reintroduced the topic of faith to presidential politics. Whether or not America is a spiritual nation will always be a topic of discussion. Whether or not Americans are a spiritual people is settled; we really, really are. And, of course, he sent the Democrats into epic histrionics; and you just can’t put a price on that kind of fun.

–Ben Crystal

Calling terrorism ‘terrorism’

If you missed out on President Barack Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism summit held in Washington this week, then you missed as Obama put on a star-studded show devoted solely to addressing terrorism, during which nearly everyone involved avoided using the word terrorism. The same president who reacts to increasingly common incidents of Islam-addled serial killers by claiming Islam is their real victim staged what amounted to a three-day photo op. The same sort of people who swear that so-called “global warming” is an actual thing purported to offer solutions to terrorism while only mentioning terrorism in passing. Indeed, Obama put everyone through quite the rhetorical gymnastics routine to avoid connecting Islam to the thousands upon thousands of murders committed in the name of Islam. I’m left wondering if the world’s Christians should apologize for allowing some of their adherents to throw themselves neck-first onto ISIS’s machetes.

At one point during Wednesday’s festivities, the president of the United States suggested the rest of the world owed terrorists — ahem, “violent extremists” — a chance to air their “legitimate grievances.” Far be it for me to presume upon his Esteemed Presidential Nobel Prize-winning-ness, but whether they travel under the banner of the Taliban, al-Qaida, the Islamic State, Boko Haram or “Muhammad’s Angels,” the people behind terrorist attacks from New York to London to Paris to Sydney — and most points in between — have only one grievance: You’re not Muslim. Imagine how well that discussion would go. “Chillax, Mahmoud. Put down the AK and rap with me, bro.”

Of course, Obama has had no problem citing religion when Muslims were the victims, even if their religion had nothing to do with the crime. Obama has been so quick to suggest religious hatred was a motive for incidents like the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shootings that I was surprised he didn’t invoke his oft-cited imaginary son. Meanwhile, virtually every instance of Islamic terrorism comes with the Obama-approved disclaimer that the perpetrators’ religion is inconsequential; and besides, “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” It never occurs to deep thinkers like Obama that anyone whose “prophet” is so thin-skinned that he’s still pushing bloody jihad 15 centuries after he got it started is probably in need of some serious self-examination — just as it never occurs to deep thinkers like Obama that treating Muslims as if they all suffer from a religion-wide lack of compunction presumes that they all suffer from a religion-wide lack of compunction. In doing so, Obama and his cohorts are acting as if Muslims are a separate species, while simultaneously decrying anyone who so much as looks askance at the guy with the “Sharia4Life” T-shirt.

Obama had his shills working overtime to prepare the world for his conference on the subject-that-shall-not-be-named. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf — possibly in an effort to dissuade Americans from noticing her boss’s foreign policy is more confused than Joe Biden on “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” — suggested Tuesday that the cure for what ails the Muslim world is a steady paycheck. “[W]e can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people,” Harf said. In floating that rhetorical air biscuit, she managed to stink MSNBC’s Chris Matthews out of his usual leg-tingling reverie. That’s the ticket: If we can get every Tawiz, Da’hrir and Hakim a gig flipping goatburgers at the Halal Hut, they’re sure to cut back on the infidel-slaughterin’. Besides, look how well close-to-full employment worked out for Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder stopped the world’s longest retirement party to suggest islamofascism is just a figment of Fox News hype. “If Fox didn’t talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about, it seems to me.” I wonder if Mr. Fast ’n’ Furious would prefer Fox look into Holder’s gun-running operations.

Yet the terrorists behind the attacks aren’t knocking over armored cars or jewelry stores; they’re booking one-way trips to the wrong side of the lawn. You can’t placate a religiously enraged enemy with a job fair; and a jihadi isn’t likely to trade in his suicide vest for a steady 9-to-5, whether the gig requires a paper hat or a pinstripe suit. Furthermore, Obama-by-Harf’s suggestion that poverty breeds islamofascist terrorism is belied by the teeming hordes of grossly impoverished people from deepest Africa to deepest Detroit who manage to get through each day without firing so much as single RPG at an infidel.

Obama did make a special effort to soothe the jangled nerves of Muslim-Americans, suggesting outreach to their communities would increase the likelihood that they would cooperate with law enforcement. He did not note the fact that access to all the fruits of American liberty has yet to inspire such community-mindedness. Nor did he note that the largest Muslim-American group in the nation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has definitive ties to known terrorist organizations. At least he didn’t work in any of his “bitter clinger” material, or throw out one of those “conservatives/Tea Partiers/the NRA are the ‘American Taliban’” lines his minions find so enormously inspiring.

If you’re curious to see a conference about terrorism in which everyone spends more time trying to figure out what to call it than what to do about it, then I’m sure you can catch the tail end of the show. But I expect you have better things to do than watch the same people who can’t bring themselves to call terrorism “terrorism” avoid reality.

The reality — whether we call it “islamofascism,” “violent extremism” or “cotton candy rainbows” — is that Islam is the thread that unites the overwhelming majority of terrorists and terrorism plaguing the world. While the suggestion that all — or even most — Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers is ludicrous, the suggestion that most terrorists are Muslims is entirely accurate. But while violent elements do exist within America’s borders, they generally represent no greater community than their fellow gang members or the voices in their heads. The reality is that the dominant form of terrorism is inspired by Islam — whether a perversion thereof or not — and has its spiritual, physical and financial roots in the countries in which Islam dominates society. The reality is that in the countries in which society is dominated by Islam, the governments — many of which profess to be our allies — often lack the resources and/or the will to combat islamofascism at its spiritual, physical and financial roots. The reality — seldom though it might ever intrude on such paragons of foreign policy expertise as our esteemed Nobel Peace Prize-winning president — is that the solution to terrorism is obvious.

We all know where the weeds are in the garden. The people in that area need to turn the Terrorism-B-Gone on them full blast and stop forcing the rest of the world to waste time and money on three-day babblefests that ignore the central issue. Moreover, since the price of exterminating these vermin is staggeringly, brutally high, it’s about bloody time the Muslim world stop expecting the rest of the world to foot the bill. It’s worth noting that some fairly unlikely participants are waking up to this reality. In the wake of recent ISIS acts of terrorism, Jordan and Egypt have thrown serious ordnance at ISIS cells. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi don’t seem to have any trouble figuring out who and where the terrorists are; they even call them “terrorists.” And they didn’t need a three-day seminar to figure it out.

–Ben Crystal

The sad story of Jackie Robinson West

The old sage told us: “Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.” Of course, the old sage was a sap. People cheat, and they often win as a result. Look at pretty much any Democrat since President Jefferson got Sally Hemings in “the family way.” Look at any election involving ACORN or a Kennedy. Look at Hillary Clinton’s bank account. Hell, look at BILL Clinton’s bank account.

It hardly gets better outside the Beltway. Consider the New England Patriots, Tiger Woods and a stream of baseball players dating back to well before Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped the hammer on Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 White Sox. Forget baseball. Lying, cheating and stealing are the real national pastimes.

All things being equal, the punishment handed down by Little League International to the Jackie Robinson West team caught using ineligible players might seem a bit draconian. After all, the kids didn’t game the district lines in order to bring in “ringers.” The kids didn’t ride those ringers to a monster 2014. The kids didn’t cheat; their adult coaches did. Why punish the kids when it’s the coaches who threw the proverbial spitball, right?

Wrong. And let’s not even get caught in a rundown over the fact that the Jackie Robinson West players were well aware that they didn’t ride the school bus with some of their teammates — and in some cases had never met them before. The Jackie Robinson West players are 11- to 13-year-olds, not infants. Treating them as if they’re stupid is disrespectful and, given their ethnicity, racist.

And criticism of Little League Baseball misses the strike zone by a mile. The residency requirements exist for a reason, just as all the rules of the game do. You doctor the ball; you get tossed. You cork your bat; you get tossed. You take the field with ineligible players; you get tossed. Excusing players from one rule suggests they can skate on the others. Excusing them because they’re black is gross bigotry. The Jackie Robinson West scandal, therefore, bears no parallel to the Penn State scandal of 2011, in which an entire program’s worth of innocent young men — many of whom were black — were punished for crimes committed when they were children by someone they didn’t really know.

Of course, I do feel badly for the kids. After all, they’re 11-, 12- and 13-year-old Little League Baseball players who have now been publicly tarred and feathered for blatantly violating the rules of the game — both letter and spirit. Their 2014 national championship title and all their victories have been vacated. Cheating didn’t just cost them their victories; it cost them their entire 2014 baseball existence. According to Little League Baseball, it’s as if they never played any of those games. Sure, they’ll still get to look back at the reams of images and video clips of their run to the Little League World Series championship, which they ultimately lost to a bunch of South Korean kids who didn’t cheat; but they’ll never be able to remove the asterisks next to their names.

The lesson they’ve learned is twofold: “Cheaters never win” and “if your coaches are cheating and you play along, you’re also cheating.” It’s a variation of the rules about criminals and their willing accomplices; if you drove the getaway car, you also robbed the bank. In cheating to win, they’ve debased not only baseball but themselves, their friends, their fans and their families. And victory isn’t worth their honor. At least, that’s the lesson they should have learned.

In reality, they’ve learned nothing of the sort. They’re the victims, you see. And that appropriated victimization worries me.

It worries me that people are making Jackie Robinson West out to be victims. It worries me because a group of kids who have already begun following the wrong people down the wrong path are being told that cheating is acceptable as long as you win and as long as the right people are cool with it. It worries me because this is becoming a nation in which politicians prove on a nearly daily basis that being corrupt — or even outright criminal — is considered acceptable as long as you win and as long as the right people are cool with it. It worries me because America, which was actually less venal when Jerry Springer was still on air, is only one or two race and/or sex scandals away from being worse than the people Springer considers too weird for TV. I worry because we are systematically breeding basic decency out of our population.

Don’t take this as some maudlin “these kids today” rant. These kids today are led by their hip little noses by these adults today. Kids today are neither more nor less likely to find trouble than kids last year, last decade or last generation. Their music, their clothes and their culture are neither more nor less ridiculous than their predecessors’, no matter what Ol’ Man McGrumpypants might say after telling those damned kids to get the hell off his lawn. However, these kids today are the first generation in American history to be openly encouraged to disgrace, defile and demean themselves, no matter what the prize. We’ve gone from “cheaters never win; winners never cheat” to “cheaters shouldn’t win; winners shouldn’t cheat” to “Cheat. Win. Get your own reality TV show.”

These kids today, from Jackie Robinson West to Mario Mendoza South, are being taught “don’t be Jackie Robinson; be Barry Bonds.” By the way, congratulations to the kids from Mountain Ridge Las Vegas. They won the 2014 Little League World Series U.S. championship, fair and square.

–Ben Crystal

A light against the Islamic State darkness

I haven’t watched the video of Islamic State terrorists setting a captured Jordanian pilot ablaze and then doing their ululating victory dance while the poor guy burns. Unlike President Barack Obama and his accomplices, I’m well aware of who the Islamic State is. I need no further reminders of the brutality the terrorists openly hope to inflict upon every human being on the planet. Make no mistake about it: Given enough rope, the Islamic State would gladly hang every one of us, presumably after the requisite shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” and requisite period of torture that makes waterboarding look like a day at Splashdown Mountain. In the islamofascist worldview, only islamofascists are allowed to view the world. There is no room in their blackened souls for humanity, and their behavior — from the Taliban to the Islamic State to al-Qaida to Hamas — leaves little doubt.

And, yes, I am deliberately omitting the Islamic State from the human roster. In the days since the Islamic State shared its barbarism with the world, I’ve seen no shortage of people struggling to put Islamic State-style savagery into words. Most observers seem to gravitate toward calling them some variation of “animals.” I actually think that’s unfair … to animals. Animals don’t behave the way the Islamic State does; not even the most vicious predators are so cruel. Baloo the Bear doesn’t dine on deer because his imam declared jihad on ruminants. Tony the Tiger doesn’t run down a wild boar because Sharia requires him to exterminate the porcine apostates. Even your house cat doesn’t play with the mouse out of any personal or religious animus. They’re all animals, and they’re all driven by basic biological urges. Islamic State terrorists deserve no such defense. Their bloodlust is the product of a conscious choice. The sort of people who would not only burn a man alive but turn the horror into a macabre pep rally are, by virtue of being intellectually superior to our furry friends, actually inferior for the same reason. They’re not animals; they’re subhuman.

An examination of the Islamic State and its deeds would send even the stoutest-hearted among us seeking affirmation. And I found it in the unlikeliest of places: a criminal courtroom. A good friend of mine is also one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the city of Savannah, Georgia. And he related to me a true story that, although it could never undo crimes like those of the Islamic State, certainly ought to remind us that we might be worth saving after all.

Late last week, a deeply disturbed young man faced sentencing for a series of robberies and sexual assaults against women, some of whom were elderly. His crimes were unspeakably vile; yet, as my friend recounted, a glimmer of humanity shone through the courtroom. After what my friend considered a sincere display of remorse, one woman, one of the man’s victims, rose in the courtroom and faced the man who had taken from her everything but her life. And she forgave him.

The attacker will spend the rest of his life in prison, with parole a possibility only after his 78th birthday. I don’t know what will become of the victim. I am humbled by her grace. She possesses strength of character to which I can merely aspire. The man stole everything from her but her life. Yet not only did she forgive him, but she made a point of doing so publicly. She endured her darkest hour, inflicted upon her by force beyond her control, and chose to turn immediately to face the light.

It’s a seemingly impossible juxtaposition. The gulf between that magnificent woman and the man upon whom she bestowed her nearly divine compassion is nearly as wide as the canyon that separates an Islamic State camp from Eden. But she bridged it effortlessly — an act I must admit is probably beyond my meager talents. I doubt I could be so magnanimous. But I would rather be that woman than some bomb-heaving Islamic State lunatic. So I will endeavor to try, as should we all.

We stand at a fork in the road of history. To the left lies the path of rage and bloodshed — a path gleefully followed by the Islamic State, the Taliban and the subhuman cancer of islamofascism. To the right lies the path of dignity and peace — a path followed by the best of us. I wish I could claim to have chosen the right path every time. It’s the divine path, lit by the countenance of God Himself. I’ll likely never meet the woman who forgave a brutal criminal in a Savannah courtroom last week. But she stood against a backdrop of impossible cruelty and showed us all the way. I hope to follow her. We all should.

–Ben Crystal

Gearing up for 2016

At last weekend’s Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Citizens United played host to pretty much everyone who’s anyone on the Republican scene. Under normal circumstances, if you’ve been to one of these political gas leaks, you’ve been to most of them. However, in light of the Democrats’ current death spiral, the Iowa Freedom Summit represented anything but normal circumstances.

As the Democrats, led by an increasingly punch-drunk President Barack Obama, wobble toward 2016, anytime more than a few conservative notables get within a few feet of each other, it’s possible the next president of the United States is in the room. Moreover, it’s a chance for the political prognosticators to put on our swami hats and peer into the — God, forgive me — “Crystal” ball.

Not everyone who headlined the IFS is — or even plans to be — a presidential contender. And not every presidential contender attended the IFS. Most importantly, not everyone who has expressed interest in running is — in my estimation — a serious contender (Sit down, Mr. Trump). With that in mind, here are our contestants.

The all-stars

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Walker didn’t come to Iowa as quite the dark horse he so clearly wants everyone to consider him. Despite his high ranking on the liberals’ hit list, he’s far from the most conservative dog in the ring. However, he did send Big Labor’s best goon squads yelping back behind their masters’ legs, repeatedly. And he delivered a showstopper at the IFS, which moved King to suggest Walker “won” the event.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: King suggested Walker should share the title with the Lone Star State’s junior senator. Cruz’s publicity flacks may well be the best in the business. He’s enormously high-profile — and, subsequently, he’s an enormously high-profile contender. Yet he somehow manages to surprise everyone every time he blows the roof off the place. Given his meteoric rise in influence in the Senate, it’s possible the left has the lapdog media so busy hitting him for his everyday activities that they aren’t really looking ahead. They should be careful. If you punch yourself out early, you’re in real trouble against a fighter with a strong chin.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: I work for Personal Liberty Digest™, not the Republican Party. Therefore, I’m allowed to say the following: I know; I know. He’s a fun guy. He “slow jams the news” with Jimmy Fallon. He does cameos on “Saturday Night Live.” He kicks back with Jerry Jones in the owner’s box at Dallas Cowboys games. I like a guy who can make fun of himself. It tells me he has a fairly healthy self-image. I don’t like a president who supports so-called “gun control,” doesn’t consider illegal aliens illegal and believes in so-called “global warming.” When I look at Chris Christie, I see secretary of Health and Human Services, possibly secretary of being the super-duper coolest guy in the GOP.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry: After Mitt Romney, Perry is the most polished. His credentials are economically sound; he’s solid on core issues like abortion and border security. When the Democrats tried to torpedo him with their bizarre indictment stunt, he turned them into national punchlines. And should he run, he opens with Texas’s 38 electoral votes in his pocket.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky: I’m stepping out on a limb with the following statement: If Rand Paul doesn’t run in 2016, his window will close. On paper, he’s the guy the GOP needs. In practice, he’s played patty-cake with the Democrats an awful lot. Note to Sen. Paul: Photo ops with Sens. Ben Cardin, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker are one thing; photo ops with disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder and race-pimp Al Sharpton are quite another. Paul’s libertarian sensibilities are attractive. His willingness to share them with enemies of the species is less so.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: Romney 2008: “Let’s run for president!” Romney 2012: “That didn’t work; let’s run for president again!” Romney 2016: “That didn’t work. Let’s run for president again!” Stop. Just, stop. William Jennings Bryan was a respected politician. Then it got weird. Don’t be like William Jennings Bryan.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Is it his turn already? I thought it was supposed to go “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Bush,” not “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton.” They better straighten this out before George P. Bush and Chelsea Clinton arrive.

Girl power

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst: Ernst bragged about castrating a pig, which was almost as awesome as the Democrats’ pearl-clutching responses. She’s rough, she’s tough and she takes exactly zero crap from sanctimonious liberal hypocrites. She’s also a few credit hours short of a degree in basic public speaking. That response to the State of the Union wasn’t quite the disaster the Democrats would have you believe. But it was no “Morning in America.” It wasn’t even midafternoon in Des Moines.

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina: She’s a smart, capable and highly successful person with an established record in the private sector. She did lose a Senate run against Barbara Boxer, but that was in California. By reckoning, disapproval by Californistan voters isn’t exactly a disqualification. She’s also a woman, which means a potential candidacy would open her up to that special vitriol liberals reserve for members of the fairer sex who stray too far from the stove. I’m not certain she’s ready for it.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: I have no idea if Palin is planning a run. I suppose I could look it up, but that would require me to make an effort to learn what we all already know: Palin will never be elected president of the United States. Don’t get me wrong. I like Palin. I like her refusal to back down from her stances. I like how she causes Democrats to go into some kind of seizure if they even hear her name. I like how she can drop a moving coyote from a moving helicopter. I like that she isn’t particularly hard on the eyes. And I like that she wouldn’t freak out and call me a sexist for noticing. But she is electoral kryptonite. The Democrats would mobilize all the troops George Soros could buy to stop her campaign. And, unfortunately, she took the stage in Iowa and… wandered into the sunset. Her speech was described as “rambling.” Her speech was described using some other terms, but “rambling” was probably the nicest one.

The God squad

Mike Huckabee: Huckabee is one seriously earnest cat. There is no doubt that Huckabee believes every word he says. You have to admire a man of principle. But the chances of Huckabee winning a presidential election lie somewhere between “low” and “didn’t he used to be on TV?” In 1996, America elected President Bill Clinton knowing he was creepier than that guy who hangs out around the high school two years after graduation. Unfortunately, spirituality is not an acceptable aspect of a candidate’s platform, unless she’s Muslim.

Rick Santorum: Santorum vies with Huckabee for the “family values” voters. He’s stacking the box in Iowa, presumably thinking a big push will pay off with a win in next year’s Iowa caucuses. It might. Santorum also won top Iowa honors in 2012 (he tied with Mitt Romney). However, the Iowa caucuses have been held since 1976. In that time, the number of non-incumbent Republicans who’ve won them and gone on to win the GOP nomination is just one: George W. Bush in 2000.

The wild card

Ben Carson, M.D.: I had some concerns about Carson, mostly relating to some past statements he made about so-called “gun control.” His views on the topic appear to have “evolved.” He could be lying, a Manchurian candidate who secretly plans to wage open war on the Bill of Rights his first day in office. But I somehow doubt someone under mind control would be an effective gift-wrapper, much less world-renowned neurosurgeon. Also, his very existence gives liberals hives; and you just can’t underrate that kind of talent.

The pack

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida: One word sums up Rubio’s current image: amnesty.

Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina: He’s not even the best senator from his own state. Maybe if he played second fiddle to Sen. Tim Scott. Scott/Graham 2016? Probably not.

Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mike Pence of Indiana and John Kasich of Ohio: It’s early to count anyone out, but the vice president slot looks like a better fit for these guys. Of the lot, Jindal might have the best chance to break out.

Ambassador John Bolton: Secretary of State or Defense. Not a presidential contender.

A caveat

It’s January 2015; 22 months lie between now and the next presidential election. Think back to early 1991. President George H.W. Bush was only slightly less popular than free beer. Future President Bill Clinton was just a fat, creepy pervert from Arkansas with a seriously pissed-off looking wife. So I might end up being more wrong than a Philadelphia weatherman. But no one misses work when I’m wrong.

–Ben Crystal

 

Updated to correct an error stating two non-incumbents had won Iowa and then been elected President. Gerald Ford was an incumbent when  he won Iowa and he was not elected President.

The liberals’ ‘heroes’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Open mic night at the State of the Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Charlie Hebdo: Is this the end?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal