Remembering Robin Williams

In the fall of 1988, St. Andrew’s School headmaster Jon O’Brien announced that our campus had been cast in the role of “Welton Academy” in a film titled “Dead Poets Society,” and that the star of the movie would be none other than Robin Williams. At the time, Williams was coming off his Oscar-nominated performance in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” and was easily one of the brightest stars in the Hollywood pantheon.

Headmaster O’Brien might as well have set off a low-yield nuclear device in the dining hall. A visit from Robin Williams! And then, Director Peter Weir’s army of movie-makers arrived. The production literally defined the year. Everyone was affected, often profoundly. While some students secured legitimate speaking parts (the skeptic-turned-believer “Hopkins” was played by SAS junior Matt Carey, who reportedly hauled in more for his performance than most of our professors made in a year) and others made brief appearances (my star turn was limited to approximately half a second onscreen), still others were forced into mild-to-major inconvenience — St. Andrew’s is a coed school, but “Welton” was all boys. Our girls faced all sorts of rigamarole in order to get to class without stepping into frame.

Academia fought entertainment to a standstill that year, as students occasionally had to live according to shooting schedules, including night shoots on campus. As the decidedly less-than-glamorous reality of movie production settled over us, my fellow students and I responded by:

  1. Getting nowhere near enough sleep.
  2. Getting acquainted with Williams’ co-stars. Gale Hansen, who played “Charlie/Nwanda,” was a particularly fun guy. Some of my female classmates favored a then-youthful Ethan Hawke, leaving my male classmates and me feeling decidedly nonplussed. James Waterston, who played “Pitts,” returned to campus that spring to escort one of my classmates to the prom.
  3. Gawking shamelessly whenever Williams stepped into view. The production company hired an SAS alumna as location liaison. She sternly commanded us to behave. We ignored her.

Our behavior, which included a coordinated plan involving putting mirrors in our windows to ruin the occasional night shoot, could well have jeopardized our beloved school’s role in the film. To be fair, Weir and his crew were probably a great deal more patient than we deserved. But we had a not-so-secret ally: The star of the show thought it was a riot. Williams encouraged us. He wasn’t present as often as the younger men were; but when he was, he was approachable, charming and every bit as funny as his onscreen persona.

One afternoon, they were shooting a scene in the driveway below our dorm. My roommates and I set up on our balcony to watch the goings-on. The location liaison caught sight of us, and gave us her best “I thought we discussed this after the ‘mirrors in the windows’ prank” look. Unbeknownst to her, Williams was behind her, doing a pantomime routine to beat the band. I honestly believe she left after the location shoot convinced that we were laughing in her face. We were nobodies, a bunch of high school punks behaving like high school punks. And rather than laugh at us, he laughed with us; rather than ignore us, he included us in the joke. He might as well have given us each an Oscar. And though he certainly didn’t owe it to anyone, Williams returned after the shoot to do a private show for the students, faculty and staff. To this day, I’ve laughed at only one other stand-up performance as hard as I did that night.

I had been as much a fan as anyone was before that winter. I was an outright cheerleader for Williams afterward. Robin Williams wasn’t just a talented actor; he was a talented actor who’d shaken my hand — on purpose! This was Mr. Keating, from Welton Academy. This was the guy who’d taken what would already have been an outstanding senior year of high school (SAS was — and is — one of the finest secondary schools in the nation) and made it extraordinary. He made no undue effort to keep us at arms’ length; nor did he deliberately draw attention to himself (as if he had to). Robin Williams, the star, was also Robin Williams, the genuinely friendly fellow. Robin Williams, the comedian, was also Robin Williams, the guy who looked you in the eye when he shook your hand even though he was Robin Williams and you were nobody significant. Robin Williams, the superstar, was also Robin Williams, the guy who cracked a joke and patted me on the shoulder when I nearly ran him over while sprinting down the back stairs from Hillier Corridor to the mail room.

Williams fought demons his whole adult life. He struggled with drugs, women and fame; and they clearly created a monster that overpowered him. I suppose there’s an almost stereotypical aspect to his fate, a clown who cries on the inside. But he also worked tirelessly for charities such as the Comic Relief series, took special pride in his association with the USO and even managed to bring a smile to the face of a gravely injured Christopher Reeve on a day when Reeve faced a surgery that stood a good chance of killing him. Say what you will about his personal issues, it’s hard not to grin at the idea of Williams striding into a Virginia hospital room impersonating an insane Russian proctologist. Reeve certainly did, saying: “For the first time since the accident, I laughed.” I can speak for neither Reeve nor his family, but I know there’s no price you can put on that kind of joy. Years later, when my younger brother lay in an Atlanta hospital’s ICU following a terrible accident, I shamelessly ripped off Williams’ bit. My brother didn’t laugh, but he also didn’t throw anything.

I’m glad I got to meet Robin Williams. I’m glad I got to know that not everyone in Hollywood is a simpering buffoon who’s long on wind and short on wisdom. I’m glad I met someone who sincerely sought to bring laughter to so many for so long. And I’m terribly sorry that he’s gone. It’s always tricky eulogizing famous people. Too often, the effort comes off as maudlin self-importance. After all, I’m just a guy who met someone famous. But he was a remarkable man. And meeting someone so radically different than anyone I’d yet encountered during what is arguably the most important year of any young person’s life was (forgive me) extraordinary.

–Ben Crystal

Israel, Hamas And The Real SOBs

I’ll be the first to admit it: America’s relationship with Israel hasn’t always been smooth sailing — for either party. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that in the years since World War II, and certainly since the Korean Conflict, the United States is the single biggest reason Israel still exists.

I’m not saying that the Israelis would have been dumped into the Mediterranean Sea sometime in the mid-1970s without our largesse, but I am saying that our support kept a lot of Israeli hair dry. And our return on investment hasn’t always been blue chip-worthy. I’m old enough to remember Jonathan Pollard and the spying scandals of the 1980s. And I’m smart enough to know that Israelis haven’t ceased spying on us; they’ve just gotten somewhat better at it.

But I won’t condemn Israel for its occasional breach of our faith. After all, thanks to the machinations of President Barack Obama, if there’s one country on Earth that currently has no moral standing from which to criticize others for spying on their friends, it’s the good ol’ U.S.A. Hell, our President considers spying on American citizens to be completely legal, so it’s hard to hammer the Israelis for wanting to keep an eye on their pals from time to time.

I expect it’s more reasonable to frame American-Israeli relations in familial context. Israel is our wayward younger brother. Sure, we occasionally need to deliver the occasional brotherly beating; but no one else better think about it. Sure, they sometimes threaten to drag into battles with the neighborhood bullies; but they’ve never declared a global jihad against the Stars and Stripes. And sure, they occasionally pick fights with everyone on their block; but consider the block on which they live. How well would you react if every one of your neighbors brought up the idea of exterminating your family and the phrase “because God commands it” in the same sentence?

On that note, riddle me this: Name the only country in the region that doesn’t feature at least a sizable minority that refers to the United States as the “Great Satan?” And the Israelis may have sneaked into the nuclear nations’ house through a secret entrance, but they have yet to fire one at anybody. Imagine how much fun life would be if every Tawhir, Dahran and Hafez were hiding a nuke under their dishdashas.

Meanwhile, “restraint” is hardly a term I could fairly apply to the people with whom the Israelis currently find themselves embroiled in yet another battle. Say hello to the ululating, child-murdering, bus-bombing, rocket-firing, human shield-using, islamofascist terrorists of Hamas. While they’re enjoying their current status as the cause célèbre for the Hollywood bubblehead and pseudo-intellectual set, Hamas is simultaneously lobbing everything they can set aflame at their Israeli neighbors. And that’s not all. In fact, there are quite a few details about Hamas that make the Israelis look almost warm and fuzzy by comparison.

Hamas pulls in a cool $500 million in aid from the United States. Sure, Israel rakes in a great deal more — of which nearly all is earmarked for military projects. The money we donate to Hamas is specifically designated for humanitarian relief. Hamas evidently translates “humanitarian” to “building tunnels through which we can attack civilians, including at least one tunnel evidently designed with the specific goal of murdering Israeli kindergartners.”

If you’d like to discuss return on investment, compare and contrast the benefit we’ve reaped from our Gaza generosity to our Israeli aid. Heck, just look at the two side by side. Israel might not be next on my vacation bucket list, but I know of no sane soul outside a few anthropological niches who has ever even considered vacationing in lovely Gaza. The place is a dump. The Palestinians have taken enough money to fund a green-energy boondoggle with enough left over for Michelle Obama’s next girls’ weekend at the Four Seasons and built… Gaza.

Say what you want about the Israelis, but they’re not officially dedicated to the elimination of an entire country. You can’t say that about Hamas. In fact, the elimination of Israel is considered a “state” priority. It’s right there, in the Hamas “charter.” “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” At least Hamas isn’t shy. “The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” And lest you think they’re committed to peace: “Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

This is a good moment to remind you that Hamas isn’t some bloodthirsty gang of dictatorial savages. They’re a bloodthirsty gang of democratically elected savages. That’s right; the same guys who have made Gaza such a party represent a government by the people, for the people and of the people.

The late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once remarked: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Unfortunately, Meir’s sentiments discount one detail: Hamas’ kids hate Israel as much as Hamas does. At least, they’ve been trained to feel that way. While American kids watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Sesame Street,” Hamas kids watch shows like “Tomorrow’s Pioneers.” Instead of rudimentary academic lessons, “Tomorrow’s Pioneers” featured characters such as:

  • Farfour, a Mickey Mouse knockoff who threw grenades at Israelis.
  • Nahoul, a talking bumblebee who promised: “We will liberate Al-Aqsa from the filth of the criminal Jews.”
  • And Assoud, a bunny who planned to “finish off the Jews and eat them.”

Imagine if Mr. Rogers had swapped out his cardigan for a suicide bomb vest and hosed down the Land of Make Believe with his AK.

Hamas teaches its children to murder people, as long as they survive being used as human shields by Hamas. Hamas deprives its people of precious resources in order to direct those resources to murder and mayhem. Hamas is a terrorist group, period.

To paraphrase a sentiment attributed to President Franklin Roosevelt, “The Israelis may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches.” But Hamas, they’re just sons of bitches.

–Ben Crystal

Lies, Damned Lies And Liberal Statistics

BCGr

The graphic above was created by an outfit which calls itself “Occupy Democrats,” it’s the Twitter-attachment-meme version of Democratic talking points which have been floating like the proverbial poop in the punchbowl for a couple of years now.

Through a careful arrangement of demographic data, the graphic attempts to “prove” that Republicans hate poor people, or create poor people, or are mean to poor people, or something to that effect.

I’ll admit, it’s fairly well constructed. The adorable little moppets in the frame are acceptably cute, without coming across too much like catalog models. The girl standing center-right is barefoot, which I presume is supposed to evoke the idea that she can’t afford shoes; or that mean old Republicans are anti-footwear. There are a couple of old beaters, including a decades-old Ford pickup, parked haphazardly. Mom and Dad are there, as well; with Dad sporting a blue collar-type work shirt. And the bold-face print, arranged in simple vertical fashion with varying colors practically screams “LOOK AT WHAT THE GOP DID!”

Furthermore, the statistics are technically correct. However, the statistical construct is a house of cards. If you classify a State as “red” based on that State’s voting in Presidential elections and further classify “poorest” by per capita income, then 97 of the 100 poorest counties are, in fact, in “red” states.

Of course, context is important; and that’s doubtless why the “Occupy Democrats” didn’t include any. Even a cursory examination of the demographics of the 100 poorest counties reveals a decidedly different story. Of the “top” 10, ALL are Democratic strongholds. Expand the pool to the 20 poorest counties, and all but two are regressive redoubts. The theme remains the same throughout the 100 poorest counties in the country. In fact, the few “red” counties on the list are primarily located in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, where President Barack Obama’s war on the coal industry has laid waste to more acreage than the Islamofascist hordes murdering Iraqi Christians with American-supplied weapons.

It gets worse. In addition to their status as torrential blue whirlpools in otherwise placid red seas, the overwhelming majority of the “horrendous hundred” also share another trait in common. They’re majority-minority. In fact, the top 10 are ALL majority-minority. In fact, the only county in the top 10 which isn’t comprised of Native American reservation land is Starr County, Texas, which sports the highest percentage of Hispanic residents of any county in the entire Nation.

The demographic trends repeat throughout the Census Tables like a bad fungus. Excepting counties whose primary industries have been targeted for destruction by the Democrats, the 100 poorest counties share two statistics:

  1. They’re politically Democratic.

  2. They’re majority non-white.

In their effort to prove that Republican governance creates poverty, “Occupy Democrats” have accidentally proven that even in the most conservative states, Democrats can gum up the works. As an additional lesson, it’s worth noting the correlation between the racial makeup of the populations which suffer the most and the leadership provided to them by the Democrats. Rather than asking how “Republican policies grow the economy,” the graphic ought to be asking why Democratic policies douse the economy with gasoline and burn it to cinders; especially if the economy is made up of mostly brown and black workers.

The left’s manipulation of facts and figures – ham-fisted thought it may be – taints every aspect of their body politic. They whine endlessly about so-called “gun violence;” to the point that they’ve turned that ridiculously hackneyed phrase into the boogeyman from a slasher flick. I keep waiting for the first time this APB goes out after a shooting: “Suspect is approximately 32 inches tall, is wearing black with brown wood trim, and answers to the name ‘Kalashnikov.’ Known associates include ‘AR-15,’ ‘Glock’ and ‘Remington.’”

Of course, their bizarre fixation with guns has left them willfully blind to the people who wield them. Despite not one firearm in all of human history successfully formulating a plan to kill a human being, much less actually committing the crime, Democrats have used so-called “gun violence” statistics to fearmonger their way into creating so-called “gun-free zones;” known to criminals as “target rich environments.” Those places are also known by other names, such as Chicago and Detroit.

Again, the crimes classified as “gun violence” by our regressive friends do involve firearms, making their assertions seem accurate. However, they leave out factors including gang involvement, suicide, and the always pesky fact that nearly all so-called “gun crimes” which are committed involve the illegal deployment of the firearm, thereby rendering the “gun violence” screamers’ attempts to use statistics to restrain the Bill of Rights devoid of academic merit.

The other common threads uniting the free-fire alleys in which the law-abiding citizens have been led like lambs to slaughter by regressive statistical wire-pulling are the same as the aforementioned counties. They’re all enslaved by decades of Democratic machine politics, and they’re all majority-minority; as if we needed further reminders that the Left’s racially inclusive demagoguery is window dressing hiding craven political exploitation of the African-American, Hispanic and Native American populations.

Demographics are hardly the lone area in which liberal talking points are twisted beyond recognition. The regressives’ religious devotion to so-called “global warming” is its own study in statistical manipulation. A pop science theory which purports to explain catastrophes which haven’t happened based on research which has yet to come near meeting basic scientific standards, global warming, which currently goes by the name “climate change,” averages a new name about every decade. While some might think the changing monikers reflect the wishes of the voices in Al Gore’s head, the reality is that the chief proponents of “global warming” have been forced to rename their cult’s idol because the climate continually fails to bear out their theoretical predictions.

In the 1970s, they called it “global cooling.” When the globe failed to plunge into a new ice age, they renamed it “global warming.” But the geological climate has stubbornly refused to stop producing record cold winters and record high amounts of key evidence like Antarctic icepack, necessitating the creation of the “climate change” nom de nonsense. With the actual climate changing without regard to Gore’s slide shows and Obama’s pronouncements, the same regressives who blame conservatives for poverty and guns for violence took a two-pronged approach:

  1. They began claiming all weather was attributable to climate change. That’s technically true. It’s also embarrassingly stupid; especially when Obama uses it as justification for dropping a regulatory hammer on the coal industry; or some Hollywood bobblehead uses it to demand everyone be required to drive a biodiesel Prius.

  2. They lied. Leading global warmists at renowned institutes like the University of East Anglia to react to the academic failure of their warmist bell ringing by stepping beyond a simple name change to simply fabricating data.

The Democrats tout economic progress by crowing about new additions to the workforce; all the while gingerly sidestepping the fact that Obama’s economic plans have convinced a record mass of nearly 100 million Americans to abandon all hope and change. They try to filter their amnesty for illegal aliens through the prism of “doing it for the children,” ignoring the hordes of MS13, Zeta and other narcoterrorists brazenly strutting across the border; probably in search of better weapons prices than Attorney General Holder can offer. They cloak their support for Islamofascist terrorism in the guise of “humanitarian” support; but refuse to acknowledge that groups like Hamas take their (OUR tax-funded) largesse and use it to buy artillery which they then set up in schools, using their own children as human shields.

And of course, they forced Obamacare on an unwilling nation; despite it constituting what my colleague Wayne Root accurately described as “..the first-ever trillion dollar scam.” They’re liars. They’re damned liars. And the statistics to prove it.

Ben’s (And Barry’s) Big Huge Week

political cartoon
Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com

While settling into my new Friday digs here at Personal Liberty Digest™, I realized that I have a lot more information through which I must sift before chucking it all to type out 1,500 words on why I’m worried that my computer’s spell-checker recognizes “Kardashians,” but has never heard of “Angela Merkel.” Perhaps the next Microsoft Office® update will include the new National Security Agency “European allies” database. Actually, spending an entire week watching headlines scroll by gave me not only a sense of the sheer enormity of what nearly 7 billion people are capable of doing in seven days, but the monstrous nature of those who would purport to rule those 7 billion.

That’s right, kiddies. While you watched President Barack Obama eat hamburgers, crack a few “jokes” and then hit the links at Fort Belvoir, some serious stuff transpired. But don’t worry; I’m on it. And if Obama misses this piece, he’ll hear all about the stories behind it when he catches up with his designated newsgatherers. I think they’re sneaking in a quick chat three Tuesdays from now in Martha’s Vineyard — after the morning mom jeans fitting and before the afternoon bike ride.

The Downing Of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

For those of you scoring at home, that’s two Malaysia Airlines jumbo jets in four months. As if we needed another example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s utter disregard for everyone and everything that doesn’t make it easier for him to pose shirtless, the smart money says the Russians were involved in the shootdown from missile launch to crash landing. And why should Putin give a damn what anyone else thinks? Obama is too busy stuffing his face and making “Republicans are stupid” jokes to give more than 40 seconds to the cold-blooded murders of nearly 300 people. And if Putin learned anything from last year’s Syrian misadventures, it’s that Obama is really, really afraid of him; and when pressed, Obama will sell weapons to both sides and then blame the whole mess on the Republicans. Eventually, he’ll get out his diplomatic crayons and start drawing red lines; that worked out super well for the Christians and Jews now facing genocide across the Mideast.

On the plus side: CNN managed to keep its old Malaysia Airlines b-roll going from the disappearance of Flight 370 long enough for its “reporting” to become relevant again.

War In The Levant, Again

If the Israelis and “Palestinians” are at each other’s throats, it must be a day that ends in the letter “y.” The Israelis have a pronounced tendency to act as the Iago to America’s Othello (bet some so-called “progressive” will call that simile racist), but they’re clearly a damned sight better than a collection of islamofascist loons who think using preteens to shield their artillery from airstrikes is sound strategy. Let’s be clear here, kids. Hamas is an unapologetic terrorist group, period. If you hide behind women and children to escape justice for killing women and children, you’re not the victim; the women and children are. Israel isn’t making victims of Hamas’s human shields; Hamas is. Even a cursory glance at the rabble cheering Hamas reveals the same collection of liberal hate groups, America-last nutters and shrieking gasbags you can find in a Waziristan cave, the really ugly sections of Paris or the MSNBC “newsroom.”

The Rise Of Lieawatha

Q: What’s the one thing that could really give Hillary Clinton the willies?

A: An even more self-important liberal woman with an even more suspect curriculum vitae.

If you caught any of the coverage of the annual progressive hatefest known as “Netroots Nation” from this past weekend, then you saw Clinton’s worst nightmare on the stage. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, high cheekbones and all, wowed the mommy’s basement refugees, creepy loners and Hollywood B- and C-listers in a spectacular display of raw leftist hypocrisy.

Please, Madame Senator, tell us all about the struggles of the poor and middle class. I’m sure you took the time to learn about them while raking in a six-figure salary to teach a single class at Harvard Law School.

Like Clinton, most of Warren’s “accomplishments” are a credit to her gender rather than to any personal qualities. Like Clinton, Warren’s autobiographical narrative is embellished. Like Clinton, Warren has a fat bank account. Like Clinton, Warren has yet to work an honest day in her pampered life. And like Clinton, Warren isn’t an actual Native American.

However, unlike Clinton, Warren hasn’t been hanging around on her husband’s coattails for the better part of four decades. And unlike Clinton, Warren is possibly related to someone with high cheekbones. No wonder the left loves her; she’s a figment of their imagination.

The Fall Of Obamacare

Another stroke of the pen, another exemption for millions of people. Don’t get too excited, though. Unless you live in the outlying U.S. territories, you’re not one of those millions. However, Obama’s amateurish mishandling of his signature legislation continues unabated. With the employer mandate now only months from expiring, a situation sure to turn the already-chaotic system on its ear, Obama granted an exemption to residents of the U.S. territories from Puerto Rico to Guam. While his promises of lower premiums and universal care have not — and never will — come to fruition, people in places like the Mariana Islands found the post-Obamacare landscape devoid of available policies. No problem! Obama just issued another royal proclamation freeing them from Obamacare’s fraudulent clutches.

This time, however, all the President’s accomplices and all of his cronies might not be able to put Obamacare back together again. The new “hardship” exemption applies to anyone who can credibly claim the need for a hardship exemption. Obamacare advocates rushed the bill through Congress without allowing anyone to read it, and the law has been revised ever since it was passed. One glaring problem: Obama doesn’t have the authority to change so much as a comma splice. And now, his extralegal tinkering has accidentally opened the floodgates.

Scratched, Then Shredded

I can’t be sure, but I think the number of different versions of the saga of disgraced Internal Revenue Service storm trooper Lois Lerner’s computer must be approaching the number of different versions of the Benghazi narrative cooked up by the White House. The latest, revealed earlier this week, holds that Lerner’s computer — which joined those of up to 20 other IRS agents assigned to harass Obama’s political opponents in conveniently disintegrating before they could be examined for more evidence — was “scratched” and only later “shredded.” Watching Obama and his stooges fail, get caught and then fail again would be amusing were it not for the fact that their bumbling crimes may be bumbling, but they’re still crimes. If you got audited for donating to the Tea Party, you’re not laughing. Just remember: If you were targeted by the IRS, it’s because you’re a racist. We know this to be true because Attorney General Eric Holder said so; and if you can’t trust Eric Holder, whom can you trust — other than Mexican narcoterrorists?

The Run From The Border

I might be willing to accept the humanitarian crisis Obama engineered on our southern frontier with less outrage if Obama would consider actually visiting any of the border facilities being overrun by armies of illegal aliens. However, none of those stations are close enough to any of the stops on his eternal fundraising tour to make a Presidential flyby convenient. Perhaps now that the Feds are shuttling illegals across the Nation, one of the towns Obama has turned into an illegal alien ground zero will be near an airport, multimillionaire’s mansion or Presidentially preferred golf course. Perhaps Vice President Joe Biden will say something out loud that actually makes sense. I’m not holding my breath for either. With hundreds, if not thousands, of Central American gang members joining the northward flood, at least Holder won’t have to travel internationally to meet his “customers.”

It’s The Economy, Stupid

What’s everyone complaining about? According to Obama and his cabal, the jobless rate in the United States has dropped below 7 percent. Yippee! Well, according to Obama’s own pals at The New York Times, “part-time jobs accounted for two-thirds of all new jobs in June.” They’re the lucky ones. While millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet with “McJobs,” millions more can only hope. For the 49th out of the past 50 months, more people gave up looking for work than actually found it. As I said, “yippee.”

At least the stock market is doing well — even though, to quote the Democrats from pre-Obama days, “That’s Wall Street, not Main Street.” It’s a shame the Main Streeters can’t raise millions of dollars. Perhaps if they could, then Obama would care. At the very least, he might let them cross the street to have their babies somewhere other than a park bench.

Just imagine having to deal with all of that while simultaneously trying to fix your short game. No wonder Obama looks tired. Lucky for him, he’s got another vacation coming up soon. We need Obama to get his rest. Otherwise, he might do something stupid. That’s the week, kids. See you tomorrow morning for The Great Eight.

–Ben Crystal

The Pax Obama

When former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stepped down earlier this year, I remarked that I felt bad for the guy. The poor little fellow looked like he’d aged enough during his sentence of servitude to President Barack Obama that he’d finally put puberty in the rearview mirror. I have no idea what the long-term effects of working as a mouthpiece for the Washington equivalent of an old-school Chicago crime family might entail, but I suspect the psychic scars would run fairly deep. Of course, it’s possible that Carney is as cravenly soulless as the rest of Obama’s accomplices, and he just wanted a new audience at whom he could sneer through his hipster glasses; but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not sure I can offer the same largesse to Carney’s replacement, the ironically named Josh Earnest. After all, Earnest served as Carney’s top deputy prior to replacing Lil’ Jay, so the only way he could not have known what awaited him would involve a lot more “choom” than Obama pocketed during his recent stop-flop-and-photo-op in Colorado. And Earnest seems to take to lying for President Nobel Peace Prize with alarming panache. During a press session on Tuesday morning, Earnest landed this whopper:

I think that there have been a number of situations in which you’ve seen this administration intervene in a meaningful way that has substantially furthered American interests and substantially improved the tranquility of the global community…

To think, we were mystified as to how Carney could refer to Benghazi, Obama’s illegal National Security Agency spying programs, Obama’s illegal use of the Internal Revenue Service as a political weapon and even the ever-disgraceful Obamacare disaster as “phony scandals.” For Earnest to make a claim like that without so much as a wink or a nudge requires that he be either stoned out of his gourd or be a sociopath to rival even Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder.

Beyond the still-unaccounted for Benghazi disgrace, Obama’s tenure has been marked by such foreign policy triumphs as the action in the Levant. Whether he’s getting played by Syria and then responding by selling weapons to al-Qaida-linked islamofascists or getting played by Syria over the chemical weapons they supposedly didn’t have (they still have them, by the way), Obama has essentially thrown lighter fluid on the grill. Just east of the Syrian game, al-Qaida-linked islamofascists, likely the same ones murdering Christians in Syria, are well on the way to establishing the kind of caliphate that makes the Taliban jealous.

Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas are after each other like rabid dogs. I’m willing to admit America’s relationship with Israel has been rocky at times, but I’d take them any day over a terrorist group which fires missiles at children from behind other children. In the vacuum left by Obama’s detached laziness, anti-Israel sentiment has exploded across the planet. Hell, there are so many anti-Semites roaring their approval for the Hamas animals worldwide, you’d think Al Sharpton and former President Jimmy Carter were making house calls to every lunatic jihadi from Britain to Baghdad.

During Obama’s tenure, he has brought his considerable diplomatic acumen to bear on Russia, whose president Vladimir “Blofeld” Putin was so cowed that only he only invaded the Ukraine a little bit. Iran was so impressed by Obama’s CV that they’re totally not developing nuclear weapons. And speaking of nuclear weapons, North Korea totally doesn’t have any, either; and the North Koreans are totally not working on more and more advanced delivery vehicles for them.

Even our allies have begun treating us like we brought a Kennedy to the Church social. The Germans have even begun a program to defeat Obama’s blatant, and blatantly disgraceful, attempts to spy on them the way he spies on — well — us. Africa is the usual funhouse, and the Chinese are leading multi-party discussions on the global economy in the post-dollar world.

By no means should Obama be embarrassed that his most effective diplomatic envoy in dealing with any of the aforementioned crises has been Dennis Rodman, who never asks: “What difference does it make?” After all, Obama has “improved the tranquility of the global community.” Sure he has; just look at Chicago — er — Martha’s Vineyard.

–Ben Crystal

Eric Holder’s ‘Racial Animus’

It must be tough to be Accomplice — sorry — Attorney General Eric Holder. All day long, whatever he does and wherever he goes, racism waits. According to Holder, whose resume boasts a host of accomplishments ranging from the murder of Border Agent Brian Terry to criminal and civil convictions for contempt of Congress, public revulsion to his and his boss’ crimes and misdemeanors is spurred by something he calls “racial animus.”

During a sit down with ABC News in London, Holder claimed: “There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that is directed at me, directed at the President… There’s a certain racial component to this… I don’t think this is a main driver, but for some there is a racial animus.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PpbyHWI-yo

I find Holder’s attempts to downplay legitimate revulsion over the Barack Obama Administration’s extralegal shenanigans by citing “racial animus” nearly as funny as I find Al Sharpton’s attempts to pronounce multisyllabic words. I also find them a bit disheartening. After all, despite a rap sheet that would earn you or me a 6-by-8 suite at the Lockdown Hotel, he’s the Attorney General of the United States.

There are literally millions of lawyers in the United States, most of whom are white and nearly all of whom have never been convicted of contempt of Congress. Not one of them currently runs the U.S. Department of Justice. For that matter, not one of the many white lawyers — not to mention black, Hispanic and Asian lawyers — is currently Holder’s boss. Instead, it’s a man who complains about racism as often as Sharpton mangles the English language.

Meanwhile, there are no shortages of black men and women who still deal with the kind of racist venom espoused by former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and his Ku Klux Klan pals. Ben Carson, M.D., is black. He’s also one of the premier neurosurgeons in the history of the human species. He’s also — gasp — a conservative. While Holder whines about so-called “racial animus,” Carson, who has yet to earn even a single criminal conviction, lives with it every day. One of them sold guns to Mexican narcoterrorists and then lied about it under oath; the other developed virtually miraculous surgical advancements. One has proudly contributed to taking life; the other has dedicated his career to preserving it. One of them claims to be a victim; the other spent most of his professional life saving them.

Carson isn’t the only example of victims of the real racism espoused by the self-described “progressives.” Lt. Col. Allen West has seen it, although I doubt many liberals would be willing to hurl their invective from within the same ZIP code, much less arm’s reach. Actress Stacey Dash has heard it, but the venom the regressives spew at her could be more about their hatred of strong, independent women than their hatred of strong, independent African-Americans. And former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice knows its stench, but she’s too busy being one of the most accomplished women — people — in American history to worry about it. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has seen it glowering over a Senate rostrum, but he’s ignored it in favor of being — well — a Supreme Court justice.

I’m sure there are some Presidential opponents whose objections are motivated by “a certain racial component.” However, they represent an infinitesimally small minority of those whose objections are motivated by a definite moral component. Pardon me for disputing the word of such a sterling example of honesty, but Holder isn’t contending with “racial animus.” Holder is contending with “just deserts.”

–Ben Crystal

The Wild West: Gun Control, Chicago-Style

In a country as profoundly diverse as these United States, it’s hardly surprising that one of — if not the — most heterogeneous society in human history celebrated Independence Day in a wide variety of ways. For example, I set some dead animal flesh on fire in my backyard and then settled in with a cold beer and watched a couple hours of History Channel before wandering outside to watch the fireworks over Savannah’s River Street. Meanwhile, some pro-illegal alien screamers set an American flag on fire. And in President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago, some of the local residents got together for a good old fashioned shootout.

Over the course of the weekend, the Windy City jumped back into the headlines with another round of manslaughter amid the merriment. Eighty-two people ended up on the business end of the proverbial bullet; 14 of them didn’t survive the encounter. Since the end of the weekend, 11 more Chicagoans have been shot, two of them fatally (so far).

It seems odd that such madness could occur — again — in Chicago, especially considering the fact that the city boasts precisely the sort of draconian anti-Bill of Rights laws that our left-leaning compatriots loudly assure us at every turn will end something to which they refer as “gun violence.” Nonetheless, the Fourth of July fireworks in Chicago came at rather a high cost.

As strange as that might seem, it seems even stranger that those same left-leaning compatriots completely missed the Chicago Massacre of 2014. Usually, when someone gets so much as mildly frightened by a firearm, the anti-Bill of Rights boobirds flock to the scene like the world’s weirdest vultures. In fact, inexplicably tax-exempt, billionaire-funded hate groups like the spectacularly monikered “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” made special efforts to assault restaurants like Chipotle and chain stores like Target for allowing firearms anywhere near their real estate, despite no episodes of so-called “gun violence.” Yet the chaos in supposedly gun-free Chicago elicited hardly a mention.

Anti-Bill of Rights bullies’ explanations for the Chicago shootings, what few there have been, tended to shrug off the violence as “gang-related.” Every time self-proclaimed “progressives” shrug off shootings in supposedly “gun-free” utopias like Chicago, I can’t help but notice “gangs” sounds an awful lot like “blacks” and “Hispanics.” But the Democratic Party isn’t racist. We know this, because Democrats tell us so. And who are we to suspect the motives of people who think they outrank the Bill of Rights?

Consider it: Someone walks into a Target with a 1911 on his belt, and the anti-Bill of Rights regressives shriek: “Boycott! Blacklist! Picket!” Hell, they’ve demanded horror movie-style deaths for people like Holly Fisher and Dana Loesch simply for — I’ll admit I’m using some guesswork here — not frantically fanning themselves at the mere sight of a firearm like an Upper East Side empress who just heard they’re out of caviar at the Obama fundraiser. Meanwhile, Democratic Party-owned cities like Chicago saddle the populace with precisely the laws liberals swear will save the world from so-called “gun violence.” The place is the bloody Wild West, yet the same anti-Bill of Rights regressives are nowhere to be found.

–Ben Crystal

American Everyman: The Ballad Of John Q. Public

Most people go through most of their days without even denting the law, much less breaking it. Not counting the beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s open enrollment plan for illegal aliens, there are more than 300 million Americans, most of whom won’t build a rap sheet beyond the occasional speeding ticket. Despite our professed desire to “stick it to the man,” we are, by and large, a fairly placid lot. Yet our government has developed an ugly tendency to treat us like we’re criminals, except for those of us who actually are criminals. The latter group, of course, comprises people who are merely misunderstood, those are victims of the evil white patriarchy and the Attorney General (currently, that’s Eric Holder, who’s all three).

But John Q. Public isn’t much of a threat to anyone or anything beyond that double-baco-cheese-monster burger with large fries he ordered for lunch. Sure, he might tip the speedometer a few nicks past 65 on the interstate from time to time. And he did jaywalk on his way to McCoronary’s to stuff the aforementioned myocardial infarction into his already-prodigious gullet. But he’s managed to get this far in life without any major run-ins with Johnny Law.

Nonetheless, Public is the one who gets the second look from Uncle Sam. Since sometime around January 2009, it’s the everyman whom the government began treating like public enemy No. 1. His Internet usage is monitored by the National Security Agency. Every time he emails pics to Mom from the trip to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., the government keeps a copy for itself. When he calls Mom to check on how her new hip is treating her, odds are a third party in the bowels of Fort Meade is getting the update as well. Of course, the NSA probably already knew how the new hip was working out; it probably downloaded her medical records months ago. And God forbid he donates a couple bucks to the local Tea Party chapter. If so, he’s probably getting ready for an Internal Revenue Service audit/proctological exam.

Cameras watch Public for nearly every mile of his commute. His kids walk through metal detectors at school, where they are subjected to Common Core — the inbred bastard child of the teachers’ unions and the Department of Education — in place of knowledge. His 8-year-old spent a week at home after he got suspended for using his thumb and forefinger to make a gun on the playground. He would have earned only a seat in detention, but he was playing “cowboys and Indians,” which violates the school’s cultural sensitivity guidelines.

At work Public almost never voices an opinion about anything more philosophically hefty than the coffee, for fear of being slapped with some kind of harassment lawsuit — or even Federal charges. He’s been climbing the corporate ladder for decades, and he just got passed over for a promotion by a 28-year-old transgendered African-Asian-Native-American because human resources was concerned about “diversity” in the executive washroom.

As if Public’s life under Big Daddy Government’s thumb wasn’t creepy enough already, the old community center in his town has been converted to house illegal aliens; and he couldn’t help but notice that some of the guys skulking around the neighborhood are sporting the kind of tattoos he saw on that cable special about the narcoterrorists to whom Holder sold guns. And he’s pretty sure he heard the word “scabies” at church last weekend; but his doctor buddy told him he wasn’t allowed to talk about any outbreaks of exotic diseases, lest government goons break his knuckles.

Public worries about the effect the influx of illegals will have on his once-peaceful town. But the Democratic Congresswoman from a neighboring district held a press conference yesterday in which she smeared him as a racist for holding that attitude, echoing a sentiment delivered to him by his teenage daughter, courtesy of her high school history teacher. He thought about heading to the town meeting about the issue. But City Hall has been surrounded by pro-illegal alien protesters who arrived on buses chartered by labor unions, and some of the “activists” threatened his wife over the National Rifle Association sticker in the window of their minivan. So Public goes home, hoping he doesn’t get pulled over along the way and subjected to his State’s new “stop-and-stab” policy of forcibly drawing motorists’ blood.

–Ben Crystal

Hobby Lobby: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Thereof

If the response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case is anything to go by, the self-titled “progressives” who freak out over the 2nd Amendment are really going to have to step up the shrieking; because I can’t hear them over the din of the self-titled “progressives” who object to the 1st Amendment. Whereas the gun-grabbers tend to trip over their own ignorance when it comes to the causal relationship, or lack thereof, between firearms and crime (especially when they’re calling everything from pre-Revolutionary Era blunderbusses to Dillon miniguns “AR-15s”), the anti-lifers seem to stumble over simple tasks like reading.

Hence, the outrage with which the anti-lifers have attacked the court’s Hobby Lobby decision is matched only by their ignorance — willful or otherwise — thereof. In writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito noted the Green and Hahn families’ religious convictions are “sincerely held” and, therefore, draws a “legal conclusion … that [their] religious exercise is substantially burdened.” He also pointed specifically to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires the Federal Government “must take adequate account of the burdens a requested accommodation may impose on non-beneficiaries,” and that Obamacare’s “contraceptive coverage requirement fails to satisfy RFRA’s least restrictive means test.” It’s definitely worth noting that the RFRA was sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-The Nearest Open Microphone) and signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton (D-The Nearest Open Strip Club).

The irony, of course, is that the so-called “progressives” ought to love this decision — and not just because Bubba Clinton signed the RFRA. In acknowledging the right of the owners of private property to practice their religious beliefs therein, it follows that the Court is also acknowledging the right of employees of those same owners of private property to plan and execute their reproductive rights without employer involvement. If Andy the Atheist owns a widget-making factory, he can bar his employees from celebrating Christmas on company time and/or property. If Jerry the Jew owns the same company, then kiss bacon cheeseburgers in the cafeteria goodbye. And if Mohammed the Muslim says the new company uniform includes dishdashas for the boys and abayas for the girls, then everyone can either suit up or ship out. Likewise, if you want to have as much sex as a Nevada call girl and then take a “Plan B” pill every morning with your soy latte, you’re free to do so without fear or concern about your employers’ opinion, provided you don’t allow said activities to interfere with your job performance. Of course, that’s already black letter law known as “freedom of association.”

The Hobby Lobby decision does not establish governmental oversight of private religious mores. No one is being denied access to anything. Hobby Lobby will continue to pay for 16 of the 20 contraceptive methods imposed by Obamacare, and a wannabe tyrant like President Barack Obama has already made noises about covering the four abortifacients to which Hobby Lobby’s owners objected. The decision also serves to elevate no religious mores over any other as a matter of policy. In fact, all it does is reaffirm that the Green family is entitled to the same religious protections as you, Obama and the cashier at Hobby Lobby store No. 62. People who own “closely held” companies are no less entitled to religious freedom than private citizens who work for them.

The Hobby Lobby ruling centers on the religious freedoms guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. The decision, therefore, also serves as a rebuke to the statist aims of the Democratic Party. But it also shines the spotlight on one ignored but inescapable fact: Obamacare is a shuffling bureaucratic monstrosity, and all of this could have been avoided if Obama and his accomplices hadn’t been in such a flaming rush to jam it down our throats.

Put simply: Stock up on enough abortifacients to depopulate North America — on your nickel.

–Ben Crystal

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

Obama’s Supreme Lesson

By now, it should be patently obvious that President Barack Obama’s word is almost as ironclad as Wendy Davis’ resume. Heck, in taking his oath of office, the man swore on the Holy Bible — twice — to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That might placate the dwindling mob of self-titled “progressives” who still grovel slavishly at the altar of Obama, but I’m less confident about how well that’s going to be received by the man upstairs.

At some point, justifying Obama’s Presidency — not to mention the series of crimes and misdemeanors that have defined it — became an exercise in futility. His acolytes simply do not care, beyond blaming each successive scandal on either former President George W. Bush, racism or some combination of the two. Yet last week, a brief glimmer of the “hope” Obama promised (without any intention of delivering) appeared in a particularly unlikely corner of the Nation. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, Obama is going to have to start paying closer attention to the little things — like the Constitution he generally treats with the respect most people reserve for toilet paper, Davis’ “campaign” and The New York Times.

In a landmark ruling, the Court determined that Obama’s appointment of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board violates the Constitution. And when I say “the Court determined,” I don’t mean “the qualified Justices eked out a 5-4 win over the Democratic appointees.” I mean “the Court ruled in a 9-0 decision that Obama violated pretty much every part of the Constitution that deals with the separation of powers.” The court, including Obama’s own appointees, ruled that the President lacks the authority to declare the Senate “in recess.” It’s pretty basic separation of powers stuff. Writing for the unified and unanimous Court, President Bill Clinton appointee Justice Stephen Breyer noted: “The Senate is in session when it says it is.” (Emphasis added.)

Given that the complaints from the regressives center on logic like “But, Bush,” it’s clear that the Democratic Party’s objection is merely another example of their conflation of partisanship and principle. (See also: Obama’s illegal alterations to Obamacare post-passage, deployment of Internal Revenue Service against political opponents, etc.)

But the part that really ought to worry us is the fact that a purported Ivy League graduate, Harvard Law Review editor and former University of Chicago Law professor who claimed in 2007, “I was a Constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current President I actually respect the Constitution,” needed the Supreme Court to remind him of something a first-year law student would have to know in order to become a second-year law student, much less the President of the United States.

–Ben Crystal

Impeaching Obama: Imagine That

Imagine, if you will, the President of the United States — having already established an arrogant disregard for not only the laws of the land, but his own oath of office — engaged in political subterfuge so craven that it literally boggled the mind of the people he purports to represent. In our fun little hypothetical, let’s say he not only attempted to deploy the Internal Revenue Service as a weapon against his own constituents, but either directly participated in or willingly ignored illegal conduct by his own accomplices as they attempted to hide their malfeasance from the American people. Let’s further imagine that this hypothetical Commander in Chief had been repeatedly caught blatantly lying to the people about other nefarious activities that he and his Administration had undertaken and that, when pressed for answers by duly sworn representatives of the people, this President both refused to cooperate with investigators and attempted — or allowed his subordinates to attempt — to destroy vital evidence of the crimes in question. I wonder what end result might be produced by such scandalously duplicitous behavior?

Wait; what’s that you say? Such a disgraceful episode has already occurred? So how did our duly sworn representatives respond to such executive depravity? (Author’s aside: Generally, quoting enormous blocks of text is frowned upon, mostly because some people — and I won’t mention any names here [*cough* Vice President Joe Biden *cough*] — lack compunction. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable. The following certainly qualifies.)

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

• making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

• withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

• approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings….

• making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States…

(I)n violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies…

“This conduct has included one or more of the following:

• He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

• He misused… executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.

Does any of that sound familiar? If you’ve escaped the indoctrination of government-run “schools” and teachers’ union thugs, you might recognize the heavy parts of the articles of impeachment prepared by Congress — with full support of the Democratic members — against President Richard Nixon in 1974. Other than some really unfortunate style choices, what was the major difference between then and now? Nixon was a Republican. Imagine that.

–Ben Crystal

Take The Liberty Quiz

Have you ever taken one of those quizzes that float around Facebook? They pop up from time to time and usually purport to predict some inner truth about the quiz taker, while asking ridiculously inane questions. The fact that you prefer red meat, cold weather and beer doesn’t actually mean that you should live in Des Moines, Iowa, any more than the fact that I like Foster’s Lager means I bear even a passing resemblance to Hugh Jackman. Now, most people are aware that quizzes proffered on social networking sites are just cute little distractions. And anyone expecting to divine a deeper truth about himself by taking a quiz posted to Facebook is already well behind the self-awareness eight ball.

But that presumes that everyone on social networking sites possesses sufficient self-awareness. And anyone with an IQ higher than President Barack Obama’s average 18-hole score knows that the Internet — especially Facebook, Twitter and the like — is overrun with enough gibbering lunatics to rival one of those George Soros-funded hate groups that magically escaped Internal Revenue Service harassment to which Obama’s opponents have become so accustomed. So I’m here to help. The following questions are designed to determine what sort of political persona you’ve developed. By taking this quiz honestly, you’ll be able to better chart your future course. Just a few moments of your time is all I need to give you a push in the right direction.

1. The contents of Lois Lerner’s Internal Revenue Service hard drive are:

  1. Totally unimportant because the IRS scandal is “phony.”
  2. Wait! They’re not in Cincinnati?
  3. Probably in the digital version of the East River, and that should worry us.
  4. Likely to prove that Obama was using the IRS as a political weapon, and did lie about it.

2. Obama deployed the IRS as a political weapons because:

  1. The Tea Party is, like, totally racist! Still, he totally didn’t do it.
  2. Meh, the President does stuff like that. Whatevs, “Game of Thrones” is on.
  3. He’s showing dangerous signs of becoming a knockoff of a dictator.
  4. He’s a fascist lunatic who thinks he’s above the law.

3. Iraq is tumbling into chaos because:

  1. George W. Bush lied!
  2. Iraqis live in a desert. And everybody wears too much clothing, so they all smell like feet.
  3. A combination of poorly conducted interventions into a region populated by technologically sound, but sociologically retarded, misogynists and religious lunatics has created a nightmare.
  4. Obama walked off the proverbial job after claiming “Al-Qaida is decimated” while simultaneously selling weapons to al-Qaida.

4. Bowe Bergdahl is:

  1. A hero who stood up against the evil war machine, man!
  2. Um, the guy downstairs in 4B?
  3. Probably not worth five Taliban leaders.
  4. A sniveling coward who abandoned his comrades and then consorted with the scum of the Earth rather than face justice.

5. When I say “Benghazi,” you think:

  1. Phony scandal, you racist!
  2. Something that can usually be cleared up with an over-the-counter ointment.
  3. A serious foreign policy misstep for which not enough satisfactory answers have been provided.
  4. An avoidable tragedy engineered by Obama and his minions through a combination of gross incompetence and criminal negligence.

6. Ahmed Abu Khattala is:

  1. The mastermind behind the Benghazi attacks, which totally didn’t happen. But if it had, he did it. And Obama is a superhero for grabbing him up like a boss!
  2. The guy behind the register at the Gas’n’Go.
  3. The purported mastermind behind the Benghazi attack, which took the lives of four Americans.
  4. Something like the fifth different person whom Obama has blamed for the Benghazi massacre. And he was probably as shocked as the rest of us when Obama had him captured after he spent three years giving interviews at the local cafés.

7. Which of the following best describes Obamacare:

  1. It’s the Affordable Care Act!  Only racists call it “Obamacare!”
  2. A program where they give you a free phone with every flu shot.
  3. An incredibly poorly implemented program that sought to provide quality healthcare to all Americans but is clearly not up to the task.
  4. The largest and most comprehensive fiscal fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

8. Hillary Clinton is:

  1. The next President of the United States!
  2. A contestant on the next season of “Dancing With The Stars!”
  3. A great deal less likeable than her pig of a husband.
  4. What difference does it make?

9. Global warming:

  1. Is a clear and present danger to humanity’s future. And it’s called “climate change,” you Teabagger!
  2. Sure would’ve been handy the last few winters! Brrr!
  3. In light of actual scientific evidence, increasingly unlikely.
  4. A political theory that hides behind paper-thin anecdotal evidence and political exhortations from laughably hypocritical pseudoscientists like Big Oil beneficiary Al Gore.

10. I get my news and information from:

  1. MSNBC, The Huffington Post and Stephen Colbert.
  2. US Weekly.
  3. The television and the splash page of my email provider, and I follow up on Twitter posts that catch my eye.
  4. A wide variety of sources, including regressive sites like MSNBC, but also FOX News; because I believe the more exposure I get to a subject, the less likely I am to do something stupid like get my news from Stephen Colbert.

All you have to do now is add the numbers corresponding to your answers, and the sum is your score.

10-15: If you’re here, then who’s at the Code Pink rally?

16-25: Go back to your cheesy poofs and TV “stories.” We’ll call you when it’s over.

26-35: The IRS called. They said: “We have some questions about your return from 2003.”

36-40: The IRS called. They said: “We hope you like prison food.”

Remember, kids: There’s no such thing as a stupid answer. There are, however, an enormous number of extremely stupid people. Fortunately, they’re fairly easy to spot. Just look for the people in the “Hot for Hillary” T-shirts.

–Ben Crystal

Term Limits: Congressional Whac-A-Mole

I’ve never been a fan of term limits. It’s not that I don’t think the career politician tends to be a parasite, permanently affixed to society’s rear end; it’s just that we’ve had term limits since the dawn of the republic. We just call them by a different name: elections.

Elections were the Founders’ idea of term limits. Of course, the Founders — men like the American Cincinnatus, George Washington — could never have conceived of the rise of the professional politician. Washington retired to Mount Vernon, despite multiple offers of a literal king’s ransom. Today’s career pols happily sell their souls for a chance to print “Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy” on 30 years’ worth of business cards. Now, I’m not suggesting that the Founders’ lack of foresight requires a legislative fix — mostly because we’re the ones who broke the proverbial lamp. After all, if we fill Congress with full-time filth, we can’t very well blame them for the stink. As many of the sages have noted, “We get the government we deserve.”

But my views on term limits may be “evolving,” especially after I watched Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) proffer apologies to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen after Koskinen returned from being frog-marched behind the woodshed by righteously enraged Congressmen during his recent appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee. Koskinen dug himself quite a hole during his testimony on the infamous “lost” emails detailing his agency’s targeting of conservative groups, telling the committee, “I don’t think an apology is owed.”

The Republicans on the committee whacked Koskinen on the snout — and with good reason. Koskinen didn’t just lie; he sneered like a Mafioso who knows which jurors have been bought off. This cretin certainly deserved a verbal smackdown for so casually spitting on the truth from behind what he thinks are Barack Obama’s protective skirts.

Yet Lewis apologized — to Koskinen, saying: “I want to apologize to you for the way you’ve been treated this morning.” He might as well have given him a nice shoulder massage. The man whose job ostensibly entails the oversight of all operations of an agency uniquely able to destroy people’s lives was yapping in circles with all the smugness of a Code Pink protester welcoming home a deserter, and a duly sworn member of the People’s House was worried that the mean ol’ Republicans might have hurt his widdle feelings.

Lewis spent the 1960s standing up to a government that considered blacks to be legally inferior and that was willing to get nasty to enforce its bigotry. Lewis has since spent 24 years on Capitol Hill. And now, Lewis has been reduced to a government stooge, fronting for “the man.” That’s more than tragic; that’s a cautionary tale — one of Obama’s “teachable moments” in big, neon letters. The death of the true citizen legislator is killing every aspect of citizens’ liberty.

While Lewis’ disgraceful performance might have served as an excellent reminder of the dangers of allowing politicians to take root in Washington like toxic mold, he’s far from the only bad seed. In fact, a glance at some of the other leeches swimming in the government pond reveals a dire diagnosis. Across the aisle from doddering dinosaurs like Lewis sits similarly slimy reptiles like Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). Following his Appalachian Trail misadventures, Sanford left the South Carolina Governor’s mansion in what should have been disgrace. And now, he’s the U.S. Representative from South Carolina’s 1st District. (It should be noted that the Democrats made no real effort to defeat him. Sanford’s Democratic opponent in the 2013 special election was a woman named Elizabeth Busch, who was notable only for being comedian Stephen Colbert’s sister.)

Term limits wouldn’t affect men like Lewis and Sanford, because term limits wouldn’t stop their electorates from behaving stupidly. Indeed, term limits would produce an ersatz game of Congressional Whac-a-Mole, with disgraced and/or disgraceful politicians serving as the eponymous rodents. That having been said, watching Lewis apologize to Koskinen has forced me to consider trading my opposition to term limits for something more useful — like a mallet.

–Ben Crystal