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

The Benghazi Chronicles: Catching Khattala

Earlier this week, the United States scored a major victory in the War on Terror. You may rest easy, peace-loving people of the world. Ahmed Abu Khattala has been apprehended. Wait, the name Abu Khattala doesn’t ring a bell with you? Well, according to the Administration of President Barack Obama, he’s only the worst person in the world whose last name isn’t Koch.

You see, Abu Khattala is the mastermind behind the September 11, 2012 attack on an American compound near Benghazi, Libya during which islamofascist killers murdered U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Americans Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods. Abu Khattala is the bloodthirsty savage who orchestrated the massacre that forever seared into our brains the image of a U.S. Ambassador’s corpse being paraded through the streets by al-Qaida-linked animals like a macabre float in a Ramadan parade.

With Abu Khattala in custody, the U.S. government can finally bring to a close the sad saga of Obama’s Benghazi misadventures. Presumably, Abu Khattala will face trial and subsequently face a sentence of imprisonment for life — or until Obama trades him to some al-Qaida offshoot in return for a deserter, whichever comes first. We know this because Obama managed to wedge an acknowledgement of Abu Khattala’s capture in between giving out prizes in the White House’s first annual illegal alien hoedown and border-jump-a-lympics.

As for the Jihadi of the hour: Abu Khattala had better put on his big boy kaffiyeh. If convicted, he may end up staring at the walls of a Federal supermax prison. But if he’s cooperative, he might get to kick back, take a few yoga classes and cool his heels in fabulous Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — where terrorists receive the same top-quality healthcare that Obama denies to their captors.

Unfortunately, the capture of Abu Khattala raises more questions. As is seemingly always the case with our current regime, a new (old) narrative has replaced the old (new) narrative. I suppose it’s unrealistic to expect anything resembling consistency from a Presidential Administration that combines the collective attention span of a hyperactive teenager with the geopolitical competence of the same hyperactive teenager. However, in a testament to the tendency of so-called “progressives” to confuse partisanship with principle, Obama has simultaneously deployed his accomplices to demand a pound of Abu Khattala’s flesh while Mark Basseley Youssef (the man behind the little-known “Innocence of Muslims” video) remains on probation after pleading guilty to four Federal charges and spending a year in prison (for excessive YouTubery?).

For that matter, how can Abu Khattala be held responsible for something Obama’s own flacks — led by the infamously incoherent Susan Rice — flatly called a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video? Even Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State on that fateful night, seems to be struggling to keep her story straight. FOX News reported:

“This was the fog of war,” Clinton said, when asked about the administration’s controversial public explanation of the attack.

“My own assessment careened from the video had something to do with it, the video had nothing to do with it — it may have affected some people, it didn’t affect other people,” she said in the interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren.

Of course Clinton doesn’t understand the “difference.”Combine her recent concussion with her advancing years, and it’s unlikely she’ll figure it out anytime soon.

At least Her Royal Hillary-ness can hide behind head trauma. Not that I’m questioning Obama’s timing, but I’m a bit perplexed by the idea that it took three years to throw a net over an islamofascist whose whereabouts were pretty much common knowledge in newsrooms across the planet. I’m actually surprised Obama didn’t just get Abu Khattala’s address from the National Security Agency transcripts of some reporter’s hard drive, especially considering the fact that Obama needed a distraction from the scandals he has created by lying to the American people about everything from the doctor’s office to Benghazi. It’s certainly worth noting that Obama is trying to distract attention from the Benghazi scandal by creating another Benghazi scandal.

–Ben Crystal

The Taxman Lieth

It’s not as if the Administration of President Barack Obama has demonstrated exceptional brainpower. In fact, its seemingly endless stumble from avoidable scandal to avoidable scandal has set more than just my tongue to wagging about the very real possibility that Obama and his accomplices may be less sinister and more stupid. How else to explain Obama’s latest attempt to put out a political fire with gasoline?

As last week drew to what I’m sure Obama thought of as a merciful close, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it had somehow lost two years’ worth of emails relating to Obama’s program of using the Nation’s tax enforcement agency as his own personal brute squad. Specifically, the Nation’s tax collectors — who will attack taxpayers with penalties, interest and even property seizures and prison for minor arithmetic errors — claims to have inadvertently lost tens of thousands of emails from Obama hatchet woman Lois Lerner.

According to the IRS, a computer crash in the summer of 2011 cost the agency the data, although officials apparently forgot to mention the loss to Congress before last week. I’m left wondering why House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Calif.) doesn’t simply ask Obama’s Peeping Toms at the National Security Agency for a transcript. At the very least, couldn’t someone just call the Cincinnati field office? Obviously, Lerner hasn’t been particularly forthcoming — unless issuing rambling statements lacking any useful information prior to belatedly invoking 5th Amendment privilege counts as “forthcoming.”

I’m also left wondering why Obama didn’t simply claim: “See, what had happened was we left it on the bus; and that was after the dog ate it. That’s our bad.” It’s not as if I’m any less mortified on the Administration’s behalf as it tries to wriggle out from another nightmare of its own creation with excuses that haven’t worked since Obama was still blazing up with the “Choom Gang.”

As much as it pains me to admit it, we the people elected a moron to the Presidency — twice. It’s a theory that fits the facts far better than so-called “global warming” ever has. Since taking office, not only has Obama failed to demonstrate quality leadership, he has failed to develop a shred of it. There has literally never been a moment throughout his tenure during which there was no scandal involving an Administration member’s getting caught in bald-faced lie. From Operation Fast and Furious to Obamacare to Benghazi to Bowe Bergdahl to Syria to Iraq, the scandals have served as mileposts along the forced march to which his reflexive mendacity has consigned the rest of us.

The only logical alternative holds that Obama and his coven simply lack remorse or concern. They attempted to blame their ham-fisted attempt at a cover-up of the Benghazi massacre on political opponents. They even called Benghazi and the other Obama scandals “phony,” as if the victims of the islamofascist attack on the U.S. compound were figments of our collective imagination. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest that a government that is comfortable blaming the loss of two years of vital information in an ongoing investigation on accidental deletion would be just as comfortable deleting anything else that might interrupt Obama’s golf game and multimillionaire Palm Springs house party. If that’s the case, then we the people elected a borderline sociopath to the Presidency — twice.

At the very least, I’m developing an all new sense of respect for Jay Carney.

–Ben Crystal

Brat Beats Cantor: The Empire Strikes Out

After Tuesday’s Congressional primary in Virginia’s 7th District, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, heir apparent to Speaker John Boehner’s Republican House throne, is available for speaking engagements, corporate events and children’s birthday parties. In fact, now that Cantor has been defeated by previously unheralded conservative economist Dave Brat, it looks like the Republican old guard’s loss will be some cake-eating K Street lobbying firm’s gain.

Cantor’s defeat has sent the appropriate shockwaves through the political establishment. A senior member of the Republican Party, one of the self-described “young guns” and a man who presumably should have been less than halfway into a career inside the Beltway, is out on the street. Republicans who overestimated the quality of protection afforded by big-money donors while underestimating the power of individual voters to see past the dollar signs are quaking in their wingtips. Political consultants’ phones are exploding as terrified multi-term lawmakers realized they didn’t know how to speak “middle-class.” Manicured fingernails are being chewed down the nubs as candidates who thought their seats were locked down realize they’re going to have to venture out of their Washingtonian luxury and actually visit their districts — and not just to play golf, cut a few ribbons and charm a few grandmothers out of their Social Security checks.

But the real cowering ought to be taking place across the aisle — and not just because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s latest Botox treatment made her look like a blowfish in anaphylactic shock. Brat just thumped Cantor, largely as a result of Cantor’s refusal to hold to conservative principles. And the Democrats, whose own grip on Senate power is slipping as fast as Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tenuous grasp on sanity, ought to be quivering like frightened schoolgirls. Brat won an intrasquad scrimmage. His victory doesn’t open the door for the Democrats, whose own 7th District candidates included a guy named Mike Dickinson who makes the Taliban look like NARAL. Instead, it sounds an alarm that the conservatives, whose recent defeats were cheered by Democrats as a sign that conservatism was dying, are actually alive and kicking — hard.

The voters who backed Cantor fervently enough to help rocket him up the Congressional ladder just pink-slipped him for failing to hold the line on immigration. As President Barack Obama stockpiles desperate illegal aliens in Arizona like human livestock, Cantor failed to stand up for both the law and for the basic human dignity Obama’s obvious and cravenly voter-recruitment drive has sacrificed in the name of crass electioneering. Anyone with a soul finds the images from Obama’s illegal Arizona concentration camps repellent. Cantor’s tacit support of immigration amnesty told voters that such images would become the norm.

The voters who backed Cantor watched as Obama defrauded the Nation with his dead-in-the-starting-gate donkey Obamacare, and they watched as Cantor backed off repeal. The voters who watched as Obama’s economic pogroms put a record 92 million people out of work also watched as Cantor failed to staunch the bleeding. Even as Obama and his accomplices brazenly lied about everything from political use of the Internal Revenue Service to political use of a known deserter, Cantor and the GOP establishment did little more than bleat weakly in protest.

Yet the voters in Virginia’s 7th didn’t react to Cantor’s political impotence by lurching to the left. Instead, they pulled hard to starboard. It stands to reason that the bulk of the voters in Virginia’s 7th, while far from the most rock-ribbed in America, are conservative enough to have given Cantor room to move up. And we’re talking about Virginia’s 7th, not Texas’s 13th.

Brat’s victory might well be a fluke. Not long ago, a series of establishment victories like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s near-walkover in Kentucky had pundits from The New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle penning obituaries for conservatism. Yet with Obama’s approval ratings hovering between “ouch” and “do you smell something?” the same people who sent Cantor to Washington just benched him in favor of an even more conservative player. If the GOP establishment — not to mention the Democratic ruling elite — is banking on the idea of Brat representing a fluke, then it’s in bigger trouble than I thought.

–Ben Crystal

From Normandy To Afghanistan: Peewee To Bergdahl

political cartoon D-Day
Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant

As a part of the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Jim “Peewee” Martin jumped out of a plane. His descent was fairly uneventful; and he landed softly in a field in Normandy, France. Martin was hardly new to skydiving; as a member of the 101st Airborne Division, he’d actually made a previous jump in roughly the same location. In fact (and God and a lifetime of English professors forgive me for this) when it comes to parachuting into Normandy, Martin is an “old” hand. See, while last Thursday did mark the second time Martin jumped out of a perfectly good airplane over coastal France, the first time wasn’t a recent event. Now an amazingly spry 93 years old, Martin last jumped into French skies on June 5, 1944.

As thrilling as Martin’s latest aerial adventure might have been, his original trip almost defies imagination. As any student of history can attest, the 101st faced a family-sized portion of hell in the months following D-Day. But Martin endured and kicked Nazi can all the way back to Berlin in a year’s time. Martin was even part of the force that took Berchtestgaden and the infamous Eagle’s Nest, a sort of Adolf Hitler-ized gated community for the Nazi all-stars.

Further demonstrating the humility seemingly characteristic of America’s “Greatest Generation,” Martin described braving bullets and bombs from Normandy to Germany thusly: “We just did what we trained to do.” He even suggested he’s being boastful, “(It’s) a little bit of ego. I’m 93 and I can still do it.” This man risked what President Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion,” and he talks about it the way I talk about going to the grocery store. If he had jumped while wearing a clown suit and playing an accordion, he’d still be the coolest guy in any room. And Martin’s bravery was as common to his time as modesty. Whether they were drafted or enlisted, the Allied soldiers of World War II approached their duties with respectful diligence. They might have been terrified — according to Martin, “everybody [was] scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap” — but they gritted their teeth and saved the world.

Joining Martin in what could fairly be considered one of humanity’s greatest — and certainly costliest — victories was former British naval officer Bernard Jordan. And joining Martin 70 years later on the same hallowed ground was the same Jordan. Although 89 years old and forbidden by the caregivers at his nursing home to leave the facility, Jordan put on his uniform, pinned his medals to his chest and made his way from his home in Sussex, England, to stand one more time on the beaches where so many fell. I’m sure the staff at the home had valid reasons for wanting Jordan to stay put, but any guy who beat the Nazis in a contest of life and death is going to make short work of a game of cat and mouse against the orderlies.

In a world in which the word “hero” has been diluted more than the liquor at a tourist bar, these guys are the top-shelf stuff. Not to downplay their heroics, but what the Greatest Generation lacked in sick beats, reality television and bling they more than made up for in pure awesomeness.

Martin and Jordan are hardly the only examples of ordinary men displaying extraordinary courage under almost impossible circumstances. Indeed, quite a few men and women came before them; and quite a few have come since. But there’s no denying that they are among the last throwbacks to a braver time. And I’d bet the house that neither Martin, nor Jordan, nor their fellow real-life superheroes ever claimed to be “ashamed” of their countries or described their nations as “horror that is disgusting.” And I’d further wager that they would have refused to be traded for five (or even 500) unrepentant Nazi superstars — not that the leadership of the time would have considered it, for fear of endangering countless more when the bad guys got home. That’s just what real heroes do.

Seventy years later, men like Martin and Jordan are still better examples of the free world’s best than Bowe Bergdahl will or could be.

–Ben Crystal

Pay To Play: The Constitution Under Siege

I’d be well within my rights if I wanted to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying billboards, TV ads and mailers proclaiming so-called “global warming” to be the greatest threat to humanity since Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong battled for the genocide world title. In fact, I’d be well within my rights — and no less wildly off the mark — if I decided to blow a couple million dollars on a worldwide advertising campaign to warn people against the dangers of rabid Yetis.

It’s my money; who the hell are these so-called “progressives” to tell me how I should spend it? As far as I’m concerned, Senator Harry Reid’s opinion of my spending habits means as much to me as my opinion of his pathological mendacity, bid-rigging and nepotism means to him. And that’s as it should be. The Bill of Rights opens with the freedom of expression. And if I want to give millions — or even billions — of dollars to inexplicably tax-exempt, albeit un-audited, hate groups, then that’s my expressing myself. If I don’t have a pile of cash to throw at Moveon.org, then that’s my bad luck for not being George Soros.

According to the Democrats, they’ve had it with money in politics. In fact, they’re so tired of the undue influence wielded by the privileged few that they’ve taken to demanding a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. In fact, the Democrat-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on Senator Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) proposed Constitutional amendment to give Congress control over campaign finance. Specifically, the Udall amendment states:

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on–

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates. …

The guys who live cozy and warm in the pockets of big-money special interests are going to end the undue influence of big-money special interests by giving more power to the guys who live cozy and warm in the pockets of big-money special interests. I feel better already. And how about that Udall, man of the people? He’s a dedicated servant of the poor huddled masses, who are yearning to live just half as well as Udall does, who has managed to accumulate a personal net worth of somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million without working outside the public sector for most of his adult life. And he’s mere pauper compared to some of his colleagues. The average personal net worth of a Democratic Senator is currently about $13 million.

Look, I’m as bothered as you are by the idea that our politicians are pretty much human motels whose “vacancy” signs are lit 24/7/365. But I’m just as bothered by the idea that I have to endure lectures on the topic of money in politics from people who have to lift their heads out of the trough to deliver the same. The only differences between common hookers and people like Reid are:

  • Reid spends more on his clothing.
  • You’re less likely to contract something itchy from a hooker.
  • Also hookers leave when it’s over.

Note that Reid’s personal net worth has jumped into 8 figures despite collecting government paychecks since before I was born.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Reid actually cares about John Q. Public. Reid is a senior member of the Senate. He’s so well-entrenched in his seat that he could probably get caught with both the proverbial live boy and dead girl and still get re-elected with 60 percent of the vote. The same is true for Udall and most of the rest of the Democratic leadership. And that begs the question: If they’re serious about looking out for the little guy, then what’s stopping them? But if Reid is so worried about the plight of regular schmoes, then why should it matter to him whether they have enough money to arrest his attention? And why should they trust a guy who has yet to dent the influence of big money in politics despite 45 years in politics? Why should anyone?

–Ben Crystal

Talking To The Taliban: A Crisis Of Leadership

All things being equal, the safe return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his more than five years of captivity in the hands of the Taliban would be cause for pure joy. After all, an American serviceman is returning to the heart of liberty from the depths of islamofascist hell. Unfortunately, as is seemingly always the case with President Barack Obama’s pigeon-toed stumble through his tenure, all things are not equal. In fact, with every new detail that comes to light regarding Bergdahl’s release, the situation seems all the more unbalanced — and not in America’s favor.

Granted, Obama has never demonstrated any hesitation when it comes to acting unilaterally, regardless of legal and/or Constitutional constraints. But his decision to release five of the worst people on the planet without notifying Congress is as much a violation of the law as robbing a bank. And negotiating with islamofascists who believe lying is divinely acceptable defies every tenet of basic leadership skills at the geopolitical level.

Look, I’m willing to accept the idea that Bergdahl was worth five Taliban. Hell, all things being equal, one of our guys is worth a thousand of theirs. But it looks increasingly likely that Bergdahl wasn’t so much one of our guys as he was one of his own. According to multiple reports, Bergdahl deserted his unit in Afghanistan, leaving behind words like “I’m ashamed to even be American.” Look, I’d rather have Bergdahl home and facing a court martial than leave him to rot in the clutches of captors who make Charles Manson look like Mother Teresa.

And these are the guys we’re going to trust not to go back to killing every non-islamofascist they can get inside the blast radius of a suicide vest? These are the guys to whom Obama traded five top performers in return for a guy who should at least have known the risks of walking outside the wire at a forward operating base in Afghanistan? And these are the guys whose whereabouts we’re going to entrust to the Qataris? Not that I bear the boys of Doha any particular animus (they were willing to buy Al Gore’s weird knockoff of MSNBC), but how long will they be able to keep their peepers on five scurvy rats? It’s not like the CIA can do it, since Obama keeps outing their top field agents.

With Obama already sporting the worst foreign-relations record since President Jimmy Carter face-planted in the Iranian desert, the idea that he would celebrate getting played by lunatics like the Taliban seems a bit counterintuitive. Let’s be honest: President Peace Prize hasn’t exactly been tearing it up of late. If it gets much worse, they’re going to be throwing press conferences in the Rose Garden every time Obama saves par on that tricky dogleg at Windermere. If I were Obama, I’d be looking for more flash than “we just traded five serial killers for a guy who’s on the fence about America.”

More than a few people have suggested that Obama swapped the “Taliban 5” for Bergdahl in an effort to distract public attention from the latest scandal to ensnare his Administration. Ironically, it’s a scandal involving his treatment — or the lack thereof — of the same people the Taliban 5 have sworn their minions’ lives to kill and with whom Bergdahl was ashamed to share citizenship.

Whatever his reasons, Obama has once again snatched embarrassment from the jaws of pride. What might have been a small victory in a very large war has become yet another question mark on Obama’s already-spotty record. Obama’s decision to illegally trade five Taliban Neanderthals with artillery for one alleged deserter is an epic failure of leadership. It’s a direct threat to the men and women who wear our uniform without being “ashamed.” Worst of all — and mark my words — Obama will face little more than rhetorical condemnations like this one.

–Ben Crystal

Santa Barbara And The Blame Game

Whenever a tragedy like the one which claimed the lives of seven people in and around the campus of the Santa Barbara City College sets national headlines ablaze, both the headline writers and the headline readers engage in America’s real favorite pastime: finding someone and/or something to blame. To be fair, human nature hates a void as much as the rest of nature; so it’s perfectly reasonable to follow the “what” with a “why.”

And some of us manage to turn someone else’s tragedy into another of America’s favorite pastimes: blaming the wrong culprit. Never let it be said that the vultures missed a chance to roost in Isla Vista, Calif. Even before the families of the victims had a chance to lay their beloved children to rest, everyone from the usual anti-Bill of Rights hate groups and their low-information “gun ghouls” to the pseudo-intellectuals who appear to do most of the philosophical heavy lifting for the left struck up the blame band.

Now, we can all obviously grant a pass to Richard Martinez. The father of one of Elliot Rodger’s victims took center stage following Rodger’s rampage, venting his grief-stricken rage on completely unconnected parties to Rodger’s shocking crimes. “Chris (Michael-Martinez) died because of craven politicians and the NRA.” Of course, the National Rifle Association has been tied to the gun ghouls’ whipping post for years now, so it’s not shocking that the organization’s name would pop up. I’ll assume that the unfathomable sorrow of losing a child drove Martinez to finger the NRA, although its “guilt” is an absolute fiction created by so-called “progressives.” The guy lost a kid. I can’t even begin to imagine how that feels or how I’d react, so I’m simply going to express my profound condolences for his far more profound suffering.

However, comedian Albert Brooks deserves no such quarter and will subsequently receive none from me. Brooks said: “Thanks, NRA.” Like many of his fellow ghouls, Brooks carefully ignored the fact that Rodger began his bloody run by stabbing people. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I figure who better to weigh in on insane people committing violent crimes than a guy who was kinda funny in the 1980s?

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) managed to commit the dual logical crimes of not only blaming the wrong culprit — appearing on CBS to push so-called “gun control” laws, which would not have prevented any shootings – but of doing so while the bodies of the victims had yet to grow cold. Perhaps Blumenthal, whose previous Senatorial service was notable only for his fictionalized resume, might have thought roosting on the remains of the Isla Vista tragedy would boost his profile. Then again, he might simply have been bringing his considerable expertise in imaginary military service to bear on a real tragedy.

While Brooks and Blumenthal blamed the wrong people, others blamed the wrong aspects of society. According to Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, Rodger’s violent outburst shares a direct cause-and-effect relationship with Hollywood:

As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA… For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny.)

I’ve seen quite a few films, and I’m a white male; so by her estimation, I should have left quite a body count in my wake. Assuming a few other white guys have seen the same films, the United States ought to be a corpse-strewn wasteland.

Likewise, the accusation that video games deserve some of the shame is ludicrous. Millions of kids from preteens to 40-year-olds play “Call of Duty,” one of the most popular video game series in existence. Even I hop online from time to time to try my hand at pretend combat. The worst fate I have ever endured as a result involved being yelled at in Korean by someone who, judging by the voice, was either a preteen boy or post-teen girl. Either way, the only thing that was wounded was my pride.

Rodger was a deeply disturbed, vastly overindulged young man who managed to rocket into tragedy, fueled by inner demons and money. A son of Hollywood privilege, he rode into infamy behind the wheel of a BMW, which most people can’t even rent, much less own. But even with a background littered with mental illness and a clear lack of discipline, Rodger alone committed his alleged crimes. As hard as it must be for some people to accept, sometimes bad and/or twisted people do bad and/or twisted things. Sometimes, they commit their crimes with guns; other times with knives; other times with explosives; and still other times with executive orders. Unfortunately, too many of us are unable to accept the fact that, more often than we’d care to admit, the answer to the “why” isn’t likely to bring much in the way of closure. Of course, that same ingrained nature that drives us to seek answers also drives us to ignore the answers we find if they don’t fit into our preconceived notions. As a consequence, we end up spending more time inventing explanations for horrors like the one that one lone madman visited upon Santa Barbara than we do learning to prevent the next one.

–Ben Crystal

My Primary Problem: The Worst Available

I found myself in a bit of a pickle last Tuesday. While preparing to cast my ballot in the Georgia primary elections, I realized that one of the municipal races — which are nonpartisan by statute — featured nary a candidate whom I considered worthy of my electoral support. The only entry in the race whom I found personally palatable shared very few of my political views. The only entry in the race who shared most of my political views I found personally repugnant. Oh, woe was I! How could I be a responsible, civic-minded citizen who did his civic duty at the ballot box if I the only names available to put in the ballot box made me feel like doing a duty of an entirely different kind?

If you’re reading this, then odds are you know exactly how I felt. Personal Liberty Digest™ is the world’s most popular libertarian website. I’d venture a guess that nearly everyone who visits this rest stop on the information superhighway has recently glared at a ballot and thought “none of the (expletive) above.” The 2012 Presidential election, in which President Barack Obama held off a challenge from Mitt Romney in a battle between megadollar special interests and other megadollar special interests comes to mind. But the tradition of facing a ballot offering “none of the (expletive) above” continues unabated.

In Kentucky, voters are looking forward to a 2014 Senatorial election pitting incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a Democratic challenger named Alison Grimes. McConnell, who once promised to “crush” the Tea Party, is the worst kind of Republican elite career politician. Consistently wandering away from conservative principles at the behest of his big-dollar cronies, McConnell is House Speaker John Boehner without the blaze-orange complexion. Much like Romney and Boehner, McConnell is a walking, talking avatar for the negative consequences of defaulting to “electability.” Facing off against the mighty McConnell machine is Grimes. While Grimes is the Kentucky Secretary of State, she’s ultimately notable as a candidate for two reasons: When Ashley Judd reminded everyone that she maintains a barely tenuous grasp on reality, the Democrats desperately needed a stand-in, and Grimes was available; and she isn’t hard to look at, and that beats McConnell, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Deputy Droopalong.

In Virginia, voters in the 7th Congressional District are facing a fall ballot starring incumbent Republican Eric Cantor and a challenger who at the time of this writing had yet to be determined, but did feature a noisy — albeit non-qualifying — Democrat Mike Dickinson. Cantor is young and whip-smart, and he is helping Boehner try to push through immigration “reform,” which I consider to be toeing the line between gross dereliction of Congressional duty and treason. Meanwhile, Dickinson is known for maintaining a Twitter feed that reads like the inner monologue of a moody loner with severe mommy issues, and getting his oversize rear end spanked by Greta Van Susteren on national television.

And here in Savannah, Ga., I had to decide between candidates whom I either distrust personally or politically. Where are the public servants who run for office to serve the public? Where is our electoral Horatio at the bridge? In all likelihood, they’re off doing something productive, rather than waste time in rooms filled with people who have spent their whole lives avoiding work the way Michelle Obama avoids the sale rack at Louis Vuitton.

Of course the most productive members of our society are too busy being productive to ante up in a rigged game in which both major parties are playing with marked decks. I only had to choose between the lesser of two evils in a local election. But Americans often find themselves in the same section of God’s little acre when it comes to ballots, from the local to the national. Unless they live in a Democrat-controlled city, they generally survive. However, if the current crop of politicians in Washington is anything to go by, that may change.

In the meantime, I gritted my teeth and cast my ballot for the “least offensive.” The next morning, I awoke to discover the race was headed to a July runoff, meaning I have to endure the pain again in July. At the very least, I’ll get practice for November, when “least offensive” will be the best available.

–Ben Crystal

The Right Gun For The Fight

Ask any “gun guy,” and he’ll not only have an opinion, he’ll have the opinion. Ask any “pistol-packing mama,” and she’ll not only offer an answer, she’ll offer the answer. At every shooting range, in every gun shop, at every hunting lodge, the question has been asked, answered and asked again. What is the right gun? Specifically, what is the right gun for home defense?

I set out to try to find a definitive answer to the question, and I arrived at one — and only one — inescapable conclusion: The diversity of opinion on the “perfect” gun for home/personal defense ranges wider than Michael Moore’s already overburdened waistline.

Before I offer you my own take, let’s establish a few ground rules:

There’s only one statement on which everyone ought to agree: If you need a gun, you’d bloody well better have one. I’m sure that a baseball bat seems like a good substitute; but if your home, life and/or the lives of your loved ones are on the line, you’d be better served by staying out of arms’ reach of the assailant. I don’t care if you’re Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar all rolled into one. If you can stop a home invader before he gets his hands on you, you’re better off. Besides, the fact that you look like a Mixed Martial Arts champion didn’t scare him enough to keep him out of your house in the first place.

Power isn’t everything. The fact that you own a Blaser R8 chambered in .375 H&H is pretty cool. But you’re not looking to stop a charging rhino at 100 meters; you’re looking to stop a charging crackhead at less than 10 meters. Unless you live in one of those Malibu palaces Barack Obama’s Hollywood friends call home, you probably lack both the square footage and the sight lines to make any of the larger hunting calibers a good choice. Also, high-powered rifle rounds will not only go through a criminal, they’ll go through the wall behind him, the framing, the exterior stucco, the neighbor’s exterior stucco, their framing and their living room wall. Leave the elephant gun in the safe, Bwana. In fact, the power rule applies to virtually any of the larger-game hunting/sniper calibers. I own a PSL. It’s a Romanian-made designated marksman rifle built on a stretched-AK platform and chambered for the 7.62x54r round. It’s actually a fine weapon, an excellent deer rifle, and is effective at distances exceeding 800 meters in the right hands. It’s also a lousy choice for CQB. Not only is the PSL overpowered for standard home dimensions, it’s about 4 feet long. Have fun turning the corner next to the downstairs bathroom while carrying a canoe paddle. Moreover, if you miss your first shot, the recoil may make a decent follow-up shot hard to come by once the bad guy is closer to you than your muzzle brake.

Know your gun. Outside the politics, a gun is just a machine. Take it home, learn to disassemble it, clean it, oil it and maintain it. After you learn proper care and feeding of your firearm, take it to the range and learn how to shoot it. The same gun your buddy uses to dot I’s and cross T’s at 50 feet won’t just jump into your hand and begin making smiley-faces on your Shoot-n-C’s™ from the jump. Whatever weapon you settle on, you’d better know how to handle every stage of owning it. If it’s for home defense, you’re literally betting your life on it.

Be comfortable with the gun you choose. Some of my friends believe that comfort should take a backseat to effectiveness. Of course, some of my friends are speaking from live combat experience. Rangers knock down islamofascists in Waziristan a world away from your kitchen. A home defense scenario is as bad a situation as most people are likely to encounter. If you’re going to have to engage some scumbag in a firefight, give yourself as much of an advantage as possible.

Size matters, sort of. A .40 to the forehead will end any dispute. So will the aforementioned .375 H&H. But so will a .22. My wife owns a Ruger 10/22. The stock has been repainted in a color Glidden refers to as “French Lilac.” It wouldn’t be my first choice for virtually anything. But it can punch holes in paper at 100 meters, meaning it can punch holes in humans at 15 paces. Remember, you’re not trying to start a firefight; you’re trying to end one. Don’t discount the .22 just because it’s small. It won’t matter to the assailant. Small caliber firearms are lightweight, accurate and easy for even small-framed people to wield — even in French Lilac.

The Shotgun myth. Actually, the shotgun myths. Don’t get me wrong; shotguns are excellent CQB/home defense weapons. But they’re hardly the room-clearing bulldozers depicted in the movies. Contrary to popular belief, you do have to aim a shotgun, even at inside-the-house distances. Bird shot from a Winchester Defender 1300 will expand more than buckshot, but it won’t knock down a guy who’s 15 feet away from you if you aimed 3 feet to the left of him. Always aim, even with a .12 gauge. I really do recommend bird shot over buckshot and slugs. No. 6 birdshot is lethal inside 15 paces. While slugs are potent man-stoppers, they will also pass through a lot of material before coming to rest. That’s fine if you live on the Kennedy compound — not so much if you live in a subdivision. If you choose a pump-action shotgun, don’t make the ridiculous mistake of racking the slide as a warning. The assailant is already in your house. By racking the slide, all you’ve done is give away your location. He might run; but he also might take cover, draw his own weapon and wait for you to step into a killbox. Also, I can’t imagine heading to a gunfight without chambering a round first. Save the theatrics for the Stallone films.

Pistols versus rifles: Which is better? In general, both/neither. Again, it’s a matter of comfort and confidence for the individual defending his home. If I can ping some thug in the dome with my cute little NEA .22 magnum derringer, then the .22 magnum is a fine choice. If I’d rather “slice the pie” with my AR, then that’s the right choice. However, I would remind you that a properly wielded pistol is wielded at arm’s length, making the shooter’s profile only a couple of inches shorter than the same person with a standard AR. Don’t discount the AR just because it’s longer. Just remember the earlier rules: Know your surroundings.

Pistols versus pistols: Revolver or semi-automatic? Conventional wisdom holds that a revolver is a better home defense weapon than a semi-automatic because fewer moving parts means fewer chances for Murphy’s Law to appear in the middle of your house on fight night. But today’s firearms are — generally — made to high- and tight-enough standards that a well-maintained firearm in the hands of a reasonably intelligent person will work when the time comes.

A note about ammunition: Excepting shotguns, load your weapon with hollow-point rounds. The design of hollow-point rounds ensures greater expansion of the wound channel, damage to internal parts and less chance of rocketing through the target and out the other side. Kill the attacker, not the neighbor’s cat, nor the neighbors.

With all of that in mind, here are my choices:

“Tactical” shotguns. From Mossberg, Benelli, Remington and many more, the short-barreled shotgun loaded with birdshot is immensely powerful, reasonably accurate, fairly easy to maintain and comparatively inexpensive. The aftermath will be messy, but better to clean the carpet than be cleaned out of the carpet.

Pistol caliber carbines. These guns get left out of a lot of similar discussions, and I’m not sure why. Police officers across the Nation carry .40 service weapons. Why not add a little length to the gun, thereby giving it more muzzle velocity and less recoil? Besides, PCC’s are still short enough to move around in CQB without a hitch. Thanks to HK, Kel-Tec, Beretta and others, PCC’s are plentiful, inexpensive and a lot of fun to shoot.

The Taurus Judge. Load it with 410-bore shotgun shells, not the .45LC rounds. Keep in mind, 45LC and 45ACP are not the same caliber.

The AR-15. Minimal recoil, excellent accuracy and plentiful ammunition make the AR a no-brainer in nearly any situation.

Ultimately, I can offer two pieces of advice upon which everyone from the combat-tested veteran to the driven-hunting dove shooter can agree when it comes to guns and home defense:

  1. Have a gun.
  2. Win.

The rest is up to you. I hope you never have to test any of this. The best way to handle a gunfight is to avoid it entirely. However, if someone else forces one upon you, choose wisely. Your life may literally depend on it.

–Ben Crystal

Chipotle, Burritos And Bullets

In the interest of full disclosure, I have never sampled the fare at Chipotle. The nationwide Tex-Mex chain did recently open an outlet here in Savannah, Ga., but I have yet to visit. I never bore them any particular culinary animus; it’s just that I can make margaritas in the kitchen, and I pour with a heavier hand. And if I want to gamble on Montezuma taking revenge on me, the no-name joint down the street delivers.

Recently, when a group of Texans sat down for a meal without stowing their weapons, Chipotle found itself at the center of a controversy it doubtless welcomed as excitedly as a visit from a health inspector with a hazmat suit.

Now, the controversy didn’t center on the diners-with-firearms; at least, it shouldn’t have. According to Texas law, not to mention the Bill of Rights, no laws were broken. In fact, in the aftermath of the ginned-up firestorm of publicity, the total number of people who were killed, maimed or even nicked by the muzzle brake of a firearm belonging to one of the Chipotle diners remained, at last count, zero. Despite the howling, tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth over what anti-Bill of Rights hate group “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” called a “gun extremist group’s” display of “assault weapons” in a Dallas-area outlet, precisely no casualties were reported — beyond the fragile wits of anti-Bill of Rights hate group members. And let’s be honest, the kind of lonely joiner who shows up at a “Moms Demand” hate rally goes into hysterics when her beloved cat “Mr. Wigglesworthy” sharpens its claws on her Beanie Baby collection.

At first, Chipotle stood its ground, perhaps recognizing the attention-starved fearmongers like “Moms Demand” for what they are. While the chain didn’t issue a ringing endorsement of allowing law-abiding diners to dine while abiding by the law, I understand the danger of being too direct with the kind of people who fill their days trying to ruin everyone else’s. Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of Texans and for liberty-minded potential Chipotle customers everywhere, “Moms Demand” and other liberal blowholes kept up their assault.

The pressure proved too much for Chipotle; and it folded like a cheap tortilla.

[W]e are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants… because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers, we think it is time to make this request.

The anti-Bill of Rights forces had successfully prevented people who posed no threat to them — a fact they had literally just proven in person — from continuing to pose no threat to them.

And that means Chipotle no longer welcomes me. Now, I’m not “calling for a boycott,” planning a “sit-in” or any other juvenile foot-stomping the left substitutes for intelligent discourse. If some suit in Chipotle’s marketing department analyzed the numbers and came up with “we’re better off not angering the liberals; some of their friends are union thugs and ‘occupiers,’” then that’s the company’s business model. I hope for its sake that it’s the right one. I wouldn’t risk a healthy portion of American business on palliating demonstrative liberals. They’re notoriously fickle; and they are infested with a high percentage of vegans, many of whom don’t dine at places like Chipotle.

As I mentioned, I have no problem with Chipotle’s decision to cater to the daisies among us. If it doesn’t want my business, then it doesn’t get my business. It might not even hurt the company all that badly. Starbucks cowed to the anti-Bill of Rights herd, and it doesn’t seem to be suffering from a shortage of slackers, malingerers and hipsters chugging down triple soy lattes while working on screenplays no one will ever read.

In a Constitutional society (like this one in which we live), no one should have to endure harassment for not doing anything wrong. In the case of Chiptole, the fear- and ignorance-based inflexibility of the anti-Bill of Rights crowd has created the entire “controversy.” And Chipotle chose fear-driven hysteria over common sense. It’s also publicly announced that its restaurants are “gun free” zones. I’ll remember that the next time I visit Taco Bell.

–Ben Crystal

The NFL And Michael Sam: Not For Long?

With the 249th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams selected defensive end Michael Sam of the University of Missouri. During his senior season, Sam earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. With the exception of those poor saps who say “football” when they mean “soccer,” all football fans know that the best defensive player in the SEC is also one of the best defensive players in college football.

Despite the accolades, Sam’s draft day was hardly the stuff of ESPN green room live shots. Long after the top picks had posed with their new teams’ jerseys, and the New York Jets disappointed their beleaguered fans for yet another year, Sam was still waiting.

And then, the call came in. Sam was a Ram. While he wasn’t making his professional debut at Radio City Music Hall with a congratulatory handshake from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he was making his debut on television. In fact, despite his late entry to the league’s freshman class, the moment he took the call was broadcast and rebroadcast across the media and Internet. In fact, his entire draft day and beyond was set to be the subject of a reality TV program produced by Oprah Winfrey until it was dropped a week later, ostensibly after some teammates voiced concern it would be a distraction. Also of note was the phone call Sam took later. While he’s no Oprah, President Barack Obama is still a pretty solid “get” in the congratulatory phone call department.

In all fairness, getting drafted by an NFL team is no small accomplishment. There are 125 football teams in Division 1-FBS football. With the exception of teams which allow Lane Kiffin near the bench, each of them carries a roster comprising approximately 85 scholarship players. With only 32 teams in the NFL, most of the players at even the top level of college football will not only not enjoy the limelight on their big day, they won’t have a big day.

In all, 248 players were selected ahead of Sam. But Oprah won’t be calling them. And West Point graduate and U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villaneuva, who was not only not taken ahead of Sam in the draft but missed five years of football following his graduation from West Point in order to serve multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, needn’t wait by the phone for a Presidential ring. And that fact begs an obvious question: what makes Michael Sam so unusual?

While he certainly played some outstanding college ball, NFL general managers, all of whom have to win to keep their jobs, passed him over repeatedly. In a league where winning is literally the only thing which matters, Sam’s poor showing at the NFL combine hardly pushed him up draft day ladder. Did Michael Sam earn a Bronze Star for valor under fire, an honor bestowed upon the aforementioned Villanueva? Did Michael Sam even donate his signing bonus to one of the tax-exempt left-wing hate groups which overtly support liberal causes without somehow piquing the interest of the IRS?

No, Michael Sam was the star of draft day – well, two days AFTER draft day – because he’s gay. Oprah, Obama and pretty much every sportswriter from here to the Show Me State all horned in on Sam’s big moment because of something Oprah, Obama and even I consider as biologically significant as brown eyes or left-handedness. In a world in which people like Oprah and Obama whine about Americans’ tendency to over-analyze and over-dramatize the things which make us different, the same people couldn’t wait to tell us that Michael Sam is important because he’s different. Well, pardon me for saying so, but if Michael Sam wants to earn my attention, he should focus less on his burgeoning celebrity and more on his subpar strength, speed and pass rushing ability.

Michael Sam’s sexual preference isn’t particularly meaningful to me. The NFL is littered with all sorts of people who would probably be doing serious prison time were it not for the fact that they can cover 40 yards in 4.2 seconds. But Sam can’t cover 40 yards that quickly. He also can’t lift all that much weight, and – according to combine numbers – he sports the vertical leap of an overweight elephant. Michael Sam could come out in favor of inter-species relationships, and it still wouldn’t make him a gridiron star. If Sam doesn’t start working it out on the field, he’s not going to be a star at all.

–Ben Crystal

Al Gore And The Church Of The Global Warmists

Following a winter which sent the mercury further south than Senator Bob Menendez’s next “guy’s weekend,” I assumed that Al Gore’s inconvenient hoax didn’t survive the season. Nonetheless, the high priest of the Cult of Global Warming has crawled out from under the record snows to deliver an all-new diatribe about not only the coming climate disaster, but those villains who are responsible. According to the man who pocketed half a BILLION dollars by selling his failed cable netlet to some of the biggest oil barons of them all, “…the future of civilization is at stake,” and failure to act against so-called “global warming” is “immoral, unethical and despicable.”

I could take this moment to remind you that so-called “global warming” rests precariously on a spindle-thin tower of “evidence” which barely qualifies as anecdotal. I could remind you that in order to steady their scientific molehill, the warmists have to deliberately ignore mountains of evidence which directly contradict their dogma. I could point out the fact that the warmists have supplicated themselves at the altar of a deity which averages a name change per decade to reflect changing weather conditions which it failed to accurately predict. I could note the almost ludicrous hubris displayed by people who actually believe that our magnificent blue marble could be knocked out of its 4.4 billion year-old dance by a creature that has existed for less than 1/100 of 1 percent of it. I could remind you of the University of East Anglia’s infamous “Climategate” scandal, in which some of the chief missionaries of global warmism were caught contorting their “data” like they were auditioning for “Cirque Du Soleil’s” new show “CO2.”

I could, but I don’t need to. The wintry weather we actually witnessed has opened a credibility gap wide enough to swallow up even Senator Harry Reid’s bizarre “Koch brothers” mantra. By the way, Reid recently took to the Senate floor to blame global warming on the Koch brothers; meaning he not only ascribes virtually godlike powers to them, he’s a member of a completely different sect of global warmism than Gore and his minions, who believe global warming is caused by SUVs and incandescent lightbulbs.

I could also examine how so-called “green” energy policies are so economically ruinous, even if the warmists did manage to win a few battles in their war on science and sanity, the victories would mean billion-dollar boondoggles like Solyndra; which cost less than the First Lady’s shopping budget; and don’t hang around long enough to make a difference. Plus, the warmists’ wars on coal and oil, if successful, would turn the decidedly blue “rust belt” blood-red once the residents figured out that the warmists’ victories require by definition the loss of their livelihoods.

I’d even consider a wager that not even the 50 million illegal aliens who will all be voting citizens by next weekend or so will mark “si” on ballots where the question is “Do you support “green” policies, even though they serve no real purpose other than to make you nostalgic for the days of picking strawberries outside Mexicali?” Say what you want about the millions of illegal aliens who have exploited the political elite’s love of cheap labor and cheaper votes to sneak into the U.S.; they’re not much for sitting around.

I could do all of that; but I don’t need to. Instead, I’ll just say this: the high priest of the Church of Global Warmism is Al Gore. Gore boards private jets to traipse across the planet, stays in the finest resorts, allegedly molests the finest masseuses, speaks to the elite of the elite, leaves a bigger carbon pawprint than Godzilla did on downtown Tokyo, then retires behind the security fences at his 12,000 square-foot Malibu mansion and slumbers to the sounds of the ocean outside his door; all without missing a wink of sleep.

The global warmists intend to fundamentally alter human society at the behest of a man who actually thinks he alone has a special insight into the inner workings of the universe. The People’s Temple worked the same way. Some free advice to the global warmists: if Gore offers you Kool-Aid, decline.

-Ben Crystal

Hillary, Bill And Monica: An Affair To Forget

I seriously doubt that Vanity Fair magazine gave the cover of its most recent edition to Monica Lewinsky in an effort — as some suggested — to damage the Presidential candidacy of soon-to-be-crowned 2016 Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton. One friend of mine actually claimed the whole affair about the affair involved a cabal comprising Vanity Fair, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former President Bill Clinton’s plus-sized paramour; although that would require cooperation between an aging glossy well on its way to joining Newsweek in the print boneyard, a conservative Republican Senator and a woman whose best days are more than 15 years past.

I also doubt that Vanity Fair decided to spray-paint its pages with Lewinsky’s latest “dear diary” letter in an effort to gin up sympathy for the former first lady. The retelling of a pathetic chapter of Hillary Clinton’s life, not to mention Lewinsky’s, is hardly going to cover the gargantuan gaps in Madame Clinton’s political resume. Hillary Clinton was a profoundly unlikeable first lady, treating her husband’s election as carte blanche to exercise her own will over policy and with a healthy addition of whining about “vast right-wing conspiracies.” Reminding even a readership like Vanity Fair’s that Hillary Clinton stood by her man while he made a fool of himself might make for nice filler, but it’s a dubious plan to bolster her electoral chances. “You know, that Hillary Clinton hasn’t really accomplished anything of consequence without riding on Bill’s big-and-tall coattails; but since her husband’s a pig, I guess she’s got my vote,” said no one… ever.

political cartoon
John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

As for poor Lewinsky, she lit the cigar. As she pointed out in her latest version of a story the whole world remembers far more about than they’d probably like, “… I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship.” She knew what she was doing; and it went really, really badly. Given the tendency of some of the Clintons’ acquaintances to end up in places like Fort Marcy Park (in a manner of speaking), she ought to count herself lucky. Given the poor circumstances of some of the women who tried to rebuff Bill Clinton’s advances, she should count herself very lucky, indeed. Ask Paula Jones what happens to women who tell Bill Clinton “no.” Better yet, ask the so-called “feminists” who gave Bill Clinton a special exemption from “no means no.” No means no unless Bill Clinton wants to hear “yes” — in which case, you’re a lying Republican whore. At one point, Bill Clinton’s poor ex-girl Friday goes so far as to blame Matt Drudge for her travails. Sorry, sweetie. Drudge didn’t pimp you out; you did that all by your lonesome.

No, I suspect that this sudden rekindling of a 1990s White House soap opera is nothing more than a desperate old-media dinosaur hoping the tabloid-ization of politics will translate into readership. Vanity Fair would hardly be the first to try it. For all the left’s criticism of Drudge, he is the undisputed heavyweight champion of capitalizing on the Democrats’ unerring ability to sprinkle their scandals with both sex and violence — America’s favorite pair of pastimes. Of course, Drudge has been at it for close to 20 years, whereas Vanity Fair is arriving late — and still in the wrong format.

The reality is that the Republicans ought to stay as far from any Monica-Hillary-Bill nonsense as humanly possible. Everyone already knows Bill Clinton is an inveterate cad. They likewise know that Hillary Clinton was perfectly comfortable with his philandering, just as long as he helped her get elected to the Senate and then named Secretary of State despite a resume that actually includes “hair icon.” Meanwhile, picking a fight with Bill Clinton is a waste of time, and picking on Lewinsky is just sad.

As for the Democrats, I can’t figure out what they’re so upset about. According to them, the Clinton-Lewinsky saga was a private matter and had no bearing on Bill Clinton’s job performance. I’m willing to accept that, even if it doesn’t explain why Bill Clinton felt compelled to perjure himself under oath about it. And if they’re under the impression that the Vanity Fair clickbait will somehow create either a meaningful boost for Hillary Clinton or a real distraction from Benghazi, … well: Bill’s a pig, Monica’s a dupe and Hillary’s a shrew. We all already knew that. But even if we didn’t, what difference does it make?

–Ben Crystal

The Ukraine Headache

In 2012, President Barack Obama made a campaign strategy out of mocking Mitt Romney for warning about the growing threat in Moscow. Two years later, the same Democrats who laughed along at Romney’s supposed naivete are now trying to paint not only Romney, but true conservatives, as somehow cheering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression because it comes at Obama’s expense. Sorry, but no one is buying it.

Ukraine is a lost cause. Whether we want to acknowledge it, it’s as clear as the Russian bombers making low-altitude flights over Kiev. While Obama and the European Union dither with meaningless discussions over even more meaningless economic sanctions, Putin is staging an airshow over the Ukrainian capital.

Barring a rather unlikely turn events in which Putin suddenly remembers that Russia+Power-Drunk Dictator routinely = bad, the Ukraine is looking at life as a client state in the throwback style of the old Warsaw Pact countries. They’ll enjoy nominal independence on matters like parking tickets and public drunkenness, but the heavy lifting will be done for them — and to them — in Moscow. It’s theoretically possible that the Ukrainian nation will rise up and maintain its true independence; but that version of the old David-and-Goliath tale pits David against not only Goliath, but a couple of Philistine tank divisions.

Ultimately, impact of the loss of Ukrainian independence is a matter of perspective. From a diplomatic perspective, Ukraine was unstable, somewhat isolated and, perhaps most importantly, not a member of NATO — meaning Ukraine was a not a signatory to any mutual defense treaties involving NATO (mostly American) men or materiel. From a geopolitical perspective, Ukraine had struggled in the post-Soviet years, remained an unsteady neighbor and, perhaps most importantly, shares borders with four NATO member states — meaning it provided a buffer between Russia and some of our newer pals. Those newer pals include places like Poland, Hungary and Romania — none of which is in any hurry to relive the Hammer and Sickle’s glory days. From the perspective of the interested observer, the likely dismantling of Ukrainian independence is a sad tale of a nation that escaped one of the most diabolical empires in human history, only to be dragged back into its resurgence. Everyone deserves at least a chance to be free, and they lost theirs just when they got their fingers on it. From the perspective of most Americans, Ukraine sounds like something a woman cites as an exit strategy from a bad date. “I’ve really had a great time, but I’ve got a terrible Ukraine.”

But Putin’s victory in the 2014 Crimean Shirtless Posedown, combined with the rhetorical knuckle sandwich he force-fed to Obama last year in Syria, proffers a cautionary tale. The Bear is back. And while I’m not the first to say it, I can’t help but notice that the Democrats are burying Putin’s Crimean gambit under piles of lapdog media spin. While Obama can’t be fairly blamed for the Russian roll into Crimea, there is no doubt that a resurgent Putin was emboldened by Obama’s asses-and-elbows approach to foreign policy — not to mention his thumbs-and-pinkies approach to explaining his actions to the American public.

Putin might be a pet cat and a monocle away from being the villain in the next “Austin Powers” movie, but he’s not stupid. Putin has noticed Obama’s ham-fisted mishandling of the Benghazi massacre. Putin has also noticed that Obama has somehow managed to engineer a policy that involves both targeting and arming al-Qaida. Putin knows Obama is too busy spying on his people and his friends, and then lying about it to both, to focus on Putin’s behavior. Hell, Obama is too busy getting his lies confused to focus on anything for particularly long — especially during the summer months, when the golf course calls early and often. And Putin no doubt remembers the Syrian spanking he gave Obama last year.

Russia’s de facto annexation of Ukraine might not be the reignition of the Cold War, but it is a frosty challenge from our old Cold War nemesis. And while Russia’s reabsorption of the Ukraine — like its recent digestion of Ukrainian neighbor state Georgia — requires no military action on America’s part, the worry now should be whether Putin’s appetite is sated or whether he’s eyeing vacation properties closer to the Mediterranean than the Black or Caspian seas.

–Ben Crystal

Condoleezza Rice And Rutgers’ Tolerance Brigade

When it comes to commencement speakers, it’s all about “the get.” Much like Oprah Winfrey’s gabfest and the rest of the pabulum that passes for daytime television, if the featured guest is neither important nor interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention, then the whole show is a dud; just hand out the diplomas and be done with it.

A commencement speaker’s resume normally improves with the luster of the institution at which he has been hired to regale the soon-to-be-alumni. At some colleges, you might get a Congressman to fire off a few minutes of boilerplate about how he believes the children are the future, so teach them well and blah, blah, blah. At others, one can legitimately hope for a Presidential send-off, provided the President isn’t playing the back nine at Brookline that day. Ultimately, the commencement speaker needs to either be notable enough to be boring or interesting enough to lack notability, especially considering the fact that a great many of the people in the caps and gowns will be fighting exceedingly notable hangovers.

This past weekend, Rutgers University’s Class of 2014 had a rare opportunity to hear someone who combines both a notable presence and an exceedingly interesting story. It’s a tale of a black woman who rose from poverty in the Jim Crow South to become one of the most highly regarded diplomatic, geopolitical and academic minds on the planet. In fact, she overcame almost ridiculously long odds to become one of the most powerful women — most powerful people — on the planet.

Like anyone who has climbed to the loftiest heights of society, she has her detractors. To be fair, not all of her critics are motivated purely by racism and/or misogyny. Nonetheless, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice represents an outstanding “get” as a commencement speaker. Her story is practically an American dream case study, a fact acknowledged by the Rutgers Student Government when it voted 25-17 to extend its invitation to Rice.

Unfortunately, the members of the graduating class, along with the faculty, trustees, honored guests, proud parents and whichever undergrads manage to crawl out of their fraternity houses, didn’t get to hear Rice’s story. From a student body and faculty numbering close to 60,000, a group numbering in at least the tens, if not dozens, made enough racket to ruin a lifetime’s memory for the whole community. Following repeated, albeit poorly attended, protests by a fringe bunch of undereducated but over-radicalized kids, Rice withdrew from the engagement.

What a perfect parting lesson for the graduating class: Even if you represent a tiny sliver of the extreme left, even if your viewpoint has been the subject of an election which it lost, even if you might learn something more useful in your final minutes in the ivory tower than you did in four years of women’s studies and interpretive dance classes, you can still rain on everyone’s parade. Just kick, scream and stomp your feet until you get your way.

And it’s not as if Rutgers is the only school that imparts this lesson, deliberately or otherwise. What a fine lesson about tolerance, understanding and knowledge for the future best and brightest. At the very least, it sure beats burning six figures worth of mom and dad’s hard-earned money on something that might actually result in the new graduate moving out of their basement.

–Ben Crystal