Semper Paratus (I’ll handle the liquor)

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoy the recent spate of zombie and/or space invader films. While each has small-to-gaping plot holes (Tom Cruise saves the world?), they’re good fun. While I lose no sleep over someone’s great aunt rising from the grave to try and nibble on my spleen, and I suspect E.T. isn’t likely to blaze in with a few million of his terraforming friends, there are real dangers out there. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, for example. A well-placed EMP, and everything with solid-state circuitry which isn’t case-hardened is toast. No more zombie movies on your television and no more phone calls to the Air Force because Representative Dennis Kucinich thought he saw an alien. Your world just became a sequel to Hurricane Katrina; only this time, even if the Democrats wanted to help, they couldn’t.

Fortunately for you and me, there are abundant resources available to help us prepare for the worst, while hoping for the… less worse. Our own site has Peggy Layton’s food and storage tips plus an entire section on emergency preparedness here.

But if you’re like me, you’re still trying to figure out whether you can get a solar still to make hooch that won’t blind you. So I read a few sources, talked to a few folks who will probably live a couple of steps up the food chain from me in what the “prepper” community calls a “TSHTF” scenario, and I’ve come up with a basic plan to live past my next birthday should the proverbial merde hit the ventilateur.

Location, location, location!

While we all love a nice beachfront view, being near the coast is a poor choice. Higher ground is a good goal. Actually, I’m thinking of heading for Mr. Livingston’s place (probably should have told him that before now). Arable land is important. Defensible land is equally so. Do a little research and find a place that fits both bills.

Getting there is half the misery

If an EMP is deployed against us, your minivan is a 2 ½-ton doorstop. Unless your vehicle is at least 50 years old, it’s not going anywhere. And something tells me you don’t have a mule team in the shed. Buy a bicycle and keep it maintained. That reminds me: I need to air up my tires.

Gimme the cure

Try to get a medical professional into your group. If not, kidnap one (just kidding, doc!). No matter what, you’re going to need basic first aid supplies. And you’re not going to be able to knock over the Rite-Aid and tote it with you. Have a ready supply of rubbing alcohol, bleach and iodine (they purify water, as well).

Where there’s smoke

Without fire, you’re just a heavy squirrel. Parasitic infections are awful. You’re going to need to cook your food and boil water. Buy a fire-starter.

Eat ’em and smile

Every “prepper” I know talks about their “bugout bag” and the canned food they’ve stored. That’s terrific if you’re already in a good location. If not, canned food is heavy, and it runs out fast when you’re feeding people traveling on foot. Learn to field dress an animal and cook it properly. Yeah, it’s nasty work; but in an extreme situation, you either eat or you’re eaten.

Lock’n’load

This is the single most contentious issue I’ve encountered among “preppers.” What weaponry to bring? My suggestion is to avoid the endless “AR vs. AK” debates, and find a weapon with which you’re comfortable. The weapon (and the ammunition) should be portable, easily wielded and reliable. Sure, that Barrett .50 is awesome; but in a severe scenario, it’s a millstone around your neck. Plus, if you use it on anything smaller than an elephant, you’ll need a straw.

The rest of the story

Durable clothing and footwear are a necessity, obviously. That Armani suit will have to wait for the archaeologists. Also, leave that uber-cool katana sword at home, and get a machete and a decent field knife. Paracord and portable shelter are also vital.

I know I’ve left out a great deal. Feel free to add your suggestions; hell, I welcome them. I figure my rank amateur’s take on emergency preparedness won’t help, but it might make you think about how well prepared you are. We live in an increasingly disturbed world. Better to be safe than — well — dead. Also, anything I forget, I can pick up at Mr. Livingston’s house.

–Ben Crystal

The Oslo discord

When a lunatic named Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and injured 13 more last January, liberal accusations of conservative complicity in the assault emerged faster than the sedatives could slow Loughner from “wild-eyed mass-murderer” to “Chris Matthews.” As the twisted tale unfolded, it became readily apparent that Loughner was inspired not by Sarah Palin (nor any other conservative), but by the voices in his head. With the revelation that among Loughner’s victims was not only U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), but a staunchly conservative Federal judge named John Roll, who died shielding another victim from Loughner, the coordinated liberal effort to pin the actions of a madman on people who don’t read The New York Times evaporated as quickly as liberals’ feigned concern for Giffords (but not Roll). By the way, Giffords is improving at a nearly miraculous rate. She may never return to Congress, but she returned to her husband, family and friends. I’ll wager that being discarded by the Democrats the moment she stopped being an effective political prop is meaningless to Giffords’ loved ones; they’re probably just overjoyed to have her home.

Following the failure of Loughner to provide an effective brickbat with which liberals could defame conservatives, the left went back to its usual litany of hate speech, slander and outright dishonesty. President Barack Obama and his racist minion, Attorney General Eric Holder, weathered a few storms of their own creation. Narcoterrorists from Mexico to Honduras obtained guns from the U.S. through an almost impossibly ill-conceived program called “Operation Fast and Furious.” While the cost of the program reached tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars, the human cost was even higher. Fortunately, Obama and Holder had the corporate media to bury the story; and with corporate media outlets ignoring the carnage, the liberal rank-and-file missed it through either ignorance or obscene partisanship. Liberals are perfectly willing to shriek at the top of their lungs about terrorism that they can claim is inspired by conservative women or talk radio, but terrorists who were literally armed by a Democrat President are evidently less useful in a campaign than — say — throwing grandma off a cliff.

And then, last Friday afternoon, the monotonous buzz of liberal mendacity, gender bias and racism was shattered by the roar of a terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway. Once it became apparent that the perpetrator was not striking a blow for Muhammad — despite The New York Times’ latest bout with erroneous reporting (“Helpers of the Global Jihad?” What is that, the Hamas junior varsity?) — I started counting the moments until someone tried to link the actions of some fruitcake in the land of the midnight sun to the Tea Party.

As expected, the wait was shorter than Jayson Blair’s post-scandal career. Knowing that the corporate media’s big outlets would need a few moments to figure out the best way to spin the tragedy to some twisted advantage, I took an off-ramp from the Information Superhighway to the seedy part of town: the Democrat-friendly hate speech site Dailykos.com. As expected, the cacophony was full-throated in the maximum-security wing of the liberal movement. But the wing nuts were trying an interesting new tack; they were actually accusing American conservatives of being more terrifying than the alleged Oslo shooter, Anders Behring Breivik. According to the lead tinfoil hat brigadier Markos Moulitsas:

…in the United States, (the Tea Party) movement is indeed fundamentalist Christian, populated by sects of millions that would seem strange to an Europeanist of the sort Breivik is. Those people are the actual mirror image of Al Qaeda, or more correctly the Taliban, and they don’t need to go around putting car bombs and driving planes into buildings because they have the US Armed Forces do that for them.

A comment like that (which apparently has been removed from the website) is made doubly interesting given the fact that Moulitsas is on record excusing Islamofascist murder of Americans. I’m half surprised he didn’t retroactively blame the Tea Party for the 2004 Fallujah incident he infamously celebrated. And not that I’m going to be a stickler for accuracy from the bottom of the blogosphere barrel, but when did the “US Armed Forces” start driving planes into buildings? Something tells me ol’ Kos might want to avoid Fort Stewart forever.

Meanwhile, my favorite verse from the Tea-Party-did-it chorus turned up in the least likely of places: www.personalliberty.com. Buried in the comments section attached to our latest “Great Eight” was this beyond-tangential nugget: “BRAVO THE FAR RIGHT WING – YOU JUST KILLED 90 NORWEGIANS, SHOT MOST OF THEM POINT BLANK IN THE HEAD.” No wonder I was so tired on Saturday.

I’m actually fascinated by the ability liberals possess to abandon logic on the altar of their political prejudices. They can accuse Grandpa and Grandma Kettle of Anytown, U.S.A., of being somehow complicit in the Oslo horror because they have a Gadsden flag bumper sticker on the back of their ’99 Grand Marquis, while simultaneously suggesting that the Islamofascists who dress their women like freak show beekeepers and stone people to death are merely misunderstood.

Meanwhile, the sole factor identifying Breivik as “right wing” is his apparent aversion to the spread of Islam. Imagine the logical contortions necessary for liberals to simultaneously claim not only is Islamofascist tyranny like the Taliban “right wing,” but so are the people who most vehemently find it objectionable. To put that in American terms: “Charles Rangel is a scumbag; let’s make him President.”

Look, people. There are different kinds of terrorism. Among them: religiously inspired terrorism, which involves flying planes into buildings (which the Democrat Moulitsas says is a common tactic of the U.S. military), or murdering four people, dismembering them, burning the corpses and hanging them from a bridge (to which the Democrat Moulitsas says: “Screw them.”). There’s governmental terrorism, which involves running people over with tanks, or forcing them to spend 30 years in a Siberian diamond mine in return for suggesting Lenin was a jerk, or shooting their wife and children in Idaho because they didn’t vote for Bill Clinton. There’s narcoterrorism, which lately involved drug dealers shooting people with guns supplied by the Obama Administration. And there’s American terrorism, which involves a Gadsden flag sticker on the bumper of your Grand Marquis — at least that’s what Mr. Soros says.

Despite the best efforts of the Democrats to smear conservatives with the tar brush of terrorism, the Tea Party has yet to bomb a single government office, shoot a single person or fly a single plane into a single building. In fact, the most the Tea Party has deployed is the occasional strong condemnation; it’s not as if the Tea Party is the Service Employees International Union or anything. And the tendency of liberalism’s leading lights to suggest the alternative is either true or is simply a “matter of time” isn’t just defamatory, it’s — well — rude.

The very same New York Times which erroneously issued the initial report that the Oslo attacks were the work of Islamofascists got back in line with the rest of the liberal stormtroopers breathlessly assigning American bloggers like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer complicity in Breivik’s actions. As Geller pointed out, this is paper-thin logic on a par with suggesting the Beatles were responsible for Charles Manson’s murder spree. To shine a current light on it: It’s akin to suggesting the Quran is responsible for… hmm.

Let’s be honest with each other for a moment. Anders Breivik is a Norwegian Tim McVeigh, not a Norwegian Osama bin Laden. Putting aside liberal mendacity, his actions don’t relate to the political ideology of anyone but the perpetrator. Breivik’s brand of terror is spooky-loners type stuff. It’s obviously devastating, but it’s terror with a finite growth curve, a career path with no long-term prospects. It’s sad, tragic and painful for the victims and those who seek a more peaceful world. While Breivik may identify himself as a “Christian,” even the bats in Fred Phelps’ Westboro belfry aren’t blowing up buildings and shooting kids (although someone should keep an eye on Fred and his flock).

What’s worth noting in the wake of the Oslo attacks is an apparently visceral need for liberals to link Breivik to their fellow citizens. Granted, with Obama on the ropes just eight months after the GOP dropped a hammer on the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats are understandably desperate. But the implication that American conservatism is any way the birthplace of Anders Breivik borders on schadenfreude.

I recognize the liberal addiction to authority. But 76 people are dead in Norway. Surely, the Democrats in the United States could have waited for the funerals before turning this tragedy into a campaign slogan.

–Ben Crystal

Lose One With The Gipper

Last week, the liberal stars once again aligned, as a Democratic effort to tie the increasingly irrelevant President Barack Obama to the dearly departed President Ronald Reagan was swallowed up by the black hole of liberal ignorance. The starship MSNBC, staffed as always by the crew of misfit liberal sock puppets, went down first.

Citing 1987 comments by Reagan, five of MSNBC’s primetime inmates claimed that Reagan spoke in favor of a tax hike remedy to the nation’s deficit problems. To bolster their Democratic masters’ case, each showed a video clip which seemed to support their party’s talking points: “… I am going to meet with the leaders of the Senate because it is high time to bring down the deficit and get us on a path… toward a balanced budget.” Taken by itself, that quote certainly sounds more like Obama than Reagan. But there was a teensy little issue for the Democrats’ lead cable communicators, and it involved a serious breach of journalistic ethics and… all right, you caught me… MSNBC’s tinfoil hat brigadiers wouldn’t recognize journalistic ethics if they came up and stole Ed Schultz’s Thorazine.

If your sole source of information is an entirely discredited propaganda outlet like MSNBC, you might not know they were lying to you. What the airheads in Obama crony Jeff Immelt’s cage did with that clip was a serious sin of omission. Here’s what Reagan actually said that day: “I have not changed my opinion about ever accepting a tax that will have a deleterious effect on the economy, and most tax increases do. Taxing is not the policy, or the problem, with the deficit. The deficit is due to too much spending… every dollar of increased revenue has been matched by a dollar and a quarter of increased spending.”

Oops.

The situation for MSNBC actually gets worse. The cherry-picked Reagan pronouncement reportedly started its life in the creepy confines of the so-called Congressional Progressive Caucus, a gathering of about 80 of the most blatantly corrupt (Rep. Bernice Johnson, Rep. Charles Rangel), most unhinged (Rep. Dennis Kucinich) and most appallingly stupid (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Hank Johnson) members of the House. The CPC got the ball rolling, and MSNBC, followed by the usual rogue’s gallery of corporate media sideshow rejects, used it to rile ignorant charges into a righteous — albeit wrongheaded — fury.

But there’s a deeper subtext involved. It’s not exactly news that MSNBC’s prime-time lineup consists of feckless liberal sycophants who gladly carry the water for Democratic overlords. But five talking hairdos regurgitating the same misleadingly edited snippet provided gratis by the batty bloc of the Democrat Party, all in an effort to link Obama to Reagan? Liberals hate Reagan. Of course, liberals hate everyone who isn’t liberal, but Reagan? It’s the equivalent of the Personal Liberty Digest™ toasting the anniversary of the October Revolution. Surely, the Democrats’ desperation to hold onto their fading vision of a socialist utopia ushered into existence by The Savior (the one, not The One) hasn’t forced them into such dire circumstances that they’re willing to identify with the most reviled (by liberals) political figure of the past three decades.

Unless it has: TIME Magazine’s Feb. 7 issue marked the Gipper’s 100th birthday with a cover featuring a Photoshopped image of Obama together with Reagan. The Obama-as-inheritor-of-Reagan’s-mantle fable, which has been manufactured by liberals, is gathering steam as 2012 approaches.

Here’s the thing: I knew Ronald Reagan (well, I met him once — big day for me, not so much for him). Barack Obama: You, sir, are no Ronald Reagan.

–Ben Crystal

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Sometime after June Cleaver turned in her apron and retired to guest spots on “The Love Boat,” the feminist movement took center stage in what some called “the gender wars.” I wasn’t around during the nascent years of feminism, but I’ve always thought that the boys lost to the girls right about the same time we started pretending we liked movies with Sally Field — and without the Trans-Am.

Like any conservative, I’m of the opinion that skills and dedication ought to determine merit, and merit ought to determine advancement. As an example: When self-described “journalist” Joe McGinnis rented the house next door to Sarah Palin in order to conduct “research” on her family, liberals cheered the move, while reasonable people saw it as exceptionally creepy. If someone set up camp next door to Rachel Maddow, liberals would shriek “stalker!” or “sexist intimidation!” while conservatives would assume the poor sap lost a very big bet.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with socially activist philosophies, one side of the political spectrum has convinced itself that it is the only appropriate partner for the movement. And as is so often the case with one side of a political spectrum “claiming” a social ideology as its own, the cause has been grossly perverted. Thus, the message of the current “feminist” movement, co-opted by the left as it is, isn’t one of “equal opportunity for women,” or even “gender should not be the sole factor in (whatever) decision.” Instead, feminism shouts from the rooftops about equal — or superior — treatment for liberal women. And they don’t mean: “The dumb broads who think raising a family is empowering are on their own.” They mean: “The dumb broads who don’t think the way we do are beneath scorn.”

And not only does the Democratic-feminist cabal despise women who don’t share their particular brand of lunacy, they rarely take issue when Democratic men make spectacularly misogynist remarks about conservative women. On those oddly frequent occasions when a party mouthpiece like Bill Maher (who evidently struggles with some serious mommy issues) channels… well… Bill Maher, the liberal community erupts in debate. It strikes me that when a conservative mocks Secretary of State Hillary Clinton without so much as a nod to her gender, the liberal community stands shoulder-to-shoulder in levying sexism charges against him.

Maher is particularly interesting given that he relates to women only slightly less dysfunctionally than Ted Bundy. For the sake of decency, I will refrain from repeating his remarks about Sarah Palin. Suffice it to say, if I used language like that — even about Hillary Clinton — my mother would fly down just to smack the fool out of my mouth. MSNBC’s morbidly obese lunatic Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a “slut,” and MSNBC needed 48 hours of navel-gazing before deciding Fat Eddie needed some time in the corner. The evening of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, Chris Matthews spent the better part of an hour talking about how much he hates Representative Michele Bachmann. Given the content of the speech Matthews was supposed to be analyzing, he needed something concrete and defaulted to 45 minutes of woman-hating.

Even the gals get nasty when the target isn’t the right kind of “strong woman.” Late last week, Janeane Garofalo, who manages to make a living as a comedienne despite being about as funny as a colonoscopy, took shots at Bachmann by attacking Bachmann’s husband — a man who has in no way tried to insert himself in the national political discourse. Try to imagine the liberal response should a conservative commentator make cruel and unfounded remarks about — say — Representative John Conyers’ wife… oops, the Federal courts have killed any chance of that.

If Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Markos Moulitsas, Lawrence O’Donnell, Paul Krugman or even Janeane Garofolo wants to take issue with conservative women on a political level, then they’re welcome to it. Their fact-deficient rants usually offer great material for our weekly Great Eight. But they should keep the hypocrisy to a dull roar, focusing their disapproval on their targets’ politics — not their genitals.

–Ben Crystal

Oh, Sheila!

Few people could suggest with a straight face that the U.S. House of Representatives includes the best and brightest among us. In fact, most of the denizens of the august climes of the Personal Liberty Digest™ are already well aware that the members of the U.S. House of Representatives struggle to represent anyone but themselves.  That said, even among a group nearly as exclusive as the membership at Augusta National Golf Club, there’s always going to be one or two who manage to allow remarks to escape their flapping blowholes that are so breathtakingly stupid they make the usual jacklegs, grifters and string-pullers who stink up the Capitol look like Cincinattus by comparison.

Enter the lovely and talented Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). The Hon. Ms. Jackson Lee has already locked up the title of “Most God-awful Boss in Congress.” Since she first took her seat in 1995, her staff has sported a higher turnover rate than the Crips. One staffer quit after Jackson-Lee threw a phone at him. And Ms. Jackson Lee evidently cut geography class (among others) at liberal demagoguery school: “Today, we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side.” For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that some of her defenders claim she meant to say “two Koreas,” in which case, she’s… still wrong.

Last week, Jackson Lee was back at it, raging from the people’s pulpit about her favorite topic: racism. Granted, ever since the beginning of the Presidential campaign of a little-known junior Senator from Illinois, liberals have endeavored to use the specious charge of racism to explain everything from President Obama’s lack of executive experience to his comprehensive incompetence as Commander in Chief. Normally, any criticism is immediately dismissed by the owners of the liberal movement as racist in nature.  But “normal” and “things done, said or even imagined by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee” rarely collide in the same universe, much less the same sentence. This is a woman who once accused The Hill of racism for printing an article noting she had asked NASA staffers if the Mars rover would visit the flag planted by Apollo astronauts… on the moon.

And in her logic-impaired tirade late last week, Representative Jackson Lee suggested that opposition to Obama’s economic “plan” is a result of… well… let’s let Sheila speak for herself (as if she requires any prompting): “I do not understand what I think is the maligning and maliciousness (toward) this president…Why is he different? And in my community, that is the question that we raise. In the minority community that is question that is being raised. Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully?  I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president — only this one, only this one — has received the kind of attacks and disagreement and inability to work, only this one.” Of course, she and her fellow Democrats treated President George W. Bush with the utmost in collegial regard. To be fair, Bush deserved some of the barbs he faced, given his profligate spending, harebrained schemes like No Child Left Behind, and his tendency to do things to the English language for which you pay extra in Vegas.

I often wonder if liberals, including Jackson Lee, consider the fact that by laying the exhausted race card on the table every time Obama slows for a political roadblock, they are essentially saying that Obama is nothing more than some helpless racial avatar, incapable of accomplishment — or, in Obama’s case — failure as anything other than a black man. Therefore, playing the race card in order to defend his every misstep is either an admission that he needs to be rescued with prosaic hokum, a revelation that liberals — bereft of meritorious ideas — have no other cards to play, or that they’re just plain silly.

Of course, Jackson Lee in particular resides in the latter category. Her amateur astronomical observations hardly represent her only ventures beyond her limited intellectual capacity. I would be willing to venture a guess that she’s not even aware that she’s calling Obama’s critics racist for agreeing with him: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.”  (Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., March 20, 2006)

Of course, the whole thing could just be Marvin the Martian’s evil plot. Perhaps NASA can clue her in to the fact that the Illudium Q-36 is an equal opportunity Explosive Space Modulator.

The Capitol Circus

P.J. O’Rourke once noted that “the whole idea of politics is to achieve power without possessing merit.” If a better description exists of 21st century American politics in general and the Obama Administration, I have yet to read it. (All right, besides: “Obama sucks!” That’s too obvious.)

Here at Personal Liberty Digest™, we watch the Capitol Circus because we’re paid to do it. But even a casual glance Washington-ward reminds the most dispassionate observer that these guys are clowns. Unfortunately, they’re not the kind who make balloon animals and juggle milk bottles; they’re the kind who show up in Stephen King novels and live in a sewer.

In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama vocally opposed President George W. Bush’s plan to raise the United States’ debt ceiling. And he was right to do it. I’ve said before that George W. Bush spent money like a second wife. Unfortunately, now-President Barack Obama spends money like a second wife with a shopping compulsion who just found a Centurion Card, aka the American Express black card. And while Obama throws everything but that national debt clock in Times Square at the increasingly resolute Republicans in an effort to persuade them to hike the debt ceiling into the stratosphere, it’s clear that Obama expects someone else (preferably our grandchildren) to pay the bill.

What our profligate politicians fail to recognize is that a nation with a debt closing in on $15 trillion is like a poor sap who is in way over his head with the loan sharks. Hiking the debt ceiling to cover Federal spending is the political version of pawning your car title to make your car payment. Sure, you’ll keep the car for a few more days; but eventually, a guy named “Big Lou” is going to show up at your door. Truth be told, anyone who’s stretched his paycheck to the point of breaking knows this simple lesson. Perhaps our Harvard-educated President missed that day in life-outside-the-public-sector class.

With Obama growing increasingly frustrated with what he considers GOP intransigence — and what responsible people consider the reason conservatism is the most dynamic political movement — he is delivering increasingly desperate assaults on the forces of fiscal fitness. When the public didn’t bite on his demand of tax hikes on people who earn more than $250,000 per year, he claimed the GOP was sacrificing our security on behalf of the “private jet” set. When that class-warfare tack misfired, Obama started channeling our mothers: “… pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas.” Sorry, Mr. President, Obamacare doesn’t offer Band-Aids; and when was the last time you ate peas? I doubt Oprah serves them in her palace. When the imperious tone flew like a stone kite, Obama took the expected tack for a liberal with strong ties to union thugs: threats.

Tuesday, Obama announced that thousands, if not millions, of Social Security checks due out in early August might meet Big Lou somewhere between the Treasury and your mailbox. After his Democratic Party produced an Obamacare ad that claimed conservative opposition would throw Grandma off a cliff, the Democratic President is threatening to starve her to death if he doesn’t get access to the cash under her mattress. Furthermore, it appears Obama broke into the Social Security “lockbox,” only to find a note which says “IOU $15 trillion, xoxo! —  Al Gore.”

Obama has risen to the pinnacle of power in meteoric fashion. But therein lies the problem: He didn’t earn it. All power, no merit not only makes Barack a bad President, it makes America a poor country.

The Assassination Of Old King Coal

Well, I certainly hope everyone is enjoying President Obama’s “Recovery Summer II – The Empire Strikes Out.” Unemployment hovers just below 10 percent. Of course, that’s the number the Department of Labor is willing to admit. Any economist outside the Department of Labor will acknowledge the real rate is closer to 15 percent.

Inextricably linked with the falling number of Americans who are gainfully employed is the rising number on the sign at your neighborhood Gas’n’Go. The average price of a gallon of gasoline is headed back toward $4-ville. Obama’s much-ballyhooed release of strategic reserves — predicted to fail by everyone outside the White House — failed. Oddly, the Democrats — who pointed to fuel costs nearly $1 per gallon lower as proof that President George W. Bush was blowing kisses to the dishdasha delegation — have fallen silent as Obama’s lack of a coherent energy policy has not only helped force the nation’s economy off the road, but has put it up on blocks and stolen the stereo.

Last week, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency proudly announced its plan to deliver the coup de grâce to the coal industry. You see, coal is bad. You have to dig holes in the ground to get to it, and the United States has so much of it that we’re essentially the OPEC of coal. And that’s where the problem lies. Hard work and independence from foreign-energy sources are as anathematic to Obama and the Democrats as… well… hard work and independence from foreign-energy sources.

The EPA has announced the replacement of 2005’s Clean Air Interstate Rule with an all-new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said: “By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way.”

Translation: “We’re going to turn off the lights; ask your States for candles.” It gets worse. The “flexibility” to which Obama (via Jackson) refers doesn’t exist, thanks to the Democrats’ fealty to foreign-oil interests. The “existing technology” is hampered by the same problem, at least until someone gets the keys to the Enterprise back from Captain Kirk. Before some of our liberal friends get their panties in a wad about the benefits of electric car technology, I have two words: Chevy Volt. But hey, enjoy that green living — at least until you have to recharge your $40,000 golf cart. And there’s always the “SmartCar” – as long as you don’t have to haul… anything.

Keep in mind that you won’t be hauling much; nor will anyone else, for that matter. At least the children will frolic amid green fields under blue skies, because we’ve maximized flexibility and leveraged existing technology. Granted, the children can do that now, except for in Detroit. But with this new layer of bureaucracy beamed down from the Obama mothership, they’ll be able to do it more often, since mom and dad won’t be able to afford to pay the PlayStation®Network bill. Actually, with Obama and the EPA standing on the economy’s neck and now grinding their heels down, mom and dad may be able to supervise the kiddies 24/7, since their jobs will ultimately be jeopardized by rising energy costs.

While Jackson claims that the EPA’s guillotining of the coal industry will create jobs (a dubious claim, at best), the highly regarded, non-partisan firm National Economic Research Associates has concluded that the EPA’s anti-coal rules will cost four jobs for every one it creates. Before our liberal friends get their panties in a wad about “global warming,” I have two more words: Al Gore. Also — ManBearPig! That’s an extra word. I’ll buy some rhetorical carbon credits.

What Obama and his Democrat cronies fail to acknowledge — either by socialist delusion or sinister design — is that the current tragic trifecta of rising unemployment, social unrest and general malaise has roots in energy policy (or lack thereof). In keeping with their strict policy of bowing and scraping before OPEC, the Democrats have stepped in front of every effort to maximize exploitation of domestically available resources. Now, Obama and his cronies are squeezing the trigger on the coal industry.

But that’s the future of the entire nation in the crosshairs.