The Wild West: Gun Control, Chicago-Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

American Everyman: The Ballad Of John Q. Public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Hobby Lobby: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Thereof

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

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

Obama’s Supreme Lesson

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Impeaching Obama: Imagine That

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Take The Liberty Quiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Iraq is tumbling into chaos because:

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

4. Bowe Bergdahl is:

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

5. When I say “Benghazi,” you think:

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

6. Ahmed Abu Khattala is:

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

7. Which of the following best describes Obamacare:

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

8. Hillary Clinton is:

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

9. Global warming:

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

10. I get my news and information from:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

Term Limits: Congressional Whac-A-Mole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Ben Crystal

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