A Majority Of Fools

By the time President George W. Bush had finished his second term in office, the same voters who had re-elected him had tired of him in then-record fashion. With the exception of the Watergate-befouled latter years of President Richard Nixon’s second term, one needed to search back to the dark days of the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression and “Hoovervilles” to find a chief executive the electorate disliked as much as “W.” Of course, the Democrats and their corporate media lapdogs played up Bush’s unpopularity as often — and as loudly — as a “tween” girl who just downloaded the new One Direction single.

When Bush finally pulled up his Presidential stakes, his approval ratings were mired in the low-30s, including a slight bump upward from the 25 percent number he scored at the same moment President Barack Obama won the 2008 election. Despite murky political origins and a backstory that featured holes large enough for Michael Moore to waddle through, Obama rode into the Oval Office on a wave of “hope and change.” Obama’s approval rating on Jan. 23, 2009, was a gaudy 68 percent.

Bush’s extreme lack of popularity created a “negative coattails” effect in advance of Obama’s miraculous ascension. Obama took the executive reins bolstered by a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Nothing but smooth sailing lay ahead for the liberals.

Yet despite a seemingly unbreakable hold on the American political rudder, the Democrats managed to founder the ship of state. An incredibly badly planned bailout of the auto industry cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. Sketchy loans in the nine- and 10-figure range disappeared into fly-by-night rackets run by Obama’s cronies. Obama attacked the coal industry, Boeing and even Gibson Guitars with regulatory gestapo tactics. He deployed the National Security Agency and the Internal Revenue Service against his political opponents in almost Stalinist fashion. And of course, he reanimated “Hillarycare” as “Obamacare,” forcing Americans to endure what is indubitably the biggest and dumbest fraud in human history.

Obama’s pursuit of his own political utopia at the expense of virtually everyone else on the planet sent the economy into a further tailspin. His virtually unprecedented incompetence in the foreign affairs arena made Bush seem Disraeli-esque. And back on the home front, he turned the 68 percent approval he enjoyed on his first day in office into 43 percent. By comparison, Bush finished off the first year of his second term at 47 percent.

Granted, the self-destruction of Obama’s veneer of feigned competence during his first two years in office cost the Democrats control of the House; but national polls still indicated a distrust of Republicans. The Democrats, led by Obama, had a majority. And according to Democrat logic, circa the Senate Democrats’ recent murder of the filibuster, a majority translates to unfettered freedom to do anything — up to and including the failing Obamacare fraud.

Presuming the Democrats are correct in believing that a majority trumps everything, then I have some very bad news for Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the wire-pullers, corruptocrats and outright criminals who run the portside party: You’re done. Finished. Kaput. Sh*t-canned.

As of this moment, Obama has the approval of only 43 percent of his employers. That’s 4 points worse than Bush at the same point in his Presidency. That’s actually 1 point better than Obama’s polling solely on the economy. That’s 9 points better than the rating sported by Congressional Democrats. As the Democrats are fond of reminding us, Bush’s second term was the political equivalent of a BASE jump without a parachute. So I suggest we learn from our mistakes. Since Obama is even worse than Bush, why prolong the fall?

Come to think of it, the Republicans have done such a grand job of almost standing up to Obama and his accomplices on everything from profligate spending to personal privacy, they’re polling as poorly as the Democrats. Someone tell Obama to pick up Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congressman Paul Ryan and the rest of the spineless ninnies who prove with every idiotic “compromise” that they’re essentially interchangeable with their supposed opponents. I’m sure he has room for them on Air Force One.

I am well aware that governing by poll numbers is a poor substitute for governing by principle. But the current political elite either don’t or won’t understand the difference. They wanted a simple majority rule. Let’s give it to them. Pink slips all around!

–Ben Crystal

Obamacare Gets Worse

I didn’t really need another reason to deplore Obamacare. The almost daily litany of fraud and failure, from the Oval Office to the Healthcare.gov programmers who apparently got their IT training from the back of a matchbook, has taken my confidence in Obamacare out behind the barn and put a bullet it in its head. Nonetheless, President Barack Obama’s signature achievement coughed up more reminders late last week that it would probably work just as well had it been implemented by whoever writes all those kicky one-liners for Vice President Joe Biden.

As it turns out, the incredibly lucky few Americans who have managed to navigate the byzantine Obamacare enrollment process might not be so lucky after all. Washington Post reporter Sarah Kliff posted a story delivering all-new bad news for nearly 15,000 applicants who beat the odds, error messages and web glitches for a spot on the business end of a scam that makes the average Ponzi scheme look like a Faraday cage full of Krugerrands. Their Herculean display of endurance was all for naught. Somewhere between Healthcare.gov and the insurer from which they planned to purchase coverage, their information fell down the memory hole. What’s worse, thanks to one of the many peculiarities of the Obamacare disaster, the Federal government has only a general idea of how many applications disappeared into the data gulag; they don’t have any idea who those 15,000 or so taxpayers might actually be. Since the poor saps who stood in the digital line for this legislative crap sandwich can’t be warned, they may not know they’re in violation of Obamacare’s regulations until they get fined. That’s Federally mandated “double secret probation.”

But wait; the hijinks don’t end there. One of the Democrats’ favorite defenses of Obamacare involves blaming the States that refused to set up their own exchanges for complicating the system. By itself, that’s the logical equivalent of blaming a convenience store for hurting tax revenue by not selling lottery tickets. The State of Washington did set up its own exchange: Washington Healthplanfinder. And it works almost as well as everything else connected to Obamacare. The site, which is routinely down, has reportedly begun debiting some customers’ bank accounts on the wrong dates, creating even more severe financial hardships for people already victimized by the cancellation notices, premium hikes and provider restrictions Obama promised would never be a part of Obamacare. Others report that the system has double-charged them. Unfortunately, they can’t contact the State for relief because that would require going through the site, which doesn’t work. According to a report by Seattle’s KING 5 News, one family had to resort to posting a complaint on the Healthplanfinder’s Facebook page following the failure of both the website and the telephone helpline.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website PolitiFact.com announced last week that Obama’s infamous “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” promise had earned its dubious “Lie of the Year” honor. In “winning” the award, the statement outran other Obamacare nuggets, including Obama’s almost comically ridiculous: “What we said was, you can keep (your plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” “Pants on fire!” was the tag PolitiFact gave that whopper.

These latest horror stories, combined with the insane asylum’s worth of nightmares that Obamacare has already thrust upon us, force me to ask one question: Why the hell do we still have Obamacare? I’m aware the Democrats consider the survival of Obamacare, from which they’ve conveniently exempted most of themselves, more important than life itself. But I’m seriously perplexed as to how we’re still having a national discussion about a clumsily executed enterprise that is as unpopular as the man for whom it’s named.

Not long ago, I joked that if a private citizen were to try to defraud a few hundred million people out of more than $2 trillion, he’d be facing hard time in a Federal penitentiary. I now realize I erred. If someone tried a scam as embarrassingly inept as Obamacare, we wouldn’t lock him up; we’d laugh him off the porch. With the government behind him, Obama didn’t bother to wait on the porch. He’s downstairs, stealing the Krugerrands from the Faraday cage.

–Ben Crystal

Funeral Disservice

No matter what your opinion of Nelson Mandela, you can’t argue that he was super-duper famous. His funeral was the biggest-ticket event of year. Nearly 100 heads of state jostled with truly important people such as Bono and Oprah Winfrey for face time at the former South African president’s memorial service and celebrity gala. If a man’s measure can be taken by his funeral, then Mandela leaves the world with a gaping hole in its A-list photo ops that not even Jay-Z can fill.

President Barack Obama attended. It’s difficult to tell if he knew much about Mandela beyond some study packet provided by his minions; he spent much of his time snapping jocular “selfies” and generally having a grand old time. He did deliver a speech that touched on his usual themes of blaming wealthy people (other than he and his cronies, of course) for the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (other than the people of Detroit and Washington, D.C.). During his turn on the main stage, Obama also exhorted the assembled thusly: “Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.” The irony of a President expressing such magnanimous concerns while illegally snooping on and/or using the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency to harass Americans who don’t share his politics was predictably lost on the cheering crowd and the fawning media.

Obama also made time to shake hands with murderous Cuban tyrant Raul Castro, another unfortunate moment which Obama’s cheering section — an increasingly hard bunch to find within American borders — thought worthy of praise instead of deserving of scorn. At least Senator Ted Cruz was there to represent the Americans who actually oppose tyranny; he pointedly walked out on Castro’s own oration.

Not all the proceedings were marked by the usual preening. The E! Network didn’t have some washed-up comedienne stationed out front of the venue, asking the attendees about their wardrobe choices. In at least two instances, the festivities took a decidedly less festive tone. Boos and catcalls met the introduction of current South African President Jacob Zuma, who appears to be almost as unpopular in South Africa as Obama has become in the United States. Another round of boos reportedly rained down on former U.S. President George W. Bush when his face popped up on the Jumbotron. Apparently, the boobirds are unaware that Bush’s Global Health Initiative has probably done more to combat illness and suffering in Africa than any other entity on the planet — all without so much as a decent write-up in People magazine.

The global celebrity set wasn’t alone in bathing in the adulation. The cheering section came alive for Palestinian martinet Mahmoud Abbas and Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie. Abbas is an Islamofascist who has built his career on the corpses of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Winnie Mandela is a convicted criminal. She’s a monstrous coattails passenger whose entourage of thugs and killers (known to the unfortunate residents of Soweto as the “Mandela United Football Club”) was notable for its use of “necklacing,” a particularly brutal method of execution involving tires, gasoline and a total lack of even basic humanity on the part of the perpetrator.

Nelson Mandela’s own legacy is, and will remain, a topic of significant debate. For the purposes of this column, however, his legacy is entirely immaterial — mostly because he’s dead. Let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and presume that Mandela was an outright saint. I hardly think a hero who believed in freedom and justice for everyone — regardless of race — would be all that pleased to see his admirers cheering those who have done the least for his people, while jeering those who have done the most.

–Ben Crystal

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Most of us first met President Barack Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, back in 2011. At the time, Onyango found himself in a scrape with the authorities in Framingham, Mass., following a drunken jaunt behind the wheel of his SUV. By the time Framingham’s finest managed to drag Uncle Onyango to the station, his blood alcohol level had subsided to a mere .14 — just a bit under double the legal limit. And then, the real fun began. As it turned out, not only was Uncle Onyango behind the wheel illegally, he was in the United States illegally. Much like the President’s Aunt Zeituni Onyango, who eventually “earned” asylum, Onyango Obama was an illegal alien.

These days, Onyango is still here, somehow securing his own stay of deportation despite his criminal record and the fact that he dodged immigration authorities for nearly two decades before the boys in blue popped him on the DUI charge. According to what little press coverage there has been on the wayward first uncle, Uncle Onyango told arresting officers that 2011 night, “I think I will call the White House.” It’s possible that was the booze talking; because the White House not only didn’t acknowledge taking Uncle Onyango’s call, but chief Barack Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney told reporters that his boss expected no special treatment for his drunken relative. In fact, the President did everything short of an extraordinary rendition to distance himself from his Uncle Onyango.

What confuses me is not that President Obama has an uncle who occasionally makes him wince. Onyango Obama is hardly the first first relative to flit across the headlines over the years. There is no “Uncle O’s Kenyan Lager” to compete with “Billy Beer.” The first daughters have never tried to buy hooch at the Gas’n’Go while their Secret Service detail lingered uncomfortably on the sidewalk. And I’m fairly certain Uncle Onyango hasn’t tried to lobby his nephew for any Presidential pardons for drug convictions.

What confuses me is why Barack Obama lied when asked about his Uncle Onyango’s adventures in driving. In November 2011, just a couple months after Onyango Obama’s arrest, the White House claimed the President had never met the uncle to whom he referred in one of his oddly premature memoirs as “Uncle Omar.” And then, last week, Uncle Onyango embarrassed his nephew again. According to Onyango Obama, the President lived with his uncle while a student at Harvard Law School. And the reason for the latest ever-changing story from the White House strains credulity to the breaking point. The Boston Globe reported:

On Thursday, a White House official said the press office had not fully researched the relationship between the president and his uncle before telling the Globe that they had no record of the two meeting. This time, the press office asked the president directly, which they had not done in 2011.

The Obama White House denied any meeting between the two men, without bothering to ask Obama. If you believe that, I have $30 million dollars waiting in Nairobi. Let me transfer it through your bank account, and I’ll give you 10 percent. Honest!

The truth is: Uncle Onyango hardly qualifies as all that big a deal. Nearly every family has a resident Uncle Onyango. Most of us simply keep him away from the liquor cabinet. If he’s particularly unappealing, we send him a lovely card at Christmastime and cross our fingers that he doesn’t roll into the driveway unannounced like Uncle Eddie from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Most of us handle troublesome relatives that way, but not President Obama. Confronted with a vexing relative, Barack Obama automatically defaulted to dishonesty. Barack Obama lied. Barack Obama always lies. He lied about Obamacare. He lied about Benghazi. He lied about Operation Fast and Furious. He lied about raising taxes on the middle class. And he even lied about poor Uncle Onyango. If Barack Obama were just another liquor store clerk, his lying would be creepy and sad. But Barack Obama is the President of the United States. When Barack Obama lies, people die.

Drive-Thru Economics

It’s almost as if the left simply refuses to comprehend it, despite its simplicity. Americans will not pay more for the borderline-toxic trimmings and unidentifiable animal parts that we call “fast food.”

Liberals can kick up all the dust they want over the fast food industry’s average hourly wage of 8 bucks or so. They can demand every burger-flipper, fry-cooker and order-screwer-upper in the solar system be paid $45 per hour with full medical and dental benefits, two weeks paid vacation and stock options. They can even picket outside the Taco Bell from now until the Tex-Mex-ish chain offers a free-range chicken burrito with organically grown heirloom tomatoes and handmade guacamole. But they’re never going to convince anyone that a “McRib” should cost $14. Therefore, they will never convince anyone that assembling a McRib from whatever its actual contents might be is anything other than an entry-level job.

Yet our liberal friends from such notable organizations as the Service Employees International Union have retaken their places on picket lines in front of thousands of fast food emporia across the fruited plain. Their demands haven’t changed, nor has their chosen method of shrieking at the top of their lungs. They want the government to mandate the fast food industry pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Should they win this battle — and their access to virtually unlimited resources from spigots like George Soros and even the Barack Obama Administration (your tax dollars at work) suggests they’ll certainly continue the fight — their victory will result in either fewer fast food workers or no fast food workers.

Raising entry-level salaries in the fast food industry will do more than just jack up the cost of the No. 2 Super Combo with a Coke. It will force a reciprocal wave of cost increases throughout the industry. If the lettuce guy gets $15 per hour, then the assistant day manager will immediately demand an increase in her salary. After all, she worked for her promotion. Of course, once she gets a raise, the day manager will be in the boss’s office and so on, up through the chain until the company is left choosing between raising prices, lowering labor costs or simply shuttering operations. Since profit margins for the average McDonald’s franchise hover somewhere between 6 percent and 8 percent, something’s gotta give; and I doubt it will be the percentage of actual chicken in Chicken McNuggets. It’s worth noting that more than 50 percent of the labor force of McDonald’s is drawn from minority groups, meaning big labor’s assault on Big Mac will send a disproportionate number of minorities to the curb.

Liberals operate under the mistaken presumption that if a business makes a profit, then its workers must suffer. In fact, the only causal relationship that exists between a fast food company’s profits and its workers’ wages is a positive one. Without fiscal successes, McDonald’s doesn’t expand to become the largest company in the industry and one of the most ubiquitous icons on the planet. Without that expansion, there are 14,000 or so empty commercial spaces providing taxable income to the Federal, State and local — not to mention global — economies. Without that expansion, there are 14,000 or so fewer entities providing jobs. Including the corporate staffers of McDonald’s, that’s just shy of a half-million more Americans cast onto the government dole — a dole that would supported by a half-million fewer Americans. And the 1.3 million McDonald’s employees outside the United States would be thrilled to learn the American big labor movement turned their jobs into collateral damage.

But there is good news for the fast food industry’s millions upon millions of customers. Should big labor manage to force a 100 percent increase in the minimum wage, thousands of fast food employees will be replaced by hundreds of automated order-takers and -makers, dramatically increasing the odds that you’ll actually get what you ordered.

–Ben Crystal

Black Friday

I know I should already expect them, but they still surprise me every year. Whether it’s a crowd trampling some poor security guard to death at the 5 a.m. Doorbuster Black Friday sale at the mall or someone stabbing someone else over the chance to buy an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, I’m still routinely unprepared for the holiday season headlines of mayhem and manslaughter amid the mirth and merriment.

In Philadelphia, a small group of women got into a closed-fist, prison-yard rumble — complete with the deployment of a stun gun — that may have involved at least one of their children. A mall in Sacramento, Calif., hosted a barn burner of a beat down, which began over a pair of panties at a Victoria’s Secret. And Wal-Mart stores nationwide saw their yellow smiley faces splattered with blood as Black Friday shoppers turned the electronics departments into Mixed Martial Arts cage fights.

I forget these seasonal reminders of just how ridiculous our consumer culture can make some of our less inhibited compatriots. They do such a marvelous job of proving themselves throughout the rest of the year by blaming their problems on productive Americans, shrieking into their “Obamaphones” and voting for Democrats. Nonetheless, in modern-day parlance: Really?!?

The only way I might get violent at a mall would be if they wouldn’t let me leave. And I’m smart enough to stay the hell out of stores like Victoria’s Secret; they have a website, for cripes sake. I shop at Wal-Mart on at least a semi-regular basis, and I have yet to encounter any of their wares that are worth another shopper’s blood — much less his life.

But don’t read this as an indictment of the American love of stuff — especially stuff we can’t afford. At least these melees break out over people’s sense-occluding desire to buy stuff, as opposed to just stealing or looting it (New Orleans not included). Through most of the year, we tend to buy, sell and/or lease with a minimum of bloodshed. While our pursuits might well make many of us debt-ridden fools who are trying to drown their sorrows in professional-grade espresso makers and theater-style popcorn machines, they also partially fuel an economy that has withstood the broadsides of President Barack Obama’s bumbling for nearly six years. Of course, it would be lovely if Americans were motivated by more altruistic factors. However, consider that comparing the poorest Americans to the poorest people in places where “stuff” means “foliage near the hut” is like comparing Stephen Spielberg to a film student with a broken 8mm Bell and Howell — meaning our consumer-driven culture provides even its non-producers with the chance to be consumers.

And even amid our most murderous mall-marauding moments, we can’t sniff the title for “Most Likely to Kill Each Other Over Something Truly Ridiculous.” We can’t compete with the Mideast, where they’ve been fighting the same battle since at least the 7th century. We can’t compete with Asia, where politics trumps life to the tune of Tiananmen Square (although we are catching up with the Chinese in the state-sponsored infanticide standings). We can’t compete with Central and South America, where murder is often considered a hobby, if not a legitimate vocation. We can’t compete with Europe, where homicide is an acceptable response to an adverse result in a soccer game. In fact, we can’t even compete with Detroit, where life is worth slightly less than the price of the newest Nikes.

The annual American Black Friday free-for-all is weird, sad and — most importantly — tragic. But it could be worse; at least we get some lovely parting gifts. Now, who wants an espresso?

–Ben Crystal

Thanks For Thanksgiving

When I was just a lad, my parents would open our home each Thanksgiving to a wide variety of friends and family members. The house would fill to the rafters with the joyous noise of literally dozens of people, ranging in age from infant to — in at least a few instances — close to centenarian. Babies cried, children played, teenagers hid in the basement and adults swapped stories and told jokes to which children already knew the punch lines. After the meal was gone and before the tryptophan took its inevitable toll, the men would retire to a corner room to smoke cigars, drink amber liquor and tell jokes to which the children better not have known the punch lines.

Although our Thanksgiving Day celebrations might have been routine, they were never rote. The sameness called to mind a favorite sweatshirt more than a threadbare hand-me-down. The timeline got to the point that it was beyond predictable, but I cherished every moment as if it were brand-new. Looking back on all those holidays, I wish I had spent less time trying to sneak beer with my teenage pals, and more time just being around the goings-on upstairs.

Therefore, allow me to share with you a few suggestions:

Take pictures of anything that seems remotely worth remembering. When my older brother was still in diapers, my great-grandmother attended the annual Turkey Day soiree at our house. By all accounts, my great-grandmother was a seriously formidable woman. Imagine my mother’s horror when my older brother took the familial matriarch’s purse and dumped its contents out on the floor. Now imagine my mother’s sigh of relief when this prim and proper empress of the fold leaned down and said “that’s wonderful, dear. Now do it again!” No image exists of that moment outside my parents’ memories. I’d pay a king’s ransom to see one. I bet they would, as well.

Turn away no family. Thanksgiving is well known for its status as the most-traveled day of the year. Children, many toting grandchildren, make annual pilgrimages across the fruited plain to spend the holiday with family. Mothers and fathers well into their twilight years turn back into their former parental selves at the sound of their progeny’s feet in the halls of the family home. If they’re anything like my parents, the presence of grandchildren delivers more joy than Publisher’s Clearing House could imagine.

Watch the parade. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an overwrought, over-produced homage to consumer waste. It’s kitschy and corny, and it occasionally features Kathie Lee Gifford. But it also includes the Rockettes and concludes with Santa Claus, and that’s purely awesome.

Bring no politics to the table. That means not only should the college kid with the nose ring leave to the dormitories the tales of smallpox-infused blankets, trails of tears and genocide, but the fathers should resist the urge to point out to the ungrateful little twerps that their sociology professor is an overpaid, under-bathed ninny who “teaches” because he couldn’t keep a private sector job for more than 20 minutes. Pops should also take the night off from wanting to rip the jewelry out of Junior’s nostril and holding him down and shaving that rat’s nest off the ungrateful little jerk’s head. For those of you so twisted by liberalism that you refuse to acknowledge the holiday, or call it something like “Rape of Native Cultures Day,” it is perfectly permissible to give the talking points a rest — at least until after the younger kids get the table cleared. If you struggle to endure the national holiday commemorating the white man’s desecration of a previously verdant paradise and its innocent inhabitants, consider how much everyone else will enjoy it when you spike a drumstick in Grandma’s gravy boat while calling the assembled “Euro-fascist murderers” (or whatever).

I wish you all a sincerely happy Thanksgiving Day. May your holiday be filled with family, fun and enough caloric excess to keep you in a permanent food coma through the New Year.

–Ben Crystal

Killing Liberty

Last Thursday, the Senate Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), committed what might have been the most important assassination in 50 years. In a shocking move, Reid murdered the lone protection against a misguided Congressional majority: the Senate filibuster. While some have suggested Reid’s move was an attempt to distract the Democrats’ low-information base and sycophant media from the flaming wreckage of Obamacare, others noted that killing the filibuster was merely a continuation of Reid, President Barack Obama and their accomplices’ efforts to crush dissent by any means: legal, ethical or — perhaps especially — otherwise.

Reid’s attack doesn’t bring him into conflict merely with over two centuries’ of Senatorial standards. By killing the filibuster, Reid has also brought himself into direct conflict with… Senator Harry Reid. In May 2005, then-Senate Minority Leader Reid rose in defense of the filibuster:

[The filibuster] encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail. It also separates us from the House of Representatives — where the majority rules. And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government… Separation of Powers… Checks and Balances. … [T]he filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check.

In a further demonstration of Reid and the Democrats’ almost pathological tendency to venerate partisanship over principle, Reid’s murder of the filibuster also puts him at odds with another fairly prominent former Senator. In 2005, a rising star in the Senate ranks sounded the alarm against ending the Senate filibuster. Then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois whined:

[E]veryone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster — if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate — then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQusd4Y2Ltg#t=12

Ironically, although the then-majority Republicans did consider the “nuclear option,” they stayed their hands out of respect for the filibuster’s necessity, history’s lessons of unfettered majority and a willingness to maintain a semblance of comity about which their Democrat colleagues have no concern.

With their own statements obviating any Democrat claim that the hit on the filibuster was motivated by anything other than a naked lust for power, they’ve resorted to their sad, old dodge of blaming the opposition. The President formalized his membership in Reid’s hypocrisy herd by lauding Reid’s political hatchet-job:

[O]ver the past five years, we’ve seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done. … A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal.

It never occurs to Obama and the Democrats that his abysmal track record — including, but certainly not limited to, Obamacare, Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” and Benghazi, Libya — might have something to do with conservative resistance. They also seem to have missed out on Mom’s advice about large groups of stupid people and the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s also worth noting that if a simple majority is the Democrats’ idea of an acceptable method of governance, then Obama himself should be booking his flight home. (And he should take Obamacare with him when he goes.) Obama has tumbled so far down the polling scale that 50 percent might as well be on the moon, and Obamacare has never achieved a majority approval.

Then-future President James Madison stated in Federalist No. 10: “[T]he public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

When they didn’t own the majority in the Senate, both Reid and Obama shouted their agreement with that sentiment. Now, their shameless hypocrisy and raw desire for authority have gunned down a key aspect of that which separates the great American republic from the chaos of pure majority rule. In slaying the filibuster, Reid and the Democrats have not assassinated liberty. But combine this latest crime with the rest of Obama’s war on freedom, and liberty is certainly in need of a rescue — and soon.

–Ben Crystal

The Kennedy Question

I was nearly a decade from joining the ranks of God’s creation when President John F. Kennedy took his untimely leave. As a result, I have no real perspective on that horribly remarkable day in the history of not only the Nation, but the world. While many of my generation will point to the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger as “our JFK assassination” and although anyone with a soul has the images of 9/11 burned into his memory, I have a sense that Kennedy’s assassination has a unique place in the uglier chapters of the American story.

When I ask my parents to talk about that day, their voices have neither the pure sorrow of people discussing the Challenger disaster, nor the outrage that we all feel when recalling 9/11. Instead, they take on oddly hushed tones similar to veterans reliving combat. I have long thought that my younger-generation compatriots and I simply cannot relate to the experience of that dark November day. By the time we came of age, the world of television, followed by the Internet age, had inured us to much of the shock factor of catastrophes. Those who remember the Kennedy assassination firsthand were the first to confront such horrors without any sort of filter. In fact, Jack Ruby’s execution of Lee Harvey Oswald was the first-ever killing televised live.

It’s the uniqueness of the Kennedy assassination that, therefore, commands so much attention. Add the fact that apparently no one on the planet has an identical theory about the specific events of that day, and welcome one of the few unsettled long-term debates that hasn’t become a crushing bore.

Lest you think I’m about to launch into another entry on the endless list of long-winded Kennedy assassination theories about which their proclaimers are absolutely convinced, fret not: I don’t know who killed Kennedy. And I’m beginning to suspect we may never really know. However, I do have some doubts about a few of the more prominent possibilities.

Sam Giancana and/or the Mafia did it.

It’s not that I don’t think Giancana and the mob hated Kennedy the way I hate cancer. By their own standards, they doubtless though they had good reason. Giancana and his La Cosa Nostra buddies reputedly provided invaluable assistance to Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential election; their “voter recruitment” efforts in places like Chicago and West Virginia may well have been the difference between a Kennedy victory and a Nixon victory. In return, Kennedy sicced his brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, on them like a dog on a wounded quail doused in bacon grease. And I suspect Giancana was less than thrilled about Kennedy’s rumored dalliances with Giancana’s own reputed mistresses, Marilyn Monroe, Judith Campbell Exner and Phyllis McGuire. While it is possible the mob of the 1960s could have pulled off killing the President, the likelihood that they could have kept that quiet for five decades is slim. These are guys who roll on each other to shave a couple of years off the dime upstate for RICO; I doubt they could sit on the crime of the century for half that century. And though Giancana might personally have had the contacts to hire a Presidential hit, the low number of people willing to try, able to succeed and capable of keeping the secret is probably fairly low. That translates to big money, and Giancana couldn’t have moved that kind of cash without raising eyebrows on both sides of the law. And I have never accepted the idea that mob killed Kennedy out of retribution for the loss of their assets in Cuba. For one, Cuba was coming apart at the seams before Kennedy was in a position to do something worthwhile about it. For another, Kennedy’s obsession with trying to kill Fidel Castro ran a close second to his obsession with the fairer sex.

The Kennedy fixation on Castro brings us to the next theory I think misses the mark:

Fidel Castro did it.

Putting aside the fact that Castro was a Marxist monster, even someone who isn’t a blight on the history books would grow tired of constant attempts on his life. The fact that none of them succeeded would hardly mitigate the endless fear, much less the added headaches, of a top ranking on the CIA’s most-wanted list. And the abortive Bay of Pigs assault doubtless soured Castro’s mojito. Nonetheless, if the Cubans of the 1960s were in any way involved in the assassination of Kennedy, they participated only as subcontractors. At that time, Cuba was little more than a tropical colony of the Soviet Union, a cheap communist knock-off of Miami. If Castro and his Cuban comrades played any part, it was only at the behest of their masters:

The Russians did it.

Given Kennedy’s rather contentious relationship with then-Soviet dictator Nikita Krushchev, the Soviet’s increasingly erratic saber rattling and the backdrop of some of the hottest days of the Cold War, leaving the Russians off the list of suspects would be foolish. In addition, Kennedy’s failures in places like the Bay of Pigs disappeared behind his resounding victories in Berlin and — most glaringly — the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy captured the world’s attention with his unblinking resolve in the face of a communist empire that grew like shower mold through the darker corners of the planet. The fact that the young, telegenic Kennedy made Krushchev look like Elmer Fudd doubtless added an extra bitter mote to Krushchev’s borscht. But while Krushchev might have been outwardly bombastic, the fact that he quailed before Kennedy at each turn — combined with what appeared to be a somewhat reformist heart (at least compared to his predecessor, the almost incomparably monstrous Josef Stalin) — leads me to believe that he lacked the killer instinct necessary to carry out such a world-shaking crime.

Lee Harvey Oswald did it.

There is no doubt in my mind that Oswald fired at — and likely hit — Kennedy from his perch in the Texas School Book Depository. There is, furthermore, no doubt in my mind that Oswald was an absolutely willing participant in the assassination. But the idea that Oswald acted alone seems almost ludicrous to me. While Oswald was certainly a good shot (he demonstrated marksmanship skills during his tenure in the Marine Corps), he was not the steely-eyed sharpshooter of legend. According to at least one of his fellow Marines, a man named Nelson Delgado, Oswald was far from perfect on the rifle range. And the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository under what must have been almost intolerable stress is as far a cry from the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro as a mail-order surplus Mannlicher-Carcano 91/38 is from an M14 being maintained by a Marine. Those who hold to the “lone gunman theory” give Oswald a great deal more credit than I expect he deserves.

Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover did it.

Hoover hated Kennedy, clearly had some bats in his own belfry and surrounded himself with fiercely loyal — and dangerous — acolytes. Hoover also knew who Oswald was, thanks to Oswald’s Cuban and Soviet travails. And Hoover collected secrets the way fat people collect calories. Hoover could easily have ordered, cajoled and/or blackmailed all the players he needed for Dealey Plaza. However, Hoover was also unapologetically patriotic. I possess lingering doubts that Hoover would have conducted such a direct assault on his homeland.

Thus, the question that has burned in our imaginations for a half-century: Who did it? If I’m right (and I’ll gladly admit that there’s no reason to think I’m any more so than anyone else), then Oswald was a participant in a larger conspiracy. Presuming such a conspiracy did exist, then its masters must have been capable of not only planning it and carrying it out successfully, but controlling players like Oswald and others without any of them revealing their involvement. In 2013, such a secret would be impossible to keep under the blanket. Even in 1963, the secret would have required a very small group of people who were almost supernaturally loyal. If Oswald was a player, then Ruby’s actions make sense if viewed as an effort to tie off a loose end. Ruby’s own terminal disease further fits that theory. But who stood behind him?

I’m left with only a few possible perpetrators. Those with means, motive and opportunity are: the CIA, rogue elements inside the KGB, Vice President Lyndon Johnson or some combination thereof. While a case could be made for any or all of them, it occurs to me that it doesn’t matter. Kennedy has been gone for 50 years. Those passing years have only muddied the waters surrounding that terrible day. If anyone who knows the truth behind Kennedy’s assassination is even still alive, I doubt he would suddenly resolve to unburden himself after all this time. Even if someone did, I’m not sure he’d be believed.

Kennedy was a deeply flawed man, and a far from imperfect President. But he died far too soon, and in far too cruel a manner. Perhaps his greatest legacy is America’s survival of his final day, and the days which followed. I seriously doubt we’ll even know this whole story. I also doubt that it actually matters anymore.

–Ben Crystal

Obama And Oprah

Life plays rough. Today, you’re on top of the world. Tomorrow, you may well be knocked off your high rise perch by an unforeseen financial hit, sudden illness or even someone in a Federal Emergency Management Agency windbreaker. And I’m hardly a pessimist. Hell, I still think America can recover from this loathsome era to which future history texts will refer as “the President Barack Obama Years” in the same gloomy tones they currently employ to describe the Spanish flu.

Lest you think you’ve spent more than your fair share of time at the business end of life’s cruel twists, consider this: It could be worse. You could be Oprah Winfrey. While you’re trying to solve mundane problems like making your mortgage payment after some Obama crony’s “green energy” boondoggle went belly-up and left you jobless, Oprah is fighting against prejudice in the European fashion retail industry. While you’re contending with an Internal Revenue Service audit because they saw your name on a Tea Party mailing list, Oprah is struggling to make sure the “right” celebrities have a sympathetic ear to which they can turn when the movie-going public gets tired of their self-important ranting. And while you’re pawning the watch your grandfather left you in order to pay for your kids’ Christmas presents, Oprah is playing defense for that poor victim of evil racism: Obama.

According to Winfrey, Obama’s endless series of scandals stem not from his comic incompetence, nor from his seemingly pathological mendacity. Much like poor Winfrey herself, Obama is stymied by that old serpent: racism. While in England to promote her latest big-budget blockbuster “The Butler,” Winfrey faced BBC interviewer Will Gompertz. Naturally, Gompertz asked Winfrey about Obama’s struggles. And naturally, Winfrey doesn’t think her good friend is to blame for his Administration’s issues.

“I think that there is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he is African-American. There’s no question about that. And it’s the kind of thing that nobody ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”

According to one of the world’s most important women, Obama’s string of face-plants isn’t a result of his own dishonesty; it’s a result of people who won’t tolerate his lying because they’re racists. Supplicating himself to terrorists — not to mention to Russian President Vladimir Putin — isn’t a failure on Obama’s part; objecting to it is a failure on yours. Using the IRS as a baton upside the proverbial skulls of his countrymen isn’t Obama’s character flaw; refusing to lie down for the beating is yours. And lying about Obamacare at least as many times as he did about Benghazi, Libya, doesn’t mean Obama isn’t worthy of the Oval Office; but decrying it means you’re unworthy of him. The poor guy! If only I had known how hard it is to be President of the United States, I might have been more forgiving of Obama’s legacy of deliberate failure. No wonder Winfrey feels it necessary to ride to Obama’s rescue; he’s having almost as hard a time enjoying free golf and Las Vegas fundraisers as she has trying to get special personal shopping hours at the Paris Hermes store. Horrors!

I don’t deny racism exists; even in this boy’s America. The Democrats’ attacks on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Army veteran and former Congressman Allen West or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have settled that question. What’s worth noting is that Thomas, West and Rice have not paid much attention to the liberals who decry them simply because of their race. Those three — and many others — recognize that the Democrats’ tendency to assault people solely based on their skin color is as silly as the Democrats’ tendency to defend people solely based on their skin color. West is no more a bad guy because he’s black than Obama is a good guy for the same reason. Of course, West can take the heat, whereas Obama runs and hides behind race-baiting pseudo-intellectuals like Winfrey.

By the way, Winfrey did grace us with a solution to that racism her good buddy Barack must battle: “There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”

By Winfrey’s reckoning, that’s a lot of people. If you’ve voiced opposition to Obama’s excesses, she’s probably including you in that group. Winfrey wants you dead. Nice knowing you.

–Ben Crystal

Lean Backward

After the past week, I’m almost surprised MSNBC is showing more than a test pattern. The “talent” that now serves as the tip of the Democratic Party’s media spear has managed, in the past seven days, to plumb depths that are normally inhabited by leftist hate speech sites funded by former Nazi collaborator George Soros. First, Alec Baldwin, who earned his prime-time slot on MSNBC by spewing racist and homophobic invective at a former New York City detective and a Daily Mail columnist, found another way to disgrace himself. As he exited a Manhattan courtroom on last week, Baldwin called a photographer a “c*cks*cking f*g.” Apparently, Baldwin’s latest violent homophobic rant finally pushed him over the liberal media Rubicon: He’s been suspended for two weeks and may well be looking at the end of his short cable career.

But Baldwin is hardly the only MSNBC mouthpiece to fumble the ball like a butterfingered tailback (or like President Barack Obama trying to squirm out of another lie). Last Thursday, one of the MSNBC daytime fillers, a British fellow named Martin Bashir, grew so enraged at former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s refusal to chain herself to the nearest stove and get to makin’ babies that he wished aloud for someone to defecate in Palin’s mouth and urinate in her eyes. The actual reason Bashir joined the ranks of fellow MSNBC circus freaks like Al Sharpton in the scatological sideshow was apparently her comparison of the runaway debt with which Obama has saddled America to slavery, a comparison which hardly lacks merit. Essentially, Bashir wants someone to do to Palin what Sharpton did to Tawana Brawley — only without the racist extortion plot. That means Bashir is describing a fetish, as opposed to Sharpton, who was simply running another scam.

On the rare occasions I actually turn to the boob tube for anything related to current events, I tend to tune to one of the less-reputable channels — even MSNBC. Mostly, I get a kick out of watching liberals denounce conservatives for all manner of imagined slights, all the while demonstrating the sort of behavior and language that, if ever actually demonstrated by a conservative, would generate a five-alarm riot. I also enjoy watching the supposed leading lights of media liberalism act like junior-high schoolchildren who found the key to their parents’ liquor cabinet. Granted, neither Baldwin nor Bashir threatens the position of the president of the he-man woman haters’ club, so-called “comedian” Bill Maher, primarily because they can’t deploy the sort of verbal sewage on basic cable that Maher can — and does — use in place of intelligent discourse on HBO.

Nonetheless, try to imagine the peals of self-righteous fury from the left if Glenn Beck made a habit of physically assaulting people while spewing racist venom. Of course, Sean Hannity has done neither, so liberals simply pretend that he has.

Try to imagine the jet-engine level volume of liberal rage the left would unleash if some conservative were to suggest someone do to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton what Bashir hoped someone would do to Palin. Of course, conservative objections to Clinton stem from political disagreement, not twisted misogynistic fetishism; and it’s unlikely any conservative could come up with anything more shudder-worthy than whatever Clinton’s husband did last weekend.

The left erupted in paroxysm of outrage when Rush Limbaugh called fake Congressional witness Sandra Fluke a “slut” for demanding the taxpayers subsidize her rather healthy libido. Limbaugh’s remark was artless, but it wasn’t incorrect. He certainly didn’t describe Fluke in grossly anatomical terms, nor assault her physically, nor wish for her to endure the sort of perversions that Bashir imagines for Palin.

Here at Personal Liberty Digest™, we don’t use the sort of language Baldwin, Bashir and the rest of the Democratic elite default to when discussing conservatives. In fact, if Mr. Livingston did decide to allow it, I would still avoid poop and pee references — partially because I find them icky and partially because I’m not 5 years old. At least I have the luxury of knowing that when I finally run out of better metaphors, I can get my gross on at MSNBC.

–Ben Crystal

Sarah On Their Minds

For someone the Democrats have declared irrelevant, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin seems to be surprisingly relevant. According to the left, Palin hasn’t been a real factor since 2008. Yet every time she so much as makes a run to the grocery store, liberals scrutinize her behavior like disgraced Internal Revenue Service thug Lois Lerner reading Tea Party tax returns.

While conservatives, many of whom genuinely like Palin, invite her to break bread with them at various functions, liberals whine about her near omnipresence — all while fawning like groupies in an effort to entice her as an interview subject. I’d suggest the quest for ratings and subsequent advertising dollars drives them to seek out Palin the way lepers sought out Mother Teresa; but no self-respecting liberal would be in it just for the money and fame, right?

Monday morning, Palin graced the studios of NBC’s “Today Show,” where Matt Lauer attempted to press her on Obamacare — something Lauer’s fellow NBC talking head Chuck Todd was either unwilling or unable to do to President Barack Obama last Thursday. Of course, Lauer may be bright enough to know Palin equals ratings; but he’s clearly not bright enough to have learned Palin equals smarter than the women who make MSNBC such a ratings “success.” Palin dispensed with Lauer as easily as Michael Moore dispenses with anything coated in powdered sugar.

People who are being told today if you — and some of them are still being told — “Well, if you like that insurance policy and that coverage, you still will be able to keep it. It’s just going to cost you a little bit more.” That’s the point, if it’s going to cost you more, then it’s not the same policy.

If NBC, which is as redoubtable a Barack Obama Administration mouthpiece as White House press secretary Jay Carney, thought Palin’s views were worth their airtime, logic would dictate that the unbathed liberal masses would concur. Unfortunately, logic and liberalism collide as often as MSNBC and decent ratings. Yet the perfectly named left-wing hate speech blog Talking Points Memo reacted to Palin’s entirely accurate remarks about the lies Obama told to keep his train wreck on the rails by changing the subject.

When asked by Matt Lauer about her alternative plan, Palin gave a rambling answer that echoed her infamous 2008 interview with Katie Couric, in which the former Republican vice presidential nominee awkwardly struggled to name a newspaper or magazine she often read.

Lauer invited her to talk about Obamacare’s face-plant, and the liberals come up with: Palin is stupid, because… um… 2008!

Part of the left’s assaults against Palin stem from the same misogyny that has defined the Democrats for as long as Democrats have skittered across the fruited plains. These guys really don’t like women who don’t do what they’re told. They also seem to have a problem with women who look like women, but that’s a conversation for another day. Their attacks on Palin are virtually reflexive. Every time she speaks, Bill Maher’s staff gets jumpy. In fact, anytime any conservative woman raises her flag, the Democrats’ hate machine redlines its tachometer.

But part of this latest assault on Palin stems from the Democrats’ increasing desperation over the implosion of Obamacare. Keeping in mind that the Democrats consider politics vastly more important than everything, up to and including life itself, any dissent represents a commensurately grave threat. When someone like Palin takes to the airwaves to voice her discontent with Obama’s train wreck of a power grab, liberals go apoplectic.

To be honest, I don’t think Palin should run for President in 2016 for a number of reasons — among them, her own safety. From the so-called “Occupy” riots to pretty much anything involving more than one union thug, the Democrats have demonstrated a propensity for violence at the drop of Carlos Danger’s zipper. Combine their lack of compunction with the white-hot rage that Palin still inspires more than half a decade since they first declared her “irrelevant,” and you’ve got a perfect environment for some loon in a “Che’” T-shirt to trade his life for a week’s worth of admiring references on Ivy League professors’ Twitter feeds. They’re pressing a $2 trillion fraud, something for which non-Democrats risk serious prison time; and they’ve already attacked her children more than once. I doubt they’d hesitate to push one of their followers over the line between “foaming at the mouth with anti-Palin hate” and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

–Ben Crystal 

He’s Sorry

Following President Barack Obama’s non-apology-apology during his SUPER DUPER EXCLUSIVE sit down with NBC “reporter” and Obama Administration flack Chuck Todd, the newest of the ever-changing Democratic explanations for the abysmal disaster which is Obamacare revealed itself. As it turns out, the fact that Obama lied about every aspect of Obamacare from the moment he first threatened the Nation with it is immaterial. Better yet, we should THANK him for… er… forcing us to buy something we shouldn’t have been forced to buy; and can’t even if we try to.

http://youtu.be/6TtcJIC6y7c

According to President Obamacare: “I am sorry that (Americans) are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” Amazing how he managed to deliver a semi-apology for the problems he caused; despite repeatedly promising no such problems would ever occur.

And he didn’t say “I’m sorry that l lied.” He said “I’m sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation…” And he certainly didn’t promise to eliminate the cause of the problem, Obamacare itself. In retrospect, I’ll bet Obama’s kindred spirit, Bernie Madoff, is kicking himself for not trying that as a defense.

I’m sorry people have suffered because I defrauded them out of their life savings. Of course, I’m keeping the loot. I’m free to go.

I must concede a bit of admiration to Obama and his accomplices for what is nothing less than absolute dedication to their craft. They lied about Obamacare the way gang members lie about their whereabouts the night someone gunned down a rival hood’s family in drive-by. After Healthcare.gov debuted with the most famous 404 error message in Internet history, Obama first shrugged off the disaster, then tried to claim the site was a “success,” then blamed a nefarious conservative plan to crash the site through some sort of digital mustache-twirlery.

Yes, the latest distraction effort involves attempted to divert attention from the now-admitted fact that Obamacare is a gigantic flimflam operation by blaming insurance companies for – get this – failing to warn policy-holders that Obamacare would force them to cancel their coverage. Obama’s Bizarro-world clone of Karl Rove, David Axelrod, took to Twitter to demonstrate the Democrats’ logical gymnastics thusly:

 

He did that without a net, folks. That’s rhetorical artistry. The insurance companies, who heard Obama say “PERIOD” along with the rest of us, should have known Obama was lying, and therefore are responsible for not tipping off the rest of us.

We’re dreadfully sorry, Mr. or Ms. Consumer. We should have mentioned that the bureaucratic monstrosity Obama plans to unleash on the Nation will probably result in precisely the opposite of what Obama promised. Therefore, be prepared to suffer consequences which Obama swears won’t occur.

Meanwhile, the inexplicably tax-exempt hate group Center for Public Integrity coughed up THIS logical loogie: “What Congress didn’t say: Obamacare outlaws policies that are essentially worthless.” See, it’s totally cool that Obama lied repeatedly about the biggest fraud in human history; because a leftist rats’ nest which essentially functions as a pipeline for Obama flacks says so. And see if you can guess which fascist billionaire who used to moonlight as a Nazi collaborator helps fund the laughably-misnamed CPI? Speaking of things “that are essentially worthless…”

Last Thursday night, President Barack Obama, reeling from the 1-2 combination that not only is Healthcare.gov a bigger flop than New Coke™, but Obamacare itself is the biggest government-sponsored scam since Joseph Stalin offered the Ukrainians farming tips, bent Chuck Todd’s ear. While dancing around an admission that he lied his way through the entire Obamacare saga, Obama said he was “sorry.” On an optimistic note: he finally said something with which I agree.

 

 -Ben Crystal

All Politics Is Local

I tend to avoid discussing local politics in this space. Part of what makes the Personal Liberty Digest™ the world’s top-ranked Libertarian website is our “laser-like” focus on the subjects to which you, our patrons, can relate. The political goings-on in the city of which I am a resident, Savannah, Ga., are probably pretty inconsequential to most of you; and they’re certainly unlikely to rate a discussion on an internationally recognized site such as this.

However, on Tuesday, my fellow Savannahians and I ducked into the polls with our usual civic pride (about 19 percent of eligible voters took time away from holding down the area’s couches and/or holding up the area’s liquor stores to bother). Though the ballot questions dealt with a very local issue, the nature of the question provides what President Barack Obama might call a “teachable moment.”

Tuesday’s balloting in Savannah asked:

Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in Chatham County for a period of six years for the raising of an estimated amount of $370,000,000 for the purposes of funding certain capital outlay projects within Chatham County and the municipalities in Chatham County including storm-water and drainage; road, street, bridge, and transportation; water and sewer infrastructure; administrative, cultural, judicial, industrial and recreational facilities and improvements; park facilities and improvements; greenspace; public works and public safety equipment and facilities?

If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Chatham County in the principal amount not to exceed $30,000,000 for County projects.

The question related to the sixth extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), an added penny on the local sales tax — this time in order to fund a new arena in a dilapidated part of town. On the surface, it seemed like a reasonable request. However, the ballot omitted the fact that Savannah’s city council has spent the better part of the past decade proving that not only can it not be trusted to safeguard the public commonwealth, but it isn’t particularly concerned about that fact. In the past few years, the council has treated its constituents to a series of scandals and budgetary missteps that included: a racist conspiracy to rig the hiring of an unqualified city manager (who was subsequently forced out for cause), an under-the-table payment of $50,000 to a city council member and a general attempt to run the city at least as well as that urban paradise of Detroit. And the SPLOST revenues have been egregiously, even deliberately, misspent. Try the same question, as translated from the overly detailed ballot-speak:

May we impose on you to grant another extension for a tax which we have repeatedly proven we will misspend, mismanage and/or just plain waste; with the caveat that we will ostensibly use the latest revenue for projects we have failed to convince the public are even necessary, much less wise?

My beloved denizens of Personal Liberty Digest™, these are precisely the sort of lessons we must learn and the battles we must win. In truth, consumption taxes like Savannah’s SPLOST are the most egalitarian methods of taxation. Those who spend like a certain first lady at a five-star resort gift shop will pay more in sales taxes; those who spend like a General Electric factory worker who lost his livelihood when Obama’s crony Jeff Immelt outsourced his job to China will pay far less. But even the fairest method of tax collection loses validity when it is employed to fund an unfair goal, and that method loses even more so when the collectors are as trustworthy as a certain husband of a certain first lady.

The SPLOST ballot question that my neighbors and I faced on Tuesday serves as an excellent, albeit municipal, allegory for the larger choice that faces us all as Americans: If the government has repeatedly proven itself unworthy of our basic faith, is it wise to assume that it’s operating honestly this time?

By the way, the measure passed. (*Sigh*)

–Ben Crystal