Obama’s Cuba gambit will fail

TNS/Abdel Rodriguez protests at Versaille’s Restaurant in Miami after President Obama’s decision to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.

In 1989, I was just a bright-eyed young American lad who had decided to put the time between high school and college to better use than simply learning how many beers he could successfully “funnel” before introducing his face to the floor. So I set off for southern Africa.

By the late 1980s, South Africa had long been cut off from much of the world, the subject of an increasingly comprehensive international economic embargo. As a result, the countries surrounding South Africa, writhing in post-colonial chaos and already inextricably linked to their southernmost neighbor, were forced by geography, history and demographics to share South Africa’s enforced solitude. And that solitude produced the land that greeted me. What I discovered upon my arrival was a place far uglier — and stranger — than I had imagined.

At its best, Africa is as magnificent a work of art as the Almighty has ever created. The Drakensburg mountains rise so empress-like, an ’80s band ought to write a song about them. The Indian Ocean shores at Durban look like board of tourism postcards. The Kalahari’s almost Martian emptiness is somehow made even lonelier by Camelthorn trees waiting for National Geographic to photograph them. And to the eye of an American teenager, meeting the animals from the zoo on their turf is nearly as cool (“How much does that bull elephant weigh?”) as it is intimidating (“how fast does that bull elephant run?”).

Even the cities had their high points. At its center, Johannesburg was a modern, glass and concrete affair not entirely dissimilar to any mid- to large-sized American city’s business district — Charlotte, North Carolina, with weird food. The better neighborhoods in Pretoria were half a world away from affluent American suburbia, but could have been right next door. The safari lodges in Botswana were as nice as any 4-star hotel in which Michelle Obama and 40 or so of her friends have stayed on the taxpayers’ nickel.

But at its worst, Southern Africa is closer to hell than Detroit. The townships and homelands outside South Africa’s cities were glorified prison camps. In some places, the poverty was so shocking, it could nearly shake your faith. Illness, death and their evil friend, grief, didn’t hide in the shadows; they drove bulldozers right through whole villages. And oh, dear God, the smell! A trip to an economically embargoed land would change even the most pampered child’s appreciation for regular municipal garbage-hauling and the people who do that job. Bless you, “garbage man.” (Author’s aside: Because garbage-removal is as rare as meaningful personal liberty across most of Southern Africa, people burn their refuse. While it creates an unholy stink, it has the odd effect of producing almost cartoonishly vibrant sunsets, proving that the Almighty can create beauty out of almost anything and is, indeed, everywhere.)

As a direct consequence of the economic prison sentence imposed by the globalist-led United Nations, the elite in sub-Saharan Africa held onto virtually all of the wealth and resources, while the poor lived in conditions that make the Motor City look like Monte Carlo.

In the early ’90s, apartheid collapsed in on itself, and the region was suddenly thrown open to the world. Money flowed in like water. And lo and behold, the once-downtrodden masses mired in unspeakable poverty enjoyed the sudden influx of foreign capital by — remaining downtrodden and mired in unspeakable poverty. In their haste to congratulate the new governments of places like South Africa and Zimbabwe, no one bothered to take note of who the new governments were. Moreover, no one bothered to notice that the only people capable of handling large inflows of foreign currency and investment were the same people who had handled inflows of foreign currency and investment. The end of the embargo in southern Africa spread some money around some new people who were largely as greedy for authority (and, therefore, unsuited to wield it), gave the rest of it to the same people who had it before and left the overwhelming majority suffering from monstrous diseases, dying ridiculously young and burning their trash.

Here’s the thing: Trade the click consonants and glottal stoppages for Español and dress everyone in T-shirts proclaiming loyalty to a Major League Baseball team, and Southern Africa is Cuba. Cuba is a Marxist hellhole. Worse: Cuba is precisely the hellhole Marxism always produces, albeit with tropical-getaway foliage. A ludicrously tiny minority of the people — in Cuba’s case, the Castros and whichever of their cronies hasn’t been sent to “rehabilitation” for “crimes against the state” — not only own nearly everything of value, they essentially own everyone else. While the Castro boys party with Hollywood stars, the average Cuban scrapes and claws his way to a subsistence living. And, as is always the case in a communist dictatorship, the average Cuban knows: Someone is always watching.

Now, more than a half-century after President John F. Kennedy — himself perhaps the most undeservedly praised foreign policy leader of the 20th century — decided to prove to Cubans the merits of freedom by forcibly divorcing them from the merits of freedom, President Barack H. Obama — clearly the most deservedly reviled foreign policy leader of just about any century — has decided to skip the dating phase and just go steady with the younger Castro brother. In a Wednesday announcement, Obama proclaimed “(W)e will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” He offered as a rationale: “(I)solation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.” Rather than form a cohesive plan for reintegrating the communist holdout (the diplomatic version of “getting to know each other”), Obama is going to give the Castros the keys and hope they’ll be gentle.

It’s reasonable to conclude that Obama’s decades of tutelage at the knees of Marxist firebrands like Bill Ayers, F.M. Davis and Saul Alinsky, acting in concert with of decades of unfettered American globalism, has produced a president who lacks not only the will to make hard choices, but the wisdom to know the difference. By conducting the negotiations under the same shroud of secrecy that he used to cover up his trade of five Taliban serial killers for one (alleged) sniveling deserter, Obama sold out not only the American people who deserve better than to be repeatedly ignored by his increasingly imperial stylings, but the victims of stunning communist oppression in Cuba. And in haste to do something — anything — on the foreign stage that didn’t end in his abject humiliation, Obama has simply repeated one of the two failed strategies that have defined most of America’s foreign adventures since JFK was still sneaking Marilyn Monroe out the back door of the White House.

Just as embargoes punish only the already-oppressed, suddenly unfettered global investment enriches only the already-wealthy. The average Cuban isn’t likely to see much of a new dollar from overseas. But he’d be overjoyed to learn that he won’t be sent to “re-education camp” if he somehow manages to snare one. But it’s a fool’s errand to think a president like Obama, who has willingly lied to, spied upon and harassed his own people, would understand the plight of the average Cuban, especially since he clearly doesn’t care about the plight of the average American.

Sadly, most American politicians tend toward hawkish intervention or mewling appeasement. They either can’t — or, in Obama’s case, won’t — open their eyes to the lessons of fairly recent history. All “stick” produces Iraq and Afghanistan. All “carrot” produces South Africa and Zimbabwe. The careful balance produces post-unification Germany. Instead, Obama has chosen to pour carrots into Cuba, ignorant of the fact that the communists will simply eat what they want and bury their people in the castoffs. In fact, I’ll predict that Cuba, with its peculiar confluence of European and African cultural heritage steeped in decades of brutal communist hegemony, will end up being a lot like another bastard creation of too much money without enough liberty: Russia. Given Obama’s personal humiliation at the hands of current Russian oligarch and Soviet holdover Vladimir Putin, and his barely concealed admiration for precisely the sort of government that made Cuba such a party for the past half-century, it’s likely Obama won’t figure this one out until it’s too late.

–Ben Crystal

DiFi and the real bad guys

I suppose there are some lessons we can all glean from the sensational report released by the Senate earlier this week. Actually, there is a lesson we can learn just from the title: “Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” The “Senate Report” isn’t so much a “Senate” report as a “Senate Democrats’” report. The whole thing was compiled by Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority staffers, whose research methods are every bit as painstaking as Rolling Stone’s or Lena Dunham’s ghost writer’s.

Furthermore, the report’s findings, which were reached without interviewing any of the CIA officers implicated, are rife with speculation and conclusions reached without factual bases. Since Sen. Dianne “DiFi” Feinstein’s (D-East of Abbottabad) fabulously well-staged reveal, the nation — well, the media’s idea of the nation — has been afire with outrage — outrage, I say! — at the idea that the agency tasked with fighting the spookier parts of the war on terror got a little handsy with the houseguests.

We can also learn that torture ain’t what it used to be. We’ve replaced the archaic methods with far more creative and diabolical techniques. Gone are the thumbscrews and Judas chairs. Instead, islamofascist serial killers — other than the ones President Barack Obama trades for deserters — are subjected to “constant white noise, no talking, everyone in the dark, with the guards wearing a light on their head when they collected and escorted a detainee to an interrogation cell, detainees constantly being shackled to the wall or floor, and the starkness of each cell.” Sounds like prison in Alaska in the wintertime.

The “white noise” playlist included the Barney & Friends theme song, the BeeGees’ song “Stayin’ Alive,” the Sesame Street theme song, the jingle from the “Meow Mix” ads, and a recording of Janeane Garofalo and Ben Stiller reading selections from a book they evidently co-authored. I’ll admit: Listening to Garofalo for more than 30 seconds is more than any human should have to endure. But there’s a pretty big gulf between “torture” and “mild annoyance.” When my oldest nephew was just a wee lad, he loved the Disney cartoon “Finding Nemo.” Before he reached his 5th birthday, I’m fairly certain my older brother had memorized the entire film by osmosis. If he could endure not only that, but every entry in the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series, I expect Akbar the Unbathed can hold up under the stress of the grooviest hits of the 70s, Kermit the Frog and cat food.

The more lurid of the allegations levelled at the CIA by the decidedly partisan report include verbal abuse, ice water baths, sleep deprivation and the infamous waterboarding. Most of the really gory stuff is either noted as occurring “while in CIA custody” or is anecdotally sourced, meaning the Democratic staffers who stitched the report together either couldn’t prove it or, more likely (considering the Democrats’ habits), it never actually occurred. As for waterboarding, it sounds pretty awful. But it’s hardly the iron maiden. Indeed, our own special operations group members in the U.S. military and CIA face waterboarding during their survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training.

As I noted earlier, the Democratic staffers who scripted the screenplay failed to interview any of the key players involved. When that fairly significant omission was put to Feinstein, she covered by claiming the staffers didn’t have access to those witnesses due to a concurrent Department of Justice investigation. She left out the part about that investigation wrapping up two years ago. If even Attorney General Eric Holder’s goons could find the time in between arms shipments to narcoterrorists, it’s hard to buy the idea that Feinstein’s couldn’t.

The Democrats also want us to believe that they’re infuriated by allegations that CIA personnel lied about aspects of the enhanced interrogations. I’d find that more credible if they hadn’t spent the past six years telling Americans that we’re stupid racists for noticing all the other times federal employees — including the president — lied to us.

Torture is a very real issue, grappled with by very real victims on a very real basis. Across the territory that produces the bulk of the guys who end up in places like Gitmo and deepest darkest Romania, men and women grow up in constant fear of not only cloying commercial jingles, but mutilation and even death for crimes ranging from “being female” to “not being Muslim.” American citizens whose only “crime” is “refusing to bow to statist lunatics” face warrantless searches, politically motivated IRS harassment and — as Eric Garner would attest if he could — death. What the purported victims outlined in Feinstein’s partisan pet project faced was bad DJ-ing, sub-5-star accommodations and excessive bathing.

Even the timing of the Democrats’ release of their report raises eyebrows. While Feinstein was whipping the faithful into an anti-American frenzy, Obamacare architect Jon Gruber was busy admitting under oath that not only is Obamacare is riddled with fraud, but its very basis is fraudulent. A record 92 million Americans have been permanently bounced from the labor pool, and Obama responded by waving his imperial scepter and granting amnesty to 5 million new competitors for the jobs they no longer have. People who strung “tea” and “party” together in the same sentence faced ruinous examinations by IRS storm troopers. They’re probably downloading a record of your visit to this site in the NSA. So Jerry Jihadi got nabbed by the CIA and was subsequently forced to endure hours of insipid children’s programming. Before he was grabbed up, he was planning to murder as many children as possible. Cry me a Euphrates.

What sort of people would deliberately try to bury a scandal the magnitude of Obamacare’s primary architect admitting to lawmakers that the very basis of Obama’s signature “achievement” is both a literal and figurative fraud? What sort of people would release a report compiled using methods that could make a Rolling Stone fact-checker shake his head, simply to distract their employers from noticing the president just violated the Constitution and his own oath of office again? What sort of people would move to gin up partisan fury on behalf of terrorists, while calling and treating law-abiding American citizens far worse? Now there’s a question that deserves an honest response.

–Ben Crystal

The race-media complex

Darren Wilson did it. We know he did it because perpetually aggrieved loudmouths who have taken control of the left wing of American politics say he did it. After all, why would the same people who blame white people for nearly everything lie about something like a murder?

Surely, those proud drum majors for peace at the NAACP wouldn’t exploit a young man’s tragic — albeit self-inflicted — death just to raise money, would they? The esteemed members of the Congressional Black Caucus wouldn’t actually limbo under the already abominably low bar for political rhetoric by taking to the House floor to pantomime the “hands up, don’t shoot” routine, which Michael Brown never did in the first place, would they? And certainly a man of the cloth such as the “Rev.” Al Sharpton wouldn’t abuse his position as de facto co-president to incite riots, looting and murder out of racial spite, would he? No, of course not. Wilson did it. And because he did it, he deserves to suffer mightily for doing it. In fact, it doesn’t particularly matter what Wilson did; he did it.

In the wake of what I expect was a nightmarish encounter in which he was compelled to use deadly force against a large attacker intent on doing him harm, Wilson is looking at his career as a police officer in life’s rearview mirror. I suppose he might get work guarding sled dogs in Alaska, or something; but his life’s calling is history. Some very influential people stuck him with the bill for their pursuit of money and power. Instead of focusing on the incredibly poor choices Brown made, which led to that fatal moment, they’ve chosen to push a fanciful tale in which Brown was an innocent victim of a homicidally racist cop. They even thought up the strategy of constantly referring to a large and clearly dangerous criminal as an “unarmed black teenager,” as if Brown was just a harmless Urkel-type character, merrily trotting home after a day of reading, writing and arithmetic. Wilson is white, whereas Brown was — well — brown. Therefore, Wilson is automatically the bad guy, evidence be damned.

Unfortunately, Wilson is far from the lone victim of what ought to be called the “race-media complex.” Last week, the University of Virginia, one of the nation’s oldest and best-respected institutes of higher learning, was rocked by a story in Rolling Stone magazine by a reporter named Sabrina Rubin Erdely. According to Erdely’s story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia was gang-raped during a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. The account is so harrowing I literally couldn’t read the whole thing in one sitting. It is magnificently written. It features a sympathetic victim, a compelling plot and a flow that borders on art. Erdely buckles the reader in next to the ill-fated “Jackie” as she rockets from from giddy college co-ed preparing for her first big college party to battered victim afterward. No detail is spared, from the color of “Jackie’s” dress to the color of most of the UVA students’ hair (“overwhelmingly blond”) to the bizarrely Neanderthal utterances of “Jackie’s” alleged attackers.

“A Rape on Campus” has all the trappings of a well-tuned true crime novel. It has also come under severe scrutiny for what may well be a series of hugely egregious violations of journalistic ethics. The story features a single anonymous source, the accuser “Jackie.” And Erdely has since acknowledged that she contacted for comment neither any of the accused nor any of the women who reputedly counseled the victim. In fact, Erdely’s report offers such a paucity of sourced material, it’s almost as if Rolling Stone published a note it intercepted in study hall. Nonetheless, despite holes big enough to fit the egos of a year’s worth of Rolling Stone cover models, the story has caused UVA to shut down the fraternity system and open a massive investigation into the incident. “A Rape on Campus” at best has seriously impacted a huge number of people and possibly damaged the alleged victim’s pursuit of justice. At worst, a group of young men have been unfairly smeared; an entire university’s worth of young people have learned that journalists are liars; their school is more concerned about its own image than their well-being; and, worst of all, people’s reputations and livelihoods are entirely disposable when the accumulation of money, power and/or notoriety is at stake.

Much like Wilson, the brothers of Phi Kappa Psi did it. They’re “overwhelmingly blond.” They even have a “reputation of tremendous wealth” and a palatial fraternity house with “the undisputed best real estate along UVA’s fraternity row known as Rugby Road.” White men behaving badly. Case closed. That’s the same script race-pimps like Sharpton are following in Ferguson. It’s the same one the same crowd — including Sharpton and others — followed at Duke University in 2006, when false accusations of rape against seemingly privileged white men cost the men their good names, their lacrosse team a season and a shot at a national championship, and their coach his job. It’s the same script the already-credibility-challenged NBC News employed to run over Richard Jewell in 1996, when a man acting heroically was thrown off the roof by a news organization that places ratings and fame over right and facts. The only exceptions to the race-media complex rules seem to be conservative black men, who evidently deserve whatever befalls them, and liberal white men, who can — judging by the lionization of former President Bill Clinton — do whatever they please.

There is no shortage of people who have suffered unfortunate, even grievous, damage to their reputations and lives based on woefully inaccurate innuendo. The overwhelming majority of them suffer in relative silence. But give the media an angle involving white men behaving badly, and they’re off to the races. The story is the same in Ferguson, in Harlem, in Atlanta, at Duke and at UVA. We know the identities of the guilty parties because those eminently trustworthy guardians of the public commonwealth tell us who they are. We don’t need minor distractions like direct physical evidence to focus the light of justice in society’s darkest corners, we have the American left. Gunpowder residue testing is no substitute for Jesse Jackson’s feigned outrage. Eyewitness testimony hardly rises to the credibility level of catchy Twitter hashtag. And exhaustive analysis by a grand jury doesn’t meet the standard of a narrative that includes reflexively describing a violent NFL-sized thug as an “unarmed black teenager.”

The cancer-like growth of the race-media complex has consumed the men who didn’t attack Tawana Brawley, the man who didn’t bomb the Atlanta Olympics, the men who didn’t rape a woman at Duke University and the man who didn’t “murder” Brown. It may soon swallow up the men who may well have done absolutely nothing to “Jackie.” And it propels the knee-jerk reaction to any criticism of Barack Obama, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder and any other black person. The white guy did it. Case closed.

Ferguson’s forgotten victims

While millions of Americans spent this week reuniting with family and friends, gorging themselves into tryptophan-induced comas, and watching football, others spent this week in fear for their lives and property. Most of us had no trouble finding the kids, the food and the remote. But others had trouble finding their stores, their stock and their stuff.

For some, this holiday will be forever marred by the memory of watching their livelihoods burned to the ground by an aggrieved mob. What was the crime they committed to deserve such a fate? They live in Ferguson, Missouri. That’s it. Jay Johnson, the owner of the Queen’s Royal Touch beauty salon and barber shop, didn’t shoot anyone. He was never subjected to a grand jury inquiry after an incident involving a monstrous attacker and him. No hordes of frenzied miscreants descended on his town seeking his blood for some imagined crime. He built a small business in Ferguson, for Fergusonians, staffed by Fergusonians. And then, because a grand jury on which he didn’t serve voted not to indict a police officer for a crime Johnson didn’t commit against a man who didn’t deserve his sympathy, rioters destroyed his shop.

Johnson wasn’t the only victim of the perpetually aggrieved swarms who descended upon the St. Louis suburbs this week. Led by the usual suspects, vast herds of race pimps, tragedy vultures, professional victims, anarchists, layabouts and good old-fashioned thugs poured into Ferguson to exploit what may well have been the most famous “no true bill” in judicial history. Once the grand jury returned a decision that Officer Darren Wilson would face no trial for his role in the death of 6-foot-4-inch, more than 250-pound Michael Brown, they let their outrage be known. They burned; they stole; they looted (aside: the guy who stole the crossbow on live TV is either the greatest criminal mastermind of all time or the biggest idiot of all time); and they destroyed property with abandon. Neither national chains like Walgreen’s and McDonald’s nor local outfits like Johnson’s beauty salon and Natalie Dubose’s bakery Cakes ’n’ More were safe.

Months from now, no one will remember Johnson’s dark day. President Barack Obama won’t be delivering speeches about his plight. The “Rev.” Al Sharpton won’t be barking racist platitudes at permanently angry minions. The Democrats won’t be pushing a “#Justice4Jay” hashtag on Twitter. There won’t be any $32,000-per-plate fundraisers at Gwyneth Paltrow’s palatial estate to raise money for Queen’s Royal Touch. The shrieking loons who turned Johnson’s business and a good portion of his city into a pile of debris will be long gone; and he’ll be facing an uphill climb to rebuild his modest, but hard-earned, life.

Wilson didn’t commit a crime in killing Brown. In fact, as the grand jury clearly recognized after examining reams of evidence in which Sharpton was never interested, Brown essentially committed suicide by cop, though that wasn’t his intent. A huge man assaulted a police officer, tried to take his weapon and paid for the mistake with his life. And in return, a bunch of people who were, at best, tangentially connected to the tragedy and, at worst, merely taking advantage of the situation out of nefarious intent put Johnson’s life to the torch.

The protesters have largely moved on to greener and less-smoldering pastures. Obama is back to defrauding the nation with untenable healthcare boondoggles and issuing illegal executive orders. Sharpton is back to dodging taxes and struggling with pronouncing multisyllabic words. Paltrow is back to being washed-up and preferring smoking crack to eating cheese from a can.

And back in Ferguson, Johnson has been left behind, collateral damage in the professional victims’ attempts to victimize Wilson because Brown victimized himself. You and I will enjoy what remains of this holiday weekend, eat some leftovers, bark at the television, maybe brave some Black Friday and holiday weekend sales, and sail on into December.

I’m sorry Brown is dead. I’m sorry Wilson’s life has been torn apart because Wilson made such disastrous choices. I’m sorry the same cravenly partisan vermin who turn tragedy into outlets for their own failings and destructive appetites turned what happened in Ferguson into a national embarrassment. I’m sorry that Johnson’s future was run over by the Left’s racial animus. And I’m sorry that none of the politicians, actors, comedians and “clergy” who gleefully set Ferguson ablaze will be sticking around to help clean up. Sorry, Mr. Johnson. They can’t score any political points off your plight, and they already stole everything of value you might have had.

For what it’s worth: Need a haircut?

Jay Johnson
Queens Royal Touch Massage, Barber & Beauty
1451 Chambers Rd
St Louis, MO 63135

–Ben Crystal

Death of the ‘Mayor for Life’

Far be it for me to point this out, but I could write 10,000 words on Marion Barry and merely scratch the surface of his bizarrely significant impact not only on Washingtonian politics, but on American politics. Forget about the sinister misdeeds of graft machines dating back before William M. “Boss” Tweed made New York his own private piggy bank. Wipe away the image of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s sneering his way through a sexual harassment scandal that ultimately brought him down. Ignore the lurid details from former mayor and current convict Kwame Kilpatrick’s years-long Detroit house party. Don’t bother calling ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin off the school bus. Throw out even the best efforts of North America’s current heavyweight (and I do mean “heavyweight”) champion of municipal merriment, Toronto’s soon-to-be-ex mayor Rob Ford.

As many people have pointed out in the hours since he pulled his final ace of spades, there was no one quite like Barry. However, there was no one quite like Tweed either. What Barry really represented were the final touches on the brick wall Americans have built around African-Americans, specifically African-American politicians. After four decades as city councilman, mayor, inmate, mayor and then city councilman again, Barry took a city on the edge and completely missed out as it plunged into nearly unmatchable depths of crime, drugs and fear. While Washington, D.C. turned into an absolute hellhole, Barry developed a crippling drug habit. As single motherhood became the most common family situation in his city, Barry shamelessly chased women to the point of an arrest for stalking a paramour. And while Washington’s unemployment rate rose from “sad” to “Detroit,” Barry so abused his power over the city payroll that he was ultimately stripped of almost all direct authority outside Parks and Recreation.

Prison not only didn’t reform the man, it gave him a sense of entitlement. He returned to the mayor’s office after a stretch in the corrections system and so blatantly mismanaged city finances that President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Senate stepped in. More womanizing, fiscal skullduggery and drug- and booze-related arrests followed, but dented neither his local popularity nor his self-awareness. Barry won a City Council seat by a landslide and then resumed his personal war on decency, culminating in his fellow D.C. councilmen stripping him of nearly everything but the nameplate on his office door. In 2012, not long after he resoundingly won another term on City Council, Barry warned against an increasing Asian presence in his council district, the infamously depressed 8th Ward: “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops. They ought to go, I’ll just say that right now, you know.”

The man was a walking monument to himself. The sobriquet “Mayor for Life,” which wasn’t quite as complimentary as he evidently thought, became his calling card. He lied. He cheated. He gamed the system. He abused the public trust in ways that would make even former President Clinton blush. While I wish no ill upon his family and friends, the idea that Barry’s death is a tragedy beyond their circle is somewhat embarrassing. Sure, a man died; and people will mourn him. But he was no saint. In fact, Barry was a seemingly proud sinner. Yet upon his death, adulation poured in from across the country, if not the world. President Barack Obama issued a statement honoring Barry’s tenure, as did disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder. Meanwhile, those who dared show the temerity to question the sudden whitewashing of Barry’s considerable yellow sheet were accused of racism in much the same specious way that critics of Obama, his repellent crony the “Rev.” Al Sharpton, Holder and nearly every other black political figure are regularly smeared.

If there’s one lesson America ought to take from the late “Mayor for Life,” it’s a reminder that “powerful” and “effective” are no more synonymous than “famous” and “infamous.” Men and women like Senator Tim Scott, Secretary Condoleezza Rice and surgeon Dr. Ben Carson are routinely reviled for their lack of “authenticity.” Scott is barely known, despite being the senior member of a very small group of African-Americans in the Senate. Rice has been subjected to virtually stunning displays of racism, including cartoons by nationally syndicated trolls like Ted Rall and Jeff Danziger, which would have earned roars of disapproval had they been directed at someone like Barry. And Carson, one of the premier neurosurgeons on the planet, has been called an “Uncle Tom” more often than one might think possible.

If there’s an overt racism in unfairly assigning blame to black politicians because they’re black, then there’s also a slightly more subtle racism in shielding them from deserved criticism for the same reason. There is no shortage of prominent African-Americans who ought to be considered role models for everyone, regardless of skin color. Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson is one of the foremost scientific minds on Earth. Kenneth Chenault worked his way from Penn State University to become CEO of American Express. Robert Johnson worked tirelessly to earn his way into becoming the first African-American billionaire. Ask anyone in D.C.’s 8th Ward whom they admire more, and I bet Barry’s name comes up well before any of them.

And there’s something else: Just hours after the paparazzi site TMZ touched off a firestorm with a somewhat artless, but entirely reasonable, headline about Barry’s demise: “Crack Mayor Dead,” another former mayor of an American city met his maker. H. Foster Pettit, who served as mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, from 1972 to 1977 died following a brief illness. Pettit never once made headlines for smoking crack. He never did a stretch in the pen for drugs. He was never arrested stalking anyone. The biggest deal in Lexington when he took office was University of Kentucky basketball. The biggest deal in Lexington when he left office was University of Kentucky basketball. Nearly 40 years after Pettit’s tenure in Lexington City Hall, the biggest deal in Lexington is University of Kentucky basketball.

Pettit may not have turned Lexington into a world-famous city during his time in the city’s big office, but he also didn’t get stoned and doze in his chair while the city turned into a globally noted tragicomedy. Obama didn’t issue a statement noting Pettit’s many accomplishments. Holder didn’t interrupt a weapons-trafficking operation to eulogize him. And TMZ didn’t create a banner headline about him — in good taste or bad.

–Ben Crystal

What’s Spanish for ‘dumb?’

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA/President Barack Obama works on his immigration speech with Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan and Senior Presidential Speechwriter David Litt in the Oval Office.

Sometime between the moment I’m writing this and the moment you read it, President Barack Obama will have granted amnesty from prosecution to somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million criminals. While we can generally agree that Obama has wandered well off the Constitutional reservation, at some level, you almost have to admire the sheer gall of the guy. With the roar of the electorate’s disapproval still echoing through the Washington air, Obama is doubling down on his own imperial delusions. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest can make all the “badge of honor” jokes he wants, but the idea of a president attempting to rule by fiat isn’t actually all that funny. The idea of a presidential spokehole turning his arrogance into a standup routine is even less so. And that’s why the overwhelming majority of Americans stopped laughing quite a while ago.

According to most reports, Obama plans to issue a long-threatened executive order granting a get-out-of-jail-free card to a group of lawbreakers the size of metropolitan Atlanta. By the time you read this, he’ll have told you as much — unless you’re among the dozens, if not hundreds, of millions of taxpayers who didn’t catch his speech because it didn’t air on any of the channels most of us watch. Interestingly, Obama’s speech will be aired live on Spanish-language Univision during the Latin Grammy Awards, lest you think the most cravenly partisan administration in history would pass up a chance to pander shamelessly to the lowest common denominators among its zealous base. It’s worth noting that following the White House’s announcement of the coming presidential decree, the major networks declined to carry it, with one network insider telling Politico’s Mike Allen: “There was agreement among the broadcast networks that this was overtly political.” Try to wrap your head around the idea that NBC is skipping an Obama speech because they don’t think it’s bipartisan enough.

Scant weeks have passed since every aspect of his platform — which he personally welded to his party’s campaign by reminding voters to “make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them” — was resoundingly repudiated by his employers. Mere days have passed since Jon Gruber, the key player in the construction of Obamacare, admitted that some fairly high-ranking members of the administration ought to be preparing not for the next two years in office but for the next five to 10 years upstate, setting the stage for a Supreme Court spanking next year that may well send Obama’s biggest bust to the boneyard. And the Democrats have spared no quarter in reminding us that they think their detractors are suffering from some sort of intellectual defect.

So of course Obama chose this moment to announce his plan to wildly overstep his executive authority and unilaterally abrogate federal law on behalf of federal lawbreakers. The People have done everything but engrave “disapprove” on the White House door; current polling data show fewer than 4 out of 10 Americans support unilateral amnesty for illegal aliens. However, the Wall Street banksters and Obama’s cronies think it’s a swell idea, as do Obama’s political allies for whom race — racism — is the primary motivating factor. Even victims of Common Core’s tortured arithmetic can add simple sums. The Democrats are on the canvas after Obama tied their hands together for the 2014 midterms. The People’s opinion of the President has slipped from “mild distaste” to “nauseated.” There’s an odds-on chance that Obamacare, already in ICU, is going to meet that great death panel in the sky next year. The number of people out of the workforce has reached record high numbers, and the jobs that are being created are largely the same low-paying gigs for which Obama’s 5 million new best friends will now be openly competing. And the one sector of the economy that Obama promised to rein in is doing better than ever. In a twisted sense, it’s fitting that Obama would now turn his back on the people who pay his salary despite a job performance that includes high crimes, misdemeanors and outright abuse of the law-abiding populace for whom he purportedly works. It’s even more fitting that he would abandon them on behalf of the millions of illegal aliens whom he plans to make legal with a stroke of the imperial pen.

With his party’s political future now looking very much in doubt, his own legacy crumbling like the house of cards it has always been and America’s position in the world tottering precariously as a result of Obama’s almost impossible incompetence, he’s going to deploy what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called a “partisan bomb.”

Of course, we didn’t really need another reminder of Obama and his accomplices’ low opinion of us. As we learned from Obamacare architect Gruber, who was paid up to $400,000 to perpetrate Obama’s signature fraud on an unwilling nation, not only do they think we’re all morons; they count on it to impose their twisted ideology despite our repeated demurrals. Though he’s now struggling to earn better approval ratings than Senator Harry Reid in a grade-school parking lot, Obama was elected and re-elected by a majority. It is, therefore, possible that a great many of us aren’t as bright as we think. However, Obama’s party just suffered through a visit to the electoral woodshed, and he is responding by booking it a return trip. It’s more likely that the Democrats aren’t as bright as they think.

–Ben Crystal

The Rosetta mission: What if?

Repeat visitors to my little corner of Personal Liberty already know that I fancy myself a bit of an amateur astronomer. Let’s face it: Space is cool, and the science involved in moving around outside the cozy confines of our pale blue dot is even more so. Even the math required to successfully put a man-made machine anywhere beyond the next county over is fascinating stuff. I like science. I like math. You can keep your “Star Trek.” I’m more interested in the effort to go actual places where no man has gone before.

Earlier this week, the European Space Agency (ESA) completed a 10-year mission to fly the Rosetta spacecraft to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and deploy the Philae lander to give humanity its first worm’s-eye view of an environment that makes Detroit seem like Club Med. And the Rosetta mission is no small feat. Built, launched and controlled by a consortium of European counties, Rosetta didn’t so much land on 67P as it docked with it at hypersonic velocities, all in what spacecraft engineers refer to as “less than optimal conditions” and the rest of us refer to as “hell.”

Perhaps humanity’s visceral need to explore really is best served by cooperative effort. After all, while NASA spends its budget on combating so-called “global warming” and paying the Russians for serving as a taxi service to the International Space Station, the Europeans managed to park a spaceship on a comet. Perhaps man’s reach to the stars is simply too great a task for one country to handle on its own. But what if the ESA didn’t exist? What if the space race of the 1960s had never ended and every country capable of building a model rocket decided it, and it alone, were going to conquer the firmament solo? Here are my best guesses.

The Germans

The German Rosetta would be grossly overengineered, complete with confusingly labeled buttons that serve no discernible purpose. It would be sleek, cosmetically flawless and extraordinarily fast; but it would also get impatient during gravity-assist maneuvers. The mission would fail after the planet Mars was late arriving to a rendezvous. Frustrated by the solar system’s refusal to cooperate with a planned timetable, the German Rosetta would end up flying to Jupiter, annexing the four Galilean moons and then promising it had no plans to expand its territory.

The French

Their version would fly only in reverse and would surrender to the German Rosetta after hearing the Germans were still in Mars orbit.

The Russians

Built largely from derelict 1960s-era scrap metal, held together by spot welds and duct tape, the Russian Rosetta would manage to reach the comet but then miss its target by a few miles. It would eventually float into a lazy elliptical orbit around the sun, transmitting coded images of a shirtless Vladimir Putin on an unmonitored frequency.

The British

The British Rosetta would look fabulous, right down to the hand-finished interior. Though unmanned, it would boast a state-of-the-art stereo system with mislabeled controls that gets only one station. It would also feature a car alarm that goes off at random times for no particular reason. Eventually, it would reach its target, thanks to some nifty engineering patches designed by Canadians and implemented by Australians.

The Italians

The Italian Rosetta would be shaped like a nuclear-powered arrowhead with functionless side strakes and oversized intakes. Its engines, which they mounted amidships for no good reason, would produce approximately the same amount of thrust necessary to reach Pluto in less than a decade; but they would break down every time the craft required a small vector adjustment. After delaying the launch due to the threat of rain, the Italians would eventually give up on the project when they learn someone will have to work weekends in order to keep the thing on target.

The Swiss

The Swiss Rosetta would be flawless in form, fit and function. It would make all its markers within one-tenth of a second of their predictions and arrive at 67P at the exact moment it was expected to. It would then transmit all of its findings back to Mission Control on time, at which point the program scientists would lock the data in a subterranean vault and refuse to even acknowledge they had it in the first place.

The Japanese

The Japanese Rosetta would be the size of a toaster, perform without a hitch and transmit its findings back in perfect sequence. Unfortunately, it would also be obsolete the moment it lifted off, and wouldn’t be compatible with the next year’s model, rendering its data — which transmits only in Japanese — worthless.

The South Koreans

Their Rosetta would look, sound and function almost identically to the Japanese version — except that it would transmit its data only in Korean and would have enough exterior lighting to be visible to the naked eye from Earth.

The North Koreans

The North Koreans wouldn’t need to build a Rosetta, since Kim Jong Un has already flown to CS and declared it to be North Korean territory. They would, however, attempt to build a missile to shoot down the Japanese and South Korean efforts, but it would end up at the bottom of the Sea of Japan 10 minutes after launch.

The Mideast

Funded by the Saudi Arabians, built by Pakistani and Filipino laborers from Russian parts, and overseen by French scientists, the Arab Rosetta would be taller than the Eiffel Tower and would feature an almost all-glass exterior and an interior that looks like it was designed by Liberace’s interior decorator; and it would sit on a palm-tree-shaped launch pad. After discovering 93-octane gasoline isn’t a particularly useful fuel for space missions, the Saudis would abandon the project while Wahhabi clerics claimed it was just as well, since Allah forbids space travel.

The Chinese

They would deny building a Rosetta and send the scientists who designed it to re-education camps.

The Americans

The American Rosetta would be named “Chuck Norris 3000” and would be four times larger than necessary. Featuring an array of functionless parts that were added post-design by government functionaries hoping to placate Big Labor, the American version would be covered in sponsors’ logos. And though unmanned, it would have reclining bucket seats and cup holders installed where control surfaces would have been. While its data collection and transmission gear — designed and built by the Japanese and Taiwanese subcontractors — would work, half the information would be lost because someone in Mission Control missed the linkup because they were down in the cafeteria, discussing last night’s episode of “Walking Dead” with the guys in accounting. Meanwhile, the Philae lander would have oversized tires and mud flaps with little Yosemite Sam pictograms. Instead of flags, both the Rosetta and Philae would deploy mechanical middle fingers every time another country’s spacecraft flew by.

All kidding aside, I congratulate the ESA on its success. I remember when the United States used to do cool stuff like that. Perhaps we shall again, someday. In the meantime, we’re waiting for the Russians to swing by and pick us up.

–Ben Crystal

Friday morning quarterbacking

Midterm elections are routinely nightmarish for the party that occupies the White House, but Tuesday’s turnout was epic in scope and brutality. Mike Tyson didn’t give Michael Spinks the kind of beating the party of President Barack Obama endured earlier this week. Of course, Spinks knew what he was getting into; and if he didn’t, he didn’t suffer very long. Though one might presume the Democrats had a sense of their own coming visit to the back of the woodshed, their teeth-gnashing, clothes-tearing, “Woe is me!” response suggests otherwise.

Of course, the GOP already held a majority in the House, so their annexation of extra real estate came as no surprise. A few gubernatorial races earned a glance, as well. Among them are the following:

  • Red-tinged Larry Hogan took solidly blue Maryland.
  • Obama’s home state of Illinois fell to Republican Bruce Rauner, thanks to Obama’s close association with Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.
  • And Greg Abbott finally closed the Lone Star State’s book on Wendy Davis, who ran what may well have been the most horrendous campaign to gain national attention in years, if not decades.

But the real action was in the Senate, where suitably outraged citizens finally shut down outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid’s culture of corruption. A couple of races caught my eye: some because they were “close,” some because they were not close at all, some because they involved a candidate who was comically unprepared for the campaign and others because I found them fascinating.

Kentucky

The race: Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell versus Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The outcome: McConnell by a couple of furlongs.

The summary: By the time the precincts opened, this one was already over. The Democrats, sensing a coming defeat, pulled final ad-budget funding before the final weekend. In a state with hundreds of thousands of potential Democrat candidates, the best they could come up with was Grimes, the poor sap drafted to replace an apparently unbalanced actress named Ashley Judd. She drifted through a campaign that featured only one consistent message: “I’m not Barack Obama.” Bluegrass State voters, evidently aware of that fact, sent her packing.

The moment: Grimes, attempting to distance herself from her party’s increasingly anti-Bill of Rights rhetoric, released an ad featuring her firing a rifle. She wore neither eye nor ear protection in the shot, reminding everyone not of sport shooting, but of Obama’s bizarre “skeet shooting” photo op. Authenticity? Nope.

New Hampshire

The race: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen versus Republican Scott Brown.

The outcome: Shaheen in a Granite State stomping

The summary: I hope the GOP has finally learned to stop pushing Scott Brown. He won a special election in Massachusetts, and then lost to the borderline-Maoist millionaire Sen. Elizabeth Warren. If he couldn’t beat Warren and her “high cheekbones,” I have no idea why anyone thought he could beat Shaheen in the next state over.

The moment: The day Brown’s moving van crossed the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Colorado

The race: Republican Cory Gardner versus Democrat Mark Udall.

The outcome: Gardner gets Rocky Mountain High (in a manner of speaking).

The summary: If you’re going to strike a one-note campaign (a common error made by Democrats), make sure that note doesn’t make a nickname like “Uterus” seem perfect. Colorado’s leftward turn in the past couple of years has cost the state big money, big prestige and big jobs. So, while so-called “women’s issues” — and by “women’s issues” I mean “abortion” — are worth discussing, they’re hardly an electoral haymaker. Women are people. People like prosperity. That’s a women’s issue, as well. Udall forgot that, and it cost him.

The moment: The redoubtably leftist Denver Post endorsed Gardner. Ouchie.

Arkansas

The race: Republican Tom Cotton versus Democrat Mark Pryor.

The outcome: Cotton feeds Pryor to the Hogs.

The summary: There was no reason for this race to appear on anyone’s “tight” list. Since the days when then-Governor Bill Clinton molested state instead of federal employees, Arkansas has transformed from light bluish to crimson red. Pryor had the same chance as the Razorbacks do of winning the national championship.

The moment: The day Slick Willie left the governor’s mansion. It’s been downhill ever since.

Georgia

The race: David Perdue versus Michelle Nunn.

The outcome: She’s gone with the wind.

The summary: The Democrats managed to convince themselves they could turn Georgia blue. Even as the sun rose on Election Day, Nunn was expected to make a show of it. And then Perdue painted the Peach State Bulldog red. Georgia has a sizable number of black voters. According to the Democrats, black voters vote for Democrats. Either they overestimated the actual number of black voters, or they underestimated the ability of black voters to make up their own minds. It’s also possible that Nunn’s campaign message of “Vote for me ’cause you liked my old man” didn’t resonate.

The moment: When Perdue beat longtime GOP heavyweight Congressman Jack Kingston in the primary.

Iowa

The race: Joni Ernst versus Bruce Braley.

The outcome: Joni loves victory.

The summary: Ernst mounted what I suppose could be counted as a surprise, since she and Braley were vying for the seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Furthermore, Iowa is no red state redoubt; it went to Obama in both 2012 and 2008. Nonetheless, Braley ran a lackluster campaign and paid for it. Someone probably should have told Braley that suing your neighbors over wandering chickens sounds — to borrow a phrase from the current presidential regime — “chickensh*t.” It certainly didn’t help that first lady Michelle Obama, stumping for Braley, couldn’t bother to learn either his name or the position he sought.

The moment: Ask the pig. He knows.

North Carolina

The race: Thom Tillis versus Kay Hagan.

The outcome: Close, but no Tar Heel.

The summary: The fact that this one stayed so close is likely more a testament to soft support for Tillis than anything else. Hagan’s campaign plodded along like her senatorial performance. When she bothered to show up, she either did nothing to inspire her constituents, or she annoyed them. Had Tillis been more dynamic, he could have run up the score like Duke playing basketball against the Durham under-10 squad. North Carolina went to Obama in 2008, but Mitt Romney in 2012. The moment: Hagan skipped the debate. Or maybe it was when she skipped the ISIS hearing.

It’s probably worth noting that Tuesday’s record-breaking beating represented as much a repudiation of the Democrats’ six-year reign of terror as it did any particular endorsement of Republican promises. Indeed, Tuesday’s seismic smackdown revealed as much about the Democrats’ enforced intellectual monolith as it did about the fact that Americans are clearly beginning to recognize the GOP’s growing ideological diversity. And though some serious conservatives threw their opponents off the proverbial roof, some marginally moderate types also managed to give their Democratic opponents a solid shove. Rock-ribbed conservative South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott buried his challenger under a mountain of ballots, while RINO McConnell certainly shellacked his.

The Democrats’ six-year-old strategy of lying to Americans and then calling them stupid, racist or some combination of the two for noticing has borne seriously bitter electoral fruit. If they hope to return to the majority, they might consider ending their war on liberty. At the very least, they might want to think about the quality of the candidates they recruit.

The Democrats are surging toward defeat

Barring the sort of electoral fraud normally reserved for elections involving previously unheralded “community activists” or members of the Kennedy family, Election Day 2014 is going to be a tough outing for President Barack Obama and his Democratic accomplices.

Poll after poll indicates that not only are the majority of Americans tired of the noisy — and noisome — Obama freak show, but they’re going to do something about it this coming Tuesday. And the Democrats, rather than learn from their mistakes, are pre-emptively pointing fingers over the coming whipping.

As the campaign races close on the finish line, the Democrats have issued a clarion call to their base, exhorting them to turn out on Election Day or suffer dire, albeit nonspecific, consequences. And they’ve identified the need for enhanced black voter turnout without once acknowledging the unspoken bigotry of presuming all black people vote — or do anything — unanimously. Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said: “If the black vote, and the brown vote, doesn’t turn out, we just can’t win. It’s that simple.” Translation: “If we lose, it’s because ‘those’ people didn’t get out for us.”

And the supposed “black electorate” isn’t the only group hearing the Friday morning quarterbacking. After a swing through so-called “black media” outlets, including Al Sharpton’s radio show, Obama appeared at a rally for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke. “It don’t make no sense… We need to strengthen the middle class for the 21st century. That means we need leaders from the 21st century who actually believe women should get paid the same as men.” Perhaps it was his folksy use of double-negatives which kept the carefully selected audience from remembering that Obama, who is the ideological scion of failed 20th century ideologues, pays female White House staffers less than their male counterparts. That may also explain how Obama fell under the misapprehension that all — or even most — women vote the way they’re told to by men.

The same could be said for so-called “women’s issues,” also considered a key to the Democrats’ electoral strategy. Having failed to convince the fairer sex that “taxpayer-funded, late-term, partial-birth abortions for anyone who mentions ‘Sandra Fluke’ at the check-in desk” and “women’s issues” are one and the same, the Democrats didn’t abandon their macabre devotion to legalized infanticide. Instead, they attacked any woman who dared speak out against the left’s death culture.

Blacks have been voting majority Democrat since the late 1960s. Women have been a key liberal demographic nearly as long. Both groups are presumed to be monolithically liberal to the extent that the same Democrats who treat them like foregone conclusions consider racist and sexist assaults, including actual assaults, against conservative blacks and women acceptable and even funny.

Even after making nonexistent racism and imagined bigotry the excuse for every one of Obama’s unprecedented string of failures, disgraces and outright crimes, the Democrats simply cannot bring themselves to admit that their string of failures, disgraces and outright crimes has consequences. The Democrats’ politics of division have failed them. But rather than learn something constructive from what may well be a record-breaking electoral beat down that they absolutely brought upon themselves, they’ve spent their time alternatively quaking in their onesies and identifying the fall guys whom they’re going to blame.

If they win, they won! If they lose, they lost to racism, sexism, classism or an insufficient turnout by the voters whom they consistently take for granted because they’re black, female and/or poor. And then they can — and clearly will — blame blacks, women and poor people.

–Ben Crystal

One czar to rule them all

Until the next medical professional goes for a post-Liberian visit bowl and beer, it’s likely that the hubbub over Ebola and President Barack Obama’s almost laughably confused handling thereof is in the rearview mirror. If you’re not already Ebola-positive, you probably won’t contract it — unless you do … maybe. Actually, if there’s one group of people who clearly has no idea whether you should worry about Ebola, that group would be Obama and his retinue. Among them is Ron Klain, assigned to the newly created post of Ebola response coordinator (aka Ebola czar). For all the qualifications Klain brings to the job of ostensibly leading the Obama regime’s counteroffensive against Ebola, he might as well be a used bedpan. It’s almost as if Obama simply tabbed the first person he saw after the people running his perpetual campaign told him he needed an Ebola czar.

Obama: “You, there!”

Klain: “Yes, Mr. President?”

Obama: “Do you have any sort of medical or crisis management training?”

Klain: “No, Mr. President.”

Obama: “Whatever. You’re my new Ebola czar. Valerie Jarrett here will see you’re fitted out with — um — whatever stuff an Ebola czar needs.”

Klain: “Yes, Mr. President.”

Clearly, the Democrats didn’t think appointing an Ebola czar was a worthwhile endeavor, which explains the abysmal choice Obama made. The appointment of a stuffed suit like Klain isn’t a throwaway paean to the “bitter clingers.” It’s a bird-flip to everyone who pointed out that Obama has literally failed to substantatively address any challenge without finding a way to fail, albeit dressed up as level-headed leadership. In naming Klain as opposed to any one of the millions of candidates who match Klain’s qualifications by being alive and by not currently serving time in prison, Obama is throwing a blanket of craven political opportunism over a real problem. How little must the Democrats think of us if they’d go through the motions of addressing a possible crisis without actually addressing the possible crisis.

Klain is a political flack. He’s a taller Karl Rove, a less creepy David Axelrod, a James Carville with hair and a normal-sized head. And while he certainly answers the question “Do lifetime political hacks make good medical emergency managers?” with a resounding “No,” he also answers the question “Does the United States need an Ebola czar?” in a similarly negative manner.

Speaking only on my own behalf, I have yet to discern an actual need for an Ebola czar. Given that Obama’s response to Ebola — much like Obama’s responses to every other crisis with which he’s contended — involved waiting until just after the simplest solution has expired, it’s hard to imagine that Klain will serve any purpose other than closing the proverbial barn door after the cow has died of hemorrhagic fever. His business cards might as well read “Director of the Office of Hindsight.”

Given that the history of American political “czardom” is pretty much a tale tragicomic futility — we’ve had a drug czar for nearly 30 years; anyone having trouble finding drugs? — it’s hard to imagine that Klain is worth whatever salary we’re going to pay him.

Besides, we technically already have an Ebola czar. The position of assistant secretary for preparedness and response has been filled since July 2009 by Nicole Lurie, M.D., although she has become more elusive than an Ebola-positive airline passenger at the Kennedy International Airport baggage claim.

Lest you dismiss this as some partisan rant, the Republicans deserve just as much scorn as Obama for every professional paper shuffler, partisan wire-puller and political hornswoggler who ever drew a federal paycheck for an ill-defined gig named for a defunct Eurasian autocrat. In the days after Obama’s nonexistent border security introduced Ebola to American soil, Republicans lined up to stick their snouts in the crisis trough. Outgoing Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) kicked up quite a fuss, penning a suitably outraged opinion: “We need an Ebola czar.” The president of the United States did everything but personally stamp the passport and call a taxi for a deadly hemorrhagic fever from West Africa, and the loyal opposition wants to beat it back with more politicians.

Perhaps, as we prepare to cast our ballots in one of the more important midterm elections in recent memory, both parties’ response to a scary disease that so far has inspired more heart palpitations than actual fatalities ought to provide us with one of those “teachable moments” Obama often yammers on about instead of doing something constructive. When the Democrats’ unprecedented failures of leadership, foresight and basic preparedness led to a life-threatening disease gaining a foothold on American soil, the Republicans didn’t call 911; they called the lawyers. We have had a drug czar, a faith-based czar, an AIDS czar and even a green energy czar. Despite all those czars, we still have drugs, faith, AIDS and “green” energy. And now, some of us have Ebola. Maybe the czars are the problem. They’re certainly not the solution to anything.

–Ben Crystal

Obama who?

It’s not as if President Barack Obama is the first chief executive to get the cold shoulder from his party subordinates during election season. President George W. Bush wasn’t swamped with invitations to come rally the troops during the 2006 midterms. And the Democrats treated President Bill Clinton like the proverbial creepy uncle in both 1994 and 1998 — although he was probably too busy during both occasions to care much. In 1994, he was chasing chubby interns around the Oval Office. In 1998, he was perjuring himself in front of a grand jury about chasing chubby interns around the Oval Office.

But I can’t recall a time like this. At the depths of Bush’s popularity in 2006, GOP senators and congressmen might not have been ringing the Oval Office phone off the hook; but they weren’t pretending they didn’t even know the number. And they certainly never tried to convince an already-skeptical electorate that they didn’t vote for him. Even as Clinton was facing impeachment — and later, disbarment — for his peccadillos, the Democrats might have forgotten to add him to the invitation list; but they never barred the door to the ballroom.

Fast-forward to 2014, and it would appear Obama has once again blazed a new trail through the pitfalls of politics. Because this time around, his own party is doing everything but messing with his GPS in order to keep him from showing up at their increasingly desperate rallies. In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the liberal functionary drafted by the Democrats to face the seemingly beatable Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has spent at least as much time trying to convince Bluegrass State voters that she doesn’t even know this Obama guy as she has expressing any sort of meaningful platform. In fact, after weakly dodging questions about her presidential votes with remarks about her proud vote for Hillary Clinton in a primary, Grimes not only refused to admit voting for Obama, but she told a debate audience that asking her about it violates her “constitutional right for privacy at the ballot box.” Even leftist media shill Chuck Todd laughed at that one, suggesting that Grimes had “disqualified herself.” Just to be sure, Grimes ran an ad proclaiming, “I’m not Barack Obama.”

In New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen stopped short of the full “Grimes,” playing it coy over her presidential support. When asked if she approved of Obama’s presidential performance, Shaheen responded: “In some ways I approve, and some things I don’t approve.” Her half-answer was met by a crescendo of laughter from an audience well aware that she has voted according to Obama’s dictates 99 percent of the time. In the event anyone wasn’t convinced of her fealty to the incredibly unpopular Obama, Shaheen did note she is “absolutely proud” of the multitrillion-dollar Obamacare disaster.

Further south, Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn (Mrs. Ron Martin) has alternated between her main campaign message of “Vote for me, I’m the late Senator Sam Nunn’s kid; honest!” and “I worked for Republicans!” When her opponent David Perdue ran an ad with a picture of her cavorting with Obama, the Democrat raced out to remind voters that she wasn’t chilling with Barry; she was hanging with George — meaning former President George H.W. Bush, who was also present in the photo. Presented with the opportunity to stand proudly behind a man for whom she voted twice in the past six years, Nunn (Mrs. Martin) tried to align herself with a Republican who hasn’t been president in 22 years. Nunn (Mrs. Martin) is locked in a tight race, mostly because her opponent, Perdue, is a borderline RINO who has profoundly failed to energize the conservative base in the Peach State. While she eventually confessed to her electoral support for Obama, her plan to win involves playing off her connections to Obama and playing up her connections to the GOP.

The anti-Obama refrain repeats itself across the nation. In Colorado, embattled Senator Mark Udall skipped a presidential visit to his state. It’s hard to imagine that a candidate as virulently pro-abortion as Udall could be mistaken for anything other than a liberal, but his fear of the Obama drag is enough to send him scurrying away. In Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu can’t stop reminding her constituents of her opposition to Obama’s stance against American energy independence. In Arkansas, Senator Mark Pryor has done everything except pose with an AR-15 in order to convince Arkansans that he’s a stalwart opponent of Obama’s anti-Bill of Rights policies. Following first lady Michelle Obama’s disastrous campaign swing for Iowa candidate Bruce Braley, a senior Democrat told the National Journal: “The ineptitude of the White House political operation has sunk from annoying to embarrassing.”

To some extent, Obama himself is to blame for so many Democrats trying to jump ship. As he noted in an early October speech at Northwestern University: “I’m not on the ballot this fall. But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.” As recently as Monday, Obama told Al Sharpton that the Democrats are “folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress.” From the perspective of Democrats in close races, he might as well have welded himself to their campaign buses just as they peeled the “Obama/Biden” stickers off the bumpers. And his refusal to yield the limelight, despite the fact that the electorate has nearly booed him off the stage, has sent his party into the weirdest tailspin in recent memory.

What does it say when a political party that has stood shoulder to shoulder with a president through a catalog of offenses, crimes and misdemeanors against the people that rivals the most Orwellian days of the Soviet Union suddenly develops a case of what I like to call “Bamnesia?” Some might conclude the Democrats, not known for their honesty, are simply lying. Others might discern a possible fracture in the enforced monolith of liberal politics. But I have a different take, courtesy of Alaska Senator Mark Begich. During an exchange with Washington Examiner reporter Rebecca Berg, Begich finally admitted to voting for Obama, but then added the caveat: “The president’s not relevant. He’s gone in two years.” Thanks to Obama, some Democrats — possibly including Begich — will be gone a lot sooner.

–Ben Crystal