These celebs get the Grinch award

Americans are without a doubt the most generous people in the world. We give more of our time and money to others than any other nation. I’ll have some specific stats to share with you in a moment, which should make you feel very good this Christmas Day.

But there are also a bunch of folks who give charity a bad name. One of them is Lady Gaga, who has a charity called Born This Way Foundation. Its website says the foundation “is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world.”

In 2012, the foundation raised $2.6 million from Lady Gaga’s fans. And how much of that money was given away to help young people build a “kinder, braver world,” do you think? If you guessed a couple of million dollars, you’re off by 97.5 percent. Lady Gaga’s foundation gave away only a paltry $5,000 of the money it raised.

Yes, you read that right: five thousand bucks out of $2.6 million. Heck, her costumes for one show probably cost more than that. C’mon, Lady, reach a little deeper, would you? Heck, reach a lot deeper.

Another celebrity who has some ‘splaining to do is Kim Kardashian. Like many other celebrities, Kardashian has closets full of clothes she’ll never wear again. So she auctions off many pieces for charity.

Before one of the auctions, Kardashian explained: “My dad passed away from cancer, so the funds go towards granting wishes for terminally ill adults.” Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

Whenever one of her items appears, it’s accompanied by the tagline, “Charity Auction Supporting the Dream Foundation.” And it does … sort of. Turns out that Kardashian gives just 10 percent of the proceeds to charity. That just happens to be the absolute minimum percent eBay will permit, so the sale can be called a “charity auction.”

But it means that 90 percent of the proceeds go to Kardashian. In other words, she keeps nine times more money than is given to the Dream Foundation. Not exactly an example of giving until it hurts, is it?

By the way, Kardashian’s husband seems to have the same, shall we say flexible, standards when it comes to what constitutes a charity. In 2009, the Kanye West Foundation, which said it was founded to help teen dropouts, spent $553,826 on salaries, travel and other administrative expenses. In the same year, it only gave away $573 to charity. Happily, this one was closed three years ago.

The same Fox News website that contained the details of the Kardashian deceit shared several stories of celebrities who give 100 percent of their auction proceeds to charity. Among the names in this very generous category are Miley Cyrus, Sienna Miller, Barbra Streisand, Steven Tyler and even notorious bad boy Charlie Sheen.

Of course, there are plenty of other scams in the charity field. One of the biggest is paying out most of the money that’s donated to the people who raise it. One of the worst in this regard is something called the Kids Wish Network. Sounds a lot like the very respectable Make-A-Wish Foundation, doesn’t it?

In 2012 the Kids Wish Network raised $127.8 million from very generous donors. Of that amount, though, the vast majority — some $109.8 million — was paid to the people who raised the funds! Only 2.5 percent of the money was actually spent granting kids’ wishes.

But enough of the horror stories. Let me end this Christmas Day article with some information about how incredibly generous we Americans are. According to the Giving USA Foundation, in 2013 we gave a total of $335 billion to charitable causes. Of this amount, the vast majority, 72 percent, came from private individuals. Foundations gave 15 percent, bequests gave 8 percent and corporations gave 5 percent.

In addition, volunteers to various charitable endeavors donated time that, if the charities had to hire them, would have cost $163 billion. Taken together, that’s within a whisker’s worth of half-a-trillion dollars in charitable giving.

So yes, the spirit of giving is alive and well in the United States. That should make you both proud and glad this Christmas Day 2014. Congratulations to all of us.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama’s Cuban deal boosts his legacy, won’t help Cubans

Boy, is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ticked off. The son of immigrants from Cuba, he says that Barack Obama’s plan to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba is an abject betrayal of American principles and the Cuban people.

Rubio has been all over the media recently, explaining why he is so opposed to Obama’s plans. In an op-ed last Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, Rubio pointed out:

[I]t has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible — but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.

So what did Raul Castro, the communist dictator who succeeded his brother Fidel, concede in exchange for Obama’s concessions? Why, absolutely nothing. In fact, Castro bragged in a speech last Saturday that the regime didn’t have to give up a thing in the deal with Obama.

In fact, restoring diplomatic and economic relations will actually strengthen the communist dictatorship in Cuba. With more American tourists coming to the island and with Cubans in this country allowed to send more money back to beleaguered relatives at home, the Castros will be able to get their hands on even more U.S. dollars.

According to Rubio, “The entire policy shift is based on the illusion — in fact, on the lie — that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people.” Just the opposite will occur, he insists: “More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come.”

That’s a pretty hefty price to pay for the diplomatic gesture. But wait, Rubio says the actual consequences are even worse:

This precedent places a new price on the head of every American, and it gives rogue leaders around the world more clear-cut evidence of this President’s naiveté and his willingness to abandon fundamental principles in a desperate attempt to burnish his legacy.

It isn’t just Republicans who are upset by this policy switch. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the senior senator from New Jersey, who is also of Cuban ancestry, had this to say:

For compromising on bedrock U.S. values, we received zero commitments from the regime to change its ways, to hold free elections, permit dissent, halt censorship and free all political prisoners. We abandoned U.S. policy, while the Castro brothers’ stranglehold on power just got tighter.

Menendez, who is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then added this warning: “This swap sets an extremely dangerous precedent and invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.”

Not everyone agrees with Rubio and Menendez, of course. Even some conservatives say it’s time to try a new approach to our relations with Cuba. The always-eloquent Peggy Noonan sounded downright optimistic in her column this past Saturday in The Wall Street Journal:

Nothing will make Cuba democratic overnight. But American involvement and presence — American tourists and businessmen, American diplomats, American money, American ways and technology — will likely in time have a freeing effect. With increased contact a certain amount of good feeling will build. And that could make Cuba, within a generation or less, a friend.

In the long term, I think the lady is probably right. The majority of Cubans, like the majority of people everywhere, want to be free. They want the same basic rights we take for granted. And once the Castros are gone, there’s a good chance Cuba will start making moves in that direction.

Hopefully, over time the Cuban people will gain more political and economic freedom. As they do, their economy will improve and their standard of living will go up.

But all of that is many years away. And in the meantime, I have no doubt that the immediate effect of Obama’s unilateral action will be to strengthen Cuba’s desperate and deadly regime.

Rubio has vowed he will do “everything in my power to prevent President Obama’s dangerous policies from becoming reality.” That’s a worthy goal — and not just as it involves a communist dictatorship 90 miles from our shore.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood  

Is waterboarding torture?

Is waterboarding torture? The truth is most Americans don’t care how you define the word. What they care about are the results from it.

When the Pew Research Center took a poll of Americans asking whether CIA interrogation methods following 9/11 were justified, only 29 percent said they were not. More than half, 51 percent, said they were. The other 20 percent, or 1 in 5, said they didn’t know.

The Pew survey was taken just days before we learned about the Taliban’s slaughter of more than 130 schoolchildren in Pakistan. I bet if that same survey were taken today, the number approving those “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be substantially higher. It’s hard to argue that we can’t support aggressive interrogation when jihadist crazies will gloat about shooting children in the head at point-blank range and burning teachers to death in front of them.

The news out of Peshawar, Pakistan, is indeed disgusting. One of the more incredible headlines I read was this one on CNN’s website: “Taliban try to justify slaughter of children.” The Taliban said the children were fair game because most of them were the sons and daughters of military personnel. There’s no way to reason with fanatics like this; the only way to be safe from them is to kill them or imprison them.

When she released the 500-page “Executive Summary” of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s so-called “torture report” last week, Sen. Diane Feinstein, the committee chairwoman, attached a six-page foreword in which she claimed that the CIA’s “brutal interrogation techniques [were] in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.”

The first two parts of that sentence are a lie; the third is open to debate. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey pointed out that in 2006 Feinstein co-sponsored an amendment to the Military Commissions Act that would have classified waterboarding as torture. The Senate refused to pass it.

Then, two years later, the Senate did approve a measure that would limit interrogators to techniques that were in the Army Field Manual. This would have, in effect, prohibited waterboarding. Although Congress approved the bill, it was vetoed by President George W. Bush.

So at the time it was used, waterboarding was legal. In fact, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion that the CIA methods were not torture.

Getting back to that Pew survey, it’s interesting to note that every single subdivision approved of the interrogation techniques — except one. Every age group was in favor, including the youngest. Those 18 to 29 said “yes” by 44 percent to 36 percent. The older the group, the more in favor they were; those 30 to 49 approved by 45 percent to 30 percent; those 50 to 64 by 59 percent to 26 percent; and those 65 and older by 62 percent to 26 percent.

Republicans approved the interrogation methods by a hefty margin; the numbers were 76 percent to 12 percent. Independents also approved, by 49 percent to 30 percent. You won’t be surprised to learn that people who described themselves as Democrats were the only group in opposition; the numbers there were 37 percent to 46 percent.

So, yes, Americans are deeply divided about how aggressive our interrogations of jihadist extremists should be — or how far we should go to defeat them.

These fanatics would love to do to us what a handful of them just did to those schoolchildren in Peshawar. Let’s pray that whatever we’re doing, it’s enough to prevent that from happening — without surrendering more of our essential liberties in the process.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Republicans’ abject surrender on spending

In a rare Saturday session, the Senate passed the “cromnibus” spending bill that the House of Representatives approved last Thursday. Twenty Republican senators joined 36 Democrats in voting for the $1.3 trillion measure, which will fund most of the federal government through September.

The one exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which gets funding only through February. This means the new Congress can take another whack at cutting off money to implement President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty program. Based on what just happened, though, I wouldn’t bet on it.

There are so many things wrong with this legislative monstrosity that I hardly know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that members of the House had less than 24 hours to review the bill before they had to vote on it. The chances that anyone actually read the 1,600-page conglomeration, and knew all of the pork that was packed in it, are just about zero.

Earlier this year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised members they would always have at least three full days to review a bill before a vote would be taken. But when it came time to approve this one, that promise was tossed out the window.

It’s going to take a while to learn about all of the pork that this $1.3 trillion spending bill contains. Let me just point out that until last Friday, the “cromnibus” measure carried a $1.1 trillion price tag. But by the time it came up for final approval, another $200 billion had been added to it. Stand still, taxpayers, while we fleece you some more.

Almost every part of the federal behemoth is fully funded in this massive spending bill. The only exceptions are the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, which both had a little bit trimmed from their budgets. But the White House said no worries; even though Obama said there were a few parts of the measure he didn’t like, he would be certain to sign it when it reached his desk.

The most nauseating display of hypocrisy over the budget battle was the left’s outflowing of praise for their latest idol, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). She was hailed as a paragon of virtue because of her efforts to kill the measure and, thus, force a government shutdown.

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a Tea Party favorite, threatened to do the same thing over his opposition to funding Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional amnesty program, he was vilified in the mainstream media for being an irresponsible obstructionist. When a conservative makes a bold stand on principle, it’s not praiseworthy, of course. It’s an example of being a dangerous extremist.

God save us from the hypocrisy of the left!

Warren scored points from her progressive friends for her objections to part of the bill that would repeal some provisions of the Dodd-Frank law. The result would be to allow big banks to trade in some risky financial derivatives and still be eligible for federal assistance if things went wrong. “This is about preventing another financial collapse,” she thundered, “that could again wipe out millions of jobs and take down our whole economy.”

Her dire warnings weren’t enough to win the support of a majority of her Democratic colleagues. But they certainly gained her a ton of favorable publicity in the media. The hosannas got louder when 300 former Obama supporters issued an open letter urging her to run for president in 2016. And the super left-wing promised to put up $1 million to prime the pump for such a campaign.

The headline on the front page of The Wall Street Journal hailed the passage of the spending bill as “A Rare Bipartisan Success.” And I guess that’s true — if by “success” you mean business as usual in Washington, D.C.

If this is what “compromise” looks like, I prefer gridlock.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Democrats’ ‘reckless and irresponsible’ terror report

Let’s get one thing clear right from the start: That 500-page summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s lengthy and expensive investigation of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” doesn’t come close to being a fair and objective account.

No, it’s a highly partisan document that will probably help our nation’s enemies a lot more than it will benefit us.

The study took more than five years to complete and cost taxpayers an estimated $40 million. And in all of that time, and with all of that money, the investigators somehow never found the time to interview any of the top officials at the CIA about the program or its results.

The report is so one-sided that not a single Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee would sign off on the thing. No wonder that, after sitting on the results for more than two years, Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) decided to release it now. Next month, the Republicans will take over the Senate; she will no longer be in charge of things.

The report contends that the brutal techniques used against some detainees, including sleep deprivation and water-boarding, never yielded any valuable intelligence. Moreover, it says that the CIA deliberately misled Congress, the White House and the American people about what it was doing and the results it was getting.

But according to several top CIA officials, including those appointed by Barack Obama, this is simply not true. Former director George Tenet said in response, “We know that the program led to the capture of al-Qaida leaders and took them off the battlefield, that it prevented mass casualty attacks and that it save thousands of American lives.”

John Brennan, another Obama appointee to head the CIA, admits the agency made some mistakes and says it has learned from them. But he also insists that the coercive techniques “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.”

We’ll never get the two sides to agree on the results we got or whether the techniques used were worth it. But in all of the hullabaloo we’re hearing now, there are some points that have to be made.

First, the use of such “enhanced interrogation techniques” was legal. They were authorized by President George W. Bush and supported by his Justice Department. In fact, after repeated investigations by the current administration, Eric Holder’s Justice Department did not file charges against anyone in the CIA for using them. We make not like this, but it’s true.

Second, let’s keep in mind that in the aftermath of 9/11 most Americans were overwhelmingly in favor of doing whatever was necessary to get information from our enemies. More than 3,000 Americans had just been murdered in the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. A lot of us wanted revenge against the people who planned these atrocities.

Third, in conducting war against the jihadists who would destroy us, we continue to use measures that are far from what anyone would call a fair fight. Are the drone strikes that Obama has authorized, which have killed many innocent civilians along with identified terrorists, really “more humane” than how we questioned detainees a decade ago?

And finally, what do we gain by airing all of this now? Obama has said, “These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our national interests with allies and partners.”

Even if all of that is true, I contend that releasing this biased and unfair report now will cause even more problems with our allies and partners, while it will encourage our enemies.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) issued a joint statement that spelled out just how much damage could result from this so-called terror report:

We are concerned that this release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies. Simply put, this report is reckless and irresponsible.

Yes, and it also happens to be highly biased and untrue. No wonder the mainstream media love it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

A meaningless sop for conservatives

In a classic example of political grandstanding, the House of Representatives passed a meaningless vote last week in opposition to Barack Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration.

The proposed legislation would ostensibly thwart Obama’s plan to shield millions of illegal aliens from deportation. It passed the House by a vote of 219-197, with every Republican in the House supporting it and most Democrats opposing it.

And as both sides knew at the time, it won’t mean a thing. The measure now goes to the Senate, where lame-duck Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has made it clear he will not allow it to come to a vote.

So why all the fuss? The vote was a charade orchestrated by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) so conservative legislators could boast about it to their supporters, all the while making sure nothing will threaten the spending compromise Boehner had arranged.

Time is running out for Congress to pass a spending bill. Unless it does something in the next two days, the federal government won’t have the authority after Dec. 11 to spend any money or pay any of its bills. That possibility is viewed in Washington as an unmitigated disaster. Most Americans seem blithely unaware of the issue.

So how will our legislators solve the mess they have created for us? Why, the same way they always do — with another weak-kneed compromise that doesn’t do anything to reduce our gargantuan government. You can bet your bottom dollar, if you’ll forgive the expression, that it will be more of the same old same old.

The compromise that Boehner has arranged is a continuing resolution that will fund every federal agency until September, with one exception. The appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that will implement Obama’s executive order on immigration, will last only until February. That will toss this political hot potato into the lap of the new Congress.

Or to put it another way, the measure will give the Obama administration the money it needs to begin implementing Obama’s executive order right away. As Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) pointed out, “It’s looking less and less likely there’ll be any significant response at all to the president’s executive amnesty.” He said that trying to block the plan next year will be too late, warning: “It will be a done deal by then.”

The midterm elections last month were a massive refutation of Obama’s policies. You’ll remember the president said that while his name wasn’t on the ballot anywhere, his policies were — every one of them.

Republicans focused on the two most unpopular policies: Obamacare and immigration. And in election after election, for the Senate, the House and hundreds of state races, they sent Democratic candidates down to stunning defeat. The latest example of this occurred last Saturday, when voters in Louisiana chose Bill Cassidy, the Republican challenger, to replace Mary Landrieu, the three-term Democratic incumbent. The runoff wasn’t even close; Cassidy won by a hefty 12-point margin, 56 percent to 44 percent.

Cassidy’s victory means Republicans gained nine Senate seats in the midterm elections. When the new Congress convenes in early January, they will enjoy a 54-seat majority.

With control of both branches of Congress, will Republicans finally start living up to their campaign promises? With these mealymouthed compromisers in charge, I wouldn’t count on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Beware the GOP internationalists

Anyone who expects the new Republican majority in the Senate to slam the brakes on Barack Obama’s meddlesome foreign policy may be in for a big disappointment. According to an op-ed in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal, most of the new senators will be supporting more U.S. intervention around the world, not less.

The piece by Matthew Kaminski, a member of the Journal’s editorial board, carried the title, “The Revival of the GOP Internationalists.” In it, he says that John McCain (R-Ariz.) is elated that at least five of the newly elected senators — David Perdue in Georgia, Dan Sullivan in Alaska, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Thom Tillis in North Carolina — are all “pro-defense internationalists.”

Kaminski quotes McCain as gloating, “We picked up allies. I did not see Rand Paul pick up one.” Sadly, that is probably true, as so many superb candidates got sandbagged in the primaries.

McCain, who has long been considered one of the most ardent internationalists in the Senate, is now slated to become the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. As such, Kaminski points out, he will be in a powerful position to promote an “assertive” foreign policy.

When this happens, it will mark be a significant change for the Republican Party. Kaminski notes that in recent years the non-interventionalists in Congress (Kaminski prefers to use the derogatory but inaccurate label “isolationists”) won many of the foreign policy debates in recent years. He writes:

The tea-party turks said no to the 2011 intervention in Libya and last year’s proposed bombing strikes on Syria. No to electronic surveillance, data mining and drone strikes. The GOP signed off on steep budget cuts for the Pentagon.

Hmmm, do you see anything there that didn’t have the support of a healthy majority of your fellow Americans? I don’t.

But according to Kaminski, all of that is about to change. He says: “In giving them majorities in both chambers, Americans voters will expect a responsible and mature GOP strategy for a world in turmoil.”

You can bet that by “responsible and mature,” Kaminski means getting even more involved in the affairs of other countries. Kaminski’s piece opens with the line, “John McCain is happy.” It concludes with this:

“The current leadership in Washington, never mind in Europe, isn’t rising to the challenge. There’s an opening here for the right kind of Republican.”

You’ve got to know that for Kaminski and his masters at The Wall Street Journal, McCain and his fellow internationalists represent “the right kind of Republican.” Kaminiski says that Ted Cruz’s name may be added to this list.

The article notes that McCain has just returned from this year’s gathering of the Halifax International Security Forum, where he has been a regular for several years. This year, he was joined by Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a staunch critic of Obama’s foreign policy. McCain is quoted as saying that Cruz “is very much an internationalist.”

But Kaminski isn’t about to give Cruz a free pass into respectability; he had to take a final cheap shot at the Tea Party favorite: “The Cruz positions are either evolving, inconsistent or merely opportunistic.” And then he added, “You might call that the prerogatives of a ’16 hopeful.”

Pretty snarky, wasn’t he?

For a much better statement of what our foreign policy should be, read to the words of our first president. Here is what George Washington said in his farewell address:

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.

That standard served us well for the first 120 years of this country’s existence. Maybe someday we’ll elect more men and women who will try to return us to it. But if McCain has his way, it won’t be in the new Senate.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The real heroes in Ferguson

Did you hear about the four black men, armed to the teeth, who pulled up to a white-owned gas station in Ferguson, Missouri, a week ago? They weren’t there to join the rioters, who burned and looted stores and vehicles up and down the streets that night. No, they were there to protect the gas station from the vandals.

One of the men, who was identified only as “R.J.,” explained the reason for the men’s actions. He said the owner, Doug Merello, had given many of them jobs over the years. “He’s a nice dude,” R.J. said. “He’s helped a lot of us.”

Merello said how grateful he was for the men’s actions: “We would have been burned to the ground many times over it if weren’t for them,” as were many of the black-owned businesses nearby.

In fact, one of the saddest images from the riots was that of Natalie DuBose, a black single mother with two children who begged the rioters to spare her cake shop. “If I can’t open my doors every morning, I can’t feed my kids in the evening,” she said. “Just don’t burn my shop down. Don’t destroy it.” Sadly, her appeal was ignored and her shop was vandalized.

Unless you read some of the alternative media in this country, such as Personal Liberty Digest™, you wouldn’t have heard about DuBose’s cake shop or Merello’s gas station. The mainstream media — the same folks who were so eager to justify the riots in Ferguson even before they took place — didn’t deem stories like these worth mentioning.

But those four armed guardians were just one example of genuine heroism that has taken place in Ferguson ever since a grand jury found that there was not enough evidence to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown Jr.

In fact, among the people who demonstrated extraordinary courage and integrity in Ferguson, you have to include the 12 members of that grand jury. The nine whites and three blacks who comprised it conducted their investigation in the midst of an incredible media fish bowl. They heard hundreds of hours of testimony by more than 50 witnesses, including some who claimed they saw Wilson shoot Brown in the back or while he had his hands in the air and was trying to surrender.

Other eyewitnesses, including several blacks, contradicted these inflammatory charges. So did three different autopsy reports, which proved that Brown had not been shot in the back. The so-called “witnesses” who said he was were lying. Will any of them be charged with perjury?

Yes, I think those 12 grand jury members deserve our commendation for calmly and courageously doing their duty. So do the half-dozen black witnesses who confirmed that Brown attacked police officer Wilson.

We should also praise Wilson for the way he has handled himself in these incredibly trying circumstances. The beleaguered police officer has seen his career destroyed. Fearing for his life, he had to flee his home and go into hiding. Then, over the weekend, he faced the inevitable and resigned from the Ferguson police force.

In his letter of resignation, Wilson wrote, “I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers in the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow.” He said he hoped his departure will help calm the community.

Maybe it will, but not if Al Sharpton has anything to do with it. The racist agitator is still trying to stir things up in Ferguson. His latest demand is that Wilson be indicted on federal charges. “I believe justice will come,” he proclaimed.

Hey, Al, what about the poor blacks who’ve seen their businesses and jobs destroyed by the rioters you’ve encouraged? What about justice for them?

And can we hope that maybe someday there will be justice for “witnesses” who lie — and the agitators who encourage them?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Give thanks for the Bill of Rights

I think it’s appropriate that we pause for a few moments this Thanksgiving Day to reflect on something uniquely American: the Bill of Rights. It is generally accepted that the Constitution would not have been adopted by the first 13 states if it had not been accompanied by these first 10 amendments.

Having just won a war to establish their liberty from tyrannical government, those early citizens were not about to allow the newly created government to curtail their rights. So they did their very best to enumerate exactly what this new entity could and could not do.

The 1st Amendment set the tone for all that followed:

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What a powerful group of freedoms are listed here: the freedom to worship as you please without the state imposing its dictates on you, the freedom of speech for you and your neighbors and even the media, the right to demonstrate and to petition government to change. It’s sobering to realize that most people who ever lived did not enjoy such freedoms.

Thanks to these protections, it is virtually impossible to keep Americans from expressing our views and working to implement our beliefs. The liberals might control most of the mainstream media. But they can’t suppress all of the alternative means of communication, from Fox News and talk radio to thousands of “contrary” websites like Personal Liberty Digest. No matter how much they may wish it were otherwise, they can’t keep us from communicating with each other or reaching out to our fellow citizens.

Yes, the 1st Amendment is essential to establish and protect our freedoms. But so is the 2nd Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Boy, have the liberals tried to get rid of this one! While they’ve managed to nibble away at the edges of this guarantee, putting limits in some areas on carrying or even owning some weapons, most of their assaults on our right to keep and bear arms have been defeated. And that’s a good thing, because tyranny can never be imposed on a population that is as well-armed as we are.

The 3rd Amendment isn’t much of a concern anymore; quartering soldiers in our homes hasn’t been an issue since the War Between the States.

But the 4th Amendment is one that needs a lot more attention these days. That’s the one that starts, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated….”

We now know that the government has been monitoring millions of our emails and cellphone conversations. It doesn’t matter that some well-meaning people are doing this because they think they’re protecting us; a lot of crimes have been committed by a lot of governments in the name of “national security.” It’s shameful that the United States has become one of them.

I’m going to skip over the next five amendments, so I can spend the remainder of this column discussing the last amendment in the Bill of Rights. Basically, the 10th Amendment says that if the Founders forgot to include something in the list of what government can’t do, well, it can’t do that, either. Here’s how the Framers of our Constitution put it in the 10th Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Sad to say, the courts have done a terrible job of enforcing this amendment. The central government now intrudes in so many areas that I think it’s safe to say that the Founding Fathers would be dismayed by most federal programs. Like me, they would believe that entire Cabinets, and everything they do, are unconstitutional. And our trillion-dollar budgets, and $18 trillion in debt, would leave them horrified.

Yes, we’ve come a long way from the kind of Constitutional government our Founding Fathers gave us. But the good news is that we still enjoy the rights and liberties we need in our efforts to bind government down with the chains of the Constitution.

So I repeat: As we give thanks this Thanksgiving Day for the many blessings we enjoy, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the value and the importance of that incredible, invaluable document, the Bill of Rights.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will the Republicans have the guts to play hardball?

Barack Obama has certainly tossed down the gauntlet in front of the Republicans, hasn’t he? In an address to the nation last Thursday night, he finally confirmed all of the trial balloons the White House had launched, promising he would issue some sort of executive order on immigration.

Turns out the reality goes even further than we were warned about. Although the president has said the Administration will establish procedures that will permit some 5 million illegal aliens to remain in this country and receive work permits, he is in effect stopping the deportation of all illegals, except for criminals, terrorists and the latest arrivals. By doing so, Obama has made sure that almost all of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegals in this country are in no danger of being deported. In effect, he has granted amnesty to all but a handful of them.

Of course, his actions now fly in the face of his repeated assertions over the past six years that he did not have the authority to do so. “The problem is,” Obama said last year, “that I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

That was just one of 22 different times Obama was recorded saying that he did not have the authority to do what he just did. In a Town Hall meeting back in 2011, the president said:

There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.

But that was then; this is now. So the question today is: What should the Republicans do about the president’s unconstitutional actions?

In last Thursday’s column, I analyzed one possible strategy: Congress could cut off the funds the president will need to implement his program. The Constitution is unequivocally clear that all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. If Congress won’t fund it, the president can’t spend it.

The liberal media are already screaming that doing such a thing could lead to another government shutdown. They claim that this would be disastrous for Republicans.

There are two false assumptions here. First, the only way a shutdown would occur would be if the president vetoed any spending bill that Congress passed. That could happen if Congress approved a single continuing resolution. But what if Congress approved a series of authorizations? Would Obama really veto every one of them? I suspect that’s one publicity war he would lose, no matter how much the mainstream media tried to defend and protect him.

But even if that were to happen and the government had to shut down for a while, would it really be a disaster for the country or for the Republican Party? Based on what just happened in the midterm elections, I don’t think so. The voters made it pretty darn clear they want the GOP to run things for a while. There didn’t seem to be any residue of anger over the shutdown two years ago.

Controlling the purse strings is just one of the things the new Republican majority could do. Another is to refuse to vote on any of Obama’s nominations for various federal posts. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of the fiercest advocates of drawing this line in the sand.

Both parties have used this tactic on occasion in the past. But I can’t remember when it was applied across the board for an extended period of time. If the goal is to force the president to back down, I don’t think this will do that.

But throwing some sand in the works isn’t the worst thing that could happen. No, a much worse thing would be for Republicans to roll over and allow Obama to continue to trammel the Constitution for two more years.

Hey, Republicans, you’ve finally got the votes to stop him. So how are you going to do it? I can’t wait to hear your answer.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Democrats abandon one of their own

You can almost feel a little bit sorry for Mary Landrieu, who has been fighting an uphill battle to retain her Senate seat in Louisiana. In the election earlier this month, voters refused to give the three-term incumbent a majority, forcing a runoff on Dec. 6. The oddsmakers don’t think much of her chances of winning.

Landrieu became convinced that her best chance to get the voters to return her to office was to win passage of the bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Doing that would have been quite a trick. Barack Obama, playing up to leftist environmentalists in his party, had stalled the measure for the past six years by ordering study after study. Majority Leader Harry Reid had refused to allow the Senate to vote on any of the eight previous bills approving the measure that had been passed by the House.

Ah, but now things were different, or so Landrieu hoped. With her Senate seat on the line, Reid finally agreed to allow a vote to be taken on the measure, after the ninth iteration was approved overwhelmingly in the House last week. The vote there was 252-161.

In a ploy that must have sent shivers up Landrieu’s spine, the lead sponsor of the measure in the House was Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who just happened to be the chief vote getter among Republicans to oppose her for the Senate seat. If the bill failed in the Senate, Landrieu would have egg all over her face. But if it passed, her Republican opponent would be able to claim much of the credit. Talk about a lose-lose proposition!

While Landrieu tried to convince the voters back home that her long tenure on the Senate Energy Committee made her invaluable to the state, there were two embarrassing disclosures that tarnished her claims. The first was that during her 18 years in the Senate, she had never introduced a significant piece of legislation. The second was that she had somehow failed to attend almost 70 percent of the meetings of the most important assignment she had in the Senate: the Energy Committee.

Even the media were asking just how valuable her service to Louisiana had been. A “yes” vote on Keystone would probably not be enough to save her job. But she was going to give it her best shot.

Turns out her best wasn’t enough. There were all sorts of maneuvering before the vote in the Senate, including what was described as “an impassioned plea” behind closed doors to her colleagues by Landrieu. But when the votes were counted two nights ago, the measure came up one vote short.

Thanks to Senate rules, 60 “aye” votes were required for passage. When the tally was taken early Tuesday evening, the measure got the votes of all 45 Republicans in the Senate. But only 14 Democrats defied their party’s leaders to give their approval. The measure failed by a vote of 59-41. Sorry, Mary.

So now what happens? There are two easy predictions:

First, Cassidy will defeat Landrieu in two weeks by a substantial amount, further increasing the Republican majority in the Senate.

Second, soon after the new members take their seats in January and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) replaces Harry Reid as Senate majority leader, a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline will be brought to the floor again. With nine new Republicans eager to grant their assent, the bill should easily win the 60 votes necessary for passage.

After a six-year wait, the measure approving the Keystone XL pipeline will finally land on the president’s desk. If Obama does veto it, as the wacko environmentalists have demanded, we will then find out if enough Democratic senators will defy their leadership and vote to override the president’s veto.

The battle hasn’t been won yet, folks. But in the past week, victory got closer.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Obama really be this stupid?

Well, that didn’t last long. I’m referring to the “new era of cooperation” that was supposed to dawn between Republicans and the Obama Administration after the massive Democratic losses in the midterm elections.

It was just two weeks ago when the Republicans regained control of the Senate, increased their majority in the House and won scores of statewide races, including governorships in such normally solid-blue states as Massachusetts and Maryland. To say that the Democrats endured a shellacking would be an understatement.

Some pundits predicted that the results would force Barack Obama to become a tad more conciliatory toward his opponents. Not a chance, I said. I predicted that the president would be just as arrogant as ever, maybe even more so. Looks like I’m being proven correct in spades.

The media are filled with stories about how Obama is going to defy Republicans, and even many in his own party, by issuing an executive order granting millions of illegal immigrants the right to remain in this country. He’s not going to negotiate with the new Congress. Heck, he won’t even wait until they take office six weeks from now. If the rumors are right, he’s going to act this week.

Talk about throwing gasoline on the fire! House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promises that Congress will fight the president “tooth and nail” if he does such a thing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says issuing such an executive order would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

Obama knows this. And it looks like he’s going to do it anyway. If he does, you can expect both sides to be even more hardheaded and intractable over the next two years than they have been in the past. Hurray for gridlock!

What should the Republicans do now? Actually, they have a relatively simple strategy available to them to defeat the president on this. They can cut off the money he needs to implement his unconstitutional scheme.

Thanks to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, the Constitution requires that every penny the federal government spends must first begin with an appropriations bill in the House of Representatives. If the House won’t vote to authorize it, the president can’t spend it. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, the Constitution also says that it is the Congress that is responsible for writing all of our laws. The job of the president is to enforce them — not to make them up by executive fiat.

The way things stand today, almost all spending authorization for the federal government is due to expire next month, on Dec. 11 to be exact. That means the lame-duck Congress has less than a month to approve some sort of spending bill to keep our government operating.

What Congress should do is approve a short-term measure that authorizes most activities — but that specifically prohibits the president from spending a single cent to implement his amnesty plan.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) claims that such a provision will stop Obama “dead in his tracks.” He says the House has the power to insist “that no money in that spending bill can go for these purposes, for this executive amnesty. If he does that, he’s in direct violation of the law.”

In order to stop the president, Salmon says, “Why not use every tool in our toolbox? This is the biggest hammer that we have.”

Yes it is. Will the Republicans have the guts to swing it? We’re about to find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obamacare designer admits lies were necessary

Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT who was also one of the key architects of Obamacare, told a panel last year that the Obama administration deliberately deceived the public about several aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill that gave birth to Obamacare. If it had told the truth, Gruber admitted, the bill would never have passed Congress.

In a video clip that just surfaced, Gruber said: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get for the thing to pass.”

One of the key deceptions, Gruber acknowledged, was to keep the public from realizing that the bill was actually a major new tax. “I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies. OK? So it’s written to do that.”

To make sure the audience understood what he was saying, Gruber added, “[I]f you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.”

Let’s be clear about what Gruber is saying here. He’s admitting that the language of the Affordable Care Act was “tortured” so those stupid American voters wouldn’t realize it is actually a massive program to redistribute wealth. Oh, and it’s perfectly OK to lie to the American people about this because of the noble result: getting Obamacare passed. Or, as he said on the panel, “Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

President Obama played along with the deceit, repeatedly saying that the legislation “absolutely is not a tax increase.” But as it turned out, the Supreme Court later ruled that it was only the fact that Obamacare was a tax that made the darned thing constitutional.

Of course, disguising the employer mandate was just one of the deceptions that were used to get Obamacare approved. Another was Obama’s massive and repeated falsehood, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” And the companion deceit, “If you like your doctor, you can keep you doctor.”

Oh, and how about the dishonest promise that under Obamacare, the cost for health insurance would go down? Millions of Americans are learning that precisely the opposite is true, as they see the price they must pay skyrocket.

The fact of the matter is Obamacare was built on lies from the very beginning. Even the name is a fraud. The Affordable Care Act is not “affordable” — not for millions of Americans who will be forced to pay much higher premiums for their health insurance and certainly not for us taxpayers, who are being forced to cough up billions of dollars to pay for it.

Remember that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wasn’t able to corral a single Republican vote for Obamacare. Of the 60 Democrats who obediently pulled the “aye” lever, 28 of them, or almost half, are now out of office. Some retired, so they wouldn’t have to face the voters again; others tried desperately to distance themselves from the measure and their president but went down to defeat.

In January, there will be a new Republican majority in the Senate and an even larger one in the House. Let’s see how quickly they can agree on a bill to repeal this monstrosity and put it on the president’s desk.

Sure, Obama will veto it. We can then begin disassembling it piece by piece, while giving Republicans a powerful campaign issue for 2016.

Hey, if we can’t win on this one, where can we win?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama is as arrogant as ever

After the incredible shellacking that Democrats received a week ago, wouldn’t you think that President Barack Obama would be a tad more conciliatory? Maybe a little less arrogant? A tiny bit more willing to compromise?

Not a bit of it. In a news conference last Wednesday, the president made it clear that he isn’t going to budge an inch. Pre-election, he had boasted that the elections of course would be about his policies, “every one of them.” But now that the voters had delivered a massive repudiation of them, he refused to take any responsibility for the massive Democratic loses.

In a Wall Street Journal column three days later, Peggy Noonan said that the president should have shown some humility. “Humility has power,” she explained. “It shows people that you have some give — you get the message, you are capable of self-correcting.”

Instead, the Republican analyst and former presidential speech writer said: “That is not what he’s doing. The President is instead doubling down on hostility, antagonism and distance.”

Exactly. As just one example, consider Obama’s repeated insistence that unless Congress passes an immigration bill he likes, he will start issuing more executive orders to achieve his aims. He even had the nerve to claim, “I think it’s fair to say that I have shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible.”

Sure thing, Mr. President — if you define “as much as possible” as never.

Of course, the Big Lie is nothing new in Washington. Back in 2006, when Harry Reid (D-Nev.) first became the Senate majority leader, he declared that it was “time for bipartisanship, it’s time for open government, transparency, and it’s time for results.” The pretense of bipartisanship didn’t last long. First, Reid helped ram the Affordable Care Act through the Senate without a single Republican vote. After that, he steadfastly refused to allow the Senate to consider a single one of more than 300 bills that were passed by the House of Representatives. In fact, he wouldn’t even allow any Republican amendments on the handful of bills that he allowed to come before the Senate.

Will things be any different once the Republicans are in charge of both branches of Congress? Let’s hope so.

One of the first things the new Republican majority should do is to pass legislation authorizing the Keystone Pipeline. Hopefully, the same bill would include other energy reforms, such as removing restrictions on energy exports and allowing more drilling offshore and on federal lands.

Such a bill is likely to get some significant Democrat support in both the House and the Senate. And if the president dared to veto it, the Republicans would have a very popular issue to campaign on in the 2016 elections.

Another area where the Republicans could act quickly is on tax reform. They should pass a measure that drastically slashes taxes on overseas profits of U.S. companies. The U.S. tax rate is currently among the highest in the world. Let’s lower it enough so that U.S. companies are encouraged to bring some of that estimated $3 trillion back to this country. Imagine how many jobs that could help create!

If that same bill also reduced taxes on corporate income and dividends, the result would be a massive shot in the arm for the U.S. economy, which badly needs it.

The Democrats played political hardball for the past six years. Let’s see what the Republicans do once they control what happens in Congress. It could hardly get any worse.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Republicans celebrate a ‘Barackalypse’

Voters across the country delivered a stunning defeat to Democrats, and a powerful rejection of President Barack Obama, in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Of all the things conservatives can celebrate, perhaps the best news of all is that Harry Reid will no longer be the Senate majority leader. Hooray!

At least three incumbent Democrats lost their Senate seats, as Cory Gardner defeated Mark Udall (“Mark Uterus”) in Colorado, Tom Cotton prevailed over Mark Pryor in Arkansas and in perhaps the biggest shocker for Democrats Thom Tillis surged past Kay Hagan to capture the Senate seat in North Carolina.

All three of those deposed Democrats had voted for Obamacare. This means that 25 of the Democratic senators who helped pass that monstrosity are no longer in office. This is quite a repudiation of Obama’s signature piece of legislation. No wonder Tuesday’s results are being referred to as a “Barackalypse.”

Here are some of the other most significant victories from Tuesday:

  • In Iowa, Joni Ernst defeated Bill Braley to win the seat for Republicans. Nearby, Ben Sasse defeated Dave Domina in Nebraska, and to the surprise of many, longtime Republican incumbent Pat Roberts held on to the Senate seat in Kansas.
  • In Georgia, Republican David Perdue beat Democrat Michelle Nunn by a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff there. The same thing happened in the contest for governor, where the Republican candidate, Nathan Deal, whipped Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. Nunn was the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, which means neither family will be building a political dynasty in the state.

All told, Republicans gained seven seats that were formerly held by Democrats, giving them a 52-seat majority in the Senate. They have a chance to pick up at least two more seats. They are still counting the ballots in Alaska, where Republican challenger Dan Sullivan is given an excellent chance of defeating Mark Begich, the Democratic incumbent. Plus, another Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, is facing a runoff next month in Louisiana; and her Republican challenger, Bill Cassidy, is expected to win that seat.

Mitch McConnell easily won re-election in Kentucky, as his Democratic opponent, Allison Lundgren Grimes, ran an embarrassingly bad campaign. So it looks like McConnell will get to fulfill his longtime dream as serving as Senate majority leader.

Republicans are also expected to gain as many as a dozen seats in the House of Representatives, which would give them their biggest majority in almost 60 years. One of the new faces will be Mia Love, a battle-hardened conservative who will become the first black Republican female in the House.

There were also some significant victories for Republicans in contests for state governorships. I’ve already mentioned Georgia. Voters in Texas overwhelmingly chose Republican Greg Abbott as their new governor, which pretty much puts “finished” to the political career of Wendy Davis, the “Abortion Barbie” who ran against him. Compounding Davis’ rejection, her former seat in the state senate was won by Konni Burton, a Tea Party Republican. Adios, Wendy.

In Florida, incumbent Governor Rick Scott won a close election against his challenger, former Governor (and former Republican) Charlie Crist. Further north, Scott Walker won re-election as governor in Wisconsin, despite everything the unions could throw against him. This is actually Walker’s third victory in the state, since he also prevailed against a recall attempt in 2012.

But perhaps the biggest surprise in state contests was the victory by Republicans in three states that are normally considered solid blue: Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland. Republican incumbents also held off challengers in Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico. All in all, Tuesday was a pretty good night for the GOP.

So now what happens? While the Republicans will enjoy a majority in both branches of Congress, they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to override a presidential veto. Yes, they can refuse to fund some of the Obama’s most egregious policies. But will they have the courage to do so?

We’re about to find out. Yes, I wish we had some stauncher leaders fighting for us. But at least we can expect some interesting battles.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Once again, Joe Biden is wrong

Surprise, surprise! Joe Biden got it wrong again. The voluble vice president, who is undoubtedly Washington’s greatest practitioner of foot-in-mouth disease, is now predicting that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate once today’s elections are over.

It ain’t gonna happen, Joe. When all the ballots are counted, I predict that the Republicans will win at least eight seats now held by Democrats, giving them a three-vote majority in the Senate. And the Republican margin could be a lot bigger.

Unfortunately, there are at least two states where the winner won’t be known by tomorrow morning. In Georgia, neither David Perdue, the Republican candidate, or Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee, is likely to win a majority of votes. That will necessitate a runoff, which won’t be held until Jan. 6. The new Congress will already be in session by the time we know who wins the seat from Georgia. I think it will be Perdue, so that will be another vote on the Republican side of the aisle.

There is also likely to be a runoff in Louisiana, where Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu faces two Republican opponents on the ballot today: Rep. Bill Cassidy and Tea Party candidate Rob Maness. Since only the top two vote-getters will qualify for the December runoff there, look for whichever Republican nominee it is to clobber Landrieu. These two victories by Republicans could push their total gains into double digits.

Of all the victories I look forward to celebrating, none will give me more pleasure than to see Joni Ernst of Iowa defeat her Democratic opponent, Bruce Braley. In a season filled with some of the nastiest negative campaign ads I’ve ever seen, Ernst wins the prize for the most delightful positive pitch. That was the one where she boasted about her farmer background and learning how to castrate hogs at an early age. Her promise to apply those same skills to Washington was a hoot.

Harry Reid, the current Senate majority leader, is afraid that Ernst’s victory will spell the end of his reign in Washington. He’s been quoted as saying, “Iowa is critical. There is no other way to say it. Joni Ernst would mean — coming to the United States Senate — that Mitch McConnell would be the leader of the United States Senate.” Yes it would, Harry. Better get ready to pack it in.

While McConnell is far from my ideal as a two-fisted fighter for constitutional principles, he is certain to be a vast improvement over Reid. His rise to majority leader will mean that many of the more than 300 pieces of legislation the House has passed will finally be allowed to come to a vote in the Senate.

How many bills cutting government spending, reducing regulations, lowering taxes and strengthening free enterprise can Barack Obama veto without severely jeopardizing Democratic chances in the 2016 presidential contest? I can’t wait to find out.

There’s some talk that the Republican resurgence could even bring some big changes to the liberal bastion of New England. There are three contests there where we should know the results pretty early in the evening. If Republican Scott Brown defeats Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen for the Senate seat in New Hampshire, it’s going to be a long, long night for the Democrats. And if the Republicans win the governorship of Massachusetts or Connecticut, where the polls say both races are surprisingly close, the evening could turn into a tsunami of defeats for Team Obama.

Oh, there’s one other positive I must mention. Now that the midterm elections are coming to an end, so will the barrage of political ads filling every commercial segment on TV, not to mention all of those robot calls that have been inundating my telephone. Thank goodness for caller ID, so I know which ones to ignore.

By all means, let’s celebrate the news that today’s elections mean the end of Reid’s reign over the U.S. Senate.

And then let’s get ready to stop Obama from achieving by edict what he cannot gain by legislation. Or as a friend of mine put it, let’s make sure Obama’s lame-duck presidency really is lame.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

This Democratic attack is backfiring

We’ll know for sure next Tuesday night. But right now, it appears that the Democrats’ No.1 strategy against Republicans in this year’s mid-term elections isn’t working. In fact, it appears to be backfiring against them.

I’m referring to their non-stop accusation that every Republican running for office is somehow guilty of waging a “war on women.” Even outstanding female candidates, such as Joni Ernst in Iowa, are accused of being against women’s rights to abortions, contraception and equal pay in the work place. It’s all a bunch of hokum, of course. And happily, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado has been beating the war on women drum so long and so loudly that when he was introduced in a debate earlier this month, the moderator actually said,

“Mr. Udall, your campaign has been so focused on women’s issues that you’ve been dubbed ‘Mark Uterus’ … Have you gone too far?”

The state’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post, says that he has. The paper wrote that Udall’s “obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.” The paper has endorsed Udall’s Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, for the seat. Oh, and by the way, the latest WSJ/NBC News poll says that Gardner is leading Udall 46 percent to 39 percent among women.

The same thing is happening in Arkansas, where Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor is in big trouble in the Senate race there. Even though he’s accused Rep. Tom Cotton, his Republican opponent, of every despicable anti-female prejudice you can imagine, that same WSJ/NBC News poll says it isn’t working. According to the survey, women in Arkansas prefer Cotton by 46 percent to 43 percent. Among men, Cotton’s lead is even greater, 54 percent to 37 percent. So it looks like we can say adieu to another Obama-supporting Democratic blowhard.

There is probably no one who has waved the “women’s rights” flag higher and harder than Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor in Texas. She has been called “Abortion Barbie” because of her extreme position on abortion. She’s also conducted one of the nastiest, most mean-spirited campaigns in the country against her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott.

So how is it working for her? Last time I checked, Davis was trailing Abbott 37 percent to 49 percent among women. Abbott is doing even better among men in Texas; his overall lead in the polls is a staggering 53 percent to 35 percent. Looks like you can wave bye-bye to Ms. Davis’s fervent ambition to climb higher on the political ladder in the Lone Star State.

Since this campaign season began, the Democrats have made the Republicans’ alleged hostility to women their top political strategy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did his part by making sure there were several “show” votes on women’s issues in the Senate this year, such as “equal pay” and the Violence Against Women Act. The idea was, Democrats could toss Republican “no” votes against opponents everywhere. Of course Reid made sure that no Republican-sponsored measure on anything was allowed to come to a vote.

The Wall Street Journal reports that of the $120 million Democrats have spent on television advertising in this year’s midterm elections, some 60 percent of it was spent on “war on women” attack ads against a Republican candidate. That’s more than $70 million hammering this one issue.

The good news for Republicans is, the distorted and dishonest campaign by Democrats doesn’t seem to be working. Even CNN has acknowledged the failure:

“The attack line – aimed at painting Republicans as out of sync with women on contraception, abortion and other issues – isn’t resonating like in 2012, when Democrats hurled it at the GOP with devastating effect. Instead, Republicans have improved their standing among women during this election cycle, narrowing the gender gap in key races that could decide control of the Senate.”

As I said above, we’ll find out next Tuesday night how many voters bought the Democrats’ tainted baloney this time around. But it doesn’t look like it will be enough for Harry Reid to remain Majority Leader of the Senate. Halleluiah for that!

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

New York governor buckles to Fed pressure on Ebola

Shame on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Last Friday, he appeared in a joint news conference with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to announce that both states would impose a mandatory quarantine on health workers who returned to their states after treating Ebola patients in West Africa. But his defiance of Obama Administration policy didn’t last the weekend.

It’s no surprise that federal officials were outraged at the idea that a state would defy their leadership how to deal with the Ebola crisis. A senior administration official was quoted anonymously as saying, “We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences” of policies “not grounded in science.”

That was all it took for Cuomo to back down. Two days later, he buckled under the pressure from the Obama Administration and said: OK, we won’t quarantine them. But they’ll have to remain in their homes for 21 days while being monitored for symptoms by state health officials.

The latest crisis began when Craig Spencer, a physician who had served in West Africa with Doctors without Borders, was diagnosed with Ebola after he returned to New York City. Before he showed any symptoms, Spencer went bowling and traveled around the city on the subway. We’re assured by health officials that victims aren’t contagious until they develop definite symptoms, such as fatigue or a high temperature. But it’s no wonder a heck of a lot of New Yorkers are concerned they might have been exposed to Ebola by some sort of contact with Spencer, without even knowing it.

Cuomo is a Democrat. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, is a Republican. Both have been mentioned as possible contenders for their party’s nominations for President. Both are in the spotlight for how they handle the Ebola crisis. By buckling to pressure from the feds, Cuomo in particular is taking one heck of a risk. If another New Yorker develops Ebola because of exposure to Spencer, you can put “finished” to any further political ambitions Cuomo might have.

In the meantime, Christie faced a bit of a hornet’s nest in New Jersey. Kaci Hickox, a nurse who treated Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, had been placed in 21-day quarantine and kept in a tent attached to a hospital. She had a toilet but no shower and said her conditions were “inhumane.” She told CNN on Sunday that she retained a lawyer and might sue to win her release.

On Monday, Christie said the nurse, who has been symptom-free since her confinement, would be released and flown to Maine, “not via mass transit or commercial aircraft.” Now it’s your problem, Maine, the governor seems to be saying.

All of this confusion and controversy is happening for one very simple reason: The Feds’ bungled response to the Ebola crisis. The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial yesterday:

The real problem is that the CDC, the World Health Organization, the Health and Human Services Department and the White House have all given ample reason not to trust their assurances. They said the chance of an Ebola case in the U.S. was remote. They said airport screeners would catch anyone sick trying to enter. They said U.S. hospitals were prepared for such cases, and that doctors and nurses would be protected. And they said self-quarantines would prevent new cases.

As we know, all these assurances were false.

The first and most important responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. So congratulations to any governor who is willing to defy the Obama Administration to do so.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Obamacare news just keeps getting worse

Those 30,000 Wal-Mart employees who are losing their health insurance aren’t alone. There’s another huge wave of cancellations of health plans coming.

Fox News reported that 13 states and the District of Columbia are cancelling plans that are not in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Virginia will be the hardest hit, with some 250,000 families losing their health insurance.

Of course, all of the plans being canceled now weren’t in compliance a year ago. But back then, President Obama asked that they be granted a reprieve from enforcement. That is now coming to an end. As a result, hundreds of thousands more people will lose their health insurance.

Remember President Obama’s often-repeated promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it?” PolitiFact labeled that one its “Lie of the Year” in 2013. More than 4 million people received notices last year that their healthcare plan was being canceled.

Now, more cancellations are inevitable. Plus, a ton of people who will retain their health insurance are seeing staggering increases in what they have to pay. The average increase is reported to be 8 percent, but some unlucky folks are getting hit with premium increases of 30 percent or more. Ouch!

No doubt, having your insurance canceled is worse than being hit with an increased premium. Earlier this month, Wal-Mart announced that it was dropping health insurance for some 30,000 part-time workers. But employees who get to keep their health coverage from the company will see increases in the premiums they pay.

Sally Welborn, a Wal-Mart vice president, said: “We can’t take our eyes off costs.” She said the company, the largest private employer in the country, has seen its healthcare costs rise by $500 million more than the company expected in its current fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31.

But the bad news about Obamacare doesn’t end here. The fallout is being felt all over the place. For example, two dozen rural hospitals were forced to close their doors in 2013. That’s double the normal rate. And you can expect the closures to increase, as rural communities shrink in population, while healthcare costs continue to climb.

And according to the top executive of H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax preparer, Obamacare will add “significant complexity” to next year’s tax season. CEO William Cobb warned, “Depending on their situation, there are instances where filers may need to file multiple new tax forms and complete additional worksheets.”

Beginning in January, anyone who does not have health insurance that meets the Obamacare requirements will be subject to penalties. While the law does provide for exemptions, Cobb said, “Depending on the type of exemption, the process to claim it could be quite cumbersome and time consuming.”

Oh, and Cobb said people who received a subsidy for health insurance could be in for a shock, if calculations show they received a larger subsidy than they were entitled to. In theory, they’ll have to repay the federal government for any overage they got.

So, yes, Obamacare is turning out to be the costly disaster that many of us predicted it would be. And it’s only going to get worse.

But don’t expect the mainstream media to make much of a fuss over the latest bad news about Obamacare — especially not in the days leading up to the midterm elections.

If Republicans win a majority in the Senate, they’ll finally be able to break the logjam on legislation that Harry Reid imposed while he was majority leader. And while Obama would be certain to veto any bill to repeal Obamacare that finally made it to his desk, at least the country would have taken a healthy first step toward getting this bureaucratic monstrosity off our backs.

As more and more Americans are learning, it can’t happen soon enough.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Even his own party flees Obama

A front-page story in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal showed just how unpopular Barack Obama has become in one surprising constituency: Democrats who are running for office.

The article focused on the campaign that Michelle Nunn is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. She’s the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, a popular and widely respected Democrat. But the WSJ article revealed: “[S]uccess here actually could come down to Ms. Nunn’s ability to distance herself from her party and the increasingly unpopular man who leads it.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently announced that it will pour another $1 million into the Nunn campaign. Clearly, the Democrats believe they have a good chance of defeating David Perdue, the Republican nominee.

But if the Democrats win, they’ll do it without mentioning that she is a Democrat. The WSJ noted: “As Ms. Nunn strives to break the Republicans’ stranglehold on statewide races in the South in recent years, her party affiliation is missing in action.”

That’s right. Nunn may be the Democratic nominee in Georgia. But you’d never know it by looking at her campaign website, which doesn’t mention the party — nor do most of the buttons, bumper stickers, brochures and other campaign materials her supporters are distributing. She never endorses the man who is the nominal head of her party, President Barack Obama. And, of course, there has been no invitation asking the president to come to Georgia to campaign for her.

Money is always welcome, so keep up those fundraisers, Mr. President. But someone else can bring the checks down here.

Democrats aren’t the only ones who think this strategy might work. Karl Rove listed Georgia as one of the states currently in Republican hands that could see a Democratic victory next month. (Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the current incumbent, decided not to run for re-election.)

Perdue, the Republican nominee, is doing all he can to make sure voters in Georgia know his opponent’s party affiliation. He insisted: “My race is against this failed administration and the wrong direction President Obama has taken this country.”

In a debate last week, Nunn said: “I’m not sure David recognizes he’s not running against President Obama or Harry Reid. He’s running against me. My name is on the ballot.”

To which Perdue replied: “Michelle, you’d dead wrong. I’m absolutely running against Barack Obama and Harry Reid.”

We’ll find out on Nov. 4 how many voters agree with him. But even then, we may not know who will be the new U.S. senator from Georgia. A Libertarian candidate on the ballot could prevent Nunn or Perdue from winning an outright majority. If that happens, there will be a runoff election on Jan. 6.

Interestingly enough, Rove said there are two other states where incumbent Republicans could lose to a Democratic challenger. One of them is Kentucky, where the Democratic nominee, Alison Lundergan Grimes, refuses to mention the president or such unpopular programs as Obamacare and has even refused to say whether she voted for Obama in the past two presidential elections. The third state Rove said Democrats could grab is Kansas, where Pat Roberts, a big-spending Republican moderate, is in a tight race for re-election.

Rove still predicted that Republicans will win a narrow majority in the new Senate. They’ll do this, he said, by winning nine states currently held by Democrats: Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina. A net gain of six seats would mean that Republicans would control the Senate by a margin of 51 to 49.

I think Mitch McConnell will hang on to his Senate seat in Kentucky, which means (under this scenario) he will in all likelihood be elected the new majority leader.

Too bad. We could use a real fighter in that powerful position.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Democrats’ sleaziest ad yet

In a political season marked by some pretty vicious attack ads, the Democrats have just sunk to a new low. A left-wing group called the Agenda Project Action Fund boasted that it is launching “a multi-pronged blitzkrieg attack that lays blame for the Ebola crisis exactly where it belongs — at the feet of the Republican lawmakers.”

Erica Payne, the group’s founder and president, said in a statement: “In launching this effort, we will be the first major progressive group to directly blame GOP budget cuts for the nearly 4,000 deaths caused by the Ebola crisis.”

Sounds absolutely absurd, doesn’t it? But sadly, there will be a whole lot of what are charitably called “low-information voters” who buy into this hate campaign. (“Low-information” means those dummies who can’t name their senators or congressman or even the three branches of government, but can always be counted on to check the “D” boxes when they mark their ballots.)

The group said its new ad, which is called “Republican Cuts Kill,” will target Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Pat Roberts in Kansas and more than a dozen other Republican politicians as well as their votes that cut the budgets of the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and gutted foreign aid — all programs that could have dealt with the epidemic.

By the way, this is the same sleazy organization that created the infamous TV ad where a Paul Ryan-look alike pushed an elderly woman in a wheelchair over a cliff. So you can bet they won’t let the truth get in the way of a headline-grabbing publicity campaign.

The truth, of course, is that the CDC doesn’t suffer from a lack of funding. Its current budget comes to a staggering $6.9 billion, which is $300 million more than President Obama requested in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014.

And even the rather minor cuts to its budget in the past can’t be blamed on Republicans. The biggest reductions came about because of sequestration, a measure originally proposed by Obama.

No, the problem isn’t how much money the CDC or the NIH receives from us beleaguered taxpayers, but how they decide to spend it. In the past, they have financed studying why lesbians are more obese than straight women, the dangers of having sex with Mexican prostitutes and even a cost/benefit analysis of the sex habits of snails.

By the way, don’t hold your breath waiting for Allison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate running against McConnell in Kentucky, to denounce this example of gutter politics. Heck, she’s the same person who has refused to admit that she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Not exactly a profile in courage.

The Senate race in Kentucky is so close that even a sleazy attack ad like this one could make a difference. Even before it appeared, Republican strategist Karl Rove put the election there in the toss-up category. While I’ve never been a big fan of McConnell’s less-than-inspired leadership as Senate minority leader, his defeat this November would be a severe blow to Republican morale.

Will such despicable fearmongering work? Or will it actually backfire by energizing the Republican base? We’ll find out in three more weeks.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood