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

Stopping the spread of Ebola

Now it’s official. A health-care worker in Dallas, Texas who helped treat Thomas Duncan, the native of Liberia who died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital last week, apparently caught the virus from Duncan.

The worker, identified as Nina Pham, had been monitoring herself. On Friday, she reported that she had developed a low-grade fever. The next day, officials confirmed that it was Ebola. The worker is now in quarantine. And about 50 people with whom she had been in contact are being closely monitored.

Officials in the state are trying to reassure the public. David Lakey, the Texas Health Department Commissioner, issued a prepared statement saying, “We knew a second case could be a reality and we’ve been preparing for this possibility. We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

With all of the protective measures that had been taken in the Duncan case, how did Pham contract the disease? At this point, no one knows. All that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can say with certainty is that “a breach in protocol” must have occurred.

What might that be? Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, said “one of the areas that we look at closely are things (sic) like, how you take off the gear that might be affected or contaminated.” Frieden also said, “Unfortunately, it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola. This is because the health-care workers who cared for this individual may have had a breach of the same nature of the individual who appears now to have a preliminary positive test.”

Not very reassuring, is it?

Meanwhile, a man flying from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic told a fellow passenger that he had recently been in West Africa and that “I have Ebola.” That is about as stupid as telling a TSA screener at the airport that you’re carrying a bomb.

When the plane landed in Punta Cana, a team of men in blue hazmat suits boarded the plane and removed the passenger. Everyone else had to remain on board for a couple of hours. It was later confirmed that the passenger had never been to Africa and did not have Ebola. But what an idiot! Here’s hoping he’ll get to spend a few days behind bars so he can reflect on just how dumb he was.

Speaking of air travel, the CDC has announced that new procedures are being put in place to check in-coming airline passengers for the disease. Starting last Saturday, passengers arriving at New York’s Kennedy Airport from Ebola-affected countries will get additional screening. They’ll be asked a series of health-related questions, have their temperature checked, and be examined for signs of illness. The CDC says “if there’s any concern about their health, they’ll be referred to the local public health authority for further evaluation or monitoring.”

This week, those same measures will be adopted at four additional airports – Dulles International outside Washington, D.C.; Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey; O’Hare International in Chicago; and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. According to the CDC, these five airports account for almost 95 percent of travelers who arrive in the United States from West Africa.

The only problem with this is that the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days so it’s possible to have the disease, but not show any symptoms for almost three weeks after exposure. The experts say the disease can’t be transmitted to someone else during this incubation period; it is only when symptoms such as a fever become obvious that the infection can spread.

But why take a chance? Why not just ban commercial flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from landing in the United States? I’ll bet if the airlines were allowed to make this decision, instead of the various governments, that would already have happened. Don’t you agree?

Will Ebola become another entry in the long list of reasons the U.S. government has given us not to trust it? You can count on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

The Democrats’ anti-Obama campaign

Natalie Tennant, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia, is running against Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican. But her television ad sounds as though her opponent is Barack Obama.

As the TV screen shows a brightly lit White House, in a voice-over she asks, “Where do they think their electricity comes from?” Then a hand appears to pull down a switch on a high-voltage power box. As the White House goes dark, candidate Tennant declares, “I’ll make sure President Obama gets the message!”

Take that, Obama!

This may be the most extreme example of the length Democratic candidates are going this year to distance themselves from the president. But all over the country, Democratic candidates are telling Obama, “Thanks, but no thanks,” when it comes to campaigning for them.

While many Democrats are trying to distance themselves as much as possible from the president’s policies, Obama isn’t helping that strategy. In a speech a week ago, he said “I am not on the ballot this fall,” but he made it clear that his policies are. “But make no mistake,” he declared, “these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Oops! You can imagine the shudder that went through a bunch of Democratic campaign offices when they heard this. When David Axelrod, a top Democratic strategist, appeared on “Meet the Press” the following Sunday, he admitted that the comment was a mistake.

Yes, it was a big one. And Republicans were quick to jump on it. Very quickly, Obama’s gaffe was being quoted in television ads in the most hotly contested states. Naturally, Republicans are doing their best to identify their opponents with the president’s most unpopular issues, such as the Affordable Care Act and his pro-amnesty immigration plan.

Of seven Senate seats rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, Obama lost four of them (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina) in 2012. He also lost in three states Democrats currently hold, but where Republicans are expected to win the Senate contest next month (Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia).

In all seven states, Obama’s approval numbers are at near-record lows. No wonder Republicans are delighted to be running against him — and Democrats are eager to distance themselves as much as possible from their president.

If the Republicans win all seven of the seats that are currently held by Democrats, but are in states where Obama lost two years ago, they’ll gain one more seat than they need to win a majority in the Senate.

So what are the Democrats doing about it? Willie Brown, the black former mayor of San Francisco, says that the President should forget about appealing to white voters and simply appeal to blacks. “I’d have Obama on an evangelistic schedule of black churches all over the country,” he advises. “I think he really should go to the black base. I don’t think there’s any other place I would trust he wouldn’t create an adverse reaction rather than a positive reaction.”

In three critical contests Republican ads portray the Democratic incumbent as “the deciding vote” for Obamacare. No wonder all three candidates — Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina — are putting as much distance as they can between themselves and their president.

Will their strategy work? We’ll find out in three weeks.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Would Obama really dare to do this?

Just how far will Barack Obama go to keep his far-left agenda in place? There are some interesting rumors floating around the blogosphere, including one that he will use a rapidly expanding Ebola crisis to clamp severe restrictions on us such as limiting our right to travel.

Last week, Ben Carson, the normally mild-spoken neurosurgeon who is being touted as a possible candidate for president in 2016, said that the various crises besetting this country could get so bad that they could be used as an excuse to delay or cancel the elections two years from now.

During an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Carson said: “I hope that is not going to be the case. But certainly there is the potential.” When asked if he really believed that, Carson said he did. He explained,

[B]ecause you have to recognize we have a rapidly increasing national debt, a very unstable financial foundation, and you have all of these things going on, like the ISIS crisis, that could very rapidly change things that are going on in our nation. And unless we begin to deal with these things in a comprehensive way and a logical way, there’s no telling what could happen in just a matter of a couple of years.

While all of those crises are certainly very real, I don’t think there’s one chance in a zillion that Obama would dare to use them as an excuse to delay or cancel the elections. I think Dick Morris and Eileen McGann present a far more likely scenario in their new book, “Power Grab.” The subtitle states their fundamental premise: “Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation.”

The authors explain:

Obama is a left-wing President who is desperately determined to impose his radical agenda to transform our democratic government and free market economy into his socialist-style ideal before leaving office in 2016. He’s a President who is obsessively fixated on keeping the left in permanent power by turning our two-party system into a one-party monopoly.

The authors warn that the key elements to this plan include the following:

  • “Immigration reform” that will tip the balance of power in key states in favor of the Democrats, thus ensuring that they always retain control of the White House;
  • Making Obamacare the biggest power grab of all time, giving them control of one-sixth of the U.S. economy and creating a permanent dependency class;
  • Expanding food stamps and other welfare measures, keeping millions of people on the federal dole and ensuring that they will always vote for the Democrats;
  • Fostering more government red tape and regulations, especially in the name of combating climate change, to increase control over private business and intimidate business owners.

Morris said everything Obama is doing must be seen through the lens of turning American into a one-party state. That’s why he wants open borders and stronger labor unions. It’s why he opposes photo IDs for voting. It’s why he wanted the U.S. Senate to make sure filibusters couldn’t block his judicial nominations. And it’s even why he is working to prevent energy independence in this country.

In “Power Grab,” Morris and McGann warn that this country is now at a crossroads: We can either keep the constitutional system of limited government that was established by our Founding Fathers, or we can allow Obama and his left-wing allies to turn America into a nation run by one party with a far-left agenda.

We still have the power to stop them. But do we have the will? Like it or not, we’re going to find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Obama ever man up to anything?

When he was president, Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.”

That’s certainly not the case with the person who now occupies the Oval Office. Barack Obama is eager to take credit when anything goes right in this country, even if he has to stretch the truth to the breaking point to do so.

But when things go wrong, as they have in spades since he was elected, no one has been quicker than our evader in chief to put the blame somewhere else. The latest example of this occurred Sunday night during his interview with Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.”

Kroft, who is normally one of the friendliest questioners the president could face, asked how the Muslim extremists who call themselves the Islamic State became so powerful so quickly. “How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory?” Kroft asked the president. “Was that a complete surprise to you?”

The president’s reply made it clear that he wasn’t the one who got it wrong: “Well, I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

Needless to say, members of the intelligence community are furious at Obama for throwing them under the bus. One former senior Pentagon official has been quoted as saying, “Either the President doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.”

It turns out both parts of that statement are true. Of course Obama is giving us the mushroom treatment (“keep ’em in the dark and cover them with manure”). He’s been a master of this sort of obfuscation all of his life.

But now we find out that he also skips the vast majority of his intelligence briefings. According to the Government Accountability Institute, which tracks such things, the President attended only 42.43 percent of his intelligence briefings during his first term.

Now that even more crises have erupted around the world, from Putin’s Russia to Ebola in Africa and events in the Middle East, guess what? Obama is even more absent when his intelligence team wants to tell him what’s going on. The GAI report says that since his re-election, his attendance record at intelligence briefings has dropped to 41.26 percent.

It’s hard to stay on top of things when you’re in a hurry to get on the golf course … or racing off to another Democratic fundraiser.

Even the mainstream media, which have been slavish in their devotion to Obama, have refused to go along with this latest presidential prevarication. Richard Engel, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC, said on the air:

It’s surprising that the president said that U.S. intelligence missed this one…. Everyone knew that Islamic extremists were on the rise in Syria and in Iraq. It was well-documented. The extremists were publicizing their activities online; they were bragging about it. Journalists, including us, were interviewing foreign fighters. This was no state secret.

Engel wasn’t alone. Many other reporters and publications, including The New York Times, refused to let Obama get away with this one.

There is nothing new, of course, about Obama’s pointing his finger at others, rather than taking responsibility himself. That’s what he did when it became obvious to everyone that the government’s website for Obamacare was an absolute disaster; or when Muslim extremists murdered four Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya; or when it was confirmed that the IRS was harassing and intimidating conservative organizations; or …

But you get the point.

Let’s face it. On issue after issue, Obama isn’t even trying to “lead from behind,” as his most fervent supporters used to claim. The only “leadership” he’s demonstrated here is how to blame others for your own mistakes.

That’s not what we expect of our President, nor is it what the world needs.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Good riddance to Eric Holder

So why did Eric Holder choose to submit his resignation as attorney general of the United States now?

Is it just a coincidence that two days earlier a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department had to turn over to Congress documents that House Republicans have been seeking for more than two years about Operation Fast and Furious?

You remember that botched arms deal that the Justice Department authorized, don’t you? It’s how a Mexican drug cartel got the weapons it used to murder a bunch of its opponents, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

When the Justice Department stonewalled a congressional investigation into the controversy, the House of Representatives voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt. It’s the first time that an attorney general of the United States has ever been held in contempt by Congress.

But Holder’s malfeasance in office didn’t stop there. He politicized the Justice Department more than any other attorney general in history. He was eager to attack opponents of the Obama administration, while refusing to investigate such federal abuses of power as the IRS’s targeting of conservative organizations.

Holder refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. And he even said it was OK for state attorneys general to refuse to prosecute under laws they didn’t like.

Holder also personally approved a search warrant of the private emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen was accused of doing what most people would agree was a reporter’s job: digging out information from a source. But his source was a former intelligence analyst who was accused of leaking classified information.

Holder’s Justice Department released a classic, cover-your-butt statement about the incident:

After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act.

Don’t you just love the title of the legislation the Justice Department cited? George Orwell, who coined slogans such as “war is peace” in his novel “1984,” would have been impressed. There’s nothing like using a “privacy protection act” to snoop into a reporter’s emails.

Holder, of course, was the nation’s first black attorney general. He loved to wave the race card, and he once said that we were “a nation of cowards” for refusing to face up to our prejudices.

No wonder that Holder had the support of Al Sharpton, one of the country’s most notorious race-baiters. And here’s a really scary thought: Sharpton said he will have a lot to say about whomever Barack Obama nominates as Holder’s successor. Although, frankly, it’s hard to imagine Obama picking anyone who adheres more slavishly to a left-wing agenda than Holder did.

So why did Holder pick now to submit his resignation? Clearly, it was done with his boss’s approval. Could it be that the Obama team recognizes that it will face a Republican majority in the Senate this coming January and that it will be a lot easier to get the Senate’s approval of another liberal lackey now?

In a lengthy interview with Steve Kroft that was broadcast by “60 Minutes” this past Sunday night, Barack Obama pasted a confident smile on his face and predicted that the Democrats would maintain their Senate majority in the coming midterm elections. But that sounded a lot like whistling past the graveyard to me.

No, I think Holder realized that the hot seat he’s been occupying will only get hotter. If he were to hang around the Justice Department much longer, he’d face more congressional subpoenas, followed by some very tough questioning on Capitol Hill.

He’s going to head for the hills — and some very plush financial rewards — while he can. All I can say is good riddance.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Bill O’Reilly says we should outsource the war

So now the United States and a handful of Arab allies are conducting daily air strikes against Islamic terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

In addition to ISIS, a new target has just been identified: an al-Qaida cell in Syria known as the Khorasan Group. We’re told it was “nearing the execution phase” of launching attacks against Europe or the United States.

This past weekend, ISIS posted the following statement on the Internet, urging its followers to murder Westerners anywhere and anyway they can:

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever, then rely upon Allah and kill him in any manner or however it may be.

Pretty chilling, isn’t it? Especially when we don’t know how many Muslim extremists may already be in this country. Or even how many have joined ISIS, been trained by them and then returned to the United States.

For the first time, these dedicated jihadists are well-organized, well-trained and well-financed. And utterly devoted to their cause. While the troops they face are none of the above.

So how can they be defeated?

Bill O’Reilly, the host of Fox TV’s most popular show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” has a proposal. He notes that no matter how many air strikes we conduct against the terrorists, it won’t be enough. “First of all,” he said, “there is not a single credible military person who thinks the ISIS terror group can be defeated without ground forces.”

O’Reilly said the conclusion is inescapable that we need ground forces if we really do intend to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as President Obama has promised. Of course, the president has also promised repeatedly that he will not permit any American “boots on the ground” to do so.

As O’Reilly noted, a majority of Americans agree with Obama on this: “The American people, perhaps rightly so, do not want to send any more of our troops into these chaotic countries.”

So where will the ground forces essential for victory come from? O’Reilly said the answer is to use mercenaries. In a “talking points” memo on his program this past Monday, the Fox TV host proposed the creation of a mercenary army of “elite fighters who would be well paid and well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.”

Here is how he explained it would work:

The fighters would be recruited by the U.S.A. and trained in America by our special forces. U.S. Army rules of engagement would be followed — strict discipline formed by the Geneva Convention.

America would be in charge of selecting who makes the cut and how they are deployed, with an eye on a 25,000-person force.

O’Reilly said the United States wouldn’t have to bear all of the financial costs. He says that “all countries that want intelligence and protection from the U.S.A. and NATO would have to chip in.” In other words, “If you don’t pay, you get no help.”

So what do you think? Has O’Reilly come up with a free enterprise solution to fighting terrorism? Or is the idea of a mercenary army, composed of people fighting for a paycheck instead of principle, not only dumb, but dangerous?

There are a lot of things that would help me sleep better at night. But this isn’t one of them.

What do you say?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Harry Reid steal the coming elections?

The Republican establishment is getting its excuses ready in case its candidates don’t win enough elections this November to regain control of the Senate. At the top of the list is that conservatives didn’t give it enough money to spend.

That’s right. Forget the all-out war the Republican establishment has been waging against its most conservative members. Forget everything it’s done to smear Tea Party types who dared to challenge it. Forget all the dirty tricks, such as getting Democrats to tip the balance in the Republican primary in Mississippi.

Yep, we’re supposed to forget all of those past abuses and get behind the mealy-mouthed, me-too moderates that they have chosen for us, such as Thad Cochran in Mississippi or Pat Roberts in Kansas.

With standard-bearers likes those two worn-out hacks, no wonder so many conservatives are sitting on their wallets this time around. Heck, I suspect a ton of them won’t even bother to go to the polls this November. And who can blame them?

In a column in The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove set the tone for this latest propaganda barrage. He began by reciting why things should look so rosy for Republicans: “The president’s job approval numbers are lousy, no Democrat in a competitive Senate race polls regularly above 50%, GOP enthusiasm is high, and independents are trending Republican.”

All of that should be very good news for Republicans, shouldn’t it? But Rove, one of the key establishment strategists, says there is a very dark cloud on the horizon. It is that the Democrats have a ton more money to spend.

“The midterm environment is terrible for Democrats,” Rove wrote, “yet each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.”

In a story on super PACs, The Wall Street Journal detailed just how badly Republican candidates are being outspent. Here is what the newspaper reported has happened in the 10 top Senate races: “Since July 3, the largest super PACs aligned with Democrats have raised four times the money of pro-GOP super PACs, and have now spent $60 million to Republicans’ $38 million, data compiled by The Wall Street Journal shows.”

The study found that of the 25 highest-spending partisan super PACs, those affiliated with the Democrats have raised $110.2 million in this election cycle, compared to just $55.6 million for Republicans. Not only have the Democrats’ super PACs badly outspent their Republican opponents, they also have a ton more cash left on hand: $25.4 million compared to the Republicans’ $7.7 million.

The most effective money-raiser for the Democrats is the Senate Majority PAC, which is desperate to elect enough Democrats to keep Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in his powerful position as Senate Majority Leader.

So “steal” may be the wrong word to use in my headline. “Buy” is probably a more accurate description of what’s happening. Or would you prefer “purchase”?

Whatever description you prefer, Rove says that “reducing the Democratic cash advantage” is what is needed to “tip the needle in the GOP’s direction.” If that doesn’t happen, he warns, we’d better get ready “for two more years of Majority Leader Harry Reid.”

If that does happen, liberty-lovers have the Republican establishment to thank for it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will The NFL Finally Clean Up Its Act?

Forget the protests by angry women’s groups. Ignore all those politicians’ demands for tougher sanctions against abusers. Now the NFL must placate its most serious critics: the advertisers who have made so many players multimillionaires and so many owners billionaires.

In the previous season, advertisers spent a reported $3.9 billion to run their commercials during NFL games. At the top of the heap is Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), which has committed $1.2 billion over a six-year period to make its Bud Light the official brew of the NFL. So when the company says it is “increasingly concerned” by reports of domestic violence, you can bet the honchos in the league offices sit up and pay attention.

The maker of Budweiser and other brews issued a statement saying, “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.” In response, the league office replied, “We understand. We are taking action and there will be much more to come.”

The league got a black eye, if you’ll pardon the expression, over the way it handled disclosures that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had knocked out his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. When a video was released showing Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator, the league responded by suspending him for two games.

Then a video emerged taken inside that casino elevator. It showed Price delivering a knock-out punch to the woman who is now his wife, Janay Palmer. The brutality of the incident caused a national outcry against the NFL’s admittedly mild punishment of the athlete. The Baltimore Ravens responded by dropping Rice from the team. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell increased Rice’s suspension to a full year.

The controversy might have quieted down a bit when another incident erupted. Adrian Peterson, the all-star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of child abuse. It seems Peterson “disciplined” his 4-year-old son by whipping him with a switch so severely that it left welt marks on the youngster’s back and legs.

Peterson has apologized profusely for his actions. He issued a carefully worded statement that said, in part:

I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child.

You think?

The athlete went on to defend the way his parents had disciplined him:

But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man.

I’ll bet a whole bunch of people who were raised by parents who also believed “spare the rod, spoil the child” agreed with Peterson. In fact, Fox TV host Sean Hannity took off his belt during his show and beat his desk with it, to demonstrate how his own father had disciplined him. “And I deserved it,” Hannity declared.

In all this latest hullabaloo, one thing I haven’t heard is exactly what Peterson’s son did to warrant the beating he received. The kid is just 4 years old. How vile could his actions possibly have been?

The Minnesota Vikings suspended Peterson, then reinstated him, then placed him “on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved.”

With all of the controversy, one thing that hasn’t changed is the American public’s total infatuation with professional football. Of the seven most-watched TV programs last week, six of them were NFL games. After the Rice scandal broke, viewership of “Sunday Night Football” went up 8 percent, for a total of 22 million viewers.

With the rewards of fame and fortune going higher and higher, and players getting bigger, faster and tougher, only an idiot would expect the incidents of violence, on and off the field, to go down.

We love our bread and circuses, don’t we? Even if it means that some of our gladiators occasionally go berserk.

What a sad commentary on what this country has become.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood