The Parties Should Foot The Bill

Those costly conventions. How big was the tab for U.S. taxpayers for the two political conventions that recently concluded? At least $136 million. That includes $18.2 million to help cover the costs of both the Republican and Democratic national conventions, plus another $50 million spent on security at each gathering. While this is a tiny fraction of overall Federal expenditures (and deficits), does anyone want to suggest that it should be the political parties themselves — not the taxpayers — who foot the bills for these lavish affairs?

A whistle-blower gets a big payoff. Bradley Birkenfeld, a former employee of Swiss banker UBS AG, has been awarded $104 million by the Internal Revenue Service — the largest payout the agency has ever made to an individual whistle-blower. Birkenfeld previously pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and received a 40-month sentence. As a result of the case, UBS agreed to reveal the names of some 4,000 U.S. taxpayers with secret Swiss bank accounts and to pay $780 million to resolve a related criminal case.

A more accurate measure of inflation. Years ago, the British magazine The Economist created something it called the Big Mac index as an easy way to compare prices of a common product in various countries. It’s also a pretty good way to measure rising prices in the United States. In the past three years, the Federal government says the official rate of inflation has been 6.2 percent. But in the same period, the price of a Big Mac has gone up, on average, by some 17 percent — or almost three times what Uncle Sam’s statistics say. Is anyone surprised?

Jay Leno takes a pay cut. Comes word out of Hollywood that NBC slashed the budget for the “The Tonight Show” in an effort to keep the long-running program profitable. As part of the cuts, host Jay Leno agreed to take a 50 percent pay cut, enabling the network to cut the show’s $100 million budget by 20 percent. Don’t feel too sorry for the veteran star, however. He’ll still be raking in about $15 million a year.

–Chip Wood

Will Democrats Booing God Cost Obama The Election?

What a weird Democratic National Convention! The two most popular speakers by far — Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton — aren’t running for office. And the man who is supposed to be the Master Orator of the 21st Century, Barack Obama, gave one of the flattest, most disappointing talks of his career.

More on that in a moment. First, I’ll discuss what had to be the strangest moment of a very strange convention: The bungled effort to change the Democratic Party platform after it had been approved.

It all began when the people framing the party platform decided to delete all references to God. If allowed to stand, it would have marked the first time the Creator was not acknowledged in the platform of either major political party.

When the omission sparked a ton of media comments and Republican criticism, word came down from high — no, not heaven, but the Obama White House — that the platform had to be amended — immediately.

 

 

Antonio Villaraigosa, the Mayor of Los Angeles, was serving as chairman of the convention when the effort was made to put God back in the platform. He read the new language, then called for a voice vote to approve it. He told the assembled delegates that the change had to be approved by a two-thirds majority.

When he called for the “ayes” and “nays,” he and the assembled multitude got quite a shock. The “ayes” didn’t get anywhere near the two-thirds approval necessary. Many commentators who were there in person thought that the “nays” actually got more votes.

Then Villaraigosa did something that was really stupid. He called for a second voice vote. The same thing happened again. If anything, the “nays” were even louder. Then the poor guy called for a third vote. The shouting got even more boisterous, but the results were the same. If the “nays” weren’t a majority, they sure kept the “ayes” from a two-thirds approval.

At that point, Villaraigosa looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Not knowing what else to do, he declared that the measure had passed, thanked the delegates and banged his gavel.

Officially, God is now in the Democratic platform. But, in fact, His presence there was roundly booed by a heck of a lot of Democrats at their national convention. If the Republicans don’t remind potential voters about this a few hundred times between now and the elections, they’re making a huge mistake.

Political conventions are supposed to be more carefully scripted than a big-budget movie. Every speech is vetted several times (unless you’re Clinton or Clint Eastwood). Every moment is carefully planned — especially those in the prime-time hours on national TV.

So what the heck happened in Charlotte, N.C.? It’s hard to tell who screwed up, but somebody did — big time.

By the way, this wasn’t the only misstep at the Democrats’ gathering. There was another lulu on opening night, when a Hollywood-style video greeted delegates with the news that “government is the only thing we all belong to.” Republicans immediately countered by pointing out that we don’t belong to government; government belongs to us (in theory, at least).

Clinton and Michelle Obama helped the Democrats recover a lot of ground. Although I’m not sure Clinton did the President a favor when he reminded delegates that nobody could have kept all of the promises Obama made four years ago. But no matter; the party faithful love the guy. I’m sure many of them regret he couldn’t duplicate Franklin D. Roosevelt’s record and run for third and fourth terms.

Finally, we got to Thursday night, when it was time for Barack Obama to take center stage. Many people expected him to be as impassioned and inspiring as he was four years ago. By all accounts, he failed decisively. Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan described his speech as “stale and empty.” FOX News commentator Charles Krauthammer agreed, saying it was “one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage.”

But the criticism didn’t come only from the right. Liberal columnist Michael Tomasky, writing in the left-wing Daily Beast, called the President’s speech “dull and pedestrian… with nary an interesting thematic device, policy detail, or even one turn of phrase.” Many of the Democratic commentators on television agreed afterward that the President’s speech left a gigantic “enthusiasm deficit.” Some even admitted that Joe Biden gave a better speech.

So what happens now? If the Republicans are smart, videos of all those angry faces booing God will become as commonplace as Obama’s insulting comment to entrepreneurs that “you didn’t build that.”

Sure, the economy will remain the No. 1 issue in voters’ minds (as it should be). But a heck of a lot of voters cares about values, too. A substantial majority does not like the idea of putting no limits on abortions, demanding that voters pay for them and not notifying parents when a daughter who is a minor wants one.

And in virtually every State where it’s been put on the ballot, including the People’s Republic of California, a majority of voters has declared that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. Make the election about these issues and the Republicans should not only win the White House, they should also keep control of the House and regain a majority in the Senate.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that such electoral victories will lead easily or automatically to fiscal sanity in Washington or end the influence of the empire-builders who think the United States should be the police of the world. The Republicans in the past had a lot of gusto for both guns and butter. They can ladle out the pork just as eagerly as any Democrat.

But let’s never forget that our Founding Fathers wisely put the power of the purse in the House of Representatives. The Constitution insists that every spending bill originate there. If the House won’t approve it, the President can’t spend it. Period.

Yes, there will be some tumultuous times before we finally get government back under control. But come this November, we have an opportunity to take some significant steps in the right direction. Let’s make sure we do so.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

No Way To Get A Recovery

August’s dismal employment numbers. Many economists predicted that the August numbers would show 125,000 to 150,000 new jobs being created, but the official number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics came in at 96,000 new jobs. Plus, the numbers for June and July were revised downward by 41,000 jobs. Even worse, some 370,000 people left the workforce during the month. So for every person who got a job in August, four others stopped looking. That’s no way to get a recovery.

Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. Folks are still talking about Clint Eastwood’s remarkable talk at the Republican National Convention. Since then, the Hollywood megastar has expanded on his remarks, calling Barack Obama “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” In an interview with The Carmel Pine Cone, the former Carmel Mayor said: “I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for the people in the middle.” He concluded: “A lot of people are realizing they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama.”

Larry Flynt offers $1 million for Romney records. Pornography mogul Larry Flynt took out full-page ads in The Washington Post and USA Today offering to pay an “up to $1 million” bounty to anyone who could bring him the “unreleased tax returns and/or details of his offshore assets, bank accounts and business partnerships” of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Last year, Flynt offered $1 million for proof of infidelity by then-Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry. He didn’t get any takers then, either.

Conservatives donate more than liberals. Many thanks to columnist Thomas Sowell for reminding us of how generous conservatives are. They donate more money, on average, than liberals (even though their incomes tend to be smaller). They also donate far more time to philanthropic activities, and they even donate more blood. The only time liberals are more generous is with other people’s money — that is, your taxes.

–Chip Wood

IDs For Convention, But Not To Vote

A double standard for Democrats. While the President Barack Obama Administration wants to outlaw voter ID laws in State and national elections, they were perfectly OK with requiring them to vote at their own convention. In fact, they required two forms of identification before a delegate could even enter the hall in Charlotte. Anyone detect a little bit of hypocrisy here?

Another debt downgrade in Illinois. Despite recent tax increases on businesses and individuals, the red ink continues to flow in Illinois. The State’s budget deficit just hit a staggering $43 billion. Even worse is $83 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. As a result, Standard and Poor’s just downgraded its rating on Illinois’ bonds, giving them the worst credit rating of any State besides California. Looks like the boys back home have been inspired to copy the example their most illustrious politician has been setting in Washington.

How about a holiday honoring job creators? The most meaningless holiday in America has now ended. Do we really need a national holiday honoring “labor” anymore? Lawrence Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, points out that “Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers.” Maybe it’s time we started honoring the people who create jobs by starting or expanding a business.

Dems do an about face. Well, that didn’t last long. When controversy raged over the Democrats leaving God out of this year’s platform, they voted to put Him back in. Or did they? After taking three voice votes, it sure didn’t seem to most observers that the measure — allegedly ordered by the President himself — got the necessary two-thirds vote. No matter; it was declared approved.

–Chip Wood

The Obama Campaign’s Litany of Lies

Man, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Flacks for President Barack Obama are going absolutely ballistic at Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, denouncing them as liars and implying they are thieves, felons and even murderers.

And then they have the nerve to accuse Romney and Ryan of running a dirty campaign!

What’s even more disgusting is how their lapdogs in the mainstream media faithfully repeat every new accusation — while never coming within a country mile of holding Obama or Vice President Joe Biden to the same standard. It’s almost enough to make you think you’ve stumbled into a Will McAvoy rant on “The Newsroom.”

I’ll get to all the fuss and fury about Ryan’s auto-plant remarks in a moment. But first let me ask you, what do you think has been Obama’s biggest lie since he took office nearly four years ago?

There sure has been a bunch to choose from. Some were ridiculous, or at least extremely unlikely, when he made them. I’ll put his promise to close the prison at Guantanamo in this category. Or to bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some were just plain impossible, such as his pledge that if Congress gave him $863 billion in stimulus spending, he would slash the Nation’s unemployment rate to 5.6 percent. He got every penny he asked for, and some extra goodies besides. Yet unemployment remains stuck above 8 percent. (If you add in the underemployed and people who are no longer counted because they’ve quit looking for work, the actual number is well over 15 percent.)

Or how about his promise, just after his election, to end the political rancor in this country? Remember when he said he would “heal the divides that have held back our progress”? That promise sure got tossed out the window when it came time for his re-election campaign, didn’t it? This one is shaping up to be one of the nastiest in memory.

Or how about the President’s promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Remember when he called George Bush’s deficits “obscene”? Barack Obama has run trillion-dollar-plus deficits every year since he took office, with no end in sight. He’s helped saddle our children, and our children’s children, with obligations they will never be able to repay.

I could go on and on, from his tax-the-rich schemes to his class warfare rhetoric. But of all the promises that Obama has broken, I think the biggest was the one he made when he was sworn in as President. I’m referring to his oath of office, in which he promised to “preserve, protect and defend” our Constitution.

I submit that had he kept that promise, none of the others would have mattered. In fact, most of them wouldn’t have been possible.

But of course the mainstream media never reminds you of any of Obama’s misstatements. And they all but ignore Biden’s numerous gaffes. Can you imagine what they’d do if any Republican said anything close to Biden’s “put you back in chains” comment? Well, actually, you don’t have to imagine; just check out what they did to Todd Akin for his “legitimate rape” comment.

Now, Ryan is catching a lot of flack for his speech last week at the Republican National Convention, especially his comments about a shuttered GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for the Obama team, set the tone for much of the mainstream media when she leveled this accusation: “There’s no delicate way to put this, but he lied. He blatantly lied – and brazenly.”

No, he didn’t. Here is what Paul Ryan said:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

Chris Matthews and the gang over at MSNBC attacked the VP nominee like rabid dogs for these remarks. You could almost see the foam dripping from their mouths. Anderson Cooper on CNN tried to be a little more subtle, but the slick-sounding sleezeball was just as nasty in his comments about this part of Ryan’s speech.

But despite all of the weeping and wailing from the sanctimonious liberals, and below-the-belt accusations by the likes of David Axelrod, what Ryan said that night was 100 percent accurate.

Please note: He did not say that Barack Obama caused the plant to close. Or even that he should have kept the plant open. No, what Ryan said — and what is completely and absolutely true — is that candidate Obama told a Janesville audience back in February 2008 that if they would help elect him, “this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

Well, maybe the plant will be — as a darkened, shuttered hulk. But there won’t be any jobs there.

By the way, when candidate Obama returned to Janesville in October 2008, he repeated his pledge. Here’s what he said then:

As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and all across America.

Of course that’s not what we got. Instead, the President “saved” GM and Chrysler. He did it by costing taxpayers $25 billion, screwing the bondholders out of every penny they were due and giving the autoworkers union a huge chunk of the company’s stock.

None of which produced a single job in Janesville, Wis.

I can’t wait to see if Biden says anything about all of this when he and Ryan meet in their televised debate. I hope we get a little more substance than we’ve seen so far, which has been the equivalent of a bunch of school kids chanting, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

It would actually be amusing — if the fate of our Republic weren’t at stake.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Don't Count Palin Out Yet

Is Sarah Palin’s star fading? So saith CNN, which noted that the former Vice Presidential candidate was not invited to speak at this year’s Republican National Convention. What the article didn’t mention, however, is how many candidates Palin has endorsed and campaigned for this year have been winning elections. If Ted Cruz becomes the new Senator from Texas or Debbie Fisher wins in Nebraska (or several other candidates that I could name win), they will owe a big thank-you to the former Governor of Alaska. Don’t count the lady out yet.

Haters target Brad Pitt’s mom. When Jane Pitt, the movie star’s mom, read a letter to the editor in her local paper saying that Christians shouldn’t vote for a Mormon, she disagreed. So she wrote a letter to the editor herself, saying that if you care about traditional values, you should vote for the candidate who shares those values, even if he doesn’t share your faith. Then she added, “Any Christian who does not vote or writes in a name is casting a vote for Romney’s opponent, Barack Hussein Obama – a man who sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for years, did not hold a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer, and is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage.” For daring to speak out, she was promptly deluged with hateful emails, Twitter messages and even death threats.

Now here’s a really cushy job. In this space last week, I mentioned how meter maids in one California city were earning nearly $100,000 a year for collecting coins. But this is even crazier. The contract between the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and Local 207 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees requires the city to pay for a horseshoer — even though the department does not have any horses and hasn’t for years. Can you say “featherbedding?”

Another Marxist for Obama. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that “real revolutionaries” should ignore any criticism of his regime by U.S. President Barack Obama. “Obama is campaigning. He’s a candidate,” Chavez said on Venezuelan TV. So you have to overlook when “a good guy” says such things.

–Chip Wood

The Republicans’ Pretty Good Party

Now that 20,000 soggy delegates, alternates, lobbyists and political hangers-on have left Tampa, Fla., what can we say about the just-concluded Republican convention?

Ron Paul fans weren’t given much to cheer about. Yes, there was a brief video tribute to the man himself. And his son, Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, was given a second-tier speaking slot. But the convention rules were rigged so that Ron Paul’s name could not even be placed in nomination for President — with the result that none of his delegates had a chance to vote for him.

Oh, there was one other nod to the Paul camp: The Republican platform endorsed his longtime demand to audit the Federal Reserve. Granted, an audit is a long way from Paul’s far more meaningful campaign to abolish the Fed. But it’s a start.

We should also be cheered that a bill demanding such an audit actually passed the House of Representatives this year. It’s no surprise that Harry Reid made sure it never saw the light of day in the Senate. But I think it’s safe to say that Paul’s “End the Fed” campaign made more progress this year than in the past 20. And I was glad to see that it got at least a crumb or two from the Republican powers that be.

Conservative friends who were at the convention have told me, with considerable pride, that the Republican platform for 2012 is “the best one we’ve seen in the past 20 years.” Looking over the various provisions in it, they’re probably right. But so what?

Sorry, but how many minds do you think will be changed — or how many votes will be won (or lost) — by anything that is in either party’s platform? Party platforms are much ado about nothing. I liked the suggestion from House Speaker John Boehner, who suggested that the whole thing should be boiled down to one page. “Do you know anyone who’s ever read the platform?” he asked. Clearly, the question was meant to be rhetorical.

I don’t have anything to say now about Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. Thanks to the deadline schedule for Personal Liberty, I have to turn this column in before he delivers it. But let me say a few words about some of the other tub-thumpers I heard leading up to it.

First, Paul Ryan did exactly what he was supposed to do. In his acceptance speech for the Vice Presidential nomination on Wednesday night, he lambasted Barack Obama for his failed policies and lack of leadership. He came across as smart and sincere, ready to argue the issues and passionate about helping change the country’s direction. He was interrupted by applause more than any other speaker in Tampa; let’s see if the head of the ticket does as well.

Let me also note something everyone agrees on: Ann Romney did a wonderful job in her prime-time speech Tuesday night. She was warm, personable, loving and sincere. Brit Hume, Fox News’ veteran analyst, said it was the best convention speech he had ever heard, bar none.

I thought she did a decent job trying to humanize her husband and an incredible job appealing to other women. No one could doubt the passion and the trust in her voice, when she declared: “This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America.”

I wondered how the left would try to turn Romney’s smashing performance into a negative. On Wednesday morning, I got my answer. The New York Times began its coverage of her speech with this: “She may be too good. Ann Romney is so gifted at politics, she may actually make her husband look a little bad.”

How’s that for damning with faint praise? But wait, it gets even worse. Here’s the rest of the article’s opening:

Their personality gap — her ease, his discomfort — has been evident in most of the many joint interviews they have given television reporters.

But it really stood out during her bold, boisterous testimonial to him at the Republican convention on Tuesday night. She was electric — when Mitt Romney came to her side at the end, he somehow sapped the energy from the moment.

Gee, just think how nasty The Times would have been if she’d done a bad job! Still, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Americans — men and women — will prefer Ann Romney’s enthusiastic sweetness to Michelle Obama’s icy toughness. If the Mitt Romney campaign is smart, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from Ann Romney over the next two months, both in live appearances and in commercials.

I wasn’t blown away by Chris Christie’s tough-love keynote address. He may have had the best one-liner of the convention, though, with this remark: “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

The theme of his remarks was the need “to choose respect over love.” It seemed to me that it got a little stretched when he said that choosing respect over love meant telling the truth about entitlements to senior citizens and telling the truth about debt to working families. Somehow, I don’t see either of those becoming a popular bumper sticker.

Several reporters jumped all over the New Jersey Governor for talking a lot more about himself than he did about Mitt Romney. Although I didn’t have a stopwatch on him, it’s probably true that Christie didn’t mention the Republican nominee by name until he was 16 minutes into his peroration.

OK, so maybe he did go on about his Sicilian mother a little too long. But give the guy a break. His job was to put some juicy red meat in front of the assembled delegates. Overall, he performed that task very well.

By the way, so did someone who got very little coverage in the mainstream media. I’m referring to Artur Davis, the black former Congressman and longtime Democrat who actually seconded Obama’s nomination in Denver four years ago. Davis is now a Republican. His speech on Tuesday should help win over some independents and disenchanted Democrats. I hope a bunch of them saw it.

Now, forgive me as I sign off. I want to hear how Marco Rubio does introducing Mitt Romney — and how the candidate himself comes across. Forget sweet and cuddly; what America needs now is a strong and forceful leader. Let’s see if Romney can convince enough Americans that he’s the one.

Those two talks on Thursday night will go a long way to determining whether Romney or Obama carries Florida this November. Whoever wins the Sunshine State will probably win the White House, too.

So tell all your friends in Florida to vote early and vote often.

Just kidding. This isn’t Chicago, you know.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama Puts Millions More On The Dole

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get more people to sign up for food stamps?

I kid you not. One of the most absurd examples was “a 10-part series of Spanish-language ‘novelas’ that trumpeted the benefits of the food stamp program.”

In the public service announcements, several people pressure a wife and mother named Diana to sign up for assistance, even though she says she doesn’t need it.

In the fourth commercial, Diana says (in Spanish): “I don’t need help from anyone. My husband makes enough to take care of us.” That’s a great example of traditional American values, wouldn’t you say?

Apparently, it isn’t for the folks at the USDA, who produced the advertising campaign in 2008.

Diana’s friends keep badgering her to wise up and get with the program. Ultimately, they win her over. By the end of the series, Diana has her own food stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer card and has become an enthusiastic proponent of letting Uncle Sam buy her groceries.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was just one of many Congressmen who condemned the series of messages: “It has become increasingly clear that, in recent years, the mission of the food stamp program has been converted from targeted assistance for those in need into an aggressive drive to expand enrollment, regardless of need.”

Indeed it has. In the past decade, Federal spending on the food stamp program (technically known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) has more than quadrupled. In Fiscal 2011, more than $76 billion worth of food stamps were distributed to 45 million Americans.

But those staggering numbers aren’t enough for some people. As Sessions put it: “The program administrators take personal offense when people who technically qualify for their largesse decline to accept — and see it as an obstacle to overcome.”

In the 1970s, just one American in 50 received food-stamp benefits. Now that number is one in seven. In other words, 15 percent of the U.S. population is dependent on food stamps.

Earlier this year, House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi said that Barack Obama should wear the title of “Food Stamp President” as a “badge of honor.” If so, he’s a very honorable man; participation in the food stamp program jumped 50 percent since he took office. During the same period, the cost to U.S. taxpayers has almost doubled.

But the Federal food stamp program is just one example of Washington’s relentless drive to get more and more Americans on the dole. For example, did you know that more Americans have started receiving disability payments under Obama than the amount of new jobs that are being created?

As hard as that may be to believe, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that although the economy has created 2.6 million new jobs since June of 2009, during that same three-year period, some 3.1 million people began receiving disability benefits. In other words, the number of new disability enrollees is rising 19 percent faster than the number of new jobs being created. Counting dependents, more than 10 million people receive a disability check each month.

In fiscal 2011, the disability insurance program paid out $119 billion. Hold onto your hat, because the Congressional Budget Office says at the rate we’re going, that number will jump to $204 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a 71 percent increase.

But let’s not worry about what happens in 10 years. The CBO says that long before we get there, the disability trust fund will be insolvent. At the rate we’re going, we’ll hit that wall in just four more years.

By the way, here’s another depressing statistic about our disability program. Once someone gets on the program, by and large the only way that person ever leaves it is by dying. According to Social Security Administration numbers, only 1 percent of disability recipients ever get healthy enough to return to work.

And finally, let me add a few words about another effort by the Obama Administration that makes it it easier to receive a welfare check.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton and Republicans in Congress agreed to make sweeping changes in this country’s welfare program. The reform bill they passed, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and required welfare recipients to look for work to be eligible for benefits. It even specified which activities would qualify as “work.” And as the name of the program implied (note the word “Temporary” in the title), such benefits were supposed to be short-term. Of course, there is nothing so permanent as a “temporary” government program.

Nevertheless, the results of the welfare-reform legislation were startling. Throughout the Nation, welfare caseloads, which had remained unchanged for decades, dropped dramatically. Poverty numbers declined; employment among single mothers soared. And ever since, the measure has been hailed as a remarkable bipartisan success story.

Until last month, that is. On July 12, the Health and Human Services Department issued an administrative order that effectively reversed the 16-year-old work requirements contained in that landmark legislation.

Republican Congressmen are outraged at what they see as another illegal seizure of power by the Obama Administration. Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) declared: “Gutting welfare work requirements with the stroke of a pen and without congressional input is simply unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand. Neither the Obama Administration nor any Administration should have the power to unilaterally change the law as it sees fit.” (I wonder if he hasn’t been paying attention for the past four years.)

Add it all up and what do you get? Yes, massive new increases in Federal spending; that goes without saying. But the other result is millions more Americans on the government dole.

And now for the $16 trillion question: How do you think these new welfare recipients will vote?

A good quote — erroneously attributed at various times to both Alexis de Tocqueville and Alexander Fraser Tytler — to keep in mind is:

“A democracy… can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury.”

But it sure is accurate, isn’t it?

I’m not saying that this country has reached the point of no return. But it’s become pretty obvious that Obama and his allies are doing everything they can to get us there.

Will they succeed? You had better do everything you can to make sure the answer is no.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Biden’s Gaffes Cost Him?

Will Biden get dumped? Barack Obama’s Vice President has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. First, Joe Biden told an audience in Virginia that with their help, “We can win North Carolina again.” Then he warned another audience that if Mitt Romney wins: “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.” Biden’s gaffes have some Democrats urging Obama to drop him from the ticket. Who’s their favorite choice to replace him? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A tough day on the campaign trail. During a Barack Obama campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, the caterer showed up wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed, “Government Didn’t Build My Business, I Did.” Meanwhile, in Virginia, a bakery owner told Joe Biden’s advance team “no!” when they asked to stage an event at his shop. When word spread about the “cupcake mutiny,” locals flocked to the store and snapped up everything on the shelves. Wonder how many more stories like this there will be between now and November? Whatever the number, you can be sure the vast majority will be ignored by mainstream media.

Newsweek’s shocking cover story. Now here’s something I never thought I’d see: The headline on this week’s cover story in Newsweek is an eye-opening “Hit the Road, Barack. Why We Need a New President.” It was written by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, who is catching all sorts of flak for what he said. It’s hard to quarrel with Ferguson’s conclusion, though, that Obama has broken a ton of promises. Or that “we are becoming the 50-50 nation — half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.”

No wonder California is going broke. Do you know anyone who’d like to pull down almost $100,000 a year, along with great healthcare benefits and a generous pension? Tell them to get themselves out to Hermosa Beach, Calif., and apply for a job as a meter maid. Oops, wrong title. If you’re lucky enough to be hired there to collect coins from parking meters, you will actually be called a “community service staffer.”

–Chip Wood

Too Much Spending Is The Problem

Even taxing all their money won’t do it. The Administration of President Barack Obama plans to raise taxes on anyone making more than $250,000 a year, which will collect about $85 billion more revenue, a recent study concludes. But last year’s Federal deficit was $1.3 trillion. Even taxing every penny the “rich” make over $250,000 won’t close the gap. Clearly, the problem in Washington isn’t too little revenue; it’s too much spending.

Feed them all Chick-fil-A. I mentioned in last week’s column, The Beautiful Backlash From Chick-fil-A Bashing, that Mitt Romney made a mistake by refusing to comment on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Now, Newt Gingrich has come up with an interesting way to make amends: Serve Chick-fil-A meals at the Republican National Convention. That would be one heck of a take-out order, wouldn’t it?

The biggest little winner at the Olympics. Which country won the most medals at the London Olympics on a per capita basis? That honor goes to the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada, which has one medal for its 110,821 residents. India fared the worst. With a population of 1.2 billion people, the country won just six medals (two silver, four bronze, no gold), or one medal per about 207 million people.

Most poignant Olympic comment. My nominee is this one, from Chinese diver Qin Kai, who started training at the age of 6 and almost never gets any time off: “Sometimes, I get to see (my family) every other year. If the competition schedule is not that tight, maybe sometimes I can spend a whole week with my parents in a year.” Happily, the United States has proven that you can still produce champions without making participants robots of the state.

–Chip Wood  

Hurray For Mitt Romney’s Bold Choice

My friend prides himself on asking provocative questions. So when we learned last Saturday that Mitt Romney had selected Paul Ryan to be his running mate, I wasn’t surprised when he asked, “Do you think two boring white guys can beat Obama and Biden?”

My short answer was, “I sure hope so.”

To be honest, I was a little surprised that the Romney team made such a bold — even courageous — choice. I can’t imagine any selection Romney could have made that would make the battle lines between the two parties any clearer. Will this country vote to grow government and increase taxes or to bring runaway Federal spending under control, reduce taxes and begin to balance the budget?

I wish I were more confident of the answer. But with almost half of the population dependent on a government check (and not paying anything in Federal taxes), you can be pretty sure of which side they’re going to vote for.

There are now 45 million Americans receiving food stamps every month. And the Administration of President Barack Obama is actually spending millions of dollars running ads encouraging more people to sign up.

Even more people are now getting Medicare. How many of them will buy into the Democrats’ lie that Romney and Ryan will end Medicare as we know it? Sad to say, probably a lot of them will.

Remember that incredible TV commercial the Democrats ran two years ago, where a Ryan look-alike pushed an elderly lady in a wheelchair off a cliff? That will be mild compared to what we’ll see this year. Heck, the Obama fanatics have already accused Mitt Romney of being a felon and a tax cheat and of killing a woman by denying her healthcare. And they’re just getting started.

The sleaze is going to come thick and fast, my friends. The Democrats know their only hope of winning is to make Romney and Ryan look like dangerous, irresponsible extremists. Sadly, they can count on the support of much of the mainstream media to do exactly that. In fact, The New York Times ran its first editorial on the Romney/Ryan “extremism” the day after we learned that Ryan was Romney’s choice to be his Vice Presidential running mate. It will only get worse.

You can expect to see and hear a lot more — and a lot that’s nastier — over the next 12 weeks. After all, the Democrats can’t run on the accomplishments of the Obama Administration over the past four years, can they?

By the way, I don’t agree with the “boring” label my friend used. I was impressed with what I saw and heard on Saturday morning, when Romney and Ryan appeared together aboard the USS Wisconsin. (Nice choice of venues, incidentally.) And I was impressed again on Sunday night, when the two men made their first media appearance on “60 Minutes.”

I liked what both men had to say. I was especially impressed to hear Ryan say during his first remarks as Romney’s Vice Presidential choice:

America is more than just a place … it’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.

This idea is founded on the principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent of the governed.

This idea is under assault. So, we have a critical decision to make as a nation.

We are on an unsustainable path that is robbing America of our freedom and security. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this:

We won’t duck the tough issues … we will lead!

We won’t blame others … we will take responsibility!

We won’t replace our founding principles … we will reapply them!

That message and promise will resonate with a lot of voters. In fact, it garnered more applause than anything else either gentleman said that morning.

Yes, conservatives love the Ryan selection. In fact, it’s done a lot to increase their trust and maybe even their affection for the man at the top of the ticket. I can’t imagine anyone Romney could have chosen who would do more to solidify his support among the party’s base than the man whom Human Events named “Conservative of the Year” for 2011. He’s young, energetic, full of enthusiasm and very, very bright.

I can’t wait to see Ryan versus Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential debate. Ryan will make Biden look like the pompous blowhard he really is. It’s too bad we won’t get to see Ryan debate Obama. I don’t think there’s any question who would be the smartest guy in the room. And Ryan is just as eloquent without a teleprompter.

Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s son, described the selection as Romney’s “first great move.” He said his dad would have approved of the choice, adding, “It’s going to really infuse some excitement and a lot of excitement probably within the conservative ranks.” Indeed, it already has.

Obama strategists claim they are also delighted with the choice, arguing that Ryan will be easy for them to attack. I think this is more bravado than brains. Sure, some of their faithful followers will applaud every new “Mediscare” taunt they launch. But hopefully enough voters will see through Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric and budget-busting programs to say: “Enough!”

The coming election will present the electorate with the clearest choice we’ve seen in generations. Will we allow our leaders to continue to pile trillions of dollars in debt on our children and grandchildren?

We’ll know the answers in three months. In the meantime, I’m delighted Romney selected a running mate who is such a passionate and effective advocate for our side. Aren’t you?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

The Beautiful Backlash From Chick-fil-A Bashing

What a mistake the gay and lesbian agitators made when they decided to attack Chick-fil-A and its outspoken president, Dan Cathy!

It was a mistake that several prominent politicians promptly compounded, with some of the most absurd threats ever uttered by a city official.

It was also an incredible blown opportunity for the Republicans’ candidate for President. Sorry, Mitt, but you got some lousy advice on this one.

The whole kerfuffle began when Dan Cathy, the son of Chick-fil-A founder Truet Cathy, said he was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Had he stopped there, I doubt anyone would have paid much attention to his remarks. After all, the Cathy family has been known for years for its Christian beliefs. The company has always put faith ahead of profits, refusing to let any of its more than 1,600 outlets open on Sunday.

No, it was a different Dan Cathy comment that gave his detractors apoplexy: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

The left went absolutely ballistic. Gay rights groups called for a nationwide boycott of the business. The Jim Henson Company said it would no longer supply toys or other merchandise to the chain.

Politicians couldn’t wait to join the parade. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said that “you can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.” He warned that the company would find it very difficult to get city licenses.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee tweeted: “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.”

In New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wrote a letter to the president of New York University asking him to boot the fast-food outlet off campus. She also started a petition demanding Cathy apologize and change his stance on gay marriage.

In Chicago, where bare-knuckle bruising is a normal part of the political process, Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said he would do whatever it takes to prevent the chain from opening an outlet in his community. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel piously declared: “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.”

What a bunch of bullpucky. What colossal egotism Emanuel must have to think he can speak for the values of everyone in Chicago. No wonder he was such a good fit with his old boss back in the White House.

Let me point out that the media have not been able to find a single Chick-fil-A outlet in the country that has ever denied service to anyone because of his sexual orientation. If the mainstream media had been able to find even one example of such discrimination, don’t you think it would have made screaming headlines in the press and led every TV news show?

Where do these politicos get off, threatening a popular and well-respected business just because its president said something they didn’t like? Have they never heard of freedom of speech? Somebody better give them a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

The story probably would have ended there had it not been for Mike Huckabee, the former Republican Presidential candidate and FOX News host. He wrote on his website: “I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick fil-A company… It’s a great American story that is being smeared by vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left.”

Huckabee declared Aug. 1 as “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” He urged people to visit a nearby outlet to show their support for the chain and its embattled president.

And, boy, did they! The Rev. Billy Graham issued a strong statement of support for Truett and Dan Cathy and promised to “Eat Mor Chikin” on that Wednesday. Several million people did so as well. In many places, the lines stretched for blocks as customers waited for an hour or more to get their order filled.

In Texas, Senate candidate Ted Cruz celebrated his come-from-behind victory in the Republican primary by serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his victory party. Sarah Palin, who had flown to Texas to speak at a Ted Cruz rally, tweeted a photograph of her visit to a local Chick-fil-A outlet. And on it went.

By the time Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day came to an end, the chain had sold more chicken sandwiches and waffle fries than on any day in its history.

Sad to say, there was one prominent Republican who was conspicuous by his silence on the issue. Mitt Romney told reporters that he did not intend to say anything about the controversy. He would not endorse Dan Cathy’s support for the traditional definition of marriage. And he would not criticize the big-city politicians who threatened to punish the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.

“Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” Romney said. Campaign officials promptly “clarified” the candidate’s remarks, explaining that while Romney favors the traditional definition of marriage, he wants to keep the focus of his campaign strictly on the economy.

Bad call, Mitt. You missed a great chance to gain the support of a huge segment of voters who aren’t convinced you’re one of them. I’m referring here to the so-called “values” conservatives, the men and women of faith who believe social issues are incredibly important.

Granted, Romney’s gaffe here won’t cause any of them to vote for Barack Obama this November. But it will certainly dampen the enthusiasm of what could be one of the hardest-working groups of political activists in the country.

Namby-pambiness won’t win this election, Mr. Romney. Heck, it won’t even counter all the Democrats’ lies and smears.

It’s time for an ardent defense of our country’s values — and a little bit of righteous indignation at the assaults on them.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Texas Tea

The Tea Party’s huge victory in Texas. Congratulations to all of the Ted Cruz supporters who saw their man come from behind in the Republican primary in Texas and score a smashing victory over his opponent. Cruz trailed the establishment’s choice, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 45 percent to 34 percent, in the May 29 primary. But less than three months later, he easily won the runoff, 57 percent to 43 percent. The results should be a wake-up call for anyone who has written off the Tea Party in this year’s elections.

The Romney money machine is working. The Republican National Committee says it collected $101.3 million in July for the Mitt Romney campaign, making it the third month in a row that the Republicans raised more money than the Democrats. Barack Obama supporters said they raised about $75 million in July and warned, “Make no mistake, we will be outspent.”

More bad news on the jobs front. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs in July. This looks like an improvement over previous months, until you read the fine print and realize that 348,000 people stopped looking for work in July and are no longer counted among the unemployed. If all of these discouraged workers are added to the “official” numbers, the true unemployment rate in this country is well above 10 percent.

Playing to lose at the Olympics. Thus far, there has been a heartening lack of scandals at the London Olympics. About the worst we’ve seen was the four doubles teams who were disqualified from the badminton championships for not trying hard enough to win. Seems the pairs — two from South Korea, one each from China and Indonesia — deliberately threw preliminary matches so they would face a weaker opponent in a subsequent round. Not exactly in the Olympic spirit of giving it your all.

–Chip Wood   

 

Your Paycheck Is All Yours Now

Finally, you can keep what you earn. In a new report, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Cost of Government Center say that the average American has to work more than half of the year to pay the cost of government. This year’s Cost of Government Day — when the average worker has earned enough to pay for government at the Federal, State and local levels — didn’t arrive until July 15 this year. I’m glad unfunded liabilities weren’t included; if they were, the day would never arrive.

House votes to audit the Fed. Last month, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to demand an audit of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012 passed by a bipartisan vote of 327-98. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), who first introduced legislation to audit the Fed in 1983, declared that “The Fed’s trillions of dollars’ worth of asset purchases and its ongoing support of foreign central banks cannot be allowed to continue without Congressional oversight.” Paul said he hopes the Senate will consider the bill before the end of the year. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a chance of that happening.

Giving illegal aliens a free pass. President Barack Obama recently declared that illegal aliens who were brought to this country as children, graduated from high school or earned a GED, and were under the age of 30 would no longer be subject to deportation. Now we’ve learned that anyone can claim to qualify under the new rules. Chris Crane, president of the union representing immigration and customs enforcement agents, testified before Congress: “We believe that significant numbers of people who are not dreamers [qualified under the DREAM Act] are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest.” Gee, do you think someone would lie to avoid being deported?

Giving guests some saucy reading. A hotel in England has announced that it’s replacing the Gideon Bible in each guest room with a copy of the soft-porn bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. Owner Jonathan Denby explained that the replacement “is a ripping good yarn and everyone who’s in the target audience loves it.” If any guest prefers the Bible, he said copies will be available at the registration desk. It’s no surprise that the media loved the story and gave him a million dollars’ worth of publicity.

–Chip Wood 

Rand Paul Takes On The TSA

For the second year in a row, Kentucky’s junior Senator, Rand Paul, had the standing-room-only crowd at FreedomFest on its feet, applauding and cheering. (Although, there were a few gloomy dissidents I’ll tell you about later.) And also for the second year in a row, I had the great pleasure of introducing the Republican Senator and conducting a lively question-and-answer period with him.

Paul began with a story that got a huge laugh from the crowd. “As you may know,” he said, “I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the TSA.” He paused and then added, “Well, let’s be honest. It’s more of a hate/hate relationship.”

Paul related several horror stories about passengers who were abused by the people charged with making sure our airports are safe and secure. He described what it is like going through airport security. He raised his hands above his head, then mimicked a guard saying, “No, hon, a little higher. Raise your arms a little bit higher.”

While holding his arms high above his head, Rand turned to the crowd and asked, “Is this the posture of a free man?” The response was an enthusiastic burst of laughter, stomping and cheering.

The Senator then related his own recent experience. It seems a scanner saw something it didn’t like when he was trying to board a flight. He was instructed to sit in a cubicle and wait for a guard. He asked if he couldn’t just go through the scanner again, but was told no. When he complained about being detained, he was told, “You’re not being detained; you just can’t leave.”

He decided to alert the local media to what was happening. But when he reached into his carry-on bag to get his cellphone, a guard standing nearby said: “Now, you qualify for a full pat-down.” So Rand told the reporter he was talking to, “Looks like I’ll be here for a while.”

Finally, an older and wiser Transportation Security Administration official prevailed. When he arrived, he suggested the Senator go through the scanner again. In fact, he offered to take him to the head of the line. “No,” the Senator replied. “I’ll wait in line like everyone else.”

The second time through security the scanner was silent. “It looks like you have a 50 percent error rate,” the Senator remarked. “That doesn’t sound very good to me.”

A TSA employee standing by the machine told him, “Oh, that’s because they’re set to go off randomly.”

A higher-up later denied this, but you could tell the Senator was more than a little skeptical about the machines — and the agency that administers them.

Paul has introduced a bill in the Senate that would privatize the TSA.

“I’d rather have the airlines responsible for the safety and security of their passengers and their planes,” he told the crowd. He said that while many Democrats in Congress have told him privately that they agree with him (and have even shared other TSA horror stories), he doesn’t expect any action in the current Congress.

“The TSA is a big union,” he said. “And the Democrats won’t do anything this year to hurt a union.”

According to Paul, the TSA may be the second most-hated agency of the Federal government — next to the Internal Revenue Service. But it isn’t the biggest problem we face. No, that dubious honor belongs to our debt.

“We are borrowing $50,000 a second — over a trillion dollars a year,” the Senator said. “It is unsustainable. We must do something about it. And we aren’t.

“Last week,” he told us, “we tried to cut one penny from the price support for sugar. One penny. It would have saved $7 million a year. That’s not much when you’re faced with a trillion-dollar deficit. We’d have to do it another 140,000 times to balance the budget.”

Paul said the bill had a good chance to pass, but “then Harry Reid came along and twisted some arms and two Democrats changed their vote.” The measure failed.

He told the crowd not to believe there is no bipartisan compromise in Congress.

“This simply isn’t true,” he insisted. “We have it every year — to raise spending.” When you hear claims that Congress has agreed to cut spending, don’t believe it, he said. “What they’re cutting are increases that are already built into the system.”

If we just held spending where it is, we could balance the budget in 10 years, Paul insisted. “If we were to cut just one percent a year — one penny out of every dollar — we could balance the budget in six or seven years.”

As you might have guessed, Paul is totally opposed to raising taxes. He pointed out that the top 10 percent of taxpayers already pay 70 percent of all of the taxes collected in this country.

“The rich are paying more than their fair share,” he said. “If you want to make it fair, you should cut their taxes.” That sentiment was greeted with a hearty round of applause.

There was a lively question-and-answer period at the end of Paul’s remarks. The most common question, by far, was why he endorsed Mitt Romney for President instead of his dad.

“First of all,” he replied, “it’s not ‘instead.’ I did endorse my father and still do. I’ve been campaigning for him since I was 11 years old. There is no one who has worked harder for him.”

Paul said he believes “libertarians can accomplish more working within the Republican Party than outside.” When he decided to run for the Senate, he did so as a Republican. “I said then that I would support the Party’s nominee for President,” he said.

Paul then addressed the libertarians in his audience.

“If you support the Libertarian Party, I’m not going to bust your chops,” he said. “I’ve been there. I’m not saying that if you choose that approach you are wrong. But at least do me the courtesy of understanding that there’s no one more supporting of my father than me.”

The Senator may not have won over everyone in the audience. But the vast majority gave him a rousing standing ovation when he concluded by saying: “We have to believe in ourselves. We have to believe in the free-enterprise system. We shouldn’t apologize. Instead, we should tell the world that our system made us the strongest, the richest, and the most humanitarian country in the history of the world.”

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Heroes In Aurora

Amazing acts of courage. Like you, I was heartsick at the stories of the massacre at that movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week. But I was also impressed by the heroic acts that occurred there. Four of the victims were men who gave their lives to protect the women who were with them. The courage, bravery and self-sacrifice of Alex Teves, Matthew Robert McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk and John Larimer should be an inspiration for us all.

The Boy Scouts refuse to compromise. For several years now, the Boy Scouts of America has been the target of the militant homosexual movement because it has refused to allow homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters. Despite the intense pressure and publicity, an 11-member special committee formed by top Scout leaders in 2010 recently voted unanimously to reaffirm the ban as “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” You can expect the intolerant left to increase its pressure against the Boy Scouts as a result.

Aren’t you glad you paid for it? Thanks to a reader for sharing the following story: On a recent episode of “Bridezillas,” a friend of the bride said her wedding gift would be paying for the $600 wedding cake. Knowing her friend was broke, the bride-to-be asked the baker how her friend was going to pay for the cake. The baker said the friend wanted to pay with “food stamps.”

Paying government to hold your money. How low can interest rates go? Recently, the German central bank sold $5 billion worth of two-year notes that pay a negative 0.06% interest rate. That means the bondholders not only won’t receive any interest payments for the next 24 months, but when their principle is returned two years down the road, they’ll actually receive less money than they lent the government. Of course, once taxes and inflation are taken into consideration, savers in the United States also end up losing money on such “safe” investments.

–Chip Wood

The Lie That Should Sink Obama

If there is one sentence that determines who will win this year’s Presidential election, I hope it will be Barack Obama’s incredible statement that “you didn’t build that.”

In just four short words, Obama confirmed his bias against America’s business builders and job creators — the men and women who slaved and sacrificed to help make us the wealthiest, most productive and most generous Nation the world has ever known.

Yes, I know, I’ll be accused of taking his words out of context. That he really wasn’t engaging in the blatant, anti-business bias I’ve accused him of. Baloney! Let’s look more closely at exactly what our Great Leader said. Here is a verbatim quote from his campaign speech in Roanoke, Va., on July 13:

[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Obama’s apologists like to claim that the President was merely referring to “roads and bridges” when he said “you didn’t build that.” What a bunch of nonsense! First of all, let me play grammarian here and point out that “roads and bridges” are plural, not singular. Anyone with a fifth-grade education, much less two college degrees, would know to say “you didn’t build those,” not “that.”

Moreover, if you try to accept the apologists’ explanation, then you have to admit that Obama not only made a grammatical mistake, he made a factual one as well. Anyone who drives a car or truck did pay for those “roads and bridges.” All of this infrastructure (and a lot more besides) was financed by the taxes on the fuel we used.

No, the message the President was trying to convey seems pretty clear to me: Every successful entrepreneur in America owes a debt of gratitude — and a lot more taxes — to government. Not only that, but the more successful you are, the more you owe.

So Henry Ford can’t take credit for giving birth to the automobile industry. Thomas Edison would never have invented the light bulb if it weren’t for “somebody else” who made it happen. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and thousands of other modern builders and inventors wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t for the helping hand of government.

In fact, the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis of this world go even further. They seem to believe that government is entitled to all of the money you make. And anytime our beneficent rulers allow you to keep some of your earnings, it is somehow doing you a favor. How else can you explain the attitude that cutting your taxes is somehow giving you a subsidy? That letting us keep anything is doing us a favor?

If “you didn’t build that,” then you really have no right to own it or control it. If “you didn’t build that,” then government is entitled to tax it, to regulate it, even to seize it, if it so desires. If “somebody else made that happen,” then government has every right to seize what you have and share it with “somebody else.”

The truth is 180 degrees the opposite of what these grade-school Marxists proclaim: Most business creators and job builders in this country have succeeded in spite of government, not because of it. And they would have been able to invest a lot more money, take a lot more risk, build more businesses and create more jobs, if they had been allowed to keep more of the money they earned.

Dan Danner, the president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has this to say about Obama’s comments:

His unfortunate remarks over the weekend show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs.

I’m sure every small-business owner who took a second mortgage on their home, maxed out their credit cards or borrowed money from their own retirement savings to start their business disagrees strongly with President Obama’s claim.

I certainly hope so.

One of Mitt Romney’s favorite campaign themes is how the coming election will be a battle for the soul of America. “Do we believe in an America that is great because of government?” the presumptive Republican nominee has asked. “Or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams to build their future?”

In this debate, there can be no doubt where our redistributionist President stands. We’ve got less than 100 days left before Americans get to cast their vote on which vision of the future they want.

Will the builders and creators and those who support them work as hard as the takers and receivers and those who pander to them? We’ll soon find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Obama Called Our Most ‘Toxic’ President

Ed Klein told nearly 2,000 conservatives and libertarians who jammed the main ballroom at FreedomFest last week several shocking stories he heard while conducting the nearly 200 interviews that formed the basis of his bestselling book, The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House. But none was more gripping than what he learned during his three-hour interview with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor in Chicago.

“At first I had no interest in talking to Rev. Wright,” Klein told us. “But several African-Americans I spoke with said he had a story I had to hear.” Somewhat to his surprise, Wright not only agreed to meet with Klein but gave him permission to record the interview.

During their talk, Wright told Klein that Barack Obama was “steeped in Islam” when he first met him, but knew little about Christianity. “Barack and Michelle are not church people,” Wright said. “They didn’t even send their daughters to Sunday School.”

According to Klein, Trinity United Church of Christ (Wright’s mega-church with more than 8,000 black members) wasn’t the Obamas spiritual home; it was their political base in Chicago. Of course, once the media started exposing Wright’s hate-filled sermons and his “black liberation” theology, Obama dropped Wright like the hot potato he had become.

Wright told Klein that after the controversy erupted, he was approached by one of Obama’s closest friends and offered $150,000 if he would promise to keep his mouth shut during the 2008 election. When Wright refused, he said he got a phone call a few days later from the candidate himself, asking to meet with him privately in some “secure location.”

“I told him we didn’t need to meet in a ‘secure location,’” Wright told Klein. “I said he could just come to my home. After all, he’d been there before at least a hundred times.”

When Obama also asked him, for the good of his campaign, to refrain from controversial remarks while he ran for President, Wright said he couldn’t make that promise. He said Obama then told him, “The problem with you, Rev, is that you’ve got to tell the truth.” Wright said he replied, “That’s not a bad problem to have. Maybe you should try it.”

I doubt if anyone reading this will be surprised to learn that an Obama crony tried to bribe Obama’s long-time minister into keeping his controversial mouth shut. Of course, we know how well that worked.

Klein told his rapt audience that he offered copies of his three-hour interview with Wright to the national media. But with the exception of Sean Hannity, they all ignored it. Hey, surprise, surprise! There’s liberal bias in the mainstream media.

The author said that although his book has been on top of bestseller lists for nearly two months, he has yet to be invited on any of the major interview shows. No “Today Show,” no “Good Morning, America,” no “Charlie Rose.”

“If it weren’t for Fox News, most TV viewers would never have heard of my book,” he said. But thanks to that network, plus talk radio, the Internet, and all the other alternative news sources that have developed — like Personal Liberty Digest — a media blackout just doesn’t work anymore.

Another fascinating tidbit from Klein’s book is that Bill Clinton tried very hard to persuade his wife to run against Obama this year. He didn’t want to wait until 2016. A friend of the Clintons (Klein won’t say which one) quotes Bill Clinton delivering the following tirade: “I have no relationship with the President — none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be President. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s… he’s…”

Then Klein described what happened next:

Bill’s voice was growing hoarse — he was speaking in a rough whisper — but he looked as though he could go on forever bashing Obama. And then, all at once and without warning, he stopped cold. He bit his lower lip and scanned the faces in the room. He was plainly gratified to see that his audience was spellbound. They were waiting for the politician par excellence to deliver his final judgment on the 44th President of the United States.

Then, according to the friend, Bill Clinton said: “Barack Obama is an amateur!”

Obama is not an amateur at running, God knows. With a teleprompter in front of him, he’s one of the most gifted and eloquent campaigners this country has ever seen.

But when it comes to serving as President and commander in chief, Ed Klein doesn’t mince words. Obama is not only one of the most divisive and radical people to ever occupy the White House, but he is a dangerous amateur at the job.

[pl_amazon_book_order src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1596987855&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”]“Barack Obama is temperamentally unsuited to be President of the United States or commander in chief,” Klein told us. “He is inept in judgment, flawed in management, and lacking in leadership. He repeatedly makes errors that hurt our economy and harm our national security.”

And then the bestselling author hammered home his conclusion: “Barack Obama’s bumbling amateurism and radical ideology are a toxic combination for our country.”

Most of the speakers at this year’s FreedomFest who made a prediction about the November elections said they expect Obama to lose — a prediction that was greeted with a hearty round of applause every time it was uttered.

Klein said he wasn’t so sure. Obama’s team may be inept at leading the country, the bestselling author said, but they are ruthless, brilliant and unscrupulous at running a campaign. They will pull out all the stops to get their man re-elected.

“Those guys in Chicago know how to run a dirty, effective campaign,” he said.

If they succeed, the country will be in for a very dangerous time.

“If Obama is re-elected,” Klein said, “there will be nothing to stop him. He will be even more aggressive.” And he won’t hesitate to use edicts, regulations and even more czars to force changes down our throats — no matter what Congress does.

Obama’s goal, the author is convinced, is nothing less than to convert the United States into “a European-style socialist state.”

Klein’s bestselling book confirms what a lot of us already suspected. Too bad all this wasn’t known four years ago. If it had been, he has no doubt Obama would never have been elected.

What should we do about it now? The bottom line is simple, he says. “This guy must be defeated in 2012.” His book should help do the job.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Disability Numbers Increase

A flood of disabled workers. Here’s a statistic that should worry every taxpayer in America. While the economy has created 2.6 million new jobs since June 2009, in the same period an astounding 3.1 million people have been granted disability benefits. In other words, the number of newly disabled workers is growing 19 percent faster than the number of new jobs in this country.

Some good news on the unemployment front. Here’s something that should give aid and comfort to every conservative — and bug the heck out of Democrats. In the 2010 elections, Republicans won Governorships in 17 States. Every one of those States saw their unemployment rate drop since January 2011.

This UN-sponsored treaty is dead for now. Two more Republican Senators have told Majority Leader Harry Reid that they plan to vote against ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty because it infringes too much on U.S. sovereignty. The announcement by Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) means the treaty won’t win the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. That’s enough to make the measure dead in the water this year. But don’t expect the New World Order types to stop promoting it.

A coffeemaker in your car? Fiat has proudly announced that it will be the first car company to have an espresso maker built into a production automobile. Yes, beginning next year, you’ll be able to order the Fiat 500L, a four-door sedan, with a Lavazza coffeemaker already installed. Does anyone think brewing a cup of joe could be a bit of a distraction as you’re racing down the autobahn?

–Chip Wood

Nobama, No Convention

More Democrats distance themselves from Obama. It looks like there could be a lot of empty chairs at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. The latest defections include three Democratic Congressmen from the State hosting the convention. U.S. Representatives Hayden Rogers, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell say they’ll be too busy campaigning to show up. Even more embarrassing for the national ticket, the three men have declined to endorse Barack Obama for re-election.

Would you pay to get off a plane faster? Many airline passengers are already paying extra to board faster or get a preferred seat near the front. Pretty soon you may be able to be first in line to get off — by paying another fee, of course. George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, says it just makes sense: “They’re willing to pay to board early and sit in those uncomfortable seats, so why wouldn’t they pay for the reverse?” All those extra charges really add up. According to the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in just the first three months of this year, airlines collected $816 million in baggage fees and another $631 million for changes in reservations.

Chris Rock wasn’t funny. As we celebrated the Fourth of July, here’s what comedian Chris Rock tweeted to his thousands of followers: “Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed the fireworks.” It’s sad how many people like to slam the country that made them rich and famous, isn’t it?

Now that’s a pricey bottle of wine. Austrailian fine wine producer Penfolds has announced that it has produced its most exclusive (and expensive) bottling ever. It has made just 12 bottles of the 2004 Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon. Each will come in a hand-blown glass vial in a special presentation case. The asking price is a staggering $168,000 per bottle. Only two bottles have been allocated to North America, so if you want one, you’d better hurry.

–Chip Wood

Getting A Pro-Constitution Court

A neighbor and I were discussing the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare a few days ago when he made the comment, “That was a really black day for America. Maybe the worst in many years.”

His remark got me thinking. Which was the more momentous date? When the Court issued its verdict on June 28? When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted into law and signed by the President in March 2010? Or was the most critical date November 2008, when a lot of gullible Americans accepted Barack Obama’s promises for “hope and change” and elected him President?

Of course, they are all important dates in history. But it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that the first and second would never have happened if it weren’t for the third? Elections have consequences. One of the biggest consequences of the next one is that whoever wins the Presidency will probably get to appoint two or three new members to our Nation’s highest court.

Think about it. Three current members of the Court — conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, liberal dependable Ruth Bader Ginsburg and occasional swing vote Anthony Kennedy — will all reach their 80s during the next Presidential Administration. Assuming some or all of them retire sometime over the next four years, whoever is nominated to succeed them could change the Court’s complexion for decades to come.

As you know, a Federal judgeship is a lifetime gig. The average length of service on the Supreme Court is currently 25 years. But with nominees getting younger and younger and with longevity increasing, new appointees could serve for 30 or 40 years.

If you think Chief Justice Roberts had to turn logic on its head to find that Obamacare was Constitutional, just wait until you see what an even more liberal Court will allow. It’s hard to imagine that such a court would find any expansion of Federal power unConstitutional.

While I’m certainly willing to agree that June 28 was a bad day for liberty in this country, I can think of many others that were worse. In fact, in my humble opinion, it wasn’t even the worst Supreme Court decision I can remember. For that dishonor, we have to go back almost 40 years, when the Court voided the anti-abortion laws of 46 States in Roe vs. Wade. That decision (which came on a 7-2 vote), caused more death, destruction and controversy than any other ruling in my lifetime.

Another damaging day in judicial history was way back in May 1954, when the Court ruled (unanimously, by the way) in Brown vs. Board of Education that “separate but equal” educational facilities would no longer be allowed in this country.

Today, most of us would probably agree that separate facilities could never be equal. And that trying to use the police power of the State to keep races separate was a huge mistake. Segregation created some monstrous injustices at the time and a legacy of bitterness and resentment that has lasted to this day.

But in its decision the Supreme Court did much more than simply declare that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal. The ruling paved the way for a massive Federal takeover of education in the United States. It led directly to such insanity as cross-town busing, to achieve some dubious level of integration that was dictated by a Federal judge.

Until that time, it was generally understood that a Supreme Court decision was “the law of the case.” But with the Brown decision, it became “the law of the land.” The judicial branch of government had usurped the power of the legislative branch. The Court was issuing dictates that would never have been approved by Congress or the individual States.

At the time, there was an enormous amount of opposition to the Federal courts assuming these vast new powers. I remember helping distribute a powerful little book called Nine Men Against America. There were even calls for Congress to rein in the Court by limiting its authority or trying to remove some of its members.

One of the things that makes our system of government so remarkable is all of the ways that our Founding Fathers tried to limit the power of the central government. In school we were taught that the Constitution would not even have been adopted were it not for the addition of those first 10 Amendments known as the Bill of Rights. It’s been a long time, however, since any justice (or most politicians, for that matter) paid more than lip service to the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Remember hearing about all of the “checks and balances” the framers put in place between the three branches of the Federal government: executive, legislative and judicial? We know that the first, the executive, gets to appoint nominees to the Supreme Court (and other Federal courts). And that the second, the legislative, gets to approve or deny those nominations.

But Congress’ power over the judiciary doesn’t end there. Our Founding Fathers were determined to give the people’s representatives, the Legislature, additional ways to check the other two branches of government. One was the ability to declare some issues “off limits” to the courts, by voting to remove their “appellate jurisdiction.”

The other check that Congress was given over the other two branches of government was the power of impeachment — that is, the ability to present charges against members of the courts and even the President.

In the 1960s, when the John Birch Society launched a nationwide movement under the slogan “Impeach Early Warren,” many people weren’t even aware that the Constitution gave Congress such a power — or, for that matter, what it meant or how it would be exercised.

I don’t think Congress has ever voted to impeach a member of the Supreme Court. Bill Clinton was the first President since Andrew Johnson to even have impeachment charges leveled against him.

At the time, I questioned whether lying about a tryst with an intern approached the level of misconduct that our Founding Fathers envisioned before a sitting President would be impeached. A majority of members of the House must have agreed, because Smilin’ Bill wasn’t charged. (What he no doubt heard from Hillary when she got him alone is another matter entirely.)

What are the chances that Congress will use either of these Constitutional remedies to rein in the Supreme Court? Pretty darned close to zero, I’m afraid.

That means if you want to see more pro-Constitution decisions from the Supreme Court, you’d better make sure the next appointees share your appreciation for our founding document. Otherwise, we’ll just get more justices whose oath to uphold the Constitution means as little to them as the one Barack Obama took obviously means to him.

In other words, if you want to change the Court, you’d better begin by changing the guy in the White House.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

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Corrected: Original stated Andrew Jackson, not Andrew Johnson, had impeachment charges brought against him.

Obama’s ‘Victory’ Could Spell His Defeat

So Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court to decide that Obamacare, including the hugely unpopular “mandate,” is perfectly OK under the U.S. Constitution.

Now all three branches of the Federal government — the legislative, the executive and the judicial — have agreed to support the biggest expansion of government power in the history of this Republic. To say I’m aghast would be the understatement of the week.

Aghast, but not surprised. Let’s be honest: The Supreme Court has a lousy record of telling the Federal government it can’t do something. As far as the nine members of the Court are concerned, the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution don’t exist.

Of course, Roberts had to twist the facts like a pretzel to justify the ruling. Barack Obama had insisted that Obamacare “absolutely” was  not a tax. The measure’s supporters in Congress said the same thing, over and over again.

Now comes the Supreme Court saying that of course it’s a tax. If it were to be judged based on the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause (two phrases in the Constitution that liberals love to use to justify every possible expansion of federal power), a majority of Court members said it would clearly be unConstitutional.

I’ll leave for another day speculation about why Roberts ruled as he did and gave himself the task of writing the majority opinion. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented: “… to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposed a tax is not to interpret the statue but to rewrite it.”

Exactly. The bill’s defenders were desperately afraid that the Court would rule against Obamacare. When it didn’t, they were ecstatic.

But their glee won’t last for long. Two things are going to happen that will turn their rejoicing into anguish. One will occur later this year, the other further down the road.

The first will be massive Republican gains this fall. Consider: Before the Court’s ruling, some 55 percent to 60 percent of potential voters said they opposed Obamacare. Now that they know it will be shoved down their throats, they should be furious. Many of them are. Pollster Scott Rasmussen put it this way: “The conservative interest in the election was already much higher than that of moderates and liberals. It went up to really stratospheric levels right after the ruling.”

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote something that will come back to haunt every liberal supporter of this odious law:

“We [the Court] possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Is there a single Democrat anywhere running for election this fall who will brag about foisting this massive tax increase on the country? I don’t think so. I predict we will see a ton of them “thrown out of office,” to quote the Chief Justice.

Fox News commentator Dick Morris put it this way: “So this really puts Obamacare front and center as the leading issue in the 2012 campaign. In a real sense it makes the 2012 campaign a carbon copy of the 2010 campaign — and we all know how that turned out.”

A lot of liberals are worried about this very thing. In a fundraising appeal on the eve of the Court’s decision, Ted Kennedy’s son Patrick predicted: “If the Court upholds the law, dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage.”

Don’t you just love the liberals’ scare tactics? Of course, no conservative will go on a rampage. The Tea Party types will do something the left will find much worse. They’ll vote — in larger numbers than ever before. And they’ll get a bunch of their friends and neighbors to do so as well.

Remember, the 2,300-page monstrosity that created Obamacare contains at least 21 tax increases. Estimates are that it costs taxpayers more than $800 billion. And get this: The majority of those increases will hit families earning less than $250,000 a year.

So much for Obama’s promise that his healthcare proposals would “never be purchased with [a] tax increase on middle-class families.” Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin used just four words to describe the situation: “Obama lies; freedom dies.”

When The Other Shoe Drops

What if I’m wrong and Republicans don’t enjoy enough legislative victories this year to repeal Obamacare?

If Obama wins re-election and the Democrats retain control of the Senate, I still think Obamacare will end up on the ash can of history. Here’s why.

Once Obamacare is fully in force and insurance companies are required to accept every possible applicant — no matter what pre-existing conditions they may have — you can bet that healthcare premiums will skyrocket.

When that happens, for many people it will be cheaper to simply pay the penalty rather than cough up the money for the premiums. After all, why shouldn’t they delay getting coverage until they actually need it? Just think what would happen if you could wait until your house was on fire to buy insurance on it. Who would be dumb enough to buy it before you needed it?

The only way to prevent this from happening is to make the penalties higher than the cost of insurance. But I don’t see that ever happening, even with a Congress filled with Nancy Pelosis and Harry Reids.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”

That’s the same problem Obamacare will encounter. The faster the plan is put in place, the sooner it will collapse. Of course, in the meantime, the government will do everything in its power to keep us tax cows producing as much milk as possible. It won’t be pleasant having every last dollar it can grab squeezed out of us.

Rather than waiting until the iron bars are around your neck, locking you in place in the dairy barn, wouldn’t it be a good idea to accept Roberts’ challenge and get the law repealed?

The only way to do that is by replacing the people who passed it. Of course, that means starting in the White House. But that won’t be enough if the Democrats still control the Senate.

We’ve got our work cut out for us, folks. Better get busy.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

What Happens Now?

No justice at Justice. Surprise, surprise. The Justice Department announced last Friday that it will not prosecute its boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, for contempt of Congress. Deputy Attorney General James Cole sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner declaring that “We will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege.” What happens now? My bet is a lot of bluff, blustering and rhetoric, but not much else.

Encouraging people to steal. An op-ed article in The New York Times several months ago carried the subhead “Why I stole Wi-Fi for years – and you should, too.” The author claimed that her neighbors’ decision to leave their Wi-Fi networks password-free “was essentially a gift, an ethereal gesture of kindness.” Sure it was.

More proof the free market works. Here’s an amazing statistic: The southern white rhinoceros, which was almost extinct a century ago, has enjoyed an amazing comeback. There are now an estimated 20,000 of the beasts in Africa. What made the difference? Encouraging private ownership of the animals. This promoted breeding, permitted controlled trophy hunting and even allowed rhino horns to be harvested humanely. (They grow back.) As a result, death from poachers, starvation and natural predators has all but disappeared.

A dramatic way to make the point. College students who want to show how offensive it is to base anything — including student admissions — on race have been known to organize a treat of an event: affirmative action bake sales. Wikipedia states: “A typical pricing structure charges $1.00 for White and Asian males, $.75 for White and Asian females, $.50 for Latino, Black, and Native American males and $.25 for Latino, Black, and Native American females.” The protests have taken place at many campuses across the country, much to the dismay of liberal groups and some college officials.

–Chip Wood