Imagine There’s No Internet

Motivated citizens block new law. Well, what do you know? Two bills aimed at stopping online piracy were supposed to sail through Congress. But Internet giants Google and Wikipedia and others protested that the measures would turn them into “police officers for the Justice Department.” Wikipedia even went dark for a day. So many people contacted their Congressmen that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act are dead in the water — at least for now.

College conservatives “too patriotic.” A group of students at Marietta College in Ohio wanted to hold an American flag memorial and candlelight vigil to commemorate 9/11. They received approval, but then the approval for the vigil was rescinded and they were told that the flag garden had to include flags from the more than 90 other countries that experienced a loss on 9/11. A Student Life representative said, “We have a global outlook at this school and we cannot ignore the Chinese and Muslim students who also suffered losses.” Ultimately, the college allowed the students to host the event and it funded the purchase of the other countries’ flags.

One reason California is going broke. When Berkeley city manager Phil Kamlarz retired from his $242,580 a year job on Nov. 30, he immediately became eligible for an annual pension of $249,420 a year. He also got $147,439 in unused sick and vacation time. The city’s pensions are underfunded. Covering future retirees will cost the city some $400 million. That’s a lot of taxpayer money!

Moody’s downgrades Illinois’ debt. Moody’s downgraded Illinois State debt from A2 to A1 — the lowest among the 50 States. Remember when Illinois raised personal income taxes by 67 percent and corporate income taxes by 46 percent a year ago? Those tax increases were supposed to solve all of the State’s financial problems. Despite the increases, Governor Pat Quinn’s budget office predicts a $507 million deficit this year.

Supreme Court Tells Obama ‘No!’

Well, what do you know? The Supreme Court not only rebuffed another attack on our Constitution by Barack Obama’s minions, it did so in a unanimous decision.

Here’s what happened in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church And School v. EEOC. The Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School hired Cheryl Perich as a teacher. Perich had completed religious training and was considered a minister by the school. Perich taught secular subjects and a religion class, led prayers and devotions, and attended chapel with her class.

In 2004, Perich became ill and began the school year on disability leave. Hosanna-Tabor hired someone else to teach her classes. When Perich said she was ready to return to work a month later, the principal in effect said “thanks, but no thanks.” The church tried to persuade her to resign and even offered her some benefits if she’d do so, but she refused and threatened legal action. When the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement, Hosanna-Tabor fired Perich.

Rather than accept the decision, Perich claimed she had been discriminated against and sued for reinstatement and all of the pay she had missed. Rather than cave to her demands, Hosanna-Tabor refused.

That’s when one of the most nefarious agencies of our Big Nanny government got involved. Perich filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying her firing was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit against Hosanna-Tabor, alleging that Perich was fired for threatening legal action.

Had this happened in the regular workplace, I have no doubt what would have happened next. The employer would have caved. In fact, Hosanna-Tabor’s lawyers and insurance company probably would have insisted on reaching a settlement, no matter the cost — in money or in principle.

But Hosanna-Tabor was made of sterner stuff. It contested the case all the way up to the Supreme Court. That’s when the Court surprised many of us by ruling unanimously in favor of Hosanna-Tabor.

In the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:

Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the free exercise clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.

Roberts labeled as “extreme” the Obama Administration’s argument that the First Amendment does not protect a religious organization’s right to choose its own leaders.

Hooray for the Court! In years past, Justices haven’t always done a very good job of defending the Constitution’s limitation of government. But they got it right this time.

Who knows? Maybe a new day is dawning. We’ll soon find out; in one of the biggest issues to come before it in decades, the Court is expected to rule this term on the Constitutionality of Obamacare. When it does, let’s hope it uses the U.S. Constitution to decide the issue. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?

There are other issues I’d like to see the Court rule on, such as the unConstitutional “czars” Obama has appointed. The czars are making and enforcing important national policy without ever facing a Congressional hearing. No “advise and consent” here, no matter what the clear intention of our Founding Fathers was.

I’d also like to see the Court address those “recess” appointments I wrote about last week. There is no question that Obama was openly defiant of the rules, traditions and his own position on the issue when he was a Senator. As William McGurn pointed out in a Wall Street Journal column, “Mr. Obama’s aggressive disregard for any constitutional limit on what he wants to do has come to define his approach across the board.”

Indeed. But even more disgusting are all the liberal hypocrites who lambasted George W. Bush for “shredding” the Constitution when he was President, but pointedly refuse to issue a single word of concern or condemnation when Obama does the very same thing — or worse. Quoting McGurn again:

We now know that the professed concern for the Constitution was fake. We know it was fake because the same Bush claims of executive authority in war that provoked such apoplexy in our pundits, professors and politicos have for the most part been embraced by Mr. Obama—all to the distinct sound of silence.

Happily, those of us who want to restore the Constitution aren’t being silent. There are more of us than ever before; some of us are even in Congress.

Thomas Jefferson had it right when he warned more than 200 years ago:

“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

I think many of our opponents can actually hear those chains getting closer sort of like Ebenezer Scrooge when he faced Jacob Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol. But be warned: Many creatures are at their most dangerous when they think they’re being cornered.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Adding More Debt

Raising the debt ceiling… again. Barack Obama has notified Congress that the debt ceiling needs to be raised by another $1.2 trillion. Don’t expect a big tussle this time, however. The increase is permitted under the Budget Control Act. Lawmakers have the ability to vote against debt increases, but they cannot actually block them.

This would shake up Congress. Representative Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.) has introduced what he’s calling the Citizen Legislators Act. The measure would limit the days Congress is in session to five per month or 60 business days per session. It would also cut the salaries of Representatives and Senators by 50 percent — as well as office allowances and committee and leadership budgets by the same percentage. Don’t expect a vote on the measure anytime soon.

Who’s afraid of Friday the 13th? If you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobics (a fear of Friday the 13th), this is going to be a bad year for you. In addition to the one we suffered a week ago, there will be two more this year: in April and June. Three Friday the 13ths happen every few years. But this year, for the first time since 1984, the three Friday the 13ths are exactly 13 weeks apart.

They must think we’re stupid. Did you see the cover of the current Newsweek magazine? It shows a photo of a very pensive President Barack Obama accompanied by the question: “Why are Obama’s critics so dumb?” I couldn’t bring myself to buy the rag, but you can find my colleague Ben Crystal’s analysis of the piece here.

–Chip Wood

Obama Shreds The Constitution Again

Guess what? Barack Obama has found an opponent whose approval ratings are even lower than his own. So to kick off his re-election campaign, he’s decided to run against Congress.

The campaign against the obstructionist, do-nothing Congress started in earnest last week, when Obama decided to ignore the U.S. Constitution, recent Presidential tradition and even his own vote when he was a U.S. Senator by making four “recess” appointments.

There was just one teeny tiny problem with the stratagem; Congress wasn’t in recess.

In case you missed the story — which was easy to do, because most Americans neither cared about it nor understood it — let me give you a condensed version of what happened. This is no mere tempest in a teapot, by the way. As I’ll explain below, this seemingly silly confrontation could have enormous legal implications for our country.

The brouhaha began last month. Rather than adjourn for the Christmas holidays, Republicans in Congress decided to do the absolute minimum to keep Congress in session, holding “pro-forma” meetings every three days. Basically, all it took was one Senator showing up, declaring the session open and then gaveling it closed a few seconds later.  Most times, the session lasted less than a minute.

The reason for doing this was to prevent the President from making “recess” appointments of some of his more controversial selections. Normally, the Constitution requires Senate confirmation of important nominations. But Presidents have been able to bypass the “advice and consent” requirements by making “temporary” appointments when Congress is in recess.

By the way, there is nothing new in this strategy. Democrats did it routinely during the last two years of George W. Bush’s Presidency. In fact, Obama was one of the most outspoken supporters of the ploy when he was a lowly senator from Illinois. Now that he’s our imperial President, the situation is different. Or so he says.

Clearly, what is perfectly OK for Democrats to do (stymieing a Republican President) becomes “obstructionist maneuvering” when the shoe is on the other foot. A week ago, Obama announced that he was making four “recess” appointments: Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Board and three other people to fill openings on the National Labor Relations Board.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out in the recent editorial “Contempt for Congress” what was wrong with the President’s strategy:

The last clause Section 5 of Article 1 of the Constitution says that “Neither House” of Congress can adjourn for more than three days “without the Consent of the other” house. In this case, the House of Representatives had not formally consented to Senate adjournment. It’s true the House did this to block the President from making recess appointments, but it is following the Constitution in doing so. [Emphasis added.]

Faced with this blatant disregard of both tradition and the Constitution, House Speaker John Boehner went ballistic. He denounced the White House power grab in no uncertain terms:

This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department. The precedent that would be set by this cavalier action would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our Constitution.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, joined the chorus of condemnation. He blasted Obama for “arrogantly circumventing” the confirmation process.

What’s really going on here? Clearly, our national security wasn’t threatened by these four positions remaining open for a few more weeks.

No, as William Shakespeare observed in a different context, “the game is afoot.” In this case, the “game” is getting Obama re-elected. Since he can’t run on his record, he has to find an opponent who is even more unpopular than he is.

How about picking a fight with a “do-nothing” Congress? After all, Americans have an even lower opinion of Congress than they do of the President. Recently, the approval rating for Congress fell to a basement-dwelling 9 percent.

Now you know why the White House engaged in “a deliberate, and politically motivated, provocation,” as The Journal noted in its editorial on the subject. The Journal continued:

“Recall the stories over the New Year’s weekend, clearly planted by the White House, that Mr. Obama planned to make a campaign against Congress the core of his re-election drive. One way to do that is to run roughshod over the Senate’s advice and consent power and dare the Members to stop him.”

Obama deliberately threw down the gauntlet. Now let’s see what leaders on the Hill do about it. Frankly, except for some heated rhetoric, I suspect they won’t do much.

But the buck won’t stop here, no matter what the President says. Already, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is considering challenging the legality of the appointments. If it does — and the courts support their position — it could mean that every ruling the National Labor Relations Board makes and every new regulation the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issues will be void.

It won’t happen overnight. It could take years for lawsuits to be filed, hearings to be held, courts to rule and appeals to be heard. In the meantime, if you run a business that is affected by something the NLRB has decreed, what do you do? Do you spend (potentially) millions of dollars to obey a regulation you think will be overturned?

I suspect the President neither knows nor cares about the pandemonium his actions may create. Obama isn’t worried about what might happen a few years from now; his total focus is on what happens 10 months from now.

So what if he has to tear the Constitution to shreds to stay in office? After all, he has shown nothing but disdain for its limitations on his power up until now. Why should today be any different?

This fireworks show is far from over, folks. The eruptions will continue at least until the first Tuesday in November.

Until then, be sure to keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Hillary For President 2016

The Hillary Clinton bandwagon. The New York Times seems determined to get Hillary Clinton back in the White House. The latest foray was a column by Bill Keller, The Times’ executive editor from 2003 until last September. In “Just the Ticket,” Keller says to forget about persuading Barack Obama to step aside; that won’t happen. Instead, he wants to move Joe Biden over to the State Department and make Hillary the Vice Presidential nominee. Keller says his proposal would do “more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do.”  Plus, “it makes Hillary the party’s heir apparent in 2016.” Oh, goodie.

How many dollars are at risk in Europe? Robert Lenzner, the national editor at Forbes and a former investment banker, says that European banks hold as much as $10 trillion in U.S. debt. The number includes money-market deposits from U.S. financial institutions, mortgage securities on U.S. properties and direct loans to U.S. businesses. “We are bloody well in this together,” Lenzner warns, with “our crummy banks holding tons of lousy mortgage loans — and Europe’s banks holding tons of lousy loans.” How much further will they be able to kick this can down the road?

“It’s the economy, stupid!” It isn’t the President’s fault that Federal spending has soared or deficits have skyrocketed, according to one Obama apologist. Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of Obama’s Council on Economic Advisers (now a college professor), says the culprit isn’t government policy, but rather the economic downturn. With more people out of work, tax receipts have dropped, while spending on things like food stamps and unemployment insurance has gone up. Reducing Federal spending, he insists, will just make matters worse.

More Americans flee California and New York. Census Bureau data reveal that in 2010-2011, more and more Americans moved from high tax jurisdictions to low tax ones. The most popular move was from California, the State with the highest combined State and local tax rates in the Nation, to Texas, which has no State income tax. The second most common relocation was from New York (another high tax State) to Florida (which also has no State income tax).

–Chip Wood

 

 

Government The Bigger Threat

Who frightens you? Are you more scared of big business or government? Although Hollywood loves to portray American businessmen as evil incarnate, and Barack Obama continues to rail against the “millionaires and billionaires” who don’t pay “their fair share” of taxes, a new Gallup poll says the public isn’t buying it. While 26 percent of the public agreed that “big business” was a threat to the country, more than twice that number — 64 percent — said government is the bigger threat.

Time’s “Person of the Year” wasn’t actually a person this time. Instead, the magazine decided that “the protester” deserved the accolade — and not just any protester, but all of them. The magazine included protesters from the Arab Spring to Athens and from OWS to Moscow. One thing the magazine didn’t point out is that in most countries, the protesters were demonstrating against government. In the United States, the OWS crowd is demanding more government.

Democrats complain about a cheery greeting. It comes as no surprise that Democratic legislators in South Carolina aren’t crazy about Nikki Haley, the Tea Party favorite who won the Governorship last year. But surely they have more important issues than arguing about how State agencies answer the phone. Last month, Haley decreed that callers be greeted with “It’s a great day in South Carolina! How may I help you?” Two Democrats introduced legislation to do away with the script — at least until unemployment is below 5 percent and all residents of the State have health insurance.

War games are hugely popular. When it comes to video games, it seems that the bloodier, the better. The latest hit, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” racked up more than $1 billion in sales in just 16 days after its Nov. 8 debut. That easily surpassed last year’s shoot-’em-up, “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” which took over a month to exceed the billion-dollar mark. Total video game sales in November came to $1.67 billion. Thanks to Christmas purchases, the number for December is expected to be even higher.

–Chip Wood     

 

The Biggest Lie Of The Year

No comment today on the results of the Iowa caucuses. Because of publishing deadlines, this column had to be turned in before we learned who garnered the most votes there. But you can bet I’ll have plenty to say about the race for the White House in the weeks to come.

Today, let’s discern the biggest political lie of 2011. My, there are so many to choose from.

I admit I was skeptical when PolitiFact — a popular feature of the Tampa Bay Times — said it was ready to declare the “Lie of the Year 2011.” After all, its record for bashing conservatives was pretty much unblemished.

Two years ago, the scribes who put together PolitiFact selected Sarah Palin’s comment about “death panels” as the biggest lie of 2009. In 2010, they once again sprang to the defense of Obamacare, pooh-poohing claims that it represented a “government takeover of health care” as the year’s biggest falsehood.

Given this history and the very liberal bias of the paper’s editorial section, I was prepared for one of the recurring themes you read about in Personal Liberty Digest™ to be their top target this time around.

So imagine my surprise when the paper declared that the “Lie of the Year 2011” was the Democrats’ claim that “Republicans voted to end Medicare.”

The brouhaha began in April, when Republicans in the House of Representatives passed Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to reform the hugely expensive government healthcare program. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped on the issue. In a widely circulated Web commercial released just four days after the vote, it warned that senior citizens would have to pay $12,500 more each year for healthcare “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”

In the most blatantly dishonest attack of all, the Agenda Project, a liberal activist group, produced a Web video showing a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff.

The attacks continued, even though the Ryan plan was defeated in the Senate. In November, Nancy Pelosi — the vitriolic former Speaker of the House who was demoted to Minority Leader after the Republican victories in 2010 — sent out a fundraising appeal that read: “House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal.”

(Hey, if you think the political debates got nasty last year, just wait until the Republicans settle on a candidate for President this year. If the Barack Obama partisans really do raise $1 billion for their guy, you can be sure almost every penny will be spent in the dirtiest attacks imaginable. After all, you can’t expect them to run on their record, can you?)

When PolitiFact first reported on the Democratic accusations, it found nine separate instances of factual inaccuracies. Some it branded as “False.” Others were so blatantly wrong they earned a “Pants on Fire” designation.

For the record, the Ryan plan would not have made a single change in Medicare for anyone who is presently on the program. Nor would anyone be affected who would be eligible for Medicare over the next decade. For anyone 55 or older, the program would be unchanged.

Yet virtually every Democratic attack ad talked about senior citizens or featured pictures and videos of elderly people who were clearly too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. It was some of the worst political demagoguery I’ve ever seen.

But I don’t think it was the “Lie of the Year 2011.”

No, I think the biggest lie of 2011 was “We’re going to cut spending.”

After more than two years of operating without a budget and just before heading home for the holidays, Congress finally passed an omnibus spending bill for Fiscal 2012. The 1,221-page beast calls for the expenditure of more than $1 trillion, yet doesn’t reduce Federal spending by a penny.

According to an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, there was only one major domestic program that cost  U.S. taxpayers more than$100 million that got the ax: the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantee program. Right, that’s the same one that cost U.S. taxpayers more $500 million when the solar-power favorite Solyndra went under. The total savings from eliminating this boondoggle was less than $500 million.

Meanwhile, spending on food stamps is scheduled to reach $80 billion this year –more than double the amount just five years ago.

Since it’s almost impossible for us to grasp the real significance of the numbers Washington bandies about so casually, let me put it in terms that every family in America can understand (some wag put this together). Let’s remove eight zeroes from the Federal numbers and pretend we’re talking about a household budget. If your family operated the same way Washington does, here is what it would look like:

  • Annual family income: $21,700
  • Annual family expenditures: $38,200
  • Increase in your credit-card debt: $16,500
  • Outstanding balance on your credit cards: $142,710
  • Amount you agree to cut spending: $385

If you ever heard of a family operating in this manner, wouldn’t you think they are almost criminally irresponsible?

In fact, wouldn’t you want to delete the word “almost” from my previous sentence?

There were a lot of big lies told last year. That should come as no surprise. As the joke says, “How can you tell when a politician is lying?” Answer: “His lips are moving.” Or in Pelosi’s case, her lips are moving.

In narrowing the field of falsehoods to the biggest of the big ones, I choose the simple promise “We’ll cut spending.” For most of my life, our political masters in both parties have willingly, even gleefully, participated in a massive conspiracy to rob from our children and grandchildren. They have saddled these innocent victims with more than $15 trillion in debt — plus many times that amount in promises our government has made but cannot possibly keep.

What is the single most important issue facing this country in 2012? I am convinced it’s stopping the spending.

That means electing enough people to the House and Senate who will no longer “go along to get along” — no matter who is in the White House.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. What’s yours?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Barack Obama’s Crazy Claims

I’m not going to review all the dastardly lies, misstatements and gross exaggerations Barack Obama has made since he assumed the highest office in the land. That would take a lot more pages than we have room for today.

No, for now I want to mention just two of his most recent assaults on the truth. I’m afraid they will set the tone for what may be the dirtiest political campaign in our country’s history. And considering some of the mudslinging we’ve witnessed in the past (remember the commercial for Lyndon B. Johnson in which a little girl picking petals off a daisy morphed into a mushroom cloud?), that’s saying something.

My latest “did he really say that?” moment came when Obama was interviewed by Steve Croft on “60 Minutes” a couple of weeks ago. My stomach isn’t strong enough for me to watch the show; I knew I’d read plenty about it afterward. But even I was surprised by the unbounded arrogance of the man occupying the Oval Office. Here is his preposterous claim:

I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history.

How do you like them apples? Gee, guess it’s time to make room for a new face on Mount Rushmore. Clearly, Obama thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread — “with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln.”

I knew the guy was an egomaniac, but I was surprised by how cavalier he has become about it. Given his colossal failures as President, you would think he would at least try to fake some humility.

Oh, right, he did admit that, “… when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.” Please, Mr. President, for the sake of all of us, don’t do any more “work” on the economy. You’ve done enough damage as it is.

Obama’s performance on “60 Minutes” was just embarrassingly immodest compared to his all-out assault on the truth two weeks earlier, when he officially launched his re-election campaign. That speech, which has become known as the Kansas Declaration, was so filled with misstatements that The Washington Post gave it three out of four “Pinocchios” for “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

One of his most outrageous whoppers was that his stimulus program has been an outstanding success. After all, he claimed, it helped create 3 million new jobs.

While it may be technically true that 3 million new jobs have been created in this country since Obama took office, what he didn’t mention is that more than five million jobs have been lost in the same time period. So the net effect is that there are 2 million more people unemployed than there were at the beginning of his Administration.

For a moment, though, let’s accept Obama’s numbers. And his claim, which is patently absurd, that his administration deserves the credit for every single new job in this country.

Obama’s stimulus program has cost U.S. taxpayers about $800 billion. That means each new job cost $266,667 to create.

With the average new job paying about one-fifth that amount, one has to wonder: Where did the other $220,000 per job go? Why, to line the pockets and pad the budgets of the folks dispersing the money, of course. Despite all of the efforts by Washington to subsidize solar power and other “green” energy, the only growth industry in the United States this decade has been government. Oh, and government-supported unions, of course.

Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s official fact-checker, cited another gross distortion in the President’s speech: Obama’s crusade for what he calls “fairness.” He quotes the President as declaring, “Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent — 1 percent. That is the height of unfairness.”

When pressed for evidence that there is even one billionaire in this country who paid just 1 percent in taxes, the White House couldn’t find any. The only evidence the White House offered was a clip from some TV program.

An unsubstantiated remark by some talking head on some TV show became the basis for national policy and another blatantly political and incredibly dishonest speech by our President. Isn’t that wonderful?

Obama’s re-election committee says it plans to raise more than $1 billion for the campaign. Since he can’t possibly run on his record, most of that money will be spent attacking and smearing his opponent. The Republican nominee is going to get hit by a $750 million wrecking ball.

Let’s hope enough voters see through the smears, lies and deliberate obfuscations. It won’t take much to tip the scale one way or the other. We know that almost half of the voters in this country don’t pay a penny in taxes. As net recipients of much of Obama’s largesse (with our money, of course), you know they will support the Democrats, no matter what.

Of course, the passionate opposition is almost as large. Polls continue to show that 45 percent of voters will vote for anyone other than Obama. (Count me among them.)

That leaves 10 percent in the middle who will decide the election. If you’re reading this column, I’m guessing you’re not among them. But surely some of your friends and acquaintances are. What are you doing to win them over?

Getting them to subscribe to Personal Liberty Digest™ would be a very good start.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Hysterical Over Ron Paul

The frantic attacks on Ron Paul. The Iowa caucuses are just days away. And the thought that Representative Ron Paul might actually come in first has some people hysterical. Iowa governor Terry Branstad proclaimed that the results should be ignored if Paul finishes first. People need to look at “who comes in second and who comes in third” if that happens, he declared. Reaching even lower, Wall Street Journal editorial board member and columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz called Paul “the best-known of American propagandists for our enemies” in a lengthy op-ed smear. As I’ve said before, folks, next year will sure be interesting.

One way to lower unemployment. Democrats in the Senate and White House went ballistic over the House passage of a bill to cut unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks. Economist Alan Reynolds points out that, if they were smart, they would have rejoiced to see this happen — because it would have reduced dramatically our reported unemployment rate. You see, people who have stopped looking for work aren’t counted among the unemployed. Reynolds estimates that if benefits were cut to 59 weeks, “official” unemployment would be less than 8 percent by the November elections.

Measuring the stock market by the price of gold. Here’s an interesting way to measure the value of stocks: How many ounces of gold are they worth? When the stock market peaked in August 1999, it took 44.5 ounces of gold to buy the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Today, all it takes is 7.5 ounces. In 1980, it took only one ounce of gold to purchase the Dow — a level many pundits think we will reach again.

A wonderful Christmas present. I don’t know how it started or even how it spread, but all across the Midwest, good Samaritans went into Kmart stores and paid for Christmas presents for less fortunate parents. At one store in Indianapolis, an anonymous woman paid off the layaway orders for about 50 families. Then, on her way out of the store, she passed out $50 bills to customers and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register. Talk about a special Christmas present!

–Chip Wood

The Man Who Invented Christmas

During this season of massive over-commercialization, you may find it hard to believe there was a time when Christmas was no big deal. There were no stores full of toys, no songs playing 24 hours a day and no Christmas trees with so many presents under them that they fill most of the room.

In fact, there were no Christmas trees at all. For most of the 2,000 years since the birth of Christ, Christmas was not a special holiday. If it was commemorated at all, it was with a candlelight service at the local church or cathedral and a special dinner at home. And that was pretty much it until the middle of the 19th century, when one man’s novella helped to transform the celebration.

He has been called “the man who invented Christmas.” His name is Charles Dickens. He is the author of a simple story he called A Christmas Carol.

Although Dickens is rightly regarded as one of the greatest writers in the history of the English language — he is the author of 20 novels, none of which has ever been out of print — there was a time when his popularity was at an all-time low.

The year was 1843. Dickens’ books and columns weren’t selling very well, his bank account was overdrawn and he was facing the possibility of declaring bankruptcy.

Frantic, he sat down a few weeks before Christmas and wrote a novella that he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. But his publishers flatly rejected his offering. No one would pay to have it printed and distributed.

So Dickens took an amazing gamble: He printed it himself. It was an exercise in vanity publishing long before the world knew that term. The author told friends of the risk he was taking and said it might mark the end of his career as a writer.

He should have had more confidence in the story he told. The book was an instant sensation, selling out the first printing of several thousand copies in just four days. A second printing was rushed through and sold out before the new year began. In no time at all, Dickens was forced to order a third and then fourth and fifth printing.

Then, someone adapted the story for the stage and A Christmas Carol became one of the most popular theater productions of all time. I dare say you can’t find a city of any size in the English-speaking world where there isn’t at least one production of Dickens’ immortal play being performed this holiday season. And Hollywood has produced dozens of versions, including more than a few knock-offs, copycats, parodies and pastiches. If Dickens were still collecting royalties today, he would be one of the wealthiest billionaires on Earth.

By the way, A Christmas Carol was not only an incredible commercial success, it was also a critical hit, too. William Makepeace Thackeray, at the time Dickens’ most severe critic, acknowledged the incredible power of the story:

The last two people I heard speak of it were women; neither knew the other, or the author, and both said, by way of criticism, “God bless him!” What a feeling this is for a writer to be able to inspire …and what a reward to reap!

Today, we are all familiar with the story of the tight-fisted miser who said of Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!” Yet after visits by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Scrooge was transformed. As Tiny Tim says at the end, “God bless us all, every one.”

But A Christmas Carol did more than restore Dickens’ reputation and bank account. It also transformed what had been, up until then, a relatively minor holiday.

As historian Les Standiford has noted, in the early 19th century in England, the Christmas holiday “was a relatively minor affair that ranked far below Easter, causing little more stir than Memorial Day or St. George’s Day today. In the eyes of the relatively enlightened Anglican Church, moreover, the entire enterprise smacked vaguely of paganism and, were there Puritans still around, acknowledging the holiday might have landed one in the stocks.”

Dickens’ biographer Peter Ackroyd and others have credited the novelist with single-handedly creating the modern Christmas holiday. Oh, not the contemporary orgy of shopping, spending and ostentatious display. In A Christmas Carol there are no gaudy decorations, no Christmas trees and, except for “the big prize turkey” at the end, no presents at all.

The only “gifts” exchanged are love, friendship and goodwill. Yet in this one small book, Dickens inspired his contemporaries, transformed a holiday and created an immortal message for us all. The lesson of A Christmas Carol is one of kindness, consideration and charity. Let us hope it lasts another 150 years — or even longer.

I am indebted to my good friend Alex Green for the inspiration for today’s column. I have not only used many of the thoughts and ideas he expressed in his own column, I have shamelessly (but with his permission) borrowed his headline.

His column is called “Spiritual Wealth.” Sadly, you cannot subscribe to it. It is available only to members of the Oxford Club, where he serves as investment director.

However, some of his most powerful columns have been published in a book you can get. It is called Beyond Wealth: The Road Map to a Rich Life, and it is available wherever books are sold. In fact, it is currently on sale at Amazon.com.  I encourage you to order at least one copy now (new or used, printed or electronic) for yourself and many more next year, when it will make a wonderful Christmas present.

Please accept my very best wishes for a most joyous Christmas, surrounded by friends and family and filled with the true meaning of Christ’s Mass.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Something To Celebrate

My favorite Christmas present. Since Christmas is still around the corner, I haven’t opened all of my gifts yet. But it will be hard to top the delight from one small package I received. It’s the 2012 Barack Obama Out Of Office Countdown calendar. And, yes, it is exactly what the name implies: a day-by-day countdown until the time a new President has been elected. The subtitle is “Yes, The End Is Near!” The list price is a measly $12.99. The message: priceless.

Another person who won’t be flying anywhere. Minnesota’s maverick former governor, Jesse Ventura, refuses to fly anywhere these days because of the Transportation Security Administration’s invasive airport inspections.  In fact, he sued the TSA for violating his 4th Amendment rights to privacy. The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Ventura hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

Who says Ron Paul can’t win? The Wall Street Journal, among others. In fact, “Why Ron Paul Can’t Win” was the title of a column last week by Journal political analyst Kimberley Strassel. It will be interesting to see if Republicans in Iowa agree with this neoconservative mouthpiece. I have a hunch a lot of folks think Representative Paul has a lot of the right ideas — even if he got only 89 seconds in a nationally televised debate to share them.

Another victim of the OWS protests. Even though those “jobless, clueless, soapless” protesters, as I called them last week, have been forced to vacate New York’s Zuccotti Park, the damage they caused continues. The latest casualty is Milk Street Cafe, a restaurant adjacent to the park. Barricades put up by the city, ostensibly for “protection,” are still blocking access to the cafe, even though the protesters are long gone. Mill Street’s closure will result in the layoff of 70 employees. It laid off 21 people in October because of slower business brought on by the protesters. I wonder if that bothers the “idealists” of OWS even a little bit. Somehow, I doubt it.

–Chip Wood

Those Scumbag OWS Protesters Are Helping Our Cause

Have OWS protesters infested your city yet? They haven’t infested mine, but I kind of wish they would. Earlier this week, they shut down all shipping through the port of Oakland, Calif. If they knew who their real enemies are, they’d be kicking down the door to Harry Reid’s office in Washington.

Clearly, someone behind these clueless, jobless, soapless demonstrators is very familiar with a guy named Saul Alinsky. This left-wing agitator has been honored, if that’s the right word, as this country’s first community organizer. You can see where that’s led.

Alinsky, a veteran of Chicago’s dirtiest politics, wrote a book years ago called Rules for Radicals. One of his most important lessons was that “the real action is in the reaction.”

That is, so-called peaceful demonstrators will get everything they seek if they can cause the establishment to react forcibly against them. (Think of fire hoses and police dogs during the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s.) Do that and your battle is won. Martin Luther King Jr. was a master implementer of the Alinsky stratagems.

Those OWS creeps in various locations around the country are not. All they are doing is making the average American disgusted with them. Oh, sure, they’re getting some support in high places — like Barack Obama’s White House. But how many of your friends and neighbors want to have anything to do with them? Heck, I’ll bet they don’t even want to get close enough to smell them.

One of the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard since OWS demonstrators first arrived in New York City is that the movement is somehow similar to the Tea Party. USA Today even ran an article with the headline “Tea Party, Occupy share traits.”

What a bunch of baloney.

Let’s see. The Tea Party brought more than half-a-million people to a peaceful and patriotic demonstration on the Washington Mall last year. When they left, park officials were amazed to find that the mall was cleaner than when they arrived.

When the OWS protesters finally were dragged kicking and screaming out of the parks they occupied, many of the cleanup crews had to wear hazmat outfits to protect themselves from the filth and sewage the demonstrators left behind.

So far, more than 5,000 OWS demonstrators have been arrested. Can you imagine the headlines if even a few hundred Tea Party members were arrested for similar offenses?

The Tea Party consists of people who are proudly patriotic. They love their country, its traditions and its rich history.

The OWS crowd is a bit different. OWS has been endorsed by both the Communist Party USA and the American Nazi Party. Talk about strange bedfellows! But don’t make the mistake of thinking the Nazis belong on the right. The word “Nazism” is a shortened version of the word “Nationalsozialismus,” or National Socialism. Hitler and all his followers are creatures of the left, not the right.

Tea Party members revere our country’s heritage of freedom, free enterprise and private property rights. They believe it is impossible to have a prosperous and growing economy where these principles are not respected and defended.

The OWS protesters despise the free market, hate and mistrust capitalism, and believe Karl Marx was right when he called for the forcible redistribution of wealth.

OWS demonstrators would have loved Lyndon Baines Johnson and his vision for a Great Society. Half a century ago, LBJ declared that it is the duty of government to take from the “haves” and give to the “have-nots.”

The protesters are gathering enormous publicity and thousands of followers. The left loves their anti-capitalist mentality, which is why so many of them, from Obama on down, have supported their cause.

But for a moment, let’s look at the facts about the downtrodden poor in this country. In his column The OWS-Black Friday Connection, My fellow Personal Liberty Digest columnist Robert Ringer quoted some amazing statistics:

Here are some facts about people whom the Census Bureau defines as “poor”…

  • Forty-three percent own their own homes.
  • Eighty percent have air conditioning in their homes.
  • Almost 75 percent of poor households have a car, and 31 percent have more than one.
  • Ninety-seven percent have a color television set and 62 percent have cable or satellite TV.
  • Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens.

In other words, the poor in this country live better today than the vast majority of human beings on the face of the Earth. I suspect they live better than most of our grandparents and great-grandparents did. In fact, they enjoy a higher standard of living than royalty did a couple of centuries ago.

Now I’ll grant you, there really is some poverty in this country. There are some truly terrible conditions in many of our inner cities. But the OWS protesters aren’t doing anything to correct them.

I will admit that the OWS agitators have a brilliant slogan: “We are the 99%.” Of course, they are nothing of the kind. They are a tiny fragment of nihilistic rebels who are delighted with all the attention they are getting.  But as far as a positive program to make things better? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Let me end this piece by quoting a friend of mine, Wayne Allyn Root, who says he is very proud to be a member of the 1 percent:

99% of the 1% are just like me– small businessmen and women who started from humble origins and earned their money the old fashioned way. Our “overnight success” came from 25 years of hard work, risking everything, and overcoming failure. Many of us are struggling, but will forever keep striving for the American Dream.

I am sick of being denigrated and misrepresented by the media and leftist politicians who are purposely misleading the public about the 1%.

I am sick of Obama targeting, vilifying, demonizing, and punishing us for our success. I am sick of the class warfare, jealousy, and envy that Obama’s socialist cabal tries to foment among the masses. The public has been told lies about the 1%.

My story is the story of 99% of the 1%. I am a small businessman. I work 16-hour days, mornings, nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. I have no guaranteed job for life, nor any pension. I have no rich daddy or sugar daddy.

I hope you, too, are “sick of the class warfare, jealousy, and envy that Obama’s socialist cabal tries to foment among the masses.” I sure am.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Restaurants Foil San Francisco Scrooges

Are you McSerious? The nagging nannies who govern San Francisco don’t like restaurants like McDonald’s using free toys to entice purchases of kids’ meals. So they passed the Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance, making it illegal to include free toys with food that fails to meet certain nutritional standards. McDonald’s and Burger King responded by charging 10 cents for the coveted trinkets. McDonald’s will use its proceeds to build a Ronald McDonald House at the new University of California-San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay.

Boeing has it both ways. Sooner after Boeing Co. approved a new contract with its machinists union, promising to build the 737 in Washington State, the National Labor Relations Board dropped its lawsuit against the company. The NLRB had sued to bar Boeing from building its 787 at a billion-dollar, union-free plant it built in South Carolina. The NLRB is supposed to be a fair-minded referee of disputes between management and labor. But of course, with its membership packed with President Barack Obama appointees, it is anything but.

That pipeline would create a lot of jobs. Obama has refused to support the Keystone XL pipeline project because he doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the environmentalists who oppose it. The pipeline would transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Port Arthur, Texas. Building it would create thousands of new jobs and secure vital energy resources. On Tuesday, the House voted 234-193 to pass the payroll tax credit bill with the stipulation that the permitting decision for the pipeline be accelerated. Ten Democrats and 224 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, which immediately stalled in the Senate.

Farewell to the Year of the Rabbit. In the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit. According to Chinese tradition, it was supposed to be a year when you could catch your breath and calm your nerves. It sure didn’t work out that way, did it? The coming year, which begins on Jan. 23 and ends on Feb. 9, 2013, will be the Year of the Dragon, supposedly a time of success and happiness. Let’s see if that comes true.

–Chip Wood

Stop Stealing From My Grandkids!

The Federal Reserve has joined an open conspiracy with its other central-banking buddies to steal several trillion dollars from my grandchildren.

The plan is to steal not just from my grandchildren, but from all of us. Each American anywhere who measures the value of his savings, the pay he receives, the stocks he owns and every other possession he has in dollars — the currency that is created and controlled by our central bank — is a target.

Every time the Federal Reserve turns on the printing presses and creates “money” out of thin air (or, more accurately, creates a digital entry on a computer screen), it reduces the value of all the money that is already in circulation.

The equation is simple: The more fiat currency that is created, the less each individual currency unit is worth. The creation of fiat money is the only reason for inflation. Rising prices do not cause inflation, as the powers that be would like you to believe. You see, if you accept that false explanation, you will put the blame for rising prices on businesses, not on government, where it belongs.

No, it is the vast and unending creation of more fiat money (which can be done only by our legal counterfeiters, the Federal Reserve) that has caused the U.S. dollar to lose 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Fed was foisted on us nearly 100 years ago.

The Federal Reserve was born in a conspiracy by elitist bankers and government stooges. If you want confirmation of that accusation, click here to read The Conspiracy That Is The Federal Reserve, based on the interview I did with G. Edward Griffin, author of the superb exposé of the founding of the Fed, The Creature from Jekyll Island.

The Fed still operates as a conspiracy today. That is, it plots in secret to do things that the public would view as harmful. If that’s not a conspiracy, what is?

Here’s the almost unbelievable truth that should get every member of Congress voting to hold some treason trials: Everyone involved in this massive paper conspiracy knows exactly what he or she is doing.

John Maynard Keynes, the British economist who is widely regarded as the father of government intervention in the marketplace, admitted this truth about fiat money creation many years ago. He said: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

Keynes also said that “not one person in a million” would understand the process. That helps explain why our government has been able to get away with it for almost 100 years.

Just how vast is this paper conspiracy? In the past four years, the Federal Reserve has created $16 trillion to $23 trillion in new fiat money. We don’t know exactly how much, and we can’t be sure where every penny has gone, because the Federal Reserve won’t tell us. It operates in secret. And it has flatly refused to share any of this information with Congress.

That’s right. Our elected Senators and Representatives — the people who are supposed to represent us in Washington — are as much in the dark about this as we are. But whatever the amount, it’s a lot of money, folks. More than we owe on the national debt, in fact.

And virtually all of it has gone to the very people and institutions that created our financial crisis in the first place!

Normally, I don’t look to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show for razor-sharp analysis of what our leaders are doing. He is not exactly the staunchest defender of the U.S. Constitution you can find on TV. He’s a comedian, for crying out loud. That’s why his program is broadcast on Comedy Central.

But I’ve got to tell you, the guy knows how to rant. And he did one heck of a job a few days ago on the Federal Reserve bailout of the big banks. Click here to watch it.

In his diatribe, Stewart refers to the Federal government as “the world’s dumbest loan shark.” Why else, he wonders, would they lend $7.7 trillion to our biggest banks for next to nothing (what else can you call a 0.01 percent interest rate?) — and then pay the same institutions more than 2 percent to lend the money back to them?

I wish we were talking about just $7.7 trillion and that U.S. banks and other financial institutions were the only ones getting the fiat money. At least that way, almost all of that newly created currency would be sloshing around our shores.

But the situation is far worse than Stewart described. The Federal Reserve has joined a cabal of its fellow central bankers to paper over the current crisis in Europe.

Their solution to the crises caused by printing too much fiat money is to… print more fiat money. This is akin to the Democrats’ solution to our growing financial crisis here at home: Let’s borrow our way out of debt.

How much more fiat money are we talking about? No one knows. But of one thing you can be certain: No matter how much fiat currency comes flowing out of the tap, it won’t be enough. Like every estimate for a government project I’ve ever seen, the final numbers will be many times higher than the ones they first give us.

Where is the leadership on the right that’s denouncing this extremely dangerous game? Well, actually, there is one person who is speaking out loudly, boldly and clearly: my favorite Texas Republican, Ron Paul.

“This will flood world markets with more dollars and will soon mean rising prices for every American at the grocery store,” Paul warned. “This extra liquidity will temporarily ease the cash crunch for irresponsible bankers all over the world, but in the long run it will make the situation much worse for consumers all over the world.”

Yes. Keynes said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” That’s what the banking and government elites are counting on.

Paul also said: “Make no mistake — this is not capitalism and this is not how a free market operates.” No, it’s the most odious kind of crony capitalism: planned in secret among our self-appointed rulers in the White House, Congress and at the Federal Reserve.

Forgive another shameless plug for Paul, but he has also proposed the only practical solution to this conspiracy to bankrupt us: Audit the Fed. And then shut it down.

Until then, keep some powder dry. You’re going to need it.

–Chip Wood

The Numbers Lie

Rigging the unemployment numbers. There was a lot of pointing with pride last week when the Labor Department announced that unemployment in the United States had fallen from more than 9 percent to 8.6 percent. What the Barack Obama apologists didn’t mention, however, was that the numbers improved not because 120,000 new jobs were created; that would barely move the meter. No, what caused the drop was that 315,000 people stopped looking for work. Heck, if the White House could persuade all of the unemployed to quit applying for jobs, unemployment would fall to 0 percent.

It ain’t working for me. In its report on the joint action by the world’s central banks to bail out Europe (the subject of today’s Straight Talk column), The Wall Street Journal ran this top-of-page-one headline: “Central Banks Move to Calm Fears.” The news didn’t calm any of my fears. Did it calm yours?

The TSA identifies a new terrorist threat. A 17-year-old girl was yanked from airport security last week as she tried to fly home to Jacksonville, Fla., from Virginia. The TSA had detected an ominous threat to her fellow passengers: Her leather purse was decorated with an ornamental pistol. How anyone could see a potential threat in an embossed leather gun is beyond me. But then, as one reporter observed: “Tyranny is stupid, too.”

They put up how many Christmas trees? If you can get anywhere near Asheville, N.C., this holiday season, do yourself a favor and go see the Biltmore House. With 250 rooms, it is the largest privately owned mansion in America. To say it is spectacular is an understatement. George Washington Vanderbilt’s descendants really outdo themselves at Christmas time. The decorations inside include 57 Christmas trees, including a majestic Fraser fir that is 34 feet tall.

–Chip Wood

Frankly Sad News

Darn! Now, I can’t help defeat him. I was kind of sad to learn that after more than 30 years of pushing this country further and further left, Massachusetts’ favorite gay caballero, Barney Frank, would not be seeking re-election next year. I always enjoy sending a few dollars to anyone running against my least-favorite politicians. And I can tell you, there’s never a dearth of choices. Are there any other Bay Staters I should help defeat?

Barack Obama campaigns like crazy, and you pay for it. The following statistics shouldn’t surprise you, but they help confirm that our President is the duplicitous rascal we all know he is. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 17 of his third year in office, Bill Clinton held 40 events in 24 days in the States his handlers considered vital for re-election. During the same period, George W. Bush held 49 events in 34 days. As of Nov. 17, Obama had attended 54 events in 11 battleground States over 42 days. He has attended two more since then. Taxpayers foot the bill for almost every trip.

NBC apologizes to Michele Bachmann. When Presidential contender Michele Bachmann appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” last week, the band celebrated her entrance by playing a vulgar rock song, “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” The band members thought it was a hoot; some of them had even tweeted to brag about what they would do. Imagine the outcry if they had done something similar to Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. At least Bachmann got an apology from an NBC executive. Were it up to me, heads would have rolled.

Feeling cramped in your workspace? If you sometimes feel that your office cubicle has shrunk, you’re right. A study by the International Facility Management Association says that non-management personnel have lost 15 square feet of office space since 1994. Jamming more employees into less space means lower rent and smaller utility bills. It also means knowing a lot more about your neighbors (and they know a lot more about you) than you’d probably like.

–Chip Wood

European Crisis Likely To Impact Americans

“If I were you, I’d be terrified.”

That was Porter Stansberry’s response to a questioner, after Stansberry gave a heart-stopping presentation on the worldwide debt crisis at a recent conference.

Porter is the author of “The End of America,” a jeremiad that has been read or watched by more than 20 million people, including a lot of subscribers to Personal Liberty Digest™, to which Stansberry is a frequent contributor.

Stansberry was the keynote speaker at a conference in Baltimore sponsored by the Project to Restore America, which he founded. I served as master of ceremonies. Somehow, I managed to get a corner room high in the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, where I had some of the most fantastic views I’ve enjoyed in a long time. I even saw fireworks explode over the city on Saturday night.

They were a fitting companion to the fireworks at the conference. Stansberry spelled out all the reasons why Europe is heading straight for the financial garbage heap. He said an economic collapse in Europe would almost surely drag the United States down with it. As evidence, he cited the fact that U.S. money market funds have invested more than $500 billion — almost one-third of their total holdings — in European paper. “They’re selling it as fast as they can,” Porter told the audience. “But what happens if a big enough chunk of that money becomes worthless?”

That was when a member of his audience asked Porter if he should be worried about all of this. An incredulous Porter replied, “Did you listen to my speech?” Then he said, “If I were you, I’d be terrified.”

Great. One more thing to add to the worry pile.

Stansberry offered advice on how to survive the disaster that is coming:

  • Get out of debt. Don’t owe anything to anyone: banker, neighbor, friend or family member.
  • Own gold — as much as you can afford — and some silver, too.

The Project to Restore America has just three goals: to restore sound money, to demand a balanced budget and to limit how much of your money government can take from you. If you would like to learn more and sign up for the free daily emails, you can do so here.

The Conference’s Most Enjoyable Surprise

Quick: Who was the first person to officially become a candidate for President of the United States this year?

I’ll give you a hint: You’ve probably never heard of him. And here’s a second hint: I introduced him at the conference. The crowd was absolutely delighted with his pro-freedom, anti-government-meddling remarks.

In my introduction, I mentioned that a lot of people were upset by how little time Ron Paul was getting in the Republican debates: 89 seconds in the 90-minute debate that CNN sponsored. “That was 89 seconds more than our next speaker got,” I told the crowd. “All of the networks (yes, even Fox) have rigged the rules to keep him off the platform.”

The candidate is Gary Johnson. He is a two-term governor of New Mexico. While he was in office (1995-2003), he vetoed 750 spending bills from the Democrat-controlled State Legislature. When he left office, the State had balanced the budget for four consecutive years.

If you want a President who is physically active, Johnson is your man. He is a five-time Ironman triathlete. He has biked across the Alps. And he climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg — and no medication.

He may not be the most passionate speaker you’ve ever heard (even his admirers admit he is sometimes a little dull). But he’s got some great one-liners, including, “My neighbor’s dog has created more shovel-ready projects than Barack Obama.”

Why aren’t you allowed to hear him in the Republican debates? Obviously, the powers-that-be have decided that you’re allowed to hear from only one Libertarian candidate this year.

I’m not saying I’m about to go door to door in my neighborhood campaigning for Johnson or that you should, either. But I am saying that he shouldn’t be muzzled. He deserves to be heard.

The best article I’ve read about Johnson was the profile, “Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?” that appeared in the September 2011 issue of GQ Magazine.

If you read the article, I think you’ll be more convinced than ever that our lying national media are almost as big a threat to our freedoms and our future as our government.

That’s why supporting alternative media like Personal Liberty Digest™ is so important. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the fate of our Republic could depend on it.

What are you doing to help spread the word?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Chewing Gum Helps Boost Test Results

CANTON, N.Y., Nov. 30 (UPI) — Students who chewed gum for 5 minutes before taking a test did better on the test than students who did not chew gum before the test, U.S. researchers said.

Serge Onyper, an assistant professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., said “mastication-induced arousal” is credited for the testing score boost, which lasted for about the first 20 minutes of testing.

A “battery of cognitive tasks” was given to study participants, who chewed gum either prior to or throughout testing. The results were compared with those of subjects who did not chew gum, Onyper said.

Many studies have shown that any type of physical activity can produce a performance boost and this study points out that even mild physical activity can bring on such a boost, Onyper said.

“Chewing gum gave the subjects multiple advantages, but only when chewed for 5 minutes before testing, not for the duration of the test,” Onyper said in a statement.

Benefits persisted for the first 15 to 20 minutes of testing only. Onyper noted it was possible the benefits didn’t continue throughout testing due to a sharing of resources by cognitive and masticatory processes.

Our Tax System Stinks

$14 billion in profits, zero in taxes. If you invest in General Electric, congratulations. Your company made $14 billion in profits last year and didn’t pay a penny in taxes. How was that possible? Well, $5 billion in profits in the United States were zeroed out because of a multitude of tax credits (think green energy) and other deductions. And $9 billion was earned and kept overseas, so no taxes were due on that money, either. If this makes you think our tax system stinks, you’re right. Now, what are we going to do about it?

And speaking of a government program that stinks. There are several landfills in and around Dallas where companies can dump garbage. But only one is owned by the city. The McCommas Bluff Landfill in South Dallas charges $21.50 per ton of trash. The private landfills in north Dallas charge $17 to $18 per ton. So the city has decided to order every waste truck in the city to bring their trash to McCommas. The city expects to earn $15 million to $18 million more in revenue. Of course, it will cost the trash haulers more than that, to pay for the extra time, gas, labor, etc. — every penny of which will be passed on to their customers. Isn’t it great when government runs things?

And this is a bad thing? In a speech in San Francisco last month, President Barack Obama warned that if he loses the 2012 election: “It could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.” Only in San Francisco would an audience agree that self-reliance is a bad thing. My momma would have wanted to spank them all.

An amazing blockbuster. Forget “Titanic,” “Avatar” or some other Hollywood hit. The biggest blockbuster in years didn’t come from a movie studio but a bunch of geeks playing war games. In the first 24 hours of its release, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” sold 6.5 million units, for a total take of $400 million. Please note: That was the sales in one day. Give it a year and the game could pass $1 billion in sales. That’s a lot of bullets, blood and bodies.

–Chip Wood

 

The Plot To Make Hillary President

Here’s some news that could turn the entire election upside down. Leading Democrats are urging Barack Hussein Obama to withdraw as a candidate for re-election in 2012, as Lyndon Baines Johnson did almost 50 years ago.

The campaign to get Obama to quit the race kicked into high gear on Monday, when influential Democratic leaders Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote a lengthy piece for The Wall Street Journal on why Obama should withdraw. Here’s part of what they said:

“[Obama] should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments.”

Who would they have run instead? Get ready for their totally predictable pitch:

“He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

I’ll spare you the hundreds of words that follow as the two Democratic pollsters make their case “as patriots and Democrats.” Let me go directly to their conclusion:

“If President Obama is not willing to seize the moral high ground and step aside, then the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, must urge the president not to seek re-election—for the good of the party and most of all for the good of the country. And they must present the only clear alternative—Hillary Clinton.”

The Democrats’ political idol, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” Does anyone want to bet that this is all part of a plan?

On to part two of my “you’d better hope this doesn’t happen” scenario. I have a neighbor I like to call a yellow dog Republican. He doesn’t care who the Republican nominee is; he’d vote for a yellow dog, if necessary, if the cur could beat Obama.

My friend’s greatest fear is that Donald Trump will spend $100 million of his own money on a third-party candidacy. “That is all it would take,” my friend is convinced, “to guarantee a Republican defeat.”

I’m not so sure I agree with him. I’d like to think that enough voters will see past The Donald’s enormous ego and inflated self-importance and cast their votes more wisely. But there is no question that Trump would love all the media attention and public adulation he would receive if he ran.

No question, The Donald would make the race more interesting. Will he be the spoiler who keeps Barack Obama in the White House? I don’t think so. But we’ve got almost a full year ahead of us; surely there will be other surprises: some pleasant, some unpleasant.

Lastly, let’s review what seems to be a terrible case of self-induced suicide on the part of potential Republican nominees. It began with Rick Perry’s embarrassing brain freeze, when he could remember only two of the three Federal agencies he wants to abolish. (The biggest laugh of the evening came when Ron Paul, standing next to him, leaned over and offered to list five agencies that should be done away with.) Perry’s gaffe, along with a few less-serious stumbles, led to a flash-crash in his polls.

Then there’s poor Herman Cain. When asked what his policy would be regarding Libya, for a while he looked like he didn’t even know it was a country, much less where it was. Cain is the first to admit that he’s not a foreign-policy maven, but surely he can do better than blank out. Can’t he recite rehearsed sound bites for at least a minute or two?

I will say that he seemed to get bigger, stronger and tougher when he was asked about the four women who have accused him of sexual harassment. I wonder how many people believe his denials. Do you think most people believe that where there’s smoke there must be fire? Oh, and does anyone find it curious that all four of his accusers come from Chicago? Remember what FDR said about a plan.

That brings me to the coming-from-behind, white-haired wonder who is challenging Mitt Romney at the top of the polls. A few months ago, Newt Gingrich’s candidacy had been written off for dead — not just by many observers, but by almost all of the people on his staff, who deserted him en mass.

Gingrich certainly has proven the importance of persistence, hasn’t he? He’s also proved the value of a brilliant mind and a glib tongue. When he asked one audience whom they would prefer to see debate Obama, he knew he would be the odds-on favorite. Even I would like to see that.

But poor Newt; like Desi Arnaz used to say to Lucille Ball, he’s got a whole lot of ’splainin’ to do. He can start with why Freddie Mac paid his think tank more than $1.6 million for some “consulting” work. The idea that Gingrich was paid $30,000 an hour to give a history lesson — which was his first explanation — is so ludicrous that it’s hard to believe he said it with a straight face.

Whatever you think should happen, we’ve got a long way to go. The first primaries are almost two months away; the nominating convention is more than six months hence. There are certain to be a lot more blunders, baloney and BS between now and then.

Still, if you’ve got a favorite, better increase your efforts (and your contributions) now. Whoever it is needs all the help he or she can get.

More on this next week. Until then, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Should Joe Paterno Have Been Fired?

If you read the grand jury report, you would probably say hanging would be too good for Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno’s longtime assistant football coach at Penn State. I suspect you would want him drawn and quartered, with salt poured over the body parts.

The thought of a trusted adult taking advantage of his position to sexually molest young boys is absolutely sickening. The grand jury report said that Sandusky abused at least eight boys over a 15-year period. Since the scandal erupted, more young men have accused the former coach of equally heinous behavior.

If the news reports are to be believed, Sandusky was a serial pedophile whose perversions were known to head coach Paterno and his staff, as well as top university officials. There had even been some sort of investigation back in 1998. Yet nothing was done to stop him.

Can there be any possible excuse for such willful blindness on the part of so many supposedly responsible people?

Yet several things about this whole horrible story give me pause. First, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Isn’t one of the bedrock principles of our justice system that you’re innocent until proven guilty?

Try telling that to Sandusky or to all of the people who have been affected by this terrible story, including the students, coaches, players, alumni, teachers and administrators at Penn State.

As I write this, Sandusky maintains he is innocent. He has admitted to nothing more than “horsing around” with the boys. “I enjoy being around children,” he explained. “I enjoy their enthusiasm. I just have a good time with them.” Finally, reluctantly, he admitted, “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”

Sandusky no doubt will get his day in court. He will have an opportunity to face his accusers, present a defense and learn his fate from a jury of his peers. Of course, it will be too late to salvage his reputation, restore his career or protect the foundation he founded.

But what about Paterno? If “innocent until proven guilty” were true, he would still have his job. Hundreds of college students (who clearly have their priorities screwed up) wouldn’t have gone on a rampage when he was fired.

Please note that these young people — among the best and brightest in the country, from some of our finest families — weren’t furious because a longtime assistant coach at Penn State had repeatedly raped little boys. They weren’t indignant because all of the proper authorities, including Paterno, had behaved in a very improper manner.

No, they didn’t take to the streets to protect the innocent or to protest on the children’s behalf. They were behaving like spoiled brats because their football coach had been canned.

Sure, I feel sorry for JoePa, as he is affectionately known. One of the most amazing athletic records of all time will be sullied forever. This is a guy who spent 62 years of his life doing the one thing he wanted most to do: coach football at Penn State.

Since becoming head coach 46 years ago, his teams won a record 409 victories, including two national championships and all five major bowl games: Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Fiesta. He was the first college football coach named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated magazine. Four years ago, at the age of 80, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Now, the Big Ten has announced that his name will be removed from its championship football trophy. There will be no more Paterno Championship Trophy. Effective immediately, it is the Stagg Championship Trophy. The choice is a bit of a head-scratcher. Do you know Stagg’s full name? And when and where he coached? (The answer: Amos Alonzo Stagg, the University of Chicago, 1892-1932.)

By the way, Nike says it is standing by Paterno and has no plans to rename the building it named in his honor at its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. But I’ll bet Nike executives wish they had chosen something other than the Joe Paterno Child Development Center to salute him.

There have been a ton of suggestions about what should happen next. Two of the craziest appeared in a column by Joe Nocera in The New York Times. One of Nocera’s ideas was that Penn State should show how sorry it is for what happened by canceling all of next season’s football games. How would that help anyone?

And Nocera wants Penn State to take all the money it makes from football (about $50 million a year) and use it to create a compensation fund for anyone who was hurt by Sandusky’s abusive behavior.

The claimants would line up for miles. I shudder to think about the depraved stories some people would concoct — and the media would gladly publicize — to get their hands on some of that loot.

It is ironic that so many officials tried to protect an institution (and a football program) they say they loved by ignoring a pedophile in their midst. Their willful blindness (and, some allege, deliberate perjury) got their college president and revered football coach fired. How much worse will the damage be? Only time will tell.

Did Paterno deserve to be fired? Yes. As the man himself said, “I wish I had done more.” I wish he had, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood