Could Big Bird Decide This Year’s Election?

Is it remotely possible that the 2012 Presidential election will be decided by an 8-foot tall, bright-yellow bird?

I know it sounds ridiculous. But the liberal cognoscenti in this country are going absolutely gaga over Mitt Romney’s promise during last week’s Presidential debate that he would end government funding of the Public Broadcasting System. Oh, the horror of it! Imagine: no more “Sesame Street” to entertain the little tykes.

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien said, “… my son was devastated when he heard that Big Bird might be killed.” And where did he get such an absurd idea? By any chance, was it from his momma?

The Barack Obama campaign was quick to seize on what it perceived as a major Republican gaffe. Within hours, it had a new commercial on the air with a narrator using his most menacing voice to warn, “Big, yellow, a menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s ‘Sesame Street.’”

Romney’s remarks followed one of the most powerful points he made in the debate. He said that when he is President, he will use a very simple test to determine which government programs should be allowed to continue: “Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”

And then he said, in what appeared to be a spontaneous ad-lib but was probably carefully rehearsed: “I’m sorry, Jim [Lehrer], I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.”

He added, almost regretfully: “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

I thought it was a masterful moment. But liberals think Romney gave them a big club they can use to smack him upside the head. Actually, I suspect that the vast majority of wage-earning, taxpaying Americans who were watching the debate loved what Romney had to say.

By the way, don’t spend a second worrying about the future of Big Bird — or any other Sesame Street character, for that matter. The nonprofit organization that produces the show and owns the licensing rights to all of the characters in it is rolling in the dough. Sesame Workshop raked in a staggering $46.9 million last year for licensing rights.

In fiscal year 2011 financial statements, Sesame Workshop reported that it owned assets totaling $289 million, including some $29 million in cash and “cash equivalents” and $121 million in “investments.” Oh, and the total operating revenue last year of Sesame Workshop and its nonprofit and for-profit subsidiaries was $134 million.

Yet Obama thinks these folks need to be subsidized with some of your tax dollars. Give me a break. If one of Bain Capital’s businesses were doing this well and got this much government support, you know the Democrats would be screaming in outrage.

Tell your children and grandchildren not to worry about Big Bird or any of the other “Sesame Street” characters. They’re going to be just fine; I promise.

It doesn’t look as though Sesamegate is going to hurt the Romney campaign, either. The most recent post-debate polls show him to be doing better than his most ardent supporters hoped.

An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll found that Americans believe Romney won the first debate by a margin of 72 percent to 20 percent. That is the largest margin in Gallup history. The previous record was set in 1992, when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush by 42 percentage points.

Prior to the debate, Gallop showed Obama leading Romney nationally by 5 percentage points. Now, Gallop reports the race is tied at 47 percent to 47 percent.

The Pew Research Center reported an even bigger swing. In mid-September, Pew reported that among likely voters Obama was ahead of Romney by 8 percentage points. Pew says Romney now leads by 4 percentage points, 49 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters.

I’d love to see a left-right debate about subsidizing Big Bird. Wouldn’t you? It’s pretty obvious to me that “Sesame Street” is proof of what we’ve said all along: The free market works. It’s made Big Bird’s company worth tens of millions of dollars.

At the heart of this debate is one simple truism: The liberal elites demand we all fund public broadcasting because they are convinced that they know better than we do what is good for us.

Isn’t that really what it’s all about? They are afraid that if we’re allowed to keep more of our own money and spend it the way we want, government won’t have enough money to fund all of their pet programs.

Heck, Uncle Sam is already borrowing 30 cents of every dollar he spends, which is how we’ve racked up a national debt of more than $16 trillion.

Meanwhile, the free market pours tens of millions of dollars into Sesame Workshop every year. Talk about a dramatic difference!

So by all means, let the debate continue. I don’t have any doubt which side will win this one.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Enough Lies About The Attack In Libya!

In the past three weeks, there have been riots and demonstrations against the United States in many Muslim countries. In Egypt, our embassy grounds were stormed, the U.S. flag was torn down and burned, and an Islamic flag was erected in its place. The worst assault was in Benghazi, Libya, where terrorists rampaged through our consulate and murdered our ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans.

We’ve been told over and over again by our leaders that it all happened because of Islamic outrage over a 14-minute video clip that appeared on YouTube.

What a bunch of hogwash! The riots occurred because a bunch of murderous jihadists have been taught to hate the United States. They call us “the Great Satan” and blame us for virtually everything that’s gone wrong in the world for the past 100 years. They’re willing to wage war by any means, including turning women and infants into suicide bombers, to kill us.

Used to be, our government could be counted on to defend our people and our policies — with force, if necessary. Sadly, this is not the case anymore. Ever since he took office, Barack Obama’s policy has been one of apology and accommodation. No wonder these murderous extremists believe they can attack us with impunity.

Shortly after the world learned about the events that transpired this past Sept. 11 (does anyone anywhere think the date was just a coincidence?), the Obama Administration went into overdrive to blame what had happened on a video clip that (a) had been around for weeks and (b) almost no one had ever seen.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, quickly emerged as the Administration’s chief spokesman on network TV. Her message was the same everywhere she went: “It began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.”

Of course, we know now that the attack in Benghazi was anything but spontaneous. But that’s the spin the Administration kept trying to put on that horrendous affair.

White House Press Secretary Jim Carney was another one who played a major role in the “deflect the blame” game. He told assembled reporters, “I think it’s important to note with regards to that protest that there are protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie that has circulated on the Internet.”

Nearly two weeks after the deadly attacks, Obama traveled to New York City to address the U.N. General Assembly. During his speech, he denounced the “crude and disgusting” video clip six times. But he didn’t mention “terrorism” or al-Qaida once.

But then, ever so slowly, the truth began to seep out. Not thanks to any of our leaders, heaven knows. No, one of the first people to use the word “terrorism” was Mohammed Magarief, the new leader of Libya. He called the assault “a pre-planned act of terrorism against American citizens.”

Magarief pointed out that the attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and mortars against our consulate — weapons that spontaneous mobs are very unlikely to possess. And he said the date of the attack — 11 years to the day since 9/11 — was not a coincidence, but a premeditated choice.

In an interview with NBC News, Magarief also pointed out that the trailer for the alleged movie had been online for months without leading to a single demonstration in the Mideast — or anywhere else, for that matter. The video had “nothing to do with this attack,” he declared.

Now we learn that Stevens had been worried for months about the “never-ending” security threats in Benghazi. In a notebook that was found in the ransacked consulate, he even wrote that he was on an al-Qaida hit list. Yet no special security measures were put in place to protect him or our consulate.

Finally, on Sept. 27, more than two weeks after Stevens’ murder, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged what had now become clear to anyone who was following the story: This was no spontaneous demonstration but a deliberate terrorist attack.

“I think, on the terrorist attack, I mean, as we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack,” Panetta said.

Carney also changed his tune: “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” But even then, Carney still tried to insist the attack “was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive.”

But if the fact this was a terrorist attack is now “obvious” and “self-evident,” let me ask you: Why did top officials in the Obama Administration, including Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, deliberately mislead the American people for the first two weeks after it happened?

Even now, our President tries to downplay the significance of what took place, saying merely that our foreign policy has suffered some “bumps in the road.” The foreign media have not been nearly as kind to the Administration as our own press has been. A headline in the German newspaper Der Spiegel put it bluntly: “Obama’s Middle East Policy Is In Ruins.”

That may be the view from Germany. But it’s certainly not how the press sees things — or explains things — here in the United States.

Can you imagine how the mainstream media in this country would have reacted if something like this had occurred while George Bush was in office? And if word had gotten out that the President was skipping most of his daily intelligence briefings so he could campaign for reelection in Las Vegas and Hollywood?

Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Just check how the media reacted to Mitt Romney’s comments about the mealy mouthed statement that was originally issued by our embassy in Egypt. Even the State Department was forced to disown that one.

We already knew that the Obama Administration was a miserable failure at defending U.S. interests abroad. Now it turns out that it won’t even tell us the truth when we’re attacked.

History teaches us over and over again that weakness only invites more aggression. There’s no way Obama and his team will learn this lesson. Hopefully, in another month, the voters will decide to replace them — and a whole bunch of Senators and Representatives, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Feds Faked Out

HUD pays a fortune in false claims. The government’s Preforeclosure Sale Program was meant to help struggling homeowners facing foreclosure. But an audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development says that the government may have paid as much as $1.06 billion in bogus claims. Of 80 randomly selected claims, six homeowners who received government assistance faced “no unavoidable financial hardship,” the audit found. Many had enough savings to make several months of mortgage payments. Investigators have called for HUD to strengthen its controls over the program. Right; let’s put a good lock on that barn door, fellows.

A lot more paper than gold. Here’s a statistic that gave me pause. The Federal Reserve creates about 55 million more dollars every hour, 24 hours a day. But all of the gold mines in the world extract only $15 million of gold from the earth in an hour. U.S. production is a fraction of that, amounting to only $2 million worth of gold per hour. In other words, Ben Bernanke creates what passes as “money” 27 times faster than all of the gold mines in this country. Gee, which do you think will be worth more down the road?

Those models are too tan. In Sweden, fashion retailer H&M has been fined because the models it used in advertising some of its bikinis were too tan. “It is commonly known that an excessive exposure of the skin to the sun’s harmful radiation is dangerous and could lead to skin cancer,” the complaint said. H&M promptly apologized and said in an email: “We have taken note of the views and will continue to discuss this internally ahead of future campaigns.”

–Chip Wood     

Helicopter Ben Strikes Again

I did a double take when I saw the story on For a moment, I thought I had clicked on the Personal Liberty website instead — something I do with great frequency. Here’s what the subhead read:

“Central banks are printing money like crazy. And inflation is gold’s best friend.”

Not much to disagree with, is there? Knowing about CNN’s liberal bias, you won’t be surprised to learn that the actual headline wasn’t nearly as kind to those of us who skew slightly to the right. It read: “Not just for lunatics.”

So while you and I (and our fellow gold bugs) might be crazy as loons, our ranks are growing every day. Welcome, former middle-of-the-roaders!

If you’re not concerned about what the money masters in Washington are doing to the U.S. dollar, you should be. It has been losing value virtually every day since the Federal Reserve was founded nearly 100 years ago. The reason why is as simple as Economics 101: When you produce more of something, the price, or value, of each individual unit goes down.

The Fed has been producing an awful lot of dollars in recent years. And Ben Bernanke, its chairman, just announced that the flood of fiat currency is about to get a whole lot worse.

At the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting two weeks ago, the group issued an announcement that included the following:

“To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”

In that Sept. 13 announcement, the committee made it clear what it meant by “highly accommodative.” It would launch a third round of quantitative easing, purchasing $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities every month for an indefinite period. This will be in addition to the $45 billion in Treasury bonds it is already committed to buying through Operation Twist.

How long will it last? Until “Helicopter Ben” and his buddies on the committee decide it’s no longer necessary. That could be a very long time, my friends. No wonder some pundits are referring to this third round of “quantitative easing” (Fed speak for “massive money creation”) not as QE3, but as QE Infinity.

Basically, the Fed has guaranteed that the money spigot will pour out half a trillion dollars more a year. In addition, the Fed also said that it would keep interest rates at “exceptionally low levels” by maintaining a target range for bank borrowing (the federal funds rate) of 0 to .25 percent. And it would do so, the statement said, “at least through mid-2015.”

Since Wall Street loves every short-term stimulus it sees, no matter the long-term effects on the economy, it came as no surprise the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared to their highest levels in five years after the Fed announcement. Gold and silver also rose, along with other traditional inflation hedges, such as real estate and other commodities. Not surprisingly, the U.S. dollar dropped in value.

The Rest Of The World Jumps On The Bandwagon

But it isn’t just our own central bank that has promised more stimulus. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, announced that the ECB would buy “unlimited” amounts of European sovereign debt, in an effort to keep stimulate the economies of Europe.

This follows a ruling by the German high court that the European Stability Mechanism does not violate the country’s constitution. The court did declare, however, that the German parliament must approve any further increases to the ESM. Currently, German is liable for about 27 percent of the 700 billion euro total, or 190 billion euros.

Last week, Japan joined the party. The Bank of Japan announced on Sept. 19 that it would expand its own stimulus program. It plans to increase the amount of debt it purchases from 70 trillion yen to about 80 trillion yen, a difference of $126 billion. It will continue its purchases throughout 2013. So Japan is also in the trillion-dollar stimulus club.

At the same time it announced its new stimulus program, the Bank of Japan also did away with its previous minimum bids for Japanese government bonds. Previously, the floor had been set at 0.1%. Under the new rules, the yield on Japanese bonds can go below zero. In other words, buyers at the end of the loan period could receive less money than they invested, making a negative return on their investment.

What’s an investor to do?

Porter Stansberry, one of my favorite analysts, warned that “the Bernanke Asset Bubble is now in full force.” Indeed, it is. In fact, there seems to be a globally coordinated plan among the world’s central bankers to “stimulate” their respective economies.

You and I may believe that the best way to do this is for government to get the heck out of the way. Let the free enterprise system do what it does so well: create new jobs and even whole new industries. Turn millions of people from tax recipients to taxpayers. And then see how a steadily improving economy can mean more prosperity for almost everyone. And, yes, even more income (taxes) for Uncle Sam.

Of course, a free and unfettered economy is the last thing the bureaucrats and money manipulators in Washington want us to have. No, their solution will continue to be the creation of a massive amount of new money and credit.

The inevitable effect will be a decline in the purchasing power of the dollar — and the euro and the yen, too. There will also be an increase in the prices of all sorts of assets, including stocks, housing and commodities.

But the biggest winner of all is likely to be gold — just as it has been for the past decade (for the past two millennia, in fact). Oh, and don’t forget its less-expensive sister, silver.

Both precious metals have come off of their all-time highs. And it’s possible they could even correct a bit further in the next few weeks.

But long term, there has never been a better way to protect the purchasing power of your savings than to exchange paper currencies for things of real and enduring value. And nothing does that job better than gold and silver.

Buy some today and some more tomorrow. When the tide of new money begins hitting, you’ll be very glad you did.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Blaming Romney

Accuse them of what our side is doing. Guess what? The New York Times agrees that one of the candidates for President is trying to pit one class against another in this country. And it’s decided that the culprit is Mitt Romney. “There is class warfare being waged in the 2012 campaign,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “It is Mr. Romney who is waging it, not President Obama.” I guess that’s what can happen when an editorial writer reads only what appears in his own paper.

Facebook founder loses a fortune. According to the latest list of the Forbes 400, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the biggest financial loser in the group in the past year. The magazine says his estimated net worth plunged $8.1 billion, thanks to the sharp decline in the value of his stock. He fell from No. 14 on the list to No. 36. But Zuckerberg shouldn’t run out of money anytime soon; according to Forbes, he’s still worth a rather hefty $9.4 billion.

The top spots stay the same. No surprise who occupies the top spot on the Forbes 400 list. For the 19th year in a row, it was Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $66 billion. Warren Buffett again took second place, with $46 billion. And Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison remained third, with $41 billion. Twenty newcomers joined the list this year, including Shahid Khan, the flamboyant new owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Pledging allegiance to whom? The Barack Obama campaign is urging supporters to write on the back of their hands why they support the President — and then take a photograph of themselves with their hand held over their heart and share it online. Talk about a cult of personality!

–Chip Wood

The Movie That Could Defeat Obama

We were running a little late when my wife and I headed to the movie theater last month to see the documentary “2016: Obama’s America.” But I told her not to worry, since there would be 10 to 15 minutes of commercials and previews before the show started.

“And besides, we’ll probably have our choice of seats,” I added. “No way will this one be full.”

Boy! Was I ever wrong! Even though it was a lovely Saturday afternoon, the theater was packed. And the sentiment of the crowd was more like a Tea Party rally than any movie audience I’d ever seen.

If you haven’t seen this explosive documentary, please make plans to do so.  Encourage all of your concerned family and friends to join you. Even better, take a few undecided voters with you — or even some liberals whose minds haven’t been sealed shut. The impact on them could be phenomenal.

“2016: Obama’s America” opened in mid-July in one movie theater in Houston. By August, it was playing on more than 1,200 screens across the country. This month it is showing in more than 2,000 theaters in all 50 States. And by this time next month, it should be available on DVD, so you’ll be able to see it at home and lend it to others.

The movie is based the bestselling book The Roots of Obama’s Rage by Dinesh D’Souza, who served as narrator and co-director of the film. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing Dinesh at several conferences, and I arranged an exclusive interview with him for Personal Liberty Digest™.

During our conversation, D’Souza told me that both liberals and conservatives make a big mistake when they think Barack Obama has failed to achieve his goals. High unemployment, crippling debt, a weak foreign policy and fading military power are not accidents, according to D’Souza. They are actually the results of the bigger objectives that Obama seeks: the decline of American prosperity and power in the world.

Of course, no politician in America could ever admit that those are his real goals. D’Souza said that as a result: “Obama has to camouflage what he wants to do. Now that he’s in campaign mode, he presents himself as a budget cutter, as a friend of Israel, and so on. He’s depending on the ignorance of the American people not to see through what he says.”

All that will change if Obama gets re-elected.

“In the second term, if he gets one, the real Obama will emerge. It will not be a pretty sight,” Dinesh told me.

I asked him to explain a warning he included near the end of his new book Obama’s America: Unmaking the American DreamObama's America: Unmaking the American Dream: “The most dangerous man in America currently lives in the White House.”

Dinesh said: “Obama is dangerous because he subscribes to an ideology that is very dangerous for America. He wants to knock this country off its pedestal so we are no longer #1. He wants to transfer wealth away from America to the rest of the world. And he wants to weaken our position in the world.”

Dinesh believes Obama’s liberal supporters would be shocked if they understood what is really driving our President. At the core of his worldview is a virulent anti-colonialism, with the United States as the chief culprit.

“America has more because America has stolen this wealth from others,” Dinesh said Obama believes. “And America must now pay it back.” In Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream, D’Souza explains what this means:

Many of Obama’s supporters rail against the top 1 percent, fancying themselves in the lowly 99 percent, and this may be true as far as they are concerned. But it is not true as far as Obama is concerned. When he talks about the 1 percent and the 99 percent, he is using a global basis of comparison. So by Obama’s measure, the vast majority of Americans are counted as rich.

Obama wants to take their wealth from them and give it to those who he believes deserve it.

“He’s doing this in the name of global justice,” D’Souza said. Obama will not consider his job finished until “the American standard of living is comparable to that of the rest of the world.” In other words, Obama thinks of this country as a plunderer and of himself as the messianic leader whose job is to “restore fairness.”

Interestingly enough, while they are polar opposites politically, D’Souza and Obama share many things in common. A native of Mumbai, India, Dinesh grew up in a different part of the world, just as Obama did. They both were born in the same year, attended Ivy League colleges, graduated in the same year and married in the same year.

But as D’Souza explains: “Here is the paradox: I am a Third World guy who has embraced America, and Obama is an American who has embraced a Third World ideology.”

D’Souza told me that he doesn’t consider the film a “don’t vote for this guy message,” rather it’s a “find out who he really is” message. Or, as the tagline to the movie puts it, “Love him or hate him, you don’t know him.”

Ultimately, D’Souza believes, “2016: Obama’s America” isn’t just about Obama. “It’s about the American dream itself,” he said. “The truth is that Obama has a different dream from most of us. It’s emblazoned across his book. As he says in the title, it’s the dream from his father.

“He’s entitled to have such a dream, if he wishes. But he is not entitled to impose that dream on the American people without their knowledge and consent.”

That’s really what the coming election is all about, isn’t it — our different visions for the future of our country. As D’Souza reveals, Obama believes he is destined to be “the architect of American decline.” He not only wants to see this country lose its superpower status, but he wants to “fundamentally transform” America so that the “shining city on the hill” becomes just another shantytown in the global village.

If you need one more reason to see “2016: Obama’s America,” consider this response from an Obama campaign official: “This movie is complete fiction and rooted in lies, distortions and conspiracy theories about the President, rather than facts.”

Considering how much is at stake, I hope you’ll make plans now to see “2016: Obama’s America” and take some friends with you.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

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