NATO Murders Children, Spring Spheres, Where’s Easter? And Nice Hats

*Does this really help protect liberty? Over the weekend, reports from Libya say that NATO airstrikes in the city managed to kill three of Moammar Gadhafi’s grandchildren and one of his sons. Why are we murdering innocent children in a country that poses absolutely no threat to us?

*Political correctness run amuck. I have dozens of clippings that could fit this headline. But the craziest has to be from the school district in Seattle, Wash., that declared that from now on, all Easter eggs had to be referred to as “Spring spheres.” No, folks: That should be the description of the obviously brainless nincompoops who issue such edicts.

*Hey, Mr. President, how could you forget about Easter? For the first time in living memory, the White House did not issue a proclamation two weeks ago acknowledging the most important event in the Christian calendar. Not a word about Easter was uttered by the Oval Office. Previously, however, President Barack Obama issued at least three official White House proclamations honoring Muslim holidays.

*Most of all, I loved the hats. Did you force yourself out of bed at 4 a.m. EDT to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Thanks to the miracle of digital recording, I was able to sleep in and still catch all the action. I was as enchanted by pageantry as those million Brits who lined the streets. Those Royals can sure put on a show, can’t they?

–Chip Wood

My Mother’s Escape from Communism

With Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, it seemed like a perfect time to tell you about some of my mother’s extraordinary adventures. Bear with me for a bit and I’ll even tell you how to get a free copy of the book she wrote about one of them.

What started out as a vacation turned into an adventure. The adventure turned into a tragedy. And out of the tragedy came one of the most amazing stories of courage, patriotism and perseverance it has ever been my experience to witness. Here’s what happened.

My father was “king of the hill” in the rural southern Indiana town where we lived in the mid-1950s. He was president of the largest employer in the county, on the board of the only country club, president of United Way and had been given just about every other honor and accolade it was possible to garner. As his wife, my mother was just as respected and just as involved in the social activities of the town.

It all came to a sudden end when my father died of a massive heart attack one Saturday afternoon. Years of abuse to his body and stress on the job had taken their fatal toll. After the funeral, my mother’s brother insisted she come to Ft. Lauderdale for a week or two to rest and recover from the trauma she had just endured. While she was with him, Uncle Harry treated her to a long weekend in one of his favorite cities, Havana, Cuba.

Little did he know what he was unleashing. My mother fell head over heels in love with Cuba. She had never seen a place so exotic, a people so friendly, a climate so delightful or prices so reasonable. Her widow’s mite would stretch a lot further there, she realized, than it would back home.

I was at boarding school in Michigan during what followed. I wish I had saved the string of telegrams, postcards and letters that began arriving in my mailbox. Most were as brief and cryptic as, “Staying at Hotel Miramar for a while; brothers are fine.” When I got one that read, “Have taken a job and am buying an apartment,” I went to my headmaster and said, “I think I should go down there and see what’s going on. Don’t you?”

So in late November 1957, I visited Havana, Cuba, for the first time. It was just as exotic as my mother had promised. Words can’t express the excitement I felt the first time I walked into one of Cuba’s legendary casinos and saw George Raft leaning against a wall, flipping a coin. (I learned later that he was hired to do this; the hotel provided him a complimentary gorgeous suite, all expenses, and, rumor had it, all the liquor and feminine companionship he wanted whenever he flew from Hollywood for a visit.)

I was quickly made a member of what was called the ABC Colony. This was a group of American, British and Canadian expats, most of whom worked for major U.S. companies and lived the good life in Cuba. And let me tell you, it was a very good life indeed, while it lasted. Maids, gardeners, cooks and chauffeurs cost a few dollars a week. The social life was frenetic; during my first two weeks in Havana, there was something going on almost every day and certainly every night.

Within a few months it was as though my mother had lived there all her life. She became the society columnist for The Havana Post, the largest English-language newspaper on the island. (One of her most popular columns was a weekly collection of goings-on she called “Woodchips.”)

In the memoir she wrote about those days, she described “bouncing on a bridal bed with Maureen O’Hara.” And how she ended up “on the cutting room floor with Alex Guinness.” One of my favorite tales was when she went out to buy a used ironing board—and ended up owning one of Havana’s most popular antique shops.

I think my two brothers would agree that it was an idyllic life… for a while. But it all changed on Jan. 1, 1959, when Fidel Castro and a bunch of “bearded ones” marched into Havana.

What would this revolutionary new leader be like? The New York Times called him “the George Washington of Cuba.” But he turned out to be—as every American in Havana had been warned he was—nothing but a murderous communist tyrant.

You will not be surprised to learn that within a few months, my mother had lost everything she had worked so hard to build—the newspaper had been seized, her shop had been closed, goods were impossible to get and freedom had become just a memory.

When she was finally able to leave Cuba, eight months after the Castro takeover, she was allowed to carry two suitcases; her sons could each carry one. Everything else was left behind. She returned to the United States almost penniless to start life over.

And there my story would probably end, except for one thing: Someone invited a representative of something called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee to speak at her church in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. That was all it took to get her Irish up, as she would put it. She went to the meeting and denounced the speaker as a liar.

In no time at all she was being interviewed by the media and was being asked to address a handful, then dozens, then scores of community organizations. I don’t think she ever turned down an invitation. She and her white hats (she must have owned 30 of them) became famous—or some would say, infamous.

My mother became a heroine among the many refugee groups in the area. I still have a few of the decorations some grateful Hungarian freedom fighters bestowed on her.

Articles about Mom’s activities began appearing in the Cleveland Press and in other media. She was even asked to write a series of stories for the newspaper. And the hate mail and phone calls came pouring in.

These only made her more determined to fight. She started a group called the Organization to Fight Communism which held regular meetings and sponsored a series of anti-Communist lectures in town. She debated Gus Hall, the head of the Communist Party USA, and organized people to picket his meetings. The more she was threatened, the more determined she became.

One of her favorite mementos of this time in her life is a letter she got from J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, congratulating her on her many contributions to our country. To say she was thrilled to pieces would be an understatement.

As you can see, I come by my anticommunism honestly. For a while, in fact, I argued we should make the government bigger and stronger, precisely so it could do a better job fighting “the Red menace.” But the story of my own transition from the left edge of the spectrum to the right (some would say, the far-far-right) will wait for another day.

Many years after all of the excitement died down, Mom decided to write a book about her experiences. She called it “A Fool Walked In (To Cuba).” And while I may be a little bit prejudiced (OK, I’ll admit it: On this topic I’m a <strong>lot</strong> prejudiced), I think it’s a thrilling, exciting story of one person’s courage, dedication, determination and accomplishments.

That’s why I am delighted to announce that my publisher, Personal Liberty Digest, is making Mom’s book available—for free, with no strings attached—to anyone who wants to read it. Just click here (7.11 MB) to enjoy the memories and accomplishments of the feistiest lady it has been my great privilege to know.

Mom ascended to her heavenly reward 21 years ago this summer. But part of me hopes she knows about today’s column and is smiling in appreciation.

To all of you reading this, please celebrate your own mother’s accomplishments this Sunday, as you wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

On May Day

Perhaps the most significant event this week will be something that did not take place. There were no massive demonstrations of Soviet military prowess filling Moscow’s Red Square this May Day. A major communist holiday thus becomes just another space on the calendar. But as older readers know, it was not always so.

Among other significant events on May 1st in history:

On May 1, 1961, Fidel Castro announced that there was no longer any need to hold elections in Cuba. He proclaimed himself “president for life.” And, unfortunately for the Cuban people, it’s turning out to be a very long life.

On May 1, 1931, a 22-year-old singer was hired by CBS radio in New York for the princely sum of $10 a week. One month later, Kate Smith had become a huge hit — and negotiated a pay increase of 1,500 percent for herself. Three-quarters of a century later, her rendition of “God Bless America” is still a favorite at ballparks everywhere.

And speaking of ballparks, on May 1, 1920, the longest game in baseball was called after 26 innings, with the (Brooklyn) Dodgers and the (Boston) Braves tied 1-1. Perhaps the most amazing part of the event was that both teams used only one pitcher for the entire game. Both Leon Cadore for the Dodgers and Joe Oeschger for the Braves pitched all 26 innings. Now, that’s stamina.

–Chip Wood

What Training Monkeys Can Teach Us About Congress

Many thanks to the Alert Reader who sent me the following story about monkeys. I think you’ll agree, it has important lessons for us about how to make changes in Washington.

Start with a cage holding five monkeys. Hang a banana from the top of the cage and underneath it, put some stairs going up. Before long, a monkey will start climbing the stairs to get the banana.

When he does, spray cold water on all of the monkeys. The first monkey will scamper into a corner. But after a while, another monkey will start climbing the stairs. When he does, spray all the monkeys with cold water again.

Do this a few more times when a monkey tries to climb the stairs and pretty soon you won’t need any water. As soon as a monkey gets on the stairs, the other monkeys will stop him.

At this point, remove one of the monkeys and replace him with a new one. The new monkey will see the banana and start climbing the stairs. To his surprise, the other four monkeys will grab him and start beating him up. After two or three efforts to get the banana with the same thing happening, pretty soon he’ll give up, too.

When that happens, replace another of the original five monkeys with a new one. Not knowing any better, he’ll try to get the banana. But as soon as he starts climbing the stairs, all of the other monkeys – including the previous newcomer – will start beating him.

When the new monkey has been trained not to try for the banana, replace another of the original monkeys and repeat the process. After three more switches, all of the original monkeys will be gone. None of the ones that remain will have ever been sprayed with cold water.

But here’s the amazing thing: None of them will try to get the banana. Each one knows that if he does, the other four will beat the crap out of him. Why? They have no idea. They just know that’s the way it has always been.

The Straight Talk reader who sent me the story said the moral is obvious: This is how Congress operates. And it explains why, from time to time, YOU HAVE TO REPLACE ALL OF THE MONKEYS.

Right now, the banana is deficit reduction. Everybody wants to reach for it… or at least say they want to. Heck, even our President recently declared:

“We have to live within our means, reduce our deficit and get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt.”

Like many of his predecessors in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama has mastered the art of saying the right thing – while most of the time doing the exact opposite. There has not been a single second since he took office that he has demonstrated the slightest interest in living within our means, or reducing the deficit or paying down our national debt. Just the opposite, in fact.

I didn’t have the stomach to watch Obama’s speech about the deficit he delivered at George Washington University two weeks ago. It was all I could do to read it the next day. I didn’t expect much in the way of honesty, humility or contrition. But even I was shocked by the partisan bitterness of his remarks.

Rather than applaud Republican efforts to reduce the deficits, or acknowledging the amazing courage of Rep. Paul Ryan and a handful of his colleagues for putting such sacred cows as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the table, the president declared that his opponents were heartless monsters who would pit “children with autism or Down’s syndrome” against “every millionaire and billionaire in our society.”

As the Wall Street Journal noted, “Mr. Obama then packaged his poison in the rhetoric of bipartisanship – which ‘starts,’ he said, ‘by being honest about what’s causing our deficit.’ The speech he delivered was dishonest even by modern political standards.”

The Journal is being too kind. Obama’s speech about the deficit just may be the most dishonest assemblage of bluff, bluster and baloney that I have ever read. But we can at least thank our vice president for one of the lighter moments of what was a very dark occasion. In case you missed it, Joe Biden slept through much of his boss’s speech.

I kid you not. You can see it on YouTube by clicking here. And don’t believe anyone who tells you the VP was merely thinking deeply about what his boss was saying. I’ve slept through enough boring lectures myself to know he’s asleep, for crying out loud.

Would that you and I could take this same easy way out to ignore all of our president’s dishonest posturing and phony promises. But we can’t. Unless we force Congress to change, we are going to be willing participants in one of the greatest crimes in U.S. history: saddling our children and our children’s children with a debt they will never be able to pay off.

The promises made by the Federal government to its citizens – the so-called “unfunded liabilities” that are already written into law – now come to more than $100 trillion. And there is not a single cent set aside to pay them. Not one copper penny.

Even Social Security is bankrupt. You must understand that there is no money in the horribly misnamed Trust Fund. Every dollar a young worker pays in today is sent out immediately to an older retiree. All that the worker will have to show for 40 or 50 years of contributions will be some IOUs.

By the way, the idea that the “rich” in this country aren’t paying their fair share is absolutely preposterous. The top 1 percent of taxpayers in this country earns about 11 percent of the income. So you’d expect them to pay 11 percent of the taxes, right? Not at all: The top 1 percent of taxpayers pays more than twice that amount. They account for 22 percent of all income taxes collected. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent of the population pays nothing. In fact, the vast majority of them are net tax recipients.

Wasn’t one of the founding principles in America that we are all supposed to be equal before the law? Please tell me, what is “equal” about a tax rate that is many times higher for a successful person than someone who is not? Has anyone ever heard of the truism that if you want more of something, subsidize it? But if you want less of something, tax it? Apparently, our would-be masters in Washington want more people on the dole. And fewer paying the taxes that make it all possible.

In case you’ve forgotten, our Founding Fathers made a progressive income tax illegal for the first 137 years of this country’s existence. This vital element of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto wasn’t inflicted on us until 1913, when a devious conspirator named Edward Mandell House got his puppet Woodrow Wilson to throw his support behind the Sixteenth Amendment.

But here’s the amazing thing: The vast majority of legislators who voted for the darned thing had no idea what they were doing. Sound impossible? Not at all. Let me quote every word in that amendment; then you tell me what you think it says:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

And that’s it. Those 30 words are all it took to unleash the monstrous tyranny of our present tax system on us. Do you see anything there that says, “Hey, Congress, we really think Karl Marx had the right idea. Let’s sock it to the ‘rich’ with a progressive income tax.”

Of course not. The people who would enslave us were not any more honest 100 years ago than Barack Obama and his supporters are today.

Thank goodness, a whole bunch of Americans are catching on. As Howard Beal said, they’re mad as hell. And they’re not going to take anymore.

Neither should you.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

Chip Wood

Victim of your own success?

*Are you a “taker”? If you’ve been even halfway successful, apparently our president thinks so. During a town hall address last week, President Barack Obama said, “[My opponents’] basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I’ve taken from this country… somehow I now have no obligation to people who are less fortunate than me and I have no real obligation to future generations to make investments so that they have a better (life).”

The truth of the matter is just the opposite.  We Americans are the most generous, caring, giving people who have ever lived on this Earth. It’s Obama and his socialist schemers who hate our private good works. They want the State to seize our money so they can decide who to put on the dole.  That’s not charity; it’s theft.

*Can’t the post office afford an artist? Have you seen the new Ronald Reagan postage stamp?  It came out just in time to celebrate the Gipper’s 100th birthday. And to say that it looks like the work of some fourth-grade artist would be to insult 10-year-olds everywhere. It’s not that the stamp  is ugly, it’s just that it bears almost no resemblance to our former president. Please, USPS, don’t reprint more of these; hire someone else to try again.

*One thing to applaud in the budget compromise. Granted, there isn’t much to cheer about. So far, our politicos have slashed a $1.4 trillion deficit all the way down to a $1.24 trillion. Big whoop, as my grandson would say. But congratulations to House Speaker John Boehner for saving the school voucher program for our capitol. Obama and his Democrat buddies were perfectly willing to condemn inner-city kids to stay in some of the nation’s worst schools, just to score political points with the teachers’ unions.

*The “Happy Days” gang ain’t happy. I’m sorry to see that some of the “Happy Days” cast is turning to the courts to get what they think they’re due. Potsie (Anson Williams) and three other cast members, plus the estate of Tom Bosley, are suing for merchandising revenues they say they are owed. Guess those “Happy Days” slot machines didn’t pay off for them.

—Chip Wood

Mutiny On The HMS Bounty

On April 27, 1789, a criminal act took place that led to one of the most amazing ocean voyages in history, as well as numerous books, films and popular songs. The criminal act was a mutiny on a British Royal Naval ship, the HMS Bounty. Fletcher Christian led the revolt against his commanding officer, William Bligh.

According to the stories, the mutineers were attracted by the idyllic life they had discovered on the Pacific island of Tahiti and were repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain. They took over the ship, put Bligh and those loyal to him on a small boat, burned the Bounty until it sank and settled down to enjoy life in a tropical paradise, many with native women they married.

Bligh and his 18 crewmen set off on what became a 3,618-mile voyage. Guided only by a sextant and a pocket watch, Bligh led his men to the closest British outpost he could find: Timor Island in the Dutch East Indies. Only one crewman was lost during the voyage. John Norton was stoned to death by natives of Tofua, where they had stopped for provisions. Bligh then returned to England and reported the mutiny.

Novelists and filmmakers have been fascinated with the story ever since.

–Chip Wood

Tax Freedom Day, “King” Charles And Shameless Vote Buying In India

*Congratulations! Now you get to keep some. Shame on me. I failed to mention that Tax Freedom Day occurred on Tuesday, April 12. In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, it’s a calculation of when the money you earn is yours to keep, instead of going to Uncle Sam. This year, the Tax Foundation tells us, the average American will work 102 days — in other words, from Jan. 1 until April 11 — to pay his or her tax bill. Despite the so-called tax cuts, Americans this year will pay more in taxes than they will spend on groceries, clothing and shelter combined.

*Make him king for a day. I’ve never had a lot of sympathy for Queen Elizabeth’s oldest son, Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor, otherwise known as Prince Charles, the heir to the throne of England. He was 2 years old when his mom ascended to the throne; now he’s 62 and still waiting for his big chance. Bob Green, my favorite Chicago columnist, has a great suggestion: Before it’s too late, why doesn’t Queen Elizabeth make her son King for a Day? As Bob points out, there are a lot of baseball players in the U.S. who were thrilled to make it to the majors for just one game. And I loved his final thought: “What a moment it would be when Charles, leaving the throne after a single sunset, looked over at William and, with a father’s smile, nodded and tossed him the keys.” Ah, would that it could really happen.

*Getting serious about buying votes. A report from Tamil Nadu, one of the states in India, says that politicians there have taken vote buying to a whole new level. Not content with promising more grain subsidies (the Indian equivalent, I gather, of “a chicken in every pot”), candidates for public office are promising voters bus passes, sheep, gold necklaces, free cable TV hook-ups and my favorite, blenders. The race has come down “mostly to a contest of who can offer a longer list of government-financed freebies,” one newspaper reported. Hey, at least they’re more honest about it than our politicians.

–Chip Wood

Having Fun In The Fight For Freedom

Are we having fun yet?

This is a question you never hear when people are discussing the fate of our country — or even arguing about which candidate deserves their vote. Frankly, I think that’s too bad. There are many reasons why I’m having more fun in the “fight for freedom” now than at any time in the past 60 years. I hope you are, too. If you’re not, I want to share some suggestions with you this week on ways you can have your cake and eat it, too. That is, how you can help your country and, at the same time, have a ball doing it.

But first, I need to give you an update on the plight of my suicidal cardinal. (For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to read the issue of Straight Talk where I discussed the poor bird who was beating her brains out attacking my office window.)

First, the good news: She’s gone. I’m guessing her babies have been born and she’s so busy bringing them worms and other delights that she hasn’t had time to worry about some intruder in her territory. (The consensus of experts was that she thought her reflection in my window was an enemy that had to be driven away.)

Now, the bad news: Nothing my neighbors or I did made the slightest difference, with one exception. The various reflectors, life-sized hawk statues and other paraphernalia didn’t deter our attacking cardinals a whit. The only thing that helped, my neighbor Dean reports, was when he taped newspapers over the insides of his windows. But he got tired of living in a cave. When he took them down, his attacker returned.

But they’re gone now, I’m delighted to report. So let’s bid this bird-brained story adieu, at least until this time next year. And get back to what’s really important — having fun in the fight for freedom.

I was going to begin today’s column with a brief history of the times when it was hard to be optimistic about the direction our country was going. There was our sad abandonment of the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956, followed by the betrayals and deceit that enabled Fidel Castro to create a communist dictatorship in Cuba in 1959.

How about the dark despair of 1964, with the total rout of Barry Goldwater in that year’s presidential election? Or when the battle for civil rights led to civil riots and the burning of several cities?

Or maybe the worst time of all, when we sent our soldiers to fight and die in a no-win war in Vietnam. The heated and hate-filled demonstrations it led to here at home are something I will never forget.

And all the while, government at every level grew bigger, more intrusive and far more expensive. Our taxes went up and up. So did prices, while our confidence in the future plummeted. For many years, I wasn’t sure that anything I did or any group I supported would help turn the tide.

But as the kids like to say, that was then and this is now. Last November we saw the biggest electoral turnaround I have ever witnessed. And it wasn’t just at the national level. In State after State, a whole new breed of politicians got elected. As a result, some amazing things are happening at the State level, too — including concerted efforts to defeat Obamacare. Heck, Utah is even on the cusp of making gold and silver money!

If you’re not savoring the thrill of some of these victories, it can only be because you’re sitting at home worrying about things rather than going out, meeting with your fellow patriots and celebrating some of these victories.

So let me begin by pointing out the obvious: The best way to feel like a winner is to back one. How many of your candidates were victorious five months ago? If you can’t brag about several newbies you helped get elected, then you need to get some new candidates, my friend.

For the next go-around, pick out half-a-dozen candidates who would really bring a breath of fresh air to Washington and/or your State capital. Send them a few bucks. Get some of their campaign literature. Tell your friends and neighbors about them. Then send them some more money.

And don’t limit yourself to candidates you can actually vote for. Last fall, I made donations to candidates all over the place — even Nancy Pelosi’s opponent in San Francisco. Yes, I knew John Dennis didn’t stand a chance of defeating her. But it sure felt good trying!

Next to supporting some winners (and even some valiant losers), the next best thing you can do is meet with people who think like you do. In the past, this wasn’t easy. The mainstream media tried for decades to make every Constitutionalist feel like he or she was totally alone. That there was no one else anywhere who agreed with us about anything. We were kooks and crazies and our numbers were too small to matter.

Well, guess what? That was nothing but a huge lie, and an even bigger bluff.
Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, technology brought their house of cards tumbling down. A handful of independent publications started it all. Then talk radio caught on big time. And guess who the most popular hosts were? The guys (and a few gals) on the right with a strongly alternative point of view.

Then the Internet brought millions of us together. Finding sympathetic allies, noble causes, worthy candidates and great organizations are now just a few keystrokes away. Want to join up with Tea Party patriots in your area? Click on

Want to see an amazing program to bring the conservative message to liberal college campuses? Go to and click on their “Campus.” While there, check out their other wonderful training programs for young activists.

Want to help bring some great speakers to some leftwing colleges? Check out Young America’s Foundation at Oh, and send them a few bucks to help maintain Ronald Reagan’s “ranch in the sky” — the Western White House at Rancho del Cielo, high above Santa Barbara, Calif. I’m proud to have played a small part in helping to turn Ron and Nancy’s favorite home into a meeting place for Americanists.

Do you want to meet with 3,000 aroused patriots who are determined to do something in the fight for freedom? Then make plans to attend FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nev., this July 13 through 16. I’ll be one of the emcees for what promises to be a truly extraordinary gathering. There will be more than 100 speakers and 300 exhibitors, so you’re guaranteed to find several people and programs with whom you’ll feel simpatico.

I don’t have space today to tell you all the reasons that I believe is FreedomFest is the one event you should plan to attend this year if you can. But don’t take my word for it; go to and see for yourself.

By the way, when you register, please tell Tami Holland that you’re a Straight Talk reader. That way, two very nice things will happen: One, I’ll make sure you have a chance to join me at a special session at FreedomFest, just for Straight Talk readers and their friends.

And two, the nice folks who publish Personal Liberty Digest™ will send you an additional bonus — a free copy of Bob Livingston’s newly released book, The Great Recession Handbook, Survival Strategies For Trying Times (a $40 value).  All you have to do to claim your free book is email your confirmation showing you are registered to attend FreedomFest, along with your mailing address to We’ll drop a copy in the mail for you right away.

So please call Tami Holland at 1-866-266-5101 to reserve your seats at FreedomFest 2011. You’ll have a great time, I promise. And you’ll come away even more convinced than you are now that we’re going to win the fight for freedom.

See you this July.

Until then, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

A Week For The Bad Guys

Sadly, the bad guys made more headlines in history this week than the good ones. Let’s start with April 20, 1889, when a particularly heinous character named Alois Schicklgruber came into the world. You’ll know him better by the pen name he adopted later, Adolf Hitler. As the world knows to its sorrow, he went on to become one of the most murderous tyrants in history.

Strangely enough, although Hitler was a left-wing extremist (the very name of his movement, Nazi, is a contraction for “national socialism”) somehow the Left has managed to turn the word into a pejorative against the right. It sure is easier to sell a lie when you dominate the mass media, isn’t it? (Not to mention most seats of higher leaning… er, learning.) If I had a buck for every time my colleagues and I have been called Nazis or fascists, why… I’d buy a lot more gold.

More than 100 years after Hitler’s birth, two demented high school students in Littleton, Colo., chose the anniversary of their hero’s birth to conduct the Columbine High School massacre.

Finally, on April 25, 1945, 45 countries convened in San Francisco for the founding conference of that international plot against individual liberty, the United Nations. The general secretary of the meeting was none other than the notorious Soviet espionage agent, Alger Hiss.

Hiss was not the only American involved in the formation of the United Nations who was later revealed to be a communist. In fact, of the 18 Americans cited by the State Department in 1950 as “the important men who shaped the UN,” all but one were later identified as communists. No wonder the U.N. is so inimical to traditional American values.

–Chip Wood

Our Lying Media And The Budget Battle

I don’t know when I have ever seen a bigger bunch of lies, distortions and deliberate misstatements by our national media than in the so-called budget debate that’s been taking place in Washington, D.C.

My nominee for the biggest offender is ABC News, which a week ago told the nation that “Republicans in Congress are prepared to shut down our government, and deny pay to our troops fighting overseas, in order to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Got that? Not only are Republicans the evil, nasty culprits responsible for the whole controversy. They will go so far as to deny pay to our soldiers, if necessary.

The only part of this pack of lies that had even a kernel of truth to it concerned the remarks about Planned Parenthood. I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let me revisit some recent history about the dishonest and irresponsible politicians who created this mess in the first place.

Let me begin by pointing out that what’s at issue here is the budget for the Federal government’s operations for a fiscal year that began last October. In other words, our representatives are still arguing about how much to spend in a year that is already more than half over.

Why didn’t they come up with a budget before the year began? That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s what the law says they should do. And frankly, that’s when they could have done anything they wanted, without all the current posturing and deceit. They had all the votes they needed to spend any amount they wanted on whatever their redistributionist little hearts desired.

Whose fault is it that the Democrats never came up with a budget back then? Clearly, the blame rests squarely on Barack Obama’s White House, Nancy Pelosi’s House and Harry Reid’s Senate. They had all the votes they needed. Why did they just sit on their hands?

So of course it’s the Republican majority in the House—something that didn’t exist before last November—that’s getting the blame now for the budget imbroglio.

Let me note in passing that even if government had been forced to shut down, every soldier and sailor serving Uncle Sam anywhere in the world would have been paid on time and in full. That’s also part of the law. They are considered “essential personnel” and are exempt from any furlough, even if much of government has to be shut down.

You will be aghast to learn that so are members of Congress and their staffs. Oh, some of them would probably have gone back to their home districts, to show their support for all of the folks being hurt by a shut-down. But you can bet that their paychecks would have continued to have been deposited in their banks when they were due.

Something else you need to know about this whole insane mess: We are talking about peanuts. Let’s look at the numbers for a moment. Currently, the Federal debt amounts to $14.2 trillion. Our masters in Washington have borrowed every penny the law allows. In fact, that’s the reason for the current war of words. If Congress won’t raise the debt ceiling, the government can’t borrow any more money. If it can’t borrow any more money, it can’t pay for all the boondoggles and giveaways that are already law.

The deficit is already scheduled to grow by $1.6 trillion this year. In other words, even if Congress can’t agree on spending one more dollar this year, we taxpayers are already on the hook for our government to fork over $1.6 trillion more than it collects in taxes.

The deficit for February (the shortest month of the year!) was $223 billion. That was the largest single deficit of any month in our country’s history.

Let me put it another way: The same day that Republicans in the House voted to cut spending by $6 billion, our national debt jumped by $72 billion. That’s $72 billion in new deficits, every day of the week, every week of the year.

Here’s an analogy your neighbors might understand. Say a penny represents $1 billion. Right now, our Federal debt equals 15,800 pennies. The pile is growing by 72 pennies every day.

So far, Republican budget cutters have removed 10 pennies. Meanwhile, the Democrats offered to remove 4.5 pennies. That’s it; that’s all the fat they said could be found in the budget. That comes to about one-sixteenth of the number of new pennies they want to borrow each and every day to fund their favorite socialist schemes.

The Democrats’ response to all of this is simple: Call anyone who disagrees with them an extremist. New York’s whacko senator, Charles Schumer, admitted as much. In a conference call with other Senate Democrats, the point man for their messaging told them to “always use [the word] ‘extreme.’ That’s what the caucus instructed me to do the other week. ‘Extreme cuts.’ ‘Extreme and draconian.'”

Immediately after the call, California Senator Barbara Boxer dutifully picked up the theme.

“We Senate Democrats are calling on Speaker Boehner to abandon the extreme right wing of his Republican caucus,” she said. Boxer was followed at the podium by Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. And guess what? Each and every one of them used the word “extreme” or “extremist” when he spoke. Conspiracy? Why, whatever gave you that idea?

The other thing that is essential to understand is that Barack Obama doesn’t care about any of this. All he cares about is getting re-elected next year. Everything he does, every plan and program he promotes, in fact, every word that comes out of his mouth, is carefully calculated to do one thing and only one thing: help him win re-election.

While he pays lip service to how terrible it is to bury our children and our children’s children under a mountain of debt, you must understand he doesn’t mean a word of it. “Good” is what helps him keep his job; “bad” is whatever reduces the chances of that happening.

Oh, about defunding Planned Parenthood. Many Republicans believe it is a sin to take money from taxpayers and use it to kill unborn babies. That is why they want Federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood stopped. Under their proposal, the money that would have gone to this so-called charity would instead go the States, which could then give it to whomever or whatever they wished.

The Democrats, who argue so loudly and long for “free choice” when it comes to aborting babies, are furious at the idea of letting the States have free choice with taxpayers’ money. They’re afraid (quite rightly, I’m sure) that some of those choices would mean no money for their favorite supporters. To which all I have to say is; it’s about time.

Since you can be absolutely certain that this crisis won’t be resolved any time soon, I’ll be returning to this subject again and again in the weeks and months to come. While we can wish it were otherwise, the possibility that our leaders in Washington will require our government to live within its means is zero. With Obama in the White House and the dishonest and despicable Harry Reid controlling the Senate, the best we can hope for is to slow the tsunami of spending by a bucket or two.

Let’s take whatever minor victories we can get today—and plan to win the biggest battles of them all next year.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Foreign Banks, Ben Franklin, President Carter And Russian Money

*Ben Bernanke’s foreign bank bonanza. Documents from the Federal Reserve confirm that the central bank loaned more than $70 billion to foreign banks during the 2008 financial crisis—including some $26 billion to a bank owned by Moammar Gadhafi’s Central Bank of Libya. The news is sure to spur increased calls for an investigation of the Fed. “The American people are going to be outraged,” said Representative Ron Paul, one of the central bank’s most severe critics. Let’s hope so.

*What would Ben Franklin say? A study last year by the MetLife insurance company found that 47 percent of Americans say they have given money to family members in the past year so they can pay their bills. The author of Poor Richard’s Almanack would probably not agree. One of his favorite aphorisms was “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

*The older he gets, the dumber he acts. What is it with former President Jimmy Carter? It seems there isn’t an enemy of America that he isn’t willing to embrace. He’s done it with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Palestinian terrorists. Now he’s in Cuba, pleading for “better understanding” with Raul and Fidel Castro’s murderous communist tyranny. Please, Mr. President, take your Nobel Peace Prize and go home.

*Where have all the American big-spenders gone? Did you see the news that a mansion in Silicon Valley, Calif., styled after a massive French chateau, just sold for $100 million? Turns out the purchaser was not an American. No, the record for the most expensive single-family home sale in this country is now held by Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire.

–Chip Wood

Celebrating A Tax Refund

Arghhh! It just happened again. No, I’m not referring to the billions of dollars hard-working taxpayers have to send to Uncle Sam by this April 18. I’ve become almost numb to the pain of that annual reckoning.

But what still gets my goat is when someone—especially a near and dear family member—celebrates receiving a tax refund. They act as though it’s manna from heaven. They rejoice in their totally unexpected bounty from a beneficent government.

When I try to explain that the IRS really isn’t doing them a favor—that, in fact, the opposite is true; that by overpaying their taxes during the past year, they have in effect been giving a profligate and wasteful government an interest-free loan—they look at me as though I’ve suddenly sprouted two heads.

So okay. No lengthy lectures from me this year about how a progressive income tax was an essential part of the Communist Manifesto. No rant about the conspiratorial origins of the Federal Reserve. No diatribe on the diabolical cunning of a withholding tax, so the shark-like bite of Uncle Sam is rendered less painful than a mosquito bite.

No, all I’ll do is repeat my opening sentiment: Arghh! And then offer this anonymous reminder of why we can be glad that soon, Tax Day will once again be behind us.

Tax his land, tax his bed,
Tax the table at which he’s fed.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
Teach him taxes are the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirt,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, tax his drink.
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his cigars, tax his beers,
If he cries, then tax his tears.

Tax his car, tax his gas,
Find other ways to tax his a**.
Tax all he has, then let him know
That you won’t be done ’till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers,
Tax him some more.
Tax him ’till he’s good and sore.
Then tax his coffin, tax his grave.
Tax the sod in which he’s laid.

Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom."

When he’s gone, do not relax.
It’s time to apply the inheritance tax.

–Chip Wood

Obama’s Latest Illegal War

I’m so mad about Libya that, in my mother’s inimitable phrase, I could chew nails and spit bullets.

And no, I’m not talking about our pusillanimous leader in the White House, who can’t even get his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense on the same page. I’ll get to that bunch of dishonest incompetents in a moment.

No, what set me over the top this morning was what is supposed to be the nation’s most influential conservative publication, The Wall Street Journal. In a series of articles and editorials, this once-proud bastion of Americanist values has become nothing but a shill for neoconservative empire-building.

Did you see their scolding of Haley Barbour last week? They were furious at the Mississippi Governor and potential Presidential candidate for not standing four-square behind our military action against the Gadhafi regime. What dastardly deed did Barbour commit? Let me quote what he said and you decided if the WSJ editorialist was right in getting so outraged:

“What are we doing in Libya? We have to be careful about getting into nation-building exercises, whether it’s in Libya or somewhere else. After all, we’ve been in Afghanistan 10 years.”

Does that make you want to stand up and shout treason?!? That seems to have been the reaction at the paper’s Wall Street offices. And they didn’t mind lecturing our lawmakers on what the “responsible” (their word, not mine) response to this crisis should be:

“The goals of Republicans ought to be to prod Mr. Obama to push for a faster resolution that ends with the toppling of Gadhafi and his sons from power.”

Excuse me, but may I ask why?

Why on earth should this country spend millions of dollars, risk hundreds of our servicemen’s lives and end up killing and maiming innocent women and children (and some adult men who admittedly aren’t so innocent) for “regime-change” in Libya? What the heck business is that of ours?

According to The Wall Street Journal, “the credibility of U.S. power is essential to maintaining our influence in [the] Middle East…”

I’m sorry, but this is the same sort of “make-the-world-safe-for-[our-version-of]-democracy” that led to the ruinous wars of the 20th Century. Have we learned nothing from the past?

According to our Founding Fathers and the Constitution they created, the only people who can order our men and women to go to war are the people’s representatives in the U.S. Congress. It is Congress, and only Congress, that has the duty, the right, and the legal obligation to make that decision.

Yet our President is more guided by what the moral lepers in the Arab League and the United Nations think than our elected representatives here at home.

Without a declaration of war, U.S. military actions in Libya are unConstitutional. Period. In a saner world, Congress would be drawing up the articles of Obama’s impeachment as you read this.

But no, that’s not what our empire-building elitists want. We’re supposed to be the policeman of the world. Or to quote that same odious WSJ editorial again:

“One reason to intervene in Libya is to show the Assads and Ahmadinejads that the West is willing and able to act against tyrants who slaughter their own people.”

Oh, yeah? Then what about the genocide in Rwanda, which thus far has claimed the lives of more than one million innocent men, women, and children? Many thousands of these sad victims suffered the most bestial indignities, including repeated rape and massive torture, before they were slain. Have you heard Obama mutter one word of protest, or send one rifle or bullet, to assist any of the Africans there for whom he would be expected to feel some sympathy? What a bunch of lying hypocrites we have ruling over us!

And yet The Wall Street Journal editorialist has the unmitigated gall to chastise the Governor of Mississippi with these words:

“Mr. Barbour’s glib resort to this trope of the isolationist left suggests he hasn’t thought very hard, if at all, about foreign policy.”

So there you have it, folks. Unless you’re willing to support illegal military action, you’re some sort of boobus Americanus, to use H.L. Mencken’s favorite phrase. Well, count me among the people who haven’t yet bought the liberal-CFR line that war is peace, bad is good, wrong is right—and that it is our solemn duty to use our money and our Marines to intervene in every country around the globe that doesn’t behave as we think it should.

This is madness. And it’s got to stop.

Say It In Song
Let’s try to end this grim account of an even grimmer story with a smile. I’m sure many of you remember The Kingston Trio. They were perhaps the most famous folk group of the ’50s and ’60s. I don’t think any of the original members are still performing today, but I believe there’s a group somewhere with the same name, singing all of their old hits.

Back in 1962, the trio (Bob Shane, Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds) released a song that I thought was weird, even for those very weird times. Anyone remember “The Merry Minuet”? You can still find a performance on YouTube. The structure of the song was strange, too. After singing one line, the group then sort of hummed for a bit; then sang another line; then hummed some more.

Printing the lyrics won’t convey how funny this all sounded, but let me try. Here are the first eight lines of the song:

They’re rioting in Africa,
They’re starving in Spain;
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls;
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles,
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!

I think it was Nick Reynolds who blurted out that last line. (But if I’m wrong, I’m sure an Alert Reader will correct me.) On the recording I have, much laughter followed that declaration.

Anyway, after describing all of the terrible things that were happening all over the world—and remember, folks, this was 49 years ago—isn’t it amazing how little has changed since 1962? The trio ended on what purported to be a note of optimism:

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lucky day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away!

More laughter followed that rather grim description of “some lucky day.” The song then ended with the following prediction:

They’re rioting in Africa,
There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

I’ll have more to say next week to “our fellow man” about the people who are misleading and betraying us. In the meantime, stand up for what you know in your heart is right. Condemn the illegal and dangerous course our president has set this country on, both at home and abroad.

And keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

April Fool’s Day Pranks, The Donald And Pinching Pennies

*A belated April Fool’s Day to you. Although I’ve pulled pranks on family and friends almost every April 1 since I got out of diapers, I didn’t do anything to mark the occasion last Friday. Not so, many other folks. Among my favorites, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson issued a press release stating, “Branson buys Pluto, reinstates as planet.” Google topped that with the announcement of “Google Motion”—a camera that attaches to your computer and lets you respond to email by moving your body.

And how about the usually staid (some would say stuffy) Whole Foods poking fun at their own “Whole Paycheck” reputation? They announced a program where you could have each paycheck converted automatically to a Whole Foods debit card. But my all-time favorite was when Ryan Air, the world’s largest airline, announced that for a small premium, they would guarantee you a child-free flight. Now, that would be worth paying for!

*The Donald sounds more and more like a candidate. No April Fool’s stunt here: Donald Trump got nationwide publicity when he very publicly released his birth certificate to the press—and challenged President Barack Obama to do the same. Seeming to enjoy stirring the pot, Trump said, “It’s inconceivable that, after four years of questioning, the President still hasn’t produced his birth certificate. Why is he making an issue out of this?”

*A penny saved is… several million earned? Supervalu®, one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains, says it will start training all of its baggers on the best way to pack plastic bags. The company says it goes through 1.5 billion of them a year, at a cost of 2 cents each. Just 5 percent better efficiency would save the chain $15 million a year. One of the changes? No more bags for gallon jugs or six-packs. You’ll have to carry them out as is.

–Chip Wood

The United States’ Entrance Into WWI

On this date 93 years ago, the United States formally entered World War I. Shortly after taking office for his second term as President, Woodrow Wilson (who had campaigned on the promise of “keeping America out of the European war”) urged Congress to declare war on Germany.  The Senate did so on April 4; the House followed two days later.

The conflict became known as “the war to make the world safe for democracy.” This clever Madison Avenue slogan was a total ruse, of course. Instead, the war was the bloodiest conflict that had ever been fought up ’till then.  It destroyed almost every government in Europe. It led to the murderous rule of Stalin in Russia and Hitler in Germany.

And it ushered in an era of Big Government from which the world is still suffering.

–Chip Wood

Six Senators Smear Rand Paul

If you live in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Rhode Island there is something I hope you will do. Call or write your Senator and ask him or her why he/she helped launch a vicious anti-Semitic smear of the new junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

This is not an April fool’s joke. I wish it were. Here is what happened:

In February, the six Senators I’m talking about—Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey (D-Penn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)—sent an open letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers lambasting Paul for daring to suggest that the United States “halt all foreign aid, including its financial aid, to Israel.” The Senators were shocked, shocked I tell you, that the freshman Senator would have the unmitigated gall to suggest such a thing.

You will probably not be surprised to learn that the Senators’ letter was a massive distortion of what Paul actually said. Nor should you be surprised to learn that the mainstream media quoted their scolding with undisguised glee. And of course, totally ignored the truth of what the libertarian Senator actually said. So let me give it to you straight.

First, did Paul advocate cutting off foreign aid to Israel? Absolutely! From the very first moment he began campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate, he said that he would work to halt all foreign aid to everyone. Paul never singled out Israel, as the anti-anti-Semites in the Senate pretend. He believes that it is almost insane for this country to borrow money from China so we can give it away to half of the world—and in many cases to countries that use our aid to suppress their own population and/or kill their neighbors.

In his actual statement, which the mainstream media pretend does not exist, Paul pointed out that the U.S. sends four times more aid to Israel’s enemies than we do to that poor beleaguered country.

Well, strike “poor” from the above sentence. Israel has become such a technological and agricultural phenomenon that its citizens enjoy one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Sure, some of the oil-rich countries have more wealth. But almost all of their money is concentrated in the hands of a few ruling sheiks and their families. The average male in most Muslim countries lives in abject poverty, no matter how many billions his rulers have. And the average female is even worse off.

Israel, on the other hand, is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world. Even the Muslims who live there enjoy more rights than in any of the Arab states that surround Israel.

This whole brouhaha began on Jan. 26, when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Paul whether he believed the United States should “end all foreign aid, including foreign aid to Israel.” You will not be surprised to learn that Paul gave an immediate and emphatic yes.

He then continued, “When you send foreign aid, you actually send quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too. So really, you have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides?”

Paul went on to declare that he has “a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel, as a democratic nation, as a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East. But at the same time, I don’t [believe in] funding both sides of the arms race, particularly when we have to borrow money from China to send it to someone else. We just can’t do it anymore.”

Can anyone with enough sense to come in out of the rain disagree with anything in that statement?

As it turns out, many Israelis are on Paul’s side in this debate. Yuval Levin of the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies is the author of a study called American Aid to the Middle East. In it he says that American aid to Israel is “a tragedy of good intentions.”

He goes on to explain, “Analysis of the economic consequences of aid must conclude that aid slows growth, stifles economic activity, encourages inefficiency and keeps alive Israel’s socialist system. It is profoundly counterproductive for the Jewish state.”

I suspect a lot of Israelis agree with Levin. And let me mention another issue that is almost never addressed in the U.S. media but is of deep and abiding concern to many citizens in Israel. That is the economic and political blackmail their leaders must pay whenever U.S. leaders decide to throw their weight around.

There is a “mentality of dependence” in Israel many Jews detest. Their leaders are too subservient to the United States, even when U.S. policy is harmful to their country.

Need proof? Our government forced Israel to accept the creation of the Palestinian Authority, which immediately became the captive of terrorists from Hamas and Fatah. But not only did we force them to accept it, we also demanded they stand meekly by while we used foreign aid to arm its members.

Abu Yousef, a senior official of the Palestine Authority and an admitted terrorist, once boasted, “I do not think the operations of the Palestine resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than 1,000 Israelis since 2000 and defeated Israel in Gaza” without such assistance from America.

That’s sure something to be proud of, isn’t it? Our aid helped terrorists kill 1,000 Israelis. And yet six U.S. Senators try to smear Paul for trying to call a halt to such madness.

I know many of my conservative colleagues disagree with me on this. Gary Bauer, a Washington analyst and activist I’ve admired for a long time, has staunchly defended American aid to Israel. In his daily blog, he argued, “The U.S. gives billions of dollars a year to foreign countries that hate us and regularly vote against us at the United Nations. But Israel votes with the U.S. 97% of the time. They are a loyal ally that shares our values. The aid they receive is used to buy military equipment from U.S. companies, so the money comes back to us.”

That may all be true. But so what? If all foreign aid to the Middle East were stopped, wouldn’t Israel be a lot better off? And besides, knowing how fanatical many Jews in the U.S. are about supporting Israel, don’t you think that their private contributions would more than make up for any loss of official government aid?

As my friend Doug Casey puts it, most of the time foreign aid means taking money from poor people in this country who really need it and giving it to rich people in other countries, who merely steal it.

I say, stop it all. If you agree, tell your Senators and Representative. Let’s end the madness this year.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

John Cleese And The Terror Threat Level Of Nations

*The British response to terrorist threats. Many thanks to my favorite funny Englishman, John Cleese, for the following:

The English are concerned about the recent increase in terrorist activities, and have therefore raised their security level from “miffed” to “peeved.” If the threats continue to grow, the security levels may be raised to “irritated” or even “a bit cross.” (The English have not seen “a bit cross” since the blitz in 1940, when tea supplies nearly ran out.)

Terrorists have been recategorized from “tiresome” to “a bloody nuisance.” The last time Britain issued “a bloody nuisance” warning was in 1588, when Spain launched the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “pis*ed off” to “let’s go get the bas*ards.” They don’t have any other levels—which is why they have been placed on the front lines of the British Army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced that it has raised its terror alert from “run” to “hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “collaborate” and “surrender.”

Meanwhile, the Spanish are excited to see that their new submarines are ready to deploy.  These beautiful new vessels have glass bottoms, so the Spanish sailors can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Down under, Australia has raised its security level from “no worries, mate” to “she’ll be all right.” The next escalation would be “we may need to cancel the barbie this weekend.” The final level is “Crikey! The barbie is cancelled.” Australia has never faced a crisis so severe that it merited this highest level.

Thank you to John Cleese, British writer, actor and very tall person with a funny walk, for today’s laugh.

–Chip Wood

The Debut Of “Oklahoma!”

On March 30, 1943, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first musical opened in New York City and changed forever the face of musical theater in this country. “Oklahoma!” was a smash hit right from opening night. Never before had musical numbers been used to advance the plot, as Rodgers and Hammerstein did in “Oklahoma!” and several hits that followed.

Theatergoers who were used to songs being part of a vaudeville performance didn’t know what to make of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning,” “I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No,” or “Poor Judd Is Dead.” But they knew they were hearing something special.

Since that illustrious beginning 68 years ago, Rodgers and Hammerstein went on to become America’s most successful composers for the stage. Among their numerous collaborations were “Carousel,” “The King and I,” “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music.” I think it’s safe to say that hardly a night goes by when one of their musicals isn’t performed somewhere in this country. Altogether, the duo garnered 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Grammys and the Pulitzer Prize.

Not bad for a couple of Depression-era lads who said they just wanted to tell a story.

–Chip Wood

The Donald, TSA, Obama’s Deceitful Staff And A Crook

*Can Donald Trump Save America? That was the unlikely headline of a lengthy (and mostly admiring) article in Human Events, the weekly tabloid that likes to brag it’s been “leading conservative media since 1944.” It sure sounds as though The Donald will be making a run for the Presidency next year. And while I disagree with a ton of things he’s said and done, one argument he made sounded interesting. Rather than bring our troops home from 120 countries around the world, his solution is simpler: Bill each country for the protection we’re providing for them and demand they pay up.

*The airport gropers want more of your money. The Transportation Security Administration says that so many more Americans are carrying on luggage these days, rather than pay baggage fees to the airlines it’s costing TSA more than $250 million a year to inspect them all. Guess who will be asking Congress for more money? If anyone on the Hill is listening, how about offering businesses that money to find less intrusive ways to protect us?

*More deceit from Barack’s staff. Jack Lew, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, coined an interesting phrase when he testified before Congress recently. “We’ve got to put a plan forward that would get us to primary balance by the middle of the decade.” What is “primary balance,” you ask? It’s what the annual budget would be minus any interest payments on the national debt. Hey, bet if you didn’t have to make any interest payments on your home, car or credit cards, you’d find it a lot easier to “primary balance” your budget, too. What a bunch of con men we’ve got running this country.

*It takes one to know one. Did you see what Bernie Madoff said in his jail-house interview with New York magazine? Sure he was a crook, he admitted. But it all happened because his clients were “greedy.” And besides, he added, the Federal government is nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme. Oh, and by the way, he’s really “a good person.” Sure, Bernie. I’m so glad I’m helping pay the tab for your room, board and medical care for the rest of your life.

–Chip Wood

What Should I Do About My Suicidal Cardinal?

I know of a suicidal cardinal.

Let me make something perfectly clear, as a disgraced former President used to say, I am most emphatically not talking about a high Catholic official. I’m referring to a little feathered friend that’s been pestering me lately.

A female cardinal has apparently decided that my office window is the worst threat she and her babies have ever faced. For the past month or so she has been attacking it dozens of times a day. The top-right window pane (too high to reach from the outside without a ladder) is now covered with marks from the times she has tried to peck it to death.

By the way, I am not alone. Two of my neighbors also have cardinals that are driving them crazy with their all-out attacks on their windows. Dean, the gentlemen on my left, has gone to extremes to find a preventative.

First, he went to the local hardware store and asked if they had anything that would help. “Sure thing,” they responded. They sold him a very handsome wooden hawk that stands about two feet high.

A few days later, Dean reported the results: Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. His cardinal was still attacking his window with wild abandon. So he called the hardware store to complain that their “solution” didn’t work.

“Where did you put the hawk?” he was asked. “On the lawn in front of the window,” was his reply.

“Well, that’s your problem,” he was told. “The bird can’t see it down there. You need to hang it in front of the window she’s attacking.” “How do I do that?” was his response.

When they tried to sell him a pole he could put in front of his window, to hang the hawk from, he asked if there wasn’t any other solution he could try first. “Sure,” they told him. “Cover the inside of your windows so the bird doesn’t see her reflection. That’s what she’s attacking — she thinks it’s another bird invading her territory.”

So now Dean has newspapers taped all over his front windows. The blackout seems to be working fairly well. Most of the time the bird leaves him alone, he tells me. It’s only when the sun strikes the window exactly right that she’s back, flying against his window again and again.

“What about the hawk?” I asked him. “It’s still on the ground in front of the window,” he told me. “I like it too much to take it back. And who knows? Maybe it’s keeping the squirrels from invading my attic.”

“And how do you like having your window covered with newspaper” I asked him. He just looked at me.

A few days later, Dean and I were talking with our across-the-street neighbor, Dale. It turns out Dale has the same problem Dean and I have been experiencing — a delusional cardinal keeps attacking the windows on the eastern side of his house. Dale said he done a little research and learned the following:

First, cardinals are incredibly territorial. They mate for life, use the same nest over and over again and go crazy when any other cardinal tries to invade their territory. I knew this was true from experiences I had back in Atlanta. We abutted a tributary of the Chattahoochee River and all of the acreage behind us had been declared wetlands. It was strictly off-limits to developers, so we had all sorts of wildlife back there. The deer were so prolific that they became a threat to landscaping — and your car. A friend had a nasty accident when one ran right in front of him and he couldn’t stop in time.

We had several bird feeders in our back yard and a family of cardinals was quite happy to make their home in the area. That is, until the following year, when their offspring became adults. I thought it would be cool to see two or three generations of cardinals gobbling down the seeds we put out for them. Nope. Year after year, mama cardinal drove her sons and daughters away.

Dale and I enjoyed a hearty laugh as Dean explained the on-going battle he was engaged in. Dean, a kind and gentle soul, was determined to keep his bird from killing itself. Dale and I disagreed with him.

“I’m sorry, Dean,” I told him, “but I believe in the survival of the fittest. If my bird is so stupid that it knocks its brains out, or even kills itself, I’m not going to interfere. Maybe other babies will be smarter.”

I also said that, in time, her eggs would become babies and her babies would grow up. When that happened, I was willing to bet, mama bird would cease her attacks on my window.

When I repeated the story to my wife, she glared at me. A few days later she dropped a small package on my desk. “Put these up,” she ordered.

It turns out she had done something Dale, Dean and I never thought of doing. She went to the nearest Wild Birds Unlimited store and asked them what to do. If you’re not familiar with Wild Birds, it’s a national franchise composed of local owners who are dedicated birders. In addition to all sorts of bird seed, including unique blends made just for that area, they sell bird feeders, fountains, recordings and more paraphernalia than you knew existed, all related to birds. I was such a good customer of the store near us in Atlanta, I think that when we moved away the owners sold it and retired to a wealthy community in Arizona.

Anyway, Wild Birds said they had the answer. The package my wife dropped on my desk consisted of two plastic decals of hawks. The package promised that, if I would peel ‘em off and stick them on the outside of my windows, Mrs. Cardinal would not bother me again.

The package for WindowAlert® proclaimed, “Millions of wild birds are killed each year from flying into windows. You can help reduce this loss of life,” it promised.

Here was the explanation I found inside: “The decal contains a component which brilliantly reflects ultraviolet sunlight. This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds. Birds have vision that is up to 12 times better than that of humans.”

For those of you who are more technically minded, the insert went on to explain that we humans have only 10,000 color-vision cells per square millimeter, while our bird friends have 120,000. Also, we have 200,000 low-light rod cells per sq/mm, while birds have 500,000. And here, for me, was the clincher: Our eye retina is three-cone, or trichromatic, while birds’ are four-cone, or quad-chromatic.

Of course they’ll see a hawk decal that is invisible to me!

So as soon as I finish this Straight Talk column, I’m going to get the extension ladder out of our garage, place it against the roof in front of my office window, climb the darned thing and carefully affix the plastic hawk decals to my window.

I gotta tell you, if I fall off that thing and break my neck, my parting thought will be imagining mama cardinal bragging to her husband how she beat the big creature that tried to scare her off. “Our babies are safe!” she’ll trill.

Well, actually not trill. Cardinals don’t make beautiful music, like many other birds. Their “speech” is sort of a monotone stutter. Still, I’ll try to keep the one who has adopted us from killing herself.

I’ll report back in two weeks whether or not the decals worked. Of course, even if mama bird does leave us alone, how do we know the decals were the reason? Maybe her babies were born and she’s been too busy feeding them to bother about a reflection from my window.

Yes, I know. Some of you will think this story is strictly for the birds. And I can’t say I blame you.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Stamp Act

On March 22, 1765, the British Parliament passed an odious piece of legislation known as the Stamp Act. It imposed a tax on every piece of paper used by colonists in America, including all legal documents, licenses, newspapers and other publications… and even playing cards.

The colonists were outraged by this "taxation without representation" and launched massive protests. After a decade of appeals accomplished nothing, Patrick Henry urged Virginia’s House of Burgesses to adopt his Stamp Act Resolves. When the legislators approved four of the resolutions, Virginia Governor Fauquier (who was appointed by the King) ordered the assembly dissolved.

The next day, on March 23, 1775, Henry gave his famous speech, which ended with, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, Give me Liberty or Give me Death." Within a month, Britain and the colonies were at war, Fauquier fled his post, and Patrick Henry was named Governor of Virginia.

I think you know how the story ends.

–Chip Wood

Queen Pelosi, Michael Moore, “Too Much” And Kennedy’s Brothel

*Bet she still won’t be flying coach. A recent tidbit about former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reveals that the Air Force spent more than $2 million flying her and her cronies between San Francisco and Washington for the past two years. The tab includes $101,429.14 for such “in-flight expenses” as chocolate-covered strawberries. Yes, Madam Speaker liked to live well—at our expense.

*Bet he doesn’t give them any of his money. Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore was in Madison, Wis., recently, urging pro-union demonstrators not to surrender in their battles against the Republicans who are trying to bring some fiscal sanity to the State. As is his custom following his socialistic rants, the multi-millionaire propagandist did not offer to give the demonstrators any of his own money. He just wants them to get yours.

*That’s a whole bunch of “too much.” Many years ago, a profound and patriotic writer captured the difference between economic systems with this simple explanation: “Under socialism, you have a million ration clerks trying to distribute the ‘too little.’ While under free enterprise, you have a million salesmen trying to move the ‘too much.'” A recent article about toothpaste brought the differences home to me. In most socialist countries you’ll find a handful of national brands, while in the U.S., there are 352 distinct types or sizes of toothpaste. That’s a lot of “too much,” I admit. But aren’t you glad some government bureaucrat isn’t determining your choices?

*Another Kennedy scandal emerges. Did you see the story that while he was visiting Chile on a State Department-sponsored visit in 1961, President John Kennedy’s younger brother Ted rented a brothel for the night?  Satyrism seems to have run in the family. But at least young Ted was democratic; he offered to share the pleasures of the evening with his chauffeur.

–Chip Wood

“Hey Bud, That’s My Money You’re Giving Away”

A casual conversation at a cocktail party a little while ago almost turned into fisticuffs—something I haven’t experienced firsthand since the second grade. Let me tell you about it. But before I do, permit me to say that I’ve changed some of the names and details in what follows to protect the innocent—and my jaw.

I was introduced to someone who, I was told, was responsible for many good deeds. “What does he do?” I asked, expecting that the answer would have something to do with volunteer work or private philanthropy.

Nope. Turned out he was a big-time executive with a Fortune 500 company. His job was presiding over all of the charitable contributions the company makes. Since that amounts to more than $10 million a year, he gets his name and face in the local paper a lot.

“Isn’t that just wonderful?” one of the ladies in the group gushed.

“Well, no, it isn’t,” I replied. “In fact, I think it’s a completely inappropriate use of shareholder money.” There was an audible gasp from one of two people and the whole crowd seemed to back away a couple of feet.

“How can you possible say that?” someone challenged me. “I think it’s absolutely wonderful that some of the greedy businessmen in this country give something back to those who are less fortunate.”

Before I got a lecture on how business can only succeed by ripping off the poor downtrodden workers, I said, as calmly as I could, “But it’s not his money to give away. He is simply an employee of the company. The real owners—the ones whose money he is so generously doling out to others—are the shareholders. They are the ones who should decide how their money is used. After all, they’re the ones who risked some of their savings by buying shares in the company.”

I was on a roll now, so I continued: “Any profits the company makes should go to its real owners, the shareholders. They should be the ones to decide what to do with any excess money, not some company executive.”

By this time, I actually had a few heads nodding in agreement. One gentleman even told me, “Why, I’d never thought of it that way before. But what you say makes a lot of sense, young man.” There was no comment from the corporate big-wig who had sparked my remarks; he had stormed off in a huff several minutes earlier.

The attitude that businesses should be praised for giving away their shareholders’ money is nothing new. I remember half a century earlier when my father was named the head of the United Way in the small Southern Indiana town where we lived. Since he was the president of the largest employer in the county, I guess the job was one of the perks he got—like being elected to the board of the local country club.

Anyway, I remember there was a lot of pressure among all the businesses in town to make sure their employees were “100 percent participants” in that year’s fund drive. Woe unto you if every other employee had made a contribution to the United Way and you were the only hold-out.

As it happens, for a few days I was. I worked part-time, on weekends and after school as a stock boy in the town’s only department store. And I didn’t want to give any of my meager earnings to the United Way—or anyone else, for that matter.

Rather than admit I was just a selfish, greedy teenager, I decided to take a stand against the whole issue of group giving.

“Why should some anonymous group of self-appointed leaders decide where these contributions go?” I argued. “Why can’t people decide on their own whom to support?”

The answer, I was told, was that this way—the United Way—was much more efficient. Every cause or organization that wanted funds had to submit an application in writing. Various experts reviewed each appeal. Only the most worthy would receive any funds, I was assured.

“But who decides what’s worthy and what’s not”? I persisted. (Yes, I know. There are few people on earth who can be more annoying than a bright and persistent teenager. God made sure I learned that lesson by blessing me with five of my own.)
I finally shut up when my father made it clear to me that (a) since he was the head of United Way in our county I should not embarrass him by publicly questioning the organization and (b) if I knew what was good for me, I’d shut up and donate some of my earnings to it.

Although the role of teenage martyr held some appeal, I decided that this time around discretion was the better part of valor. I put a smile on my face (after all, as our pastor had just reminded us, the Lord loves a cheerful giver) and handed over part of that week’s paycheck.

But you know what? To this day, I still don’t like the idea of some large, anonymous group deciding how much money to take from me or how it will be spent. Not even if they call themselves the United States Congress or have the Internal Revenue Service to back up their edicts.

Charity at gunpoint isn’t charity at all. It’s theft. I don’t care whether it’s the U.S. government taking our tax dollars or some Fortune 500 company taking profits from its shareholders. When it’s done without the owners’ permission, it’s wrong.

That said, I have to add that I’m very proud that we Americans are the most generous people who have ever lived. We give more of our time and our money to help the less fortunate than any other nation or people on earth.

But let me point out that if our government didn’t take so much from us, we could be a lot more generous… and surely would be. And I for one would be a lot more cheerful about it, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood