Will Hillary be able to buy the election?

It’s now official. Hillary Clinton released a video on Sunday announcing, to the surprise of absolutely no one, that yes, by golly, she is running for president. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” she said in the two-and-a-half minute promotion.

The lady herself did not appear during the first half of the announcement. Rather, it was a carefully chosen collection of diverse Americans — men, women, mothers, children, gays and straights — all of whom presumably are eager to see her elected as the first female president of this country.

The video was pretty much silent on why Clinton should be elected president. There was no long list of past accomplishments. That isn’t surprising. Republican critics have delighted in asking her supporters to name anything she achieved during her four years as Barack Obama’s secretary of state — or before that, during her term as the junior senator from New York. The answers have not been impressive.

The lady has left a ton of scandals and controversies in her wake. Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, was quick to point this out. In a statement released moments after Clinton’s own announcement, he said: “She has been running for president for at least a decade, but she’s been running from scandal for even longer.”

Indeed she has. But don’t expect the mainstream media to dwell on this unpleasant fact. No, if there’s one thing Clinton can count on, it’s the unwavering support of the vast majority of the media. Many of them don’t even try to hide their biases, while any challenger can be certain of having his record challenged in the harshest possible terms.

Can you imagine what the media would be saying if Rand Paul or Ted Cruz had kept all of their government emails on a private server? Or had been so cavalier about destroying tens of thousands of them, claiming the public had no right to see them? Or a dozen other highly questionable events in her past?

Of course the media won’t play fair. And the Republicans better get used to this unpleasant fact and have some strategy to overcome it.

Even more frightening is the thought of how much money the Clinton machine will be able to raise — and how it will be spent. There are some estimates that before campaign 2016 is over, the Democrats will raise close to $2 billion to get Clinton elected.

That is an absolutely staggering sum. And most of it will no doubt be spent on some of the most vicious and destructive attack ads we’ve ever seen. Are you ready for a hundred variations of that infamous “pushing grandmother over a cliff” TV commercial?

No matter how much money the Democrats have to spend, it won’t be enough to change Clinton’s image as a cold and calculating politician. The lady is definitely not warm and fuzzy, and a billion-dollar ad budget can’t disguise that fact. Time will tell if it will be enough to buy her the presidency.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

An outrageous abuse of the Constitution

In “‘Birth tourism’ is another immigration scam,” I discussed “a very twisted interpretation of the 14th Amendment” that has led to the insane policy of granting U.S. citizenship to any babies who are born in this country — even if their mothers are illegal immigrants who sneaked across our border a few hours before they were born.

Today, I want to raise an issue that is even more controversial — and is almost never part of this discussion. And that is the possibility that the 14th Amendment was never legally adopted in the first place.

Now, before you denounce this suggestion as the feverish ravings of a right-wing lunatic, bear with me for a few moments as I share some history with you — history that has been carefully suppressed from all of the conventional history books.

Let me begin by stating something you may have never considered: The Southern states that formed the Confederacy never the left the union. Yes, they certainly tried to do so. Many people, then and now, think they had every legal and moral right to secede. But Abraham Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy as a separate, legitimate government. And the country fought a terrible war over the issue.

When the North won, Lincoln said he was ready to welcome the South back “with malice toward none.” But if the Southern states never left the Union, then as soon as hostilities ended, those states and their citizens were entitled to all of the promises and protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Remember, the Constitution guarantees every state “a republican form of government.” So when the war ended, all of the states that had comprised the Confederacy formed new state governments, including both branches of their state legislatures.

When the federal Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, and submitted it to the states, it was promptly ratified by most of the states that had comprised the Confederacy. Thus, it became part of the Constitution.

But that wasn’t enough for the Radical Republicans, as they were called, who controlled the federal government. They were determined to punish the South. They certainly didn’t want the Southern states sending people to Congress who would oppose their plans for Reconstruction. So they proposed the 14th Amendment.

There is some question whether that amendment was actually approved by two-thirds of the members of both branches of Congress, as the Constitution requires. In fact, several contemporaries back in 1878 said it was not. Nevertheless, the Radical Republican majority passed a resolution saying it had been and submitted it to the states.

Ah, but this time, six states that had approved the 13th Amendment refused to approve the 14th. The legislatures of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina all said “no!” (So too, incidentally, did New Jersey and Ohio.)

The Radicals in Washington were furious. They promptly approved a series of bills, called the Reconstruction Acts, that divided the former Confederacy into 10 military districts. The legislatures of each state were forcibly dismissed and replaced by political hacks appointed by the federal army of occupation. Seven of these military-controlled bodies then did as they were told and “ratified” the 14th Amendment.

But these dictatorial regimes weren’t “the republican form of government” that the Constitution guarantees each state. They most emphatically did not represent the wishes or the will of the citizens they ruled. Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have agreed for a second that any “vote” by these bodies could authorize a change to the Constitution.

And that is why a handful of very brave historians insist that the 14th Amendment was never legally ratified.

By the way, there is a lot more involved here than citizenship for a few million children of illegal immigrants. The 14th Amendment has been used by the Supreme Court as the legal justification for banning prayers in public schools, authorizing abortion on demand, requiring the forced busing of children and scores of other usurpations of power by the federal government.

As I said when I first wrote about this subject many years ago, I can understand why those who benefit from today’s Goliath government want to keep this issue swept under the heaviest rug they can find.

But where have the conservative and libertarian talk shows, think tanks, advocacy groups and tax-free foundations been for the past 50 years? Have any of them written about this issue, filed lawsuits in the courts raising it or made even a peep of protest about what happened?

If they have, I’m not familiar with it. If you know otherwise, please let tell me. Because I don’t see how we will ever restore the Constitution without exposing the deceit that led to this incredible abuse.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

‘Birth tourism’ is another immigration scam

Federal officials raided a bunch of apartments in California last month, as part of an investigation into a “birth tourism” scam. It seems that thousands of pregnant Chinese women have flown into the United States on fraudulent visas so their babies would be born in this country — and, thus, become instant U.S. citizens.

The women allegedly paid between $40,000 and $80,000 for the arrangements, which included being escorted from the airport, taken to pre-arranged housing, provided with groceries and other supplies, and even provided with prenatal care.

The Department of Homeland Security says that the pregnant women were coached in China to lie about their travel plans. They were even told to wear loose clothing to hide their pregnancies. The Associated Press quoted Claude Arnold, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as saying, “These people were told to lie, how to lie, so that their motives for coming to the U.S. wouldn’t be questioned.”

The participants were allegedly promised that their babies would become U.S. citizens as soon as they were born, and that they would be issued with Social Security numbers and U.S. passports. And amazingly, it seems they are correct.

But these scammers are just a drop in bucket, compared to the number of illegal immigrants from other countries, especially Mexico, who do the same thing. In fact, in reporting on this story, the Los Angeles Times quoted one person as saying, “Come on, people go across the border to have a baby from Mexico all the time, so what’s the problem?”

What’s the problem? It’s that it is the official policy of the United States government that any child born in this country to both legal and illegal immigrants automatically and immediately becomes a citizen of the United States. Not only that, but by becoming a newly franchised citizen, that infant is permitted to sponsor American citizenship for its mother, father and other relatives.

Such infants are sometimes referred to as “anchor babies,” because their immediate and automatic citizenship is the “anchor” on which a host of other claims, from welfare to the citizenship of others, can be made. At least most of the Chinese women who come to this country to give birth then return to China with their child. Not so the ones who sneak in from Mexico.

How did such an insane policy come to be accepted as the law of the land? Well, the first thing you should know is that there is no such law. No, the whole bizarre policy is based on a very twisted interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Here’s the relevant section:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State where they reside.

When this amendment was first proposed in the aftermath of the Civil War, no one suggested that it would include the children of aliens, even if their parents were in this country legally when they were born. Since the parents were “subject to the jurisdiction” of the country where they were citizens, it was assumed that their children would also be citizens of the same country.

There were very rigid procedures in place for people to become citizens of this country. They included passing a written test (which was given in English), taking an oath of allegiance to the United States and renouncing their prior citizenship.

Obviously, newborn infants can’t do any of these things. So how can they possibly qualify for citizenship?

It’s time for Congress to correct this incredible misinterpretation of the law. In fact, it’s long past time. I believe the vast majority of Americans would agree on this. So where is the political leader who will promise to make it happen? We’re waiting.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Of course the left still defends the Bergdahl swap

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the Obama Administration and its allies in the media are still defending the prisoner exchange that led the Taliban to release Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years of imprisonment.

Remember, this is the same leadership that claimed Bergdahl had served his country “with honor and distinction.” But everyone who served with him knew this was a lie.

It’s the same administration that arranged a photo op in the Rose Garden, complete with Barack Obama introducing Bergdahl’s parents, to celebrate the prisoner exchange he had arranged.

It was a deal that many at the time said not only was unwise, but was actually illegal. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, offered this blunt assessment:

President Obama endangered our national security and broke the law when he chose to negotiate with terrorists and release hardened enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl — who many believed at the time was a deserter.

A subsequent report by the Government Accountability Office confirmed that the Obama Administration violated federal law by not informing Congress ahead of time about the prisoner exchange. Obama had been stymied by Congress in his efforts to close the U.S. base in Guantanamo, so this was just a sneaky (and illegal) way to get some of the prisoners out of there.

After an investigation that dragged on for months, the Army finally announced a week ago that Bergdahl would be charged with two violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If found guilty of both, Bergdahl could face life in prison.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

“I’m just incredibly happy that the Army chose to do the right thing,” said Evan Buetow, a former Army sergeant who was serving as then-Pfc. Bergdahl’s squad leader when he disappeared in 2009. “To those of us who were there, it was very plain and simple, and Bergdahl definitely needs to answer for what he did.”

Mr. Buetow was one of a group of Army soldiers that came forward after Sgt. Bergdahl was released last spring to accuse him of having abandoned his unit. If Sgt. Bergdahl is found guilty, Mr. Buetow said he should be kicked out of the Army, but not sent to prison.

“I don’t think he needs to see some crazy amount of jail time, but a dishonorable discharge at the very least,” he said.

Interestingly, conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, said the same thing. This past Monday, O’Reilly told his vast TV audience there should be no prison time for Bergdahl because he “has suffered.” O’Reilly said there should be “no honorable anything, no back pay, but no vengeance either.”

I’m sure the Obama administration would love to see the entire issue disappear from the nightly news. After all, every time Bergdahl’s name is mentioned, the public is reminded of what has to be one of the worst trades in history. Obama’s spokesmen can prattle all they want about “no soldier left behind.” Not many Americans will agree that the exchange of five terrorist leaders for an Army deserter was a good idea.

The last thing Obama and his supporters want to see is a lengthy public trial of the accused deserter. The pressure on Bergdahl to accept some sort of plea deal must be enormous.

Meanwhile, you can expect to hear even more descriptions of how much Bergdahl suffered during his five years of captivity. And that he really didn’t mean to desert his post or join the Taliban.

Yes, the whole thing makes Obama look bad — almost as much as his many other foreign policy blunders do.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Christians are targets in the culture wars

Last Thursday, Indiana became the latest state to pass legislation protecting the right of Christians to exercise their faith — by declining to participate in gay weddings, for example. And the left has gone absolutely bonkers because of it.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Indianapolis, the state capital, demanding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act be repealed. They contend that the law will somehow open the floodgates to massive discrimination against gays. Many demanded that Gov. Mike Pence, who supported the bill and signed it into law, be removed from office. Social media has joined the fight under the hashtag, #BoycottIndiana.

Hillary Clinton was quick to jump on the bandwagon opposing the bill, tweeting:

Get that? The woman whom many Democrats want to crown as our next president said it is “sad” that the legislators in a state would approve such a law. She conveniently ignores the fact that the original Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed overwhelmingly in Congress in 1993 — and signed into law by her husband, Bill Clinton.

At the time he signed the legislation, Bill Clinton said:

We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the First Amendment is all about. [No, it’s about a lot more than that, Bill. But we’ll save that argument for another day.]

But let us never believe that the freedom of religion imposes on any of us some responsibility to run from our convictions. Let us instead respect one another’s faiths, fight to the death to preserve the right of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has, but bring our values back to the table of American discourse to heal our troubled land.

But gay activists won’t permit a Christian “to practice whatever convictions he or she has” if a Christian believes the Bible teaches that a wedding should be between a man and a woman and declines to participate in a same-sex marriage. Such homosexual zealots believe it is perfectly OK — in fact, it is their duty — to force such Christians to go against their convictions.

The 1993 act put limits on such actions by the federal government. But then gays won lawsuits in state courts against a baker who refused to prepare a wedding cake for a gay marriage and a photographer who cited her Christian belief as the reason for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding. As a result, several states passed state versions of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Last Thursday, Indiana became the 21st state to do so (Alabama’s state version is an amendment to its state constitution).

So now the left is throwing a hissy fit. And politically correct companies and institutions are expressing their concern. Even the NCAA, which is hosting the Final Four college basketball championships in Indianapolis next week, says it may move future events to another state. Oh, dear.

Let’s be clear about one thing: This debate isn’t over the legality of same-sex marriage. Those are now legal in most states, and I suspect it won’t be long before the Supreme Court makes them legal in all 50 states.

Nor is it really about discrimination against gay people. There are already plenty of laws and court rulings that prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals.

No, the question isn’t whether gays can get married. It’s whether men and women of faith can be forced to participate in their weddings, even if it violates their faith. It’s clear where the left stands on this issue. Once again, it is demonstrating its willingness — nay, its eagerness — to use the power of that state to force us to comply with its dictates.

Obey or else. It’s the same, old dictatorial message we’ve heard so many times before. Congratulations to the Hoosier State for taking a stand in favor of freedom instead of coercion.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood  

Starbucks backs off its ‘Race Together’ campaign

“Skip the preaching, Howie! Just give me my blankety-blank cup of coffee.”

That was the reaction of many Starbucks customers when they learned that their morning cup of caffeine was going to be accompanied by an invitation to chat with their server about race relations in America.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of the most successful purveyor of lattes in the world, must have been astounded — and dismayed — at the amount of opposition his effort generated. One senior vice president at Starbucks got so much negative feedback on social media about the “Race Together” effort that he shut down his Twitter account. And then he got a lot more derision for running away from the issue.

Earlier, Schultz had put a video on the Starbucks website explaining the reasons he was launching the public-relations campaign. He said he was asking all of his baristas, as Starbucks’ staff are called, to “perform that small gesture of writing ‘Race Together’ on a cup.” To speed things up — something that is very important when people are lining up for that first cup of coffee in the morning — the company printed stickers that could be placed on cups, eliminating the need to hand-write each one.

“If a customer asks you what this is,” Schultz explained in the video, “try and engage in a discussion, that we have problems in this country with regard to race and racial inequality, and we believe we’re better than this, and we believe the country’s better than this.” Do this just once a day with one customer, Schultz said, and “you’re making a significant difference.”

Really? I’ll bet a whole lot of coffee servers were uncomfortable about being asked to take the lead in such conversations. The response from customers confirmed that many of them wanted to get their coffee without a side order of discourse on one of this country’s most divisive issues.

Syndicated columnist Clarence Page, an African-American who writes frequently on matters of race, had this to say about the Starbucks CEO: “I know he’s a marketing genius. Who else could turn overpriced cups of coffee into a daily lifestyle choice for millions of drinkers worldwide?”

Then Page added, “Nevertheless, dumbing down America’s complicated and emotionally charged racial divide into a topic light enough for a coffee shop chat is a tall order, especially before I’ve had my morning caffeine.” Still, he applauded the effort. “Whether it works or not,” he said, “it’s probably better than silence.”

Turns out many Starbucks customers didn’t agree. Faced with an unexpected outpouring of criticism and ridicule, less than a week after launching the write-on campaign Schultz said enough is enough. Baristas would no longer put “Race Together” on each cup they served. But he says he remains committed to the idea of the campaign.

Schultz has taken some controversial positions in the past. He’s been a strong proponent of the Affordable Care Act. And in 2013 he said the company would no longer welcome customers, aside from law enforcement personnel, who were carrying firearms.

None of his past pronouncements seem to have hurt Starbucks’ business. Sales in the Americas for fiscal 2014 were up 9 percent over the previous year, hitting an all-time high of $11.98 billion. That produced a 19 percent increase in operating income, which totaled $2.81 billion.

So yes, the company serves a lot of customers — and makes a ton of money doing so. No doubt both will continue to be true. And now you won’t have to worry about being put on the spot about race relations when you order your grande.

I wonder how long before Al Sharpton and his megaphone start denouncing Starbucks for backing off this campaign?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Mandatory voting may be Obama’s dumbest idea yet

Just how many illegal, unconstitutional and criminal proposals will Barack Obama inflict on us before his lame-duck presidency is over? Since he’s already vowed not to let Congress stand in his way — and we know he doesn’t care about any of the restraints the Founding Fathers put in the U.S. Constitution — it could be a lot.

And his latest proposal to transform this country is a doozy. In a speech in Cleveland last week, he said that the United States should make voting mandatory. Think of it: If Obama has his way, it will be illegal not to vote in future elections.

If you think we have a bunch of low-information voters going to the polls now, just wait until everyone over the age of 18 is required to cast a ballot. We already know that most people who do vote have no idea who their congressman is. They can’t tell you the names of their two senators. And, of course, they don’t have a clue about the other names and issues they’re asked to decide.

About all they can do is recognize the difference between “Democrat” or “Republican” on a ballot. So most of them cheerfully cast their vote for the former. Barack Obama knows all too well that the less informed someone is, the more likely he is to vote for his fellow Democrats. As someone once observed, if you promise to take money from Peter and give it to Paul, you can always count on the vote of Paul.

And, yes, there are a lot of Pauls in this country. In fact, the latest statistics say there are almost as many people receiving a check from the federal government as there are paying taxes to support the system. Even though the top 10 percent are already paying almost 90 percent of the taxes our spendthrift government collects, it’s no wonder Obama and his allies want them to pay even more. It’s all about “income inequality,” don’t you know.

Of course, Obama wants to get as many of the recipients of federal largesse to the polls as possible. So why not make it a legal requirement that they vote?

The good news is there is absolutely no chance this will happen. No matter how much he may wish it were otherwise, Obama can’t simply proclaim it. There is no way he can mandate such a change, just because he has a phone and a pen. And while the so-called Republican leadership in Congress may be squishy-soft and all too eager to compromise (see their futile attempts to block Obama’s illegal amnesty as just one example of how hapless they are), we can be pretty confident they would never go along with this absurd suggestion.

Plus, there’s a little matter of the Constitution that would stand in the way. And there is no way on Earth Obama could ever get enough states to approve a constitutional amendment to make such a change, no matter how much the demagogues on the left would like to see it happen.

So we’re safe from this one, folks. But don’t let down your guard. You can be certain that Obama will come up more schemes to “transform” this country into a socialist utopia. And he’s got two more years to work on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Israeli voters reject Obama’s meddling

Barack Obama did everything he could to make sure Benjamin Netanyahu was not re-elected as prime minister of Israel. And he failed miserably. In the elections that were just concluded, Netanyahu’s Likud Party won more seats in Israel’s parliament than any other group. So Bibi should be able get enough support from other winners to be re-elected as prime minister.

No doubt, this will make Obama hopping mad. Our president has made no secret of his hostility for the Israeli hardliner. When Netanyahu came to Washington earlier this month to address a joint of session of Congress, Obama refused to meet with him. He tacitly encouraged a bunch of Democrats to boycott the speech. And he said that he himself didn’t bother to watch it.

That’s not a very good way to maintain good relations with our most important ally — and the only real democracy — in the Middle East.

Obama’s efforts to damage Netanyahu weren’t limited to a cold shoulder during the prime minister’s visit and some not-so-secret efforts to keep it from even taking place. Several Obama operatives actually went to Israel, to help campaign for Netanyahu’s opponents. Thanks to them, Israel TV was filled with the same sort of negative advertising that has become all too familiar in this country.

Exit polls in Israel confirmed that a lot of people voted against Netanyahu because they didn’t want to oppose the president of the United States. While the down-and-dirty campaign against Netanyahu wasn’t enough to defeat him, it came close.

Among the people who must be quietly relieved at the results of the Israeli elections are the 47 Republican senators who wrote that open letter to the leaders of Iran. They had been vigorously denounced for daring to point out that unless the nuclear agreement the administration is negotiating with Iran is approved by the U.S. Senate, it could be voided the day after Obama leaves office.

A whole bunch of folks went absolutely ballistic over the senators’ action. The New York Daily News called them all “TRAITORS!” in giant type on the front page. Obama accused them of allying with hardliners in Iran. And he made it clear that he would not permit any agreement that is reached to be subject to Senate approval.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat there, has drafted a bill that would require a Senate review of any agreement with Iran. Obama has said he will veto any such legislation. It’s too soon to know if there will be enough votes in the Senate to override an Obama veto. But it could happen.

The negotiations with Iran were, of course, the main topic of Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress. He said that rather than preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the agreement will pave the way for that dreaded outcome.

Netanyahu’s “great victory” in Tuesday’s elections means he will remain a powerful figure on the world stage. That’s bad news for Obama, who hoped for (and worked for) his defeat.

Considering how nasty things already are in the quagmire that is the Middle East, it’s hard to believe they could get even worse. But they can. We’re about to find out if they will.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Is the left out to get Hillary Clinton?

It’s been a week since Hillary Clinton took to the podium at the United Nations and tried to put an end to any questions about how she handled her emails, both personal and professional, while she was secretary of state. In that time, the media scrutiny has just gotten more intense — and more unfavorable.

But here’s the thing that must be driving the Clinton team crazy: Some of the most hostile coverage is coming from the liberal wing of the media. The very folks who the Clintonistas were counting on to protect and defend her have turned into some of her most skeptical questioners.

Of course, the coverage from Fox News has been suspicious and unflattering. Ditto the conservative talk-show circuit and right-wing blogosphere. We’d expect nothing less from those quarters.

But that’s not the coverage that’s got her team worried. Remember, it was The New York Times that first broke the story about her private emails and secret server. Some of the most provocative and unflattering coverage has come from the likes of MSNBC and Huffington Post, as well as Time magazine and The Washington Post.

What on Earth is going on here?

What we’re seeing are not just a few bumps on the road to what was supposed to be Clinton’s smooth and certain coronation as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. No, what’s happening is an avalanche of hostility that could derail her nomination. After all, when the mainstream media starts comparing the way Clinton handled her emails to Richard Nixon and the Watergate tapes, you know the lady has some serious credibility problems.

Yes, I know. Schadenfreude isn’t the noblest of emotions. We aren’t supposed to enjoy the misfortunes of others. But it’s hard not to sit back and smile when you see a devious schemer like Clinton trying to squirm her way out of a controversy that she herself has caused.

Of course, the far left wing of her party has never been happy with Clinton. They don’t like her ties to Wall Street, her lack of fervor for their favorite causes, the small fortune she’s collected for her writings and speeches, or the large one that her foundation has collected from repressive foreign governments.

Could all of this be enough to cost Clinton the nomination? The left-wing zealots in the Democrat Party would love to see Clinton pushed aside and someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the flamboyant demagogue, replace her. But I doubt if that will happen. There are too many pragmatists in the Democratic ranks who know that would lead to a disastrous defeat.

So it looks like we’ll have Clinton in the media spotlight for another year, as she claws and scratches and obfuscates her way to the Democratic National Convention. Frankly, I’m delighted. Because one thing can be guaranteed: The Clintons are guaranteed to give us plenty to write about.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

What is Hillary trying to hide?

So Hillary Clinton admits that she deleted more than 30,000 emails from her private email account – which also included every single email she sent or received during the four years she served as Secretary of State. And we’re supposed to trust her that absolutely no mistakes were made in separating everything into the two piles?

Sure thing. After more than 20 years of lies, evasions and cover-ups by both Hillary and her ex-president husband, we’ve repeatedly seen how willing they are to twist the truth. They’ve proven they will squeeze through even the tiniest of loopholes to justify – or at least disguise – their very questionable behavior. Just a partial list from Hillary’s past includes Travelgate, the Rose law firm billing records, Vince Foster’s files (and death), her 10,000 percent profit in cattle futures, and so much more that she’s swept under the rug.

Trust Hillary Clinton for full disclosure now? It is to laugh.

Hillary says that the reason she used a private email account, with the server somewhere at her home, was that she just couldn’t be bothered carrying two separate devices. It was a matter of “convenience,” don’t you know.

Yet now she admits to using four devices. She said on national TV two weeks ago that she currently carries an iPad, an iPhone, a BlackBerry and an iPad Mini. Well, an aide probably totes most of the electronic gear for her. But still, that’s quite a difference from when she was flying hither, thither and yon as our Secretary of State and insisted that one private device was all she needed.

Ever since 2005, the State Department has had a policy of discouraging the use of personal accounts for government communications. In fact, in 2011 the State Department issued a memo to all employees advising them to “avoid conducting official Department [business] from your personal email accounts.”

That memo was signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In typical Clinton fashion, the rules applied to everyone else, but not to her.

And it’s not like that policy wasn’t enforced. Former Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration told The Daily Caller on March 6 that he was fired by Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills in 2012 in part because of his “use of private email for public work.”

“I make no apology for ‘rocking the boat’ in the State Department to improve physical security, to enhance cyber policy, and to conduct several other initiatives that the State Department Inspector General misrepresented to build the case that Secretary Clinton’s Chief of Staff used to terminate my tenure as the US Ambassador in 2012,” Gration wrote in the email to TheDC and other outlets.

But of course Hillary shouldn’t be expected to abide by every petty-fogging rule, should she? How many times over the years have we seen this attitude of arrogant entitlement?

Hillary says that about half of the emails on her server were business related and have been turned over to the State Department. The total came to some 55,000 printed pages.

She says that the other half, or some 30,000 emails, were personal. They were about such mundane matters as “planning Chelsea’s wedding, my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines [and] family vacations,” she told a press conference on Tuesday.

And here’s the kicker: Hillary claims that all of those personal emails have been deleted from her system. Why? And who made the determination which were business and which were personal?

It’s absurd to think that Hillary herself reviewed every one of more than 60,000 emails, which would come to more than 100,000 pages of documents. The lady has far more important things to do with her time. So who did it? What sort of security clearance did they have? When did it happen?

And most important of all, why was it done? It would have been easy to retain copies of all that correspondence. Wouldn’t have cost anything, either. It would have been smart, too, just in case questions arose later, as they have now. Unless there was something damaging or embarrassing on them.

Instead, somebody – or more likely, a whole bunch of somebodies – spent an enormous amount of time to print off copies of half of her emails and delete the rest.

Something stinks here. What is Hillary Clinton trying to hide?

We may never know. Although several people have suggested that she allow an independent third party to review her server, she says that’s not going to happen. It’s all a matter of privacy, don’t you know.

How much damage will this latest scandal cause? Those who idolize Hillary Clinton will no doubt continue to do so. And those who don’t trust her – count your loyal scribe among them – will remain convinced she is one of the most venal and ambitious politicians this country has ever produced.

But what about the folks in the middle? How much will they care about this strange and suspicious story? If all of this had happened to a Republican, the media would be in a feeding frenzy. Can they ignore the blood in the water now?

We’re about to find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

Lies about Ferguson are exposed

The Justice Department has finally confirmed what many of us were certain was the case: Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson told the truth about what happened when he said he shot Michael Brown in self-defense.

In other words, all of the rioting, demonstrations and racist pronouncements that followed were based on lies.

After a six-month investigation, the DOJ concluded that Brown, allegedly a thug and a thief, was not trying to peacefully surrender when the incident occurred. He did not hold his hands up and say, “Don’t shoot.” And he was not shot in the back, as some alleged.

The operative word in the Justice Department’s conclusions was “credible.” It comes up again and again in the DOJ report:

  • “There is no credible evidence to refute Wilson’s… belief that he was acting in self-defense.”
  • “In analyzing all of the evidence, federal prosecutors found Wilson’s account to be credible.”
  • “There are no witnesses who could testify credibly that Wilson shot Brown while Brown was clearly attempting to surrender.”
  • “Multiple credible witnesses corroborate virtually every material aspect of Wilson’s account and are consistent with physical evidence.”

In other words, a bunch of witnesses lied under oath about what happened, in an effort to get Wilson indicted for murder. Their lies were repeated over and over again by the media. They were used to justify weeks of rioting that followed the shooting.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was just one of the officials guilty of a dishonest rush to judgment. When he promised to do everything possible “to achieve justice for this family,” the governor wasn’t talking about Brown and his family. On the contrary, he said that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued” against the police officer. The Washington Post reported that “after canvassing more than 300 homes and reviewing physical, ballistic, forensic, medical and crime-scene evidence,” as well as examining “Wilson’s personnel records, audio and video recordings,” the Justice Department concluded that Wilson told the truth about what happened.

As the Justice Department report put it, “There are no witnesses who could testify credibly that Wilson shot Brown while Brown was clearly attempting to surrender.” And the report continues, “The evidence does not establish that it was unreasonable for Wilson to perceive Brown as a threat while Brown was punching and grabbing him in the SUV and attempting to take his gun.”

So now it’s part of the official record: Wilson told the truth. While it may help salvage his reputation, it comes too late to save his career. And don’t expect the witnesses who lied to be prosecuted for perjury. Or for the racist agitators and public officials who got it so wrong to apologize for their incendiary remarks.

On the contrary. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that deep-seated racism in the Ferguson police department was to blame for what happened. Here’s his mealymouthed explanation of events:

[A]mid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment [of police], stoked by years of bad feelings and spurred by illegal and misguided practices, it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.

Isn’t that disgusting? Our nation’s top law enforcement officer actually says it is perfectly understandable that some people would lie under oath and try to get an innocent policeman indicted for murder because of a history of racism in their city.

The Justice Department says that proof of the racism in Ferguson is the fact that blacks comprise 67 percent of the population there, but account for 93 percent of arrests. But there is nothing unusual or unfair about this. According to FBI crime statistics, while blacks comprise 13 percent of the population in this country, they account for one-third to one-half of all violent crimes.

In his syndicated column, Pat Buchanan got it right when he said, “The real story of Ferguson is the entrenched bigotry that propelled a mob-like rush to judgment by journalists and race hustlers that ruined the life of an honest cop who did his duty and told the truth.”

That’s the truth. But don’t expect the Obama administration or their lapdogs in the mainstream media, to admit it. Wilson may have been vindicated. But every police officer in the country — black, white or Latino — will continue to be smeared by racist agitators and a hostile media.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Netanyahu’s blockbuster speech to Congress

No wonder Barack Obama and his team of sycophants didn’t want Israel’s prime minister to address a joint session of Congress. They were afraid that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s powerful, passionate presentation would make Obama’s own stumbling, apologetic efforts look pathetic by comparison.

If that was their concern, boy, were they right. On Tuesday, Netanyahu delivered what has been described as “a speech for the ages.” It left a lot of viewers, including this one, wishing that our own president were half as eloquent about defending our country and promoting our interests.

The Israeli leader made it unmistakably clear exactly what is at stake in the current negotiations with Iran. “The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons,” he declared. “To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war.”

When he added, “We can’t let that happen,” the audience lept to his feet and gave him another of more than two dozen standing ovations.

Netanyahu pointed out that both ISIS and Iran are the enemies of freedom. “Don’t be fooled,” he warned. “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.”

Have we ever heard such unmistakable moral clarity from our own president? Of course not. All we get from Obama are apologies for our past behavior, combined with a mushy-headed defense of Islam and Muslims.

Netanyahu sees things differently. “When it comes to Iran and ISIS,” he proclaimed, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” That will surely be one of the most quoted phrases from the Israeli leader’s remarks. And it deserves to be.

From the time John Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced he had invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, the Obama administration made it clear it wanted nothing to do with the prime minister’s visit. No one from the administration attended the speech. Some 48 representatives and at least eight senators boycotted it. Several of them issued some petty and divisive critiques afterward.

Obama said he didn’t bother to watch the speech, but when he looked at a transcript, he didn’t see anything new in it. Such a childish dismissal did nothing to enhance his image as a leader; instead, it merely made him look churlish.

It didn’t have to be this way. Obama would have demonstrated some magnanimous leadership if he had welcomed Netanyahu to Washington and agreed to meet with him. But his spokesman said the visit was too close to elections in Israel later this month. What a bunch of baloney!

And what a contrast with Netanyahu, who began his speech with effusive thanks to Obama, as well as to Congress and the American people, for their past support of Israel. It was another lesson in how a real leader should conduct himself.

Let’s face it. Iran is the chief supporter of terrorism in the region and around the world. It has repeatedly said it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It has proven over and over again that it will break any promise and violate any treaty whenever it wishes.

No wonder the Israeli leader said, “If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.”

After urging his audience to insist that what he called “a very, very bad deal” be changed, Netanyahu concluded with a solemn and sober warning:

I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. … For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

As I said at the beginning of this column, Netanyahu delivered a passionate and powerful speech to Congress. It had a fervor and moral clarity we have never heard from our president — with the possible exception of his attacks on the rich.

No wonder that Netanyahu has more respect among the American people than our own president. He deserves it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Clinton Foundation’s dirty donors

So now we know that a lot of foreign governments – many of them with very shaky records on human rights — have given a ton of money to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s foundation. Is anyone surprised? More to the point, is anyone really bothered by it?

At least one top-ranking Republican is. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, says that “The latest revelations about the Clinton Foundation’s shady deals are disqualifying.” And by “disqualifying,” he means they should be enough to keep Hillary from getting her party’s nomination to be the next President of the United States.

Fat chance that will happen. Nevertheless, a bunch of questions are being asked about the millions of dollars that countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and U.A.E. poured into the Clinton Foundation, much of it while Hillary served as Secretary of State.

The RNC chairman declared, “No one in their right mind, Democrat or Republican, can think the foundation receiving foreign government donations while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, and in violation of its ethics agreement with the Obama Administration, is acceptable.” And he added, “This is symptomatic of the Clintons’ obsession with raising cash at all costs.”

The foundation was created in 2001 when Bill Clinton left office. Originally called the William J. Clinton Foundation, it changed its name to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation when Hillary resigned as Secretary of State. Since its formation, the foundation has raised a staggering $1.6 billion, with much of the money coming from foundations, corporations and foreign governments.

It’s illegal for a foreign government to contribute money to an American politician. But it’s perfectly okay to do so through a foundation.

That probably explains why the government of Algeria gave the foundation $500,000 in 2010, ostensibly to assist with hurricane relief in Haiti. The contribution was made while Algeria was spending heavily to lobby the State Department. The Foundation says it was a mistake it did not seek approval from the State Department’s ethics office to accept the donation, as it should have. But it insists that all of the money was spent in Haiti, just as the donor wished.

I have no doubt the claim is true. After all, half-a-million bucks was drop in the bucket for the foundation. But the question is, why give the money to the Clinton Foundation at all? Why not just send it to the afflicted country?

The answer, of course, is that the Algerians wanted their generosity recognized and remembered by the Clintons. And I’m sure it was.

In a lengthy report on the issue, The Washington Post said, “The foundation presents a unique political challenge for Clinton, and one that has already become a cause of concern among Democrats as she prepared to launch an almost-certain second bid for the presidency.”

In a marvel of understatement, the paper added, “Rarely, if ever, has a potential commander chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.”

The paper noted, “Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders.” And then it added this ominous note: “But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.”

Indeed it has. But the millions that have already flowed into Bill and Hillary’s favorite charity will be a drop in the bucket, compared to what will happen if she is elected as our next president.

Yes, there is no question that the Clintons have raised “doing well by doing good” into an art form. And no doubt they expect it to just get better in the future.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

More lies about immigration

So now the Justice Department is claiming that our national security will be “irreparably harmed” if a federal judge does not lift his injunction blocking Barack Obama’s illegal amnesty program. What a crock! The administration’s arguments here are as false as the ones being spouted in Congress over funding the Department of Homeland Security.

I’ll get into that second one in a moment. But for now, let’s concentrate on the hysterical reaction to the injunction U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued last week, blocking implementation of Obama’s executive amnesty order. Hanen was responding to a lawsuit filed by 26 states contending that Obama’s executive order allowing an estimated 4 million illegal aliens to remain in this country and receive work permits was unconstitutional. It’s hard to disagree with the judge’s decision, since the president himself admitted on at least 22 previous occasions that he lacked the authority to change the law unilaterally.

In its motion, the Justice Department said: “A stay pending appeal is necessary to ensure that the [Department of Homeland Security] is able to most effectively protect national security, public safety, and the integrity of the border.”

Yeah, right. As though DHS has been doing such a good job protecting “the integrity of the border.”

The DOJ then piles it on even deeper: “Absent a stay, DHS will sustain irreparable harm,” it contends, “harm that would not be cured, even if Defendants ultimately prevail on that appeal.”

I doubt very much if Hanen will agree to stay his own injunction. So the next step will be for the Administration to go to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. No matter what that court decides, the issue is virtually certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court. So don’t look for any quick settlement here.

Meanwhile, time is running out for Congress to reach some sort of compromise on funding the Department of Homeland Security for the coming year. You’ll remember that when Congress passed a continuing resolution in November to fund the federal government for the coming year, it funded DHS only through Feb. 27.

Now the deadline is quickly coming for that game of kick the can. The House has already passed a bill to fund DHS for the rest of the year. But the measure specifically excludes any funds to implement President Obama’s amnesty program.

Thus far, Democrats in the Senate have refused on four separate occasions to permit a vote on the measure. That may not even matter, since the president has said he would veto any appropriation that tries to defund his amnesty program.

What kind of catastrophe will the country face if a spending bill isn’t approved by Friday? Despite the hysteria being reported by the mainstream media, the answer is… absolutely none.

The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of DHS’s 226,000 employees are considered “essential personnel.” Some 85 percent of them are required by law to remain on their jobs, even if Congress has not agreed to fund them.

Yes, the Secret Service will still protect the president and his family. Agents from Customs and Border Protection will remain on the job. And Transportation Security Administration officials will continue to frisk elderly grandmothers and seize water bottles at our nation’s airports.

Oh, and don’t worry about the current immigration program, such as it is, coming to halt because of this impasse. Most of the costs of the Citizenship and Immigration Service are paid for by fees collected from applicants, not by the DHS budget.

So all that talk about our country being “irreparably harmed” is just a bunch of baloney. Still, it may be all the excuse some Republicans need to surrender (again!) on the issue… just as they have in the past.

In other words, despite all the hype and hoopla, it’s business as usual in Washington, D.C.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Of course Obama doesn’t love America

Wow, Rudolph Giuliani sure stirred up a hornet’s nest by his remarks last week questioning Barack Obama’s love of this country. In case you missed it, the former New York City mayor, who has long been known for his outspoken bluntness, set off an uproar when he had this to say last Wednesday:

I do not believe — and I know this is a terrible thing to say — but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.

Giuliani made his remarks at a fundraiser in New York for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, he denied accusations that his remarks were racist:

Some people thought it was racist. I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people. This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.

While you’re never get a Republican leader to admit it, the truth is that of course Obama doesn’t possess the traditional love of country you and I have always taken for granted. If he did, he would never have said that his goal was to “transform” this country.

If you love this country, you want to preserve what is best about it. You want it to continue to be an inspiration to others. You do not belittle it, apologize for it or try to tear it down. You want it to remain, as Ronald Reagan said so eloquently, a shining city on a hill. And you’re proud that it is.

None of that describes the words or deeds of our current president — or his wife, for that matter. Remember, it was Michelle Obama who said she had never been proud of her country until her husband was elected president.

Yes, Giuliani certainly delivered a “king isn’t wearing any clothes” moment. The liberal media went absolutely ballistic at the thought that a prominent Republican would dare to question the president’s patriotism. In no time at all, every Republican leader in the country had a microphone stuck in his face, with a reporter on the other end demanding his reaction to Giuliani’s impolitic remarks.

They were topic No. 1 on the Sunday morning talk shows, with virtually every guest disparaging what Giuliani had to say. On “Fox News Sunday,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said, “I just don’t think it’s helpful in the public debate to question motives or question patriotism.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Lindsay Graham managed to include some criticism of Obama in his disclaimer. “I have no doubt he loves this country. I have no doubt that he’s a patriot,” the South Carolina Republican said. Then he added, “But his primary job as the president of the United States is to defend this country, and he’s failing miserably.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” former New York Gov. George Pataki took the same tack. “I don’t doubt that the president loves America,” he said. “But I do doubt that we’re focusing on solving the problems in Washington that we need to.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential 2016 presidential contender, pointed out the liberal double-standard at work here. “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim,” he said. “Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the President loves America; I think his ideas are bad.”

And on and on it went. But Giuliani himself says he wasn’t backing down a bit from his remarks — even though had received some death threats because of them. “I don’t regret making the statement,” he told CNN. “I believe it. I don’t know if he loves America. I don’t feel the same enthusiasm from him for America.”

In an op-ed piece in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, titled “My Bluntness Overshadowed My Message,” Giuliani wrote, “I hope the intention behind [my] words can be the basis for a real conversation about national leadership and the importance of confidence and optimism in framing America’s way forward.”

Nice try, Mr. Mayor. But it will never happen, so long as the liberal elite who dominate the media get to determine what we’re allowed to debate and what we’re not.

Questioning Obama’s love of country clearly falls into the “not allowed to be discussed here” category. So it will continue to be the job of the alternative media, such as Personal Liberty Digest™, to expose the truth.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Feds want to control the Internet

Remember when Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was the speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, said we had to pass Obamacare to find out what’s in it?

Well, the same thing is happening today with the Internet. The Obama Administration has produced a 322-page document proposing new controls over the Internet. They’re doing in the name of “net neutrality.” And so far, the public has not been allowed to see a single page of the plan.

But you can be sure that any Fed proposal that is 322 pages long won’t promote more freedom.

The plan is for the Federal Communications Commission to approve a proposal that will in effect turn the Internet into a regulated monopoly. And you know who will be doing the regulating! The FCC vote is to take place a week from today.

Ajit Pai, one of two Republican members of the commission, issued a statement warning of the consequences of the new rules. He said, “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”

One consequence of the new regulations, Pai says, could be massive new taxes on Internet use: “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”

Hey, what else would you expect from another federal power-grab?

But more taxes won’t be the only consequence of the new regulations. Pai warns that another will be fewer choices for consumers: “The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulation that will push them out of the market. As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get.”

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, offers a completely different spin on what’s about to happen. Like all bureaucrats, he says the new regulations will be good for consumers: “I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”

Barack Obama claims that his Administration’s campaign for so-called “net neutrality” is all about making the Internet operate more smoothly for consumers. “You know what it feels like when you don’t have a good Internet connection,” he explained last month. “You try to download a video and you’ve got that little circle thing that goes round and round. It’s really aggravating.”

Yeah, sure. It’s the same old “we’re doing this for your own good” argument that bureaucrats have always used to defend their assaults on the marketplace.

The Obama Administration knows that there isn’t one chance in a million that a Republican-controlled Congress would give a Democrat-controlled federal agency like the FCC this sort of authority. So instead of getting new legislation passed, the FCC wants to use an 80-year-old act of Congress to justify its actions. Basically, what the FCC will do is declare that the 1934 Communications Act gives it all the authority it needs to regulate the Internet today.

This will be the third time during the Obama Administration that the FCC has tried to expand its control over the Internet. Both previous efforts were ruled unconstitutional by federal courts. The latest decision came on Jan. 14, 2014, from the federal appeals court in Washington.

Pai says, “There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.”

The more tyrannical a government is, the more it needs to control the information its citizens receive. Right now, there is nothing the Obama Administration can do to limit what you read (or share) on the Internet. Thank goodness.

But it won’t take much for that to change. And this FCC power-grab could mark the first step down that very slippery slope. Let’s hope Congress or the courts slap down the regulators again.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Congress should reject Obama’s war request

Let’s see. Barack Obama has been the president of the United States for the past six years. And for every day of those six years, American troops have been fighting, dying and sometimes retreating somewhere in the Middle East.

And yet it’s only now that the president has asked Congress to approve a Joint Resolution for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to give him an aura of congressional authority for what he’s been doing all along. Last Wednesday, Obama sent Congress a draft of the AUMF he’d like the lawmakers to pass.

What a strange document it is! Although the resolution, if it passes Congress, would abolish the authorization for military force that Congress passed in 2002 at the request of President George W. Bush, it would leave intact an authorization for the use of military force that Congress approved in 2001.

What’s more, the president says that earlier AUMF gives him all the authority he needs to conduct military operations now. “Although existing statues provide me with the authority I need to take these actions,” the president said in his cover letter to Congress, “I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest repeated that a new authorization “is not a matter of legal necessity.” Rather, he said, “It is a matter, however, of the president’s desire to send a very clear signal to the people of this country, to our allies, and to our enemies that the United States of America and our political system is united behind the strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL that the president has laid out.”

Pardon me, Mr. Earnest, but what strategy is that? A recent poll confirms that more than two-thirds of the American public doesn’t think Obama has a strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism. Heck, he won’t even utter the phrase.

Unlike the earlier authorizations, which had no time limit, the new one the president has requested would be good for only three years. Of course, you can’t find anyone who thinks that ISIS will be “degraded and destroyed” by then — not by the so-called coalition that exists today or with the limitations Obama has imposed on U.S. actions.

In his cover letter to Congress, Obama said the new AUMF he is requesting “would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.” And he added, “Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed in such operations.”

But that’s not what his AUMF actually says. To quote from the draft he submitted to Congress, “The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

Talk about language that will invite debate, just what the heck is meant by “enduring?” And how difficult would it be to label any military operation as “defensive,” rather than “offensive?” After all, the United States has something called a Department of Defense that has certainly taken a lot of offensive actions since it was created.

As several commentators have pointed out, Obama’s request for a new AUMF has encountered opposition from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Anti-war Democrats and pro-war Republicans have both found things to oppose in it.

The neocon Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says it imposes too many limitations. “I will not agree with anything that curtails the ability of the president of the United States as commander in chief,” McCain declared. “If we want to restrict the president’s military activity, we do it with the power of the purse.” Sure thing, Senator. As you’ve done so successfully over the past six years? (That was sarcasm, folks.)

Liberals, on the other hand, are concerned about the vagueness of the restrictions in the proposed resolution. They want even more limitations placed on the use of our military.

It sure looks like Obama’s AUMF is DOA. Meanwhile, ISIS continues to boast about its barbarism. The latest example is a video it claims shows the beheading of 21 Christians in Libya.

What will it take to get more of its Arab neighbors to agree on the need to destroy ISIS? Apparently, a lot more butchery than we’ve already seen.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood    

Obama trivializes terrorist threats

Kayla Jean Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian who was taken captive in Syria by Islamic terrorists in August 2013, is dead. We don’t know exactly how she died. The Islamic State, which had been holding her for the past 18 months, claims she was killed in a Jordanian air strike. U.S. and Jordanian officials doubt this, but cannot say for certain how she was killed or when or where she died.

kayla021115
David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Kayla is the fourth American to die while in the hands of the Islamic State, but she was their only female captive. Three American men — journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig — were beheaded by the group, which released videos of the atrocities. As if that weren’t bad enough, in their latest execution these Islamic butchers burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot.

President Obama said that Mueller “epitomized all that is good in our world” and vowed to retaliate against those responsible for her death. “No matter how long it takes,” he promised, “the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.”

Tough words. I’d like to think he believes them and will actually do what he says. But the record says otherwise.

At the same time we learned of Mueller’s death, Obama had some very strange things to say during an interview on Monday by the media outlet Vox. First, he referred to the terrorist shooting at a kosher grocery store in France last month as “people randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

No, Mr. President, there was nothing “random” about that assault. The terrorists left written statements that they deliberately set out to murder Jews. They knew that what you described as a “deli” was in fact a kosher store. The murderers could be pretty sure of finding Jews inside.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest faced a barrage of questions about the president’s curious phraseology when he faced reporters the next day. While at first Earnest refused to qualify Obama’s remarks, he later sent out a tweet acknowledging that the attack was aimed at Jews. “Terror attack at Paris Kosher market was motivated by anti-Semitism,” he wrote. “POTUS (the President of the United States) didn’t intend to suggest otherwise.”

But Obama’s “random” comment wasn’t nearly as startling as what came next in that Vox interview. Matthew Yglesias asked: “Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?” The president answered emphatically: “Absolutely.”

Got that? Obama believes climate change is a bigger threat to this country than Islamic terrorism. He said it’s all a matter of ratings on local television. “What’s the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime shows and you show fires, because that’s what people watch, and it’s all about ratings.”

No wonder the administration insisted on calling the mass murders at Fort Hood, Texas, a case of “workplace violence,” when it was obvious that the perpetrator was an Islamic extremist. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and injured 30 others before he was brought down.

But forget about that, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the beheadings of three Americans by ISIS and all of the other murders and rapes committed by Islamic terrorists — most of them against their fellow Muslims.

Even while tens of thousands of people die in the Middle East and hundreds more in Africa, Obama insists that climate change is really the most serious “existential” threat we face.

Is it any wonder that he refuses to even utter the words “Islamic terrorism?” Or says he wants to “lead from behind” in any effort to confront these murderous extremists?

How many more innocent people will die at the hands of Islamic terrorists before they are stopped? We can’t know the answer, but it looks like it will be a bunch. For sure, it won’t happen until we get new leadership in the White House.

Until then, it looks like it will be a gruesome and bloody two years.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama compares Christians to Islamic butchers

Let’s get the chronology straight.

Last Tuesday, the Islamic State released a slickly produced video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a steel cage. To say it was horrifying would be an understatement.

On Wednesday, the United Nations released a report accusing the Islamic State of waging a systemic campaign of terror in the areas it controls, including “mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive” — not to mention the rapes, forced marriages and other assaults on young girls it has captured.

Then on Thursday, President Barack Obama told attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that Islamic butchers aren’t the only ones who have committed terrible atrocities in the name of religion:

And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

What’s more, the president said, such “terrible deeds” didn’t stop several hundred years ago. They continued right up until recent times. Obama declared, “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” Thus did the president of the United States seem to find equivalency between the vicious brutality of the Islamic State and Christianity.

Needless to say, many Christian leaders were appalled not only by the president’s words, but also by the platform where he chose to express them. Remember, this was at a National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that is hosted by the U.S. Congress. Talk about an inappropriate location for some impolitic remarks!

Ben Carson, the doctor and popular commentator who is widely expected to be a candidate for president in 2016, said that for Obama “to try to divert the attention away from the outrage that has been focused on the radical Islamic terrorist in this manner is rather disingenuous.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, posted the following on Facebook:

Today at the National Prayer Breakfast, the President implied that what ISIS is doing is equivalent to what happened over 1000 years ago during the Crusades and the Inquisition. Mr. President–Many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed.

Obama, on the other hand, claims that the perpetrators of terrorism are betraying Islam, not following it. In his speech he said:

From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess… to stand up for Islam, but in fact are betraying it.

He also warned about “a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes” that is spreading across Europe. But such violent clashes aren’t just taking place between Muslim and Christians; the president also cited terrorist episodes in India, where Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have also launched vicious attacks.

Obama concluded his remarks by saying we all must seek humility and strive to live side by side with people of other religious beliefs.

That’s all well and good, Mr. President. But how about first we help stop those murderous SOBs? We don’t have to provide boots on the ground to do it, just help persuade other Arab states to join Jordan in stopping this pestilence.

We’re still waiting to hear what your strategy is to “degrade and destroy” these butchers.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama’s absurd budget proposals

After not even bothering to present a budget proposal to Congress for most of his reign — something the law requires — President Obama decided to go the other way this year. He and his team put together a 2,000-page monstrosity that calls for all sorts of spending increases, along with a ton of new taxes to help pay for them.

The first thing the president wants to do is to get rid of the spending caps, known as sequestration, that have been in effect since 2011. Even though these mandatory limits on government spending were originally proposed by the president himself as part of a budget compromise four years ago, the White House now decries the “mindless austerity” the limits imposed.

The president’s budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins on Oct. 1, calls for $3.99 trillion in total federal spending. At the same time, it projects that federal income for the year will come to $3.53 trillion, leaving a deficit of $474 billion. Granted, this is an improvement over Obama’s first term in office, when he ran up deficits of over a trillion dollars a year.

Obama inherited a deficit of just over $10 trillion. Thanks to his massive deficit spending over the past six years, that number has skyrocketed more than 70 percent and now stands at a staggering $18 trillion. Even with the artificially low interest rates we’ve been enjoying, interest on the national debt is still the third-largest item in the federal budget. When interest rates begin to return to normal — something most economists say is inevitable — you can expect interest payments to soak up a much larger portion of the taxes Uncle Sam collects.

For the coming fiscal year, Obama has proposed a guns and butter budget. His proposals would increase military spending by $38 billion above the limit set by sequestration and raise non-defense spending by $37 billion.

To pay for all this new spending, the president has the same old solution: Tax the rich. His budget calls for increasing taxes on capital gains and dividends for top earners, new taxes on many inheritances and a brand-new proposal to tax the offshore profits of U.S. corporations. It’s been estimated that American companies hold as much as $2 trillion in offshore accounts, from profits they have made in other countries. They would face a 35 percent tax rate if they brought that money back to the U.S. — the highest rate in the industrialized world.

The obvious answer is to grant those companies some kind of tax holiday — a dramatic reduction in the amount they would have to pay in taxes — to bring a bunch of those funds back to this country. Instead, Obama wants to slap a new tax on them now.

All told, the president’s budget proposes tax increases of $1.44 trillion over the next 10 years. Of course, there is virtually no possibility that a Republican-controlled Congress will pass his tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend proposals. Consider them dead on arrival.

One of the president’s previous ideas has already been shot down. Last week, the White House said it was dropping its proposal to tax 529 education savings accounts. Obama raised the idea in his State of the Union address earlier in January, but the out roar of opposition was truly bipartisan. So that idea is dead, at least for now.

So are most of the president’s other recommendations. Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, dismissed Obama’s new budget as “(a) $4 trillion government spending spree propped up by massive new tax hikes.” He added, “This budget blueprint shamelessly panders to the Democratic base and does nothing to put our nation back on a sound fiscal footing.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was equally dismissive, saying the budget “contains no solutions to address the drivers of our debt, and no plan to fix our entire tax code to help foster growth and create jobs.”

As usual, the arguments aren’t about actually reducing government spending, but merely about where and how much to increase it. However it’s resolved, if you’re a hardworking, taxpaying American, you can expect the Feds to reach deeper into your pocket — not to mention those of your children and grandchildren.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama’s war on our energy independence

After three weeks of debate, the Senate finally passed a bill last week to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote was 62-36, which means that nine Democrats joined 53 Senate Republicans in voting “yes” on the measure to complete a pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out minor differences with the version approved in the House of Representatives late last year.

It’s worth noting that during the debate over the measure, the Senate considered 43 different amendments to the bill. This means the Senate debated more amendments in one month on this one bill than it did in all of last year on every bill that came before the Senate. What a difference now that Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is no longer Senate majority leader and can’t bottle up any measure he and President Obama didn’t like!

The president has vowed to veto the measure when it does finally reach his desk. And it doesn’t look like the bill’s supporters have enough votes in the Senate to override that veto. Five other Democrats would have to split with their party’s leadership to do that.

But preventing the Keystone pipeline from being completed is only part of the war that Obama is conducting against energy independence in this country. Even more significant are measures the president has taken that could mean the end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

A week ago, the president announced that he was using his executive authority to designate some 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (otherwise known as ANWR) as “wilderness.” Such a designation would prohibit any exploration for oil and gas in that vast area.

Such a directive flies in the face of a law passed by Congress in 1980. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act agreed to put huge tracts of land in Alaska off-limits to exploration. But the bill also included a clause declaring that there would be “no more wilderness designations” in Alaska unless they were specifically approved by Congress. The president’s latest dictate ignores that long-standing agreement.

But this is far from the only way the Obama Administration is blocking oil and gas exploration in Alaska. Back in 2010, it ordered nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) off-limits to development.

Plus, Obama’s minions are doing everything possible to stymie drilling in areas of Alaska where it has already been approved. Shell Oil has spent an estimated $6 billion on plans to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas areas of Alaska, but federal regulators have thrown up so many roadblocks that the company can’t proceed.

The same thing has happened to ConocoPhillips, which years ago bought a lease to explore in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. So far, the federal regulators in charge have refused to allow the company to drill a single well. And that is certainly unlikely to change while Obama is in office.

When the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was completed, back in the mid-1970s, it carried some 2.2 million barrels of oil a day the 800 miles from the northern slope of Alaska to the Port of Valdez on the southern coast. Now, thanks to decreasing production from existing wells, that number has dropped to half-a-million barrels a day.

Environmental extremists know that the economic viability of the pipeline is at risk here. If they can squeeze production even further, it is possible that the pipeline may be closed.

But here’s the kicker: Under the law that established it, if the TransAlaska Pipeline shuts down, it will have to be dismantled. This would be a devastating blow to the possibility of America becoming energy independent.

Experts say that there is something like 27 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. ANWR is thought to hold another 10 billion barrels. The National Petroleum Reserve probably holds an equal amount.

That is almost 50 billion barrels of oil this country could be producing. Yet thanks to the Obama administration, we are not getting a single drop.

And don’t even get me started on the administration’s war on coal, the most abundant energy resource we have in this country. We should be encouraging efforts to find cleaner ways to use this fuel; instead, Obama has made it clear that he won’t be satisfied until every coal-producing mine in this country has been closed and every coal-burning plant has been shuttered.

What will it take to promote energy independence in this country? A change of heart by the present occupant of the White House seems extremely unlikely. So the only other option is a change of occupant.

Frankly, it can’t happen soon enough.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The controversial invitation to Israel’s prime minister

House Speaker John Boehner sure has stirred up a hornet’s nest with his invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress next month. The deal was arranged without any consultation with the Obama administration, which has angered a bunch of folks here and in Israel.

A White House official has been quoted as saying, “He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”

This not-very-subtle threat follows another leak by a White House insider last year, when an anonymous official described Netanyahu as “chickensh*t.” Everyone knew that such nasty name-calling was a deliberate provocation — a warning shot in the diplomatic maneuverings, if you will. You can imagine how well it went over in the prime minister’s office.

The immediate issue concerns U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The deadline for coming to an agreement has already been delayed twice and currently expires at the end of June.

Many in Congress are ready to impose tough new sanctions against Iran unless it halts any efforts to develop nuclear weapons — and allows outside inspectors to confirm it has done so. Since Iran’s leaders have repeatedly vowed to wipe Israel off the map, it is no surprise that Israel’s leaders consider a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to the country’s very existence.

Obama, on the other hand, wants Congress to cool it while negotiations continue. He has threatened to veto any legislation imposing new sanctions. And the administration doesn’t want the Israeli prime minister talking to our legislators about the issue — especially not before a joint session of Congress.

The latest controversy isn’t surprising. There has been no love lost between Netanyahu and Obama since they were elected as their countries’ leaders. Netanyahu is angry that the American president isn’t harsh enough on Palestinian ambitions and is always pushing Israel to compromise; Obama, on the other hand, believes that the Israeli leader is an irresponsible hard-liner who is an impediment to peace in the Middle East. To say that the two can barely suppress their disdain for one another is putting it mildly.

It’s certainly true that Boehner ignored the diplomatic niceties by issuing the invitation to Netanyahu without bothering to consult with the White House. And it’s true that Netanyahu didn’t follow the usual protocol when he accepted the invitation without any discussion with the administration.

Obama upped the ante by declining to meet with the Israeli prime minister when he visits Washington next month. It wouldn’t be appropriate, the White House said, because of the Israeli national elections that will take place two weeks later.

There has even been criticism of Netanyahu in Israel for accepting Boehner’s invitation. The purported reason is that the Israeli leader is wrong to do anything that would damage relations with the American president. But the fact that being invited to address a joint session of Congress will undoubtedly enhance Netanyahu’s prestige back home — right before he runs for re-election — undoubtedly has something to do with it.

The administration says it is inappropriate for the Israeli leader to insert himself in a political debate in the United States. But it had no problem with David Cameron, the British prime minister, urging Congress not to pass more sanctions. Does anyone detect a little Obama hypocrisy here?

But there is a lot more at stake than a mere political dispute. For Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the country’s survival. We shouldn’t be surprised if the Israelis will take any steps necessary to prevent such an outcome. Given what is at stake, a speech in Washington is a relatively minor consideration — even if it violates some diplomatic niceties.

I, for one, am eager to hear what Netanyahu has to say. I know he’ll benefit from what he’s been told by the Mossad, one of the most effective intelligence organizations in the world.

I also know that he is guided by an unwavering determination to protect his country and its citizens. Frankly, I can only wish that our own president were as devoted to safeguarding our lives and liberties.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Of course the left hates ‘American Sniper’

Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper” earned the actor an Oscar nod.

Finally, Hollywood has made a movie about a modern American hero — a U.S. soldier, no less, who was proud of doing everything he could to protect his fellow servicemen during four tours of duty in Iraq. The public has responded by setting all sorts of attendance records during the film’s first month of release.

I’m talking, of course, about “American Sniper,” the true-to-life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the legendary sniper who had 160 confirmed kills in Iraq — and said he would be proud to “answer to God” for every one of them. His only regret, he said when he got home, was that he wasn’t able to save the lives of more American troops.

Kyle is portrayed in the movie by Bradley Cooper, who received his fourth Oscar nomination for his utterly convincing performance. The movie has been nominated for five other Academy Awards, including best picture.

Conspicuous by its absence, however, was a nomination for Clint Eastwood, the movie’s director. I can’t think of the last time a picture received a best picture and best actor nomination without the director being similarly honored. It seems the liberals who dominate Hollywood haven’t forgiven Eastwood for his “empty chair” mockery of Barack Obama at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

While Eastwood won’t get another Academy Award to put on his shelf, he can console himself with the knowledge that “American Sniper” will be the highest-grossing movie he ever made. It set a record for January when it opened with $107 million in ticket sales during the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Sales haven’t declined very much from there. The next weekend they came to $64.4 million, bringing the two-week total to more than $200 million. My wife and I saw the movie at our local multiplex that Saturday. The theater was absolutely packed. And there was a reverent silence in the audience during most of it — especially at the end (SPOILER ALERT) when actual footage of Kyle’s funeral procession from Arlington, Texas, to Austin, Texas, was included. The sight of so many thousands of people lining the streets, with signs and flags hanging from every overpass, was incredibly moving.

The movie has caught a lot of flak from the left, especially for seeming to endorse Kyle’s description of the enemy he faced in Iraq as savages. He never backed down an inch from that description. In his best-selling book, “American Sniper,” on which the movie was based, he wrote:

Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy “savages.” There was no other way to describe what we encountered there.

Two scenes in the movie confirmed the appropriateness of the word. (SPOILER ALERT) In the first, a jihadist leader tortures a young boy by drilling into his knee, in order to force a confession from the lad’s father. In a second, a mother smuggles a grenade to a boy, who couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8, so he could blow up American troops — and himself.

Faced with an enemy who would stoop this low, “savage, despicable evil” seems to fit.

Of course, this sort of normal, patriotic reaction drives the left crazy. Mark Davis, a radio talk-show host in Dallas, explains why the left can’t stand such a portrayal:

The prospect of a selfless American hero willing to risk his life to fight the evils of global jihad offends leftism at every level. It speaks to a strong America, which they despise. It celebrates wartime sacrifice, which does not move them. And it highlights the evils of our Islamic enemies, which sends them over the cliff into an abyss of hostile loathing they cannot help but share.

I have to say I’m delighted when leftwing blowhards like Bill Maher and Michael Moore indulge in their childish rants against things like “American Sniper.” The natural reaction for most Americans is to want to have nothing to do with these jerks and their biases.

Honoring our warriors doesn’t mean that we glorify war. Far from it. But we should be glad there are men (and women) like Kyle and his colleagues, who are willing to risk their lives to protect and defend their country and their fellow servicemen.

The outpouring of support for this movie confirms there are many, many people who agree.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood