Stopping the spread of Ebola

Now it’s official. A health-care worker in Dallas, Texas who helped treat Thomas Duncan, the native of Liberia who died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital last week, apparently caught the virus from Duncan.

The worker, identified as Nina Pham, had been monitoring herself. On Friday, she reported that she had developed a low-grade fever. The next day, officials confirmed that it was Ebola. The worker is now in quarantine. And about 50 people with whom she had been in contact are being closely monitored.

Officials in the state are trying to reassure the public. David Lakey, the Texas Health Department Commissioner, issued a prepared statement saying, “We knew a second case could be a reality and we’ve been preparing for this possibility. We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

With all of the protective measures that had been taken in the Duncan case, how did Pham contract the disease? At this point, no one knows. All that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can say with certainty is that “a breach in protocol” must have occurred.

What might that be? Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, said “one of the areas that we look at closely are things (sic) like, how you take off the gear that might be affected or contaminated.” Frieden also said, “Unfortunately, it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola. This is because the health-care workers who cared for this individual may have had a breach of the same nature of the individual who appears now to have a preliminary positive test.”

Not very reassuring, is it?

Meanwhile, a man flying from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic told a fellow passenger that he had recently been in West Africa and that “I have Ebola.” That is about as stupid as telling a TSA screener at the airport that you’re carrying a bomb.

When the plane landed in Punta Cana, a team of men in blue hazmat suits boarded the plane and removed the passenger. Everyone else had to remain on board for a couple of hours. It was later confirmed that the passenger had never been to Africa and did not have Ebola. But what an idiot! Here’s hoping he’ll get to spend a few days behind bars so he can reflect on just how dumb he was.

Speaking of air travel, the CDC has announced that new procedures are being put in place to check in-coming airline passengers for the disease. Starting last Saturday, passengers arriving at New York’s Kennedy Airport from Ebola-affected countries will get additional screening. They’ll be asked a series of health-related questions, have their temperature checked, and be examined for signs of illness. The CDC says “if there’s any concern about their health, they’ll be referred to the local public health authority for further evaluation or monitoring.”

This week, those same measures will be adopted at four additional airports – Dulles International outside Washington, D.C.; Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey; O’Hare International in Chicago; and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. According to the CDC, these five airports account for almost 95 percent of travelers who arrive in the United States from West Africa.

The only problem with this is that the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days so it’s possible to have the disease, but not show any symptoms for almost three weeks after exposure. The experts say the disease can’t be transmitted to someone else during this incubation period; it is only when symptoms such as a fever become obvious that the infection can spread.

But why take a chance? Why not just ban commercial flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from landing in the United States? I’ll bet if the airlines were allowed to make this decision, instead of the various governments, that would already have happened. Don’t you agree?

Will Ebola become another entry in the long list of reasons the U.S. government has given us not to trust it? You can count on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

The Democrats’ anti-Obama campaign

Natalie Tennant, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia, is running against Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican. But her television ad sounds as though her opponent is Barack Obama.

As the TV screen shows a brightly lit White House, in a voice-over she asks, “Where do they think their electricity comes from?” Then a hand appears to pull down a switch on a high-voltage power box. As the White House goes dark, candidate Tennant declares, “I’ll make sure President Obama gets the message!”

Take that, Obama!

This may be the most extreme example of the length Democratic candidates are going this year to distance themselves from the president. But all over the country, Democratic candidates are telling Obama, “Thanks, but no thanks,” when it comes to campaigning for them.

While many Democrats are trying to distance themselves as much as possible from the president’s policies, Obama isn’t helping that strategy. In a speech a week ago, he said “I am not on the ballot this fall,” but he made it clear that his policies are. “But make no mistake,” he declared, “these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Oops! You can imagine the shudder that went through a bunch of Democratic campaign offices when they heard this. When David Axelrod, a top Democratic strategist, appeared on “Meet the Press” the following Sunday, he admitted that the comment was a mistake.

Yes, it was a big one. And Republicans were quick to jump on it. Very quickly, Obama’s gaffe was being quoted in television ads in the most hotly contested states. Naturally, Republicans are doing their best to identify their opponents with the president’s most unpopular issues, such as the Affordable Care Act and his pro-amnesty immigration plan.

Of seven Senate seats rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, Obama lost four of them (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina) in 2012. He also lost in three states Democrats currently hold, but where Republicans are expected to win the Senate contest next month (Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia).

In all seven states, Obama’s approval numbers are at near-record lows. No wonder Republicans are delighted to be running against him — and Democrats are eager to distance themselves as much as possible from their president.

If the Republicans win all seven of the seats that are currently held by Democrats, but are in states where Obama lost two years ago, they’ll gain one more seat than they need to win a majority in the Senate.

So what are the Democrats doing about it? Willie Brown, the black former mayor of San Francisco, says that the President should forget about appealing to white voters and simply appeal to blacks. “I’d have Obama on an evangelistic schedule of black churches all over the country,” he advises. “I think he really should go to the black base. I don’t think there’s any other place I would trust he wouldn’t create an adverse reaction rather than a positive reaction.”

In three critical contests Republican ads portray the Democratic incumbent as “the deciding vote” for Obamacare. No wonder all three candidates — Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina — are putting as much distance as they can between themselves and their president.

Will their strategy work? We’ll find out in three weeks.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Would Obama really dare to do this?

Just how far will Barack Obama go to keep his far-left agenda in place? There are some interesting rumors floating around the blogosphere, including one that he will use a rapidly expanding Ebola crisis to clamp severe restrictions on us such as limiting our right to travel.

Last week, Ben Carson, the normally mild-spoken neurosurgeon who is being touted as a possible candidate for president in 2016, said that the various crises besetting this country could get so bad that they could be used as an excuse to delay or cancel the elections two years from now.

During an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Carson said: “I hope that is not going to be the case. But certainly there is the potential.” When asked if he really believed that, Carson said he did. He explained,

[B]ecause you have to recognize we have a rapidly increasing national debt, a very unstable financial foundation, and you have all of these things going on, like the ISIS crisis, that could very rapidly change things that are going on in our nation. And unless we begin to deal with these things in a comprehensive way and a logical way, there’s no telling what could happen in just a matter of a couple of years.

While all of those crises are certainly very real, I don’t think there’s one chance in a zillion that Obama would dare to use them as an excuse to delay or cancel the elections. I think Dick Morris and Eileen McGann present a far more likely scenario in their new book, “Power Grab.” The subtitle states their fundamental premise: “Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation.”

The authors explain:

Obama is a left-wing President who is desperately determined to impose his radical agenda to transform our democratic government and free market economy into his socialist-style ideal before leaving office in 2016. He’s a President who is obsessively fixated on keeping the left in permanent power by turning our two-party system into a one-party monopoly.

The authors warn that the key elements to this plan include the following:

  • “Immigration reform” that will tip the balance of power in key states in favor of the Democrats, thus ensuring that they always retain control of the White House;
  • Making Obamacare the biggest power grab of all time, giving them control of one-sixth of the U.S. economy and creating a permanent dependency class;
  • Expanding food stamps and other welfare measures, keeping millions of people on the federal dole and ensuring that they will always vote for the Democrats;
  • Fostering more government red tape and regulations, especially in the name of combating climate change, to increase control over private business and intimidate business owners.

Morris said everything Obama is doing must be seen through the lens of turning American into a one-party state. That’s why he wants open borders and stronger labor unions. It’s why he opposes photo IDs for voting. It’s why he wanted the U.S. Senate to make sure filibusters couldn’t block his judicial nominations. And it’s even why he is working to prevent energy independence in this country.

In “Power Grab,” Morris and McGann warn that this country is now at a crossroads: We can either keep the constitutional system of limited government that was established by our Founding Fathers, or we can allow Obama and his left-wing allies to turn America into a nation run by one party with a far-left agenda.

We still have the power to stop them. But do we have the will? Like it or not, we’re going to find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Obama ever man up to anything?

When he was president, Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.”

That’s certainly not the case with the person who now occupies the Oval Office. Barack Obama is eager to take credit when anything goes right in this country, even if he has to stretch the truth to the breaking point to do so.

But when things go wrong, as they have in spades since he was elected, no one has been quicker than our evader in chief to put the blame somewhere else. The latest example of this occurred Sunday night during his interview with Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.”

Kroft, who is normally one of the friendliest questioners the president could face, asked how the Muslim extremists who call themselves the Islamic State became so powerful so quickly. “How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory?” Kroft asked the president. “Was that a complete surprise to you?”

The president’s reply made it clear that he wasn’t the one who got it wrong: “Well, I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

Needless to say, members of the intelligence community are furious at Obama for throwing them under the bus. One former senior Pentagon official has been quoted as saying, “Either the President doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.”

It turns out both parts of that statement are true. Of course Obama is giving us the mushroom treatment (“keep ’em in the dark and cover them with manure”). He’s been a master of this sort of obfuscation all of his life.

But now we find out that he also skips the vast majority of his intelligence briefings. According to the Government Accountability Institute, which tracks such things, the President attended only 42.43 percent of his intelligence briefings during his first term.

Now that even more crises have erupted around the world, from Putin’s Russia to Ebola in Africa and events in the Middle East, guess what? Obama is even more absent when his intelligence team wants to tell him what’s going on. The GAI report says that since his re-election, his attendance record at intelligence briefings has dropped to 41.26 percent.

It’s hard to stay on top of things when you’re in a hurry to get on the golf course … or racing off to another Democratic fundraiser.

Even the mainstream media, which have been slavish in their devotion to Obama, have refused to go along with this latest presidential prevarication. Richard Engel, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC, said on the air:

It’s surprising that the president said that U.S. intelligence missed this one…. Everyone knew that Islamic extremists were on the rise in Syria and in Iraq. It was well-documented. The extremists were publicizing their activities online; they were bragging about it. Journalists, including us, were interviewing foreign fighters. This was no state secret.

Engel wasn’t alone. Many other reporters and publications, including The New York Times, refused to let Obama get away with this one.

There is nothing new, of course, about Obama’s pointing his finger at others, rather than taking responsibility himself. That’s what he did when it became obvious to everyone that the government’s website for Obamacare was an absolute disaster; or when Muslim extremists murdered four Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya; or when it was confirmed that the IRS was harassing and intimidating conservative organizations; or …

But you get the point.

Let’s face it. On issue after issue, Obama isn’t even trying to “lead from behind,” as his most fervent supporters used to claim. The only “leadership” he’s demonstrated here is how to blame others for your own mistakes.

That’s not what we expect of our President, nor is it what the world needs.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Good riddance to Eric Holder

So why did Eric Holder choose to submit his resignation as attorney general of the United States now?

Is it just a coincidence that two days earlier a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department had to turn over to Congress documents that House Republicans have been seeking for more than two years about Operation Fast and Furious?

You remember that botched arms deal that the Justice Department authorized, don’t you? It’s how a Mexican drug cartel got the weapons it used to murder a bunch of its opponents, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

When the Justice Department stonewalled a congressional investigation into the controversy, the House of Representatives voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt. It’s the first time that an attorney general of the United States has ever been held in contempt by Congress.

But Holder’s malfeasance in office didn’t stop there. He politicized the Justice Department more than any other attorney general in history. He was eager to attack opponents of the Obama administration, while refusing to investigate such federal abuses of power as the IRS’s targeting of conservative organizations.

Holder refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. And he even said it was OK for state attorneys general to refuse to prosecute under laws they didn’t like.

Holder also personally approved a search warrant of the private emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen was accused of doing what most people would agree was a reporter’s job: digging out information from a source. But his source was a former intelligence analyst who was accused of leaking classified information.

Holder’s Justice Department released a classic, cover-your-butt statement about the incident:

After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act.

Don’t you just love the title of the legislation the Justice Department cited? George Orwell, who coined slogans such as “war is peace” in his novel “1984,” would have been impressed. There’s nothing like using a “privacy protection act” to snoop into a reporter’s emails.

Holder, of course, was the nation’s first black attorney general. He loved to wave the race card, and he once said that we were “a nation of cowards” for refusing to face up to our prejudices.

No wonder that Holder had the support of Al Sharpton, one of the country’s most notorious race-baiters. And here’s a really scary thought: Sharpton said he will have a lot to say about whomever Barack Obama nominates as Holder’s successor. Although, frankly, it’s hard to imagine Obama picking anyone who adheres more slavishly to a left-wing agenda than Holder did.

So why did Holder pick now to submit his resignation? Clearly, it was done with his boss’s approval. Could it be that the Obama team recognizes that it will face a Republican majority in the Senate this coming January and that it will be a lot easier to get the Senate’s approval of another liberal lackey now?

In a lengthy interview with Steve Kroft that was broadcast by “60 Minutes” this past Sunday night, Barack Obama pasted a confident smile on his face and predicted that the Democrats would maintain their Senate majority in the coming midterm elections. But that sounded a lot like whistling past the graveyard to me.

No, I think Holder realized that the hot seat he’s been occupying will only get hotter. If he were to hang around the Justice Department much longer, he’d face more congressional subpoenas, followed by some very tough questioning on Capitol Hill.

He’s going to head for the hills — and some very plush financial rewards — while he can. All I can say is good riddance.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Bill O’Reilly says we should outsource the war

So now the United States and a handful of Arab allies are conducting daily air strikes against Islamic terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

In addition to ISIS, a new target has just been identified: an al-Qaida cell in Syria known as the Khorasan Group. We’re told it was “nearing the execution phase” of launching attacks against Europe or the United States.

This past weekend, ISIS posted the following statement on the Internet, urging its followers to murder Westerners anywhere and anyway they can:

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever, then rely upon Allah and kill him in any manner or however it may be.

Pretty chilling, isn’t it? Especially when we don’t know how many Muslim extremists may already be in this country. Or even how many have joined ISIS, been trained by them and then returned to the United States.

For the first time, these dedicated jihadists are well-organized, well-trained and well-financed. And utterly devoted to their cause. While the troops they face are none of the above.

So how can they be defeated?

Bill O’Reilly, the host of Fox TV’s most popular show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” has a proposal. He notes that no matter how many air strikes we conduct against the terrorists, it won’t be enough. “First of all,” he said, “there is not a single credible military person who thinks the ISIS terror group can be defeated without ground forces.”

O’Reilly said the conclusion is inescapable that we need ground forces if we really do intend to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as President Obama has promised. Of course, the president has also promised repeatedly that he will not permit any American “boots on the ground” to do so.

As O’Reilly noted, a majority of Americans agree with Obama on this: “The American people, perhaps rightly so, do not want to send any more of our troops into these chaotic countries.”

So where will the ground forces essential for victory come from? O’Reilly said the answer is to use mercenaries. In a “talking points” memo on his program this past Monday, the Fox TV host proposed the creation of a mercenary army of “elite fighters who would be well paid and well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.”

Here is how he explained it would work:

The fighters would be recruited by the U.S.A. and trained in America by our special forces. U.S. Army rules of engagement would be followed — strict discipline formed by the Geneva Convention.

America would be in charge of selecting who makes the cut and how they are deployed, with an eye on a 25,000-person force.

O’Reilly said the United States wouldn’t have to bear all of the financial costs. He says that “all countries that want intelligence and protection from the U.S.A. and NATO would have to chip in.” In other words, “If you don’t pay, you get no help.”

So what do you think? Has O’Reilly come up with a free enterprise solution to fighting terrorism? Or is the idea of a mercenary army, composed of people fighting for a paycheck instead of principle, not only dumb, but dangerous?

There are a lot of things that would help me sleep better at night. But this isn’t one of them.

What do you say?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will Harry Reid steal the coming elections?

The Republican establishment is getting its excuses ready in case its candidates don’t win enough elections this November to regain control of the Senate. At the top of the list is that conservatives didn’t give it enough money to spend.

That’s right. Forget the all-out war the Republican establishment has been waging against its most conservative members. Forget everything it’s done to smear Tea Party types who dared to challenge it. Forget all the dirty tricks, such as getting Democrats to tip the balance in the Republican primary in Mississippi.

Yep, we’re supposed to forget all of those past abuses and get behind the mealy-mouthed, me-too moderates that they have chosen for us, such as Thad Cochran in Mississippi or Pat Roberts in Kansas.

With standard-bearers likes those two worn-out hacks, no wonder so many conservatives are sitting on their wallets this time around. Heck, I suspect a ton of them won’t even bother to go to the polls this November. And who can blame them?

In a column in The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove set the tone for this latest propaganda barrage. He began by reciting why things should look so rosy for Republicans: “The president’s job approval numbers are lousy, no Democrat in a competitive Senate race polls regularly above 50%, GOP enthusiasm is high, and independents are trending Republican.”

All of that should be very good news for Republicans, shouldn’t it? But Rove, one of the key establishment strategists, says there is a very dark cloud on the horizon. It is that the Democrats have a ton more money to spend.

“The midterm environment is terrible for Democrats,” Rove wrote, “yet each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.”

In a story on super PACs, The Wall Street Journal detailed just how badly Republican candidates are being outspent. Here is what the newspaper reported has happened in the 10 top Senate races: “Since July 3, the largest super PACs aligned with Democrats have raised four times the money of pro-GOP super PACs, and have now spent $60 million to Republicans’ $38 million, data compiled by The Wall Street Journal shows.”

The study found that of the 25 highest-spending partisan super PACs, those affiliated with the Democrats have raised $110.2 million in this election cycle, compared to just $55.6 million for Republicans. Not only have the Democrats’ super PACs badly outspent their Republican opponents, they also have a ton more cash left on hand: $25.4 million compared to the Republicans’ $7.7 million.

The most effective money-raiser for the Democrats is the Senate Majority PAC, which is desperate to elect enough Democrats to keep Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in his powerful position as Senate Majority Leader.

So “steal” may be the wrong word to use in my headline. “Buy” is probably a more accurate description of what’s happening. Or would you prefer “purchase”?

Whatever description you prefer, Rove says that “reducing the Democratic cash advantage” is what is needed to “tip the needle in the GOP’s direction.” If that doesn’t happen, he warns, we’d better get ready “for two more years of Majority Leader Harry Reid.”

If that does happen, liberty-lovers have the Republican establishment to thank for it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will The NFL Finally Clean Up Its Act?

Forget the protests by angry women’s groups. Ignore all those politicians’ demands for tougher sanctions against abusers. Now the NFL must placate its most serious critics: the advertisers who have made so many players multimillionaires and so many owners billionaires.

In the previous season, advertisers spent a reported $3.9 billion to run their commercials during NFL games. At the top of the heap is Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), which has committed $1.2 billion over a six-year period to make its Bud Light the official brew of the NFL. So when the company says it is “increasingly concerned” by reports of domestic violence, you can bet the honchos in the league offices sit up and pay attention.

The maker of Budweiser and other brews issued a statement saying, “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.” In response, the league office replied, “We understand. We are taking action and there will be much more to come.”

The league got a black eye, if you’ll pardon the expression, over the way it handled disclosures that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had knocked out his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. When a video was released showing Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator, the league responded by suspending him for two games.

Then a video emerged taken inside that casino elevator. It showed Price delivering a knock-out punch to the woman who is now his wife, Janay Palmer. The brutality of the incident caused a national outcry against the NFL’s admittedly mild punishment of the athlete. The Baltimore Ravens responded by dropping Rice from the team. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell increased Rice’s suspension to a full year.

The controversy might have quieted down a bit when another incident erupted. Adrian Peterson, the all-star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of child abuse. It seems Peterson “disciplined” his 4-year-old son by whipping him with a switch so severely that it left welt marks on the youngster’s back and legs.

Peterson has apologized profusely for his actions. He issued a carefully worded statement that said, in part:

I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child.

You think?

The athlete went on to defend the way his parents had disciplined him:

But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man.

I’ll bet a whole bunch of people who were raised by parents who also believed “spare the rod, spoil the child” agreed with Peterson. In fact, Fox TV host Sean Hannity took off his belt during his show and beat his desk with it, to demonstrate how his own father had disciplined him. “And I deserved it,” Hannity declared.

In all this latest hullabaloo, one thing I haven’t heard is exactly what Peterson’s son did to warrant the beating he received. The kid is just 4 years old. How vile could his actions possibly have been?

The Minnesota Vikings suspended Peterson, then reinstated him, then placed him “on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved.”

With all of the controversy, one thing that hasn’t changed is the American public’s total infatuation with professional football. Of the seven most-watched TV programs last week, six of them were NFL games. After the Rice scandal broke, viewership of “Sunday Night Football” went up 8 percent, for a total of 22 million viewers.

With the rewards of fame and fortune going higher and higher, and players getting bigger, faster and tougher, only an idiot would expect the incidents of violence, on and off the field, to go down.

We love our bread and circuses, don’t we? Even if it means that some of our gladiators occasionally go berserk.

What a sad commentary on what this country has become.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

That’s Not What the Constitution Says!

In a column last week, I had some harsh things to say about those wimps in Congress who seem perfectly willing, even eager, to surrender the war-making authority that the Constitution gives them to our imperial president.

But then I misstated what the Constitution does require. And several readers were quick to point it out. Here’s how commenter Vigilant described my error:

[Mr. Wood] says, “Whatever U.S. actions the President recommends, there is one thing his spokesmen have been clear that he definitely will not do. He will not ask Congress for a declaration of war, as the Constitution requires.”

The Constitution requires no such thing, Mr. Wood. Congress may declare war any time they so desire, and it does not require a request from anyone.

Vigilant is absolutely correct. While we have a tradition in this country of the president of the United States asking Congress for a declaration of war — such as Franklin Roosevelt’s “day of infamy” speech to a joint session of Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — there is no such requirement in the Constitution.

World War II was the very last time that Congress issued a formal declaration of war. Every single military action since then, including the ones in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, has been fought under some other so-called authority. Remember the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that was used to justify our military involvement in Vietnam?

It’s enlightening to see exactly what the Constitution does say — and sometimes, what it doesn’t say. Article I begins by declaring: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.”

What follow are several sections describing the qualifications for senators and representatives, how they shall be selected, when they shall meet and even how they shall be compensated.

It is Section 8 of Article I that lists the specific powers that the Constitution grants to the Congress. Among the long list there is the simple phrase, “To declare War.” That same proviso also gives Congress the right to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

Section 8 also says it is the responsibility of Congress “To raise and support Armies,” “To provide and maintain a Navy,” and “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

We’ll talk another time about the lousy job Congress has done on that final instruction to “repel Invasions.” What else can you call the flood of millions of illegal aliens that have streamed across our Southern border other than an invasion?

The qualifications and responsibilities of the president of the United States are explained in Article II. That’s where you’ll find the pesky requirement that a newly elected president, “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office,” take an oath that says:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Of course, there hasn’t been a chief executive in the past 100 years who has paid more than lip service to this solemn pledge.

It is Section 2 of Article II that declares:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.

It is this same section that gives the president the power to negotiate treaties and to appoint “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” But the Constitution is very clear that none of these actions can take effect without the advice and consent of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.

If the Constitution says that the president of the United States can’t even appoint an ambassador without the approval of the Senate, what are the chances that the people who created this magnificent document would permit him to take this country to war without the approval of Congress? I’d say absolutely none, wouldn’t you?

So while Vigilant is right in saying that the Constitution doesn’t require the president to ask for a declaration of war, I stand by my larger point: It is the people’s representatives, not the president, who must agree to send U.S. forces into battle.

This country has paid an enormous price, in blood and in money, for allowing our imperial presidents to violate that clear Constitutional requirement.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Harry Reid’s Attack On The Constitution Backfires

No sooner had nastily partisan Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the Senate back in session after its five-week summer recess than he launched a one-two punch that he was sure would score points for Democrats in the upcoming elections. Reid is desperate to preserve the Democratic majority in the Senate — and his plush and powerful position as majority leader.

First, he took to the Senate floor to launch another one of his frothing-at-the-mouth diatribes against those notorious Koch brothers, whom he claims are using their vast wealth to purchase elections for the far right. He never mentions, of course, that conservative Republicans are routinely outspent by wealthy liberal Democrats. He knows that the mainstream media is delighted to help hide the truth and play along with this charade.

But Reid’s angry and dishonest rhetoric was just Part 1 of his cynical campaign. Part 2 was for the Democrats to introduce a new constitutional amendment that would allegedly “correct” the problem, by overriding the freedom-of-speech guarantees in the 1st Amendment.

Just how bad is this Democratic proposal? National Review described it as “an attack on basic human rights, the Constitution, and democracy itself.” It said the measure “would invest Congress with blanket authority to censor newspapers and television reports, ban books and films, and imprison people for expressing their opinions. So long as two criteria are met — the spending of money and intending to influence an election — the 1st Amendment would no longer apply.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was equally alarmed. He described the bill as “bar none the most radical proposal that has been considered by the United States Senate in the time I have served.”

But the fact is, the bill had absolutely no chance of passage — and Reid knew it. In fact, he was counting on the Republicans’ not even allowing it to be debated on the floor of the Senate. This would give the Democrats some powerful sound bites for campaign attack ads. “See? The Republicans block all of our efforts to prevent those evil billionaires from buying elections.”

But the Republicans derailed Reid’s scheme by actually agreeing to consider the measure. Here’s how Politico described what happened:

Several Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Monday to advance a constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states greater power to regulate campaign finance.

But the bipartisanship ends there.

Many of the Republicans only voted for the bill to foul up Democrats’ pre-election messaging schedule, freezing precious Senate floor time for a measure that ultimately has no chance of securing the two-thirds support necessary in both the House and the Senate to amend the Constitution.

Thanks to that Republican support, the vote to advance the bill — and, thus, require floor debate — passed by 79-18. Reid was furious that his scheme had collapsed. He said it was all part of a nefarious Republican plot to “stall” other action in Senate.

Sorry, Harry. Now you won’t be able to introduce some of your other go-nowhere grandstand plays this week, such as gender pay equity and raising the minimum wage.

That’s the kind of games the Democrats who control the Senate have been playing this week. It’s no surprise that Reid is terribly worried, as he sees the Democratic majority in the Senate — and his position as majority leader — slipping away.

You can bet that he’ll dream up several other slimy stunts over the next couple of months. Desperate people do desperate things. And Reid is getting desperate.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Note: The biggest story of the day was, of course, President Obama’s televised address last night. Because of PLD deadlines, I had to turn in this column yesterday morning. I’ll have a lot to say about Obama’s warmongering in subsequent columns.

Let’s Remind Those Wimps In Congress What The Constitution Says

Congress has finally returned from its five-week summer vacation. Now our Senators and Representatives are supposed to knuckle down and deal with some fairly serious issues.

At the top of the list is what to do about the Muslim terrorists running the Islamic State. The cries to “do something” increased exponentially after they beheaded two American journalists and posted the videos on the Internet.

President Obama brought some well-deserved scorn down on his head when he admitted last month that his administration has not yet agreed on a strategy of how to deal with the terrorists. In remarks last week, the President went from promising to “degrade and destroy” the Muslim terrorists to making their threats “manageable.”

Vice President Joe Biden was much more dramatic, promising that the U.S. would chase ISIS “to the gates of hell.” However, he did not say how we were going to do it — or what we’d do when we caught them.

During his meetings with NATO members last week, the President managed to get nine other nations to agree that they’d do something to help counter the growing threat of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. There was no unanimity on exactly what those measures might be, but everyone agreed that it would not include those notorious “boots on the ground” that Obama has promised to avoid.

Now the President says he’s ready to announce a plan. He will address the nation tomorrow night to tell us what it is.

Whatever U.S. actions the President recommends, there is one thing his spokesmen have been clear that he definitely will not do. He will not ask Congress for a declaration of war, as the Constitution requires.

And here’s what’s even worse: Most members of Congress, including the leaders of both parties, are perfectly fine with that abnegation of their Constitutional authority.

Yes, both Republicans and Democrats are more than content to let our imperial president do whatever he wants when it comes to confronting the Islamic State. With elections just two months away, the last thing Democrats want to do is to be forced to vote on going to war. And even most Republicans seem delighted to avoid being put on the spot.

Oh, a few of them have said something about paying lip service to Congress. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is sounding more amenable to taking military action against ISIS. A few days ago he declared: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek Congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”

Of course, “seek[ing] Congressional authorization” is emphatically not the same thing as a formal declaration of war, which is what the Constitution requires.

That same Constitution gives the House of Representatives the authority to say how money will be spent by the federal government. But those wimps in Congress have seldom exercised their Constitutional prerogatives here, either.

The Founding Fathers knew that unchecked government always and everywhere posed the greatest threat to our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s why they did their best to “bind men down with the chains of a Constitution.”

Too bad there are so few men (or women) in Washington today who will live up to that sacred responsibility.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Responding To Another Barbaric Beheading: ‘Kill Them,’ ‘Degrade And Destroy’

That’s done it. The beheading of a second American journalist has convinced a majority of Americans that the jihadist terrorists known as the Islamic State pose a significant threat to the United States. And they want this country to do something about it.

As everyone knows by now, the Islamic State posted another video to its website on Tuesday, showing the beheading of freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, who was captured in Syria a year ago. U.S. officials have confirmed that the video is authentic.

In the video, a militant dressed entirely in black, including a mask across his face, says: “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State. Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

The fighter appears to be the same person who appeared in the video that ISIS released two weeks ago, showing the beheading of James Foley. That video ended with a shot of Sotloff, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in the sand. The militant standing next to him displays a knife and says, “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

The latest video ends the same way, this time showing a captive who has been identified as a British citizen, David Cawthorne Haines.

After the murder of Foley, President Obama created a storm of controversy when he responded to a question about how the U.S. will respond to ISIS advances in Syria by saying, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

While no Pentagon official would publicly contradict the president, many of them said privately that the military had come up with several strategies to counteract ISIS, including detailed and specific plans. But so far, none had been approved by the president and his advisers.

The video of Foley’s murder was posted while Obama was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. After making a statement condemning the act, he then returned to his vacation. Less than 10 minutes after issuing his remarks, he was back on the golf course.

This was in stark contrast to the actions of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who canceled his own vacation, returned to his office and promptly raised the threat level in the U.K.

After the release of the video showing the murder of Sotloff, the president was a little more emphatic. Obama said the U.S. “will not be intimidated” by the jihadists and declared: “So the bottom line is this:  Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.”

The president promised: “And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

Do you believe that? Going by the evidence so far, it’s no wonder that the jihadists don’t.

When asked what the U.S. response to the latest atrocity should be, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) replied simply, “Kill them.” It won’t take too many more “incidents” before a majority of our fellow citizens will be ready to go to war to do precisely that.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Jimmy Carter Raises Money For Terrorists

Former President Jimmy Carter has done and said a lot of stupid things over the past 40 years. But the muddle-headed octogenarian may have reached a new low. He agreed to be the featured speaker at an organization that has raised millions of dollars for Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip.

Carter agreed to speak in Detroit at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America, a group that has been implicated by the Justice Department in a scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas. Other speakers included Jamal Badawi and Siraj Wahhaj, both of whom have been listed by the Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators for their pro-terrorist activities.

Harvard professor and constitutional law expert Alan Dershowitz said that Carter’s appearance at the meeting put him “very close, if not across the line” of criminal behavior. Dershowitz pointed out that Section 18 of U.S. Code 2339B makes it a federal crime for any U.S. citizen to provide material support for any group that has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, as Hamas has been.

In the past, Carter has made no secret of his support of Hamas in its conflicts with Israel. He has bitterly denounced the actions of Israel, while all but ignoring the terrorist activities of Hamas. In a recent article in Foreign Policy, for example, Carter said that it was Israel that was guilty of committing war crimes in Gaza. He wrote:

There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed.

In his incredibly one-sided article, Carter declared, “There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes.”

Hey, Mr. President, which side was the first to launch attacks on innocent civilians in the other area? Which has hidden its missiles in schools and hospitals, then used them to fire on civilian targets?

Heck, which one has spent millions of dollars building tunnels under the border between the two areas, so it can launch surreptitious attacks on the other and even kidnap hostages?

In Carter’s myopic view, it’s perfectly OK to ignore the thousands of missile strikes that Hamas has launched against civilians in Israel. No, it is only Israel that should be condemned.

Carter’s anti-Israel stance has created some problems for his grandson, Jason Carter, who is the Democratic nominee to become the next governor of Georgia. David Perdue, young Carter’s Republican opponent, has said that he is “offended” by the former president’s remarks about Israel. As well he should be.

Jason Carter has tried to put some distance between himself and his grandfather on the issue. “I have been on the front page of the paper talking about ways in which I disagree with my grandfather,” the younger Carter has said. And he added, “I believe that Israel has a right to defend itself, especially against Hamas’ terrorist actions.”

So one Carter is willing to denounce Hamas a terrorist organization, while the other agrees to help raise money for it.

Maybe it’s time for Carter family members to urge their 89-year-old patriarch to sit down and shut up, especially when it comes to defaming our staunchest ally — and the only democratic country in the Middle East.

And maybe it’s time for the Justice Department to investigate whether Jimmy Carter’s actions have violated the law. Wouldn’t that be an interesting case to see them prosecute?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Leading Us To War Again

The drumbeats for going back to war in the Middle East are getting louder and louder. There’s no question that the barbaric jihadists known as the Islamic State make an almost ideal enemy. They’ve slaughtered, crucified or beheaded hundreds of opponents (both Christians and their fellow Muslims) as they’ve marched across northern Iraq.

They’ve bragged that they will carry the war to the United States, and even distributed a faked photograph showing their flag flying over the White House. In their most publicized atrocity, they beheaded American photojournalist James Foley — and posted the despicable act on the Internet.

The terrorists of ISIS (or ISIL, as the federal government calls them) are incredibly well-equipped, thanks to millions of dollars’ worth of armament — much of it brought to the area by the United States — that they’ve seized along the way. And they’re also incredibly well-financed, thanks to the oil revenue from the territories they’ve conquered, millions of dollars from banks that they’ve looted and funds they’ve received from Qatar, Kuwait and even our nominal allies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The group is so viciously militant it’s even been denounced by al-Qaida and Hamas. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the Islamic State “is beyond anything we’ve seen” and is “an imminent threat to every interest we have.”

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) believes that thanks to ISIS, this country is “in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in.” And he added, “They’re crazy out there. And they are rapidly developing a method to blow up a major U.S. city.”

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said the group poses “an existential threat” to the United States and warned, “I think of an American city in flames.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) agrees. He said that ISIS represents “a direct threat to our homeland.”

It’s beginning to sound as though President Obama won’t have much trouble getting Congress to agree to expanding our military efforts in the Middle East, doesn’t it?

The president has promised that there will be no more U.S. “boots on the ground.” But, of course, that can change. In the meantime, he’s already dispatched several hundred more military advisers. We’ve increased drone strikes in areas controlled by ISIS and have even begun surveillance flights over parts of Syria — both indisputable acts of war.

And with daily reminders in all of the media about just how bloodthirsty and barbaric these jihadist terrorists are, I don’t doubt that a majority of Americans will enthusiastically applaud our taking even more aggressive actions against them.

We’re being conditioned to go to war, folks. But before you join the marching bands, please remember there is no surer road to expanding the power of the central government than by launching a “patriotic” war.

Oh, and by the way, waging war against a despised enemy is also the best way would-be tyrants have found to distract the public from the failures of their domestic policies. William Shakespeare was well aware of this, when he had King Henry advise Prince Henry, “Be it thy course to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out, may waste the memory of former days.”

Yes, indeed, can there be any doubt that Obama and his cohorts would love to “waste the memory of former days?”

What better way to do this than to do have the public support taking action against a bloodthirsty enemy that has beheaded one of your own?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Race Baiters Fail In Ferguson

The charges seemed ideal to stir up an angry mob. A white policeman shoots and kills an unarmed black teenager. The teen’s companion says his friend, Michael Brown, was shot in the back. Another alleged eyewitness claims the boy had his hands up and said “Don’t shoot” when he was gunned down.

Suddenly, the tiny town of Ferguson, Missouri, was the site of demonstrations that turned into riots. Stores were looted and burned. Police were stoned. Molotov cocktails were hurled. State police were called in to try to prevent things from getting completely out of hand.

Notorious racist agitator Al Sharpton flew into town to add his own incendiary remarks to the volatile mix. For a while, it looked as though an escalation of violence was inevitable.

But then an amazing thing happened: As more facts began to emerge, the picture started to change. Police released a video from a nearby convenience store, taken moments before the shooting on the street. The video allegedly showed Brown threatening and pummeling a store clerk and stealing a box of cigars. This happened minutes before Brown and his companion, Dorian Johnson, were stopped by a local policeman for blocking traffic by walking down the middle of a street.

An autopsy confirmed that Brown had not been shot in the back, as his companion claimed. That was simply a flat-out lie. While officer Darren Wilson’s statement hasn’t been released yet (and it certainly should be!), a woman who said she was a friend called a local radio station and said that Brown punched and pushed Wilson and tried to take his gun. There were reports that Wilson had been severely beaten around the face and suffered a fractured eye socket.

Brown was 6-feet-4 and weighed close to 300 pounds. If he did strike Wilson several times, as has been alleged, I don’t think anyone would blame the policeman for fearing for his life. Wouldn’t you?

The fact is we don’t know exactly what happened that day in Ferguson. But that hasn’t stopped agitators like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson from demanding “justice” for Brown. Even Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon joined the clamor, demanding the “vigorous prosecution” of Wilson. Shame on him for jumping to judgment!

Attorney General Eric Holder flew to Ferguson to head up the federal investigation of the shooting. Shortly after he landed, he proved that he wasn’t exactly unbiased, when he revealed several confrontations he said he had with white law enforcement officers when he was younger. All of them seemed to demonstrate an anti-black bias.

Way to help calm things down, Attorney General!

As I said, the first reports out of Ferguson seemed ideal to stir up the mob. And for a while, it worked. But thanks to the alternative media in this country — things like talk radio, Fox News and websites such as Personal Liberty — it’s almost impossible to suppress the “other side” of a story for long. And the more facts that came out, the harder it became for the racist agitators to succeed with their bigoted, one-sided portrayals.

Because of this, things are calmer now in Ferguson. Thank goodness! If it hadn’t happened, I have no doubt that there would be more riots, more looting and more bloodshed — probably in many other cities, in addition to that small St. Louis suburb.

Thanks for doing your part to make sure that “the other side” continues to be heard.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Stop The Militarization Of Our Police

Capt. Ron Johnson pulled his men away from aggressive protesters in Ferguson on Monday night.
MCT/Capt. Ron Johnson pulled his men away from aggressive protesters in Ferguson on Monday night.

What on Earth is happening with the local police forces in this country? The Washington Post vividly described just how much things have changed:

The events in Ferguson, Missouri … are an uncomfortable reminder of the militarization of America’s small town law enforcement agencies. The photos coming out of the town–of heavily armed officers in full combat gear squaring off against unarmed protesters–look like images we’re used to seeing from places like Gaza, Turkey, or Egypt, not from a midwestern suburb of 21,000 people.

Yes, indeed, things are sure different now. And while the massive amounts of military equipment being given to local police may make the cops feel safer, it’s got to be a pretty scary thing for the innocent civilians in their path — and for all of us who prize liberty more than security.

Is it possible that what we’re seeing in Ferguson, and in hundreds of other small towns and cities across the country, is a deliberate plan to transform local police departments into well-armed agencies of the central government?

There’s no question that you can blame Washington, D.C., for much of the transformation. For years, the federal government has been giving local police forces surplus military equipment under something called the 1033 Program. And thanks to winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a lot of stuff to give away.

Since the program began in 1997, more than $5 billion worth of weapons have been given to local law enforcement. Last year alone, Uncle Sam bestowed more than $449 million in equipment, weapons and vehicles to police departments. Who could resist such generosity?

We’re not just talking about arms and body armor, by the way, but even things like the 30-ton mine-resistant, armored-protective vehicles, known as MRAPs — and otherwise known as tanks. When you see one of those beasts rolling down the street toward you, it’s got to feel more like a military invasion than your friendly neighborhood cop coming to protect you.

The head of a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C., believes the changes are downright dangerous. Watchdog reported:

“There’s a blurring of the military mission and the civilian police mission and that is a dangerous thing,” Tim Lynch, director of the Project on Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute, said two months before the Ferguson unrest. “We want our civilian police departments not to lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with people on a day-to-day basis with constitutional rights, and we want them to use a minimum amount of force to bring suspects into a court of law.”

Both of those considerations were tossed aside in Ferguson, where reporters have been threatened and arrested, and where scores of civilians have been treated more like enemy combatants than the people they have sworn to protect.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrote an important essay on this subject with the title, “We Must Demilitarize the Police,” which Time published. Paul noted:

Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies–where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.

Paul rightly pointed out:

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury–national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture–we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

Indeed we do.

Maybe one of the few good things to come out of the conflicts in Ferguson, Missouri, will be a new national debate on the militarization of our local police. We need them to get back to their mission of “protect and serve” and off the path of “intimidate and control.”

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood  

Democrats Try To Derail Rick Perry

Even those of us who are used to seeing politics get pretty tough and dirty are startled by what just happened in Texas. Last Friday, Governor Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of abusing his office. If convicted, he could face more than 100 years in jail.

Now, that’s hardball politics.

The case revolves around Perry’s efforts to get Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney in Travis County, to resign her office after her arrest on drunken driving charges. A video taken at the police station at the time showed her kicking the door of her cell and yelling at police officers, who had to put her in restraints. A blood test confirmed that her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

Lehmberg pleaded guilty to the charges and received a 45-day jail sentence. After her conviction, Perry said that “the people of Texas” had lost confidence in her and demanded that she resign as district attorney.

Perry argued that a prosecutor who breaks the law and abuses law-enforcement personnel is in no position to judge the “public integrity” of others in government. Unless she agreed to step down, Perry said he would veto a $7.5 million appropriation that the Texas Legislature had voted for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. I’ll pause for a moment while you consider the irony of the dispute being over funding for a “Public Integrity Unit,” when the person in charge of the money had been jailed for drunken driving.

Ah, but this was in Travis County, the most liberal county in Texas. Democrats pretty much rule the roost in the area, which includes Austin, the state capital. When Lehmberg refused to resign her post, Perry followed up on his threat and vetoed the appropriation. When the Legislature refused to override him, the funding was dead.

Now, here’s where it gets a little tricky. No one disputes that, as governor of Texas, Perry had every right to veto the funds. But Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor pursuing the case against the governor, charged that threatening to do so was an illegal effort to intimidate Lehmberg.

The indictment said that Perry “intentionally or knowingly misused government property” and brought two charges against the governor: abuse of official capacity, which is a first-degree felony and carries a penalty of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public official, a third-degree felony with a two-to-10-year jail term.

Charging that Perry “misused government property” by getting the state not to spend money certainly seems like a stretch. And what about the governor’s right to free speech? Doesn’t the constitution have something to say about that?

No matter. Leading Democrats in Texas were quick to celebrate the news. Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, issued a statement saying, “Gov. Rick Perry has brought dishonor to his office, his family and the State of Texas.” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said, “For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office.”

Perry, of course, denies that he did anything wrong. “I stood up for the rule of law in the State of Texas,” he declared, and vowed that he wouldn’t change a thing if he had it to do all over again.

It’s too soon to tell what effect all of this will have on a possible run for the presidency by Perry in 2016. While it will probably galvanize his present supporters, the controversy could become an expensive and time-consuming distraction as he tries to expand his base.

No doubt, that is exactly what some powerful Democrats intended.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Hillary Clinton, Warmonger

Hillary Clinton has a problem. How does she escape blame for the tragedies that are now engulfing the Mideast when, as Secretary of State for four years, she was responsible for many of the policies that have produced this mess?

In a lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, we got the answer: Clinton said that a lot of it happened because Barack Obama, her former boss, just wasn’t aggressive enough.

Before getting into that argument, however, Clinton took a shot at a phrase that Obama has used privately, and apparently proudly, to describe his vision of what U.S. foreign policy should be: “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” (In the actual quote, the president allegedly used a barnyard vulgarism instead of the word “stuff.”)

Not the most eloquent and inspiring exhortation you’ve ever heard, is it? Sounding a bit like a schoolyard scold, Clinton told Goldberg, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

I wonder how many of Obama’s top aides are now saying privately that picking Clinton as his secretary of state, and thus the top administrator of his foreign policy, would make a list of “stupid stuff” that happened in his administration?

Goldberg introduced the core of the controversy his article would create by writing:

President Obama has long ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups — like the ones rampaging across Syria and Iraq today — from seizing control of the rebellion.

He’s delighted to report that Clinton doesn’t agree:

Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the “failure” that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

Goldberg then includes a direct quote from Hillary, in which she doesn’t hesitate to put the “failure” tag squarely on her former boss:

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

Got that? According to Clinton, if the U.S. had simply been more willing to support the forces battling Syria’s dictator, things would be a lot different in the Mideast today. As a result of these failures, she says, the world now faces much more serious threats from Muslim extremists.

“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. …”

Thanks for the grade-school lesson, Hillary. It isn’t like we didn’t already know that.

In an effort to keep this contrived controversy for getting hotter, Clinton called her former boss two days ago to say that nothing in the Atlantic article was meant as an attack on him or his leadership. Sure thing, Hillary.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said both Clinton and Obama planned to be at a party on Martha’s Vineyard this week, and that “she looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other.”

Isn’t that sweet? In the meantime, the murder and mayhem continue as the barbaric forces of the ISIS march across Iraq.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Barack Obama’s Most Cynical Move Yet

With Congress finally hightailing it out of Washington for a five-week summer recess and the Obama family heading over to Martha’s Vineyard for a two-week break, you would think things would be quieting down in our Nation’s capital.

That’s not happening, thanks to the latest trial balloons coming out of the White House. The rumor mills are flying with speculation that before summer is over, Barack Obama will announce one of the most audacious and most cynical moves yet by an Administration that has proven it can be as partisan and mean-spirited as any that’s ever held our Nation’s highest office.

According to the latest speculation, sometime in the next few weeks the President will issue an executive order granting amnesty to as many as 5 million illegal aliens.

He will do this claiming he has been forced to act because those dastardly Republicans in Congress have refused to cooperate with all those kindhearted Democrats in passing an immigration bill.

But the real purpose behind this Democratic ploy will be to enrage the Republicans who control the House of Representatives and get them to bring impeachment charges against the President.

Could Democratic strategists actually be this cynical? Absolutely. As they see it, such a ploy would have three major benefits for the Administration:

  • First, it would energize the Democratic base, which has been dispirited and lethargic in the face of the massive unpopularity of Obama and his policies.
  • Second, it would immediately become the No. 1 issue in the media, distracting voters from things like Obamacare, jihadist triumphs in the Mideast, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, the Internal Revenue Service scandal and all of the other issues that have led to Obama’s record-low unpopularity.
  • And finally, amnesty for illegals would, they think, bind the Hispanic vote to the Democratic Party for years to come — and create millions of loyal new voters when the 11-million-plus illegals who are already here are ultimately granted the right to vote.

In the past, Obama has admitted that he lacks the Constitutional authority to do anything like this. For example, three years ago, on July 25, 2011, he said: “I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books… Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the [immigration] laws on my own… That’s not how our Constitution is written.”

Three months later, on Sept. 28, 2011, he repeated that message: “This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true… There are laws on the books that I have to enforce.”

And on Nov. 25, 2013, the President said: “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.”

Yes, we are. Or at least we’re supposed to be. As Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer pointed out in his syndicated column: “Laws created by Congress, not by executive fiat. That’s what distinguishes a Constitutional Republic from the banana kind.”

Krauthammer wrote: “An executive order so sweeping and egregiously lawless would be impeachment bait. It would undoubtedly provoke a Constitutional crisis.”

Indeed it would. But some knowledgeable observers believe that is a price that Obama and his advisers are willing to pay to avoid sweeping defeats in the coming midterm elections.

Batten down the hatches, folks. If these rumors are right, the politic scene is about to get a whole lot nastier.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The CIA Fudges The Facts — Just Like Obama

Despite CIA Director John Brennan’s assurances to the contrary, it turns out that some members of the CIA did hack into computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

When the charges were first aired, Brennan dismissed them as “spurious allegations that are totally unsupported by facts.”

Back in March, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of hacking into the computers of Senate investigators who were looking into accusations of CIA misconduct.

Brennan flatly denied that anyone in his agency broke the rules. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he declared. “I mean, we wouldn’t do that.”

But it turns out that indeed they did. An internal investigation by the CIA confirmed that agency operatives hacked into committee computers, looking for documents they weren’t supposed to have.

So the CIA broke the rules, and probably violated the law, by spying on an agency of Congress. Is anyone surprised?

In case you missed the beginning of this brouhaha, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating the detention and interrogation practices of the CIA in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The committee has prepared a 6,300-page report on its findings, which will be released shortly.

President Barack Obama said the report will confirm that the agency used techniques that “any fair-minded person would believe were torture.” At a news conference two weeks ago, the President said: “We did a whole lot of things that were right [after 9/11], but we tortured some folks.”

Actually, Mr. President, those weren’t just “folks” that the CIA was questioning; they were jihadist terrorists who were actively conspiring to murder as many of their opponents as they could.

At the time, U.S. officials (and a ton of us civilians) were worried about more attacks on U.S. soil — because the terrorists vowed they were coming. So the Federal government approved the use of “enhanced interrogation methods,” including waterboarding, to learn about the plans of al-Qaida and other jihadists.

In fact, the Justice Department at the time gave the CIA written approval to use such techniques. It was the official position of our government back then that they didn’t qualify as torture. Our leaders said the interrogations produced valuable intelligence that saved American lives.

Now, of course, the rules are different.

After charges of CIA spying on a Senate committee were aired, Brennan ordered the CIA Inspector General to look into the allegations. Guess what? It turns out they were true. In a classic case of understatement, the IG report acknowledged that “some employees acted in a manner inconsistent” with the CIA’s own regulations.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the CIA, said that Brennan will sure do something about the mess, by golly. “The director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter,” he declared. He’ll begin by appointing a “special accountability board” to review the IG’s findings.

That should make any miscreants tremble in their boots, don’t you think?

So what will happen now? Apparently, pretty much nothing. The Justice Department says it will not investigate further. Department spokesman Peter Carr said, “The Department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.”

Even Feinstein seems to be satisfied. “Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board,” she said. “These are positive first steps.”

While some members of the Senate, including Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), are demanding that Brennan either resign or be fired, that doesn’t look likely. When White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked if Brennan has any credibility problems as a result of the controversy, he replied, “No, not at all.”

The facts are the director of the CIA lied about what his agency was doing. He either knew he wasn’t telling the truth, or he relied on subordinates who deliberately deceived him. You’d think either one would be grounds for instant dismissal.

But, hey, why should we hold the CIA director to a higher standard than his boss? Obama has told so many whoppers it’s hard to keep track of them all. I guess this is what passes for “the new normal” in Washington, D.C., these days.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Democrats Make Millions Lying About Impeachment

Finally, the Democratic leadership believes it has found an issue that will ignite their base, distract voters’ attention from their disastrous record and raise a ton of money for them. So what if it isn’t true?

Suddenly, every prominent Democratic leader is warning that if Republicans aren’t defeated this November, they will try to impeach President Barack Obama. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, warned a meeting of the National Urban League last week, “That’s what Republicans have told us … they’ll do.”

No it isn’t. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said just the opposite. The Republicans have “no plans to impeach the President,” he insists, and “no future plans” either. Boehner says the whole thing is “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”

As though to confirm Boehner’s accusation, the chorus from the Democrats warning about impeachment is getting louder and louder. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says that “prominent voices” in the GOP, including some unnamed “senior members,” are calling for impeachment.

Dan Pfeiffer, the White House Director of Communications, said last week that Speaker Boehner “opened the door to Republicans pursuing impeachment at some point in the future.” Oh really? Sounds to me like Boehner tried to do just the opposite.

Even First Lady Michelle Obama has joined the chorus. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago 20 days ago, she said that if Democrats lose control of the Senate this November, there will be more “talk about impeachment.”

Yes, there will be more talk about impeachment. And much of it will come from Democrats. Confirming this, leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus took to the floor of the House of Representatives last Monday to warn about “the GOP march towards impeachment.”

Warning about impeachment isn’t just a trend, it’s a calculated campaign. And it’s working just as Democrats hoped it would.

Representative Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Committee, told a group of reporters last week that the Republicans’ message for the coming elections was “impeach, impeach, impeach.” Then he bragged that his committee had raise over $2 million in four days, in an email campaign to supporters warning about this nefarious Republican plot. He boasted that the issue is “energizing our base.”

And there you have it. All of these dire warnings about impeachment coming from Democrats are energizing their base and raising millions of dollars for their coffers. No wonder they love the issue!

They hope all of the talk about impeachment will distract voters from the issues that can really hurt them this year. Things like the huge crisis on our southern border, the growing unpopularity of Obamacare, the incredible failures of Obama’s foreign policy, and the growing threats from an out-of-control central government.

These are the issues that could increase the Republican majority in the House and give them control of the Senate. Let’s hope their candidates will stick to them, and not get lured into a trap by the Democratic tar baby called impeachment.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood